Latest Posts

Big mistake Mikey

Big mistake Mikey
by digby

Everybody lies to poor Mike Pence who is always in the room but never knows nothin' about nothin'. This is something he really, really doesn't want to step into:

Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that porn star Stormy Daniels’ sordid account of a sex romp with President Trump in 2006 was “baseless.”

The denial by Pence was the first time the devout Indiana Republican had addressed the allegations brought by the star of “Sex Door Neighbors” and “When the Boyz Are Away the Girlz Will Play 7.”

He spoke to The Associated Press during a visit to Jerusalem, saying he was "not going to comment on the latest baseless allegations against the President."

The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump's personal lawyer brokered a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016 to prohibit her from publicly discussing the alleged affair before the presidential election.

Stormy's prepared if necessary to challenge such statements:
"I can definitely describe his junk perfectly, if I ever have to."
Calling her claims "baseless" could end up with her having to do that as part of some legal case. Please, for the love of all that's holy, please don't let anyone say or do anything to make that happen. No, no, no.

10 Best Free Monospaced Fonts For Code Snippets

Webfonts are all the rage these days for practically every website. We often use them for page headings as well as body text. But you can also use them for code snippets.

Most designers never think about changing the default code text style, but it’s pretty simple with Google Fonts. Not to mention these fonts are free to download and use locally if you’d like to change the font in your IDE.

This is my list of the 10 best options for coding fonts – all available for free. Have a look and see what you think!

PT Mono

pt mono font

The free PT Mono font is an excellent place to start. It’s clean, sharp and very easily blends into any layout.

You may notice there is some odd spacing between certain letters – like the “L” and “E” characters. But this only appears when the text is larger and is not very noticeable at smaller sizes.

I’ve never seen this used for code snippets, but it’s definitely one of the sharpest fonts on the list. It would be excellent for code or even page headers, if you like the design.

Fira Mono

firamono font

Here’s another example of a font that can work well in any format. Fira Mono has been designed for use as a monospaced code font, but the bold style looks nice with headings too.

When you resize this font down to around 12-16px, you’ll notice it actually makes a nice navigation link style, too. Specifically, it works well if you use the bold format and have all of your links in uppercase letters.

This is a great font choice for any site and can be useful for more than styling code snippets.

Cutive Mono

cutive mono font

Cutive Mono is a much more traditional monospaced font. This is typically what I think of when looking for a typeface for code snippets.

This font’s thin letter forms with even-spaced glyphs are perfect for any site. You can organize your code properly with this font and it works very well under syntax highlighting.

The only caveat is that when you resize this font to smaller sizes (below 15px), it can be almost impossible to read. Not to mention the letter spacing looks a bit silly at that size. So you’ll probably want to adjust that using the CSS letter-spacing property.


inconsolata font

This is one heck of a font with one pretty cool name. Inconsolata was originally designed for print code listings but has since become a great choice for programmers and IDE fonts.

It works nicely on the screen and should work flawlessly on a website. No matter how large your code snippets or where you’re using them, Inconsolata is a great choice.

You can use the font in regular or bold format – they both look great at all sizes. I personally prefer the bold font when it’s smaller than 15px, but you can always adjust contrast to make it more readable.


hack typeface

One of the few listings that I didn’t track down through Google Fonts, Hack is a true programmer’s font family.

This is a typeface truly designed for code and can be used on any platform – web, mobile or in your desktop IDE.

You can grab a copy from the main GitHub repo, along with further details regarding the font’s development. The font is multilingual, with support for over 1,500 glyphs (and counting!)

This one is well worth testing, even if you only use Hack for a few projects.


gohufont typeface

The Gohufont typeface is an excellent pick for that “classic” monospaced look. This reminds me more of the old school Nintendo fonts or the typefaces you’d see within old Gameboy games.

If you look over the main page, you’ll find examples with an auto-resizer. You can test the font at 11px or 14px to compare the differences. This includes all-caps and lowercase letters, along with special symbols.

I actually don’t like this much for an IDE, but it can work well on a website. Or, you might also try using this in your terminal window. Gohufont works really well as a CLI typeface since it matches perfectly to all programs.

Source Code Pro

source code pro typeface

This is perhaps the most famous monospaced font in Google’s entire library. Source Code Pro comes in a bunch of different styles, ranging from super thin to ultra bold.

You can restyle this font family to suit your needs and to match your site’s code tags. If you have any syntax highlighting plugins, this font will work flawlessly.

Note that Source Code Pro was designed as a companion piece to the original Open Sans font. So it works really well on websites that use Open Sans or any of its variations.

Overpass Mono

overpass mono font

I’ve tested the Overpass Mono in my code editor and it works really well. Granted, I’ve never tried using it in a website layout. But I imagine it can work just as well for that, too.

Overpass Mono is an excellent choice, in that it has a variety of styles without veering too far away from a traditional monospace font. It looks just like any other monospace typeface, except it really has its own “feeling” that grows on you over time.

