Posted: January 25, 2021 Filed under: The Media SUCKS | Tags: The Fourth Estate and Trumperz
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
What a difference a week makes! The headlines today actually contain more news and analysis than melodrama and craziness. Perhaps it’s time to turn some focus to the news outlets and the way their approach to the last four years actually created a good deal of the havoc. A good first place to start is Fox News which basically turned into a propaganda arm of a deranged and out of control President by repeating and reinforcing every deranged lie and conspiracy theory out of his pouty little potty mouth.
This is from Mother Jones and Kevin Drum: “What Can We Do About Fox News?”.
However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say again that all the attention being given to social media is basically a distraction. Sure, the insurrectionists used social media to help organize things, but people have organized protests in Washington DC before with little trouble. Nor was social media necessary to inflame to mob. The 2009 tea party movement did just fine without much in the way of social media.
The source of all this was, as usual, Fox News and the mainstream right-wing media empire. It wasn’t social media that convinced 70 percent of Republicans that the election was stolen. It was Fox News. It wasn’t social media that relentlessly took seriously all the moronic lawsuits filed by Donald Trump’s team of idiot lawyers. It was Fox News. It’s not social media that has any serious appeal outside the folks who are already conspiracy theorists. It’s Fox News.
But of course there’s nothing we can do about Fox News, is there? And they all dress so nicely, too. They can’t really want to overturn the peaceful transfer of power after an election, can they?
I have no idea what they really want to do. Maybe it’s all a game, maybe it’s just a way to make money, or maybe they really do want to overturn an election. But it doesn’t matter. Regardless of their intentions, they’re the ones responsible for this insurrection. And we aren’t completely helpless to stop them, either.
The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan writes this Op-Ed : “Fox News is a hazard to our democracy. It’s time to take the fight to the Murdochs. Here’s how.”
Last week, two key members of Fox News’s decision desk abruptly departed the network. One was laid off, the other has retired, and some insiders are calling it a “purge.”
Apparently, at a network that specializes in spreading lies, there was a price to pay for getting it right. (“Fox News isn’t a newsgathering organization,” surmised press critic Eric Boehlert, arguing in response to the purge that its White House credentials should be revoked.)
In recent days, Fox has taken a sharp turn toward a more extreme approach as it confronts a post-Trump ratings dip — the result of some of its furthest-right viewers moving to outlets such as Newsmax and One America News and some middle-of-the-roaders apparently finding CNN or MSNBC more to their liking.
With profit as the one true religion at Fox, something had to change. Eighty-nine-year-old Rupert Murdoch, according to a number of reports, has stepped in to call the shots directly. Most notably, the network has decided to add an hour of opinion programming to its prime-time offerings. The 7 p.m. hour will no longer be nominally news but straight-up outrage production.
Why? Because that’s where the ratings are.
And in a move that should be shocking but isn’t, one of those who will rotate through the tryouts for that coveted spot will be Maria Bartiromo, whose Trump sycophancy during the campaign may well have been unparalleled. She was among those (including Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro) recently forced under threat of a lawsuit to air a video that debunked repeated false claims on her show that corrupt voting software had given millions of Trump votes to Biden.
At the same time, Sean Hannity, who likes to blast Biden as “cognitively struggling,” and Tucker Carlson, who tries to sow doubt about the prevalence of white supremacy, have become even more outlandish as they try to gin up anti-Biden rage within their audiences.
Even James Murdoch, while not naming names, blasted the harm that his family’s media empire has done. “The sacking of the Capitol is proof positive that what we thought was dangerous is indeed very much so,” he told the Financial Times. “Those outlets that propagate lies to their audience have unleashed insidious and uncontrollable forces that will be with us for years.”
1956 Canadian reporter Angela Burke
There’s plenty of blame to spread around when it comes Trump’s media coverage and the minute by minute blasting of lies, conspiracy theories, and displays of id. Here’s one from New York Daily News and Pete Vernon: “Giving up the ‘Golden Goose’ how the Trump presidency shaped the media and what’s to come.”
The Trump era, marked by vitriolic attacks on the media and the failure to stand up for press freedoms abroad, did, however, harbor a cynical silver lining when it came to news organizations’ bottom lines. In 2016, then CBS executive chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said of Trump’s candidacy, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” By admitting the quiet part out loud, the since-disgraced media mogul hit on a truth about the 45th president: whether Americans loved him or loathed him, they couldn’t turn away.
With Trump now ensconced at Mar-a-Lago, stripped of the Twitter account which served as his method for instigating so much madness, the political press is left to confront a as-yet-unanswerable question: What happens when the shiny objects of politics are no longer gilded in Trumpian ratings gold?
