Wednesday Reads: tRumpy + Bibi BFF …Hump Day Cartoons 


Anyone with half of a brain can see it…well, maybe that is giving some dumbasses too much credit.

 

‘Pope looks like he’s being held against his will’: The internet goes nuts over Trump’s weird Vatican photos

 

Donald Trump and some of his family members met Pope Francis — and social media users couldn’t help but notice the Holy Father didn’t look too happy about it.

Trump appeared grinning in photos with the Pope, whose dour expression never changed, and both first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump wore black veils.

See what I mean. That picture is everything.

Want a close-up?

Funny how just a few hours ago this was the image that seemed to define the trip so far:


tRump’s trip to places not America isn’t going well, not that I expected anything less. Honestly, this picture above is a perfect showcase of the orange idiot’s true mental capacity….as the image made its way across the social media scene. This was what tRump wrote as his parting thought when he signed Israeli Holocaust Memorial Guestbook. Imagine, the only thing tRump left out of this Happy Yearbook sign off was the tRumpy BFF Bibi inside a big heart.

Seriously…he put exclamation points! WTF!!!!

Here is a side by side of Obama’s message compared to tRump.

It isn’t like this is the only news out there:


Now on the cartoons because what else can you say about that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS: 05/24/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

 

TRUMPNADO: 05/17/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - TRUMPNADO

 

I have to post this now…power is going out…bad storms.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Another Overwhelming News Day

The Morning News, William Merritt Chase

Good Afternoon!!

I’m having another one of those days where I just can’t get going on a post. The news is just so overwhelming.

As has been happening almost daily for the past couple of weeks, The Washington Post broke a huge new story on the Trump Russia investigation: Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president….

Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.

Coats is refusing to comment on the story, but he isn’t denying it.

End of the Story, Marcus Stone

Of course that breaking news story was quickly pushed to the media back burner after the terror attack in Manchester, England.

NBC News: Manchester Arena Suicide Bombing: Victims Include 8-Year-Old Girl, Young Student.

The first victims identified in the suicide bombing after an Ariana Grande concert in Britain were an 8-year-old remembered as a “beautiful little girl” and an 18-year-old college student who had previously met her pop idol.

They were among the 22 killed Monday night at the Manchester Arena in the deadliest terror attack in Britain since 2005. Another 59 people were also injured as the suspect detonated a bomb near one of the venue’s exits, sending the mostly younger concertgoers fleeing in panic, authorities said.

Grande’s fans are predominantly teens and young girls, and many had gone to the venue with their parents for a night of carefree fun that in a flash turned into a scene of carnage. Hours after the bloodshed, desperate parents said they were still trying unsuccessfully to reconnect with children.

The Washington Post: Manchester bombing suspect identified, U.S. officials say; Islamic State claims responsibility.

The Islamic State claimed Tuesday that one of its “soldiers” carried out an apparent suicide blast in Manchester that killed at least 22 people, including teenagers and others streaming out of a pop concert.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, identified the assailant as Salman Abedi. They did not provide information about his age or nationality, and British officials declined to comment on the suspect’s identity.

Islamic State’s claim came as British investigators intensified their search for possible accomplices and police teams fanned out across the northern city after the worst terrorist strike in Britain in more than a decade.

The Islamic State did not give any details about the attacker or how the blast was carried out late Monday. Its statement was posted on the online messaging service Telegram and later noted by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant websites.

The Islamic State often quickly proclaims links to attacks, but some previous claims have not been proven.

Morning News, Lillian Westcott Hale

This morning DNI Dan Coats testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and discussed the attack. NBC News:

The bloody mayhem in Manchester could be a taste of the ISIS terror to come.

That was the dire warning from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Tuesday in his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee and a report by the agency.

“They claim responsibility for virtually every attack,” Coats told the panel after ISIS declared it was behind the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that left 22 dead and dozens more injured. “We have not verified yet the connection.”

The attack came straight from the ISIS playbook that Coats warned lawmakers about.

“We anticipate that ISIS will be in transition over the coming year, shifting toward more traditional terrorist operations rather than conventional military engagement in Iraq and Syria,” Coats warned. “ISIS will continue to lead, enable and inspire terrorist attacks, both unilaterally and with the assistance of its formal branches and networks.”

Why? Because ISIS is losing on the battlefield and it has lost much of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria.

There also was a hearing this morning in the House Intelligence Committee on the Trump-Russia connection. I watched some of it. It’s hard to believe, but Republicans are still trying to absolve Trump and are more concerned about leaks to the media than the fact that Russia interfered in U.S. elections.

Some headlines coming out of the testimony of former CIA Director John Brennan:

Sunday Johanna Harmon

NPR: Former CIA Director Tells Lawmakers About ‘Very Aggressive’ Russian Election Meddling.

Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that Russia “brazenly interfered in the 2016 election process,” despite U.S. efforts to warn them off. Brennan testified in an open session of the committee, one of a handful of congressional committee now investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Brennan said he told his Russian counterpart, the head of Russia’s FSB, last August that if Russia pursued its efforts to interfere, “it would destroy any near-term prospect for improvement in relations” between the two countries. He said Russia denied any attempts to interfere.

In his opening statement, Brennan also recounted how he had briefed congressional leaders in August of last year, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the “full details” of what he knew of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Brennan said he became convinced last summer that Russia was trying to interfere in the campaign, saying “they were very aggressive.”

So both Ryan and McConnell knew how serious this was back in August 2016, and they did nothing in response but continue enabling/supporting Trump.

Brennan said he is “aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.” Brennan said that concerned him, “because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” and that it raised questions about whether or not the Russians “were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.” Brennan added he didn’t know if “collusion existed” between the Russians and those he identified as involved in the Trump campaign.

While Brennan would not specifically identify any individuals associated with the Trump campaign who had contacts with Russian officials and would not opine as to whether there was any collusion or collaboration, he did tell lawmakers why he was concerned about the contacts occurring against the general background of Russian efforts to meddle in the election. Brennan said he’s studied Russian intelligence activities over the years, and how they’ve been able to get people to betray their country. “Frequently, individuals on a treasonous path do not even realize they’re on that path until it gets to be too late,” he said.

Woman reading the newspaper, Carl Vilhelm Holsoe

Business Insider: Former CIA director: I was concerned about ‘interactions’ between Russians and the Trump campaign.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, in testimony Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, said that he was concerned by some of the “interactions” between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign that took place during the election last year.

Brennan’s testimony on Russian interference in the election came two months after he was originally scheduled to testify in an open hearing that was unexpectedly canceled by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes. He told the committee that he warned his Russian counterpart, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, in an August 2016 phone call against interfering in the presidential election.

