Tuesday Reads: Trump Trashes 80 Year Tradition and Other News

The First U.S, National Scout Jamboree was held in 1937 on the ground of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Here the boys are around the Washington Mounument on the morning of July 4th for religious services. Later there was a fire works display, a tradition on the Mall for Independence Day.

Good Morning!!

My father was an Eagle Scout, and in 1937 he attended the first National Scout Jamboree in Washington DC. Whatever you may think of today’s boy scout movement, becoming an Eagle Scout is extremely challenging and an achievement to be proud of, in my humble opinion.

The national Scout jamboree is a gathering, or jamboree, of thousands of members of the Boy Scouts of America, usually held every four years and organized by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Referred to as “the Jamboree”, “Jambo”, or NSJ, Scouts from all over the nation and world have the opportunity to attend. They are considered to be one of several unique experiences that the Boy Scouts of America offers. The first jamboree was scheduled to be held in 1935 in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Scouting, but was delayed two years after being cancelled due to a polio outbreak. The 1937 jamboree in Washington attracted 25,000 Scouts, who camped around the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin. The event was covered extensively by national media and attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt….

The first national jamboree was held in Washington, D.C. for ten days in July 1937, attended by 25,000 Scouts, most of whom arrived by train. Region campsites were set up around the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin. The event was covered extensively by radio and newspapers. A press tent accommodated 626 news media reporters, photographers, and broadcasters. Sixty-four news releases were issued and the BSA assisted in the making of 11 newsreels and 53 magazine articles.

The three major U.S. radio networks of the time, NBCCBS, and Mutual, had broadcasting studios near the jamboree headquarters to produce almost 19 hours of live, on-site jamboree coverage broadcast coast-to-coast. Celebrities also visited the jamboree, including well-known broadcaster Lowell Thomas and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While at the jamboree, Scouts also attended a three-game baseball series between the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox at Griffith Stadium, as well as toured nearby Mount Vernon.

President Franklin Roosevelt was a long-time, strong supporter of the scouting movement.

In 1915, FDR was the young assistant secretary of the Navy when Chief Scout Executive James E. West solicited his support of the five-year-old Boy Scouts of America. West asked FDR to serve as a member of the Special Committee on Nautical Scouting.

In 1921, shortly after agreeing to become more active in New York City Scouting, FDR was disabled by polio, losing the use of his legs. During his effort to regain his health and mobility in the years that followed, his involvement in Scouting grew. His political activities also increased, and during the 1920’s he became a prominent national figure.

FDR played a major role in the effort to obtain a permanent camp for New York City Scouts, and in 1927, he was one of a group credited with opening Ten Mile River Scout Camps.

He enjoyed visiting the camp even as governor of New York. In August 1930, during a ceremony at camp, FDR was presented the Silver Buffalo Award, the BSA’s highest national honor for service to youth. During another visit three years later, he was inducted into the Order of the Arrow and posed for photographs proudly wearing his OA sash.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the fi.rst National Boy Scout Jamboree in 1937

Boy Scouts of America is not a partisan organization, despite some recent fumbles over gay rights. But yesterday “president” Trump trashed one more American institution with his foul, corrupt behavior.

The Washington Post: Trump’s Boy Scouts speech broke with 80 years of presidential tradition.

For 80 years, American presidents have been speaking to the National Scout Jamboree, a gathering of tens of thousands of youngsters from around the world eager to absorb the ideas of service, citizenship and global diplomacy.

In keeping with the Scouts’ traditions, all eight presidents and surrogates who have represented them have stayed far, far away from partisan politics.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the occasion to talk about good citizenship. Harry S. Truman extolled fellowship: “When you work and live together, and exchange ideas around the campfire, you get to know what the other fellow is like,” he said.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower invoked the “bonds of common purpose and common ideals.” And President George H.W. Bush spoke of “serving others.”

Donald Trump wasn’t a boy scout and he couldn’t possibly care less about American traditions.

For a brief moment at this year’s jamboree in West Virgina, President Donald Trump indicated that he would follow that tradition — sort of.

“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?” he said.

Then, standing before all 40,000 of them, he bragged about the “record” crowd size, bashed President Barack Obama, criticized the “fake media” and trashed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In the lengthy 35-minute speech, the president threatened to fire his health and human services secretary if he couldn’t persuade members of Congress to vote for the Republican health-care bill.

At one point, he told a rambling story about a conversation he had at a New York cocktail party with a once-successful home builder who “lost his momentum.” The lesson, apparently: “You have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum. And if you don’t have it, that’s okay.”

Click on the WaPo link to read more history about presidents and the Boy Scout Jamboree.

Hitler Youth

Trump is a monster without a single shred of human decency. We need Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Congress to force him into retirement before he destroys every proud American institution and tradition. Honestly, when I heard about this disgusting speech yesterday, I felt sick at heart. I wondered if Trump is hoping to enlist young people in a modern day Hitler Youth.

The Kansas City Star: Outraged Boy Scouts call on organization to disavow Trump speech.

Sitting presidents have come to give a nonpartisan speech at the Boy Scouts National Jamboree since 1937. President Donald Trump came to give a speech – but many say he still broke the tradition in a “nauseating” way.

During the 35-minute speech Monday night to about 40,000 scouts in West Virginia, Trump threatened to fire Secretary of Health Tom Price if the Senate did not approve repealing and replacing Obamacare, railed against journalists and “fake news,” talked about getting invited to parties with Hollywood celebrities, sought praise for his election victory and bashed Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

“We won and won. So when they said, there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270. I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won,” Trump said. “But we won – one vote. I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269. But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years – Michigan came in.” [….]

And while Boy Scouts in the crowd cheered and applauded during Trump’s speech, long-standing Boy Scouts were not pleased. One Eagle Scout who attended the National Jamboree in 1989 took to Twitter to talk about his family’s history within the organization – he said his grandfather was a scoutmaster for 40 years and awarded a silver beaver, while his father was also an Eagle Scout and attended the National Jamboree in 1957 – and criticize Trump’s speech. He said his son, a star scout on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout, had wanted to attend this year’s Jamboree.

Read the rest at the link.

Hitler Youth uniform

Sorry to take up so much space with this, but I truly believe Trump’s behavior yesterday is an important example of how he is tearing down everything that has made America “great” so that he can turn our beloved country into a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump Russia coalition.

In other news, Jared Kushner went back to Capital Hill this morning; and Paul Manafort has been subpoenaed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Politico: Kushner, Manafort providing information to congressional investigators Tuesday.

Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were both set on Tuesday to provide congressional investigators with information about the heavily scrutinized meeting with a Russian lawyer they attended last year as advisers to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, was scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed session on Tuesday. He took questions from Senate Intelligence Committee members on Monday and, according to prepared remarks he made public, told them he did “not collude” in Russia’s suspected attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Manafort spoke to investigators after reaching an agreement with the Senate Intelligence Committee to avoid a subpoena, though a separate committee has issued a subpoena compelling his testimony. He finished a meeting with the Senate panel on Tuesday morning and “answered their questions fully,” spokesman Jason Maloni said.

The Guardian: Senate issues subpoena to Paul Manafort for testimony on Russia.

The Senate judiciary committee has issued a subpoena to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager, seeking his testimony at a public hearing on Wednesday.

The Republican senator Chuck Grassley and the Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein said they were unable to reach an agreement with Manafort for a voluntary transcribed interview with the committee.

The two said that late Monday night they issued a subpoena to compel Manafort’s participation in Wednesday’s hearing.

The committee wanted Manafort to testify on enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Russia’s attempts to influence US elections.

Trump is continuing to torture Attorney General Jeff Sessions with public comments and tweets.

The Washington Post: Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly

President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks.

Members of Trump’s circle, including White House officials, have increasingly raised the question among themselves in recent days as the president has continued to vent his frustration with the attorney general, the people said.

Replacing Sessions is viewed by some Trump associates as potentially being part of a strategy to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and end his investigation of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Three more related stories to check out:

CNN: Trump slams Sessions, rips DOJ in Twitter outburst.

McClatchy: Trump messes with Sessions, and Senate Republicans are not pleased.

Axios: Trump in phone call: “What would happen if I fired Sessions?”

Finally, there is supposedly going to be a vote on consideration of the Senate heath care clusterf*ck sometime today.

Business Insider: The Senate will vote to start its repeal of Obamacare in a few hours — and the process is still in chaos.

On Monday night, Sen. John McCain said he would return to Washington to vote on key issues — most notably, on the Senate’s push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The dramatic return of McCain, a week after announcing his diagnosis of brain cancer, seems to indicate that Tuesday’s vote on the Senate healthcare push is extremely close for Republican leaders.

At the same time, though, no one is quite sure of what they’re pushing for.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Monday that there would be a vote on a motion to proceed with the House healthcare bill, the first step in a likely multiday process of debate and dealmaking in an attempt to come through on the long-held Republican promise of repealing the law, also known as Obamacare.

The question is whether McConnell’s plan is to bring up the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the bill to repeal and replace the law; the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, the bill to repeal now and replace later; or some modified version of either.

More at the link.

So . . . what stories are you following today?

Monday Reads: Chaos is the Order of the Day

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Nearly every day I wake up thinking that there will never be peace and quiet anywhere again. Every small corner of sanctity is run over by unworthwhile people scampering like the pet lemmings of the parasitically capitalistic into traps to divert them from reality and to take what little power and money they may have. Yeah, I’m that pessimistic these days.  The chaos in Westeros looks mild compared to the chaos here. Where are our dragons? Will my face freeze like this from giving so many people the Stink Eye?

I’m going to start at the local level since politics is still essentially said to be all local.  I’ve watched my little working class neighborhood evolve into something I don’t recognize. I’m surrounded by your basic nuisance businesses.  There’s a good reason why motels and strip joints are usually at the end of town, near the airport, away from dogs and children.  We used to keep them there and downtown.  We no longer have neighbors.  We have folks that could care less about the zoning laws as long as they make a buck.

This is a Cafe that used to be our local video store.  It was a pretentious hipster “street food” place prior to morphing into its current state of affairs. Across the street is another place that specializes in whiskey and steaks.  It used to be the Bywater BBQ which is a bit of a misnomer because two nice bears served up just about every comfort food you could imagine there for years.  It was my favorite place to take my visiting family, my kids, and meet my  neighbors.  That’s back when the neighborhood was a gay enclave with many families that have lived here for years.  Real people lived here.  Not so much any more.  This is now the deal:  ‘How to run a restaurant when your neighbors are AirBnbs’.  That’s what’s become of my home and the place I used to find peace and quiet

When Cafe Henri opened in Bywater last summer, the owners, Kirk Estopinal and Neal Bodenheimer of the Uptown cocktail bar Cure, called the menu “dad food.” By that, they meant a steak, a lasagne, a wedge salad and a cocktail menu with nothing more complicated than a Manhattan or a rum and Coke. The kind of food their own dads would understand. Unfussy, comfort food.

Did their dads like the place?

“They liked it,” Estopinal said, but there was a lot of hesitancy in his voice. “It was a hard concept to explain. And to be brutally honest, I don’t think we nailed the execution.”

More than anything, Estopinal and Bodenheimer misjudged Bywater. They thought the area could use a low-key neighborhood restaurant, the kind of spot where you might stop in a few times a week.

“We thought the neighborhood needed services,” Bodenheimer said. “We thought more people actually lived here.”

It turns out a lot of their neighbors were short-term rentals.

Exactly.  My neighborhood has transformed into its own little hellhole.  We have an incredible homeless problem. I have a bar on the corner that’s hipster drug central along with an underground sex club and really bad burlesque.  The loud music is even worse. I have illegal, unregistered motels everywhere.  All of it should be a problem to those who govern, but it doesn’t appear to be.  We spent the last year pulling down three old statues and letting Uptown get new roads again.  Meanwhile, the Katrina potholes still festoon the streets here.  I wish they’d swallow the tourists up.

This is what it looks like when you turn democracy over to people whose only interest is making money.  This is what happens when the uneducated and propaganda-soaked decide that “draining the swamp” means electing a bunch of angry white men with money and power to drain the swamp.  How did so many people get taken to a place where they can’t recognize players when they see them?  Let’s go over a list of chaos brought on by the first six months of the Trumpster Dumpsters.  We’re living in the days of the Dumbing of America.

The State Department is in total chaos.  There’s rumors Kremlin Caligula may get a “Rexit”.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is growing increasingly frustrated with the Trump administration and could quit before the year is through, according to reports.

Two sources familiar with Tillerson’s conversations with friends told CNN over the weekend that he has grown so frustrated with President Donald Trump and the Trump administration that there may soon be a “Rexit.”

The change in Tillerson’s tone followed a stressful week for Tillerson. He was found to have violated U.S. sanctions against Russia while working as the CEO of Exxon-Mobil and Trump publicly assailed his fellow Cabinet member Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump said he regretted hiring.

There’s rumors that the Tangerine Tantrum is looking to Giuliani to take over the AG’s office and the DOJ.  How much more chaos can our federal justice and law enforcement agencies take?

President Trump is so unhappy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he has raised the possibility of bringing back Rudolph Giuliani to head the Justice Department, according to West Wing confidants.