Journalists acknowledge Trump’s frequent claims that he was great for their business, unlike so many of his other boasts, were not lies. Newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post saw subscriptions surge, while cable news ratings skyrocketed. The Times and Post reportedly tripled their digital subscriber base over the past four years. CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC all notched record audiences in 2020.
Trump was “a controversy factory” in office, says Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker. “Controversy sells and attracts readers, no question about it. We would get hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to tune into a story just because he said or did something outrageous.”
Under Joe Biden, the news, of course, is no less important. Biden has taken office in the midst of a raging pandemic, an economic crisis, a period of racial reckoning, and an impending impeachment trial of his predecessor. While it is unclear if the American public will continue to follow developments from Washington with the same intensity they did over the past four years, journalists are hoping that the audience remains tuned in.
Yes, folks in the media, you certainly do need to do better.
Since the Capitol siege of Jan. 6, federal and local officials have been scrambling to fortify Washington and its institutions against the threat of white supremacy and violence, but one national institution remains painfully vulnerable: the mainstream media.
The breaches to our Fourth Estate came long before Jan. 6, of course. From the moment Trump entered the 2016 race, endless oxygen was given to his racism and lies. White supremacists were deemed worthy of profiles noting their haircuts and wardrobes or allowed NPR airtime to rank the intelligence of the races. The breaches continued as ex-Trump officials were allowed to profit from distorting the truth to the American people, through TV analyst spots, book deals and Harvard fellowships.
Our media ushered all this through the door, under the aegis of “balance” and “presenting both sides” — as if racism and white supremacy were theoretical ideas to be debated, not life-threatening forces to be defeated. Never would I have imagined that I would say Biden’s stance on white supremacy is more progressive than the media’s. But here we are.
From the start, many non-White journalists grasped the threat that recognizing and calling out white supremacy was a life-or-death matter. And many paid a price for it. Black on-air commentators were literally laughed at by White counterparts for sounding the alarm. Journalist Jemele Hill was reprimanded by ESPN after calling Trump a white supremacist.
It took White blood being spilled, and elite lawmakers being threatened, for other sectors to confront the need to forcefully guard against extremism. In the wake of the Capitol insurrection, which left five dead, corporations pulled support from GOP politicians who supported the assault. Several Capitol officials resigned. Twitter kicked Trump off its platform, and Apple and Google removed Parler, which has increasingly become a haven for extremism, from their app stores.
But the media still seems unwilling or unable to reform itself. There have been no major efforts as an industry to systematically examine the role we played in America’s journey to the brink.
Then there is the entire debate around the role of social media as platform or publisher?
Outside the White House in the early 1900s
There’s a lot before this snip worth reading. This is from The New Yorker. It’s written by Andrew Marantz
The Trump problem hardly caught Twitter by surprise. In 2019, Jack Dorsey did a round of podcast interviews and press appearances, hoping to boost “conversational health”—and, surely, Twitter’s stock price—with yet more public conversation. The podcast host Joe Rogan asked Dorsey whether he’d considered getting rid of Donald Trump, one of the most influential and least healthy conversationalists on the platform. Dorsey demurred, arguing that the words of a President are inherently newsworthy. “We should see how our leaders think and how they act,” he said. “That informs voting, that informs the conversation.” In the end, Twitter banned Trump, ostensibly, for two tweets posted on January 8th. The first, in which he referred to the seventy-five million Americans who had voted for him as “patriots,” was hardly one of the most incendiary things he’d ever posted. (It wouldn’t even make the top fifty.) The next tweet read, in its entirety, “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.” This was, ironically, one of the tiny minority of Trump’s tweets that really was unambiguously newsworthy. Twitter argued that “President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate”; to my eyes, on the contrary, it looked like the closest Trump will ever come to a concession. If you take Twitter’s reasoning at face value, then the most generous way to interpret the ban is that the company made the right decision for the wrong reasons. Perhaps the real reasons for the ban were simpler—that Trump is now a lame duck who can no longer punish Twitter with the levers of the federal government; that the siege of the Capitol was simply one bad press cycle too many; that the company is worried about violence in the near future, and is trying to avoid ending up with even more blood on its hands. If Twitter is being coy about its real motivations, or if the thinking leading to this monumental decision was really as muddled as the official explanation suggests, then there is little cause to think that its future decisions will be much more coherent.
