Donald Trump

Burr & Tillis vote in support of journalist-killing Saudi Crown Prince

And for continuing the genocide in Yemen:

Furious over being denied a C.I.A. briefing on the killing of a Saudi journalist, senators from both parties spurned the Trump administration on Wednesday with a stinging vote to consider ending American military support for the Saudi-backed war in Yemen.

The Senate voted 63 to 37 to bring to the floor a measure to limit presidential war powers in Yemen. It was the strongest signal yet that Republican and Democratic senators alike remain vehemently skeptical of the administration’s insistence that the Saudi crown prince cannot, with certainty, be blamed for the death of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This was merely a procedural vote, indicating an interest in intervening in Trump's War Powers Act authority, but it will likely be followed next week by genuine action. The ironic (and extremely hypocritical) move by Richard Burr to vote against this centers on his role as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In any other instance, the refusal of the CIA to cooperate would have Burr turning red in the face. But since the CIA (apparently) has overwhelming evidence of the Crown Prince's involvement in Khashoggi's brutal assassination and dismemberment, Burr simply "doesn't want to know." But luckily for us (and maybe those Yemeni children), other Senate Republicans refuse to play possum:

Coal Ash Wednesday: The world's dirtiest business continues

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Running headlong into a global catastrophe:

Cheap, plentiful and the most polluting of fossil fuels, coal remains the single largest source of energy to generate electricity worldwide. This, even as renewables like solar and wind power are rapidly becoming more affordable. Soon, coal could make no financial sense for its backers. So, why is coal so hard to quit?

Because coal is a powerful incumbent. It’s there by the millions of tons under the ground. Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it. Coal plants can be a surefire way for politicians to deliver cheap electricity — and retain their own power. In some countries, it has been a glistening source of graft.

I really do hate to throw this on you right after that stunning climate report, but there's no help for it. If we don't understand the scope of the problem, we'll never be able to solve it. Our advocacy here in the United States has been, if not wildly successful, at least a sign of steady progress. Older and dirtier coal plants have been shuttered, and relatively few new ones are coming online. But unfortunately, that is not the case in many other parts of the world:

Not a hoax: Multi-agency Climate Change report predicts devastation

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And of course Trump is on the wrong side again:

The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth.

Mr. Trump has taken aggressive steps to allow more planet-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plant smokestacks, and has vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, under which nearly every country in the world pledged to cut carbon emissions. Just this week, he mocked the science of climate change because of a cold snap in the Northeast, tweeting, “Whatever happened to Global Warming?”

Trump is an idiot. But he isn't just an idiot, he's a "Contrarian" idiot; he automatically opposes and attacks opinions held by those more intelligent than he is (an extremely long list), because it's not about the science, it's (always) about his ego. Call them what you will, long-term "agency bureaucrats" or "deep-state operatives," most of these people are professionals, highly credentialed, and they need to keep doing their job the way they see fit, and not the way the 72 year-old orange toddler thinks they should. Here are just some of the findings in said report:

Tyrants of a feather: Trump's love affair with murderous Crown Prince

If we're not talking about oil, guns, and money, I don't want to hear it:

Tuesday’s message could become something of a blueprint for foreign leaders — a guide to how they might increase their standing in the eyes of the American president as well as how far they can go in crushing domestic critics without raising American ire.

It was also a revealing meditation on the role that Mr. Trump believes facts should play in political decision-making. The C.I.A. concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia had ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, American officials said last week. But on Tuesday, the president dismissed not only that assessment but also the very process of seeking the truth, implying that it did not really matter anyway. (“Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Mr. Trump wrote of Prince Mohammed.)

