The Real Threat to Trump's Presidency Will Unfold In a Courtroom

The weekend started off with a bang and ended with a whimper. In concert with U.S. allies, President Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria on Friday night, in retaliation for the apparent chemical attack on civilians in Douma earlier in the week. The precision strike was limited to some weapons facilities and so far there are no reports of deaths on the ground, which is likely because the U.S. warned Russia and the Syrians in advance. Trump had tweeted to the world that he was planning to launch missile strikes so it's not as if anyone was surprised. (This is a good thing, although it certainly calls his "Pearl Harbor doctrine" into question.)

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Louisiana Tortured Albert Woodfox for 40 Years

"We tortured some folks"

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NSA Document Says NSA Needs More Power

This latest NSA revelation from James Risen and Laura Poitras inthe New York Times is one of the creepiest yet. It's a mission statement that forthrightly asserts that if the laws might interfere with the NSA's ability to function to its full, Orwellian, Big Brother capabilities those laws need to be eliminated. (I guess the Constitution would need an overhaul as well.  Talk about out of date ...)

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Why Dianne Feinstein Is Suddenly Upset About the NSA

There are lots of people wondering just what got into Dianne Feinstein that has her suddenly all hot and bothered over the NSA revelations (which, up until now, she's defended to the hilt.) 

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Williamsburg Accord: The GOP Pledge to Generate Crises to Get Their Way

I think one of the major misunderstandings (willful, in many cases) of this budget mess is that it's about Republicans just running around willy-nilly screaming "nonononono" like toddlers having a temper tantrum. I know it looks that way, but that's not what's happening. This is a strategy. And it's one they've even written down.

Jonathan Chait wrote about this in a widely read piece yesterday in which he explains what  they've been up to:

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NSA Launches Charm Offensive

For the first time since 1975, the NSA invited in a bunch of academics to flatter them brief them about the secret programs and this interview with one of the participants gives us some idea of what their charm offensive is supposed to accomplish. I'll let you read the whole thing but these answers from the NSA struck me as being so vacuous as to demand some kind of response:

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Republican Pushes Food Stamp Cuts, Has 0 Problem With Massive Giveaways to Big Food Industry

You've got to hand it to these misanthropic wingnuts.  They don't suffer from a surfeit of self-awareness, that's for sure:

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Food Stamp Recipients Forced to Work 20 Hours a Week in Exchange for $132 a Month in Food Stamps

Ohio is apparently overrun with lazy bums needing food and whatnot. This'll teach them:

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Why Climate Change May Be Responsible for the Horrors in Syria

If you want to understand what's happening in Syria ... 

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Are Hackers the Next Bogeyman Used to Scare Americans Into Giving Up More Rights?

Marcy Wheeler has been speculating for a very long time that the real purpose of all this NSA collection isn't terrorism, it's hacking.These comments last week from Michael Hayden lend a lot of credence to that theory in my eyes:

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Weaponized Drones Coming to America?

I'm afraid only traitors wouldn't want armed unmanned dronesflying around over their heads

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Did You Know that NSA Spymasters Are Involved in the War on Drugs?

Yesterday I posted a little tid-bit about the NSA proposing some years back to "re-think the 4th Amendment" in a once secret (now de-classified) document.  I was reading it over again this morning and happened upon this little tid-bit:

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Police Tase Foreclosed Upon Homeowners Protesting Criminal Bankers, Criminal Bankers Continue Facing No Repercussions

You may have heard about the protests at the DOJ by foreclosed upon homeowners demanding that Eric Holder prosecute some bankers for their criminal activity. If you haven't, you can read all about it here. 

Unfortunately, I received reports last night that citizens exercising their right to peacefully protest were being casually tasered by the authorities. 

This came from my friend Jason Rosenbaum, who was there:

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3 Pictures That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Guantanamo

Mother Jones featured a series of pictures released by the military of the equipment used in the Guanatanamo hunger strike the other day. I've shown similar ones before here --- the tubes, the shackles and the torture chairs. 

