Monday Reads: WTF did Trump Voters do?

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’d like to continue to ignore the absolute breakdown of rule of law and sanity brought on by a group of outraged wypipo that just want their football and lives to be mired in some perverse black and white 50s sitcom, but it’s hard with headlines reading like an Orwellian Dystopia.

While Floridians and other survivors of hurricanes the last 2 seasons struggle to find water, food, and access to the things of basic civilization, T-Rump continues to golf at his various properties and travel to provide Hate Fest opportunities for aggrieved wypipo with random women leaders being targeted for the shouts of “lock her up”.  This kind of behavior would shame any sane person.  The word sane is the key idea here.

I’d like to say who are these people, but then it’s pretty obvious that I went to high school and university with a lot of them and used to sit in church pews surrounded by them. I’m not sure what wiring got crossed in their brains, but I don’t want to understand them, I want them to slink back under their rocks.

That pretty much sums it up.  KKKremlin Caligula just keeps showing himself to the world and about 20% of the population keeps acting like this is great and normal.  But then, most of them also believe in a literal garden of Eden and zombie Jesus born of a virgin when there’s absolutely no proof of any of that. It seems like everything done by Republicans encourages their psychotic breaks so the donor class gets to pillage the country of treasure and resources.  The VOX op ed piece is written by Matthew Yglesias.

President Trump trusts Kim Jong Un but not American climate scientists. He knows more about NATO than Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. He thinks the European Union was created to take advantage of America on trade. And he isn’t sure whether or not Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations.

In short, his sit-down interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl revealed the president of the United States to be grossly dishonest, woefully ill-informed, and congenitally incapable of admitting error or demonstrating any kind of moral or intellectual growth.

He is, in other words, totally unfit for high office and fairly obviously so. Even more amazingly, despite Stahl covering an incredibly wide range of issues, she broke essentially no new ground. Every terrible, disqualifying thing he said was something he’s said before.

Donald Trump says a lot of things that aren’t true


That doesn’t include what’s going on with Saudi Arabia which is acting like an entitled Trump Voter with the actual ability to blackmail the country and its Placeholder in the Oval Office. Trump basically said that the murdered Saudi Journalists might have been killed by “rogue” killers and that the King said they didn’t do it. Oh, great!  It’s the believe a crazed dictator over all the evidence SNL skit redux!

For 45 years, it’s been considered out of bounds for Saudi Arabia. But all of a sudden, Riyadh made what many read as a veiled threat to use the kingdom’s oil wealth as a political weapon — something unheard of since the 1973 Arab embargo that triggered the first oil crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, said on Sunday it would retaliate against any punitive measures linked to the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi with even “stronger ones.” In an implicit reference to the kingdom’s petroleum wealth, the statement noted the Saudi economy “has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”

Roger Diwan, a longstanding OPEC watcher at consultant IHS Markit Ltd., said the Saudi comments broke “an essential oil market taboo.”

While few think that Saudi Arabia is prepared to follow through, even the suggestion of using oil as a weapon undermines Riyadh’s long-standing effort to project itself as a force for economic stability. Jeffrey Currie, the head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Inc., said Middle East tensions impacting the oil market have now “broadened to include Saudi Arabia.”

The images today should remind the older among us of the 1970s gas crisis.

In October 1972, a year before the U.S. oil crisis began, Atlantic author Steward Udall issued a warning, predicting a looming fuel shortageUdall, a former Secretary of the Interior for the Kennedy Administration, believed the auto industry was in an unsustainable growth pattern based on the folly that cheap gas prices would persist indefinitely. He saw American oil production reaching a plateau and worried about the stability of the Middle Eastern market:

Meanwhile, back to those “rogue killers” and the man who is totally shameless about spouting alternative facts.

President Donald Trump on Monday suggested that “rogue killers” may be responsible for the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, while also dispatching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

“We are going to leave nothing uncovered,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “With that being said, the king firmly denied any knowledge of it. … I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows? We’ll try getting to the bottom of it very soon. His was a flat denial.”

In case any one needs to be reminded, the Saudi Royal Family are not nice people and the attacks on 9/11 were instigated by Saudis.  And, why do we continually kiss up to brutal regimes?  Are we really still in bed with craven dictatorships?  Of course, we are!!!!

So there was Crown Prince Mohammad at an April soirée at Mr. Murdoch’s vineyard in Bel Air, Calif. Guests included the Walt Disney Company’s chairman, Robert A. Iger; the studio chief at Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara; and the actors Morgan Freeman and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who overshared on Instagram that he was “blown away to be told about the level of love the Saudi people have for me.”

As the guest of honor at a Page Six-worthy dinner at the producer Brian Grazer’s Santa Monica home, the crown prince discussed Snapchat’s popularity in his kingdom with the Snap chief Evan Spiegel;Vice’s Shane Smith; Amazon’s chief — and Washington Post owner — Jeff Bezos and the agent-turned-mogul Ari Emanuel.

Mr. Emanuel, an organizer of the evening, had reason to celebrate: the Saudis planned a $400 million investment in Endeavor, his entertainment holding company. (In light of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, Endeavor is reassessing the deal, according to a person with knowledge of Mr. Emanuel’s thinking, who shared it only on condition of anonymity.)

Vanity Fair noted at the time that the festivities were not marred by talk of civilian deaths in Yemen from Saudi-led airstrikes; the crown prince’s “anti-corruption” move to imprison scores of Saudi businessmen, including the owners of Saudi television networks and key rivals, at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton; or the five-year prison sentence the Saudi royal court handed the journalist Saleh al-Shehi for criticizing the government.

The embrace between the American establishment and the leader known as M.B.S. was set to continue in Riyadh later this month at a business conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed. The sponsors, partners and participants of the conference — known informally as “Davos In The Desert” — included a number of media companies: CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN and Fox Business Network.

With the exception of Fox, which is reviewing its participation, all of those organizations pulled out as the Khashoggi story climbed most-viewed article lists and drew cable coverage. The story’s popularity was helped along by its thriller-like qualities, which included the allegation that the journalist’s body was dismembered with the aid of a bone saw before it was removed from the consulate.

So much for that little fairy tale happy ending. But one still wonders why the Bible Belt continues to lose its license to smug righteousness with its unholy alliance with D’oh Hair Furor?   I don’t usually quote Maggie Habberman because I think she’s basically an overpaid gossip columnist but here we go. Why don’t the unhinged hatefests that are happening quite a few times a week turn off people who say they believe in the biblical Jesus?  I mean really?  Where in the bible does Jesus say “lock her up”?

Sharon Hurd didn’t know that President Trump had used the phrase “dumb Southerner” to describe his attorney general, but hearing it didn’t bother her.

