Tuesday Reads: I’m So Sick of the Tired Media Narrative about Hillary

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

Good Morning!!

I’m having one of those mornings when I feel completely unsettled and discombobulated about current events. All my life I’ve felt like an “outsider,” because I didn’t see the world in the same ways so many other people did.

As I have gotten older, I’ve realized that I’m far from unique; I know many people have this feeling. But when national and world events get as crazy as they are now, that feeling comes back to me. Why are so many people seemingly brainwashed by cultural memes?

We constantly hear and read that Hillary Clinton is a horrible, terribly flawed person who is constantly “struggling” to overcome her opponents because of her awful “speaking style,” her “inauthentic” personality, her “secrecy”–and that’s just from people who are not over-the-top Clinton haters.

From the Bernie bros and the GOP, we hear that she is practically the Devil incarnate–“cozy” with Wall Street and Walmart, a “criminal,” an “enabler,” and on and on. And yet, Hillary has millions more popular votes in the primaries than either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.

Why is it that millions of people have no difficulty seeing Hillary’s “humanity,” her kindness, her love for children, her intelligence, her competence, her basic decency when so many in the media can’t? It seems that once people are part of the media in-crowd, they feel they must adopt certain Clinton stereotypes. Why is it that even wholehearted Clinton supporters like Joan Walsh feel compelled to write in every article that she is a “flawed candidate?” What candidate does not have flaws?

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

What got me started on this train of thought–for the umpteenth time–is a long piece by Rebecca Traister in New York Magazine: Hillary Clinton vs.Herself. There’s nothing simple about this candidacy—or candidate. I’ll be honest: I couldn’t even finish reading the article. This whole approach to Hillary–that somehow she is her own worst enemy–has just gotten so tired. I can’t take it anymore. Here’s Traister describing the “problem” with Hillary:

All the epic allusions contribute to the difficulty Clinton has long had in coming across as, simply, a human being. She is uneasy with the press and ungainly on the stump. Catching a glimpse of the “real” her often entails spying something out of the corner of your eye, in a moment when she’s not trying to be, or to sell, “Hillary Clinton.” And in the midst of a presidential campaign, those moments are rare. You could see her, briefly,letting out a bawdy laugh in response to a silly question in the 11th hour of the Benghazi hearings, and there she was, revealed as regular in her damned emails, where she made drinking plans with retiring Maryland senator and deranged emailer Barbara Mikulski. Her inner circle claims to see her — to really see her, and really like her — every day. They say she is so different one-on-one, funny and warm and devastatingly smart. It’s hard for people who know her to comprehend why the rest of America can’t see what they do.

“The rest of America?” Isn’t this really a media problem? About 12 million people have voted for Hillary in the Democratic primaries. Around 18 million voted for her in the 2008 primaries. She was elected twice to the Senate from New York. She is well known and admired around the world. Personally, I have no problem seeing Hillary as likable, even when she gives speeches. She has a beautiful smile and to me her personality comes through in debates, interviews, and speeches. But reporters and writers insist on denying my view of reality.

Far from feeling like I was with an awkward campaigner, I watched her do the work of retail politics — the handshaking and small-talking and remembering of names and details of local sites and issues — like an Olympic athlete. Far from seeing a remote or robotic figure, I observed a woman who had direct, thoughtful, often moving exchanges: with the Wheelers, with home health-care workers and union representatives and young parents. I caught her eyes flash with brief irritation at an MSNBC chyron reading “Bernie Sanders can win” and with maternal annoyance as she chided press aide Nick Merrill for not throwing out his empty water bottle. I saw her break into spontaneous dance with a 2-year-old who had been named after her, Big Hillary stamping her kitten heels and clapping her hands and making “Oooh-ooh-ooh” noises. I heard her proclaim, with unself-conscious joy, from the pulpits of two black churches in Philadelphia, that “this is the day that the Lord has made!” and watched the young campaign staff at her Brooklyn headquarters bounce up and down with the anticipation of getting to shake her hand.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

Why these observations, the crowd reactions, and the fact that Hillary is winning do not convince Traister that the problem is somewhere else than with her, I cannot explain. And that’s why I couldn’t finish the article. Perhaps I’ll go back and read the rest later on.

A good antidote to the fixed media “narrative” about Hillary can be found at Cannonfire these days. Joseph Cannon has been on a mission to expose Bernie and his bros as well as the media memes about “the Clintons.” Today he exposes one of those wacky Bernie bros who have been writing for Huffington Post and Salon throughout the campaign: Meet Crazy Frank Huguenard, a CLASSIC BernieBro. Huguenard is in the news because he posted a piece at HuffPo that was deleted. In it he claimed that Hillary was about to be indicted.

The case instantly became a cause celebre, widely discussed on the right. The author of that deleted article, Frank Huguenard, has aired his grievances on Breitbart.

“Huffpo has yet to respond to my request for an explanation,” Huguenard tweeted at this Breitbart News reporter Monday morning. “I’ve got my sources, they never asked.”

Huguenard later told Breitbart News, “I want to do another story but my HuffPo account has been temporarily disabled. Not sure what’s happening with them.”

I think I know why the thing was deleted: Huguenard is a liar. He falsely claimed that Hillary is being indicted because an official investigation revealed the Clinton Foundation to be a criminal enterprise.

Janis Joplin

Here is the actual wording:

James Comey and The FBI will present a recommendation to Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the Department of Justice, that includes a cogent argument that the Clinton Foundation is an ongoing criminal enterprise engaged in money laundering and soliciting bribes in exchange for political, policy and legislative favors to individuals, corporations and even governments both foreign and domestic.

The truth: There is NO GODDAMNED INVESTIGATION OF THE CLINTON FOUNDATION and thus NO INDICTMENT.

Huguenard has no secret sources. If the DOJ were looking into the Clinton Foundation, would a little-known New Age whackadoodle find out before the New York Times or the AP or the Washington Post? If Huguenard has a source, why didn’t he name that source in his HuffPo piece? Why didn’t he offer a name to Breitbart?

Read the rest at Cannonfire, and while you’re there, check out some of Cannon’s other recent posts. He’s on a roll!

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

California Governor Jerry Brown has endorsed Hillary Clinton in an open letter to California Democratic primary voters. An excerpt:

On Tuesday, June 7, I have decided to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton because I believe this is the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump….

Hillary Clinton has convincingly made the case that she knows how to get things done and has the tenacity and skill to advance the Democratic agenda. Voters have responded by giving her approximately 3 million more votes – and hundreds more delegates – than Sanders. If Clinton were to win only 10 percent of the remaining delegates – wildly improbable – she would still exceed the number needed for the nomination. In other words, Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee….

