I've talked about the six month, the two year, and the four year wars. This may be the beginning of the end of the six-month war. It is, at very least, the end of the beginning: elected Republicans are no longer universally afraid of the Trumpists, and are no longer lining up behind him and his movement. The neofascist movement is still very much alive and very, very dangerous, as a whole, and this is one of the longer wars, but this goal - of capturing the entire government functionally unhindered out of the electoral box - has been smashed.
Not that they won't keep trying, of course. The six-month war is not over. But the skies - for the moment - are clear over London.
So let's look at what happened. "Pence: Trump 'won't rest' until ObamaCare repealed" - as I said, they won't stop trying. But "Inside the Trumpcare meltdown," we learn that "Steve Bannon Thought He Could Bully Republicans On Health Care. He Couldn't." The steamroller has broken down. It's a Democrat saying it, but "Dem rep: 'We must pause the entire Trump agenda' until Russia investigation complete" - that's not going to happen, because there's far too much consolidation of power going on inside the executive branch that he's managing simply by not appointing people. (See: the two year war.) But it can be talked about.
As fallout, "Trump asked his supporters to watch Fox News host. She then called on Paul Ryan to step down." There's barely any attempt to keep up a united facade now. This will further hurt the legislative agenda, but will not hurt the continuing personalisation of rule and the executive branch. If anything, it will help it. But, again - the two year war.
The investigations continue - and perhaps, if the Republican civil war ramps up, they will become useful leverage for the establishment GOP, and something might happen. "AP Exclusive: US probe of ex-Trump aide extends to Cyprus" is following the Russian money. "Boris Epshteyn, Trump TV Surrogate, Is Leaving White House Job" - his style was very much of Putin's Russia, and now he's being levered out. The CBC report that "A former NSA analyst says the Russia investigations could end Donald Trump's presidency," and there are rumours from a "CNN analyst: Sources say Mike Flynn may have turned on Trump and become a witness for the FBI."
What they were building for, of course, is their ult attack - a broad racial-religious war against Arabic Muslims. That's still the biggest card they have in their hand. And they haven't forgot it, not for a minute. "Civilian deaths from US-led airstrikes hit record high under Donald Trump" shouldn't be ignored. "U.S. Investigating Mosul Strikes Said to Have Killed Up to 200 Civilians" - the US is claiming procedures haven't changed, but the rise in civilian death toll is staggering, and other local sources say US procedures have changed. Finally, a US senator says, "Trump Is Dragging Us Into Another War... And No One Is Talking About It."
We most certainly are.
Possibly tangential, possibly related: "Five months, eight prominent Russians dead." Clean-up, consolidation, or coincidence?
Before this administration, this would've been the biggest headline: "Senate to vote on Neil Gorsuch nomination to Supreme Court in first week of April in a political clash with big ramifications." We need to force a loss here, or a rules change, because I'm confident that the Republicans will change the filibuster rules as soon as a judicial filibuster is used against them; they're a paper tiger at best, now, and more likely, an excuse to inaction. Or so it seems to me. Obviously, I'm not on the ground.
Before this administration, this would've been in "news of the weird" territory only, but we are where we are: "Alex Jones Admits He Blew It With Pizzagate Allegations, Sort Of." I don't think that'll bother the conspiracy goons.
Finally, a couple of cultural warfare stories of import: "Transgender passengers uneasy about TSA shift on pat-downs." and "Utah's governor signs abortion-halting legislation." The headline on the latter is misleading; the bill requires doctors to tell women taking RU-486 and similar drugs that if they only take one pill the abortion can still be halted. There is no medical evidence for this of which I'm aware, and I can't see it being a good idea. But, well, those are facts, and considering facts to be the problem...
...well, that is, in and of itself, part of the problem.
Good luck out there.
----- 1 -----
Pence: Trump 'won't rest' until ObamaCare repealed
By Max Greenwood - 03/25/17 - The Hill
[NOTE THAT THIS IS AFTER THE BILL'S FAILURE - THE DAY AFTER. Don't think they'll stop trying.]
Vice President Pence on Saturday reaffirmed the Trump administration's commitment to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, saying President Trump "won't rest" until the law is dismantled.
Addressing a pro-Trump rally in West Virginia, Pence told supporters that the president "won't rest until we repeal and replace ObamaCare," according to pool reports.
The comment came a day after the American Health Care Act, the GOP healthcare reform bill, was pulled from consideration in the House due to dwindling support among Republicans.