“I doubt I would be here if it weren’t for social media, to be honest with you,” Donald Trump said in 2017. He may have been wrong; after all, he uttered those words on Fox Business, a TV network that will surely continue to have him on as a guest long after he leaves the White House, and even if he loses every one of his social-media accounts. Perhaps Trump could have become President without social media. There were plenty of other factors militating in his favor—a racist backlash to the first Black president, the abandonment of the working class by both parties, and on and on. Still: Trump wanted to be President in 1988, and in 2000, and he couldn’t get close. In 2012, just as social media was starting to eclipse traditional media, Trump was a big enough factor in the Republican race that Mitt Romney went to the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas to publicly accept his endorsement. Only in 2016, when the ascent of social media was all but complete, did Trump’s dream become a reality. Maybe this was just a coincidence. There is, tragically, no way to run the experiment in reverse.
We’ve been seeing normal pressers the last few days with Biden’s White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that are a breath of fresh air compared to days of trying to watch Sean Spicer or Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Kayleigh McEnany McEnany out there on TV giving whining interviews about every one hating on Trump. Huckabee Sanders is trying to run for Governor of Arkansas. We’ll see how that goes. We’ll also see how this new coverage goes. I bet they bothersider Psaki by the end of the month.
I’m going to leave you with this from The Atlantic: “TV Captured Trump by Looking Away”. This is by Sophie Gilbert. She argues with the eye of some one who looks at culture.
Television during the Trump era faced a paradox: The 45th president was obsessed with TV, was saved by TV (The Apprentice resurrected him as a public figure in one of the lowest periods of his career), was influenced by TV, and seemed made to be analyzed by it. But early on, creators appeared befuddled by the project of portraying someone whose self-satirical physicality and distorted psyche defied pastiche. It didn’t help that so many viewers were, like me, exhausted by the antics of the real-life Trump and emotionally numbed by cortisol spikes of outrage.
And yet, Trump exerted a centripetal force on pop culture. Broad swaths of works that weren’t about him at all seemed newly crucial in understanding his ascent, even as the stakes for shows that tried to deal with him directly as a subject grew impossibly high. What became clear while taking stock of TV over the past four years is that the shows and artists that most clearly and urgently responded to him did so by looking past his theatrics as an individual, and focusing instead on the elements—recurrent throughout American history—that led to his rise.
There are some disturbing things that still needs some focus. Trump basically represented elements that have been recurrent through American History as Gilbert states. The blatant racism, xenophobia, and misogyny were obvious to nearly all of us. However, the media coverage did not originally and still may not fully study the mistakes made when we called your basic White Christian Nationalists present throughout the KKK movement and the American Nazi Party just sympathetic old white dudes misplaced by the economy.
It’s the same way that the Capitol Hill Insurrectionists got so far into the Building. No one thought all theses white police, ex-military, and Karens were truly capable of anything. Trump was the catalyst and the symbol but the underlying currents must be reported in a different way. Also, while holding Biden to account, the media should not go out of its way to prove it’s unbiased by unnecessarily going after any one in the Biden Administration. I’m seeing that now and not only in Fox News. Of course, the New York Times appears to be going right down that road. The Trump administration deserved the microscope. A lot of what Biden will do is likely yawn worthy in its return to normalcy.
And speaking of the New York Times: “After touting Trump as “populist,” New York Times paints Biden as elitist”. The Rolex nonsense is dissected by Eric Boehlert. So, here we go already.
I have to say that it’s nice to read more news that just something about the daily Trump crazies, meltdowns, and weirdness.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: January 23, 2021 Filed under: just because
Return from Market with Black Cat by Atelier de Jiel
The shocks to the system from the ousted madman and his crazy coup attempt are still coming. I’m sure you’ve heard about the story that broke in The New York Times last night. It seems Trump actually tried to get the Justice Department to overturn the election results in Georgia. I don’t know what he planned to do in the other states he lost. Will we learn more as time goes on?
The New York Times: Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General, by Katie Benner
The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.
The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.
The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1919-1920
The answer was unanimous. They would resign.
Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud.
When Mr. Trump said on Dec. 14 that Attorney General William P. Barr was leaving the department, some officials thought that he might allow Mr. Rosen a short reprieve before pressing him about voter fraud. After all, Mr. Barr would be around for another week.
Instead, Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Rosen to the Oval Office the next day. He wanted the Justice Department to file legal briefs supporting his allies’ lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss. And he urged Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate not only unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud, but also Dominion, the voting machines firm….
Mr. Rosen refused. He maintained that he would make decisions based on the facts and the law, and he reiterated what Mr. Barr had privately told Mr. Trump: The department had investigated voting irregularities and found no evidence of widespread fraud.
But Mr. Trump continued to press Mr. Rosen after the meeting — in phone calls and in person. He repeatedly said that he did not understand why the Justice Department had not found evidence that supported conspiracy theories about the election that some of his personal lawyers had espoused. He declared that the department was not fighting hard enough for him.
