Authoritarianism: Feb 10–16

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless Guide to Subverting Any Organization with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944)

Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless Guide to Subverting Any Organization with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944)

I’ve always admired people who can successfully navigate what I refer to as “Kafka’s Castle,” a term of dread for the many government and corporate agencies that have an inordinate amount of power over our permanent records, and that seem as inscrutable and chillingly absurd as the labyrinth the character K navigates in Kafka’s last allegorical novel.

Source: www.openculture.com/2015/12/simple-sabotage-field-manual.html

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Sunday

Shutdown looms as border talks break down over immigration enforcement

Shutdown looms as border talks break down over immigration enforcement

The number of beds ICE can have for detention of unauthorized immigrants has created a new stalemate.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/border-talks-at-impasse-as-shutdown-looms-friday-officials-say/2019/02/10/aa8ef08c-2d36-11e9-813a-0ab2f17e305b_story.html


Though El Paso doesn’t seem pleased by that.

El Paso to Trump: Stop lying about us

El Paso to Trump: Stop lying about us

The president is holding a rally in the city on Monday. El Paso leaders are not pleased.

Source: www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/02/el-paso-to-trump-stop-telling-lies-about-us/


Scoop: Nikki Haley honored at high-flying GOP donor dinner

Scoop: Nikki Haley honored at high-flying GOP donor dinner

Haley is being spotlighted as a key surrogate for the congressional races of 2020.

Source: www.axios.com/2020-presidential-election-nikki-haley-89987260-8dae-4a78-8679-09ad56bd872a.html


The ostensibly left/liberal NY Times ain’t listening. This should be a surprise to no one. In fact this may be one of the few points on which left and right base agree.

The only thing more startling than the flurry of tax proposals Democrats have unveiled in recent weeks is the full-throttle response they’ve gotten from the public.

[…]

The soak-the-rich plans — ones that were only recently considered ridiculously far-fetched or political poison — have received serious and sober treatment, even by critics, and remarkably broad encouragement from the electorate. Roughly three out of four registered voters surveyed in recent polls supported higher taxes on the wealthy. Even a majority of Republicans back higher rates on those earning more than $10 million, according to a Fox News poll conducted in mid-January.

For Democrats Aiming Taxes at the Superrich, ‘the Moment Belongs to the Bold’

For Democrats Aiming Taxes at the Superrich, ‘the Moment Belongs to the Bold’

Soak-the-rich plans that seemed politically far-fetched just months ago are getting a full-throttle response from voters.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2019/02/08/business/democratic-wealth-tax-warren-sanders-ocasio-cortez.html


Worth reading through.  I don’t know how much of it is conspiracy stuff or not but there’s certainly food for thought.  And definitely grounds for pushing way past the midterms to taking back the government.

Bezos, the National Enquirer, the Saudis, Trump, and the blackmailing of U.S. democracy | Will Bunch

Bezos, the National Enquirer, the Saudis, Trump, and the blackmailing of U.S. democracy | Will Bunch

What’s really sexy about the Bezos scandal is the Trump-Saudi-National Enquirer nexus behind it.

Source: www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/jeff-bezos-national-enquirer-donald-trump-blackmail-saudi-arabia-20190210.html


Monday

In new government shutdown, flight attendants won’t let passengers’ lives be put at risk

In new government shutdown, flight attendants won’t let passengers’ lives be put at risk

The shutdown put our lives and livelihoods in danger, risked the safety of everyone who flies, and threatened our entire economy.

Source: www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/02/11/government-shutdown-threatens-air-travel-safety-flight-attendants-risk-column/2829694002/


However, advocates are also warning that the Dem proposal contains some dangerous loopholes: Democrat’s Shutdown Proposal Could Make Immigration Detentions Under Trump Even Worse, Immigration Advocates Warn

To avert a partial shutdown set to begin Saturday, the House and Senate must pass identical spending bills that Trump would then need to sign into law.

Trump’s demands for funds to build a border wall, which prompted the 35-day government shutdown that ended late last month, are not the central sticking point in the current impasse. Instead, the two sides are at odds over Democrats’ attempt to impose a new cap on detentions of immigrants apprehended within the U.S. — as opposed to at the border.

Republicans want to exclude immigrants charged with or convicted of certain crimes from the cap, arguing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement might not otherwise have the ability to detain dangerous criminals. Democrats say excluding people from the cap would render it toothless, as they seek to rein in the Trump administration’s aggressive enforcement policies.