Give it a shot on your website or try it side-by-side in two different IDE windows. You may find that you like this even more than your default font.

Oxygen Mono

oxygen mono

With the Oxygen Mono typeface, you get a design very similar to Overpass. The biggest difference is the lack of stylization and fewer formatting options.

This font only comes in one format: normal. You can still bold or italicize the font, but it will be rendered through CSS – rather than through a font file. I recommend this for the web because it’s smaller and easier to blend with different color schemes.

Not to mention it can work just as well alongside any font stack you choose.

Anonymous Pro

anonymous pro font

I’ve saved the most unique font choice for last with Anonymous Pro. This is a pretty darn creative typeface and it’s one of the easiest fonts to recognize.

One minor complaint I have is the lack of “crispness” of the letters at smaller sizes. You can still recognize the letters and it works fantastic as a code font. But it’ll stand out from all the others in this list, especially anywhere below 12px.

On the plus side, this font straddles the line between monospaced, serif and sans-serif. It borrows ideas from all of them, so you can get this to fit in anywhere on your site.


This Column is a Trick

See if you can spot it.  Without Googling, ya lazy fucks.

From The New York Times, November 13, 2016:
Donald Trump, Authoritarian

Donald Trump is going to talk for a while now, and thoughtful citizens will be well advised to listen. As long as he is in the throes of post-election gloating, Mr. Trump cannot avoid providing useful glimpses of the personality and policies with which he modestly proposes to reshape America.

His language is as revelatory as it is familiar. He describes himself as a battler against liberal elitists and the media. He will restore order and middle-class values. Welcome to President-elect Trump's Retro-World. Mr. Trump has reinvented the political landscape of his youth -- a White America where politicians communicate in the venerable code words of Barry Goldwater and George Wallace.

The code words, of course, originally had much to do with race; Senator Goldwater and Governor Wallace bandied them, after all, in a battle for Deep South electoral votes. This dialogue swirled around a younger Donald Trump as he was inventing his public persona. But this race-based, anger-charged politics mutated in Mr. Trump and some others of his generation into a more generalized moral authoritarianism. Mr. Trump wants to be obeyed, both within a Republican majority that exists mainly to rubber stamp his legislative menu and within a country where behavior would be regulated by a "society that is emphatic about right and wrong."

The authoritarian undergirdings of Mr. Trump's politics show not only in the conventional ways... It is even more tellingly revealed by the areas of individual social behavior Mr. Trump wants to bring under control. Schoolchildren will be required by law to seek their education in classrooms where prayer is imposed by the will of the majority. As soon as he gets the votes, medical decisions on abortion will be taken from the hands of women and physicians and the treatment itself proscribed by the state.

Implicit in Mr. Trump's condemnations of his enemies, expressed in one terview after another is the idea that intellectual dissent is unpatriotic and infuriating. It is not just President Obama's policies that irritated him. It is the fact that they were touched by some patently sinister force called "deep state". As for the "fake news media," it is their intellectual rebelliousness that angers Mr. Trump. In his preference, they would have listened passively to his convention speech and failed to mention that its ideas were a threat to civil liberties, racial justice and religious freedom.


Unfortunately, Mr. Trump learned something besides how to draw an audience in his years on television. He learned how to invoke a fictionalized vision of the American past and how then to whip the nostalgia for that nonexistent past into voter anger. Mr. Reagan first perfected this trick, but somehow with Mr. Trump, it has a meaner, more intolerant edge. Democrats have felt the edge; so in due time will the Republican legislators who are about to be called upon to stand and deliver for their new boss.
Did you spot it?

Yes, it is from The New York Times.

And, yes, it is from November 13.

But it's from November 13, 1994.

And the subject of the article is not Donald John Trump, but the Newton Leroy Gingrich.  Which, with only the most minor tweaks --
Newt Gingrich, Authoritarian

Newt Gingrich is going to talk for a while now, and thoughtful citizens will be well advised to listen. As long as he is in the throes of post-election gloating, Mr. Gingrich cannot avoid providing useful glimpses of the personality and policies with which he modestly proposes to reshape America.

His language is as revelatory as it is familiar. He describes himself as a battler against McGovernites, liberal elitists and the media. He will restore order and middle-class values. Welcome to Speaker Gingrich's Retro-World. Mr. Gingrich has reinvented the political landscape of his youth -- a Sun Belt where politicians communicate in the venerable code words of Barry Goldwater and George Wallace...
-- could have been written about President Stupid at any time in the past year.

My point being, for decades it has been perfectly obvious to even the most casual, honest observer that the GOP was an authoritarian shithole of bigots, imbeciles and con men.  And yet for decades, the overwhelming majority of the mainstream American media has taken it upon itself to lie to the public about this simple and obvious fact.

