Lazy Saturday ReadsPosted: November 25, 2017
We’re finally having a somewhat slow news day; maybe the rest of the weekend will be quiet. Trump is golfing, so for the time being we can assume he won’t blow us all up.
I’m still angry about the media’s obsession with Al Franken’s supposed sexual harassment. Here’s a post by a woman who expresses what I’ve been feeling: A Survivor’s Defense of Al Franken. An excerpt:
What Leeanne Tweeden has done is stolen the very real traumas of very survivors — people like me — and mocked them. What she has done is taken our pain and our bravery and our strength and exploited it on behalf of a network of people that actively prey on the women and children she is pretending to show solidarity with. What she is doing is vile and it is disgusting and it is dangerous on every personal and political level associated with sexual assault in the United States.
Perhaps if she was, in fact, a survivor of sexual assault she would understand the damage that is being caused by her actions. But she is not a survivor. And she is definitely not a victim of Al Franken.
Leeanne was never raped. She was never assaulted. And she was never the victim of sexual violence or harassment. She was a willing and active participant in a comedy show that involved sexualized behaviors. She consented to participating. She actively engaged in and invited similar behaviors with other performers other than Al Franken at the event….
Al Franken’s tasteless joke didn’t make her fear for her life. It didn’t make her burn the clothes she was wearing that night. It didn’t make her scrub herself clean in the shower until her skin tore off. This joke didn’t keep her up shaking and puking and sobbing on the floor of a shower as she bled down a drainpipe. It didn’t send her to the clinic for STD tests.
Al Franken’s joke didn’t crush her notion of who she was or how she could walk in this world. This joke didn’t give her PTSD or depression or any of the lasting forms of struggle that true rape and assault victims must face minute by minute. It hasn’t informed every relationship she’s had since. And it wasn’t in any way what so ever a form of rape, assault or even harassment….
What Tweeden is, is a willing participant in a new skit in which the Republican Party uses her completely normal interaction with Al Franken as an excuse to accuse a Democratic Senator of sexual assault, deflect from the charges of rape and pedophilia in the highest ranks of their own party, and test drive a strategy by which they can gain increasing amounts of power by exploiting the sexual traumas of women and children.
Please read the whole thing. By going along with this charade, Democrats are handing power over to Republicans who want to take away women’s rights and freedom to control our own bodies. They would be much better allies to all Americans if they focused more energy on what Trump and his gang are doing to our government.
The New York Times: Diplomats Sound the Alarm as They Are Pushed Out in Droves.
Of all the State Department employees who might have been vulnerable in the staff reductions that Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has initiated as he reshapes the department, the one person who seemed least likely to be a target was the chief of security, Bill A. Miller.
Republicans pilloried Hillary Clinton for what they claimed was her inadequate attention to security as secretary of state in the months before the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Congress even passed legislation mandating that the department’s top security official have unrestricted access to the secretary of state.
But in his first nine months in office, Mr. Tillerson turned down repeated and sometimes urgent requests from the department’s security staff to brief him, according to several former top officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Finally, Mr. Miller, the acting assistant secretary for diplomatic security, was forced to cite the law’s requirement that he be allowed to speak to Mr. Tillerson.
Mr. Miller got just five minutes with the secretary of state, the former officials said. Afterward, Mr. Miller, a career Foreign Service officer, was pushed out, joining a parade of dismissals and early retirements that has decimated the State Department’s senior ranks. Mr. Miller declined to comment.
Exactly what we should expect from a man who was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin. The Trump gang is deliberately weakening the U.S. government in order to help Russia. There really can be no doubt about it at this point.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m reading the new book Collusion, by Luke Harding of The Guardian. It’s a real eye-opener, let me tell you. If you don’t want to read the book, I recommend listening to or reading this interview of Harding by Terri Gross on Fresh Air. That’s a link to the transcript.
In its 41-year-old history as the White House hub of innovation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy has never gone this long without a leader or official mandate. The science office, which takes up half of the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, has a fleet of empty desks.
The OSTP, as administration staffers refer to it, has hosted two events since President Trump took office: One on drones and another on “American Leadership in Emerging Technology” that prominently featured the high powered tech executives in attendance like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
But nine months into his administration, there’s no clear indication that the president is close to naming a science adviser who will inform his policymaking, though that’s the mission that the OSTP has played since its founding in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. From climate change to space to education, the office has served as an in-house incubator for research, data, and crisis management that drove policy under seven presidents.
A White House official, when asked when there would be a nomination for OSTP director and science adviser to the president, said there were no personnel announcements to be made at this time.
Under Mr. Trump, the OSTP staff has dropped to 45 staffers, a substantial decline from President Obama’s OSTP, which had a staff of 135 people. Another difference from the Obama years — the majority of Mr. Trump’s OSTP staffers do not have a background in science. The office hasn’t formally been restructured, but a White House official said the team has “naturally” streamlined over the past few months with a narrowed focus on three main issues: technology, science, and national security.
The Independent: Donald Trump running the most dishonest White House ever, says historian.
Robert Dallek, who has written a number of books including Franklin Roosevelt: A Political Life, believes the current administration ranks as one of the most corrupt in US history.
“Like Nixon, Trump has created a culture in his administration in which people feel comfortable with corruption.”
Asked whether the Trump administration was the most dishonest he had ever seen or studied, he replied: “Yes. Politicians lie, but this is different.”
Listing examples of corruption in the White House – including the indictment of Mr Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s failure to disclose $1 billion in Loans With No Credit Check connected to his real estate company – Mr Dallek said the President’s habit of lying was to blame.
Again, Trump’s lying is a big facilitator of all this corruption. This is a guy who will look right into the camera and lie without any hesitation at all.
“It’s hard to overstate what kind of tone that sets in an administration; it makes everyone more comfortable when they lie, when they deceive, when they cover things up,” he said.
Puerto Rico is still struggling more than month after the hurricane, and Trump’s neglect of American citizens there and on the Virgin Islands is a scandal and a disgrace. But non-governmental organizations are stepping in to help.
Massachusetts is sending a team of medical professionals to help with hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
The state Emergency Management Agency says the 26-person team from Massachusetts General Hospital will deploy Saturday and work on the Caribbean island for about 16 days.
I never knew this before, but the article says that “Massachusetts has among the highest concentrations of Puerto Rican families in the country.”
WESTERN NEW YORK – Utility workers have to expect the unexpected, and that means working holidays when duty calls.
In the case of Puerto Rico’s power crisis, National Grid workers are helping out, and for those headed to the island or those already there, they’ll be missing holidays with their families this year.
“Mutual aid…it’s kind of the hallmark of what utilities do all across the country. This is certainly a little bit of a special situation,” said Steve Brady, a spokesperson for National Grid.
Brady describes the logistics of helping restore power to Puerto Rico as uniquely challenging, but the fact that the company is helping out is not unusual. National Grid workers recently returned after helping in aftermath of Hurricane Irma….
Another 40 or more lineworkers and supervisors will be deployed early next week. They’ll be there for at least six weeks.
That’s all I have for today. I hope all you Sky Dancers are having a nice, peaceful weekend.