Sunday, February 18, 2018

News Nuggets 1565

Daylee Picture: The Charles River in Massachusetts.  From Smithsonian Magazine

Well, the gritty, ugly details are FINALLY starting to ooze out from this cesspool of an administration!  This week's nuggets begin to open up in detail what Russia's campaign to influence our elections actually looked like on the ground.  And if you care about our country, one can only say we look like a country of f#@&ing imbeciles!!   The ease with which a group of cyber-slaves in Saint Petersburg was able to screw our politics and play all the right notes to turn us against each other will make you physically ill.  I can only say, don't look away.  Read the posts below; start to get grounded in what actually happened -- because it is heading our way AGAIN this November! -- Nuggetsman

POWERFUL Big Nugget of the Day: The Anatomy of the Russian "Campaign" of 2016

The 21st-century Russian sleeper agent is a troll with an American accent from the Washington Post
"The secretive, multimillion-dollar disinformation campaign, which U.S. officials said was called the “Translator Project,” sought to undermine Clinton, bolster Donald Trump and turn Americans against each other — all from the remove of thousands of miles away, in an office building in St. Petersburg. ...  The Russians involved in the campaign executed it with almost perfect pitch — learning to mimic the way Americans talk online about politics so well that real Americans with whom they interacted found them in no way suspicious.  Such deception did not happen by accident. Russian trolls worked hard to sound like Americans and camouflage their political messages in other content."

Russian Collusion: A Campaign "Bigger Than Jeb Bush's..."

‘Go Donald!’: Inside the Russian shadow campaign to elect Trump from the Washington Post
"The Russian effort to meddle in the 2016 presidential election spanned at least two countries and multiple states, and included fake rallies, false identities and divisive slogans intended to magnify Trump’s message and undermine Clinton’s candidacy, according to a 37-page indictment of a notorious Russian troll farm announced by the Justice Department’s special counsel. “I’m amazed — and I suppose I shouldn’t be — what a widespread campaign it was,” said Republican consultant Doug Heye. “It looks like the size of this was probably bigger than Jeb Bush’s primary campaign.”"

Russian Interference: A Russian Operative's Perspective

A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’ (Anton Troianovski) from the Washington Post
"I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book “1984” by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world."

The Question No One is Asking

Is Donald Trump a Traitor? (James Risen) from the Intercept
"I find it hard to write about Donald Trump.  It is not that he is a complicated subject. Quite the opposite. It is that everything about him is so painfully obvious. He is a low-rent racist, a shameless misogynist, and an unbalanced narcissist. He is an unrelenting liar and a two-bit white identity demagogue. .... At the end of the day, he is certain to be left in the dustbin of history, alongside Father Coughlin and Gen. Edwin Walker. (Exactly – you don’t remember them, either.) ...Which brings me to the only question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a traitor? ...One year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and think about that for a moment. ... Trump-Russia story is really about treason. They all want to say it’s about something else – what, they aren’t quite sure. They are afraid to use serious words."

Looking Forward

Four steps to fight foreign interference in U.S. elections from the Washington Post
"The government can take many steps to improve its cybersecurity, across the many elements of critical infrastructure and parts of our system that underpin our democratic institutions. But with time running out before the 2018 midterms, the Trump administration and Congress should take four steps immediately."

America and the World; What's Missing Over Here

Here are 9 things Americans just don’t understand — compared to the rest of the world from Raw Story
"To hear the far-right ideologues of Fox News and AM talk radio tell it, life in Europe is hell on Earth. Taxes are high, sexual promiscuity prevails, universal healthcare doesn’t work, and millions of people don’t even speak English as their primary language! ..., lack of foreign travel means accepting clich├ęs about the rest of the world over the reality. And that lack of worldliness clouds many Americans’ views on everything from economics to sex to religion.  Here are nine things Americans can learn from the rest of the world. ..."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

News Nuggets 1564

Daylee Picture: The Slot Canyon in Arizona.  From Smithsonian Magazine

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Trump: Oh, Those Poor Abusers...

