solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
"Alt-Right Goes 'Apoplectic' Over Trump’s Decision to Bomb Syria" It's true. I "Can personally verify that this is being pushed on fascist political boards," and did so in a Twitter thread talking about the various 4pol and 8pol meltdowns over the Syrian bombing. It's true, they're reeling, it's wonderful.

Meanwhile, Voice of America - you know, official US government news - is saying, "Airstrike carried out so it wouldn’t hurt Russia’s long-term plans in Syria: US military official." And "Trump Admits: White House Looked the Other Way During Assad’s Gas Attacks." It's like they're jumping up and down saying, "Yeah, we didn't mean it, we're just taking control of the news cycle." And now "Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement" and "Russia to help Syria beef up air defenses." Now they've got an excuse. (A few more details on that in "US air strikes in Syria: Russia suspends agreement preventing direct conflict with American forces.")

The Atlantic thinks "The Fight Against the Islamic State Just Got Harder," but still spends a lot of time calling it a good idea, because WOW YAY MISSLES. See also, "After the Airstrikes on Syria, What’s Next?" in The New York Times. Almost all of the media falls into line as soon WAR WAR WAR comes out and that's still true, and something we have to fight - somehow - if we want to get anywhere. And that was the point, after all - "U.S. defense official calls U.S. strike on Syria a 'one-off'" just shows that none of this was meant to do anything more. It's depressing when it's Rand Paul being the one going no, no, no - "Rand Paul: Trump needs Congress to authorize military action in Syria." At least Barbara Lee and Ted Lieu both jumped in similarly; "Ted Lieu: Trump Can't 'Launch Missiles Because He Sees Images That Offend Him'."

And later in the day, The Atlantic contradicted itself, with "Trump's Syria Strike Was Unconstitutional and Unwise."

Now, getting past Syria:

"Trump’s Options for North Korea Include Placing Nukes in South Korea." Oh good, that will go well.

"Ethics panel opens investigation into Nunes" is one of the smallish numbers of stories on the ongoing Trump-Russia scandal. Now that he's down, leaving Schiff, the GOP is going after Schiff - anything, really, to keep it from doing its job. ("Former House intel chair: 'Schiff should consider recusing himself'.")

As was inevitable, "Neil Gorsuch Confirmed by Senate as Supreme Court Justice." The seat is stolen; the quest to make them pay for stealing it must not be. The Hill called it, "McConnell’s shining moment." Politico writes about "Why Republicans May Regret The Nuclear Option." Daniel Burbank at The Washington Post is far pointier: "Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America."

"Steve Bannon Isn’t a Genius." No. Being free of any hint of ethical or moral restraint - willing to do anything - doesn't make you smart, even if it does make you effective, at least to a point. See also suicide bombers. Jeff Sessions continues going after civil rights, saying "Sessions: Police reform deal may make Baltimore 'less safe'." Much better to give violent racism a free hand, clearly. "How The Hate Group Alliance Defending Freedom Is Infiltrating Public Schools" is important Cultural War data, as is "One Third of Americans Uncomfortable with LGBTQ Colleagues, Study Shows." We've made progress, but this is far from over.

Finally, in building-walls-where-they-can-be-built news, we have "Trump Border Plan Calls for More Phone Searches, Includes Close Allies." No wonder tourism is declining so rapidly.

Sorry for the late.


----- 1 -----
Alt-Right Goes “Apoplectic” Over Trump’s Decision to Bomb Syria
“The Syrian gas attack was done by deep state agents,” wrote one prominent blogger begging Trump to reconsider.

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/04/alt-right-donald-trump-syria

The speed with which Donald Trump flipped from promising to leave Bashar al-Assad alone to launching a missile strike against the Syrian dictator sent heads spinning across the globe, turning hawkish critics into his grudging supporters. But no heads spun more than those on the far-right fringe who had spent years blasting Barack Obama for suggesting military action against the Syrian regime, and who'd supported Trump passionately. Trump, they believed, would keep the country out of any unnecessary wars, and the Trump administration promised to do so as recently as last week. The “longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last Thursday on a trip to Turkey. The same day, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley declared that America’s “priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.”

Reassured by the presence of America-Firsters like Steve Bannon in the West Wing and Trump’s own rhetoric on the campaign trail, the alt-right, ignoring the evidence of his waffling about the Iraq war, quickly bought the idea that Trump had drunk their isolationist Kool-Aid.

