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peggysue2

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Name: Peg
Gender: Female
Hometown: New Jersey
Home country: USA
Current location: Tennessee
Member since: Sat Feb 6, 2016, 07:31 PM
Number of posts: 5,354

Journal Archives

Stephen Bannon: Despicable Me Eyes the WH

Vanity Fair ran an eye-popping (if not headache inducing) profile on the inimitable Steve Bannon, chief arsonist and editor of Brietbart News. Bannon describes himself as a ‘revolutionary,’ who is now eying the prospects of a . . . presidential run in 2020.

Before we all fall over laughing, I would suggest everyone read the VF piece because in doing so I suspect you’ll come away with something akin to my own take.

Steve Bannon is a very smart operator who—unlike Trump—is well-educated, politically adept and media/propaganda savvy. He knows how to move crowds despite his staggering loss in the Alabama/Roy Moore debacle. And he has been ginning up support both in the U.S. and around the world to sell his brand of American nationalism.

Oddly enough, he’s using the Obama strategy to gain a grassroots network, a new coalition of libertarians, evangelicals, gun rights activists and union members, those blue-collar workers left behind by globalization. He’s been effectively fanning the flames of victimhood in reverse—the unloved, unschooled white guys, put upon by modernity and immigration and who knows what else. Like all good revolutionaries, he is fixing his sights on The Establishment, the moneyed elites (the source of all evil) and pumps his ideology as a cure to all ills.

Snake Oil Salesman. But a clever, articulate snake oil salesman.

Think about a competent, strategic and take-no-prisoners’ version of the Trumpster and you’ll get a feel for the real danger of a Steve Bannon. His brand of leadership is lethal, even more deadly that what we’re experiencing now.

So, we may cheer Bannon’s desire to rid the world of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and their various aides and acolytes. But make no mistake: this is careful what you wish for territory.

Remember the snake in the poem/lyric that Trump waxed eloquent (well, almost eloquent) about? The snake ultimately kills its caretaker, reminding her that she always knew He was a snake. Trump called the story ‘beautiful.’

With Steve Bannon? This would be a hyena coming in for the kill, yipping and shrieking with laughter. Because tearing things up is what Steve Bannon and his mini-clones are all about.

We must stay awake, always. Because the barbarians are grouping.

Vanity Fair link here:

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/12/bannon-for-president-trump-kushner-ivanka

Kasparov Speaks, Again

When we inquire about the Trump/Putin connection or think about what the Russians hoped to achieve through The Donald’s installation into the WH, I can think of no one better to give an opinion than Garry Kasparov. Why? Because Kasparov lived this—from inside Russia—and managed to survive. Certainly his celebrity status as a Chess Master gave him a protective shield for a number of years, but when he became an active dissident, life took a turn into unpleasant territory.

Kasparov was recently interviewed at WBUR’s Here & Now: link for the podcast and summary provided below.

Kasparov says a number of interesting things, issues we’ve been discussing here on DU: the internal attack on democratic institutions, how America is existing in a gray area at the moment where the sowing of doubt about the country, elections and institutions is quite deliberate, the preface to every dictator’s playbook.

He’s also quite clear that to beat the budding autocrat/authoritarian, a populace must have a long-term strategy, not simply a sharp tactical fix if citizens want democratic ideals to prevail. And that we should always choose democratic institutions over any particular personality. He feels this is where his fellow Russians went wrong, choosing Yeltsin over institutional integrity.

In addition, he said something elsewhere that made my ears prick. This is with the whole Roy Moore/evangelical stuff in mind:

When religion is in service to power, it’s always about the power, not the religion.

After reading some of Moore’s comments this morning, Kasparov’s comment really jumped out

Btw, another good podcast was an interview led by Phreet Bharara with Kasparov, Putin, Pawns and Propaganda. Link also provided.



http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/12/20/trump-white-house-garry-kasparov

https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/putin-pawns-and-propaganda-garry-kasparov/

We Are Watching the Pod People Take Over

Paul Ryan (or his facsimile) can stand in front of a podium and say that what Republicans have accomplished was possible only because of the Trumpster's 'exquisite presidential leadership?' Senator Hatch can say that this is evidence of the best president in a generation, perhaps the best president evah?

We can discount Mike Pence; he was always a mindless clone hoping for his own moment in the sun (spelled Oval Office). And all these other sycophants smiling like goons at the punch bowl.

Think about that: exquisite presidential leadership. Silent translation: he shut up and didn't fuck us up.

Best president in a generation, maybe ever in the history of the United States? That would exclude Washington, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, etc.

Donald Trump, King of the Clown Car.

