devastating

#WhatTheyVotedFor (Corruption Conundrum)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

&#;35PutiTrump

The basic conundrum, the New York Times explained Tuesday night:

By firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country’s history.

The explanation for this shocking move—that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency—is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated missteps in that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

Mr. Comey was fired because he was leading an active investigation that could bring down a president. Though compromised by his own poor judgment, Mr. Comey’s agency has been pursuing ties between the Russian government and Mr. Trump and his associates, with potentially ruinous consequences for the administration.

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Rather Quite Obvious (Priorities)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico City on 22 February 2017. The visit is the second foreign trip of Tillerson’s tenure at the State Department. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

The lede from Reuters:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip an April 5-6 meeting of NATO foreign ministers for a U.S. visit by the Chinese president and will travel to Russia later in the month, U.S. officials said on Monday, a step allies may see as putting Moscow’s concerns ahead of theirs.

And a bit of the detail:

State Department spokesman Mark Toner had no immediate comment on whether Tillerson would skip the NATO meeting or visit Russia. Two U.S. officials said Tillerson planned to visit Moscow on April 12.

“It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsy with Russia,” said one former U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“You don’t want to do your early business with the world’s great autocrats. You want to start with the great democracies, and NATO is the security instrument of the transatlantic group of great democracies,” he added.

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Waning Tacitry

#AmericanPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference since winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Via msnbc:

Ordinarily, a half-way competent president would manage to avoid quite so many international incidents, but Trump has managed to create these problems after just two months—in many cases, for reasons that are only obvious to him.

Remember, as we discussed a month ago, Republicans spent years investing enormous energy into the idea that President Obama hurt the United States’ international standing. The opposite was true, but GOP officials nevertheless argued, with unnerving vigor, that America had forfeited the admiration of the world.

During the Republican presidential primaries, for example, Jeb Bush insisted that during the Obama era, “We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends.” Around the same time, Scott Walker and Donald Trump had a chat about “how poorly” the United States is now “perceived throughout the world.” Mitt Romney added, “It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office.”

The point is pretty much the same, whoever makes it: For all Republicans complained about American prestige during the Obama presidency, it seems, like so many of their other complaints, precisely strange that they should have backed President Donald Trump. Then again, perhaps we should consider what that really means.

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An Abiding Question: Sinister or Stupid?

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

“Take a moment to imagine the feeding frenzy that would exist right now if, just two weeks after the election, the Clinton Foundation quietly told the IRS it broke the law.”

Steve Benen

The msnbc producer and blogger has a point. For all the scandalmongering about family foundations, we knew before the election that the Donald J. Trump Foundation had some skeletons in its closet.

We might, then, turn to the Washington Post and the incomparable David A. Fahrenthold:

President-elect Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has admitted to the IRS that it violated a legal prohibition against “self-dealing,” which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.

That admission was contained in the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS tax filings for 2015, which were recently posted online at the nonprofit-tracking site GuideStar. A GuideStar spokesman said the forms were uploaded by the Trump Foundation’s law firm, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius ....

.... In one section of the form, the IRS asked if the Trump Foundation had transferred “income or assets to a disqualified person.” A disqualified person, in this context, might be Trump―the foundation’s president―or a member of his family, or a Trump-owned business.

The foundation checked “yes.”

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Required Reading (Hilariousless)

"All of a sudden, I could do anything." ― Mikasa Ackerman

It’s one of those things where an associate throws down one day and flies unimaginable colors, and we are so amazed, and appalled. Never mind. That’s my business, not my soapbox. The end result is that I had occasion to recall Melissa McEwan’s “Rape is Hilarious”, which in turn is at least as horrifying as it sounds.

If not laughing at a bunch of men sitting around talking about fucking women to death makes me a humorless feminist, then I wear the badge proudly—because I’m not just a humorless feminist; I’m a bitch who was nearly fucked to death. Isn’t that just fucking hilarious?

It is about as devastating as you would expect. Go. Read. Now.

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McEwan, Melissa. “Rape is Hilarious”. Shakesville. 11 May 2007.

Spectacularly Apocalyptic

Detail of image from Weibo showing a massive industrial explosion behind highrise buildings; at least seventeen people are reported dead in the 12 August, 2015 blast.

And then there is the end of the world. Not literally, but nobody’s blaiming Tianjin survivors for thinking so; it would seem that’s pretty much what it felt, sounded, and looked like.

Powerful explosions rocked the Chinese port city of Tianjin on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, officials and state media said.

China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, said that at least 17 people were killed and that 32 were in critical condition. Chinese media reported that at least 300 people were injured.

Xinhua, the state news agency, reported that the blast occurred at around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday at a warehouse storing “dangerous goods” and that the explosion and fire touched off other blasts nearby. Local media reported that the strongest was the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT.

(NBC News/Associated Press)

Far be it for us to try to keep up with real time reporting, but this one is pretty spectacular, and we all will be hearing much more about this in the next days’ headlines. Injury numbers have soared as high as four hundred.

Our best wishes to Tianjin.

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Image note: Apocalyptic horror ― Detail of image from Weibo showing a massive industrial explosion behind highrise buildings; at least seventeen people are reported dead in the 12 August, 2015 blast.

NBC News and Associated Press. “Blasts Rock Chinese City of Tianjin, At Least 17 Reported Killed”. NBCNews.com. 12 August 2015.