Monday, February 28, 2022

Larry Wilson: Trump and his favorite czar, V. Putin

Mod: Some instructive columnizing from Larry Wilson on those starry-eyed lovers, Donald and Vlad.

Trump and his favorite czar, V. Putin (Pasadena Star News link): Because he’s such a has-been, I’ve mostly refrained from thinking about — much less commenting on — the Former Guy in recent months. Donald Trump was forced from the White House in an overwhelming electoral loss and the hope was that he would simply disappear into the swamp that is Mar-A-Lago.

Well, there are hopes, and then there are fears, and of course he kicks and screams about, well, everything, but the sounds are fairly muted over here across the continent.

I don’t watch the television shows that his stormtroopers apparently invite him on, and I don’t open the emails that he daily sends to the members of the press — why would I? It would be precisely akin to choosing to read a missive from prison from Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. The rants are of no interest to me.

Latest subject line from Swampy: “Putin is playing Biden like a drum. It is not a pretty thing to watch!” Which brings me to why I am forced to bring him up.

Hear ye, good conservative Southern Californians: Your entire political lives were based on opposition to the worldwide horror show that was the Soviet Union. Richard Nixon was right to engage in the Kitchen Debate in Moscow with Nikita Khrushchev, saying the Soviet leader, as they walked through the appliance wonderland of American color TV sets and fine refrigerators, “should not be afraid of ideas.” 

Of course Tricky Dick was confusing Frigidaires with philosophy, as we Americans will sometimes do, but whatever. He wasn’t wrong to goad the Kremlin boss. Nor was John Kennedy wrong to, a couple of years later, force the Soviets to back off when they brought nuclear missiles into Cuba. Forcing Russian expansionists to stand down is what good American presidents do.

Which is why, good conservative Southern Californians, the events of the last week have shown you that you cannot support the threatened return of Donald Trump to the White House, or even to the presidential nomination of the Republican Party

Because you know, the same as I do, that most American voters will not support for president a man who immediately before the Russian invasion of Ukraine described Putin’s aggression as “genius” and then added that the would-be czar of a new Soviet empire was “very savvy” for calling the troops he massed at the Ukrainian border before moving them in as “peacekeepers.” 

Again, right before the invasion, from Trump: “Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right.”

When you see that line of rabidly un-American thinking, you can finally agree with me, conservative Southern Californians, that Donald Trump is no conservative. He’s just a troubled person with a fixation on international strongmen who, like himself, have no political ideology. That’s not the kind of president you want to see back in the White House, leading America.

My friend Max Boot, the conservative, Russian-born Washington Post columnist, noted last week what may be even more dangerous about allowing a Trump return, seeing as Trump himself is not exactly schooled in geopolitics: the people around him. Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently called Putin “a very talented statesman,” “very shrewd,” “very capable,” and said, “I have enormous respect for him.” 

Max again: “Trump went on to rhap- sodize about his relationship with Vladimir Putin — ‘He liked me. I liked him.’” Isn’t that special?

Bill Barr Launches Furious Attack on Trump: Says Election Was NOT Stolen and Blames Trump for Jan 6th

Mod: It seems that Bill Barr has a book coming out, and flame broiling his former boss is how he will sell it.

Bill Barr Launches Furious Attack on Trump: Says Election Was NOT Stolen and Blames Trump for Jan 6th (Political Flare link): No less an authority than the attorney general that buried the Mueller Report (and thus someone who certainly was in the MAGA camp) is coming out with a book that is going to put an end to the big lie once and for all… if only that was possible. 

But still, Bill Barr’s book, “One Damn Thing After Another,” which connotes the exact amount of victimhood that one would expect Barr to claim, does set out that Trump absolutely did lose the 2020 election.

According to Mediaite:

In the book, Barr sets fire to the former president’s false claim that the 2020 election was rigged against him. “The election was not ‘stolen,’” Barr wrote. “Trump lost it.”

Barr went on to note that Trump probably could have won had he exercised a modicum of self-restraint, acted slightly more “presidential,” a little less Trumpy, and that – scary as it is to admit – is likely true. 

