Today I’m grateful for Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. In the old days before the 2016 election, Thanksgiving was a super-slow news day. Now everything is different. There is more Russia news than I can cover, the media is having a feeding frenzy over sexual harassment and sexual “misconduct,” and the “president” is lecturing Americans about how great he thinks he is.
He also told the troops they are doing a good job because of him.
In a Thanksgiving morning video-conference call with servicemembers overseas, President Donald Trump expressed his gratitude for their work, took credit for allowing them to do it and sought to assure them that they’ll find prosperity when they return.
“We’re doing well at home. The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you are going to see with the jobs and companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high,” Trump said, reading from a prepared script at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 17 years. So you’re fighting for something real, you’re fighting for something good.”
The remarks were unusually political for an American president’s Thanksgiving address to troops but perfectly in line with Trump’s penchant for making such statements to nonpolitical public servants.
Before he told the troops how great he is, Trump publicly shamed his press pool.
That’s why I’m so grateful for the Russia investigation. I can’t wait until this monster gets impeached or resigns in disgrace. I’d give anything to see him go to prison.
Remember when we had a president who cared about people?
Sorry I started out with the monster-in-chief; here’s a heartwarming story to get the bad taste out of your mouth. NY Post: How a homeless man’s selfless act changed his life.
A homeless man used the last $20 in his pocket to buy gas for a stranded motorist because he feared for her safety — and what she did next changed his life.
Kate McClure, 27, and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 38, made it their mission to get ex-Marine and firefighter Johnny Bobbit Jr. back on his feet with a fundraising campaign that has raised more than $65,000.
Bobbit came to McClure’s aid last month, when she ran out of gas on I-95 at night while driving to meet a pal in Philadelphia.
As she walked toward the nearest gas station, he told her to get back in her car and lock the doors.
Bobbit then spent his last $20 to buy her gas so she would get home safe.
“He came back and I was almost in shock,” McClure told The Post.
McClure and her boyfriend started to try to help Bobbit, and eventually decided to put up a GoFundMe page for him. The goal was $10,000. They wanted to get enough for the first and last month on an apartment and a reliable vehicle. As of this morning, they have raised $206,955. The total keeps going up every time I refresh the page.
Bobbit, who hails from North Carolina, has been homeless for a year and half, and began living under a bridge after he was robbed in a shelter.
“He came back from his service in the marines and for some reason it didn’t work out with his wife and it hit him hard,” D’Amico said. “He left North Carolina and started traveling around the United States.”
Bobbit wants to work at Amazon — and a recruiter from the tech giant has already reached out, saying she wants to help him get a spot.
“He’s a genuinely good guy so I think he deserves everything that’s coming to him,” McClure said.
I’m fortunate that I don’t have to worry about any Trump fans being at my brother’s place for Thanksgiving dinner today; but if you do here is some advice from Joe Berkowitz at GQ: It’s Your Civic Duty to Ruin Thanksgiving by Bringing Up Trump.
Trump has spent the entire year performing one long, clumsy touchdown dance atop the wreckage of America’s former norms and values. He turned the presidency into a haberdashery. He made nepotism a core hiring strategy. He attacked a civil rights leader during Martin Luther King Day. He politicized a Boy Scout jamboree. Any parents still riding the Trump Train at this point have thereby signaled that nothing is sacred. It is time to follow their example. They can’t stand idly by while President Deals tramples every other American tradition and yet somehow expect that Thanksgiving will be normal too. If every other moment of this year is going to be drastically out of whack, nobody should get to pretend that everything is normal for one meal just because that’s what the pilgrims would have done.
Please go read this hilarious piece and the suggestions on how to make Thanksgiving a living hell for your Trump-supporting relatives.
Here’s the latest on Trump and Russia:
Vanity Fair Exclusive: What Trump Really Told Kislyak after Comey Was Canned. You need to read the whole thing. We all know about Trump’s betrayal of Israeli intelligence when he invited top Russians in the Oval Office last May and kept the U.S. media out. Now Vanity Fair reveals the details of the secret mission that Trump blabbed to the Russians about.
On a dark night at the tail end of last winter, just a month after the inauguration of the new American president, an evening when only a sickle moon hung in the Levantine sky, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters flew low across Jordan and then, staying under the radar, veered north toward the twisting ribbon of shadows that was the Euphrates River. On board, waiting with a professional stillness as they headed into the hostile heart of Syria, were Sayeret Matkal commandos, the Jewish state’s elite counterterrorism force, along with members of the technological unit of the Mossad, its foreign-espionage agency. Their target: an ISIS cell that was racing to get a deadly new weapon thought to have been devised by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the Saudi national who was al-Qaeda’s master bombmaker in Yemen.
It was a covert mission whose details were reconstructed for Vanity Fair by two experts on Israeli intelligence operations. It would lead to the unnerving discovery that ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security. U.S. Homeland Security officials—quickly followed by British authorities—banned passengers traveling from an accusatory list of Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes. It would not be until four tense months later, as foreign airports began to comply with new, stringent American security directives, that the ban would be lifted on an airport-by-airport basis.
In the secretive corridors of the American espionage community, the Israeli mission was praised by knowledgeable officials as a casebook example of a valued ally’s hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use.
Yet this triumph would be overshadowed by an astonishing conversation in the Oval Office in May, when an intemperate President Trump revealed details about the classified mission to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Along with the tempest of far-reaching geopolitical consequences that raged as a result of the president’s disclosure, fresh blood was spilled in his long-running combative relationship with the nation’s clandestine services. Israel—as well as America’s other allies—would rethink its willingness to share raw intelligence, and pretty much the entire Free World was left shaking its collective head in bewilderment as it wondered, not for the first time, what was going on with Trump and Russia. (In fact, Trump’s disturbing choice to hand over highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, both before and after the election.) In the hand-wringing aftermath, the entire event became, as is so often the case with spy stories, a tale about trust and betrayal.
It is still unknown what happened to the Israeli agent who was embedded with ISIS. Did Trump reveal the intelligence deliberately or was it just arrogance and stupidity? I’m beginning to think he is a conscious Russian asset.
Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker: A Russian Journalist Explains How the Kremlin Instructed Him to Cover the 2016 Election.
On a recent Saturday in November, Dimitri Skorobutov, a former editor at Russia’s largest state media company, sat in a bar in Maastricht, a college town in the Netherlands, with journalists from around the world and discussed covering Donald Trump. Skorobutov opened a packet of documents and explained that they were planning guides from Russian state media that showed how the Kremlin wanted the 2016 U.S. Presidential election covered.
Among the journalists, Skorobutov’s perspective was unique. Aside from Fox News, no network worked as hard as Rossiya, as Russian state TV is called, to boost Donald Trump and denigrate Hillary Clinton. Skorobutov, who was fired from his job after a dispute with a colleague that ended in a physical altercation, went public with his story of how Russian state media works, in June, talking to the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Liberty. The organizers of the Maastricht conference learned of his story and invited him to speak. He flipped through his pages and pointed to the coverage guide for August 9, 2016, when Clinton stumbled while climbing some steps. The Kremlin wanted to play the story up big.
Skorobutov started working in Russian state media companies when he was seventeen years old, and has worked in print, radio, and TV. During the 2016 campaign, he was an editor for “Vesti,” a daily news program. Skorobutov described it as a mid-level position, with four layers of bureaucrats separating him and the Kremlin. His supervisor was a news director who, he said, got his job after making a laudatory documentary about Putin.
A little of what Skorobutov described about the 2016 coverage by Russian state media:
During the 2016 election, the directions from the Kremlin were less subtle than usual. “Me and my colleagues, we were given a clear instruction: to show Donald Trump in a positive way, and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in a negative way,” he said in his speech. In a later interview, he explained to me how the instructions were relayed. “Sometimes it was a phone call. Sometimes it was a conversation,” he told me. “If Donald Trump has a successful press conference, we broadcast it for sure. And if something goes wrong with Clinton, we underline it.” [….]
“There was even a slogan among Russian political élite,” he said. “ ‘Trump is our president.’ And, when he won the elections, on 9th November, 2016, Russian Parliament or State Duma even applauded him and arranged a champagne party celebrating the victory of Donald Trump.” That night, Skorobutov and his colleagues played clips of the party on the news.