24 years ago I got in hot water with my genteel Liberals friends in Chicago for saying out-loud and without apology that Democrats were going to keep losing ground until we started going after the actual authoritarian thugs who ran the Republican Party and their media enablers with the same kind of 24/7/365 knives-out focus with which Gingrich and Limbaugh were going after imaginary hippies and the imaginary Liberal Media Conspiracy.

24 long years later there is absolutely no excuse not to have learned this lesson.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


He likes to watch TV

He likes to watch TV

by digby

The President largely experiences his own presidency via TV coverage. I don’t know how to convey the insanity of this - Trump is the star in a TV show about himself that he watches all day long.

--- Brendan Nyhan

I wonder if he found time to watch the CNN special on The Russia investigation over the week-end ...


Today’s FFS: Ivanka is leading the search to replace President Kelly

Today's FFS: Ivanka is leading the search to replace President Kelly

by digby

Via Gabriel Sherman, Trumpie's pissed over Kelly's comments to Fox News about him "evolving" on the wall. So he's got Ivanka looking for a replacement.

Trump’s anger at Kelly’s immigration comments is the latest flare-up in a relationship that has been deteriorating for months. A four-star marine general, Kelly was never going to be an easy fit in a West Wing with a Lord of the Flies office culture. Staffers have bristled at Kelly’s rectitude, nicknaming him “the Church Lady,” a former official said.

Trump has increasingly been chafing at the media narrative that he needs Kelly to instill discipline on his freewheeling management style. “The more Kelly plays up that he’s being the adult in the room—that it’s basically combat duty and he’s serving the country—that kind of thing drives Trump nuts,” a Republican close to the White House said. In recent days, Trump has fumed to friends that Kelly acts like he’s running the government while Trump tweets and watches television. “I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things,” Trump told one friend, according to a Republican briefed on the call. A second source confirmed that Trump has vented about Kelly, mentioning one call in which Trump said, “This guy thinks he’s running the show.” (A White House official said “it’s categorically false that Trump is unhappy with Kelly. “He’s only ever referred to him as the general, tough, can be rough, and commands respect.)

Kelly, in turn, has expressed frustration with Trump’s freewheeling management style and habit of making offensive statements. In August, when Trump incited outrage with his Charlottesville comments, Kelly complained to a colleague that he was “holding it together.” The next month, cameras captured Kelly’s infamous facepalm at Trump’s U.N. speech when Trump called Kim Jong Un “rocket man” and threatened to “totally destroy North Korea.” The New York Times reported that Kelly has threatened to quit numerous times.

Same old shit.

But this is truly delusional:

Trump, for his part, is frustrated that he’s not getting more credit for positive news like the booming stock market and low unemployment numbers. In recent days, he told a longtime friend that the national polls, which put his approval numbers in the low 30s, are under-representing the real number. Trump insisted his approval rating is in the high 50s. The friend challenged him, but Trump didn’t want to hear it. He soon ended the call.

He believes his approval numbers are in the high 50s.

Our president lives in his own world.


“Very nice and very humane” mass deportation

"Very nice and very humane" mass deportation

by digby

I wrote this in October of 2015. Trump couldn't have been clearer about what he wants:

Last week he even explicitly went back to the 1950s and evoked the Eisenhower era program "Operation Wetback," which he characterized on "60 Minutes" as "very nice and very humane." (It wasn't.) He said “Did you like Eisenhower? Did you like Dwight Eisenhower as a president at all? He did this. He did this in the 1950s with over a million people, and a lot of people don’t know that…and it worked.”

He elaborated at his rallies later in the week:

"You know, Dwight Eisenhower was a wonderful general, and a respected President - and he moved a million people out of the country, nobody said anything about it. When Trump does it, it’s like ‘whoa.' When Eisenhower does it, 'well that was Eisenhower, he’s allowed to do it, we can’t do it.'

That was also in the '50s, remember that. Different time, remember that.

That’s when we had a country. That’s when we had borders; you know, without borders you don’t have a country, essentially. We don’t have a country. Without borders, you just don’t have it.

But Dwight Eisenhower, this big report, they used to take them out and put them on the other side of the border and say, 'you have to stay here.' And they’d come right back, and they’d do it again and again, so they said 'Wait a minute, this doesn’t work.' And they took them out and moved them all the way South; all the way. And they never came back again; it’s too far. Amazing.

And I’m not saying this in a joking way — I’m saying this happened. It wasn’t working, they were coming back, and then they literally - literally - moved them all the way. A lot of the politicians - they never came back, it was too far. They’d put them on boats and move them all the way down South, and that was it."

A month later he repeated this in a nationally televised GOP presidential debate:

Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower, good president, great president, people liked him. "I like Ike," right? The expression. "I like Ike." Moved a 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border. They came back.

Moved them again beyond the border, they came back. Didn't like it. Moved them way south. They never came back.


Dwight Eisenhower. You don't get nicer. You don't get friendlier. They moved a 1.5 million out. We have no choice. We have no choice.