No matter how many people died under Trump due to COVID and its mishandling, no matter how awful the man or the misjudgments, the American people ultimately reelect on the economy, and for most of Trump’s term, the economy had been good. It was sh*t when he left office, having been the only president ever to be a net job loser, though COVID has to be factored in.

Mod: More at the link.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Pasadena Star News: Sierra Madre’s second land-use rebellion, 15 years on

Mod: My PSN opinion column today actually deals with Sierra Madre. Go figure.

Sierra Madre’s second land-use rebellion, 15 years on (Pasadena Star News link): Sierra Madre’s second full-blown land use rebellion in 15 years is on. Concerned residents, hoping to put a measure on the ballot and stop cram McMansionization at the Passionist Monastery, gathered in Kersting Court and Memorial Park last weekend to get passersby to sign the “Petition to Help Save Sierra Madre.” Business was brisk.

Even those opposing the measure stopped by, including a controversial figure known locally as Facebook Bob. Bob allegedly made a nuisance of himself by counterintuitively badgering residents after they signed the petition. You’d think he’d have known to do that before they signed. Real life isn’t like running a so-called community Facebook page. You can’t just delete people you don’t like.

As the “Protect Sierra Madre  Stop The Housing Project” people opined in one of their many e-mails: “Let’s start strong and show up to sign the petition that can help stop this horrible Destroyed Meadows at Bailey Canyon housing project. You see the continued misinformation New Urban West is putting out.”

In California today the real gold rush is high income housing development. And 42 doofus mansions priced in the many millions and crammed onto an already paid up plot is as good as it gets. The New Urban West developers are scared of losing their massive payday.

The NUW mailings may have backfired. More than a few people claimed they signed the petition because they found those postcards to be rudely disingenuous. That is the danger of trafficking in disinformation. If it doesn’t work the target audience will feel they’re being taken for fools.

One normally skeptical pen pal of mine is impressed by the rebels. “John, they’ve really got it together. That Barbara, their commander-in-chief, is maybe 5 feet tall on her tiptoes, and 80 pounds. Mostly brains. I think the ‘Stop’ people are going to win.”

To which I would add: Beware of bubble politics. Don’t just talk amongst yourselves. The facts alone are never enough.

Even in Sierra Madre things change, however. The folks leading the charge to end this weird housing project are fairly new arrivals. Meaning they shelled out upwards of seven figures to buy homes there. They’re successful, used to getting their way, and won’t allow disreputable real estate hustlers to take away what they paid for so dearly.

I believe City Hall will discover they’ve been overmatched. Offering top townies toddies with the Passionist Fathers isn’t helping, either.

Sadly, the monastery mess isn’t the only McMansionization going on in town. Construction is well underway at One Carter/Stonegate as of last October. Mausoleum looking structures have risen to glower down upon the town from on high at the end of Baldwin Avenue. No trespassing signs adding to the sense of non-inclusion.

Big dirt mountains can be seen by one and all for the looking. On the lots at the south-east end of the property significant excavations had to take place to accommodate an amount of space no modern family needs. By adding massive basements these generic manors have effectively become 3 stories.

Anybody wondering what the monastery development would be like should take a walk up there. Both projects employ the same architect, one famous for not caring about anything except how much revenue bumping bulk can be jammed onto a lot.

What should be known is that Sierra Madre is allowing building in a high severity fire zone, and it’s a shame that it is eliminating wildlife habitat. The city that famously claims a goal of co-existence with wildlife is, in reality, hypocritically contributing to its demise.

Remember, we are talking about Sierra Madre. The predilection of some people there to be bamboozled into voting against their own interests remains a storied local tradition.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

'I'm already being censored!' Right-wingers slam Trump’s Truth Social for banning accounts

Mod: So now it turns out Donald's so-called Truth Social alternative to Twitter is far more restrictive than the blue bird. Anyone surprised?

'I'm already being censored!' Right-wingers slam Trump’s Truth Social for banning accounts (Raw Story link): It's been a rough inaugural week for former President Donald Trump's Truth Social app. First, the platform was plagued by major technical glitches following its launch on Sunday, including a 13-hour outage and a 300,000-person waitlist. Experts also raised serious privacy concerns about the app.

