Thursday, March 23, 2017

It Doesn't Get Any Better

And it's not going to.
President Trump gave the crowd a history lesson on former president Lincoln's party leanings while speaking on Mar. 21.


“Most people don’t even know [Lincoln] was a Republican,” Trump told a group of Republicans. “Right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don’t know that.”

Makes you wonder when he found out.
Seeking and winning the presidency has been a magical voyage of discovery for Donald Trump.


Beyond this Lincoln revelation, Trump has happened upon many other things that people didn’t know. Such as the complexity of health care: “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated,” he said recently. And the existence of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895: “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”

Later, touring the new African American history museum in Washington, Trump discovered that slavery was bad. Spying a stone auction block, Trump said, according to Alveda King, a part of his entourage: “Boy, that is just not good. That is not good.” King also told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that upon seeing shackles for children, Trump remarked: “That is really bad. That is really bad.”


[T]here are many other things Trump thinks people don’t know about.

Sunday school: “I talk about Sunday school and people don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. It’s true.”

That Bill Clinton signed NAFTA: “A lot of people don’t know that.”

What a value-added tax is: “A lot of people don’t know what that means.”

That we have a trade deficit with Mexico: “People don’t know that.”

That Iraq has large oil reserves: “People don’t know this about Iraq.”

That war is expensive: “People don’t realize it is a very, very expensive process.”

That the country is divided: “People don’t realize we are an unbelievably divided country.”

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

I think he does it to cover the fact that he's clueless on so many things, and yet, as a true narcissist, can't allow it to seem so (and may not believe it, himself). He likes to be the know-it-all (even if it's incredibly transparent that the opposite is true).
“Nobody knows health care better than Donald Trump.”

“Nobody knows the tax code better than I do.”

“Nobody knows politics better than I do.”

“Nobody knows the politicians better than me.”

“Nobody knows the system better than me.”

“Nobody knows more about debt. I’m like the king.”
The king of debt, maybe.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The World In Armed Chaos

Are 'the Troubles" starting anew in Northern Ireland?
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said a device exploded while police were on patrol in the Townsend Street area of Strabane shortly after 8:30pm on March 21.

It said the blast was an attempt to kill police officers.

Chief Inspector Ivor Morton said it was “incredible” that no-one had been killed, the Irish News reported.

“It was a deliberate targeted attack on police officers,” he said.

Detectives said it was too early to attribute blame, the Belfast Newsletter reported, but investigations are likely to focus on dissident Irish republicans opposed to the peace process.


On February 27, the Irish republican paramilitary group known as the New IRA claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded in the driveway of a PSNI officer’s home on February 23 after falling from his vehicle the previous day.


Sebastian Gorka's Tune Is Changing

Trump counter-terrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka has offered a series of inconsistent reactions to The Forward’s report that he is a sworn member of Vitezi Rend. This chivalric order was founded in the 1920s by Adm. Horthy, a self-described anti-Semite who ruled Hungary from 1920 until 1944 and who allied his country with Nazi Germany during World War II. In an unsurprisingly friendly interview with Breitbart today, Gorka passed up the opportunity to repeat his insistence that he was never a member of the organization.


[H]igh-level and long-time members of Vitezi Rend interviewed by The Forward have insisted that he was sworn in as a member.


Gorka, following weeks of declining to respond to the Forward’s questions about his right-wing ties, issued a statement through the White House. Remarkably, it avoided any mention of his relationship with Vitezi Rend despite the fact that the Forward’s story was getting widespread attention in the media. His statement simply asserted: “I’ve been a committed opponent of anti-Semitism, racism and totalitarianism all my life. Any suggestion otherwise is false and outrageous.”

Two days later, however, The Telegraph asked Gorka about his relationship:
He insisted that he was not a full member of the Order of Vitez.

“By the bye laws I inherited the title of Vitez through the merits of my father, but I never swore allegiance formally,” he said.

The question at this point is not whether he is a Nazi—no credible source has claimed that he is. And although he has clearly “palled around” with anti-Semites, there is no specific evidence that he holds anti-Semitic (as opposed to Islamophobic) views. The question now is about his credibility.

Really? 'Cause I'm still questioning his membership in Vitézi Rend.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Typical Post-Attack Hysteria and Anti-Immigrant Ranting

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has linked Wednesday’s London attack to Europe’s migrant policy, saying it is “impossible” not to connect them. She went on to suggest the deadly assault justifies Warsaw's refusal to take in refugees.