Trump Sees Himself in Every Man Accused (Mimi Kramer) from The Cut
"Most striking, though, about Trump’s Saturday tweet on the departing White House abusers is the way it turns the scenario on its head: It is the men’s lives that are “shattered” and “destroyed.” [...] That this protective, almost loving side of Trump should be brought out by the figure of an accused abuser of women is a bizarre development, more startling, perhaps, even than what the verbiage of his two statements this weekend suggest about the utter valueless-ness and invisibility of women in his own mental landscape. ... For a quarter of a century, Trump has been telling us that all the men he knows who abuse women are “good” people and/or “innocent,” by which he means not that he doesn’t believe that his friends and acquaintances abuse women. He means that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Maybe it’s time we started believing him."

Trump's Indiscretions Floating out in the World of Dark Intelligence

US Secretly Negotiated with Russians to Buy Stolen NSA Documents -- and the Russians Offered Trump-Related Material Too from the Intercept
"The US intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives, according to sources familiar with the matter. The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cach of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election."

Preibus's View Now: "Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50..."

"Who Needs a Controversy Over the Inauguration?" Reince Priebus Opens Up About His Six Months of Magical Thinking from Vanity Fair
"Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50. ...  [A]s the pundits excoriated the Trump White House on every cable news show, Kushner did a slow burn. He was livid, furious that the communications team could not defend Comey’s firing. Bannon blew his stack. “There’s not a fucking thing you can do to sell this!,” he shouted at Kushner. “Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn’t sell this! People aren’t stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that’s going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump’s presidency—and it’s because of you, Jared Kushner!”"

In the White House, With No Integrity Nothing Works

The Trump Stain Spreads (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
...dishonor is like a cancer that spreads inexorably as it feeds upon ambition, protects itself with lies and doubles down with cover-ups.  Looking at the chaos in the White House these days, I worry about inexperience, incompetence and lack of judgment. But maybe I worry most about an utter lack of integrity — and the way it is proving infectious.

The THREE ZONES of Dysfunction in the Trump White House

Why there’s so much chaos in the Trump administration (Ezra Klein) from Vox
"Discussions with people who work in the Trump administration, or work closely with the Trump administration, make clear that the core of the staffing crisis is a management crisis. Working in this White House is a frustrating, dispiriting, and often surreal experience, and it exposes staffers to both legal and reputational risks. Insiders tend to trace three zones of dysfunction, all of which overlap, and all of which destabilize daily functioning and, in turn, scare off potential recruits."

White House Aide: "Truth is Simply Not in Our DNA. ... We Don't Even Have a Coherent Strategy to Obfusicate"

White House reels as FBI director contradicts official claims about alleged abuser from the Washington Post
"Kelly sounded defensive and complained that the media was overhyping the story, according to a senior White House official who spoke with him. But not all of Kelly’s team shared his view. During Wray’s testimony, another White House aide texted a Washington Post reporter, describing the moment as “a killer.” When asked if Kelly could have been more transparent or truthful, that official wrote: “In this White House, it’s simply not in our DNA. Truthful and transparent is great, but we don’t even have a coherent strategy to obfuscate.”
This rather standard issue headline masks  A LOT of further evidence of the administration's deep dysfunctionality!

Trump's New 'Let Them Eat Cake' Policy for Food Stamp Recipients

Trump wants to slash food stamps and replace them with a ‘Blue Apron-type program’ from the Washington Post
"The Trump administration wants to slash food aid to low-income families and make up the difference with a box of canned goods — a change that Office of Management and budget director Mick Mulvaney described in a Monday briefing as a “Blue Apron-type program.” ... Mulvaney's remarks drew raised eyebrows from some critics, who accuse the Trump administration official of drawing an unfair comparison between the food stamp program, which delivers an average of $1.37 per meal to America's poorest, and a high-end meal kit that runs $10 per serving."
Bet: Companies that produce those meals-in-a-box are major major Trump buddies or GOP donors.

