Monday, October 30, 2017

You Three are the first contestants on The Indictments Are Right..

Did anyone else take a step back sometime today, look at the big news story and say to themselves, "Whoa!"  Maybe it's just me.

Obviously I'm talking about the indictment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his assistant Rick Price and multiple charges of money laundering and conspiracy against the US.  Now, many people thought when news trickled out over the weekend that the first charges would be filed that Manafort would be in the cross hairs.  Some thought it would be related to collusion, some thought it was financial, but he was an easy guess to anyone who paid a slight bit of attention. 

Rick Gates' indictment was only slightly less of a shock.  Given that he worked closely with Manafort, that can be an easily understandable choice upon thinking about it.  However, the big shock was campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.  Papadopoulos surprised everyone on multiple counts.  One, almost nobody knew who he was.  Also, as we found out more it turned out he not only was indicted but plead guilty to charges of lying to the FBI in a plea deal...three weeks ago.  Yes, the Mueller probe not only had a guilty plea from someone but kept it under wraps for three weeks, which is almost a miracle in electoral vote winner Donny's Washington.

Now, Papadopoulos is admittedly a smaller player than Manafort or Michael Flynn or any of the family members (Jared Kushner, Don Jr).  However, it turned out he  brought up the possibility of meetings with a professor with ties to the Kremlin in search of dirt on Hillary Clinton.  This alone is a new hit to the side of the good ship Donny and his allies.

Electoral vote winner Donny and his minions, of course, who tried to downplay this, claiming Papadopoulos an unpaid advisor who didn't have a real role with the campaign.  The problem with that is who else was at the soon to be infamous meeting where he brought up meeting Russia.  It wasn't just small campaign types, but his current attorney general Jeffy Sessions and Donny himself.  Yup, both somehow were there.  This adds fuel to the fire that there just maybe might have kinda sorta been collusion between the campaign/administration of now electoral vote winer Donny and Russia.

Admittedly Papadopoulos is a low level player but his plea deal had him cooperating right under everyone's smug noses.  I have a feeling that pressure will be put on Manafort and Price to flip and turn over information.  Whether that's successful or not remains to be seen since many believe Manafort could just as likely stay silent, get convicted, and then get pardoned by Donny.  However, things are up in the air right now on that front.

There's still a lot to be discovered as the indictment is examined and poured over by everyone from legal experts to your average newshound.  What I do know is that any suggestion that the Mueller probe is over and that nothing will come from it is shattered.  There's still a lot to know and we're a long way from done in this long and twisted journey.

I expect we'll be commenting more ont his and news develops.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

St. Louis, The Protests, and What Should Alarm People regardless of Politics (The Story So Far)

By now, many of you have been exposed somewhat to the footage of protests that have emerged in St. Louis over the past few days following the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley in a bench trial last Friday.  If all you know is from the mainstream media, it appears the focus is on damage to property and the emphasis on things turning violent.  However, like many things with the mainstream media, things aren't that simple.

For the purposes of keeping things direct and to the point, we'll focus on things about the past few days.  For those wanting background on what Stockley was on trial for, this blog post gives some insight regarding why some people may be upset .  In addition, this analysis of the court ruling may also provide some insight.

While the media has been focusing on broken windows and vandalism, what I have been hearing from friends in St. Louis is that while there have been some incidents of the violence and damage, the majority of the protests have actually been non violent, if not actually peaceful (I assume that peaceful is being used as a synonym for polite in this instance but I can't be certain).  Other reports I've heard give the appearance that a heavily armed  (militarized) police presence added unnecessary tension to the situation. There are also reports that claims of chemical agents being found on protestors may be apple cider vinegar, which can be used to counteract the effects of tear gas, In the midst of this also comes  reports on social media of street medics being tear gassed (one of the reasons why the ACLU is reportedly filing a lawsuit over police tactics.)

