Lazy Saturday Reads

Resurrection, by Alma Thomas

Resurrection, by Alma Thomas

Good Afternoon!!

It’s day 29 of the illegimate presidency of Donald tRump and the chaos continues unabated. There are hundreds of stories I could share with you today, and it’s difficult to figure out which is most worthy of attention. I believe that Russian influence on our government has to be number one, but there are many other urgent issues as well. We can’t ignore the truly frightening story of what tRump is trying to do to undocumented immigrants. Of course there really are many more serious concerns, such as tRump’s refusal to accept advice from experts and his war on the free press. So here are a few stories to check out and I hope you’ll add more in the comments.

First, here’s a follow-up to what Dakinikat wrote yesterday about the increasingly public concerns about tRump’s mental health from Dr. Steven Beutler at The New Republic: A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior. In response to the many questions asked by political leaders, psychologists, and psychiatrists, he writes:

Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, is sometimes referred to as “The Great Imposter” because of its ability to mimic many other conditions. It is commonly broken down into three stages. Primary syphilis is the most widely recognized form of the disease. It is characterized by the development of an ulcer, usually genital, a few weeks to a few months after sexual contact with an infected person. If the ulcer is not noticed, or not treated, it heals on its own, and the disease enters a dormant phase. But during this time, the bacteria—a spirochete called Treponema pallidum—spreads throughout the body without causing any symptoms.

Untitled, by Perle Fine

Untitled, by Perle Fine

A secondary stage of the disease is seen in some patients weeks or months later. These patients may develop a variety of systemic symptoms, such as rash, fever, and swollen glands. If not treated, the infection enters a prolonged latent phase, which can last decades. During this time, it is asymptomatic and it is not contagious. In some cases, this is followed by a tertiary stage, which is the most serious and may involve any organ in the body. It is seen 10 to 30 years after the initial infection, and is best known for causing neurologic and neuropsychiatric disease: Neurosyphilis.

The symptoms of neurosyphilis are protean, varying widely from one individual to another. Commonly recognized symptoms include irritability, loss of ability to concentrate, delusional thinking, and grandiosity. Memory, insight, and judgment can become impaired. Insomnia may occur. Visual problems may develop, including the inability of pupils to react to the light. This, along other ocular pathology, can result in photophobia, dimming of vision, and squinting. All of these things have been observed in Trump. Dementia, headaches, gait disturbances. and patchy hair loss can also be seen in later stages of syphilis.

Beutler of course admits that he cannot make a diagnosis without more information and access to tRump, but he argues that Neurosyphilis needs to be considered as a possibility along with psychological disorders because of tRump’s own public admissions about his sexual history.

Night Creatures, Lee Krasner

Night Creatures, Lee Krasner

Supposedly tRump is going to be interviewing candidates for the National Security Adviser position vacated by Michael Flynn. He has already been turned down by his top two candidates, Adm. Robert Harward and Gen. David Petraeus.

Last night Chris Hayes broke some news about the Harward turndown on his MSNBC show. Business Insider reports: Top national security adviser pick reportedly bailed after seeing Trump’s press conference.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Friday cited a former national security official familiar with Harward’s decision who said Harward asked that several demands be met as a condition of accepting the offer:

“Harward wanted to undo the fairly large changes the president had made to the NSC that had inserted Bannon into the process,” Hayes reported.

Citing his source, Hayes said “The White House did not offer Harward sufficient assurances that he would have such autonomy.” Harward wrote a letter declining the offer.

The White House reportedly sought to negotiate with Harward on the matter, which Harward was initially open to, Hayes said, but that changed a short time later.

Lucy, by Mary Abbott

Lucy, by Mary Abbott

On Petraeus, CBS News reports:

Sources close to retired Gen. David Petraeus say the White House eliminated the former CIA director from consideration for the open national security adviser post after he weighed in on the job during a conference in Germany this week.