“It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process,” Brennan said in his opening statement, “and that they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they do not do so.”

Republican Rep. Tom Rooney asked Brennan if he ever found “any direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin in Moscow” while he was the CIA director.

Brennan replied that “there was intelligence that the Russian intelligence services were actively involved in this effort … to try to get individuals to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.” He added that he was “was worried by the contacts that the Russians were having with US persons” and “had unresolved questions” by the time he left office about whether” the Russians had succeeded in getting Americans to do their bidding.

More articles of interest about Brennan’s testimony:

USA Today: Ex-CIA director John Brennan: ‘Unresolved questions’ about Trump campaign ties to Russia.

CNN: Ex-CIA chief John Brennan: Russians contacted Trump campaign.

Think Progress: Trey Gowdy’s effort to throw cold water on Trump-Russia collusion backfires spectacularly.

Another big story this morning was the release of Trump’s ridiculous proposed budget. I’ll let you check that out at the links below:

The Washington Post: Trump proposes dramatic changes to federal government, slashing safety net programs that affect up to a fifth of Americans.

BBC News: Trump’s $4.1tr budget takes hatchet to safety net

The Washington Post: Larry Summers: Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous,

FiveThirtyEight: Trump’s Budget Is Built On A Fantasy.

NBC News: Trump’s Own Voters Would Be Among Hardest Hit By His Budget.

Business Insider: Trump’s budget only works ‘if you believe in tooth fairies.’

So . . .what stories are you following today?

 

 


Monday Reads: The Wheedle and the Damage Done

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I continue to believe that a huge number of Christians in this country actually make this the least Christian country on the planet.  After all, white evangelicals were the biggest chunk of voters that made way for Russia’s attack on our form of government and brought an insane man into the White House.  What type of people fall for cons? What type of people actually will damage themselves and their neighbors to feel smug and safe in their whiteness?  Better yet, what will the recently installed Pope say to President Swiss Cheese for Brains and the Gingrichs who play the pious game of “maybe for thee but not for me” with all the Jesus teachings.

You can have as many bible studies and prayer breakfasts as you want in this administration and the actions will never overtake the words passed into law.  What we continue to see is the rich and powerful destroying the lives of the weakest among us to provide lavish tax cuts that basically accrue value to no one but the person who receives them.

With that lecture, I give you the Republican and Trump Agenda.  We are seeing the proposals that will send many to their graves.  Paul Ryan is not nicknamed the Granny Starver for nothing.  Please don’t watch the Trumpical Clusterfuck Tour. Read what’s going on with the Budget and with the Department of Re-Education.

President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety net.

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.

The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans” could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.

Numerous social-welfare programs grew after the financial crisis, leading to complaints from many Republicans that more should be done to shift people out of these programs and back into the workforce. Shortly after he was sworn in, Trump said, “We want to get our people off welfare and back to work. . . . It’s out of control.”

Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.

As usual, children and the sick get the worst treatment. I suppose it’s only time that we see an end to child labor laws and poor farms established.  Either that, or we funnel every one to private jails.

But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on auto­pilot and don’t need annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.

The proposed changes include the big cuts to Medicaid. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.

And they’re still after a the Affordable Health Care Act.  This amounts to a death by a million paper cuts.  You’ll notice most of this isn’t being rolled out with the same gusto as the Saudis welcomed Kremlin Caligula.

The Trump administration Monday plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, according to two administration sources, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August.

The suit, House v. Price, centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. The legal motion in a case that was brought by House Republicans during the Obama administration is expected to be filed later Monday.

President Donald Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. He also suggested that the ensuing chaos could entice Democrats to come to the bargaining table and help craft a health care overhaul. But administration officials have said the payments would continue while the lawsuit is pending.

While another delay would stop short of imploding the markets, it still undermines the exchanges, by continuing uncertainty as insurers decide where to offer coverage and how to price it.

House Republicans charged the cost-sharing program was never legally funded in Obamacare. A federal district court judge ruled in 2016 that the Obama administration was illegally funding the program. The Obama administration appealed that decision but the issue was unresolved before Trump took office.

September 16, 2016

Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos is already steamrolling along. The plan that has completely failed in Louisiana is about to go National with this nut job in charge of the Department of Re-Education.  School choice is another term for segregated schools and public funding of religious atrocities foisted on innocent children.

Before she was picked by President Trump to head up the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos was the chairwoman of the American Federal for Children, a pro-school choice lobbying group.

When she visits Indianapolis Monday night, Secretary DeVos will address a sea of friendly and familiar faces at the AFC’s National Policy Summit at the Weston Hotel.

It’s expected DeVos will roll out a Trump administration plan to provide tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate money to groups and schools that provide school choice scholarships to students and parents.

“We see that this is a really significant opportunity for her to lay out a vision for what she sees as educational choice going into the future for all fifty states,” said AFC Spokesman Tommy Schultz. “I think Indianapolis and Indiana are great places to do it where Indiana has one of the fastest growing choice programs in the entire country.”

More than 33,000 Hoosier students attend classes in a private or charter school under Indiana’s expanded choice program.

“So a federal tax credit scholarship program would be a really great way to facilitate getting more families educational options for their child. We expect something like that to be potentially rolled out later this year,” said Schultz. “It’s purely folks giving charitable contributions to education scholarship organizations and then therefore they’ll get a credit for that.”

Indiana’s public school teachers fear the DeVos speech will be one more attack on the system that educates a majority of America’s children, many of them in struggling urban school districts.

“We are concerned that her speech is going to be about changes to the proposed federal budget and how that’s going to impact our students,” said Theresa Merideth, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “What we have is a voucher system now that funds kids who are already going, by and large, to private schools anyway, and there is no data that is showing they are doing any better that public school counterparts.”

Meredith said before- and after-school programs, and services aimed at special education youngsters, will be at risk from proposed Trump administration cuts to the federal education budget.

Make American White, Fascist, and Nutty Religious folks!  I really think their slogan should be Greed and Grifting is Good!  In that vein, the White House is trying to block ethics investigations of ex lobbyists now working in Federal Agencies and the West Wing.

The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.

The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.

Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.

Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”

There is some good news.  The Court System appears to be working as a system of checks and balances on all the crazies that have invaded the executive branches and legislative branches throughout the Country and in the District.  SCOTUS just told North Carolina its gerrymandering smacked of racism and rejected its proposed Congressional Districts.  Thomas sided with the majority and Gorsuch sat out so I’m no sure we can divine any future trends from this.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina Republicans relied too heavily on race when they drew two bizarrely shaped congressional voting districts that were used until the 2014 election.

