Lazy Saturday Reads

Key West Chairs, Dorine MacLauchlan

Good Afternoon!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Goldfish Window, Childe Hassam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Afternoon, William Gunning King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More at the link.

Brookside Park Pasadena on a Saturday Afternoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madeline in a Wheat Field, Daniel Ridgway Knight

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Afternoon, Mark Arian

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

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

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

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

Read the rest at the WaPo.

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

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


Friday Reads: Ready the Pitchforks

Morning Sky Dancers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Enrich his family

2) Appease Putin and the Russian oligarchs

3) Get as much attention as possible

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

5) Get rid of everything associated with Barrack Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mueller is indeed hunting down the facts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reasons for the moves were not immediately known.

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

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

Kasowitz later apologized.

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

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

Oh, and this was just announced:

‘W.H. press secretary Sean Spicer resigns’

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

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

 

 

 


Thursday Reads: Another Bonkers Trump Interview and More Breaking News

Sunday Afternoon, by Marie François Firmin-Girard

Good Morning!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desire DeHau reading a newspaper, by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

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

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

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

Much more at the link.

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

Some excerpts:

About health insurance and preexisting conditions:

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

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

Painting of woman reading newspaper by Johanna Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

The “president” had a blast in France.

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

HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.

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

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

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

Claude Monet reading a newspaper, by Pierre Auguste Renoir

On the parade in Paris:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading the News, by Evariste Carpentier

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

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

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

BAKER: When was that?

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

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

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

Other important stories to check out:

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

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

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

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

Politico: Republicans lament an agenda in ‘quicksand.’

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

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

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


Wednesday Reads: We wrote letters…

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

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

Now for the cartoons:

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

A post shared by The Daily Don (@the.daily.don) on

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

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Made in America Week

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

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

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

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - MADE IN AMERICA WEEK

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

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

07/19/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

07/19/2017 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

07/18/2017 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

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

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

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - What Gets Called Treason?

 

 

 

 

This is an open thread….

 

 


Tuesday Reads: The Death of Trumpcare, Don Jr.’s Meeting, and “Devil’s Bargain.”

Good Morning!!

Trumpcare is dead after two more GOP Senators said they won’t support the bill to “repeal and replace Obamacare. The Washington Post reports:

Two more Senate Republicans have declared their opposition to the latest plan to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, potentially ending a months-long effort to make good on a GOP promise that has defined the party for nearly a decade and been a top priority for President Trump.

Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) issued statements declaring that they would not vote for the revamped measure. The sudden breaks by Lee, a staunch conservative, and Moran, an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), rocked the GOP leadership and effectively closed what already had been an increasingly narrow path to passage for the bill.

They joined Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine), who also oppose it. With just 52 seats, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes to pass their proposed rewrite of the Affordable Care Act. All 46 Democrats and two independents are expected to vote against it.

In a pair of tweets Tuesday morning, Trump decried the defections, called for letting the Affordable Care Act “fail” and vowed to keep pushing for a GOP plan.

“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!” he wrote in the first tweet.

Remember when our joke of a “president” said repealing Obamacare would be “so easy?” Mother Jones in March:

“Together we’re going to deliver real change that once again puts Americans first,” Trump said at an October rally in Florida. “That begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare…You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost—and it’s going to be so easy.”

Trump also argued on the campaign trail that electing a Republican-controlled Congress would allow him to quickly dismantle the health care law and pass other pieces of legislation. “With a Republican House and Senate, we will immediately repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said at another event. “A Republican House and Senate can swiftly enact the other items in my contract immediately, including massive tax reduction.”

“We will [repeal and replace Obamacare], and we will do it very, very quickly,” Trump said during the final week of the campaign. “It is a catastrophe.”

Trump’s confidence in his ability to win the health care fight continued through the first few weeks of his presidency. On February 9, he bragged that when it came to repealing Obamacare, “Nobody can do that like me.” ….

By the end of February, Trump had changed his tune somewhat. “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” the president said. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

He still has no idea what’s in the bill he was so eager to sign.

