These Are The People Running Our Country..

This is truly terrifying.

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars reports on one of those “best people” Trump promised us. This time it’s a communications person in the Department of Health and Human Services.

As a fringe right-wing political commentator, Ximena Barreto claimed that “African-Americans are way more racist than white people,” labeled Islam “a fucking cult” that has “no place” in the United States, pushed the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and attacked the “retarded” 2017 Women’s March. In December, she became a deputy communications director at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)…

Brayton buttresses this description with specifics of the time, place and rhetoric employed. Click through to see the rest, but here’s a taste:

During her November 30, 2016, Periscope, Barreto said that Islam advocates for “killing other people and abusing women; that’s not a religion, that’s a fucking cult. Like, I’m serious. Like, that’s not religion.” She also said during a June 12 video that Islam is “just a cult. All the practices are cult-like, all that they do.”

During a December 4, 2016, Periscope video, she wondered aloud whether there are members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government — a common conspiracy theory among anti-Muslim right-wing media. After someone asked if there’s a Muslim Brotherhood plan in the United States, she replied: “Well, how many of them are in the government already, you know? Like in Congress?”

In a May 25 post on the now-defunct website Borderland Alternative Media, she suggested that practicing Islam should not be allowed in the United States.

Even if her appalling bigotries weren’t disqualifying, her obvious ignorance should have been.
As disquieting as it is to know that these are the sorts of people being hired by our federal government agencies, the fact that so many judicial nominees are only marginally better is far more terrifying. Employees can be replaced; judges are lifetime.
Even the extremely conservative Neil Gorsuch answered that question without equivocation during his confirmation hearing last March. Gorsuch called Brown a “seminal decision that got the original understanding of the 14th Amendment right.” He added that Plessy was a “dark, dark stain” on the Supreme Court’s history.

For 10 minutes in December, the public was agog at the spectacle of Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, in his grits ’n’ biscuits twang, shredding a Trump judicial pickto ribbons over his lack of courtroom experience. Kennedy’s evisceration of federal district court nominee Matthew Spencer Petersen was a good show, as shows go, serving to highlight the ways in which some of Trump’s judicial selections were unprepared, entitled, and rushed through the vetting process. Petersen withdrew his nominationnot long after video of his abject performance went viral. The White House also pulled backtwo nominees: Jeff Mateer, who has referred to transgender children as a part of “Satan’s plan,” and36-year-old Brett Talley, who has never tried a case and once defended the “original KKK.”

These nominees are not jokes, and they are not cartoonish bumblers. They are highly effective and respected thinkers with agendas not unlike that of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. They will create a judicial branch that is hostile to women’s rights, workers’ rights, voting rights, LGBTQ protections, and the environment. And they will do so capably and under the radar. We giggle at the Trump judges at our peril.
I’m not giggling. I’m drinking.


  1. “As disquieting as it is to know that these are the sorts of people being hired by our federal government agencies, the fact that so many judicial nominees are only marginally better is far more terrifying. Employees can be replaced; judges are lifetime.”

    I am probably beating a dead horse but…until and unless we know WHY the GOP, using their SCOTUS approved financial backing from the 1%, appointed Trump their nominee over 16 other Republican candidates, we will not know why Congress approves and supports these unqualified, destructive hirings and appointments. We watch and listen to the descent of this country into oblivion day-by-day-by-day; the level and escalation is unbelievable and unnerving. Does Kim Jong Un’s apparent backing off from the nuclear war pissing contest with Trump mean he has suddenly “seen the light”? Or, is the answer to that question the same answer as to who, how and why Trump is now sitting in the driver’s seat. How fast will he claim it was he, and he alone, due to his vast knowledge and wonderfulness, who scared Kim Jong Un off from further nuclear testing and possible war?

