Read more of this story at Slashdot.
(Greg Dworkin, inventor of the APR series, is on vacation.)
Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post writes—Sean Spicer is free!
The enchantment is finally broken. Sean Spicer has been set free.
For just over 180 days, he toiled under the watchful eye of the ogre, performing acts that made his whole soul shrink in revulsion. From the first day, when he had to come out and bear false witness to the numbers present for the inauguration, to the very last, when you could still hear his voice echoing dimly from far off camera, insisting that the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act was an excellent idea, he was forced to spew one horrifying imbecility after another. Even his suits shrank in revulsion.
But he could not help it. They had his whole family in an hourglass, and whenever President Trump shook it, horrible things would happen. All his brothers had been transformed into swans.And so his punishment was to go to the lectern each morning. The curse held him. He had to stand there and say nothing (in as many words as possible). He had to stand there pronouncing hateful phrases about how the House’s American Health Care Act was superior to its predecessor since it required fewer pages, and saying it was necessary to vet a five year-old because Who Knew Who Might Radicalize these refugee babies, and admitting that, after all, Even Hitler never used gas on his own people. [...]He did not bring this suffering on himself. How could he have? Who would do such a thing? It is far more likely that it was an enchantment, and therefore we should pity him.
The new X-Men series dropped another official trailer.
[ edited by BlueSkies9 on 2017-07-22 07:53 ]
Steve Horn at DeSmogBlog and Curtis Waltman at MuckRock write—Emails Show Iraq War PR Alums Led Attempt to Discredit Dakota Access Protesters:
Behind the scenes, as law enforcement officials tried to stem protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, alumni from the George W. Bush White House were leading a crisis communications effort to discredit pipeline protesters.
Emails show that the firms Delve and Off the Record Strategies, apparently working on contract with the National Sheriffs’ Association, worked in secret on talking points, media outreach, and communications training for law enforcement dealing with Dakota Access opponents mobilized at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. This revelation comes from documents obtained via an open records request from the Laramie County Sheriff's Department in Wyoming.
As previously reported by DeSmog, the GOP-connected firm DCI Group led the forward-facing public relations efforts for Dakota Access via a front group called Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN). Today MAIN has morphed into a national effort known as Grow America’s Infrastructure Now (GAIN).
Delve is an opposition research firm run by Jeff Berkowitz, former Republican National Committee research director and official in the George W. Bush White House. His company led research efforts on behalf of the National Sheriffs' Association.
Off the Record Strategies, meanwhile, guided the sheriffs’ behind-the-scenes communications strategy. Mark Pfeifle runs the secretive firm, Off the Record Strategies, and served as communications advisor in the George W. Bush administration, leading PR efforts for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The National Sheriffs’ Association, a trade group for sheriffs, has been lobbying the federal government for additional surplus military gear from the Department of Defense under the auspices of its 1033 program. The association was also the central organizing vehicle which brought hundreds of out-of-state cops to Standing Rock via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).
Law enforcement present at Standing Rock under EMAC came under fire for a heavy-handed and overtly military-like response to pipeline protesters. [...]
“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”
~Howard Zinn, The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy (1997)
At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—Shelby says Cordray nomination to CFPB ‘dead on arrival’:
No surprise to anyone since he's said it before, but Richard Shelby asserts that the nomination of Richard Cordray to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Board is "dead on arrival." Unless, that is, President Obama gives in to Republican demands to restructure the bureau into a watchdog with neither bark nor bite.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published today (available to subscribers only), amid blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the housing crisis, the Alabama senator (who is the ranking member on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee) rejected accusations that proposals Republicans have made to change the bureau are an effort to eviscerate it.
That's not how consumer groups see it for the obvious reason that the GOP has been trying to gut the CFPB since failing to strangle it in its crib after failing to ensure it was stillborn. What could be more rancid than Shelby posturing as an advocate for consumer rights against a "concentration of power [that will be] abused or misused to the detriment of American businesses and consumers"?
This is the guy, you may recall, who just four months ago labeled as a "regulatory shakedown" the settlement proposal sought by state attorneys general to get mortgage lenders to provide modest restitution for their larcenous abuses of American borrowers and credit card holders. There is a concentration of abusive power he's concerned about all right. The one that has him firmly wedged in its back pocket and another part of its back side.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Alert! We’re approaching the Weekend Crazy Zone and already coming in dangerously hot! How do reporters keep from laughing in Trump’s face? Trump floats firing Mueller and pardoning himself. How do we deal with that? “Adoption” is code for “sanctions.”
Whether you are hiding in your panic room or just popping Xanax every 15 minutes, the one thing we can all say about the current state of affairs is that we are all living in “historic” times. Every week or two we are faced with news that President Trump has reached a new low in approval from the American public, just marked the shortest tenure of a national security adviser (who should also probably be in a military prison), or he’s just acting historically unhinged. The Washington Post points out that Sean Spicer’s announcement today that he is resigning his position as the president’s spokesman makes his tenure the new historic low-water mark.
