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Sunday, March 17, 2019

David Atkins: The difference between far-right Christian extremism and Islamist extremism is a very thin line drenched in conservative violence. Both despise modernity, feminism, LGBTQ rights, secularism, urbanity, and education. Both love guns, militarism, theocracy, expansionism, and a return to the "good old days." They're essentially two sides of the same hyper-conservative coin. read more

Saturday, March 16, 2019

David Atkins: I have read (or at least skimmed) the manifesto of the white supremacist terrorist who murdered dozens of Muslims peacefully assembled in prayer at mosques yesterday in New Zealand. But you don't have to, because there's nothing in that document that isn't already mainstreamed in the discourse of Breitbart, alt-right Trump supporters, QAnon conspiracy forums, the broader right-wing memeverse, and Fox News anchors like Tucker Carlson. read more

Thursday, March 14, 2019

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) revealed Wednesday new allegations of former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker's conduct while leading the Justice Department -- allegations that Nadler described as the main "takeaways" from the committee's closed door meeting with Whitaker. read more

The Senate voted 54-46 Wednesday to pass a resolution ending U.S. military assistance for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The vote crossed party lines, in what is seen as a rebuke of President Donald Trump's defense of Saudi Arabia over the last few months. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), invokes the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which gives Congress the power to call for a withdrawal of military troops in the absence of a formal declaration of war. read more

Thursday, March 07, 2019

North Korea is pursuing the "rapid rebuilding" of the long-range rocket site at Sohae Launch Facility, according to new commercial imagery and an analysis from the researchers at Beyond Parallel. Sohae Satellite Launching Station, North Korea's only operational space launch facility, has been used in the past for satellite launches. These launches use similar technology to what is used for intercontinental ballistic missiles. read more


Really quite remarkable. We've now seen the first portion of the President's comments. He gave a generic condemnation of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand and then proceeded to give a meandering speech about foreign "invasion", i.e., immigrants "rushing our border", calling them "murderers and killers". In other words, moments after denouncing the massacre he went on with a lie-laden screed much of which was indistinguishable from the attacker's manifesto.

Fox News and Donald Trump now consistently blare the bullhorn of "invasions" from Mexico and elsewhere, directly echoing the shooter's manifesto. When neo-nazis chant "You Will Not Replace Us," Trump says that "many of them are good people." Operatives like Stephen Miller figure out how to disincenvitize non-whites from seeking citizenship. Advisors like Steve Bannon respond to the presence of Asian corporate executives by saying that "When two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think . . . a country is more than an economy. We're a civic society." The Commerce Secretary adds questions about citizenship so that immigrants will be afraid to take the census. Non-white immigrants who make the grave mistake of casting a ballot get years in prison while Republican politicians who actively steal elections don't get so much as an indictment. Fox News host Tucker Carlson explicitly claims that Democrats want to replace white people.

When these legal channels of soft ethnic cleansing don't do the trick, the rhetoric of violence begins to creep in. The President threatens that his military and police supporters will get tough and ugly if he doesn't get his way. Republican candidates threaten "Second Amendment remedies." Republican candidates pose with assault rifles and brag that they'll (illegally and violently) personally deport immigrants in their own trucks.

It's no wonder that incidents of right-wing eliminationist violence are skyrocketing. They're simply acting on the same logic and implied rhetoric of the conservative parties they have come to dominate.

Tony, as you're parsing what she said and interpreting it the way you are, do you think women's rights have gone backward with this confirmation?

First, I'm not parsing her words. What they mean are obvious by how she uses them and defines the circumstances. I disagree with her assertion that a date rape victim is partially responsible for the actions of their assailant based on the victim's state of sobriety. If I walk into a bank and no one is there to stop me from going into the vault and taking whatever I want, the absence of security does not mitigate the fact I chose to steal from the bank. The bank could certainly make it harder for me to succeed in robbing them, but there still is no guarantee that I wouldn't have stolen if that was my intent when I entered the bank. The same is true for a rapist if his goal was to take something if it wasn't offered voluntarily. Why should a woman lay a psychological burden upon already aggrieved victims for the sake of a common sense point that may or may not have altered anything and might have possibly led to more/worse physical injuries?

Her point is that woman should be responsible for their own actions and I have zero disagreement with that sentiment. I disagree when she lumps said responsibility onto the actions of another wholly independent agent. Rape is not the action of the woman. That is intellectual blameshifting and it has no place in the context of responsibility for the actions of another person.

