Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance would like to remind you that many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.  While those who died are also remembered on November 11 each year, Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military, in wartime or peacetime.  In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served -- not only those who died -- have sacrificed.

Please also note the correct spelling of Veterans Day, not Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day.  Here's the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with the grammar lesson: "Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an 's' at the end of 'veterans'; it is not a day that 'belongs' to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans."

Please: never say 'Happy Memorial Day', or 'Happy long weekend', or any other variant, because if all you're doing is shopping and barbecuing, then you've completely lost the ability to relate to what today is all about.  It's much more offensive, in fact, than saying  'happy holidays' at Christmas.

And let's not forget exactly what they died for, either.  It wasn't just defending our country or 'freedom'.  Especially in the wars and 'domino effect' police actions, declared and otherwise, since World War II.

Here's the lefty blog post roundup.

Off the Kuff has an update on the redistricting situation.

Socratic Gadfly has collected and assembled his first set of thoughts on the idea of guaranteed, universal, or basic income; both its promises and its possible perils.

Texas Republicans are leading the way for mean, misogynistic, crazy, racist policies. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme joins the resistance.

With hurricane season approaching, Neil at All People Have Value reported on the Trump/Governor Abbott hurricane plan for the Houston/Galveston area. APHV is part of

Democrats were on the comeback trail even before the Montana special election results came in, reported PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

jobsanger is fearful about the three bullies -- Russia, China, and the US -- who are jockeying to be King of the Rest of the World.

In acknowledging the 2,000 homeless teens living in Denton County, the Lewisville Texan Journal also reports that a non-profit organization has recently opened a new shelter there for them.

Jeremi Suri writes in Rivard Report that on this Memorial Day, we must better prepare for the next war.

High Plains Blogger offers his take on Ken Burns' latest long-form video project for PBS about an aspect of American culture, The Vietnam War.


In a plethora of reactions to the Texas Legislature's flurry of bill passages and deaths as Sine Die comes today ...

RG Ratcliffe at Burkablog posts about Dan Patrick's scorched earth potty politics in 'War and Pee'.

Better Texas Blog explains the Saturday Night Massacre Texas budget deal approved by the Lege, and dives deeper into the cuts to Medicaid.

The TSTA Blog criticizes Greg Abbott's support of the "sanctuary cities" law, Dwight Silverman explains how you can legally circumvent the new texting-while-driving ban, and Grits for Breakfast adopts the 'glass half full' POV for the law named after Sandra Bland that omits the full telling of her story.

Mark McKinnon wonders how the Texas GOP got to be so out of touch with the business community, and Mimi Swartz was not amused by Greg Abbott's joke about shooting reporters.


And in non-Memorial Day and Texas Lege blogging ...

DBC Green Blog explains 'lesser evil' and defines 'progressive'.

Somervell County Salon has a few religious news items and notes from the distaff side.

The Rag Blog tells the story of one of Houston's least acclaimed filmmakers, Eagle Pennell, who lost his aspirations and eventually his life at the bottom of a bottle.

Beyond Bones (the blog for Houston's Museum of Natural Science) has a new paleontology exhibit spotlighting the living and deceased -- as in fossilized -- artistry of swimming crinoids, aka feather starfish.

And Harry Hamid reminisces about his first car.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Funnies

WH Budget Chief: ‘I Hope’ Fewer People Get Social Security Disability Insurance

“There is fraud, no doubt,” the New York Times‘ Teresa Tritch argued in 2015. “But there is no evidence it is rampant.” Tritch pointed to a telling statistic: “If people on disability were faking it, they wouldn’t have such high death rates.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Democrats come creeping back

This will be a "kind to the Donkeys" post.  Seriously.

-- Today is special election day in Montana, and things seem to be breaking nicely for Rob Quist, the folk singer and political novice bidding to replace Ryan Zinke (now Interior Secretary) as the Treasure State's sole Congressman.  His Republican opponent body-slammed a reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian yesterday.  Greg Gianforte was charged with assault late last night after the incident.  The best account comes from a Fox News reporter, among three who witnessed it.  Don't be afraid to click on the link.

Gianforte was rejected by the voters just six months ago in his bid to become the Big Sky Country's governor.  Montanans elected Democrat Steve Bullock, barely, with 50.2% of the same electorate among which Trump carried 56-35 over Hillary Clinton.