The attacker was born in England.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

London Terror Attack

He makes it sound as if May herself were a victim.

Trump doesn't know anything about Kurt Cochran. Except that he's "a great American."

Police have named the attacker as Khalid Masood. He was 52, born in Kent and detectives believe he was most recently living in the West Midlands.

The attacker behind the terrorist rampage at the gates of the Houses of Parliament was a British-born man previously known to MI5 due to concerns over violent extremism, the prime minister has said.

The assailant, who was shot dead on Wednesday as he attacked police officers in the shadow of Big Ben, was considered to be a peripheral figure and had fallen from the intelligence picture, Theresa May told a packed House of Commons.

Four people have died, including a police officer and the attacker.

Police say 29 other people were treated in hospital, seven of whom are in a critical condition.

The assailant drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing two people, before crashing it outside parliament and trying to enter the complex, armed with a knife.

He stabbed an unarmed police officer who later died from the injuries, before armed police shot him.


Islamic State (Isis) claimed responsibility for the attack. It released a statement through the Amaq news agency, which it uses to broadcast propaganda, calling the unnamed man “a soldier of Islamic State”. The claim is unverified.

The attacker is believed to have acted alone but police are investigating possible associates. May said there was “no reason to believe” further attacks on the public were planned.


The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, vowed “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism” in a video statement.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Republicans Can't Even Tolerate One Reasonable Person

It appears that GOP Congressmen are unhappy with "Defense Secretary James Mattis’ unconventional choices for top Pentagon posts and his reluctance to aggressively push for dramatic increases in the defense budget." They are out of control.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

This May Be the Level of the Trump Administration in General

I'm thinking specifically of Betsy DeVos and Ben Carson.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Self-Awareness Gone Wrong

He's always right!

And tht's a misleading slant from Bill Mitchell (what a surprise) on what actually happened - anyone who communicates with a foreigner is "incidentally" surveilled.  That's been known since the Snowden leaks.
Nunes: “I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.

"Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.

"And fourth and finally I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team."

  Gateway Pundit
Not the same as "wiretapping" the president-elect.

T-Rump retweeting a pundit instead of offering official information speaks volumes.

And this morning what's on his mind?

Apparently NBC and ABC didn't quote Bill Mitchell.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Deconstructing America

Since winning the election, Trump has declared interpersonal war on a breathtaking list of targets: the Australian prime minister, an acting attorney general, seven predominantly Muslim countries, a "so-called" federal judge, Sweden, "Fake Tears" Chuck Schumer, Saturday Night Live, the FBI, the "very un-American" leakers within the intelligence community, and the city of Paris (it's "no longer Paris"). He's side-eyed Mark Cuban, John McCain, millions of protesters, Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Cuomo, the University of California at Berkeley, ratings "disaster" Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nancy Pelosi, the "TRAITOR Chelsea Manning," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Barack Obama and the city of Chicago, among many, many others.

There is no other story in the world, no other show to watch.The first and most notable consequence of Trump's administration is that his ability to generate celebrity has massively increased, his persona now turbocharged by the vast powers of the presidency.


Worse, he is leader of a society incapable of discouraging him. The numbers bear out that we are living through a severely amplified déjà vu of last year's media-Trump codependent lunacies. TV-news viewership traditionally plummets after a presidential election, but under Trump, it's soaring.


Even the long-suffering newspaper business is crawling off its deathbed.

  Matt Taibbi
Apparently, even the press he constantly denegrates is profiting from his presidency.
But as the country is finding out, fame and governance have nothing to do with one another. Trump! is bigger than ever. But the Trump presidency is fast withering on the vine in a bizarre, Dorian Gray-style inverse correlation. Which would be a problem for Trump, if he cared.
I wish I could believe that it's withering.
It couldn't be that the presidency is just a puppy Trump never intended to care for, could it?
That might be the best-case scenario.
"I still don't have my Cabinet approved," he sighs. In truth, Trump does have much of his team approved. In the early days of his administration, while his Democratic opposition was still reeling from November's defeat, Trump managed to stuff the top of his Cabinet with a jaw-dropping collection of perverts, tyrants and imbeciles, the likes of which Washington has never seen.
I'm not sure I'd go that far - Washington seems to be where most of those types dwell.
Some appointees were less terrifying than others. Former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson at least pays lip service to climate change and probably has enough smarts to complete one side of a Rubik's Cube. Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin would struggle to make a list of the 30 most loathsome Goldman Sachs veterans. These and a few others were merely worst-case-scenario corporate-influence types, industry foxes sent to man regulatory henhouses.

