DCI Brennan Testimony Before House Select Committee on Intelligence

Here’s the live feed:

Every GOP committee member has yielded their time back to Congressman Gowdy after asking a question or two that are tangential at best to the issue before the committee. Congressman Gowdy then treats DCI Brennan as if he is a hostile witness in a case that Gowdy is prosecuting. DCI Brennan is not having any of it and is not amused. Here is a great example from earlier in the hearing:

Human Auto-Tune’s Vapid Pitch

Low hanging synergy-fruit Ivanka Trump brought her women’s empowerment corporate cliché roadshow and shakedown fest to Saudi Arabia along with her embarrassing father. Unsurprisingly, real-life activists who are resisting the nightmarish autocracy in Saudi Arabia weren’t buying what the auto-tuned Trump was selling. Via WaPo:

“All the women that Ivanka Trump met have a guardian,” said Aziza al-Yousef, a 58-year-old activist here who has campaigned to abolish the guardianship rules [i.e., necessity of obtaining male permission for work, education, travel, healthcare, etc.]. A retired professor of computer science at King Saud University, she was recently rebuffed when she tried to deliver a 14,700-signature petition on eliminating the guardian system to the government.

“All these achievements depend on whether you’re lucky to be born in a family where your guardian will be understanding, will help you,” Yousef said. “If Ivanka is interested in women empowerment and human rights, she should see activists, and not just officials.”

“It’s not about Ivanka speaking at the meeting,” said activist Loujain al-Hathloul, “but is it actually useful for these women from Saudi Arabia to speak as well? Is their contribution in such events helpful to us Saudi women in general, not princesses or business owners or rich women? Does it actually help us? I doubt it.”

I hear you, Saudi sisters. The ambulatory teeth whitening strip’s* patter about women’s empowerment rings a bit hollow in the States too. Particularly when she holds herself up as an example of how pluck and determination drive entrepreneurial success.

Pffft. It would be a lot easier to watch these entitled pricks monetize the U.S. government if they didn’t expect us to pretend that they’re doing us all a favor.

PS: Help the sweet old lost dog pictured below find his way home — details here!

And open thread!

* H/T: Sam Bee

History Turns on Small Things

There were too many factors that contributed to the outcome of the 2016 election to identify just one overriding cause, IMO. You can count them off like stone weights of varying sizes that, combined, sunk the SS Clinton: sexism, racism, Russian interference, Comey’s overweening self-regard, the “change” election dynamic, a click-driven-Clinton-hating Beltway media, celebrity culture, etc.

But a case can be made that one key pivot-point for the 2016 election was the oft-photographed contents of Anthony Weiner’s underpants. Via WaPo, Weiner’s latest round of legal trouble, which unearthed irrelevant emails that nonetheless upended the election, will be resolved today:

Former congressman Anthony Weiner is expected to appear in federal court Friday to plead guilty in a sexting case, according to a representative with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan said Weiner will appear at 11 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska but declined to release further information. The New York Times, citing an unnamed source, reported that as part of a plea agreement, Weiner plans to plead guilty to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor. He has reportedly turned himself over to federal agents, according to the Times.

The contemptible shit-stain will probably get probation and community service for sending dick pics to a 15-year-old girl. I guess that’s roughly commensurate with the magnitude of the crime.

But even if the judge throws the book at him and sentences him to 10 years, it would feel inadequate as payback for what Weiner set in motion. The orange fart cloud that engulfs the planet did not emerge from Weiner’s shorts. Still, how ironic, nauseating and infuriating on every level that the nasty little pervert played a role at all.

History turns on small things. Sometimes very, very small things.

Open Thread

I was flipping a coin between this and the Kevin Bacon Animal House All is Well memes.

Open thread

What Will the Afternoon Bring? (Open Thread)

Published at The Washington Post this morning:

The White House’s absolutely brutal night, in 6 headlines

For any president, one of these headlines would be very bad news. For President Trump, they all came in a span of 12 hours:

“Justice Department to appoint special counsel to oversee probe of Russian meddling in 2016 election”
“House majority leader told colleagues last year: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump”
“Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed — after being paid as its agent”
“Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House”
“Israeli Source Seen as Key to Countering Islamic State Threat”
“Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians — sources”

It was a dizzying Wednesday night for political reporters and followers alike, with a bevy of new information being thrown at them on multiple fronts. And it continued into early Thursday morning with that last headline, from Reuters.