Shame on these people. They've sold the entire country out, given away the store to greed and political expedience and have the gall to stand up and repeat Trumpian-size lies and hyperbole to the country, to the world, to themselves.

They all need a good dose of tar and feathers. If not worse!

While We Weren't Watching

Mineral Man had a satirical piece up in an earlier thread about Republicans secretly planning for an epidemic to solve the Debt Problem, a problem which will now mushroom after the GOP’s genius Tax Deform Bill and the impending healthcare crisis.

Satire always has a cornerstone of truth.

What is not satire is the announcement yesterday that the Federal funding ban on producing deadly viruses had been lifted.

What could possibly go wrong??

You may recall the ban was put into place after a public outcry regarding several missteps/accidents at NIH labs: one involving lab workers being exposed to anthrax, another where a deadly strain of virus was shipped between laboratories and the revelation that scientists in the program were working to develop a lethal strain of bird flu.

Yikes!

Ostensibly, all this work in mutating viruses to their more deadly relatives is a proactive measure in order to develop effective vaccines. Better to be prepared for an outbreak, the argument goes, then be caught defenseless if and when a large swath of the population is infected.

That’s the theory, at least.

My logical, rational mind can embrace the research idea because we know from medical literature that we’re merely a few steps away from a full-blown pandemic. Of some sort.

The Spanish flu after WWI killed between 20-40 million people worldwide. Some medical historians claim 50 million or more. It’s estimated half of the patients died from pneumonia, complicated by the high incidence of TB. This was before antibiotics, of course. But then, there’s the depressing news that our antibiotics are not as effective due to overuse, which has allowed bacteria to mutate in an increasingly deadly fashion.

So my rational mind says research = good; zombie apocalypse = bad.

But then, my more imaginative, suspicious mind conjures up dark scenarios where viruses are mishandled, accidents happen and/or the research to benefit mankind turns sinister. Watching Netflix’s recent series Wormwood didn’t help quell these darker thoughts (fascinating series, btw).

As it turns out, my layman’s misgivings are shared by a number of researchers, people who seem fully cognizant of risks vs. benefits. The good news in the New York Times’ article and several other publications is that a series of review processes have been put into place to mitigate further mishaps and/or dangers. And discussion continues between scientists about the merits of the research and how findings should be handled (not a good idea, for instance, to hand out recipes for enhanced viruses to the general public. Ya think?).

I’ll probably continue to rock back and forth between my logical mind and my zombie apocalypse mindset on this issue. The research moratorium hasn’t been given much playtime because of the Trump drama du jour and most recent Tax monstrosity. Still, it’s something to be aware of because lots can happen while we’re all distracted at the 3-ring circus.

I suspect that’s a feature, not a bug.

Who Are We as a Country? Sally Yates Reminds Us Once Again

Sally Yates in a USA Today Op-Ed suggests we return to First Principles as a path forward in our current abnormal and alarming political climate. She directs our attention to a single sentence, the Preamble to the Constitution. With notes:

“We the people of the United States” (we are a democratic republic, not a dictatorship) “in order to form a more perfect union” (we are a work in progress dedicated to a noble pursuit) “establish justice” (we revere justice as the cornerstone of our democracy) “insure domestic tranquility” (we prize unity and peace, not divisiveness and discord), “provide for the common defense” (we should never give any foreign adversary reason to question our solidarity) “promote the general welfare” (we care about one another; compassion and decency matter) “and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” (we have a responsibility to protect not just our own generation, but future ones as well).

Love this woman!

And I agree that in times of stress and genuine danger to the country, reminding ourselves of our core values and demanding those in power to respect and serve those values is of utmost importance. The means speaking out, getting politically engaged and supporting our democratic institutions, countering the caterwauling attacks on the free press, the FBI, our intelligence services, our diplomatic corps, our judicial system, our electoral system, etc. It means standing up for our immigrant neighbors and friends, pushing back against blatant racism, ethnic hatreds and sexism.

And our most fundamental principle must be protected: The Rule of Law.

It means becoming the Americans we want to be—never perfect but always better.

Kudos to Ms Yates. We need to be hearing more of this, daily reminders. Because there’s just too much to lose.

Full essay here:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/12/19/what-kind-country-we-speak-out-core-american-values-sally-q-yates-column/951828001/

Recipe for a Honking Constitutional Crisis

Lots of talk of late about whether or not Herr Trumpster will attempt to fire Mueller and his investigating team. Which is why I found the video of Norm Eisen of interest. You can find the vid on Susan Hennessey’s twitter site; she’s the executive editor of Lawfare. Norm Eisen is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute and specializes in . . . ethics. Twitter site here:

https://twitter.com/Susan_Hennessey

Eisen prefaces his comments about the long-held tradition (since the time of Grant) of presidential investigations requiring a special counsel to be one-step removed from the acting executive and someone outside the Administration.

