Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Read the whole thing here. Photo via Wikipedia.

Friday Tunes: ‘Symphony of Destruction,’ Megadeth

“‘Symphony of Destruction’ is a song by American heavy metal band Megadeth, released as a single from their 1992 album, Countdown to Extinction. The lyrics explore the hypothetical situation where an average citizen is placed in a position where he runs the country while the public is led by a phantom government. Penned by vocalist and frontman Dave Mustaine, the song received significant radio play and charted in various territories, making it one of Megadeth’s best known songs.” (Wikipedia)

You can check the lyrics here.

Well it’s been a hell of a week, eh? Wild spy reports about Donald Trump, cabinet confirmations, Rudy Giuliani, of all the people, in charge of cyber security, of all the things, midnight voting sessions by the sociopaths in Congress to strip protection for pre-existing conditions, free birth control, and candy for kids… JFC. I feel hungover and I haven’t even had anything to drink.

Let’s take a quick look at the news.

The House just voted on the first steps of repealing the ACA, following in the Senate’s steps. If you think they aren’t going to repeal Obamacare I’m telling you they are, it’s going to be a dumpster fire, and we’re all gonna suffer for it. You can read about some of the impacts of repealing the ACA at Politifact, in the LA Times, and in the Atlantic.

Folks on Twitter are saying that Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, has disconnected his public phones. I haven’t called to check that myself, though.

In case you forgot, net neutrality is also on the chopping block now. Outgoing FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler doesn’t think it’s going to be all that easy to kill net neutrality, though. I hope he’s right.

We just found out that one of Trump’s top advisers, Gen. Michael Flynn, talked with the Russian ambassador while Obama was levying his punishments for the Russian cyber attacks. And also they lied about the timing of the calls. Which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but is somewhat suggestive.

Okay, that’s enough of that. Here’s a small piles of links to good reading that I’ve saved up over the week. Enjoy!
Continue reading Friday Tunes: ‘Symphony of Destruction,’ Megadeth

So Trump did a press conference today.

Holy balls, guys, I don’t even know where to start with Trump’s press conference. It was bizarre. Plus, I only caught the last half of it, so I’m gonna have to summon up the strength to watch the first half at some point.

You can watch it on CSPAN – for your sins if you’ve been bad – and read a transcript here.

Politifact has a great factcheck, which you’ll need, because about 90% of what I heard at the press conference was unmitigated BS.

Two things about the press conference stuck out to me.

The first was the dog and pony show over Trump’s “trust” that will “solve” his massive conflicts of interest. He brought out a lawyer – who, notably, works at a law firm that has won some prestigious awards in Russia, I’m just saying – to read off a prepared statement peppered with Trumpspeak that basically boiled down to “I’m not gonna and you can’t make me so neener neener.”

He had a table next to the podium where he stood, positively buckling with piles and folders of paper that supposedly laid out this big legal trust he’s put together. “Look at all this paper,” he said repeatedly, even having his pet lawyer refer to “all this paper.” I mean, it must be legit, there’s all that paper, right?

See, Trump thinks you’re an idiot. He thinks that’ll fool you. He thinks you don’t realize that was just reams of blank papers arrayed on a table because seriously, who trots out actual legal documents like that for a presser? No one.

Do me a favor and prove him wrong. He put on a song and dance for you. Don’t buy it.

The second thing was his spat over Buzzfeed news with a CNN reporter. You can watch it here. I just want to point out how hostile Donald Trump is to a free press, and how he punishes reporters doing their jobs. That’s our next four years, folks. That’s what he’s going to do to every press organization who stands up to him.

Brace yourselves. Support our press. We’re gonna need it.

Photo Credit: Screencapped from this video.

Unverified, leaked intelligence report links Trump & Russia

👉 This post has been rewritten for clarity and new updates. Read the original version here.

At this point it’s basically common knowledge that Donald Trump is a big fan of Russian and Vladimir Putin. We were talking about the shady Trump/Russia connections back in July. Probably before that, too.

