Thursday Reads: Happy Thanksgiving!Posted: November 23, 2017
Today I’m grateful for Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. In the old days before the 2016 election, Thanksgiving was a super-slow news day. Now everything is different. There is more Russia news than I can cover, the media is having a feeding frenzy over sexual harassment and sexual “misconduct,” and the “president” is lecturing Americans about how great he thinks he is.
He also told the troops they are doing a good job because of him.
In a Thanksgiving morning video-conference call with servicemembers overseas, President Donald Trump expressed his gratitude for their work, took credit for allowing them to do it and sought to assure them that they’ll find prosperity when they return.
“We’re doing well at home. The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you are going to see with the jobs and companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high,” Trump said, reading from a prepared script at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 17 years. So you’re fighting for something real, you’re fighting for something good.”
The remarks were unusually political for an American president’s Thanksgiving address to troops but perfectly in line with Trump’s penchant for making such statements to nonpolitical public servants.
Before he told the troops how great he is, Trump publicly shamed his press pool.
That’s why I’m so grateful for the Russia investigation. I can’t wait until this monster gets impeached or resigns in disgrace. I’d give anything to see him go to prison.
Remember when we had a president who cared about people?
Sorry I started out with the monster-in-chief; here’s a heartwarming story to get the bad taste out of your mouth. NY Post: How a homeless man’s selfless act changed his life.
A homeless man used the last $20 in his pocket to buy gas for a stranded motorist because he feared for her safety — and what she did next changed his life.
Kate McClure, 27, and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 38, made it their mission to get ex-Marine and firefighter Johnny Bobbit Jr. back on his feet with a fundraising campaign that has raised more than $65,000.
Bobbit came to McClure’s aid last month, when she ran out of gas on I-95 at night while driving to meet a pal in Philadelphia.
As she walked toward the nearest gas station, he told her to get back in her car and lock the doors.
Bobbit then spent his last $20 to buy her gas so she would get home safe.
“He came back and I was almost in shock,” McClure told The Post.
McClure and her boyfriend started to try to help Bobbit, and eventually decided to put up a GoFundMe page for him. The goal was $10,000. They wanted to get enough for the first and last month on an apartment and a reliable vehicle. As of this morning, they have raised $206,955. The total keeps going up every time I refresh the page.
Bobbit, who hails from North Carolina, has been homeless for a year and half, and began living under a bridge after he was robbed in a shelter.
“He came back from his service in the marines and for some reason it didn’t work out with his wife and it hit him hard,” D’Amico said. “He left North Carolina and started traveling around the United States.”
Bobbit wants to work at Amazon — and a recruiter from the tech giant has already reached out, saying she wants to help him get a spot. Meanwhile, if you want to pay it forward yourself, too, you can drop off unused items at Pick Up Please clothing donation spots near you.
“He’s a genuinely good guy so I think he deserves everything that’s coming to him,” McClure said.
I’m fortunate that I don’t have to worry about any Trump fans being at my brother’s place for Thanksgiving dinner today; but if you do here is some advice from Joe Berkowitz at GQ: It’s Your Civic Duty to Ruin Thanksgiving by Bringing Up Trump.
Trump has spent the entire year performing one long, clumsy touchdown dance atop the wreckage of America’s former norms and values. He turned the presidency into a haberdashery. He made nepotism a core hiring strategy. He attacked a civil rights leader during Martin Luther King Day. He politicized a Boy Scout jamboree. Any parents still riding the Trump Train at this point have thereby signaled that nothing is sacred. It is time to follow their example. They can’t stand idly by while President Deals tramples every other American tradition and yet somehow expect that Thanksgiving will be normal too. If every other moment of this year is going to be drastically out of whack, nobody should get to pretend that everything is normal for one meal just because that’s what the pilgrims would have done.
Please go read this hilarious piece and the suggestions on how to make Thanksgiving a living hell for your Trump-supporting relatives.
Here’s the latest on Trump and Russia:
Vanity Fair Exclusive: What Trump Really Told Kislyak after Comey Was Canned. You need to read the whole thing. We all know about Trump’s betrayal of Israeli intelligence when he invited top Russians in the Oval Office last May and kept the U.S. media out. Now Vanity Fair reveals the details of the secret mission that Trump blabbed to the Russians about.