And no, I do not believe women's rights have gone backward because of her, but I truly do not know enough about this nominee to speak about more than the topic at hand.

What she actually said isn't even close to Rein's characterization of what she said.

It's EXACTLY what Rein characterized! (...intoxicated women were partly responsible for date rape.)

At the same time, a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober. And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice. Implying that a drunk woman has no control of her actions, but that a drunk man does strips women of all moral responsibility.
In no unequivocal terms Rao placed partial RESPONSIBILITY for the actions of the man upon the woman as though her level of sobriety alone could stop or lessen the man's ability to date rape. Rape is an act of violence, not logic or reason and unless any woman can physically thwart an attempt from a man she bears no responsibility for his actions in this regard.

The counter of her statement is "that a good way to facilitate a potential date rape is for the woman to get drunk" - as though her drunken state bears responsibility for something another person does to her after the point she loses sobriety. If a woman trusts a man that she chooses to be with and he violates that trust by raping her because she drank too much it is the man's fault 100%, not the woman's.

Words have meanings and this isn't even controversial. This is why Rao apologized for what she wrote and tried to re-contextualize her comments. Her words place partial, qualified responsibility upon women for what men do to them and that's what she plainly meant to say.

I wonder if there will be a transcript released so we can get past these ~interpretations~ of what was said.

Not yet, it was a closed hearing. I think Nadler is merely trying to rattle Trump's cage at this point and I find myself agreeing that the Judiciary Committee more than likely already had corroborating information probably from others in the DOJ of what Whitaker reportedly confirmed today in his return testimony:

Ask yourself how the House Judiciary Committee knew that Matt Whitaker was lying to begin with. The committee must have had reliable witnesses, or hard evidence, or both, just to make that accusation against Whitaker. He didn't cave today because he grew a conscience; he caved because he's seen that they have enough to convict him. And whatever that evidence is against Whitaker, it's also evidence against Trump. So no one has to take Whitaker's word for it; the committee already has proof that Trump instructed Whitaker to obstruct justice. Whitaker's testimony is just icing on the cake.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler spoke to the television cameras after Matt Whitaker's testimony, and he confirmed three things. First, Whitaker is no longer denying that he had conversations with Donald Trump about Mueller-related investigations. Second, Whitaker is revealing that he had conversations with Trump about firing U.S. Attorneys for the purpose of obstructing justice. Second, Whitaker is acknowledging that he and Trump discussed the scope of the Trump-Cohen SDNY case.
Maybe.... So far, the verbiage I've read only confirms that Whitaker had "conversations" regarding these subjects, not necessarily with Trump himself about all the topics mentioned. But would it surprise anyone if indeed Trump was trying to use Whitaker to obstruct justice in service of his own political survival?

I remember posting the story from last year when it was predicted that Kylie would indeed become a billionaire in the very near future and now she has. Great for her. Seems some are having issues with the definition that Forbes uses for "self made." By most metrics I can figure, Kylie indeed made her billion without substantial investment from her wealthy family or without using inherited/given funds from anyone else, and yes, this makes her "self made."

Kylie's a billionaire when her other sisters aren't because she was able to market her popularity on social media and turn it into sales of products she neither produced nor had to pay for in advance. She turned pre-paid orders into a massive fortune and for a young lady who hasn't spent a day in a college setting nor attended business schools for marketing expertise, her achievements should be heralded instead of derided. Yes, she had unique circumstances and a huge presence on social media that very few others have had at the onset of her business ventures, but again, she's been able to monetize it more effectively and quickly than anyone of her age in history.

Her example, though hardly repeatable for almost anyone not already coming from a privileged background or having a requisite extensive social media audience from which to draw customers from, is highly commendable and her achievements will be analyzed and studied in academia because her accomplishments as a capitalist, marketer and entrepreneur are extraordinary for anyone, much less a young woman who parlayed popularity and a cult-like audience into a billion dollars of personal net worth primarily through product sales.

I'm just pointing out that the Federal supersedes the state and If NY state has a problem with Trump they will have to wait until his presidency is over. Sorry losers.

