Peter Strzok, FBI agent the rightwing hates, actually went after Hillary Clinton!!

Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who’s drawn the ire of conservatives over a series of texts messages critical of Donald Trump, played a key role in drafting the letter by former FBI Director James Comey that re-opened an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, CNN reports.

Strzok “co-wrote” the first draft of Comey’s letter, which effectively announced the FBI had re-opened a probe in October to Clinton’s emails—a pivotal moment in the 2016 presidential election. In text messages, Strzok appeared to deal with the fallout from that letter.

The report dispels a central Republican talking point that paints Strzok as a hyper-partisan pro-Clinton FBI stooge. Trump backers in the GOP have pointed to the messages from Strzok as proof that career intelligence officials were privately working to ensure Clinton was elected.

Trump is a useful idiot

The problem with Donald Trump is not that he is imbecilic and inept—it is that he has surrendered total power to the oligarchic and military elites. They get what they want. They do what they want. Although the president is a one-man wrecking crew aimed at democratic norms and institutions, although he has turned the United States into a laughingstock around the globe, our national crisis is embodied not in Trump but the corporate state’s now unfettered pillage.

Trump, who has no inclination or ability to govern, has handed the machinery of government over to the bankers, corporate executives, right-wing think tanks, intelligence chiefs and generals. They are eradicating the few regulations and laws that inhibited a naked kleptocracy. They are dynamiting the institutions, including the State Department, that served interests other than corporate profit and are stacking the courts with right-wing, corporate-controlled ideologues. Trump provides the daily entertainment; the elites handle the business of looting, exploiting and destroying.

Once democratic institutions are hollowed out, a process begun before the election of Trump, despotism is inevitable. The press is shackled. Corruption and theft take place on a massive scale. The rights and needs of citizens are irrelevant. Dissent is criminalized. Militarized police monitor, seize and detain Americans without probable cause. The rituals of democracy become farce. This is the road we are traveling. It is a road that leads to internal collapse and tyranny, and we are very far down it.

The elites’ moral and intellectual vacuum produced Trump. They too are con artists. They are slicker than he at selling the lies and more adept at disguising their greed through absurd ideologies such as neoliberalism and globalization, but they belong to the same criminal class and share many of the pathologies that characterize Trump. The grotesque visage of Trump is the true face of politicians such as George W. Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Clintons and Obama, unlike Bush and Trump, are self-aware and therefore cynical, but all lack a moral compass. As Michael Wolff writes in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” the president has “no scruples.” He lives “outside the rules” and is “contemptuous of them.” And this makes him identical to those he has replaced, not different. “A close Trump friend who was also a good Bill Clinton friend found them eerily similar—except that Clinton had a respectable front and Trump did not,” Wolff writes.

Trump, backed by the most retrograde elements of corporate capitalism, including Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Sheldon Adelson and Carl Icahn, is the fool who prances at the front of our death march. As natural resources become scarce and the wealth of the empire evaporates, a shackled population will be forced to work harder for less. State revenues will be squandered in grandiose projects and futile wars in an attempt to return the empire to a mythical golden age. The decision to slash corporate tax rates for the rich while increasing an already bloated military budget by $54 billion is typical of decayed civilizations. Empires expand beyond their capacity to sustain themselves and then go bankrupt. The Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires all imploded in a similar fashion. The lessons of history are clear. But the illiterate charlatans who seize power in the dying days of empire know nothing of history. They are driven by a primal and inchoate lust for wealth, one that is never satisfied no matter how many billions they possess.

The elites in dying cultures turn everything into a commodity. Human beings are commodities. The natural world is a commodity. Government and democratic institutions are commodities. All are mined and wrecked for profit. Nothing has an intrinsic value. Nothing is sacred. The relentless and suicidal drive to accumulate greater and greater wealth by destroying the systems that sustain life is idolatry. It ignores the biblical injunction that idols always begin by demanding human sacrifice and end by demanding self-sacrifice. The elites are not only building our funeral pyre, they are building their own.