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Our country faces an existential threat from climate change and the spread of nuclear weapons. A new cold war is on the horizon. This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun. Hillary Clinton, with her long experience, especially as Secretary of State, has a firm grasp of the issues and will be prepared to lead our country on day one.

Now, a couple of Trump stories:

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe

I love this headline at The Telegraph: Donald Trump is a ‘vulgar, demented, pig demon’ says Hillary Clinton’s ex adviser.

Alec Ross, who was senior aide to Clinton during her term as Secretary of State, was speaking at The Hay Festival in Wales about the industries of the future.

Ross, said that the most open countries would have the greatest success in the coming decades because the biggest emerging markets were big data and genomics. But he warned that America could become a more closed society if Donald Trump was elected president.

“We’re having this struggle very publicly in the United States right now where a vulgar, demented, pig demon named Donald Trump is trying to make the United States a more closed society.

“We’ll be saying, no more brown people, no more Muslims, let’s get women back in the kitchen. Let’s make America great again.

“What he’s talking about is taking emasculated men in their forties, fifties and sixties who are not living the life they hoped for in their teens and twenties and saying, ‘you know what? there are people to blame for this. And we’re going to build a wall and we’re going make America great again.

“At the core of that is the struggle between being an open society and a closed society. And so if you want to know where the trillions of dollars of wealth creation that are going to come with the commercialisation of genomics, and the creation of big data companies, and the AI machine learning companies and all of the industries of the future my overarching line here is it’s going to be the most open societies.

Please go read the rest. It’s great.

Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey

This is a right wing source, but it answers a question that has puzzled me: Byron York: Why Trump attacked Martinez.

Many observers were mystified when Donald Trump attacked New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. But the story was really very simple: Martinez hit Trump, so Trump hit back. Especially now that Trump is the GOP’s presumptive nominee, he attempted to make an example of a Republican who won’t get with the program. It might work, or it might not, but from Trump’s perspective it’s the tactic he used to beat 15 rivals for the GOP nomination.

The Trump-Martinez bewilderment focused on four factors: Martinez is Hispanic, she’s a woman, she’s a Republican (head of the Republican Governors Association), and she’s popular. “I think it sent all the wrong signals,” said Newt Gingrich, who has generally been pro-Trump. “You particularly don’t want to see your candidate who needs to…get stronger with Latinos, and stronger with women, attack a Latina woman Republican governor.” ….

“[Martinez] continues to attack him publicly and privately,” one person in TrumpWorld told me recently. Trump has made a principle of hitting back harder than he is hit. And he has been so effective that many Republicans, elected and not, have decided the smart thing is to refrain from taking on Trump, even if they oppose him.

My guess is the fact that Martinez is a woman who dared to stand up to him had something to do with Trump’s angry response.

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


Memorial Day Reads

Good Afternoon!1024px-DecorationDayMcCutcheon

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  It’s the day we set aside to honor those who died in service to our country.  The day was originally known as Decoration Day.  It was recognized in 1868 when a organization of Union veterans established the day as a day to decorate the graves of Union Soldiers. It is believed that former slaves were the first to actually have a Memorial Day type event in 1865 which inspired Northerners to do similar things. 

This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.

The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.

I still find it intriguing that states like Mississippi don’t recognize the day as a holiday–other than Federal Agencies that follow Federal Holiday Schedules–since it’s considered a “Yankee” Holiday. There was a competing Confederate holiday but the two were eventually merged  for all but neoconfederates like those in Mississippi. Our family used to use the day to picnic at family cemetery plots to do general all purpose gardening and clean up.    I can remember mother’s personal fight to keep the peonies off the grave stones in Kansas City and various small towns in Kansas and Missouri.

A lot of people confuse Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day which in a way is a bit sad.  Memorial Day is specifically a remembrance to those who died while in the military in either battle or in support of those in battle.  They used to sell little red poppies to honor the World War 1 dead.  We always got one in remembrance of my Dad’s Uncle Jack for whom he was named. Uncle Jack made it home but died within a few years from the effects of mustard gas. I’m not sure that we do much of anything like that any more but given we still lose many active service members to war and military excursions, we should remember their sacrifice uniquely. Veteran’s Day for those who lived through their service. Armed Forces Day for those serving now.  Memorial Day for those who died while in service to our country.

Of course, what week could go by without another crazed mass shooting?   Here’s the local headline from Houston: “TWO DEAD, 6 INJURED AFTER TERRIFYING MASS SHOOTING IN WEST HOUSTON.”

A man came into a west Houston auto detail shop and began shooting, killing a man known to be a customer and putting a neighborhood on lockdown Sunday before being killed by a SWAT officer, police said.

You can read the details but I’m beginning to think that we’ve got civilians in our country that are dying in battlefields too.  Unfortunately, the battlefields are shopping centers, movie theatres, and all kinds of places in American Cities.  13335583_10208200078733154_5331554108338175467_n

I hesitate to bring this story up because I find it super upsetting but I know we have folks here that love our furry relations as much as I do.  A child fell into a zoo enclosure last week which resulted in the shooting of a rare lowland gorilla.  There are a number of videos out that I don’t have the heart to watch.  Grief is turning to outrage over the gorilla’s death. Here’s a story on that.

The killing of an endangered gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo to rescue a boy who fell into a dangerous enclosure unleashed an outpouring of grief on over the holiday weekend.

Within hours, that grief had turned to fury as critics questioned the zoo’s decision to kill the endangered 17-year-old gorilla, named Harambe, and called for the boy’s parents to be punished for not adequately supervising their child.

A Facebook page called “Justice for Harambe” received more than 41,000 “likes” within hours of its creation. The page’s description says it was created to “raise awareness of Harambe’s murder” and includes YouTube tributes and memes celebrating the western lowland gorilla and admonishing zoo officials.

“Shooting an endangered animal is worse than murder,” a commenter from Denmark named Per Serensen wrote on the page. “Soooo angry.”

Lt. Steve Saunders, a spokesman for the Cincinnati Police Department, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that they have no plans to charge the child’s parents.

That news didn’t stop tens of thousands from signing multiple online petitions calling for Cincinnati Child Protective Services to investigate the boy’s parents — who have not been identified — for negligence.

“I’m signing because a beautiful critically endangered animal was killed as a direct result of her failure to supervise her child,” one signee wrote. “I don’t blame the zoo staff for the decision they made, I’m sure they’re heartbroken.”

“If she’d watched her child he wouldn’t have been in the gorilla enclosure in the first place,” the commenter added.

A petition on Change.org asks for legislation to be passed that creates “legal consequences when an endangered animal is harmed or killed due to the negligence of visitors.” The petition has amassed more than 40,000 signatures.


