Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wikileaks "Clinton-Destroying October Surprise!" Turns Out To Be A Big Meh

File:Julian Assange 26C3.jpg


US Conservatives' new fave bad boy Julian Assange in more carefree days / Creative Commons 2.0



So much for that Wikileaks "October Surprise that's going to DESTROY Hillary!" in the wee hours of this morning.  You can almost hear Fox News' collective heart breaking in this story:




I stayed up for quite a bit to watch Julian Assange's middle of the night (US time) Berlin press conference, but I finally went to sleep because they kept pushing his start time back. I'm now annoyed that I stayed up until 1:30 am Pacific Time, listening to/watching Alex freakin' Jones (does that man ever NOT yell??) live stream over this. =P

So, after a much needed night's rest, I just listened to Assange's remarks at the event and his Q&A portion. His remarks were basically uninspiring calls for "a worldwide army of defenders" (folks were encouraged to follow a couple of new Wikileaks-associated Twitter accounts), and for much, much more grassroots financial support (with touting of a donation site), and an announcement that they're developing some sort of voting membership organizational model. He also:

1. disputed the notion that he has an axe to grind with Hillary specifically (interesting, since he's circulated this story that she said in a security meeting, "Can't we just drone him?" and since all of their US Election releases to date have been targeted exclusively at the Democratic side of the ledger)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Trump Bumper Stickers - So Many Messages to Choose From!




God bless the Internets for things like Little Green Footballs' "Trump Bumper Sticker Generator"!

I spent some quality time with this fine tool, along with a variety of wonderful, absolutely tremendous, honest-to-God Trump quotes*, and came up with an array of options with which to bedeck one's automobile, laptop, fridge, cubicle or home office bulletin board, dorm room door, or what have you.

Regrettably, some of Trump's finest work defies attempts to be boilt down into a slogan.  Efforts will continue to force these more unwieldy expressions of wisdom into 52 characters or less.

Please enjoy - and feel free to share your own masterpieces in the Comments section!

*Note - due to the 52 character space constraint, some quotes have been modified in ways that do not distort their meaning.  For example, names of individuals he was referring to have been included (China) or substituted for pronouns (eg "Ivanka" for "her") or left out if it made the slogan too long (e.g., "Lyin' Ted.")   


But now - onto the bumper sticker mock-ups!  I'd love to see Dick Morris come up with beauts like these ...









Thursday, May 12, 2016

Site Cancels Trayvon Martin Murder Weapon Auction



Today the story of George Zimmerman's latest in an extreeemely long line of very bad choices is spreading like horrifying wildfire across the internet and traditional media.  ICYMI, Zimmerman decided that he was going to auction off the gun he used to kill Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

But now for the good news - the auction appears to have been pulled. 



The Zimmerman auction link as of this writing


Not yet clear - who pulled the auction?  Did George Zimmerman have sudden, simultaneous bouts of common sense and decency (an exceedingly unlikely convergence of events, if ever there were one)?  Or did gunbroker.com get a heap of backlash and decide that proceeding with the auction was unseemly and/or bad business?

My odds are 10:1 on the latter.  And I'd be willing to bet that no small measure of the backlash came from pro-Second Amendment champions.  At least, I sincerely hope that's the case.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Donald Trump: The Man. The Myth. The Fraud.

Donald Trump is not who he says he is.

Trumps are gonna trump / Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

C'mon, GOP voters.  

You can’t possibly be serious about nominating Donald Trump for President.  I know plenty of you are (reasonably) fed up with politicians who say one thing then do another.  But this man is a
compulsive liar.  One analysis found that he lies, on average, once every five minutes.  He lies so much, journalists say they can’t even keep up with fact-checking it all.  His positions on major issues shift right along with his ever-changing moods.  Trump is quite possibly the least predictable Presidential candidate we’ve ever seen.  His word is infinitely less reliable than what comes from the many other politicians who’ve disappointed you so much.

“But,” I can hear you saying, “But he’s a successful businessman!  And a tough guy!  And super smart!  He tells it like it is!  He cares about working folks and putting a stop to illegal immigration!  He knows how to hire the best people!  He’ll bring jobs back to America!  And he’s even a Christian!  He’s just what we need in the White House!"

