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January 18, 2017

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I figured we should go for an open thread now, because the weekend is likely to be all about the inauguration. In case anyone wondered.

From the presser:

"Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence," Obama told reporters. "It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence."
He said that he felt "very comfortable" about the precedent he set by commuting the bulk of Manning's remaining sentence.

"I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent," Obama said. "Wherever possible, we need folks who may have legitimate concerns about the actions of government or their superiors or the agencies in which they work, that they try to work through the established channels and avail themselves of the whistleblower protections that have been put in place."

He said that he did not see a contradiction between his commutation of Manning's sentence and his stance on WikiLeaks, either.

"First of all, I haven't commented on WikiLeaks generally," Obama said, referring to the site's role in publishing emails from Democratic groups which were hacked during the election.

"I don't pay attention to Mr. Assange's comments. And I refer you to the Justice Department for any criminal investigations, indictments, extradition issues that may come up with him," he added.

Thanks, Ugh.

I'm not buying the equivalence, because what Manning leaked was different in substance from what some other leakers put out. But at least I see what the reasoning was.

There was also the issue of Manning's ill-treatment while in prison, which Obama probably feels he can't talk about without opening a whole 'nother can of worms on his way out (assuming that's one of the reasons).

7 years is plenty, IMHO, especially considering there was a fair amount of whistleblower material in the information leaked - with a lot not. And honestly the number of charges and sentence, plus my own sense of what was in the materials and the emphasis it got at the time (and over the top GOP reaction "Traitor"!), smacks of Manning being punished as much for exposing the US's misdeeds as for "leaking classified material" or any kind of damage to national security (as opposed to foreign relations).

Seven years of mostly solitary confinement seems plenty punishing to me.

And that's not even getting into the larger political issues at hand. We made a bargain at the end of the Bush administration. We collectively tried to pretend that the election of Obama represented a turning away from the abuses of the Bush administration, and with that turning away, we could let bygones by bygones and not prosecute anyone.

It was sort of an inverted Truth and Reconciliation Committee, something like "Secrecy and Pretend this Didn't Happen."

But its not fair to do that only for the benefit of the worse, more morally wretched side of the equation. A lot of US military personnel betrayed their oaths and their country and their honor by taking part in torture, and a lot of executive branch officials gave the orders that led them to do so. If we're going to forgive and forget for them, Manning at least deserves to be commuted after seven years of solitary confinement.

What Ugh said.

And by the way, the "over the top GOP reaction "Traitor!"" was the very issue which I thought might provide a wedge to divide Trump from the regular GOP types in Congress if he was inclined to be lenient towards Assange, as sapient suggested in the other thread, because although they couldn't call Assange a traitor, they could despise him plenty, which they (and HRC, and others) did.

Also, the hyperventilating by certain GOPers that this sets a "dangerous precedent" is just ludicrous. The President can bascially pardon (or in this case, commute the sentence) anyone he (still, alas) wants. For any reason or no reason.

Feh.

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a52342/chelsea-manning-sentence-commuted-obama/

Very useful reminders of past commutations in that Esquire piece, thank you.

But the 7 years that results from this commutation seems horrible inadequate to the offense...

Really ?

How many years of solitary would you think horribly adequate ?

Well then:

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/anonymous-trump-you-will-regret-next-4-years-n708401

Future commutations:

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/six-agencies-are-investigating-trump-russia-ties

"Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed. The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel..."

As someone once put it.

Yeah yeah, Anonymous are always threatening, but as far as I remember they have never achieved anything particularly impressive. Of course, given Trump's complacency about the Hillary hacks, we can but dream that truly appalling stuff about him starts to come out (the biter bit) and forces the GOP to act, but I'm not holding my breath.

How many years of solitary would you think horribly adequate?

I don't think solitary confinement is anything like warranted. But is that necessarily a part of a longer sentence?

For that matter, what was the rationale for solitary? Was it part of the sentence? The result of threats from other inmates? Problems with Manning herself?

David Morris, no question that Libby and North got off way, way too easy. Not sure how heavily that should count in judging what is appropriate in this case.

Similarly, I hold a not particularly high opinion of Ford's pardoning of Nixon. I can understand the political calculation, but I still don't like it. Not least for the potential precedent -- possibly regarding Trump.

And as far as "necessary severity" goes, the US is a noticeable outlier compared with any other nation on the globe, let alone any western democracy.

In a sane world we would be having this discussion about high ranking US officials, including maybe a few Presidents. How many years should one get for war crimes or complicity in war crimes? Is solitary confinement for long periods ever justified? (Hint-- no.). Did they have good intentions? Should we try to balance whatever good they did against the corpses?

Some of what Manning released should not have been released. I think the best example of that would be the information on the secret talks with China concerning North Korea. But it is obscene to talk about this given what was being covered up. We don't live in a country with checks and balances, not when it comes to the very most serious crimes.

You want resistance under a Trump Administration? You better hope there are a lot of Chelsea Mannings in a position to leak. The people who knew about the torture and didn't leak should get along great in a Trump Administration.

