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Recommended Reading

The White Nationalists Are Winning

Recommended reading over at the Atlantic. With Fox News anchors and high-profile Republican politicians openly pushing the racism and talking points of the alt-right. The fringe movement is no longer fringe, it’s just the Republican Party.

A year after white nationalists in Charlottesville chanted, “You will not replace us!” their message has been taken up and amplified by Fox News personalities. Tucker Carlson tells his audience that “Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country.” Laura Ingraham says that “the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore” because of “massive demographic changes” as a result of “both illegal and sometimes legal immigration that progressives love.” They echo the white-nationalist claim that America is at risk because the nation is growing more diverse, an argument that treats the mere presence of nonwhite people, citizen or noncitizen, as an existential threat to the country. White nationalists like Cantwell are cheered to hear their beliefs championed on Fox. Cantwell wrote last year that Carlson “is basically telling white America to prepare for war as directly as he can get away with while remaining on Fox News.”

 

Categories
Current Events

Trump Threatens To ‘Suspend’ Protesting NFL Players ‘Without Pay’

Here we go again with more of that NFL distraction, the Manafort trial must really be ruffling feathers.

I’m going to go ahead and guess that Trump doesn’t realize that NFL players are not government employees that he can personally fire or reprimand. Nor, would I imagine that Trump knows he just violated the First Amendment.

18 U.S. Code § 227 – Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch

**(a)Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity—(1)**takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or**(2)**influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

**(b)In this section, the term “covered government person” means—(1)**a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;**(2)**an employee of either House of Congress; or**(3)**the President, Vice President, an employee of the United StatesPostal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).

What Trump is doing is illegal. The protests are a partisan issue, only Republicans are taking issue. Suspension/termination/etc… are employment decisions, and the NFL is a private entity.

Issuing a statement is an official act. In the past, he has threatened to change tax law regarding NFL teams unless they changed their employment practices, which is undeniably a threat to take an official act.

Add it to the pile…

It’s continually amazing to me just how many laws this administration can break in plain view and in public record and how there are no consequences.

Categories
Current Events

Robert Mueller requests Trump-related portion of Manafort’s trial be kept secret because it revealed ‘substantive’ evidence

While the FoxNews crowd celebrates Manafort trial Judge TS Elilis’ taunts toward the Mueller team, ignoring the fact that he today apologized, those of us in the land of reality got an interesting tidbit today. From CNN:

In a filing Thursday, Mueller’s team said it wanted to keep a discussion between trial attorneys and Judge T.S. Ellis regarding a question to Gates secret because the transcript of the conversation would “reveal details of the ongoing investigation.”

….
Defense attorney Kevin Downing had asked Gates, “Were you interviewed on several occasions about your time at the Trump campaign?”

Prosecutor Greg Andres objected to the question before Gates could answer.

….

“Disclosing the identified transcript portions would reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation … In addition, sealing will minimize any risk of prejudice from the disclosure of new information relating to that ongoing investigation,” the special counsel’s team wrote in a court filing Thursday. “The government’s concerns would continue until the relevant aspect of the investigation is revealed publicly, if that were to occur.”

That request was just granted.

https://twitter.com/SpicyFiles/status/1027714355075395584

Well, isn’t that all juicy. It’s reminding me an interview on Pod Save America a few weeks back with a journalist saying that the information she provided, which could be traced directly back to President Trump, will be a huge surprise to the public when it comes out, and is unrelated to Russia/the other collusion stories we have been hearing.

There is a LOT of information out there relevant to the case that we don’t know about yet.

Journalist reveals she provided source’s identity to the FBI:

But Wheeler, the publisher of the Empty Wheel blog, wrote that she felt compelled to talk to authorities about an individual she was convinced “played a significant role in the Russian election attack on the US.” Wheeler has not publicly named her source, but she told CNN in a Monday phone interview that the person “definitely did not want me to go to the FBI” and cautioned her in a text message against doing so.

“On its face, I broke one of the cardinal rules of journalism,” Wheeler told The Washington Post in a story published Sunday, “but what he was doing should cause a source to lose protection.”

more:

Her blog post centers on a text message she says she got from the source on Nov. 9, 2016 — about 14 hours after the polls closed — predicting that Michael Flynn, who would be Trump’s appointee for national security adviser, would be meeting with “Team Al-Assad” within 48 hours. Russia has been perhaps the Assad regime’s staunchest ally.