The big question: does the Trumpster have the authority to directly fire Mueller? According to Eisen, the manner in which the statute for special counsel is written the answer is no. However, Trump could demand that Rod Rosenstein, acting deputy AG, fire Mueller. If he refused, the Donald could go down the line until he found someone to do the dirty deed. In Nixon’s time, this period of refusals and firings was referred to as the Saturday Massacre. Nixon went through several deputies until arriving at Robert Bork then Solicitor General of the United States, who agreed to fire Archibald Cox, special counsel investigating the Watergate affair.

The rest is history that most recall or have read about. I recall distinctly the phrase ‘Constitutional Crisis’ leading most newspaper headlines and TV News Hours at the time.

However, since Richard Nixon ultimately resigned before being impeached two questions remain open and unanswered;

Can a sitting president be indicted and if not,
What remedies does a special counsel have if he/she finds wrong-doing?

Apparently, we do not have definitive answers to these questions. Which opens us up to the question of what constitutes a Constitutional Crisis? 538 took a stab at this very question with 4 examples:

The Constitution doesn’t tell us what to do.
The Constitution’s meaning is in question (vague),
The Constitution tells us what to do but it’s not politically feasible or,
Our Institutions Themselves Fail.

Personally, I’m concerned about number 4, particularly with Trump deliberately dumping and casting doubt on all major institutions at the moment. The damage he’s exacting is real and could have long-lasting effects.

In any case, both pieces are interesting and informative viewing/reads, a preparatory course in what we might expect in the coming weeks/months.

Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory (Cervantes).

Even for the unfolding craziness.

You can read the full 538 piece here:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/constitutional-crisis/

Annihilating the Truth

A year ago, Gary Kasparov wrote the following:

The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.

The Trumpster and his band of sycophants have taken this idea and pushed it to the max, exhausting the public's patience and yes, sometimes exhausting the public's will to rear up and howl bloody murder.

The Trumpster's poll numbers have slipped into the low 30s but the far-right's mouthpiece, Fox News, is still churning out hit pieces on American institutions. The FBI, the DOJ, the Free Press, our Intelligence Community, our electoral integrity have all been under fire, not to mention Mueller's team of investigators and various State Attorney Generals. Anything and anyone who has not knelt to the greatness of The Trump, who has not bought into the daily lies and obfuscation has suffered the arrows of outrage, dismissal and harassment.

And now, the American public is being encouraged to see any questioning of the current Administration, its pandering to Putin, its proposed tax plan scam and/or its general incompetence and incoherence as an attempted coup . The sheer irresponsibility of this accusation is staggering because we know there are loose cannons living among us, people armed to the teeth just looking for a reason to push it to the max just like their cult leader. The irony of the accusation would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous. As more information becomes available on the 2016 election, the more credible the evidence that there was a electoral coup--the installation of a Putin-friendly scam artist by the name of Donald J.Trump. Old Vlad got his Christmas wish in 2016, the puppet he always wanted.

So the lesson learned the hard way by Gary Kasparov is to stay awake, stay involved and resist the deliberate denigration of American institutions and principles as well as the projection of false equivalencies. All things are not equal. There is no such thing as 'alternate facts.' Democratic institutions are superior to the rule of the autocrat.

This is how we save the country and ourselves. We extinguish the arsonist's fire; we re-establish truth as our Northstar. We never forget. Never!





If This is What Zero Tolerance Looks Like . . .

we should all be very concerned and prepare for an onslaught of accusations, particularly against those who strongly voice opposition to the Majority. I tip my hat to Senator Franken. He's going out as a gentleman, saving his scorn (that bitter irony) for Donald Trump's many accusations and Access Hollywood tape expose' and Roy Moore, accused of tweener/child molestation.

It's clear to me now that this decision was made before the Democratic pile-on yesterday, that Franken had telegraphed his decision earlier, allowing his colleagues to take the 'high road' of moral superiority. A poster suggested this earlier in another thread, a bit of political theater in the making.

My prediction?

This is going to come back and bite us in the ass. A public execution might be satisfying in the moment, give the True Believers a sugar high. We're so righteous! But there are sinister forces at play here, those that will do anything to tip the scales in 2018. The way the Dem leadership handled this was short-sighted at best IMHO.

Eating our own is never a good thing. This is a sad day.

Bravo!

Though this is not the result I would have hoped for--Senator Franken's resignation--I tip my hat to Al Franken and his speech on the Senate floor. Sad but inspiring.

We will miss this voice.

"The future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard."

If Al Franken still believes those words, I think we can, too.

Bravo.

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