 Then there's reports of undercover cops among the protestors and whether any of them may be stirring things up (conjecture at this point but history shows this has happened in the past so it's possible) to whether or not a cop broke a window of a restaurant in St. Louis (some report it was already broken but video shows there was a breaking sound so things are in the air on this one).  As with any evolving story, there are things that are subject to change so that needs to be taken into account.

Which leaves us to the thing that should piss everyone off, regardless of politics.  I'm talking about the arrest of between 80 to over 100 people around Sunday night/very early Monday morning.  Media reports claim over 80 but I've also heard numbers up to 120 so there's some variance there.  Here the police reportedly used a tactic of telling protesters to disperse but blocking them off so they couldn't disperse (more often referred to as kettling).  While questions actually remain about whether the protestors were actually told to disperse, the technique did arrest a lot of people.  However, whom they picked up once things got settled didn't help matters. 

While there were some protestors that were arrested, there were also a number of people swept up in the arrest kettle who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  These were people who lived on the block, heard the commotion and went to see what was up, some people merely walking to their cars after dinner, a reported tourist or two, a stagehand in town for the cancelled U-2 concert who left a bar not knowing about the lockdown, undercover cop. 

Yes,. an undercover cop who's job was the infiltrate the protests ended up getting handcuffed and, by some reports, bloodied by the police in these raids.  This leads to an interesting conundrum - don't the police have some sort of signal so they know who the undercover cops are?  You see mentions of that on occasion on crime procedural shows so you'd think a city like St. Louis would have that.  Instead, this brought to light an issue of undercover cops infiltrating protests.  To paraphrase what one friend on facebook who lives in the St Louis area posted after this became news, "If the St. Louis police can't tell undercover cops from protestors, how can the rest of us."

The revelation of an undercover cop being arrested (a fact that was revealed to the SWAT team the next day) also puts into question whether other acts of violence that went down during the protests may have been the work of undercover cops.  One friend of mine in St. Louis noted that the protesters were diverted down a street that led to the home of the city's new mayor (who's home had some damage in the aftermath) when the original intention was to disrupt the Forest Park balloon glow event.  While it remains conjecture to say the cops may be causing the property damage, anyone who knows the history of social justice movements knows of law enforcement infiltration and how, in a number of instances, said infiltrators were the ones pushed for more extreme acts, if not outright violence.  The fact that this question is now open to ask about and debate means a can of worms has been opened that may not have been intended by the powers that be in St. Louis.

Meanwhile protests continue in the St. Louis area and the police continue to act on cue by either overreacting (as in the case of the arrests of protestors at the St. Louis Galleria) opr try to shut down areas now even before protests start (as in Belleville, IL where an activist  bringing up the possibility of a protest fro Black Lives Matter in the town square found the city shutting down the town square beforehand (which, ironically, led the local activists to be able to reportedly protest throughout the city as the police qwere awaiting the worst at the town square).  News of reporters being arrested an assaulted by police have made the police reactions open to criticism in regards to freedom of the press to exercise their First Amendment Rights while city officials are slowly having to criticize how the people they hire to protect and serve have acted towards protestors (ost of whom have, in face, been non violent). 

And that's the story so far.  It may be a smaller story in light of Puerto Rico or the possibility of nuclear war but it still continues and likely won't be going away any time soon.

In light of the controversial nature of the topic we have decided to tentatively allow comments.  However, we reserve the right to moderate and remove extremely hateful and problematic ones and may decide to not allow comments on this post in the future.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

As Maria Crosses The Water

The Trouble With Normal is keeping the victims of Hurricane Maria in our thoughts as they recover from the current damage (Dominica).  We're also thinking of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico who may be facing the brunt of Maria very shortly.  All I can say now is I hope people manage to make it out of this okay.  Adding to the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, what will be evident is there's still a lot of things that will need to be done.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Thoughts for Those Affected by Irma and Harvey

Our thoughts go out to the victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean as well as those recovering from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, especially those who weren't able to get away when the storms hit. 