The elites, lacking a vision beyond satiating their own greed, revel in the intoxicating power to destroy. They confuse destruction with creation. They are agents of what Sigmund Freud calls the death instinct. They find in acts of national self-immolation a godlike power. They denigrate empathy, intellectual curiosity, artistic expression and the common good, virtues that sustain life. They celebrate a hyper-individualism embodied in celebrity, wealth, hedonism, manipulation and the ability to dominate others. They know nothing of the past. They do not think about the future. Those around them are temporarily useful to their aims and must be flattered and rewarded but in the end are ruthlessly cast aside. There is no human connection. This emotional numbness lies at the core of Trump’s personality.

“[Stephen] Bannon described Trump as a simple machine,” Wolff writes. “The On switch was full of flattery, the Off switch full of calumny. The flattery was dripping, slavish, cast in ultimate superlatives, and entirely disconnected from reality: so-and-so was the best, the most incredible, the ne plus ultra, the eternal. The calumny was angry, bitter, resentful, ever a casting out and closing of the iron door.”

The elites in a dying culture confuse what the economist Karl Polanyi calls “real” and “fictitious” commodities. A commodity is a product manufactured for sale. The ecosystem, labor and money, therefore, are not commodities. Once these fictitious commodities are treated as real ones for exploitation and manipulation, Polanyi writes, human society devours itself. Workers become dehumanized cogs. Currency and trade are manipulated by speculators, wreaking havoc with the economy and leading to financial collapse. The natural world is turned into a toxic wasteland. The elites, as the society breaks down, retreat into protected enclaves where they have access to security and services denied to the wider population. They last longer than those outside their gates, but the tsunami of destruction they orchestrate does not spare them.

As long as Trump serves the interests of the elites he will remain president. If, for some reason, he is unable to serve these interests he will disappear. Wolff notes in the book that after his election there was “a surprising and sudden business and Wall Street affinity for Trump.” He went on: “An antiregulatory White House and the promise of tax reform outweighed the prospect of disruptive tweeting and other forms of Trump chaos; besides, the market had not stopped climbing since November 9, the day after the election.”

The Russia investigation—launched when Robert Mueller became special counsel in May and which appears to be focused on money laundering, fraud and shady business practices, things that have always characterized Trump’s financial empire—is unlikely to unseat the president. He will not be impeached for mental incompetence, over the emoluments clause or for obstruction of justice, although he is guilty on all these counts. He is useful to those who hold real power in the corporate state, however much they would like to domesticate him.

Trump’s bizarre ramblings and behavior also serve a useful purpose. They are a colorful diversion from the razing of democratic institutions. As cable news networks feed us stories of his trysts with a porn actress and outlandish tweets, the real work of the elites is being carried out largely away from public view. The courts are stacked with Federalist Society judges, the fossil fuel industry is plundering public lands and the coastlines and ripping up regulations that protected us from its poisons, and the Pentagon, given carte blanche, is engaged in an orgy of militarism with a trillion-dollar-a-year budget and about 800 military bases in scores of countries around the world.

Trump, as Wolff describes him in the book, is clueless about what he has unleashed. He is uninterested in and bored by the complexities of governance and policy. The faster Trump finds a member of the oligarchy or the military to take a job off his hands the happier he becomes. This suits his desires. It suits the desires of those who manage the corporate state. For the president there is only one real concern, the tumultuous Trump White House reality show and how it plays out on television. He is a creature solely concerned with image, or more exactly his image. Nothing else matters.
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“For each of his enemies—and, actually, for each of his friends—the issue for him came down, in many ways, to their personal press plan,” Wolff writes of the president. “Trump assumed everybody wanted his or her fifteen minutes and that everybody had a press strategy for when they got them. If you couldn’t get press directly for yourself, you became a leaker. There was no happenstance news, in Trump’s view. All news was manipulated and designed, planned and planted. All news was to some extent fake—he understood that very well, because he himself had faked it so many times in his career. This was why he had so naturally cottoned to the ‘fake news’ label. ‘I’ve made stuff up forever, and they always print it,’ he bragged.”