A New Food Stamp Program ... Designed by People Who are Clueless About Foodstamps

Poor People Deserve Better Than Food in a Box (Bobbi Dempsey) from the New York Times
"As someone who grew up needing food stamps and free school lunches, I cannot understand the logic or lack of empathy behind this plan.  I spent my entire childhood in poverty, reliant on public assistance from the day I was born until my high school graduation and with a few brief sporadic returns after that. Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve accompanying my mother to the store, where she exchanged food stamps for the groceries our family needed."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

News Nuggets 1563

DAYLEE PICTURE: Letchworth State Park in New York State.  From Smithsonian Magazine 

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The GOP's New Love for Authoritarianism Explained

Conservatives and the Cult of Trump (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The idea that Trump’s anti-democratic qualities per se would alienate him from his party is a fantasy that rests upon a deep misunderstanding of conservatism. The Republican Party is attracted to anti-democratic means, so long as they’re used for the correct ends.  ...  Indeed, Trump’s routine authoritarian bluster nestles comfortably into a party where panic about unfriendly demographic changes has curdled into deep suspicion of the principle of majority rule. Trump as an individual is surely a grotesque outlier. But the overall direction of his presidency is an outgrowth of the party’s long-standing direction."
The analysis here is absolutely SPOT ON! A must read! 

L'Enfant Square becoming ... Red Square?!

Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade from the Washington Post
"Shows of military strength are not typical in the United States — and they don’t come cheap. The cost of shipping Abrams tanks and high-tech hardware to Washington could run in the millions, and military officials said it was unclear how they would pay for it."
Yes, mein Fuhrer.  Stalin, Kruschev and Brezhnev would love it!  On a more serious note, those dictators loved these displays because they created the illusion of strength where the reality was systemic rot and weakness through and through.  The same is true for Trump.

Trump Team Shakeup Coming?

"He Wants a Killer": Post-Bannon, Post-Nunes, Post-Kelly Friction, a Frustrated Trump Searches for a West Wing Reset from Vanity Fair
His efforts to stymie Mueller’s probe have so far failed, and the specter of impeachment looms if Democrats win back the House in November. Ivanka, who’s been frustrated with Chief of Staff John Kelly, has told her father that he needs people around him that will put his interests above their own."

What the Nunes Memo REALLY says about the Mueller investigation

Bob Mueller's Investigation is Larger -- and Further Along -- Than You Think (Garrett Graff) from Wired Magazine
"PRESIDENT TRUMP CLAIMED in a tweet over the weekend that the controversial Nunes memo “totally vindicates” him, clearing him of the cloud of the Russia investigation that has hung over his administration for a year now. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if anything, the Mueller investigation appears to have been picking up steam in the past three weeks—and homing in on a series of targets."

Poll Numbers and GOP Optimism

The GOP’s Misguided Midterm Optimism from the National Journal
"Recent polls have made some Republicans feel better about November. They shouldn’t."

The Limited Appeal of the Nunes Memo

Why The Nunes Memo Probably Won’t Do What Trump Wants It To from FiveThirtyEight
"These numbers are good for Trump if his goal is merely to avoid being impeached and removed from office by a GOP-controlled Congress. Republican voters are skeptical of the investigation and that will matter to GOP congressmen. But if Trump wants to end the Russia investigation, that will be harder. These efforts to question Mueller and his investigation do not appear to be resonating with the broader electorate."

Conservative Columnist: GOP's "Atmosphere where Corruption and Cowardice Thrive"

The cowardice among Republicans is staggering (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post
"... it is damage to the conscience that is hardest to repair. For Republicans, what seemed like a temporary political compromise is becoming an indelible moral stain. The Russia investigation is revealing a Trump universe in which ethical considerations did not (and do not) figure at all. Who can imagine a senior Trump campaign official — say, Paul Manafort or Donald Trump Jr. — saying the words “That would be wrong”? Their degraded spirit has now invaded the whole GOP. By defending Trump’s transgressions, by justifying his abuses, Republicans are creating an atmosphere in which corruption and cowardice thrive."

Homelessness Nugget

"Homeless. Addicted to Heroin. About to Give Birth" from Mother Jones Magazine
"Pregnant drug users have vanishingly few options."