There's a lot of work ahead for people in both regions as they struggle to recover from what they lost in the storms aftermath.  While what's ahead will have various twists and turns, one thing is clear for those who dealt with either storm - this is far from over.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

If Not Sincerely Denouncing White Supremacists is Wrong, Electoral Vote Winner Donny Doesn't Want to Be Right

Here we are - we haven't even made it to Hump Day (Wednesday) yet and electoral vote winner Donny manages to not just completely undo, but draw drawers and take a massive dump on, any sense of normalcy and good will he might have gotten from the mainstream media and really naive people yesterday. 

Yep, I'm, talking about electoral vote winner Donny Trump's little press conference fiasco earlier afternoon where he managed to take his extremely milquetoast condemnation that most people who could put 2 and 2 together knew he didn't really believe (where he actually pointed out the KKK, white supremacists, and others) from yesterday, smash it against a brick wall, then stomp on it and set it on fire before really letting loose and doubling down on supporting his original statement from Saturday (see previous post for that) and taking it further.

In his speech today he claimed the reason he held off on Saturday was that he liked to wait until he knew "all the facts.".  He said the first statement was a Then he decided to take it further by asking "what about the violent alt left?"  As you take that in, realize that Donny not only went back to his "from many sides" bullshit from a few days back but added gasoline to the fucking fire in the process by implying that counter-protestors were just as responsible as the alt right. 

That, alone, is so full of shit it could make acid rain.  Then he took it one step further when he said that note everyone at the rally were neo Nazis.  With that statement alone, he managed to go from being a little miffed over giving a statement he was forced to make after several days of criticism over failing a very low bar to actually seeming to side with white supremacists and neo Nazis.  All while being as completely full of crap as he always is.

Let's start with the claim that he likes to wait and know all the facts before making a direct statement.  According to the Washington Post in his first six months in office he had 836 false of misleading claims.  Before even his running for office Donny was notorious for repeating spreading information that was untrue (remember the birther bullshit against Obama back in 2010 and 2011).  So, it doesn't really take that much work to uncover him running off and either talking or tweeting with little regard for facts. 

As for his refusal to name things until he knew for certain, as I said in the last post (and a ton of other people pointed out in too many places) Donny can get real specific when he wants to be, whether its implying that Mexicans were murderers and rapists or his attacks on everyone from primary opponents (remember his claim that Ted Cruz' dad killed JFK) to his repeated claims that you have ot name a problem before you can solve it (when it came to what he called "radical islamic terrorism" though he always was silent on white terrorists) he had a penchant for being direct and supposedly telling it like it was (his supporters claim, definitely not mine).  Yet, on this tragic event he not only refused to name the problem his so-called condemnation was taken as support from its supposed targets (with the exception of David Duke).  This continued after yesterday's supposed condemnation (which was reported as sincere by the mainstream media with some claiming he was Presidential).  In the aftermath of yesterday's speech Richard Spencer said he didn't take Trump seriously. 

So what happened in a span of 24 or so hours to make Donny not just go back to his original statement but double down?  Part of it came from his statement itself, which was delivered in a way that, to quote Bryan Cranston, felt like "a hostage forced to read a statement by his captors."  It was obvious he was reading a teleprompter and the part about Charlottesville seemed like a speech he was made to give (possibly by Gen. Kelly) than the economic part he wanted to give. 

It's also telling that the unraveling began really before he left eht press conference yesterday when he called Jim Acosta from CNN "fake news" and refused to answer a question on why it took so long to mention white nationalists.  From there came reports he was considering pardoning former AZ Sherrif Joe Arpaio (who was convicted on contempt of court charges), a tweet storm where he inadvertently retweeted someone who called him a fascist, then tweet a cartoon of a "trump Train" barreling through CNN, and a thank you from far right conspiracy theorist and Pizzagate pusher Jack Posobiec.  All that before today's press conference where things really turned to shit.