“Whoever it is that would agree to take that position certainly should do so with some very, very significant assurances that he or she would have authorities over the personnel of the organization — that there would be a commitment to a disciplined process and procedures,” Petraeus said at the Munich Security Conference.

That pronouncement angered the White House as it deepened the sense the next national security adviser must assert authority over staff and the inter-agency process — highlighting the reason Vice Adm. Robert Harward refused to take the job earlier this week. Two sources confirmed to CBS News that Harward had demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.

Sources close to the situation said the White House is content for the time being with acting National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg and does not have a coherent replacement plan in place. Kellogg, a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, had been serving as chief of staff and executive secretary of the National Security Council when he took over as the national security adviser.

Apparently, tRump is determined to control the makeup of the NSC, including keeping Steve Bannon on the principals committee. It’s hard to imagine any experienced candidate who would accept that.

Politico: Help wanted: National security adviser who can handle the chaos.

As President Donald Trump prepares to interview more candidates this weekend, accepting the influential policy-making post that oversees a policy staff of hundreds is now widely considered a high-risk gambit, according to current and former government officials and longtime veterans of the National Security Council.

Trump will be forced to “sweeten the deal,” predicted one former Republican NSC official, in order to enlist a high-caliber replacement following the resignation of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn….

Red Ikon, by Sonia Gechtoff

Red Ikon, by Sonia Gechtoff

“I would want to know that I had direct, unimpeded access to the president whenever I felt it was necessary,” said Nicholas Rostow, who served as the top legal adviser to both Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft when they held the post under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, respectively.

“Historically that job has been one step removed from domestic politics, and the national security adviser and his or her staff have always prided themselves on looking at things through the prism of the national interest — and therefore slightly less political than other positions,” added Rostow, who now teaches political science at Colgate University.

A former high-ranking national security official in the George W. Bush administration, citing the perils of navigating Trump’s dueling power centers, was far more blunt about the challenges awaiting Trump’s would-be national security adviser: “No serious person would take that job. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

If you’re interested in the Russia connection, I hope you had a chance to watch Joy Reid’s show this morning. She had a great segment on Russia’s reaction to the firing their obvious ally Michael Flynn. Here’s a piece Reid wrote about the situation at The Daily Beast: It’s Not Too Early to Ask: Are Even the Russians Turning on Trump?

Trump’s utility to the Russians has never been in his wackiness. It’s been in the potential for him to deliver, as President, a different U.S. foreign policy; one that deemphasizes the traditional Western alliances and frees Russia to operate in the European theater as it pleases, with lifted sanctions and a few lucrative bilateral oil deals to boot.

But Trump as President hasn’t shown any inkling of the kind of competence or political skill—or the political capital—to do any of that. Even his Secretary of State, Exxon’s Rex Tillerson, has sounded a dubious note about the extent to which the United States will allow Moscow to flex its muscle around the world, which had to be a great disappointment to his good friend, “V. Putin,” as Trump labels him in tweets, using the common Russian nomenclature….

Russian leaders seemed palpably freaked out when Gen. Michael Flynn, clearly seen as Moscow’s main man in Washington, was forced out of the Trump administration amid revelations that he conducted secret foreign policy on the phone with the Russian ambassador over Christmas, then lied to the vice president about it. It’s pretty difficult to imagine that Flynn acted without the direction, or at least the approval, of his boss, the then-incoming president.

But more alarming than the phone calls was the fact that Flynn was considered potentially compromised by a foreign power, by the Director of National Intelligence, the acting attorney general of the United States, Sally Yates, and others, and that the White House was told as much and still waited to act. Now, the Kremlin has reportedly ordered Russian media outlets to dial back their glowing Trump coverage, amid uncertainty about what comes next.

Read the whole thing at the link.

Origin,1956 by Jay Defeo. Access. #1980.24 Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archive, Berkeley, CA., USA

Origin,1956 by Jay Defeo. Access. #1980.24
Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archive, Berkeley, CA., USA

More links to explore:

The New York Times: Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People.’