Now, conservatives who represent Truth Social's target audience are accusing the app — billed as a "free speech" alternative to other platforms — of "rank hypocrisy" for censoring content and banning accounts.

"A right-wing broadcaster who has pushed conspiracy theories about the coronavirus in recent months was censored for posting what the platform classified as 'sensitive content,'" the conservative Washington Examiner newspaper reported Friday. "Another user has been banned from the app for creating an account that made fun of Devin Nunes, the CEO of Trump Media and Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social."  

Patrick Hedger, executive director of the conservative Taxpayers Protection Alliance, told the newspaper: "It isn't a censorship-free experience at all, it’s rank hypocrisy to ban the DevinNunesCow account. I think they should abide by how they advertise themselves as a censorship-free platform or recognize that striking a balance between free speech and palatable consumer content is not easy, as other platforms have realized."

The DevinNunesCow account on Truth Social was created by web developer Matt Ortega. The account was permanently banned by Truth Social for violating "social community guidelines."

“I may be the first officially ‘cancelled’ Truth Social user,” Ortega said on Twitter. "This is censorship."

Nunes previously attempted to sue the creator of a DevinNunesCow account on Twitter. Ortega was not the creator of the DevinNunesCow Twitter account.

Meanwhile, right-wing radio host Stew Peters lashed out after getting slapped with a "sensitive content" label on one of his posts — forcing users to click through to see it.

“I’m ALREADY being censored on Truth Social,” Peters wrote later on Telegram. “I said, ‘The people in our government responsible for allowing our kids to be killed with these dangerous Covid shots, should be put on trial and executed.' Free speech isn’t free."

As it turns out, Truth Social's content moderation policies are "significantly stricter than Twitter's and not free speech-oriented," according to the Examiner.

"Unlike Twitter, Truth Social users can get suspended or kicked off the platform for posting content that moderators consider to be false, defamatory, or misleading," the newspaper reported.

Friday, February 25, 2022

White House spokesman calls Trump and Putin 'two nauseating, fearful pigs who hate what America stands for'

Mod: Pretty much sums up the Orange Quisling. 

White House spokesman calls Trump and Putin 'two nauseating, fearful pigs who hate what America stands for' (Yahoo News link): A top White House spokesman on Thursday called former President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin “two nauseating, fearful pigs who hate what America stands for” after Trump again praised Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a political fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday night, Trump reiterated his view that the Russian president’s incursion into the sovereign nation was a stroke of “genius.”

“I mean, he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions,” Trump said. “I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country — literally a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in.” The former president went on to insist that he knew Putin very well and that the crisis would not have happened if he were in office. 

Andrew Bates, the White House deputy press secretary, responded with a scathing tweet.

“Two nauseating, fearful pigs who hate what America stands for and whose every action is driven by their their own weakness and insecurity, rubbing their snouts together and celebrating as innocent people lose their lives,” Bates tweeted.

’s comments came shortly before Putin launched a predawn attack on Ukraine, hitting cities with airstrikes and sending tanks across the border. The move, which U.S. intelligence agencies have been predicting for months, was widely condemned by world leaders. President Biden called it “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces.”

Mod: More at the link.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Saudi-Russia Collusion Is Driving Up Gas Prices — And Worsening Ukraine Crisis

Mod: Trump's two buddies share an enthusiasm for murdering their opponents and screwing you.

Saudi-Russia Collusion Is Driving Up Gas Prices — And Worsening Ukraine Crisis (The Intercept link): As Russia ordered troops into Ukraine on Monday, gas prices soared to their highest levels in over seven years. While the media focuses on the conflict in Ukraine, a major cause of the gas price spike has gone overlooked: Moscow’s partnership with Saudi Arabia has grown dramatically in recent years, granting the two largest oil producers in the world the unprecedented ability to collude in oil export decisions. 

The desert kingdom’s relationship with the U.S. has chilled in the meantime, as demonstrated earlier this month, when President Joe Biden pleaded with the Saudis to increase oil production — a move that would not only have helped to alleviate rising inflation and gas prices, but also reduced Russia’s extravagant profits amid its aggression against Ukraine. The Saudi king declined.