So now Mitch McConnell says he will try to do a simple repeal of the ACA and worry about a “replacement” down the road. The Washington Post says that plan is dead in the water too.

Mitch McConnell pulled the second draft of his health-care bill last night after two more Republican senators came out against even bringing it up for debate on the floor: Utah’s Mike Lee and Kansas’s Jerry Moran.

“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” the Senate majority leader said in a statement sent at 10:47 p.m.

He announced that he’ll bring the bill that already passed the House up for consideration “in the coming days,” and the first amendment the Senate would take up would be for the full repeal of Obamacare (with a two-year delay for implementation). But to get that vote on repeal, conservative critics must vote to allow debate on the broader bill.

If the clean vote for full repeal failed, as it almost certainly would, senators could continue making additional amendments that may make the measure even more unpalatable to conservatives.

The latest Trump Russia news:

CNN is trying to find out who the eighth person in the Don Jr. meeting was.

CNN reported July 14 that there was also an eighth person in the room, according to two sources familiar with the circumstances, although the name has not been disclosed. The person was described to CNN by a source as a representative of the Russian family, the Agalarovs, who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. While it isn’t clear who the person is, a second source said he was an employee of the Agalarovs who was in the US before the meeting.

More hints: Trump Jr. attorney offers details about 8th person at meeting.

Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, has told CNN he has spoken by phone to the eighth person in the room during the meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016.

CNN reported last week that the Awas there on behalf of a Russian family, the Agalarovs, who had asked for the meeting to be set up, according to two sources….

Futerfas says the person, who he declined to name, was a US citizen and said he was not employed by the Russian government. But Futerfas acknowledged he didn’t know his entire history. The Agalarovs and their attorney have not publicly explained who the employee was who attended.

Finally, Dan Diamond of CNN has pulled together “the ever-changing story about Trump Jr.’s meeting — what we know.”

The New York Times has a piece on “The Master of ‘Kompromat’ Believed to Be Behind Trump Jr.’s Meeting.”

The salacious video, of a naked man in bed with two women, was one of the most prominent examples of “kompromat,” the Russian art of spreading damaging information to discredit a rival or an enemy, in recent Russian history.

It was made available to Russian state television in the late 1990s and authenticated in public by Yuri Y. Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general, who at 66 has a long and storied background in kompromat. Mr. Chaika benefited from the video, as it destroyed a predecessor as prosecutor general, Yuri I. Skuratov, who had been looking into suspicions of corruption by President Boris N. Yeltsin and his associates.

Mr. Chaika (pronounced CHIKE-uh) is also the man who is widely considered to have been the source of the incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump Jr. was promised at a meeting last June in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and a Russian-American lobbyist. And yet, oddly, the accusations brought to New York fell flat, by the accounts of those present, despite their having originated from such a seasoned master of kompromat.

We’ll see. I’m not prepared to believe anything that comes from the Trump family or their attorneys.

 

This morning I downloaded the new book on Steve Bannon and the Trump campaign by Joshua Green. Here’s the intro from the New York Times review: How Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Rode the Honey Badger Into the White House.

Mellivora capensis — better known as the honey badger — is a thick-skinned and sharp-toothed little creature that in 2011 became a YouTube sensation thanks to a short video called “The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger.” In the clip, a honey badger chases off jackals, raids a beehive, survives a cobra bite and eats venomous snakes head first. Meanwhile, an unseen narrator extols the animal’s core virtue: “Honey badger don’t give a . . .” — well, a darn.

The video has been viewed more than 83 million times.

Most people who watch it probably find it fairly amusing — and plenty gross. But for Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist and leading impresario of the alt-right, the video and its furry hero were something else: inspiration. The animal is the mascot of Breitbart News, the truth-optional publication Bannon took over following Andrew Breitbart’s sudden death in 2012 and with which he can maintain communication thanks to a White House waiver. After Trump made allegations about Bill Clinton’s sexual history in a debate last year with Hillary Clinton, Bannon exulted over his boss’s brazen but effective performance: “Classic honey badger,” he called it.

