Wednesday Reads

Good Morning!!

I don’t know if JJ has internet access yet, so I thought I’d put up a quick open thread.

Now we know the real reason why Rex Tillerson called Trump a moron. From NBC News this morning: Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military.

President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.

According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a “moron.”

Revelations of Trump’s comments that day come as the U.S. is locked in a high-stakes standoff with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions and is poised to set off a fresh confrontation with Iran by not certifying to Congress that Tehran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

Unbelievable.

Trump was on Twitter this morning denying the story and threatening NBC.

Remember when Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was an “incredible advocate of the first amendment?” The Hill reports:

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders boiled over with frustration at the press during Thursday’s news briefing, telling CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta that “you have a responsibility to tell the truth.”

Acosta, who has been a persistent critic of the administration, asked Sanders whether President Trump believes the First Amendment protecting free speech and press rights is as important as the Second Amendment, which enshrines protections for gun owners.

“Absolutely,” Sanders said. “The president is an incredible advocate of the First Amendment. With the First amendment … with those freedoms also come responsibilities. You have a responsibility to tell the truth. To be accurate.”

Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that the Senate Intelligence Committee should investigate “Fake News Networks” to see “why so much of our news is just made up.”

No wonder Bob Corker is worried about Trump bumbling into WWIII. Peter Beinart at The Atlantic: What Bob Corker Really Fears.

It doesn’t matter all that much that Bob Corker and Donald Trump are insulting each other via Twitter. Sooner or later, Trump insults almost everyone. What matters is that Corker, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a confidant of the secretary of state, is warning publicly that “we could be heading towards World War III,” presumably with North Korea. The crucial question is why.

It’s possible that in his New York Times interview, Corker got carried away. As former Bush administration National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told me, “Forces have not been mobilized. The military is still saying diplomacy comes first.”

But it’s also possible Corker genuinely fears that Trump and Kim Jong Un’s blood-curdling rhetoric, combined with ongoing North Korean missile and nuclear tests and American displays of military force, pose a risk of catastrophic miscalculation—war by accident. Reducing that risk requires meaningful communication between Washington and Pyongyang. And Corker—who told the Times that “in several instances” Trump has “hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out”—seems worried that Trump is rendering such communication almost impossible, thus leaving both the U.S. and North Korea flying blind.

A little more:

It is Trump’s comments torpedoing talks with the North that appear to have alarmed Corker the most. In the Times interview, he said Trump’s “tweets, especially as it relates to foreign policy issues, I know have been very damaging to us” and have “hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway.” He specifically rejected the notion that Trump and Tillerson were engaged in “some good cop, bad cop act” in which Trump’s bellicosity strengthened his secretary of state’s bargaining power. And he warned of miscommunication, saying that Trump doesn’t understand the way “the messages that he sends out” are “being received in other languages around the world.”

In this regard, Corker’s fears resemble those of American reporters who have recently been to North Korea. “To go between Washington and Pyongyang at this nuclear moment is to be struck, most of all, by how little the two understand each other,” wrote Evan Osnos last month in The New Yorker. More recently, The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof declared that, “I’ve been covering North Korea on and off since the 1980s, and this five-day trip has left me more alarmed than ever about the risks of a catastrophic confrontation.” He urged “talks without conditions, if only talks about talks” to prevent a “crisis that escalates.”

What Corker, Tillerson, Osnos, and Kristof understand is that while a diplomatic deal with North Korea may be impossible, improving communication with North Korea is essential to reducing the possibility of accidental war.

Recently there have been rumors that Trump is getting frustrated with John Kelly as his chief of staff, and an old friend of Trump’s, Thomas Barrack, has been mentioned as a successor. That may be off the table after this story in The Washington Post: ‘He’s better than this,’ says Thomas Barrack, Trump’s loyal whisperer.

Barrack, in interviews with The Washington Post, said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by some of the president’s rhetoric and inflammatory tweets. He disagrees with some of Trump’s proposals, including his efforts to ban immigrants from certain Muslim countries and his push for a border wall with Mexico. He wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics.

“He thinks he has to be loyal to his base,” Barrack said. “I keep on saying, ‘But who is your base? You don’t have a natural base. Your base now is the world and America, so you have all these constituencies; show them who you really are.’ In my opinion, he’s better than this.”