  • In internal conversations, Trump has recently pondered the idea of nominating Giuliani, a stalwart of his campaign.
  • Even before last week’s blast at Sessions in a New York Times interview, Trump had expressed fury at Sessions — also one of the first prominent Republicans to back the Trump campaign — for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
  • And in a Monday morning tweet, Trump referred to “our beleaguered A.G.” not investigating Hillary Clinton.

Our thought bubble: Trump often muses about possible personnel moves that he never makes, sometimes just to gauge the listener’s reaction. So the Giuliani balloon may go nowhere.

As Axios reported Saturday, Newt Gingrich — who also went all-in with the Trump campaign — may take a more visible, frequent role as a defender as Trump girds for battle with special counsel Bob Mueller.

Giuliani would have a tough time getting 50 Republicans senators to vote to confirm him. He was such an early and ardent Trump backer that he wouldn’t be seen as an independent guardian of the department in these tumultuous times.

So, Spicey is gone and the death watch is still on for Priebus.

Trump’s decision to bring Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci into the role of communications director shows the rising power of political outsiders and the diminished influence of establishment figures — which Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, epitomizes.

One White House official and two outside advisers said that while Scaramucci was brought into the White House for the communications job, he’s considered an internal candidate to eventually succeed Priebus as chief of staff. There are also a handful of outside candidates.

The unexpected hire has raised questions of whether more shake-ups are coming, even as the White House has tried to downplay its internal discord. The instability has made it difficult for the administration to fend off questions about ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia and to move forward an embattled legislative agenda.

Despite frequent reports his position is in jeopardy, Priebus hopes to finish out his year, according to people close to him. He is eyeing another big hurdle this week of getting the health care bill to pass through the Senate, defenders said Sunday.

“Reince is focused on driving the president’s bold agenda, and that has been and always will be his top priority,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said.

 Still, his stature in the White House appears to be shrinking. Priebus was fiercely opposed to hiring Scaramucci, saying the former financier had no prior experience in government communications. They have been at odds with each other since Scaramucci was passed over for the director of public liaison role in February.

Scaramucci made clear to reporters on Friday that he reports directly to Trump, not Priebus, even though the chief of staff would typically oversee communications and other portfolios.

Special assistant and social media director Dan Scavino also tweeted on Saturday that he reports directly to the president.

“In a normal White House, every staffer reports to the chief of staff,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “Any staffer who believes that they don’t report to the chief of staff is going to be a potential headache for the chief of staff.”

By the way, have you counted how many folks from Goldman Sachs now have top positions in the White House?  I miss Spicey already.  At least he didn’t look like some guy that was going to put a horsehead in every one’s bed if they criticize trump.

The appointment of Scaramucci adds another Goldman Sachs alum to the Trump team. Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, and Dina Powell, deputy national security advisor, are all former Goldman partners, while Steve Bannon, the president’s top strategist, was a vice president at Goldman Sachs in the 1980s.

President Trump’s reliance on Goldman talent is ironic given his comments during the campaign, when he accused the firm of having “total control” over  rivals Hillary Clinton and Sen. Ted Cruz, whose wife Heid Cruz is a Goldman Sachs investment manager.

For its part, Goldman seems to be reveling in the warm Trump welcome. An article in the August issue of Vanity Fair titled “A very Goldman White House,” quotes Goldman CEO Lloyd Blanfein saying, “I find it validating that as he was looking for good people it happens that a lot of them had Goldman Sachs affiliations.”

Meanwhile, we have no need for cyber security or policies that prevent bank meltdowns,  but by all means, go after Potheads!  This is a Trump priority?

The Trump administration is readying for a crackdown on marijuana users under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Sessions, is expected to release a report next week that criminal justice reform advocates fear will link marijuana to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences for those caught growing, selling and smoking the plant.

Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27.

“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” he wrote.

Criminal justice reform advocates fear Sessions’s memo signals stricter enforcement is ahead.

“The task force revolves around reducing violent crime and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month and explicitly the last couple of weeks talking about how immigration and marijuana increases violent crime,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program.

Yeah. That’s a good use of taxpayer money.  NOT.  Speaking of Taxpayer money, we’re not only paying Trump properties for all Trump’s weekend vacations and golf outings, were spending money for Scott Pruitt to run home for the weekends.  Yay Republicans sure hate spending don’t they?

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, traveled to his home state, Oklahoma, 10 times over three months this year, largely at taxpayer expense, according to a report released Monday.

The findings from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit group founded by former E.P.A. officials, are drawn from Mr. Pruitt’s calendar and the travel expenses he has submitted for reimbursement. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the documents show Mr. Pruitt spent 43 out of 92 days from March through May in Oklahoma or traveling to or from the state.

The report does not assert that Mr. Pruitt’s estimated $12,000 in federally funded airfare, which includes travel to and from his home state, is improper.

Just to put that into perspective, Pruitt spent half his entire spring out of the District and away from his job on the taxpayer.

So, one of the Princelings got to testify off camera and out of the public eye.  This would be the one that is actually on the taxpayer’s payrolls and is running around the world trying to things as the President’s Brain.  Kushner says he didn’t collude and an administrative aid at his Federal Paperwork for security clearances.

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, walked into Senate offices Monday morning to begin answering questions behind closed doors about his contacts with Russian officials.
In written remarks made public prior to his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kushner denies any improper contacts or collusion. The 11-page statement by Kushner details four meetings he had with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition period — including one set up by Donald Trump Jr. with a Russian lawyer.
Kushner defends his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and other Russian officials as typical contacts in his role as the Trump campaign’s liaison to foreign governments, according to the prepared statement he plans to submit for the record.
Kushner is answering questions behind closed doors, first to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday and then again on Tuesday to the House Intelligence Committee. Both panels are probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between Russia and Trump campaign officials and associates.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government orchestrated a far-reaching campaign to meddle with last year’s presidential campaign and influence the outcome in Trump’s favor.
Kushner’s appearances before congressional committees mark a new phase in the investigations of Russian meddling, as he is the first of the president’s closest advisers to appear before them.
In his testimony, which will be submitted to the congressional committees before he answers questions from lawmakers, Kushner says he has had only “limited contacts” with Russian representatives and denies any wrongdoing.
“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner writes. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.”
Is there any one left in the Republican Party that can do the right thing?

Am I just getting old or is stuff out there getting so chaotic? Is it just me that wants the proverbial cabin in the middle of nowhere?

In one shining moment of goodness, preservation is wining for one beautiful old New Orleans Building. It’s the one thing I’m holding on to today as I start my slog to finishing up grades for the term.  I’m ending a bit of hope that the outcome for this treasure might be the result of good local politics.

Tree branches sprout from cracks in the building’s façade, windows are broken, part of the roof is caving in, and most of the walls are crumbling, cracked and covered with graffiti.