Thanks Nigel, was going to make that point about the US.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2017/01/17/chelsea_manning_s_sentence_commuted_after_years_of_transphobic_treatment.html

There would have been less urgency to commute Manning's sentence had the US Mil followed even the most basic humanitarian guidelines for dealing with Trans health issues.

Manning was not being treated like a normal prisoner, and the reasons for that difference in treatment were suspect. Had she been treated humanely, I doubt that Obama would have felt so strongly compelled to commute the sentence.

Nous: There would have been less urgency to commute Manning's sentence had the US Mil followed even the most basic humanitarian guidelines for dealing with Trans health issues.

Set aside the fact that, however belatedly, the US military currently pays for transgender surgery.

I'm interested in how many militaries around the world do provide what you call "the most basic humanitarian guidelines." If the norm is what I suspect it is (even in Western militaries, the vast majority don't) I'm not sure how you conclude that these guidelines, whatever you consider them to be, are basic.

An interesting commentary on the Tillerson hearings (h/t 538):

Several senators and their staffs, expecting to engage with a worldly sage regardless of what else they might think of him, came out of the hearing surprised at how little Tillerson knew about high-profile foreign policy issues. (He had been offered, but turned down, a briefing from the State Department.)
There seems to be an idea that it would be a good, or even just appropriate, move to reject a chance to actually learn something about what you are going to be asked about. Across a significant segment of those who will lead the Trump administration, starting at the top. Leaving one asking: "What are these people thinking?!?"

WJ - as the Slate piece argues, it's not so much that the US Mil is behind the curve on trans health; the US Mil was unwilling to apply its own standards for Manning in a timely manner. I'm talking about the US Mil's own "basic humanitarian guidelines" here as much as anything.

And I don't think it even has to be that the US Mil has issues where trans service members are concerned. It could just as well be that they didn't care about Manning's state of mind independent of these other issues and were willing to risk her life and health to exact some measure of extra punishment.

There seems to be an idea that it would be a good, or even just appropriate, move to reject a chance to actually learn something about what you are going to be asked about. Across a significant segment of those who will lead the Trump administration, starting at the top.

They are holdovers from the Obama Administration and are therefore the enemy and can't be trusted. They would lie and cheat and steal to make fools of us in front of the Senate, so why listen? How do we know they would do this? Well, that's what we would do in their position, so why wouldn't they?

A interesting reflection on "fake news" over at Emptywheel:
https://www.emptywheel.net/2017/01/15/on-fake-news/

The folks over there are somewhat to the left of me politically, but the analysis on offer, and sheer persistent news grubbing in particular areas, is admirable.

OK, maybe you feel you can't trust the information you might get from a briefing. But you would at least get a clue as to what "the establishment" e.g. members of the Senate who will be asking questions at the confirmation hearings, thinks are major issues. Which would let you prepare, using sources that you do trust.

How is it better to go in blind? I'm missing the up side of looking ignorant. Not wrong on the issues, but clueless that those issues even exist. Well maybe you think your political base favors ignorance. But they aren't the ones you have to convince to confirm you.

Well maybe you think your political base favors ignorance. But they aren't the ones you have to convince to confirm you.

I think that Republican nominees are betting on Republican Senators to be reflecting the "political base". Modern Republicans aren't interested in facts, expertise, science, learning, knowledge, data, etc. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it. I think that their reaction to the CBO and the Ethics Committee is very emblematic.

They want their own reality, and it's at odds with "establishment" reality. This is also what troubles me about the "alt-left" as some people are calling it. Their tendency towards skepticism is beginning to get out of control. There is a refusal to buy into long-established norms. We can't function in a world where there is no truth.

one aspect of the Manning case is her possible status as a whistleblower.

Does anyone think her intent was to materially undermine the US? Apparently she thought what she was disclosing was wrongful behavior on our part.

In any case the POTUS can pardon or commute the sentence of whoever they want. Of all the things going on at the moment, I'm not seeing commuting Manning's sentence as a threat to the nation.

Tillerson: not a bad guy, no doubt a really good public corp CEO, kind of puzzling as a Sec State nominee, but far from the worst of Trump's picks for cabinet positions.

Passing on a State Department briefing? A truly dumb-ass move. I'm actually surprised by that one.

Also regarding Manning, it's worth noting that, per the original sentence, she would be eligible for parole in 2021.

To follow up on the Count's link, the original from McClatchy.

McClatchy definitely has a stance, but their work is also in general well sourced and fact checked, and factually reliable. They're one of the only left-ish sources I read for news per se.

Gonna be an interesting four years.

Of all the things going on at the moment, I'm not seeing commuting Manning's sentence as a threat to the nation.

Me neither. I'm glad he commuted her sentence. I wasn't sympathetic to an argument that she should have gone free without serving any time, but I never supported a long sentence. She's definitely served more than enough hard time.

The problem with the "whistleblower" defense is that ordinarily, I don't think that people who have access to classified documents should be able to use their own judgment to make them public. If people do leak things on the theory of "whistleblowing" , they should be careful to leak only the information pertinent to the alleged government misconduct. I would have had a much more sympathetic view towards Manning if she hadn't transmitted so much to Wikileaks. Even then, though, it is civil disobedience, and people should be prepared to be prosecuted. If the reason for the leaking was whistleblowing, it should be evaluated as an affirmative defense to the prosecution.