At the time I noted:

The latest Economist/YouGov poll reveals that Donald Trump is viewed as the GOP candidate Republicans trust most to handle immigration. What's more, the margin by which they prefer him is extremely wide, and it's grown substantially since he entered the race in July:

This was Trump unfiltered and totally himself.

Everyone says he doesn't know what he wants in a deal.

Is that right?

Katy Tur on MSNBC wisely noted that Trump's fundamental instinct is to turn toward the loudest applause line. When he said that he wanted to round up immigrants and drop them off in the Sonoran desert hundreds of miles from the border, the crowd went wild.

We have scenes like this happening every single day:

They are planning mass sweeps in Northern California.

They are rounding up immigrant community leaders.

The Trump cult wants a white America. And they want to accomplish this by ending all immigration from non-white countries, mass deportation of brown people and Muslims and putting African Americans in jail.

All Republicans don't agree with that but they vote for people who do and they support a president who has taken this idea of ethnic cleansing into the mainstream. So they are on board too.


Poor Wilbur

Poor Wilbur

by digby

Trump has lost confidence in his legendary Wall Street shark Wilbur Ross because he says he doesn't know anything:

Early in Trump’s presidency, Ross was his go-to negotiator, helming the administration’s trade talks with the Chinese. After a few months, though, Trump concluded he was doing a terrible job.

In a series of Oval Office meetings about six months into his presidency, Trump eviscerated Ross, telling him he’d screwed up, and badly.

“These trade deals, they’re terrible,” Trump said, according to a source in the room for one of the meetings. “Your understanding of trade is terrible. Your deals are no good. No good.”
Trump told Ross he didn’t trust him to negotiate anymore. Ross had tried in the early months of the administration, before Robert Lighthizer was confirmed as the U.S. Trade Representative, to take the lead on several crucial trade conversations. Once Lighthizer arrived there was a tussle for control over several issues. But after Ross botched — in Trump's eyes — his dealings with China, he decided Lighthizer would be the lead negotiator on all trade issues.

During this period, Trump humiliated Ross in front of his colleagues, per three sources, and questioned his intelligence and competence.

The Financial Times reported in August that Trump rejected a China steel deal that Ross thought he’d closed. But nobody has reported the extent of Trump’s castration of Ross. Trump has effectively taken his Commerce Secretary — who he once called a “killer” — off the playing field.

One example: Ross made a deal to open the U.S. market to cooked Chinese chicken, in exchange for the Chinese opening their market to American beef. Ross told reporters it was a “herculean accomplishment,” and “more than has been done in the whole history of U.S.-China relations on trade,” per the AP.
But Trump wasn’t impressed with this deal — at all — and told our sources he found Ross’s boasting to be laughable and ridiculous.

Ross’s propensity to doze off in meetings — which senior Capitol Hill aides have noticed — hasn’t helped.

Why this matters: Ross entered the administration as one of Trump’s favorites, poised to be a power player. Trump has known Ross since the bankruptcy tycoon helped keep him financially afloat in the early 1990s. Trump was proud that Ross — this billionaire Wall Street legend — wanted to work for him.

“Wilbur is so famous on Wall Street he only needs one name,” Trump said in an early meeting with White House visitors, according to a source in the room. “You don’t even need to say his last name; you just say Wilbur and they know who you’re talking about.”
Ross bottomed out with Trump midway through last year. Since then, Ross has spent months trying to rebuild alliances within the administration, courting his colleagues over dinners, but he’s never fully regained his stature in Trump’s eyes.

However, he is in a much a better place with the boss than he was in July, and remains an active participant in the weekly trade meetings. He'll be a primary player in the debates over possible steel and aluminum tariffs and recently hand-delivered reports to the president on the national security findings on both metals.

But sources close to Trump say he’ll never again trust the 80-year-old to be his “killer” negotiator. The recent Forbes article — revealing that Ross vastly exaggerated his net worth — did not help his internal standing.

“Wilbur’s been sucking up for months, trying to get back in the president’s good graces,” said a source close to Trump.

He's got a way to go.

Sucking up is a good start. But what he needs to do is start talking up a global trade war with no plan except to strut around saying the US isn't going to be laughed at anymore. If he can do that, he'll be Trump's very good boy again.

By the way, good old Wilbur is caught up in that Russia financial unpleasantness too...


Normalization Continues by tristero

Normalization Continues 

by tristero

Recently, I wrote about the outrageous stunt the NY Times pulled, turning over their entire editorial page to pro-Trump letter writers. But that's not all they're up to when it comes to normalizing the abnormal, as the Columbia Journalism Review reports:

[James Bennet, editorial page editor at the New York Times] says the Times is actively looking for Trump supporters to write regularly for its opinion section...

Great. Just what we need, more affirmative action for conservatives at the Paper of Record. There's just one teensy, tiny problem:
...but that there’s a short supply of writers who would live up to the rigorous standards the section demands. 
No kidding.