The Saudi and Russian relationship has blossomed under Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose first formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin took place in the summer of 2015. MBS pursued the meeting after then-President Barack Obama declined to meet with him, The Intercept has learned from two sources with knowledge of the matter who were granted anonymity to describe sensitive discussions.

Now, as Biden refuses to meet with MBS due to his culpability in the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the crown prince may again see a friend in Moscow, which is profiting handsomely off MBS’s refusal to increase oil production. Hints of MBS’s resentment over Biden’s refusal to meet with him occasionally spill out into the public, as they did last year, when the crown prince canceled a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on a day’s notice. 

He opted instead to meet with Leonid Slutsky: a top Russian lawmaker who was sanctioned by the U.S. for his role in Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea. (MBS canceled Austin’s visit because he was “holding out for a call from the president before responding to the administration’s entreaties,” according to senior officials cited by Council on Foreign Relations fellow Martin Indyk in Foreign Affairs magazine.)

Putin and MBS have much in common, including murdering their critics at home and abroad, intervening in their neighbors by force and trying to get oil prices as high as possible,” Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former CIA analyst with expertise in the Middle East, said in an email to The Intercept. “Putin will do MBS a great service if he invades Ukraine and sends oil prices through the roof.”

In September 2016, Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with Russia to cooperate in global oil markets, hinting that it could limit oil production at some point in the future. This was a major economic victory for Russia, which had never been admitted into the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and would now be a member of “OPEC Plus”— the plus referring to Russia — enabling Putin’s government to coordinate oil production decisions with other member nations.

Mod: Much more at the link.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Trump Wants Putin To Send Russian Troops To The US To Protect The Southern Border

Mod: The orange leader of the.traitor clown party loves America's enemies so much.

Trump Wants Putin To Send Russian Troops To The US To Protect The Southern Border (PoliticusUSA link): Trump said in an interview that Putin was a genius for invading Ukraine and that America could use some Putin “peacekeepers” on the US southern border.

Trump said during an interview with Clay & Buck:

Well, what went wrong was a rigged election and what went wrong is a candidate that shouldn’t be there and a man that has no concept of what he’s doing. I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, “This is genius.” Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. 

So Putin is now saying, “It’s independent,” a large section of Ukraine. I said, “How smart is that?” And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s strongest peace force… We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy… I know him very well. Very, very well.

went on to say that the invasion of Ukraine would have never happened if he was president, which ignores the reality that Russia was invading and occupying Ukrainian territory while Trump was president and he did nothing.

All of the standard Trump caves to Putin were in the radio interview. Trump thinks that Putin is smart for calling invading military peacekeepers. Trump wishes that the same thing could happen in the  United States, and he is completely incapable of making a single negative point about Putin.

Trump wants Russian “peace keepers” on the US southern border.

Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave over what his Soviet fighting Republican Party has become.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Trump’s Social Media App Already Facing Lawsuit for Copying the Logo of a Solar Company

: A Twitter ripoff with a stolen logo that asks you for money to join. All that and it doesn't actually work.

Trump’s Social Media App Already Facing Lawsuit for Copying the Logo of a Solar Company (Political Flare link): Things are not looking good for Donald Trump’s new social media platform Truth Social but it’s for a reason that’s well…surprising. Trump’s Truth Social App went live on the Apple Store on Monday, February 21, to coincide with President’s Day, five months after it was announced, Newsweek reports.

But almost as soon as it was launched on the Apple Store, users began noticing that Truth Social’s logo — a purple square with a white “T” inside. The only small difference is Truth Social has a small turquoise square on the bottom right side — otherwise it is surprisingly similar (nearly identical, in fact) to a British green energy company, Trailar

The similarities are so close, in fact, that the Truth Social logo has, according to Newsweek “the left side of the T cut off in the exact same way as Trailar’s, a company which fits solar mats on top of commercial vehicles across the globe, in order to save on fuel, CO2 emissions and maintenance costs.”

The company has confirmed in a statement to Newsweek that it is currently “seeking legal advice” to determine the next steps to take now that it’s aware of the similarities between Truth Social’s logo and its own logo.