Ideally, there should be a mechanism for whistleblowing that protects secrets but also exposes wrongdoing, but it's probably unrealistic to expect such a system to work very well.

There is clearly a lot wrong with the way the government keeps secrets. They keep too many, and they keep them for too long, and they keep them sometimes for the wrong reasons. But we do need to classify some information, and we should be able to rely on people who have legitimate access to it not to betray their trust. Finding the right balance is something we need to work on.

I certainly agree that it's not a threat to the nation in and of itself. Not even a worrying precedent, since I doubt anyone thinks that Trump would do something like it. Or would give a damn about precedents if he did.

That said, I'm not seeing a reason for it to be a priority either. That is, I expect there are other cases which would be better cases for clemency. But then, I tend to have a pretty narrow view of when whistle blowing is warranted.

Or maybe it's just feeling that a whistle-blower should be cautious about what gets made public. Evidence of wrongdoing? Sure. A mass of diplomatic cables? No.

I don't think its possible to create whistleblower friendly policies. By definition, if someone is blowing the whistle on something meaningful, they're betraying trust that was given to them by 1) the very people who want the thing in question done, and 2) the very people who will be enforcing the whistleblowing policy. I don't think we can untangle that knot with some sort of pre-written rule.

Manning released the information to the public, rather than hiding the theft and giving to another state as espionage(like Jonathan Pollard).

Manning was also just 22 years old. No rational system gives someone that young access to so much top secret information. How can you have demonstrated trustworthiness at the required level with 4 years as an adult? The system was designed poorly if she has access to diplomatic cables that had nothing to do with her job in Iraq. Indiscriminate dissemination of classified information like she did is not worthy of 'whistleblowing.' But it is also not being a 'traitor.'

I don't think that excuses what she did, but I do think a federal felony conviction and 6 plus years in Leavenworth is punishment. Certainly compared to Patreaus.

I don't think we can untangle that knot with some sort of pre-written rule.

That's why I think an affirmative defense of whistleblowing could be evaluated by a court. I'm not sure that anything else would work.

Manning was also just 22 years old. No rational system gives someone that young access to so much top secret information.

At what age do people learn to keep secrets? Plenty of people have served their country at age 22 without betraying it. Many young soldiers in WWII were sworn to secrecy about their missions.

At what age do people learn to keep secrets?

Hold people accountable at the age of 18. But you are an idiot if you give the secrets of the kingdom to someone with no record/history.

In WWII, Soldiers were sworn to secrecy about their missions, not the missions of everyone else in the world, past and present. Because they were not given access to those. Because reasonably, you can't trust everyone with everything. Someone trusted her with almost everything. By contrast, I have 30 years in the military, and have never had a TS clearance, because I have no need. Today, I received access to a secret system for the first time in 7 years (again, because no need).

Stuff in Iraq was fast and lose, units came and went, and people made decisions on expedience. But someone gave her access to stuff that makes no sense for her to have.

So absolutely she deserved to be punished, and she was. But she was not Pollard.

This should have been Manning's defense.

http://www.salon.com/2009/01/12/obama_prosecutor/

No, not Glenn. Just a report of what Obama said about the need to move forward from the torture scandal.

All this talk about whether Manning deserved this or that amount of time is irrelevant. Torture and other war crimes when committed by the US or its allies are not a threat to the authority of the government. It really doesn't matter at all except to our self image and to the victims and they don't vote. If we decide to prosecute someone for passing on a prisoner to the wolf brigade or for torturing the prisoner himself, that might make for some good pr or it might lower morale in the military or the CIA so on balance, it is better for the government to let it slide. And as Senator Schumer recently said, if you go against the intelligence community they can hurt you six ways from Sunday.

On the other hand, what Chelsea Manning did is a direct threat to the government. If people see terrible things happening and stop using the Nuremberg defense in their own minds and begin to take action, then that person absolutely has to be punished. Right or wrong has nothing to do with it. As it happened, fortunately Manning went too far and released some legitimate diplomatic secrets. That was good, because people can condemn that action and call for jail time.

From the viewpoint of Leviathan, torture is a peccadillo. It doesn't hurt the State directly except for the bad pr angle. In fact, prosecuting torturers might hurt the government. Whistleblowing, on the other hand, is a deadly disease that has to be stopped. When it comes to torture, we look forward and not back. When it comes to releasing classified documents, Leviathan can't afford to be merciful.

And no, I don't think people consciously put it in those terms, but it is the underlying logic. It shows up again and again. People can oppose torture or war crimes and might think they are bad policy and immoral and not what America is about or whatever, but bad policies don't threaten the system the way someone like Chelsea Manning does. If she hadn't been sent to prison, the system collapses. Allowing torturers to walk helps preserve the system-- you can only prosecute them if they can be seen as bad apples and not an integral part of the tree.

released some legitimate diplomatic secrets.

She released many thousands. Apparently without knowing what they contained. Some of which hurt allies who were taking risk by being our allies, and expecting secrecy. which will make future allies less likely to trust us, even when they are doing good things.