Troubles and Issues

"Troubles" are the things that bother people in their lives, that they talk about at night over the kitchen table, the things that they are actively worried about. "Issues" is what the political system does to run elections. ... When Issues don't speak to Troubles, and Troubles don't connect to Issues, you have a crisis in democracy.

-- Jay Rosen

This week's featured post is "Lies, Damned Lies, and Trump Administration Terrorism Statistics".

This week everybody was talking about a government shutdown

First, the simple facts: The shutdown became official at midnight Saturday morning. The Friday-night vote that made it final was 50-49 in the Senate. (John McCain, who is battling cancer, was the senator not voting.) The funding proposal fell well short of the 60 votes it needed to pass.

A continuing resolution to fund the government for four weeks had passed the House, but the 50 votes in the Senate were not enough to break a filibuster. The votes in both houses were mostly along party lines. In the House, Republicans voted 224-11 for the CR, and Democrats 186-6 against. In the Senate, Republicans voted for it 45-5 and Democrats against 44-5. The senators crossing party lines were five Democrats (Donnelly, Jones, Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill) and five Republicans (Flake, Graham, Lee, McConnell, Paul -- I suspect there's some procedural reason why McConnell voted against it once he knew it wasn't going to pass).

The two main sticking points in the negotiations leading up to the shutdown were preventing the deportation of the Dreamers and health insurance for children. (The CHIP program expired at the end of September. The states have kept it going anyway, but some will start running out of money soon.) The CR that failed funded CHIP for six years, but did nothing about the Dreamers, who will lose legal status in March because Trump killed President Obama's DACA program.

It is bizarre that these are the issues Congress is stuck on, because both are popular with the voters, and would pass if they came to the floor as individual measures. Probably the only reason CHIP wasn't reauthorized a long time ago was precisely so that Republicans could use it as a bargaining chip now. (In other words: We want to do the right thing, but only if we get something for it.) Paul Ryan is grandstanding about CHIP now, but Dylan Matthews points out all the opportunities he had to handle this problem without making it part of a shutdown vote. (In particular: Why isn't CHIP an entitlement like Medicare, rather than a program that comes up for a vote every few years?)

For weeks, optimists have expected a DACA-like program to be part of a deal that included tighter immigration rules and  more funding for border security, possibly even allowing Trump to claim that he had succeeded in getting money (from Congress and not from Mexico) to build his wall. The White House meeting that dissolved into the shithole-countries debacle was about precisely such a bipartisan deal that Senators Graham and Durbin had worked out. Since then, the main obstacle to a deal has been that Mitch McConnell didn't want to get stuck championing something that Trump wouldn't sign. All week he had been dropping ever-more-pointed hints that Trump should tell McConnell what he wants.

"I'm looking for something that President Trump supports, and he has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign,” McConnell said. “As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels."

Consequently: Nothing about DACA was in the deal voted on Friday night.

So here we are: Nobody really wants a government shutdown. Almost nobody wants children to lose health insurance. Only the most radical anti-immigration minority in Congress (and Stephen Miller in the White House) wants to deport the Dreamers. And yet, these are the things we're fighting about.

There's currently a vote scheduled in the Senate later today. This could all resolve quickly, or not.

In general, nobody-wins situations like this happen because each side has its own view of how the disaster will play out. (Labor strikes are similar: Each side thinks the other will have to fold first, so they push to the crisis.) So a large part of how this comes out depends on how the public reacts. Republicans clearly think the public will frame the issue as the Democrats standing up for illegal immigrants over the American people. (Part of that is code, as I've explained before: The "American people" are white Christians.) Democrats think that the Republicans in charge of everything will bear the blame, and also have the argument that they're just trying to get Trump to do something he has often claimed he wants to do anyway. If one side is wrong, that side will eventually have to give in.

and a lie about immigrants and terrorism

That's the subject of the featured post, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Trump Administration Terrorism Statistics". To their collective shame, Homeland Security and the Department of Justice assembled a report to back up a lie Trump told to Congress: "The vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country." The report is a textbook lesson on how to abuse statistics.

While we're talking immigration, this meme has been going around:

and the Trump/Russia connection

This still looks speculative to me, but a bombshell story from McClatchy claimed that the FBI is investigating whether money from a Russian oligarch was funneled through the National Rifle Association to help elect Trump.

Investigating, of course, doesn't always mean that they've found anything, or even that there's anything to find. The purely factual part of the story is that the NRA spent way more money supporting Trump ($30 million) than they have on Romney or previous Republican presidential candidates. The NRA/Russia link is supposed to be "Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." It's illegal to use foreign money to influence a U.S. election, so if this pans out, it's a crime.

My usual test for stories like this is whether I'd believe them if the parties were flipped. If I had heard that the FBI was investigating whether Chinese money had flowed through the Sierra Club to help Hillary Clinton, would I believe there was fire under that smoke? At this point, probably not. I plan to wait and see.