Polling still slightly favors Gianforte, so this late development may or may not change enough minds; it's all about turnout, as per usual in special elections.  Trump has recorded a robocall for Gianforte and the Republican has run hard on President Pussy Grabber's coattails, so today's result will truly be a marker of how far disenchantment with Boss Tweet has come.

No bets made or taken.

Update: Quist falls short, 44-50. I received an email from a Democratic organization on May 24 -- asking for phone calls or a donation -- claiming a poll showed him "as few as two points behind".

-- In Georgia, prospects are similarly brightening for Joel Ossoff, who has opened a 7-point polling lead on Karen Handel for the right to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in Congress.

Ossoff and Handel will face off in a June 20 runoff election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Democrats are hopeful they can channel anti-Trump fervor into a win for Ossoff, given that Trump won the ruby-red district by just one point in November.

-- These two potential Congressional flips come on the heels of a couple of statehouse victories for the Blues in New England.

(Last) Tuesday, Democrat Edith DesMarais won a New Hampshire House of Representatives seat while Christine Pellegrino, another Democratic candidate, won a New York state assembly seat. Both races took place in districts previously under Republican control that Trump won in November.

More here.

-- And Roll Call sees a shift to the left in 19 US House races across the country.  They mention Pete Sessions' TX-32 -- still 'likely Republican' -- but not John Culberson's TX-7, and call today's Montana election as 'tilting' GOP.

Certainly the cautionary warnings about polling apply in the wake of Clinton's narrow win loss for the White House six months ago.  I personally distrust polling even more than I did before; not good old Ted at jobsanger, however.  You can find a couple of posts just like this every single day at his shop.  Something considerably less than meaningful and very close to worthless.  A few people are never going to get it; this cluelessness almost has a 'teaching pigs to sing' quality about it.  Still, it's better than pimping out fake news, advanced by the most ignorant and vile of Republicans, who are forced to retract, and even then won't stop.

If you're a Democrat being duped about the Seth Rich murder mystery by the likes of Blake Farenthold, Newt Gingrich, and Sean Hannity, would you please wake up and smell the coffee.

That was being nice to Democrats; trust me.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog post wrangle, the Texas Progressive Alliance is old enough to remember when Republicans considered giving classified information to the Russians a bad thing.

Off the Kuff notes that the state's voter ID failure in 2016 was way bigger than you thought it was.

SocraticGadfly says that Republicans, Democrats and media pundits alike who talk about a "25th Amendment solution" to President Trump need to read their Constitution better.

The night they drove old Dixie down happened twice in New Orleans this past week, as documented by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Republicans double down on killing women with expanded war on health services. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says vote as if your life depends on it. It does.

Dos Centavos wonders aloud if Houston will sue the state of Texas over SB4.

jobsanger is in the camp of those who believe Trump's top pick for FBI director, Joe Lieberman, would be a terrible idea.

The Lewisville Texan Journal questioned the seeming collaboration of the local school district and their political action committee -- a violation of state law -- in that city's recent school bonds election.

Neil at All People Have Value attended the weekly Tuesday protest at the Houston office of wicked-doing Senator John Cornyn.  APHV is part of

Texas Leftist celebrates Houston's diversity.

And Houston Streetwise has some photos of the de-Dowlingization and soon-to-be Emancipation of a street in Houston's Third Ward.


More news and blog posts from around Texas!

Jonathan Tilove at First Reading interpreted the Freedom Caucus' outsized influence on the legislative session as a coarse correction.

The Texas Observer quotes a House member saying that her chamber -- and Speaker Joe Straus -- are "being rolled by the Senate" and Dan Patrick, and transgender children are under the wheels.

The San Antonio Current watched some of the most self-proclaimed "pro-life" members of the Texas Lege using procedural tactics to kill a bill that would fund a study of rising maternal mortality rates.

 (note date on toon)

Grits for Breakfast complains that the bill in the Lege that replaces 'Driver Responsibility' fees with a 'Phillips-Miles tariff' is making a bad situation worse.

In PoliTex's North Texas political roundup, Rosie O'Donnell is raising money and attention for a centrist Democratic challenger to to thirty-year incumbent Joe Barton, and one of two open seats on the Fifth Circuit may go to a John Cornyn protege'.  Or perhaps state Supreme Court Justice (and prolific Tweeter) Don Willett.

Covering San Antonio's municipal elections, the Rivard Report explains that river barges and runoffs make for ugly politics.

Zachery Taylor explains how for-profit insurance is a government-authorized crime syndicate.