On a dark night at the tail end of last winter, just a month after the inauguration of the new American president, an evening when only a sickle moon hung in the Levantine sky, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters flew low across Jordan and then, staying under the radar, veered north toward the twisting ribbon of shadows that was the Euphrates River. On board, waiting with a professional stillness as they headed into the hostile heart of Syria, were Sayeret Matkal commandos, the Jewish state’s elite counterterrorism force, along with members of the technological unit of the Mossad, its foreign-espionage agency. Their target: an ISIS cell that was racing to get a deadly new weapon thought to have been devised by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the Saudi national who was al-Qaeda’s master bombmaker in Yemen.
It was a covert mission whose details were reconstructed for Vanity Fair by two experts on Israeli intelligence operations. It would lead to the unnerving discovery that ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security. U.S. Homeland Security officials—quickly followed by British authorities—banned passengers traveling from an accusatory list of Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes. It would not be until four tense months later, as foreign airports began to comply with new, stringent American security directives, that the ban would be lifted on an airport-by-airport basis.
In the secretive corridors of the American espionage community, the Israeli mission was praised by knowledgeable officials as a casebook example of a valued ally’s hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use.
Yet this triumph would be overshadowed by an astonishing conversation in the Oval Office in May, when an intemperate President Trump revealed details about the classified mission to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Along with the tempest of far-reaching geopolitical consequences that raged as a result of the president’s disclosure, fresh blood was spilled in his long-running combative relationship with the nation’s clandestine services. Israel—as well as America’s other allies—would rethink its willingness to share raw intelligence, and pretty much the entire Free World was left shaking its collective head in bewilderment as it wondered, not for the first time, what was going on with Trump and Russia. (In fact, Trump’s disturbing choice to hand over highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, both before and after the election.) In the hand-wringing aftermath, the entire event became, as is so often the case with spy stories, a tale about trust and betrayal.
It is still unknown what happened to the Israeli agent who was embedded with ISIS. Did Trump reveal the intelligence deliberately or was it just arrogance and stupidity? I’m beginning to think he is a conscious Russian asset.
Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker: A Russian Journalist Explains How the Kremlin Instructed Him to Cover the 2016 Election.
On a recent Saturday in November, Dimitri Skorobutov, a former editor at Russia’s largest state media company, sat in a bar in Maastricht, a college town in the Netherlands, with journalists from around the world and discussed covering Donald Trump. Skorobutov opened a packet of documents and explained that they were planning guides from Russian state media that showed how the Kremlin wanted the 2016 U.S. Presidential election covered.
Among the journalists, Skorobutov’s perspective was unique. Aside from Fox News, no network worked as hard as Rossiya, as Russian state TV is called, to boost Donald Trump and denigrate Hillary Clinton. Skorobutov, who was fired from his job after a dispute with a colleague that ended in a physical altercation, went public with his story of how Russian state media works, in June, talking to the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Liberty. The organizers of the Maastricht conference learned of his story and invited him to speak. He flipped through his pages and pointed to the coverage guide for August 9, 2016, when Clinton stumbled while climbing some steps. The Kremlin wanted to play the story up big.
Skorobutov started working in Russian state media companies when he was seventeen years old, and has worked in print, radio, and TV. During the 2016 campaign, he was an editor for “Vesti,” a daily news program. Skorobutov described it as a mid-level position, with four layers of bureaucrats separating him and the Kremlin. His supervisor was a news director who, he said, got his job after making a laudatory documentary about Putin.
A little of what Skorobutov described about the 2016 coverage by Russian state media:
During the 2016 election, the directions from the Kremlin were less subtle than usual. “Me and my colleagues, we were given a clear instruction: to show Donald Trump in a positive way, and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in a negative way,” he said in his speech. In a later interview, he explained to me how the instructions were relayed. “Sometimes it was a phone call. Sometimes it was a conversation,” he told me. “If Donald Trump has a successful press conference, we broadcast it for sure. And if something goes wrong with Clinton, we underline it.” [….]
“There was even a slogan among Russian political élite,” he said. “ ‘Trump is our president.’ And, when he won the elections, on 9th November, 2016, Russian Parliament or State Duma even applauded him and arranged a champagne party celebrating the victory of Donald Trump.” That night, Skorobutov and his colleagues played clips of the party on the news.
Read the rest at The New Yorker.
So have courage. Bob Mueller is on the job and we still have hope that we can rid ourselves of the Trump monster. I’m grateful for this blog and for all you Sky Dancers. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.