We know Russia hacked John Podesta and the DNC under Putin’s orders. We know they released their findings through Wikileaks. We know Russia hacked at least some of the RNC’s older domains, and elected not to release any of that. And we know that a lot of people working for the Trump campaign had at least somewhat less than savory connections with Russia.

This afternoon, four senior officials of America’s intelligence agencies, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, and FBI Director James Comey, testified before congress about the Russian hacking allegations.

The big, earth shattering news that came out of this hearing was that intelligence agents had presented to President Obama and President-elect Trump a report that said, basically, that Russia was balls deep in Trump and owned him like a small purse dog.

This news came from an unverified intelligence report compiled by an employee of a private intelligence agency. This particular employee is known to the American intelligence communities, is former MI6, and has provided solid intelligence before. Also, apparently we know some of his sources, and they seem to be legit, too. This guy compiled his report as opposition research and became so alarmed with what he found, the story goes, that he ended up turning his information over to the FBI.

This unverified report isn’t news. Rumors of it were floating around Twitter and Reddit back in – I want to say late June or early July, but my memory might be off. Mother Jones did a story on the report in October. At the time, the report was considered something serious enough to be worth taking a deeper look at, but also outlandish enough that no one really wanted to touch it. The report was apparently shopped around to quite a number of reporters and news organizations, according to various folks on Twitter this afternoon.

CNN reported on the thing today, and that was shortly followed by Buzzfeed News dumping the whole leaked, unverified report in their story.

The Internet blew. up. y’all. This report is spicy. It’s got everything. Donald Trump having weird, petty, golden shower-based sex with prostitutes in Russian hotels, active collusion with Russian espionage agents, sex tapes, all kinds of shady policy deals and financial shenanigans – just everything. If even a quarter of what’s in this report is true, it’s a frickin’ firestorm.

The problem is, y’know. The report is completely unverified.

Here’s where things get a little sticky. On one hand, there are some really outlandish claims in this report. I mean, the golden shower story is wild and exactly the kind of thing I’d generally dismiss out of hand because it hits too many caution triggers. It seems custom-built to be the sort of story angry liberals take off with and build happy little conspiracy theories out of.

On the other hand, there are a lot of credible-sounding claims in here that people in the know are taking seriously. Lawfare, Wired and Josh Marshall have some smart things to say about that. Their articles basically boil down to: “Keep a salt shaker handy, but there’s a lot of stuff in this report that needs looking into.”

And that’s not even mentioning the Guardian’s article, “FBI chief given dossier by John McCain alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts,” which goes into some of the less fanciful revelations in the report and tosses in the fact that the FBI sought warrants from the FISA court to surveil Trump campaign people over Russia connections.

So where does that leave us? Well, it doesn’t look good, folks. I mean, from over here it looks a lot like we’re about to inaugurate a Russian intelligence asset president, but that’s just me. If you only take one thing away from this mess it should be that we desperately, and quickly, need a thorough and independent investigation into Russian interference in the election and Russian ties to Donald Trump.

Related Reading

Side Note

There’s a rumor flying around conservative Twitter, parts of Reddit and other “alt-right” Internet circles that the leaked intelligence report that kicked off this whole mess was a fake story fed to reporters and eventually the CIA by trolls on 4Chan. Depending on where you read the story, either the whole report, vast swaths of the report, or just the “golden showers” portion of the report is made up and part of the 4Chan troll story.

This is – well, to put it bluntly, it’s bullshit. Feel free to disregard it. I’ve been hearing rumors of this leaked report since mid-summer and the post on 4Chan that’s being considered “proof” was written in November. Also, the golden showers story, while vastly amusing to some of us, is hardly the important part of this news. It’s the ties to Russia, coordination with Russia during the campaign and financial entanglements with Russia that are the meat of this story.

(Photo credit: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C., by Gage Skidmore. [Source & Licenses.])