KEEP CALM & CARRY ON, ISIS EDITION (PT 3)

    "Gaslighting" is a meme based on an old movie where you're led to question your own sanity & ability to judge anything.

    In my short previous installment, I noted the fighting in Syria & Iraq taking place in the new mags & tabloids and internet as well. Rather than subsiding with the near elimination of ISIS from Mosul, the conflict exploded onto front pages in the last day not due to what happened, but more due to what may have transpired. As has become rule over the last year or more, your take on the matter will depend on where you fit in the political spectrum and what walled-off garden of social & traditional media you're imbibing.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Someday we'll find it, the Putin connection...

    The AP drew another line in Trump's connect-the-dots puzzle today. We already knew that former campaign chair Paul Manafort had worked for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians. Now we know that he secretly worked on behalf of the Putin regime as well.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The War on New York: State Medicaid Director on Trumpcare

    No commentary from me here, just a signal boost for a caring public official.

    **

    Michael,

    As New York's Medicaid Director, I couldn’t be more appalled by House Speaker Paul Ryan’s health care plan.

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    Keep Calm & Carry On, ISIS Edition (pt 2)

    Not quite the #2 I'd planned, but in checking on progress for Mosul, I noted RT (Russia Today) continually using the term "indiscriminate strikes" when describing US/allied shelling and street action. Among their continued "3rd party independent" verifiers of this was a group called "Airwars".

    Knife in the Back - Monsters on Main Street

    Even as Hillary is sighted, somewhat like that bear, slipping out of the woods back into the mainstream, I see again and again the disgruntled comments arising in each story, the "we wuz robbed", the "DNC rigged the primaries", the "crooked woman", and the "party left us" kind of betrayed mentality you seldom see so strong except for WWI German vets distraught over Versailles. Not just a few comments - *DOMINATING* the comments section.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Trump-Putin Quid Pro Quo?

    Did Donald Trump agree to a quid pro quo with the Russian government? This is what we know.

    On March 19, 2016, John Podesta received an email, purportedly from Google, warning him of a potential security breach. He clicked the link and inadvertently delivered his email account to state-backed Russian hackers.

    Two days later, on March 21, Donald Trump announced his five-person foreign policy team, which included Carter Page, a previously unknown investment banker with extensive dealings in Russia.

    On March 28, nine days after the hack, Trump confirmed to the New York Times that he had hired Paul Manafort. Manafort had recently returned from Ukraine, where he helped organize the Russian-backed Ukrainian opposition. 

    On March 31, Trump met with his foreign policy advisors at the new Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., where they discussed the Republican Party's position on arming Ukraine against pro-Russian rebels.  According to advisor J.D. Gordon, Trump opposed this language in the RNC platform because "he didn't want to go to 'World War Three' over Ukraine."

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    DC Spy Novel Roundup: March 4 Edition

    Do you ever feel like John Le Carre's writing a novel called "American Politics?" Because U.S. politics are looking seriously Le-Carre-ified right now. Let's try to catch up on the story so far, leading up to the President's Saturday-morning tweetstorm accusing Obama of illegally wiretapping Trump Tower. (Boy, does Jared Kushner have a surprise coming when he gets back on line tonight.) Okay, let's walk through the last few weeks of front-page counterespionage.

    1) Michael Flynn ousted as Nation Security Adviser after lying about meetings with Russian ambassador.

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    Intermezzo - Springtime for Hitler

    Today is my dip into happy land, my safe haven, my respite from the madness. Yesterday was the first sign of spring, still chilly but warm enough to go out with only a suit jacket - time for that springtime optimism.

    They used to say no news is good news, but now we have it 24x7, so let's just talk up the good news for a change. Today I'll be largely untouched by political chaos, except to note the bright sides.

    Danny Cardwell's picture

    The Outrage Will Not Be Televised

    When six Muslims were killed in Canada Donald Trump gave us silence. Last week, when a legal immigrant from India was killed in Kansas we got the same thing. Our president and his administration seems to be more comfortable talking about the fictional terrorist attacks that occurred in Atlanta, Bowling Green, and Sweden than addressing the renaissance of white nationalism. I hope people of color and religious minorities are taking these slights seriously.