Monday, February 5, 2018

News Nuggets 1562

Daylee Picture: The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland from Smithsonian Magazine

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: More Trump Advisers with Kremlin Ties

Carter Page Touted Kremlin Contacts in 2013 Letter from Time Magazine
"Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin in a letter obtained by TIME that raises new questions about the extent of Page’s contacts with the Russian government over the years."

The House GOP's Obvious Complicity

Democratic rebuttal calls Nunes memo ‘deliberately misleading’ from NBC News
"“Until now, we could only really accuse House Republicans of ignoring the President’s open attempts to block the Russia investigation. But with the release of the Nunes memo… we can only conclude that House Republicans are complicit in the effort to help the President avoid accountability for his actions and the actions of his campaign.”"

What about Nunes!?

Thoughts on the Nunes Memo: We Need to Talk About Devin from Lawfare
"Nunes, the Republican congressional leadership and Trump violated the core of that bargain over the course of the past few weeks. They revealed highly sensitive secrets by way of scoring partisan political points and delegitimizing what appears to have been lawful and appropriate intelligence community activity."
I think this goes further.  I believe Nunes has opened himself up to charges of obstruction of justice.

The GOP: "Where My Chief Goes, I Go..."

When Two Tribes Go to War (Andrew Sullivan) from New York Magazine
"The problem with tribalism is that it knows no real limiting principle. It triggers a deep and visceral response: a defense of the tribe before all other considerations. That means, in its modern manifestation, that the tribe comes before the country as a whole, before any neutral institutions that get in its way, before reason and empiricism, and before the rule of law. It means loyalty to the tribe — and its current chief — is enforced relentlessly. And this, it seems to me, is the underlying reason why the investigation into Russian interference in the last election is now under such attack and in such trouble. In a tribalized society, there can be no legitimacy for an independent inquiry, indifferent to tribal politics. In this fray, no one is allowed to be above it. ... More to the point, all this is meaningless to the Republican base as well. Their tribal chief has said there was no Russian interference and no collusion, and that’s all they need to know."
Andrew Sullivan is one of the most interesting recovering conservative columnists out there -- and, God, I hope things do not go completely down this rat's hole!

Trump's Only Road Forward

Survival at All Costs from Slate
"By releasing the Nunes memo, Trump betrayed the intelligence community to save his own skin."

US Intelligence: What Else Do They Know About Trump?

The Backward Logic of the Nunes Memo (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Amid all the lies Donald Trump has told about the Russia scandal, there is one underlying truth: The intelligence community truly fears him and considers him unfit for the presidency. This is not because the intelligence community is traitorous, or left wing, or (as Donald Trump Jr. sneeringly put it) wine-spritzer-drinking elites. It is because the IC had early access to a wide array of terrifying intelligence linking Trump and his orbit to Russia. ... The stench of bad faith covers the entire effort. Trump has not even bothered to conceal his belief that the memo gives him an excuse to replace Rod Rosenstein..."

Nunes's 'Corrupt Intent"

The Nunes fiasco grows more preposterous by the hour from the Washington Post
"Bluntly put, Trump and Nunes surely seem to be acting with corrupt intent to taint the investigators in order to help Trump escape the legal and political consequences of possible wrongdoing."
I have to think that Mueller already has Nunes in his sights.  There will be one hell of a firestorm when Nunes and his immediate enablers get hit themselves with obstruction of justice charges.

Richard Nixon ... Looking Better Every Day!

Trump is far worse than Nixonian (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post
"“Nixonian” is not the right word to use to describe the behavior of President Trump. In important ways, that characterization smears Richard Nixon. ... It is hard to believe I am writing this. But it is also hard to believe it has come to this: The president is in open warfare with his Justice Department and the FBI"

Housing Policy Nugget!!

America's Other Housing Crisis: Undercrowded Suburbs (Richard Florida) from the Atlantic
"Many neighborhoods with single-family homes have seen little or no new construction since they were built in the middle of the last century."

Thursday, February 1, 2018

News Nuggets 1561

Daylee Picture: Kalsoy island and Kallur lighthouse in sunset light in the Faroe Islands controlled by Denmark.

The Daylee News Nuggets RIDES AGAIN!!