It's not just the Khashoggi killing that such irresponsible behavior affects; those 85,000 dead Yemeni children will likely be joined by tens of thousands more, because Trump will allow Saudi Arabia to continue with business as usual in that war-torn country. And what may be behind that unflinching support is that Saudi Arabia has only spent a fraction of the money on arms deals that Trump has been bragging about, and the more bombs they drop on Yemen, the more $$$$ may be forthcoming:

Trump wants to define transgenderism out of existence

We're back to the whole birth certificate thing again:

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

And just like that, another freedom is arrogantly stripped away. In other contexts, we might say a "definition" is merely a mundane classification, with no real-world consequences. But in the context of the Trump administration, where putting toddlers in concentration camps is considered "sound" policy, that definition becomes a lot more sinister. How far away from the further step: "You don't meet our definition of a human being, so human rights are no longer applicable" could we be? Not far enough, that's for sure. And we can now put to rest the presumption that right-wing think tanks are relatively harmless:

Go high or go low? Democrats face a rhetorical crossroads

At the end of the day, it's the votes that really count:

In 2016, Michelle Obama’s words became the Democrats’ defining creed to counter Donald J. Trump’s battering ram of a presidential campaign: “When they go low, we go high.” Two years later, the appeal of “high” seems low. As much as any policy tensions or messaging debate within the party, this question of tone — of how to combat Mr. Trump effectively without slipping into a pale imitation — is perhaps the central divide of this Democratic moment (and the next one, with the 2020 campaign looming).

How will Democrats choose to revise Mrs. Obama’s sentence, with Mr. Trump heaving insults from the White House and the rally stage — his pre-midterm bully pulpit? “When they go low, we kick them,” Eric H. Holder Jr., the former Obama administration attorney general and a possible 2020 candidate, said this week.

I think the first thing we need to remember before making any decisions on our "tone" is that it doesn't need to be an "either/or" situation. Maintaining a high level of anger and outrage is not only exhausting, it threatens to dull the senses, allowing truly outrageous things to occur with little opposition. There are values associated with each incident or issue, and how we assess those values sends a message about our own judgment and moral character. The second thing we need to remember is that things happen even when we don't "fail.":

Don McGahn's crusade to entrench Republican power

Running interference for Brett Kavanaugh is only part of a broader strategy:

An exasperated President Trump picked up the phone to call the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, last Sunday. Tell the F.B.I. they can investigate anything, he told Mr. McGahn, because we need the critics to stop. Not so fast, Mr. McGahn said.

Mr. McGahn, according to people familiar with the conversation, told the president that even though the White House was facing a storm of condemnation for limiting the F.B.I. background check into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a wide-ranging inquiry like some Democrats were demanding — and Mr. Trump was suggesting — would be potentially disastrous for Judge Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Not to take away from Trump's disgusting and contemptible behavior during this fiasco, but this particular issue reveals the machinations behind the GOP's supposed "kow-towing" to the President. That is a façade, a way for them to get unethical things done while appearing to keep their hands clean. For almost two decades, Republican leaders have been pushing a mostly clandestine effort to entrench their power via corporate money and voter suppression, and Mitch McConnell's fingerprints are all over that:

Trump's attack dog Mark Meadows gunning for Rosenstein

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The very definition of a traitor:

House Republicans plan to privately question the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, about discussions last year where he suggested secretly taping President Trump to expose a chaotic White House and removing him from office under the 25th Amendment.

Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and a close ally of Mr. Trump’s, said that if Mr. Rosenstein does not comply with their latest request, he will be subpoenaed to appear before lawmakers.

It's important to understand the gravity of what Meadows and others are attempting to do. They're not just defending Trump against an adversary (Mueller), they are putting our national security at risk by trying to undermine an investigation into a foreign (super)power's efforts to manipulate not only our elections, but also our foreign policy. We have been compromised, repeatedly, and because of Trump's many (many) intellectual shortfalls, and Congress' inability and/or unwillingness to balance that, the only defense we have against these attacks is the Mueller probe. We need to stop calling Meadows' little cabal the "Freedom Caucus," and start calling them what they are, the "Happy To Be Ruled By Russia Caucus":

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