Yes, the elites wish Trump would act more presidential. It would help the brand. But all attempts by the elites to make Trump conform to the outward norms embraced by most public officials have failed. Trump will not be reformed by criticism from the establishment. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, who denounced Trump, saw their approval ratings plummet and have decided not to run for re-election. Trump may have public approval of only 39 percent overall, but among Republicans the figure is 78 percent. And I don’t think those numbers will decrease.

The inability of the political establishment and the press to moderate or reform Trump’s egregious behavior is rooted in their loss of credibility. The press, along with political and intellectual elites, spent decades championing economic and political policies that solidified corporate power and betrayed and impoverished American workers. The hypocrisy and mendacity of the elites left them despised and distrusted by the victims of deindustrialization and austerity programs. The attempt to restore civility to public discourse and competency to political office is, therefore, fruitless. Liberal and establishment institutions, including the leadership of the two main political parties, academia and the press, squandered their moral authority. And the dogged refusal by the elites to address the engine of discontent—social inequality—ensures that they will remain ineffectual. They lay down the asphalt for the buffoonery of Trump and the coming tyranny.


Remember how you Tea Party assholes raved and raved and continue to rave about Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information?

As I’m sure you all know, Rep. Nunes is preparing to publicly release a highly-classified memo containing sensitive information.  The FBI has written to Nunes warning him not to release the memo.  Here is part of the FBI letter to Nunes.


Tell me again about Hillary Clinton and classified information?

You Tea Partiers are sick, stupid and hypocritical to the core.

A retail brick-and-mortar catastrophe is no longer on the horizon — it’s here and the results will be awful

I DO NOT BELIEVE the economy is as robust as the stock market says it is. For many reasons. In fact, I believe just under the surface of typical economic goal posts such as employment and stock market figures, there  is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

I believe this for several reasons — lack of wage increases that should come with a healthy economy, the fact that 85% of stocks are owned by 10% of the population — as for wage and benefit increases that are NOT happening,  these happen when the economy is really growing.  Wages and benefits are not increases, thus, the economy is not improving.

What is happening is an alarming amount of retail workers are being laid off, or at the very least, given very limited hours, or hired just for the holidays. It is not news that full time retail jobs, which used to support a large part of our economy, are increasingly rare. These days retail stores carefully schedule to make sure few employees achieve full time status, that entail benefits and that has been going on for a good while now.

But it is becoming so much worse. For all the talk of coal workers, and other manufacturing industries it is arguable that no one industry exceeds the losses brick and  mortar retailers are suffering, and hence the loss of employment opportunities. I suspect the numbers on this are quite staggering, but they are hard to find.

This is huge, and it is particularly huge for women, who make up much of the retail sales force. And for older people who have turned to retail jobs to try to replace some of the income they lost when they were shut out of the job market due to their age. And yes, there are so many of them. In America these days, your long worked and fought for career is likely to not be replaceable if you are let go in your fifties.

Here are some of many articles few are talking about on this subject. Read just the headlines and the first few paragraphs of any of them, and you’ll get the idea.……………………

In fact, there are so many articles about this, it was hard to choose. Google “brick and mortar retail losses” and your head will spin with all the alarming articles people ARE NOT talking about.

It is important to note, that much of our retail infrastructure is STILL invested in brick and mortar stores, and malls. This is not just about employment opportunities, but also about the major companies who own a whole lot of real estate and square footage that is not paying off. When those businesses go down, it’s not just on the floor retail jobs that are lost, it’s all the administrative jobs that come with that that are also lost, from buying to marketing, to accounting, to warehouse, to janitorial to store planning and design, to so many jobs I can’t list them all here.

Now, there’s no stopping progress. I too shop on line more than I ever used to. It’s easy, it’s fast, and the selection is better. And I’m older, and no longer want to go from store to store to find what I’m looking for, when I can sit home and do it with a few keystrokes.

And, as more people shop on-line, the less brick and mortar stores can invest in providing selection and service, the less they can remain competitive with on line shopping, and the downward cycle is obvious and VERY daunting for this economy.