The ruling upholds a lower court decision that rejected the two majority-black districts and ordered a new map for the 2016 election. Even with the new lines, Republicans maintained their hold on 10 of the state’s 13 districts.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said a three-judge panel had sufficient grounds for concluding that race, and not politics, was the driving factor in setting out the lines. She also backed the lower court’s conclusion that the district lines weren’t needed to comply with a federal voting-rights law.

“A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason,” Kagan wrote.

The case produced an unusual split. Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most conservative justice, joined the court’s four liberals in the majority. Thomas is a staunch opponent of the use of race in drawing district lines, no matter which side benefits.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy issued a partial dissent saying they would have upheld one of the districts. Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t take part in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.

The contested districts were both held by black Democrats. Critics said the goal was to dilute minority voting strength outside of those two districts and preserve the power of neighboring white Republicans.

North Carolina officials said they were trying to preserve black majorities and comply with the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law designed to protect racial minorities. North Carolina also contended that, with regard to one of its disputed districts, map-drawers were legitimately motivated by politics.

One of the disputed districts — the 12th District, held by Representative Alma Adams — was 120 miles long, snaking from Charlotte to Greensboro and roughly tracking Interstate 85. The other — the 1st District, held by Representative G.K. Butterfield — was in the northeastern part of the state, with tendrils that captured black areas further south and west.

The 12th District has been the subject of repeated court challenges over the years. The latest case represented the fifth time the Supreme Court had examined the district.

Flynn will be evoking the Fifth Amendment.   They probably have enough on him that it won’t mean much.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.

That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.

Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.

Simon Maloy argues that the Trump White House is collapsing in an op ed for The Week.

Just as Air Force One was lifting off to ferry Trump to Riyadh, The New York Times and The Washington Post each published seismically significant pieces on the White House’s ever-expanding Russia scandal. The Timesreported that Trump, during an Oval Office meeting the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, told high-level Russian officials that Comey was a “nut job” and firing him had relieved the “great pressure” Trump felt “because of Russia.” The Post, meanwhile, reported that the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia has identified a senior White House official as “a significant person of interest.”

Shortly after the Times and Post stories hit, CNN came through with another big scoop, reporting that Russian officials had boasted during the 2016 campaign that they could use former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to influence Trump and his associates.

The Times piece in particular is brutal for Trump. At the time the president divulged to the Russians his motivation for firing his FBI director, the administration was still sticking to its ridiculous story that Comey lost his job because he botched the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That means officials from an adversarial government knew the White House wasn’t being honest about a politically explosive subject.

On top of that, Trump’s comments to the Russians could become the focus of an obstruction of justice inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tapped to assume control of the Russia investigation following Comey’s dismissal. Trump had already told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation factored into his decision to fire Comey, and the Times report adds significant weight to the idea that Trump’s primary motivation in sacking Comey was to neutralize an issue that was damaging him politically.

The Post report, meanwhile, feels like the first strong indication that the Russia investigation has the potential to cut deeply. The fact that a senior White House official is coming under scrutiny is obviously a problem for Trump, but the Post also reported that the FBI inquiry now “also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.”

Financial Crimes is an interesting take given the Russian hacking of the US election and White House.  But, it’s a serious way to take down the Trump Criminal Syndicate.  This is from Josh Marshall writing for TPM.

We know – and this article confirms – that Paul Manafort is a significant focus of the probe. Even apart from his political work in Ukraine, Manafort appears to have a series of real estate deals, loans, etc. that investigators are looking at. So perhaps it’s something as mundane as stumbling across some kind of crooked, small-bore real estate ventures Manafort participated in while examining his business ties to people in Ukraine.

But my hunch is that it’s a bit more than that.

As you’ve seen, what I’ve been focused on in recent months are a series of business ventures over the last couple decades – either involving President Trump or his close associates – which seemed to rely on capital from people from the former Soviet Union or recent emigres from those countries. Trump himself, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and many others figure into this as well as Manafort, Trump’s children, the Kushners and still others. My interest of course is to understand the roots of Trump’s affinity with the post-Soviet oligarch world and whatever financial ties or dependence he has on it. But even if you take the Russia/former Soviet Union connection with its geopolitical dynamics out of the equation, you simply can’t read over these deals and not see that Trump and his crew just play way out on the outer fringe of legality at best. At best. People who have done or subsequently did time in the US or other countries repeatedly appear in the picture. So do people from organized crime. A lot.

One thing you find looking through Trump’s history is that after his fall from financial grace a quarter century ago this pattern seemed to become part of the business model. Cut off from capital from the big banks and most people interested in not losing their money, he had to do business with people with decidedly sketchier reputations. Those people, often looking for places to park wealth in real estate, had to accept much higher levels of risk than people with clean reputations. That seemed to lead them to Trump.

Then there’s another level of it. Even apart from big bad acts and corrupt deals, look at the stuff David Fahrenthold dug up on the Trump Foundation and his Potemkin charitable giving. Beyond issues of possible illegality, the big takeaway there was that Trump operates with a seemingly almost total disregard for rule-following or even a lot of elementary record keeping. So on top of substantively shady deals things are executed in really slapdash and hazard ways. In other words, the Trump Organization sounds a lot like the Trump White House. Only it’s a private company, surrounded by a moat of NDAs, all examined by little more than the thin scrutiny of the New York tabloids.

Here are just a couple examples of some color from the kinds of associations and business dealings I’m talking about: one and two.

Follow those links.

So, I’ve just filled the page with over 3100 words and counting.  I think I’ll leave the rest to you this morning.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Gas Mask Love, A Toxic Overload 

Good Afternoon

There is nothing like a bit of toxic love between two people…or between two countries, for that matter.

So, here’s to some toxic acidity to get your gears turning.

Earlier this week, on Joyce Arnold’s Facebook feed, she posted this quick thought:

It really made me think. Not at once, I saw the thread and carried on my day.

It stuck with me however because earlier that morning I had seen this on my Instagram feed:

 

Double tap if you agree.

A post shared by Purple Clover (@purpleclvr) on

Sometimes it takes balls to be a woman.

It is a sentiment that I’ve repeated myself, and to others…and I will admit that I never really thought much about it. But this morning, it bothered me. It really got to me, irritated me. I saved it in my Instagram feed. I saved it too in my Pinterest folder especially made for topics to write about on the Sky Dancing Blog. This was before I read that little post from Joyce. (Yeah, maybe that is why Joyce’s thread hit me, I don’t know.) But with my lower than average reaction time, it wasn’t until the next day I think when it all registered.