“We’re ready for somebody to be that outspoken, because he seems to be getting the job done,” said Ms. Hurd, 73, a retiree who once owned a restaurant and a gift shop, standing on a street corner about an hour after Mr. Trump’s rally ended here this month. “He doesn’t try to take his words and make them please everybody, and I think that Southern people are noticing that.”

Few things have appeared to test the bond between Mr. Trump and the South, a political coupling of a thrice-married New Yorker and voters in the Bible Belt that seemed unlikely from the start. The president’s swing this month through deep-red Tennessee and Mississippi, where he basked in the warmth of supporters at political rallies, confirmed that despite the scandals and chaos that have churned out of the White House, their relationship endures.

“It is ironic that the warrior that they have found is a billionaire from New York, but he really speaks their language fluidly,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member and party strategist based in Mississippi.

“I don’t think it’s about any specific set of policy positions, but it’s about somebody being a warrior for folks,” he said.

The relationship offers Mr. Trump benefits as well. In Johnson City, Tenn., and in Southaven, Miss., this month, Mr. Trump was far removed from bruising headlines about the special counsel investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia, his personal finances or allegations of affairs.

And although Mr. Trump often paints a rosy, and sometimes distorted, picture of his support, his descriptions of mutual love with his voters match reality in parts of the South — particularly outside cities and suburbs. In his 2016 victory, he won every Southern state but Virginia. In Tennessee, public polling shows his approval rating is close to 60 percent, far greater than his national average.

I don’t get it and I’m not sure why continually writing about these people does much good for any of us other warn us that there are zombies living among us.  Oh, and then there’s this little shit show coming to my streets this week.  These walking specimens of human excrement have already terrorized the streets of NYC and Portland this week.  We’re not happy to be hosting them.

Newly released video reportedly shows the moment members of the far-right group the “Proud Boys” attacked anti-fascist protesters.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Metropolitan Republican Club on New York City’s Upper East Side Friday night, where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes was scheduled to give a speech.

As the event was letting out, some of the attendees allegedly assaulted some of the so-called “Antifa” protesters.

Here’s from the Portland event.

Far-right groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer,clashed with anti-fascist protesters in Portland, Ore. on Saturday night.

Patriot Prayer, an Oregon-based group, was holding a rally in downtown Portland yesterday; after several hours of clashes, video footage shows, an antifa protester sprays one of the far-right group members with pepper spray, setting off further violence.

The incident appears to have taken place outside Kelly’s Olympian bar and follows similar violence at the hands of Proud Boys on Friday night in New York City. According to Twitter user @itsmikebivins, the violence in Portland was “way worse” than the violence in New York.

“Right-wingers were clubbing people with clubs,” @itsmikebivins continued. Portland police confirmed that the incident was part of violence that occurred between the groups throughout the day, and involved “hard-knuckled gloves, firearms, batons and knives.”

These idiots are like a cross between Clock Work Orange’s “droogies” and freaking NAZI Brownshirts with a dash of KKK thrown in, but hey, it’s liberals that are angry mobs!

Anyway, I will stay home and away from the TV news as much as possible.  My safe zone is the actual horror movies being shown on SYFY this month instead of the horror reality show that has overtaken our country.

Be excellent to each other.  Oh, and Elizabeth Warren does have Native American Heritage but I don’t want to play in to the all the American Indian Lore that’s floating around this story.   The only question to me is will Trump pony up the million to her chosen charity and will every one just go out and vote already!!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?






Sunday Reads: Headless Corpses and Alien Noises


With all that has happened over the last few weeks, let’s just stick to a few non-political stories…while we look at images of Godzilla…a symbol of man’s self-destruction in a nuclear age.

Telescopes pick up huge number of unexplained signals coming from alien galaxies | The Independent

The blasts of radio waves are still unexplained – with some blaming extraterrestrial intelligent life

Telescopes have picked up a huge number of mysterious signals coming from deep in space, Australian researchers have announced.

The radio telescopes have nearly doubled the number of the known “fast radio bursts” – bright flashes of radio waves that make their way to Earth from deep space.

And the signals represent the closest and brightest of the bursts that have ever been found.

Fast radio bursts are one of the most mysterious phenomena in the universe. They are blasts of incredible energy – equivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years – that last for just a moment, and come from a mysterious source.

Some have suggested they are being emitted by an extraterrestrial intelligence. Harvard University scientists suggested last year that they could be leaks from vast transmitters that are usually shooting at light sail ships to push them across the universe.

Others have suggested that less intelligent but equally spectacular causes, such as black holes or dense stars smashing into each other.

Now scientists have far more examples to study as they attempt to find where the blasts are coming from.

Lots more at the link above…

That is one possible coded language being sent across the universe. Here is another, possibly from the distant past:

Code hidden in Stone Age art may be the root of human writing | New Scientist

A painstaking investigation of Europe’s cave art has revealed 32 shapes and lines that crop up again and again and could be the world’s oldest code

When she first saw the necklace, Genevieve von Petzinger feared the trip halfway around the globe to the French village of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac had been in vain. The dozens of ancient deer teeth laid out before her, each one pierced like a bead, looked roughly the same. It was only when she flipped one over that the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. On the reverse were three etched symbols: a line, an X and another line.

Von Petzinger, a palaeoanthropologist from the University of Victoria in Canada, is spearheading an unusual study of cave art. Her interest lies not in the breathtaking paintings of bulls, horses and bison that usually spring to mind, but in the smaller, geometric symbols frequently found alongside them. Her work has convinced her that far from being random doodles, the simple shapes represent a fundamental shift in our ancestors’ mental skills.

The first formal writing system that we know of is the 5000-year-old cuneiform script of the ancient city of Uruk in what is now Iraq. But it and other systems like it – such as Egyptian hieroglyphs – are complex and didn’t emerge from a vacuum. There must have been an earlier time when people first started playing with simple abstract signs. For years, von Petzinger has wondered if the circles, triangles and squiggles that humans began leaving on cave walls 40,000 years ago represent that special time in our history – the creation of the first human code.


More at the link, that article is from two years ago…but I still find it interesting.

Dutch Museums Discover Hundreds of Artworks Stolen by the Nazis—and They’re Already Starting to Return Them | artnet News

Forty-two Dutch institutions have found 170 works of art that they suspect may have been stolen or confiscated under duress during the Nazi era. They include 83 paintings, one of which is in the royal collection, 26 drawings, and 13 Jewish ceremonial objects thought to have been lost between 1933 and 1945. The potentially looted art ranges from a Hans Memling in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam to a watercolor by Wassily Kandinsky in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

The findings come from the Museale Verwervingen project, which since 2009 has undertaken thorough investigations at the 163 member institutions of the national Museums Association. The only museum where research is still ongoing is Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. A team of five experts has been dedicated to sniffing out tainted provenances at the museum since 2012 and has thus far identified 22 potentially Nazi-looted objects.

