F… the authoritarian Republicans let’s get to work

The Trump legacy

President Biden said he wanted to unify that nation. Republican authoritarian lawmakers think that means he can’t do anything they oppose.

In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden said that to solve the issues facing the United States — the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s economic struggles, domestic terrorism, the changing climate, access to health care and education, systemic racism — the nation must unite.

Some Republicans seem to have taken that to mean Democrats should abandon their policy promises and do nothing that the GOP doesn’t agree to.

“To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity,” Biden told the nation. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. Unity. I ask every American to join me in this cause.”

In the days since Biden spoke, an array of GOP lawmakers have focused solely on the word “unity,” calling everything Biden and other lawmakers in the Democratic-majority House and Senate do a failure to keep a promise to “unite” the country.

Here are things the Republican authoritarians have said Biden and the Democrats must not do because they don’t promote “unity.”:

Protecting public lands

On his first day in office, Biden issued a series of executive orders and actions aimed at undoing damage caused by the Trump administration. An order titled “On Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” includes a provision to restore national monuments in Utah that Donald Trump had tried to shrink.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee attacked the order on Thursday as “simply incompatible with his promise of unity.” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney agreed, saying it would “only deepen divisions in this country.”

Halting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The climate order also includes a provision placing a temporary moratorium on leases sold to fossil fuel companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan was not pleased: “Today, in his inaugural address, President Biden called for national unity and healing,” he said in a statement. “However, just hours earlier, his administration took their cues from radical environmentalists in issuing punitive and divisive actions against Alaska, many other resource development states, and whole sectors of our economy.”

Stopping the Keystone XL oil pipeline

Another climate order provision revokes a permit issued by Trump in March 2019 for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, explaining the revocation: “The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest.  The United States and the world face a climate crisis. … At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. … Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Republicans, including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Texas Rep. August Pfluger, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Fischbach, and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, accused Biden of betraying his call for unity.

“Revoking permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline undercuts a serious infrastructure project, renewable energy growth, and rail relief for grain,” tweeted South Dakota Sen. John Thune on Thursday. “This admin can’t ask for unity & bipartisanship one minute but continue to push bad left-wing policy the next.”

Rejoining climate accords

Biden took a separate action on Wednesday to start the United States on the path to rejoining the Paris climate agreement after Trump took the country out of it, calling climate change a hoax.

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck tweeted, “President Biden called for unity this afternoon, but his first actions in office say otherwise,” saying that rejoining the agreement was part of a “liberal agenda” that “will further weaken our nation.”

Appointing someone to run the Department of Health and Human Services

Biden’s nominee to serve as secretary of health and human services, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, has not yet been given a confirmation hearing. But Fox News published an opinion piece written by Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday that demanded the Senate reject the nomination, calling Becerra a “lawyer and career politician” with “no experience in public health, large-scale logistics or other challenges of the pandemic. What Becerra lacks in public-health experience, however,” Cotton sneered, “he makes up for in enthusiasm for his party’s most radical views.”

Cotton, a lawyer with no experience in public health, wrote, “Joe Biden campaigned on pledges to unite the country and defeat the pandemic; he continues to stress these twin priorities. But his nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, is a partisan culture warrior who undermines both pledges.”

Appointing a special envoy to Iran

Biden and nominee to serve as secretary of state, Antony Blinken, are reportedly considering appointing Robert Malley to be their special envoy to Iran. Cotton apparently does not like this pick either.

On Thursday night, he tweeted, “Appointing radicals like Malley gives the lie to all of President Biden and Tony Blinken’s rhetoric of unity.”

In 2015, Cotton was the initiator of a letter, signed by 47 senators and addressed directly to the leadership of Iran, that warned the Islamic Republic not to rely on any nuclear nonproliferation agreements negotiated by the Obama administration, an action that an observer called “mutinous.”

Reforming immigration

Biden took actions to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children and revise some of Trump’s anti-immigration policies.

