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marble falls

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Name: had to remove
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Hometown: marble falls, tx
Member since: Thu Feb 23, 2012, 03:49 AM
Number of posts: 25,205

About Me

Hand dyer mainly to the quilters market, doll maker, oil painter and teacher, anti-fas, cat owner, anti nuke, ex navy, reasonably good cook, father of three happy successful kids and three happy grand kids. Life is good.

Journal Archives

Alligator Moat: Behind Trump's Ideas for Border

Alligator Moat: Behind Trump’s Ideas for Border

By Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis


Oct. 1, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.


Mr. Trump’s order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, round-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him.

Today, as Mr. Trump is surrounded by advisers less willing to stand up to him, his threat to seal off the country from a flood of immigrants remains active. “I have absolute power to shut down the border,” he said in an interview this summer with The New York Times.


“You are making me look like an idiot!” Mr. Trump shouted, adding in a profanity, as multiple officials in the room described it. “I ran on this. It’s my issue.”

Among those in the room were Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary at the time; Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state; Kevin K. McAleenan, the Customs and Border Protection chief at the time; and Stephen Miller, the White House aide who, more than anyone, had orchestrated Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff was also there, along with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and other senior staff.

Ms. Nielsen, a former aide to George W. Bush brought into the department by John F. Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff, was in a perilous position. She had always been viewed with suspicion by the president, who told aides she was “a Bushie,” and part of the “deep state” who once contributed to a group that supported Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Trump had routinely berated Ms. Nielsen as ineffective and, worse — at least in his mind — not tough-looking enough. “Lou Dobbs hates you, Ann Coulter hates you, you’re making me look bad,” Mr. Trump would tell her, referring to the Fox Business Network host and the conservative commentator.

The happiest he had been with Ms. Nielsen was a few months earlier, when American border agents had fired tear gas into Mexico to try to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. Human rights organizations condemned the move, but Mr. Trump loved it. More often, though, she drew the president’s scorn.

That March day, he was furious at Mr. Pompeo, too, for having cut a deal with Mexico to allow the United States to reject some asylum seekers — a plan Mr. Trump said was clearly failing.

A complete shutdown of the border, Mr. Trump said, was the only way.

Ms. Nielsen had tried reasoning with the president on many occasions. When she stood up to him during a cabinet meeting the previous spring, he excoriated her and she almost resigned.

Now, she tried again to reason with him.

We can close the border, she told the president, but it’s not going to fix anything. People will still be permitted to claim asylum.

But Mr. Trump was unmoved. Even Mr. Kushner, who had developed relationships with Mexican officials and now sided with Ms. Nielsen, could not get through to him.

“All you care about is your friends in Mexico,” the president snapped, according to people in the room. “I’ve had it. I want it done at noon tomorrow.”

The president’s advisers left the meeting in a near panic.

Every year more than $200 billion worth of American exports flow across the Mexican border. Closing it would wreak havoc on American farmers and automakers, among many others. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said in an interview at the time that a border shutdown would have “a potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country.”


Mr. Miller, meanwhile, saw an opportunity.

It was his view that the president needed to completely overhaul the Homeland Security Department and get rid of senior officials who he believed were thwarting efforts to block immigrants. Although many were the president’s handpicked aides, Mr. Miller told him they had become part of the problem by constantly citing legal hurdles.

Ms. Nielsen, who regularly found herself telling Mr. Trump why he couldn’t have what he wanted, was an obvious target. When the president demanded “flat black” paint on his border wall, she said it would cost an additional $1 million per mile. When he ordered wall construction sped up, she said they needed permission from property owners. Take the land, Mr. Trump would say, and let them sue us.

When Ms. Nielsen tried to get him to focus on something other than the border, the president grew impatient. During a briefing on the need for new legal authority to take down drones, Mr. Trump cut her off midsentence.

“Kirstjen, you didn’t hear me the first time, honey,” Mr. Trump said, according to two people familiar with the conversation. “Shoot ’em down. Sweetheart, just shoot ’em out of the sky, O.K.?”