39103127EHere’s another take on the situation including the videos.  Witnesses say the boy wanted to go into the water inside the enclosure. They also indicated that entering the enclosure was not an easy task.

The incident drew widespread attention as dramatic video spread across the Internet showing Harambe dragging the boy like a rag doll through the water across the habitat.
The boy climbed through a barrier and fell some 15 feet to a shallow moat in Harambe’s enclosure, Maynard said.
Kimberley Ann Perkins O’Connor, who captured some of the incident on her phone, told CNN she overheard the boy joking to his mother about going into the water.
Suddenly, a splash drew the crowd’s attention to the boy in the water. The crowd started screaming, drawing Harambe’s attention to the boy, O’Connor said.
At first, it looked like Harambe was trying to help the boy, O’Connor said. He stood him up and pulled up his pants.
As the crowd’s clamors grew, Harambe tossed the boy into a corner of the moat, O’Connor said, which is when she started filming. Harambe went over to the corner and shielded the boy with his body as the boy’s mother yelled “Mommy’s right here.”
The crowd’s cries appeared to agitate Harambe anew, O’Connor said, and the video shows him grabbing the boy by the foot. He dragged him through the water and out of the moat atop the habitat, O’Connor said.
By that point, “It was not a good scene,” she said. When the boy tried to back away the gorilla “aggressively” pulled him back into his body “and really wasn’t going to let him get away,” she said.
O’Connor left before the shooting. When asked if the the barrier could be easily penetrated by a child, she said it would take some effort.

The Supreme Court is being asked to take up a bankruptcy dispute involving the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and to decide whether to restore the health and pension benefits of more than 1,000 casino workers.

At issue is a conflict between labor laws that call for preserving collective bargaining agreements and bankruptcy laws that allow a judge to reorganize a business to keep it in operation.

“This is about how a bankruptcy was used to transfer value from working people to the super-rich,” said Richard G. McCracken, general counsel for Unite Here, the hotel and casino workers’ union that appealed to the high court.

Billionaire Carl Icahn stepped in to buy the casino – founded by Donald Trump – after it filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

As the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said in January, Trump’s “plan of reorganization was contingent on the rejection of the collective bargaining agreement,” also known as the CBA, with the union. Icahn promised a “capital infusion of $100 million” to keep the casino in operation, but “only if the CBA and tax relief contingencies are achieved.”

With that understanding, the Philadelphia-based appeals court upheld a bankruptcy judge’s order that canceled the health insurance and pension contributions called for in the union’s contract. “It is preferable to preserve jobs through a rejection of a CBA, as opposed to losing the positions permanently,” wrote Judge Jane Roth.

The union is urging the Supreme Court to review and reverse that ruling, arguing the labor laws call for preserving collective bargaining agreements, even if they expire during a bankruptcy. The National Labor Relations Board agreed and filed a brief in the support of the casino workers union when the case was before the 3rd Circuit.

920x920So much for Trump and the working person.

Anyway, I’m going to make this short today because most of the stories I’m reading aren’t exactly pleasant.  Seems we have a streak of violence going around the country and the headlines reflect that.   Chicago is having an extremely violent few days.  I was thinking that the violence here might be isolated but it doesn’t appear to be. 

June 2nd is “Wear Orange Day” which is a day to commit to ending gun violence.  The day started in 2013 when some Chicago kids asked every one to wear orange in remembrance of a friend killed by gun fire.  Maybe this holiday will become the Memorial Day for those civilians killed in the battle in our streets.

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Sunday Reads

 Trump-McDonalds-in-Plane-Instagram-1-640x640Good Morning!!

Donald Trump has really stepped in it now. At a campaign rally in San Diego on Friday, he trashed the federal judge who is overseeing a lawsuit against Trump’s phony “Trump University.” Think Progress reports:

The case against the real estate mogul’s now-defunct company, which has been accused of scamming students who were misled into paying money for insight from business experts they thought were hand-picked by Trump, is scheduled to go to trial in San Diego federal court shortly after the presidential election. According to his lawyer, Trump is planning on testifying.

In what the Wall Street Journal characterized as an “extended tirade,” Trump spent 12 minutes of his 58-minute speech focused on the case and the California judge who will hear it.

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel,” Trump told the crowd. “I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself.”

Trump told his supporters he believes Judge Curiel should be removed from the case, citing the fact that Curiel was appointed to the bench by President Obama. Trump also said he believes Curiel is “Mexican.” The crowd — which had previously shouted “build that wall” — booed loudly.

In previous statements about the case, Trump has pointed to Curiel’s Hispanic heritage to insinuate that he won’t be able to approach the case impartially. Asked on Fox News what exactly Curiel’s ethnicity has to do with the case against him, Trump responded, “I think it has to do perhaps with the fact that I’m very, very strong on the border, very, very strong at the border, and he has been extremely hostile to me.”

Trump University — which was not actually an accredited university and did not hand out degrees — has several fraud cases proceeding against it.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel

Judge Gonzalo Curiel

Yesterday Judge Curiel ordered the release of documents that Trump had requested be sealed. From Politco:

Just hours after Trump used a campaign speech at a San Diego convention center to unleash a remarkable verbal fusillade against U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge — who also happens to be based in the same Southern California city — acknowledged in a much more measured fashion the criticism Trump has aimed at the court.

“Defendant became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue,” Curiel said in an order unsealing a series of internal Trump University documents that Trump’s lawyers asked be kept from the public.

The judge’s order didn’t make reference to Trump’s 12-minute tirade Friday afternoon in which the all-but-certain Republican nominee called Curiel a “hater” and again invoked his Latino heritage. However, the judge cited a series of news stories from earlier in the campaign, including an NBC story which noted Trump called Curiel “extremely unfair” and an Associated Press story titled, “Trump: Judge’s ethnicity matters in Trump University suit.” ….

Curiously, the Republican candidate laid into the judge at about the same time the judge was holding a hearing less than a mile away on a motion by the Washington Post seeking unsealing of the Trump University-related files. The judge’s order was released a couple hours after the hearing.

Meanwhile a number of news organizations are reporting that a Canadian version of Trump Tower is in financial trouble. Huffington Post: Trump Tower Toronto To Be Sold Off After Debt Default: Report.

Toronto’s Trump Tower has seen one disaster after another since it opened four years ago, but its latest debacle may be its last.

The Globe and Mail reports that the Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto is on the verge of being sold to an unnamed new owner after its current one failed to pay back a $260-million construction loan last year.

The sale will likely mean the Trump name will disappear from the building.

Donald Trump himself doesn’t own the Toronto tower — it belongs to Talon Developments, which licensed the Trump brand for the skyscraper, and hired a Trump-owned company to run the property.

Talon’s clients are “no longer interested in the Trump brand” because Trump himself has damaged it, company lawyer Symon Zucker said.