The Washington Post followed up with more background: Trump entertained plan to install an attorney general who would help him pursue baseless election fraud claims.
“Before the insurrectionist assault on the US Capitol, there was an attempted coup at the Justice Dept. — fomented by the President of the United States,” former Justice Department official David Laufman wrote on Twitter….
Throughout his four years in office, Trump persistently pushed the Justice Department to make moves to benefit himself and his friends, though his moves in his final days in office threatened to be particularly damaging. Even former attorney general William P. Barr — who had been one of Trump’s most loyal and effective Cabinet secretaries — had publicly broken with the president on the issue of voter fraud, declaring publicly that investigators had found no evidence of substantial malfeasance that might affect the result of the election.
Barr’s statements angered Trump, who, along with his allies, had been waging a public campaign to get Barr to appoint a special counsel to investigate election fraud. The men’s relationship was near a breaking point. Trump already had been angry that his attorney general had not taken public steps in two other investigations that might have helped his chances of winning: U.S. Attorney John Durham’s examination into the FBI probe of his 2016 campaign, and the Justice Department’s probe of Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son. On Dec. 14, Barr submitted a resignation letter indicating he would leave the department two days before Christmas.
For the last month of the Trump administration, Rosen would be in charge.
Barr was confident that Rosen shared his views and would thus not succumb to any pressure campaign to upend the election results, people familiar with the matter said. But soon, there emerged a bizarre plot to go around him, the people said.
Clark, the people said, somehow connected with Trump and conveyed he felt fraud had impacted the election results. Then Clark began pressuring Rosen and others to do more on voter fraud — such as holding a news conference to announce they were investigating serious allegations, or taking particular steps in Georgia — though Rosen refused.
Jeffrey Clark has been a busy little bee, according to The Daily Beast: DOJ Attorney Linked to Trump AG Plot Also Intervened in E. Jean Carroll Case.
Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department attorney who reportedly schemed with the president to oust the acting attorney general, also played a leading role in bringing the DOJ to the president’s defense in a defamation case filed against him personally….
By Mimi Vang Olsen
Clark also served as one of the lead attorneys for Trump in the suit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll, an advice columnist who accuses him of defamation. Trump has denied Carroll’s claim that he raped her in a Manhattan department store decades ago.
The Justice Department made the controversial move in September to defend Trump in the lawsuit, which was filed against him in his personal capacity, saying Trump was “acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States.” Clark appears to have signed off personally on the decision for the DOJ to intervene, according to the court documents. Carroll wrote on Twitter Friday of Clark, “This is the chump who filed the DOJ case against me, saying it was the President’s job to slander women. The Trump Presidency was corrupt right down to the core of its spleen.”
Now that Trump is gone, House Democrats are working to finally get access to Trump’s tax returns. The Washington Post: Biden administration weighs turning over Trump tax returns to House Democrats.
House Democrats have renewed their long-stalled demand for Donald Trump’s federal tax records, but the Biden administration has not decided whether it will drop its predecessor’s objections and release the Treasury Department records to investigators, Justice Department attorneys told a federal judge Friday.
U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden declined Friday to lift a stay on a pending House lawsuit. Instead, the judge agreed to give Treasury and Justice Department officials two weeks to report back to him, acknowledging that President Biden’s team was just settling in after the inauguration this week.
McFadden also kept in place an order requiring the government to give the former president’s lawyers 72 hours’ notice before releasing his tax return information to allow them to file a request to block the release.
Tiger Cat with Bird, American Folk Art Painting by Diane Ulmer Pedersen
Separation-of-powers issues that have slowed the case “may fall out” now that Trump is no longer in office, the judge noted.
“It would be a former president trying to stop a political branch, rather than one branch suing another. At least that’s my instinct,” said McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee to the federal bench in Washington.
House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter agreed, saying, “We’re not dealing with a president anymore. We’re dealing with a former president.”
The House has been stymied for months, “numerous investigations have been obstructed,” and “enough is enough,” Letter argued, saying, “The statute here is clear. ‘Shall’ means ‘shall,’ and therefore the Treasury Department should turn over these materials . . . and that should be the end of it.”
Speaking for the Justice Department, attorney James J. Gilligan said the agency has so far not been able to confer with new Treasury Department leaders, “so we still have no idea whether any decision has been reached . . . whether any decision is imminent . . . or even . . . under active consideration.”
Gilligan said he could not guarantee a decision in two weeks but called a delay and the notice requirement a way to balance the interests of all sides.\Trump attorney Patrick Strawbridge supported maintaining the notice requirement to preserve the former president’s right to his day in court to object to any handing over of records.
