Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ding, dong, the wicked ban is dead -- maybe.

On Thursday night, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC had an exclusive leak given to her of a draft report from the Intelligence and Analysis division of the Homeland Security Department that reinforces the data analysis in the Associated Press-reported leak from the same agency a few days ago (see ShrinkRap, Feb. 27).   Both reports lead to a conclusion that the Trump travel ban has no rational basis, a criterion that the 9th Circuit Appeals Court was asking for.

The earlier AP report used statistics of prior attacks from citizens of those seven countries to show that they have an almost zero likelihood of coming to this country to carry out terror attacks.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed to Rachel that this March 1st report is authentic.   It states that it was prepared by the Department of Homeland Security's Intelligence and Analysis, "in cooperation with" the following agencies:   Customs and Border Patrol, Department of State, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), National Counter-terrorism Center, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

This report's conclusion is even more damaging to the Trump ban, because it found that most foreign-born extremists based in the U.S. were radicalized after then came to the U.S., not before.   Here is the wording from the leaked draft:

"We assess that most foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists [were] radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns."

Neither children nor their parents come into our country radicalized.   It is something that happens to the teenagers who have been living in this country for some time.   These two leaked drafts, both from the DHS's own Intelligence and Analysis internal group, contradict any basis for the Trump travel ban and put its future in jeopardy.

Rachel Maddow went further and said "I think the Muslim ban is dead."  She raised the serious question of why these documents were leaked, apparently by people in the Intelligence and Analysis camp itself.    As Rachel said, "they obviously wanted me to have this report, wanted me to present it to the American people."

The only reasonable conclusion is that these are serious, career intelligence analysts who fear that the Trump administration would suppress any such information so as to continue what they consider a political necessity to fulfill a campaign promise.

This seems to be happening throughout the government, including within the White House.  And, in my opinion, it says more about the Trump administration and what people have come to expect from it than it says about the leakers.    They fall more in the category of whistle blowers, doing it to save our democracy from a new presidential administration that seems more concerned with asserting an autocratic power and control than in protecting our democracy.

Rachel and Andrea Mitchell had a discussion about what this tells us about intervention into the problem of radicalization here in the U.S.   They agreed that what is needed is the community approach to working with these adolescents from immigrant families to address their experience of dislocation, abandonment, and isolation.   The prior DHS Director, Jeh Johnson, had started just such an approach.

Tragically, the Trump style is to scrap such "soft" approaches in favor of his bombastic, fictionalized, extreme vetting.  In other words, a strong-man, autocratic crack-down.

It's the same impulse that led him, in his budget proposal, to slash the budget for the State Department for diplomatic and aid work so that he can put in a massive increase for the defense budget.  I've been so focused on the Trump obnoxiousness in style and on his lies that I have not been looking much at his policies.     Wrong, wrong, wrong.


Thanks to Nick Visser and Elise Foley of the Huffington Post and to Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Andrea Mitchell of NBC for reporting and opinion that informed this blog.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Should AG Sessions resign? Or is recusal enough?

Political events move too fast for me to write my blog the day before.   I wrote the following in the early afternoon Thursday.   However, at 4:05pm,  Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from any investigations that involve the Trump presidential campaign.   He emphasized that this decision was the recommendation of his ethics advisers and that it follows the  ethical guidelines to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, given his close involvement with the Trump campaign.

But here's the question:   Why had Sessions not done this from the beginning?   I'm no lawyer and Sessions is.   If I know that he should have recused himself, why did Sessions not know this without having to wait to have a meeting with his ethics advisers to tell him so?   I guess it's in the same category of "not knowing" that he should have cleared up his testimony about those two meetings with the Russian ambassador that he denied when he gave the testimony. 

Sessions will completely remove himself from any involvement, and all decisions and oversight will be done by the Deputy Attorney General -- or, until Trump's nominee for that position is confirmed, by the Acting Deputy AG, who is a career, civil service Justice Department official.

This recusal will likely lower the temperature on this hot issue, although new developments also breaking on Thursday afternoon, will keep the drumbeat going for an independent investigation.   That latest development was a New Yorker story, confirmed by the White House, that Jared Kushner and Gen. Mike Flynn had together met with the Russian ambassador Kislyak in December in Trump Tower "to establish a line of communication," as they did with other foreign governments.