In fact, Trump imbibed the pro-war Kool-Aid that is the drink of choice in elite circles even faster, to the alt-right’s disappointment. When Trump condemned Assad’s chemical weapons attack on his own people, which killed dozens of children and emergency workers, several of his fringe supporters screamed that he was being duped into a war by a “false flag” operation. “The Syrian gas attack was done by deep state agents,” tweeted alt-right agitator and the Trump administration’s favorite blogger Mike Cernovich. “The fake news media (which works for them) wants you to ignore basic logic and 101-level game theory and strategic thinking to reach an illogical conclusion. Stay vigilant!” Infowars, the site run by extreme conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, took it a step further and blamed the attack on Democrat billionaire George Soros.


----- 2 -----
Can personally verify that this is being pushed on fascist political boards.
Mostly me | 2017/4/8 on Twitter

FYI: #FireKushner hashtag is an orchestrated effort that started w/ a few alt-right accts. The pattern of activity is definitely not organic
https://twitter.com/RVAwonk/status/850589932502609920

Can personally verify that this is being pushed on fascist political boards.
https://twitter.com/solarbirdy/status/850619636219494402

(Said boards are in complete fucking meltdown mode right now, it is hilarious)
https://twitter.com/solarbirdy/status/850619918475075584

[etc]


----- 3 -----
Airstrike carried out so it wouldn’t hurt Russia’s long-term plans in Syria: US military official
Travis Gettys | Raw Story | 07 Apr 2017

[Remember, VoA is a government corporation so is sanctioned. They're saying this.]
http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/airstrike-carried-out-so-it-wouldnt-hurt-russias-long-term-plans-in-syria-us-military-official/

The airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump against a Syrian airfield appears to have been conducted to minimize long-term damage to Russian efforts there.

Two U.S. Navy destroyers fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles early Friday in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack American officials believe was launched by Syrian aircraft at civilians in a town held by rebels, reported Voice of America.

The Trump-ordered strike reportedly targeted Shayrat Airfield, and U.S. officials warned Russian troops there but not the Kremlin, VOA reported.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb, citing an unnamed U.S. military official, said the airfield’s runway was deliberately not targeted so Russian military efforts would not be effected.

The official also told Babb the Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the raid were precision, and not cratering, to minimize damage.


----- 4 -----
Trump Admits: White House Looked the Other Way During Assad’s Gas Attacks
Assad’s forces launched nine suspected gas attacks this year. That didn’t stop the Trump administration from all but endorsing Assad’s hold over the country.
Kimberly Dozier, Roy Gutman. Noah Shachtman
04.06.17 1:40 AM ET

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/05/trump-admits-white-house-looked-the-other-way-during-assad-s-gas-attacks.html

The Trump administration knew that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was repeatedly attacking his own citizens with toxic chemicals. But the White House tacitly endorsed his continuing rule anyway.

That was the subtext to President Donald Trump’s message Wednesday, when he revealed that the U.S. was aware of a series of chlorine gas attacks leading up to this week’s deadly suspected sarin strike that killed dozens of civilians in an opposition-held town.

And yet, while the toxic bombs were falling, Trump’s administration repeatedly signaled that it would do nothing to remove Assad—a policy shift the Syrian dictator may have taken as a green light that led to Tuesday’s chemical massacre.

“If you look back over the last few weeks, there have been other attacks using gas,” Trump said during a Rose Garden press conference. “You’re now talking about a whole different level,” he said, condemning Tuesday’s attack together with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, but revealing he’d just possibly been willing to let the others slide.


----- 5 -----
Russia to help Syria beef up air defenses
The Russian military says it will help Syria beef up its air defenses after the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base.
The Associated Press | 7 April 2017

http://komonews.com/news/nation-world/russian-military-says-it-will-help-syria-strengthen-its-air-defenses-after-us-strike

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Friday that a "complex of measures" to strengthen Syrian air defenses will be done shortly to help "protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities."

Konashenkov said "the combat efficiency of the U.S. strike was very low," adding that only 23 of the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles reached the Shayrat air base in the province of Homs.

He said it destroyed six MiG-23 fighter jets of the Syrian air force which were under repairs, but didn't damage other Syrian warplanes at the base.

Konashenkov added that the base's runway also has been left undamaged.