Top lawmakers to meet to revive stalled border talks with possible shutdown days away

Top lawmakers to meet to revive stalled border talks with possible shutdown days away

A new barrier is built along the Texas-Mexico border near downtown El Paso. (Eric Gay/AP)

Trump’s wall is no longer the main issue. Instead, immigration enforcement rules are the sticking point.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/top-lawmakers-meet-to-revive-stalled-border-talks-with-shutdown-days-away/2019/02/11/3cd0fc1a-2dff-11e9-813a-0ab2f17e305b_story.html


Trump cannot allow the dispute to be perceived as one over whether to dial down the rounding up of nonviolent longtime residents — who are often sympathetic figures.

So Trump has hit on a new way around this problem. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that Democrats “all of a sudden” have declared that they “don’t even want to take murderers into custody.”

Moments ago, Trump raged: “The Democrats don’t want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!”

The idea that this represents a “new” demand is a lie. The call for a 16,500 cap on detention beds was in the original Democratic offer made in these talks over 10 days ago. That Jan. 31st offer explicitly includes a provision that “statutorily limits” the daily population of people detained from the interior at 16,500 by the end of the next fiscal year, phasing it in over time.

So this isn’t “new” at all. If anything, what’s “new” is the Trump/GOP objection to this.

Opinion | Raging over a looming loss on his wall, Trump rolls out more lies

Opinion | Raging over a looming loss on his wall, Trump rolls out more lies

The latest sticking point in the border talks once again turns on Trump’s lies and bad faith.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/11/raging-over-looming-loss-his-wall-trump-rolls-out-more-lies/


I’ll tell you one thing though. A fucking gas-bag conservative pundit, whether Coulter or Hannity, should NOT have this kind of say over national questions and concerns. Fucking shut them the fuck up. They don’t get to dictate course for the rest of the fucking country just because they get such a hardon for nasty shit and a lackwit wannabe tinpot dictator drools over their every word.

The details of the deal itself appear to still be in flux. A source briefed on the deal told TPM that the rough agreement cuts the number of detention beds available to the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency for undocumented immigrants, a point demanded by Democrats, and adds some money for new physical barriers at the border to please Republicans. According to the Washington Post, the deal cuts the total number of detention beds from 49,000 to 40,500, and gives $1.375 billion for border barrier construction — short of the $5.7 billion Trump has previously demanded.

Trump didn’t signal whether he’d accept the deal.

“Maybe progress has been made, maybe not,” he said during a Monday night rally.

And conservative commentators including Fox News’s Sean Hannity attacked the agreement, an ominous sign for negotiators.

Negotiators Say They Have Tentative Agreement To Avoid Another Shutdown

Negotiators Say They Have Tentative Agreement To Avoid Another Shutdown

The bipartisan group negotiating to avoid another shutdown announced on Monday night that it had the broad outlines of a…

Source: talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/negotiators-say-they-have-tentative-agreement-to-avoid-another-shutdown


Are they? I want to see this translate into votes. So far, Трамп says jump and the GOP says HOW HIGH MASTER SIR. Pissed at him? Show us, you Трамп lickspittle lackies.

GOP livid with Trump over ignored Khashoggi report

GOP livid with Trump over ignored Khashoggi report

It’s the latest rift between Republicans and the president over foreign policy.

Source: www.politico.com/story/2019/02/11/gop-trump-ignored-khashoggi-report-1164487


Tuesday

It’s a gift…it truly is…

[Trump is] now getting slightly less than that $1.6 billion while also making a concession to Democrats on detention beds.

This is a big reason the deal was almost immediately rejected by Trump’s most conservative supporters. Sean Hannity called it “garbage,” Ann Coulter retweeted a bunch of people deriding the deal, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) texted to The Post, “This does not represent a fraction of what the president has promised the American people … I don’t speak for the president but I can’t imagine he will be applauding something so lacking.”

But even Meadows has conceded Trump has almost no leverage left in this shutdown debate. Republicans, including Meadows, have signaled they aren’t prepared to shut down the government again at the Friday deadline. Without that, Democrats have no real reason to make concessions. Meadows has said he would support a regular, clean government funding bill if no deal can be reached.