As Joyce said:

Joyce L. Arnold That whole need to make being male to be the norm, the standard for being human …

Fuck yeah.

If you want to put it into a cultural aspect, let’s look at something from television. I thought about a scene from Veep from a couple of seasons ago…‘Veep’ Season 4 Finale Recap: Ma’am Up – The New York Times

It was when Selina realizes that the election is a tie.

This is what Amy says to her:

Here we see yet again the depth of Selina and Amy’s relationship. When Selina learns that Tom James could replace her as president, Gary stands to offer a hug. But Selina, in tears, turns past him and his outstretched arms, past her daughter, Catherine — and collapses into Amy.

Amy looks utterly uncomfortable with the sudden display of emotion. But, in her own way, offers the encouragement that Selina needs, telling her that with all due respect, she needs to get her act together. “Ma’am up,” says Amy. “You’re still the leader of the free world, hmmm?”

And these are the words that transform Selina back into the striving, climbing, ambitious, spotlight-hungry politician we recognize. Realizing that during her mini-meltdown, Tom James has taken the stage in an effort to provide the increasingly restless crowd “a hit of political meth,” Selina springs to action.

The words Amy uses is “Ma’am up” and to me that is a perfect way to show an example of use in a particular show that can sometimes make some feminist writers peeved and angered.

That phrase, was it uttered in connection with the use of the word Ma’am as the correct way of addressing the office of the President? Or was it one feminist telling another…get your shit together, without relying on the male significance as definition of power and success? I don’t know. But what ever you want to call it, I like it. And from now on it is something I intend to use. Am I wrong?

Maybe it comes down to intersectionality?

On the same day…I also saved this:

This piece is fucked up in so many ways but what I want to highlight is how white men only see brown womxn when we are sexual objects. They never see us as people wanting our humanity. Keep your white male gaze off my brown body or else I will pluck your eyes out! #Repost @netargv ・・・ One of the paintings by artist Mark Clark shows a brown woman in a bikini on the Rio Grande River being enthusiastically watched by border patrol agents as migrants cross the border behind their backs. Read the open letter to Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts by @celestedelunaart and @nansiguevara on cultural appropriation at netargv.com. #RGV #latinxart

A post shared by NPP (@nalgonapositivitypride) on

Please read the explanation in the description on the instagram itself.

And then, there is this….but calling it “sublime.”  I don’t think so. How absurd. Look at the expressions on these women’s faces:

Young men being arrested or crammed into a jail cell, murdered bodies lying in the street, family members with terrified expressions: Tommaso Protti’s photos tell the story of a sublime Amazonian wilderness lost to the violence of the narco world. Swipe through, or click the link in our bio, to see more of his work depicting the toll of the drug trade in the Brazilian Amazon. Photographs by @tomprotti.

A post shared by The New Yorker (@newyorkermag) on

To that I wonder….does it take balls to live that kind of life? If we put it into that perspective, what color balls?

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Just a few links for you all:

Trump to offer exclusive contract to service U.S. student loans | Reuters

Foreign leaders told to praise Trump on election win: report | TheHill

Red With Envy: A Feminist Anthropology of Republican Policy – Ms. Magazine Blog

SPLC, other civil rights groups challenge wealth-based bail system in impoverished Alabama county | Southern Poverty Law Center

Trumpcare and the Return of Rape and Domestic Violence as Pre-Existing Conditions – Rewire

This Photo Series Highlights Chicanas Who Are Proud to Be Malditas

These Ethiopian superheroes fight for girls’ rights in badass new TV series

 

 

Women pioneered computer programming. Then men took their industry over. Via Timeline.

How “computer girls” gave way to tech bros

Those articles should give you something to do to pass the time.

I will end this thread with a sample of illnesses for admittance to the “nut house” if you were a certified “nut job” back a couple of centuries ago:

A list of reasons for admission to lunatic asylum in 1800: Good list of potential metal band names. (from @HistoryInPics )

A post shared by Jerry Saltz (@jerrysaltz) on

 

 

Why look at that! How many of those are suffered by women?

Go figure, it sure doesn’t take a set of balls for that.

This is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Presidency Is Unraveling

Ann Telnaes at the WaPo: “Trump’s presidency is coming undone….and he has only himself to blame.”

Good Morning!!

Here we are only a little more than 100 days into the Trump presidency and it looks like impeachment is on the horizon. Trump has tried to interfere with the Russia investigation and has even fired the FBI director. He gave top secret intelligence to the Russians. He’s using his office to make money hand over fist. He’s considered a laughingstock around the world. If only someone could have warned us what a disastrous president he would turn out to be. Oh wait…

Think Progress: The little known woman who predicted exactly what kind of president Donald Trump would be.

It is appropriate to be appalled at the current state of our government. But none of us should be particularly shocked. We were warned, time and time again, by people who know Trump well and who know the role of the presidency well, that the former was in no way fit to fill the latter.

And nobody warned us about the danger Trump posed to our nation more forcefully or with more prescience than Hillary Clinton.

“[A]s Michelle Obama has said, the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are,” she said in Raleigh, North Carolina days before the election. “And I think it’s fair to say that my opponent has already revealed who he is.”

Clinton knew then that Trump’s allegiance to Putin and Russia was not only problematic, but dangerous.

“It is pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America. That you encouraged espionage against our people. That you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do,” she said during the third presidential debate.

“[Trump] would rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.”

Click on the link to read much more of the wisdom that Hillary shared during the 2016 campaign while the media obsessed over emails hacked and released by Russia to help Trump.

Even the people who work for Trump are getting disgusted with him. After new broke yesterday that Trump called James Comey “crazy, a real nut job” in a meeting with Russian officials and then went on to say that he had fired Comey because of pressure from the Russia investigation, they vented to reporters.

The Daily Beast: Trump Officials: ‘He Looks More and More Like a Complete Moron.’

The administration officials and West Wing aides who were left grounded stateside on Friday late afternoon couldn’t do much more than dodge questions and vent inflamed frustrations at their boss. (Senior staffers who escaped aboard Air Force One included Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, press secretary Sean Spicer, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.)

“I’m glad I’m not on the plane so I could be here to answer your Russia questions,” a senior Trump administration official said, sarcastically, before abruptly hanging up.

Trump’s remarks quickly elicited groans, and some harsh words, from senior officials who did speak with The Daily Beast.

“If Donald Trump gets impeached, he will have one person to blame: Donald Trump,” one of those administration officials said.