----- 6 -----
The Fight Against the Islamic State Just Got Harder
Initial thoughts on the Trump administration’s new front in the Syrian war
Andrew Exum | The Atlantic | Apr 7, 2017

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/trump-syria-strike/522258/

So much for predictions: 24 hours after I confidently and publicly predicted the Trump administration was unlikely to strike the Assad regime, they did just that. On balance, I am glad I was wrong: I thought it a mistake not to have struck the Assad regime in 2013, when it first used chemical weapons in a large-scale attack, and I think the benefits of Thursday’s strikes outweigh the costs, even if I wrote in these pages about my real reservations about going down this path.

We’ll learn much more in the coming days, but here are two quick take-aways from the Trump administration’s decision to strike the Assad regime:

The U.S. hand in negotiations over the fate of Bashar al-Assad is now strengthened. The Trump administration—in an about-face that’s left observers with whiplash—is now talking about the need for Bashar al-Assad to go.

Good.


----- 7 -----
After the Airstrikes on Syria, What’s Next?
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | The New York Times | APRIL 7, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/opinion/after-the-airstrikes-whats-next.html

It was hard not to feel some sense of emotional satisfaction, and justice done, when American cruise missiles struck an airfield in Syria on Thursday. The country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, needed to understand that there would finally be a cost for his brutality, in this case the use of chemical weapons with sarin, a banned nerve agent, that killed scores of civilians earlier this week in one of the worst atrocities of the Syrian civil war.

But it is also hard not to feel unsettled by the many questions raised by President Trump’s decision. Among them: Was it legal? Was it an impetuous, isolated response unrelated to a larger strategy for resolving the complex dilemma of Syria, a nation tormented not just by civil war but also by the fight against the Islamic State? So far, there is no evidence that Mr. Trump has thought through the implications of using military force or figured out what to do next.

For a man who had campaigned on an “America First” platform of avoiding entanglements in overseas conflicts and who repeatedly warned his predecessor, Barack Obama, against military action in Syria, Mr. Trump made a breathtaking turnaround in the space of 63 hours after the chemical attack. He has long argued that the top priority was fighting the Islamic State, not forcing Mr. Assad from power; indeed, as recently as last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, had reinforced the perception that Mr. Trump was perfectly willing to live with Mr. Assad.


----- 8 -----
Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement
By David Filipov and Anne Gearan April 7 at 3:07 PM

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-condemns-us-missile-strike-on-syria/2017/04/07/c81ea12a-1b4e-11e7-8003-f55b4c1cfae2_story.html

MOSCOW — Russia on Friday condemned a U.S. missile strike against Syrian government forces as an attack on its ally and said it was suspending an agreement to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between U.S. and Russian aircraft operating over Syria.

Even as Russian officials expressed hope that the strike against Syrian President Bashad al-Assad’s forces would not lead to an irreversible breakdown in U.S. relations with Moscow, the Kremlin’s decision to suspend the 2015 memorandum of understanding on the air operations immediately raised tensions in the skies over Syria.

President Vladi­mir Putin’s spokesman said the risk of confrontation between aerial assets of the U.S.-led coalition and Russia has “significantly increased” after President Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians.

Later Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it has officially informed the United States that it is suspending its obligations under the memorandum at midnight.


----- 9 -----
US air strikes in Syria: Russia suspends agreement preventing direct conflict with American forces
Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow is suspending memorandum with US that prevented incidents and ensured flight safety in Syria in response to Trump-ordered air strikes
May Bulman | The Independent | Friday 7 April 2017 15:39 BST

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-russia-air-strikes-syria-suspend-agreement-memorandum-direct-conflict-military-donald-trump-putin-a7671631.html

Russia has said it is suspending a deal with the US to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria in response to US air strikes on a Syrian air base.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said following Donald Trump's decision to fire 59 cruise missiles at a military target in Syria on Thursday, Moscow was suspending a memorandum with the US that prevented incidents and ensured flight safety.

Under the memorandum, signed after Russia launched an air campaign in Syria in September 2015, Russia and the US had exchanged information about their flights to avoid incidents in the crowded skies over Syria — where Russia has several dozen warplanes and batteries of air-defence missiles.