Baloney.

Donald Trump is none of the things he claims to be.


~~~

Trump is not an honest businessman.  He is a hustler and a con artist. Between alleged pyramid scheme
Trump Network TM nutritional supplements, real estate education scam Trump University, shilling for nine years for pyramid scheme American Communications Network, and who knows what other as yet undiscovered scam, Trump has swindled (or helped swindle) tens of thousands of honest Americans out of their hard-earned money.  These were folks who were just looking for legitimate ways to make money, and who trusted these fraudulent business opportunities because Trump was involved with them. 

~~~


Trump is not free from special interest influence, nor is he “self-funding” his campaign.  In reality, he owes more than $265 million to a bunch of big banks, and it may be much more.  Trump has donated a mere $250,000 to his campaign, and has lent it more than $17 million.  Lending – rather than donating – the cash allows the campaign to raise money to repay him before Election Day.  His manager said he won’t seek repayment of the loan – but if that were true, wouldn’t he just donate the funds?  Trump and his staff have also told major donors they will start aggressively fundraising once he gets the nomination.

Iowa GOP voters were right – Trump deserves no credit for “self-funding” his campaign

Monday, March 14, 2016

Trump Bags First Journo Trophies: Cokie Roberts & Michelle Fields


Our Overlord-In-Waiting clearly disapproved of Cokie Roberts' impertinent questions / YouTube Screenshot

This discussion between Cokie Roberts and The Donald on MSNBC news-talk program Morning Joe made Donnie plenty mad.  When asked whether he’s concerned that his rhetoric has inspired white kids and youth to engage in hate speech in at least a handful of widely-reported incidents, he ducked the question.  Instead, he angrily dismissed her question as “nasty.”



Sometime after this incident, a syndicated op-ed column Cokie and her husband had published about a week earlier, urging the GOP to do what they can to stop Trump – now, “was brought to NPR’s attention.”

So NPR inexplicably did this:



Which caused yours truly to do this

WTH, NPR?!? Taking positions on matters of public import is what Commentators DO.  It's THEIR JOB.  It was once my job (albeit at my college newspaper’s lofty wage of $0.75 per column inch.)  Why on Earth should a COMMENTATOR have to justify her commentary?

These BS maneuvers by NPR reek of "#Trump threatened to sue the HELL out of us so we're scrambling to limit liability [even though he has NO EFFING CASE]." Why the hell are they going to such lengths to, well, kinda humiliate Cokie-freaking-Roberts over no apparent wrong-doing on her part?  Don’t they realize that caving only encourages a bully?!?


But then I settled down some and decided to tackle the issue with a calmer, more well-reasoned approach.  So let’s examine the story’s more troubling elements one at a time.

Sandernistas, the "Burning Britches" You Smell Are Your Own


Screenshot of People for Sanders video

Another day, another overheated accusation from the Bernie Sanders campaign and/or the DC operatives loosely affiliated with it that Hillary Clinton is LYING AGAIN.  This time, she supposedly LIED about whether Bernie was an active contributor to the 1993-94 health care reform battle.
To hit the point home, “The People for Bernie Sanders” disseminated a little video, essentially accusing Hillary of being a “liar, liar, pants on fire.” They present all of ten seconds of video of Sanders standing in the background on a stage at a Hillary health care reform event, as if that proves their point. (Sanders campaign staff had earlier tweeted out a still from the same CSPAN footage.)

Hillary Clinton forgets where Bernie Sanders was
Hillary Clinton should really see this video
Posted by The People For Bernie Sanders 2016 on Saturday, March 12, 2016
Not trying to be snarky, but Bernie showing up at Hillary's rally at a college next door to his Congressional district wasn't exactly heavy lifting.  In the clip, she thanks those who are leaders in the effort, but she doesn’t identify Sanders as one of them. She then says that she was “grateful that Congressman Sanders would join us today from Vermont,” at which point the clip is abruptly cut off. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Trump Celebrates Victory with Fake Trump Steaks and a Big Ole Raft O’ Lies


Youtube

Who on Earth buys another company's steaks and tries to pass them off as the product of his own long-defunct enterprise, because his ego is far too fragile to EVER admit that some of his business efforts just don’t pan out?