The official noted a pattern among leaks that have dominated headlines this week: In virtually every case—the president’s request that Comey pledge fealty to him, a subsequent ask that Comey ease an investigation into his former top national security aide, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and revelations that he hopes to rehire Flynn when the FBI wraps up its probe—leaked Trump statements have revealed flippance or hostility toward a federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in 2016’s presidential election.

The resulting clamor of calls for an independent probe into that meddling—the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to lead such a probe this week—and allegations of criminal obstruction and calls for impeachment were entirely avoidable, the official suggested.

And it gets worse.

Trump’s repeated media missteps have frustrated even longtime supporters. “Every day he looks more and more like a complete moron,” said one senior administration official who also worked on Trump’s campaign. “I can’t see Trump resigning or even being impeached, but at this point I wish he’d grow a brain and be the man that he sold himself as on the campaign.”

Asked whether an administration staff change-up would ameliorate this latest crisis, a Republican source formerly involved with a pro-Trump political group told The Daily Beast, “yes, if it comes with a frontal lobotomy for Trump.”

Marshall Ramsey / Creators Syndicate

Trump aides also are confused by Trump’s continued praise of and efforts to reach out to fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Politico: Trump told aides firing Flynn was a mistake.

Two days after firing Michael Flynn as his national security adviser in February, President Donald Trump told several aides and friends he should have kept him instead….

“I was kind of stunned,” one person said. “I asked him. You fired him already. What are you going to do?”

Trump has grown obsessed with defending the tough-talking 58-year old general, repeatedly telling aides and associates in private that Flynn was a “good man.” One adviser close to Trump said he’s heard Trump defend the general using the exact words described in reports of memos written by former FBI director James Comey recording his conversations with the president — and that Trump has told people inside the White House he wished the investigation would go away.

It has left White House officials and outside advisers perplexed: Why is Trump so determined to defend a man at the center of a federal investigation that is damaging his administration, and a man he has accused of lying to his vice president?

Officials say Trump has remained resolute in defending Flynn even though aides, including White House Counsel Don McGahn, have reminded Trump of the Russia investigation and other problems. News reports about Flynn, including his lobbying for foreign governments, haven’t bothered Trump nearly as much as they’ve bothered his aides, senior officials said. News of subpoenas haven’t caused him to lose faith, even privately, associates said.

“A lot of people in the White House don’t want anything to do with Flynn,” one White House official said. ”But Trump loves him. He thinks everyone is out to get him.”

Ann Telnaees at the WaPo

So now Trump is in Saudi Arabia, and he’s going to give a speech on Islam to 50 Middle-Eastern leaders. The speech was written by notorious alt-right islamophobe Stephen Miller.

The author of President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, which targeted people from six-majority Muslim countries, is the principal speechwriter for the President’s speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior adviser for policy and speechwriter, is the principal aide in charge of writing both the speech on Islam and Trump’s later speech on the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a White House official told CNN.

Both are topics Miller has spoken out against throughout his career on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

The official said the speech has been put together through a collaborative process inside the White House, but that Miller was the primary author.

The speech, which will be given in front of about 50 Muslim leaders, could be a flashpoint in Trump’s eight-day, five country trip. Trump has long derided Islam, proposed banning all Muslim immigration into the United States during the campaign and is expected to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout the speech in Saudi Arabia, the cradle of the 1.6 billion-member religion.

What could possibly go wrong?

It will be current National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster’s job to keep Trump on a short leash on his foreign trip. I’m not so sure how capable McMaster is at controlling his boss, considering that McMaster was present at the meet where Trump handed Israeli intelligence secrets to the Russians and admitted that he fired the FBI director be cause he’s “a nutjob” for investigating connections between Trump and Russia.

Jake Tapper at CNN: Between Trump and his national security adviser lie ‘ferocious’ internal politics.

As President Donald Trump heads overseas for his first international trip as President, many in the international community will be watching his national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, who has just experienced one of the most politically challenging weeks of his career.

The trip — to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, a NATO summit in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily — will be fraught with international risks, and much of it is riding on the ability of McMaster to steer the President in the right directions.

“It can be difficult to advise the President effectively given his seemingly short attention span and propensity to be easily distracted,” a source knowledgeable about McMaster’s day-to-day challenges told CNN.

The source added that McMaster’s task — being an honest broker of various national security options for the President — is further complicated by fears on the National Security Council that Trump can be reckless with sensitive information.

“You can’t say what not to say,” the source said of Trump, “because that will then be one of the first things he’ll say.”

When the president is “a moron,” it can be difficult to work for him. If only the media hadn’t ignored Hillary’s warnings.

McMaster increasingly finds himself in a situation where rivals in the White House “try to undermine him or leak information to the media that undermines the national security of the United States.”

Bannon is said to be “the biggest obstruction” to McMaster doing his job.

In one recent situation, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and McMaster had agreed that they would provide a range of options for the President in terms of how to proceed in Afghanistan, including a modest increase in the number of US troops in Afghanistan.

But before McMaster could make the recommendation, the option of a troop buildup was leaked to the media, with part of the leak including that Bannon opposed such a move. The blowback from conservatives and others cleaused the recommendations to be delayed, and others who supported the move to get “skittish.” The leak was perceived within the NSC as Bannon or his allies trying to stamp McMaster’s name onto the proposal and to push back against it through the media.

Read more at CNN.

Trump will also be going to Israel, where Intel officials were “horrified” by his leaks to Russian officials. Recall that McMaster said these leaks were “wholly appropriate.”

The Times of Israel: ‘Horrified’ Israeli intel officials ‘were shouting at US counterparts’ over Trump leak.

US President Donald Trump’s reported sharing of a highly classified Israeli tip with Russia led to incredibly tense meetings between Israeli and American intelligence officials, Foreign Policy Magazine reported Friday.

The Israelis reportedly shouted at their US counterparts, demanding an explanation for Trump’s actions, according to the magazine, which quoted a US defense official….

Though Washington and Jerusalem have publicly brushed aside reports of the incident, behind the scenes top Israeli defense officials are said to be angry and concerned by the president’s actions.

Beyond the possible danger to the source, FP reported that Israelis feared they had lost any further access to the spy’s intel.

Though the magazine noted that IS is not currently a major concern for the Jewish state, the spy was also reportedly a major asset in gaining information on the actions of Iran in Syria — through its Revolutionary Guards Corps and Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, both of which have been fighting for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

One more story about the moron-in-chief, before I wrap this up. Business Insider: Trump’s aides hosted an ‘intervention’ to try to tone down his Twitter use.