“This research is important to do justice to history,” Chris Janssen, a spokesman for Museale Verwervingen, told the Guardian. “A museum can only show a piece of art properly if the story and history behind the object is clear. In other words: a museum must know which road a piece of art has traveled before it came to the museum. That’s the way possible to inform visitors in a good way.”

The original owners are already being contacted…as the article continues. Take a look.

Archaeologists in England find Skeleton of two men with legs chopped off | HISTECHO

Archaeologists in England find Skeleton of two men with legs chopped off

The graves of 2 men whose legs were chopped off at the knees and placed carefully by their shoulders before burial have been discovered by archaeologists working on a huge linear site in advance of roadworks in Cambridgeshire.

The best scenario the archaeologists can hope for is that the unfortunate men were dead once their legs were mutilated.

It also appears their skull were smashed in, although that could be later damage.

Headless Vikings the “most exciting & disturbing” archaeological discoveries in Britain in recent years | HISTECHO

Headless Vikings the “most exciting & disturbing” archaeological discoveries in Britain in recent years

Fifty beheaded young men found in a burial pit at a 2012 Olympics building site were most executed Vikings.

About 50 skeletons were found in an old quarry pit at Ridgeway Hill, in Dorset, in 2009, amid the construction of the Weymouth relief road. All had been decapitated – their bodies were thrown into shallow graves with their heads piled up to other side.

The people are thought to have been executed at the graveside and stripped of their clothes, with defence wounds on their hands, arms and skulls and wounds to their necks and shoulders suggesting a bloodbath in which several blows were required to remove each head.

The Ridgeway Hill Vikingburial pit at Ridgeway Hill close Weymouth, Dorset, was a mass grave of 54 skeletons and 51 heads of Scandinavian men executed some time between AD 910 and 1030.

The men are believed to have been Vikings executed by local Anglo-Saxons. The dismembered skeletons were found by archaeologists in June 2009, and their identity and inexact ages were later confirmed by forensic analyses.

Did ya think of this:

The 54 skeletons were all of males, almost all aged from their late teens to around 25 years old, with a handful of older people. They had all been killed at the same time with a substantial, very sharp weapon such as a sword.

They had not been cleanly murdered, as many of them had suffered multiple hits to the vertebrae, jawbones and skulls. One man had his hands sliced through, suggesting that he had endeavored to grab the sword as it was being swung towards him.

They had no obvious battle wounds and were most likely captives. Judging from the lack of any remains of clothing or other possessions, they had likely been naked when they were thrown into the pit. There are more bodies than skulls, suggesting that a several of the heads – perhaps of high-ranking people – were kept as souvenirs or put on stakes.

The executions were first thought to have occurred around the time of the Roman conquest of Britain circa AD 43, but radiocarbon dating of the remains found that they dated to some time between AD 910 to 1030.

More at the links above.


This is an open thread.

Lazy Caturday Reads

Painting by Roxanne Driedger

Good Morning!!

While Trump spends his nights lying to his cult followers at his Hitler rallies, and his administration works at finding excuses for the murder of a Washington Post journalist, survivors of Hurricane Michael down in Florida are wondering if Trump’s flunkies will bother to help them in their time of desperate need.

The New York Times: ‘We Need Answers’: Hurricane Michael Leaves Florida Residents Desperate for Aid.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — It was two days after Hurricane Michael, and Eddie Foster was pushing his mother in a wheelchair down a thoroughly smashed street, his face creased with a concentrated dose of the frustration and fear that has afflicted much of the Florida Panhandle since the brutal storm turned its coast to rubble.

He was in a working-class neighborhood called Millville, where many residents said they were becoming desperate for even basic necessities. Mr. Foster, 60, and his 99-year-old mother had no car, no electricity. The food had spoiled in his refrigerator. The storm had ripped off large sections of his roof. He had no working plumbing to flush with. No water to drink. And as of Friday afternoon, he had seen no sign of government help.

“What can I do?” he said. “I’m not angry. I just want some help.”

This was the problem that government officials were racing to solve on Friday, as desperation grew in and around Panama City under a burning sun. Long lines formed for gas and food, and across the battered coastline, those who were poor, trapped and isolated sent out pleas for help.

Painting by Arsen Kurbanov

Buzzfeed News: “It’s Pretty Much All Gone”: Residents Return Home To Ruins At Ground Zero Of Hurricane Michael.

As residents returned to Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach, the ground zero Florida Panhandle towns where Hurricane Michael made landfall as a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday, they arrived to a landscape ravaged by 155 mph winds and massive storm surge.

“We kind of knew what to expect from watching the TV, but it is horrible to be here in person,” said Maxie Warren, 69, while looking at the home her son lived in.

Warren made the trip two days after the hurricane made landfall, killing at least 14 people as it plowed through the region, from her home in southwest Georgia to check on her own ancestral home in Mexico Beach — an area nearly obliterated by Michael.

“I think it’s a total loss. It’s pretty much all gone,” Warren said of her home, which has been in her family since 1955. “It will take years to get back from this.”

People with disabilities are particularly at risk in disasters like this, and FEMA has drastically cut the number of employees trained to help them. WGBH (PBS):

In the last month, two major storms have ripped through the Southeast: Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas, while the high winds of Hurricane Michael “shredded” houses in the Florida Panhandle. But as state and local governments assess the damage, nonprofits that aid people with disabilities during natural disasters are worried new policy changes within the Federal Emergency Management Agency could negatively affect recovery for these residents.

Painting by Chen Yifei (Chinese, 1946 – 2005)

FEMA deploys teams of Disability Integration Advisors to provide assistance to those with disabilities during federally declared natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires and floods. In the past, this included providing disability training to FEMA employees, as well as assessing what technical assistance people needed, like hearing amplifiers or sign-language interpreters. The roles of DIAs continued after the disaster, helping people find appropriate housing and avoid having to go to nursing homes.

But back in May, FEMA said it was reducing the number of DIAs per disaster from 60 to 5. For every major storm in the past, such as the 2016 flooding in Louisiana, FEMA deployed between 60 and 65 DIAs. During Florence last month, FEMA sent five advisors to North Carolina and two to South Carolina.

On murdered journalist Jamal Kashoggi, Michael Isakoff reported yesterday that what initially angered Saudi Crown Prince was Kashoggi’s criticism while the prince was sucking up to Jared Kuchner and Trump: Khashoggi friend says journalist angered Saudi government with column during its ‘charm campaign.’