“On Wed., President @JoeBiden called for unity to ensure success for our nation. I agree,” tweeted Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff. “However, unity doesn’t come by prioritizing policies like open borders (esp during COVID), decimating oil & gas ind., & granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants.”

Stopping construction of Trump’s wall

Biden also moved quickly to freeze construction of Trump’s incomplete $15 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, terminating the “national emergency” that the previous administration had used to justify siphoning funds from military allocations for the project.

“President Biden’s inaugural address focused heavily on unity, bringing the nation together after the division we’ve experienced. The new EOs he just signed, however, cater to the Left, ignoring the steps necessary to move America forward,” tweeted Florida Rep. Kat Cammack on Wednesday. “Halting the progress we’ve made at the border stymies the work we’ve accomplished to combat illegal entry and stops the reasonable, lawful options in place for those trying to immigrate lawfully.”

Restoring funds to international aid groups that provide abortion

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, told the World Health Organization on Thursday that Biden would soon “be revoking the Mexico City policy,” which blocks federal funding to international groups that provide or discuss abortion. Established by Ronald Reagan in 1984, the policy has been rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated when Republicans were in the White House.

Buck decried this too on Thursday, tweeting, “President Biden is reinstating a widely unpopular policy to fund and promote abortions across the globe. So much for unity?”

Conducting an impeachment trial of Donald Trump

Even though every House Democrat and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13 for his role in inciting his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York believes that if Biden wants unity, he must ensure his predecessor does not face any consequences for his actions.

Tweeting a list of “3 ways @POTUS can reach across the aisle for healing & unity,” Zeldin insisted, “The Senate impeachment trial should be shut down.”

Scrutinizing Trump’s botched vaccination plans

The Trump administration badly missed its target for vaccinations against the coronavirus in December 2020 and reportedly left the Biden administration no plans to build on in responding to the pandemic.

Some GOP lawmakers believe that even pointing this out undermines national unity.

“Yesterday, Pres. Biden said unity was his focus,” Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain tweeted on Thursday. “Today, he spreads lies about #OperationWarpSpeed.”

You can’t work with these Trump cultist white supremacist authoritarian assholes so why waste time let’s get to work without them

edited from the American independent

Insurrection and sedition Republican style

Trump and the Republican’s continuing efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and create an insurgency, so they can seriously milk it, roll on.

Trump is backing the last-ditch dead-ender lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which seeks to throw out the election results in four key swing states.

Trump’s dumb ass filing with the Supreme Court states, quote, “Our country is deeply divided in ways that it arguably has not been since the election of 1860,’. So, leave aside the circular logic of decrying division when he is the one stoking it. But that reference to the election of 1860: You know why the country was divided by that election? Because Abraham Lincoln won fairly and slave states were pissed about that and they seceded and there was a civil war.”

Observers marveled at the fact that Trump’s own legal team was seemingly equating President-elect Joe Biden with Abraham Lincoln and the Trump administration with slaveowners.

We think it’s probably sort of a good thing that the Republican fascism and racism is finally out in the open for everyone to see, like we always have

quotes from Raw Story and Washington Post

The Trump death cult and the million-maggot march for mass death

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is million-magas.jpg

 On Friday, the COVID Tracking Project reported that the number of positive coronavirus infections in the last day had reached 170,000, the highest record ever and a number that was, just a few months ago, hard to imagine. It’s now our daily reality, and it’s likely to only get worse.

Other figures are just as frightening. Hospitalizations — one of the clearest signs of the seriousness of the outbreak —have reached a new high at 69,000, according to the project. Deaths are at a disturbing 1,300, though that rate is almost certain to spike in recent weeks following the more recent spike in cases. And as the newest and largest wave yet engulfs the country, reports have begun to appear of hospitals being overwhelmed with patients, which is almost certainly a precursor to a spike in the case fatality rate.

It’s our horrifying new status quo, and one that experts and observers have been warning would unfold this fall for months. But the mind-boggling truth is that for the Trump administration, everything is pretty much going as planned.