I agree that torture is worse. Not only is it evil, it prevents enemy Soldiers from being willing to surrender. "Not torturing" is a combat multiplier so the enemy can trust you enough not to rather die than be captured. So not only is it evil, it is counterproductive, and something that the military 'class' had always valued (not everyone, but in general and in theory).

I also think that the risk of prosecution of someone from a previous administration often higher than the pay out. When half the country thinks they were patriots for torturing someone, that cost can also be counterproductive. Stopping it may be the best you get.

The real world sucks. Doing the possible sometimes gets in the way of the perfect.

sorry, trying again
Been a while.
If this didn't work, someone else needs to close it.

Fixed. wj

People can oppose torture or war crimes and might think they are bad policy and immoral and not what America is about or whatever, but bad policies don't threaten the system the way someone like Chelsea Manning does.

If the system is a non-totalitarian state, acceptance of torture absolutely does threaten it, IMO.
And makes a nonsense of the rule of law.

Been thinking about this a lot. I think the commutation is good, but Donald wrote this

You better hope there are a lot of Chelsea Mannings in a position to leak. The people who knew about the torture and didn't leak should get along great in a Trump Administration.

I don't mean to pick nits here, but I kind of balk at this because the particular case of Manning is of someone with serious issues where it is easy to make the narrative her mental health rather than the question of what information should be out in the open. Donald may have been using Chelsea Manning as a representative leaker, but to me, her case and situation seem very much like an individual case rather than a case where it is easy to draw conclusions about the necessity of leaking particular information. jrudkis' point that you depend on the system in part to make appropriate decisions about who should be trusted with particular information seems important here. (and I wonder if anyone knows if her superiors were punished in any way for what happened)

""Not torturing" is a combat multiplier so the enemy can trust you enough not to rather die than be captured."

Thanks for making this point jrudkis. In all the arguments over torture I've seen I've never seen any of those on the "pro" side even understand this point, much less grapple with it.

And since torture has come up:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-documents-expose-internal-agency-feud-over-psychologists-leading-interrogation-program/2017/01/18/a73bd722-dd85-11e6-918c-99ede3c8cafa_story.html?utm_term=.7ac31e9a4e1a

Open Thread.

An absolutely great piece of writing about the election by Emily Nussbaum, the New Yorker's TV critic:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/how-jokes-won-the-election

It's funny ... like the TV show "Jackass" was ..... wasn't funny.

I've said here before that the world isn't going to go out with a whimper or a bang, but with the final burble of laughter on a cracked laugh track.

Regarding fake news and Marty's comment recently that protestors were paid to disrupt Trump rallies, here's some corrective:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/how-a-hoax-website-about-paid-protesters-came-crumbling-down-live-on-tv/ar-AAlZKj1

That fake news purveyor Tucker Carlson and FOX News are now outing fake news is only proof of Nussbaum's thesis cited in my comment above.

The Fourth Estate is now a dead letter. The other three estates are in the hands of crackpots.

I'm not sure what Edmund Burke would say, who came up with the term "Fourth Estate", according to Thomas Carlyle, but I may remove my pants so I can now be sans-culottes and hang out down by the guillotine like a myopic barber sans depth perception.

I also think that the risk of prosecution of someone from a previous administration often higher than the pay out. When half the country thinks they were patriots for torturing someone, that cost can also be counterproductive. Stopping it may be the best you get.

The real world sucks. Doing the possible sometimes gets in the way of the perfect.

Thanks for ypur comments, jrudkis. I think this explains a lot.

"I may remove my pants so I can now be sans-culottes and hang out down by the guillotine like a myopic barber sans depth perception."

We're in the modern age now, Count. Culottes have been out of fashion (for men) for ages.

And creaky old guillotines? Too slow, too primitive.

WOOD CHIPPERS are the modern way to go. On sale now at Home Despot.

GOP traitors get fed in feet first, while common criminals get fed in head first, because we're kind and compassionate that way.

Regret is never having to say you're stupid:

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/health-care-all-about-benjamins

If anyone is interested in the nuts and bolts of health care policy, Richard Mayhew at Balloon Juice (I know that site isn't to everyone's taste) is the real item. He knows hie stuff.

He outed himself and his real name several weeks ago. He works in the industry.

Doing the possible instead of the perfect is exactly the defense Manning could give. I would call it a double standard, but it finally got through to me what the hidden logic is. It is not a double standard. It is an unacknowledged different standard.

There were large numbers of people in government who either participated in torture, ordered it, or looked the other way or refused to prosecute as I think we are legally bound to do and except for a handful of scapegoats none of them faced the consequences that Manning faced. It is not useful to call this hypocrisy, which is my light bulb moment. It is what the economists call a revealed preference. Torture and other atrocities are not a threat to the government They make the government look bad if they come out and are widely condemned and they might be stupid policy, but they don't threaten it. They also don't threaten individuals working for the government, unless torture is prosecuted as a crime. Prosecution of war crimes would split the government and would be an almost existential threat-- probably not a literal one, as capital punishment would be unlikely, but decades in prison would be in the cards. From that point of view, it is not the war crime which is bad, but the lack of a coverup. At best we should have just enough info freely available so torture stops, because it is bad policy, but not so much it erodes the government's authority.

