Authoritarianism: Feb 19–Feb 25 Changes

aka, “Last Night In Sweden…”

Join in! We can all do this. Make note of the changes you see because we have batshit authoritarians and fascists in the WH.

  1. Toxic.

2. Extraordinarily difficult to take Rinse Preebus seriously.

3. Good to know.

4. In a nutshell.

Considering the wealthy stature of most of Trump’s cabinet appointees, it’s not a surprise that several of them would have conflicts of interest. It does seem like quite a coincidence, however, that so many of these conflicts have to do with Putin’s Russia. It would almost be reassuring to hear about a scandal involving one of Trump’s nominees and, say, Saudi Arabia or Venezuela.
Instead, it’s Russian hacking, Russian phone calls and Russian banking.

5. Watch out what happens while 45 stirs up shitstorms.

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has signed sweeping new guidelines that empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the United States and at the border.
In a pair of memos, Kelly offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests.

6. And this is why Secret Service should shut MAL down completely when 45 visits. This occurred to me weeks ago, and it most certainly occurred to anyone competent the moment he was elected if not before.

7. Two tweet threads to help pull things together and into perspective.

8. A spot of potentially good news. We have to work hard the next two years.

9. This is such a repudiation of what we’ve traditionally stood for.

10. The townhall stories are quite something, though. I have never in my life seen so much widespread activity at townhalls…

https://news.vice.com/story/more-than-200-republicans-in-congress-are-skipping-february-town-halls-with-constituents?

Whoa.

And even in rural Iowa:

I stress, these are not liberal bastions with lots of liberal voters:

Man, these are just piling up.

Oh, burn:

Cotton’s a grade A asshole, so this is no surprise.

And if they are no-shows, talk anyway!

OK. ONE bastard with some spine.

And by way of contrast <grin>

11. Why is the GOP so bent on destruction? This isn’t just difference of opinion. We all have to drink water, breathe air.

12. Spine. This woman has it.

13. Karma’s a bitch. But still:

However they may bluster online, the new right and the alt-right hate being called Nazis.

Good to know.

And bingo. Remember, there are U.S. states that allow 12 year old girls to be married off.

Delicious as you might find it to see karma come for Yiannopoulos, what he actually said about gay relationships and child molestation was less offensive than a great many bigoted things he has come out with — in part because, for once, it seemed just a little bit true to his experience. When he spoke about consenting relationships between adult men where there’s a large age gap, he was talking about something that is a real and meaningful part of romantic experience for a lot of gay men — and something that American conservatives seem to have no problem with when the participants are heterosexual or, indeed, presidential candidates. His mangled age-of-consent comments and crass priest jokes are a bridge too far, especially for the conservative mainstream, which has so far held performative racism, transphobia, sexism, and xenophobia as well within the bounds of free speech. Today, absolutely nobody, from his publishers to his former tour promoter, is defending Yiannopoulos’ right to consequence-free speech. This is not liberalism winning the day. This is the victorious far right purging the brownshirts.

14. Of course pretty much everything is on a WH hit list…

15. Fucking grifters, the entire lot of them.

16. This is interesting. This level of micromanaging is actually completely impossible, and it is starting to look like the WH will be eating its own.

Top officials at the Defense and Homeland Security departments have disagreed with White House aides over potential deputy hires and political appointees, administration and government officials say. Some candidates dropped out of the bid for national security adviser because Trump’s team appeared reluctant to let them pick their own people, sources say.
A White House official said it was the Trump administration’s right to hire at agencies across the board. “We won the election because people wanted us to run the government,” this person said. “We are putting our people in place to do that.”

I mean this whole shitgibbon admin is all NEENER NEENER WE WON WE WON YOU GUYS GET TO EAT A SHIT SANDWICH AND LICK OUR SHOES! IF YOU EVER SAID ANYTHING MEAN ABOUT US YOU’LL BE SOOOOOOOOORRRRRYYYYY!

Buncha 12 year olds with grubby paws on the nuke codes. I swear.

When an informal adviser to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently recommended a candidate for a high-level Senate-confirmed position at the agency, the adviser was told that the candidate had little chance of getting the job because the person had previously worked for an organization that was seen as being at odds with Trump’s policy positions, one person familiar with the issue said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has clashed with White House officials over top officials in his department, sources say. The White House saw some of Mnuchin’s picks as too liberal or not supportive enough of Trump, sources say. Trump has yet to name Mnuchin’s №2, nor has he tapped any undersecretaries or assistant secretaries at the department.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has struggled with the White House to appoint his own aides, with significant pushback from the White House over deputy positions and ambassadorships. Several high-level people were delayed or scuttled because they didn’t agree with Trump during the campaign or because the White House preferred someone else, including Elliott Abrams, who Tillerson wanted to be his No 2. One person said Tillerson “basically has nobody in his agency yet” to fill out the top ranks.