DBC Green Blog wishes to point out for the record that Dr. Jill Stein remains relevant to the national discussion (why would that dinner table photograph be so ubiquitous and contentious among Democrats if she weren't?) and she is still debunking the Russian conspiracy theories.

Therese Odell adds the late-night comics' reactions to the latest Russia revelations.

New Deal Democrat at Bonddad graphs out the economics of real median income having flat-lined since 1958

Doing its part to keep Austin weird and to export the feeling, The Rag Blog brought their ongoing anniversary celebration to Houston's Brazos Bookstore.

And Tom Carson at Texas Monthly eulogizes Snyder native Powers Booth.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The night they drove old Dixie down

You might recognize the title of this post as the name of a song by '60's-era folk stalwarts The Band, but made more famous in that time by recent RRHOF inductee Joan Baez.

Levon Helm co-wrote and sang it, and wasn't pleased when Baez covered it in what he thought was a "happy-go-lucky style".  If you consider the song a lament to the 'lost cause', as I do, then it would seem odd that Baez, being the lifelong progressive activist, would have sung it at all.  But that may just be my bias of interpretation.  YMMV.

Thus I use the song's title in context of the very appropriate and long-overdue lynching of Confederate heroes traitors Jefferson Davis and General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (yes, he would be Jeff Sessions' namesake), in New Orleans this past week.

And later this morning, Robert E. Lee gets the same treatment.

The city of New Orleans is set to remove its fourth and final Confederate-era monument. Unlike the first three statues, Gen. Robert E. Lee is coming down during the day.

Streets near the city's Lee Circle -- where the monument stands -- were blocked off by early Friday in preparation for the dismantling that's scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

The city started removing the landmarks in late April after the New Orleans City Council voted in 2015 to take down the four Confederate markers. Recent court rulings cleared the way for the monuments to be removed and relocated following heated public debate and legal fights.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will give remarks Friday afternoon about the city's efforts to remove the four Confederate monuments.

To all those "hell no I ain't forgettin'" types: your history is not being erased.  Would that it could be, as a matter of fact.  And your precious heritage blows goats anyway.  Grow up and acquire some tolerance.  It won't cost you a dime to be a better human being, and our country -- the one you say your political opponents despise -- is long overdue to put these tributes to sedition and slavery in a park somewhere that will hopefully charge you high-dollar admission to wave your Stars and Bars and grouse about 'libruls'.

It's almost as offensive as Republicans who claim Democrats are the real racists without the slightest understanding of the history of the Civil War, or how the duopoly parties have evolved since that time.  In point of fact, it's much more complicated -- I prefer 'interesting' -- than that.

Anyway, screw the crackers still clinging to their guns, Bibles, and Rebel flags.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Scattershooting Roger Ailes, John Cornyn, and impeachment

Has today's news broken yet?

Frankly I have a raging case of Trump Fatigue.

-- Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden -- "Black Hole Sun", "Fell on Black Days") and disgraced Fox News founder Roger Ailes are both reported to have died this morning.  If I believed in a heaven and/or a hell, this would feel a lot like balancing their respective ledgers.

-- Thankfully I did not have to blog about John Cornyn, who two-stepped into the lead for FBI director and then right back out.  Here's hoping I don't have to blog about Joe Lieberman.

-- Impeachment is on the table for a few House Democrats, my former representative Al Green among them.  Not so much the Senate.  Gadfly has already shot down Russ Douthat's 25th Amendment solution, and this piece from Michael Walsh at Yahoo reinforces that with a scenario from MSU law professor Brian Kalt as to the Article 4 application:

In his New York Times column, Douthat argues that Trump’s situation is not what the “Cold War-era designers were envisioning” but that the president’s inability to “really govern” is testified to on a daily basis by his Cabinet.

“Read the things that these people, members of his inner circle, his personally selected appointees, say daily through anonymous quotations to the press. (And I assure you they say worse off the record.) They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor,” Douthat wrote.

Kalt, who earned his juris doctor from Yale Law School and researches structural constitutional law and juries, argues however that using Section 4 in the case of Trump “would be a really bad idea.”

He believes that commentators like Douthat and (WaPo columnist Richard) Cohen might think Trump is nuts and unfit for the office, but says that the fact that he’s still lucid and able to communicate would make problematic the use of Section 4 as a means for removing him from office.