People like Manning are much much worse from this point of view, because it strikes at how the system operates. There can be no tolerance for this, unless the leaker is highly situated like Petraeus or if it was one of those leaks intended to make the government look good. But someone like Manning who leaks proof of war crimes ( and other things like the Obama Administration pressuring others not to prosecute torturers) along with things she shouldn't have leaked-- well, that is infinitely worse precisely because it wa an act of conscience.

There is a coherent set of propositions underlying all this and it leads to the conclusion that leakers of classified documents who were driven by conscience should be punished much worse than war criminals and probably worse than people like Petraeus. The system is operating exactly the way it should, given those propositions.

I expect under Trump some liberals may switch their views and that would be welcome, and also hypocritical, but that is a different issue.

NO ONE will be able to keep their current insurance policies:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/tom-price-employer-heath-plans

I'm still waiting for a conservative here or anywhere to decry the "uncertainty" of what is coming for patients, like the dreadful uncertainty of the ACA was decried.

Oh, sure, y'all be incentivized to screw yourselves, like a chimpanzee in a box is incentivized by a gun with blanks, a whip, and a banana.

Cartwright got a pardon. He doesn't have to serve any time at all.

https://theintercept.com/2017/01/18/obamas-pardon-of-gen-james-cartwright-is-a-new-twist-in-the-war-on-leaks/

"and also hypocritical"

Donald, I agree with nearly everything you write, and you are a good soul, but if you turn me upside down, hold me by the ankles and shake me, my wallet, my car keys, my change, (my dress might fly up) and the pellets of my ample hypocrisy, like mercury, will clatter to the floor and head downhill at speed for all to see.

If hypocrisy is your main bugaboo, then you're preaching to the wrong species in the wrong world.

Trump's problem is that he may nuke both Syria and Yemen, which would cause plenty of big problems, but would have the virtue of making him the least hypocritical subhuman to walk among men.

That said, Yemen is a tragic travesty, carry on the good fight, and let's hope things improve, and someone, sometime, somewhere is held accountable for their crimes.

It is now roughly 30 hours until Obama leaves office, so when do the gun confiscations begin?1??

We were told that there would be gun confiscations.

Marty, any black helicopters hovering over your house?

27 hours, sheesh.

EVEN LESS TIME FOR THE CONFISCATIONS!

free market mania is an ideological cult. the folks who drink that particular flavor of kool-aid don't seem to care what or who they damage.

regarding Manning, I think what she did was a crime, and caused damage. I also think she thought she was doing the right thing. I.e., did not have intent to harm.

She's been imprisoned for 7 years now, some of that under quitr hostile conditions. She's eligible for parole in 4 years as it is.

I don't know Obama's intentions, but I personally see this as, at least in part, a gesture that acknowledges the plain wrongness of many of our actions post 9/11. There seems to be some justice in it, to me.

I'm not seeing it as a precedent whereby anyone who discloses sensitive information can count on a pass based on claims of conscience.

Long story short, FWIW it seems allright to me. Not that I'm the judge of what's allright, we're just talking here and those are my thoughts.

Lj, regarding Manning's imperfections, don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. If we had a government which genuinely tried to enforce the law on itself then my standards would be higher for whistleblowers. We have a system that is much harder on Manning than on Petraeus or Cartwright and treats war crimes as bad or good policy depending on the party in power or who commits them.

Aren't people in the military and in the government supposed to defend the Constitution? Where does torture fit in? But I hear much more about the oath Manning took than I ever hear about the obligations of others.

Someone run out and find me a 4-year old child.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2017/01/18/report-perry-misunderstood-cabinet-job.html?via=newsletter&source=CSAMedition

For decades, I've been listening to conservatives preach that government should be run like the private sector.

So, now we have private sector super hero trump running the joint and this is what we get. So, you guys in the private sector who whine about those who don't know how to run a business, this is how you do it?

You get the mail room in the basement of your business on the blower, and you say, send me the dumbest know nothing you have working down there, pull up his fly, and send him to the executive suite and let's make him CEO and CFO.

Failing that, run out on the sidewalk and grab the first smiling fake four-eyed jackass that passes by and promote HIM or HER to head up the works.

Does the private sector conduct job interviews, even? Does anyone take a gander at the resumes? Anyone make a call for references? No experience necessary, I guess.

Of course, for out-of-work Joe Schmoe with the Master's Degree, it's roll down the window and yell, "Get a job!"

What a load of preachy horseshit conservatives peddle.

It doesn't even fertilize as advertised.

Like Casey Stengel said about a third baseman, he's so bad he ruins for everyone.

I'm not sure if that's my point. My point is that resistance is going to require intelligent thought and action, and having an army of leakers who just toss out everything thing without rhyme or reason is probably going to have the opposite effect to what you (and I) want. This is not asking for the 'perfect' whistleblower, just saying that if you had an army of Mannings leaking in the same way that she did, I think that any change in the system would be in a way that neither of us would want.