President Donald Trump’s aides grew so alarmed by the barrage of inflammatory tweets coming from Trump that they organized an “intervention,” one official said to The Wall Street Journal.

Hosted several weeks ago, the discussion was reportedly meant to encourage Trump to exercise more restraint on the social media platform, which has gotten Trump into trouble in the past — more recently when he openly accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign.

Aides warned Trump his tweets could “paint him into a corner” potentially compromising him both politically and legally.

Of course it didn’t work . . .

I know I’ve just scratched the surface of all the fast-breaking news. What are you hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread below. Have a nice weekend and keep plenty of popcorn on hand.


Friday Reads: Crazy comes in a Variety of Flavors

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I have to admit that getting rid of Kremlin Caligula would certainly make the entire world sleep easier. His brand of crazy, affluenza, and narcissism creates nothing but chaos.  I find this appalling on all levels but as both a student and teacher of game theory I can only imagine what the folks are doing that use that tool for diplomatic negotiations, strategic arms control, terrorism scenarios, economic shocks, and all other types of endeavors where strategy, predictability, and the assumption of operating in rational best interest are intrinsic to the models.  President Swiss Cheese for brains emanates black swans like a newborn fills diapers. It’s constant and YUGE and stinky!!! That’s a dangerous situation in a world with nuclear weapons, sophisticated war games, and global trade which all rely heavily on the game theory method of analyzing and containing fucked up situations.

However, what’s waiting in the wings at the moment is a scary predictable monster. Former Indiana Governor and current VPOTUS Mike Pence is a known and frightening quantity. What we know is extremely bad. He’s quiet yet conventionally political and as radical as they come.  This is why I dread reading and hearing about a potential President Mike Pence.  His religious, economic, and record of governance are appalling. He is forming a PAC and undoubtedly finding the finger of gawd up his ass with this Politico Headline and lede: ‘Conservatives begin to whisper: President Pence. With Trump swamped by self-inflicted scandals, Republicans find solace in the man waiting in the wings.’

And conservative New York Times op-ed writer Ross Douthat, argued that abandoning Trump now should be easier because someone competent is waiting in the wings. “Hillary Clinton will not be retroactively elected if Trump is removed, nor will Neil Gorsuch be unseated,” Douthat wrote in Wednesday’s Times.

The pining for Pence is nothing new, however. From Capitol Hill to K Street, the notion that many Republicans prefer Pence to Trump in the Oval Office is perhaps the worst-kept secret in Washington.

Just ask Republican lobbyists who have watched the Trump administration struggle to move tax reform, health care and other top priorities.

“I find it unlikely that Trump is going anywhere,” one GOP lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wrote in an email. “That being said, Pence is well-liked on the Hill, fairly predictable, and doesn’t stir up much unnecessary drama.”

A number of Republican lobbyists already view Pence as a source of stability in an otherwise tumultuous White House. Many of Pence’s top staffers — including his chief of staff, Josh Pitcock — worked for Pence during his years in the House and are deeply familiar with the legislative process. Other former Pence staffers from his House days are working elsewhere in the administration, including Marc Short, the legislative affairs director, and Russ Vought, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

While Pence may not be as commanding a figure in Trump’s White House as Dick Cheney was in George W. Bush’s, Trump has leaned on him heavily. Lobbyists who set up meetings between Pence and their clients must warn them that the vice president may be an hour and a half late or have to leave after 10 minutes because Trump is constantly calling him into the Oval Office to confer with him, according to one Republican lobbyist.

Ross Douthat is a philistine and throwback to the worst Western Civilization has ever offered. Anything he suggests should be immediately dumped into a nuclear waste dump.  Both Pence and Douthat are likely reincarnations of the worst the Spanish Inquisition ever offered.  You can tell that the Republican machine is closing ranks around him from these kinds of comments. Be very afraid!

Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged wrongdoing, according to a source close to the administration, who cited a potential “pattern” of not informing the vice president and calling it “malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”

A White House spokesman called The Times’ report “flat wrong” on Thursday, but the latest revelations, including a report that Flynn called off a military mission in Raqqa after working as a foreign agent for Turkey, only broadened the scope of questions around Flynn’s time as an adviser to the Trump campaign and the eventual National Security Adviser.

The source called the report of another discretion by Flynn “stunning.”

This would be the second time that Pence claims he was kept in the dark about possible Flynn wrongdoings, despite the White House’s alleged knowledge of them. Earlier this year, Pence said he was not made aware of Flynn’s discussions with Russian officials until 15 days after Trump and the White House were notified.

The source close to the administration, who requested anonymity as the White House denies the story, is now saying that Pence and his team were not made aware of any investigation relating to Flynn’s work as a foreign agent for Turkey.

“It’s also a fact that if he told McGahn that during the transition, it’s also a fact that not only was Pence not made aware of that, no one around Pence was as well,” the source said. “And that’s an egregious error — and it has to be intentional. It’s either malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”

 I call Shennigans! What did Mike Pence know and when did he know it? He was the head of the transition team.  How on earth could he not know anything about any of this?  Nothing about any answer to this question is uplifting.
Vice President Mike Pence is standing by a March statement that he first learned of now-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Turkey from media reports, despite renewed scrutiny and revelations President Donald Trump’s transition team was made aware far earlier.
“The vice president stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding General Flynn’s ties to Turkey and fully supports the President’s decision to ask for General Flynn’s resignation,” said an aide to Pence, who declined to be named.
But questions about what Pence knew and when are swirling thanks to new media reports about what Flynn revealed to Trump’s transition team, which Pence oversaw.
Flynn informed the Trump transition team more than two weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for his work as a lobbyist advocating for Turkish government interests, The New York Times reported Wednesday. But Pence didn’t know, according to a senior administration official close to Pence.
Despite reportedly informing the transition’s chief lawyer Donald McGahn, now White House counsel, of the investigation’s existence, Flynn still walked into the West Wing on January 20 as the President’s top adviser on national security issues.

Even young evangelicals question Mike Pence as witnessed by a protest of him by students in a small bible college where he spoke at commencement.  However, they still consider him to be a “good” christian. This is what worries me.

Pence is a radical.  He’s also not very bright.  He is, however, good at passing as a conventional human being. He also looks like the anchor to sanity compared to his unhinged boss. This is dangerous in a time when looking for safe ports is a minute by minute task.