Read the rest at The New Yorker.
So have courage. Bob Mueller is on the job and we still have hope that we can rid ourselves of the Trump monster. I’m grateful for this blog and for all you Sky Dancers. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Our Lady of the Rectal Exam…bend over and say your prayers, these two fingers are miraculous!
I am grateful, and thankful… that in this world of despots and dictators, uh…tRump, I am able to go online and browse through Pinterest to find images from far and wide. ( Cliché I know.) As you can see, it has served me well, I mean…where else would I find so expressive an object as the one above?
We are getting fucked! And it is not by some two fingered Madonna!
But seriously…this is not a joking matter. (I know I am going to hell for that one.)
The free world wide net is able to provide us with the power to find information at our fingertips.
Like the real historical background behind that Virgen con el Nino above…
Translated by my son:
…it is worth mentioning the Romantic carving of the Virgin and Child on the right side of the main altarpiece. Recently restored, it shows a golden polychrome with very warm colors. Maria, with a fine crown, sits seated on a throne, with a very long face and hair hidden under the toque that falls on her shoulders. The neckline of her tunic, slightly triangular, is garnet with golden stencil. Under this tunic he wears another one of darker color, which in the part of the feet shows a succession of very flat folds, under which the typical pointy shoes associate. With one hand he shows himself in an attitude of blessing while with the other he holds the Child who appears seated in the center of the lap. He blesses with his right hand, while holding the Sacred Scriptures with the other hand. He wears a white robe with vertical and horizontal folds, and wears a royal crown. The physical characteristics of both figures are very similar, highlighting the rigidity and seriousness of their faces. This size can be dated at the beginning of the thirteenth century.
Also it must be pointed out, that this statue happens to be from the same town (Actually, I believe it is located in the same church…) that brought you this…monstrosity: Del ‘Ecce Homo’ de Borja a la Virgen Dolorosa de Galdakao. El Correo
Video at the link…
Yeah, remember that funny thing we all laughed at, that was shared via the web?
Onward to the cartoons:
Hey, there should also be a no Italians or dogs sign too.
That was a lot of cartoons there….I think this last one is the best of ’em.
This is an open thread. What new horrors will we face today?
I’m reading the new book Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, by Luke Harding. Harding makes a strong case that Trump is at minimum a “useful idiot,” under Kremlin influence and maybe even much worse. In yesterday’s comment thread, Dakinikat posted an excerpt from the book that was posted at Politico: The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow.
Trump’s first visit to Soviet Moscow in 1987 looks, with hindsight, to be part of a pattern. The dossier by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele asserts that the Kremlin had been cultivating Trump for “at least five years” before his stunning victory in the 2016 US presidential election. This would take us back to around 2011 or 2012.
In fact, the Soviet Union was interested in him too, three decades earlier. The top level of the Soviet diplomatic service arranged his 1987 Moscow visit. With assistance from the KGB. It took place while [the KGB’s Vladimir Alexandrovich]Kryuchkov was seeking to improve the KGB’s operational techniques in one particular and sensitive area. The spy chief wanted KGB staff abroad to recruit more Americans….
It was around this time that Donald Trump appears to have attracted the attention of Soviet intelligence. How that happened, and where that relationship began, is an answer hidden somewhere in the KGB’s secret archives. Assuming, that is, that the documents still exist.
Trump’s first visit to Soviet Moscow in 1987 looks, with hindsight, to be part of a pattern. The dossier by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele asserts that the Kremlin had been cultivating Trump for “at least five years” before his stunning victory in the 2016 US presidential election. This would take us back to around 2011 or 2012.
In fact, the Soviet Union was interested in him too, three decades earlier. The top level of the Soviet diplomatic service arranged his 1987 Moscow visit. With assistance from the KGB. It took place while Kryuchkov was seeking to improve the KGB’s operational techniques in one particular and sensitive area. The spy chief wanted KGB staff abroad to recruit more Americans.
This book excerpt is a must read. Anyone who doubts that Trump anything other than a conscious or unconscious Russian agent is living in a dream world. I only hope that Robert Mueller and his prosecutors can break the Trump families hold on our executive branch. A lot will depend on whether the Democrats can take over the House in 2018.
Meanwhile . . .
Another member of Trump’s cabinet has spoken the truth about the “president’s” “very good brain.” Buzzfeed: Sources: McMaster Mocked Trump’s Intelligence At A Private Dinner.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster mocked President Trump’s intelligence at a private dinner with a powerful tech CEO, according to five sources with knowledge of the conversation.
Over a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who has been mentioned as a candidate for several potential administration jobs — McMaster bluntly trashed his boss, said the sources, four of whom told BuzzFeed News they heard about the exchange directly from Catz. The top national security official dismissed the president variously as an “idiot” and a “dope” with the intelligence of a “kindergartner,” the sources said.
A sixth source who was not familiar with the details of the dinner told BuzzFeed News that McMaster had made similarly derogatory comments about Trump’s intelligence to him in private, including that the president lacked the necessary brainpower to understand the matters before the National Security Council.
Of course everyone is denying this ever happened.
“Actual participants in the dinner deny that General McMaster made any of the comments attributed to him by anonymous sources. Those false comments represent the diametric opposite of General McMaster’s actual views,” said Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
Oracle’s top DC operative, who attended the dinner with Catz, also denied that McMaster made the comments his boss later recounted to others. The meeting, Oracle senior VP for government affairs Ken Glueck said, was about China, and “none of the statements attributed to General McMaster were said.” Glueck added that Catz “concurs entirely” with his account of the dinner.
Glueck responded to repeated inquiries only after BuzzFeed News contacted the NSC. And according to two sources with knowledge of the situation, administration officials threatened to retaliate against several figures with knowledge of the July dinner if they spoke to BuzzFeed News. Asked whether he had made his statement under pressure from the administration, Glueck responded, “ridiculous.”
Does anyone believe these denials? I don’t. This is entirely consistent with published leaks from other top Trump advisers. Vox:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously referred to Trump as a “moron” — a “fucking moron,” according to some accounts — after a July 20 meeting in the Pentagon about America’s nuclear arsenal. After reports of this comment first broke in early October, Tillerson gave a bizarre press conference in which he refused to point-blank deny insulting the president’s intelligence.
Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are reportedly so worried about Trump that they’ve formed a “suicide pact” wherein they all quit if one of them is fired. Chief of Staff John Kelly has taken it on himself to fill up Trump’s schedule for fear of him spending his free time learning “unfiltered and sometimes inaccurate information that can rile him up,” per the Los Angeles Times.
There’s more. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has cut huge amounts of text from intelligence briefings, resorting to “killer graphics” because that’s “the way that [Trump] can best understand the information we’re trying to communicate.” The aides who write the remaining text have resorted to stratagems like tweet-length summaries of major foreign policy issues and putting Trump’s name in briefings whenever possible to get him interested in reading.
“I call the president the two-minute man,” a source close to Trump told the Washington Post. “The president has patience for a half-page.”
The Republican mayor of Mesa Arizona was caught calling Trump an “idiot” on a hot mic. AZcentral:
Mesa Mayor John Giles encouraged Sen. Jeff Flake to run for president in 2020 and appeared to call President Donald Trump an “idiot,” according to a video captured by ABC 15.
Flake had just finished speaking at an event at aerospace company GECO on Nov. 17 when Giles approached the senator. The two, apparently unaware that the audio was still recording, briefly discussed Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and the president.
In video that the station reports is cut off at the beginning, likely clipping the words “if we,” Flake said, “… become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.”
Giles responds, “And I am not throwing smoke at you, but you’re the guy that could just for fun, think about how much fun it would be, just to be the foil, you know, and to point out what an idiot this guy is.”
In other depressing news, the first member of Congress whose behavior toward women led to a settlement that taxpayers paid for has been revealed. Unfortunately, the man is Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. Buzzfeed: She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”
Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.
And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.
Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures.
Read all the disgusting details at Buzzfeed. I’m sure more of these assholes will be outed soon, and both political parties will be represented. I suppose it’s a good thing in the long run, but it’s going to get really ugly.