However, this was also at the time the Obama administration was about to impose sanctions and to make its public case that it was the Russians behind the hacking.   With his son-in-law now implicated in the Russian contacts, it's impossible to pretend that Trump himself was not knowledgeable about all this.

This story is growing, not dying down.  Some have said it's going to be bigger than Watergate.   I'll definitely be writing more about it.  But for now, here's the somewhat out of date piece I had written earlier to be posted for Friday's blog:


Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has been caught misstating a fact about his own activities in sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in his confirmation hearings.

Sen. Al Franken specifically asked him what he would do as Attorney General if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated  with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.  Sessions answered that he was not aware of any such activities.  He added that he, himself, had been "called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communication with the Russians."   In another answer to Sen. Patrick Leahy, he gave a similar answer, denying any knowledge of anyone in the campaign having communication with the Russians.

Wednesday night, the Washington Post broke a story that Sessions did, on two occasions, speak with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential campaign.   Kislyak is known to be the top Russian "spy" in the U.S., as well as the head of their spy network here.

In response, the Justice Department says that then Senator Sessions spoke with Kislyak in his role as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and that they did not speak about the campaign.   One was a chance meeting with him at the Republican convention.  The other was in his office on October 8th where, among other things, they talked about Ukraine.   He said he doesn't remember any discussion about the campaign in either meeting.

OK.  Maybe that's true.    But, if so, why did he not just say that during his confirmation hearings, especially knowing the conflicting information about Russian connections with the Trump campaign.    Speaking in his defense, Sen. Ted Cruz, who was in the committee hearing, said that he understood that Sessions was speaking in the context of concern about connections with the campaign.   His answer was only saying that he had not had communications with the Russians about the campaign.

Well, but it's now been at least two weeks that the whole issue has become newsworthy again --as to whether the investigations by the two Intelligence Committees are impartial and whether they will be thorough.  Even more controversial have beenn the unsuccessful efforts by White House staff to get FBI and CIA leaders to say there's nothing to the stories about communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians -- and the successful efforts to get the chairs of the House and the Senate Intelligence committees to do what the FBI and CIA leaders would not do.  That is, essentially to go on tv and say "there's nothing to this story."  Paul Ryan has now done the same thing.

In short, it seems there is a cover-up underway.   And there had already been calls for Sessions to recuse himself from overseeing the investigations, as well as calls for an independent, special prosecutor on the whole Trump/Russia connections.

During all this, Sessions still said nothing about his two conversations with Kislyak, saying only that he would recuse himself "if it becomes necessary."  Only after the Washington Post broke the story did he come clean and explain the subject of those conversations.   But, are we to just take his word for it?   Since when is the bar that low?

As with Watergate and Bill Clinton's Monica scandal, it's the attempted  cover-up that does you in.   Looks like we may be in Act III of that melodrama.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Trump's address to Congress -- was he presidential?

President Donald Trump gave an hour-long address that he had been invited to give to a joint session of Congress, which had all the trappings of a State of the Union Address.  Some pundits have commented favorably about his presentation.

Chris Wallace, Fox New anchor:  "I feel like tonight, Donald Trump became the president of the United States."   Liberal CNN commentator Van Jones echoed that sentiment:  "He became president of the United States."   Veteran journalist Tom Brokow called it "easily the most presidential he's been," although Brokow also highlighted several issues, like immigration, where Trump is still repeating his old, divisive rhetoric.

I chose not to watch;  my visceral reaction to Trump the man is such that I am prejudiced before he even begins to talk.   This is less of a problem if I read what he says instead of listening to him speak.

However, it seems that the positive responses were more about his tone and demeanor.   He read the teleprompter without deviating or inserting his usual asides and insults.   There were implicit insults galore between the lines.   Like his blithely calling for unity and cooperation from congress, as though he has not been insulting them individually and collectively for over a year.

Like his directing audience attention to the widow of the slain Navy 6 seal in the Yemen raid.  She was seated next to Ivanka Trump, and the president basked in the prolonged outpouring of applause for her.  But he did not indicate even a whiff of taking responsibility himself for the loss of life in a failed raid.