The move was a blow to years of rhetoric from Republicans who campaigned on a pledge to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law and it handed Trump the first legislative defeat of his presidency.
----- 2 -----
U.S. Investigating Mosul Strikes Said to Have Killed Up to 200 Civilians
By TIM ARANGO and HELENE COOPER | The New York Times | MARCH 24, 2017
BAGHDAD — The American-led military coalition in Iraq said Friday that it was investigating reports that scores of civilians — perhaps as many as 200, residents said — had been killed in recent American airstrikes in Mosul, the northern Iraqi city at the center of an offensive to drive out the Islamic State.
If confirmed, the series of airstrikes would rank among the highest civilian death tolls in an American air mission since the United States went to war in Iraq in 2003. And the reports of civilian deaths in Mosul came immediately after two recent incidents in Syria, where the coalition is also battling the Islamic State from the air, in which activists and local residents said dozens of civilians had been killed.
Taken together, the surge of reported civilian deaths raised questions about whether once-strict rules of engagement meant to minimize civilian casualties were being relaxed under the Trump administration, which has vowed to fight the Islamic State more aggressively.
American military officials insisted on Friday that the rules of engagement had not changed. They acknowledged, however, that American airstrikes in Syria and Iraq had been heavier in an effort to press the Islamic State on multiple fronts.
----- 3 -----
Five months, eight prominent Russians dead
By Marshall Cohen and Jose Pagliery | CNN | Sat March 25, 2017
Washington (CNN)The brazen daytime slaying of a Russian politician outside a Ukrainian hotel this week brings to eight the number of high-profile Russians who have died over the past five months since the US presidential election on November 8.
Among the recent deaths were five Russian diplomats. Some of the deaths appeared natural and governments have ruled out foul play.
In some cases, though, questions remain. That's either because the facts have changed over time, details are hard to come by, or the deaths are still under investigation.
Self-proclaimed online sleuths and conspiracy theorists have filled the information void with speculation that the deaths were somehow related to Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. No evidence has surfaced to make such a connection.
----- 4 -----
Inside the Trumpcare meltdown
Mike Allen | Axios | 25 March 2017
When the balky hardliners of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, this was Steve Bannon's opening line, according to people in the conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building:
"Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill."
----- 5 ------
Transgender passengers uneasy about TSA shift on pat-downs
By Fredrick Kunkle | The Washington Post | March 25, 2017
When the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a recent shift toward a more aggressive and uniform policy on pat-downs at airport checkpoints, transgender people had special reason to be wary.
Transgender passengers have used social media to document humiliating and sometimes hostile experiences at airport checkpoints in recent years. Given the apparent change on transgender policies already signaled by the Trump administration, some LGBT advocates are worried.
“Every time transgender people navigate airport security they risk being demeaned and humiliated. While the Transportation Security Administration has taken steps to better protect the privacy of transgender passengers, there is a long way to go,” David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said in a written statement. “More invasive pat downs are a dangerous step in the wrong direction.”
----- 6 -----
Alex Jones Admits He Blew It With Pizzagate Allegations, Sort Of
Lauren Evans | 25 March 2017 | Jezebel
Conspiracy monger Alex Jones has finally admitted that he might have fucked up when he promoted the idea of Pizzagate, some truly bizarre and ultimately destructive claptrap rooted in the idea that a D.C. pizza parlor was doubling as the site of a child sex-trafficking ring led by Hillary Clinton and campaign chairman John Podesta.
In a surprising six-minute video posted to his website InfoWars, Jones expressed regret for his role in propagating the theory that the eatery, Comet Ping Pong, was just a family-oriented facade for more sinister dealings. The apology was directed specifically at Comet’s owner, James Alefantis, and does not mention either Clinton or Podesta:
“I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him. We relied on third-party accounts of alleged activities and conduct at the restaurant. We also relied on accounts of [two] reporters who are no longer with us.”
----- 7 -----
Judge who blocked Muslim ban is receiving death threats and receiving 24-hour protection
By Walter Einenkel | Daily KOS | Thursday Mar 23, 2017
[As noted here in previous responses, the 8chan response to the Seattle ruling was the dox the judge and start building a dox database of "enemy" Federal judges.]
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has been receiving around-the-clock protection since he ruled last week to block the Trump/Bannon Muslim ban 2.0 travel restriction, citing “significant” evidence of “religious animus.” For the people calling in these threats, that means the travel restrictions are bigoted and anti-religious “freedom.”