My point is this is a huge economic tremor, soon to become an earthquake for the economy. And yet, it’s all about the coal miners, and various singular and industries that have very little impact on the economy when it should be about the structure of retail as we know it going under huge and destructive change. It is consumers that drive this economy, and consumers are more and more deciding to shop on line.

This effects job seekers from sea to shining sea, and in every state. And, as I said, it is often about jobs women and seniors need.  Where are all these people going to go for jobs?

It’s not about turning the clock back, it’s about as the Atlantic put it in one of the articles I linked, “The Silent crisis of retail employment.”

Politicians are often nostalgia merchants, selling the irreplaceable virtues of whatever cultural or economic norm is in its twilight. In the 20th century, they mourned the wilting of the agricultural industry, just as they currently lament the death of factories. But in an economy that will become increasingly digitized, automated, and otherwise inflected with new technologies like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, Americans can’t get too precious about any particular job or industry.

Instead, lawmakers should be focused on reducing human suffering as some job sectors shrink or disappear altogether. That might include universal health care that isn’t tied to any one specific company and moving vouchers to help workers manage the transition to a new area for work. Overall it requires an approach that is the opposite of then-candidate Trump’s message on the campaign: Not “how can we rebuild the economy of about 40 years ago and freeze it in carbonite?” but rather “what sort of federal policies are best for an economy that might be embarking on a period of industrial churn?”

Yes. This. And also, again, I DO NOT believe this economy is robust. I feel like we’re skating on the thin ice of stock market gains, and more success for the 1%. And the coming retail catastrophe is going to drive us into a recession, long before that loss of coal mining jobs.

In many ways, I see the death of brick and mortar stores as leaders in retail, to be the equivalent of the industrial revolution. It’s a BFD.

Here’s a Civil War hero Virginia should honor

By way of background:  Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax is an African-American, descendant of slaves.  When Fairfax was sworn in as Lt Gov, he had in his pocket a copy of the document freeing his ancestors from slavery.  AS Lt Gov, Fairfax presides over the Virginia Senate.  In the week of January 22 – 26, on two occasions, two Virginia senators rose to praise to Confederate leaders — one praised Virginia native “Stonewall” Jackson, the other praised Virginia native Robert E. Lee.  In each case, Lt Gov Justin Fairfax quietly stepped off the dias from his presiding position and sat to the side while the praise for slaveholders was proclaimed.

Here’s an article describing one Civil War general that Virginia should honor.

Last week, you may have read my colleague Hunter’s take on Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s quiet protest of Virginia’s Republican senators’ decision to adjourn in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson. He was a son of Virginia and one of the South’s toughest and most audacious generals until friendly fire took his life in 1863. Robert E. Lee, another Virginian who decided to command Rebel troops to save the slavocracy, was also honored by the legislature a couple of days later. Thus did treason maintain its hallowed place among the standard-bearers of whitewashed American history.

If the states’ GOP lawmakers truly wish to honor a Virginia hero of the Civil War, Gen. George Henry Thomas ought to be their man. But this would bristle the neck hairs of the state’s neo-Confederates and other assorted Lost Cause advocates.

Gen. George Henry Thomas, a Virginian who fought with the Union.
Gen. George Henry Thomas in a photo taken by Matthew Brady















Thomas didn’t join the secessionists who were intent on keeping millions of humans in shackles.  He stayed with the Union and became one of its most accomplished generals. For this, he was reviled by his own family for the rest of his life and by many white Southerners until the present day. I’ll get back to him in a moment.

The decision last week to once again honor Jackson and Lee was understandably too damn much for the state’s new lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, the second black man in Virginia to be elected to statewide office. His slave ancestors had been manumitted in 1798, and at his inauguration earlier this month, he carried the handwritten document that freed them in the breast pocket of his suit.

Lieutenant governors normally preside over the Virginia Senate, but Fairfax couldn’t bring himself to do it while the praise poured out for these leaders of the rebellion. So, as Stephen A. Crockett Jr. at The Root noted, Fairfax:

This manumission document was written in 1798 for Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s ancestors. He had this in his breast pocket on inauguration day early this month when he was sworn into office.