Instead, he blamed the military advisers for what went wrong, but also claimed that the mission gathered highly significant intelligence that will save lives in the future.  Intelligence experts have said that no significant intel was gained, calling it a failed mission.  In other words, he's quite eager to bask in the glory, but will not accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

What happened to Harry Truman's famous "The Buck Stops Here," an acceptance that the president is ultimately responsible for everything that happens under his command?   Which all presidents have followed . . . apparently until now.

The positive reactions to the speech seem to come from a change in Trump's demeanor and delivery rather than the substance.  One unnamed White House source called it "nationalism with an indoor voice."   Washington Post's Robert Costa, who has several White House sources, said that they "are frankly surprised at how pundits are warming to the speech. . . . [They say]  Trump has not changed . . . . there is no big shift in policy coming."

Another, more cynical critic tweeted that reading a teleprompter speech written for him by someone else, and seeming presidential, doesn't make him a good person.   He is still not a good person.  He's just a good actor."

Yes, but don't all politicians have people who work with them on the image they want to project?  Let's accept small favors, without losing sight of the policies we must continue to oppose, starting with Trump's insistence, despite strong advice from his new NSA Gen. McMasters, on using the term "radical Islamic terrorism," rather than "radical terrorism."

His continuing determination to build the wall on our southern border, his continuing to misstate facts about the incidence of serious crimes committed by immigrants;   his sticking to repealing the Affordable Care Act, despite finally recognizing that "it's complicated."  His gutting of the EPA budget, while calling for a vast, unnecessary increase of the military budget.

Then there is the ongoing problem, repeated in this speech, of his using fake numbers to talk about unemployment.   He insists, despite the number of times it has been rebutted, of citing the "number of people our of the work force," as if they are all looking for work.  The fact is that the number he quotes, 94 million, includes students, the disabled, retirees, and stay at home parents.   The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates those over 16 who want a job and don't have one at about 7.6 million -- not 94,000,000.   Claiming 94 million is very dishonest.   It was published in Breitbart News.

Then there are the not-so-obvious-to-the-casual-listener cognitive dissonances like stating in this speech that he will promote "clear water," when just hours before he had signed an executive order to dismantle the Clean Water Rule.   He also called on everyone to bring an end to "trivial fights," but he did not say that he would set the example by giving up his Twitter account.

So, no, I am not ready to call Donald Trump 'presidential.'   It would, however, be a relief if he can hold on to this milder tone.   But he's read speeches before, only to go to a rally and be back in campaign mode that same night.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bush 43 speaks out for free press and for an inclusive immigration policy

George W. Bush went all the way through eight years of Barack Obama's presidency without saying anything critical of his decisions.   However, this week, in an interview with Matt Lauer on the "Today" he said that:

   "I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. . . . We need an independent media to hold people like me to account.  Power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive."

He said he recalled spending time trying to convince Russian president Vladimir Putin to "accept the notion of a free press. . . . It's kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press if we're not willing to have one ourselves."

Bush also talked about the immigration ban, saying that the right to worship freely is a "bedrock of our freedom," in the context an obvious reference to the blocking of refugees coming from Syria, most of whom are Muslim.   Saying that he understood that the immigration ban was an "ideological conflict," Bush reiterated that "I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law."

And in an interview with People magazine, Bush said:  "I don't like the racism and I don't like the name-calling and I don't like the people feeling alienated. . . .  Nobody likes that."

Bully for Dubya.   I never thought I would be nostalgic for the days of his presidency, but I would swap Trump for him in a New York minute right now.


"Make Montana a reliably Republican state," said the GOP. But they didn't.

Sam Levine, of the Huffington Post, reported this.   It concerns voting methods and political advantage in Montana, a usually reliable red state.  President Trump chose a Montana congressman, Rep. Ryan Zinke, to be his Secretary of the Interior, thus requiring an election to fill the vacant seat.

A state legislator had introduced a bill that would have turned this special election into an all mail-in ballot, in which every voter is sent a ballot in the mail, which they fill out and mail back in, much as they do in Oregon routinely.  He argued that it would save the state $500,000 by not having to hire election judges and other officials on short notice.


Yes, but . . . the head of the Montana Republican Party sent out an "emergency report" by email, warning that this form of voting would benefit Democrats and make it more difficult for Republicans to keep control of state politics.    He wrote:
"All mail ballots give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door. . . .  Vote-by-mail is designed to increase participation rates of lower propensity voters.  Democrats in Montana perform better than Republican candidates among lower propensity voters and Republicans do better among high propensity voters.