But the military was clearly trying to show how good the prisoners have it down there so they also showed a picture of the "luxuries" they're allowed, like "fresh olives."   Here a picture of all the belongings these lucky duckies have:

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Liberty Loving Rand Paul Wets Pants Over Boston, Demands More Surveillance, Tougher Immigration Laws

For anyone who ever expects the allegedly principled libertarian Rand Paul to be anything more than an ephemeral civil liberties ally to be used for your own purposes and nothing else, here he is in all his glory, letting his little white slip show once again:

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It's Official: A Democratic President Proposes to Cut Social Security

Mark this day. For the first time in history, a Democratic president has officially proposed to cut the Democratic Party's signature New Deal program, Social Security:

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Fun Facts About Rich People: Walmart Heirs Own More Wealth Than Bottom 40% of Americans; the Wealthy Give Less to Charity Than the Poor

I was watching Bill Maher and his guests last Friday calling the American people morons because they don't want the government to cut programs they value. All the wealthy people on the panel went on and on and on about how those idiotic Americans refuse to make sacrifices for the greater good because they're just sooooo stupid. 

Ok, I'll agree to live in penury in my old age but I think these people should be forced to join me:

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House Dems Attack President Obama's Extrajudicial Assassination Powers

Since the participation of Rand Paul in the civil liberties debate seems to make it doubly controversial and more difficult than it already is, perhaps the liberal base, at least, will be persuaded by the stalwart progressive House Democrats who sent this letter to President Obama today

Here's the crux of their issue:

Unlike everyone else they seem to have managed to see the forest for the trees on this and aren't obsessing of the use of drones, as if that's the real problem* with all this. They are asking about the authorities under which the president has granted himself the power to secretly target Americans for assassination. 

It's signed by Lee, Ellison, Conyers, Grijalva, Edwards and Honda. Not a libertarian or right winger anywhere to be found. And as Emptywheel points out there are others as well, like Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins, Jerry Nadler and Pat Leahy among others. This is beyond ideology or partisanship. Or at least it should be.

*Yes, drones present problems for modern warfare for a number of reasons, which we've discussed before. But this is about something more than the technological capability. It's about whether the president has the constitutional or statutory authority to carry out a covert assassination program against American citizens on the new "global battlefield." (And again, that's not to say that carrying out such a program against non-citizens is moral or legal either, but it's a different set of rules and norms.)

The Right-Wingers Who Said Hillary Clinton Was Faking Her Concussion

You've undoubtedly heard that Hillary Clinton has been hospitalized due to complications from her concussion. 

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Rush Limbaugh's Vile Rants Are So Bad They're Screwing Other Radio Programs

It would appear that Rush Limbaugh's vile form of commentary is starting to have a negative impact on radio profits as a whole:

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6 Restaurants You Should Avoid If You Don't Want Your Food Cooked By Sick People

Here's a handy list, courtesy of Wonkette, of the restaurants you need to avoid if you want to avoid having your food handled by sick people:

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Trouble

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Ninth Circuit Court Delivers Landmark Taser Ruling

The 9th Circuit issued what may be a landmark ruling on tasers, and not a moment too soon:

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Who Should Take Credit For Thwarting the Christmas Terror Attempt?

There's a bit of a hissy fit building about how the Obama administration is inappropriately taking credit for the citizen thwarted terrorist attempt. Oy vey.

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The Demise of the Medicare Buy-In

Here's a sad story about the demise of the Medicare buy-in. Reid insisted that the negotiators keep quiet about the details until the CBO score came out but the doctors and hospitals panicked and sicced their lobbyists on the usual suspects, along with a few liberals. Turned out that all of their concerns had been anticipated in the compromise but nobody could say anything --- and then Lieberman pulled the plug. Too bad.

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Why Do Conservatives Doubt Global Warming? Because They Like to Piss Off Liberals

Yesterday, I asked why conservatives are so crazed about global warming and was pleased to see so many fine explanations. Amanda Marcotte delved into the subject in depth and I think she nailed it. The reason was obvious, and right under my nose: it pisses off the liberals.

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