A great man at the end of a great week

Mega-American president and overall political, intellectual, and spiritual whirlwind Donald J. Trump signed a series of executive orders today that will make comprehensive changes to the process of immigration into this country, especially with respect to refugees from Muslim countries.

“We are not admitting into the country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Trump said during the swearing in ceremony for Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

The order specifically singles out the arrival of Syrian refugees as “detrimental to the interests of the United States” and suspends their entry to the country until Trump is satisfied with changes to refugee programs.

Some said however that the executive orders, though forceful and strong, amounted to a rare misstep in what most Americans perceived to be the greatest first week in presidential history.

While Syria is the only country singled out by name, the order suspends entry for 90 days from certain nations based on statute related to the Visa Waiver Program. The most recent version of that visa waiver program put restrictions on those who had traveled to seven countries since March of 2011: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen…

The Sept. 11 terror attacks are given as a justification for the need for increased vetting of visa applicants in the order. Most of the hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi Arabian nationals, and others were from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

The order suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days while the visa program is under review.

Trump’s refugee bans were roundly lauded by both typical patriots and critics of previous immigration policy alike. Among the many, a handful of ‘advocates’ and ‘experts’ disagreed.

…Karen Ferguson, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Oakland, Calif., said Trump’s plan is “tantamount to a Muslim ban.”

In an email she said, “The proposed pause would force refugees who already went through the rigorous screening process and who were set to arrive in the United States soon to instead wait months and even years to go through fingerprinting, interviews, health screenings, and multiple security checks all over again, all while their lives are in danger.”

Even some so-called ‘Libertarians’ were dismayed.

A safe zone established in Syria would therefore require U.S. protection. This would mean both instituting a no-fly zone, and establishing ground troops to protect the zones from ISIS and Syrian government soldiers. This would be a major intervention, and might require direct conflict with Syrian troops and by extension, Syria’s ally Russia.

…refugee camps—can become sites of radicalization. Daniel Milton, Megan Spencer, and Michael Findley found in a 2013 study that the location of refugee resettlement is a crucial factor in their susceptibility to radicalization. Squalid conditions, lack of economic opportunities, and hopelessness can make camps fertile ground for extremist propaganda. When residents return home, they may carry the seeds of the next generation of terrorists.

The reasons for such disagreement, though, remained unclear.

There are, however, additional reasons why resettling refugees instead can be beneficial for national security.

Acceptance of refugees undercuts the propaganda of terrorist organizations seeking to harm the United States. Groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) use the argument that the United States is waging a war against Muslims to recruit. How the United States responds to humanitarian crises can either promote or counter this argument. Even accepting a relatively small number of vetted refugees can help counter terrorist propaganda.

Thankfully none of the whiners could, or would, dare to disagree with the President’s fundamental assessment of the problem with settling refugees in the United States…

“We’ve taken in tens of thousands of people. We know nothing about them,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday. “They can say they vet them. They didn’t vet them. They have no papers. How can you vet somebody when you don’t know anything about them and you have no papers?”

…which I can tell you is a great relief to all of us, here, in the greatest country in all the world. It comes at the end of what can only be described as a tremendous week.

What’s more, vetting for refugees is the most comprehensive security check out of anyone entering the United States. To be resettled, refugees must first be cleared by the United Nations. Multiple American security national agencies then undertake a background check, biometric check, interviews, and medical screenings. The process can take two years.

While there have been the occasional issues—and fixes—in the system, the record speaks for itself. Between 2001-2015, the United States accepted 784,000 refugees and only three have been arrested on charges of terrorism. Two were not planning an attack in the United States, and the third’s plan was barely considered credible. Since the 9/11 attacks, no person who has undergone the refugee clearing process has committed an attack on U.S. soil.

Trump’s alternative reality

Donald Trump (Didja know? He’s a big deal now) remains utterly obsessed with the established fact that though he won the electoral college, making him president of the United States, he lost the popular election. By millions of votes. To a girl.

On Monday, President Trump gathered House and Senate leaders in the State Dining Room for a get-to-know-you reception, served them tiny meatballs and pigs-in-a-blanket, and quickly launched into a story meant to illustrate what he believes to be rampant, unchecked voter fraud.