" I know that my position will not be popular with many fiscally conservative Republican[s]. . . .  They may be well intended, but this bill could be death of our effort to make Montana a reliably Republican state.  It is my job to remind us all of the long-term strategic advantage that passage of this bill would provide to our Democratic opponents for control of our legislature and our statewide elected positions."
Well, at least his attempt to grab power is candid.   He says exactly what others try to find some euphemism or cover story for -- as the legislator who introduced the bill, focusing on saving taxpayers money.   Which it would, but methinks they would do it anyway, to keep control of state government.

Is there nothing sacrosanct anymore?  Now I will admit that this is not as blatant as a scheme like the voter purges that some states do to remove as many names from voter registration rolls as they possible can, even if they know it will disproportionately and unfairly affect a certain type of voters -- or the reduction in voting hours or weekend early voting.    But it still is aimed at affecting who is going to vote, and that is trying to manipulate the system for partisan advantage.  But so is gerrymandering.

And, as has been said repeatedly, free elections, freely held, are the bedrock of democracy.


But, there's more.   The Montana Senate took a vote on the bill to have the mail-in ballot for this election, and it passed 37 to 13.    Was it saving $500,000 or principle of fairness that swayed them?   Wouldn't it be great to think it was the latter?


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Just incredible: Trump found a way to make the flubbed Oscar award be about him.

The quipish, but not inaccurate, definition of narcissism:  everything is about you.  "But enough about me, how do you like my new hairdo?"

Sunday night, the nightmare blunder happened at the Academy Awards.   PriceWaterhouse, who has flawlessly handled the vote counting and protecting the secrecy of the winners for 83 years, gave the presenters of the Best Picture award the wrong envelope.   They announced the winner as "La La Land."   The producers had to interrupt the acceptance speeches to tell them that "Moonlight" had won instead.

Here is the president's explanation.   They spent so much time criticizing him that they couldn't get the details of the show right.

Rep. Issa calls for Trump/Russia special prosecutor

Pressure is building for the appointment of a special, independent prosecutor to investigate the connection between Donald Trump, his campaign staff and his administration with Russia.   Various reports have said that members of his campaign were in contact with "Russian security" or "Russian intelligence" officials during the campaign.

We know that Gen. Flynn had inappropriate contact with the Russian ambassador during the transition and conveyed a message not to react to the sanctions because things would be different after Trump became president.    Flynn lost his job as National Security Adviser to Trump, not for the meeting, but for lying about it to VP Pence.

Now Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a Republican in a tight race for reelection to the House, has raised the level of pressure by saying on "Real Time With Bill Maher" that "You're going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office."   It can't be overseen by the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, because he was on the Trump campaign and was appointed to his office by Trump, Issa explained.

This is particularly significant coming from Issa, who was the Republican chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform from 2011 to 2015.   This is the committee that investigates other government officials and committees.   Issa was relentless in pursuing Democrats.   So for him, a Republican, to say we need a special prosecutor and that Jeff Sessions must recuse himself, is a big deal.

Now the need for an independent investigation has become even more glaringly important.  Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has acknowledged that he had contact with an assistant director, as well as with Director Comey, of the FBI and asked them to make a statement to the media that there was nothing to the reports about Trump campaign staff being in contact with the Russians all during the campaign.   That would ordinarily be considered highly improper for the president's chief of staff to try to influence an ongoing investigation -- or any matter, much less one that is investigating the president's own team.

There is no evidence that anyone from the FBI has done what Priebus asked.   However, someone from the administration also talked with the chairs of the House (Rep. Nunes) and the Senate Intelligence Committees (Sen. Burr), both of whom are conducting investigations of the Trump connections with Russia.

And both Rep. Nunes and Sen. Burr have reportedly spoken with multiple media representatives to convey this message minimizing this aspect of their investigations.   These are the committees that were supposedly going to do the investigation instead of having a special prosecutor, with the expectation that they would conduct a fair, bipartisan investigation.

Obviously, they have proved that they cannot be trusted to withstand pressure from the Trump administration to do a fair and impartial investigation that involves the president.  Even if they are correct that there is nothing sinister to the story about Trump campaign members in contact with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign, that is only a small part of their overall investigation.