----- 10 -----
Rand Paul: Trump needs Congress to authorize military action in Syria
By Brooke Seipel - The Hill - 04/06/17 10:32 PM EDT

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/327736-rand-paul-trump-needed-congressional-authorization-for-military

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Thursday night that President Trump needs congressional authorization for military action in Syria after Trump ordered an airstrike in retaliation for a deadly chemical attack earlier this week.

"While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked," Paul said in a statement shortly after reports that the U.S. had launched more than 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles against an airfield in Syria.

"The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate," Paul said. "Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer, and Syria will be no different."


----- 11 -----
U.S. defense official calls U.S. strike on Syria a 'one-off'
Reuters | Thu Apr 6, 2017

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-oneoff-idUSKBN1790DY

The U.S. cruise missile strike against Syria on Thursday was a "one-off," meaning that it was expected to be a single strike with no current plans for escalation, a U.S. defense official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters he believed that the strike did not signal a major shift in U.S. President Donald Trump's focus on domestic affairs.


----- 12 -----
Ted Lieu: Trump Can't 'Launch Missiles Because He Sees Images That Offend Him'
MSNBC video transcribed on Crooks and Liars | 4/08/17 6:30am

http://crooksandliars.com/2017/04/ted-lieu-d-ca-trumps-syrian-strike-was

There's likely just a small handful of people who truly understand the motives, strategy and objectives of the missile strikes authorized by Trump in Syria. Unfortunately, they are not concerned about human life, they are not patriotic Americans. They are Republicans or Russians.

We do know one thing for certain: Syria has dominated the news. Who cares about the unorthodox confirmation of Gorsuch or how we should relax regulations on poisoning air or water, when you can 'unite' the country against a foreign entity, right? We've seen this technique before, as the constant barrage of ghastly news from Trump's reign comes at us like a 'tennis ball machine' on the highest setting.

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke with MSNBC's Katy Tur about this suspicious and nefariously engineered crisis.


----- 13 -----
Trump’s Options for North Korea Include Placing Nukes in South Korea
by William M. Arkin, Cynthia McFadden, Kevin Monahan and Robert Windrem
NBC News | Apr 7 2017

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-s-options-north-korea-include-placing-nukes-south-korea-n743571

The National Security Council has presented President Trump with options to respond to North Korea's nuclear program — including putting American nukes in South Korea or killing dictator Kim Jong-un, multiple top-ranking intelligence and military officials told NBC News.

Both scenarios are part of an accelerated review of North Korea policy prepared in advance of President Donald Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.

The White House hopes the Chinese will do more to influence Pyongyang through diplomacy and enhanced sanctions. But if that fails, and North Korea continues its development of nuclear weapons, there are other options on the table that would significantly alter U.S. policy.

The first and most controversial course of action under consideration is placing U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea. The U.S. withdrew all nuclear weapons from South Korea 25 years ago. Bringing back bombs — likely to Osan Air Base, less than 50 miles south of the capital of Seoul — would mark the first overseas nuclear deployment since the end of the Cold War, an unquestionably provocative move.

"We have 20 years of diplomacy and sanctions under our belt that has failed to stop the North Korean program," one senior intelligence official involved in the review told NBC News. "I'm not advocating pre-emptive war, nor do I think that the deployment of nuclear weapons buys more for us than it costs," but he stressed that the U.S. was dealing with a "war today" situation. He doubted that Chinese and American interests coincided closely enough to find a diplomatic solution.


----- 14 -----
Trump's Syria Strike Was Unconstitutional and Unwise
The military intervention solved nothing, while bypassing Congress, betraying the president’s non-interventionist supporters, and highlighting his hypocrisy.
The Atlantic | Conor Friedersdorf | Apr 7, 2017

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/president-trumps-syria-strike-was-unconstitutional-and-unwise/522228/

Early the morning of August 21, 2013, six densely populated neighborhoods in Syria “were jolted awake by a series of explosions, followed by an oozing blanket of suffocating gas,” the Washington Post reported at the time. “Unknown to Syrian officials, U.S. spy agencies recorded each step in the alleged chemical attack, from the extensive preparations to the launching of rockets to the after-action assessments by Syrian officials. Those records and intercepts would become the core of the Obama administration’s evidentiary case linking the Syrian government to what one official called an ‘indiscriminate, inconceivable horror’—the use of outlawed toxins to kill nearly 1,500 civilians, including at least 426 children.”

