Friday, January 27, 2017

Last Call For Economic Anxiety

Remember folks, it's all about jobs and the economy, and it certainly isn't about Trump making America's 400-year-long love affair with bigotry open and acceptable again.

A Massachusetts man is facing hate crime charges, accused of attacking a Muslim woman Wednesday night while she worked at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Prosecutors said the man invoked President Donald Trump's name as he threatened the woman and mocked her religion.
Authorities arrested 57-year-old Robin Rhodes, of Worcester, Massachusetts, on charges including assault, unlawful imprisonment and menacing, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Thursday.

Economic anxiety a go-go, baby!

Prosecutors said Rhodes punctuated his claim with a kick to Khan's leg and blocked her doorway with his body. He moved when another employee came to Khan's aid, but followed when Khan ran past him to the lounge's front desk.

Rhodes allegedly followed Khan, got down on his knees and "began to bow down in imitation of a Muslim praying," Brown said.

"(Expletive) Islam, (expletive) ISIS," Rhodes yelled, authorities said. "Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens."

Khan's right leg was injured in the confrontation. Police charged Rhodes with assault, unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment as hate crimes. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison.

Yeah, I remember all those people who never said "Obama's in charge now, he's going to get rid of all you white people" eight years ago.

And no, I don't feel sorry in the least that this guy is looking at four years for this.

The Dem-pire Strikes Back?

I'll believe this from Politico no earlier than I see it actually happening, because right now Democrats are spineless and supine and I have to listen to excuses about why they should allow Trump to have his cabinet picks with nothing more than token resistance.

According to interviews with roughly two dozen party leaders and elected officeholders, the internal debate over whether to take the conciliatory path — to pursue a high-road approach as a contrast to Trump’s deeply polarizing and norm-violating style — is largely settled, cemented in place by a transition and first week in office that has confirmed the left’s worst fears about Trump’s temperament. 
“They were entitled to a grace period, but it was midnight the night of the inauguration to 8 o'clock the next morning, when the administration sent out people to lie about numerous significant things. And the damage to the credibility of the presidency has already been profound,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “They were entitled to a grace period and they blew it. It’s been worse than I could have imagined, the first few days." 
That conclusion comes after two months of intraparty debates about how to outwardly treat the Trump White House, a process which played out not only in public but also in private meetings and conference calls between leading party operatives, elected officials and message crafters. 
“I predict the coming divide in the Democratic Party won’t be ideological so much as it will be between those who resist and oppose and those who accommodate and appease,” strategist David Brock told roughly 120 donors gathered in Florida over the weekend to plot a path forward. 
That mind-set has permeated every outpost of the party from governors' mansions to Congress. Whether it’s in statehouses or the offices of state attorneys general, the Democratic National Committee or the constellation of outside left-leaning political groups, Trump’s benefit of the doubt is gone. 
At a forum this week for candidates running to be the next DNC chair, the very idea that the party should try to work with the new president was dismissed as absurd. 
“That’s a question that’s absolutely ridiculous,” said New Hampshire party Chairman Raymond Buckley, when asked whether the Democratic Party should try to work with Trump where it can find opportunities. 
Television commentator Jehmu Greene offered: “If you saw the millions of people who marched in the streets this weekend and participated in it, they are looking to the Democratic Party. We have an opportunity as a party to be that place of resistance. So we have to form a solid resistance as a party. And no, it is not about working with Donald Trump.” .

Greene is right, but so far I've seen nothing but talk, and zero action to stand against Trump.  The fact that the Dems are planning on the Full Mitch could explain why House Republicans want the Senate GOP to go ahead and kill the filibuster now and make Dem resistance a moot point.

Rep. Trent Franks had a simple question for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a private GOP meeting here Wednesday: Would he take up anti-abortion legislation the House passed? McConnell shot back that it would never get through the Senate because Democrats aren’t “pro-life” and have the votes to stop it. 
So why don’t you just change the rules? Rep. Bruce Poliquin demanded moments later. McConnell dodged, suggesting it's not going to happen.