“I tell him all the time: I don’t like the rhetoric,” Barrack, who runs a large real estate investment company, said at his Manhattan office….

Barrack said he has often thought about how he has remained a close friend for 30 years with a man whose “reputation is selfish and egotistical. Here’s what I think the answer is: I’ve never needed anything from him . . . I was always subservient to him.” Barrack said that his life intersected with Trump “at soft moments,” such as discussions about their divorces and children. He was at Trump’s side during the funeral of Trump’s father, Fred, and they talked for a half-hour about “the weight of a hard dad, and the baton passing.” As a result, Barrack said, he has seen within Trump “a kind of compassion at a very lonely level.”

Out of that has developed a most unusual bond, which in turn has enabled Barrack to talk to Trump “straight up,” telling him when he disagrees. That has been surprisingly often.

“It is not always fun, and no, he doesn’t come back and say, ‘By the way, your idea was right or brilliant,’ ” Barrack said.

There’s much more about the relationship between the two men at the link.

Why has Trump ignored the terrorist attack on U.S. Troops in Niger? From Salon: Trump’s Benghazi? Ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger goes unnoticed.

It’s been five years since terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, leaving four Americans dead. Last week, as CIA officers disguised in wigs and mustaches testified in court about the predawn ambush on the diplomatic compound, four other Americans soldiers were killed in neighboring Niger.

Most Americans may not even be aware that approximately 800 U.S. troops are stationed in Niger, a West African nation where jihadist groups have taken root. As part of the never-ending war on terror, the United States has also set up a drone base in Niger’s capital city of Niamey. Contrary to his focused commitment to reverse every policy put in place by his predecessor, President Donald Trump has decided to carry on with the construction of a second drone base in Niger commissioned by Barack Obama….

The New York Times reported that when the soldiers were ambushed, no American helicopters came to their rescue. Although Congress has never authorized the mission in Niger — as is required by the Constitution — the military’s Africa Command asked lawmakers for more help months before the attack, the Times also reported.

It remains unclear which terror group carried out the ambush, but there are reports that a new wing of the Islamic State that calls itself the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) had a hand in the deaths of the Special Forces troops — the first U.S. casualties in Niger.

Identified as Staff Sgt. Bryan Black of Washington state, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of Ohio, Sgt. La David Johnson of Florida and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Georgia, the four dead Americans, part of the Third Special Forces Group based at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg, haven’t received much attention. The White House said Trump was notified about the attack in Niger shortly after it happened last Wednesday night. A week later, he still hasn’t sent one tweet or released any official statement about the death of four Americans. He has written more than 60 tweets about Benghazi, another terror attack in the same region of Africa that resulted in four dead Americans.

I’ve been having a tough time with the Harvey Weinstein story, and I haven’t read the stories in detail. I think these stories are traumatizing for lots of women, because most of us have experienced sexual harassment in our work lives. So many men don’t seem to understand how common these behaviors are–either that or they are willfully blind to what goes on all around them. But night Rachel Maddow reported a shocker. She had Ronan Farrow on her show and he said that NBC had refused to publish his story on Weinstein, so he took it to The New Yorker.

Huffington Post: Sources: NBC Let Ronan Farrow’s Weinstein Scoop Slip Away.

Ronan Farrow’s investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s long history of alleged sexual misconduct was in NBC’s hands as recently as August, according to multiple sources both inside and outside the network. By then, Farrow, an NBC contributor and investigative reporter, had already obtained damning audio of an encounter Weinstein had with a woman, in which Weinstein admits to having groped her, sources told HuffPost.

Instead, Farrow’s story — and the audio, from a 2015 New York Police Department sting — appeared Tuesday on the website of The New Yorker. Sources told HuffPost that NBC had concerns related to the story’s sourcing and cleared Farrow to take it to The New Yorker.

It’s not clear what those concerns were. In The New Yorker story, several women spoke on the record about their encounters with Weinstein. Among them were Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino and filmmaker Asia Argento, the latter of whom said Weinstein raped her.

The story relinquished by NBC, according to a network source, was “nowhere close to what ultimately ran in the NY Times or the New Yorker.” The network declined to comment on the record.

Farrow says the New Yorker story was essentially the same as the one he took to NBC.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?

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62 Comments on “Wednesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a great day everyone. JJ, if you can see this, have courage. We miss you!