No baloney boats? Si vulgaire.

When one of the Democrats protested, Mr. Trump said he was told a story by “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer,” whom he described as a friend, according to three staff members who were in the room for the meeting.

…The three witnesses recall the story this way: Mr. Langer, a 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany…was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote…

Hoo boy. This is gonna be good.

Ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Mr. Trump said, according to the staff members — but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from.

Mr. Langer, whom he described as a supporter, left feeling frustrated, he said.

OK to recap: Our German friend was stuck in between people who looked like they could have been from Panama, or Argentina. And when they all got to the registrar’s table, what happened? The white guy was cast aside aside in favor of the brown ones. He was told to go home, and they were allowed to vote! Sort of, provisionally, until their citizenship and residential bona fides were assured – but can you believe that? Obviously our democracy is a massive joke.

It’s a wonder Donald didn’t lose by 50 million or something. Are we lucky to have the electoral college, or what?

The anecdote, the aides said, was greeted with silence, and Mr. Trump was prodded to change the subject by Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.

Awkward. Your personality disorder is showing, dear, please cover your dysfunction. This last bit deftly places the cherry on top Trump’s cake:

Just one problem: Mr. Langer, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., is a German citizen with permanent residence status in the United States who is, by law, barred from voting, according to Mr. Langer’s daughter Christina.

“He is a citizen of Germany,” she said, when reached on her father’s cellphone. “He is not a friend of President Trump’s, and I don’t know why he would talk about him.”

So it seems Langer, either intentionally or accidentally, tried to commit an act of voter fraud. The system caught and politely denied the attempt. The ‘Latin Americans’ however could have been proper U.S. citizens, so they were given provisional ballots and later vetted for status and eligibility. Exactly as the system is designed to do.

And this inspiring tale of dutiful government came by way our new president? Makes me want to cry.

Women won, Donnie zero

The Trump administration has started badly. Yesterday, after the boss ordered Sean Spicer to call a special conference and berate the MSM for publishing photos of Donald’s poorly attended crowning, the press, who have outlets, and a readership, somehow managed to convey to the world what a dickhead Sean was. This they did by right-clicking the icon appended to the digital media library display on the front office secretary’s desktop, which promptly re-published the many photos, same as before, of the great lame inaugural. Well played, Keyser Söze. Game, set, and match.

Now is today, thankfully. And past is prologue. Saturday saw the sprawling Women’s March across our capital (…and across America, and around the world). It easily erased the chintz memories of whatever the hell it was a self-aggrandizing pussy grabber did the day before, in the same place, for whatever reason.

Below are pictures from 12:15 p.m. ET on each day from the EarthCam website.
A screengrab of EarthCam's live feed of the National Mall during Trump's inauguration ceremony.

A screengrab of the EarthCam feed from the National Mall before the Women's March
A screengrab of the EarthCam feed from the National Mall before the Women’s March.

Day Two: Sean Spicer peculiar presser for lying media

The Trump administration is 24 hours old and it’s hopping mad.

I know our first official press briefing is going to be on Monday, but I wanted to give you a few updates on the President’s activities. But before I get to the news of the day, I think I’d like to discuss a little bit of the coverage of the last 24 hours.

Press Secretary Spicer launched the new administration’s press relations in remarkable fashion. He opened up in somewhat civil tone but then immediately veered into an astonishing bitchfest. He called out the major media for being reckless deviants and shameful liars. And the greenhorn in the press room backed up his spittle flecked assertions by making use of a novel tool: bald faced lying.

…photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall.

USA Today: “Similar ground cover was used on the Mall during President Obama’s 2013 inauguration, which was more heavily attended.” Relax folks, we’re only getting started.

…in years past the grass eliminated this visual. This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.

Spicer contends the “irresponsible and reckless” press were using photographs from the hours before the swearing in. Not by a long shot.

Obama 2009 on the left, Trump on the right. CNN: “The photo of Trump’s inauguration was taken from television during his speech — peak time for the crowd.” The comparison looks even worse if you swap the sides.