Another transcript related to the Steele dossier came out this week: Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired Christopher Steele to investigate Trump's relationship with Russia and Russian oligarchs, testified before the House Intelligence Committee in November. The committee released that transcript, with a few redactions, Thursday.

I haven't completed reading either this transcript or the comparable one from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Simpson seems impressive in what I've read of both. His investigation sounds nothing like the conspiracy theories Republicans are spreading about it. And he tells a coherent Trump/Russia narrative that may not be proven yet, but does fit a lot of the known facts: During a period when the Trump Organization wasn't considered credit-worthy, a lot of suspicious Russian money flowed into Trump projects in a way that looks like money laundering. This was the beginning of a Trump/Russia relationship that blossomed during the campaign, resulting in a significant effort by Russian intelligence to get Trump elected.

Simpson does a good job of stating what he knows and not overstating it. Like this:

"Evidence", I think, is a strong word. I think we saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering. ... You know, fast turnover deals and deals where there seemed to have been efforts to disguise the identity of the buyer.

Fusion GPS couldn't get "evidence" because they didn't have subpoena power to get bank records. But congressional committees do. Rep. Adam Schiff asked who they should subpoena, and Simpson laid it out:

I would go for the clearing banks in New York that cleared the transactions, you know. And there's—again, it's these sort of intermediary entities that have no real interest in protecting the information, and all you have to do is ask for it and they just sort of produced by rote. So we've done a lot of money laundering investigations where we go to the trust companies and the clearing entities. And so, you know, all dollar transactions are generally cleared through New York. So, you know, the main thing you have to do is identify the banks that were used.

Atlantic's David Graham followed up by asking Schiff whether the committee will follow this course. It's not happening, Schiff told him "because Republican members are not interested".

One of the arguments about the Democratic message for 2018 is whether or not they should come out for Trump's impeachment. I hope they don't go that far, because the hard evidence isn't there yet. (Evidence is a strong word.) Instead, I would argue that the public needs Democrats to take over Congress so that we can find out what happened. Republicans are blocking investigations, and Democrats will go wherever the facts lead. Maybe that will be impeachment and maybe it won't. We need to know the facts before we can say, and we'll never know them if Republicans stay in control.

and the end of Trump's first year

I was hoping to do my own wrap-up this week, but the article didn't come together, so I'll push it off to next week. One of the things I plan to do is examine whether, going into this administration, I was afraid of the right things. In particular, I'll look back at "The Trump Administration: What I'm Watching For", which I wrote two weeks after the election.

In particular, I said was watching to see if Trump would be doing any of these seven things.

  • taking credit for Obama’s accomplishments
  • taking credit for averting dangers that never existed
  • profiteering
  • changing the electorate
  • winking at right-wing paramilitary groups
  • subverting government agencies for political advantage
  • paying Putin back

All in all, I think in hindsight, not a bad list.

and you also might be interested in ...

If you don't care about actual civil rights, you need to make up something else for your civil rights offices to do. HHS is going to task its office to protect healthcare workers who have moral objections typical of conservative Christians -- not wanting to participate in abortions or in transgender patient transitions, for example.

The pending rule would establish a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the HHS civil rights office that would conduct compliance reviews, audits and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers to opt out of procedures when they have religious or moral objections.

The new office "would be empowered to further shield these workers and punish organizations that don’t allow them to express their religious and moral objections".

Since it's impossible to make allowance for everything that someone might claim is part of their religion -- what if a Jehovah's Witness EMT doesn't want to participate in blood transfusions? what if a pharmacist has a religious objection to insulin manufactured through genetic engineering? or to any drug whose testing process involved killing animals? -- there is literally no way to implement such a policy without favoring some religions over others. In practice, the moral objections of Baptists and Catholics will be seen as serious and reasonable, while those of less popular religions will get consideration only to the extent that popular religions share them. The moral objections of atheists will be ignored completely, since they're not "religious".

In short, having a religion (especially a popular one) gets you special rights.

In any other administration, it would be a major scandal if the president paid off a porn star not to talk about their affair. For Trump, it barely registers. I look at religious-right Trump supporters like Rev. Robert Jeffress and wonder what they'd be saying if The Wall Street Journal had written the exact same story about Obama.

BTW: I think it's a low blow to point out the resemblance between Stormy Daniels and Ivanka. Probably they both look like a younger version of Ivanka's mom, who Trump marrried. There's a quote in Daniels' article in In Touch that can be spun in an incestuous way, but it's not obvious Trump meant it like that, even assuming he actually said it.

Trump got a physical from a well regarded Navy doctor, who pronounced him basically healthy. In particular, he passed a cognitive-function test. Admittedly, that test is not hard. But it would catch a lot of the kinds of dementia people imagine Trump has.