Donald Trump, that's who.


Donald Trump’s bizarre, rambling victory speech-cum-press conference last night was visually punctuated by large tables on either side of him, overflowing with Trump Wine, Trump Champagne, Trump bottled water, and what he claimed were Trump Steaks.  Except, they weren’t. 



It turns out that Donald Trump's lengthy defense of his business acumen contained a lot of other serious whoppers. But first, let’s look at the steaks.

Trump Steaks


Trump himself addressed the steak company in his “speech”:

“Trump Steaks. Where are the steaks? Do we have the steaks? Alright. We have Trump Steaks. [Romney] said ‘The steak company!’ And we have Trump Steaks. And by the way, if you wanna take one, we’ll charge you about, what, fifty bucks a steak.”

According to Yahoo News and former Trump Steaks purveyor The Sharper Image, the premium meats brand hasn’t existed since 2007.  The meats were also sold through home shopping network QVC that year.  That's NINE years ago.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Avoiding Trump Like the Plague, Netanyahu Cancels US Visit


PM Netanyahu / David Seaton, CC BY-ND 2.0

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was slated to come to Washington, DC to address the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, in two weekends. Netanyahu was also to meet with President Obama while here, a meeting that Israel had sought and The White House had scheduled for March 18.   Now the Prime Minister's Office states that the trip has been cancelled. The White House meeting will not occur, and Netanyahu will speak to AIPAC attendees via satellite.

Plenty assume that Netanyahu's scheduling change has something to do with "frosty" relations between Likud-run Israel and the Obama Administration. Some scoff at the reasoning given by Netanyahu's office. I don't.
I'm reading the scheduling change as Netanyahu avoiding being in the same country as his "good friend" Donald Trump right now.  If true, that would make today an even bigger day for Trump and satellites.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Glenn Beck: Trump Goon Threatened My Friend's Life To Get Dirt On Me


Does this look like a man with a threatening goon squad? / Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

Some of y’all may have missed it, but Glenn Beck has been hammering Trump as a fake Republican and urging conservatives to vote elsewhere for MONTHS.  

I don’t want to surprise anyone, but according to Beck, Trump doesn’t seem to be taking his criticism so well.  But now Beck is alleging some next level stuff.

Here's Glenn Beck, yesterday, intimating that someone affiliated with Donald Trump threatened a Beck pal a few weeks ago, leaving the man in fear for his life if he doesn't provide them with some dirt on Glenn. 

The story starts at around 3:12 in the video below.

Friday, March 4, 2016

SMDH at Trump's Hands, Little Marco, and #Boogergate



Trump at CPAC 2011 / Gage Skidmore, CC BY-2.0

Dear Lord, I really can’t believe I’m writing any of this.

There were some interesting developments in terms of style and substance at last night’s GOP debate. But there were also three moments best dealt with on their own.  Two were some absurdities of a candidate’s own making (guess who?); the other, a case of the Interwebs going crazy with silliness.


First, there was this: Who needs a massive audience to reassure him that his hands aren't small at the start of a Presidential debate?! Donald Trump, that's who. 

In addressing his first question during the live debate, Donald Trump starts flashing around his hands, asking, “Do these look like small hands?”  He then assures us, the viewing audience, that “there’s no problem” with the size of “that other body part” – you know, the one said to correlate with a guy's hand and foot size.



Notice that, at first, the crowd is laughing and cheering, and then dissolves into choruses of boos as the shock wears off among the folks who aren’t die hard DT fans.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hillary Wins Nevada By 5.5 Points Amid Second Biggest Turnout Ever

As of 9:40 PM (Pacific) Saturday night, The New York Times reports that the Nevada Democratic Caucuses went 52.7% for Hillary and 47.2% for Bernie, with about 5% of precincts left to be accounted for. 