More scandals in 12 hours than Obama had in eight years!

Then came the Ailes news! And word that Twitler is holding a press conference at 3:45. This is shaping up to be a schadenfreudelicious day.

But I think the shitgibbon’s gonna harsh my mellow at this press conference by announcing Joe Lieberman as his pick for FBI director. That will have two terrible consequences, one long-term, the other short-term. Here they are in that order:

1) We’ll have to look at Lieberman’s stupid fucking face and hear his mewling voice for the next 10 goddamn years.

2) The appointment will be heralded as a sign that Trump is finally growing into the job. Serious people will speak of bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle, as if Lieberman wasn’t a sanctimonious prick who is never happier than when he’s shivving a Democrat while polishing McCain’s knob.

Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he is what we knew he was all along: an unhinged, impulsive, narcissistic bully whose only real talent is for swindling and self-promotion. But I think the vapid Beltway choir has one more chorus of the Pivot Polka left in them. We shall see.

Open thread!

It is Important to Bear Witness: Protestors Beaten by Erdogan’s Bodyguards

Yesterday after Turkish President Erdogan’s meetings with the President, his bodyguards decided to give a beat down to a number of protestors (Kurdish Americans, Yazidi Americans, Kurdish and Yazidi immigrants to America, Americans who are neither Kurdish or Yazidi) in front of the Turkish ambassador’s residence. VOA Turkish has the video.

Andrea Mitchell confirmed what I suspected last night:

A similar response by Erdogan’s bodyguards to protestors also took place last year.

But the event was seemingly upstaged by proceedings outside the venue, where protesters appeared to clash with Erdogan supporters, as well as the controversial Turkish leader’s security detail.

During the 2016 incident Erdogan’s security detail actually went so far as to attack their hosts at the Brookings Institute.

Later, a shoving match between what appeared to be a Brookings Institute worker and Turkish security broke out. “I am in charge of this building,” the apparent Brookings employee shouted as the two tangled. A Foreign Policy reporter and others holding cameras outside the event were also scolded by Turkish security.  One cameraman was chased across the street by Turkish guards.

In yesterday’s incident, as I would have expected in the 2016 one, the official bodyguards to President Erdogan were armed, which has been confirmed by analysis of stills from the video.

A number of folks in comments last night, as well as in comments today have asked why the DC Police responded the way they did. I think my answer in a comment from last night makes sense:

The cops did a decent job with less than lethal force. Given that the Turks who were assaulting and battering the protestors would clearly have beaten them to death if given the chance, I would not have been opposed to them escalating to lethal force. Unfortunately that is really the only thing that the guys giving out the beatings respond to.

As to why they didn’t? They had most likely been prepped by the Department of State Diplomatic Security folks and given instructions about what the rules of engagement would and would not permit. This is a diplomatic incident. And people have been severely beaten and hurt. But it is containable. Ventilating the first goon to charge the protestors when he ignored the order to stop and back off would be a major, major problem.

Given that Erdogan’s security detail were armed it is a good thing that the Metropolitan Police officers responding on site did not escalate from less than lethal to lethal responses. Doing so could have turned a group beating into a shoot out and likely a bloodbath. This would have created the conditions for an even larger rift with a NATO ally that could be exploited by the US’s competitors (Russia).

So what happens now? Under any other administration the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, working in conjunction with DC’s Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security would be working to positively identify the members of Erdogan’s security detail involved. They would then be declared persona non grata and barred from reentry into the United States. What will actually happen given the current administration I have no idea.

Update at 1:30 PM EDT

Before anyone asks why no one being threatened/beaten didn’t draw a firearm and defend themselves, the simple reason is that Washington DC has dragged out implementing the Supreme Court ruling Heller V DC. As a result it is almost impossible to get a concealed carry permit in DC. Additionally, Washington DC’s code defines self defense in the following manner:

You are entitled to claim self-defense: (1) if you actually believe you are in imminent danger of bodily harm; and (2) if you have reasonable grounds for that belief. You may use the amount of force which, at the time of the incident, you actually and reasonably believe is necessary to protect yourself (or a third person) from imminent bodily harm. This may extend to the use of deadly force if you actually and reasonably believe you are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm from which you can save yourself only by using deadly force against your assailant.