    In the words of John Lennon’s beautiful song, “Some call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”; I tend to briefly fantasize when pushed into a corner so I am one of those dreamers. I imagine a 2016 presidential election between Sanders and Kasich; this gives me a glimmer of hope that the Republican party will get fed up baby sitting our president and constantly replacing his pacifier. I can still dream; Trump and Pence haven’t found a way to deprive us of our dreams…not yet.

  2. That Islam is but a Christian heresy was well known once from the observations of St Thomas Aquinas, no less, in his Summa Contra Gentiles. Heresies, like the 50,000 plus Protestant cults are generally cults as that word is understood. To the Orthodox, reform Jews are a cult and one that is dying out. Observing such does not make the Orthodox bigots but observers. Of course, it does lead others to note of the latter group that they believe nothing in the New Testament and very little of the Old. So, the Cult survives to the extent it does by conflating the heresy with the real thing.

  3. Was that there March 2017 when the retards donned that new fancy head gear or was that some other retarded March by the demented? One wonders how one would prove the assertion that Blacks are much more racist than whites….or disprove it? In one’s lived experience it would seem almost axiomatic that the proposition is true since one political party keeps picking at the scab even while pushing policies that re-enslave the Blacks (see Losing Ground for details…not that Libtards actually read social science).

  4. I’m sure they have pills for jaundice and you might try them to clear up your vision. Muslim influence in American Government isn’t a right wing conspiracy. Ask Andre Carson who enabled plenty of it, along with that bimbo the DNC finally had to fire. Good thing for both of them that their machinations are way down the list of “to do” for Trump and one reason, no doubt, why D’s are slow walking appointments to DOJ. NOT to confuse anyone about DNC bimbo sorts I mean the yet squatting congress lady Debbie Wasserman…not the other liar, was it Donna Brazill or something like that. On the other hand, don’t ask Andre Carson, it might allow him to erect defenses and, being a non entity democrat, he’d just lie to you.

  5. We MUST emphasize the Senate in 2018.

    Recommended reading for all of us white folk: “We Were Eight Years in Power,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Two reasons: 1) It provides some perspective; 2) this young man writes beautifully.


    When BIG government fall on its face, sometimes smaller Gov units do the job. Here is a small county taking waste products OUT of the environment and making clean energy. All factory farms could / should be doing this. Most will not.

  7. I have blocked Leon Dixon. As I have noted previously, I encourage views contrary to mine and contrary to others who comment; however, name-calling and repetition of obvious propaganda are not viewpoints. Terms like “libtard” and “retard” convey about as much content as a toddler’s tantrum, and add nothing to substantive conversation.

  8. At the risk of getting “preachy” let me admonish one and all to beware falling into the pit of hate and intolerance ourselves. It would be so easy to do during these times when political leaders from both parties cower in the face of the most dysfunctional government we ever elected. How much better the years ahead will be if we keep our heads and good hearts now… difficult as that is.

  9. Lawyer talk > Administrative appointments by Trump have an abbreviated shelf life; Trump’s appointments to the federal judiciary have no shelf life; they are lifetime appointments and robed lawyers vested with tremendous powers to, for instance, override laws passed by a Congress and signed by a president. Gorsuch is not my cup of tea but his view of Brown is refreshing. Plessy badly needed judicial rebuke and Brown did the job.

    Plessy, by the way, is in my opinion the third worst holding ever by the Supreme Court, topped only by Dred Scott and (as of late) Citizens United. Some of Trump’s judicial appointees have by their openly stated views indicated that they would have been in the majority in Citizens United and Plessy and in the minority in Brown – a terrifying thought!

    McConnell, the snake who infamously held up Obama’s appointment to the Supreme Court following Scalia’s death for almost a year, got his wish with a Scalia clone in Gorsuch, but what is underreported these days is that he has speeded up Trump’s appointments to federal district and appellate court judgeships who are chosen for their right wing credentials, a threat to our future and that of our progeny, especially since they also constitute a pool of potential Supreme Court appointees in case of death or inability to serve by one or more members of that court. End of lawyer meanderings.