As she noted: “The substance of the text — that the Trump team started focusing on Syria right after the election — has been corroborated and tied to their discussions with Russia at least twice since then.”

Wheeler won’t say when she went to the FBI other than that it was in 2017. In December 2017, Flynn flipped, pleading guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his contact with the Russian government during the presidential transition; Trump had fired him in February.

In addition to the knowledge of her source’s inside information, Wheeler said, she had reason to believe that the source was involved with efforts to compromise her website and other communications. And perhaps most important, that he was involved in cyberattacks — past and future — that had done and could do real harm to innocent people.

This party is just getting started.

Categories
Current Events

Rand Paul says he delivered Trump letter to Putin

We still have essentially no details regarding Trump’s summit with Putin, which should be a scandal in and of itself, but here’s something new to wonder about. Senator Rand Paul says he delivered a letter on behalf of President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in person.

Congratulation Senator, now your a mailman traitor!

Time for a little trip back to March of 2017 when Senator McCain said Rand Paul is I quote, “working for Vladimir Putin.

“I was honored to deliver a letter from President Donald J. Trump to President Vladimir Putin’s administration,” Paul said, “The letter emphasized the importance of further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges.”

So why a letter? Trump has the answer on that:

“It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old fashioned way because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe,” Trump responded when asked about the importance of cybersecurity, according to pool reporters.

Trump, 12/31/16

Clearly, Trump didn’t want the State Department or the Intelligence Community to know what was in the letter.

But, I’m sure that letter was about “countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges.” The same way the Trump Tower meeting was about “Adopting Russian Children“.

That should, if our legal system was working in any way, make Paul an accessory to violating the presidential records act. I won’t hold my breath.

Between this and that sketchy as hell July 4th trip, things certainly seem to be getting worse. Just how many republicans are wrapped up in this mess?

Hot take on the issue:

“Many folks think that Rand Paul can’t be beat, they’re worried he might be too well-liked. I don’t buy that. Just ask his neighbor. He can be beaten.”

— Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes (D)

Categories
Recommended Reading

Jon Stewart Tried to Warn us of the GOP’s love affair with Vladimir Putin back in 2014

So this is a thing that is happening, but maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising. After all, Jon Stewart warned us back in 2014.

The GOP has a love affair with Vladimir Putin.

Stewart makes a great point, among many. It’s funny how Republicans just love Putin’s dictatorial style, while they accuse Obama of wearing “mommy jeans.” But then whenever Obama actually does something, like pass health care reform, the President suddenly becomes “Dictator Obama” who jams unconstitutional legislation down the throats of the American public (by letting the Congress vote on it 50 times).

Where have I heard that before?

“Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”

Umberto Eco, from Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

A story told a thousand times. Just like Schrodinger’s Immigrant — simultaneously a lazy welfare leech, and a job hoarder at the same time. How the Jews are, at once, a degenerate, filthy, inferior race, and the menacingly powerful puppetmasters controlling the world through the banking, media, and delicatessen industries. Obama the pansy-ass pussy bitch atheist, and also a dictatorial, menacing, all-powerful muslim! And Hillary the brain damaged feeble grandmother who can’t get into a van without help who is also controlling elements of the deep state within DOJ, SCOTUS, FBI, NSA and the DOD to overthrow Trump.

Categories
Recommended Reading

Mike Pence Once Wrote that a President Should Be Impeached for Moral Failings

Mike Pence used to document his opinions on the website for his old radio show. In one of his columns, Pence argued that the president should be held to a higher moral standard than your average American. These writings were recently brought to light by CNN’s KFile and by Splinter in 2016. They were originally posted in the late 1990s.

Mike Pence wrote:

On the second count, that the President is ‘just like the rest of us’, he is the most powerful man in the world. If you and I fall into bad moral habits, we can harm our families, our employers and our friends. The President of the United States can incinerate the planet. Seriously, the very idea that we ought to have at or less than the same moral demands placed on the Chief Executive that we place on our next door neighbor is ludicrous and dangerous. Throughout our history, we have seen the presidency as the repository of all of our highest hopes and ideals and values. To demand less is to do an injustice to the blood that bought our freedom

http://web.archive.org/web/19990821083429/http:/www.hublergroup.com:80/pence/clinton2.html

Mike Pence also wrote:

Further, the Presidents repeated lies to the American people in this matter compound the case against him as they demonstrate his failure to protect the institution of the presidency as the ‘inspiring supreme symbol of all that is highest in our American ideals’.