… quietly walked off the dais, as he didn’t want to be disrespectful, but as a black man in the South, he didn’t want to hear that shit.

Fairfax bounced, and Sen. Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford), the Senate pro tempore, moved into Fairfax’s place. […]

“There are people in Virginia history that I think it’s appropriate to memorialize and remember that way, and others that I would have a difference of opinion on,” he told reporters afterward, the [Washington] Post reports. “I just wanted to, in a very respectful but very definite way, make it clear that these were not adjournment motions that I felt comfortable presiding over, and I was not going to do it.”

Justin Fairfax, descendant of slaves, shouldn’t have to be so respectful of those who praise a slave-owning secessionist. He ought to be able to say, without damage to his political career, it is the worst kind of bullshit to say slavery was bad, bigotry is bad, then follow up by taking special positive note of a man who ordered others to kill people to guarantee a bright future for human bondage.

Republican Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. was chosen to give Jackson the plaudits this year. The Postreported his words:

“Jackson was not a perfect man. As a devout Christian, he had conflicting views on slavery. But there’s no questioning the fact that in his short life, he became one of the most respected military leaders the modern world has known.”

Many respected military leaders throughout history have been—let me be charitable—morally obtuse. Jackson may have been conflicted, but not enough to free a single one of his slaves. And he chose to fight for the Confederacy whose fundamental reason for going to war was the prospect that otherwise the “peculiar institution” could not be spread to additional U.S. territories.

George Henry Thomas, on the other hand, chose to remain true to the oath he had taken when he graduated from West Point in 1840. When the war ended, he was a major general with a sterling record, though he was not as much credited in his own time as he should have been.

He fought in Second Seminole War, the U.S.-Mexican War, and in the early Comanche wars. When the guns opened up on Fort Sumter in 1861, he informed his sisters he would stay with the Union. They turned his pictures to the wall, denied they even had a brother, and returned his letters unopened. His brothers too no longer spoke to him. When he died in 1870, nobody in his family except his New York-born wife attended.

At Smithsonian magazine, Ernest Furgurson has written:

Thomas would earn the undying loyalty of soldiers like Henry Van Ness Boynton, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor fighting under him in 1863. Boynton wrote that Thomas “looked upon the lives of his soldiers as a sacred trust, not to be carelessly imperiled. Whenever he moved to battle, it was certain that everything had been done that prudence, deliberation, thought and cool judgment could do under surrounding circumstances to ensure success commensurate with the cost of the lives of men. And so it came to pass that when the war ended it could be truthfully written of Thomas alone that he never lost a movement or a battle.”

But for Thomas, every battlefield success seemed to stir controversy or the jealousy of ambitious rivals. Unlike other noted generals, he had no home-state politicians to lobby on his behalf in Washington. Ulysses S. Grant, for example, was championed by Illinois congressman Elihu Washburne, and Sherman by his brother, Ohio senator John Sherman. For Thomas, every step upward depended solely on his performance in the field.

In one of the war’s first skirmishes, he led a brigade in the Shenandoah Valley that bested Confederates under Stonewall Jackson. When the dashing Rebel J.E.B. Stuart heard that Thomas was commanding Union cavalry, he wrote to his wife that “I would like to hang him as a traitor to his native state.” Even after that, there was lingering doubt among some Unionists, including Lincoln.

From that early battle until the end of the war, Thomas succeeded when other generals failed. In 1862 in Mill Springs, Kentucky, he led his weary troops against a larger Rebel force, driving them back into Tennessee. In Mississippi, he gained admiration when he noted at Stones River that “This army does not retreat” and proved it in the fight.

As Thomas rose, he proved to his men that his addiction to detail and his insistence on preparation saved lives and won battles. His generalship behind the front, before the battle, was generations ahead of his peers. He organized a professional headquarters that made other generals’ staff work seem haphazard. His mess and hospital services, his maps and his scouting network were all models of efficiency; he was never surprised as Grant had been at Shiloh. He anticipated modern warfare with his emphasis on logistics, rapidly repairing his railroad supply lines and teaching his soldiers that a battle could turn on the broken linchpin of a cannon. He demanded by-the-book discipline, but taught it by example. He made no ringing pronouncements to the press. His troops came to understand his fatherly concern for their welfare, and when they met the enemy they had faith in his orders.