Ever since the first wave in the spring, Donald Trump has seemed increasingly drawn to the so-called (and, indeed, misleadingly named) “herd immunity” approach to the pandemic. On this approach, you reject government restrictions meant to stop people from getting the virus. What advocates of this strategy believe is that it’s best that more people get the virus, because eventually, enough people will have had it, they’ll immune, and life will return to normal.

Trump brought on Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and Fox News guest, to the White House team, because he advocated this approach and opposed restrictions. His views were at odds with the approach favored by the bulk of the health experts in the administration, but Trump liked his ideas, so they have won the day.

The White House has occasionally denied or talked around the idea that it’s intentionally carrying out a “herd immunity” strategy, but reporting has made clear the plan the administration has adopted. Per the New York Times:

The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing that authorities should allow the coronavirus to spread among young healthy people while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable — an approach that would rely on arriving at “herd immunity” through infections rather than a vaccine.

On a call convened Monday by the White House, two senior administration officials, both speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to give their names, cited an October 4 petition titled The Great Barrington Declaration, which argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of businesses and schools.

“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration states, adding, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”

The problem with this approach — the reason it’s rejected by most of the public health community — is that it will lead to mass suffering and death. That’s what the increase in hospitalizations is telling us. Medical researcher Dr. Atul Gawande made the point in a recent tweet:

But there’s another important point. One crucial part of the “herd immunity strategy,” in theory, is protecting the vulnerable. Since COVID-19 poses the most significant mortality risk to the elderly and people with other health conditions, advocates argue, this population needs to be kept safe while the virus spreads and creates immunity among the rest of the people.

As people like Alex Tabarrok argued early on, though, this tactic has little hope of success. You can’t meaningfully isolate elderly people from the rest of society. What do you do with the grandmother living in a home with parents who are essential workers and kids who are back at school? What do you do with the workers a nursing homes, who have lives outside of work? Who will pay for people with chronic health conditions to stay home from their jobs for months on end?

It’s untenable. And at the same time, the White House hasn’t actually done anything to meaningfully protect vulnerable from the wave of the virus crashing over the country.

Trump has touted vaccines and therapeutics, including therapeutics that may have saved his own life when he was hospitalized with the infection. But there aren’t nearly enough therapeutics for all the patients in need — nor the top-notch care Trump received — and the vaccines won’t be ready for full distribution into well into 2021. On Friday, Trump announced that the vaccines will be available in April, though he had previously said it could be distributed last month, in October, which never happened. And right now, the administration has no plan to stop surging virus. Most Republicans are following his lead, and even Democratic governors who might prefer to take a more aggressive approach are hamstrung by a lack of federal resources.

There is no plan to stop the virus. The federal government just intends to let it spread through all of us. It’s a plan for mass death, because they don’t care enough to stop it.

Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Examiner note: Wear a f..ing mask!

Trumpies have a festival of hate, and it is spreading nationwide

‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far-Right See Doom Without Trump

“Trumpstock,” is a small festival celebrating Trump in Golden Valley, Arizona. The speakers at Trumpstock included the local Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and lesser-known conservative personalities. There was a fringe 2020 Senate candidate in Arizona who ran a website that published sexually explicit photos of women without their consent; a pro-Trump rapper whose lyrics include a racist slur aimed at Barack Obama; and a North Carolina activist who once said of Muslims, “I will kill every one of them before they get to me.”

All were welcome, everybody well, except the hated liberals.

“They label us white nationalists, or white supremacists,” volunteered Guy Taiho Decker, who drove from California to attend the event. A right-wing protester, he has previously been arrested on charges of making terrorist threats. “There’s no such thing as a white supremacist, just like there’s no such thing as a unicorn,” Mr. Decker said. “We’re patriots.”

As Mr. Trump’s bid for re-election shifts into higher gear, his campaign hopes to recapture voters who drifted away from the party in 2018 and 2019: independents who embraced moderate Democratic candidates, suburban women tired of Mr. Trump’s personal conduct and working-class voters who haven’t benefited from his economic policies.