Days later, President Obama declared that he was ready to order a military strike on Syria to punish its leader, Bashar al-Assad, for using chemical weapons while waging civil war, but added that as “president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy,” he would consult Congress. Legislators never did vote to approve a strike, in part because the American public did not want to intervene militarily in Syria.

And a bitter Obama Administration critic, Donald Trump, took to Twitter to weigh in. “If Obama attacks Syria and innocent civilians are hurt and killed, he and the U.S. will look very bad!” the real estate developer wrote. “What I am saying is stay out of Syria,” Trump added days later. “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER,” he emphasized, “DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!”


----- 15 -----
Ethics panel opens investigation into Nunes
By Cristina Marcos and Katie Bo Williams - 04/06/17 11:14 AM EDT
The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/327594-ethics-panel-announces-investigation-into-nunes#.WOatD-eO3qQ.google_plusone_share

The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it is investigating whether Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) made unauthorized disclosures of classified information while overseeing his panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A joint statement from House Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.), said the investigation will focus on whether Nunes violated federal law and the chamber’s rules during a press conference where he announced that intelligence agencies incidentally collected information about associates of President Trump.

Nunes pointed to the House Ethics Committee investigation earlier Thursday when explaining his decision to temporarily step aside from the Russia investigation.

...


----- 16 -----
Former House intel chair: 'Schiff should consider recusing himself'
By Max Greenwood - 04/08/17 05:46 PM EDT
The Hill

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/327976-former-house-intel-chair-schiff-should-consider-recusing-himself

A former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is calling on its top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) to "consider recusing himself" from the panel's investigation into Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia.

In an op-ed published by CNN on Friday, Mike Rogers, a commentator for the network and a former congressman from Michigan, accuses Schiff of politicizing the investigation and contributing to the intelligence committee's "loss of focus."

The op-ed came a day after the panel's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif), recused himself from the probe as the House Ethics Committee investigates allegations that he publicly revealed classified information without authorization.

"Both Nunes and Schiff are equally to blame for the Committee's loss of focus," Rogers wrote. "How can a committee, which handles sensitive classified information, conduct its business when the purportedly secret information is discussed – even by insinuation – publicly in front of the media?"


----- 17 -----
Neil Gorsuch Confirmed by Senate as Supreme Court Justice
By ADAM LIPTAK and MATT FLEGENHEIMER | The New York Times | APRIL 7, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/us/politics/neil-gorsuch-supreme-court.html

WASHINGTON — Judge Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on Friday to become the 113th justice of the Supreme Court, capping a political brawl that lasted for more than a year and tested constitutional norms inside the Capitol’s fraying upper chamber.

The moment was a triumph for President Trump, whose campaign appeal to reluctant Republicans last year rested in large part on his pledge to appoint another committed conservative to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. However rocky the first months of his administration may have been, Mr. Trump now has a lasting legacy: Judge Gorsuch, 49, could serve on the court for 30 years or more.

“As a deep believer in the rule of law, Judge Gorsuch will serve the American people with distinction as he continues to faithfully and vigorously defend our Constitution,” the president said.

The final tally was 54-45 in favor of confirmation.

The confirmation was also a vindication of the bare-knuckled strategy of Senate Republicans, who refused even to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Merrick B. Garland, saying the choice of the next justice should belong to the next president.

Yet the bruising confrontation has left the Senate a changed place. Friday’s vote was possible only after the Senate discarded longstanding rules meant to ensure mature deliberation and bipartisan cooperation in considering Supreme Court nominees. On Thursday, after Democrats waged a filibuster against Judge Gorsuch, denying him the 60 votes required to advance to a final vote, Republicans invoked the so-called nuclear option: lowering the threshold on Supreme Court nominations to a simple majority vote.


----- 18 -----
McConnell’s shining moment
By Alexander Bolton - 04/07/17 02:17 PM EDT - The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/327850-mcconnells-shining-moment

Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is a huge victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a frequent target of conservatives who saved Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat for the right.

When Scalia died suddenly in February 2016, in seemed certain that then-President Obama would be able to tilt the court to the left with his third appointment.

Instead, McConnell issued a statement within hours that essentially shut the door on an Obama appointment, stating “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”


----- 19 -----
Why Republicans May Regret The Nuclear Option
Here are three big reasons why Sen. Mitch McConnell may wish he took his own advice.
By Bill Scher | Politico | April 07, 2017

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/republicans-regret-nuclear-option-filibuster-senate-215000

Sen. Mitch McConnell has won his Supreme Court bet. Last year he risked control of the Senate by pressing even the most vulnerable Republicans to deny Merrick Garland the barest of consideration. He was rewarded with a Trump presidency. Now he will cash in by installing Neil Gorsuch on the Court after deploying the so-called nuclear option, abolishing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.