Long, but fascinating read.

The man is fucking nuts. Like you didn't know that already.
Posted by marble falls | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 07:36 AM (8 replies)

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley Defends Ukraine Whistleblower Amid Trump Attacks

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley Defends Ukraine Whistleblower Amid Trump Attacks

The veteran Republican, a longtime advocate of whistleblower safeguards, said the Trump complainant “ought to be heard out and protected.”

By Igor Bobic



“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected,” Grassley, said in a statement released by his office. “We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality.”

Trump and his allies have repeatedly maligned the anonymous intelligence community whistleblower’s motives in recent days as the House impeachment inquiry intensifies. Over the weekend, the president accused the person of “spying” on him and suggested the whistleblower’s sources ought to be executed. He also told reporters on Monday “we’re trying to find out” the person’s identity.


But Grassley, who sees nothing wrong with Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president referenced in the whistleblower’s complaint, seemed to undercut both points. He urged everyone not to make “judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts,” cautioning that speculation about their identity by “politicians or media commentators” doesn’t serve the country’s interests.

He also pushed back against claims made by his GOP colleagues about the complaint, which was deemed credible by both Trump’s director of national intelligence and the intelligence community inspector general.

“The distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones,” Grassley said. “It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy. Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility.”

The Iowa Republican has spent decades advocating on behalf of whistleblowers. In 2015, he co-founded the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus to raise awareness for the need for protection against retaliation of private sector and government employees who call attention to wrongdoing.

Grassley is the first Republican member of the group to speak out in defense of the whistleblower. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), another member of the caucus, said that what really concerned him was that the whistleblower complaint was leaked in the first place.

“I’m a big supporter of whistleblower protection. Who should not be protected is whoever leaked this. If this whistleblower leaked this, then [that person] does not deserve [whistleblower] protections,” Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week.


Posted by marble falls | Tue Oct 1, 2019, 08:49 PM (4 replies)

Trump Allies In Disarray As Democrats Push Impeachment

Trump Allies In Disarray As Democrats Push Impeachment
The president’s allies fanned out across the Sunday talk shows with myriad responses.

Laurie Kellman


WASHINGTON (AP) — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday that he expects the whistleblower at the heart of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump to testify “very soon.”


As Democrats and the director of national intelligence worked out key arrangements, Trump’s allies erupted in a surge of second-guessing and conspiracy theorizing across the Sunday talk shows, suggesting the White House strategy is unclear against the stiffest challenge to his presidency. One former adviser urged Trump to confront the crisis at hand and get past his fury over the probe of Russian election interference.

“I honestly believe this president has not gotten his pound of flesh yet from past grievances on the 2016 investigation,” said Tom Bossert, Trump’s former homeland security adviser. “If he continues to focus on that white whale,” Bossert added, “it’s going to bring him down.”

The Ukraine investigation produced what the Russian probe did not: formal House impeachment proceedings based on the president’s own words and actions.

The White House last week released a rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as well as the whistleblower’s complaint alleging the U.S. president pressured his counterpart to investigate the family of Joe Biden, the former vice president who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump’s reelection next year.


Trump’s allies fanned out across the Sunday talk shows with myriad responses.

Stephen Miller, the president’s senior policy adviser, called the whole inquiry a “partisan hit job” orchestrated by “a deep state operative” who is also “a saboteur.”

“The president of the United States is the whistleblower,” Miller said.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, promoted a debunked conspiracy theory, insisting that Ukraine had spread disinformation during the 2016 election.

Bossert advised that Trump drop that defense.

“I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again,” said Bossert, who also was an adviser to President George W. Bush. “That conspiracy theory has got to go, they have to stop with that, it cannot continue to be repeated.”



Giuliani will 'absolutely' face criminal charges for Ukraine meddling: Ex-SDNY prosecutor

Giuliani will ‘absolutely’ face criminal charges for Ukraine meddling: Ex-SDNY prosecutor

Published 4 mins ago

on September 29, 2019

By Tom Boggioni

Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, a former SDNY prosecutor who served with Rudy Giuliani when he was a U.S. Attorney said there was no doubt in his mind that the former New York City mayor will face criminal charges over his dealings with officials in Ukraine.