But if any group remains singularly loyal to Mr. Trump, it is the small but impassioned number of white voters on the far right, often in rural communities like Golden Valley, who extol him as a cultural champion reclaiming the country from undeserving outsiders.

These voters don’t passively tolerate Mr. Trump’s “build a wall” message or his ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries — they’re what motivates them. They see themselves in his fear-based identity politics, bolstered by conspiratorial rhetoric about caravans of immigrants and Democratic “coups.”

Speaking engagements featuring far-right supporters of Trump, have become part of the political landscape during the Trump era. Islamophobic taunts can be heard at his rallies. Hate speech and conspiracy theories are staples of some far-right websites. If Trumpstock was modest in size, it stood out as a sign of extremist public support for Trump and his cult.

These supporters have electoral muscle in key areas: Mr. Trump outperformed Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, in rural parts of Arizona like Mohave County, where Golden Valley is located. Mr. Trump won 58,282 votes in the county, compared to 47,901 for Mr. Romney, though Mr. Romney carried the state by a much bigger vote margin.

Arizona will be a key battleground state in 2020: Democrats already flipped a Senate seat and a Tucson-based congressional district from red to blue in 2018. For Mr. Trump, big turnout from white voters in areas like Mohave County — and in rural parts of other battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia — could be a lifeline in a tight election.

“We like to call this the ‘Red Wall of Arizona,’” said Laurence Schiff, a psychiatrist and Republican campaign official in Mohave County who organizes in support of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Winning the state starts here, with us.”

In interviews, people in the crowd described a white America under threat as racial minorities typified by Mr. Obama, the country’s first black president. They described Mr. Trump as an inspirational figure who is undoing Mr. Obama’s legacy and beating back the perceived threat of Muslim and Latino immigrants, whom they denounced in prejudiced terms.

“I don’t have a problem with Muslims,” said Angus Smith, an Arizona resident who attended the festival, “but can they take the rag off their head out of respect for our country?”

At Mr. Trump’s official rallies, including a recent one in Florida, Trump has referred to Mr. Obama by stressing his middle name, Hussein, and said Democrats were “trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you.”

The Trumpstock speakers pushed even further, tying Mr. Obama’s middle name to a false belief that he is a foreign-born Muslim.

And Democrats were portrayed as not just political opponents, but avatars of doom for Mr. Trump’s predominantly white voter base and for the country.

“There is no difference between the democratic socialists and the National Socialists,” said Evan Sayet, a conservative writer who spoke at the event, referencing Nazi Germany. Democrats, he said, “are the heirs to Adolf Hitler.”

Speakers at Trumpstock said their cultural fears had been exacerbated by their state’s own changing nature: Arizona is on the front lines of undocumented border crossings from Mexico and racial minorities are expected to outnumber white people in the state in the next decade.

They point to regions like Northern Arizona as places to find, as Mr. Trump wrote in a recent tweet, “the Angry Majority.”  “We have the greatest base in the history of politics,” he said at a recent rally in Florida.

In Arizona, the most prominent pro-Trump, anti-immigrant groups are AZ Patriots and Patriot Movement AZ, which have held tight to the themes of white nationalism. In September, after repeated clashes, some members of the groups agreed to a court order to stop harassing migrants and church volunteers who help them.

Earlier this year, the groups and their allies organized a “Patriotism over Socialism” event in Gilbert, Ariz., near Phoenix, that included speeches from Representative Andy Biggs, the area’s congressman, and Kelli Ward, the state’s Republican Party chair. They appeared alongside more fringe figures: Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, which has promoted figures associated with anti-L.G.B.T. conversion therapy, and Laura Loomer, the far-right activist and Arizona native who was banned by Twitter and some other platforms after making anti-Muslim comments.

This blend of insider and outsider, of mainstream and conspiracy, is a feature of how Mr. Trump has reshaped the Republican Party in his image, and the core of his origin story. Before Mr. Trump announced any firm plans to seek office, he was the national face of the “birther” conspiracy, which thrived in the Tea Party movement and had a significant amount of support from the Republican base, polls showed.

