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Tom Waits Friday: Hold On

Good advice for a bad day:
Oh, you build it up, you wreck it down
Then you burn your mansion to the ground
Oh, there's nothing left to keep you here
But when you're falling behind in this big blue world
Oh, you've got to hold on, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here, you gotta hold on

The owners are back in charge

The owners are back in charge

by digby

When Bush and Cheney seized office under dubious circumstances, the Villagers all crowed that the "grown-ups" were back in charge.

Well, the grown-ups screwed the pooch. Now the owners are taking personal control:

“My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee. I have decided to stop taking offense,” she wrote, “at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment." --- Betsy DeVos

It is not a new idea. The first Chief Justice of the United States John Jay said it from the beginning:

Those who own the country ought to govern it.

I sure hope all those angry Real Americans knew what they were doing.


Thanks, Cap


A “blank pardon”

A "blank pardon"

by digby

Yes, she's dumb, but she swims in the same fever swamp as millions of other Trump voters:

Speaking with “Trending Today USA” host Rusty Humphries yesterday, former Republican congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann declared that Hillary Clinton should be in jail and said she “would not be surprised” if President Obama issues a “blank pardon” for Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton before leaving office on Friday. 
Bachmann objected to Obama’s commutation of the sentence of Chelsea Manning, whom she referred to as Bradley Manning, and claimed that Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state “most likely” caused “America’s most vital secrets” to be “intercepted” and “released to the world.” 
“We had the worst intelligence failures ever in the history of the United States under Barack Obama,” she said, “by Bradley Manning, by Edward Snowden and by none other than our secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who because of her selfishness in having an unsecured server set up in her home had America’s most vital secrets intercepted, most likely, by our enemies and released to the world. Barack Obama should be ashamed, Bradley Manning should be in jail and Hillary Clinton, in my opinion, should be there with him.” 
“I would look for a pardon coming for Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton Foundation before noon on Friday,” she said, noting that people not charged with crimes can be “pre-pardoned.” 
“I would not be surprised if we don’t see Barack Obama issue a blank pardon for anything Bill, Hillary, Chelsea or the Clinton Foundation has done,” she said.

Just so you know going in --- all the emerging information about Trump's corruption is going to be met with the inane response that Crooked Hillary was worse, with veiled threats to throw her in jail or worse.

Smell test

Smell test

by digby

I'm guessing that if you like the rancid smell of self-tanner and AquaNet you'll love the smell of Trump-scented candles:

There are Donald Trump-shaped cookie cutters, “Drain the swamp” sweatshirts and candles meant to smell like the new president – a combination of “all of the classiest smells,” according to the product’s description. Keep searching among the Trump-inspired flasks, paperweights and peppermints and you’ll find coffee mugs that say “Build that wall” and a penny stamped with “Trump” selling for $2.75.

Online shops, street vendors and high-end boutiques around town said they spent weeks preparing for Friday’s inauguration with equal parts sincerity and snark in hopes of cashing in on fans and foes of the next president.

At Chocolate Moose, a novelty gift shop a half-mile from the White House, shelves were lined with Trump whoopee cushions and chocolate miniatures of the Capitol. The Trump mask, a Halloween favorite, was back in stock.

“Up to now, absolutely, it’s been all about the gag stuff,” said Michele Cosby, the store’s owner.

The best-selling item? Toilet paper emblazoned with Trump’s face. “We sold cases upon cases of it,” Cosby said. “And at $12 a roll, it wasn’t cheap.” (But, she added, she stopped selling the popular item once Trump became president-elect: “We didn’t want to cross the line.”)

At the Great Republic, which had inauguration pop-up shops at the St. Regis and Mandarin Oriental hotels in Washington, revelers could pick up pens made of wood from the White House and hand-painted with portraits of Trump for $1,950 each.

Over in Georgetown, local jeweler Ann Hand had sold nearly 1,000 inaugural pins bearing Trump’s name and a slew of pavé stones. She was also selling inaugural cuff links, charm bracelets and a limited number of mother-of-pearl pins with Swarovski crystals for $250.
“It’s been a very tough inaugural to buy for,” said Warlick, who began selling inauguration-related items in 1981. “Usually we only do pro-presidential items, but this time we also have ‘resistance products’ because people are so divided.”...

Meanwhile, the official inauguration shop funded by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, was selling sweatshirts bearing the inaugural seal ($55), Trump koozies ($20 for six) and red cap ornaments that say “Make America Great Again,” complete with 24-karat gold accents ($99).