Pass the popcorn.

17. Bugs the shit out of me too. It’s MAL as far as I’m concerned.

18. Unsurprised. 45 might be biting off more than he can chew here.

19. Fucks sake.

20. I am fascinated by how cities have become players in all this.

21. What could possibly go wrong?

22. I’m appalled to see this as an issue in this sorry excuse of a WH.

tl;dr: Gorka is a fucking nutcase.

Of course, if Gorka’s ultimate goal is to promote the idea of an apocalyptic struggle between Islam and the West, it makes perfect sense that he would overstate the probability of recidivism among Guantanamo detainees. But this is just a Fox & Friends segment, relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things. What happens when it comes time to carefully evaluate a complicated pile of evidence and make a big decision about national-security policy or counterterrorism? Who will win, the Trump-Bannon-Gorka crowd, or Mattis, McMaster, and their allies in the traditional national-security establishment?

More on Gorka here from a tweet, which described him as a “rage-monkey.” Because that’s what we need in our government, obviously >.<

23. More infighting. I’m a bit more on the fence on this one because it seems to me completely infiltrated by neocons since Reagan. But I’m willing to be shown that I’m wrong. And just because I’m skeptical of U.S. foreign policy goals as of Jan 19th, does NOT mean I think 45 has the answers: he’s probably on track to destroy anything remotely useful about it.

Ben Rhodes, one of Barack Obama’s top advisers, once dismissed the American foreign-policy establishment — those ex-government officials and think-tank scholars and journalists in Washington, D.C. who advocate for a particular vision of assertive U.S. leadership in the world — as the “Blob.” Donald Trump had harsher words. As a presidential candidate, he vowed never to take advice on international affairs from “those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” Both men pointed to one of the Beltway establishment’s more glaring errors: support for the war in Iraq.
Now the Blob is fighting back. The “establishment” has been unfairly “kicked around,” said Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former official in the Reagan administration. As World War II gave way to the Cold War, President Harry Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson, “invented a foreign policy and sold it successfully to the American people. That’s what containment was and that’s what the Truman Doctrine was. … That was the foreign-policy establishment.” During that period, the U.S. government also helped create a system for restoring order to a world riven by war and economic crisis. That system, which evolved over the course of the Cold War and post-Cold War period, includes an open international economy; U.S. military and diplomatic alliances in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; and liberal rules and institutions (human rights, the United Nations, and so on).

But the winning paragraph:

Faced with a U.S. president who is uncommonly critical of conventional expertise and many components of the U.S.-led international order, who communicates in tweets and consumes information via one-pagers and maps, Brookings has reacted in Blob-ian fashion: with a 63-page defense of traditional U.S. foreign policy that contains exactly 37 footnotes and exactly zero maps.

24. This kind of explains a lot.

25. A bit more followup after all the townhall stuff:

26. Because it’s all in 45’s head. But you know the blithering stupid supporters will all crow about it.

27. The “Trump Op” o.O
Read this thread, just go on and read it.

See also (referenced in Garland’s thread above)

28. This is just an amazing article to read. Currently the U.S. is run by a blithering idiot who needs constant coddling and babysitting so he doesn’t throw a tantrum. I cannot express how much contempt I have for him and his enablers.

29. Unconscionable. Michael Anton has no business serving on the NSC.

30. 45/his cohorts are determined to wreck the entire presidential cabinet structure. This is unbelievable. Guess Kushner wants it all for himself and this is how they avoid nepotism. If we survivie 45, we’re going to wind up rebuilding the presidency — and who we choose at that point is going to be as important as the choice of George Washington was, whether 45’s wanton and vicious destruction will be kept, or the traditional structures backed up with law.

Pair this with Alexandra Erin’s tweetstorm which I codified into one post here:

31. You’ve no idea how much I loathe the private prison system. I’d love to see them become completely illegal. More than that, I’d like to see them considered as morally corrupt as pedophilia is. After all, they are nothing more than modern day slavemasters.

32. So flatly unconstitutional it’s ridiculous.

Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the right of the people peaceably to assemble, & to petition the Gov. for a redress of grievances

33. I’m speechless.

34. What the actual fuck is a local pudunk dipshit idiot sheriff doing in the Kremlin talking with the Foreign Minister on middle east?