McFadden said he agreed, adding that he was thinking of “entering an order along those lines if there is a change of view from the Treasury. But I’d love for all of us to agree together on a path forward. Then we can try to get some resolution here.”
Separation-of-powers issues that have slowed the case “may fall out” now that Trump is no longer in office, the judge noted.
“It would be a former president trying to stop a political branch, rather than one branch suing another. At least that’s my instinct,” said McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee to the federal bench in Washington.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
In the comments to Dakinikat’s post yesterday, we were discussing the potential effects of Biden’s executive order on discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. This is from The Wall Street Journal: Joe Biden’s First Day Began the End of Girls’ Sports.
The order declares: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the rest room, the locker room, or school sports. . . . All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” The order purports to direct administrative agencies to begin promulgating regulations that would enforce the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision Bostock v. Clayton County. In fact, it goes much further.
In Bostock, the justices held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited an employer from firing an employee on the basis of homosexuality or “transgender status.” Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for a 6-3 majority, took pains to clarify that the decision was limited to employment and had no bearing on “sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes”—all regulated under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments. “Under Title VII, too,” the majority added, “we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.”
The Biden executive order is far more ambitious. Any school that receives federal funding—including nearly every public high school—must either allow biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls’ sports teams or face administrative action from the Education Department. If this policy were to be broadly adopted in anticipation of the regulations that are no doubt on the way, what would this mean for girls’ and women’s sports?
“Finished. Done,” Olympic track-and-field coach Linda Blade told me. “The leadership skills, all the benefits society gets from letting girls have their protected category so that competition can be fair, all the advances of women’s rights—that’s going to be diminished.” Ms. Blade noted that parents of teen girls are generally uninterested in watching their daughters demoralized by the blatant unfairness of a rigged competition.
I’d love to get your reactions to this story. Will there be any legal organizations willing to defend biological women in this context?
More stories to check out today:
Jane Mayer at The New Yorker: Why McConnell Dumped Trump.
George T. Conway, Jr.: Former president, private citizen and, perhaps, criminal defendant: Donald Trump’s new reality.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Josh Hawley’s ludicrous clean-up act is in full swing.
HuffPost: An FAA Employee And QAnon Follower Was On The FBI’s Radar. Then He Stormed The Capitol.
Business Insider: The Bidens were reportedly left waiting outside the White House on Inauguration Day because Trump sent the staff home.
The Daily Beast: Bats, Bear Spray, and AR-15s: The Terrifying Arsenals of Capitol Rioters.
Quinta Jurecic at The Atlantic: Don’t Move On Just Yet. Could a truth and reconciliation commission help the country heal?
Eric Wemple at The Washington Post: Maybe Joe Biden can rescue Saturdays.
That’s it for me. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread if you have the time and inclination. Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!
Posted: January 22, 2021 Filed under: academia, Afternoon Reads | Tags: articles of impeachment, Radical Normalcy
Fellini – Satyricon (1969)
Good Day Sky Dancers!
For the first time in four years I had CNN or MSNBC news on during the day while I was working with students and grading. It’s been my background noise for years but I gave it up for at least the last two. Yesterday and today, it’s like being a kid on Christmas morning just about every hour. Presents! Presents! Presents!
We heard an unleashed Dr Fauci give a press conference filled with facts and science! There were presidential signatures with actual pens–not childlike sharpie markers–placed on executive orders giving us a Federal Response to Covid-19 and to future Pandemics. And freeing us from so much of the damage Trump has done to the environment, diplomacy, and collective bargaining.
We welcomed back the idea that women have a right to moral agency and to make decisions concerning their own bodies without politicians. Two wonderfully able people were put into cabinet posts for the nation’s defense and intelligence. *Katie Tur called it a return to ‘radical normalcy’. I felt years of stress fall from my shoulders and today, I slept in late again with no Felliniesque Dystopian nightmare.
Today, Jane Yellen was approved for Treasury Secretary. I’m thrilled.
La Strada (1954, dir. Fellini) – The Fool: “What a funny face! Are you a woman, really? Or an artichoke?”
The House will send its Articles of Impeachment to the Senate on Monday where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the new Democratic majority will work with what’s left of the Trump-Free Republican Party to deal with sedition charges. This is from Axios and Zachary Basu.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for “incitement of insurrection” on Monday.
Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. the day after the article is transmitted.
- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been pushing for the trial to begin in mid-February to allow senators more time to gather evidence and to give Trump proper due process.
- Schumer had countered that it would force the Senate to delay other important business, such as passing COVID relief.