If the President does not resign, the Republican Congress must impeach him even if it costs them their majority because the laws of this republic charge them with the duty to so act. Absent an uncharacteristic act of selflessness by the President, it is left to the Republicans to live up to their label and defend the laws and institutions of this Republic. If our leaders flinch at this responsibility, they would do well to heed the Proverb “if a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked”. Our leaders must either act to restore the luster and dignity of the institution of the Presidency or we can be certain that this is only the beginning of an even more difficult time for our land. For the nation to move on, the President must move out.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010306205858fw_/http:/www.cybertext.net/pence/pres.html

Pence has been radio silent on the allegations Trump currently faces.

Categories
Current Events

Investigation proves there was no cyberattack on the FCC

Following a full investigation by the Federal Communication Commission’s inspector general, what was believed to be a cyberattack on the FCC filing system last May was not a cyberattack at all.

Nope. Instead, it was a combination of a drastic increase in traffic (see democracy in action) and flaws in the system’s design.

On May 7th, 2017, the commission’s comment system crashed after John Oliver encouraged the viewers of Last Week Tonight to go to gofccyourself.com to submit comments ahead of the FCC’s December vote to roll back net neutrality rules. Thousands of viewers flocked to the site which crashed the system.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has long held that the system crash was the result of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, and a vast amount of targeted traffic was the cause of the system’s downtime. But according to the inspector general, there was no cyberattack at all.

Our investigation did not substantiate the allegations of multiple DDoS attacks,” the report said.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel put out a statement yesterday condemning the agency: “The [report] tells us what we knew all along: the FCC’s claim that it was a victim of a DDoS attack during the net neutrality proceeding is bogus,” she said. “What happened instead is obvious — millions of Americans overwhelmed our online system because they wanted to tell us how important internet openness is to them and how distressed they were to see the FCC roll back their rights.”

Chairman Pai responded: “It has become clear that in addition to a flawed comment system, we inherited from the prior Administration a culture in which many members of the Commission’s career IT staff were hesitant to express disagreement with the Commission’s former CIO in front of FCC management.”

That’s funny Ajit, weren’t you on the previous Obama era FCC council?

Yes, yes you were.

Categories
Current Events

Rick Gates: I committed bank and tax fraud at Paul Manafort’s direction

Rick Gates was on the witness stand today in the trial of Paul Manafort, he confirmed that he committed crimes with Manafort, and embezzled “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

“Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes,” Gates responded.

Gates, who is a former business partner of Manafort, testified that he joined Donald Trump’s former campaign manager in committing bank fraud and tax crimes.

He’s expected to detail the crimes he committed with Manafort as the trial resumes tomorrow.

Categories
Recommended Reading

America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats

Great article over at the Economist about how the US Constitution, our first-past-the-post voting system, and demographic changes give Republicans a significant advantage in legislative elections.

The source of this discrepancy is that Democrats will win their seats with big majorities in fewer districts, whereas Republicans will prevail by narrower margins in a larger number of districts. In 2016 Democrats who beat Republican opponents won an average of 67.4% of the two-party vote in their districts, whereas Republicans who defeated Democrats received an average of 63.8%. This imbalance is partly due to deliberate attempts to create districts that provide such results, and partly just down to the fact that Democrats tend to live more tightly bunched together in cities. Together, these two factors put up quite an obstacle. According to our model, the Democrats need to win 53.5% of all votes cast for the two major parties just to have a 50/50 chance of winning a majority in the House.

If this imbalance were limited to a single chamber of the legislature, or a single election cycle, the Democrats’ frequent carping about a stacked electoral deck might sound like sour grapes. All electoral systems have their oddities. But changes in where Americans live and contradictions in their constitution — a document designed to work with many weak factions that has instead encouraged and entrenched an increasingly polarised two-party system — have opened gaps between what the voters choose and the representation they get in every arm of the federal government. In recent decades these disparities have consistently favoured the Republicans, and there is no reason to think that trend is going to change on its own.

In the past three House elections, Republicans’ share of House seats has been 4-5 percentage points greater than their share of the two-party vote. In 2012 they won a comfortable 54% of the chamber despite receiving fewer votes than their Democratic opponents; in 2014 they converted a 51% two-party-vote share into 55% of the seats.