Some sources are still spinning it as “Hillary eked out a win.”  I don’t know about that – in most elections, a 5½  point spread is usually considered a pretty decisive victory.  Sure, Bernie put in a good showing, but Hillary’s victory wasn’t “eked out.” Not by a long shot.Heck, even Fox News handed it to her - and they seem to have a whole separate bureau specifically dedicated to identifying and promoting each and every story's possible anti-Hillary angles.

Screen snip, Twitter 

About 80,000 folks* participated in Nevada's Democratic caucuses this year.  Yes, that’s about a 33% decline from 2008 (which had almost 120,000 turn out.)  But 2008 was a unicorn.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hey, Ted Cruz: An Impotent SCOTUS Makes The Founders Cry


Ted Cruz / Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

That fine defender of the United States Constitution, Senator Ted Cruz, has spoken.  Apparently we owe it to Justice Scalia's memory to ensure that his seat on the Supreme Court remain empty for 11 months or longer. 



Okay.  Let's say we did that.  On close questions, we'd be looking at a lot of 4 to 4 decisions - meaning the Court would be unable to actually issue binding opinions on the most controversial matters that come before it.  In legalese, that scenario would reduce the Supreme Court of the United States to a nullity.  In plain English, the Supreme Court may as well not exist.

I recall Justice Scalia being very, very concerned with The Founders' intent (at least, as he conceived of it.)  Am I the only who thinks, hey, maybe The Founders REALLY liked the ideas of three coequal branches of government, which provide checks & balances against one another's power?  Am I the only one who recalls those concepts being frequent topics of discussion at the time of our founding?


Certainly, a die-hard original intent fan like Senator Cruz recalls these points being repeatedly made within The Federalist Papers.  A 4-4 SCOTUS = one branch down, Senator Cruz.



Friday, February 5, 2016

Citing Satire as "Reporting," Raw Story Implies Iowa Pro-Hillary Shenanigans

Hillary at the 2015 Iowa Fair / Phil Roeder, CC BY 2.0

Raw Story is the Democrats’ answer to Breitbart.  Anything you see from them needs to be scrutinized carefully and fact-checked thoroughly.  Fail to, and you’ll share, repost, or cite at your own risk.

Case in point: THIS Raw Story piece is the WORST.  The author, in building a case that pro-Hillary shenanigans were afoot in the Iowa caucuses, was incredibly sloppy in his sourcing and analysis.  I’m not sure whether this resulted from his desire to prove his thesis, or the perverse incentives of “writing at the speed of the Internet” resulting in haphazard work, or both.  Just in case it’s primarily due to an unusual series of mistakes – and we’ve all made them – I’ll simply refer to him here as RS Travis.

RS Travis cites an Iowa blog for saying the EXACT OPPOSITE of what it says.  He also cites a HuffPo satire piece as “reporting,” and paints a couple of fairly even-handed Iowa newspaper editorials as being much more dramatic and sensational than they really were.   All in all, lovely. ;)

Misciting a one-year old source

RS Travis: 


The blog BleedingHeartland has been raising concerns that McGuire, who has been involved in Iowa politics for more than 20 years, is manipulating the state’s Democratic Party to favor Clinton over her challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

Uh, that’s not what she said.  The Bleeding Heartland post he linked to was from one year ago, when McGuire was first elected Chair - the post and all updates are from January 2015: 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Muslim Student: Obama at Mosque Says I Am Just As American As Any Other


College student Sabah Muktar introduces President Obama in Baltimore. Source: YouTube

THIS - college student Sabah Muktar, introducing President Obama's speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore moments ago:
"And personally, [President Obama speaking at this mosque] reassures me that I, a proud, black, Muslim, African-American, am just as American, and have the obligation to fulfill my loyalty to my country, as any other."

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Sarah Palin and friends don't get to define "Real America." I've lived in Real America in rural Idaho, inner city Seattle, suburban Redlands (CA), a middle class Portland (OR) neighborhood, DC, "Portlandia"- like college towns, and on the Nez Perce Reservation. I've visited Real America in Montana, Tucson, Atlanta, Nashville, NYC, Ithaca, Charleston, San Antonio, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Boise, Pocatello, Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Tacoma, Yakima, Walla Walla, Salem (OR), St. Louis, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Kuna, Grangeville, Mukilteo, Everett, Olympia. I haven't had an opportunity to go see Real America in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, New Orleans, Miami, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, rural New England, Alaska, or any number of other places on my Bucket List, but I hope to get there someday.