That’s a pretty attractive fallback if you’re a Democrat. Democrats have now put Trump in the unenviable position of accepting a deal that is worse than what he began with if he wants wall funding, or rejecting the deal and risking congressional Republicans signing off on something with no wall funding, possibly leading to a veto standoff with his own party. And Republicans have put this deal on the table knowing that can’t really do any better, given their leverage was sapped by the shutdown.

Analysis | Trump’s failed shutdown strategy produced an even worse deal than he started with

Analysis | Trump’s failed shutdown strategy produced an even worse deal than he started with

Trump would get some funding for border fencing. It wouldn’t even be what he was originally offered.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/02/12/trumps-failed-shutdown-strategy-produced-an-even-worse-deal-than-he-started-with/


Trump Just Stole Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign Slogan, And People Have Noticed

Trump Just Stole Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign Slogan, And People Have Noticed

Twitter users shred the president and GOP for swiping his former rival’s motto.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-stronger-together_us_5c626321e4b028d543175fde


New Proof the Trump Tax Cuts Are Doing the Exact Opposite of What They Promised

New Proof the Trump Tax Cuts Are Doing the Exact Opposite of What They Promised

Overseas cash is not coming in, and cost of compliance is going up. Everything Paul Ryan said is happening in reverse.

Source: nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/trump-tax-cuts-doing-opposite-of-promised-corporate-cash-accountants.html


Unsurprising.

Trump Fan Launches ‘Incredibly Violent Attack’ On BBC Cameraman At El Paso Rally

Trump Fan Launches ‘Incredibly Violent Attack’ On BBC Cameraman At El Paso Rally

“The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night,” said one BBC journalist.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-supporter-attacks-bbc-cameraman_us_5c629078e4b0ffd8515dd234


To the surprise of precisely no one.

New Proof the Trump Tax Cuts Are Doing the Exact Opposite of What They Promised

New Proof the Trump Tax Cuts Are Doing the Exact Opposite of What They Promised

Trump, with Rep. Ryan and Rep. Brady, displays so-called tax postcard.

Rep. Paul Ryan, President Donald Trump and Rep. Kevin Brady displaying the alleged new tax postcard. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Overseas cash is not coming in, and cost of compliance is going up. Everything Paul Ryan said is happening in reverse.

Source: nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/trump-tax-cuts-doing-opposite-of-promised-corporate-cash-accountants.html


If McConnell spends the next eternity screaming in hell, it won’t be long enough.

McConnell Plans To Bring Green New Deal To Senate Vote

McConnell Plans To Bring Green New Deal To Senate Vote

The Senate majority leader wants to put the massive progressive climate change framework to a vote. Its Democratic sponsor is not pleased by the move from the top Senate Republican.

Source: www.npr.org/2019/02/12/694060405/mcconnell-plans-to-bring-green-new-deal-to-senate-vote


Move along, move along folks. Nothing to see.  :-/

Peterson attributed the growing national debt to “a structural mismatch between spending and revenues.” The biggest drivers are the aging population, high healthcare costs, and growing interest payments, combined with a tax code that fails to generate sufficient revenue, he said.

And since GOP considers taxes untouchable, look at what they’ll put up on the chopping block. You already know they want to kill Social Security, Medicare and so on.

National debt tops $22 trillion for the first time as experts warn of ripple effects

National debt tops $22 trillion for the first time as experts warn of ripple effects

Treasury Department reports that national debt hits $22.012 trillion, which experts say is a sign of the country’s “unsustainable” fiscal situation.

Source: news.yahoo.com/national-debt-tops-22-trillion-214033190.html


Wednesday

“Oh hey, they’re having trouble paying back student loans? LET’S STARVE THEM TO DEATH.” –xxoxoxo, GOP

Critics of the proposal say that payments should always be voluntary, and that people need the flexibility to default on their student loans. One in 5 borrowers are in default or delinquency on their student debt.

When a borrower defaults on their federal student loans, Kantrowitz said, the government currently can garnish up to 15 percent of their wages anyway, which is more than the 10 percent that would be taken out under Alexander’s proposal.

“Many borrowers who default have sufficient income to repay their debts, but just have difficulty managing their money,” Kantrowitz said. “There’s the potential for a lot of elegance in the design of student loan repayment via payroll withholding.”

However, Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, called the proposal a “detour from real reform.”

I mean I’m just spit-balling here, but maybe “for-profit colleges” deserve a much more baleful look from the gov’t?