----- 8 -----
The definitive Trump-Russia timeline of events
Follow our timeline of events on the Trump administration's ties to Russia.
By Matthew Nussbaum | 03/11/17
The Russian government, at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, waged a sustained influence operation in the United States in support of Donald Trump’s campaign for president. Major questions remain about the degree of interaction between Trump associates and Russian operatives.
Here’s what we know so far based on news reports, public statements and the U.S. government’s unclassified report on Russian election interference.
Follow POLITICO’s guide to Trump’s Russia ties for the latest breaking news and developments as the story unfolds.
----- 9 -----
Steve Bannon Thought He Could Bully Republicans On Health Care. He Couldn't.
"You have no choice but to vote for this bill," he reportedly said to Republicans who knew they very much did have a choice.
By Sebastian Murdock | The Huffington Post | 25 March 2017
Steve Bannon reportedly tried to force House Freedom Caucus members to back replacing the Affordable Care Act when he met with them days before Friday’s repeal vote.
He failed miserably.
In a report from Axios’ Mike Allen, sources said Bannon’s first words to the Republican members were that they would have “no choice” but to vote for the disastrous health care bill of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“Guys, look,” Bannon reportedly said. “This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”
Bannon apparently did not count on the fact that House Republicans knew they actually did have a choice in the matter.
“You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old,” one of the members reportedly told Bannon. “And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”
In a humiliating turn for Trump’s White House, the bill was pulled off the table just minutes before a vote was scheduled to take place on Friday.
Earlier in the day, The Daily Beast reported that anyone who didn’t follow Bannon’s orders would be put on a “shit list.”
“[Bannon] has told the president to keep a shit list on this,” one official reportedly told the publication. “He wants a running tally of [the Republicans] who want to sink this … Not sure if I’d call it an ‘enemies list,’ per se, but I wouldn’t want to be on it.”
----- 10 -----
Trump's 'Alternative Facts' Hurt Women Everywhere
By Sarah O'Hagan | Newsweek | 3/25/17
From Vietnam through Watergate and Exxon Valdez, and in my first newsroom jobs after college, reporters were roundly regarded as truth-tellers, and the power of journalism was considered incontrovertible.
Today huge swaths of the country distrust the media. From the bully pulpit, the president brushes aside stories he disagrees with as “fake news,” and recently called the media “enemy number one.” Truth has become subjective, and a top White House spokeswoman, in coining the term “alternative facts,” is telling the country that it’s all right to repackage reality to serve a political narrative.
Yet just as we did when Walter Cronkite covered Vietnam, drawing on dispatches from embedded reporters, we need great journalism to explain the world to us and to hold our government accountable to its citizens.
The need for independent, investigative news is especially clear when it comes to the issues that matter most to women. “Women’s issues” have been championed for decades by both political parties, but more often than not used as a wedge to divide citizens, not unite them. The fact is, there’s much more consensus on issues affecting women—and the need for continued action—than politicians would have you believe. When it comes to women’s rights, more than 80 percent of women and men say it’s important for the Trump administration and Congress to advance gender equality, according to a poll recently released by nonpartisan firm PerryUndem.
Family planning is often described as controversial, however, that same poll revealed that 85 percent of voters want to ensure women have access to quality, affordable birth control; 67 percent oppose nominating a Supreme Court justice based on their belief in restricting or eliminating women’s right to an abortion; and 71 percent oppose taking away funds from Planned Parenthood that are used for birth control, well-woman care and cancer screenings for low-income women.
----- 11 -----
AP Exclusive: US probe of ex-Trump aide extends to Cyprus
By JACK GILLUM, MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS and ERIC TUCKER | The Associated Press
Mar. 23, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government investigation of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, crossed the Atlantic earlier this year to the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, once known as a haven for money laundering by Russian billionaires.
Treasury agents in recent months obtained information connected to Manafort's transactions from Cypriot authorities, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly. The request was part of a federal anti-corruption probe into Manafort's work in Eastern Europe. The Cyprus attorney general, one of the country's top law enforcement officers, was also aware of the American request.
Manafort was Trump's unpaid campaign chairman from March until August last year, during the critical run-up to the Republican National Convention. He's been a leading focus of the U.S. investigation into whether Trump associates coordinated with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Manafort, in a statement to the AP Thursday when asked about the Cyprus transactions, characterized them as a normal practice. "Like many companies doing business internationally, my company was paid via wire transfer, typically using clients' preferred financial institutions and instructions," he said.