Stacey Goodman, a former police officer from New York who retired to Arizona and attended Trumpstock, said her distrust of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate had led her to Mr. Trump.

“If you’re Muslim, just tell us you’re Muslim,” she said of Mr. Obama. “It’s not that I didn’t believe him, I’m just not qualified to answer that question. I’ve seen information on both sides that’s compelling.”

Mona Fishman, a singer from the Las Vegas area who performed at the event, has written Trump-themed songs with titles like “Fake News” and “Smells like Soros,” which accuses liberal megadonor George Soros of running a shadow government, a trope widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

In the White House, Mr. Trump has relied on similar unfounded conspiracy theories and promoted people who have perpetuated them. He pardoned Joseph M. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, a hero of Arizona’s right wing and a leader of the “birther” movement, who was convicted of criminal contempt related to his aggressive efforts to detain undocumented immigrants.

On Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, likely the most-watched in the world, he has promoted white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that top Democrats are worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking.

Even mainstream conservative media figures have embraced QAnon as a way to dismiss Mr. Trump’s political enemies. The Fox News host Jesse Watters, during a recent segment dedicated to the conspiracy, linked it to Mr. Trump’s Washington enemies. “Isn’t it also about the Trump fight with the deep state in terms of the illegal surveillance of the campaign, the inside hit jobs that he’s sustained?” he asked.

They love his over the top tweets “Please never stop tweeting,” Ms. Fishman sings in one of her songs, titled “Thank You President Trump.” “I can hardly wait to see what I’ll be reading.”

 ‘I don’t believe in violence, but…’

Events like Trumpstock are not limited to Arizona. Its organizer, Laurie Bezick, recruited speakers from around the country through social media, tapping into a network of pro-Trump voices only a click away.

Long-shot congressional candidates touting an “America First” agenda came from places like Iowa and Maryland. Leaders of fledgling political groups with names like JEXIT: Jews Exit The Democratic Party, Latinos for Trump and Deplorable Pride, a right-wing L.G.B.T. organization, told the overwhelmingly white audience they were not anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, homophobic or racist. In fact, the speakers insisted, people who used those terms were more guilty of bigotry than the people they accused.

To applause, the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, Marco Gutierrez, read the pledge he took when he became a naturalized citizen and renounced his Mexican homeland. Nitemare, a pro-Trump rapper who refused to give his legal name, invoked QAnon and called Mr. Obama a racist slur in his set.

Brian Talbert, the founder of Deplorable Pride, was contacted by the White House after he was barred from the L.G.B.T. pride parade in Charlotte, N.C. At Trumpstock, Mr. Talbert, who has a history of expressing anti-Muslim beliefs on social media, gave voice to hatred of Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Mr. Trump’s 2016 opponent.

“I think she should be hanging at the end of a rope for treason,” he said of Mrs. Clinton.

Members of groups like these at once make up a critical portion of Arizona’s conservative base, and espouse derogatory rhetoric that must repeatedly be repudiated, creating political difficulties for the state’s Republican lawmakers. After a photograph emerged last April of members of Patriot Movement AZ posing with Gov. Doug Ducey, he said he had never heard of the group. “I absolutely denounce their behavior,” he added.

Trumpstock attendees say they are used to being denounced, another quality they feel they share with Trump It’s part of why they are protective of him, to the point that they refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a Trump loss in 2020.

Mark Villalta said he had been stockpiling firearms, in case Mr. Trump’s re-election is not successful.

“Nothing less than a civil war would happen,” Mr. Villalta said, his right hand reaching for a holstered handgun. “I don’t believe in violence, but I’ll do what I got to do.”