And as usual you're a complete moron that fails to note a few actually important facts. 1) There is ZERO language in the Constitution that says a sitting President cannot be indicted nor tried for crimes; 2) There is no federal law on the books stating that a sitting President cannot be indicted nor tried for crimes; and 3) Said DOJ memo has never been adjudicated in federal court nor does anyone claim that it exists as a rule of actual law. It is a guidance memo for DOJ personnel and not state law enforcement entities.

The DOJ memo states in the opinion of its authors that they do not believe that a sitting President can be indicted nor tried while in office. That memo did not take into consideration that a sitting President might use the memo's dictates as precedence to commit further crimes in order to cover up those he's already suspected of, hence creating a condition where unless there is a political consensus to impeach and convict said President, he indeed would be above all laws of this nation as long as he retained the office of POTUS.

No one in the history of the United States has ever articulated the argument that a duly elected President could operate wholly outside of US law and the jurisdiction of state and federal justice officials and to repeat, certainly not in the commission of further criminal acts in order to keep suspected earlier acts from resulting in impeachment and conviction.

Donald Trump's mansion in Bedford, New York, which he purchased in 1995 for $7.5 million, proved to be a good investment: by 2013, the home was assessed at $18.9 million. Four years later, its value was pegged at $19.6 million. As part of his presidential financial disclosure forms, Trump recently valued the home inside the range of $25 million and $50 million.

But this week, Michael Cohen shed new light on the president's finances – specifically Trump's financial statements from earlier this decade, when the future president's assets were allegedly exaggerated for a variety of specific purposes.

For example, Trump inflated his wealth to Deutsche Bank when seeking a loan. According to Cohen, he also exaggerated his assets to mislead insurance companies. And in the case of his mansion in Westchester County, according to documents produced by Cohen, Trump briefly valued the property at $291 million in 2012.

That's not a typo. In 1995, he bought the home for $7.5 million, and in 2013, it assessed at $18.9 million, but in between, Trump said it was worth $291 million. He soon after changed his mind and put its value at a less ridiculous figure.

So what explains that radical, one-year exaggeration? Trump, according to Cohen's materials and testimony, used inflated figures like these to deceive financial institutions for his benefit.

And if the evidence is correct, and the president tried to perpetrate a fraud against financial institutions, that could be a felony – for which the statute of limitations has not expired.

This is the type of thing even the most simple of citizens can understand: common fraud. The truly uber-wealthy have no need to fraudulently exaggerate their net worths when applying for loans or seeking insurance policies. Only those who are actually unable to service their debt obligations tend to try such illicit subterfuge when trying to gaslight lenders and insurers and it's almost a 100% certainty that this example is not the only one and scores are likely to be found once investigators start taking a closer look.

I said it years ago and many more are each and every day because it's patently obvious that the Trump Organization will be hit with RICO charges for the volume and breadth of their criminal activities that lie at the base of their normal business practices. Now that the threads have been revealed and confirmed by the documents Cohen shared in public it's just a matter of time before the SDNY lowers the boom on Trump and his family business and strips whatever meager assets they actually have remaining compared to their likely mounting debt service obligations.

While I don't think there will likely be an impeachment/conviction of Trump, I do believe the GOP and even their base will eventually force him to resign in disgrace because the scope and breadth of his criminality will become too much for even his staunchest supporters to stomach if they themselves ever want to be re-elected to any office ever again. Many Americans may embrace an enigmatic figure who lives on the edge, but when that person is finally revealed to be nothing more than a self-serving, self-dealing con artist who lies about everything even when lying isn't necessary, perhaps even the most tolerant might reach a breaking point.

Here's why I say this: Trump's financial transgressions are beginning to come to light where he has intentionally ripped off not only bankers and insurance companies, but also the US Treasury and the American taxpayers by playing everyone for suckers through every means available to him whether they be legal, quasi-legal, or downright illegal. When it becomes obvious that Trump has never worked for anyone but for himself and his own inflated self worth while simultaneously gaslighting those willing to support him, tacitly picking their pockets and lying to them with every breath, most are going to realize that Trump is probably broke (in the sense his assets are far less than his debts/liabilities) and that his business practices are little more than a hybrid of organized crime in which his entire family and company executives are complicit. One thing Americans eventually despise are people who act as their betters when they are anything but. While we celebrate the self-made we typically excoriate the fraudulent, particularly when they're also flamboyant, plastic, and immoral. This will probably be his downfall.

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