The original intention of the Daylee News Nuggets when it started in 2008 was to track what I viewed as the historic presidency of Barack Obama.  It did that and was discontinued in November, 2016.  Obama and his team provided ample inspiration and proved historic in all kinds of good ways.  During a theoretical Trump presidency, I could not imagine maintaining any level of enthusiasm, the kind required to post regularly on a blog like this. 
Well, enthusiasm isn't exactly what has shown up.  More, DEEP concern has shown up about where our country is going.  I could pontificate at length -- but I am sure most of you have already heard it or are saying it yourselves.   I think the Trump presidency is going to be at least as historic as Obama's if not more so -- but in ways that are breathtakingly negative.  It looks to be a very rough ride ahead! 
My intention here is to bring quality information and analysis.  Hopefully, some of it will be positive and even lift your spirits.  I guess we will see! :)
It is my intention to post 2-3 times a week.  I strongly urge you to email me news items you view as important.  I would also strongly invite you to comment!  Go for it!  I want to hear what people think!

TODAY's BIG NUGGET!: Mueller's Plan ... Even if He is Fired!

Here's What Happens if "Magnificent Bastard" Mueller Gets Fired (Garrett Graff) from Wired Magazine
"So let’s do a quick review of recent developments in Washington and then consider a question that has yet to get a thorough airing in the coverage of the Russia investigation and its attendant sideshows: What would happen to the investigation if Mueller were to be fired?"

"Will Someone Please Rid Me of this [Independent Counsel]?!!"

This Time Trump Has No Fixer Who Can Clean up His Mess (David Atkins) from the Washington Monthly
"He has never held a position where a fixer couldn’t sweep his problems under the rug. He has never had to take accountability for anything in his life. He has always been able to skate free. What will he do when the pressure becomes too much to bear, and it becomes clear that he has no escape that comes without serious cost? When that day comes, it will be a trial for American democracy like few before it. The public and our institutions will need to be ready."

The Many Dangers Mueller Represents for Trump

The Peril of Taking on the FBI from the Atlantic
"Trump’s attacks on law-enforcement agencies were followed by an unusual statement from the bureau, and a series of damaging leaks."

Saving Skins on the Trump Titanic

It Appears Yet Another Trump Staffer Is Ready to Sing for Mueller from New York Magazine
"Now the New York Times reports that yet another former Trump staffer is ready to sing: Mark Corallo, who served as a spokesperson for Trump’s legal team before resigning in July."

Cold Comparisons on the Russia Probe

What if Clinton Had Done All This? (Bret Stephens) from the New York Times
"President Clinton fires the F.B.I. director after he declines her request to “let it go” on Sullivan. “Then, at least three other Clinton campaign officials end up indicted. All of them are tied in some way to a hostile foreign power.” Later, she threatens to “yank FOX’s license” because she didn’t like its critical coverage."

PA Republican State Leader Refuses Court Orders on Redistricting

Pa. state Senate leader refuses court order on redrawing district maps from The Hill
"The Pennsylvania state Senate president pro tempore said Wednesday he will not cooperate with the state Supreme Court's request to turn over data after it found that the state's congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered."

Where the Alt Right has us going

Far-right media pundits are now calling for a police state from Salon
"Given how the president and his close admirers tend to bring out the worst in each other, it’s particularly concerning how the most vehemently pro-Trump media outlets are going far beyond the sycophantic blather of “Fox & Friends” to outright calls for the president to jail or even execute people he doesn’t like -- particularly if they happen to be investigating connections between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia. ... Some of Trump’s critics feared he might become a dictator. On the radical right, his fans are now hoping he will"

Republicans and Trump

The GOP’s Sad Stockholm Syndrome (Margaret Carlson) from the Daily Beast
The more Trump abuses them, the more they see they need him more than he needs them.

GOP Retirements and what they mean

Republicans wither under the Trump stress test: Do his bidding or retire from Daily Kos
"Gowdy on the one hand and Ryan and Kelly on the other represent the two choices Republicans in Washington have concluded they are confined to: Do Trump's bidding or leave Washington. The closer GOP lawmakers are to the federal justice and national security apparatus or anything related to congressional oversight of the executive, the more they face the stress test of that ultimatum."