Who you gonna believe? Your lyin’ eyes? Or the president’s insecurity? […also CNN, in a second post: “In fact, a United States Secret Service spokesperson told CNN, no magnetometers were used on the Mall.” –ed.] More Spicer:

…let’s go through the facts. We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people. From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people. All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office.

Not close. Here’s another comparison by CNN, this time from lower elevation and looking the opposite way. You can see the Washington Monument in the background and “all of this space” is not remotely full.

Oh dear Sean ain’t done yet.

We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.

Question: How pathetic a press agent are you when USA Today is knocking down your best stuff? Within minutes? Damn:

“Those numbers are wrong. According to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, the system saw 1.1 million one-way trips for President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, and 782,000 for his second inauguration in 2013.

“The number for Inauguration Day 2017: 570,557, according to WMATA.”

Amazing fail. Now, and finally, the denouement. The whole big fat point of Sean’s tantrum:

This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.

Does Sean believe that crap? Or is he only doing his job? I bet we’ll be playing this game for many weeks to come. Has the press secretary slipped into stark insanity, or merely a transient psychosis? Get yer Hot Takes ready.

These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong…

We could say the same for your surreal attempts to bend the press kiddies over your knee and spank them. But that would be unpatriotic, so good on you! Stupid bloody press day! I am The Mouthpiece, goo goo gajoob!


Add: CNN has posted a second piece on this WTF press conference. Mmm it isn’t pretty.

Spicer, at times almost yelling while reading a prepared statement, took no questions. CNNMoney called his cell phone a few minutes later; he did not answer.

Some longtime White House correspondents were stunned by the tirade.

Glenn Thrush of The New York Times wrote on Twitter, “Jaw meet floor.”

“I’ve run out of adjectives,” wrote Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post said Spicer’s assertion about “what you guys should be writing” was “chilling.”

Reactions were overwhelmingly negative, and not just from journalists.

Ari Fleischer, who had the same job as Spicer during the George W. Bush administration, tweeted, “This is called a statement you’re told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching.”

And Brian Fallon, who was in line to become press secretary if Hillary Clinton had won, wrote, “Sean Spicer lacks the guts or integrity to refuse orders to go out and lie. He is a failure in this job on his first full day.”

Conservative commentator Bill Kristol said “it is embarrassing, as an American, to watch this briefing by Sean Spicer from the podium at the White House. Not the RNC. The White House.”

36 hours into the new administration.

Constitutional crisis, day one

I couldn’t watch it. But CNN tells me that Donald managed the swearing in without biting his tongue off, or anyone else’s for that matter. And that’s enough. We have ourselves a new president.

And now we have ourselves a problem.

…the minute Trump was sworn in, he violated Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, known as the emoluments clause.

Trump has already violated the Constitution. And it’s nothing trivial, for sure. It’s one thing for a president to go dumping trash within the city limits of Bumfuck, Iowa, and be guilty of a misdemeanor. More problematic would be if he busted some guy in the chops in a Newark Hooters, drawing a state attorney general’s attention.

But when he violates the U.S. Constitution, he’s asking for it.

People in the federal government aren’t allowed to take anything at all from any foreign government entity…

[But] his business empire is taking in a stream of payments from foreign governments — money that ultimately goes into his pockets.

For example, the Kuwait National Day celebration, thrown by the Kuwaiti embassy, will be held at Trump’s downtown D.C. hotel in February.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC), which is controlled by the Chinese state, is currently paying rent for tenancy in the Manhattan Trump Tower (according to mortgage documents filed in 2012, it is the Tower’s largest office resident).

Donald is daring anybody to come after him. It’s alpha male bullshit on the order of: You have the balls? We’ll see.

Thankfully the Constitution is clear on the grounds for Trump’s defenestration: “…any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” So that’s not the problem. The country’s courage seems to be the matter.

Day one, or day three, after a po’ boy and a nap…

Look out world here comes The Most Awesome. President. Ever.

President-elect Donald Trump has a busy Inauguration Day ahead of him — in between the oath of office and the inaugural balls, he’s pledged to take some “big league” actions as part of a Day One agenda that will set the tone for his presidency.