 

This post was edited from New York Times story by Astead W. Herndon 

 

John Chiv, Creepy Matthew Owen, dishonest Fullerton and the Whole Brady Bunch

Fullerton rally with many East-West crazy-train proponents showing their support

On October 6th our post was “Eureka Election Campaign Bully Outed, Surprise! He’s in the Brady Bunch” 

On October 11th Commenter Trumptastrophe said:

With that in mind (John Chiv’s fervent support for putting a right-wing misogynistic Republican rapist on the Supreme Court), Hailey Lamb probably should keep as much distance between herself and creepy John Chiv as possible, because John Chiv (who is at least twice as old as Miss Lamb) creepily heaping effusive personal praise upon the inexperienced pretty young city council candidate Hailey Lamb is obviously a desperate attempt on Chiv’s part to get his sad self a date, which is NOT going to happen! Chiv has been drooling all over Miss Lamb ever since she announced her candidacy! GROSS!!

On October 11, 2018  the Examiner replied:

We think there’s a creepy Matthew Owen connection involved

Now today, in this guest post, commenter Verbena chimes in:

Yeah, I think Matthew Owen is coaching Hailey Lamb to be a local politician. “Creepy Matthew Owen connection” indeed! It’s always creepy when he’s involved.

Going back to Fullerton’s dishonesty.  He has always lied, for instance, about the results of raising wages. Raising wages has no detrimental effect on employment or hours, but it does create a more robust economy- with workers who are able to live better and buy more stuff.  Fullerton used some old tired lies, claiming that raising wages hurts business- he wants to make sure stingy business owners don’t have to pay their workers wages they can live on. Fullerton, thus, does not concern himself with the well-being of most of Eureka’s residents – working class people.

When we put the Fair Wage Act on the 2014 ballot in Eureka, John Fullerton falsified donation information to oppose Fair Wages. (Had it won, our minimum wage would be probably 13+ dollars by now, and the city would be more vibrant, not so depressed and barely surviving). Records showed that Fullerton apparently got over $10,000 from various sources to go to campaign against raising wages- without the donors having to abide by the disclosure rules! That meant businesses and individuals that actively funded an anti-fair wage campaign did not have to be known publicly, as required by the law, because Fullerton conveniently claimed that adding up to $10,000+, the donations were all $99 each. (He pulled this trick at least two times during our campaign with thousands of dollars) You see, every $100 donation in a Eureka campaign is supposed to be reported and available to the public by donor’s name, contact, and business– so Fullerton cheated.  It doesn’t surprise me that he is lying again about Storme Winters. Fullerton talks like he is supplying you the rational low-down, he “mansplains” – but he is often lying.

Unfortunately, Jeannie Breslin is also dishonest. (She probably learned how to lie when she did marketing campaigns for the 2nd largest weapons manufacturer- Boeing.) I also find Breslin to be cruel. She calls for increased government and vigilante action that dehumanizes and traumatizes homeless women and men (and children, the less visible homeless), and causes them to suffer more, go to jail, disappear, or die. Breslin and Fullerton will not be helpful to the lives of most Eurekans and are blatant with their lack of concern for our vulnerable ones.              Verbena

Russians continue to sow division and discord

Trump’s BFF Putin, is at it again.

The Washington Post reports: That the normally security oblivious Facebook says it has uncovered a coordinated disinformation operation ahead of midterm elections involving false pages and profiles, which means it must have been pretty blatant.

Facebook said that it couldn’t directly tie the activity to Russia, which interfered on its platform around the 2016 presidential election, but they said the profiles shared a pattern of behavior with the previous Russian disinformation campaign, which was led by a group with Kremlin ties called the Internet Research Agency.

Facebook briefed congressional aides this week. A congressional aide claimed that there’s no evidence that political candidates were targeted in the new disinformation effort but that pages and accounts sought to spread politically divisive content around social issues.

“It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past,” Facebook said in a post. “We believe this could be partly due to changes we’ve made over the last year to make this kind of abuse much harder. But security is not something that’s ever done. We face determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up and are constantly changing tactics. It’s an arms race and we need to constantly improve too.”

In particular, the pages promoted an event pegged as a counter-rally to a far-right march scheduled for next weekend in Washington. Facebook said that the urgency of the upcoming rally prompted them to publicize the information, even though it is in the early stages of an investigation.

The company, which identified the pages two weeks ago and has since removed them.

The 32 pages found had between 16 and 18,000 followers. As usual, they claim there was no specific evidence that political candidates were targeted, but one account followed an IRA-associated account for a brief period.