“It’s more important for him to be president than run a successful business,” Zucker told the Toronto Star last month.

Trump Tower in Toronto

Trump Tower in Toronto

The right-wing Washington Examiner is reporting that Trump’s campaign is “low on money.”

Donald Trump’s campaign has alerted Senate Republicans that he won’t have much money to spend fending off attacks from Hillary Clinton over the next couple months.

The notice came when Paul Manafort, Trump’s senior advisor, met with a group of Senate Republican chiefs of staff for lunch last week, sources familiar with the meeting told the Washington Examiner. The admission suggests that Trump will be far more dependent on the GOP brass for money than he has led voters to believe, but it’s consistent with his reliance on the Republican National Committee to provide a ground game in battleground states.

“They know that they’re not going to have enough money to be on TV in June and probably most of July, until they actually accept the nomination and get RNC funds, so they plan to just use earned media to compete on the airwaves,” one GOP source familiar with Manafort’s comments told the Examiner.

That’s a far cry from Trump’s public insistence that he signed a fundraising agreement with the RNC in order to help the party, not himself. “The RNC really wanted to do it, and I want to show good spirit,” he said last week. “‘Cause I was very happy to continue to go along the way I was.” ….

The preemptive fretting about how the RNC plans to spend its money this fall makes some Republicans think that Trump, who has repeatedly insulted Mitt Romney for failing to defeat President Obama in the 2012 presidential election, is preparing to protect his reputation if Hillary Clinton wins.

“He’s going to blame it on the RNC if he doesn’t win in November,” the first source said. “They’re laying that groundwork now.

You have to go to right wing sources to find these kinds of reports, because supposedly “liberal” outfits like The New York Times are too busy trying to tear down Hillary Clinton. I’m not going to excerpt from their latest report on how Hillary is supposedly “struggling,” but you can go read it at the link if you want to.

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort

The Washington Post has been hammering Hillary too, but they did manage to publish an interesting article about internal troubles in Trump’s campaign: In campaign chaos, Donald Trump shows his management style.

Interviews with current and former Trump associates reveal an executive who is fond of promoting rivalries among subordinates, wary of delegating major decisions, scornful of convention and fiercely insistent on a culture of loyalty around him….

Honed over decades in business and now suddenly under the glare of a national contest, Trump’s style offers a glimpse of the polarizing management techniques he would carry into the White House. In fashioning his campaign after his real estate and entertainment projects, the mogul has inspired supporters and alarmed critics with his brazen moves.

“He’s always the man in charge,” said Edward Rollins, the veteran Republican strategist who is working for a pro-Trump super PAC….Rollins pointed to the relationship between Trump’s 42-year-old campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and his 67-year-old campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as a prime example of how Trump handles people. While they have worked just steps from each other in recent weeks at Trump Tower in New York, the pair — contrasts in age, experience and personality — have a simmering rivalry over stature and responsibilities within the candidate’s orbit. And Trump doesn’t seem to mind.

Fired Trump staffer Rick Wiley

Fired Trump staffer Rick Wiley

Last week, Trump abruptly fired national political director Rick Wiley, who had only worked for the campaign since April. According to insiders, it happened because Wiley didn’t suck up to get close enough to Trump.

From his 26th-floor office in New York, Trump — who through a spokeswoman declined to be interviewed for this article — is attempting to bend the nature and norms of a presidential campaign to his unpredictable and outsize personality, eschewing the top-down, consultant-heavy mode used by most candidates.

Rather, Trump functions simultaneously as his own big-picture strategist and micro-managing chief executive. He has gotten involved in intramural skirmishing that has engulfed his campaign, both stoking and calming tensions depending on the circumstances.

“His style can be what I call ‘hands off, hands on.’ He gives people space to think and work and doesn’t get involved in everything each day, but he is the kind of person who can swoop in in a second and change everything,” said Sam Nunberg, a former aide who was let go from the campaign last year following disagreements with Lewandowski and controversy over past racially charged posts on Facebook. “He monitors it all and he comes to check in on things when you don’t expect him.”

Read much more at the link. This doesn’t sound like a very good management style for a presidential campaign, but then Trump will apparently have big media on his side. It’s going to be very important for Democrats to get out every possible vote. Hillary has been very wise to cultivate relationships with local newspapers around the country.

joeonpoliticsnation

Hillary does have a few defenders in the media, and Joe Conason is one of the best. Conason co-wrote The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. From the NY Daily News: The truth about Donald Trump’s old mud: The facts about Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

Assisted by Nixon-era dirty trickster Roger Stone, Trump is promoting the absurdly sexist message that Hillary Clinton deserves blame for her husband’s alleged misconduct. To make that case, they have been recruiting — and sometimes paying — women who claim that Bill Clinton victimized them.

One of these women is Juanita Broaddrick, an Arkansas nursing home owner who came forward in 1998 to claim that Clinton assaulted her, after signing a sworn affidavit denying that any such incident had occurred. Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr investigated her case, found the evidence “inconclusive” and declined to include her charges in his impeachment brief. Now Broaddrick accuses Hillary Clinton of attempting to “silence” her — even though she said the opposite in a famous NBC News interview.

“Did Bill Clinton or anyone near him ever threaten you, try to intimidate you, do anything to keep you silent?” asked Dateline correspondent Lisa Myers in 1999. “No,” replied Broaddrick firmly. What did Broaddrick tell Starr about Hillary when he put her under oath? An enterprising reporter might ask.

Another former Starr witness excavated from obscurity by Trump and Stone is Kathleen Willey, a former White House aide who claims that Clinton made “unwanted advances” toward her in the Oval Office. Willey’s story too has shifted repeatedly during the 23 years since that incident allegedly occurred.

How she recalled what Clinton had supposedly done — and how she reacted — first began to change when she appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Having sworn in a lawsuit deposition that she didn’t recall Clinton kissing her, she assured CBS correspondent Ed Bradley several months later that the President “kissed me on the mouth.” Suddenly, she remembered lots of salacious details — and forgot facts and statements that undermined her dramatic account.

Her memory improved around the time that her lawyers secretly began to seek a $300,000 book contract. It is improving faster now that Stone is soliciting donations for an online fund to pay Willey’s mortgage.

There’s more at the link. I’m keeping a link to this story to use between now and November. Conason has updated the information about attacks on Hillary in the book and made it available as a free download at his website The National Memo.

What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great Sunday!