    • Enheduanna says:

      BB thanks for the post – great links. I’m sort of shocked tRump has a bona fide friend.

      JJ – hope you are OK! Off-the-grid can be a good thing once in a while. I bet the leaves are gorgeous up there!

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Oh thank you for posting this…the situation is ridiculous. We finally got the insurance sorted out, but my father is insisting on doing the work himself. All by himself. The date is coming up for when we have to vacate the cabin…and move out someplace else. (Again my dad has left us in a lurch with this arrangement. Telling the women from housing that we did not need any help.) The frustration level is so high…then I keep thinking I will wake up and we will be at war…which, if that is the case, what does it matter anyway. Serenity now does not even cover my anxiousness. I miss the blog, I miss sanity. I love you all..

      • quixote says:

        Jaw. Dropped.

        A tree fell on your house. He figures he’ll just lift it up and then by himself put the framing in place for the roof? I don’t suppose all the rest of you could go to the housing people and point out that dad is nuts? Somehow I can just see him refusing to ask for directions when he’s lost and winds up in Brazil.

        At least the insurance might get started on payments!

      • bostonboomer says:

        You need to tell your Dad to get someone else to do the work!

      • NW Luna says:

        A pox on men with I-must-do-it-all-myself attitudes! I’ve seen enough of that in my own family. Usually it means nothing gets done or it takes a looong time. Hope things improve!

  2. bostonboomer says:

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    • Enheduanna says:

      I have to believe that what lies at the heart of this is racism. Brock Long and tRump just think Puerto Ricans are lazy and should be able to conjure up food and clean water out of thin air for themselves.

      As a taxpayer I want to know what the FK happens to all that money we give the military and why can’t they send in helicopters with air drops to these remote areas?

  3. bostonboomer says:

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  4. bostonboomer says:

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  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Harvey Weinstein is not a phenomenon. It has been going on for years and Hollywood is not alone in the cover up.

    Years ago I went to work at a hospital. One of the first things I was told was to never find myself alone with Dr. So and So. Another admonition was to never turn your back on Dr. What’s His Face as he loved nothing more than easing up behind a female and pressing himself into her.

    This suggestions were usually handed out with a giggle and eye rolling as females were judged “inferior” to physicians who held the power. Physicians got away with verbal abuse as well, often heard screaming at nurses and other female personnel who had little recourse in the matter.

    It was after the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill testimony that brought changes to that policy. Employees were encouraged to bring complaints to the Human Resources Dept without fear of retribution. Many took up the challenge and over time much of the abuse, both verbal and physical, slowly disappeared.

    It also helped that the Board of Directors was adding more female members who sought a change in attitude. Interns were given an orientation that addressed behavior toward female members of the staff. In other words, civility had to be taught.

    This isn’t to say that the rules were not broken every now and then but the accuser was at least assured that by making a complaint their job was not in jeopardy as a result.

    It appears that Harvey’s behavior was an open secret in Hollywood. But the power of his position, his ability to make money for his investors, allowed him to get away with behavior that would have led to imprisonment of someone in a lesser position.

    This is the usual excuse offered from those who know better but who choose to look the other way.

    • NW Luna says:

      Sexual harassment and abuse was (and is) considered as something women had to put up with because that’s the way it was in the world. It’s been very slow to change.

    • quixote says:

      It’s people with little power who get harassed. Everybody knows that. It’s not the tiniest bit surprising that Meryl Streep had no inkling. She was a megastar when she worked with him. Not some poor little novice who needed the creep’s help. The jerks find that they can behave themselves when they have to.

      It’s all such an echo of the standard neighbors’ comments when someone turns out to be an abuser. “But, but, but he’s such a nice guy!” Of course he is. To you. Mr.-can’t-see-past-the-end-of-your-own-nose.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I agree. And I’m not surprised that Hillary didn’t know either. He went after the young, powerless women.

    • dakinikat says:

      It happens wherever powerful men can abuse their power.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I too could tell lots of stories about the bad old days in the workplace, but I don’t want to go there right now. The articles about Weinstein and the reactions of men has retraumatized me.

      • NW Luna says:

        Not only in the workplace, but outside it. I wrote a few sentences about some of my experiences the other day, and that was bad enough. I don’t want to go back there in my memory.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Yes, I was fondled by a salesman in the furniture store once. I still shudder when I think about it.

