Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why Does Bill O'Reilly the need to Champion the Institution of Slavery?

Bill O'Reilly is concerned that Michelle Obama has unfairly criticized the institution of slavery and in the video below seeks to set the record straight. If you listened to Michelle Obama's speech you would have heard her make the point that as a people we have come so far that the descendants of slaves now live in the American house built by slaves, and their children play on the lawn. It's a wonderful and very American story and did not condemn the institution of slavery.

But we all agree that institution of slavery was horrible right? It is a self evident truth that all men, all people, are created equal, right? Enslaving people is a sin, and a crime against humanity, right? Is slavery not the original sin upon which our country was founded?

So, why does Bill O'Reilly so badly need to defend the institution of slavery? He would never feel the need to 'correct the record' on the Holocaust.

If you chaff at people like me believing the Republican party is irredeemably stained by racism, this is a perfect example of why.  Here's Bill defending the honor of the slave owners who worked on the White House,

Trump Mocked a Reporter With a Disability and Now Lies about it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What would be the role of the First Gentleman?

Here's a hint: It won't be picking out a new china pattern, or final approval for all floral arrangements. It also won't be a co-president and Bill won't be attending cabinet meetings.

The NYT has some ideas,
Unlike Mrs. Clinton, who was new to Washington when she became first lady, Mr. Clinton brings a wealth of political relationships, untold diplomatic experience and vast firsthand knowledge about issues and crises that presidents face. He could easily be deployed to make discreet phone calls to governors, members of Congress and business leaders, or to play a role in negotiations between foreign leaders or in global hot spots.

Mr. Clinton would not necessarily be at the White House full time, advisers say. The couple would most likely keep their home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and Mr. Clinton might continue doing some work in Manhattan with his foundation or at the offices he has kept in his post-presidency.

When in Washington, he would be less likely to be a social planner for his wife than to be her protector within the White House. Some friends of the Clintons said they could see him taking a page from Nancy Reagan, who could be aggressive in ensuring that administration staff members were serving the interests of President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Clinton might know better than most if Mrs. Clinton was being overburdened or receiving bad advice.

“He’ll be her advocate, he’ll be her lawyer, and if he thinks the staff isn’t protecting her, they’d have private conversations about it,” Mr. Kantor said. He said, however, that he did not think Mr. Clinton would go as far as Mrs. Reagan, who orchestrated the ouster of Donald T. Regan as White House chief of staff.
 On that latter part, I wouldn't bet on it.  Say what you will about the Clintons, they've often been their own worst enemies, they have stayed together all these years for some reason.  When they left the WH, nothing stopped Hillary from leaving Bill; she could have done so without any political price, but here we are.

Read the Times piece.  It's interesting and I think well done. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trump Brags about his Russian and Chinese Friends

I guess the good news is that Trump just can't help himself.  He has to brag.  This is Donald Trump speaking last night, July 25th, in Roanoke Virgina and put together by Buzzfeed's David Mack, who wall all should be following on twitter @DavidMackau

Max Boot thinks Putin's Intervention in the Election May Just be Starting

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of Russia's cabinet in the Kremlin in Moscow on July 22. (Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik via Associated Press)
Max Boot, lifelong Republican, Iraq war fan and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations is very concerned about Trumps ties to Vladimir Putin.   Boot is concerned by what he calls a foreign intervention in American politics.  We crossed that bridge with Netanyahu several years ago, but I digress.

Writing in the OP/Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, Boot cites two well know and aptly named Russian hacker groups,"Cozy Bear and "Fancy Bear" declaring "Moscow's virtual fingerprints are all over this operation".  Boot fears that Putin may just be getting started noting that Bloomberg has reported this past June that the Clinton Foundation was also hacked and Putin could be holding back more explosive emails until October.

After quickly going through the known information about Trump's cozy relationship with Putin and Trumps financial ties (dependence?) much of which I highlighted below, Boot concludes,
Trump’s campaign — whose slogan might as well be  “Make Russia Great Again”— presents Putin with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reorient American foreign policy in Russia’s favor.  Without the countering influence of the U.S., Putin has  a good chance to achieve his dream of undoing the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he has called a “geopolitical catastrophe,” by re-swallowing Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and other former Soviet republics.
Such a development ought to alarm all Americans, even Republicans. The idea of a hostile foreign power interfering in a U.S. election is a threat to our democracy, one that Republican leaders would be condemning if they hadn’t checked  their principles at the gate in exchange for tickets on the Trump Train.
Boot's right that this is a very serious situation and it's going to be interesting and more than a little terrifying to watch this play out.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Russian Intelligence Agencies Hacked the DNC

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photos by Spencer Platt/Getty Images News, Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images.
The NYT's reports today that U.S. researchers have concluded that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by two Russian intelligence agencies.  These are the same Russian intelligence agencies that were behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. Metadata from the released DNC emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers.

While a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the Russian agencies are the prime suspects.

Putin actually has a long history of covertly supporting right-wing populists across Europe.  There were well documented large transfers of cash to keep Marine Le Pen's campaign alive in France. WikiLeaks cables showed Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi profited personally and professionally thanks to the largesse of Putin.

Franklin Foer details Putin's efforts to bring down the West through our elections process in this piece in Slate,
There’s a clear pattern: Putin runs stealth efforts on behalf of politicians who rail against the European Union and want to push away from NATO. He’s been a patron of Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Jobbik in Hungary. Joe Biden warned about this effort last year in a speech at the Brookings Institution: “President Putin sees such political forces as useful tools to be manipulated, to create cracks in the European body politic which he can then exploit.” Ruptures that will likely multiply after Brexit—a campaign Russia’s many propaganda organs bombastically promoted.
And now, little more than a week after Trump offered Putin the Baltic Nato states, emails embarrassing his opponent are released.

Finally, I'll leave you with this WaPo story from December, 2015, following a Trump appearance on Morning Joe where in he sings of his bromance/man crush on Vladimir Putin,
TRUMP: When people call you "brilliant" it's always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.

HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, I mean, also is a person who kills journalists, political opponents and ...

WILLIE GEIST: Invades countries.

SCARBOROUGH: ... and invades countries, obviously that would be a concern, would it not?

TRUMP: He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country.

SCARBOROUGH: But, again: He kills journalists that don't agree with him.

TRUMP: Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.
Maybe it's time the FBI started asking Trump and his people if they have received any documents stolen from the DNC?

UPDATE: The FBI is investigating the hack, which they probably have been doing since the DNC first reported it. But are they asking the Trump campaign if they have any ill gotten documents from this hack?