In October 2017, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi crossed a line that made him a marked man and led, most likely, to his brutal death, according to one of his close friends.

His offense: He dared to criticize the country’s volatile Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a Washington Post column that accused the supposedly reformist strongman — and a strategic partner of White House adviser Jared Kushner — of imprisoning intellectuals, journalists and other political dissidents.

Dee Nickerson, Casting on

“That article came in the middle of this charm campaign that the Saudis and Prince Mohammed bin Salman were having,” said Khaled Saffuri, a political analyst who met with Khashoggi regularly in recent months, even smoking cigars with him a few weeks ago, shortly before the journalist left the U.S. for Istanbul.

In an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” Saffuri explained that Khashoggi evolved from a onetime defender of the royal family to an outspoken critic who became increasingly distrustful — and fearful — of his country’s powerful new de facto ruler.

He spoke as the Washington Post was reporting that Turkish officials had informed the U.S. that they had audio and video recordings proving that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and then murdered after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

At The Washington Post, Fred Hiatt wonders how all the U.S. lawyers and lobbyists, and former officials who work for Saudi Arabia will live with themselves now: Will you work for a murderer? That’s the question a host of ex-generals, diplomats and spies may soon face.

“Why do you work for a murderer?”

Increasingly, it seems that is a question many Americans should be preparing themselves to answer.

Each year, Saudi Arabia employs, through consultants or otherwise, a host of retired American generals, diplomats, intelligence experts and others. Until now, they could assure themselves this was a win-win: lucrative for them, to be sure, but also enhancing mutual understanding with an important U.S. ally.

Gianni Strino (Italian, b. 1953) – La sartina (The seamstress), 2013

Now, as more and more evidence implicates Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the reported murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Saudi diplomatic property in Istanbul, the equation has changed.

So how might, say, a retired Air Force colonel explain his work when his daughter asks, “Daddy, why do you work for a murderer?”

“Well, it helps to pay your future college tuition,” he might answer. “And besides, I finally get to fly business class. Riyadh is no picnic, but they always spring for a couple of nights in a five-star hotel in London or Abu Dhabi on the way over and the way back. . . . And if I don’t do it, someone else will.”

That’s how Trump sees it, Hiatt writes–it’s all about the money. Read the rest at the WaPo.

It’s all about money for Maine Senator Susan Collins too. The Washington Post: Collins blasted ‘dark money’ groups in Kavanaugh fight. One just paid to thank her for her vote.

A conservative group that poured more than $5 million into a campaign to defend Brett M. Kavanaugh launched a new ad buy this week: thanking Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for her vote supporting the nominee.

“In the midst of the chaos one leader stood out,” one of the Judicial Crisis Network’s ads says. “She did the right thing, supporting him. Thanks Susan Collins, for being a reasonable voice in Washington.”

Painting by Jeffrey Nentrup (American, b. 1976)

The ad ends with a phone number for Collins’s Washington office. The group did not disclose the cost of its ad buy but said it would amount to more than $100,000 for television and digital ads.

Judicial Crisis Network is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization — a “dark money” group that is not required to disclose the sources of its funding, regardless of the industry groups or individual donors behind them. It poured at least $5.3 million into its pro-Kavanaugh advertising campaign, much of it targeting vulnerable Senate Democrats in red and swing states. At least $1.5 million of that was spent defending Kavanaugh after Christine Blasey Ford went public with her allegation of sexual assault against him.

Is the constant onslaught of Trump chaos affecting our mental health? According to Politico, some therapists think so: Trump May Not Be Crazy, But the Rest of Us Are Getting There Fast.

During normal times, therapists say, their sessions deal with familiar themes: relationships, self-esteem, everyday coping. Current events don’t usually invade. But numerous counselors said Trump and his convulsive effect on America’s national conversation are giving politics a prominence on the psychologist’s couch not seen since the months after 9/11—another moment in which events were frightening in a way that had widespread emotional consequences.

Empirical data bolster the anecdotal reports from practitioners. The American Psychiatric Association in a May survey found that 39 percent of people said their anxiety level had risen over the previous year—and 56 percent were either “extremely anxious” or “somewhat anxious about “the impact of politics on daily life.” A 2017 study found two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

Michael Leonard (British, b. 1933) – Rameses and Monica, 1978

These findings suggest the political-media community has things backward when it comes to Trump and mental health.

For two years or more, commentators have been cross-referencing observations of presidential behavior with the official APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s definition of narcissistic personality disorder. Journalists have compared contemporary video of Trump with interviews from the 1980s for signs of possible cognitive decline. And even some people on his own team, according to books and news reports, have been reading up on the process of presidential removal under the 25th Amendment of the Constitution—fueled by suspicions that the president’s allegedly erratic and undeniably precedent-shattering approach to the Oval Office might prove eventually to be a case of non compos mentis.

A more plausible interpretation, in the view of some psychological experts, is that Trump has been cultivating, adapting and prospering from his distinctive brand of provocation, brinkmanship and self-drama for the past 72 years. What we’re seeing is merely the president’s own definition of normal. It is only the audience that finds the performance disorienting.

On that note, I’ll turn the floor over to you. What stories are you following today?

Friday Reads: We’re on the road to Nowhere

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I am moving slowly today. Yesterday was both my Daddy’s birthday and the anniversary of his death and I still miss him very much. I’m reminded these days of him growing up in Oklahoma during the dust bowl and helping his various aunts and uncles work their farms.  He had 7 of them with farms around Oklahoma and only 1 uncle lost theirs and headed to California. I am reminded of farm failures as I read the news about the impact of the newly installed tariffs.

Dad would tell me stories about the old plow horse he’d ride daily that knew the way to the place to feed his older cousins and the hands working the fields.  The farm had no electricity or hot water and he had to take a bath on the porch, He also talked about the Cherokee man who let my Grandad chop wood on his land so they could keep the family warm during the winter.  His one Christmas gift was a pocket knife because even with Grandad’s job with the railroad, they were poor. My favorite stories were how his mother always fed the men that would come to the back door from jumping off the trains even if all she could offer was a mayonnaise sandwich.

Today, I drive some of my neighbors crazy by letting scrappers use my hose for water and offering food. They live in the abandoned navy base and most scrap metal they can sell for cash for the heroin or the meth that they crave. They jump off the rail road tracks by the base and many do eventually overdose. You can tell the EMS people pretty much make lots of calls for overdoses these days.  They nearly mistake everything for drugs. There are hundreds around here and the level of homelessness is overwhelming.  They are a sharp contrast to the wandering burbie tourists.