The Atlantic: Donald Trump’s Plan to Outsource Immigration Enforcement to Local Cops.

The New York Times: Sun, Sand and Influence: For Mar-a-Lago Members, Proximity Is Power.

The New Yorker: Michael Flynn: General Chaos.

Politico: Leaked Trump tape: ‘You are the special people.’ Exclusive audio shows how Trump lets loose at his clubs — inviting guests to join him on staff interviews.

Buzzfeed: Source Says Dr. Ben Carson “Baffled” At Firing Of HUD Staffer. One of Carson’s closest aides was fired from the agency after writings critical of Trump from October resurfaced.

NPR: Trump’s Sons Heading To Dubai As Business Interests Continue To Expand Overseas.

The New York Times: The Downfall of Kellyanne Conway.

CBS News: Trump yells at CIA director over reports intel officials are keeping info from him.

CBS News: “Chill” in flow of intelligence to Trump White House, sources say.

Politico: Trump ignores ‘the grown-ups’ in his Cabinet. Foreign policy chiefs struggle to influence a wobbly White House.

Media Matters: Anti-Semites Praise Trump For Berating Jewish Reporter And Refusing To Condemn Anti-Semitism In Press Conference.

The Washington Post: John McCain just systematically dismantled Donald Trump’s entire worldview.

Note: The images in this post are by women abstract expressionist painters.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!

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39 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    I’ve become obsessed. Forget that I promised myself to openly ignore this miserable administration I find myself drawn to the tv and computer twice as much as I have ever been on the off chance I will see them destroy themselves right before my very own eyes!

    This obsession is demanding my full attention. Very little is getting done around here. And I mean very little. Aside from preparing food and taking a shower my whole attention is in following the latest debacle coming from DC and the fear I may miss something.

    I find myself slogging from blog to blog seeking validation. I browse the internet in search of analysis. I barely leave the house except for a trip to the bank, pharmacy and grocery store all wrapped into one. I am becoming a recluse since January 20th because I fear I will miss out on something that is about to topple President Nutcase.

    I am letting my calls go to voicemail. I have several books left unfinished. My entire existence is wrapped up in this criminal administration and I am as devoted to it as I was to “The Sopranos”. My social life is almost non existent.

    Help!!

    • Enheduanna says:

      LOL – Pat please don’t be too hard on yourself. tRump and Co. are a spectacle impossible to ignore! I have also broken my promise to myself to ditch cable teevee news.

      I do try to peel away and watch other shows. “Victoria” on PBS is good – and educational. Netflix has lots of good original productions. “Versailles” and “Juana Ines” are both fascinating. I especially recommend “Juana Ines” if you were on the fence about watching it.

      Anything my brother-in-law calls “powder wig” productions (which he detests – lol).

      • janicen says:

        OMG, I love Victoria. We record it and watch it on Monday nights because we watch Homeland at 9 on Sunday nights but I so look forward to Monday nights with a nice cup of herbal tea and Victoria. Really good television.

    • NW Luna says:

      Unfortunately, it seems to be taking altogether too long to get SCROTUS charged and convicted of treason.

      • Enheduanna says:

        There is so much going on with the Russia connections we don’t know. Joseph Cannon is speculating that tRump & Co. could have given the names of our moles within the FSB to Putin. There have been a handful of suspicious arrests over there complete with a bag over the head.

    • NW Luna says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Dear Pat,

      Join the club.

      Love, Ann

    • janicen says:

      Me too, Pat. I am DESPERATE for the days when I could wake up and go about my own business and not give the presidency or my government a single thought. Now I’m afraid to go more than an hour or two without checking for an update. I feel as if I’m losing my mind.

    • Fannie says:

      I’m beginning to pick at a pimple on my chin, and getting real sloppy about my cleaning. Damn floors are still sticky.