“Today’s disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.). “I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress on updating our laws to better protect our democracy in the future.”

In the run-up to the 2016 election, Russian operatives spread false messages using hundreds of accounts. These messages went viral, reaching over 100 million Americans.

NPR reports: Russian hackers trying to influence the 2018 elections made an unsuccessful attempt to breach the computer system of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of this fall’s most vulnerable Democrats.

The Daily Beast reported that McCaskill is the first known target of the Kremlin’s plot to interfere in this fall’s midterm elections after targeting the U.S. in the 2016 presidential election.

McCaskill has been a critic of Russia and of President Trump — who has at times doubted that any such interference happened at all and decried attempts by special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate as a “witch hunt.” At a press conference last week after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump appeared to believe Putin’s denials over the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies. “Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy. I will continue to speak out and press to hold them accountable,” McCaskill said in a statement. “While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.”

The Daily Beast reported that the attack was similar to the one used by Russia’s “Fancy Bear” hackers

Mantova, Eureka’s biggest Trump groupie weighs in on the Supervisors race

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2018/05/25/warning-eureka-trump-wannabe-is-running-for-city-council/

Surprise! Eureka City Council Candidate and all-around Trump sycophant Anthony Mantova has strongly endorsed Ryan Sundberg for fifth district supervisor in today’s Times-Standard.

No one actually should be surprised. While Ryan has cultivated his façade of being a calm, reasonable sort of middle of the road voice on the board of Supervisors, the reality is much different.  True compared to the bluster and bravado of fellow supervisor Rex Bohn, Sundberg does indeed seem calm, but that just his demeanor, when you look at his voting record both as a supervisor and as a coastal commissioner it’s indistinguishable from the positions espoused by chronic blowhard Rex Bohn.

Birds of a feather

So what is Mantova’s big closing argument to get you to vote for Ryan? During the several years that I operated a store in McKinleyville, none of my customers ever complained about Mr. Sundberg.”
Seriously? That’s it?

 

Off the rails; Right Wing Heresy

 

A panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. went off the rails on Saturday after one speaker blasted the Republican Party and organizers of the major annual gathering of conservatives.

Comments made by Mona Charen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, at Saturday’s CPAC panel titled “#UsToo: Left out by the Left” were relatively conservative—she criticized the modern feminist movement and argued for more traditional male and female gender roles.

Heresy….

But Charen quickly lost the Republican audience when she turned her attention to the Republican Party for enabling and excusing candidates accused by many women of harassment and assault.

“I’m disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House,” Charen said, noting the accusations against President Donald Trump, “who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women. And because he happens to have an ‘R’ after his name, we look the other way, we don’t complain.”

She also went after CPAC itself, saying the conference’s organizers should be ashamed for inviting far-right French leader Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of anti-immigrant French leader Marie Le Pen and granddaughter of Nazi apologist Maréchal-Le Pen.

“The Le Pen name is a disgrace,” Charen said. “Her grandfather is a racist and a Nazi.”

She continued: “The fact that CPAC invited her is a disgrace.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/rogue-cpac-panelist-blasts-republicans-over-trumps-alleged-sexual-misconduct

UPDATE: Charen had to be escorted out of CPAC by a security force after threats and fears for her safety were raised 

It’s not ideology, it’s all about greed for more money and power

Despite similar views on Christianity, gays and white supremacy it’s really greed and money that is the real glue that causes the Trumpies to stick with the Russians and the oligarchs.

Dear Leader Trump reportedly used a White House meeting with the prime minister of Georgia last year to talk about a long-stalled real estate project in the former Soviet satellite state.

Two former Trump business partners tell Forbes that Trump brought up plans to build a Trump Tower in Georgia during his meeting with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili last May.

As president, Trump has vowed to not be involved in making deals that benefit his businesses and has instead given responsibility for running his businesses to his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

According to The New Yorker, Trump first unveiled plans to build a Trump Tower in the Georgian city of Batumi in 2011.