Such comparisons are harder for the Senate, where only a third of the 100 seats are contested in any election. But adding together all the votes from the most recent election of each senator, Republicans got only 46% of them, and they hold 51 of the seats.

Then there are presidential elections:

In all the world’s other 58 fully presidential democracies — those in which the president is both head of state and head of government — the winning candidate gets the most votes in the final, or only, round of voting. But due to the “electoral college” system that America’s founders jury-rigged in part to square the needs of democracy with the demography of slavery, this does not hold true for America. States vote in the college in proportion to their combined representation in both houses of Congress. This set-up means that a candidate who wins narrowly in many small and smallish states can beat one who gets more votes overall, but racks most of them up in big majorities in a few big states.

During almost all of the 20th century this did not matter much; the candidate who got the most votes won every election from 1896 to 1996. But both of the past two Republicans to win the presidency have received fewer votes when first elected than their Democratic opponents did. In the contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000, this margin was a modest 0.5 percentage points. In 2016, however, it was substantial: Hillary Clinton’s lead of 2.1 percentage points was larger than those enjoyed by the victorious John F. Kennedy in 1960, Richard Nixon in 1968 and Jimmy Carter in 1976.

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Explainer

What Is QAnon?

What’s that sign at President Trump’s campaign rally for GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida on Tuesday night mean?

“We are Q.”

The signs (and apparel) are references to a conspiracy theory growing increasingly popular among those on the far-right. Here’s what it all means:

What is QAnon?

The conspiracy theory centers on a mysterious and anonymous online figure — “Q.” The postings by this anonymous person (called Q) on 4chan (/pol/) appear to be related to when Trump said “calm before the storm.” “Q” began posting on anonymous Internet message boards in October 2017. The person or persons behind the “Q” persona claim to possess a top-level security clearance (Q clearance, hence the name) and evidence of a worldwide criminal conspiracy.

Where did this come from?

The whole thing started with some anonymous posts on 4chan. These posts written by “Q” are dubbed “breadcrumbs” by the theory’s followers:

Here’s an archive of QAnon’s old tripcode

Here is a archive of a QAnon post with an image of supposedly things he said previously

Beyond 4chan, the theory has become very popular on Reddit. Around 6 months ago the subreddit r/greatawakening was created to track his posts and other conspiracy related stuff.

The “predictions” are always a bunch of disconnected, usually unspecific, seemingly random things. For example, a post might simply say “boom”.

The Qanon followers then spend the following weeks trying to force these list items to fit world events. Did “boom” mean new developments in Iraq? A school shooting? Something to do with North Korea? A military operation success? A military failure? An upswing on the stock market? A snarky tweet? Someone arrested? Who knows?

That’s the point! It’s generic and abusable. If you believe in it, you will always be able to connect the dots.

Here’s an example of these “breadcrumbs:”

Mockingbird
HRC detained, not arrested (yet).
Where is Huma? Follow Huma.
This had nothing to do w/ Russia (yet).
..
Do you believe HRC, Soros, Obamama etc have more power than Trump?
Fantasy.
Whoever controls the office of the Presidecy controls this great land.

Why did Soros donate all his money recently?
Why would he place all his funds in a RC?
Mockingbird 10.30.17
God bless fellow Patriots.

That’s just a garble of words. It means nothing. But it the kind of thing that lets the mind run wild if you’re predisposed to believe that the Clintons, George Soros and the Deep State are out to topple Trump.

What’s the conspiracy theory?

In short:

The Deep State Is Real, All Democrats are involved, It’s Full Of Pedophiles, And Trump Is In The Process Of Taking The Whole Thing Down

Reporter Will Sommer was one of the first journalists to key in on the growing significance of QAnon and he’s written multiple explainers. Here’s how he sums up the conspiracy’s main tenets:

QAnon believers are convinced that the world is run by a nefarious deep state cabal of Democrats, celebrities, and intelligence community figures (many of whom, they claim, are pedophiles).

Trump is about to take them all down, in their telling, often with sealed indictments that are hidden from the public. Hence [Roseanne] Barr’s tweets about massive pedophile networks.

More specifically it goes like this: Special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t actually investigating Trump and his 2016 campaign for their possible ties to Russia. No, instead he’s really looking into Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other top Democrats, like former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

There are numerous accusations pinned on these people in QAnon world. Some claim Clinton and Obama are in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. Others suggest Democrats along with Hollywood figures and left-leaning billionaires are running/participating in a global pedophile ring.