      I am cracking up too Pat. Don’t want to end up with ulcers.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Oh Pat……I am so hopelessly invested in what’s going to happen next that I am in the same boat as you. I am able to sleep, but most of my day is devoted to surfing the web trying to stay ahead of the curve on what’s going on. Just when I thought I’d seen most everything that life has to offer, this happens and I know I’m witnessing something I never dreamed possible.

      PERSIST!

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    Yesterday, I spent the entire day listening to FoxNews. (Not by choice. I was held hostage to the shit while my mother was having her outpatient surgery and her chemo treatment.) You know that FoxNews is the only thing on TV here in Banjoville…it is everywhere. I cannot tell you how disgusting the nuts are on that channel. How they praise tRump…and spew his “talking points” it is like watching a cult indoctrination film. All the Fox News Alerts to say tRump is being treated badly by the enemy…the press…those bells that ding on the alerts. It is like a trigger mechanism. I really believe there is some psycho shit going on for the viewers. By the end of the day…after 14 hours of that shit, I felt like throwing up. I had no appetite. But maybe for certain folks it feeds their intelligence? Fear? I don’t know. Because let me tell you, the viewers that were enthralled by what was on the TV, and it was pretty much everyone in the place…no one would be able to convince those fuckers to see tRump in any other light. Only the FoxNews spin for these people.

    • Enheduanna says:

      JJ I can’t watch five minutes of that hate-filled codswallop. Fox News and hate radio are absolutely the primary reason people are so ignorant and filled with fear and anger in this country.

      Apparently conservatives seem to view the human race as essentially bad. They are fearful and paranoiac. Watching hours of Fox News every day leads their viewers deeper and deeper into a downward spiral of negative thought and anger. My mother and brother are victims.

      I wish I could feel sorry for them but I can’t.

    • NW Luna says:

      JJ, hope your mother is doing well. And gentle hugs to you.

      Yeah, hate and garbage in, hate and garbage out.

    • Fannie says:

      That’s real scary JJ.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Not even subtle

  5. palhart says:

    The press has set up a twitter site to counter trump’s war against them,
    #NotTheEnemy, which, as a newcomer to twitter, I saw it for the first time today,

  6. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      So there is a Mar-a-Lago member recording him and leaking it? Or is it an employee? He is known to bring in Eastern Europeans on HB whatever visas to avoid hiring Americans of Color. There could easily be foreign intelligence operatives working there.

      That is so messed up. tRump and his supporters will think of it as bringing governance to the people. Idjits.

      And what on earth is with the “dictators” thing?

  7. palhart says:

    One of the black women of the trump rally warm-up duo said trump has done more in 4 weeks than Ibama did in 8 years.

    Confederate flags are waving.

    trump is repeating much of what we’ve heard a hundred times.

  8. Fannie says:

    About that neurosphlis…………I swear, I’ve been comparing Trump to Al Capone for over a year, and he also had a case, that finally killed him.

    The Sons of Trump going all over the damn world, is costing us, the taxpayers, millions to protect them with Secret Service employees. I say cut them off, because they have dreams of businesses, all over the world, South America, Dubai, and everywhere else.

  9. roofingbird says:

    Seriously, free air TV. No FAUX, no time. Just a lively afternoon reading what you all have to say, a little Facebook, some time at Wapo and some other online papers. Plenty stressful.

  10. NW Luna says:

    And his followers are all batshit crazy too, though we knew that already.

  11. NW Luna says:

  12. dakinikat says:

  13. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Trump cannot continue to present himself as the triumphant winner of a fair election if it turns out his own people were palling around with Moscow.

      And that’s the whole point. He isn’t, and it wasn’t.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Russia has been cultivating tRump for FIVE (5) YEARS?? Wow. That sure paid off – probably beyond their wildest dreams. And yeah – they’ve got eyes and ears planted at Mar-a-Lago for sure.

  14. NW Luna says: