When police get away with murder

The right wing outrage machine doesn’t get fired up over certain things.

Like this, which happened yesterday:

The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop was acquitted on all charges by a jury Friday, a decision that came nearly a year after the encounter was partially streamed online to a rapt nation in the midst of a painful reckoning over shootings by law enforcement.

Probably because it’s happy with this, which is happening all the time:

WHITE SUPREMACISTS AND other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. A striking reference to that conclusion, notable for its confidence and the policy prescriptions that accompany it, appears in a classified FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from April 2015, obtained by The Intercept. The guide, which details the process by which the FBI enters individuals on a terrorism watchlist, the Known or Suspected Terrorist File, notes that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers,” and explains in some detail how bureau policies have been crafted to take this infiltration into account.

Although these right-wing extremists have posed a growing threat for years, federal investigators have been reluctant to publicly address that threat or to point out the movement’s longstanding strategy of infiltrating the law enforcement community.

No centralized recruitment process or set of national standards exists for the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, many of which have deep historical connections to racist ideologies. As a result, state and local police as well as sheriff’s departments present ample opportunities for white supremacists and other right-wing extremists looking to expand their power base.

In a heavily redacted version of an October 2006 FBI internal intelligence assessment, the agency raised the alarm over white supremacist groups’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” The effort, the memo noted, “can lead to investigative breaches and can jeopardize the safety of law enforcement sources or personnel.” The memo also states that law enforcement had recently become aware of the term “ghost skins,” used among white supremacists to describe “those who avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.” In at least one case, the FBI learned of a skinhead group encouraging ghost skins to seek employment with law enforcement agencies in order to warn crews of any investigations.

Why do I say it’s happening all the time? Because I remember what happened when the issue was brought up in President Barack Obama’s first year in office:

IN 2009, SHORTLY after the election of Barack Obama, a Department of Homeland Security intelligence study, written in coordination with the FBI, warned of the “resurgence” of right-wing extremism. “Right-wing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African-American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda,” the report noted, singling out “disgruntled military veterans” as likely targets of recruitment. “Right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.”

The report concluded that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” Released just ahead of nationwide Tea Party protests, the report caused an uproar among conservatives, who were particularly angered by the suggestion that veterans might be implicated, and by the broad brush with which the report seemed to paint a range of right-wing groups.

Faced with mounting criticism, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano disavowed the document and apologized to veterans.

So, yeah. American conservatives are just fine with police shootings. In fact, they encourage them.

That’s good, orange babyman. That’s real good: Part 2

Help, I’m stepping into the twilight zone.

Today’s cabinet meeting:

Reminded me of this:

One minor point. Anthony never lied. You could tell President Babyman was lying. His mouth was moving.

Maybe John Harwood can help us out here:

After a weekend dominated by discussion of whether he had committed obstruction of justice, the president called in reporters for what he billed as his first full Cabinet meeting. He began with an opening statement laced with the sort of wild, self-congratulatory boasts that are his trademark.

“Never has there been a president, with few exceptions … who has passed more legislation, done more things,” Trump declared, even though Congress, which is controlled by his party, hasn’t passed any major legislation.

He hailed his plan for the “single biggest tax cut in American history,” even though he hasn’t proposed a plan and Congress hasn’t acted on one. He said “no one would have believed” his election could have created so many new jobs over the past seven months (1.1 million), even though more jobs (1.3 million) were created in the previous seven months.

Taking turns to praise the leader

Typically, a president’s initial comments mark the end of on-camera coverage of White House Cabinet meetings, with administration aides then escorting members of the small press “pool” out of the room. But Trump invited reporters to remain as he called on his senior-most advisers to “go around, name your position” and say a few words about the administration’s work.

In more than three decades of covering the White House, I’ve never seen such an extended public display of flattery for a president from his chosen subordinates. At moments it resembled the kind of fawning that some of the strongmen rulers Trump has praised — such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte — might receive from their deputies.

This place is a madhouse. Feels like being cloned.

Well, at least they aren’t there to serve man.