In a stunning act of cruelty, the Trump administration has announced that it plans to deport nearly 60,000 Haitians who were allowed into the U.S. after the 2010 earthquake. The Miami Herald reports:
After years of being shielded from deportation from the United States while their disaster-prone country continues to recover from its devastating 2010 earthquake, tens of thousands of Haitians will now lose that safeguard.
The special deportation protection known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, will be revoked for as many as 59,000 Haitians living and working in Miami and across the U.S., Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke announced Monday.
The protection will permanently terminate July 22, 2019, allowing Haitians living in the U.S. under TPS an 18-month window to return to their struggling homeland. At the end of the 18 months, Haitians who had TPS but remain in the U.S. will return to whatever immigration status they previously held, leaving them facing possible detention and deportation if they stay in the country illegally.
“With this decision, the law is relatively explicit that if the conditions on the ground do not support a TPS designation, then the secretary must terminate the TPS designation,” a senior administration official said on a call with reporters Monday night to announce the decision. “The conversations she had were constructive. They were informative. They were helpful. And we fully expect that in the 18 months coming up, the acting secretary will continue those conversations with the members on the Hill and the Haitian government to prepare for the return of Haitian [TPS] recipients.”
One more from The Daily Beast before I wrap this up: Hell, No, Bill Clinton Shouldn’t Have Resigned, by Michael Tomasky.
The idea that Clinton should have resigned is insane. It’s insane from the perspective of the historical record, which in no way supports the idea that he should have quit his job. And it’s insane for political purposes today, given that it remains one of the top priorities of the right to smear and discredit both Clintons in the history books, a project that liberals should in no way, shape, or form be abetting.
Let’s start with the historical record. The Clinton-Lewinsky dalliance was distasteful and inappropriate. I wrote plenty critically of what he did, both at the time and in my book on him that came out earlier this year as an entry in the American Presidents series. It was, I wrote, “unfathomably irresponsible.” He knew what kind of enemies he had, and that prosecutor Ken Starr would do anything to get him. He knew (I wrote) that “reckless behavior on his part could imperil not just his presidency, but the presidency, as well as, potentially, Democratic and progressive politics for years.”
All that is what the affair was. But here’s something it was not: sexual assault. I know we have those two or three other more serious allegations about Clinton along those lines, but let’s leave those to the side for now because [Kirstin] Gillibrand and the others said specifically that Clinton should have resigned over Lewinsky. It was not assault. It was a consensual affair between two legal adults. We can have a debate about the power dynamics at play, and Clinton won’t emerge from that debate looking too good (and by the way, that debate did happen in real time—it wasn’t quite as Stone Age-y then as some younger people seem to think). But it was a consensual adult relationship….
The most important point is that the Republican effort to remove Clinton from office was a constitutional coup d’etat. If you’re young—all this hatred you see today, this right-wing rage machine (which does have its much smaller counterpart on the left); it all started then. The right hated Bill Clinton pretty much because he was a liberal (a moderate-liberal, but as they saw him, a dangerous leftist) from the Woodstock generation who had the effrontery to beat a Republican incumbent at a time when conservatives thought the presidency was theirs for life.
That’s about all I have the stomach for this morning. I’m sorry this post is so negative. Does anyone know of any good news? If so, I hope you’ll post it in the comment thread below.
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
This is later than usual and I’m sorry. This is the third time to the Vet these last few days with Miles this morning and I seriously had to take nap. My hope is that he’s stabilized and will continue to mend some so we can figure out if he has any underlying problems other than his diabetes. He’s been keeping me up at nights with a routine like a newborn so I feel like I’ve been through the ringer.
BB has helped me out this morning with some enlightening and freaky things going on with the Russian Collaboration investigation. Foreign Policy reports on “How Jared Kushner’s Newspaper Became a Favorite Outlet for WikiLeaks Election Hacks.” It appears that his paper, “The New York Observer, owned by Trump’s son-in-law, was a friendly outlet for the 2016 Russian hackers.”
In the fall of 2014, Julian Assange, the embattled head of WikiLeaks, was meeting with a steady stream of supportive journalists in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had taken refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges. Among those seeking an audience with Assange was a freelancer working for the New York Observer, the newspaper owned and published by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and key advisor, Jared Kushner.
Ken Kurson, the newspaper’s editor in chief — along with a freelance writer he’d hired — helped arrange a “no-holds-barred” interview with Assange that October.
I can’t see how there isn’t a building amount of evidence that Kushner and Trump, Jr. didn’t actively coordinate with Russian Assets. It’s also evident that the Justice Department is now providing any evidence of Trump’s motivations in the Comey Firing.
Special counselRobert Mueller‘s team investigating whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News has learned.
In particular, Mueller’s investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBIDirector James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the request but was told about it.
Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel’s first records request to the Justice Department, and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation.
Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein played key roles in Comey’s removal. And Sessions has since faced withering criticism from Trump over his recusal and Rosenstein’s subsequent appointment of Mueller.
Mueller’s investigators now seek not only communications among Justice Department staffers but also any of their communications with White House officials, the source said. Before this request, investigators asked former senior Justice Department officials for information from their time at the department, ABC News was told.
The latest move suggests the special counsel is still digging into, among other matters, whether Trump or any other administration official improperly tried to influence an ongoing investigation.
I love this OP ED in the NYT entitled: “We’re With Stupid”. Maybe love isn’t quite the right word here. I continually wonder what on earth brings a group of supposed Christians into the fold of such a lying huckster.
The Russians also uploaded a thousand videos to YouTube and published more than 130,000 messages on Twitter about last year’s election. As recent congressional hearings showed, the arteries of our democracy were clogged with toxins from a hostile foreign power.
But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.
As we crossed the 300-day mark of Donald Trump’s presidency on Thursday, fact-checkers noted that he has made more than 1,600 false or misleading claims. Good God. At least five times a day, on average, this president says something that isn’t true.
We have a White House of lies because a huge percentage of the population can’t tell fact from fiction. But a huge percentage is also clueless about the basic laws of the land. In a democracy, we the people are supposed to understand our role in this power-sharing thing.
Nearly one in three Americans cannot name a single branch of government. When NPR tweeted out sections of the Declaration of Independence last year, many people were outraged. They mistook Thomas Jefferson’s fighting words for anti-Trump propaganda.
Fake news is a real thing produced by active disseminators of falsehoods. Trump uses the term to describe anything he doesn’t like, a habit now picked up by political liars everywhere.
But Trump is a symptom; the breakdown in this democracy goes beyond the liar in chief. For that you have to blame all of us: we have allowed the educational system to become negligent in teaching the owner’s manual of citizenship.
It seems illiteracy in all things democratic and Constitutional has broken our Republic and led to Trumpism. We’re six months into the Mueller investigation and a little over ten months into Kremlin Caligula’s rule of kleptocracy. How are those within the White House dealing with the pressure. WAPO has an interesting read on this in a piece titled ” ‘A long winter’: White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe.”
Some in the West Wing avoid the mere mention of Russia or the investigation whenever possible. Others take solace in the reassurances of White House lawyer Ty Cobb that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will be wrapping up the probe soon and the president and those close to him will be exonerated. And a few engage in grim gallows humor, privately joking about wiretaps.
The investigation reached a critical turning point in recent weeks, with a formal subpoena to the campaign, an expanding list of potential witnesses and the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Some within Trump’s circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have already been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, while others such as Hope Hicks — the White House communications director and trusted confidant of the president — and White House counsel Donald McGahn are expected in coming weeks.
One Republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller’s team “working through the staff like Pac-Man.”
“Of course they are worried,” said the Republican, who insisted on anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Anybody that ever had the words ‘Russia’ come out of their lips or in an email, they’re going to get talked to. These things are thorough and deep. It’s going to be a long winter.”
Upcoming witness Hope Hicks may have the keys to many of the big answers. The larges of these is the obstruction charge because that would go to the heart of removing this usurper child from the Oval Office.
A report from Politico this week, which found that the special counsel Robert Mueller is gearing up to interview the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, indicates that one of the many threads of the Russia investigation is probably moving into its final stages.
Hicks has long been one of President Donald Trump’s most trusted advisers, and she was present during some events that are key to the special counsel’s investigation.