If Vice President Mike Pence and the majority of Trump’s Cabinet were to declare that Trump is disabled, Pence would temporarily assume the role of commander in chief, but then Trump could easily come back and declare that he is just fine. In this situation, Pence and the cabinet would then have four days to reiterate their declaration that he is disabled.

If they failed to do this, Trump would have his power back. If they did reiterate their claim, then Congress would assemble within 48 hours and vote on whether they think Trump is able to “discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Pence would stay on as president if he could secure a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate that Trump is unable to be president.

“If the president loses that vote he can always keep coming back and say, ‘Well, now I’m OK,’ and again Congress would have to vote,” Kalt said.

Section 4, it bears pointing out, has never been used.

Short of a Nixon-style resignation by Trump, those betting odds from January are going to have to be revised in about a month.  I think we're stuck with Cheetolini at least until 2018, when Democrats have a shot at retaking the House.  But keep in mind that the last time Nancy Pelosi was about to become Speaker -- immediately after the 2006 midterms -- she quickly took impeachment of W Bush off the table.  Would there be votes in the Senate in 2019 to remove Trump from office if the GOP still held the upper chamber and was the jury for the House's trial?  That's more possible in my opinion than Paul Ryan allowing a vote to bring forth articles between now and then.

And impeaching Trump gives us President Mike Pence, who in many ways could be considered worse than Trump.  Several have already noted this but J Clifford at Irregular Times says it best.

Eighteen more months of Trump Fatigue trumps President Pence.  Trust us on this.

Update: Ted Rall offers an amusing and contrary take.

-- Democrats should be focusing on the midterms -- and certainly the early scrum in CD-7 is evidence that they are -- but infighting between the 2016 primary combatants and their disciples, as well as policy purity, is still a serious damper on 2018 prospects.  CAP's Ideas Conference pointedly excluded Bernie Sanders, essentially because establishment Democrats (note nasty Kos' comment at that last link) simply do not like the country's most popular politician.  Robert Borosage at underscores that the Resistance seems more important than big ideas, a doom-filled strategy for orthodox and centrist Donkeys.  Still, they persist.

They want to keep quarreling over whether pro-life Democrats should be allowed in the party.  As I pointed out weeks ago, there are already vulnerable 2018 electeds -- Democratic Senators -- who SAY they are pro-life, but VOTE pro-choice.  Some folks need to wrap their brains around this nuance or else they're going to keep losing elections.

In the queue: the Texas Lege, with Dan Patrick steering, in a finish that is looking like a demolition derby, the night they drove old Dixie down in New Orleans, the Seth Rich murder making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and the latest on Houston's homeless and the city ordinance opposing their right to exist.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Weekly Wrangle

As late spring temperatures and blood pressure readings rise in places where Republicans congregate to exact their legislative punishment on everyone who isn't white, rich, and male -- such as DC, Austin, and Charlotte, NC -- the Texas Progressive Alliance isn't going to be signing off on any loyalty pledges.

Here's the lefty blog post and news roundup!

Off the Kuff considers the possibilities of Big John Cornyn's Senate seat being vacated by an appointment as FBI director.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Sally Yates owned John Cornyn and Ted Cruz this week. Cornyn proved he's a Trump puppet and an excellent choice of FBI director -- if you want to destroy our democracy and make Trump officially god emperor.

Dos Centavos laughs to keep from crying about the ACLU's Texas travel advisory in the wake of SB4 becoming law.

On the day the world lost its mind, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs was a little dizzy and nauseous but otherwise got through it ... same as everyone else.

Texas Vox bemoans the bills killed by the House "Freedom Caucus" in a fit of legislative pique.

Ted at jobsanger sees a large partisan divide in the public's perception of the media.

The Lewisville ISD sent parents of middle and high school students a letter about the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why", which deals with the subject of teen suicide.  The Texan Journal has more about the proactive effort in their community for Children's Mental Health Month (May).

John Coby at Bay Area Houston interpreted his local school district election outcome in favor of their bond referendum as a big defeat for the Tea Party forces.

SocraticGadfly skips his writing about the Comey firing and politics in general.  It's baseball season, and he offers an update of a piece on how the Cardinals are lucky they didn't overpay to re-sign Jason Heyward.

Neil at All People Have Value attended a Trumpcare Die-in and saw a Sandra Bland memorial railroad car. APHV is part of


On Mother's Day in Austin, the Texas Observer was at the Governor's Mansion with hundreds of people protested SB4, the "anti-sanctuary cities" legislation signed into law by Governor Abbott.