I wanna see this thing dragged up and down 5th Avenue in New York in a parade:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-navy-13-billion-answer-131500863.html

Yeah, our military is so degraded compared to China and the USSR, right.


Stole this from Hullabaloo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHh0V7UjVXI

But I hear much more about the oath Manning took than I ever hear about the obligations of others.

Really? Maybe you should search Google. Lots of people have discussed torture, but not necessarily in the context of the Manning case. Yemen doesn't come up much in the context of Manning either. Neither does Trump's pick for the Department of Energy.

The two previous Secretaries of State for Energy, one of whom is a Nobel prizewinner...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Moniz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Chu

Succeed by a man who couldn't even remember the name of the department.

Yet another reason why kumbaya and talking things out ain't gonna work:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/19/the-troublemaker-behind-donald-trump-s-words.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

Talk to this:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/17/obama.protest.rifle/

It's what they carry. And what liberals have had to talk to for years now thanks to right-wing crapola.

At least my brother's stepson kept in (his pants) the house.

The arms merchant says we need to get conditioned to this shit in public.

I'll know the conditioning is fully in place when his body is riddled with bullets.

This guy is a news anchor:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/18/meet-ben-swann-the-republican-pizzagate-truther-hosting-atlanta-s-cbs-nightly-news.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

My suggestion for the pizza shop owner in question is to gun up big and ugly and if that "news anchor" walks in the door for a slice, shoot him right between the eyes.

private sector super hero trump

The question I always have for people who talk about what a great businessman Trump is, is this:

Really? Is he really a great, or even good, businessman?

He's really good at making himself wealthy. Or at least, at surrounding himself with the trappings of wealth, I'm not sure anyone really knows what Trump's actual net worth is. He might be totally underwater.

But does that count as being a good businessman?

What's the point of business? Crapping in a gold toilet? Putting your name on stuff, and having other people pay you to put your name on stuff?

A lot of the anger I feel about Trump comes from my sense that the guy is just a sham, and that so many people, including people I care for, have fallen for it.

Really? We bought this? WTF is wrong with us?

Anyway, OT. But it's a thought I have, like 50 times a day.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/19/lawmaker-to-rape-victims-prove-it.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

A Republican, natch.

He needs to be raped with the business end of an AR-15 and then asked to prove it.

That piece about Stephen Miller is pretty terrible. The testimony of his high school contemporary reminds me that someone who taught Nigel Farage, Trump's "Brexit inspiration", at his public school (US translation: private prep school) said he was openly fascist at the time, and this was confirmed by one of his contemporaries. By their friends shall ye know them.

I agree with russell, I have a very strong sense that Trump is a sham, financially speaking. It's all a con trick, with the well-known tactic of grandiose behaviour and displays to avert suspicion. His stiffing of everybody to whom he owes money is just one symptom. I very much wonder if the truth will ever come out.

Donald: Aren't people in the military and in the government supposed to defend the Constitution? Where does torture fit in?

Most people aren't experts. So when there is a question, they are forced to rely on lawyers to explain what is and is not legal. Therefore, there have to be constraints on lawyers regarding what they say in these matters.

So one major question I have is: Why was John Yoo not disbarred? (Possibly other penalties as well, but that one seems like a no-brainer.)

Milton Friedman, in that unctuous, oh-so rational mansplaining tone of voice, on PBS, no less, you know The CORPORATION For Public Broadcasting, said the ONLY responsibility of business is to maximize profit.

Which is why the turds trump craps in his gold toilet and so lovingly fished out and swaddled in gold leaf by Kelly Ann Conwoman and purchased as breath mints on Twitter by the f*cks called the American people are so lucrative.

I understand not only is trump's crapper made of solid gold but so are the pipes taking his otherwise unused golden showers and reptile scat out of the building AND part of his infrastructure-enhancement plans are to build separate and very unequal sewage holding tanks across the country to segregate the one percent's specially-perfumed stink from the 99%'s stink, to prevent co-mingling, and sell the former in the new line of trump Prosperity Gospel Health and Wellness Shitbucks Elixir Emporiums as nutrition supplements to make the second one percent great again.

I understand, from her acolyte's, that Ayn Rand never in her life went Number Two.

Which would explain the constipated prose she pinched out on paper.

Doctor Science is counting the hours and thinking, "This had BETTER be Countme-In's last day at OBWI!"

;)

My suggestion for the pizza shop owner in question is to gun up big and ugly and if that "news anchor" walks in the door for a slice, shoot him right between the eyes.

Now, Count, you have to realize that we are in the Age of Trump. The proper response is to sue this guy, and his entire family, for every dollar they ever made or ever will make. That's the right way to deal with those who disrespect you now.

Really? We bought this? WTF is wrong with us?

Not We. "We" have done a lot of things, but "We" didn't do this.

"The testimony of his high school contemporary reminds me that someone who taught Nigel Farage ..."

Well, at least he had a background in fascism as preparation for his current position.

Hitler, on the other hand, wasted his youth by dabbling in the arts when he was young and yet was hired by the German people to jump with both feet into the job of Fascist-in-Chief to sort of give the fresh slant, the outside-the-box experimentation that only the inexperienced novice can bring to government.

Has anyone seen this one on Trump yet? It's a quick, scary, and illuminating or confirming read, depending on what you know or think of the guy. It's pretty much in line with my impressions.

Maybe I'm just a victim of confirmation bias. Or maybe it's just true.

But one thing I think that we have overlooked as we see Trump trying to delegitimize others is what I suspect is a feeling he has inside that nothing he’s ever achieved himself has ever been legitimate.

That's just the kind of pinko, Jewish psychoanalytic crap that we're going to get rid of in the brave new world....

Along with decadent art: from now on only gold plated statues of the Great Leader....

Everything in Trump and the GOP leadership generally is projection.

"Crooked Hillary" - he's a crook.
"Drain the swamp" - he is knee deep in the swamp.
"Cruz's wife worked for the evil Goldman Sachs!" - fills his administration with Goldman alums.

There are many many other examples.

I'm watching "It's A Wonderful Life" on Netflix, for only the 25th time.

But the bizarro version, in which Mr. Potter says HE wishes he had never been born, so Beelzebub sends a forked-tailed and -tongued demon to show Mr. Potter what Bedford Falls would be like without his valuable lifelong input and sacrifice to friend, family, business, and citizenry and Potter's eyes are opened ... "Say, I ruined just about everything and everyone in Bedford Falls, didn't I. Push me up, push me up ... I'll take that offer to be born and live and ruin, because from what you've shown me, my little friend, things were way to contented and happy and virtuous in that rat hole of decency without me."

Every time a gun is fired in America, an angel is winged.

Hsh, I thought this was the most chilling bit from that article you linked to:

The cabinet appointments seem to me to be people who have been successful in some realm, so he takes that as proof of their abilities. But he’s also looking for people that will be in conflict with everyone in that department. Down the line, it’s the same kind of sowing-conflict mode that he’s used throughout his career of setting people against each other so that they’re not going to be loyal to each other and they’re going to be loyal to him.
"Deliberately sowing conflict" -- what an MO for a President.

Yeah, people are so loyal to him that he requires a private security team of shithead thugs to supplement the already professional and perfectly adequate Secret Service to protect him from incoming.

I can't find the link any longer but the most telling and bizarre interview early in the Trump campaign I caught was with some hedgefund-related executive who explained why he was pro-trump, except that he didn't really explain it because it was clear that this guy was very, very afraid of trump.

It seems he had been chosen to negotiate with trump in some sort of real estate deal and went in KNOWING that the numbers did not add up, the deal made no sense from his side financially and in meeting after meeting, uggge meetings, I tell you, trump wore him down and he ended up signing on the dotted line.

It was very creepy. The guy was sweating on camera, but smiling like Ernest Borgnine in "The Wild Bunch".

It was exactly like a guy explaining why Al Capone should be Mayor of Chicago and you don't want to say No if you know what's good for you.

trump probably made the guy sit in the palatial loo on the side of the jacuzzi the size of Lake Erie and "negotiate" while he, trump, sat on the golden crapper stinking up the joint and cleaning his fingernails with the wishbone of the guy's late daughter.

I'm saying the conflict trump and company are going to sow in America will be a Civil War and it be bloody and deadly, far beyond the the child's play of the Civil War.

The thing about business is it's authoritarian, like the military (Whole Foods, my ass). Run the citizenry like that and you'd better fucking hide.

No Lincoln will emerge. If he did, trump would eat him for lunch.

Call me a doubter. You said I'm a doubter. Go ahead, you tell ME how I doubt. You said it. Prove I'm a doubter. C'mon.

No Lincoln will emerge. If he did, trump would eat him for lunch.

My money would be on Lincoln.

Returning, sort of, to the original post while peering into my crystal ball:

It's early on the morning of January 20, 2021. President Trump, having lost his bid for re-election, makes is final executive action. (Or it's January 20, 2025 -- pick your poison.) Which is to grant himself a full pardon for any and everything he has done as President. Thus once again, as is his wont, gaming the system to his own benefit.

Just remember, you read it here first.

"My money would be on Lincoln."

I meant Lincoln Chaffee.

Which is to grant himself a full pardon for any and everything he has done as President.

No no no. He's going to grant himself a continously rolling pardon, that pardons him for everything he's done for the past 24 hours and everything he will do in the next 24 hours, and then update it daily just in case.

Each tweet will pardon the previous tweet.

Someone should compile a list of all the things we were worried the GWB administration did/would do that it didn't and see how many the Trump administration checks off.

Massive end of term pardons for one - a la Bush the Elder and Iran-Contra.

Meanwhile, Mnuchin: "Oh you meant that $100 million in real estate and this Cayman Island investment fund. Sure those are mine."

They're not even trying.

I meant Lincoln Chaffee.

Advantage, Trump.

They're not even trying.

It all depends on what you think the game actually is.

Regarding trade, and with deference to those Americans who have been left adrift and ridiculed because republican conservative businesses, with the nod from Democrats and Republicans, stole their jobs and shipped them abroad and or to Texas:

Does Donald trump believe that all manufacturing, even by foreign companies, in the world, should be done in the United States?