If there’s a lesson to draw from “Devil’s Bargain,” Joshua Green’s deeply reported and compulsively readable account of Bannon’s fateful political partnership with Trump, it is not to underestimate the honey badger. “If I didn’t come along, the Republican Party had zero chance of winning the presidency,” Trump told Green, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, in May 2016, and he was probably right. Only someone with his and Bannon’s transgressive instincts, along with their seeming incapacity for moral and intellectual embarrassment, could have defeated the well-oiled if soulless machine that was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

You’ve probably already heard about or read excerpts from the book. A couple of examples:

The Daily Beast: Trump’s Campaign Conceded in a Memo That Comey Was Having Major Impact.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign acknowledged in an internal memo that former FBI Director James Comey’s 11th hour decision to reopen an inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email helped shift the results.

Reported in Joshua Green’s new book Devil’s Bargain, the memo gives credence to an argument long espoused by Clinton world that Comey’s announcement propelled Trump to victory.

The memo was authored by some of Trump’s pollsters and data gurus just five days before the vote. Days earlier, Comey had reopened his investigation after FBI agents found additional emails on a laptop belonged Anthony Weiner, the now estranged husband of Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin. While polling began to swing towards Trump, virtually all prognosticators still had Clinton heading for a comfortable win on November 8. On the Trump campaign, however, Green writes that “it was suddenly clear” that the investigation “was roiling the electorate.”

“The last few days have proven to be pivotal in the minds of voters with the recent revelations in reopening the investigation of Secretary Clinton,” the memo read, according to Green. “Early polling numbers show declining support for Clinton, shifting in favor of Mr. Trump.”

It added: “This may have a fundamental impact on the results.”

The Daily Mail: Trump the foul-mouthed germophobe fired Chris Christie because New Jersey governor arranged for Obama to call his phone NOT The Donald’s on election night.

Author Joshua Green, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, writes that Christie had run against Trump for the Republican Presidential candidacy but quit in February last year after the New Hampshire primary.

The next month he shocked the Republican establishment by endorsing Trump and began leading his White House transition team.

According to ‘Devil’s Bargain’, Trump was in his War Room on election night when it started to look like he would pull of his shock victory.

The book says that ‘although he was surrounded by friends, aides and family members, there seemed to be a force field around him that discouraged a direct approach’.

Friends started congratulating Mike Pence instead and saluting him as ‘Mr Vice President’.

Trump sat down to ‘absorb the gravity of what was happening’ and a moment later Christie ‘burst through the force field and sat next to him’.

Christie said: ‘Hey Donald. The President talked to me earlier’ – the two had gotten to know each other after Superstorm Sandy. Christie said: ‘If you win he’s going to call my phone, and I’ll pass it over to you’.

Trump ‘flashed a look of annoyance, clearly resenting the intrusion’ and was repulsed by the idea of having somebody else’s phone next to his face.

Trump told Christie: ‘Hey Chris, you know my f***ing phone number. Just give it to the President. I don’t want your f***ing phone’.

Aides said that Christie’s move was the ‘ultimate mistake’ and one from which he ‘wouldn’t recover’.

If anyone is looking for me, I’ll be reading this book up until I have to go to the Dentist later this afternoon.

What stories are you following today?

 

 


Misc. Monday Reads

I’ve spent the morning searching through a lot of things and finally decided to give in to my inner child.  There are many exciting things afoot that will feed my need to escape and dream.  These are times that require much escape.  These are times that require us to dream.

First, I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for a very long time. Tom Baker was my first doctor and will likely have that space in my heart relegated to sparking my imagination of time travel beyond a book.  I may have to make a huge amount of room for the new Dr Who, Jodie Whittaker. Not only is she a Whittaker with two ‘ts’ but she’s a she. That apparently is a bit too much for some men who can’t imagine the Doctor with a bevy of cute young male sidekicks.

Few TV casting announcements can have been as long awaited as the name of Doctor Who’s 13th Time Lord and when the revelation finally came it sent social media into a frenzy.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world joined the debate about the news that Jodie Whittaker is to star as the first female Doctor.