        • dakinikat says:

          When my best friend in jr high school got in the elevator to go down to the lower part of the mall where the restrooms were she got flashed by some icky old jerk. I think we may have been all of 14. We were down stairs waiting for her and nearly had to peel her off the elevator wall.

          • Fannie says:

            I was harassed once and approached the mofo with some backup, a just released black parolee, who was willing to take him down in one spoken sentence. Word got around about that scene.

          • jan says:

            A psychiatrist tried to manipulate me into something back in the seventies. I played stupid and didn’t cooperate in the right way so I escaped the idiot. But he had it all set up so that if I complained he could say I was mentally deranged. First chance I got I got out of there.

      • dakinikat says:

        I will never forgive Joe Biden for what he did to Anita Hill. NEVER!!!!

        • quixote says:

          Same here. Especially since he’s never acknowledged his collusion in rewarding harassment, let alone apologizing … every single day.

      • Fannie says:

        For sure, I don’t want to go there either, but I can still can curse the hell out of them.

  6. quixote says:

    Sanders said. “The president is an incredible advocate of the First Amendment.

    Emphasis on “incredible.” I agree. Not even slightly credible.

    • Enheduanna says:

      She gets on my last nerve almost as bad as Kellyanne. And if that is true why is he threatening NBC with their license?

      Meanwhile the biggest liars on teevee – Fox News – keep happily deluding their viewers day in and day out.

    • bostonboomer says:

      LOL Quixote!

      • dakinikat says:

        • NW Luna says:

          …screams the manboy while pounding his fists and rolling around on the floor.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Even before Corker’s remarks, some West Wing advisers were worried that Trump’s behavior could cause the Cabinet to take extraordinary Constitutional measures to remove him from office. Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.

          • quixote says:

            When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?”

            Unfortunately, the Founding Dads judged by themselves, so they couldn’t imagine the need for the 25th to include toxic stupidity as grounds for removal.

        • quixote says:

          How many psychiatrists have to state the obvious before the GOP pays attention?

          An irrational number of them because that’s how the GOP rolls.

  7. dakinikat says:

    Here’s something to make you want to move to a mountain top …

    Paranormal America 2017
    Chapman University Survey of American Fears 2017

    https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2017/10/11/paranormal-america-2017/

    The Chapman University Survey of American Fears Wave 4 (2017) includes a battery of items on paranormal beliefs ranging from belief in Bigfoot and psychic powers to visits by aliens and haunted houses.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I guess those fears are easier to deal with than worrying about Trump dropping a nuke on North Korea.

  8. Enheduanna says:

    This is funny:

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/10/no-tea-with-the-queen-for-trumps-uk-visit/

    tRump’s going to the UK next spring apparently…I guess the carriage ride is a no-go as well? hahahahaha

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. bostonboomer says:

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  11. bostonboomer says:

    WaPo: In case you didn’t take Trump’s threat to the First Amendment seriously

    President Trump attacked NBC News on Wednesday, dismissing as “pure fiction” an explosive report that he had sought a massive increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

    On Twitter, Trump also raised the possibility that he would support stripping the broadcast licenses of news networks that report what he believes to be inaccurate information. The tweets came after NBC News reported that Trump purportedly told senior national security advisers during a meeting last summer that he favored what amounted to nearly a tenfold increase in nuclear weapons.

    No president has publicly threatened to shut down a media outlet for unfavorable coverage. This is beyond the pale, further evidence that Trump seeks to emulate the thugs around the world like Russian President Vladimir Putin (whose alleged killing of journalists Trump once wrote off, because “our country does plenty of killing, too”), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (whom he congratulated after a vote that outside observers found rife with irregularities) and Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines (whose “drug war” Trump praised despite thousands of extrajudicial killings).

    • bostonboomer says:

      More evidence that Trump is a moron:

      Washington Post

      The large news networks have affiliate stations that are owned by other entities; for NBC, there are about 200 of them. They also have owned-and-operated stations; for NBC, there are 11 such stations, in big markets such as D.C., Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and New York, among others.

      In order for Trump to wipe out the reporting of NBC News, well, he’d have to upend the licenses of all its affiliates and owned-and-operated stations — an unfathomable act, and one that might even draw condemnation from Trump’s fellow Republicans.