So why did he go this route?  Who knows.  It's telling though that David Duke, who was critical (if not outright angry) but the last couple of Trump speeches on last weekend thanked him for this one.  While I really hope its not the case that he's so hungry to be liked that he'd openly seek the approval of pieces of shit like Duke, Donny is known for having a desire for approval that seems almost contrary to the job he ran for over a year to get (one where being a shit magnet to some people comes with the territory).  Could he have gotten to this decision on his own?  What role did Steve Bannon play in this round?  We're in the weird world of conjecture here so it's anybody's guess.  However, today's statement managed to take what little good will he had (from the few people who actually believed it) and burned it to the ground.

What's next?  Who knows.  However, this can be wrapped up in combination with his claim that some of the people who were at the protests were angry over history being erased.  Now, personally I think that's bullshit but let's go there.  Suppose there's a person who actually believes in the whole history of the Confederacy theory and feels compelled to go.  Once they get there, they suddenly come across people in paramiliatry style outfits, some carrying the flag of Nazi Germany, and others with weapons.  At that point, this person had a choice: they could either back away, go home or get something to eat or they could stay and join the hatefest,.  Nobody would fault them if they did the former.  However, if they saw the Nazi shit and still decided to go along and march this makes them just as bad as the fucking Nazis.  This is why the history excuse rings hollow at best.

It's also why electoral vote winner Donny's statements today (especially ones where he was angrier at the media than white supremacist) makes him just as bad as the ilk he claimed to condemn.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville Response - Or why Electoral Vote Winner Donny's "Condemnation" Wasn't Worth the Paper It Was Printed On

Like most people with any sense I was horrified and nauseated by the events that went down over the weekend by the so-called "alt right" ("white supremacists" or "white nationalists" is a more appropriate term for them - or maybe "alt reich") at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA.  Between the angry march the night before of ignorant asshats (many in a uniform seemingly similar to what electoral vote winner Donny wears to play golf or tenni. i.e.: a whit epolo shirt, khaki pants, and the infamous red cap) marching with tiki torches to yesterday's rally gone over the edge where the shit these arguments for why abortion should be encouraged tried to provoke inevitably went down. 

After nearly a day of silence electoral vote winner Donny Trump issued one of the most milquetoast statements on the day's events ever made by an elected official.  While a surface level hearing made it sound like a condemnation of hate and bigotry, it really wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.  Here's why.

Let's start with the obvious.  In the statement electoral vote winner Donny said he condemned in the "strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.."  Yes, you read that correctly, he actually said the violence came "from many sides" and didn't even mention white supremacists or Nazis.  Like a tweet he made a couple hours earlier where he urged Americans to "come together as one," he seemed to ignore the root causes of the situation while trying to push a false equivalency narrative.  While it appeared he said the words that vaguely echoed the statement he was supposed to say it seemed more out of obligation (like someone being forced to apologize for a wrong at a workplace out of fear of getting fired for example) than anything close to a sincere reflection or acknowledgement of national grief over this.

I know some supporters of Donny might want to say that "he's the president" and that he has to craft things in a way to reflect all people not just his base - thus he can't get into specifics.  However, as Shaun King points out Donny Trump is "specific when he feels like it."  From his response (as a presidential candidate) to the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL in June 2016 (in which he claimed to be "right on radical Islamic terrorism" [Islamic is capitalized in his tweet]. to his continuing to refer to his former opponent as "Crooked Hillary," there are numerous moments when our now electoral vote winner is willing to be specific in who he targets.  In fact, many of his supporters during the Presidential campaign claimed they supported him because he "told it like it is.."  Because of this his call for unity without specifics can't be taken seriously alone.  However, if you look deeper the reason Donny and company didn't call out white supremacists is more telling.