Federal prosecutors became interested in Manafort's activities years ago as part of a broad investigation to recover stolen Ukrainian assets after the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych there in early 2014. No U.S. criminal charges have been filed in the case.
----- 12 -----
Trump asked his supporters to watch Fox News host. She then called on Paul Ryan to step down.
By John Wagner | Washington Post | 25 March 2017
A Fox News personality - whom President Donald Trump had urged his supporters to watch Saturday night - called on House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to step down, saying he had done a disservice to Trump by failing to pass a high-profile health-care bill this week.
At the top of her show, Jeanine Pirro, host of "Justice With Judge Jeanine," delivered a scathing commentary on Ryan's performance in the days leading up to the decision to pull the House Republican bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
"It failed within the first 70 days of President Donald Trump's administration, a president who made the replacement of Obamacare the hallmark of his campaign and then used valuable political capital to accomplish it," said Pirro, placing the blame squarely on Ryan.
Earlier Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to urge his followers to tune into Pirro's show, saying: " Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M."
In public statements since the bill's collapse, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have continued to support Ryan as speaker.
Earlier Saturday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump's tweet was motivated only by his being a fan of Pirro's show. Spicer did not immediately respond after the show had aired.
----- 13 -----
Senate to vote on Neil Gorsuch nomination to Supreme Court in first week of April in a political clash with big ramifications
There are four Democrats and four Republicans on the Supreme Court, with the most senior member, Republican Anthony Kennedy, often viewed as a swing vote.
By Christopher N. Osher | The Denver Post
March 26, 2017 at 12:01 am
Votes on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court are expected to take place the first week of April, setting up a political clash that could tip the current political balance at the court and bring an end to the ability to filibuster such nominees.
There are four Democrats and four Republicans on the Supreme Court, with the most senior member, Republican Anthony Kennedy, often viewed as a swing vote.
Seth Masket, chairman of the political science department at the University of Denver, said if President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland had been confirmed to fill the seat that became vacant with the death of hard-line conservative Antonin Scalia, the court would have moved to the left. Republicans, noting that it was an election year, refused to hold hearings on that nomination.
“Assuming Gorsuch gets approved, the court likely will be as conservative as it was with Scalia, and the court’s ideological makeup won’t change very much from what it was with Scalia,” Masket said.
----- 14 -----
Dem rep: 'We must pause the entire Trump agenda' until Russia investigation complete
By Nikita Vladimirov - 03/23/17 - The Hill
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on Thursday called for a "total and complete shutdown" on legislation advancing President Trump's agenda in light of reports of possible coordination between his campaign and Moscow.
The accusation followed a CNN report claiming that several U.S. officials believe that the FBI has information that suggests possible coordination between President Trump's associates and suspected Russian operatives during the 2016 election aimed at releasing hacked information to damage Hillary Clinton.
“The bombshell revelation that U.S. officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded with the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda. We may have an illegitimate President of the United States currently occupying the White House,” Lieu said in a statement.
----- 15 -----
Boris Epshteyn, Trump TV Surrogate, Is Leaving White House Job
By MAGGIE HABERMAN | The New York Times | March 25, 2017
Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office who had a contentious relationship with television producers and was once a frequent presence on TV himself, is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move.
The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason Mr. Epshteyn, an old friend of President Trump’s son Eric, was expected to depart the post.
Mr. Epshteyn, known for his argumentative, badgering style on TV, was a spokesman for the presidential inaugural committee. He grew up in Moscow, and met Eric Trump at Georgetown University.
Mr. Epshteyn did not respond to an email seeking comment.
----- 16 -----
A former NSA analyst says the Russia investigations could end Donald Trump's presidency
by Brent Bambury | CBC News | 24 March 2017
As FBI Director James Comey spoke before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, making his jaw-dropping revelation that the agency is investigating alleged "coordination" between Russian agents trying to influence the U.S. election and the Trump campaign, documents released in Ukraine cast a shadow over an already embattled former member of the Trump team.
Paul Manafort was dumped as Trump's campaign chair in August when he was implicated in an alleged scheme to loot the Ukrainian government of millions of dollars while he was working for former president Viktor Yanukovych. The documents released Monday appear to show cover-up payments from shell companies. Manafort says the evidence is forged and that he is innocent.