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    Pop Quiz - Fight Harder or Smarter?

    I was at a pub quiz last night, answering questions with an impromptu team sitting around a table.

    At one point, there was a question about which of 3 early 60's events happened first. I quickly gave an answer that I was pretty sure was correct, and gave me reasons for it. But over the course of the next couple of minutes, my teammates talked me out of it and chose another.

    When we scored the paper a couple minutes later, my answer would have been right. One of the guys who was largely leading the group looked at me and said, "But you didn't fight for your answer hard enough".

    Michael Maiello's picture

    David Brooks Does Not Understand How Wages Work

    Today, David Brooks made the absurd claim that the construction industry is experiencing a labor shortage because Americans won't take construction jobs:

    "Construction is hard, many families demean physical labor and construction is highly cyclical. Hundreds of thousands of people lost construction jobs during the financial crisis and don’t want to come back. They want steadier work even at a lower salary."

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    Ramona's picture

    Wherein I'm forced To Admit Only The GOP Can Save Us

    So here we are, a month into Donald Trump's wacky version of an American presidency and every day it's something new and nutty. If the actor in this saga weren't actually the president of the United States, this whole thing would be highly entertaining.  A daily heart-pounding serial, picking up where the cliff-hanger from the day before left off--confusing, terrifying, laugh-out-loud--what's going to happen next?

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    Доброе утро, Америка - Notes from Underground

    As the "Spy who Came in from the Cold" starts to unfold or unravel, these are some of my notes - there will be more, many more, flying at a furious pace I expect. What else is happening? Feel free to pile on, like a Moscow snowdrift.

    Was Trump the "Casino" behind Russian Spies Arrested 2014?

    Little Moscow: More Trump-Russia real estate corruption.

    Plus: how Russian money powered Trump's comeback:

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    One-State, Two-State, Blue-State, Jew-State

    Donald Trump is an easy-going guy. Just yesterday, he shrugged off the United States' longstanding position on the Israel-Palestine dispute and announced that he's totally open to a "one-state" solution. 

    "So I'm looking at two-state, and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," he burbled to the press with his friend "Bibi" Netanyahu beaming by his side. "I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two," he continued, "but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians--if Israel and the Palestinians--are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best."

    One state, two state, whatever the kids are into these days.

    But what is this one-state solution to which Trump so cheerfully consented? He didn't say. Neither did Bibi. But Yishai Fleisher, a radical settler who presents himself as a spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, is not so circumspect. In a New York Times op-ed, he matter-of-factly rattled off five "credible" plans for appropriating Palestinian land and eviscerating the dream of Palestinian statehood.

    Bibi: Putin's inspiration?

    Reading Michael Crowley's piece on Bibi's long-term strategy towards Obama, I'm struck by this absurdity in American politics. As Netanyahu comes waltzing into Washington to place demands on the White House, receiving policy concessions served up like John the Baptist's head on a plate, he must be thinking the transformation is complete. But be careful, Bibi - sea changes can be wild, with the occasional tsunami.

    See, as we focus on foreign intervention into domestic politics, it won't be long until someone notices (me?) that we have a codified litmus test in Washington, if not largely accepted across the US, of allegiance to Israel and its needs/wants. For guilt reasons? Fear of the rapture and all things biblical? Sincere belief that these are Israel's and thus our needs? Who knows. For a nation that still largely practices the weird & painful circumcision procedure on all male babies for no actual religious or medical reason, we'll just have to accept we're a bit challenged on certain matters. But back to the story....

    Congress regularly is evaluated for support  on all matters Israel - AIPAC's "who's been naughty or nice" especially resulting in near lock-step adherence to Israeli predilections. Hillary took to this obligation with a flourish in her time as Senator, clinging almost as close to the Jewish state as she did to Obama during the last campaign. Bernie being Jewish got a little bit of breathing room, but even he mailed in his criticisms from an undisclosed remote location, knowing better than to deliver in person lest he be found in the East River with the fishes (a joke, son, it's a joke...)