But on Washington streets, vendors said they just hadn’t seen as much demand this year for president-related mugs, T-shirts, shot glasses and key chains as they as they did ahead of previous inaugurations. In a town where 91 percent of residents voted for Clinton, they said it has been difficult to sell Trump-related merchandise.

“We’re all dealing with the same dilemma: What quantity of shirts do we get?” said a vendor with a booth at Connecticut Avenue and K Street NW who declined to give his name. “. . . We cannot afford to get stuck with all this Trump stuff. People in Washington resent that fact that we even carry these shirts.”

Warlick said he expects to sell inauguration-related items through May. For now, a line of Michelle Obama merchandise continues to outsell both his Trump and Clinton inaugural lines.

“Sales have been nowhere near what they were with Clinton and Obama,” Warlick said, adding that he expects to sell about one-third the Trump merchandise as he did for Obama back in 2009. “Obama’s first inaugural was – to use Trump’s own words – yuge.”

There was a time when Trump would have been excited about how much money he was going to make selling his Trump branded merch. Now he's selling the President of the United States brand which is worth so much more...

A Trump Era Survival Guide


Michael Flynn isn’t the only crazy one on the inside

Michael Flynn isn't the only crazy one on the inside

by digby

Here's a little tid-bit I hadn't heard before about Trump and Giuliani's little October Surprise. We knew that old Rudy had gone on TV bragging about how they had "something up their sleeves" and talking about all his friends in the FBI. I hadn't heard about this interview with Breitbart on November 4th with the notorious former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince talking about how he was wired in with the NYPD on the same story.

Anyway, this is interesting:

Prince claimed to have sources within the Weiner investigation who were illegally leaking information to him. In Prince’s case, the sources were within NYPD, and the information he relayed from them to Breitbart News on November 4th—when it was not yet known that Comey, the next day, would reveal the “new” Clinton emails to be duplicates—turned out to be almost entirely false. The full extent of Prince’s lies on November 4th, all of which were Trump campaign disinformation delivered by an adviser and major donor to the campaign, are too numerous and spectacular to list here. Two brief quotes from Breitbart’s interview with Prince should suffice:

Prince claimed he had insider knowledge of the investigation that could help explain why FBI Director James Comey had to announce he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s email server last week....”[NYPD] found a lot of other really damning criminal information [on Weiner’s computer], including money laundering, including the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Clinton went there more than twenty times. Hillary Clinton went there at least six times,” he said. “The amount of garbage that they found in these emails, of criminal activity by Hillary, by her immediate circle, and even by other Democratic members of Congress, was so disgusting they gave it to the FBI, and they said, ‘We’re going to go public with this if you don’t reopen the investigation and you don’t do the right thing with timely indictments,’” Prince explained. “I believe—I know, and this is from a very well-placed source of mine at One Police Plaza in New York—the NYPD wanted to do a press conference announcing the warrants and the additional arrests they were making in this investigation, and they’ve gotten huge pushback, to the point of coercion, from the Justice Department.”
“So NYPD first gets that computer. They see how disgusting it is. They keep a copy of everything, and they pass a copy on to the FBI, which finally pushes the FBI off their chairs, making Comey reopen that investigation, which was indicated in the letter last week. The point being, NYPD has all the information, and they will pursue justice within their rights if the FBI doesn’t. There is all kinds of criminal culpability through all the emails they’ve seen of that 650,000, including money laundering, underage sex, pay-for-play, and, of course, plenty of proof of inappropriate handling, sending/receiving of classified information, up to Special Access Programs....The point being, fortunately, it’s not just the FBI; five different offices are in the hunt for justice, but the NYPD has it as well....From what I understand, up to the commissioner or at least the chief level in NYPD, they wanted to have a press conference, and DOJ, Washington people, political appointees have been exerting all kinds of undue pressure on them to back down....This kind of evil, this kind of true dirt on Hillary Clinton—look, you don’t have to make any judgments. Just release the emails. Just dump them. Let them out there. Let people see the light of truth.”
All of this is bullshit, needless to say.

People are saying that fear of this is what made Comey make his big announcement. That makes no sense. His big announcement is what hurled this otherwise inane fever swamp story into the stratosphere.  And he wasn't born yesterday. He certainly knew what the effect would be.

But this is another interesting little factoid that one would hope the FBI Inspector general would look into in his investigation.

By the way, Jeremy Scahill revealed this week that Prince has been an unofficial adviser to the Trump transition.

A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the Defense and State departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.

On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald Trump and Mike Pence watched the returns come in, including a close shot of Pence and Trump with their families. “We know some people who worked closely with [Trump] on his campaign,” DeLuke wrote. “Waiting for the numbers to come in last night. It was well worth the wait!!!! #PresidentTrump2016.” Prince’s sister, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and Prince (and his mother) gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.