The fake outrage machine strikes again: a Shakespearean interpretation

Gregg Henry portrays a Trump-esque version of the doomed Roman ruler during a rehearsal of Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar.” (Joan Marcus/Public Theater via AP)

The pump truppets have their panties in a bunch because of this:

Et tu, Public Theater?

The New York-based arts organization came under fire for staging a production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” starring Trump look-alike Gregg Henry in the titular role. In this staging of play, which was part of the summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park, Caesar is a businessman known for his petulant personality, fancy suits and blondish hair with orange overtones.

His wife, Calpurnia, even has a Slavic accent, much like first lady Melania Trump.

In the play, Roman senators fear Caesar had become power hungry, so they stab him to death.  

Delta Air Lines pulled its funding of the theater group on Sunday in response to mounting criticism. Soon after, Bank of America pulled its sponsorship of the play but will retain its funding of the theater. …

Soon after, the conservative Breitbart News published a story headlined, “‘Trump’ Stabbed to Death in Central Park Performance of ‘Julius Caesar.’”

The controversy spread nationally Sunday after Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr., retweeted a story from Fox News stating, “A New York City play appears to depict President Trump being brutally stabbed to death by women and minorities.”

In the retweet, Trump, Jr. said, “I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers. Serious question, when does ‘art’ become political speech & does that change things?”

But five years ago:

[T]here was no such backlash in 2012, when a collaboration between the Acting Company and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis — which also received financial backing from Delta — mounted a contemporary remake of “Julius Caesar” in which the title character appeared to reference President Barack Obama. Caesar’s character, of course, is brutally slain in the play. …

“Because Caesar is cast as a tall, lanky black man, the Obama inference is a bit too obvious,” wrote MSP Mag of the actor, Bjorn DuPaty. “But it fits, sort of. Like Caesar, Obama rose to power on a tide of public goodwill; like Caesar, there were many in government who doubted Obama’s leadership abilities; and now that Obama’s first term has failed to live up to the messianic hype, there are plenty of people who — for the good of the country, you understand, not their own glory — want to take Obama down.”

The Twin Cities Daily Planet also noted the production’s effort to evoke the Obama era: “By the time we got to the OCCUPY ROME sign and the Faireyesque Caesar posters, I was watching through my fingers with my hands over my face,” reviewer Jay Gabler wrote, referring to Shepard Fairey, the artist who designed the iconic “Hope” Obama campaign posters.

Back then, outrage did not ensue; the American Conservative praised the casting choices, calling the production “riveting.” And Delta — which did not immediately respond to a request for comment — maintained its longtime support of the theater.

Will I ever be able to go through another day without these hypocritical clowns pissing me off?

Here’s what Russians think of Putin’s little pony

Trump probably admires the fact that Putin is the kind of guy who feels the need to ride horses shirtless.

We know the pump truppets think they’ve elected the greatest president since Jesus wrote the Declaration of Independence. But what do the people who helped him win the presidency think (via Vox):

Mikhail Fishman is the editor-in-chief of the Moscow Times, an English-language weekly newspaper published in Moscow. The paper is critical of Vladimir Putin; indeed, it was targeted twice in 2015 by Russian hackers and has been attacked repeatedly by pro-Kremlin pundits 

A Russian citizen and an outspoken critic of Putin, Fishman has covered Russian politics for more than 15 years. For the past year, he has monitored the increasingly bizarre relationship between Putin and Trump, with a particular focus on Putin’s strategic aims.

In this interview, originally conducted in February, I ask Fishman how Trump is perceived in Russia, why Putin is actively undermining global democracy, and what Russia hopes to gain from the political disorder in America.


Sean Illing

From your perch in Moscow, how do you see this strange relationship between Putin and Trump?

 

Mikhail Fishman

It is strange. It looks a bit irrational on Trump’s part to be sure. Why does he have this strange passion for Putin and Russia? I have to say, I don’t believe in the conspiracy theories about “golden showers” and blackmailing. I don’t believe it exists and I don’t believe it’s a factor. But this, admittedly, makes the whole thing that much stranger.