    What to do? Win the House and if at all possible the Senate as well this fall since while the House has the purse strings the Senate has the power to confirm not only temporary administrative personnel but robed lawyers (aka judges) who can and will decide our future and that of our children’s children. Prefer fascism in some sort of 1984 existence? Stay home in November.

  10. It’s redundant to say that religions are a cult. Gerald is spot on with regard to McConnell and the Republican Senate majority stuffing the Federal bench with ideologues instead of unbiased jurors and interpreters of our laws. Also, it is critical that Democrats re-take the Senate to stop and reverse this attack on our Constitution and human rights by right-wing ideologues.

    Thanks, Sheila, for dumping Dixon.

  11. Extremism is the absence of subtlety, nuance, balance, and thinking in culture. It celebrates emotion not learning, expertise, or accomplishment which are considered “elitest”. It’s the prime goal of propaganda. Once people get pushed over that cliff they become easy to manipulate and lead and oh so angry and afraid, the marks of followers.

    We can ponder the relative contribution of causes and victims and history but it doesn’t strike me as all that useful now that we live immersed in the zombies it creates.

    The problem is not subtle at all, neither is the solution. Fight fire with fire.

    Vote Ds in November. Either we outnumber the living dead or we have already lost to them.

  12. Leon is very smart but his use of those smarts has always disappointed. He’s been banned from many other outlets as well. I enjoy his contrarian view as much as the others on this thread.

    There is a proven leadership theory that you should surround yourself with superior teammates who will challenge you. The Stoics called it the dialectic and it elevated the team as a whole which is the very premise of good leadership.

    However, I don’t see Trump as a good leader because his Ego is problematic. He will not surround himself with people who challenge him. In theory, if Trump is rated a 2 (on a scale of 1-5), he will never surround himself with anything higher than a 2. He will choose 1’s.

    NOW, why would all these billionaires and corporate types want to see a buffoon like Trump leading the country with his idiot minions surrounding him? Why have the invested millions with Trump?

    Either they are a bunch of 1’s themselves and look up to Trump as a superior mind and leader, or they are using Trump to destroy the government which regulates their businesses. In other words, they are manipulating him.

    Let’s face it, these Oligarchs tossing millions into campaign coffers have expectations. A leader rated a 5 would have very high ethics with a strong moral compass. You can’t buy a 5 because they are not for sale.

    I believe Plato called them, “philosopher kings”. If our country was a functioning properly, “philosopher kings” would rise to public service and lead our country. We’ll be lucky to see them gain a spot on local boards or councils.

    Einstein was right–“it’s capitalism” folks. Capitalism breeds corruption. In this system, sociopaths rise to the top. Those in Washington with a conscious either drink a lot or use other methods of escape.

    Our economic system has corrupted all our other institutions and the reason it has endured is that the justice system is also corrupt. When our lawmakers are corrupt and so are our judges, guess what?

    We’ll keep seeing rulings like Citizens United which feeds this corrupted mess (kakistocracy). It’s actually quite predictable.

    Those who see this and print this are being marginalized and censored. They sure don’t work for any major news outlet controlled by our Entertainment Complex.

  13. Re:Patmcc:

    Amazon is part of the problem,not the solution. Amazon demands subsidies and tax abatements from the communities. Like WalMart,many of their workers rely on food stamps/snap to make ends meet. So, we’re to embrace this corporate behemoth simply because the CEO says he is for gay rights?

    This is exactly the kind of thinking/acceptance of the corporate wunderkinds that allowed the political environment to elect a Donald Trump…Not that Jeb Bush would’ve been any different.

    Btw,it’s BS Leon Dixon has been censored. Hell,I’ve received much more nasty replies from people among this forum,people I supposedly share ideals–Yes,I’m looking at you Nancy. The timidity in refuting his thoughts by the readers is indeed striking. It’s proof the New Democrats hate genuine lefties (such as myself) moreso than they do of the right.