Mueller’s investigation includes multiple components. In addition to looking into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor, the special counsel is also investigating Trump on suspicion of obstruction of justicerelated to his decision to fire James Comey as FBI director.
As part of that investigation, ABC News reported on Sunday, Mueller has asked the Department of Justice for all emails connected to Comey’s firing.
Mueller has also requested documents related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions announced his recusal in March after it emerged that he had failed to disclose contacts with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the US, in his Senate confirmation hearing in January.
Despite his recusal, Sessions played a prominent role in Comey’s firing, as did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Hicks was also a key presence during several critical moments leading up to Comey’s dismissal.
Comey was spearheading the FBI’s Russia investigation when he was terminated as FBI director in May. At first, the White House said he was fired because of his handling of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business as secretary of state. But Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” had been a factor in his decision
The most compelling Trump Russia read of the day is this from The Daily Beast. “Roman Beniaminov, a Low-Profile Real Estate Exec Turned Pop Star Manager, Knew About Russia’s ‘Dirt’ on Hillary.”
Days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, a low-profile real estate figure with ties to powerful Russians alerted a meeting participant that the topic of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton could come up, The Daily Beast has learned.
That figure, Roman Beniaminov, didn’t attend the meeting himself. But he had close ties to several figures in and around it, including Emin Agalarov, the Azeri-Russian pop star who helped set up that Trump Tower confab and whose father is an ally of Vladimir Putin.
Ike Kaveladze was one of the participants in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Kremlin-connected attorney Natalia Vesilnitskaya. Kaveladze told Congressional investigators that when he was first invited to participate, he was under the impression that he would just be there as a translator and that the meeting would involve discussion of Magnitsky Act sanctions.
Scott Balber, Kaveladze’s attorney, told The Daily Beast that before Kaveladze headed from Los Angeles to New York for the meeting, he saw an email noting that Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. would all be involved. He thought it would be odd for them to attend the meeting, so he called Beniaminov before heading to New York. Both Beniaminov and Kaveladze have worked with the Agalarov’s real estate development company, the Crocus Group.
Balber said that Beniaminov told Kaveladze that he heard Rob Goldstone— Emin Agalarov’s music manager— discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It’s never become completely clear what kind of “dirt” the Russians were talking about.
According to Balber, Beniaminov was the only person to give Kaveladze any information about the meeting’s purpose.
“That was the only data point Ike had, which was inconsistent with everything else he had heard, which was that the meeting was about the Magnitsky Act,” Balber said.
I still take Trumpzilla’s word for it but I guess they may need more than that given his history of lying and braggadocio. Trump still could fire Mueller but it doesn’t look imminent. This is mostly because they all think it will be over shortly. Like, it will be done after this weekend or at least a by Christmas.
A source close to the administration tells the Post that Mueller is running “a classic Gambino-style roll-up” that “will reach everyone in this administration.” When you read histories of the more successful presidential administrations in American history, a phrase you don’t usually come across is “Gambino-style roll-up.”
However, in the face of this mounting evidence and the warnings of some allies, Trump has remained — by Trump’s standards — fairly calm. Obviously, by the standards of a normal president, he is acting like a complete lunatic. But given Trump’s patterns of spewing indiscriminate rage and abuse and lashing out at his enemies in wildly counterproductive fashion, he has conducted himself with notable restraint. Despite his barely concealed impulses, Trump has refrained from mass pardons or attempting to fire Mueller.
The apparent reason for his serenity is that his lawyer, Ty Cobb, has placated Trump with promises that Mueller’s probe would be over soon. “The president himself, however, has warmed to Cobb’s optimistic message on Mueller’s probe. Cobb had initially said he hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving,” the Post reports.
Thanksgiving. It will all be over by Thanksgiving.
By this point, three days before Thanksgiving, it should be relatively clear Mueller’s work is not going to be completed before the turkey is served. The Post notes that Cobb “adjusted the timeline slightly in an interview last week, saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter.”
If you want an excellent read letting you know just how low Trump can go try this one byIt’s an exciting little thriller about “Trump’s ‘Great Relationship’ With A Homicidal Drug Warrior.”
When Maximo Garcia heard that he was on a list of local drug suspects in Mayombo, he tried to clear his name with the police chief, explaining that he no longer used drugs and had never sold them. Four days later, the Philippine news site Rappler reports, a masked gunman shot up Garcia’s house as he and his family were eating lunch, wounding him and killing his 5-year-old granddaughter.
So it goes in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed somewhere between 7,000 and 13,000 lives since he took office in June 2016. Although Duterte’s bloody crusade has drawn international criticism, Donald Trump evidently did not think the subject was worth broaching during his meeting with Duterte in Manila on Monday.
Trump, who, this week, bragged about his “great relationship” with Duterte, had previously praised his Philippine counterpart’s “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Trump meant that as a compliment, but the viciousness of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign does beggar belief.
“If you know any addicts,” Duterte told a crowd of supporters after taking office, “go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” A few months later, he likened himself to Hitler, saying “there’s 3 million drug addicts” in the Philippines, and “I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
Well, I’m working right now and I’m still Miles go for everything nurse. You can see I love him like a kid since every one these photos are of him. He’s also a cat of many talents.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Have a great week!!!
I don’t know about you all, but I need a break from the news.
So today, we will have links from stories about science and history and other sorts of shit.
Starting with the images for the post…this week, TCM and Bonhams is holding another auction, one of them is centered around old vintage movie posters: Bonhams : TCM Presents … Vintage Movie Posters featuring the Ira Resnick Collection
The poster auction starts tomorrow, so be sure to check out the wonderful eye candy at that site. All the images below are items available to bid at the link above.
Okay, now lets get to the links:
Since we are starting off with a connection to film, and Hollywood, we have to cover the recent deaths and hospitalizations of a few popular cultural icons…
Ann Wedgeworth, a Tony Award-winning actress most widely known for roles on sitcoms Evening Shade and Three’s Company, died Thursday following a lengthy illness at a New York area nursing home, her family has announced. She was 83.
Wedgeworth, who won a National Society of Film Critics Award for her tough but poignant performance in 1985’s Sweet Dreams – she played the mother of Jessica Lange’s Patsy Cline – won the 1978 Tony Award for best featured actress in a play for Neil Simon’s Chapter Two.
Born in Abilene, Texas, Wedgeworth moved to New York City in the late 1950s and soon joined The Actors Studio. She debuted on Broadway in 1958’s Make a Million, and went on to take roles is such stage productions as Period of Adjustment and Blues for Mister Charlie. She appeared in A Lie of the Mind, Sam Shepard’s off-Broadway play, in 1985. Her costar in the production, Geraldine Page, had married Wedgeworth’s ex-husband, actor Rip Torn.
Wedgeworth’s other credits include Scarecrow, Bang the Drum Slowly, Thieves, Steel Magnolias, Hard Promises, Love and a .45, and 1977’s Handle with Care, for which she won her first National Society of Film Critics Award.
Former Partridge Family star David Cassidy is reportedly clinging to the last moments of his life in a Florida hospital.
Per TMZ, Cassidy’s condition is currently listed as “critical” as he suffers from organ and kidney failure, and “unless he gets a liver transplant soon he could soon die.” He’s also been in and out of a consciousness from an induced coma since earlier this week, with his family and friends beginning to arrive at the hospital to pay their final respects. Earlier this year, the 66-year-old Cassidy revealed he’d been battling dementia for many years, which prompted him to stop performing live. “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming,” he said at the time. “I want to focus on what I am, who I am, and how I’ve been without any distractions. I want to love. I want to enjoy life.”
The rock world mourned today as Malcolm Young, co-founder and guitarist for AC/DC and writer on a miles-long list of soundtracks for TV and film, died at age 64. He had been suffering from dementia and was no longer touring with the Australian hard rock band.
The band announced his death on its web site.
“Today it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young,” the statement read. “He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever. Malcolm, job well done.”
Young was the rhythm guitarist and co-writer on all of the band’s music, which became a TV and film soundtracks staple for its anthemic choruses. His music graced such TV shows as The Sopranos and ER, and also enhanced films like Iron Man and The Avengers.
Another statement from the band noted that he died surrounded by family.