Some of the claims are quite hilarious. “Q” suggests all these figures are secretly wearing location-tracking ankle monitors and that they’ll all be sent to prison very soon. This arrest and imprisonment event the theory’s followers call “the storm.” Again, referencing back to Trump’s remarks last year, where he warned of “the calm before the storm.

That meeting was held with military leaders. According to “Q,” the military persuaded Trump to run for president in order to clean up the vast criminal network.

QAnon is also very adept at flipping things that look bad for Trump into things that are in fact really, really great:

From these clues, a sprawling community on message boards, YouTube videos and Twitter accounts has elaborated an enormous, ever-mutating fantasy narrative about the Trump presidency. In the QAnon reality, Trump only pretended to collude with Russia in order to create a pretext for the hiring of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who is actually working with Trump to take down an inconceivably evil and powerful network of coup-plotters and child sex traffickers that includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros.

If it isn’t yet abundantly clear, this stuff is all made up.

Most of the breadcrumbs Q leaves are unspecific, but from time to time Q likes to set down firm predictions that are almost uniformly wrong. Here’s a Q post from last November 1st that Paris Martineau featured in her QAnon explainer at Select All:

Q Clearance Patriot
>My fellow Americans, over the course of the next several days you will undoubtedly realize that we are taking back our great country (the land of the free) from the evil tyrants that wish to do us harm and destroy the last remaining refuge of shining light. On POTUS’ order, we have initiated certain fail-safes that shall safeguard the public from the primary fallout which is slated to occur 11.3 upon the arrest announcement of Mr. Podesta (actionable 11.4). Confirmation (to the public) of what is occurring will then be revealed and will not be openly accepted. Public riots are being organized in serious numbers in an effort to prevent the arrest and capture of more senior public officials.

Who believes in the conspiracy theory?

To start, QAnon posts were limited almost entirely to 4chan and 8chan. But over the past year, Q has gained a lot of new believers.

This isn’t all that surprising. Trump built his political career by promoting conspiracy theories. He’s a birther. He asserts that vaccines cause autism. He claimed that Justice Scalia’s death was a murder. He continues to push his claim that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election.

This YouTube video a popular go-to for explaining QAnon is sitting at nearly 200,000 views. Additionally, an iOS app related to the conspiracy theory climbed near the top of the Apple App Store rankings earlier this year before it was removed.

Celebrities have also helped mainstream Q. Roseanne Barr has frequently tweeted about QAnon, she tweeted a common phrase among Q supporters “wwg1wga,” short for “where we go one, we go all.”

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has even gotten in on the action:

Why does it matter?

Alright, there are some whackos out there that believe some crazy stuff. So, what?

What started as a fringe internet conspiracy theory has exploded in popularity and has led to several real-world incidents.

In April, a group of QAnon believers took to the streets in Washington, D.C. demanding answers from the Justice Department. Then in June, a man driving an armored vehicle and carrying two firearms shut down a highway near the Hoover Dam.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels, made an appearance in a series of QAnon this week. The posts included images of his office building and an image of a man standing outside Avenatti’s office.

Following Trump’s rally in Florida, QAnon even showed up in the White House briefing when a reporter asked Sarah Sanders if Trump “encouraged the support” of people at the rally wearing “Q” shirts.

“The president condemns and denounces any group that would incite violence against another individual and certainly doesn’t support groups that would promote that type of behavior,” Sanders said.

QAnon isn’t even the first internet-fueled conspiracy theory to make the jump from the web to the real world during the Trump presidency. In December 2016, a man fired a gun inside Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington D.C., citing the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. The theory being that the restaurant is the center of a child sex ring involving top Democrats, including Clinton and Podesta. Yes, the deep-state with all its power and billions in cash flow chose a pizza parlor basement as the perfect location for their pedophile sex ring.

Conclusion

Personal opinion: QAnon is nefarious LARPer (Live Action Roleplayer) gone too far. These breadcrumbs are nothing more than a bunch of made up conspiracy theory bunk to make it seem like there’s some master plan or deep state related shenanigans going on. It’s an extreme effort to make Trump’s real world stumbles and inabilities to govern all a cover-up for his extreme genius at playing 4D chess. I just hope this stupidity doesn’t get anyone killed.