I also spent the week trying to visualize a huge, strong bubble around the Panama City House of some who who left her cat there.  I kept spending sleepless nights over some one else’s cat I’ve never met. I can’t imagine leaving any of my pets to the mercy of a hurricane.  I know the woman in passing and do not want to even see her face again. Oddly, enough her house appears to be the only one left intact in about a six block radius and even her RV is still in the driveway with out as much of a dent in it.  The entire place is surrounded by shattered wood and cement but there’s the house in the middle of a huge debris field. Some times nature can do the most unbelievable things.  I just hope the cat still has food and water and is safe.  But, I worry.

In some ways, life goes on with hurricanes and lives being lives. I try to do the things I admired about my Granddad and Nana because Dad’s stories inspired me to be like the parents he loved.

Then, I turn on the news and realize we do not live in the country my father wanted for his girls or I want for mine. I see all these raging white faces with agendas that seem so far away from my deeply christian Nana. So many people are being left behind like that little cat by the very people who are responsible for her well-being and like the scrappers sleeping at the base.  They are more human than a fertilized egg. My country has become a daily disappointment. Why are we like this?

Sarah Stillman–writing for The New Yorker–introduces us to a five year old girl “Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights”. How is this even possible in a supposedly civilized and advanced country?

Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras. This summer, when a social worker asked her to identify her strengths, Helen shared her pride in “her ability to learn fast and express her feelings and concerns.” She also recounted her favorite activities (“playing with her dolls”), her usual bedtime (“8 p.m.”), and her professional aspirations (“to be a veterinarian”).

In July, Helen fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, and several other relatives; gangs had threatened Noehmi’s teen-age son, Christian, and the family no longer felt safe. Helen’s mother, Jeny, had migrated to Texas four years earlier, and Noehmi planned to seek legal refuge there. With Noehmi’s help, Helen travelled thousands of miles, sometimes on foot, and frequently fell behind the group. While crossing the Rio Grande in the journey’s final stretch, Helen slipped from their raft and risked drowning. Her grandmother grabbed her hand and cried, “Hang on, Helen!” When the family reached the scrubland of southern Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended them and moved them through a series of detention centers. A month earlier, the Trump Administration had announced, amid public outcry over its systemic separation of migrant families at the border, that it would halt the practice. But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

Later that day, Noehmi and Christian were reunited. The adults in the family were fitted with electronic ankle bracelets and all were released, pending court dates. They left the detention center and rushed to Jeny’s house, in McAllen, hoping to find Helen there. When they didn’t, Noehmi began to shake, struggling to explain the situation. “Immigration took your daughter,” she told Jeny.

“But where did they take her?” Jeny asked.

“I don’t know,” Noehmi replied.

The next day, authorities—likely from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (O.R.R.)—called to say that they were holding Helen at a shelter near Houston; according to Noehmi, they wouldn’t say exactly where. Noehmi and Jeny panicked. Unable to breathe amid her distress, Noehmi checked herself into a local hospital, where doctors gave her medication to calm her down. “I thought we would never see her again,” Noehmi said. She couldn’t square her family’s fate with the TV news, which insisted that the government had stopped separating migrant families.

Read more of Helen’s story at the link. Both her mother and grandmother have been searching for her.

We not only abandoned children of asylum seekers like Helen and asylum seekers themselves.  We have abandoned people with greencards that work and live in the USA.  The case of WAPO journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his horrendous death in a Saudi consulate in Turkey still horrifies me.

The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said.

The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one person with knowledge of the recording who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive intelligence.

It has to be all about the money.  The Trump family crime syndicate is in deep with the Saudis which is why all the outrage is outside of the white house and not in.

A foreign government — an American ally, no less — can’t just murder a US resident with impunity while he’s on the soil of a NATO member state because they didn’t like his newspaper columns.

And yet that seems to be exactly what President Donald Trump wants to let Saudi officials do, explaining to reporters on Thursday that he does not want to respond to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi because “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money coming into our country” and “I don’t like stopping an investment of $110 billion in the United States.”

After Trump told reporters he didn’t want to lose the billions the Saudis spend on American goods, he suggested that perhaps because Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey, and because he is a permanent resident of the US but not a citizen, it’s all just no big deal.

US intelligence agencies are leaking like sieves trying to make the opposite point, getting word out to the American public that the American government has solid evidence that things are exactly as they appear, and that the Saudi government was behind the mysterious disappearance and likely murder of Khashoggi.

A Washington Post report based on US intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials states that MBS personally “ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him.”

Meanwhile, the United States has no ambassador accredited in Riyadh. Instead, the relationship is in the hands of Kushner, an unqualified nobody whose personal finances are shot through with conflicts of interest.

It’s a situation no normal president would tolerate. But no normal president would have Trump’s level of financial conflicts of interest.

Aaron David Miller writing for The Atlantic says that “The U.S.-Saudi Relationship Is Out of Control. But even Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance may not force the Trump administration to recognize that fact.”

The administration’s identification with the 33-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as a modernizer determined to open up the kingdom and tame its religious extremism has now been undermined by a crueler reality—that of a ruthless, reckless, and impulsive leader willing to repress and silence his critics at home and abroad.
Whatever happened to Khashoggi is first and foremost on the Saudis. But in kowtowing to Riyadh in a fanciful effort to make it the centerpiece of U.S. strategy in the Middle East, the Trump administration has emboldened MbS, as the crown prince is known; given him a sense of invincibility; and encouraged him to believe there are no consequences for his reckless actions. And it is likely, unless confronted with incontrovertible evidence of Saudi responsibility for Khashoggi’s death or serious pressure from Congress, the president would be reluctant to impose those consequences even now.
Donald Trump’s enabling of Saudi Arabia began even before he became president. He talked openly on the campaign trail about his admiration for Saudi Arabia and how he couldn’t refuse Saudi offers to invest millions in his real-estate ventures. His predecessors may have gone to Mexico or Canada for their first foreign foray; Trump chose Saudi Arabia. In a trip carefully choreographed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who quickly established close personal ties with the soon-to-be crown prince,
Trump was feted, flattered, and filled with hopes of billions in arms sales and Saudi investment that would create jobs back home. Trump’s aversion to Barack Obama’s Iran deal also fueled the budding romance. Trump used his anti-Iranian animus (even while he boasted that he’d make a better deal with the mullahs) to energize his ties with Riyadh, and MbS was only too happy to exploit his eagerness. Reports that MbS saw Trump’s team, particularly Kushner, as naive and untutored should have come as no surprise.Previous administrations—both Republican and Democratic—also pandered to the Saudis, but rarely on such a galactic, unrestrained, and unreciprocated scale.
Through its silence or approval, Washington gave MbS—the new architect of the risk-ready, aggressive, and repressive Saudi policies at home and in the region—wide latitude to pursue a disastrous course toward Yemen and Qatar. The administration swooned over some of MbS’s reforms while ignoring the accompanying crackdown on journalists and civil-society activists.
Indeed, The Guardian and other outlets reported that MbS had told Kushner in advance of his plans to move against his opponents and wealthy businessmen, including some royals, in what might be termed a “shaikhdown.”