“Renowned for his musical prowess, Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many,” the statement read. “From the outset, he knew what he wanted to achieve and, along with his younger brother, took to the world stage giving their all at every show. Nothing less would do for their fans.”
Brother Angus Young said Malcolm’s legacy “will live on forever,” noting that he was stubborn, but “he stuck to his guns and he did and said exactly what he wanted.”
(Damn, I was going to stick with non-newsy items, but while grabbing those links above this popped up at me: Harvey Weinstein Drew Up List For Investigators To Target: Report | Deadline The list was over 90 people btw…)
Connecting the Weinstein Effect to Film Criticism: How Does Film Criticism Climb Out From Underneath the Hollywood Scandals?
With Hollywood scandals making headlines in waves, how do we overcome our collective paralysis?
Yesterday afternoon, the staff of Birth.Movies.Death released a statement addressing their lack of coverage of Hollywood’s ongoing sexual abuse scandals. “That this ongoing tsunami of revelations came on the heels of our own troubled history has weighed heavily on us here at BMD,” the statement read, admitting that “responsibility and humility collided, and to be frank, we froze.” This statement also came on the heels of a statement by entertainment site Tracking Board, which recently underwent staff-wide sensitivity training when certain members of their staff made offensive comments about the cycle. While the effects of these statements depends on the perspective of the person reading them – one site that said too little, one site that said too much – it does speak to how poorly prepared many entertainment sites are to handle the seriousness of the moment. It feels overwhelming.
This post is written by a white male Hollywood writer. I think it does take a look at things from one perspective I have not thought about, and actually said to to myself…who gives a shit, another white man’s point of view. But, it does point to some good things:
Since the collapse of Cinefamily, it seems like the entertainment industry has been dominated by stories about sexual harassment and abuse, and it’s easy to rationalize yourself into circles as a writer about your part in all of this. How can you talk about comic book movies and award season buzz when people are putting themselves on the line to protect others? Shouldn’t I, as a white man, keep my mouth shut and my ears open to help amplify the voices of women in the industry? Or is it my responsibility to speak out in the hope that I might reach people disinclined to listen to anyone who doesn’t look like them? Or am I trying to make myself the victim by even acknowledging this conflict? When faced with these layers of doubt, it certainly seems like the prudent course of action to keep one’s voice out of the mix.
(Worth noting: no writer has better tackled these twisting concerns than The Cut’s Rebecca Traister, who captured each side of the argument – the good intentions of men and the road to hell that they may ultimately pave – in a piece titled “We Are All Implicated in the Post-Weinstein Reckoning.”)
All of this was difficult enough when the accused (Weinstein, James Toback) loomed large as cartoonish villains in Hollywood. In the past week, though, the entertainment industry’s wave of sexual harassment issues has enveloped people known just as much for their advocacy as for their talent. First it was George Takei – an outspoken advocate for both LGBTQ and Asian/Asian-American representation in film and television – who was accused of sexually assaulting a male model in 1981. Just yesterday, Transparent star Trace Lysette corroborated previous claims of misconduct levied against Jeffrey Tambor with her own on-set experiences; meanwhile, former comedian and current Minnesota senator Al Franken faced accusations of his own by radio host Leeann Tweeden. Each of these men had made a name for themselves as performers, but in recent years they had also taken on a special significance as outspoken allies against underrepresentation in the media. They were advocates. Now they’re just part of the problem.
Take a look at the rest of the piece…as more revelations come forward, these twisted feelings become more griping.
Roy Moore, that is a criminal act. Period. (Check this out: Roy Moore’s Systemic Danger to Our Democracy | History News Network)
Geez, we need Al Franken…what he did was during a script for a USO tour skit, right? It is not the same…right? Cough…Cough.
Fucking hell, Takei too?
Oh, and then Bill Clinton. ML…was consensual, but we already have been there and done that…
We all have admittedly said these things. Right?
We’ve been really excited about the upcoming Archie Comics ongoing title, Betty and Veronica: Vixens, in which Betty and Veronica are the leaders of the Vixens, the toughest motorcycle gang in Riverdale! In an exclusive essay for TMS, writer Jamie L. Rotante explains why this new comic is so important. Especially right now.
by Jamie Rotante
The premise of Betty & Veronica: Vixens is simple enough: the iconic duo hits the open road for wild adventures on their new toys as they lead an all-girl motorcycle gang. There’s leather, brass knuckles and an appropriate amount of ass-kicking. It’s what you’d get if you made the two BFFs the stars of a Russ Meyer film.
But it’s a lot more than that, too. It’s not just about motorcycles. It’s not just about a subversion of classic characters we’ve all come to know and love. Hell, it’s not even just about Betty and Veronica—there’s a larger story that spins out of it, one that extends past the comic page itself and bleeds into everyday life. It’s about women who have waited their turn for decades finally getting the chance to take charge. It’s about Betty, Veronica and a host of the other ladies of Archie Comics who have only ever been explored as passing characters. And it’s about these female characters coming together to rise above. It’s women helping women.
Video here on ice melt: How worried should we be about melting ice caps? – BBC News
The UN climate change conference in Bonn, designed to activate the Paris agreement about greenhouse gases in 2020 that President Trump pulled out of earlier this year, has come to an end.
BBC Science Editor David Shukman has looked into how worried we actually should be about melting polar caps.
You can blame a ‘medicane’ for this week’s deadly flooding in Greece.
Nope, a “medicane” is not a new type of health insurance. It’s a Mediterranean hurricane — such as the one currently developing in the Mediterranean Sea, where warming waters have produced a weather system with the characteristics of a subtropical cyclone.
Flash floods linked to moisture from the storm hit parts of Greece on Wednesday, killing 16 people and injuring dozens more. The storm is projected to skirt Sicily and head toward Greece this weekend, potentially inflicting more damage.
Medicanes are so uncommon that scientists have yet to establish a clear set of criteria for them. Weather systems like these are more typically found in the Caribbean, where warmer water temperatures feed tropical storms.
Now for some psychology science news:
When children become upset, showing negative emotions or behaviors, some parents become distressed, while others are able to talk their child through the difficult situation. Studies have shown that a mothers’ reaction — positive or negative — to her child’s negative emotions can predict whether her child develops the ability to effectively regulate his emotions and behavior. A new study explores potential predictors of mothers’ supportive or non-supportive behavior during emotional challenges.
A family studies researchers believed that if the attention restoration theory, which describes how interaction with natural environments can reduce mental fatigue and restore attention, worked for individuals it might also work for families to help facilitate more positive family interactions and family cohesion. They tested their theory by looking at sets of moms and daughters who were asked to take a walk together in nature and a walk in a mall.
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels. While the animals’ brains experience dramatically reduced blood flow during hibernation, just like human patients after a certain type of stroke, the squirrels emerge from their extended naps suffering no ill effects. Now, scientists have identified a potential drug that could grant the same resilience to stroke patients.
The origins of social inequality might lie in the remnants of ancient Eurasia’s agricultural societies, according to an article recently published in the major science journal Nature.
The article, “Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesopotamia,” includes research from Anna Prentiss, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Montana.
Prentiss and UM anthropology Professor Emeritus Tom Foor provided data from the archaeological sites at Bridge River, British Columbia, and Ozette, Washington.
As people became more agricultural and settled, the rich became richer as the ancient farmers who could afford oxen, cattle and other large animals increased their crop production. This provided significant opportunities for amassing and transmitting wealth, and the degree of household wealth-based inequality became much higher in Old World, Eurasian contexts, as measured by house size.
“High degrees of inequality did not contribute to long-term stability in ancient societies,” Prentiss said. “That is something that should concern us given the extraordinary high degree of inequality in our own society.”
And lets finish up with some history!
Earlier this month, we celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Forest Charter, Magna Carta’s little sibling. It inspired a new Tree Charter, with accompanying events ranging from bike rides to pole launches. Today, we commemorate the Statute of Marlborough. At 750 years old, issued on 19 November 1267, it’s one of the the oldest pieces of legislation in England still in force today.
The Statute of Marlborough almost didn’t make it to this day. Only four of its twenty-nine sections are still in force. In 2014, the Law Commission made plans to scrap it altogether. The surviving sections are now known as the Distress Act and the Waste Act. The Distress Act states that anyone seeking reimbursement for damages must do so through the courts, while the Waste Act ensures that the tenants do not lay waste, sell or ruin their lands and other resources without special permission.