While some people talked about the great role model the new Doctor would be for girls and women, others wondered why it had taken so long and some were firmly in the camp that the Doctor was only ever meant to be male.

People with young girls in their families appeared to be delighted at the announcement including David Owens who wrote: “My 8-year-old daughter pumped her fist and shouted “yes!” when the new @bbcdoctorwho was revealed. Think that tells you all you need to know.”

David Owens' tweetImage copyright DAVID OWENS

Simon Tucker responded saying: It’s great mate. My nieces can grow up in a world with a good Wonder Woman, a female Jedi, female ghostbusters & a female Dr Who.”

And @BlackRyu82 wrote: “My youngest daughter loves new Ghostbusters. We watched it together almost daily at one point. Super excited to watch Dr Who with her!”

Jodie Whittaker

One user applauded the move saying: “The lack of women, and lead women, in sci fi is embarrassing. Doctor Who just made a step in the right direction”.

And the casting milestone made some people feel quite emotional like Carla Joanne who tweeted: “Wow. I don’t even watch #DrWho & this made me choke up a little. I will def be tuning in”.

Be sure to check out All the Doctors, from Hartnell to Whittaker.

The 13th Doctor will make her debut on the sci-fi show when the Doctor regenerates in the Christmas special.  It is sweet that many former Doctors are speaking up for the 13th Doctor.

Colin Baker, the former Doctor Who actor, has hit out at the “very sad” reaction from some fans to the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the lead character in the new series.

Baker, 74, who held the role between 1984 and 1986, endorsed Whittaker as the first actress to play the part. He wrote on Twitter that he was surprised by fans who opposed the casting of Whittaker, 35, because she was a woman.

“Cannot deny that I am amazed by the ‘never watch it again’ reaction by some viewers (I hesitate to call them ‘fans’),” he wrote. “Very sad. To those making ‘parking the Tardis’ jokes — name me one male Doctor that was unfailingly good at that!”

One of the first books I shared with Doctor Daughter was A Wrinkle in Time. This wonderful book is a science fantasy novel written by American writer Madeleine L’Engle. It was first published in 1963. I jumped on it immediately as an 8 year old with an avid reading appetite. I think it was on my Scholastic Book Club order in 3rd grade and I was always allowed to order one each month.  It’s now coming out as a movie and I may have to make a trip to Seattle just so we can see it together.

Young actress Storm Reid stars as Meg Murry, with an all-star cast of adult actors backing her up, including the cosmic trio of Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, and Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine play Meg’s parents, Dr. Kate Murry and the mysteriously-missing Dr. Alex Murry. Newcomer Deric McCabe plays Meg’s gifted little brother, Charles Wallace.

We’re so excited for this movie, we’re gonna overlook the fact that the trailer contains yet another use of an edgy remake of a familiar pop song as its background music. A Wrinkle in Time will be out March 9, 2018.

And if course, folks can’t just let little girls and every one else enjoy that either without having issues with its young black star 13 year old Storm Reid but fuck them all.

Women are still badasses in the 7th season of Game of Thrones which debuted last night.  I had never been so thrilled to hear a song for opening credits in my life.  Several young women make the old men look like total piles of wimp.

Game of Thrones likes to keep viewers on their toes. Ever since Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) head went rolling at the end of the first season, we knew that none of our favorite characters were safe. And with scenes like Red Wedding [shivers] or Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and the entire Sept going up into green flames, many of us accepted that if we wanted to feel good at the conclusion of a show, we should look elsewhere. But every once in awhile, the series comes through, like with the Purple Wedding, where Joffrey met his doom. And in the season seven premiere, the show catered to the demands of viewers in a really important way. If the opener was any indication, the seventh season of Game of Thrones is all about women as important, powerful players in the fight for the Seven Kingdoms.

The cold open sees Arya (Maisie Williams), with her new face-swapping skills, parading as the deceased Walder Frey (David Bradley) and murdering all of his men with a batch of poisoned wine. This is just another item crossed off of her to-do list, which is primarily made up of killing all of her enemies. Arya has been elevated to the status of an assassin hell-bent on revenge, yet we’re still rooting for her. This falls in line with the treatment of male characters that are driven to the point of no return and start killing everyone in sight — their murderous mission becomes an epic saga. I’m glad Arya’s is given the same respect.