35. Rebellious states, cities.

One provision of the Trump administration’s new immigration guidelines, issued Tuesday, directs the Department of Homeland Security and immigration enforcement agencies to enlist local law enforcement agencies in efforts to enforce federal immigration law. There is no federal law requiring local agencies to adhere to those guidelines.
State agencies’ “role is to fulfill missions of providing services to Washingtonians, not enforcing immigration statuses,” Inslee said

36. Dammit, trolled by The Onion again.

37. I want this guy jailed. I’d add drawn, quartered, and hanged, but it’s the wrong century for that. All those times we noted the cabinet picks were people who wanted to destroy those departments? Yeah, President Bannon just confirmed that.

“If you look at these Cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction,” Bannon said.

Treasonous, un-elected son of a bitch.

38. Townhalls. Yummy, crunchy townhalls.

<snerk>

And props to these folks

39. <sniffs deeply> Smells like a fucking cover up to me.

White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14.
The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.
The discussions between the White House and the bureau began with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting the day after the stories were published, according to a U.S. law enforcement official.

40. Ugh.

A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States — and thus lost — would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.
While, earlier in the year, the Administration had boasted of saving 800 jobs in the Carrier Corporation, the drop-off in employment resulting from the travel ban would eclipse that figure.

41. Our current unpresident needs babysitters. Let that sink in.

For the first few weeks after the inauguration, Mattis and Kelly agreed that one of them should remain in the United States to keep tabs on the orders rapidly firing out of the White House, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

42. I am out of all evens. What the hell are so-called conservatives doing celebrating Russia?

Y’all has fucking jumped the shark, you know that? GOP is dead. I hope the next conservative party has its fucking head (and heart) screwed in.

Update: It appears someone thoroughly trolled CPAC by handing these out to attendees who either had no problem with Russia or had no clue whatsoever what flag it was before he was ejected from the conference. I am laughing too hard. Either way (pro-Russkie or complete idiot) this ain’t good for the GOP.

43. OK, the Dems NEED TO DO THIS.

44. Blocking news orgs from press confs. The entire news industry needs to boycott the WH.

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Politico were also excluded from the meeting, which is known as a gaggle and is less formal than the televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room.
The conservative media organizations Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One America News Network were allowed in.
The Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the briefing because of how it was handled.
The White House Correspondents Association also protested the move.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” it said in a statement. “We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”
In a separate statement, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet wrote, “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

45. Exactly.

46. Those pesky townhalls…

47. This is big, actually:

48. Keep an eye on these efforts. Arizona ain’t the only one. Just the most immediate.

49. Protesting, calling and townhalls work.

50. Speaks for itself. Corporatocracy creeping in.

51. In short, 45 asks Homeland to prove country of origin predicts terrorists; they report no; 45 rejects it.

52. Let this sink in: White House requests that Intelligence Committee leaders make phone calls to reporters, telling them to stop alleging ties to Russia.

This is way into “this is not okay” territory

The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.

Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.

The FBI to its credit refused, but remember these names:

The effort also involved senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. A spokesman for Nunes said that he had already begun speaking to reporters to challenge the story and then “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter and delivered the same message.”

Traitors.

53. Well we’ll see.

54. I am so furious.

This one points out interesting US versus other parts of the world assumptions about nationality:

Abu Romman is a Jordanian citizen, but born in Syria. He’s been to Syria only once since birth — and being born in an Arab country doesn’t automatically confer citizenship there. Instead, citizenship is generally based your father’s nationality. Still, Abu Romman couldn’t persuade the border officer at O’Hare that he wasn’t Syrian.
“He said, ‘Sir, if you were born in Syria, you should have a Syrian passport,’ “ says Abu Romman at his family’s home off a winding street in the Jordanian capital. “I said, ‘Why should I have a Syrian passport? My father is Jordanian. My mother is Jordanian. We all are Jordanian, but it happened to be in Syria where I was born.’

You know these are only a very few of the stories we’re going to hear, and you know the CBP will have to be among the top agencies to be dismantled once we get out of this GOP45 nightmare. The damage they are doing is incredible.

55. I am fucking gobsmacked. Issa? That smarmy asshole? I fucking swear he’s near the bottom of any list of goopers I would have thought would turn on 45. He’s such a toad. But still:

Rep. Darrell Issa said on HBO’s “Real Time” that Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who Trump appointed as the nation’s top law enforcement officer — should not handle the problem.
“You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee,” the California Republican said in response to a question from host Bill Maher. “You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office to take — not just to recuse. You can’t just give it to your deputy. That’s another political appointee.”
Issa emphasized that “there may or may not be fault” with Trump’s associates but said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutality toward political enemies highlighted the need for such a probe.

Well, it’s possible he feels he’s in a very weak position. He barely won his district; he’s in California; he’s surrounded by angry Dems. So this could be his version of CYA. But dang.

56. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

57. umwhut?

58. I’d like to drive a much wider wedge between police and immigration enforcement. Good to see this one:

59. Whiplash.

60. But unshocked: