Editorial

Where Did He Get the Helicopter?

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Christian Desgroux put on the uniform of an Army Lieutenant General and landed a helicopter on the grounds of a company in North Carolina in order to impress a woman:

A Raleigh man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for pretending to be a United States Army Lieutenant General and transporting someone in a helicopter, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the release, Christian Gerald Desgroux, 57, pretended to be a lieutenant general in the Army while transporting a person to a classified briefing. Desgroux also pretended that he had the authority to land the helicopter at SAS headquarters in Cary.

Good grief. Journalism 101:

Where. Did. He. Get. a. Helicopter?

What kind of helicopter was it? Was it stolen? Who allowed this man to take a helicopter if it wasn't stolen? Does he possess a helicopter pilot's license or training? Who owns the helicopter that he used?

If anyone can just take a helicopter and fly it around, then I think we have a bigger problem than some poor lovelorn man's flirtation with Stolen Valor.

Crazy Roger Stone Was Putting on a Show Until This Happened

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Twitter decided enough is enough...

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The only thing "fake" here is the idea that Stone is not in control of things. He is. This is what he thinks people should see from him. It's all an act, all a show, and none of it is sincere. He's pathetic, of course, but it's that special kind of pathetic that is only found in people who know they could have done something with their lives and chose not to.

Instead, he is a 'bit player' in a game where he feels he should have been dealing all the cards.

Eight Years Ago, This Was Enough to Make Wingnuts Freak Out

Malia Obama, July, 2009

Malia Obama, July, 2009

In case you wanted some perspective on what passes for controversy, consider this.

In 2009, Malia Obama wore a t-shirt with a Peace symbol on it to the G20 summit. Wingnuts freaked out and hurled racial abuse at her. But that was standard practice back then. 

In 2017, Ivanka Trump took her father's place at the table with world leaders. Wingnuts didn't say boo.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Venezuela

The unrest in Venezuela is one of those slow-motion disasters that no one seems to know how to stop. We are completely disengaged from the affairs of Latin America in this country. There are crises all throughout Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. There's plenty for us to get involved in, and for our State Department to deal with. And yet, we might as well be looking at the other side of the world instead of our own neighborhood.

Beginning on April 1, anti-government demonstrators have staged daily protests across Venezuela that continue to devolve into violent clashes with riot police, leaving thousands arrested, hundreds injured, and 66 dead. Opposition activists are protesting against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, blaming him for a crippling economic crisis that has caused widespread food shortages for years. The head of the Venezuelan military has warned troops not to commit "atrocities" against protesters, while Maduro’s government continues to work toward rewriting the constitution, defying those accusing him of clinging to power.

Our relationship with Venezuela has been poor for decades. If we had an active, engaged diplomatic and business effort to stabilize the country, win back the trust of the people, and if we had the desire to offer real assistance to the people, I'm sure that we would be treated with suspicion. 

Instead, it's more apathy and more disengagement. There was a time when we were trying to find the right footing in the region and now, well, that's just history.

You Will Love America Or Else

This tweet implies a few things that should be addressed.

1. This is what fascism looks like--blind obedience to the state, beginning with the inculcation of children.

2. America's children don't already love their country? When did this become an issue? Trump believes that if he talks about how awful he thinks America was when Obama was president, people will nod and agree with him. What a bunch of bullshit.

3. The flag is a symbol of the country, but it is not sacrosanct. The reason why America is great is because you can ignore the flag, burn the flag, and do stupid things with it and no one will throw you in jail or destroy you.

4. Why is President Trump holding a rally in Harrisburg, Virginia? His presidency is a failure.

5. Clearly, a lot of white people in Pennsylvania are starved for entertainment. About a half an hour away from Harrisburg is Hershey Park. Take your kids there and enjoy yourselves. Good God, you took your kid to see Donald Trump? I hope you went to Hershey Park before this rally. I really miss Hershey Park and that's the only thing that matters--having a good time with the kids is what life is supposed to be about. Not this political crap. Good gravy, people. If you have a theme park or something fun nearby, take your kids out and have a blast. 

Dumbassery Masquerading as Intelligent Commentary

I followed a link from Lawyers, Guns and Money to a site billing itself as trying to reignite the fires of dumbassery from long dead embers found in a burial chamber where something-something once lived, and I discovered this article and burst out laughing.

By any chance, do you remember what Roger Pielke, Sr. is famous for? Anyone? Why, he's the father of Roger Pielke Jr., the guy who lasted five minutes out there as a "climate science skeptic."

Now that they* have shut down his original blog, Roger Pielke, Jr., is desperately trying to remain relevant in the blogosphere. Pielke’s preferred strategy — as it has always been — is to utterly misrepresent what people say and then attack that misrepresentation in the hopes of garnering media attention. Baselessly smearing the professional reputation of hundreds of leading U.S. scientists means nothing whatsoever to him — if it gets him press coverage (see details here).

These days, the main “media” paying attention to Pielke, Jr. (as with Pielke, Sr.) are the global warming deniers (see “Uber-denier Inhofe gives big wet Valentine’s kiss to Pielke “” go figure!”). So it’s no surprise that Pielke Jr.’s latest distortion was immediately picked up by Swift Boat smearer Marc Morano, much as the main person pushing Pielke Sr.’s climate disinformation is anti-science blogger Anthony Watts (see “Like father, like son: Roger Pielke Sr. also doesn’t understand the science of global warming “” or just chooses to willfully misrepresent it”) What is (a little) surprising is that Pielke would utterly misrepresent something I wrote when everyone can plainly see what he is doing.

Yes, the dumbassery abounds.

The problem with trying to peddle bullshit in the Trump era is that there are so many more outlets who got there first, and there are so many more who kissed ass and received access to the White House press room. There is, literally, a plethora of whiny, fact-free conservative blogs out there who missed the boat and are now having to run pieces by the father of the guy who got laughed off of 538.com.

Oh, and who tried to help him out?

Wikileaks.

A University of Colorado professor who's been criticized for his writings about climate change has been caught up in  WikiLeaks' dump of emails involving John Podesta, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.

Roger Pielke Jr., who has been a faculty member on the Boulder campus since 2001, was the  subject of a July 2014 email about  an essay he wrote on climate change for the website FiveThirtyEight.

Pielke writes a  regular column about sports governance for the Daily Camera.

The email was sent by Judd Legum, the editor of  ThinkProgress, a site that's part of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, which was founded by Podesta in 2003.

In his email to billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, Legum described how he believed Climate Progress, the environmental arm of ThinkProgress, got Pielke to stop writing about climate change for FiveThirtyEight.

"I think it's fair say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538," Legum wrote.

Peak wingnut? Nah, we're miles away from peak wingnut.

 

They're Coming For Your Weed

Just when you thought the whole thing was settled, the Trump Regime throws a monkey wrench into the gears just for the laughs.

But while Republicans generally support local control and the rights of states to pass their own laws, not all states' rights are created equal in the eyes of the new White House. Case in point: state marijuana laws.

In the White House briefing room Thursday, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters federal law enforcement authorities would be taking a new view of state laws that have legalized recreational marijuana in recent years.

Never mind that the whole thing regarding "states rights" was settled decades ago--they're telegraphing their next move.

Do you live in a state where you can use marijuana for medical purposes or recreationally? Do you live in a state where it has been decriminalized? Good for you. The Trump people are going to undo all of that and destroy all of the progress we've made. This is because they still think marijuana is a "gateway" drug and that it's still 1983:

"When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people," Spicer said. "There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature."

The Obama administration had fought states on the bathroom issue, but let states experiment with marijuana legalization even though federal law supersedes state law under the supremacy clause of the Constitution.

The real criminals are the people who created the opioid crisis in the first place. That would be the drug companies, their marketing people, and the doctors who get kickbacks for prescribing millions of painkillers to people who don't need them. We're not going after those criminals. We're going after the little people because it's much, much easier to fill up a for-profit prison that way. See how it's all a big scam? Cops will get to seize your property and receive military gear. The prisons will fill up with marijuana users. The drug companies will get off scot-free. Profits for them, and not for thee.

We're entering a new phase of American history: the Drug War II. And if you know someone who drives to get their medical marijuana in a vehicle with a Trump bumpersticker, give them a pat on the back.

One Thousand Russian Trolls Helped Elect Trump

Buried at the bottom of this story about FBI Director James Comey's briefing to Senators yesterday is this amazing fact:

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence committee, did not answer questions about the focus of the Comey briefing Friday. But he did talk about the extent of the investigation he is building with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr. 

"What we are trying to do -- and I give Richard (Burr) a lot of credit -- is to not have this devolve into a partisan food fight that doesn't serve the public purpose. This is so important that we get it right," Warner said. "But the amount of manipulation, why there's not more outrage about the fact there were close to 1,000 Russian internet trolls, actual people, working trying to manipulate our news."

This is nothing new to Western leaders, by the way--it was on CNN in September of 2015:

An army of Internet trolls is using cyberspace to promote Russia and wage war against opposition groups and the West.

A former employee of the Internet Research Agency, Lyudmila Savchuk, has offered a rare glimpse inside the propaganda machine where young people were paid to praise President Vladimir Putin and his government. 

Savchuk, 34, who runs a Russian group that campaigns against propaganda, said she went undercover to "unveil the trolls and make them show themselves." 

The freelance journalist told CNN she accepted a job with the agency as a blogger, and then filed a lawsuit over its employment practices to shed light on the shadowy organization. 

The Russian government had denied all knowledge of the operation, and cast doubt on its existence. But a court last month awarded Savchuk symbolic damages of one ruble in recognition of the legal claims she made.

Why is this being briefed by the FBI Director now? Shouldn't we have known about this before the 2016 primaries even began? And since Trump was an announced candidate in the fall of 2015, why didn't anyone connect the dots on his campaign's Russian connections earlier? It would seem to me that this was a missed opportunity to provide some basic level of protection for American democracy. At the very least, it should have been the FBI's responsibility to warn people that the Russians were actively engaged in trying to throw the election while, at the same time, having multiple connections to the Trump campaign for months and months.

Russia had this massive online manipulation program up and running long before the 2016 election and no one in our government did anything to warn anyone. Amazing.

Show Me Your Papers

The Trump Regime's promise during the election to ban Muslims entering the United States has affected local law enforcement. This happened BEFORE the ban went into effect, but make no mistake about it--this is the country in which we live right now. 

There's no way a beat cop in Bel Air, Maryland should be accosting citizens and asking for their papers. The woman in question is just as American as you or I. The Bel Air police department should have fired that officer immediately. What an outrage. 

This shit will get out of hand fast. We are headed for panicky days ahead. If you're not ashamed of your country right now, you oughta be. This is not why I served in the Army. This is not what Americans should have to face when walking in their communities. And this is the logical extension of decades of subtle racism, courtesy of the Republican Party. White nationalism won the presidency and way too many people are cheering it on right now.

Me, Me, Me

The first step in establishing a dictatorship is the creation of the cult of personality. This is the actual bio for the new president of the United States of America. There is no mention of losing the popular vote by nearly 3,000.000 votes, nor is there so much as a thank you to Vladimir Putin. 

Can't wait for the banners, the mega-portraits, and the parades.

Who even uses the word "likewise" anymore?

Republican Hypocrisy is Eternal

Edwin D. Williamson, today:

President-elect Donald Trump’s attempt to put the conflicts issue behind him has failed, at least according to the mainstream media. His announcement that he would resign from all positions with companies in the Trump Organization, put the Trump Organization in a trust run by his two sons and a Trump Organization employee, and not communicate with the trustees on the business did not stifle the howl from the media and such self-appointed ethics watchdogs as Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, who continue their dire warnings about the new president's potential conflicts of interests. Even the supposedly nonpartisan director of the Office of Government Ethics has chimed in, saying that Trump's "plan does not comport with the tradition of our presidents over the last 40 years" (which is incorrect with respect to President Carter; the others did not have financial interests that came close to the extent and complexity of Trump's).

The media and the watchdogs insist on a full divestiture by Trump of all financial interests in the Trump Organization (he will be the principal beneficiary of the Trump trust). For a variety of reasons, divestiture probably cannot be done at all, but it certainly cannot be done without creating an entirely new set of conflicts. What the president-elect has done would not satisfy the requirements of the federal conflicts law if they applied to him (they do not), but he has made a good-faith effort to distance his role as president from his financial interests.

Edwin D. Williamson, November, 2008:

An MSNBC article discusses ethics issues that former President Bill Clinton's extensive charitable activities could present if Barack Obama nominates Hilary Clinton to be Secretary of State. Here's an excerpt:

[V]ast amounts of money and prestige are involved, and those factors could pose problems for lawyers at the State Department who work to prevent ethical conflicts from corrupting the nation's foreign policy.

Edwin D. Williamson, who served as the State Department's chief legal adviser under President George H.W. Bush, said he does not know how the agency would resolve the potential conflicts. "If a client came to me with this set of facts, I would describe it as nightmarish," he said.

The gall of these people. Their moral compass disappears as soon as a Republican gets near the White House. Every single legal argument used against the Clintons for over 25 years is simply flushed down the memory hole.

You may remember how both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W, Bush placed their personal assets in blind trusts in order to ensure that they could not be accused of anything unethical, but that's not enough. You may remember how Presidents Clinton and Obama did the same thing, but you'd be sneered at for bringing it up. You might remember how all other candidates have released their tax returns, but now you're just being shrill.

Trump has made a "good faith" effort. Except that he hasn't used a blind trust in any way, shape or form. That's not good faith. That's thumbing your nose at the whole idea that a president should comport himself in an ethical manner.

The Republicans have set up a dangerous precedent. In the future, be prepared to laugh in their face if they ever raise a concern for the "appearance of a conflict of interest" with regards to any Democrat.

 

In Russia, This is Bug, Not Feature

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The Russians are messing with us now:

In a strange moment of startling symmetry with the current state of American politics, C-SPAN—the public affairs network that regularly broadcasts proceedings the United States House of Representatives and Senate—was interrupted by a broadcast of Russia Today.

The state-funded Russian news network briefly took over the online feed of C-SPAN1, which had been broadcasting a discussion in Congress regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission Regulatory Accountability Act.

As California Democrat Maxine Waters was speaking, the feed suddenly cut from the House floor to a broadcast of RT. The feed cut in with a commercial break before returning to the RT news desk, where an anchor spoke of a suicide bombing.

Multiple C-SPAN watchers made mention of the sudden change on Twitter, including Deadspin editor Timothy Burke, who captured the moment the C-SPAN feed switched to RT.

The takeover reportedly lasted about ten minutes before the C-SPAN feed was returned to normal. The interruption does not appear on the saved broadcast hosted on the network's website.

When contacted by IBTimes, A spokesperson for C-SPAN provided the following statement: "This afternoon the online feed for C-SPAN was briefly interrupted by RT programming. We are currently investigating and troubleshooting this occurrence. As RT is one of the networks we regularly monitor, we are operating under the assumption that it was an internal routing issue. If that changes we will certainly let you know."

When they substitute the Big Bang Theory with a parade of Russian missile launchers, maybe then and only then will Americans figure out what the hell is going on.

Don't Forget About the People in Louisiana

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And don't forget their pets, either:

Between 20 and 30 parishes in southern Louisiana remain in a state of emergency on Wednesday, five days after severe flooding ravaged large portions of the region.

Six of the hardest hit areas last week recorded more than two feet of rainfall. Expertsestimate that from Aug. 12 to Aug. 14, the equivalent of 4 trillion gallons of water — enough to fill more than 6 million Olympic-size pools — fell on southern Louisiana.

Officials estimate the flooding damaged 40,000 homes and displaced more than 30,000 people. As of this writing, 11 people have died, though that number isexpected to rise as rescue efforts continue.

Several roadways were also affected by overflowing waterways. According to a New York Times report, “Parts of major roadways became islands, including a stretch of interstate where hundreds of drivers had been stranded for over 24 hours.”

As of Monday, the Weather Channel reported that 125 vehicles were “still stranded on Interstate 12 between Tangipahoa Parish and Baton Rouge, according to Maj. Doug Cain from the Louisiana State Police.”

President Obama on Sunday declared that “a major disaster exists” in four of the hardest hit parishes — East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa — allocating federal funds to “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”

It is way too easy to ignore rural American in this country. Part of the problem is the infrastructure of modern news gathering. There used to be news bureaus all over America and now there are just people with their phones. This keeps people from really knowing what's going on because reporters are supposed to provide context and scale to their stories. That's not really happening right now.

One helpful thing, though--the presence of the Louisiana National Guard certainly helps. It's a good thing they're not sitting in Iraq right now.

Trump Orders Mother With Screaming Baby to Leave

It's impossible to keep up with this asshole:

Donald Trump asked a woman with a crying baby to leave his rally in Ashburn, Virginia on Tuesday.

“Don’t worry about that baby. I love babies," Trump said after hearing the baby crying during an aside about the trade imbalance. "Don’t worry about it. I love babies. I hear that baby crying, I like it. What a baby. What a beautiful baby. Don’t worry, don’t worry. The mom’s running around like—don’t worry about it, you know. It’s young and beautiful and healthy and that’s what we want.”

Trump then returned to his non-baby-related remarks, only to hear the baby make more noise.

“They have ripped us to shreds, ripped us absolutely to shreds," Trump said of China, before turning back to the woman with the child.

“Actually, I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here," the Republican nominee said to laughter and applause. "That’s all right. Don’t worry. I, I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s OK. People don’t understand. That’s OK."

No word on whether or not Trump's thugs roughed up the mother or took any candy from the baby.

Paul Ryan Should Call Donald Trump Before Congress

Congress Debt Control

Given everything we know about Paul Ryan, I think it is safe to say that there will be no House Armed Services or Intelligence Committee hearings into what Donald Trump wants Russia to do on behalf of the Republican Party:

In an interview that aired Thursday morning on "Fox and Friends," Donald Trump said he was not being serious when he called on Russia to find and release emails deleted by Hillary Clinton.

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade told Trump that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said that Trump's comments hoping Russia would hack into Clinton's server were a national security issue.

"You have to be kidding," Trump responded. "His client, his person deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I'm being sarcastic with something..."

Kilmeade jumped in to ask, "Are you being sarcastic?"

"Of course I'm being sarcastic," Trump replied. "But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take look at what was said on those emails, it's disgraceful."

Everything that Donald Trump said in public would trigger House hearings, investigations, special committees, and joint sessions of Congress if a Democrat had said them out loud to the working press. So far, I don't see any stories in the press where Ryan has asked the people who work for him to investigate open entreaties for espionage against the Democratic Party. This is because he really has no idea what kind of a man he endorsed and how big the tiger is after he grabbed onto the tail. 

Only Democrats get investigated under Paul Ryan's watch. Who doesn't already know that?

Guccifer Lied

Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka, "Guccifer"

Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka, "Guccifer"

In what has to be one of the craziest detours in an insane political season, we now have this bit of news:

Comey says FBI interviewed hacker Guccifer (1) and he did not hack Clinton’s server.

“He did not, he admitted that was a lie.”

And, as many of you may or may not know, Guccifer is still alive:

Marcel Lehel Lazar, a federal inmate also known as Guccifer, is at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va. He is alive and has never been missing from this facility.

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne
July 6, 2016

I am so glad that I get to be the one to post about Guccifer today. I was afraid that this would get past me and I would be caught as flat-footed as the House Republicans were today when James Comey ended up being a credible witness before their committee.