tinfoil

Neither Insignificant Nor Unexpected

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP Photo)

The lede from Associated Press is not insignificant, but it is also expected:

Investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller have interviewed one of President Donald Trump’s closest friends and confidants, California real estate investor Tom Barrack, The Associated Press has learned.

Barrack was interviewed as part of the federal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations . . . .

. . . .One of the people who spoke to AP said the questioning focused entirely on two officials from Trump’s campaign who have been indicted by Mueller: Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s longtime deputy, Rick Gates. Gates agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statement charges in February and began cooperating with investigators.

This person said Barrack was interviewed “months ago” and was asked a few questions about Gates’ work on Trump’s inaugural committee, which Barrack chaired, and but there were no questions about the money raised by that committee.

A second person with knowledge of the Barrack interview said the questioning was broader and did include financial matters about the campaign, the transition and Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

If the question is what Barrack’s interview means in the larger scheme, the fact of the interview itself is expected in part because of his proximity to candidate- and then President Trump, but also for his connection to convicted felon Rick Gates, which includes helping him gain access to the White House. And if the unsurprising news is not insignificant, we need only stick the proverbial pin and stay tuned.

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The Latest Pickup: Joseph diGenova

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

US President Donald J. Trump after a group photo on the second day of the G7 Summit at the Hotel San Domenico in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, 27 May 2017. (Photo: Angelo Carconi/ANSA)

Steve Benen suggests—

Obviously, diGenova’s track record of pushing strange, right-wing conspiracy theories on television makes it difficult to take him seriously, but because Donald Trump is Donald Trump, the opposite is true in the White House: this president loves those who push strange, right-wing conspiracy theories on television. The same qualities that make Joseph diGenova appear foolish in the eyes of the American mainstream are the very qualities that make him appealing to Trump.

Attorney Joseph E. diGenova, ca. 2016 (Image: C-SPAN)—and that is all well and fine insofar as it goes. One need not protest, though, in order to recall general questions of White House morale and who might wish to work for the Trump administration, and from there specifically point out that eventually there will only be diverse manners of true believers left to answer the call. In this context, Joe diGenova might not be the best man for the job—

For those who support the president and want him to succeed, none of this is good news. Trump is facing a serious scandal of historic significance, which may very well bring his presidency to a premature end. He needs the best legal defense possible.

I’m not sure he’s getting it. Trump—who already had to replace the former head of his legal team, who seemed completely out of his depth—has assembled a group of attorneys who haven’t necessarily served him especially well, and he’s now adding a conspiracy theorist whom the president probably saw on Fox News, peddling a strange tale with no basis in fact.

—but could well be the last best attorney to take up President Trump’s defense.

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Image notes: Top —President Donald Trump. (Photo: Angelo Carconi/ANSA)  Right — Attorney Joseph E. diGenova (Image: C-SPAN)

Benen, Steve. “Trump’s new defense attorney burdened by a controversial past”. msnbc. 19 March 2018.

A Potsherd Wrapped in Tinfoil Wrapped in Whatnow?

Alveda King

“They entice these ladies into their facility knowing that once they get there, it’s a very lucrative experience. Because they’re going to give her medicines and birth control shots and pills and things that will expose her to breast cancer. Then she’ll go to Susan Komen, because Susan Komen exchanges money with Planned Parenthood, the money goes back and forth between them. And if she gets pregnant, they’re going to give her an abortion and then they’re going to traffic the body parts of the baby. So they make a lot of money off of black women that are underserved, off of all women.”

Alveda King

This is … uh ....

Say what?No, really. This is what it comes to? I mean, holy shit, what does that even mean?

Seriously: How does that even make sense? And here’s an even better question: Is that word salad coherent enough to percolate into the news cycle as a real conspiracy theory?

Alveda King is, after all, a FOX News contributor.

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Arana, Gabriel. “Fox News Signs Alveda King, Niece of Martin Luther King Jr., As Contributor”. The Huffington Post. 6 March 2015.

