Sunday, September 24, 2017

White House aides scrambling for the exits.

At least four people in this photo are already gone.
Courtesy of Politico:  

A fast-growing number of White House staffers are starting to look for the exits, even though the one-year mark of President Donald Trump’s first term is still months away. 

Many who joined the administration in January did so with the explicit idea that they’d stay for at least a year, enough to credibly say they’d served. But in the aftermath of a wave of abrupt, high-profile departures over the summer that culminated with former chief strategist Steve Bannon’s ouster in August, aides up and down the chain are reaching out to headhunters, lobbyists, and GOP operatives for help finding their next job.

Staffers from the National Economic Council — where director Gary Cohn is expected to be on his way out altogether after tax reform or onto a different role — as well as the communications shop and beyond are quietly exploring their next moves. They’re talking to headhunters about positions as in-house government affairs experts at major companies, or as executives at trade associations, universities, or consulting firms — ironically, jobs that run counter to Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra.

“There will be an exodus from this administration in January,” said one Republican lobbyist, who alone has heard from five officials looking for new gigs. “Everyone says, ‘I just need to stay for one year.’ If you leave before a year, it looks like you are acknowledging that you made a mistake.” 

Staffers are already laying the groundwork through networking, lunches, and résumés sent to D.C.-based executive recruiters, so that they can a land new job by the start of 2018. Two headhunters confirmed that they had heard from multiple White House staffers. 

“There is no joy in Trumpworld right now,” said one adviser in frequent contact with several staffers. “Working in the White House is supposed to be the peak of your career, but everyone is unhappy, and everyone is fighting everyone else.” 

I also heard a reporter on television report that a number of aides are only doing the bare minimum on the job to avoid reading any memos or overhearing any conversations that might make them a target of the Mueller investigation.

Apparently a number of aides have already had to hire legal counsel and the costs could eat up their entire yearly wage.

I had dire predictions for this Trump presidency, but I have to admit that this is so much worse than even I imagined.

Trump's EPA may be working to find a way to green light the Pebble Mine. Have I told you how much I dislike the people in this administration?

Courtesy of CNN: 

Within hours of meeting with a mining company CEO, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency directed his staff to withdraw a plan to protect the watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, one of the most valuable wild salmon fisheries on Earth, according to interviews and government emails obtained by CNN. 

The meeting between EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Tom Collier, CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership, took place on May 1, Collier and his staff confirmed in an interview with CNN. At 10:36 a.m. that same day, the EPA's acting general counsel, Kevin Minoli, sent an email to agency staff saying the administrator had "directed" the agency to withdraw an Obama-era proposal to protect the ecologically valuable wetland in southwest Alaska from certain mining activities. 

In 2014, after three years of peer-reviewed study, the Obama administration's EPA invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act to try to protect Bristol Bay after finding that a mine "would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources" in some areas of the bay. 

"All of these losses would be irreversible," the agency said.

The EPA is suggesting that this does NOT mean they will give the go ahead for the mining project, suggesting that they  want to simply do an environmental impact statement first, but we know they are going to green light this project.

Remember everything that President Obama did, Donald Trump wants undone.

Alaskans fought this project for years, and now all of that hard work might be for nothing, because some racist white guy has a hard on for the first black president.

Seriously, have I mentioned how much I dislike the people in this administration?

Gryphen posts a somewhat negative article about autonomous cars.

Courtesy of The Guardian:

Driverless vehicles could build a “gold mine” of personal data for private companies and would make it easier for them to target people as consumers, an Australian law professor has warned. 

Des Butler, of the Queensland University of Technology, said the privacy risks involved in driverless vehicles were a “sleeper issue” that regulators were yet to fully consider, even though car manufacturers say the technology could be on roads in Australia by 2020. 

“These vehicles will know where you like to frequent, which businesses, and may very well build a profile of you,” Butler said. “People will go into these things not realising just how much data the vehicle will be generating about them and not knowing the extent to which the data can be used.”

As even the most casual IM visitor has probably surmised I am essentially all in for driverless cars.

However in the interest of being fair I wanted to share a least a few articles which point out potential hazards or concerns.