What’s more, the New Yorker writes that the proposed deal to fund the tower’s construction raised concerns about whether the project would be used as a vehicle to launder money.

“The deal, for which Trump was reportedly paid a million dollars, involved unorthodox financial practices that several experts described to me as ‘red flags’ for bank fraud and money laundering,” the publication writes. “Moreover, it intertwined his company with a Kazakh oligarch who has direct links to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the tower was held back in 2012, however the project has completely stalled since then and workers haven’t even dug any foundation for the proposed tower.

https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/trump-pitched-real-estate-project-georgian-prime-minister-white-house-meeting-report/

Trump and his goons set their sights on Justice Department’s No. 2 official

The Target of Trump and his goon squad is the Justice Department’s No. 2 official

Trump is still his freak out mode over the investigations into his criminal enterprises worldwide. He has always planned on firing Robert Mueller and the way to do that is by getting rid of Rob Rosenstein the Justice Department’s No. 2 official. Trump and his Republican henchmen have been slowly trying to chip away at the credibility of the FBI and the whole Justice Department since last June when he was stopped from firing Mueller. So now we are very close to that moment where Trump purges the Justice Department until he finds someone you will drop the investigation and exonerate him and the whole Trump family.

This will happen, it’s just a matter of time now!

Secret Memo Hints at a New Republican Target: Rod Rosenstein

Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the Trump. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week.

Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.

It is difficult to judge whether Republicans’ criticism of the surveillance has merit. Although House members have been allowed to view the Republican memo in a secure setting, both that memo and a Democratic one in rebuttal remain shrouded in secrecy. And the applications to obtain and renew the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are even more closely held. Only a small handful of members of Congress and staff members have reviewed them.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff wrote the memo, could vote as early as Monday, using an obscure House rule, to effectively declassify its contents and make it available to the public. Trump would have five days to try to block their effort, potentially setting up a high-stakes standoff between the Trump and his Justice Department, which opposes its immediate release.

The White House has made clear to the Justice Department in recent days that it wants the Republican memo to be made public. Asked about the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Marc Short, the White House’s head of legislative affairs, said that if the memo outlined serious concerns, “the American people should know that.”

But Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, warned in a letter last week to the committee’s chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review and pleaded with the committee to consult the Justice Department. He said the department was “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.”

To obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Once investigators get approval from the Justice Department for a warrant, prosecutors take it to a surveillance court judge, who decides whether to approve it.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr. Nunes did not reply to requests for comment. The people familiar with the contents of the memo spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details remained secret.

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said in a statement: “(Trump) has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process. Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the F.B.I. have engaged in conduct that shows bias against Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton. While Trump has the utmost respect and support for the rank-and-file members of the F.B.I., the anti-Trump bias at the top levels that appear to have existed is troubling.”

Mr. Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who later founded an investment company in New York, had been on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. In 2013, an investigation revealed that a Russian spy had tried to recruit him. Mr. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing, and he denied that he would ever have cooperated with Russian intelligence officials.

But a trip Mr. Page took to Russia in July 2016 while working on Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him in the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign. It is unclear what they learned about Mr. Page between then and when they sought the order’s renewal roughly six months later. It is also unknown whether the surveillance court granted the extension.

The renewal effort came in the late spring, sometime after the Senate confirmed Mr. Rosenstein as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official in late April. Around that time, following Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director in May, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller, a former head of the bureau, to take over the department’s Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, who is close to Trump and House Republicans, signaled interest in Mr. Rosenstein this month as news of the memo’s existence first circulated, asking on air if Mr. Rosenstein had played a role in extending the surveillance. “I’m very interested about Rod Rosenstein in all of this,” he said.

In a speech on Friday in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Sessions appeared to wade into the debate. Without mentioning the Republican memo, he said that federal investigations must be free of bias, and that he would not condone “a culture of defensiveness.” While unfair criticism should be rebutted, he added, “it can never be that this department conceals errors when they occur.”

Excerpted from NYT – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/us/politics/rod-rosenstein-carter-page-secret-memo