Even so, things are looking up for the General Laundry, Cleaners and Dyers building, which last week came one step closer to becoming a locally designated historic landmark.

On Thursday, the Historic District Landmarks Commission approved a request to nominate the building for the landmark designation. The commission will now look further into the building’s history and architectural significance and decide on the request at a future meeting.

In the meantime, the building will enjoy temporary landmark status, which gives the city some authority to prevent either deliberate razing or “demolition by neglect.”

It’s a small victory for groups like the Louisiana Landmarks Society, a local organization that works to promote preservation of at-risk historic properties. In 2010, the society named the General Laundry building to its annual Nine Most Endangered list of historic sites in the area.

“It would be a tragic loss, to lose something so beautiful,” said Stephen Chauvin, an architect and assistant treasurer of the nonprofit group.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Sunday Reads: We Remember….

Photo of Martin Landau taken by James Dean

Good Afternoon

Yesterday afternoon I heard the sad news about the death of John Heard, it was the third death connected to films this past week. Yes, we also lost Martin Landau and George Romero…so it seemed fitting that today we should look back on the careers of these three men.

Photos for this post found via Pinterest.

Martin Landau

Martin Landau Photo by Michael Grecco.

It is hard to pin down my favorite Martin Landau movie…he is one of those actors who maid every role spectacular…no matter what the context of the role. But if I had to narrow it down…it would have to be his Oscar winning performance as Bela in Ed Wood and his beautiful cut of a heavy with a woman’s intuition in North by Northwest.

The following pictures were taken by James Dean….


Martin Landau Dead: ‘Ed Wood,’ ‘Mission: Impossible’ Actor Was 89 | Hollywood Reporter

His résumé includes ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Tucker: The Man and His Dream’ and ‘North by Northwest.’ It does not, however, include ‘Star Trek.’

Martin Landau, the all-purpose actor who showcased his versatility as a master of disguise on the Mission: Impossible TV series and as a broken-down Bela Lugosi in his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood, has died. He was 89.

Landau, who shot to fame by playing a homosexual henchman in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest, died Saturday of “unexpected complications” after a brief stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

After he quit CBS’ Mission: Impossible after three seasons in 1969 because of a contract dispute, Landau’s career was on the rocks until he was picked by Francis Ford Coppola to play Abe Karatz, the business partner of visionary automaker Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), in Tucker: The Man and His Dream(1988).

Landau received a best supporting actor nomination for that performance, then backed it up the following year with another nom for starring as Judah Rosenthal, an ophthalmologist who has his mistress (Anjelica Huston) killed, in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

Landau lost out on Oscar night to Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington, respectively, in those years but finally prevailed for his larger-than-life portrayal of horror-movie legend Lugosi in the biopic Ed Wood (1994), directed by Tim Burton.

Landau also starred as Commander John Koenig in the 1970s science-fiction series Space: 1999, opposite his Mission: Impossible co-star Barbara Bain, his wife from 1957 until their divorce in 1993.

A former newspaper cartoonist, Landau turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series Star Trek, which went to Leonard Nimoy (who later effectively replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible after Trek was canceled).

Landau also was an admired acting teacher who taught the craft to the likes of Jack Nicholson. And in the 1950s, he was best friends with James Dean and, for several months, the boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe. “She could be wonderful, but she was incredibly insecure, to the point she could drive you crazy,” he told The New York Times in 1988.



There is more at the link, as it talks about Landau’s early career and friendships. Please take a look at that….here is a few more articles and galleries:

Fresh Air Remembers Oscar Award-Winning Actor Martin Landau : NPR

Martin Landau obituary | Film | The Guardian

Martin Landau – a life in pictures | Film | The Guardian

Oscar-winner Martin Landau, who starred in ‘Ed Wood,’ ‘North By Northwest’ and ‘Entourage,’ dies at 89 – LA Times

Martin Landau Dead: Hollywood Tributes on Social Media | Variety



George Romero

George Romero, the man who started it all….


George A Romero, Night of the Living Dead director, dies aged 77 | Film | The Guardian

George A Romero, director of horror classic Night of the Living Dead, has died. He was 77.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Romero’s producing partner Peter Grunwald said the director died in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer”.

George Romero Dead: ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Director Was 77 | Variety

George A. Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ creator, dies at 77 – LA Times

Above photo of Romero and Steven King on the set of Creepshow.




In George Romero’s Zombie Films, the Living Were a Horror Show, Too – The New York Times

The director George A. Romero, whose six zombie movies represent a towering landmark of horror, died on Sunday of lung cancer. Our critics Jason Zinoman and A.O. Scott dig into his legacy and influence.

JASON ZINOMAN George Romero will always be known for turning hordes of dead people into a new kind of mainstream monster, but what made him a revolutionary artist is that he didn’t let the living off the hook. Sometimes, he even seemed to like them less than his flesh-eating zombies. “Night of the Living Dead,” his 1968 debut that initiated the modern horror genre, has one of the movies’ great spooky opening scenes; the shadowy sequence when the girl chomps on her dad still gives me the chills. But what was and remains truly unsettling is the violence of the white law enforcement toward the black hero, played by Duane Jones. No horror movie seemed to take on racism with as much visceral force, until this year, with “Get Out.” And Mr. Romero’s movie is even bleaker.

George Romero didn’t mean to tackle race in Night of the Living Dead, but he did anyway – Vox

In interviews about his smash horror hit Get Out earlier this year, Jordan Peele cited the 1968 zombie film Night of the Living Dead as one of his biggest influences. It’s no wonder. Without the movie — and its director, George Romero, who died on July 16 — we wouldn’t have Get Out or many other classic social thrillers (like Rosemary’s Baby and The Silence of the Lambs), which use the devices of fear and horror to make biting social critiques.

We wouldn’t have The Walking DeadWorld War ZShaun of the Dead, or Zombieland, either — in Night of the Living Dead and its sequels, Romero invented the rules that guide our modern ideas about zombies: They’re reanimated deceased people who move slowly and have an insatiable desire to eat the living.



John Heard

Illeana Douglas was fortunate to be able to do an interview with John Heard just a few days before his death…

It is an amazing interview, more so when you think this is his last interview….

Take some time today, or later this week, and watch this…you will enjoy it.

I always loved John Heard as an actor, it is sad to see all the obituaries referring to him as “Home Alone Dad” when he was a part of such dynamic films and acted in roles that have performances which many critics consider outstanding.

He was a bit special to me, because I always thought my husband resembled him.