The Bibliothèque nationale de France is a trove of hidden treasures, for, although researchers visit this unique library time and time again, its contents are seemingly endless. Manuscript Latin 9333 has a very special story. It apparently went missing in 1848 for unknown reasons, only to appear a hundred years later in 1948 for the first time in the hands of a researcher in the reading room. This researcher, none other than Otto Pächt, recognised its outstanding artistic worth and announced his find as a “rediscovery”. Another fifty years were to pass, however, before the particular appeal of this remarkable manuscript was once again remembered. Now, at last, a facsimile edition acknowledges the book’s true importance.
We now move on to the bakery where a woman next to the counter can be seen watching a young baker removing several large, round, white loaves from the oven (f. 61). The basket on the counter is already full and several more loaves lie on the table. Whereas the back door in the Italian image leads into a dark room, the German artist depicts it opening onto a magnificent landscape in the small inset with shapes of hills or perhaps mountains vaguely suggested in the distance, and a blue sky. One remarkable detail in this miniature is that, as we know, a bakery requires a chimney, hence the one on the roof.
A team of Frankfurt-based archaeologists has returned from the Iraqi-Kurdish province of Sulaymaniyah with new findings. The discovery of a loom from the 5th to 6th century AD in particular caused a stir.
The group of Near Eastern archaeology undergraduates and doctoral students headed by Prof. Dirk Wicke of the Institute of Archaeology at Goethe University were in Northern Iraq for a total of six weeks. It was the second excavation campaign undertaken by the Frankfurt archaeologist to the approximately three-hectare site of Gird-î Qalrakh on the Shahrizor plain, where ruins from the Sasanian and Neo-Assyrian period had previously been uncovered. The region is still largely unexplored and has only gradually opened up for archaeological research since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
The objective of the excavations on the top and slope sections of the settlement hill, some 26 meters high, was to provide as complete a sequence as possible for the region’s ceramic history. Understanding the progression in ceramics has long been a goal of research undertaken on the Shahrizor plain, a border plain of Mesopotamia with links to the ancient cultural regions of both Southern Iraq and Western Iran. These new insights will make it easier to categorise other archaeological finds chronologically. The excavation site is ideal for establishing the progression of ceramics, according to archaeology professor Dirk Wicke: “It is a small site but it features a relatively tall hill in which we have found a complete sequence of ceramic shards.
However, the archaeologists had not expected to find a Sasanian loom (ca. 4th-6th century AD), whose burnt remnants, and clay loom weights in particular, were found and documented in-situ. In addition to the charred remains, there were numerous seals, probably from rolls of fabric, which indicate
that large-scale textile production took place at the site. From the neo-Assyrian period (ca. 9th-7th century BC), by contrast, a solid, stone-built, terraced wall was discovered, which points to major construction work having taken place at the site. It is possible that the ancient settlement was refortified and continued to be used in the early 1st millennium BC.
That is a lot to digest…so catch y’all in the comments below!
Some more poster images:
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m sick and tired of the media’s coverage of “sexual assault.” I was already tired of hearing about it, but this whole thing with Al Franken is just plain ridiculous. How many days now has it been the top story on cable TV? It feels like a month. What he did was stupid and disgusting, but I’ve heard enough. Franken apologized and wrote a personal letter to the “victim.” She said she accepts his apology.
Should Franken resign? No fucking way! Should we spend interminable days relitigating the charges against Bill Clinton from 20 years ago? No thanks. What Clinton did was disgusting too, but he went through years of investigations and was impeached for Christ’s sake. Enough!
Until Donald Trump resigns, the media needs to lay off Franken. Unless a bunch more women come forward to accuse him, it doesn’t look like he’s predator on the scale of Moore or Trump. We know that numerous other men in the House and Senate are guilty of sexual harassment. How about doing some investigative reporting to find out the names of these men and publish them?
We live in a culture in which women are beaten, raped and murdered on a daily basis. Let the media focus on that for a week. But it won’t happen. They prefer to use the rampant violence against women in this country as entertainment. And this 24/7 coverage of sexual harassment is happening for the same reason–entertainment and ratings. After the past couple of weeks, I’m feeling like I want to resign from the human race.
Meanwhile, the abuser-in-chief is stealing money hand over fist from taxpayers and trying to “reform” the tax code to give himself billions more.
Did you watch Richard Engel’s special on Trump’s Panama tower? If not, I highly recommend you check it out. Some interesting reading on just one place where Trump is reaping the rewards of his massive corruption. Some recommended reading on the subject:
Global Witness: Narco-A-Lago: Money Laundering at the Trump Ocean Club Panama. An excerpt:
The warning signs were there from the outset. The Trump Ocean Club, one of Trump’s most lucrative licensing deals to date, was announced in 2006 and launched in 2011, a period when Panama was known as one of the best places in the world to launder money. Whole neighborhoods in Panama City were taken over by organized crime groups, and luxury developments were built with the purpose of serving as money laundering vehicles.
Moreover, investing in luxury properties is a tried and trusted way for criminals to move tainted cash into the legitimate financial system, where they can spend it freely. Once scrubbed clean in this way, vast profits from criminal activities like trafficking people and drugs, organized crime, and terrorism can find their way into the U.S. and elsewhere. In most countries, regulation is notoriously lax in the real estate sector. Cash payments are subject to hardly any scrutiny, giving opportunistic and unprincipled developers free rein to accept dirty money.
In the case of the Trump Ocean Club, accepting easy – and possibly dirty – money early on would have been in Trump’s interest; a certain volume of pre-construction sales was necessary to secure financing for the project, which stood to net him $75.4 million by the end of 2010. Trump received a percentage of the financing he helped secure, and a cut on the sale of every unit at the development.
He and his family have made millions of dollars more from management fees and likely continue to profit from the Trump Ocean Club. Eager for the project’s success, Trump and his children have participated directly in marketing, management, and even project design. According to broker Ventura Nogueira, Trump’s daughter Ivanka attended at least 10 meetings with him and project developer Roger Khafif.
A large number of those involved with the Trump Ocean Club in its early phase were Russian and Eastern European citizens or diaspora members. In an interview with NBC and Reuters, Ventura Nogueira said that 50 percent of his buyers were Russian, and that some had “questionable backgrounds.” He added that he found out later that some were part of the Russian Mafia.
Two more articles:
Lots of news has been breaking on the Russia investigation. For example, The AP is just out with a new scoop: Moscow meeting in June 2017 under scrutiny in Trump probe.
Earlier this year, a Russian-American lobbyist and another businessman discussed over coffee in Moscow an extraordinary meeting they had attended 12 months earlier: a gathering at Trump Tower with President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and his then-campaign chairman.
The Moscow meeting in June, which has not been previously disclosed, is now under scrutiny by investigators who want to know why the two men met in the first place and whether there was some effort to get their stories straight about the Trump Tower meeting just weeks before it would become public, The Associated Press has learned.
Congressional investigators have questioned both men — lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and Ike Kaveladze, a business associate of a Moscow-based developer and former Trump business partner — and obtained their text message communications, people familiar with the investigation told the AP.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team also has been investigating the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which occurred weeks after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination and which his son attended with the expectation of receiving damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. A grand jury has already heard testimony about the meeting, which in addition to Donald Trump Jr., also included Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The focus of the congressional investigators was confirmed by three people familiar with their probe, including two who demanded anonymity to discuss the sensitive inquiry.
One of those people said Akhmetshin told congressional investigators that he asked for the Moscow meeting with Kaveladze to argue that they should go public with the details of the Trump Tower meeting before they were caught up in a media maelstrom. Akhmetshin also told the investigators that Kaveladze said people in Trump’s orbit were asking about Akhmetshin’s background, the person said.
How much more evidence do we need to know that Russia has basically taken over our goverment?We’re living in a dystopian nightmare, as Dakinikat wrote yesterday. The world is laughing at us because Trump is rapidly turning the U.S. into a tinpot dictatorship. I’d like to just curl up in my apartment and escape into books, and I may just do that this weekend.