Here’s my favorite young woman of the North.

… fierce Lady Mormont Bella Ramsey), the youngest in the bunch, would hear no objections to girls and women also training for combat. I don’t blame her. The white walkers don’t discriminate based on gender, nor should the living.

I’m thrilled to have my weekly visit to Westeros where all the men are tormented and all the women can swing a sword with the best of them.  Plus, DRAGONS!

There’s just something about Jane Austin that’s worth celebrating even after 200 years.  I spent many a night with a flashlight, an Austin book, and a blanket fort discovering her world and characters.

Australian politics is full of well known figures that resemble characters from Jane Austen novels, notes Paul Brunton, emeritus curator of the State Library of NSW.

Be they the “pompous, the stupid, the self-serving, the snobbish, the superficial and less often the sensible and altruistic”.

It is Austen’s ability to create characters recognisable in contemporary society – to “dissect human nature with the skill of a surgeon” – that marks her genius, says Brunton, and one reason among many to observe the 200th anniversary of the author’s death this Tuesday.

While the cause of Austen’s untimely death in Winchester, July 18, 1817, is disputed, a series of public events have been planned to celebrate the life and works of the novelist who wrote three classics of English literature before the age of 25.

Austen is as beloved as her fictional heroines.

Two-hundred years ago, on July 18, 1817, Jane Austen slipped away from the world, taken by a mysterious illness when she was just 41 years old.

But could anyone be more alive?

Two centuries after her death, the beloved British novelist who gave us Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy — the timeless, feisty, perfectly mismatched lovers of Pride and Prejudice — is as vital as any author who ever lived.

Rather than fade away like some antique English rose turned to dust, Austen remains robust, revered, widely read, celebrated and reinvented by contemporary novelists, a darling of Hollywood and the BBC. You could even say she’s a global brand.

The “spinster” author who spun literary gold out of marriage, money, society, love and the foibles of human nature in a mere handful of Regency novels (including EmmaSense and Sensibility and Persuasion), is up there with Shakespeare at the top of the pantheon, says Paula Byrne, British author of the newly updated The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Works in Hollywood.

The Handmaid’s Tale (HULU version) has been nominated for 13 Emmies.  Samira Wiley is a shining star among the dynamic cast.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” racked up 13 Emmy nominations after its first season. The show, based on Margaret Atwood’s book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is set in a dystopian society called Gilead, where handmaids are tasked with producing children for Commanders and their wives.

There has been a lot of buzz around the show, causing people to reflect on the state of our society in the current political climate. On Friday, NBC News caught up with Samira Wiley, who plays Moira, in the series, to celebrate her Emmy nomination for “Best Supporting Actress,” and to hear her thoughts on diversity, identity and the impact of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Image: Samira Wiley
Moira, played by Samira Wiley, is Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) best friend from college, her fellow handmaid-in-training at the Red Center, and a connection to life before Gilead. Jill Greenberg / Hulu.

 

So, it’s hard being a woman in the Gilead version of the USA as well as the Trump Version of the USA. This is another book that I read the minute it came out.  Disturbing yet a vision of a woman who can fight through anything.  It’s a good thing we have some sheros who can help us escape. In some ways, reading so many good books was my first act of Resistance. I can only image that most of these writers hoped to influence a few folks with some very radical notions.

I hope you enjoyed a trip into fantasy and fiction for Monday.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Cartoon Make-Up

McConnell Care: 07/14/2017 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

This is Sunday? I guess with the little break during the week, I’ve been behind a day.

Dak and Boston Boomer have been on a roll lately, and with so much going down, it can be difficult keeping it all straight. I have a few links for you, but first some cartoons.

Transparent: 07/13/2017 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Transparent

 

07/16/2017 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

07/14/2017 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

The New GOP: 07/15/2017 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - The New GOP

07/14/2017 Cartoon by John Branch

Cartoon by John Branch -

07/14/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite cartoonist is no longer working at his newspaper. Nick Anderson was given the “pink slip” earlier this week from the Houston Chronicle.