That’s right – On. Day. One. BOOM goes the dynamite, America.

He repeatedly promised to “eliminate every unconstitutional executive order” — referring specifically to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which granted legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, or who have children who are citizens or legal residents.

Additionally, he has pledged to suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot be properly done. And he’s vowed to instruct the State Department to “immediately suspend the Syrian refugee resettlement program” and develop a plan for a safe zone in the region.

Trump also says he intends to ask Congress to pass “Kate’s Law”… In a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., in October, he promised to yank federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities” on his first day.

Donald will be a whirlwind of kicking ass and taking names. Deporting Mexicans, denying war orphans asylum – #makingamericagreat. It’s all going to be Huge. And Awesome. Quite sizable, large, and great – again (SWIDT?).

…he also pledged to direct the Department of Labor to investigate “all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker” on his first day in office.

His most famous campaign promise — a wall on the southern border — also has been supposedly slated for Day One action. In a speech in September in Phoenix, Ariz., Trump said on his first day, “we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, power, beautiful southern border wall”…

He also promised the U.S. will begin deporting the approximately 2 million criminal illegal immigrants in the country… “Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone,” he said.

So I suppose we should all get the hell ready for Friday. Because its going to be one of the greatest days in American history. It’s going to be like if John Wayne made a 3-D porn video in an Indian cyclone, with politics, if that were possible. But then it has to be possible because God Dammit it’s The Donald. He is the total Best, the A-Number-One chief top shelf unobtainium-plated mega-MAGA…

Donald Trump said the first order he’ll sign as president will be to create “strong borders,” but he’ll be doing that Monday, after taking the weekend off…

“…[D]ay one – which I will consider to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday. Right? I mean my day one is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration.”

…piker. Really, a shiftless son of a bitch. And if China invades Taiwan over the weekend? Are we supposed to flag down Donald on the fifteenth hole? Obama can’t do anything, so says the Twentieth Amendment. What then?

This man has no idea what he’s gotten himself into.

Goodbye Monica, fly away. Fly, fly.

Hell I am so smart.

GOP foreign policy adviser Monica Crowley said Monday she will relinquish the senior job she’d been poised to take in the Trump White House.

On January 7th I typed out in perfectly clear blog-ese that Monica had no choice but to step down. She left me stone cold hanging for nine days.

Ms. Crowley, who had been tapped to be senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council, had been dogged in recent weeks by questions about whether she lifted portions of her past written work from other writers.

This is the Moonie Times, so “questions” and “whether” can be swapped with “copy and pasted most modern text, but for Gone With The Wind.”

Here. And here. And here. Because she is a wingnut, and a great lover of the overwrought schmuck, Richard Nixon, she will fall on her feet. She will be on Fox News next month. She will be on CNN sometime this Summer. She will be on PBS early next year. The elephantine fact that she is a huckster and moron will not matter at all.

Hullo fascism

Today’s depressing news drove me to Wikipedia where I spent time reading up on fascism. This thumbnail from Columbia’s Robert Paxton seems fit for us.

Quote: A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline

humiliation or victimhood, and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity

It has become a signature attack line of the 2016 presidential campaign…

Donald Trump started using the “low-energy” moniker to describe Bush sometime in August, as he continued to surge in polls while Bush sunk. Today, Trump has taken over the front-running position that Bush was long presumed to hold.

“Here’s a woman who goes home and she goes to sleep all the time. Think of it. She’s got no energy whatsoever…”

At his rally, Trump exaggerated that “everyone’s talking about the fact that I’ll do seven, eight, nine stops, I’ll make three or four major speeches” before boasting about his crowd size in Tallahassee.

in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites

abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Count on the ‘external expansion’ later after Donnie sees for himself what the military can do. The ‘democratic liberties’ part is what got me today.

Reince Priebus resorts to intimidation: ‘The head of the government ethics ought to be careful’

… “The head of the government ethics ought to be careful because that person is becoming extremely political,” Priebus said, adding that Shaub “may have publicly supported Hillary Clinton.”

“And he is calling out the president with information on Twitter about our detangling of the business over a month ago,” he continued. “So I’m not so sure what kind of standing he has anymore in giving these opinions.”