Trust me it's not going to keep me from purchasing one at some point, but yes there could be issues with privacy, hackers, and occasional technological malfunctions.

In the meantime around 3,287 people are dying each day due to car accidents with an additional 20 to 50 million injured or disabled each year. (Source.)

Just to keep things in perspective.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

James Clapper states publicly that intelligence community assessment of Russian interference serves to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Trump's victory.

Courtesy of Crooks and Liars:

On CNN last night, Erin Burnett questioned former Defense Intelligence Agency director James Clapper about Russian interference in the election. 

She asked him about Trump's reaction to those intelligence briefings. 

"When we briefed him, if you're speak of the briefing on the 6th of January, he was very curious, complimentary and he did listen," Clapper said. 

"And frankly, the evidence that we provided in detail --which of course we couldn't expose publicly-- was pretty overwhelming. It's why we had such a high confidence level in what we said in that assessment. And so I thought it was a good discussion. He had some doubts about some things, but that's fine to be skeptical about some things. But on balance, I thought we successfully conveyed the message because the substantiating evidence was quite compelling and we didn't hear anything about the 400 pound guy in his bed in New Jersey." 

"Which is and I think very important, as you said, because I think obviously when he says publicly is different than what you're describing, which is sort of the way you want an incoming president to respond, courteous and receptive and listen," Burnett said.

"I have to say, Erin, I think what this was maybe the first or early harbinger of what I think really motivated him is, our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election and I think that, above all else, is what concerned him. I think that transcends, unfortunately, the real concern here, which is Russian interference in our political process, which by the way, is going to continue," Clapper said.

And there you have it.

This is why Trump is desperate to shut down these investigations.

He KNOWS they will ultimately de-legitimize his victory and that is what terrifies him to his core.

A pep talk from Barack Obama.

Courtesy of CNBC: 

When the going gets rough, a pep talk from former president Barack Obama may come in handy.

A day after president Donald Trump's downcast speech on terrorism and political adversaries during the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA), Obama discussed the power of optimism at the inaugural Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Goalkeepers" event.


"Your response has to be to reject cynicism and reject pessimism and push forward, with a certain infectious and relentless optimism," he says. "Not blind optimism, not one that ignores the scale and scope of our challenges, but that hard-earned optimism, that's rooted in the stories of very real progress that have occurred throughout human history." 

"We have to reject the notion that we're suddenly gripped by forces that we cannot control," Obama says. "We've got to embrace the longer and more optimistic view of history and the part that we play in it." But how can anyone be optimistic under those conditions, you may ask? Obama wants you to consider this: "By just about every measure, America is better — and the world is better — than it was 50 years ago, 30 years ago or even 10 years ago." 

"I know that statement doesn't jibe with the steady stream of bad news and cynicism that we're fed through television and Twitter," Obama says. 

"Each new generation stands on the successes of the previous generation," he says, bending "that arc of history in the direction of more freedom and more opportunity and more justice." 

"I have great faith in you," he says, "and I'm certain that if you keep pushing forward, then America and the world are going to be just fine."

Look I know this is supposed to make us feel better, and it is SO nice to hear such optimism again, but really all it is doing is making me miss our former President more than ever. 

However of course he is right, we desperately need to maintain a positive outlook and work for the kind of progress that his administration worked so hard to achieve.

So I am going to do my part, and keep pushing those progressive values in the hope that all of this will eventually blow over and we will once again get back on the right track to a better tomorrow.

You know what, I guess I DO feel better.

Donald Trump is now in a fight with NBA superstars.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
Courtesy of the New York Post:

NBA star Stephen Curry was dis-invited from the White House on Saturday by President Trump.

Curry, a Golden State Warriors guard and two-time NBA MVP, said Friday he would vote against the team visiting Trump’s White House to celebrate the team’s 2017 championship. 

That was enough for Trump to decide against inviting him.
Not going to the White House would send a message, Curry told reporters, “that we don’t stand for basically what our president has — the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said at the right times — that we won’t stand for it.”

That tweet of Trump's also pissed of  NBA superstar LeBron James:
Getting called a bum by LeBron James, damn you have to be a real fuck up to earn that kind of shade!