It’s a victory, too, for all those conservatives who held their noses and pulled the lever for Trump solely because he had promised to put one of their own on the Supreme Court. But when it comes to the confounding politics of the judicial branch, what looks good today might not look good tomorrow.

“You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” said a prescient McConnell in 2013 when Democrats detonated a smaller procedural nuke, removing the filibuster for lower court nominees and executive branch appointments.

Soon it may be McConnell’s turn for regrets. Beyond pocketing Gorsuch—and replacing one conservative justice for another—nothing about what comes next is guaranteed. Here are three big reasons why McConnell may wish he took his own advice.


----- 20 -----
Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America
By Dana Milbank | Opinion writer | April 7, 2017 | The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mitch-mcconnell-the-man-who-broke-america/2017/04/07/8e12f1d8-1bbd-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?utm_term=.ef2856863f1f

“No majority leader wants written on his tombstone that he presided over the end of the Senate,” the minority leader said.

He continued: “Breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American. I just hope the majority leader thinks about his legacy, the future of his party, and, most importantly, the future of our country before he acts.”

Are these the words of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the Republican majority changed Senate rules this week to do away with filibusters of Supreme Court nominations?

Actually, they were uttered in 2013, by then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), when Democrats pushed through a similar filibuster change for lesser nominations.

That McConnell did a 180 on the topic — going from the institutional defender of the filibuster to the man who destroyed it — is unsurprising. He has frequently shifted his views to suit the needs of the moment. But in this case McConnell was correct in 2013, and what he just did this week was even more ruinous than what he accused the Democrats of doing then.

By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.


----- 21 -----
Steve Bannon Isn’t a Genius
By EZEKIEL KWEKU | The New York Times | APRIL 6, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/opinion/steve-bannon-isnt-a-genius.html

Stephen K. Bannon, the architect of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency, is a man with a lot of ideas. He believes that Western civilization is locked in an existential battle with the barbarians at the gates, that nationalists must wrest control from the aloof and corrupt globalist elite, and that America is a once great nation shackled by welfare for both the poor and the wealthy. It was a version of this narrative, market-tested on Breitbart News, that carried Mr. Trump to the presidency. One way to understand Trumpism is as applied Bannonism. The first few months of President Trump’s term have been an attempt to put all of that theory into practice, and by any reasonable standard, that attempt has failed.

As it turns out, there’s a difference between spinning yarns and the careful needlework of piecing together policy and political coalitions.

The travel ban was Mr. Bannon’s first high-profile defeat. The hastily written and sloppily executed executive order, intended to halt immigration and travel from seven Middle Eastern countries, was immediately met by widespread protests. Mr. Bannon attempted to spin this as a feature, not a bug, an attempt to provoke opposition from the right set of enemies, but even nominal allies recoiled from the ban’s capriciousness. Worse, the executive order was quickly halted by the courts, and even a revised version has not yet been able to pass muster with the judiciary.

Mr. Bannon’s most recent defeat is his removal from the National Security Council. As with the travel ban, he and his allies attempted to cast this as part of the plan. In his telling, he had taken a place on the council only to undo the work of Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser; his allies said he was there to monitor Michael Flynn, the first national security adviser under President Trump. With those tasks accomplished, his work on the council was done. These explanations were quickly countered by leaks that portrayed Mr. Bannon as the loser of an internal power struggle, a depiction implicitly confirmed by leaks from his own camp.

...

The rejection of the travel ban by the courts and the political left could turn into political capital for both Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon if a terrorist attack happens on American soil. And while in a normal administration, being removed from a formal post would signal a loss of favor and influence, in Mr. Trump’s world, power and position are uncoupled. Mr. Bannon’s setbacks could all be temporary, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t setbacks.


----- 22 -----
Sessions: Police reform deal may make Baltimore 'less safe'
By Mark Hensch - 04/07/17 01:25 PM EDT - The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/327839-sessions-police-pact-may-make-baltimore-less-safe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says an Obama-era agreement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Baltimore to bring reforms to its police force could make the city "less safe."

