Sunday, February 12, 2017

Last Call For Miller Time (and Space)

Apparently since Kellyanne Conway is grounded or something, the Trump regime sent Bannon sidekick Stephen Miller around to the Sunday shows today to make some sort of magical case for "massive voter fraud" that Trump keeps screaming about, but nobody was having it.

White House policy adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday insisted that the Trump administration has provided ample evidence of widespread voter fraud, an unsubstantiated claim that President Trump has said cost him the popular vote. 
“The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud, with respect to people being registered in more than one state,” Miller told ABC’s “This Week.”

“Dead people voting, non-citizens being registered to vote. George, it is a fact and you will not deny it that are massive numbers of non-citizens in this country who are registered to vote.”

ABC host George Stephanopoulos specifically asked about Trump’s recent claim that voter fraud is the reason he lost in New Hampshire. 
Stephanopoulos pushed back against Miller, telling him he did not provide any evidence of widespread voter fraud. 
You have provided zero evidence of the president’s claim that he would’ve won the general — the popular vote if 3 [million] to 5 million illegal immigrants hadn’t voted. Zero evidence for either one of those claims,” Stephanopoulos said.

Oops.  In fact it didn't go well at all.

After appearing on four Sunday news shows, Stephen Miller, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, was ruthlessly mocked on Twitter. 
Broadcasting from the White House briefing room, Miller repeated the same talking points in interviews with CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox. The Trump adviser likely refused to appear on CNN due to the White House’s ongoing campaign against the cable network. 
Miller defended Trump’s travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries by fear mongering and insisting that the judiciary was not the “supreme” branch of government for deciding what is constitutional. He also claimed that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was “always” 100 percent correct.

So at this point Miller is on TV screaming so loudly about voter fraud that nobody believes him.  Of course, as I've said before, when a tyrant continues about things that aren't true, he plans to act like they are.

Spies Dislike Trump

It seems America's Intelligence Community has finally had enough of the Trump regime, and that they're starting to make things extremely uncomfortable for him. John Schindler:

How things are heating up between the White House and the spooks is evidenced by a new report that the CIA has denied a security clearance to one of Flynn’s acolytes. Rob Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer selected to head up the NSC’s Africa desk, was denied a clearance to see Sensitive Compartmented Information (which is required to have access to SIGINT in particular). Why Townley’s SCI was turned down isn’t clear—it could be over personal problems or foreign ties—but the CIA’s stand has been privately denounced by the White House, which views this as a vendetta against Flynn. That the Townley SCI denial was reportedly endorsed by Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director selected by Trump himself, only adds to the pain.

There is more consequential IC pushback happening, too. Our spies have never liked Trump’s lackadaisical attitude toward the President’s Daily Brief, the most sensitive of all IC documents, which the new commander-in-chief has received haphazardly. The president has frequently blown off the PDB altogether, tasking Flynn with condensing it into a one-page summary with no more than nine bullet-points. Some in the IC are relieved by this, but there are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn’t paying attention to intelligence.

In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office
. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.

Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.

What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

None of this has happened in Washington before. A White House with unsettling links to Moscow wasn’t something anybody in the Pentagon or the Intelligence Community even considered a possibility until a few months ago. Until Team Trump clarifies its strange relationship with the Kremlin, and starts working on its professional honesty, the IC will approach the administration with caution and concern.

In other words, the CIA, FBI, and especially the NSA are proceeding as if the Trump regime is already fully compromised, which between Mike Flynn,  Trump's adult sons Eric and Donald Jr., and Paul Manafort still lurking about, should be absolutely considered as true.

And if the NSA is withholding actionable intel from Trump that could lead to something bad because of the Russians wholly owning the regime, what then?

What's it going to take before Trump gets kicked out?

Sunday Long Read: Defining DeVos

If you want to know what awaits America's public education system under the Trump regime and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, you have to go no further than Grand Rapids, Michigan as a primary example.