What they’re saying: “I’ve heard some of my Republican colleagues argue that this trial would be unconstitutional because Donald Trump is no longer in office. An argument that has been roundly repudiated, debunked by hundreds of constitutional scholars — left, right, and center — and defies basic common sense,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.
- “It makes no sense whatsoever that a president or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country and then be permitted to resign so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disbar them from future office. It makes no sense,” he continued.
The bottom line: Trump is the first president to be impeached twice, and he will be the first to face a Senate trial after leaving office.
Talking Heads consider Trump’s choice of lawyers to be a signal he’s taking this impeachment with more gravitas. He’s no longer protected by the Presidency and he’s already facing financial problems. This should be a seriously good watch.
Some Trump allies believe the president plans to use his trial to further his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him, according to two former aides familiar with his strategy. One of the aides cautioned that no defense strategy had been definitively agreed upon, though.
Bowers’ history suggests that the ex-president is keen on focusing on how votes were cast and counted during the 2020 cycle.Bowers served under President George W. Bush as special counsel for voting matters in the Justice Department, and worked as counsel in Florida for John McCain’s 2008 presidential run.
“All I can say is based on the Butch Bowers I know and respect, I would hope that he wouldn’t be sucked in as a tool in advancing the president’s conspiracy theories,” Sanford said.
Trump’s push to bolster his defense team comes one week after House Democrats impeached him for a second time on charges of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the building — injuring law enforcement officials and forcing the evacuation of members of Congress — after rallying with the ex-president outside the White House.
Clowns: ‘one of Fellini’s most complex, allusive and elusive pictures’.
There’s actually a lot of there there.
Meanwhile, back in the Trump clown car that still functions in and around Capitol Hill, one of the whack-a-do QAnon Congresswomen Margorie Taylor Greene is fundraising off of it as reported by Newsweek. Hunter Biden’s Laptop is the new What about her emails?
According to a press release posted to Twitter by Greene, the impeachment articles are for Biden’s “corrupt actions involving his quid pro quo in Ukraine and his abuse of power by allowing his son, Hunter Biden, to siphon off cash from America’s greatest enemies Russia and China.”
There’s already a twitter troll army out there that seem to be freshly minted like a few hours ago.
The lawyers on the Impeachment side are an impressive list of prosecutors. But so are the ones waiting to hit him with all kinds of suits now that he’s left office.
On the other side of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency, the lawyers are waiting.
Leaving aside his Senate impeachment trial, mounting government investigations include a civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and a federal probe by acting U.S. attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin that may include Trump’s role in the catastrophic storming of the U.S. Capitol this month.
But already pending for the South Florida retiree is a trio of lawsuits that allege defamation, fraud and more fraud — all of which are helmed by one attorney.
Roberta Kaplan’s clients include writer E. Jean Carroll, who filed a defamation case after Trump claimed she was “totally lying” about her allegation that he raped her a quarter-century ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, and niece Mary L. Trump, who claims that Trump and two of his siblings deprived her of an inheritance worth millions.
“I became the go-to person to sue the president,” says Kaplan, 54, with considerable relish.
She is in many ways the ideal legal adversary to take on Trump. Kaplan is a brash and original strategist, with neither a gift for patience nor silence, a crusader for underdogs who has won almost every legal accolade imaginable. Kaplan, says New York Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in an email, “has been indispensable in the fight against the cancer of hate and division that Trump spent four years exacerbating.”
Before the presidency, Trump was often as engaged in legal tussles as he was in real estate, suing and threatening to sue his way out of financial trouble. With a return to private life, “his terror is that he will no longer be protected by the office and will have to deal with these lawsuits,” says his niece. Trump faces the prospect of spending considerable time in the role of defendant. Kaplan says she will seek to depose him in all three cases. Trump’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment on the cases in this article.
8 1/2, (1963)
So, if you like Law and Order Shows, we have what seems an endless stream of them coming for Unindicted Co-conspirator Number One. Radical Normalcy will indeed by Radical for the Trump Crime Family. The reckoning is coming.
Meanwhile, GOOD NEWS EVERYONE! Buck up White Christian Nationalists! You snowflakes you!
From WAPO: Biden calls for LGBTQ protections in Day 1 executive order, angering conservatives
On his first day in office, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order making it clear that gay and transgender people are protected against discrimination in schools, health care, the workplace and other realms of American life.