During my travels across the self-proclaimed Crossroads of America, I learned that Mike Pence had once paid his mortgage with campaign funds, dragged his feet during an HIV epidemic and a lead-poisoning outbreak, signed an anti-gay-rights bill that nearly cost Indiana millions of dollars, lost his mind on national TV with George Stephanopoulos, and turned away Syrian refugees in an unconstitutional ploy laughed out of federal court. And he ended his gubernatorial term unpopular enough that his re-election bid in a Republican state seemed dicey at best.

Pence is the nation’s 48th vice president. Nine vice presidents have assumed the presidency as a result of death or resignation. That’s a 19 percent ascendancy rate. Between Trump’s trigger-happy Twitter persona, the ethical nightmare of his business empire, his KFC addiction and possible entanglements with Vladimir Putin, I’d say the chances for Mike Pence are more than 50-50.

So what do we know about Pence? The governor benefited greatly from the wall-to-wall “Trump is a crazy monkey throwing feces” media coverage during the fall campaign, in that his record was undercovered, but it’s out there and suggests that his impact as vice president will screw African-Americans, women, the poor and any other square peg in round America. His concerns for the parts of Indiana outside his comfort zone toggled between disinterest and disdain.

And here’s the frightening thing: Unlike his boss, Mike Pence has an actual ideology. Pence proclaimed at the 2016 GOP convention that “I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” However, his actual record – including turning down up to $80 million in federal pre-K funding – is the antithesis of Jesus’ “whatever you do for one of the least of my brothers, you do for me” theology.

This should worry anyone that is concerned about the rights of women and GLBT.  It should concern those of us that like to live in the modern age. He’s no different from the Taliban except for the name and face on the prophet. We would do well to remember that!

In 2000, Pence made another bid for Congress. He checked the GOP boxes for cutting taxes while increasing military spending, but he also made it clear he was a Christian warrior, stating, “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.” He also argued that the AIDS resources bill, commonly known as the Ryan White Care Act, should be renewed only if resources were “directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” While Pence has argued that providing assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior meant abstinence groups, many gay activists heard code words for “conversion therapy.” In 2006, he spoke in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, arguing that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”

Pence fought against the pro-choice movement with vigor rare even by right-wing standards, introducing a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood year after year he was in the House. The death of a woman after taking an abortion pill led Pence to the House floor, where he spoke favorably of Lex Cornelia, a collection of ancient Roman laws, including one detailing how providers of abortion potions were sentenced to work in the mines.

His agenda was so radical that exactly zero of Pence’s bills became law. But he’d laid down markers that would be appreciated by the hard right who vote in presidential primaries.

These are excerpts from an extremely long but engaging piece in a January issue of Rolling Stone by Stephan Rodrick.  It’s worth your time.

Oh, and speaking of dishrags that hold down VEEP jobs, Biden opened his mouth again and it’s not pretty.  Here’s WAPO: ‘Biden disses Clinton: ‘I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate.’’ This from the man who could never climb out of the bottom tier of national candidates. This from the man who lead the real witch hunt on Anita Hill.

Former vice president Joe Biden stirred the Democratic pot a little bit on Thursday night.

Appearing at the SALT hedge fund conference in Las Vegas, the possible 2020 presidential candidate weighed in on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy in a way that Clinton supporters sure won’t like.

“I never thought she was a great candidate,” Biden said, according to reports. “I thought I was a great candidate.”

Biden clarified, according to CNN, that “Hillary would have been a really good president.” But that isn’t likely to make Clinton supporters feel much better.

Biden isn’t the first leading Democratic figure with possible designs on 2020 to apparently slight Clinton. Clinton’s 2016 primary foe, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has repeatedly offered some version of this quote: “It wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election; it was that the Democratic Party that lost the election.”

Those comments have definitely rubbed some Clinton supporters the wrong way, and Biden’s are likely to even more so, given how direct they were.

This is all followed, of course, by the proverbial MSM meme that Hillary was such a bad candidate.   Yeah, you can tell that by the number of votes she’s gotten and the number of times she wins most admired woman in the world and in the US.  WTF is wrong ?  Can’t this nitwit just go peacefully into the night and tilt at a few windmills in the name of cancer research and the memory of his son?

I will never forget what he said about Clarence Thomas and what he did to Anita Hill in those confirmation hearings.  NEVER!

So, as we swiftly continue our realization that white men will never give women a chance to lead,  remember that our current VEEP calls his wife “MOTHER” and will not be left alone in any room with a woman. 

Vice President Mike Pence is known for many things: the homophobic policies he instated while governor of Indiana, his fierce opposition to women’s health care, his tendency to defer to the Bible over the Constitution. Yet another facet of the vice president emerged recently: his desire to never dine alone in the company of a woman other than his wife. This is odd enough — but things get even weirder when you consider that Pence allegedly calls his wife, Karen, “Mother.” If the claims are true, why does he use this seemingly outdated nickname? There’s no clear answer, but I can take an educated guess.

Pence’s supposed penchant for calling Karen “Mother, Mother” (that’s two “mothers” in a row, if you’re keeping track), originally came to light in a January Rolling Stone profile on Mrs. Pence. The piece recounted a dinner Pence held for the Democratic minority while he was governor of Indiana. It was here, reportedly, that multiple members of the dinner party heard Pence refer to Karen as “Mother.”

“Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?” Pence allegedly asked. He followed this up with another question later in the evening, supposedly asking Karen, “Mother, Mother, whose china are we eating on?”

Flash forward to this week’s profile of Karen in the Washington Post. The publication cited a long-buried 2002 interview with the Hill, in which Pence said he never eats alone with a woman that isn’t his wife, and likewise never drinks alcohol without his wife present.

Could these seemingly outdated guidelines tie in with the alleged “Mother” nickname? I’m going to wager that yes, it’s very possible.

The boundaries he sets in his own marriage are up to him and “Mother” (erm, his wife), of course. But these rules Pence has placed on himself are no great surprise when you consider his socially conservative take on women’s issues at large, as well as his tendency to incorporate his own religious views into his political life. His tie-breaking Senate vote to allow states to withhold Title X funding from clinics that provide abortions, even though abortions are legal in the United States, is only the latest example.

UGH!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: News Breaks by the Hour These Days

At Breakfast, by Laurits Andersen Ring

Good Morning!!

Where to begin? A special counsel has been appointed. Trump tweets; exhausted White House staff has another mess to clean up. Roger Ailes is dead.  The current occupant of the White House can’t spell. Lawrence O’Donnell’s show may yet survive. And so much more.

The tweet below has been deleted and replaced now:

Special Counsel appointed by DOJ

Philip Shenon at Politico: Trump’s Worst Nightmare Comes True. President Trump fired James Comey. He got his old pal, Robert Mueller, instead—and years of trouble.