“It’s been a long time coming, the levels of disappointment with Rudy,” Flannery began. “When I first knew him, I thought he was the kind of fellow we would find on the Supreme Court in his Bobby Kennedy days before he went to Washington. Now I see a guy who should be arrested for impersonating a criminal defense attorney.”


“Absolutely, ” Flannery shot back without missing a beat. “We have a combination of bribery, we have the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at risk here because we’re paying a favor, withholding funds and expecting a condition precedent that favors the president favorably before the funds are given, and we also have efforts to conceal the very document we had in this conversation by people in the White House.”

“We have the State Department involved, we have the Justice Department involved,” he continued. “This is a major scandal and hopefully by Halloween, we’ll figure out how to identify the articles of impeachment that correspond to this misconduct.”

Watch below:

Trump Blurs Lines Between Personal Lawyer, Attorney General


Trump Blurs Lines Between Personal Lawyer, Attorney General
Donald Trump sometimes seems to see little distinction between personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and AG William Barr.
Michael Balsamo


Trump repeatedly told Ukraine’s president in a telephone call that Barr and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani could help investigate Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden, according to a rough transcript of that summertime conversation. Justice Department officials insist Barr was unaware of Trump’s comments at the time of the July 25 call.

When Barr did learn of that call a few weeks later, he was “surprised and angry” to discover he had been lumped in with Giuliani, a person familiar with Barr’s thinking told The Associated Press. This person was not authorized to speak about the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, often appears in rambling television interviews as a vocal defender of the president. Giuliani represents Trump’s personal interests and holds no position in the U.S. government, raising questions about why he would be conducting outreach to Ukrainian officials.

Barr is the nation’s top law enforcement officer and leads a Cabinet department that traditionally has a modicum of independence from the White House.

Yet to Trump, there often appears to be little difference between the two lawyers.


“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to the memo of the call that was released by the White House this past week.

Since becoming attorney general in February, Barr has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders. He framed special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in favorable terms for the president in a news conference this year, even though Mueller said he did not exonerate Trump.

Kathleen Clark, a legal ethics professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, said Trump is treating the country’s attorney general as if he’s just another personal lawyer.

“I think it represents a larger problem with President Trump,” she said. “To him, it appears Giuliani and Barr both have the same job.”


Barr has not spoken with Trump about investigating Biden or Biden’s son Hunter, and Trump has not asked Barr to contact Ukranian officials about the matter, the department said. Barr has also not spoken with Giuliani about anything related to Ukraine, officials have said.

Trump has sought, without evidence, to implicate the Bidens in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time then-Vice President Joe Biden was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. There is no evidence that Hunter Biden was ever under investigation in Ukraine.

The Justice Department was first made aware of Trump’s call when a CIA lawyer mentioned the complaint from the unidentified CIA officer on Aug. 14, said a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke anonymously. Some Justice Department lawyers learned about the accusations after the whistleblower filed a complaint with the intelligence community’s internal watchdog.

The watchdog later raised concerns that Trump may have violated campaign finance law. The Justice Department said there was no crime and closed the matter.

Why The Times Published Details of the Whistle-Blower's Identity

Why The Times Published Details of the Whistle-Blower’s Identity


Our executive editor, Dean Baquet, addresses readers’ concerns about the decision to publish information on a person who is central to the Trump impeachment inquiry.

By The New York Times

Sept. 26, 2019
Updated 7:34 p.m. ET

On Thursday, The Times published exclusive details about the identity of the whistle-blower whose claims led Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump this week. (The article reported that the whistle-blower is a C.I.A. officer who was previously detailed to work at the White House and had expertise on Ukraine.)

Many readers, including some who work in national security and intelligence, have criticized The Times’s decision to publish the details, saying it potentially put the person’s life in danger and may have a chilling effect on would-be whistle-blowers.