They have now set a precedent of speaking to the media about an ongoing investigation.  This is clearly a violation of the principle that investigators do not comment on ongoing investigations.   How can we trust that they will not be influenced by White House pressure in the future?

And having gotten away with it once, does anyone think the WH would not try to pressure them again?   That's a classic tactic of corrupting a potential source -- get them to violate a principle over some very small, relatively meaningless thing, then when you need something bigger and more consequential, you've already got strings on them that you can pull, dragging them in a little more.

So let the protest movements take up the war cry and demand an independent, special prosecutor to investigate the Trump connections with Russia, the effect on the election, and what's behind it all.   Trump debt?  Blackmail?  Scandal?   Or simply an ideological sympatico? -- which may be the worst of all.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Homeland Security report contradicts Trump ban

Rachel Maddow reported on her Friday night MSNBC show that a "senior White House official" had told CNN that the "Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are working on an intelligence report that will demonstrate that the security threat from these seven countries is substantial."

Notice the wording.  They "are working on . . . will demonstrate."  Remember that the Appeals Court refused to lift the stay on Trump's immigration ban on the seven countries, in part, because they had produced no evidence that this was a rational executive order.   In other words, does the ban make sense, based on the reality of the threat?

So it looks like the administration ordered DHS and DOJ to find the evidence -- and write a report that will prove we need the ban.

Sound familiar?   Dick Cheney hounded the CIA, pushing them to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the invasion they were already far along in planning.   And they finally did somehow concoct this "fake news" about yellow cake uranium in Niger -- which turned out to be false -- and those aluminum tubes that could be, maybe, for centrifuges, but weren't.   All false,  despite the deceptive assurances they gave Colin Powell, who had to present this "evidence" to the United Nations.   It was the concocted "news" used to sell the Iraq invasion that Cheney demanded they produce.

That should have been a cautionary tale, but this administration ignores -- or is ignorant of -- history.    Or blinded by a drive to gain power and disrupt our "administrative government."  [Actually, I think Bannon ignores history, and he can manipulate Trump, who is ignorant of history.]

Back to now, and the requested report from DHS.  Then came the bombshell.   The intelligence group within DHS did write a report that says the exact opposite.   Now the new people brought in by the Trump administration to run DHS saw this report and apparently decided to put a hold on it.    But someone from the intelligence group leaked it to the Associated Press.   This is probably one of those "leaks" that has Trump so agitated -- and no wonder.   It shoots a hole in his travel ban and humiliates him.

Now, to put some balance on this, the response from DHS to explain their action was that this was only a preliminary draft and is only one piece of the evidence that DHS will consider in writing its final, comprehensive report.   Maybe.  The DHS spokeswoman also said that the seven countries were selected, in part, because they lack the ability to properly vet their citizens and refuse to cooperate with the U.S. efforts to screen would-be travelers.  That sounds more plausible, but I've become very cynical about believing anything that comes from a Trump-appointed person.

But maybe the truth is in this report, and someone leaked it, because they knew it would never be released otherwise.   The situation seems to be widespread throughout all the intelligence -- and other -- agencies.   Professionals in these government jobs suddenly have bosses who often have very different motives and goals for their departments.  "Government sources" told CBS News that there has been friction between some intelligence analysts and their supervisors.

So, for what it may be worth, what does the report say?

As reported for the AP by Vivian Salama and Alicia Caldwell, it says that DHS's intelligence arm "found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump's travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States."  It further states that being a citizen of one of these countries "is unlikely to be a reliable indicator" of a terrorist threat.                      

They found that, of 82 people that our government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, slightly more than half were U.S. citizens born in the United States.   That number, 82, includes the 19 who attacked us on 9/11.

The others were from 26 different countries.  If you pick the seven countries, from those 26, that have spawned the most threats to us, only two from Trump's ban list would be included -- Somalia and Iraq.   Iran, Sudan, and Yemen had only one each.

Not a single one of them came from Syria.   And yet, Trump's ban would indefinitely bar anyone from Syria coming in, even as a fully vetted refugee seeking asylum.

So does the data in this report -- preliminary though it may be -- support the Trump travel ban as a rationally based decision?  No.

Let's look at it from the likelihood of an American citizen here in the U.S. being killed by a terrorist attacker from any country, not just these seven.  And remember, the most deaths by far from terrorists on U.S. soil was in the 9/11 attack.   That was carried out by men mostly from Saudi Arabia (not on Trump's list -- he has business there), and they were legally in the U.S. on tourist visas.