Keeping with his "condemnation" itself, a look at how it was taken by its intended targets.  A strong statement of condemnation would've made the point clear and would've garnered an angry response from the "white nationalists."  Instead, many of them supported a statement the mainstream media tried to paint as electoral vote winner Donny condemning them.  Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo Nazi web site Daily Stormer called Trump's respone "good"and mentioned that Trump "when asked to condemn walked out the room.  Really really good, God bless  him."  Infamous white nationalist figure Richard Spencer took Donny's "violence on many sides" line even further when he asked in a tweet if Trump "just denounced antifa? (anti fascist activists)" While there was one notable exception to this in David Duke's tweeting his disapproval of Trump's statement claiming that said statement attacked them and that Donny should remember "it was white americans put you in the presidency" the fact that two high profile white supremacists asshats actually voiced some form of approval on a statement that was allegedly supposed to condemn them is an obvious reflection on Donny's base and a hint of where his loyalties may lie.

At this point  some readers may be angry at what I just said.  Some may want to shout the usual insults towards anyone remotely on the left side of the political spectrum such as "libtard," "snowflake" or that my saying that is trying to shut down any speech I disagree with.  Others may be more subtle 0 asking if I really believe that Donny's base includes Nazis and white supremacists.  The latter may respond with "Hey, Trump can't be responsible for every person that votes for him."  or "Just because a few bad apples vote for him doesn't mean the whole movement is bad."  While I understand that not every individual that voted for electoral vote winner Donny is an admitted and open white supremacist, there is one reason why Donny has to take responsible for these people and their actions, especially yesterday - HE ACTIVELY COURTED THEM WHILE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!!!!

One of his earliest supporters of his campaign was former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke who praised Trump and actually said that voting against Trump was "treason to your heritage."  Duke was also at the rally over the weekend claiming its existence was to "fulfill the promise of Donald Trump."  As a candidate Donny's initial refusal to disavow Duke's support (and only halfheartedly disavowing it after much pressure) marked a massive break from tradition where politicians, even those with fairly racist leanings, knew to let people know that the support of Duke and his ilk weren't welcome.  Donny's immediate inaction was an opening of the floodgates.

"But that's just one case?" some of you may ask.  "You can't judge everyone by David Duke, using one example."  While it's true that a candidate can't patrol every person who supports them and that its inevitable that a few assholes will pop up along the way, Donny claimed to not know about Duke (even though interview footage from as far back at the 1990s shows otherwise) and refused to immediately respond to his support in kind.  It's also not an isolated incident.

Along the campaign trail, Donny's campaign repeated retweeted posts from white nationalist twitter sites (including a highly inaccurate one regarding homicide rates and police) even after he supposedly disavowed David Duke.  In addition, both Eric trump and Donald Jr made appearances on the Liberty Roundtable radio show, where they were interviewed by guest James Edwards, a white nationalist.  In Eric's case this happened a month (give or take a few days) before the election and a week after Trump economic advisor  Stephen Moore appeared on the show.  Add to this candidate Donny being endorsed by the KKK newspaper and the support, if not outright endorsement, of noted figures in the white nationalist movement such as Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer (both of whom's liking of Donny's so called condemnation is mentioned earlier) and a pattern becomes clear that, far from being an anomaly, candidate Donny and his ilk sought out their support somewhat actively, if not full throttle.  Whether it's sincere or a cynical tactic to win and election is irrelevant since the damage is done.

Even after winning office electoral vote winner Donny continued to throw the white supremacists bones of access in the form of hiring former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon (who has said he wanted to make his website a meeting place of the alt-right) as chief strategist, Stephen Miller as senior advisor for policy, and Sebastian Gorka to a position working for the National Security Advisor.  All three of these people have supported positions that have undertones ranging from anti Muslim prejudice to outright thinly veiled racism to them throughout their careers.  This further entrenches the fact that Donny's statement condemning hate and violence rings hollow since he couldn't even take the basic steps of making sure people of similar views didn't get key positions on his own goddamn staff. 