The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding. The president himself has called the whistle-blower’s account a “political hack job.”

We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible.

We welcome your thoughts in the comments. We’ll be reading them.

It works for me. Part of whistle blowing almost in all instances requires signing your name to it in a forthright manner. This information needs to come out. It would seem to me that identifying the whistle blower at least to some degree would have a "moderating" effect on someone determined to cause the whistle blower to disappear or shut up.

Just saying.
Very very little more at the link.

Anyone in Trinidad?

Want to go get a beer?

GOP State Senator Runs Ad Saying She's 'Not Afraid To Shoot' Gun Control Groups Down

GOP State Senator Runs Ad Saying She’s ‘Not Afraid To Shoot’ Gun Control Groups Down

Amanda Chase is facing backlash over the ad, which she said was a mistake.

By Amy Russo


The initial ad run by state Sen. Amanda Chase, who represents Chesterfield County, read, “I’m not afraid to shoot down gun groups.

In a statement Friday, Chase called the “ludicrous unauthorized” message a mistake, releasing an edited ad that reads, “I’m not afraid to shoot down any attacks by anti-gun groups, because gun rights are women’s rights.”


“Gun violence prevention advocates and constituents deserve an apology not excuses,” Pohl wrote.

Chase’s first ad has also sparked backlash from the state’s Democratic party, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Parkland, Florida, shooting survivor David Hogg, who called out the senator online.

On the same day that @GiffordsCourage endorsed over 40 Virginia Democrats, @AmandaChaseVA released an ad saying she would “shoot down” gun violence prevention groups

Inciting violence like this is beyond dangerous. She needs to delete the adhttps://t.co/x1wEne2zy1
— Virginia Democrats (@vademocrats) September 20, 2019

If you’re as disgusted by this as I am, then support our Democratic nominee @pohlforvirginia. She’s been named a “Gun Sense Candidate” by @MomsDemand and she’ll be a voice and a vote for commonsense gun safety measures. Contribute now! https://t.co/vdgFSAC27k https://t.co/8IzTU5PtCF
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) September 21, 2019

🚨 VA state senator #AmandaChase just threatened to shoot and kill children that support gun control 🚨

If you threaten to shoot children that simply don’t want to die you shouldn’t be able to own a gun— let alone be an elected official.

Call Sen Chases office
804-698-7511 pic.twitter.com/g88lAhJJ6O
— David Hogg text VOTE to 954-954 (@davidhogg111) September 21, 2019

The name of the digital agency purportedly involved has not yet been released, though Chase said one of its representatives “admitted fault.” She has vowed to reveal the name of the company if it does not publicly apologize by noon on Monday.

When is a dress code discrimination?

When is a dress code discrimination? Rules at Baltimore’s Choptank restaurant cause outcry

By Christina Tkacik
Baltimore Sun |
Sep 18, 2019 | 7:40 PM


After photos of the Choptank's dress code circulated online, critics quickly accused the restaurant of discrimination.

Posted by a brick wall outside the Choptank restaurant, newly installed in the former south shed of Fells Point’s Broadway Market, a plaque stated a list of prohibitions. Among them: excessively baggy clothing, sunglasses after dark and bandannas. “Management may enforce these policies within its discretion,” said a note at the bottom.

As a photo of the sign circulated on social media, a Twitterstorm brewed; critics accused the highly anticipated restaurant of racial discrimination, touching off a controversy that led the restaurant group to revise the dress code.

Representatives of owner Atlas Restaurant Group attested that it opposed discrimination, and they decried “false accusations” of racism. In a statement, Atlas founder Alex Smith called it “unfortunate” that “a brand new, beautifully-restored landmark in the Fells Point neighborhood, which has created more than a 100 badly-needed jobs for the community, is under scrutiny.”

The core of the criticism was that the prohibited styles are popular with some in the African-American community, and that the Choptank — opening Thursday — was telegraphing who management didn’t want coming.