I never put a lot of stock in the Trump-has-dementia narrative, and to the extent I ever did, I'm going to stop talking about it. To me it's like the Bush-is-stupid narrative that popped up so often during W's administration. Bush was not stupid, he just had no interest in most of the topics we expect presidents to stay on top of. Probably if you talked to him about baseball, you'd be surprised how much he knows.

I suspect something similar about Trump: He has an unfocused mind, like a lot of people do. It's hard for him to dig deeply into any subject, and the only topic that really interests him is himself. He indulges in wishful thinking, and refuses to let facts or expert opinions change his mind. These are all serious deficiencies in a president, but there's no reason to think they point to a medical problem. His faults get more pronounced as he gets older, but that also is not unusual. Your uncle who was cantankerous at 50 is probably even more cantankerous at 70; that's not a sign of insanity, it's just how people age.

Earlier this month, Josh Marshall got this issue right: The important thing is what Trump does, not why.

All the diagnosis of a mental illness could tell us is that Trump might be prone to act in ways that we literally see him acting in every day: impulsive, erratic, driven by petty aggressions and paranoia, showing poor impulsive control, an inability to moderate self-destructive behavior.

There's no need to argue about hidden causes when the effects are more important and so plain to see.

This interview with psychiatrist Allen Frances is well worth reading. He discusses both Trump (who he describes as bad rather than mad) and the people who support him. He advocates more political action from the public, rather than hoping that some cabal within the administration will use a psychological diagnosis to invoke the 25th amendment.

As a commenter pointed out last week: Most of the Americans who retire to Mexico are undocumented.

One 2015 study from Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography reveals that a stunning 91.2 percent of Americans in the country don't have their papers in order.

Still no one knows what Trump's inaugural committee did with the $107 million it raised. Obama's committee put on a bigger show for more people with half as much money, so either somebody made a huge profit or there's a $50 million dollar slush fund out there somewhere.

but you should listen to Jay Rosen

One my favorite news-media observers is Jay Rosen from Columbia University. His summary of how the news media has responded to Trump's first year is the first half of this episode of the Recode podcast. He was interviewed on Recode last year, and made a number of observations that other news people eventually came around to -- like that there was really no point in interviewing Kellyanne Conway, since it was impossible either for the journalist or the readers/viewers to pull any trustworthy information out of the mass of disinformation you would get from her.

In this interview, he talks about the press's loyalty to "rituals" that no longer serve a purpose in the Trump era. The press continues to fight for access to the White House "because that's what the White House press corps does". But even scoring the ultimate access -- an interview with the President himself -- does practically nothing to keep readers/viewers informed.

The whole purpose of interviewing a sitting president is that you can find out about their thinking, you can illuminate their policy choices, you can dig a little deeper into what they plan to do. That assumes that the president has policy ideas.

In an interview situation, [Trump is] just saying what — at the moment — makes him feel like the best, the biggest, the greatest, the brightest, the richest, the most potent. He’s just saying whatever comes to his mind as the most spectacular boast he can think of. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything about his policies.

He criticized the press for continuing to project normality onto Trump, for example, by talking about his "foreign policy" as if there were such a thing.

One of the more interesting parts of the interview was when the interviewer (Peter Kafka) brought up Rosen's previous statements that the press should "listen" to the American people more. Kafka related it to the various articles we have seen in which reporters go interview Trump voters in rural areas they don't usually cover. Rosen agreed that some good journalism came out of that effort, but said it wasn't what he had meant. He backed up to talk about a distinction (attributed to sociologist C. Wright Mills) between "troubles" and "issues".

"Troubles" are the things that bother people in their lives, that they talk about at night over the kitchen table, the things that they are actively worried about. "Issues" is what the political system does to run elections and win coalitions. And his point is that when Issues don't speak to Troubles, and Troubles don't connect to Issues, you have a crisis in democracy.

So my point was not that journalists should just go out and listen to the Trump voters because they got the election wrong. It was that if journalists could somehow listen to people's Troubles in a new and more potent way, then they would be in a position to represent those people better than the political system does when it fashions them into Issues. Now that's a deeper and more ambitious project than "Let's check in with Trump voters in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to see if they still support Donald Trump."

I think we saw a lot of that kind of parachuting into Trump Country, which is sort of an anthropological -- or some people said "zoological" -- exercise. We saw a lot of that. But what I was talking about was trying to kind of recover authority by understanding the Troubles that led to the results that we saw in 2016.

and let's close with something adorable

The world's smallest cat lives in Sri Lanka and when fully grown, weighs about a kilogram.


They want mass deportation, that’s all there is to it

They want mass deportation, that's all there is to it

by digby

I wrote about the Republicans and what they really want for Salon this morning:

In May of last year, President Donald Trump said "our country needs a shutdown." Over the weekend he got his wish. After a tumultuous couple of weeks in which the president said he would agree to a clean DACA bill "of love" and then ranted about not wanting any more immigration from "shithole" countries, the Republican House majority voted for a stopgap spending measure to keep the government funded. But the Republican Senate couldn't muster more than 51 votes and it needed 60.