Read the link below.

Now for those few links…

I will say, nothing ever surprises me with people like McConnell. From Now This, a video reporting that Mitch the Horrible won’t even meet with the charitable organization…The March of Dimes… that is responsible for saving his life when he contracted polio in his youth.

 

More links on Healthcare:

Ted Cruz’s plan to discriminate against the sick is so vile that insurers finally see their industry is at stake | Eclectablog

If you’re a 40 year old with a pre-existing condition who earns $42,000 you could pay $10,000 a month for insurance in the worst case scenario under Trumpcare with extra Ted Cruz Venom, it is hard now a days to find an insurance as cheap as one sure insurance, plus finding a reliable insurance more difficult.

The best case scenario? You’ll pay about $900 a month, which is almost double what you’re paying now under Obamacare.

It’s been a few years so you may not remember what a pre-existing condition is — a term that only exists in America. The words sound severe but there’s a good chance that if you’ve ever had a uterus, depression, asthma, acne or anything that your insurance actually helps with, you probably have one

But won’t Cruz’s bill make life great for people who don’t have a pre-existing condition, right?

Don’t nature’s version of those of us with a good driving record deserve cheap coverage?

Well, it would let you buy a junk plan that may not even include hospitalization. We’re all “temporarily lucky” or “unlucky,” as Andy Slavitt says. When you suddenly get unlucky, your junk plan will be useless and then you’ll need to buy one of those sick expensive plans that soak up much if not most of salary — only you’re not allowed to buy one for SIX MONTHS.

This is a recipe for a collapsing insurance market. Experts have been wondering why the insurance industry, whose entire job is to assess risk, has stood by and watched Republicans design a nuclear bomb that will go off in their coffers.

On Friday, which may honestly be too late, America’s Health Insurance Plans finally spoke up to “strongly oppose this provision” which “is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market.”

Health Care: Families Unite to Protest GOP Senate Bill | Time.com

That just tells more stories about people…people the GOP will be killing if their healthcare bill passes.

In other sad news:

Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, First Woman to Win Fields Medal, Dies Age 40

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The Fields Medal is awarded every four years to between two and four mathematicians under the age of 40. Mirzakhani won the prize in 2014 for her work on geometry and dynamical systems.

She was also the first Iranian to win the prize.

In a 2014 interview with the Guardian, she described the excitement and challenge of mathematics.

“Of course, the most rewarding part is the “Aha” moment, the excitement of discovery and enjoyment of understanding something new—the feeling of being on top of a hill and having a clear view. But most of the time, doing mathematics for me is like being on a long hike with no trail and no end in sight,” she remarked.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said: “Maryam is gone far too soon, but her impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science.”

“Maryam was a brilliant mathematical theorist, and also a humble person who accepted honors only with the hope that it might encourage others to follow her path. Her contributions as both a scholar and a role model are significant and enduring, and she will be dearly missed here at Stanford and around the world.”

Some news that broke late last night…Donald Trump Jr. paid attorney with funds from his father’s re-election campaign: report – Salon.com

I haven’t taken a look at the Twitter to see what new shit has hit the fan….but this bit of news this morning was a welcoming sight:

Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker announced as 13th Doctor | Television & radio | The Guardian

Yeah, the next Doctor Who will be a Ms.

The next star of Doctor Who has been announced after intense speculation – and the person stepping into the role of Time Lord is Jodie Whittaker.

She is the first woman to take on the role, playing the 13th Doctor in the BBC1 drama. Whittaker, who rose to fame in ITV’s crime drama Broadchurch, had been touted as one of the contenders.

Debate has been whirring over who would play the Doctor ever since Peter Capaldi announced in January that he was leaving the programme.

Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who’s new head writer and executive producer, said: “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for the Doctor simply blew us all away.

“Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The 13th Doctor is on her way.”

Whittaker said: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

So with that, what are you all doing this Sunday afternoon?

This is an open thread.