But Spicer's resignation on Friday means his run as the president's spokesman was among the briefest ever. Each of the five men who held the position for less time than Spicer had his term truncated by special circumstances.
Some of those “special circumstances” include:Campaign Action
Jerald terHorst (30 days) was Gerald Ford's pick after Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. When Ford pardoned Nixon for all Watergate-related crimes, terHorst quit in protest.
James Brady (69 days) was shot in the head during an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981. He survived but never returned to the post.
The one to remember is that Donald Trump didn’t usher in these historic lows: Republican Party heads Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan did when they scuttled the Constitution, stole a Supreme Court seat, and subsequently decided to create and pass legislation that only they get to discuss.
The end of this week brings us a quote from Capitol Hill that seems at once obvious and also perplexing after seven full months of totally inane Republican rule. The New York Times writes:
“Things are starting to feel incoherent,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, reflecting on the health care efforts, which have turned many Republican senators against one another as efforts to negotiate the future of the Medicaid program have caused large rifts.
With no small measure of understatement, Mr. Corker conceded, “There’s just not a lot of progress happening.”
Yep. And also: "starting"?
Perhaps “better late than never” is what we should grasp on to here. But the observation does provide some real insight into the thickness of the blinders Congressional Republicans have bound their heads in as they barreled hapless and headlong toward achieving their completely nefarious political promises without any reflection on actual policy.
Who even had time to notice three ever-expansive and all-consuming investigations into a president who's already had more scandalous Russian links exposed than most politicians have secrets in their entire careers?
The spectacle of total GOP control and virtually no legislative accomplishments to show for it other than a couple of black eyes has even tied the tongue of a perpetual bloviator like Newt Gingrich.
Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was seen gliding through the Capitol on Thursday, normally loquacious on all matters of party strategy, politics and the possibilities of moon colonization, had nothing to say. He stared straight ahead when asked about Republican woes.
No quote follows that graph, just to be clear. In other words, Newt said nothing—which could perhaps be considered a GOP accomplishment at this stage.
And yet, even with the news of Sen. John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis, there's no sign yet that Republican leadership is facing up to the fact that they likely won't be able to pass any major legislation without the help of Democrats.
In a move that is surprising to absolutely no one, Donald Trump will not be speaking at this year’s annual NAACP convention which begins on Saturday in Baltimore.
This is the second year in a row that he has declined an invitation to speak at the event. The same invitation has been extended to, and accepted by, his predecessors in previous years— with Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan all speaking at the event. In fact, Trump has just made history by becoming the first sitting president in more than 30 years to break with tradition and not meet with the nation’s oldest civil rights group at their annual convention. This move solidifies every thing we need to know about him and his priorities. Of course, we didn’t need this latest refusal to figure out that this president is a racist and a bigot who cares little for minorities or improving their lives.
The NAACP responded to Trump’s refusal to attend their conference by putting out this statement on Thursday.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that during these pressing and urgent times, the President has chosen to turn his back on the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization – though I must admit, his refusal to attend our convention is not totally unexpected,” said Leon Russell, Board Chairman of the NAACP. [...]
“During his campaign, President Trump asked us ‘what do you have to lose?’ This is the second time President Trump has refused an offer to speak at our annual convention. We get the message loud and clear. The President’s decision today underscores the harsh fact: we have lost – we’ve lost the will of the current Administration to listen to issues facing the Black community.
Needless to say that in his nearly two-year campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear to everyone he spoke to that black people, in his opinion, were doing terribly. “You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed.” This was a narrative that he repeated often. So given a chance to speak to actual black people about his ‘yuge’ plans for fixing the conditions that have us living the hellhole that he so painstakingly painted on the campaign trail, you’d think he might actually take up the opportunity.
Except: it’s Donald Trump. He’s a complete fraud and a charlatan who wanted votes, and said anything to get them. This is the same man who campaigned as a champion of LGBTQ rights. But when Pride came last month, the White House refused to acknowledge it at all.
Team Trump doesn't like the Russia investigation one whit, but they are particularly averse to the idea that the probe might balloon from collusion and obstruction into an expansive review of Donald Trump's finances. Now Trump's legal team is working to turn the tables on who's on trial in an effort to cast doubt on the neutrality of special counsel Robert Mueller and his team or worse—lay the groundwork for Mueller's removal. The New York Times writes:
The search for potential conflicts is wide-ranging. It includes scrutinizing donations to Democratic candidates, investigators’ past clients and Mr. Mueller’s relationship with James B. Comey, whose firing as F.B.I. director is part of the special counsel’s investigation.
The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.
Some of the investigators have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance, and the prospect that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry could evolve into an expansive examination of Mr. Trump’s financial history has stoked fears among the president’s aides. Both Mr. Trump and his aides have said publicly they are watching closely to ensure Mr. Mueller’s investigation remains narrowly focused on last year’s election.
In particular, Trump doesn't want that investigation going anywhere near his precious tax returns.
He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.
Man oh man, there's gotta be some goodies in there, but before we seen them, Team Trump will surely be doing everything in its power to scuttle the investigation.