In Chattanooga, in the late summer of 1863, under a vigorous assault by Confederate troops along Chickamauga Creek, six Union generals broke off and retreated with thousands of troops into the city. But Thomas gave his troops the inspiration to hold fast all day, saving the army there from devastation, and becoming known from then on as the “Rock of Chickamauga.” Gen. U.S. Grant fired one of those retreating generals and put Thomas in charge of holding the city. It was tough going. The Union troops almost starved, but eventually prevailed. After a battle in which they took the heights above the city, Thomas wanted a cemetery built on the site, and a chaplain asked if he wanted to divide the graves by state. Thomas replied: “No, no! Mix them up. Mix them up. I’m tired of states’ rights.”

In late 1863, United States Colored Troops were filling the depleted ranks of the Union armies. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was one of the many generals who resisted having black soldiers under his command. Thomas was glad to have them. In the bloody fight for Georgia in 1864, under Sherman’s command, Thomas led the way, but, typically, got none of the credit publicly or privately. Later in the year, after another victory in Kentucky at Franklin, Thomas returned to Tennessee, and at Nashville, with a force including two brigades of black troops, crushed the Rebel troops under one of the South’s most effective generals, John Bell Hood.

Furgurson continues:

During Reconstruction, [Thomas] commanded troops in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. He was considerate toward ragged defeated soldiers, but he was as strict as the angriest Northern Radical in opposing the Ku Klux Klan and defiant politicians. “Everywhere in the states lately in rebellion, treason is respectable and loyalty odious,” he said. “This, the people of the United States, who ended the rebellion and saved the country, will not permit.”

As I said earlier, Thomas deserves applause, but for lawmakers to do it formally would make the state’s neo-confederates go all squinty-eyed.

So, if he is just too much for these political relics to honor, they could pick a Virginia civilian instead, the abolitionist Moncure Conway:

“He was the most radical white male who grew up in the antebellum South,” said John d’Entremont, a history professor at Randolph Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Va., and author of an award-winning 1987 biography of Conway.

Conway—the black sheep of his prominent, slaveholding family after he became a Unitarian minister, radical feminist and abolitionist—also was honored last summer [2003] with a state historical marker in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he led 30 or more of his family’s slaves to freedom.

You can read more about him in Southern Emancipator: Moncure Conway: The American Years, 1832-1865.

Trump White House ally says Trump will commit perjury because he does not know truth from fiction

Washington insider site Axios reported Sunday that an ally of President Donald Trump, who is “as close as it gets,” fears if the president is questioned by special prosecutor Robert Mueller he’ll commit perjury. Not because he is lying, but because he doesn’t even know the truth anymore.

According to reporter Jonathan Swan, the source said “Trump doesn’t deal in reality. He creates his own reality and he actually believes it.”

The writer of TrumpNation came under Trump’s twitchy lawsuit trigger-finger wrote in Bloomberg last week that it “wasn’t pretty” when he saw the self-described billionaire testify under oath. That story has not only made it to the White House, the entire west wing staff reviewed it.

Exactly whothefuck does Ivanka Trump think she is????

Jorge Guajardo ‏Verified account
In a new low for Washington, yesterday @chefjoseandres was asked to leave the Alfalfa dinner after-party at @CafeMilanoDC by its owner, Franco Nuschesse, apparently because his presence made Ivanka Trump uncomfortable (Cafe Milano is the watering hole of the Trump Admin).

Cafe Milano is a DC restaurant that is a favorite for the Trump administration

Chef Jose Andres:

  • Has been serving millions of meals in Puerto Rico
  • Canceled his contract with Trump Hotel-DC when Trump made his speech about Mexicans being rapists and drug dealers.


When the entire goddam Trump Crime Family goes to jail, I hope she does not survive.