Manafort under the bus
John Schindler says he understands why Trump's team wants to ice his long-time colleague.
"If I was Trump, I'd want to distance myself as far away as possible from Paul Manafort," Schindler told me on Day 6.
Schindler is a former analyst at the National Security Agency and a former professor at the Naval War College. He regularly shares chatter he hears from the intelligence community on social media, and writes regularly for The Observer.
Discussing Manafort, Schindler quickly got on a roll.
"(Manafort) has been exposed as a Putin propagandist who was making $10-million-a-year to shill for Putin in the west."
"And certainly, it appears that Trump knew, in general, about Paul Manafort 's reputation for working for seedy Russians and Ukrainians linked to the Kremlin."
----- 17 -----
CNN analyst: Sources say Mike Flynn may have turned on Trump and become a witness for the FBI
David Ferguson | 25 Mar 2017 at 20:33 ET | Raw Story
As of Saturday evening, rumors are swirling that Pres. Donald Trump’s ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn has cut a deal with the FBI and is now informing on his old boss, the president.
CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem discussed the possibility in a panel discussion on Friday night when she said that former Trump foreign policy consultant Carter Page, ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone will all testify before the House Intelligence Committee regarding their ties to Russia.
“It’s not that interesting to me because I don’t think they’ll be under oath,” Kayyem said. “The one name not mentioned is a name I mention often on this show: Mike Flynn, the former national security adviser.”
“It is starting to look like — from my sources and from open reporting — that Mike Flynn is the one who may have a deal with the FBI and that’s why we have not heard from him for some time,” she said.
----- 18 -----
Civilian deaths from US-led airstrikes hit record high under Donald Trump
'These reported casualty levels are comparable with some of the worst periods of Russian activity in Syria,' says Airwars.org
Thomas Gibbons-Neff | The Independent | Saturday 25 March 2017
A non-profit organisation that tracks civilian casualties caused by airstrikes in the Middle East said it has shifted nearly all of its resources to track a surge of claims regarding US-led strikes in Syria and Iraq.
The group, called Airwars.org, had been tracking deaths caused by both Russian and US airstrikes but said in a statement Friday that it was suspending its work on "alleged Russian actions in Syria -- so as best to focus our limited resources on continuing to properly monitor and assess reported casualties from the US and its allies.
"Almost 1,000 civilian non-combatant deaths have already been alleged from coalition actions across Iraq and Syria in March - a record claim," the statement said. "These reported casualty levels are comparable with some of the worst periods of Russian activity in Syria."
----- 19 -----
Utah's governor signs abortion-halting legislation
Hallie Golden, Associated Press
Saturday, March 25, 2017
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah's governor signed legislation on Saturday that would require doctors to inform women that medication-induced abortions can be halted after taking just one of two pills, despite doctors' groups saying there is little evidence to back up that idea.
Proponents of the idea said doctors can give a woman the hormone progesterone to stop an abortion after she has taken the first of two medications needed to complete the abortion.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that there is no medically accepted evidence that a drug-induced abortion can be interrupted.
----- 20 -----
Trump Is Dragging Us Into Another War... And No One Is Talking About It
While Americans have been focused on the ACA and Trump's ties to Russia, Trump has been busy expanding the American troop presence inside Syria.
Senator Chris Murphy (CT) | 03/25/2017 | The Huffington Post
Quietly, while Americans have been focused on the ongoing drama over repealing the Affordable Care Act and the new revelations about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, President Trump has been busy dramatically expanding the American troop presence inside Syria. And virtually no one in Washington has noticed. Americans have a right to know what Trump is planning and whether this will lead to an Iraq-style occupation of Syria for years to come.
Without any official notification, Trump sent 500 new American troops into Syria, ostensibly to take part in the upcoming assault on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. News reports suggest this deployment may just be the tip of the iceberg, with some saying that the plan is for hundreds more American troops to be added to the fight in the coming weeks. No one actually knows how many troops are inside Syria now, because the administration has largely tried to keep the build-up a secret.
This deployment poses a significant, potentially catastrophic risk for the United States and the future of Syria and the Middle East. Congress cannot be silent on this matter. I have long been against putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria—I opposed the idea during the Obama administration and I oppose it now, because I believe we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the Iraq War if we try to force political stability simply through the barrel of a gun. I would urge my colleagues who have not focused on the question of U.S. troop presence in Syria to, at the very least, demand the administration answer two basic questions before signing off on the money to fund this dangerous escalation.