Blue, Miranda. “Alveda King: Planned Parenthood Gives Women Breast Cancer So They Will Donate To Susan G. Komen”. Right Wing Watch. 27 August 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Pleasant Senate Sunday)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to reporters following a rare Sunday Senate session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sunday, 26 July 2015. Senior Senate Republicans lined up Sunday to rebuke Cruz for attacking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an extraordinary display of intraparty division played out live on the Senate floor. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

There are a number of things to consider―aren’t there always?―about the weekend dispute between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and pretty much the rest of his Republican colleagues in the United States Senate. First and foremost, Tierney Sneed brings the latest, in the form of a five-point overview, for the aptly named Talking Points Memo.

The elephant in the chamber, such as it is, however, is the entire question of the Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im controversy is, in a word, absurd.

Would you like a few more? How about worthy of ridicule.

Naturally, Mr. Cruz wants in.

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Gohmertology

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, joins House Republicans to speak during a news conference in opposition to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marrriage Act (DOMA) decision on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The note at the outset: This is Louie Gohmert we’re talking about.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Tuesday said that former President George W. Bush (R) may have gone about the Iraq invasion differently if he had known he would be succeeded in the White House by President Obama.

“Everybody else wants to ask that question about, ‘Gee, would you have gone into Iraq, you know, knowing what you know now?’ And I think if President Bush had known that he would have a total incompetent follow him — that would not even be able to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, that would start helping our enemies and just totally put the Middle East in chaos — then he would have to think twice about doing anything if he had known he would have such a total incompetent leader take over after him. That should be the question,” Gohmert said in an interview with radio host John Fredericks, according to an audio clip highlighted by Right Wing Watch.

(MacNeal)

Those who remember the old Doonesbury joke about “future presidents” can try out their best fourth-frame smile; this is what it comes to. Nonetheless, we should recognize that the distinguished gentleman from Texas’ First Congressional District, Mr. Gohmert, is at the very least a team player.

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Absurd

Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 6 May 2015.

This is important: Over the years we witness much political wrangling over our American military. Even the question of whether our service members should answer to the law can become fraught with the cheap politics of patriotism. But a question has been nagging at me for years: Why do conservatives get to abuse our service members this way?

Via msnbc:

The perils of political paranoia in Texas (MaddowBlog, 29 April)

Cruz sympathizes with ‘Jade Helm 15’ conspiracy theorists (MaddowBlog, 4 May)

Walmart, Pentagon try to knock down conspiracy theory (MaddowBlog, 5 May)

Fearful Texas GOP base amuses nation with conspiracy panic (TRMS, 6 May)

Two points:

(1) Look me in the eye and tell me our service members would do it. I dare you.

(2) This insulting nonsense has reached the top valence of American politics, with at least three Republican presidential candidates joining in: Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

There is no point three.

This is absurd.

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Image note: Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 6 May 2015.

Hillary and the Clowns

Republicans attempts to turn the discussion to Hillary Clinton and 2016 are getting silly.

“Republicans’ intransigence has created an obvious opportunity for Hillary to rip off our arms and beat us with the bloody ends. She’s expertly exploiting our party’s internal problems.”

Fergus Cullen

Wincing in abject human sympathy is probably fair. So is former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen’s assessment. As David Nakamura and Robert Costa explain for the Washington Post:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fighting words on immigration this week, designed in part to provoke Republicans into a reactionary counterattack, instead drew an unusual early response from several top-tier GOP presidential candidates: silence.

Two days after Clinton vowed to expand on President Obama’s executive actions to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was one of the only leading Republican 2016 contenders to strike back, calling it a “full embrace of amnesty” that is “unfair to hard-working Americans.”

By contrast, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not weigh in publicly on the remarks Clinton made Tuesday at a campaign stop in Las Vegas. Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), one of Obama’s most vocal critics on immigration, waited to make a late evening post on Facebook, writing that Clinton “wants to expand and continue” Obama’s programs and “lawlessness.”