The Texas Election Law Blog comments on the ProPublica/Texas Tribune story that details Texas voter suppression as executed by the implementation of voter/photo ID in 2016.

At the Lege, Better Texas Blog laments the likely demise of some good school finance legislation, Grits for Breakfast has a status update on the criminal justice reforms bills, and the TSTA Blog wonders why charter schools are asking for more tax money.

A lot of beneficial medical-related bills also died as the result of intra-GOP quarreling and noted in the Houston Chronicle, and Texans for Public Justice added up how much lobbying money the predatory lenders have been spending this session.

Former San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary Julián Castro, in his endorsement of Ron Niremberg in the June 10 mayoral runoff election and posted at the Rivard Report, thinks the challenger would be more effective than the incumbent, Ivy Taylor.

Reveal sees the feds moving ahead with the southern border wall, but in typical Trump fashion, refusing to disclose the names of the contractors bidding on the job.

Andrew Edmonson tells what you can do to fight against attacks on LGBT Texans.

Paradise in Hell notes a correlation between life expectancy and Trump support.

In a flashback to the days when Republicans seemed sensible and not so much the psychopaths, Arnold Schwartzeneggar visited Houston and gave the commencement address at U of H, had lunch with George HW and Barbara Bush, and made other public appearances suggestive of a 2020 presidential candidate, as reported in CultureMap Houston.  (Apparently he's coming back, a message he left everywhere he went.)

And the Texas Progressive Alliance applauds and congratulates the 'new' politics editor at Texas Monthly, RG Ratcliffe.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Scattershooting the shitshows *with updates

-- I am just not going to spend much time following the Trump/Comey carnival from town to town.  If that's your thing, you have all you want to consume.  My plans are to get out and do something fun around town on Saturday and then take Mom out to lunch on Sunday, avoiding the teevee Talking Heads as stringently as possible.

-- It's that time of spring/early summer when the Texas Lege is on its worst behavior, and as the calendar deadline came and went last night, statehouse Republicans drew knives on each other and the Texas Senate's Education Committee snuck vouchers into the school finance bill and passed the bill out to the full floor.  Which means Joe Straus, et. al. is the last chance to kill them.

(T)he House has indicated that it opposes school choice but supports funding schools at a higher level than the Senate says the state’s tight budget can handle. In a bargaining move by the Senate to push school choice, a priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and an issue supported by Gov. Greg Abbott, House members who oppose school choice at least have to consider the issue now.

Don't hold your breath.

-- A glimmer of good news: despite Harris County's best and most expensive efforts, a federal judge struck down their opposition to reforming bail bonding for the indigent, and the Sheriff's Office is moving quickly ahead on releasing the debtor's prison inmates.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal denied the county's motion to stay her order, leading to an expedited appeal by the county expected to be filed Friday with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rosenthal's order is set to go into effect on Monday. County officials are already planning to begin releasing inmates even as their lawyers fight to stop the order.

The judge ruled that the county's bail practices are unconstitutional, forcing poor people to stay in jail when people with money can walk free while awaiting trial on misdemeanors, allowing them to go on with the lives and jobs.


According to testimony at a lengthy injunction hearing earlier this year, many defendants opt to plead guilty rather than wait for their day in court on a minor offense.

Rosenthal weighed the request for a stay based on who faced the "greater harm" if she granted it: The 15 Criminal Court at Law judges and five hearing officers who asked for the delay or the inmates being held on bail rates they couldn't pay. She explained in her order Thursday that the misdemeanor defendants stuck in jail while awaiting trial would suffer greater harm than the county in implementing a new bail system [and also] found "that overwhelming credible evidence established that Harris County has a policy of routinely and systematically detaining indigent misdemeanor defendants before trial on secured money bail that the defendants clearly cannot pay because of their indigence, without procedural protections."

Update: The Fifth Circuit late yesterday put a stop to Judge Rosenthal's stay.

A federal appeals court granted Harris County a last-minute reprieve Friday in a contentious civil rights lawsuit, calling a temporary halt to a judge's order that would have altered the way cash bail is handled for hundreds of people jailed on misdemeanor charges.

In an order posted after the courthouse closed Friday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request of the county's teams of lawyers to stop the order - set to take effect Monday - until the appeals court can further review the matter.