In July, Prince told Trump’s senior adviser and white supremacist Steve Bannon, at the time head of Breitbart News, that the Trump administration should recreate a version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination ring that operated during the Vietnam War, to fight ISIS. Such a program, Prince said, could kill or capture “the funders of Islamic terror and that would even be the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities they’re in.”

Prince also said that Trump would be the best force to confront “Islamic fascism.” “As for the world looking to the United States for leadership, unfortunately, I think they’re going to have to wait till January and hope Mr. Trump is elected because, clearly, our generals don’t have a stomach for a fight,” Prince said. “Our president doesn’t have a stomach for a fight and the terrorists, the fascists, are winning.”

He's obviously very much on the inside. Great.

Today in Both Sides Do It: Karma is a Wingnut Named Angie

As you all know, most of the expatriate members of the Republican the management and propaganda castes who scattered like rats once the Bush Administration went tits-up immediately set up shop right across the street where the started running a new and very profitable scam known around these parts as the High and Holy Cult (or Church) of Both Siderism. For all those poor Republican base voter refugees who were in danger of rotting in the desert of Taking Shit From Libtards Over Bush, the deacons of the High and Holy Cult of Both Siderism provided a valuable service.  

Both Siderism was their exit visa.

The deacons of this cult taught an entire generation of Conservative meatheads that "But Both Sides!" (plus an ouchless name-change from "Republican" to "Independent" or "True Conservative" or "Constitutional Conservative" or "Tea Party Patriot" or whatever) are Expelliarmus-grade Magic Conjure Words.  Whenever they find themselves at risk of having to admit to lying or hypocrisy or, worst of all, that maybe they and their favorite Fake News outlet were wrong about something and the Dirty Liberals were right, without batting an eye they know to bust out their laminated, "Get Out Of Taking Responsibility Free" and, with a wide, smirking leer, intone "But boooooooooth sides!"

"Both Side Do It" is their Letter of Transit:

So how grimly hilarious it is to see a genuine, bottle-fed Both Siderist wingnut rear up and sink her fangs into one of the hands that raised her, just as she's been taught to do:
You know, I don't mind a parasite.

I object to a cut-rate one being hired as ABC News' Chief Political Analyst.

Ready on Day One? (For what?)

Ready on Day 1?

by digby

The man who promised to run the country like he ran his businesses, including the four bankruptcies, has had the most disastrous transition in history. Most of his people have not been properly vetted or passed FBI background checks. His cabinet appointees are a mess. His staff is inexperienced, corrupt and extreme.

So what's going to happen in the short run? A DC hand explains:

On the other hand, this is scary. Who ARE these people?

At 12:01 p.m. Friday, Donald Trump’s aides will deploy a team of temporary political appointees into federal agencies to begin laying the groundwork for the president-elect’s agenda while his nominees await Senate confirmation, sources familiar with the plan told POLITICO.

While the transition team has been building the so-called beachhead teams for months, they are taking on outsize importance because few of Trump’s nominees will be confirmed by the time he’s sworn in.

Trump’s transition has instructed members of the beachhead teams to skip the inauguration and be at their desks the moment he is sworn in, sources close to the transition said.

Trump transition spokeswoman Jessica Ditto disputed that beachhead members were given instructions that would require them to miss the inauguration.

"We have approximately 520 individuals on the beachhead teams and they have worked with the agencies to go in any time after 12:01 [p.m.] on Friday — each team has worked out their own timing," she said in an email. "These individuals are honored to help the Trump Administration on Day 1 and are ready to serve our country."

Beachhead members will get badges just like any other federal employee and begin to take over the agencies, said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, which advises incoming administrations on transitions. The goal is to ensure a smooth transfer of power not just at the White House, but at crucial federal agencies as well.

“The beachhead team is a newish structure, built by the [Mitt] Romney transition,” Stier said. “The basic concept is a recognition that incoming administrations do not have the full confirmed team in place. How do you put people in to keep the agencies running?”

Reed Cordish, whom Trump recently tapped as his assistant for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, organized the agency beachhead teams — whose size varies agency to agency, anywhere from a few people to a dozen. However, the size of these teams has grown exponentially in the past two weeks, with Republicans around town emailing each other congratulatory notes about making it into these coveted slots.

Landing on a beachhead team may translate into a job at that agency, at least for the first four months or so of the new administration until a secretary can get confirmed and officially put together his or her team. “It means that you’re almost guaranteed a job if you want one in that department,” said a GOP strategist close to the transition.