As I write this, all non-essential government services are closed and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a vote on DACA if Democrats agree to a stopgap measure lasting until Feb. 8. He has scheduled a vote for noon on Monday. Of course they've been kicking this can down the road for months. McConnell promised the same thing in December and never delivered the DACA vote, but maybe he really means it this time.

The sticking points are a fix for DACA recipients, enhanced border security including the Trumpian border wall, newly introduced draconian restrictions on legal immigration and funding for the Childrens' Health Insurance Program. The DACA issue and the CHIP program basically involve young people and sick children being held as hostages by Republicans to get their extreme immigration policies enacted.

The best description of what the negotiations have been like over the past three days came from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a speech on Saturday when he said working with Trump was “like negotiating with Jell-O." He said Democrats had capitulated on the wall and in return Trump told him he would push for a measure to keep the government open for four or five days so they could hammer out the details. Then:

“Several hours later he called back. He said, ‘So, I hear we have a three-week deal.’ I said, 'No, Mr. President, no one is even talking about a three-week deal,'” Schumer recounted. 
“Then a few hours later they called back again, ‘Well we’re going to need this, this, this in addition,’” Schumer said. “Things they knew were far, far right and off the table.”
Basically, every time the parties reach an actual agreement, the right-wingers demand more.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who foolishly believed he had seduced the president into adopting a moderate stance on the issue, was more or less with Schumer on the character of the negotiations. Graham said on Sunday, “As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we're going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years.”

The malevolent Miller, a White House policy adviser, may be an outlier but he's been a pretty successful one. He and his former boss Jeff Sessions (then in the Senate), along with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were responsible for the failure of the last big push for comprehensive immigration reform back in 2013. Miller seems to be good at currying favor with his xenophobic bosses.

Sessions himself worked tirelessly to ensure the DREAM Act was never passed, which was why DACA was required in the first place. Back in 2010 Sessions made the casethat young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents and were in all respects but paperwork American citizens should be sent back to countries many could not remember. He called the DREAM Act "amnesty" for uneducated, unproductive criminal welfare recipients and said it would cost "hard-working Americans" vast sums of money. That was, of course, a lie, but Sessions managed to get the votes to scuttle the bill.

Trump made that man his attorney general. Immigration is the issue most closely associated with Trump's campaign. His closest advisers on the issue, from Steve Bannon to Miller to chief of staff John Kelly, are hardcore anti-immigration zealots. The president himself blew up the negotiations over the notion that people from "shithole" countries were coming into the United States legally. Why, if we didn't know better you'd think they don't really want a deal at all.

The GOP revealed its true strategy over the weekend with this repugnant message:

The White House tried to distance the president from the ad but the fact that it concludes with the words "I'm Donald Trump and I approve this message," disproves that claim. Trump also tweeted several times that the Democrats have shut down the government because they care more about "illegal immigrants" more than they care about the American people. His secretary of homeland security backed him up:

Characterizing this issue as one of conferring "benefits" on "illegal immigrants" is code for the dreaded "amnesty," which leads directly to the racist trope that they are all on welfare. The administration is now consciously demagoguing against DACA recipients by conflating them with criminals.

Yes, the polls all say that there is a bipartisan majority in favor of helping the Dreamers. Even many Republican voters aren't so heartless that they think it makes sense to deport 800,000 young people simply because their parents broke the immigration laws when they were small children. years old. Everyone knows that it's the Democrats who are trying to help them. That would explain why party officials and the White House are purposefully conflating Dreamers with criminal gang members in that ad. They have to keep their voters confused and angry.

It's obvious from the Keystone Kops nature of the so-called negotiations that Trump isn't strategizing. His racist id and his desire to get a "win" are being pulled in opposite directions, depending on whom he listens to at any given time. His lack of understanding of the issue or how laws are actually made makes him a hindrance to deal making. But we know what Trump wants. He's said it many times during debates and on the stump during the campaign:

We either have a country, or we don’t have a country. We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. Some will come back, the best, through a process. They have to come back legally. They have to come back through a process, and it may not be a very quick process, but I think that’s very fair, and very fine.
Yes, he's hedged on the Dreamers from time to time. But seriously, all you have to do is look at his rhetoric from the moment he announced his candidacy to understand what he really, deep down, wants to do. It was the central promise of his presidential campaign from day one.

So yes, I think it's probably true that as president he's being manipulated in the negotiations by the odious Stephen Miller and probably by Kelly and Sessions too. They know what buttons he really likes pushed. And some ambitious Republican hardliners like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and members of the ever-cunning House Freedom Caucus are riding the Trump zeitgeist as well.

But let's not pretend it's all Trump and his courtiers. The Republican majority in Congress has been playing Russian roulette with the Dreamers for years now. They have blocked every single solution to the problem, and it's irrational at this point to believe they are acting in good faith.


 1 2 3 >  Last ›