A three-judge panel of the court  notes the temporary halt to the order was issued "in light of the lack of time before the district court's injunction will take effect and in order to allow full consideration of the following motions and any responses thereto."

And the sheriff puts his plans on hold as well.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez had already been preparing paperwork for the expected release of about 80 indigent inmates locked up while awaiting trial on misdemeanors.


Gonzalez ... is among those who believes the bail system should be overhauled. He said about 100 inmates a day would have been affected by the new bail system.

"We are prepared to comply, allowing many inmates to return to their homes while their cases get resolved in court," he said Friday, before the ruling. "We need to make sure we keep peace in our community, but the system should be compassionate."

I suppose (once the lower court's order is confirmed, that is) the jails, city and county, will now have plenty of room for all the homeless people they will begin arresting today.  Unfortunately someone *update: nearly died of a drug overdose at the Wheeler encampment last night, which is all the motivation some people will need to accelerate their plan.  This is how it went down at City Hall a couple of weeks ago.  Leading homeless activist Shere Dore spoke with Fox 26's Isiah Carey earlier this week about the issue, but the report is not mentioned that I can find on his many social media outlets.  Unusual for such a relentless self-promoter.

Update: More from the scene yesterday; Sylvester Turner applies the full court press (including a billboard on I-45), and Burnell McCray's photographs document the lives being impacted.

-- It's worth re-pointing out the obvious inability of Clinton Democrats to recognize their own hypocrisy, even without demonstrating much in the way of cognitive dissonance.

The toons I have for Sunday are some of the wildest I have ever collected, by the way.  And most of them will never see the light of day at Blue outlets like the Beauty Shop or Ted's.  We no longer live in a world where the psychopathy of the Republicans can be condemned without acknowledging the absolute failure of the Democrats to stop them, electorally or in the use of their meager political power, and not just in Washington and elsewhere but in places like Austin.

With respect to the meme above, let's really get this clear: Trump stands as much chance of being impeached as Obama did.  To hear liberals repeat this ridiculous whine using the logic of the TeaBaggers is, to quote a president's Twitter feed, sad.  Trump is not only not going to be impeached; he's not even going to be investigated as long Mitch McConnell is in charge.

Senate Republicans are unified in rejecting calls for a special counsel to take over the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election, even as some take a critical tone against the president’s abrupt firing of FBI Director Jim Comey.


... Republicans, even those critical of President Trump for firing the FBI director while he was investigating ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, are not biting — at least not for now. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told a CNN reporter at least six Republicans privately support either a select committee or special counsel to look into the Russia claims, and it’s possible that more information could come out about Comey’s firing that would change their positions.

“Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

Several Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is leading its own probe into Russia, echoed McConnell, saying a special counsel at the Justice Department would get in the way of their investigation, which has been criticized for being understaffed and slow.

And it's not just that loyalty to party -- or your party's president -- over country, or to the rule of law, is the only thing that matters to Republicans; the Democrats are experiencing too much infighting to capitalize in 2018 to so much as put impeachment on the table.  This past-its-sell-date baloney is fed to them daily by the likes of Louise Mensch and Palmer Report and others.  Careless thinking is part and parcel of what appears to me as a general lack of understanding about how far they have driven -- and continue to drive -- the party off the rails.  As an example, I take frequent issue with the Observer (a Kushner family publication, but with several progressive writers who still get published), Naked Capitalism, and HA Goodman, a hyperbolic and excessive shill for his efforts in the style of local Donkey Egberto Willies.  (Sidebar snark: "So-and-so slams so-and-so on Rachel Maddow/Bill Maher" etc. is not riveting blogging, and that banality drives about 75-80% of Eg's content, but only if you can get past the constant pimping of his email list, radio shows, books, whatever other activism he's involved in that he can't otherwise monetize, and so on ad infinitum).

But when they're quoting the DNC's lawyer from legal briefs in the ongoing trial associated with Bernie Sander's contention that the party apparatus repeatedly defrauded his efforts to secure the nomination, which essentially denies that democracy has anything to do with being a Democrat ... somebody whose mind hasn't been clouded by neoliberalism maybe ought to shake those fuckheads by the shoulders.  And it ain't gonna be Tom Perez.

With nothing but a severely dysfunctional Democratic Party, the GOP is only going to get worse.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The day the world lost its mind

Or perhaps it was just the day that everybody in the United States seemed to lose their minds.  To hear the talking heads on teevee tell it, that is (my wife watches but I don't, so I got updates throughout the evening on yesterday's shitshow).