    BrightBarf Spews -Who will Listen?

    Picking up a reference to a (Not-so-)BrightBarf header on Flynn's resignation at RCP, I was intrigued - while Pat Buchanan was telling those damn Negroes and Hippies to Behave, the Prez's virtual news rag of record was declaring Flynn's resignation was a bad sign - for everyone else. 

    How do they start this - oh, the sanctions on Russia were: " to substantiate the Democratic Party’s sore-loser conspiracy theory" - nothing to do with annexing Crimea, apparently.

    Then, "there is no evidence (yet) that Flynn did anything but discuss sanctions in the most general terms" - oops, guess they didn't read last night's papers. (Maybe Steve Bannon can provide a phone transcript if you guys need - he is in the NSC chain of command, right?).

    But Flynn was caught "because the Department of Justice had been eavesdropping on the conversation" - uh, he was a suspicious character making international calls to Russian leaders - those calls are monitored by NSA, not the DoJ. Info *might* be shared with others, however. [Perhaps they know not to intercept North Korean mobile calls on the Prez's unsecured phone, but I'd guess it's got more taps than a Hollywood jacuzzi.]

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    Pat on the Back: Trump takes 51st Super Bowl

    In a last minute surprise, Trump's untraditional campaign team upset the over-confident Falcons last night to win the 51st Super Bowl held in Trump-friendly Texas.

    Neglecting to revisit key strategic border sections of the field more amenable to their game play, the Falcons relied on an over-cautious strategy from their early lead going into halftime, giving the Patriots the opportunity to microtarget an unnoticed but increasingly receptive field of key white receivers. The Nation's Team relied on the more exceptional game play of true stolid conservative players steeped deep in the field's vast, largely empty heartland rather than the Falcs' preferred focus around the crowded edges of the sidelines, often resting on slick and fancy footwork rather than core fundamentals.

    While the final score seemed close and tenuous, Trump noted he could have won by much more but the line refs and scorekeepers had rigged the contest, costing his team at least 20 points, and especially faulted the Falcons for relying on undependable non-white players, and the media for reporting pre-game events.

    Dissipating Power

    I remember it well, the heated 2008 campaign, and one of the vaunted risers in the party - scratch that, *conscience* of the party - Samantha Power - had just called Hillary a "monster". In this case it was for "deceit", saying anything to win, but it might as well have been for Powers' forte, foreign policy - poking holes in US reactions in Bosnia and Rwanda and elsewhere.

    9 years later, Powers goes out like a vanquished lion - braying in futility in her last moments as UN rep against Russia's transgressions in Syria. But what happened in-between? Where did these outspoken values go in the Obama years with a largely reactive, not pro-active stance on human rights and threading our way through more Mideast engagements and muddied mushy responses? Seth Mandel provides a comprehensive summary of this transition from Lion Queen to largely defanged kitten.

    This is not a post of schadenfreude - I'm saddened and confused and disheartened. It's symbolic of the real world as we know it, the demise of optimism and righteous fury, and where we get tripped up time and time again. The other side's busy ignoring that world, running red lights, hitting pedestrians on the sidewalk - but still, careful driving doesn't make you a good driver. But it's a helluva lot easier to tell if someone's a good driver than whether they're doing the right thing in foreign politics.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Take Action on the Muslim Ban: Stop Sessions

    The Administration has handcuffed legal American residents and detained them without charges as part of the President's pointless, lawless Muslim ban. It's a great moment to protest, an even better moment to donate to the ACLU and CAIR. But also be sure to call both your senators on Monday and demand that they make Jeff Sessions explain his position on this. If the President will not follow the Constitution or the law then we need an Attorney General who will.

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    A Lot of Rice

    Once I was taking a bus tour in China, and the tour guide kept pointing out a bunch of boring obvious stuff, "China grows a lot of rice. We have a lot of rice in China..."

    After a while, I noticed that when he said, "look out on your right", there was something unsightly and run-down on the left, and vice-versa.

    As we get all hot & bothered by what's going on, stop a bit and consider what else is happening that might not bother us, might have escaped our notice.

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