The government could soon grab your student loan payments right out of your paycheck

The government could soon grab your student loan payments right out of your paycheck

Lawmakers are proposing a massive overhaul to the student debt system, in which borrowers’ monthly bills would be automatically deducted from their paychecks.

Source: www.cnbc.com/2019/02/13/a-gop-proposal-would-snatch-your-student-loan-payment-right-from-your-paycheck.html


Thursday

A few weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson determined that DHS was responsible for helping protect election infrastructure—meaning polling places, voting machines, voter databases, and all the other components that make elections happen. The new, complex undertaking involved scores of state and local governments. A few years in, the department is still getting its footing. So the changes detailed here have people close to the department deeply concerned.

“Because it’s a very difficult task and because DHS has never done it before, there’s a lot of catching up to do,” said the former DHS official. “Even with a fully resourced effort, that would be an extremely tall task. But having it be deprioritized and lacking access to senior leadership, it’s virtually impossible.”

That said, these changes appear to reflect the White House’s lack of interest in beefing up election security, according to Paul Rosenzweig, formerly deputy assistant secretary for policy at DHS.

Trump’s DHS Guts Task Forces Protecting Elections From Foreign Meddling

‘It’s very curious why the leadership has not committed resources to prepare for the 2020 election,’ one Homeland Security official tells The Daily Beast.

Source: www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-dhs-guts-task-forces-protecting-elections-from-foreign-meddling


Why Ocasio-Cortez’s lesson in dark money is the most-watched political video

Why Ocasio-Cortez’s lesson in dark money is the most-watched political video

A clip in which the congresswoman asks ethics experts about government corruption has been viewed 40 million times

Source: www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/14/campaign-finance-but-make-it-viral-alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-unlikely-video-hit


Rachel Maddow reports on ‘Trump selling the government for cash’ in a ‘jaw-dropping scandal’

Rachel Maddow reports on ‘Trump selling the government for cash’ in a ‘jaw-dropping scandal’

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Tuesday “followed the money” from Trump’s inauguration to a sweetheart deal that will make climate change worse. Maddow noted that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed Trump’s inauguration committee as part of their investigation into the White House. Maddow was gobsmacked that Trump spent so much more money than Barack Obama — for such a small inauguration. “It has been this puzzling thing about the Trump presidency from the very, very beginning,” …

Source: www.rawstory.com/2019/02/rachel-maddow-reports-trump-selling-government-cash-jaw-dropping-scandal/


Not every challenge in New York will be run on ideological grounds. Some will be powered by more local disputes, longstanding grudges or just timely ambition. But for many progressives, the goal is to police the Democratic Party ideologically, much in the way the Tea Party pushed Republicans to the right.

“We are trying to elect more Alexandrias,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, the insurgent group devoted to recruiting progressive primary challengers nationally. “She is an example of what one victory can do. Imagine what we can do with more primary wins across the country.”

After Mr. Crowley’s defeat almost no one is seen as untouchable.

“They should be afraid,” Maria L. Svart, the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, which backed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, said of incumbent House Democrats.

The Ocasio-Cortez Effect: Wave of Challenges Hits Entrenched N.Y. Democrats

The Ocasio-Cortez Effect: Wave of Challenges Hits Entrenched N.Y. Democrats

As many as six House challenges are in the works, in a possible echo of the divisions roiling the 2020 presidential primary. Insurgents are inspired by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/ny-congress-primaries-2020.html


The border security compromise, tucked into the $49 billion portion of the bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security, is perhaps the most stinging legislative defeat of Mr. Trump’s presidency. It provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of steel-post fencing, essentially the same that Mr. Trump rejected in December, triggering the shutdown and far from the $5.7 billion he demanded for more than 200 miles of steel or concrete wall.

In opting to declare a national emergency, Mr. Trump would seek to access funds for the wall that Congress had not explicitly authorized for the purpose, a provocative move that would test the bounds of presidential authority in a time of divided government. Legal experts have said Mr. Trump has a plausible case that he can take such action under current law, but it would almost surely prompt a court challenge from critics arguing that he is usurping two centuries of congressional control over spending.

Trump Plans National Emergency to Build Border Wall as Senate Passes Spending Bill

Trump Plans National Emergency to Build Border Wall as Senate Passes Spending Bill

President Trump would proceed with plans to construct barriers on the southwestern border without legislative approval but keep the government open.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/us/politics/trump-national-emergency-border.html


Chump.