So where does that leave us now?  A small glimmer of hope lies in the number of Repub politicians somehow taking stronger stances on condemning what happened yesterday than electoral vote winner Donny (though they still haven't taken responsibility for not truly disavowing this shit during the campaign).  However, as Donny moves on to fearing further investigations and threatening a possible nuclear war he continues to be oblivious to how his statement did nothing to heal divisions and, in fact, actually further emboldened white supremacist shitbags who took Donny's so called "condemnation" as a sign of approval more than anything else.  Until we deal with the systemic underpinnings of racism and white supremacy in our society and take concrete steps to rectify the damage it has caused then the cycle of hate will only continue - and possibly get worse.

And that is why electoral vote winner Donny Trump's so called "condemnation: of the events in Charlottesville, VA yesterday wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For the time being I have decided to allow comments to this post.  However, I wish to state that I reserve the right to block ignorant hateful bullshit if it pops up and may choose not to allow comments on this post in the future if circumstances demand it. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Just in time for back to school it's....A GRAND JURY!!!

So, as you know by now, it happened.

Yesterday (Thursday August 3, 2017) Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller's investigation into connections between Russia and the administration/campaign of electoral vote winner Donny Trump reached a turning point of sorts when it was announced that Mueller would convene a Grand Jury on the matter.  This takes the investigation onto a level of seriousness that can't easily be denied.

What does this mean?  One simple explanation is that there's something serious in what happened between Russia and the Trump crowd.  At this point in time we're not entirely sure what it is (though we have ideas).  However, if this whole thing was a 'nothing burger" (to steal the right's latest co-opted and overused phrase) or a "Witch hunt" (as electoral vote winner Donny likes to tweet) it's unlikely that it would've reached this stage.  Would an investigation still be happening?  Probably, but if there was nothing there it would likely be dotting the i's and crossing the t's at this point.  So let's ask the question that;s on our minds: "What caused this?"

When I say we don't know exactly what in the search so far led to a Grand Jury being impaneled, there are good reasons to mention this.  For example, since the investigation began more lawyers were hired and reports emerged that the investigation may look into any possible business dealings on top of whether there was collusion in the actual election,  In addition, the long, winding, and sometimes confusing, road has been filled with Donny's minions feeding a mix of lies they later got caught on, reports of forgotten disclosures on forms required to work at the White House, and, of course, the infamous Donald Jr meeting with Russia where a draft statement that it was about adoption was exposed by Donny Jr. via a string of tweets where attached e-mails found that they were looking for dirt on Hillary Clinton.  And this is the stuff we know about.  With the investigation having access or trying to access information we don't have means there's something more serious to the potential rot that has gone down in the last couple of years with candidate Donny's campaign turned electoral vote winner Donny's administration.

There is also another possibility that means, even if the connection between people affiliated with electoral vote winner Donny and Russia were only moderately dangerous, that a Grand Jury was needed.  What got covered up?

We already know that covering up has gone down.  While the most recent was the leak that revealed that electoral vote winner Donny in fact dictated the infamous original statement that his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer on the campaign trail was about adoption (a rationale sunk like a winning blow in a game of Battleship when Donny Jr tweeted out pics of the e-mails), Donny;'s behavior since the investigation started has given the impression that something is being hidden.  Whether it's his alleged role in trying to get the Seth Rich murder conspiracy or their constant attempts to claim Hillary Clinton is actually the guilty one not them the past few months have shown that the more dirt gets uncovered the more Donny and company want to present things as if there was nothing to cover up.

So what's behind the ned for a Grand Jury?  Is it election collusion?  Something unsavory in Donny's financials that raised red flags?  A cover up that fits the description of the phrase, "it's not the crime, it's the cover up?"  At this point it may be anyone;s guess.  What is known now is that there's something serious on some level that needs to be brought to light.  Regardless of what happens with the Grand Jury, we now realize nobody can say with any honesty or seriousness that there was nothing going on between the current administration and Russia.  We just need to find out what exactly it was.