And.

The Trump Administration May Evict the Press from the White House
“They are the opposition party,” a senior official says.

…According to three senior officials on the transition team, a plan to evict the press corps from the White House is under serious consideration by the incoming Trump Administration. If the plan goes through, one of the officials said, the media will be removed from the cozy confines of the White House press room, where it has worked for several decades.

He could erect a golden fence to keep the normals out. He has the money, no problem. He can erect a couple towers with gunnery guards just in case.

The new normal

There are always plenty of things going on. There are the TV news breaks and press conferences. There are the incoming appointments and cabinet picks. There are the political players jockeying for high position, and the eventual winners and losers. There are the endless talks of policy and tone, priorities and attitude.

It’s semi-quadrennial political theater, as an old president ends his administration and the new one begins. This time around, though, it’s bizarre.

President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser and Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. have been in frequent contact in recent weeks, including on the day the Obama administration hit Moscow with sanctions in retaliation for election-related hacking, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

A U.S. Army general is meeting with the ambassador of a country openly hostile to us. This is after our own intelligence agencies determined Russia’s role in a number of high-profile cybercrimes. He’s only the incoming National Security Advisor, someone who’d be interested in defending the United States against hackers, particularly when they’re agents of a foreign government.

We’re through the gilt-leaf mirror here. The brush-off at the end is solid.

After initially denying that Michael Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak spoke Dec. 29, a Trump official said late Friday that the transition team was aware of one call on the day President Barack Obama imposed sanctions.

Flynn? ‘Lunatic’ Flynn? Calling a Russian ambassador!?! What, are you crazy? Oh of course! That one time, why not! What a bunch of cloak-and-stagger.

More weirdness – oh no, please. Not her. Dear God in heaven not Monica Crowley again.

Conservative commentator Monica Crowley, who is slated to serve in a top national security communications role in Donald Trump’s presidential administration, plagiarized thousands of words of her 2000 dissertation for her Columbia University Ph.D., a CNN KFile review has found.

Her own Ph.D. thesis. That is…sad.

CNN’s KFile has found nearly 40 lengthy instances of Crowley lifting paragraphs from numerous sources, including several scholarly texts, the Associated Press, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The revelation comes on the heels of another CNN KFile investigation, which found more than 50 instances of plagiarism in Crowley’s 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened.” On Tuesday, the book’s publisher, HarperCollins, announced that it would stop selling the book until “the author has the opportunity to source and revise the material.”

To the scoreboard. When Monica writes an op/ed for a wall street paper, she plagiarizes. The Journal pulls the article. When she writes a book for a major publishing house, she plagiarizes. Harper Collins pulls the book. When she writes a thesis for a university, she plagiarizes. Columbia has to figure out what to do with her degree.

But as far as Donald is concerned…

“Monica’s exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the Administration,” a statement from a transition spokesperson said… “Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”

…Monica is the best. She’s exceptional and thoughtful, i.e. ‘full of thoughts’ [ed: leasing, with an option to buy]. I’m sure he likes her now all the more. She’s really an amazing woman, tremendous, and double hooley skree in-your-face. I hope Donald keeps her around forever cuz’ loozer.

And then…this:

Donald Trump’s inauguration planners incredibly picked a company with the name “Don’s Johns” to supply the porta-potties for the event — and now they’re scrambling to cover them with masking tape…

The likely culprits are inaugural workers concerned the name would anger the notoriously thin-skinned Trump.

Damn. We came sooo close.


Add: More on the General’s bizarre behavior.

Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser, held five phone calls with Russia’s ambassador to Washington on the day the United States retaliated for Moscow’s interference in the U.S. presidential election, three sources familiar with the matter said.

The calls occurred between the time the Russian embassy was told about U.S. sanctions and the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he had decided against reprisals, said the sources…

The calls raised fresh questions among some U.S. officials about contacts between Trump’s advisers and Russian officials at a time when U.S. intelligence agencies contend that Moscow waged a multifaceted campaign of hacking and other actions to boost Republican Trump’s election chances against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Very weird.