But the rest were the most fantastic collection of creeps since the "Thriller" video.


Trump's choice for EPA director, Scott Pruitt, was a climate-change denier who infamously zeroed out the environmental-enforcement division from the Oklahoma attorney general's office. For secretary of labor, Trump picked a fast-food titan who prefers robots to human workers (robots, he said, don't file discrimination suits!).

Trump put a brain surgeon in charge of federal housing, picked a hockey-team owner to be secretary of the Army, and chose as budget director a congressman best known for inspiring a downgrade to America's credit rating by threatening to default on the national debt.


CIA chief Mike Pompeo, a Jesus-humping conspiracist who embraces torture and once called politics "a never-ending struggle ... until the Rapture."


Trump's pick for energy secretary, Rick Perry, reportedly not only admitted that he didn't know what the Department of Energy actually does, but had called for that very agency's elimination as a presidential candidate (and forgot that fact during a debate). Moreover, Trump had brutalized Perry during the campaign as a dimwit among dimwits, whose "smart glasses" affectation didn't fool anyone.


[T]o send someone you're on record calling an idiot to run the nation's nuclear arsenal, that doesn't fit easily in any bucket: mischief, evil, incompetence – it's even a little extreme for nihilism.


"I think before, some people might have been saying, 'Somewhere in his heart [Trump] must love the country. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt," says [Senatory] Murray, stressing she herself never felt this way. "But after DeVos, everyone realized, you can't give him the benefit of the doubt."


Trump's lead adviser, the fast-talking Breitbart Svengali Steve Bannon, would ultimately explain the thinking behind Trump's appointments in front of the CPAC audience. "If you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason," he said. The mysterious figure described that reason as the "deconstruction of the administrative state."


One reporter tasked with covering the appointments says the staffing issue comes down to the same question we always have about Trump: Is this a scheme to destroy government, or cluelessness? "It's just so hard to tell," he says, "where this falls on the stupid-to-evil spectrum."
Read the entire article here.  Matt Taibbi is always a good read. He's at his best here describing the breathtaking appointments of idiots and destroyers to high government office, with the Democrats' acquiescence.

P.S. I don't know how I missed this one after Trump claimed Obama had spied on him:
Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who will either be ambassador to Mars or in a straitjacket by the end of this presidency, followed up by suggesting the government may have used a microwave oven to surveil Trump Tower during the election.
Holy Jesus.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Get Ready for a Freakout

In a paper published Tuesday in the journal eLife, researchers in the lab of George Church at Harvard University seek broader guidelines to encompass characteristics of engineered embryo- and organ-like structures, which they refer to as “synthetic human entities with embryo-like features,” or SHEEFs.

The paper’s four authors recount how, in 2015, a scientist in the lab was working with adult reprogrammed cells, trying to grow them into brain “organoids.” [...] Even though the cells weren’t embryos, the lab wondered if this was in an ethical gray zone, says John Aach, a member of the lab and an author of the eLife paper.

The researcher was unable to replicate what he saw and moved on to another project, but the ethical questions lingered, says Dr. Aach.


“We have not crossed any recognizable red lines. There’s still time to talk.”

In the U.S., guidelines limit research on human embryos past 14 days of development, or when the primitive streak appears—the so-called 14-day rule.


Dr. Brivanlou says the 14-day guidelines apply to human embryos and not to synthetic entities like what his lab created in that experiment.

“They are not embryos,” says Dr. Brivanlou. “They will never be implanted in a uterus.”
Famous last words.

(Do not take that to mean I object to this type of research.)
The Harvard researchers argue that research limits should not be tied only to the appearance of a feature like the primitive streak. Rather, they write that research limits should be set at the first condition “that directly raises moral concern.”
After all, we have so few?
“We are developing more capabilities for manipulating humanness,” says Sheila Jasanoff, a professor of science and technology studies at Harvard‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a member of the stem-cell oversight committee that considered the Church lab’s experiment. “We still do not know the right boundary line between permissible and impermissible research impinging on humanness.”
I'm not sure we've ever adequately established what humanness is.

And, can they use animals for the research if they can't use people?

Ethics are complex (and sometimes individual) aren't they?

h/t pourmecoffee

...but hey, do what you will anyway.