The most daunting assignment in Robert Mueller’s career in law-enforcement and public service might seem to have arrived on Wednesday night, with his appointment as the special prosecutor in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 president campaign, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

But it’s hard to imagine that this new job is any more intimidating than the one Mueller confronted on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the newly arrived FBI director was forced to deal with the aftermath of terrorist attacks that left more than 3,000 people dead in New York and Washington and put the FBI’s very survival in doubt because of what would be shown to be its well-documented bungling before the attacks. On 9/11, Mueller had been on the job at the FBI for exactly one week.

The fact that the FBI survived in one piece after multiple government investigations of 9/11, and that Mueller went on to serve another dozen years at the bureau and left with his reputation for independence and honesty largely unscathed, suggests to his friends and admirers that the blue-blooded 72-year-old former Marine is the right man for his new job – and that President Trump and his campaign advisers have much to fear from his investigation.

Under terms of his appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller will have wide powers to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and—beyond that—“any matters” that arise from the investigation, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

Just a few of the stories that broke last night after we learned about the special counsel in the afternoon.

Morning Coffee, Malcolm Liepke

The New York Times: Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House.

Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case.

Despite this warning, which came about a month after the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn of the inquiry, Mr. Trump made Mr. Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies.

Mr. Flynn’s disclosure, on Jan. 4, was first made to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel. That conversation, and another one two days later between Mr. Flynn’s lawyer and transition lawyers, shows that the Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than has been previously reported.

And of course we knew that Rep. Elijah Cummings had informed the Trump transition team in November that Flynn had been paid to lobby for Turkey. Will Mike Pence still try to claim he didn’t know anything?

McClatchy: Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent.

One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.

The decision came 10 days before Donald Trump had been sworn in as president, in a conversation with President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, who had explained the Pentagon’s plan to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa with Syrian Kurdish forces whom the Pentagon considered the U.S.’s most effective military partners. Obama’s national security team had decided to ask for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president.

Flynn didn’t hesitate. According to timelines distributed by members of Congress in the weeks since, Flynn told Rice to hold off, a move that would delay the military operation for months….

Now members of Congress, musing about the tangle of legal difficulties Flynn faces, cite that exchange with Rice as perhaps the most serious: acting on behalf of a foreign nation – from which he had received considerable cash – when making a military decision. Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word “treason” to describe Flynn’s intervention, though experts doubt that his actions qualify.

Reading the News, by Steve Prenner

The Washington Post: House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump.

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

Breaking this morning:

Reuters exclusive: Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources.

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

Read the rest at the link.

Madame Monet Reading le Figaro, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The Washington Post: Roger Ailes, architect of conservative TV juggernaut Fox News, is dead at 77.

Roger Ailes, who mastered the art of selling political candidates like Hollywood celebrities and was the architect of conservative-oriented TV news, died Thursday at 77. He was the longtime chairman and chief executive of the Fox News Channel, building it over two decades into an politically influential juggernaut until his abrupt ouster last year amid sexual harassment allegations.

His family confirmed the death in a statement. No cause or location was reported.

I don’t like being rude, but in this case I say good riddance. Read more at the WaPo.

 

The “beleaguered” White House staff is freaking out

The Washington Post: The worst job in Washington right now: Working for Trump.

As Donald Trump has grown increasingly angry and frustrated with his White House staff, the beleaguered targets of his ire have a quietly roiling gripe of their own — their boss, the president himself.

Since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump has lurched through crises of his own making — from the explosive report Monday that he had revealed highly classified intelligence to Russian officials to the bombshell Tuesday thathe had urged Comey to end the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.

In his wake remain his exhausted aides and deputies, the frequent targets of Trump’s wrath as they struggle to control an uncontrollable chief executive and labor to explain away his stumbles.

Wednesday evening brought yet another challenging development for the White House, as the Justice Department announced a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Some White House staffers have turned to impeachment gallows humor. Other mid-level aides have started contacting consultants, shopping their résumés. And at least one senior staffer has begun privately talking to friends about what a post-White House job would look like, according to two people close the staffer.

Break out the popcorn and the tiny violin. Why did they link themselves to a carnival barker in the first place? I have no sympathy for them. None.

Michael Kranish on Trump’s dysfunctional coping methods: 

Woman reading news, by James Jacques Joseph

The Washington Post: As president, Trump’s legacy of lawsuits and minimal briefings isn’t helping.

As President Trump manages his latest crises, he is turning to strategies from his tumultuous business career: rely on family and a few trusted advisers, demand absolute loyalty from those beyond the inner circle, threaten opponents with legal action, and insist on bare-bones briefings.

But the tactics that Trump believed served him so well in business may be adding to his self-inflicted wounds as a special counsel prepares to launch an investigation into allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election.

Trump’s family has no government background, and most of his most trusted advisers never worked in a White House. His demands to government officials for personal loyalty are superseded by their loyalty to the Constitution. His threats — such as tweeting that fired FBI Director James B. Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” — have often backfired. Comey’s associates provided quotes from a memo about the conversation that appear to support Comey’s version of events.

And Trump’s famous aversion to in-depth analysis — he once wrote that “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience” — has led to concerns that he doesn’t absorb complicated briefing material from intelligence agencies and other sources.

Barbara Res, former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said that Trump would often come up with business proposals that needed someone to tell him “that’s not a good idea, Donald. It seems to me that people are not doing that” at the White House.

Some good news that I missed yesterday:

Showbiz 411: MSNBC-Lawrence O’Donnell: “The Last Word” is Not Over as HUGE Fan Response Comes to Rescue of Show.

We may not have heard “The Last Word,” as it turns out.

I’m told that late yesterday afternoon, MSNBC finally contacted Lawrence O’Donnell‘s agency, WME, to have some talks about renewing his contract.

The contract runs out in less than four weeks. The network, some posit, was stalling as a “tactic.” It didn’t work.

Fan response to the news that O’Donnell might be gone has been HUGE. From Twitter and Facebook to old fashioned calls to MSNBC‘s Phil Griffith and NBC’s Andy Lack, it’s been actually shocking. Not that I’m surprised.

But it turns out MSNBC’s viewers have made “The Last Word” a hit not just because of Rachel Maddow and hatred for Donald Trump, but because they actually enjoy O’Donnell’s reasoned and impassioned approach to the events of the day.

So there may be a happy ending to this bizarre situation.

What wild breaking news is coming today? There’s sure to be plenty of it. Please share the stories you’re following in the comment thread below.