Sean Illing

You’re obviously referencing the explosive Trump dossier published by Buzzfeed in January. What makes you so skeptical of the claims in that dossier?

Mikhail Fishman

Two things. One, I’ve been a political journalist for 15 years working and dealing with sources in Russia and elsewhere. And frankly, a lot of this appears shallow to me. I’m sure Russia has plenty of dirt on Trump, but I can’t accept without hard evidence much of the what I’ve heard or read.

Second, this still has the ring of a conspiracy theory, this idea that the Kremlin has blackmailed Trump into submission. I’m generally opposed, on principle, to conspiracy theorizing. So I’m just skeptical until there’s concrete evidence.

Sean Illing

Let’s talk about Trump and Putin as individuals. How are they different? How are they similar?

Mikhail Fishman

I would prefer to talk about how they’re different, because those differences are so obvious and extreme. They come from very different worlds. Putin is an ex-Soviet intelligence officer with all that that implies. Trump is a colorful American businessman and showman.

 

In their habits, they’re radically different. Trump is a posturing performer, full of idiotic narcissism. He appears to be a disorganized fool, to be honest. Putin, on the other hand, is calculating, organized, and he plans everything. He also hides much of his personal life in a way that Trump does not.

Then there’s also the fact that Putin is so much more experienced than Trump. He has more than 15 years of global political experience. He knows how to do things, how to work the system. He makes plenty of mistakes, but he knows how to think and act. Trump is a total neophyte. He has no experience and doesn’t understand how global politics operates. He displays his ignorance every single day.

Sean Illing

What is the perception of Trump in Russia? Is he seen as an ally, a foe, a stooge?

Mikhail Fishman

The vision of Trump is basically shaped by the Kremlin and their propaganda machine — that’s what they do. During the election campaign, Trump was depicted not as an underdog but as an honest representative of the American people who was being mistreated by the establishment elites and other evil forces in Washington.

Sean Illing

The Kremlin knew that to be bullshit, right? This was pure propaganda, not sincere reporting, and it was aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton.

Mikhail Fishman

Of course. All of it was aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton. Putin expected Trump to lose, but the prospect of a Clinton victory terrified him, and he did everything possible to undermine her.

 

Sean Illing

Why was he so afraid of a Clinton victory?

Mikhail Fishman

Because he knew that would mean an extension of Obama’s harsh orientation to Russia, perhaps even more aggressive than Obama. Putin has experienced some difficult years since his 2014 invasion of Crimea, but he didn’t expect this level of isolation. He saw — and sees — Trump as an opportunity to change the dynamic.

Sean Illing

A lot of commentators here believe the most generous interpretation of Trump’s fawning orientation to Putin and Russia is that he’s hopelessly naïve. Do you buy that?

Mikhail Fishman

That’s a good question. Why does he like Putin so much? I think Trump sees Putin as a kind of soulmate. Let’s be honest: Trump is not a reflective person. He’s quite simple in his thinking, and he’s sort of attracted to Putin’s brutal forcefulness. If anything, this is what Trump and Putin have in common.

Sean Illing

Has Putin made a puppet of Trump?

Mikhail Fishman

Of course. This is certainly what the Kremlin believes, and they’re acting accordingly. They’re quite obviously playing Trump. They consider him a stupid, unstrategic politician. Putin is confident that he can manipulate Trump to his advantage, and he should be.

Sean Illing

In other words, Trump’s a useful idiot to them?

Mikhail Fishman

Exactly. The Kremlin is limited in their knowledge about what’s going on in Washington, but they see the chaos and the confusion in Trump’s administration. They see the clumsiness, the inexperience. Naturally, they’re working to exploit that.

Sean Illing

What’s the long geopolitical play for Putin? What does he hope to gain from the disorder in America?

 

Mikhail Fishman

The first thing he wants and needs is the symbolic legitimization of himself and Russia as a major superpower and world player that America has to do deal with as an equal. He wants to escape the isolation of Russia on the world stage, which was what the campaign in Syria was all about. Putin has grand ambitions for himself and for Russia, and nearly every move he makes is animated by this.