 


He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. Denny Lopez 1971-2016

 

Dennis M Lopez Jr 001 crp 3

 

 

It is with heartfelt sadness that we announce the loss of our son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend: Dennis M. Lopez Jr. aka Denny aka Uncle Gordy aka the “G” Man. Our house sits quite now….We will miss the cackling of laughter from the rear bedroom or wisecracks from what our family comically phrased, “The peanut gallery.” We will no longer hear sounds from the wheels of his overburdened office chair as he moved the casters along the wood floors, adjusting himself at his desk while he watched his favorite TV show Bonanza. Many in the Blairsville Community may remember seeing Denny during his daily outing with his dad, the afternoon trip into town for French Fries! Denny was a unique and wonderful human being. His love for family and friends could only be outdone by the generosity of innocence and affection held within his spirit. Denny was born in Tampa, FL on Nov. 12, 1971. He was of the Catholic Faith. He graduated from LaVoy Exceptional Center in 1992. He was a busboy, employed by Marriott-Host for eight years in the Tampa International Airport and two years at Pappy’s Restaurant in Blairsville . He is survived by his loving parents, Linda J. Traina Lopez and Dennis M. Lopez, his beloved sister JJ Lopez Walts and brother-in-law Dan Walts, his devoted niece and nephew Bebe Walts and Jake Walts, his Aunts and Uncles Roseann Buning, Bob Buning, Celeste Mell, Darren Mell, Daryl Lopez, Johnny D Gonzalez, his cousins David Buning, Loren Mell and Santana Mell, his other family members John Gonzalez, Rob Dobbins, Cindy Dobbins, Brett, Sean and Drew, his “other ones” Tori Craig and Nathan Stanley. Memorial service to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Denny’s name to the Union County Schools Special Education Department, 124 Hughes St., Blairsville GA 30512, phone(706) 745-2322 fax(706) 835-4545 . To help pay for the extra supplies teachers often pay for out of their own pockets in order to educate children like Denny.

 

As an aside, while we were at the funeral home today…we learned that the only eye bank in all of Georgia was there at that time…harvesting Denny’s corneas. That his corneas were okay, and they were in condition to be used as transplants to help someone else see.

It made us so happy, to think that in some way, Denny will continue to see on into another life, through someone else’s eyes.

For my family and myself, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

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Lazy Saturday Reads

4600535791_e2384409c1_bHappy Memorial Day Weekend!

This is the weekend when we reflect on the costs of war.  The holiday is rooted in our own civil war but it gives us a chance to think on those who have come and gone before us.  Memorial Day used to be the day my family would go on picnics to the family plots in all these little towns around Kansas and Missouri armed with every imaginable gardening tool.  I don’t think we were unique in that but I do think it might’ve been a regional thing to do.

I spent a good deal of yesterday in St. Louis Cemetery #1 standing by a shady palm tree near the crypt memorializing those who died in the Battle of New Orleans from the Orleans Battalion.  You’ll see that there were very few dead in this battle on the side of the Republic.

The cemetery dates back to the late 1700s.  It’s probably best known as the resting place of Marie Laveau and a crazy movie scene in Easy Rider.  I was actually there for a funeral for a favorite professor of a friend.  His family were some of the first French folks to settle here.  The process of adding new family members to a crypt is an interesting one.

13319982_10153758786958512_3404328470106535680_nThere were tours all around us yesterday.  So, the tourists got to hear the piper, the brass band music, and the burial service provided by a priest.  I’m always happy when a few of them get to see that the traditions here continue and that we all have to live around the folks who come to visit us.  They get to see that we’re actually a living, breathing city and not just a place of old buildings and bars.

While Marie Laveau is probably the most famous inhabitant of crypt space, I’d suggest you read up on Dr. John Montanee who is the father of New Orleans Voodoo. Dr. John actually taught Marie.

Sometimes when a person becomes legendary they cease to be human beings and instead become the legend themselves. Dr. Jean is remembered according to his legend, as a powerful gris gris man who was rich, got a lot of women and who was the teacher of Marie Laveaux. The whole context of the trauma of the Diaspora is left completely out of his-story, and this is not only unfortunate, but it is highly disrespectful. My belief is that his goal from the onset of becoming a slave would have been to reclaim his personal power and power within the community (whatever community he ended up in), and to do so using his strength and charisma. This internal fortitude was enough to achieve his eventual freedom from slavery; it is said that his West Indian master taught him to be an excellent cook and grew quite fond of him, and eventually gave him the gift of freedom. As a result, Dr. Jean left Cuba to be a cook on a ship and eventually ended up in New Orleans where these characteristics of strength, charisma and fortitude landed him as a gang leader of cotton rollers. Within that community, he began to be known for his apparent supernatural powers and fortune telling abilities. This set the tone for his eventual great success in New Orleans. All through the various narratives of his-story, we can see his ability to transcend the normal performance of a given task and exceed all expectations.

Dr. Jean was likely a man who liked to make grand entrances in an effort to make his presence known. But, he more than likely retreated from this showy demeanor to a very warm and gregarious human being. People probably liked him more than not and he likely had many friends, and at least as many acquaintances. He would have been someone who would have started a family as soon as possible and given the culture from which he came, would likely have had more than one wife and many children. Family would have been very important to him and he would have taken his role as provider very seriously – yet another mechanism to drive his entrepreneurial spirit.

In addition to being successful in his various jobs and as a provider, he would have taken his role as a leader of the Voudous quite seriously, as well. As gris gris is a religiomagical system originating in Senegal and practiced by the priests, it makes perfect sense that he would have brought knowledge of the tradition with him to New Orleans. Gris gris is one of the most unique characteristics of New Orleans Voudou and a tradition that persists to this day – his contribution to the New Orleans religion is unsurpassed. He expected to be noticed and he was, as his legacy lives on in the heart of the Mysteries and can be heard and felt in the beat of every drum.

So, there are a lot of folks buried along side the illustrious founding families in this and the many old cemeteries to be found in New img_2353Orleans.

I’m using all of this to lead up to some sad news.  JJ’s brother Denny lost his struggle last night after her eldest son received his high school diploma.  This is one of those days where milestones can be bittersweet.  We love you JJ and wish all the best as you and your family make these transitions.

So, here’s some suggested reads for today.

Here’s a follow up to my post on the collapse of Venezuela from the NYT:”Venezuela Drifts Into New Territory: Hunger, Blackouts and Government Shutdown.”

Venezuela’s government says the problems are the result of an “economic war” being waged by elites who are hoarding supplies, as well as the American government’s efforts to destabilize the country.

But most economists agree that Venezuela is suffering from years of economic mismanagement, including over-dependence on oil and price controls that led many businesses to stop making products.

Some Venezuelans are channeling their frustrations into demonstrations against the government. Mr. Maduro’s opponents, who now control the National Assembly, have been staging weekly protests in support of the recall referendum.

Last Wednesday, protesters clashed with police officers who fired tear gas at the demonstrations and were attacked with bottles and rocks.

“The economic situation of this country is collapse,” Pablo Parada, a law student, who was participating last week in a hunger strike in front of the O.A.S. office in Caracas. “There are people who go hungry now.”

Mr. Parada said the purpose of his hunger strike was to pressure the O.A.S. to push Venezuelan officials to allow the referendum to take place this year, the only way he felt the country could recover.
There is often little traffic in Caracas simply because so few people, either for lack of money or work, are going out.

On a recent day in the downtown government center, pedestrians milled about, but nearly every building — including several museums, the public registry office and a Social Security center — was empty, giving the appearance of a holiday.

Only the guards were at work.

“It’s in God’s hands now,” said one, Luis Ríos, echoing a common phrase heard here.

Here’s an interesting article in Slate on “White washing” in the Asian American Community and the “bamboo” ceiling in America. Easy_Rider We’ve discussed before  this via the whiter-than-white portrait of Bobby Jindal that once hung in his office.

But I have a somewhat different and darker thought: What if Asian Americans are underrepresented in media because non-Asians have yet to reconcile themselves to Asian overrepresentation in the uppermost echelons of U.S. society? Don’t see that many Asian Americans as CEOs or in other leadership roles? Just give it time. Whether you look in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, elite academia, or America’s burgeoning medical-industrial complex, you’ll find a disproportionately large and fast-growing number of Asian Americans. Earlier generations of Asians often found themselves stymied by the so-called “bamboo ceiling,” which largely reflects the fact that new arrivals in America tend not to have the social connections they need to reach the highest rungs of the organizational ladder.

Sanders continues to be a busybody loser.  This time he’s suggesting what Hillary should do for a running mate choice.

“If Hillary Clinton were to win and Hillary Clinton were to bring onboard a conservative or moderate-type Democrat, I think politically that would be a disaster,” Sanders said in an interview with The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur.

Uygur asked if Sanders had any suggestions for VP — specifically citing Sen. Elizabeth Warren(D-Mass.), whose name has been floating as a possible running mate for months.

Sanders said policy and a track record for fighting against Wall Street were the most important factors in a running mate.

I really have an intense, white-hot dislike of this man.

Here’s another one that’s a great read:  “Japanese American internment survivor hears troubling echoes in Trump rhetoric.”

Sugimoto, now 80, finds herself thinking a lot about those three years she spent in internment camps in Arkansas. The spirit of that deeply disturbing part of her childhood, an episode she believes has been all but forgotten within the narrative of American history, appears to be raising its ugly head once again.

“I think it’s dangerous the way he spouts off,” she said. “Not knowing any history, making no connections with what he says should be done today – it’s worrying and upsetting.”

She’s talking about Donald Trump, and his mass targeting of ethnic and religious groups. It’s not Japanese Americans this time: it’s the 11 million undocumented immigrants, mostly Hispanic, he has threatened to round up and deport. It is alsoMuslims, who he has vowed to ban from entering the country just by dint of their faith.

And, no that’s not a ghost up there, although I do profess to being one pale white woman.  That’s just whacky little me in funeral attire resplendent with some vintage stuff.

Have a good weekend!    Remember, this is an open thread so share links profusely!!!


Friday Reads: Serious News Improved by Fat Cat Art

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Good Morning!!

The images in this post are from the Tumblr account, FatCatArt – Famous Paintings Improved by Cats. The site belongs to Russian artist Svetlana Petrova, who like to recreate famous paintings incorporating her large ginger cat Zarathustra. She has also published a book, Fat Cat Art.

This morning President Obama visited Hiroshima. From The Atlantic: Obama’s Historic Hiroshima Visit.

President Obama became the first sitting American leader to make a trip to Hiroshima, the Japanese city bombed by the U.S. with an atomic device in 1945, and called for a “moral revolution” to accompany technology such as nuclear weapons.

“Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us,” Obama said in a speech after a ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. “The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.”

After his speech, Obama met with hibakusha, the survivors of the attack, many of whom are now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. He shook hands with them and even embraced one of the survivors, Shigeaki Mori, 79.

“The president gestured as if he was going to give me a hug, so we hugged,” Mori said.

At an earlier ceremony at the memorial, Obama and Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, stood in front of the eternal flame. Both men laid wreaths at the memorial. The American president also signed a guest book: “We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”

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Read more and see a photo of the hug at the link.

More serious news, before we get to presidential politics.

From the Washington Post: The superbug that doctors have been dreading just reached the U.S.

For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could mean “the end of the road” for antibiotics.

The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.”

Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs, including a family of bacteria known as CRE, which health officials have dubbed “nightmare bacteria.” In some instances, these superbugs kill up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called CRE among the country’s most urgent public health threats.

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It’s the first time this colistin-resistant strain has been found in a person in the United States. In November, public health officials worldwide reacted with alarm when Chinese and British researchers reported finding the colistin-resistant strain in pigs, raw pork meat and in a small number of people in China. The deadly strain was later discovered in Europe and elsewhere.

“It basically shows us that the end of the road isn’t very far away for antibiotics — that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in an interview Thursday.

Read the rest at the link.

Now on to some pathetic, embarrassing election news.

First a foreign perspective on the GOP nominee from The Japan Times: Trump sends shivers down spines of nations trying to solidify global warming pact.

The talks in Germany to flesh out December’s historic global climate deal are probably not at the top of Donald Trump’s agenda this week.

But the diplomats from 196 nations huddled in Bonn are keenly aware of the fact that the “The Donald” is now within spitting distance of the White House — and it is making a lot of them nervous.

It is not hard to see why.

The last Republican standing in the U.S. presidential race has described climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China to gain competitive advantage in manufacturing over the US, an eccentric theory even among climate skeptics.

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More recently, he said he was “not a big fan” of the Paris Agreement, the fruit of two decades of stop-and-go (but mostly stop) wrangling between rich and developing nations.

“I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum,” Trump told Reuters in an exclusive interview last week, betraying an unfamiliarity with the U.N.’s consensus-based process.

“And at a maximum I may do something else.”

Under the Paris accord, 196 nations have pledged to hold global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to help poor countries cope with the impact of climate change while weaning their economies off fossil fuels.

Sidestepping a recalcitrant Congress under Republican control, U.S. President Barack Obama has used executive power to aggressively confront global warming at home and abroad.

Especially during his second term, the U.S., along with China, has been a pillar of the tortuous — and sometimes torturous — U.N. talks.

The prospect of a Trump presidency precisely at the moment when nations are inching toward ratification of the delicately balanced deal sends shivers down the spines of negotiators here.

This is what we are facing, and what we are in danger of doing to the world and the planet. I urge you to read the rest of the article.

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Trump talks philosophy at The Hill: Trump: ‘You have to be wealthy in order to be great.’