Trump’s team has long worried that career federal workers and President Barack Obama’s political appointees will seek to undermine the president-elect’s agenda. The transition sees the beachhead teams, named after the line of defense that the military constructs as it lands in enemy territory, as a check on existing agency officials.

The transition team has also instructed the teams to begin collecting information and laying organizational groundwork so that Trump’s secretaries and undersecretaries can hit the ground running once they’re confirmed.

In addition, Trump’s team has identified a few dozen Obama political appointees who have been asked to stay on after Friday to help with the transition, sources said.

For example, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday that Trump’s team said U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals can stay past Friday.

As is customary when a new president enters the White House, all political appointees must submit resignation letters that take effect at noon on Inauguration Day. Many Obama administration officials had not heard until recently whether they would be asked to stay.

One Obama administration official said some people who have been asked to stick around are on the fence because they’ve already begun to line up jobs outside the government.

This feels like a coup.

Operation Memory Hole:  The Douthatening

Between bong hits in the Andrew Sullivan Memorial True Conservative Dorm Room and Fanciful Speculatarium, the very-nearly always wrong Ross Douthat reposed on medium-sized pile of money, peered into the cracked and wine-dappled crystal ball he borrowed from Peggy Noonan and speculated about History and The Future.
But with that proviso, here are a few guesses as to how [President Obama's] legacy will ultimately be judged...  
What followed was mostly-harmless flapdoodle.  Another lazy, cosseted Conservative columnist padding out another column with sawdust and moonbeams and navel-gazing until it's nothing but sawdust and moonbeams and navel-gazing.

And then, suddenly, the bong breaks and the crystal ball falls, and down comes Ross Douthat, navel and all.

Because for all the sawdust and moonbeams and navel-gazing, at this moment in history the single most important task for trifling Conservative hacks with outsized megaphones like Mr. Douthat is to hang the blame for the Rise of The Bastard President somewhere far, far away from themselves. Somewhere far, far away from the sprawling, multi-media Conservative lie factory in which Mr. Douthat serves as a medium-sized cog.  The sprawling, multi-media Conservative lie factory which created a political breeding ground for The Bastard President by building a Republican base that was malignantly ignorant enough --
-- to fling themselves into the arms of a gibbering beast who sold them a supersized version of the same grotesque fairy tale that the sprawling, multi-media Conservative lie factory has been telling them for years -- that their paranoia is actually patriotism and their ignorance and bigotry is a mark of special grace.

And thus Mr. Douthat rolls out of his New York Times hammock and straight into the important business of blaming President Obama and his liberals cult (hey, I finally made it into the NYT!) for the Rise of the Bastard President
Not that this will prevent him from being a liberal icon, years or generations hence. If John F. Kennedy’s blundering imperilment of world peace was buried under hagiography, there will be a similar forgetting spread over Obama’s foreign policy setbacks. As the first black president, the politician who passed health care reform and the man who personally embodied upper-class liberalism’s cosmopolitan self-image, he will almost certainly regain, in what is sure to be an active post-presidency, some of the cult that surrounded him during his ascent.

But it is precisely this once-and-future cult that’s crucial to understanding Obama’s greatest failure, and the part he played in delivering us to Trumpism...
And now, boys and girls, we are well and truly off to the races.  Because it wasn't the sprawling, multi-media Conservative lie factory which Mr. Douthat serves so obediently that dumbed-down and angered up the wingnuts to the point of voting the country off a cliff.  No, it was President "transformational-bordering-on-messianic" style and embrace of "the imperial presidency" which created the "perfervid fears" within the widdle hearts of Real Murricans.
The fears helped give us both the zeal of the Tea Party and the alienation of the Trumpistas.
Mr. Douthat, put down the bong for two minutes and heed to your betters. As certain dirty hippies have been saying since 2009,  There. Is. No. Tea. Party.

There never was a Tea Party.

There was only ever a rebranding scam for gutless Republicans base voters who were desperate to get on with the important business of hating the first black president because deficits! and czars!  and tyranny!  and stuff! before he had even unpacked...
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... without having to answer any tricky questions about why they had spent the previous eight years cheering on President Dumbass as he did exactly those things that they had suddenly decided were insuperably evil.

So much easier to put on a stupid hat, wave a little Koch Brothers funded flag, step into the Bush-Off Machine and pop out the other side pretending that you'd never even heard of George W. Bush...especially since America's major media outlets were so damned eager to aid and abet that Big Lie.