"It sounds very questionable,” Marvin “Doc” Cheatham said of the dress code at Choptank; he’s a longtime civil rights leader in Baltimore and president of the Matthew A. Henson Neighborhood Association. Work boots, banned at the restaurant, are popular footwear within black and Latin communities, he said: “I own three pairs of Timberlands.”

Some critics took particular exception to the warning about management’s “discretion,” saying that could be an entryway to overt discrimination, violating citizens’ legal rights.

That line was among a handful removed from the Choptank’s revised dress code, which Atlas provided to The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. Formerly titled “Strictly Prohibited,” the list is now called “House Rules” and no longer prohibits baggy clothing, shorts below the knee or sunglasses after dark. It notes an exception to its ban on brimless headwear ⁠— religious garments are allowed ⁠— but most of the original rules are intact.


But the Choptank’s location — in a city-owned former public market — could make it subject to close scrutiny.

“Given that the restaurant is in a property owned by the people of Baltimore, the standards for inclusivity and diversity must be high," the Rev. Kobi Little, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, wrote in an email to The Sun. The Fells Point property is leased through the Baltimore Public Markets Corp.
[Most read] Baltimore composer Christopher Rouse, 70, dies »

“While we can’t say with certainty what the intent was in the posting of the sign, how the Atlas Group responds to the community’s reaction will tell us all that we need to know," Little wrote.


From Watkins’ perspective, the dress codes across Atlas properties are designed to exclude black people from entering. He points to the ban on “designer sneakers” at the Bygone. “C’mon, dog,” he said. "It’s kind of clear.”


“It is racist," said Charisse Nichols, who is the general manager at Harbor East’s Bar Vasquez and is African American. "Can you point out to me what white friends you have that dress that way?”


“If someone comes into your restaurant, what they’re wearing should literally be the last thing you’re concerned about," Nichols she said. "It’s Baltimore.”

To Nichols, the Choptank case presses on a deeper bruise within Baltimore’s culture, and a historic sense among many black people that they are not welcome in certain places. “And that, to me, is the saddest part of all," she said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this article.

How to Thwart Facial Recognition

How to Thwart Facial Recognition

By Malia Wollan

July 30, 2019


“Why not give the camera what it wants, which is a face?” says Leonardo Selvaggio, an interdisciplinary artist. Just don’t give it your face. To enable people to obfuscate facial-recognition software programs, Selvaggio, who is 34 and white, made available 3-D, photo-realistic prosthetic masks of his own face to anyone who wants one. He tested the masks by asking people connected to him on Facebook to upload pictures of themselves in the prosthetic: It didn’t matter if they were skinny women or barrel-chested men; short or tall; black, brown, Asian or white — the social network’s facial-recognition software recognized them as Selvaggio. “There’s nothing more invisible to surveillance and security technology than a white man,” he says.

Selvaggio thought up the project, which he calls URME Surveillance, when he was living in Chicago, where law-enforcement officials have access to more than 30,000 interlinked video cameras across the city. He wanted to start conversations about surveillance and what technology does with our identity. He knew that researchers have found that facial-recognition software exhibits racial biases. The programs are often best at identifying white and male faces, because they have been trained on data sets that include disproportionate numbers of them, and particularly bad at identifying black faces. In law-enforcement contexts, these errors can potentially implicate people in crimes they didn’t commit.

Selvaggio sees two routes to elude facial-recognition programs. The first is to disappear: go offline and off the grid. Selvaggio prefers the second option, which is to flood the system with weird, incongruous data. Wear someone else’s likeness or lend out your own. (Before donning a prosthetic mask, check to see whether your city or state has anti-mask laws, which may make wearing one illegal.) Even without a mask, though, you can confuse some facial-recognition programs by obscuring parts of your face with makeup, costuming, hairdos and infrared light. Artificial-intelligence programs look for elliptical, symmetrical faces, so obscure an eye, cover the bridge of your nose, wear something that makes your head look unheadlike. “They have all of our information,” Selvaggio says. “So then let’s make more information that isn’t even true, and then let’s make more information on top of that.”
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