The comment from the billionaire businessman and presumptive GOP presidential nominee came during a speech in North Dakota while touting his economic ideas and decrying the “stealth tax” of crime in a speech on energy.
“There’s one more thing that we must do to make America wealthy again, and you have to be wealthy in order to be great, I’m sorry to say,” Trump said during his speech in Bismarck.

Trump goes on to lie about crime rates.

“Violent crime is rising in our major cities across the country. This is totally unacceptable,” he said.

“It undermines their schools, slashes the value of their homes and drives away their jobs,” he continued. “Crime is a stealth tax, it’s a stealth tax on the poor.”

“To those living in fear, I say: Help is coming, it’s coming soon,” Trump said. “A Trump administration will return law and order to America.”

Not true, and not really relevant in North Dakota where the largest city–Fargo–had a population of about 119,000 in 2015.

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As the media continue their love affair with the ignorant showman, at least one famous person is willing to tell the truth about Trump in public. Raw Story: Rosie O’Donnell lights into Trump at live show: ‘I f*cking hate that orange piece of sh*t’

Comedian Rosie O’Donnell made an appearance during a concert on Wednesday and kicked it off by ripping Donald Trump, the Daily Mail reported.

O’Donnell told the audience that she admitted to her therapist that she was “depressed because I f*cking hate that orange piece of s*it.”

The comedian has been embroiled in a feud with the Republican presidential candidate for years; Trump’s conflict with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly last year began when the Kelly Filehost asked him about those remarks at the first GOP presidential candidate debate.

Footage from O’Donnell’s appearance during a Boy George concert in New York city shows her response to her therapist’s advice.

“I would rather give birth to a flaming iguana while taking a sh*t,” she says. “I hate him. I hate him. I’m not going to say his name.”

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is trying (and failing) to remain relevant by trying to get Trump to debate him in California. Politico reports: Sanders angers Democrats with Trump debate ploy. ‘It’s bullshit,’ says one Democratic senator.

For some Democrats, Bernie Sanders’ latest gambit — challenging Donald Trump to a debate to cap all debates — is the last straw.

“Bullshit,” said Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “That confirms what we’ve been saying. Why would you expect Bernie should be considerate or be nice or be working to bring everyone together? Why? He’s not a Democrat.”

The party’s frustrations are boiling over with Sanders as the primary season winds down: Namely that Sanders seems unwilling or unable to admit that Hillary Clinton is on course for the nomination. The ire toward Sanders began earlier this year among the loudest Democratic cheerleaders for Clinton — and now it’s seeping into nearly the entire Senate Democratic caucus.

Lawmakers reacted with puzzlement, sarcasm and barely veiled anger as Sanders’ campaign and Trump himself played up an event that would exclude Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t know why he would do that. I think it’s time to start to winding down the primary,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.). “It’s time to move on.”

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I honestly don’t think Bernie will ever move on. He is completely delusional at this point. He would rather go back to the Senate and be an outcast for the next two years rather than admit he lost to a woman. And he’ll do anything to keep those donations coming in and the cheering crowds feeding his ego.

“It’s peculiar,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “It’s all about Bernie trying to get the advantage in California. It’s not going to work.”

A minority of Democratic lawmakers, though, said they’d be fine with Sanders going toe-to-toe with Trump on TV, if only to unmask the Republican nominee as a false advocate for working people. They said Trump was never sufficiently challenged on his prescriptions for the economy during the primary, with all the attention on his insults.

“The more Donald Trump gets exposed in the context of public policy, the better it is for our country,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Whatever. To be honest, I think it would be hilarious, because both Trump and Sanders would make fools of themselves. I don’t think I could watch the horror show of wagging fingers and screaming though.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend.

 


Thursday Reads: Preventing a Trump Presidency

Henri Matisse, Girl with a black cat

Henri Matisse, Girl with a black cat

Good Morning!!

President Obama spoke at a press conference today in Japan, and he talked about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

NBC News: Obama: Trump Candidacy Has ‘Rattled’ World Leaders.

During a press conference in Japan, Obama said the American presidential election is being “very” closely watched oversees. He told reporters that “it’s fair to say” world leaders are “surprised” Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.

“They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements but they’re rattled by him — and for good reason, because a lot of the proposals that he’s made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude,” Obama added.

He suggested Trump’s controversial proposals were more about “getting tweets and headlines” than “actually thinking through” what’s needed to keep America safe or the “world on an even keel.”

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet

Trump has made China a frequent target of his attacks — such as saying the country will “suck the blood” out of the U.S.

He also has said he wants to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., called the Iran deal “horrendous,” pledged to “build a wall” along the Mexican border and that he’d have “no problem speaking to” North Korea’s dictator.

Such a conversation would mark a major shift in U.S. policy towards Pyongyang — a country Obama earlier Thursday said was a “big worry.”  ….

Trump also said he was unlikely to have a “very good relationship” with the U.K. — one of America’s strongest allies — though later walked those comments back.

Obama will visit the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial tomorrow.

President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima is stirring conflicting emotions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some 140,000 people were killed when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city on Aug. 6, 1945. Countless others suffered after-effects that endure to this day.

The White House has stressed Obama will not apologize for America’s use of the bombs when he visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Friday — the first sitting president to do so….

“Of course everyone wants to hear an apology. Our families were killed,” Hiroshi Shimizu, general secretary of the Hiroshima Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, told The Associated Press.

Woman with a cat, Auguste Renoir

Woman with a cat, Auguste Renoir

However, it would risk alienating Americans back home — especially giving the trip’s timing just ahead of Memorial Day.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Lester Tenney, 95, spent more than three years in Japanese prison camps, and still has the blood-stained, bamboo stick Japanese troops used to beat him across the face.

“If you didn’t walk fast enough, you were killed. If you didn’t say the right words, you were killed, and if you were killed, you were either shot to death, bayoneted, or decapitated,” he told The Associated Press. “I’ll never forget it. And so for that reason … there’s no reason for us to apologize to them, not any reason whatsoever.

I have mixed emotions too. I’ve written here before that I probably wouldn’t be here today if Truman had not dropped the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My father was on a ship to Japan when the news came, and he and the rest of his companions celebrated, because it meant they would be going home instead of to their likely deaths. How can I not be glad that my father survived?

When I worked at M.I.T., the head of my department was a man who had survived the Bataan Death March and then spent years in a Japanese prison camp. He was lucky to come through that alive; hundreds of Americans and Filipino prisoners did not.

Pablo Picasso, Reclining female nude playing with a cat

Pablo Picasso, Reclining female nude playing with a cat

From the LA Times: Obama can’t endorse during the Democratic primary, so he’s just pointing out how hard the job is instead.