HEART BEAT, from left: John Heard as Jack Kerouac, Sissy Spacek, 1980, © Orion/courtesy Everett Collection

THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR, Sonia Braga, John Heard, 1988, (c)Universal

Actor John Heard of ‘Home Alone’ movies dies at 71 – LA Times

Actor John Heard, whose many roles included the father in the “Home Alone” series and a corrupt detective in “The Sopranos,” has died. He was 71 .

Heard was found dead Friday at a Palo Alto hotel, the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office said Saturday.

An investigation, which includes a toxicology test, is underway to determine the cause of his death, but there is so far no evidence of foul play, the office said.

TMZ reported that a representative for Heard said he was staying in the hotel while he recovered from back surgery at Stanford University Medical Center.

John Heard dead: Life in photos

John Heard, the Frazzled Father in ‘Home Alone,’ Dies at 71 – The New York Times

John Matthew Heard Jr. was born on March 7, 1946, in Washington and graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., in 1968. He briefly pursued a master’s degree in theater at the Catholic University of America before leaving to build a professional acting career. His early years were spent in Off Broadway productions.

He made his film debut in 1977 in “Between the Lines,” about a socially conscious alternative newspaper in Boston about to be taken over by a big company. He led a cast that featured Jeff Goldblum, Lindsay Crouse and Marilu Henner.

Interviewed by The New York Times afterward — he was performing onstage at the time as an anxious husband in a production of August Strindberg’s “Creditors” — Mr. Heard struck a note of searching self-deprecation.

“I think this interview is a little premature,” he said, adding, “I don’t know, maybe after this is over, I’ll go back to Washington and be a plumber’s helper again.”

Instead, he went on to star in art house films like “Cutter’s Way” and later in commercial hits like “Big” (1988), in which he played an executive who mocks the little boy in a man’s body (Mr. Hanks), only to watch him climb the corporate ladder and win over his girlfriend.

Seriously, take some time to watch that last interview. It will give a better look on John Heard than any of these obits can…





Twitter reactions to John Heard:

I think that this tribute to Heard from Stern is something that goes a long way in describing Heard’s connection with fellow actors, especially if you watched that hour long interview with Illeana Douglas.


Well, that is the sad week that was in film…

This is an open thread.

Lazy Saturday Reads

Key West Chairs, Dorine MacLauchlan

Good Afternoon!!

Another huge story broke last night at the Washington Post, and this one appears to have been leaked by people in the intelligence community or the White House who are trying to damage Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The Goldfish Window, Childe Hassam

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Current and former U.S. officials said that assertion is at odds with Kislyak’s accounts of conversations during two encounters over the course of the campaign, one in April ahead of Trump’s first major foreign policy speech and another in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.

It would be interesting to know who leaked this–could it possibly have come from Michael Flynn? In any case, this is highly sensitive information that the Post reportedly had in June but held it until last night.

The Post also published a damaging story about Jared and Ivanka’s lies of omission: In revised filing, Kushner reveals dozens of previously undisclosed assets.

Jared Kushner failed to disclose dozens of financial holdings that he was required to declare when he joined the White House as an adviser to President Trump, his father-in-law, according to a ­revised form released Friday.

separate document released Friday also showed that Kushner’s wife, presidential daughter Ivanka Trump, had been paid as much as $5 million from her outside businesses over an 84-day span this spring around the time she entered the White House as a senior adviser and pledged to distance herself from her private holdings.

Saturday Afternoon, William Gunning King

Kushner’s new disclosure, released by the White House, detailed more than 70 assets that his attorneys said he had inadvertently left out of earlier filings. The new document comes as the presidential aide faces increasing scrutiny as part of investigations into alleged Russian influence in the 2016 campaign….

The new filing reveals Kushner’s past and current investments in an array of entities, including a real estate trading platform now valued at $800 million in which he continues to hold a large stake. He and his wife also disclosed that their contemporary art collection is valued at between $5 million and $25 million.

Kushner’s financial disclosure has been updated 39 times since his first filing in March.

From today’s New York Times: Ivanka Trump Received at Least $12.6 Million Since 2016, Disclosure Shows.

Ivanka Trump or her trust received at least $12.6 million since early 2016 from her various business ventures and has an arrangement to guarantee her at least $1.5 million a year even as she serves in a top White House position, according to her first ethics disclosure made public late Friday.

The report was released alongside an updated filing by her husband, Jared Kushner, who is also serving as a top adviser to President Trump. It shows that the couple benefit from an active business empire worth as much as $761 million to them, an arrangement that ethics experts warn poses potentials for conflicts of interest as the couple have been given a wide-ranging portfolio of government responsibilities.

Ms. Trump, who resigned from nearly 300 leadership positions at various entities within the family real estate businesses and at her fashion brand, has continued to receive millions of dollars from both streams, including more than $2.4 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington and more than $2.5 million in salary and severance from the Trump Organization.

Ms. Trump received about $1.7 million in payments from T International Realty, the family’s luxury brokerage agency, as well as two other real estate companies for various management, consulting and licensing work, the documents show. Those payments, for work done in 2016, were based on the companies’ performance.

But going forward, she will receive fixed payments — a change that her advisers say was developed in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics to minimize her potential conflicts by removing her interest in how well her family’s business performs.

More at the link.

Brookside Park Pasadena on a Saturday Afternoon

I was really looking forward to seeing Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort testify publicly, but unfortunately it will be behind closed doors now. CNN: Trump Jr. and Manafort reach deal with Senate panel to avoid public hearing.

The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have cut a deal with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to avoid being subpoenaed for a high-profile public hearing next week, with the two men agreeing to provide records to the panel and to be privately interviewed ahead of any public session.

In a joint statement, panel Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein said, “(W)e will not issue subpoenas for them tonight requiring their presence at Wednesday’s hearing but reserve the right to do so in the future.”

Feinstein tweeted later Friday evening, “The Judiciary Committee will talk to Trump Jr. & Manafort before they testify in public, but we will get answers.”

Last week, Trump Jr. told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would testify under oath about his recently revealed 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, where he attempted to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

But after the Senate Judiciary Committee invited him to attend a public hearing, the President’s eldest struck the agreement to avoid it, instead going behind closed doors.

Sources familiar with the matter say no date has been set for his and Manafort’s private interviews with the committee.

It seems as if Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr is getting more serious about his Russia investigation. Yesterday he publicly criticized House Intel chair Devin Nunes.

Talking Points Memo: Senate Intel Chair: ‘The Unmasking Thing Was All Created By Devin Nunes.’

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) on Friday accused his counterpart in the House, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), of creating a false narrative about Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice.

Madeline in a Wheat Field, Daniel Ridgway Knight

Speaking to CNN after Rice was interviewed by the panel in closed session, Burr said he asked no questions about whether she improperly requested and revealed the identities of U.S. individuals swept up in intelligence reports—an accusation Nunes has made repeatedly.

“The unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes, and I’ll wait to go through our full evaluation to see if there was anything improper that happened,” Burr told CNN. “But clearly there were individuals unmasked. Some of that became public which it’s not supposed to, and our business is to understand that, and explain it.”

With an assist from the White House, the House Intelligence chairman in March embarked on a one-man crusade to accuse Rice of improperly unmasking the identities of members of Trump’s campaign in intelligence reports. Though President Donald Trump said he believed Rice’s actions broke the law, bipartisan lawmakers who viewed the same classified reports from which Nunes drew his conclusions said they saw no evidence of wrongdoing. National security experts also told TPM that it was within Rice’s purview as national security adviser to request that names be unmasked as she tried to determine the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Nunes ended up temporarily stepping aside from the House investigation after ethics watchdogs accused him of improperly disclosing classified information in his public statements about Rice. He recently told CNN that he remains fully “read-in” to the House probe and never formally recused himself, however.

Trump has reportedly been asking his lawyers if he can pardon himself and members of his family and staff. Here’s a response in a Washington Post op-ed by Lawrence Tribe, Richard Painter, and Norman Eisen: No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so.

Saturday Afternoon, Mark Arian

Can a president pardon himself? Four days before Richard Nixon resigned, his own Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opined no, citing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.” We agree.

The Justice Department was right that guidance could be found in the enduring principles that no one can be both the judge and the defendant in the same matter, and that no one is above the law.

The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.

The pardon provision of the Constitution is there to enable the president to act essentially in the role of a judge of another person’s criminal case, and to intervene on behalf of the defendant when the president determines that would be equitable. For example, the president might believe the courts made the wrong decision about someone’s guilt or about sentencing; President Barack Obama felt this way about excessive sentences for low-level drug offenses. Or the president might be impressed by the defendant’s subsequent conduct and, using powers far exceeding those of a parole board, might issue a pardon or commutation of sentence.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

This has been an mind-boggling week for Trump Russia news. I’m kind of relieved to have the weekend to process everything, since I assume Trump will be golfing. Next week could be even worse. Will Trump try to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller? Will Jeff Sessions have to resign? We’ll have to wait and see.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Friday Reads: Ready the Pitchforks

Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s a sad state of affairs when the President of the United States of America is so wrapped up with money laundering and conspiring with Russians that he has to check into his constitutional powers to pardon six months into his first term.  The particular features of a presidential pardon of interest are the ability to pardon family, staff, and self. If Trump removes Mueller or seriously starts pardoning any of the Trump Family Crime syndicate, there should be a mad rush to local hardware stores for tar, feathers, and pitchforks. I’m sure France will come to our aid with Les Guillotines.

We could’ve had Taco Trucks on every corner. But no, we have one Constitutional Crisis after another and a President who is a Fanboy of the autocratic, murderous, thieving KGB-trained Vladimir Putin.  What does  he have on our President?  The deed to Trump Towers and a claim on Ivanka’s sexy time? We continue to discover Trump’s inability to leave Vlad alone during the recent G-20 summit. How creepy is that?

President Donald Trump may have held more meetings with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit earlier this month, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday — but he shrugged off the importance of the encounters.

“They might have met even much more than just three times,” he told NBC News’ Keir Simmons in an exclusive interview, dismissing speculation about the leaders’ meetings.

“Maybe they went to the toilet together,” he joked.

Asked whether the two presidents had other conversations or met in the corridors of the G-20 meeting, Lavrov used the analogy of children mingling at a kindergarten.

“When you are bought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?” he asked.

He added: “I remember when I was in that position I did spend five or ten minutes in the kindergarten before they brought us to the classroom.”

Lavrov echoed the White House account of a third meeting between Trump and Putin during a social-dinner at the summit in Hamburg.

The other two meetings — one a scheduled bilateral meeting and another when the pair shared a handshake — had already been widely reported.

“After the dinner was over…I was not there…President Trump apparently went to pick up his wife and spent some minutes with President Putin…so what?” he said.

Lavrov also said the U.S. presence in Syria was illegitimate and accused C.I.A director Mike Pompeo of having “double standards” regarding the establishment of military bases in the country.

He said Pompeo’s comments criticizing Russia’s presence in Syria and the establishment of military bases on the Mediterranean coast, at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday, showed that “something was wrong with double standards.”

Lavrov cited reports of ten U.S. bases built in Syria, “not to mention hundreds of of military bases of the United States all over the world and all around Russia.”

I have no doubt that part of Trump’s cozying up to the autocrat has a lot to do with the breaking news on US Support of Syrian Rebels.

President Trump’s decision to cut off aid to anti-government rebels in Syria marks a victory for President Bashar Assad in his six-year civil war — as well as allies Russia and Iran — and a defeat for U.S. efforts to remove the Syrian dictator.

Trump has decided to end a covert CIA program under President Barack Obama to train moderate rebels to fight Assad, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The report comes two weeks after Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany and after the United States and Russia announced a limited cease-fire in southeastern Syria that promised to end Syrian airstrikes on rebel-held areas there.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time that while the U.S. hopes to extend the truce to other parts of the country, U.S. policy remains that Assad and his family have “no long-term role” as rulers in Syria.

The CIA training program was approved by Obama, who called for Assad to step down because of brutal oppression by his regime.

Talking heads appear baffled that Trump is no policy wonk and his only goal is to win at whatever. I argue that his goals are obvious and don’t include US.  His goals are to:

1) Enrich his family

2) Appease Putin and the Russian oligarchs

3) Get as much attention as possible

4)  Avoid jail for the numerous criminal activities he commits through blustery threats

5) Get rid of everything associated with Barrack Obama

The entire West Wing appears to be in attack mode.  Taxpayer resources are going to Kremlin Caligula’s assaults on the Special Investigation and to Mueller.

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

What President talks about pardons six months into his first term?  What President specifically asks about pardoning his family? His associates?  Himself?  What Fresh HELL IS THIS?

It’s only six months into Donald Trump’s presidency — and he’s already looking into his powers to pardon his top aides and family members for unspecified crimes, according to a report from the Washington Post published Thursday night.

One source told the paper that presidential pardon powers were under discussion among Trump’s lawyers. But another source went further, telling the Post that “Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe.” And a Trump adviser seemingly confirmed the report to the paper, saying that the president was simply curious.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, told CBS News Friday morning that “[p]ardons are not being discussed and are not on the table.” But if this report is true, Trump is apparently worried enough about his, his family members’ and his top aides’ legal exposure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation that he’s already looking into pardons before anyone’s been convicted or even charged with any crimes.

To be clear: It would be utterly shocking, and seemingly without any real precedent in US history, for a sitting president to pardon close aides or family members facing investigation.

And it would also seemingly be within the president’s powers. The pardon power is incredibly wide-ranging. A president can pardon essentially all federal crimes at any point after they’ve been committed — even if they haven’t yet been charged or convicted.

What’s prevented past presidents, including Richard Nixon at the height of Watergate, from doing something like this has been the fear of political backlash. And that may yet restrain Trump too — this, for the moment, seems to fall into the category of brainstorming rather than concrete planning.

But of course, Trump has frequently proven himself willing to flout the norms and traditions of American politics with glee, regardless of the backlash that may ensue. And he may yet do so again, calculating that his voters will stick with him regardless.

Brian Beutler argues that  ‘We’re on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis’.   Trump may have hoping to chide Sessions to quitting in the hopes he can find an AG willing to fire the Special Counsel or he could be just have another trumper tantrum. Either way, Mueller is our Jedi and only hope given Republican reluctance to do anything right.

The scope of that crisis is much clearer now that the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is discussing the possibility of pardoning himself, his family, and his closest aides to short-circuit the sprawling investigation of his campaign’s complicity in Russia’s subversion of the 2016 election. Trump’s team is also, according to the Post and another Times story, digging up dirt on the special counsel investigators in an attempt to discredit them.

In light of this dizzying news, it’s worth returning to the Times interview. Trump’s juiciest comments pertained to his attorney general, uber-loyalist Jeff Sessions, whom he resents for recusing from that investigation. But these grievances were already known, as was the fact that Trump has consideredterminating Robert Mueller, the man leading the inquiry. What made the Times interview explosive was Trump’s suggestion that he would fire Mueller for delving too deeply into his finances.

SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia—is that a red line?

HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes.

And what lit the fuse was contemporaneous reporting, first from the Times and then from Bloomberg, that Mueller is indeed investigating Trump’s business entanglements, as it was widely expected he would. “FBI investigators and others,” Bloomberg reported, “are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.”

The confluence of these two developments confronts Trump with a choice between backing down from his threat and making good on it, perhaps while issuing pardons promiscuously and to catastrophic effect.

The loud hum of chaos and spectacle engulfing the Trump administration is drowning out a creeping reality: We are on the brink of an authoritarian crisis that will make the firing of FBI Director James Comey seem quaint in hindsight.

Trump has long made fun of what he considers Obama’s wimpiness on red lines.  Now that he’s drawing a bunch of them on Mueller, what can we expect?

The president’s miscalculation is not about his pardon authority. Rather, it is about the extent to which the legal machinations that worked for him in private, civil litigation against ordinary individuals (or even various state attorneys general) can be applied to a wide-ranging criminal and counterintelligence investigation run by Mueller and what appears to be an All-Star cast of lawyers and investigators. The president can’t try and drag out things and hope Mueller’s investigation runs out of money; the funding is derived from a permanent congressional appropriation account. Nor can the president realistically hope that he will be able to undercut the investigation with “conflicts of interest” or “ethics” complaints. Mueller has already been vetted by the Justice Department’s ethics officers, and the petty complaints raised about the personal political donations made by some on his team reek of desperation.

The president is used to overpowering and overwhelming his legal opponents, but Mueller – who ran the FBI for 12 years and oversaw the transformation of that agency in the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11 – is unlikely to be intimidated. Mueller’s team appears to be methodically examining the Russian government’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, and it borders on axiomatic that his team will uncover whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin in any way (a question that, of course, remains unresolved).

Mueller’s investigation will go where the facts lead it, but the president is doing himself no favors by providing a fresh set of bread crumbs on a regular basis. His Twitter rants and stream-of-consciousness remarks in media interviews are easy fodder for the special counsel’s team, and provide it with an unusual degree of access to the president’s state of mind and motivations. It may be cathartic for Trump to express these thoughts publicly, and it might rouse his political base, but it is doing nothing to put out the three-alarm political fires that are routinely emerging in the wake of new reports about previously undisclosed contacts with Russian operatives or inquiries into his financial dealings.

If the president truly wishes to survive the mess in which he finds himself, he needs to come to grips with the simple truth that everything he learned before Jan. 20, 2017, is irrelevant. There is no one who can just make this situation “go away.” There is no deal to be made, no financial settlement that can resolve the matter. The investigation will find what it finds, and it very well might ensnare several close associates of the president (and potentially even a family member) along the way.

Mueller is indeed hunting down the facts.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House to preserve all documents relating to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a Russian lawyer and others, according to a source who has seen the letter.

Mueller sent a notice, called a document preservation request, asking White House staff to save “any subjects discussed in the course of the June 2016 meeting” and also “any decisions made regarding the recent disclosures about the June 2016 meeting,” according to the source, who read portions of the letter to CNN.

The letter from Mueller began: “As you are aware the Special Counsel’s office is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump. Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between Donald J Trump Jr and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation.”

Meanwhile, there’s these other interesting developments.  Said Russian Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has spy agency clients.  

The Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. after his father won the Republican nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election counted Russia’s FSB security service among her clients for years, Russian court documents seen by Reuters show.

The documents show that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, successfully represented the FSB’s interests in a legal wrangle over ownership of an upscale property in northwest Moscow between 2005 and 2013.

The FSB, successor to the Soviet-era KGB service, was headed by Vladimir Putin before he became Russian president.

Then, there’s some musical chairs going on with Trump’s legal team.  

There’s been a shakeup in President Trump’s legal team.

Marc Kasowitz is out as Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports. And Kasowitz’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, has resigned, Garrett says

The reasons for the moves were not immediately known.

Kasowitz has represented Mr. Trump since the early 2000s, and led his defense in the Trump University fraud case.

Kasowitz recently made headlines when he sent threatening emails to a retired public relations professional who had said Kasowitz should resign. In his first response, Kasowitz wrote “F*** you,” according to ProPublica. Kasowitz wrote a number of emails after that, including one that said, “And you don’t know me, but I will know you How dare you send me an email like that I’m on you now You are f****** with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back, b****.”

Kasowitz later apologized.

Corallo is a longtime GOP operative who worked for the House committee that investigated President Clinton in the 1990s before going to the Justice Department under former Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to Politico. Politico reports Corallo had been handling the White House’s defense in the Russia investigation.

Keeping up with the chaos and the assaults on the US Constitution is tiring work.  It’s also stressful.  Can you believe we’re living through this?

Oh, and this was just announced:

‘W.H. press secretary Sean Spicer resigns’

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s embattled spokesman during the first six months of his presidency, is resigning his position, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.

Spicer’s decision appears to be linked to the appointment of a new White House communications director, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci. The people with knowledge of the decision spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter publicly.




Thursday Reads: Another Bonkers Trump Interview and More Breaking News

Sunday Afternoon, by Marie François Firmin-Girard

Good Morning!!