Sean Illing

How much of this, from Putin’s perspective, is about discrediting democracy as such?

Mikhail Fishman

He didn’t believe Trump would win, so he was preparing to sell Clinton’s victory as a fraud. And this is part of his broader message across the board, which is that democracy itself is flawed, broken, unjust. Putin actually believes this. He doesn’t believe in democracy, and this is the worldview that he basically shares with Trump: that the establishment is corrupt and that the liberal world order is unjust.

Sean Illing

But Putin’s interest in undermining democracies across the globe is about much more than his personal disdain for this form of government. He wants to point to the chaos in these countries and say to his domestic audience, “You see, democracy is a sham, and it doesn’t work anywhere.” That serves as a justification for his own anti-democratic policies. In the end, it’s about reinforcing his own power.

Mikhail Fishman

That’s true. But again, this what Putin really believes. He does not believe a true and just democracy exists anywhere. This is the worldview they’ve been spinning for years and they’ve really internalized it.

For Putin, this is very much a zero-sum game. The West is the enemy. America is the enemy. Whatever you can do to damage the enemy, you do it. The more unrest there is in America, the better positioned Russia is to work its will on the world stage. He wants to divide democratic and European nations in order to then play those divisions to his advantage.

 

Sean Illing

A pervasive concern in this country is that Trump admires Putin’s strongman authoritarianism, and seeks to replicate it in America. Do you think this concern is well-founded?

Mikhail Fishman

I think it is. Again, it comes to back what Trump and Putin have in common. They’re both male chauvinists. Trump probably admires the fact that Putin is the kind of guy who feels the need to ride horses shirtless; it appeals to his authoritarian instincts. But this is about much more than imagery.

They are both illiterate people in a way. They’re not widely educated. They do not believe in institutions. They see democratic institutions as burdens, impediments to their will. They don’t believe that social and political life should be sophisticated; they think it should be simple.

And this sort of thinking naturally concludes in one-man rule. I think Trump will fail, but there’s no doubt that he shares these authoritarian impulses with Putin.

Mustardgate 2009

As we spend each day reeling from the latest assault on democratic decency by the early onset Alzheimer’s Crimson Bratman, Crooks and Liars asks us to step back and remember the scandal seering through the blackened hearts and space for rent head cavities of the typical viewer of Fox News.

And, today, if you ask rancid, rabid Fox viewer who’s the better president, they’ll pick the Man of Tweet every time.

That’s how divorced from reality the pump truppets are. And we’re supposed to consider their point of view?

I go back to this analogy:

It’s like taking a date to a fancy restaurant, and you want to order a nice steak, but your date wants anthrax and tire irons.

With Grey Poupon.

In the movie version, Paul Ryan is played by Elijah Cook Jr.

Former FBI Director Jim Comey testified before a Senate committee yesterday and said Putin’s Little Pony tried to strongarm him into dropping the investigation into Michael “Lock Her Up” Flynn’s selling of his soul to the Russians. And on top of that, Comey essentially said you can tell everything Hookerpiss says is a lie, because his mouth is moving.

So House Speaker Paul Ryan, the gunsel to America’s Sydney Greenstreet, offered a defense of his sugar daddy:

While former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) attempted to defend the president by claiming that Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing.

In his weekly press conference Thursday morning, Ryan tried to distract from the blockbuster hearing by giving a presentation on House Republicans’ legislative accomplishments this year. When asked about Comey’s testimony in which he claimed that Trump asked him for loyalty and to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Ryan claimed that Trump didn’t know better.

“The president is new at this,” Ryan said. “He’s new to government. And so he probably wasn’t steeped into the long going protocols that established the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses.”

When a reporter questioned why that’s an “acceptable excuse,” given that Trump has a staff and counsel that should have been informed, Ryan reiterated that Trump did not know what he was doing.

“He’s new at government,” Ryan said. “Therefore I think he is learning as he goes.”

So the Russian Usurper creates a mess and the gunsel has to clean up after him.

Sorry, another obscure reference. What’s a gunsel?

You know, from a certain angle Paul Ryan does look like a Wilmer.