…Obama’s week abroad not so subtly serves a purpose beyond foreign relations: how he can help Democrats’ looming campaign against the billionaire GOP presidential candidate.

Pledging to stay neutral in the Democratic primary, Obama has instead struck a middle ground to help the party’s likely nominee, Hillary Clinton. He has engaged in a twist on the so-called Rose Garden campaign strategy where incumbent presidents lean on the trappings of their office to remind voters of their power and achievements. Obama is instead reminding voters of the seriousness of the job and, by extension, his belief in Clinton’s readiness for it.

On Friday, this president who has repeatedly pointed to the heady challenges on his desk as an argument against making a former reality show star the next commander in chief travels to Hiroshima, where one of two nuclear bombs ever used in warfare was dropped, to underscore the horrors of war and the life-or-death decisions that presidents face.

He doesn’t plan to talk about presidential politics at all in proximity to his trip to a memorial for victims of the atomic blast that killed about 140,000 people, a grim reminder of the devastating impact of a military attack that Obama finds defensible.

But the trip nonetheless provides a vivid illustration for the question Obama wants voters to ask themselves as they consider a presidential candidate — can you trust this person with the nuclear codes?

“We are in serious times, and this is a really serious job,” Obama said from behind the seal of the president at the White House lectern this month. “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show.”

White House officials say that the president is eager to begin making a case to voters about the stakes of the race to replace him in the Oval Office, and will do so vigorously once the primaries are over.

Lilla Cabot Perry, Woman with cat

Lilla Cabot Perry, Woman with cat

I can’t wait until President Obama hits the campaign trail for Hillary! One thing we Democrats have over the Republicans is some very powerful surrogates who will work hard to hold onto the White House and save the country from Trump: Elizabeth Warren, John Lewis, Joe Biden, Elijah Cummings, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and so many more.

Warren has been getting under Trump’s skin for awhile now, and on Tuesday she attacked him in a high-profile speech.

Greg Sargent: Elizabeth Warren just absolutely shredded Donald Trump. There’s a lot more like this to come.

Elizabeth Warren delivered an extensive, blistering speech last night about Trump that will serve as a template for how Democrats will attack him — both in terms of how they’ll prosecute his business past and how they’ll try to undercut his central arguments about the economy….

The line that is driving all the attention this morning is Warren’s suggestion, in the context of Trump’s 2006 comment that a housing crash might enrich him, that the Donald is a “small, insecure money-grubber.” But Warren isn’t merely dissing Trump’s manhood. Warren — who went on to note that Trump “roots for people to get thrown out of their house” because he “doesn’t care who gets hurt, as long as he makes a profit” — is making a broader argument. Trump is not just a small, greedy person, but a cruel one, too.

That theme is also threaded through Warren’s broadside against Trump on taxes. He isn’t just paying as little as possible — and openly boasting about it — because he’s greedy. He isn’t just refusing to release his returns because he doesn’t want to reveal he’s not as rich as he claims (another shot at Trump’s self-inflated masculinity). All this, Warren suggests, also reflects a larger moral failing: Trump plays by his own set of rules, engorging himself, while simultaneously heaping explicit scorn on social investments designed to help those who are struggling in the same economy that made him rich. Warren notes that Trump recently likened paying his taxes to “throwing money down the drain” — i.e., he is reneging on the social contract — after “inheriting a fortune from his father” and “keeping it going by scamming people.” Thus, Warren is making a broader argument about Trump’s fundamental cruelty.

Here’s a video:

 

It’s time for the media to stop helping Trump and start dealing with the danger he poses to the country. If nothing else, they should be motivated by his attacks on the reporters who cover his campaign and on the the First Amendment. A few days ago, Jake Tapper gave a clinic for journalists on how to handle Trump’s outrageous lies.

Raw Story: Jake Tapper hammers Trump’s Vince Foster murder conspiracy mongering as ‘fiction born of delusion.’

CNN host Jake Tapper laid into GOP candidate Donald Trump for dredging up a debunked conspiracy theory that his likely opponent in the general election, Hillary Clinton, was somehow responsible for the death of then-Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster.

Foster’s 1993 death was ruled a suicide.

Tapper called Trump out for saying in an interview that the circumstances around Foster’s death were “very fishy,” adding, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

“Except of course you just did that, Mr. Trump,” Tapper said. “But you’re right, it’s not fair that you did that, certainly not to Mr. Foster’s widow or their three children.”

Watch the video:

 

We need much more of this kind of fact-checking of Trump from the media and a whole lot less obsessing about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Another good treatment of Trump from CNN: Donald Trump has a woman problem — 3 of them.

The presumptive Republican nominee spent the past 24 hours blasting his likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, and his most provocative antagonist, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But he didn’t stop there. He also slammed New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation’s only Latina governor and a Republican. Martinez might be seen as an obvious choice for diplomacy, or even intensive courtship, given Trump’s standing among women and Hispanics.
Trump chose a different approach: He told the residents of New Mexico to get rid of her.
In all three cases, the clashes were classic Trump. Slight him, diss him, hit him — and he’ll hit back harder. Much harder.
But they also could play right into Democrats’ plans to brand Trump as a serial misogynist as he goes up against a rival who could become the first female president in history. His poor standing with women — a CNN/ORC poll in March found he was viewed unfavorably by 73% of registered female voters — is one of his biggest liabilities heading into the fall.
“He makes a habit of insulting women,” Clinton said Wednesday afternoon as a campaign stop in California. “He seems to have something about women.”

Let’s hope Don the Con keeps this up. If Republican women vote against Trump, he could lose all 50 states.

Giovanni Boldini, Woman with cat

Giovanni Boldini, Woman with cat

Finally, folks in Cleveland are getting nervous about the upcoming Trump convention: “Will Cleveland’s GOP convention be a mistake by the lake or a moment in the sun?”

Amid recurring violence at political rallies held by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, many local officials and activists are increasingly worried that this lakeside city is ill-prepared to deal with tens of thousands of protesters and agitators expected to descend on the Republican National Convention here in July.

Some worry that police might be overrun or that the city has not stockpiled enough water to hydrate the masses in the mid-summer heat. Others, particularly on the left, oppose new restrictions that will be placed on demonstrators and object to the kind of military-style equipment law enforcement authorities may use to control the crowds.

There is also unhappiness among groups on both sides over the slow progress the city has made in approving parade and demonstration permits with less than two months to go.

On Wednesday, under the threat of a federal lawsuit by some groups upset by delays, city officials finally unveiled an official parade route and speakers’ platform in a major downtown park. Parades and protests will be allowed, but plans by some groups to bring in trucks, horses and, in one case, a giant bomb-shaped balloon might need to be rethought.

A bomb-shaped balloon?! So classy.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!