Even if the other person is the aggressor and you are justified in using force in selfdefense, you may not use any greater force than you actually and reasonably believe is necessary under the circumstances to prevent the harm you reasonably believe is intended or to save your life or avoid serious bodily harm.

Under the case law of the District of Columbia, the District is neither a “right to stand and kill” nor a “duty to retreat to the wall before killing” jurisdiction. The District case law has established a “middle ground.” 2

You should take reasonable steps, such as stepping back or walking away, to avoid the necessity of taking a human life, so long as those steps are consistent with your own safety. However, you do not have to retreat or consider retreating when you actually and reasonably believe that you are in danger of death or serious bodily harm and that deadly force is necessary to repel that danger.


Loose Tweets Cost Seats?

Because they’ve hitched their wagon to a deranged, ignorant, pussy-grabbing “star,” the Republicans and sundry government employees have been compelled to undertake quasi-serious investigations into false and frankly ridiculous claims and allegations. This began literally on Day One, when Trump pressured the US Parks Service to produce nonexistent photographic evidence to support his lies about the inauguration crowd size.

To stave off the narcissistic injury of his massive popular vote loss, Trump claimed that millions of illegal ballots were cast, sending Republican minions scurrying to bolster that absurd claim. Now a panel headed by a racist vote suppressor has been convened, at taxpayer expense, to support that lie and hatch additional racist voter suppression schemes as a bonus.

The “wire tapp” lie about President Obama similarly goaded Republicans into investigating an absurdity. Trump was just repeating fatuous nonsense from Breitbart and Fox News, but he is no longer some random ranty douchebag flinging spurious allegations like verbal turds from his perch on a golden toilet; the morons who yoked their fate to his were obligated to treat the accusation seriously.

But if Brian Beutler is correct in a New Republic piece published today, the tweet below has the most potential to bring the whole house of cards crashing down on Trump’s head:

Beutler notes that while versions of the truth provided by Trump and his White House flacks tend to vary wildly, they’ve been notably consistent in keeping mum about the tapes alluded to in the tweet. He speculates that’s because those within the administration capable of higher cognitive functioning know they’ve boxed themselves in but good:

For a White House as undisciplined as this one, the tape stonewalling scans less as a political position than a legal one. White House counsel Don McGahn, or someone else who understands the potential gravity of the situation, may well have told everyone to keep their mouths shut. If the White House were to acknowledge that there are no tapes, Trump would be caught in a very troubling fabrication to intimidate a witness, but if the White House confirms that tapes exist, Trump would face the legal obligation to preserve them and perhaps even surrender them to Congress.

We know to a near certainty that the White House will come under immense pressure to come clean. If Comey testifies publicly before the Senate, it is likely he will confirm under oath that Trump sought his personal loyalty, thus resolving the mystery of the White House tapes one way or another. Trump might dispute Comey’s claims, but if he doesn’t release any tapes to prove his case, it would suggest either that the tapes don’t exist or that they vindicate Comey. The question at the heart of the tape scandal would tighten from “Do the tapes exist?” to “Did the president lie about the existence of the tapes, or about their content?” That’s a question people working in the White House will feel much more pressure to address than the one they face today.

It strikes me as overwhelmingly likely that the truth lies in one of these two scenarios. But even if Trump has recordings of his conversations with Comey, and they vindicate Trump—as he coyly suggests in his tweet—it is small solace because he will have recorded himself using his power to fire Comey as leverage to discourage an FBI investigation. That is, he will have gathered evidence against himself, documenting his attempt to obstruct justice.

Check and mate? Not while the Party Before Country Party hopes it can wring tax cuts, court appointments and voter suppression measures (as a bulwark against its overwhelming unpopularity) out of Trump.

But you know the establishment GOP is longing to wrestle the Tang Tyrant down, wind duct tape around his big fat mouth and break his tiny tweeting thumbs. It’s difficult to see how they make this White House “tapes” bullshit go away, given the dilemma Beutler outlines above.

There are really no good ways to spin it. And even if the GOP manages to avoid an independent investigation for now, if the party is increasingly seen as carrying water for an addled liar leading an incompetent fail parade, that may cost them enough seats to lose control of congress. And then all bets are off.