Congressional Republicans came here for a private retreat this week hoping to get on the same page on plans to repeal Obamacare and overhaul the tax code. But age-old tensions between the fast-moving House and plodding Senate percolated just hours into their three-day gathering. 
House Republicans, eager to pass conservative priorities they’ve campaigned on for years, are already feeling restless that the Senate — and its higher hurdle for passage — will blunt their efforts. They’d love to kill the filibuster, a nuclear option the tradition-bound McConnell is loath to deploy. 
“The public doesn’t want to hear about process; they want to see us get stuff done,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.). “I think there is a very low threshold of tolerance among our electorate right now for historical process (and) precedent.”

I don't blame Franks.  The House GOP knows it has its best shot in decades at shock and awe austerity cuts, and there's a chance that Chuck Schumer might find his spine somewhere.

Again, I'll believe it when I see it.  The wild card is the Trump regime.  If stuff Trump promises gets blocked by the Dems, how long will he tolerate Mitch?

Russian To Judgement, Con't

Our good friend Vladimir has definitely figured out that the best time to get his wetwork done is while the world is distracted by Trump, and he's taken the opportunity this week to bury the biggest spy story in years.

A senior official in the Russian cyberintelligence department that American officials say oversaw last year’s election hacking has been arrested in Moscow on charges of treason, a Russian newspaper reported Wednesday
The arrest of Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the main successor agency to the K.G.B., is a rare instance of turmoil in the country’s usually shadowy cybersecurity apparatus slipping into public view. 
Mr. Mikhailov served in the F.S.B.’s Center for Information Security, the agency’s cyberintelligence branch, which has been implicated in the American election hacking. But it is not clear whether the arrest was related to those intrusions. 
He was detained along with one of Russia’s leading private-sector cybersecurity experts, Ruslan Stoyanov, the head of computer incident response investigations at the Kaspersky Lab, which makes antivirus programs. 
The company confirmed in a statement that Mr. Stoyanov had been arrested, but said his arrest “has nothing to do with Kaspersky Lab and its operations.” 
Still, the arrests of the men, who had cooperated in Russia to prosecute cybercriminals, shed light on the intersection of cybercrime, private antivirus companies and the Russian security services. 
Western cybersecurity analysts have said there are indications that the security services recruited among criminal hackers to carry out politicized computer intrusions ahead of last summer’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the United States, giving the hackers impunity to commit financially motivated attacks in exchange for their expertise. 
The arrest raised the possibility that Mr. Mikhailov and Mr. Stoyanov had interfered in this cooperation. The newspaper article, in Kommersant, which cited unidentified sources in Moscow’s technology industry and the F.S.B., said the treason charges related to work on criminal hacking investigations.

For the Russians to ring up one of their own in the FSB on treason charges is massive.  When the NYT here says that Mikhailov and Stoyanov "interfered in this cooperation" it means they were passing info to the US.  Josh Marshall explains:

Last night I noted that a top Russian spy who is the number two person in the FSB department which allegedly oversaw the US election hacking operation had been arrested and charged with treason. Was he a sacrificial lamb and olive branch to Trump? A way for Putin to claim that his spy services had perhaps gone rogue? Or was he suspected of being a source to US intelligence? People who fall from grace in Putin's Russia are often dealt with with trumped up criminal prosecutions. But treason is a special charge
Well, now we have reports that Sergei Mikhailov is suspected of being a US asset at the heart of Russian intelligence.

And that leads us directly back to the Trump regime.

But this immediately poses the question: if Mikhailov was a US asset, how was he compromised? Did the information put out by US intelligence somehow lead to his exposure? Without putting too fine a point on it, a number of close advisors to President Trump are being scrutinized for ties to Russia. Some of them participated in the intelligence briefings the President receives. 
Do we have a very big problem?

The scenario that Trump's people let slip that Mikhailov was working for US intelligence through sheer incompetence, or that his cover was blown deliberately and the Russians were told outright that one of their top cyberspies was a US asset?  That's not really in the far-fetched category given this bunch of assholes.  As Marshall points out, maybe he was a sacrificial lamb.

Another possibility is that Putin knew Mikhailov was turned all along and is choosing now to dispose of him, but if that's the case why not do it quietly?  It's not like "Oops this guy had an accident and fell down an elevator shaft on to 27 bullets" isn't Putin's m.o. or anything.  Treason charges tend to draw attention.

The larger point is however that if this is part of Trump's war with the US intelligence community, things just reached an all-new level of bad, and I'm sure Congress has some questions at this point.

Will they even ask them?


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