One way to escape the present and perhaps put our situation in perspective is to read dystopian novels, which I love. Louise Erdrich has just published one, and Elle has an interview of her by Margaret Atwood: Inside the Dystopian Visions of Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich.
Louise Erdrich, member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, author of more than 20 novels, most of them revolving around an Ojibwe community in North Dakota, won the National Book Award for The Round House (2012), a crime thriller, and was a Pulitzer Finalist for The Plague of Doves (2009), a murder mystery. But when a galley of her new novel, Future Home of the Living God (HarperCollins, out now), came across ELLE’s desk, it seemed to us that Erdrich had gone where she’d never quite gone before.
She’s written a novel—a wonderful, creepy, dystopian novel—in which women become prized, and quickly enslaved, for their ability to produce healthy babies. The pregnant protagonist of the novel, Cedar, an Ojibwe adoptee, is on the run, evading the white male evangelical government that wants to sever her from life as she knows it and use her body to produce healthy babies….
Yes, it sounds familiar, doesn’t it—unless you’ve been living under a rock and missed
The Handmaid’s Tale cleaning up at the Emmys, or the fact that the book by the great Margaret Atwood has been on Amazon’s list of its top-20 most-read books for months.
So who better to interview Erdrich about her new novel than Atwood? Lo and behold: They agreed! Over the summer, the two writers—one in Toronto, one in Minnesota—amid jaunts to the Arctic and Winnipeg, engaged in a cross-border digital interview about the novel, their prophetic fears, politics, climate change, and why we idealize Canada.
Click on the link to read the interview. More dystopian fiction suggestions:
Literary Hub: 30 Dystopian Novels by and About Women.
ShortList: The 20 best dystopian novels.
Another way to escape is to read about earlier times. Here’s an interesting book review I came across yesterday at The New Republic: Little House, Small Government. How Laura Ingalls Wilder’s frontier vision of freedom and survival lives on in Trump’s America.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the “Little House on the Prairie” books, lived a good two decades of her 90 years in a covered wagon going west. Only in late middle age did she become the author of the most successful series for children ever written about the settling of the American frontier. In the stories these books tell, the Ingalls family embodies that extraordinary hunger for pioneering that, through the second half of the nineteenth century, sent a few million men, women, and children out into the prairies and mountains of the mid- and far West to farm, raise cattle, mine for silver, pan for gold. One and all, they went in search of a life free from the restraints of the socialized world, to a place where survival depended on the exercise of one’s own wit and strength and backbreaking labor.
Ultimately, that same drive to be alone with the wilderness got converted to a founding myth of individualism, out of which emerged an ideology that visualized freedom from government as an equivalent of freedom itself. The descendants of that myth are among us still. If Laura Ingalls Wilder were alive today she would be a member of the Tea Party. She would almost certainly have voted for Donald Trump, many of whose followers yet believe that he will restore to them the dubious glory of the frontier America that Wilder so passionately celebrated in her books.
Caroline Fraser’s Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder is an impressive piece of social history that uses the events of Wilder’s life to track, socially and politically, the development of the American continent and its people. The frontier, by definition, has always been a place just beyond the point where land meets sky. In America that longing to move beyond the horizon, which is common to all cultures, became not only synonymous with an idea of the national character, but a vital ingredient in the American brand of democracy. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner ardently believed, in fact, that “that restless, nervous energy, that dominant individualism” attributed to the frontier was the major influence on American democracy’s development.
What the people in the covered wagons did not grasp was that to a large extent they were pawns in the hands of political and business interests—especially those of the railroads—that needed to see ground broken across the entire continent. The pioneers never understood the hucksterism behind the “go west, young man” rhetoric that urged them to go where none had gone before, with no hard knowledge of what actually lay before them. All the pioneers knew—in their fantasies, that is—was that just over the horizon lay adventure, opportunity, possible wealth, and certain freedom.
As a kid, I read every one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series that began with Little House in the Big Woods and ended with These Happy Golden Years. Oh how I’d love to go back that innocent time in my life for one day. But then, maybe it wasn’t as great as I remember it. The reviewer includes another book about the American frontier that isn’t as joyful as Wilder’s nostalgic tales:
Agnes Smedley’s autobiographical novel Daughter of Earth, published in 1929, gave its readers an altogether different look at the same set of experiences. “I write of the joys and sorrows of the lowly,” she begins, “of those who die … exhausted by poverty, victims of wealth and power…. For we are of the earth and our struggle is the struggle of earth.” Smedley’s masterful work of realism concentrates on everything that Laura Ingalls Wilder either ignores, leaves out, or flatly denies. In this book, capitalism makes a mockery of the illusion of freedom-just-ahead—the promise that sent millions traveling west during those same years when the Ingallses were loading and unloading their covered wagon and then loading it once again.
Smedley was born in 1892 in Missouri into a family of farmers who labored long days in the field and never seemed to get ahead. The father, like Charles Ingalls, was handsome and restless. A lover of music and tall tales, he was possessed of “the soul and imagination of a vagabond,” Smedley wrote. The open road called to him. The mother, unlike Caroline Ingalls, desperately did not want to leave the farm but the father wore her down and at last they packed up and headed out. “And from that moment,” Smedley writes, “our roots were torn from the soil and we began a life of wandering, searching for success and happiness and riches that always lay just beyond—where we were not. Only since then have I heard the old saying ‘Where I am not, there is happiness.’”
The father did not want to homestead; rather, he thought to join the army of miners, loggers, and teamsters who were rushing west right alongside the settlers. Missouri, Colorado—on the Smedleys moved, from one mining camp to another, always working like dogs, always being cheated of their wages, always just barely surviving. “Existence meant only working, sleeping, eating … and breeding…. A book was a curiosity … a newspaper was a rarity; to read was a recreation of the rich.”
The family joined the exploited underclass that got the country built. Men like Smedley’s father, with all his brute strength and hunger of spirit, never realized that they were forever up against the exploitation of the owners of the mines and the railroads, who had the government in their pockets. Smedley himself proved an ignorant and frightened man, helpless before a world he could not fathom, much less define himself against. In time he loses his taste for the songs and the stories that sustained him; he becomes a bully, starts to drink, and beats his wife. Of her mother, old at 30, Smedley writes, “her tears … they embittered my life!” It is above all the hardness of the narrator’s voice that makes Daughter of Earth so unlike anything Wilder could have imagined. For Smedley, the ideology of American individualism proved a bitter punishment, for Wilder the fulfillment of what she took to be a God-given promise.
My grandparents and great grandparents helped settle the Dakota territory. I’d love to read those books. I already have a stack of things I want to read though. There’s never enough time.
I know this is a weird post. I think Trump is slowly driving me insane. What stories are you following today? Any book recommendations?
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!!
I’m not sure what manner of factors has created the circumstances of this year but I’m really over it. Kinsey is putting on weight and eating nicely. Dinah’s fur is returning. Miles has had a terrible few days. Something triggered a drop in his blood sugar and he’s got so many things wrong suddenly that it’s hard to separate what’s wrong from what’s causing it. I feel under siege. Turning on the TV and reading the newspaper or any myriad of things I usually do to help is not really helping because the chaotic Kremlin Caligula has my stomach in tight knots already. He’s ready to make all the creatures of the earth go extinct. Every thing he does destroys life.
Those three words up there are how the Buddha describes our existence. Now that we live in the nightmare realm of a person with an extremely awful personality disorder we can add destructive chaos to that list.
I was going to try to stick to other things today because frankly it’s one moment at a time for me at the moment. I am certainly not alone. Here’s a nice read via one of my cousins: “Annie Proulx Gave One of the Best National Book Award Speeches in Recent Memory.”
We don’t live in the best of all possible worlds. This is a Kafkaesque time. The television sparkles with images of despicable political louts and sexual harassment reports. We cannot look away from the pictures of furious elements, hurricanes and fires, from the repetitive crowd murders by gunmen burning with rage. We are made more anxious by flickering threats of nuclear war. We observe social media’s manipulation of a credulous population, a population dividing into bitter tribal cultures. We are living through a massive shift from representative democracy to something called viral direct democracy, now cascading over us in a garbage-laden tsunami of raw data. Everything is situational, seesawing between gut-response “likes” or vicious confrontations. For some this is a heady time of brilliant technological innovation that is bringing us into an exciting new world. For others it is the opening of a savagely difficult book without a happy ending.
To me the most distressing circumstance of the new order is the accelerating destruction of the natural world and the dreadful belief that only the human species has the inalienable right to life and God-given permission to take anything it wants from nature, whether mountaintops, wetlands or oil. The ferocious business of stripping the earth of its flora and fauna, of drowning the land in pesticides again may have brought us to a place where no technology can save us. I personally have found an amelioration in becoming involved in citizen science projects. This is something everyone can do. Every state has marvelous projects of all kinds, from working with fish, with plants, with landscapes, with shore erosions, with water situations.
Yet somehow the old discredited values and longings persist. We still have tender feelings for such outmoded notions as truth, respect for others, personal honor, justice, equitable sharing. We still hope for a happy ending. We still believe that we can save ourselves and our damaged earth—an indescribably difficult task as we discover that the web of life is far more mysteriously complex than we thought and subtly entangled with factors that we cannot even recognize. But we keep on trying, because there’s nothing else to do.
It’s difficult being realistic these days. I fully admit that I’d like to be able to live in a world of my invention. For example, I’d like people to stop killing animals unnecessarily. How can you call killing anything that’s sentient and beautiful a “sport”? What kind of freak gets enjoyment out of that? You eat out of necessity. Anything beyond that puts you in the ‘disturbed’ category in my ethos.
And why, still, at 62 do I have to avoid dark streets and places? Warn my daughters about things put in drinks? Worry about being at event that isn’t mostly filled with gay men and women of any stripe? When can I just go some place and relax without checking for the nearby predators? Why am I supposed to laugh off incredibly disturbing behavior involving my biology or some other aspect of my existence as a woman? How do I get the media to understand the difference between a tasteless cad and a perpetrator of sexual assault? #EveryWomanTOO
I am a Democrat because I am a feminist who lives under a two-party system, where one party consistently votes against the interests of women while the other sometimes does not. I am not a true believer in the party itself nor in any politician. I am a realist who recognizes that we get two viable choices, and Democrats are members of the only party positioned to pump the brakes on Republicans’ gleeful race toward Atwoodian dystopia. Meanwhile, I recognize that men’s harassment of and violence against women is a systemic issue, not a Democrat or Republican problem, a Hollywood problem, a sports problem, or a media problem. Its roots lie in a patriarchal culture that trains men to believe they are entitled to control women’s bodies —for sex, for sport, for childbearing, for comedy.
When you combine these things — an awareness that the Democratic Party is no more or less than best of two, and an understanding that men in power frequently exploit women — it becomes difficult to believe that Franken is the only sitting Democrat with a history of harassment, abuse or assault. The recent #metoo campaign demonstrated how normalized unwanted kissing and groping are in our culture. Donald Trump was caught on tape crudely admitting to both of those transgressions, and we made him our president. According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women experiences some sort of contact sexual violence in her life. Sexual harassment and assault are simply too widespread for Democrats to respond to Franken’s offense with only Franken in mind: We need to respond in a way that helps us develop a protocol for meaningful change.
I really didn’t want to go on and on about this but wtf is this? “Congress paid out $17 million in settlements. Here’s why we know so little about that money.” This equals 260 settlement over the last 20 years. This reminds me of Newt Gingrich going after Bill Clinton while cheating on his current wife with the Calista. This is happening in their offices and while they’re in office.
On Thursday, the Office of Compliance released additional information indicating that it has paid victims more than $17 million since its creation in the 1990s. That includes all settlements, not just related to sexual harassment, but also discrimination and other cases.
An OOC spokeswoman said the office was releasing the extra data “due to the interest in the awards and settlement figures.” The OOC has come under fire in recent days for what lawmakers and Hill aides alike say are its antiquated policies that do not adequately protect victims who file complaints.
CNN has also learned that during the current Congress, no settlement payment approval requests have been made to the congressional committee charged with approving them.
Go read up on how little the public knows about this huge sum of money going out to the victims of sexual predators in Congress. Now, think about how things change when there are a critical number of women that get to make decisions. Take difference in costume choice for Wonder Woman with a woman director choosing a woman costume designer vs. the alternative. How many of us think that that Uncle Clarence Thomas would not be on the Supreme Court if it was Senator Hillary Clinton instead of Senator Joe Biden in charge of things?
Wonder Woman was great for many reasons (Diana Prince for president, etc.), but one of the most lauded moments was the representation of the Amazons, a team of female fighters who spend their lives on an island devoid of men. This group of women were brought to life by director Patty Jenkins and costumed by designer Lindy Hemming, and their outfits were essentially armor. Flash forward to Justice League, and fans have noticed that the Amazons’ attire—designed by Michael Wilkinson with direction by Zack Snyder—are slightly…smaller.
The graphic stories told by woman on Capitol Hill–Boston Boomer wrote more on this yesterday–were probably similar to the ones that would’ve come out at of the Clarence Thomas Hearing or any hearing on Teddy Kennedy or Strom Thurmond.
Others said they had been harassed by two sitting members of Congress. Speier (D-Hillsborough) declined to identify those members, saying only that one is a Republican and one is a Democrat.
“The culture in this country has been awakened to the fact that we have a serious epidemic in the workplace in all professions, in all walks of life, and it’s incumbent upon those who are in authority to address it and address it swiftly,” Speier told reporters Tuesday after testifying in front of the House committee that is considering changes in how harassment in Congress is investigated. She said she couldn’t provide more details on the incidents because the victims had signed nondisclosure agreements as part of settlements.
The rich and powerful man always manages to get those disclosure agreements even when it’s his work or our taxpayers that pay to silence the stories of women. Back again to that CNN article at the top:
It is unclear how much of the $17 million is money paid to sexual harassment cases because of the Office of Compliance’s complex reporting process. However, even knowing that dollar figure doesn’t quantify the problem: a source within the Office of Compliance tells CNN that between 40 and 50% of harassment claims settle after mediation — an early stage in the multi-tiered reporting process.
And the number of settlements reached may not be indicative of how widespread sexual harassment is, as many victims chose not to proceed with OOC’s process for handling complaints. Tracy Manzer, a spokeswoman for Speier, told CNN last week 80% of people who have come to their office with stories of sexual misconduct in the last few weeks have chosen not to report the incidents to the OOC.
The most evident and clear thing to me is that we can’t even get a good hearing on the topic unless there are enough women in places of influence in institutions to find ways to make it all come out. Then, make it stop. We’re probably going to have to rely on complicit men–however, not full blow predators–that have enabled rape culture with their frat boy humor and antics. I don’t see any reason for them to be kicked out of anything unless they have a pervasive problem. I expect, however, the enablers, like those guilty of the tasteless humor and actions shown by Franken to repent. I also expect those that quietly enable or jokingly enable predators–like freaking Billy Bush–to do some acts of repentance. In our law, we have varying degrees of sexual assault and sexual battery. The law and our society agrees that the worse form of predation is of the grown up on child. This should be punished–as it is–with the full force of the legal system. There is no equivocation of first degree rape with lesser counts of sexual assault or battery or harassment.
Specific laws vary by state, but sexual assault generally refers to any crime in which the offender subjects the victim to sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive. These crimes can range from sexual groping or assault/battery, to attempted rape. All states prohibit sexual assault, but the exact definitions of the crimes that fall within the category of sexual assault differ from state to state. The laws share some basic elements, but the structures, wording and scope of sexual assault offenses vary considerably, so always check your local statutes for specific questions.
Discussion on topics like sexual assault and racism are always full of nuances and backlash, denial and witness, and tribal amnesia and defiance. Media is our current platform to work through all of these. It should not be a good thing under any circumstance for a person of power just to force themselves or to do something violent to a helpless child, animal, or person sitting in their car while being black, or an intern. What kind of person gets a thrill be taking away some one else’s humanity and moral authority? What kind of person thinks an endangered animal in a wildlife park is some form of manhood trophy? My short answer: a morally bankrupt and abhorrent one.
Meanwhile, Americans living in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are dying from lack of basic necessities. One head has rolled, but it’s not the one that ultimately deserves it.
Talk amongst yourselves!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?