Mid-century Michigan conservatives no doubt felt their ideological zeal ratcheting up because, for much of the post-war era, unions called most of the shots in the state’s political economy. Especially during the 1970s, when Amway was hitting its stride and the young DeVoses and Princes—whose ranks included Betsy’s brother Erik, who would gain plenty of infamy of his own as the founder of the private-army concern Blackwater—were coming of age, union power was peaking in the state. By 1974, unions represented more than 40 percent of workers in Michigan, the highest rate in the country. The shift in the balance of power between labor and capital, set off when the auto workers sat down in Flint in 1936, had been tilting steadily in the workers’ direction ever since. Worse still for free-market ideologues of the DeVosian stripe, public sector workers in Michigan—its teachers, police and firefighters—had collective bargaining rights too. Not only was the government “in our pockets,” it was handing over the money it confiscated to the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

The union tide that swept across Michigan never reached the western part of the state, though. As Jeffrey Kleiman documents in his history of the great Grand Rapids furniture strike of 1911, that action, which paralyzed the city’s major industry for six days, ended in a near total loss for labor. Not only did the thousands of workers who’d walked off the job fail to win a single concession from their bosses, the strike also concentrated the power of local businessmen, bankers and industrialists. In a pamphlet called “What’s the Matter with Grand Rapids?” the Industrial Workers of the World argued that ethnic tensions kept the city’s workers divided, while high rates of homeownership and churchgoing kept them conservative. Local historian Robert P. Swierenga has a more straightforward explanation: the west Michigan Dutch, with their legendarily strong work ethic, didn’t really go in for unions. Polish workers were the main force behind the furniture strike, and the Dutch crossed the picket line. “The aura of a willing labor force and strong work ethic has not been lost on industrialists coming into the region,” Swierenga writes.

In 2012, the DeVoses pulled off something that would have seemed unimaginable to their free-market forebears: they made Michigan a right-to-work state. Workers in the state are finally free; they can no longer be compelled to join a union as a condition of employment. A subsequent law has made it illegal for employers to process union dues, while simultaneously making it easier for corporations to deduct PAC money from employee paychecks. By 2015, just 15 percent of workers in Michigan were union members. “They won,” former state Rep. Ellen Lipton told me. “It may have taken them longer than they wanted, but they won.” Lipton was referring to the DeVoses’ remarkable success in shaping the state to conform to their hardcore laissez-faire vision over the past two decades. This improbable crusade was immeasurably aided by Michigan’s strict term-limit laws, which keep legislators beholden to donors and party apparatchiks rather than to their constituents. 
The tourist motto for Grand Rapids these days is “cool city.” It’s a nod to a campaign by Michigan’s last democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, whom Dick DeVos tried and failed to unseat in 2006. Granholm donned sunglasses to dramatize her fealty to the trendy development counsel of urbanologist Richard Florida. Across Michigan the word went forth: the key to a bright future for the state’s battered cities was to make them cool, filling them with the sorts of amenities that the young and college educated find irresistible, such as farmers markets, lofts, and art. The right-wing Mackinac Center for Public Policy, funded by the DeVoses, mocked the concept, arguing that “cool cities” discriminated against the extractor class, people who “build things and use energy and emit pollution — things that are not considered environmentally correct by the political ruling class.” Success was mixed. Flint and Pontiac never made it onto the cool list, while Detroit was somehow too cool to be included. But Grand Rapids took the business of being cool seriously.

“It’s a cool place, for a company town,” Mary Bouwense told me over craft beers at one of the city’s many brew pubs. There are more than a dozen breweries in Grand Rapids—including one at Gerald Ford International Airport. Bouwense, who is the president of the local teachers union, offered to take me on a tour of DeVos-related sites, but the snow once more intervened. Founders, the brew pub where she brought me instead, was packed on a Sunday afternoon, a sign, perhaps, of the diminishing influence of the once all-powerful Dutch Christian Reformed Church that helped incubate the moral conviction of the DeVoses. Since the tour was off, Bouwense, who is of Dutch descent, was helpfully guiding me through the theological divides separating the Christian Reformed and the Dutch Reformed. She also confirmed that the DeVoses are apostles of a different sort of Protestant ethic altogether, where conspicuous consumption no longer provokes much anxiety on the part of the believer. “I can see their helicopter coming and going from my office window,” she says.

The DeVos family is selling the American dream as a pyramid scheme through Amway.  Now they have control of America's entire education system with intent to do the same.

And it's your kids on the bottom of that pyramid.  I guarantee it.
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