  14. Capitalism = make more money regardless of the impact on others. Functional government manages the impact on others to insure that the impact is not on those who are not in a position to defend themselves.

    We don’t have functional government any more.

    The easiest path back to it starts with voting all D’s in November.

    Then the work begins but at least it won’t be game over.

  15. Leon was particularly repellent. His use of the words “retard” and “Libtards” were very offensive. I was in my younger days very involved with children in the disabled community. These disabled children were a joy if you knew where to look. The professionals who worked with the disabled children were some of the best people humanity had to offer.

    Leon’s use of his pejorative terms were objectionable. I never gave it much of thought to engage Leon, as I suspect I he would have labeled me a snow flake.

  16. I have always considered “snowflake” and “progressive” as complements though they’re never intended to be.

  17. The Democrats having lost the Senate, House and Presidency just cannot stick together to oppose the Rabid Reactionary Right that is controlling the Republican Party. A vote by the Democrats in opposition is a statement. You have to give the Republicans credit, no matter what the issue they stand together. The Democrats in contrast seem to have no guiding light. I blame this on the Establishment Corporate Democratic Leadership: Pelosi and Schumer, among others.

    A good example is Democrat Heide Heitkamp Backing War Hawk Pompeo because Trump ‘Entitled to His Own Cabinet’. Despite concerns over the current Pompeo’s support for torture, NSA spying programs.

    Mean while the DNC strikes back with a frivolous law suit against a variety of people and entities such as Wikileaks.

    “It has been 17 months since the 2016 election. Democrats have just seven months to try to flip the House of Representatives in the midterm elections,” Splinter’s Emma Roller noted in an article on Friday. “Investing in getting out the vote for the millions of Americans who stayed home on Election Day 2016 is an infinitely better use of the DNC’s time and money than this lawsuit is. Throwing more lawsuits and more money at the problem will never change what happened on November 8, 2016.”
    A good plan is to use your assets where they will do the most good, not fighting the last war. In 1929, Lieutenant Colonel J. L. Schley, of the Corps of Engineers wrote in The Military Engineer: “It has been said critically that there is a tendency in many armies to spend the peace time studying how to fight the last war”.

    I gather the DNC would prefer to fight 2016 again, instead of learning from their mistakes and devising a plan to avoid them.

  18. The difference in the last election was purposeful Russian action and misguided Comey action neither which came from the DNC.

    That having been said I agree with the idea that there’s much at risk because of liberals over analysing the details as much as single issue authoritarians under analysing them.

    United we stand, divided we fall.

  19. William,

    Re: Mr. Dixon “The timidity in refuting his thoughts by the readers is indeed striking. It’s proof the New Democrats hate genuine lefties (such as myself) moreso than they do of the right.”

    I think I can speak for most of us in saying it had nothing to do with “timidity”. His thoughts were not worthy of a response and often not thoughts at all, rather mere insults.

  20. Kudos to Sheila for blocking Leon. Anyone who uses a phrase like “libtard” has forfeited any right to be taken seriously.

  21. Thank you, Sheila, for blocking Dixon. His thoughts, IMO, were mostly stream-of-consciousness word salad that became offensive when he threw in words Like”libtards.” I never wanted to rebut his gibberish, not because of timidity, but because it seemed like a rather bad use of my time.

  22. I am appalled at the use of curse words. Do intelligent people need those words to express themselves. I know civility is gone but so is controlled vocabulary.

  23. Thank you for blocking Leon Dixon. The school yard bullying language contributes nothing but hate, and I’m glad commenters here make a real effort to stick to issues in civil discourse.

  24. Yeah,Leon is a bit puerile in tone. However,I like seeing viewpoints expressed by Leon in the daylight, so to speak. I know what I’m up against with the likes of Leon. What I find more objectionable are the weak arguments,tribalism,blind allegiance to the DNC and the hypocrisy within the ranks of the commenters here at the forum than the faux bravado of rugged individualism expressed crudely by Leon.

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