      The autocratic effort couldn’t end there, however. NBC News transmits its reporting every day, all day on MSNBC, its cable arm. Here, Trump is powerless. Though the FCC regulates certain aspects of the cable television industry, news content ain’t one of them.

      Don’t forget MSNBC.com and NBCNews.com. Those are quite common conduits for the “fake news” of NBC. Here again, Trump is powerless. Though the FCC, under President Barack Obama, instituted “net neutrality” rules for Internet service providers (which are unraveling), no one at the FCC can stop the NBC people from launching websites and publishing their reporting, whether or not it pleases the president.

  12. bostonboomer says:

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    • NW Luna says:

      Guess they have plenty of thoughts and prayers ready to offer up.
      *endless screaming*

    • Earlynerd says:

      {{ shudder }}

      I saw my first pistol-on-a-hip aka open carry while peacefully shopping at an Aldi’s today.

      I’m not very up on gun types, but it looked like one of the more modern pistols, the kind that shoot a lot faster and more times per minute than the old Saturday night specials. This was a medium sized sandy-blonde guy leading a little kid by the hand, gazing through the glass doors at the milk.

      It gave me the same feeling as if a copperhead were casually winding across the floor and everyone just stepped around it. I asked in a neighboring grocery store if that happened a lot, and she said she’s seen it three times, but added that all employees have had to take “shelter in place” training, and that made it to her weirder and creepier that people could do this and did it.

      I just don’t get it. Who the hell does he expect to have a shootout with at a grocery store??

      • Earlynerd says:

        Meant to add, it makes me feel -so- much safer to know pistol guy could have serious mental problems or an outstanding arrest warrant. Could explain his otherwise unaccountable need for lethal force while grocery shopping.

      • jan says:

        I saw one armed guy in our local Goodwill Store. I couldn’t go there again for quite a while. I live in a rather blue area but in former years we got a big influx of republican types from California. Wish that they had stayed home. No crime before, more crime afterwards.

        • Earlynerd says:

          I’m trying my damnest to move to the West Coast.

          You’ve given one more data point for working harder at it.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        It gave me the same feeling as if a copperhead were casually winding across the floor and everyone just stepped around it

        Earlynerd, that’s brilliant.
        Is this our life now? How can this be???

        • Earlynerd says:

          Sue, decades ago I saw a woman leading a small girl down a major street just outside downtown Portland, Oregon. She had a rifle cradled in one arm. But given my lived experience as a woman, even in Oregon, I assumed she had a damned good reason for making such an unusual and public show of force.

          Not so in this neck of the woods and with these armed civilians. In Western NC and surrounding areas, men I’ve talked to for years have equated force with fun: trucks that can go places they don’t need to go and haul loads they never need to haul, guns that can take out wildlife they admit they don’t want to shoot.

          But tRump’s and Republican’s stoking of these markers of masculinity seem to have made the potential actual. Every little guy who just sorta liked the idea of packin’ -is- packing now. It seems the schoolyard taunting has escalated to a point where they can’t just know they’re “armed and dangerous”, they have to prove it in public.

          That’s my theory, at least. They’ve ruined at least one set of trails I used to hike on by their Dukes of Hazard mentality, and I’m just hunkering down till I can get the hell out to somewhere sane.

        • NW Luna says:

          the same feeling as if a copperhead were casually winding across the floor and everyone just stepped around it

          What I feel also.

  13. NW Luna says:

  14. NW Luna says:

    Every day, another revolting example of how unfit he is.

    Trump hints at ending aid as Puerto Ricans forced to drink polluted water

    Donald Trump has seemingly threatened to pull federal emergency support from Puerto Rico a day after his administration reported that desperate people in the US territory have been drinking from contaminated wells due to a lack of water.

    In a series of tweets sent on Thursday morning, Trump said: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. Forever!”

    Sufficient aid has yet to reach many people in Puerto Rico, three weeks after much of the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. More than 80% of the island is without electricity and nearly half of all people are still cut off from communication.

    • Earlynerd says:

      Luna, there needs to be something like a flash march for Puerto Rico.

      Marches normally don’t happen in real enough time to help with something like this disaster, but this much failure on a national scale needs immediate national attention. I think enough people are outraged enough it might happen.