But the fact is that Donald Trump is a racist Nazi sympathizer, and there is no WAY that he should expect black team members to want to have their pictures taken with him.

At this point I am surprised that there are ANY black folks who still want to be associated with him. 

Homeland Security informs officials in 21 states that Russians attempted to hack their election systems in 2016.

Courtesy of USA Today: 

Russians attempted to hack elections systems in Wisconsin and 20 other states in the run-up to last year's presidential election, Wisconsin officials said Friday. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified states of the attempted breaches on Friday, said Michael Haas, director of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The attempt in Wisconsin was unsuccessful, he said. 

According to the Associated Press, Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia and Washington were also among the 21 states targeted. 

Wisconsin's voter registration system was targeted, as were election systems in other states that have a presence on the internet, Haas said. Haas said he did not know which states other than Wisconsin were part of the attempt by what Homeland Security officials told him were “Russian government cyber actors."

I am not at all convinced that these were only "attempts."

I think there had to be some successful hacks, and I would not to at all surprised to learn that there were a number of them.

I also think that ultimately we will learn that there more than 21 states targeted.

As I have said before, we are still at the beginning of all this and it is certain that there is so much, much more we are going to learn. 

Donald Trump directs today's Twitter tirade at John McCain.

Okay that last one is a low blow.

Graham by the way did not seem to take it personally.
Trump also sent out a tweet suggesting that Rand Paul might have a change of heart "for the good of the party," and another one suggesting that Lisa Murkowski "comes through." However I can find no evidence that either of those two things are true so I think this is just some early morning wishful thinking on Trump's part.

Like Jimmy Kimmel said there is no evidence that Trump has ever read this Graham-Cassidy bill, or has any idea what is in it.

He just wants to win, and he does not care if by doing so the American people lose.

Robert Mueller now wants phone records pertaining to Air Force One statement.

Courtesy of Politico:

Special counsel Robert Mueller has sought phone records concerning the statement written aboard Air Force One defending a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians at Trump Tower last year that was set up by Donald Trump Jr., according to two people familiar with the investigation. 

Mueller has also asked the White House for documents and emails connected to a May 3 press briefing where Sean Spicer said the president had confidence in James Comey as FBI director, these people said. 

The request seeks to determine what White House officials – particularly Spicer – knew about the president’s plans to fire Comey in the days before it happened, according to one of the people familiar with it.The requests, first reported by the New York Times, are the latest indication that Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election is expanding to include what has happened in the White House since Trump took office, including questions of obstruction of justice. 

Most of the requests, one of these people said, focus on what happened inside the White House after Jan. 20.

The only reason that Mueller would want these records is to make a case that Trump purposefully released a false statement in order to deflect attention away from what really happened in those meetings.

These records could prove that Donald Trump was attempting to interfere in the Russia investigations, and to hide evidence from Mueller's team concerning Junior's Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lawyer.

That's obstructionism, and that is grounds for impeachment. 

Newsweek's new cover.

From the article:

During the 2016 election, conservatives turned on the principles that had once animated them. Somehow a movement based on real ideas—such as economic freedom and limited government—had devolved into a tribe that valued neither principle nor truth; luminaries such as Edmund Burke and William F. Buckley Jr. had been replaced by media clowns such as Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos. Icons such as Ronald Reagan—with his optimism and geniality—had been supplanted by the dark, erratic narcissism of Donald Trump. Gradualism, expertise and prudence—the values that once were taken for granted among conservatives—were replaced by polls and ratings spikes, as the right allowed liberal overreach in the Obama era to blind them to the crackpots and bigots in their midst.

Some have argued that the election was a binary choice, that Hillary Clinton had to be defeated by any means. I share many of their concerns about Clinton, but the price was ruinous. The right’s electoral victory has not wiped away its sins. It has magnified them, and the problems that were exposed during the 2016 campaign haven’t disappeared. Success does not necessarily imply virtue or sanity. Kings can be both mad and bad, and the courtiers are usually loath to point out the obvious—just look at Caligula or Kim Jong Un.

Today, with Trump in office, the problems of the right are the problems of all Americans. And the worst part of it is that we—conservatives—did this to ourselves.

Yeah you did.

Unfortunately now they have also done it to the entire country.