A federal judge approved the consent decree on Friday, turning it into a court order. The judge blocked a request from the Trump Justice Department to delay the agreement.

Sessions blasted the decision.

“Today, a federal court entered a consent decree that will require the court and a highly-paid monitor to govern every detail of how the Baltimore Police Department functions for the foreseeable future,” the nation's top law enforcement official said in a statement Friday.

"This decree was negotiated during a rushed process by the previous administration and signed only days before they left office.

“While the Department of Justice continues to fully support police reform in Baltimore, I have grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city.”

Sessions's DOJ had filed a request in the U.S. District Court of the District of Maryland on Monday, asking for 90 more days to review the pact with the Baltimore Police Department.


----- 23 -----
How The Hate Group Alliance Defending Freedom Is Infiltrating Public Schools
Media Matters for America | RACHEL PERCELAY | April 4, 2017

https://mediamatters.org/blog/2017/04/04/how-hate-group-alliance-defending-freedom-infiltrating-public-schools/215909

Media Matters first identified the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as the powerful legal group leading the national campaign against transgender student equality in November 2015. Since then, ADF has continued to email school districts, show up at school board meetings, and file lawsuits to oppose basic protections for transgender students -- and candidates who appear to be affiliated with ADF are even running in local school board races.

In 2015, Media Matters published a piece about ADF’s campaign to influence local school district policies and pass state-level legislation that would ban transgender students from accessing bathroom and locker room facilities consistent with their gender identity. In December 2014, ADF started emailing public school districts across the country to "advise" them of its recommended "Student Physical Privacy" policy. In February 2015, ADF released a model state-level bill to prohibit all public school transgender students from using any facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Later that year, legislators in Nevada, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin all proposed versions of ADF's bill. Similarly, North Carolina’s disastrous anti-transgender House Bill 2 (HB 2), which passed in spring 2016, closely mirrors ADF’s model state-level bill regarding student bathroom access.


----- 24 -----
One Third of Americans Uncomfortable with LGBTQ Colleagues, Study Shows
According to the 2017 GLAAD Accelerating Acceptance Study, they're also uncomfortable with LGBTQ neighbors and family members.
by J.K. Clancy | VICE | Mar 30 2017

https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/one-third-of-americans-uncomfortable-with-lgbtq-colleagues-study-shows

Every year, the non-profit organization GLAAD releases an Accelerating Acceptance study analyzing survey data to better understand how—and how many—Americans accept LGBTQ relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. In this year's poll conducted with the company Harris Polls, GLAAD reports that while the results show progress, a third of Americans feel uncomfortable with their LGBTQ co-workers and other LGBTQ people they interact with in their day-to-day lives.

"To the non-LGBTQ respondents, we ask on a scale how uncomfortable they feel about 'people who are exploring or questioning their sexual orientation,'" GLAAD representative Matt Goodman tells Broadly. "The average of that response was just over 31 percent feeling 'very comfortable' or 'somewhat uncomfortable' with the above question." Allies may consider these results surprising, but LGBTQ people are well aware of discrimination in the workplace. Indiana school teacher Kimberly Hivelyhas filed a lawsuit against a community college that she believes fired her for being a lesbian. Matthew Christiansen, a gay man, sued his employer Omnicom after Chief Digital Officer Joe Cianciotto allegedly called Christiansen a bottom and drew pictures of him as a "half-horse" peeing and pooping. (Omnicom is fighting the case.) Last year, UCLA's Williams Institute found that 20 percent of LGBTQ people report being discriminated against during a job interview.


----- 25 -----
Trump Border Plan Calls for More Phone Searches, Includes Close Allies
Jeff John Roberts | Apr 04, 2017 | Fortune

http://fortune.com/2017/04/04/border-searches-social-media/

In the latest example of the Trump Administration's plan to introduce so-called "extreme vetting" of visitors, border agents may soon demand foreigners turn over a raft of information from their phones such as contact lists and social media accounts.

The proposed security measures could be directed at visitors from close U.S. allies such as France, Britain, and Australia, according to Homeland Security officials who told The Wall Street Journal about the plan.

If the proposal goes forward as described, it would affect both visitors applying for a visa from overseas and those arriving at the border. It would also represent a significant expansion of a recent and controversial Homeland Security measure that asks for visitors from mostly non-European countries to share information about their social media activity.
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