But the ruse is long dead.  Zombie-dead to be sure since every dime-store wingnut poo-flinger resurrects it whenever they need a weasel-worded synonym for "the same old, dumbfuck Republican base", but higher up the food chain Douthat's fellow useless New York Times Conservative tool, David Fucking Brooks, finally admitted that there is no Tea Party.  Hell, even Joe Fucking Scarborough finally admitted that there is no Tea Party.

I guess the older kids are not sharing their communiques from True Conservative Central Command with support staff like Mr. Douthat.  Sad!

Of course being a loyal pray-pay-and-obey member of the Beltway's High and Holy Cult of Both Siderism, Mr. Douthat is contractually obligated to briefly double-back and try to soften his vile "blame Obama" claptrap with a dose of equally idiotic "blame everybody"claptrap:
I would blame a lot of people — Republican leaders and conservative media personalities and the liberal cultural establishment and Hillary Clinton’s campaign team and Angela Merkel and more — for Trump’s rise more than I would blame Obama.
And yet...
But I still suspect that the Trumpening might have been prevented had Obama promised less grandly, eschewed imperial temptations when stymied in his ambitions, and dressed his technocratic liberalism in less arc-of-history nonsense.
See, if only President Obama had been more flexible, probably none of this woulda happened!

If only President Obama woulda been more like, say, Bill Clinton --
"...a man of more modest promises and somewhat more Bill Clintonian flexibility..."
-- probably everyone woulda gotten along fine!

Surely under that scenario,  Mr. Douthat's Republican Party would never have devolved into a horde of hateful, deluded scumbags addicted to political demagogues and Conservative media liars (from the NYT in December of 1994):
Republicans Get a Pep Talk From Rush Limbaugh
Published: December 12, 1994

BALTIMORE, Dec. 10— To all the advice for the new Republicans coming to Congress, add this from Rush Limbaugh: A hostile press corps lurks inside the Beltway.

"You will never ever be their friends," the talk-show host warned most of the 73 Republican freshmen at a dinner here tonight. "They don't want to be your friends. Some female reporter will come up to one of you and start batting her eyes and ask you to go to lunch. And you'll think, 'Wow! I'm only a freshman. Cokie Roberts wants to take me to lunch. I've really made it!' " The audience laughed.

"Seriously," he added. "Don't fall for this. This is not the time to get moderate. This is not the time to start trying to be liked."

The freshman class, which included not a single "femi-Nazi," one of Mr. Limbaugh's favorite epithets for supporters of women's rights, whooped and applauded, proving itself one big fan club of the man it believes was primarily responsible for the Republican avalanche in November...

Surely under that scenario,  Mr. Douthat's Republican Party would never have turned into a mob of seditious goons who would shut the entire government down in a fit of pique:

Surely under that scenario,  Mr. Douthat's Republican Party would never have morphed into gang of rage-drunk thugs who would use any means at their disposal to cripple the Democratic president's ability to simply govern as he was elected to do:

Yes, of only President Obama had been more like Bill Clinton, then surely his successor would not have been a wildly unqualified dolt who lost the popular vote but "won" anyway thanks to our electoral process being tampered with by people I would not trust to cat-sit for five minutes (from New York Magazine, in June of 2012):
Yes, Bush v. Gore Did Steal the Election
By Jonathan Chait

The general topic of wildly partisan Supreme Court rulings is on everybody’s mind right now for some reason. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney wants everybody to know that the Supreme Court really, truly did not hand the presidential election to George W. Bush. “You can disagree with the ruling in Bush v. Gore,” writes Carney, “but you can’t honestly argue that it decided the election.”

Well, yes, you can. In fact we know nearly for certain that the recount stopped by the Supreme Court would have given Gore the lead. (Of course, it’s entirely possible that the Republican-controlled Florida legislature would have simply overridden the results of the count and handed the state to Bush, as it threatened to do.) But Carney is repeating a common misconception.

Now, the actual effect of the recount is obviously something of a side issue when assessing the actions of the Court. Nobody knew the outcome of the recount, only that it threatened to make Al Gore president, and stopping it would guarantee Bush’s victory. That is the environment in which five Republican-appointed justices essentially invented a one-time-only ruling to stop the recount...

And obviously under that scenario,  Mr. Douthat's Republican Party would never have gotten the stone cold Orwellian nerve to launch a massive, multi-media Memory Hole campaign to pretend that none of this ever happened.

See, this is the problem when you hire creatures like Ross Douthat who dare not remember the past as it actually happened to Opine Gassily In Public .  Your paper ends up looking like the people who run it are liars or collaborators or rich, inbred idiots or all of the above.

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