Headed for another defeat on his signature promise to make either Mexico or U.S. taxpayers pay for a southern border wall, the president was frustrated after a briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others on details of the final deal to avoid a shutdown, according to officials involved in the discussions. Trump threatened not to sign the legislation, the officials said, putting the government on the brink of another damaging shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was on the phone with Trump at least three times during the course of the nerve-racking day, pleading with him to stay the course and asserting that Democrats had actually lost the spending fight, two people familiar with the conversations said.

“We thought he was good to go all morning, and then suddenly it’s like everything is off the rails,” said one senior Republican aide.

‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat

‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat

The president nearly blew up negotiations again on Thursday, frustrated by a bipartisan agreement that again failed to provide funding for his signature campaign promise.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/politics/off-the-rails-inside-trumps-attempt-to-claim-victory-in-his-border-wall-defeat/2019/02/14/af772978-2fe5-11e9-8ad3-9a5b113ecd3c_story.html


How congressional Democrats could fight a Trump wall national emergency declaration

How congressional Democrats could fight a Trump wall national emergency declaration

Congress hasn’t voted to overturn a presidential emergency in 44 years. But in 2005, one congressman threatened to  and the president blinked.

Source: www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/02/08/presidential-declaration-national-emergency-donald-trump-border-wall-congress-oversight/2784488002/


The president’s relationship with Deutsche Bank intrigues investigators for several reasons. Trump turned to the big German bank two decades ago, when U.S. banks wouldn’t extend him more large loans. The Post estimated in 2016 that Deutsche Bank had $360 million in outstanding loans to Trump’s companies. Deutsche Bank also lent $285 million to Jared Kushner’s family real estate company in October 2016.

Investigators have noted other points of interest: Deutsche Bank, unusually, managed its lending to Trump through its private-banking division rather than normal commercial lending. Finally, the bank has been implicated in Russian money laundering, paying $630 million in fines in 2017 to settle U.S. and British charges that it had improperly transferred $10 billion from Russia.

Trump last week tweeted his indignation at Schiff for “looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal,” and calling the House probe “Unlimited Presidential Harassment.”

Trump’s bizarre claim that the subject of an investigation has the right to circumscribe the inquiry into his conduct dates back to a July 19, 2017, interview Trump gave to the New York Times. Asked whether a Mueller probe of his finances would be a “red line,” Trump answered, “I would say yeah.” He then offered a rambling defense, saying at one point, “I don’t do business with Russia.”

Opinion | We’re entering a new phase of the Trump-Russia investigation

Opinion | We’re entering a new phase of the Trump-Russia investigation

Despite constant insistence his Moscow Tower project was above board, the money trail says differently.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/were-entering-a-new-phase-of-the-trump-russia-investigation/2019/02/14/10f13b70-30a5-11e9-8ad3-9a5b113ecd3c_story.html


Senator Burr and the Undermining of Democracy – Musing about law, books, and politics

Senator Burr and the Undermining of Democracy – Musing about law, books, and politics

[View here as a Twitter thread] DiDi wants to know if our democracy is strong enough to withstand Trump’s lawbreaking. It’s the lying (which is directly related to lawbreaking) which is the real problem. The answer is yes. I think Read more…

Source: terikanefield-blog.com/senator-burr-and-the-undermining-of-democracy/


Friday

 

Ocasio-Cortez, Castro plan to introduce bill to block national emergency

Ocasio-Cortez, Castro plan to introduce bill to block national emergency

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) plan to introduce a bill to stop President Trump’s emergency declaration.

Source: thehill.com/homenews/house/430173-ocasio-cortez-castro-plan-to-introduce-bill-to-block-national-emergency


It’s really quite amazing to watch his sing-song delivery. I’m not kidding. I only wish captions could show this.

Trump Declares a National Emergency, and Provokes a Constitutional Clash

Trump Declares a National Emergency, and Provokes a Constitutional Clash

The president’€™s decision incited instant condemnation from Democrats, who called it an unconstitutional abuse of his authority and vowed to overturn it with Republican support.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2019/02/15/us/politics/national-emergency-trump.html


And so much for our international relations.

Watch: this is what happened when Mike Pence brought up Donald Trump in a speech to European leaders

Watch: this is what happened when Mike Pence brought up Donald Trump in a speech to European leaders

“I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump,” Pence told the crowd.

Source: www.newsweek.com/mike-pence-mentions-trump-met-silence-1333887

 

 

 


 

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