Via KLRT-TV: President Biden has button used to order Diet Coke removed from Oval Office’s Resolute Desk— (NEXSTAR)
The furniture and artwork may be largely the same, but one ornament has apparently quickly disappeared disappeared from the White House Oval Office following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2 (1963)
From Susannah George at the Washington Post: U.S. to resume processing thousands of stalled visas for Afghans who aided Americans
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul will soon resume processing thousands of stalled special visa applications for Afghans who aided U.S. forces after halting visa interviews in March because of the pandemic.
A State Department official said the U.S. Embassy in Kabul would begin “a phased resumption” of in-person interviews in February. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the State Department, would not comment on how many visas the embassy expects to process.
More than 7,000 special visas allocated to Afghans by Congress in 2020 went unissued, compared with about 5,000 the year before, according to State Department data. Nearly 19,000 visa applications were stuck in processing as of September 2019, according to a State Department audit last year, a number that was all but guaranteed to grow with the coronavirus disruptions.
Doesn’t Radical Normalcy feel grand? I, for one, am looking forward to another boring Press Conference where we learn endless details and actually information about all kinds of things that just go along with basic competent governance. No more of any of this:
I’m beginning to feel human and alive again!
How are y’all doing? What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: January 21, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because, U.S. Politics | Tags: Angella Reid, Avril Haines, coronavirus vaccine, Defense Production Act, Donald Trump, executive orders, Inauguration 2021, Joe Biden, Kathleen Kraninger, Michael Ellis, Michael Pack, Peter Robb, Timothy Harleth
Last night I slept better than I have in a long time. For the first time in four years, I actually felt safe. I know there will be times when I disagree with what Biden does as POTUS, but at least I don’t have to worry about him blowing up the world in a fit of pique. The images are from yesterday’s inauguration ceremony.
Mark Leibovich at The Washington Post: Washington Breathes an Uneasy Sigh of Relief.
Quite a difference between two chilly Wednesdays in January: Under a crystalline Inauguration Day sky and a bunting-draped Capitol, the Marine Band welcomed the 46th president into office with a procession of fanfares — in the same spot that a mob answering the call of the 45th had ransacked the building two weeks earlier to try to stop this transfer of power.
There was no mention of Donald J. Trump, the departed and deplatformed commander in chief who flew out of town early in the morning as the first president in 152 years to refuse to attend the swearing-in of his successor.
Whether or not related to the former president’s absence, a bipartisan lightness seemed to prevail across the stage. Snow flurries gave way to sun and an aura distinctly serene. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, and now former Vice President Mike Pence — both close allies of Mr. Trump who broke bitterly with him in his final days — were seen cracking grins, even chuckling with their counterparts in the opposing party.
Supreme Court justices greeted former presidents with elbow bumps and waved to masked members of Congress from several feet away, a literal separation of powers mandated by the pandemic. The rampage on Jan. 6 had brought on uniformed troops clustered in all directions across a Capitol complex otherwise abandoned by civilians. Still, the inauguration felt like a friendly gathering, a small step toward President Biden’s elusive promise of national unity.
After his inauguration in 2016, Trump took the weekend off. Biden got right to work signing executive orders that reversed some of Trump’s worst policies.
The New York Times: Biden’s 17 Executive Orders and Other Directives in Detail.
In 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations signed hours after his inauguration, President Biden moved swiftly on Wednesday to dismantle Trump administration policies his aides said have caused the “greatest damage” to the nation.
Despite an inaugural address that called for unity and compromise, Mr. Biden’s first actions as president are sharply aimed at sweeping aside former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, reversing his environmental agenda, tearing down his anti-immigration policies, bolstering the teetering economic recovery and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.
Head over to the NYT for the details. Here’s a brief list:
Biden quickly dumped some problematic Trump appointees. Slate: Biden Has Already Fired Three of Trump’s Worst Appointees.
Hours into his presidency, Biden has already ousted three of his predecessors’ most unqualified and corrupt appointees. This clean break sends a clear message that Biden will not tolerate hostile Trump holdovers in his administration, including those with time remaining in their terms.
First, Biden terminated Michael Pack, who was confirmed to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media in June. Pack sought to transform the agency, which oversees the international broadcaster Voice of America, into a propaganda outlet for Trump—despite a statutory mandate that prohibits such political interference. He purged the staff of VOA and its sister networks, replaced them with Trump loyalists, demanded pro-Trump coverage, and unconstitutionally punished remaining journalists who did actual reporting on the administration. In a perverse move, he refused to renew visas for foreign reporters who covered their home countries, subjecting them to retribution by authoritarian regimes. Pack also illegally fired the board of the Open Technology Fund, which promotes international internet freedom, and replaced them with Republican activists….