“Based on recent news brought to our attention by various media outlets, showcasing the similarities between our own Trailar logo and the Truth Social logo, we are now seeking legal advice to understand next steps and options available to protect our brand,” said Matthew Summers, Trailar’s head of marketing.

Trailar has no affiliation or connection with the Truth Social network site, with our business firmly focused on decarbonising global transport through the use of solar and data driven technologies.”

And in a tweet, Trailar noted: “Great to see Donald Trump support a growing sustainability business! Maybe ask next time?

But this isn’t the only problem facing Truth Social on its launch day. Many right-wing figures are asking for followers on the platform, but even so, tens of thousands of users have found themselves marooned — stranded in queues as they attempt to register their profiles. Others, however, are seeing frequent error messages. 

Like so many other things Trump has tried to succeed at, Truth Social may be doomed to fail. And let’s hope so. We need another right-wing media site about as much as we need Trump.

Mod: More at the link.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Epstein Associate Jean-Luc Brunel Found Dead in Jail Cell While Awaiting Trial

Mod: Epstein's pimp has now met the same fate as his dead boss. 

Epstein Associate Jean-Luc Brunel Found Dead in Jail Cell While Awaiting Trial (Hill Reporter link): French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, a longtime associate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, has been found dead in his prison cell, a spokesperson for the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

Brunel was found alone and hanged with bedsheets in his jail cell at the Santé prison at around 1:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, the Paris prosecutor’s office told CNN. It would not comment on whether Brunel killed himself, adding an investigation into the cause of death has been opened, “as it is systematically done in these cases,” entrusted to the French judicial police.

Brunel denied all of the accusations of rape made against him by several former top models, but the 75-year-old was put under formal investigation in France in late June 2021 for “rape of a minor over 15,” the prosecutor’s office confirmed. 

He was arrested at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in December 2020 on counts of “rape and sexual assault, rape and sexual assault on a minor under 15, rape and sexual assault on a minor over 15, sexual harassment, criminal associations, and human trafficking to the detriment of minor victims for the purposes of sexual exploitation.”

Brunel’s arrest was part of a probe launched in 2019 by French prosecutors, targeting “acts of sexual nature likely to have been committed by Jeffrey Epstein and possible accomplices,” based on checks and cross-checks carried out on information provided to the Paris public prosecutor’s office and exchanges with US authorities. Epstein took his life in his prison cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. A medical examiner ruled his death was suicide by hanging.

Victims of the alleged abuse described shock and dismay that the agent, Jean-Luc Brunel, will never face trial. They described his death as a double blow, after Epstein killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting sex-trafficking charges. Multiple women who identified themselves as victims have spoken to police since the French probe was opened in 2019, and at times expressed frustration with the slow pace of the investigation. One of them, Thysia Huisman, said the news of Brunel’s death sent her into “shock.”

Mod: More at the link. 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Thanks To US Supreme Court, California Will Allow Private Citizens To Enforce Assault Weapons Ban

Mod: Start making your wish list.

Thanks To SCOTUS, California Will Allow Private Citizens To Enforce Assault Weapons Ban (Politicus USA link): California is moving forward on legislation modeled after the Texas abortion bill that will allow private citizens to enforce an assault weapons ban. 

This via: Fox 11Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday backed legislation that would let private citizens enforce the state’s ban on assault weapons. It’s modeled after a Texas law that lets private citizens enforce that state’s ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

“If Texas can use a law to ban a woman’s right to chose and to put her health at risk, we will use that same law to save lives and improve the health and safety of the people in the state of California,” Newsom said at a news conference Friday.

California’s move is exactly what conservatives and the gun lobby were concerned about when they petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the Texas abortion law.

Other blue states could follow California’s lead and propose citizen-enforced gun control or climate change legislation. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court opened the door, and the result could be disastrous for some unpopular Republican policies.

Texas Republicans overstepped with their abortion bill, and the consequences could be felt across the country, as Democrats are seizing the opening to pass key policies that Republicans can’t stop.

Mod: Eminem responds to attacks by Rudy Giuliani.