Thursday Reads: Hurricane Devastates Florida, Georgia, as Trump Holds Another Hitler-Style Rally

Carl Brandien, Hurricane at Tarpon Bend, September 15, 1945

Good Morning!!

Hurricane Michael has weakened to a tropical storm and is moving up the coast after devastating parts of Florida and Georgia. We’re already getting rain from it and it looks like we’ll be getting several inches over today and tomorrow. It has been raining steadily here for weeks.

My mom heard from her brother in Tallahassee this morning. He has no power, but otherwise things are ok there except for tree damage. I just hope J.J. is okay. I emailed her this morning, but she might not have power either.

The Washington Post: Hurricane Michael live updates: Deadly Category 4 storm pummels Florida, moves north.

Hurricane Michael roared ashore Wednesday near the Florida Panhandle, one of the most intense hurricanes to ever hit the United States. With winds as high as 155 mph, the Category 4 storm slammed coastal towns in the area, leveling buildings and structures, flooding streets and leaving a trail of destruction. One veteran storm chaser said that Panama City was so badly damaged it looked like it had been struck by a bomb.

The storm had moved toward Georgia and Alabama by the evening, the first Category 3 hurricane to hit Georgia since 1898. Though its strength had decreased, the risk of damage from high winds and heavy rains remained across wide swaths of the Southeast….

Images of the destruction in coastal Florida towns circulated widely Wednesday night, shocking even seasoned storm chasers and weather watchers. Smith, the sheriff of Franklin County, a coastal patch south of Tallahassee, told CNN that the county was nearly isolated after most of the main roads were rendered impassable from flooding and downed trees.

“It’s bad,” he said. “We’ve been through hurricanes but never where we were completely cut off like this.”

Linda Albrecht, a councilwoman in Mexico Beach, spoke to the network about leaving her home with only a few essential objects.

“It feels like a nightmare,” she said.“ Looking at the pictures, I’m thinking there is not a house left in that town.”

Click over to the WaPo to see stunning photos and videos.

While Michael was kicking Florida’s ass, Trump was at one of his Hitler-style rallies in Erie, Pennsylvania. CBS News:

President Trump met with supporters and held a “Make America Great Again” rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, hours after Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle. This was Mr. Trump’s second rally this week, as he fulfills his promise to campaign for Republicans around the country ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Mr. Trump had considered postponing his trip due to the hurricane, but told reporters that thousands were probably already lined up for the event in Pennsylvania, so he would go.

I’m sure no one would have minded much. I don’t know how those people aren’t bored out of their minds with Trump’s endless gloating over the 2016 election.

The president also recounted his 2016 in vivid detail, going through his wins state by state, including Pennsylvania. He said that Pennsylvania was like the “person who got away” for Republicans before he won the state.

Even Fox News is bored with the Hitler rallies. Politico: Trump, no longer ratings gold, loses his prime-time spot on Fox News.

President Donald Trump loves to brag about ratings, but he’s not getting them anymore.

As he’s ramped up his rally schedule ahead of the midterms, viewership numbers for the raucous prime-time events have been roughly similar to — sometimes dipping below — Fox News’ regular programming, and the network has recently stopped airing most evening events in full.

During three Trump rallies last week, Fox News showed clips and highlights from his speeches but stuck largely with its normal weekday prime-time programming. On Saturday, when “Fox Report Weekend” and “Justice with Judge Jeanine” would ordinarily air, the network showed Trump’s speech from Topeka, Kan., in full. But on Tuesday, a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was particularly hard to find — it was not aired live on any major network, and even C-SPAN cut away for other news. And on Wednesday night, as Trump took the stage in Erie, Pa., at 7 p.m., Fox News stuck with its coverage of Hurricane Michael.

An op-ed in The New York Times reports on a new study of Trump’s voters and discovers they didn’t support him out of economic anxiety. Surprise surprise!

The 2016 election is almost two years behind us, but arguments over why Donald Trump won haven’t stopped. Because Mr. Trump drew support from white voters with less formal education — the “white working class” — many attributed his victory to Americans’ economic anxiety.

But this narrative has obscured the true nature of Mr. Trump’s coalition. On the whole, Trump voters were never extraordinarily economically distressed. And now the economically distressed are actually less likely to approve of Mr. Trump’s performance as president.

Traditional ways of measuring people’s views of the economy often suffer from partisan bias: People are more likely to say that the economy is doing better when their party controls the White House. For example, immediately after Mr. Trump’s election, and well before he could do anything to affect the economy, the percentage of Republicans who said the economy was getting better increased from 15 percent in October 2016 to 80 percent in February 2017, according to Gallup polls. Over the same time period, Democrats became less favorable about the economy.

To avoid this issue, we asked a set of different questions in the May 2018 Views of the Electorate Research Survey, a project of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. A sample of 6,000 Americans told us whether they had experienced a variety of negative financial events over the last year — including a drop in income, a job loss, or difficulty paying monthly bills. They also reported whether they had savings and felt financially prepared for the unexpected, as well as their overall feelings about their finances, job, income, savings and debt. Answers to these questions were only weakly associated with people’s identity as Democrats or Republicans and therefore better captured their true economic situation.

The results showed that minorities of Americans reported an acute economic struggle in the previous year. Eight percent said they or their spouse had lost a job. The percentage who had difficulty making a payment for their mortgage or other major expenses ranged between 7 and 14 percent.

Guess who reported the most “economic anxiety?”

In reality, it is people of color who report the most distress — a fact that is not surprising but stands out clearly in the new data. Hispanic-Americans without a college degree averaged 37 on this index and African-Americans without a college degree averaged 32. In fact, African-Americans with a college degree reported slightly more distress (30, on average) than whites without a college degree.

Read more at the link. I know no one here is surprised.

The biggest political story right now is the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Last night, the Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence sources had picked up conversations between Saudi officials discussing a plan by Jared Kushner’s best buddy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to eliminate Khashoggi.

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

Khashoggi was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular.

Why wasn’t Khashoggi warned? Did Trump and Kushner prevent such a warning?

A bipartisan group of Senators is pressuring Trump to take action against Saudi Arabia. CBS News:

The letter, written by Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Patrick Leahy, called for Mr. Trump to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the president to impose sanctions on a person or country that has engaged in a human rights violation. The investigation is triggered by a letter to the president from the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker and Menendez, respectively.

Once Mr. Trump has determined “whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression,” according to the letter, he must report to the committee within 120 days with a decision on the imposition of retaliatory sanctions.

Corker spoke with reporters after the letter was released, and he emphasized that senators “specifically said it included the highest members of the regime” and could “absolutely” lead to U.S. sanctions targeting the Saudi Crown Prince,  Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

According to James Hohmann at The Washington Post, Trump doesn’t want to restrict arms sales to the Saudis.

Trump suggested that he would oppose any push from Capitol Hill to restrict future arms sales to the longtime U.S. ally on the grounds it could cost Americans their jobs. “Well, I think that would be hurting us,” he told Fox. “We have jobs. We have a lot of things happening in this country. … Part of that is what we are doing with our defense systems and everybody is wanting them and, frankly, I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. … And, you know, they are always quick to jump that way.”

The president finished his answer by hedging, saying he wants to gather all the facts first. “The very talented people are involved. And we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump said. “I do hate to commit to what recourse we’d take … It’s just too early.”

— The exchange underscored the difficult balancing act facing Trump, as he struggles to navigate the fraught geopolitics of the Middle East while appearing responsive to growing bipartisan outrage about the possible murder of a 59-year-old dissident who has been living in Virginia on the eve of his planned wedding. Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporter in the world, the biggest buyer of American weapons and the main counterweight to Iran. The Trump administration has built its entire strategy for the region, including a bid for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, around fostering close ties with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.

We may not live in a dictatorship yet, but the “president” is acting like a tyrant anyway. Let’s hope the Democrats can at least take the House in the upcoming midterms so there will be some check on executive power.

What stories are you following today?

Wednesday Reads: Hurricane Michael and Cartoons

This is the most current NHC forecast for Hurricane Michael.

You can find more alert information here: HURRICANE MICHAEL


This is a GIF image from last night:


From the reports, it looks like the panhandle of Florida is gonna get the shit kicked out of ’em….and according to the MSNBC dude on Brian Williams show…”towns will no longer be recognizable.”

Ever since last years Irma, and the aftermath of that tree making our house into something of a taco shaped ruin…any breeze over 15 mph gets me nervous.

Here are your cartoons, starting with some from Facebook…



Thanks Susie: 10/08/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Thanks Susie

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Peas in a pod: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Peas in a pod

Fab: 10/04/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Fab

10/09/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

10/08/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

That one was from a few days ago….

10/09/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Beers For Brett: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Beers For Brett

Senate Confirmation: 10/06/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Senate Confirmation

10/08/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -


Invertebrates: 10/08/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Invertebrates

A distrubing pattern: 10/08/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - A distrubing pattern

Trump finances: 10/05/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Trump finances

Attacking Dr. Ford: 10/04/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Attacking Dr. Ford

Judge of character: 10/04/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Judge of character

Senator McConnell and Mr. Hypocrite: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Senator McConnell and Mr. Hypocrite

It’s a Hard Knock Trump: 10/07/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley - It's a Hard Knock Trump

10/07/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

HOW ????: 10/07/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - HOW ????


I know this one was in the comments yesterday…

10/10 Mike Luckovich: Credible witness

10/09 Mike Luckovich: Boilin’ in style



Hat Check-Head Check: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Hat Check-Head Check

I will end with that one.

This is an open thread.

Tuesday Reads

Reading in the Valley of Arconville, Theodore Robinson, c. 1887

Good Morning!!

Can’t we ever have a day without Trump drama? Axios: Scoop: Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation.

President Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation as UN Ambassador, according to two sources briefed on their conversation. The timing of her departure is still unclear, the president promised a “big announcement” with her at 10:30 a.m.

What we’re hearing: Haley discussed her resignation with Trump last week when she visited him at the White House, these sources said. Her news shocked a number of senior foreign policy officials in the Trump administration.

The “big announcement” will come while I’m working on this post. Is he going to move her to another post? Surely it can’t be for corruption. Trump doesn’t care about that does he?

Charleston Post and Courier: Watchdog wants investigation of Nikki Haley’s private jet flights to SC.

COLUMBIA — A federal government watchdog asked the State Department on Monday to investigate whether U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley broke any regulations by accepting seven flights on private jets from three South Carolina executives last year.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, also questioned how Haley values the flights on “luxury private aircraft,” most of which also included her husband, Michael.

By Dee Nickerson

The former South Carolina governor based the cost on first-class commercial airline tickets for the flights from New York to three South Carolina cities. Her total was $3,219.

But the four flights Haley took on a plane belonging to Jimmy Gibbs, chief executive of Gibbs International in Spartanburg, were alone worth up to $24,000 based on publicly reported operating costs of a private jet, CREW said.

“Ambassador Haley should have been conscious of the appearance concerns surrounding her acceptance of gifts of private luxury air travel at a time when her colleagues in the administration were making news with their own lavish air travel,” CREW wrote.

Commentators on MSNBC are saying she could be out because of conflicts with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Hey, maybe she plans to primary Lindsey Graham. Graham has announced that he’s running in 2020 and has “zero interest” in being Attorney General.

So after the spectacle of Rod Rosenstein flying to Florida on Air Force One yesterday, and after the fake FBI background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, and Rosenstein’s presence at the political rally Trump held for Kavanaugh last night, some of us are getting nervous about which side Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray are really on in terms of the Russia investigation. Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa wants us to calm down.

The New York Times: The Mueller Investigation Is Bigger Than Rod Rosenstein.

On Monday, President Trump said he has no plans to fire [Rosenstein], and many Americans may have breathed a sigh of relief. But while it’s true that his departure would have been cause for worry for those who seek to protect the independence and integrity of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, at this stage of the inquiry, even a replacement dead set on shutting it down would find such a maneuver nearly impossible to accomplish — and with each day that goes by, it becomes even harder.

Claire Atwood, 1943

To begin with, there is no such thing as a single “Russia investigation.” The F.B.I. pursues cases against individuals and organizations, not topics — this allows each case to have the flexibility to go in the direction the evidence leads, regardless of what happens with other, related cases. After the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, “Pentbomb” was the umbrella name for hundreds of discrete cases on the hijackers, their networks and Al Qaeda.

Further, existing cases spawn new cases. This is especially true of counterintelligence and conspiracy investigations, where every newly discovered contact or association of a subject already under investigation could form the basis of a new case. That’s why the current Russia investigation, originally referred to in the F.B.I. as “Crossfire Hurricane,” isn’t just a single case on Russian election meddling. Rather, at this stage it is a spider web of tens or dozens of cases on intelligence officers, their agents and individuals and organizations helping Russia that are investigated independently, cross-referencing pertinent information to other cases as necessary.