By 9:00 last night, there were about 10 huge breaking stories related to the Russia investigation.

There was a rambling, incoherent New York Times interview with Trump in which he trashed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accused James Comey of blackmailing him, and threatened Special Counsel Robert Mueller, implying he’d better not try to look into Trump family finances.

On top of that, Trump still won’t let go of the dead GOP health care bill. And of course we learned that Sen. John McCain has an aggressive form of brain cancer that is likely terminal.

Right now we are waiting for Jeff Sessions to speak publicly. Will he resign? We’ll find out soon. In the meantime, here are some of the wild stories that broke last night. [UPDATE: He says he’s not resigning despite what Trump said about him (see CNN article posted down below. The announcement was about taking down a darknet website.] 

I’m going to devote most of this post to the NYT interview, because it’s just so incredible that this numbskull with dementia is in the White House. Here’s the article the Times published about it: Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

Desire DeHau reading a newspaper, by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office.

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

Much more at the link.

The Times also released an edited transcript of the interview: Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump. Please read the whole thing if you can handle it. The “president” sounds like a third-grader. He can’t recall words, he has no idea what health insurance is, and he has no understanding of how the government works, and he has zero respect for the rule of law.

Some excerpts:

About health insurance and preexisting conditions:

HABERMAN: That’s been the thing for four years. When you win an entitlement, you can’t take it back.

TRUMP: But what it does, Maggie, it means it gets tougher and tougher. As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.

Painting of woman reading newspaper by Johanna Harmon

So Trump thinks health insurance costs $12 per year and you don’t use it until you’re 70 years old? WTF?! A little more:

TRUMP: Yeah. It’s been a tough process for him. This health care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning. No. 1, you know, a lot of the papers were saying — actually, these guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about health care. [garbled] This is a very tough time for him, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe we get there.

This is a very tough time for them, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe that it’s [garbled], that makes it a lot easier. It’s a mess. One of the things you get out of this, you get major tax cuts, and reform. And if you add what the people are going to save in the middle income brackets, if you add that to what they’re saving with health care, this is like a windfall for the country, for the people. So, I don’t know, I thought it was a great meeting. I bet the number’s — I bet the real number’s four. But let’s say six or eight. And everyone’s [garbled], so statistically, that’s a little dangerous, right?

Trump claims his “enemies” loved the horrible speech he gave in Poland.

TRUMP: I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president. I’m saying, man, they cover [garbled]. You saw the reviews I got on that speech. Poland was beautiful and wonderful, and the reception was incredible.

The “president” had a blast in France.

After that, it was fairly surprising. He [President Emmanuel Macron of France] called me and said, “I’d love to have you there and honor you in France,” having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy.

HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.

TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand….

People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes….

I mean, really. He’s a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand.

Claude Monet reading a newspaper, by Pierre Auguste Renoir

On the parade in Paris:

But the Bastille Day parade was — now that was a super-duper — O.K. I mean, that was very much more than normal. They must have had 200 planes over our heads. Normally you have the planes and that’s it, like the Super Bowl parade. And everyone goes crazy, and that’s it. That happened for — and you know what else that was nice? It was limited. You know, it was two hours, and the parade ended. It didn’t go a whole day. They didn’t go crazy. You don’t want to leave, but you have to. Or you want to leave, really.

These things are going on all day. It was a two-hour parade. They had so many different zones. Maybe 100,000 different uniforms, different divisions, different bands. Then we had the retired, the older, the ones who were badly injured. The whole thing, it was an incredible thing.

Seriously, he sounds like a child. Later Macron took Trump to Napoleon’s tomb.

TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [….]

Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army….

But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.

So what did Trump discuss with Putin during their recently revealed hour-long conversation after dinner at the G20?

We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”

Reading the News, by Evariste Carpentier

Does Trump even know that when Putin talks about “adoptions” he’s actually referring to U.S. sanctions against individual Russian oligarchs? Probably not. Trump goes on to claim that he never saw the email stating that the Russian government was supporting him in the 2016 election. He then goes on to claim that Hillary Clinton strongly opposed sanctions on Russia.

TRUMP: Well, Hillary did the reset. Somebody was saying today, and then I read, where Hillary Clinton was dying to get back with Russia. Her husband made a speech, got half a million bucks while she was secretary of state. She did the uranium deal, which is a horrible thing, while she was secretary of state, and got a lot of money….

She was opposing sanctions. She was totally opposed to any sanctions for Russia.

BAKER: When was that?

HABERMAN: Do you remember when that was? I don’t remember that….

TRUMP: I just saw it. I just saw it. She was opposed to sanctions, strongly opposed to sanctions on Russia.

Cue the Twilight Zone music. There is much much more lunacy, but I’m running out of space. Please try to read the entire interview. I think it’s really important that we all understand how demented Trump really is.

Other important stories to check out:

Washington Post: John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, diagnosed with brain tumor

CNN: Jeff Sessions: ‘I plan to continue’ as attorney general.

Bloomberg: Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions. (Will Trump try to fire Mueller now?)

NYT: Manafort Was in Debt to Pro-Russia Interests, Cyprus Records Show (around $17 million in debt and to the same bank in Cyprus that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is connected with).

Politico: Republicans lament an agenda in ‘quicksand.’

Dakinikat posted this yesterday, but it’s worth reposting. The Daily Beast: GOP Lawmaker Got Direction From Moscow, Took It Back to D.C.

Paste Magazine: The Hidden Man: Why Paul Manafort is the Focal Point at the Trump Jr. Meeting.

NYT: Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny.

Wednesday Reads: We wrote letters…

We wrote the letters that made some GOP Congress members take notice. Mind you…it was none of my congressional assholes who made the difference the other night, but hey…it did the trick.

The fan is still spinning and the shit is still flying towards it, so keep sending those letters to the powers that be. Text the word RESIST to 504-09. Remember, Resistbot is a free service.

Now for the cartoons:

Day 180.1: In which we witness Death By 1,000,000,000,000 Cuts. #TheDailyDon #resist #magaisformorons #trumprussia #thisisnotnormal #dumptrump

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Made in America Week: 07/19/2017 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Made in America Week

HE DOESN’T GIVE A S………!: 07/19/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - HE DOESN'T GIVE A S.........!

MADE IN AMERICA WEEK: 07/18/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - MADE IN AMERICA WEEK

LIKE FATHER…..: 07/12/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - LIKE FATHER.....

07/19/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

07/19/2017 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

07/18/2017 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

Good Shape Health Care: 07/19/2017 Cartoon by Steve ArtleyCartoon by Steve Artley - Good Shape Health Care

What Gets Called Treason?: 07/19/2017 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - What Gets Called Treason?





This is an open thread….