The day began with the reveal of James Comey's fatal error.  He's likely more than mildly nauseous this morning.  Bold is mine.

The FBI on Tuesday sent Congress a letter correcting Director James Comey’s testimony regarding the “hundreds and thousands” of emails he incorrectly claimed top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin forwarded to her husband Anthony Weiner.

“Director Comey spoke of hundreds and thousands of e-mails being forwarded from Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner’s laptop computer,” Gregory A. Brower, the assistant director for the bureau’s Office of Congressional Affairs, wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “Investigators ultimately determined that two e-mail chains containing classified information were manually forwarded to Mr. Weiner’s account.”

This completely stunned me.  Not just that there were only two emails, but that Comey was so completely wrong about the number of them, testifying under oath to his hideous mistake, which led to ... well, you know.

As we know, it got worse for him.

Comey testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Abedin made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of emails to Weiner “for him I think to print out” so Abedin could deliver the hard copies to Clinton.

ProPublica reported earlier Tuesday that piece of Comey’s testimony was inaccurate, and that the FBI had privately acknowledged the director’s misstatements but was still considering next steps.

“The FBI believes it is reasonable to conclude that most of the emails found on Mr. Weiner’s laptop computer related to the Clinton investigation occurred as a result of a backup of personal electronic devices,” Brower wrote in the letter to Grassley.

Epic fail.  Pantsed by his own people.  So while a few Hillbots immediately opened fire, as Gadfly has documented, we had to wait until the end of the day for Trump to wake up.

President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the top official leading a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency. It immediately ignited Democratic calls for a special counsel to lead the Russia inquiry.

So from there the reactions and spot analysis spiraled out of control.  While Democrats caterwauled about everything from Nixon to 'special prosecutor' -- the best idea coming from Texas Monthly's politics editor, RG Ratcliffe, suggesting two; one appointed by Obama and one by W. Bush -- Republicans clamored for Trey Gowdy to be named the FNG at FBI.  Update: Or maybe Rudy Giuliani.  Or Chris Christie.

This is my effort at documenting a few of the items that make the most -- or least -- sense to me; YMMV.

-- Trump has been on the verge of firing Comey for about a week; a remarkably well-kept secret with this administration.

Trump had grown angry with the Russia investigation — particularly Comey admitting in front of the Senate that the FBI was investigating his campaign — and that the FBI director wouldn't support his claims that President Barack Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower.

-- But wait; didn't Trump write in his termination letter to the director ...

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.

-- Yet there obviously is an ongoing investigation.

However, a recent court filing by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FBI in an ongoing FOIA lawsuit plainly indicates the FBI has an active investigation pertaining to Donald Trump’s actions related to actual or potential election-related hacking and espionage by Russia.

Two, it appears.  Or maybe just the one.

Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas as part of the ongoing probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to a new report.

The subpoenas to associates of former national security adviser Michael Flynn are seeking business records, CNN said Tuesday.

CNN confirmed with people familiar with the matter that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Va., issued the subpoenas in recent weeks.

The subpoenas are a significant escalation of the FBI’s broader investigation into possible ties between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The news of subpoenas comes on the same night President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

Jeff Sessions -- who recused himself from investigating Trump's Russian connections because he lied prevaricated under oath about having conversations with Russians -- will not be the one who appoints any special prosecutor.  That job falls to the new deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, who was confirmed with 94 votes in the Senate just a couple of weeks ago (and who helped shiv Comey).  Here's more about the man to watch from the NYT.

For the record again, the subterfuge IMHO does not lie in Russia's attempts to hack the election.  They tried; they did not succeed.  US elections are far too decentralized to be hacked by a single source; voter suppression is in fact a more impactful, concentrated, and successful effort.  Here's your proof of that.  But Trump's undisclosed tax returns probably hide a lot of Russian money over several years, especially if his son spilled the beans on that years ago.  That's where the real danger of having a president compromised by a nefarious foreign actor lies.

Let's stop here with a timeline of the events that have unspooled from early July -- an excellent resource -- surrounding Comey and his October 28 letter and everything since, as both a refresher and a tonic for your (or maybe just my) vertigo/dizziness/nausea, etc.  Let's also note that Comey becomes the third person fired by Trump (Preet Bharara and Sally Yates were ahead of him) who has lost their job in the midst of investigating Trump's Russia ties.

More, probably, later.