Nor is an investigation of this magnitude limited to a single office. Each case generates leads — threads of inquiry, like an interview or surveillance of an intelligence officer who might be traveling to another state — that span the country. When this happens, F.B.I. agents don’t hop on a plane. Rather, the “home” office for the case (called the “office of origin”) will send a lead to the field office with jurisdiction over that area.

Lady with a Cat – Nikolai Yaroshenko

Mr. Mueller’s investigation is more closely held than most, but its tentacles have already clearly spread to other field offices — consider the investigation against President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, run out of the Southern District of New York office, or the plea deal of a California man, Richard Pinedo, who assisted Russia in executing its disinformation campaign on social media. Field offices are evaluated in part based on their success in following through on leads and making cases that result in arrests and convictions. No case agent worth their salt would remain quiet if their cases were closed in the face of a continuing threat. To “shut down” the investigation at this point would require not just a face-off with Mr. Mueller but also with special agents in charge of multiple field offices with a vested interest in seeing their responsibilities through, and possibly even a battle with the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Well that nasty old Hillary Clinton has dared to speak up again, and the menfolks are in an uproar. This morning Lawrence Tribe tweeted that Clinton should “button it up” for the next month, and was surprised to get a backlash from people who love Hillary–didn’t he notice that she won the popular vote in 2016? I can’t post the tweet, because Tribe has now deleted it and others that criticized Clinton.

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton says Trump turned Kavanaugh ceremony into a ‘political rally.’

“What was done last night in the White House was a political rally,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “It further undermined the image and the integrity of the court, and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.”

Clinton’s comments referred to a boisterous event in the East Room on Monday night that began with Trump apologizing to Kavanaugh “for the terrible pain and suffering” he said they were forced to endure during a chaotic confirmation process.

Trump later praised Kavanaugh’s fortitude while facing allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct and profusely thanked Republican senators who advocated for him, culminating in a 50-to-48 confirmation vote largely along party lines on Saturday.

Among those Trump recognized was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who received resounding applause after the president asked him to stand up.

It was a disgusting partisan display, and Kavanaugh himself joined in with an embarrassing speech in which he thanked specific Republicans for putting him on the Court.

At the Guardian, Ian Samuel recommends fighting back by packing the Court: Kavanaugh will be on the US supreme court for life. Here’s how we fight back.

Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, and he will serve as a justice on the supreme court for the rest of his life. This event assures rightwing dominance of the court for a generation – or so we are told. After all, at 53, he is not even the youngest conservative: Justice Neil Gorsuch is 51. The chief justice, who has been there for more than a decade, is only 63. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by contrast, is 85, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 80. We are in, it seems, for decades of misery for labor unions, voting rights, regulation of businesses and all the rest….

The ray of hope, if there is one, lies in contradiction of the first of those premises. Nothing in the constitution fixes the number of supreme court seats at nine. The size of the court is set by legislation, and has varied over time. We started with six. We’ve gone as high as 10 (when Abraham Lincoln was president, and Congress worried about a reactionary supreme court invalidating his wartime measures). Only recently, Republicans held the court to eight members for a year in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death.

By Stan Moeller

So, then, the next time the left has some political power, why not just expand the size of the supreme court and add another handful of justices? Make Brett Kavanaugh a gifted and energetic member of a 10-to-5 minority. Don’t get mad, in other words: get even.

This is called “court-packing”. And although it enjoys a long and distinguished history in America, anyone who suggests it today will be met – swiftly – by serious and sober realists, all of whom who are eager to explain the reasons that this cannot possibly work.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

As Daknikat wrote yesterday, we’ve been seeing human rights violations increasing around the world lately, and the Trump administration seems unconcerned. Most recently, Saudi Arabia disappeared a journalist in Turkey and reportedly murdered him and dismembered the body; and China arrested the head of Interpol. Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Trump Gives Dictators the Green Light.

In September 2017, the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had gone into exile, wrote a column in The Washington Post headlined, “Saudi Arabia Wasn’t Always This Repressive. Now It’s Unbearable.”

As of this writing, Khashoggi is thought to be dead. Last Tuesday, he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document certifying his divorce so that he could remarry. He hasn’t been seen since. The Turkish government claims he was murdered inside.

“If the reports of Khashoggi’s murder are true, it’s so brazen, it’s so outlandish,” Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, told me. Saudi Arabia has killed people before, and put dissidents and bloggers in prison. “But this is at a whole different level,” she said.

Ohan Krouthen, Three reading women in a summer landscape, 1908

It’s not surprising, however, that the Saudi government would think it could get away with it. The United States has long maintained a close strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s abysmal human rights record, and tacit American support for its brutal war in Yemen began during Barack Obama’s administration. But there’s never been an American president as enthusiastically pro-Saudi as Trump.

Sure, he sees the country as an ally against Iran. But it’s more than that: Trump seems to feel a real affinity for the gaudy kleptocratic opulence of the country’s leaders. And his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, appears to view M.B.S. as a kindred spirit; both, after all, are rich millennials making world-altering decisions thanks to extreme nepotism.

Read the rest at the link. Be warned though, Goldberg sees Bernie Sanders as part of the solution.

One more before I turn the floor over to you: a mom tries to support Trump/Kavanaugh and in the process humiliates her son before the world. The Washington Post: ‘This is MY son’: Navy vet horrified as mom’s tweet miscasts him as #HimToo poster boy — and goes viral.

Pieter Hanson was in the middle of a marketing exam when his phone started blowing up, buzzing and buzzing until he was convinced something terrible had happened. Too anxious to focus, he whizzed through the rest of his test, handed it in to his University of Central Florida professor and bolted into the hallway to pull out his cellphone and find out what was going on.

Reading outdoors with cat above, by Marcus Stone, 1840-1921

Sure enough, something terrible had happened indeed: His mom accidentally turned him into a viral Twitter meme.

“This is MY son,” began his mom’s viral post, which featured a photograph of Hanson posing in his Navy uniform. “He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an axe to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.”

“Hey, Pieter, we want you to know that this is going on,” one friend texted him.

“We know this isn’t you,” said another.

It was all rather disorienting. The tweet, since deleted, had been widely shared, immediately casting Hanson as the poster boy for the #HimToo movement. The movement has more recently been seen by some as the antithesis of the #MeToo movement, suggesting in the wake of the Brett M. Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings that men are frequently victims of false sexual assault accusations and that many accusers are liars.

The problem: Hanson, a 32-year-old Navy veteran, doesn’t support this movement, considering himself an ally of the #MeToo movement, he told The Washington Post. Nor is he fearful of “solo dates.”

Wow. I wonder what Thanksgiving dinner will be like in that family?

So . . . what stories are you following today?