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee told MSNBC that Clinton was wrong, saying the country needs to focus on border security first.

This is, as the WaPo duo put it, a “relatively subdued GOP reaction”. Typecast tinfoil and tuneless, tin-can triviality are hardly the stuff of candidates aspiring to show their presidential leadership, but they are hallmarks of the Republican clown car.

And while Jeb Bush might not have responded directly to Hillary Clinton, at least the offered up a Cinco de Mayo message … in Spanish. As platitudes go, that one apparently counts as creative; or, as such, Jeb Bush hopes to be the serious clown.

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Nakamura, David and Robert Costa. “Why Clinton’s immigration speech left many Republican rivals speechless”. The Washignton Post. 7 May 2015.

DelReal, Jose A. “Here is Jeb Bush’s Cinco de Mayo message to Mexican-Americans”. The Washington Post. 5 May 2015.

Irrationality

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 28 March 2015.Science and love can be a dangerous mixture. That is to say, to the one we find great value in science, especially in this day when societal footing is delicate owing to the myriad potsherds cast about by pseudoscientists, anti-scientists, and their political organization―the GOP.

To the other, though, we’ve all known someone with an advanced degree who happens to be inept in human relations or some other everyday aspect of living in civilized society.

In this case, a chemist didn’t think it through. Because, you know, human beings are irrational, and science isn’t.

Just sayin’.

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Weiner, Zach. “Carbon Bonding”. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 28 March 2015.

Not Helpful (National Sunday Law Edition)

State Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-6), then representing the Fifth Legislative District, speaks at a Nullify Now! rally in Phoenix, Arizona, 29 January 2011.  (Detail of photo by Gage Skidmore)

Oh, for ....

This was one of those crazy bills in which lawmakers want people to be able to bring concealed weapons into public buildings. Allen got upset because a few people expressed common sense opposition to the idea. Lawmakers here cannot abide common sense.

Allen said, “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth,” adding “that would never be allowed.”

She hinted that guns in public buildings might be necessary until there is a moral rebirth.

(Montini)

Okay, this is actually really important.

The idea is called National Sunday Law, and is a particular paranoia of certain Christian sects in the United States. And it ties into anti-Catholicism, conspiracy theories about the influence of Marxists and Witches in the New World Order, and even the black helicopter tinfoil, because apparently at some point the U.N. is going to send its secret army to invade the United States and arrest all the Sabbatarians and put them in tiger cages to await execution. Or, at least, so says at least one version of the conspiracy theory.

And if one has never heard of this discussion, perhaps some of our hardline right-wing discourse seems shot through with some sort of incomprehensible fear. And, yes, these conspiracy theories are actually exceptionally important. This is one of those seemingly incomprehensible fears; there are more believers than we might ordinarily guess.

One easy way to familiarize yourself with the idea is to walk into a Seventh-Day Adventist bookstore and simply ask someone to show you the section on National Sunday Law.

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The Ted Cruz Show (April’s Fool)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, October 24, 2013. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Because the day ends in -y:

When Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz became the first politician to officially announce his presidential campaign last week, he repeated a familiar mantra to his audience at Virginia’s Liberty University.

“Instead of a federal government that seeks to dictate school curriculum through Common Core, imagine repealing every word of Common Core,” the Texas politician said to roaring applause.

The only problem? The Common Core State Standards are not enshrined in any federal law, and therefore cannot be repealed.

(Klein)

We might pause for a moment to consider the Texas junior in the context of Republicans and government. After all, if the purpose of government in Republican hands is to repeal laws that don’t exist, there might be a reason government in Republican hands just doesn’t work.

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Klein, Rebecca. “Watch Ted Cruz Repeatedly Say He Wants To Repeal Something That’s Not A Federal Law”. The Huffington Post. 1 April 2015.