Why Won't Bernie Denounce Super PAC Spending That's Helping HIM?

Bernie on the stump / Phil Roeder, CC-BY 2.0

The New York Times, reporting on Friday, January 29, 2016:
“Bernie Sanders is Democrats' Top Beneficiary of Outside Spending, Like It Or Not”

*This was the original, accurate headline. The NYT later subbed in a misleading, click-bait headline, which I really wish they'd get rid of.* 

I'm waiting to hear Sanders supporters - ANY Sanders supporters - call on Bernie to immediately and publicly repudiate the $5.3 million+ that super PACs have spent so far – much of it in Iowa and New Hampshire – to help Sanders and hurt Hillary.  At the very least, denouncing the $4.3 million in right wing attack ads that have been targeting Hillary would seem to be a gimme.

For the sake of consistency, if Bernie thinks all PACs are bad, he should probably respectfully request that UNNA not spend their super PAC money trying to elect him, either.  Ditto for myriad other Bernie-endorsing organizations, including MoveOn.org, which recently endorsed Bernie, and which spent almost a million dollars on campaign ads in the 2014 election season (note: MoveOn Political Action is a federal PAC rather than a super PAC, so they at least disclose their donors.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

WaPo Misreports Friday's State Department Statement On Hillary's Emails


Sec. Clinton in India, 2011 / US Consulate Chennai, CC BY-ND 2.0


The GOP narrative around Hillary Clinton's State Department emails got an assist from a seemingly unlikely source on Friday: the so-called “Mainstream Media,” in the persons of Washington Post reporters Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger, and Chris Cillizza, who writes WaPo politics blog, "The Fix.” 

Cillizza’s take on the story is, as of this writing, in the WaPo Top 5 most widely read pieces:



Unfortunately, they all read far too much into far too little.

Sayeth Cillizza:

For months, Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign have stuck to a consistent story line when faced with of classified information on the private server she used exclusively as secretary of state: She was the victim of an overzealous intelligence community bent on categorizing information as top secret or classified when it was, in fact, neither.
That defense hit a major snag on Friday when the State Department announced that it, too, had found “top secret” information on Clinton’s server — 22 emails across seven separate emails chains. The information, the State Department said, was so secret that those emails would never be released to the public.

Suddenly Clinton’s narrative of an overly aggressive intelligence community or a broader squabble between the intelligence world and the State Department didn’t hold water. Or at least held a whole lot less water than it did prior to Friday afternoon.


Only problem? The State Department said no such thing. Having heard part of the State Department’s briefing on [conservative] talk radio on Friday, I recalled it very differently.  So I looked it up.  Here’s what State Department Spokesman John Kirby actually said:
I can confirm that as part of this monthly FOIA production of former Secretary Clinton’s emails, the State Department will be denying in full seven email chains found in 22 documents, representing 37 pages. The documents are being upgraded at the request of the Intelligence Community because they contain a category of top secret information. These documents were not marked classified at the time that they were sent. We have worked closely with our interagency partners on this matter, and this dialogue with the interagency is exactly how the process is supposed to work. As to whether they were classified at the time they were sent, the State Department, in the FOIA process, is focusing on whether they need to be classified today. Questions about classification at the time they were sent are being and will be handled separately by the State Department.  [emphasis added]

Kirby explicitly stated that the classification upgrade was per request from the Intelligence Community, not “the State Department itself.”  This is completely consistent with what Secretary Clinton and her campaign have been saying all along.  A few moments later, Kirby further stated:

These emails denied in full are among the emails discussed recently by the Intelligence Community inspector general in a letter to Congress. We will not, however, be confirming or speaking, as I said, to every detail provided in the documents or in the ICIG’s letter. One of these emails was also among those identified by the ICIG last summer as possibly containing top secret information. [emphasis added]


To be fair to Cillizza, his analysis apparently relied on reporting by two of his Washington Post colleagues, who asserted:

The Friday announcement was significant because it appeared to undercut Clinton’s argument in recent months that she was merely the victim of a bureaucratic squabble between overly strict analysts at the intelligence agencies and more reasonable reviewers at the State Department.