Based on statistics from 1975 through 2015, calculated by Alex Nowrasteh, an Immigration Policy Analyst with the Cato Institute, the chances of an American dying in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil by a foreign national are 1 in 3,609,709 per year.   That is a risk of 0.00003%.   If you narrow it down to the chance of being killed by an immigrant terrorist, the risk is astronomic:  1 in 10.9 billion.

Compare that to the chances of being murdered overall:   1 in 14,000, about 252 times greater than the chance of being killed by a foreigner, period.  Think about that when Trump insists we have to build a wall.   You probably do ten things a day that put you at more risk of dying than does someone sneaking into our country illegally and killing you.

Nowrasteh, the rational, number-crunching, statistical analyst, concludes:   "The harm that [imposing the immigration ban] has done to lawful permanent residents in the U.S., to folks who had a legal visa who were stuck overseas for days, to American businesses who had hiring and business operations frustrated as a result -- for almost zero benefit to U.S. national security -- is truly unforgivable."

To answer the question asked by the 9th Circuit Appeals Court:  No, there is no rational basis for this travel ban.   There is nothing rational about the whole Trump debacle.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

A few things that have been happening

1.  Former Secretary of Labor in Obama's cabinet, Tom Perez, has been elected as Chair of the Democratic National Committee.   He immediately named Keith Ellison, the man he narrowly defeated, as deputy chair.   This became a hotly contested election, being seen by many as a proxy election for the Bernie Sanders progressive wing vs the establishment Democrats.    President Obama had endorsed Perez, while Ellison was clearly the choice of the Sanders' progressives.

However, that was not so much the way the general membership of the DNC saw it.   Both men are considered liberal and have similar positions on issues.   It's more a question of uniting the party and having a vigorous grass roots, 50 state effort to elect Democrats at the local level, as well as Congress.

2.  President Trump continues his war on the media.   He continues to rail about leaks and journalists' use of "unidentified sources," insisting that this is not good journalism -- at the same time that he rattles off fake news himself that he picked up from someone's Twitter or talk radio without any source, named or not.   Now he has announced (by Twitter, of course) that he will not attend the White House Correspondents Dinner.

3.  Who would of thought Bernie Sanders was a Twitter troll.   Well, not exactly, but he used the president's favorite means of communication to shut him down -- with four words.   Trump had tweeted:  "Maybe the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAIN should have their own rally.  It would be the biggest of them all."

To which Sanders replied:  "They did.  It wasn't."   And then he included a copy of the side-by-side comparison pix of the Washington crowds -- (1) at Trump's inauguration and (2) the Women's March the next day.   Notably the women outnumbered Trump's crowd many times over.

4.   Anti-Muslim hate crimes are spiking all over the country (and Trump bears a lot of responsibility for it, IMHO).   There has also been a spike in anti-Semitic violence, although those have been against synagogues or Jewish Community Centers, not violence against people as some of the anti-Muslim attacks have been   Yet Trump has not commented about it.   Daughter Ivanka sent out a twitter message calling for religious tolerance.   She probably didn't expect the response she got:    in large numbers, people wrote back with some version of "Please tell that to your Dad."

5.  A group of 15 law professors has filed an ethics complaint against fellow lawyer Kellyanne Conway for "professional misconduct."  They cite her repeated lies and ethics breaches in defending the president's statements and actions, as well as her touting of "alternate facts" as an explanation of the lies.  They forcefully assert that "alternate facts" are not facts;  they are lies."   The professors also cite Conway's promotion of the commercial products for sale by the president's daughter, which they say is "a clear violation of government ethics, rules, which a lawyer and a member of the bar should surely know."   They conclude that her conduct, "clearly violative of the rules that regulate her professional status, cries out for sanctioning" by the bar.

They seem to be saying that a lawyer, even when she is not functioning in the role of a lawyer, is held to a different standard than an ordinary citizen.   We should be clear that they are not talking about a criminal act, but about a sanctioning by the legal profession.  I'm not unhappy to see Conway get her come-uppance, but I'm a little surprised by this reasoning.    So the president, not being a lawyer, can lie;  but his spokeswoman, who is a lawyer, cannot repeat those same lies?   Hmmm.