Second, Biden sacked Kathleen Kraninger, who was confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. Kraninger, who had no previous experience in consumer protection, immediately tried to undermine the agency’s role as a watchdog for the financial sector. She scrapped a landmark rule that restricted predatory payday lending, pressuring staff to downplay the resulting harm to consumers. And she refused to enforce a federal law that protected military personnel against a broad range of predatory lending. Her decision yanked federal support from military families who were defrauded by lenders. In the midst of the pandemic, Kraninger also approved a rule that allows debt collectors to harass Americans with limitless texts and emails demanding repayment….
Third, Biden demanded the resignation of Peter Robb, who was confirmed as the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel in 2017. The NLRB was created to enforce federal laws that guarantee workers the right to form a union and bargain collectively. Yet Robb is vehemently anti-union; during his tenure, he tried to limit employees’ free speech, give managers more leeway to engage in wage theft, hobble unions’ ability to collect dues, and prevent employers from helping workers organize. He also tried to seize near-total control of the agency by demoting every regional director and consolidating power in his office. If successful, this gambit would’ve given him unprecedented authority to bust existing unions and prevent new ones from forming.
Other personnel moves:
The Washington Post: Former GOP operative Michael Ellis placed on administrative leave from NSA’s top lawyer job.
The director of the National Security Agency on Wednesday put the agency’s top lawyer on administrative leave days after the Pentagon ordered the installation of the ex-GOP operative in the job, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter.
Gen. Paul Nakasone, the NSA director, placed Michael Ellis, a former Trump White House official, on leave pending an inquiry by the Pentagon inspector general into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
Nakasone took the action on the day Joe Biden was inaugurated as president.
The NSA chief was ordered on Saturday by then-acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller to install Ellis by 6 p.m. that day.
Meanwhile, the Senate approved Biden’s choice for DNI.
CNN: Bidens quickly fire White House chief usher installed by Trump.
I wonder if they can hire Reid again.
There will be plenty of bad news for the new administration to discover about the mess Trump has left them, but they have already learned that there was no plan whatsoever for getting the coronavirus vaccine to desperate Americans.
M.J. Lee at CNN: Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start ‘from scratch,’ sources say.
More from The Daily Beast: ‘Worse Than We Imagined’: Team Trump Left Biden a COVID Nightmare.
“What we’re inheriting from the Trump administration is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 czar, said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “We don’t have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations.”
“I think we have to level-set expectations,” added Tom Frieden, the former director for the Centers for Disease Control in the Obama administration. “There are lots of things that an incoming administration can do on Day One, including speaking honestly about the pandemic.”
The new administration is already behind, in part because the Trump administration was unprecedentedly hostile during the transition. The question now, however, is how Biden can get a handle on a raging pandemic when his team is already so far behind.
The task at hand is enormous. More than 400,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. Every state, territory and the District of Columbia is in a state of emergency. The number of people infected with the virus who are now hospitalized is more than double the number reached during the spring and summer peaks.
It’s not just the spread of the virus that the Biden team needs to tackle. Officials will also have to confront the disinformation and misinformation about the virus that has permeated all four corners of the country—where people still believe the virus is a hoax and that public health guidelines are too great of an imposition on their personal freedom to follow. But it’s unclear what power of persuasion the Biden administration will hold and if it will be enough to convince people to take the virus more seriously.
Biden will be busy again today. CNBC: Biden to sign 10 executive orders and invoke Defense Production Act to combat Covid pandemic.
On his first full day in office, President Joe Biden released details Thursday of his sweeping plan to combat the coronavirus, announcing 10 executive orders and directing agencies to use wartime powers to require U.S. companies to make N95 masks, swabs and other equipment to fight the pandemic.
The president’s plan emphasizes ramping up testing for the coronavirus, accelerating the pace of vaccinations and providing more funding and direction to state and local officials. A key component of the plan is restoring trust with the American public. It also focuses on vaccinating more people, safely reopening schools, businesses and travel as well as slowing the spread of the virus.
“The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century,” the plan says. “America has always risen to the challenge we face and we will do so now.”
Biden has taken office at a pivotal moment in the pandemic, many epidemiologists and U.S. health officials say. Nearly 3,000 Americans are dying every day of Covid-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and newly discovered, more infectious strains are establishing footholds in the U.S., threatening to push the nation’s outbreak to even more deadly heights. The plan released Thursday expands on initiatives outlined last week and details how Biden plans to bring the outbreak under control and help the country recover.
So this seems like a good start. I’m beginning to feel somewhat hopeful again. It’s such a relief to know that I won’t be waking up to horrible tweets and stories about the childish man in the oval office throwing epic tantrums and demanding undying loyalty from everyone. How are you feeling today? As always, this is an open thread.