The intelligence community’s inspector general had previously indicated that he thought that some of the emails contained top secret material. Until Friday, however, the State Department had declined to concur with that assessment.


But this isn’t an accurate reading of Kirby’s comments.  In his initial statement and in response to numerous reporters’ questions on Friday, Kirby repeatedly reiterated that State had agreed to upgrade the emails in question at the request of the Intelligence Community.  The only slight deviation from this response came when a reporter asked whether, “you guys [at State] were prepared to release [these emails] until the intel community came in and said hey, wait a second, you can’t do that?”  To that question, Kirby replied:

No, I wouldn’t say – I wouldn’t say that, Matt. As I said we had an ongoing discussion about this traffic with them. At their request we’ve decided to make this upgrade. It is a State Department decision. We’re doing it, but we’re doing it at the request of the Intelligence Community. And we’re going to continue to coordinate and consult with them going forward.


It does seem technically accurate to say that decisions about whether to release documents in State’s possession pursuant to a FOIA request is inherently a State Department decision.  But folks infinitely more expert on this topic than I have generally supported Clinton’s contention that some agencies have a tendency to be overly cautious in making security classification determinations.  And predictably, the overly cautious entity usually wins the day, unless or until the decision is overruled in an intra-agency MDR review or on appeal to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel.

The most recent Informational Security Oversight Office report (at pdf p. 16) indicates that 62% of pages of classified materials challenged by the public via the MDR process were wholly declassified at the initial review stage, while an additional 32% of the pages were at least partially declassified on review.  That’s right: 94% of classified pages reviewed under MDR were wholly or partially declassified in response.  Of the much smaller universe of cases that made it to review on appeal to ISCAP (at pdf p. 26), 75% of the 451 documents reviewed by ISCAP were ordered declassified, either wholly or in part.  These data points would tend to support the contention that some agencies, at least, have a substantial habit of overclassifying materials.

The National Security Archive, a non-profit based at George Washington University, provided this overview of the over-classification phenomenon just a few days ago:

National Security Archive director Tom Blanton’s July 2015 Washington Post op-ed further lays out the ongoing problem of overclassification. Blanton argues that “the real secrets make up only a fraction of the classified universe, and no secret deserves immortality. In fact, essential to the whole idea of democratic government is that secret deals with dictators will come out eventually, not least to deter the worst deals from being made…I showed Congress the estimates over the years of how much gets classified that doesn’t deserve to be. Ronald Reagan’s executive secretary for the National Security Council, Rodney B. McDaniel, said 90 percent. Thomas H. Kean, the Republican head of the 9/11 Commission, said 75 percent of what he saw that was classified should not have been.”

Blanton is far from alone in pointing out persistent overclassification. The latest Information Security Oversight Office report showed that the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) continues to overrule agency classification decisions in Mandatory Declassification Review appeals nearly 75% of the time.


Of lesser import – but still worth noting – is Cillizza’s contention that Clinton’s campaign “pivoted” on the email issue, supposedly in response to the comments from State:

The Clinton team quickly pivoted. “After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic infighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails,” said campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.

Calling for the release of the allegedly top secret emails is a smart gambit by the Clinton folks since it makes them look as if they have nothing to hide while being protected by the near-certainty that the State Department won’t simply change its mind on the release because the Clinton team asked them to.

This wasn’t any kind of “pivot.”  Secretary Clinton has been saying for almost a full year that she wants the emails released (presumably to the extent that release would not jeopardize national security):




State Department spokesman John Kirby repeatedly reiterated on Friday that State had upgraded classification of the 22 emails “at the Intelligence Community’s request.”  That sounds like simple interagency comity.  It’s too much of a stretch from there to declaring that the State Department made some kind of important, revelatory, independent determination regarding the proper classification.