If not, why not? And what are the exceptions?

What percentage of consumption by Americans should be mandated (oh, there's a word for the "small government" "free market" liars to chew on) to be of goods produced in the United States, except for those little Russian nesting dolls all federal employees will be forced to display on their desks, if they are allotted desks?

What percentage of consumption by the Chinese should be mandated by their government to be of goods produced solely in China?

If Chinese steel production is moved to Vietnam, for example, as is happening to some industries there, should China slap a tariff on the steel imported back into China?

Should Vietnam declare war on China for such a move. Why the fuck not?

Should all taco ingredients be produced in the U.S? Should all salsa production in the U.S. be moved back to New York City from El Paso? Why the fuck not?

Should the manufacture of all of the fabrics and linens used in Trump hotels be returned from where ever they are now produced to the mill towns along the East Coast? Even the Chinese-motif ones used in the Genghis Khan suite at Mar-a-Lago?

So many questions.

Have I missed something, or is this my incipient dementia? Have we discussed this already?

In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/19/bureau-land-management-federal-lease

What is Mnuckin's money doing in the Barbados without having been tariffed on its way out?

So, let me get this straight: Foreign goods entering the U.S. will have tariffs reintroduced or raised, but foreign capital coming into the country will be let in free and American capital leaving the country will not be fined upon its leaving?

Have I missed something

It's dead simple.

They want to privatize everything, so their rich friends can make shitloads of money from it.

That is the (R) program in it's entirety. The rest is commentary.

This is not an exaggeration or some kind of partisan rabble rousing. The consistent theme of (R) policy for the last 35 years has been:

Privatize and de-regulate everything so folks who spend billions of dollars lobbying them can make stupid piles of money off of it.

The (D)'s play along sometimes, but it's what makes (R)'s get out of bed in the morning.

Land, water, public infrastructure, schools, prisons, social insurance programs like SS Medicare and Medicaid.

Privatize it all.

I am, however, struck by the irony of the folks in AZ who want to start mining around the Colorado River basin. If they f*** up the Colorado, goodbye Phoenix and Tuscon.

No, russell, I get that and completely agree. But what I meant was, has this particular wrinkle had publicity - have people had a chance to realise what it would mean?

Yes, GFTNC, I provided a cite some weeks ago regarding the federal lands provision, but the times they are a'like a'drinking from a fire hose.

But your cited article is better.

I cited this as proof that the Bundy's armed coup of the Wildlife Preserve in Oregon and the lands surrounding deadbeat Bundy's ranch, did in fact succeed and that the Federal government standing down from killing all of the thieves when they raised their weapons will be forever regretted.

They won. Shows you what showing up with the implements of war can do in the intimidation game.

Years ago, during the Gingrich revolution, another item Americans will forever regret not killing via gunfire, the deep conservative thinkers of the time proposed SELLING off federal lands and devoting the money to paying down the deficit.

Now, of course, the same filth want to just steal those lands from us for nothing. Why, because paying down the deficit is the last thing they want, the better to use the deficit as a lever, a hammer, to gut the rest of the government, including and mostly Medicare and Medicaid.

Now, Trump's spawn, the make ones, are said to be against this move because it might limit their ability to dress up in camo and hunt the wild skunk.

But trump is transactional, we're told (you see how the mumbling language of the social sciences blies can normalize even trump's methods, of "transactional" you say, well, how bad can that be?"), so he will go along provided trump enterprises has land carved out in every national park and wilderness area solely for his son's lucrative hunting lodges and grizzly bear torture and fat-rendering lodges.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but when someone steals my birthright, especially land, and moreover, refuses to pay me or my agent, in this case the government, just compensation ( I define "just" as trump does, above market value), I find them and I kill them, just like tough-guy Americans have always done.

I would correct the "make ones", to "male ones" as intended, but make ones, as in "on the make" fits.

I'm from Colorado, and given the current "it's all mine" mood in the country that's all the rage, I just might blow up that Colorado River covenant (never sign a covenant with a conservative) that steals my Ricky Mountain water and gives it to Phoenix and Tuscon, not to mention, points southwest.

Fuck those people.


Thanks Count, I guess I may not have clicked on your link, so mea culpa. I was in LA when the Gingrich gang came in, staying with an old and dear but alas Republican schoolfriend. She was ecstatic at the result, but after hearing what they were saying and the way they were saying it I said "they'll never carry this off, their tone is too triumphalist, in 2 years they'll be sunk". Alas, alas, my crystal ball did not run 22 years into the future.

Populism from on high, the only "ism" they know.

the "popul", of course, can pound sand, because the i$m is what trump is after.

I am, however, struck by the irony of the folks in AZ who want to start mining around the Colorado River basin. If they f*** up the Colorado, goodbye Phoenix and Tuscon.

Will all deference to the Count, it isn't Colorado's share of the water that the folks in AZ figure to take. It's the share that they long ago agreed to give California. Make all those lefties in Los Angeles suffer! Especially all the ones in Orange Country -- d*mn RINOs!

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