Monday Reads: Karma catching up to Kremlin Caligula

Good Morning Sky Dancers!! 

8b7f314d00a0b415139aaadac632d43c--montgomery-clift-gene-kellyDoesn’t time fly these days!  It’s beginning to look a lot like Impeachment Season!

NBC news reports that Trump’s going to face plenty of evidence from the Mueller probe for Obstruction of Justice. 

Justice Department officials who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity said they had expected the White House to fire Flynn on Jan. 26 upon learning that he had lied to the vice president.

Instead, Trump fired Yates on Jan. 30, citing her refusal to enforce his executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the U.S. Before she left, however, she made available, at McGahn’s request, evidence she had that Flynn had not been truthful about his conversations with Kislyak, according to her congressional testimony.

Mueller is trying to determine why Flynn remained in his post for 18 days after Trump learned of Yates’ warning, according to two people familiar with the probe. He appears to be interested in whether Trump directed him to lie to senior officials, including Pence, or the FBI, and if so why, the sources said.

If Trump knew his national security adviser lied to the FBI in the early days of his administration it would raise serious questions about why Flynn was not fired until Feb. 13, and whether Trump was attempting to obstruct justice when FBI Director James Comey says the president pressured him to drop his investigation into Flynn. Trump fired Comey on May 9.

Trump denies pressuring Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, and his legal team has disputed any notion of the president obstructing justice.

Be sure to got to twitter and read all of Seth Abramson’s extended tweets.

Then, there is this from Politico: “As Russia probes progress, one name is missing: Bannon’s. People close to the probe say the former campaign and White House strategist will be a key witness for prosecutors and Hill investigators.”

Bannon was a key bystander when Trump decided to fire national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with foreign officials. He was among those Trump consulted before firing FBI Director James Comey, whose dismissal prompted Mueller’s appointment — a decision Bannon subsequently described to “60 Minutes” as the biggest mistake “in modern political history.”

And during the campaign, Bannon was the one who offered the introduction to data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, whose CEO has since acknowledged trying to coordinate with WikiLeaks on the release of emails from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

Yet Bannon hasn’t faced anywhere near the degree of public scrutiny in connection to the probe as others in Trump’s inner circle, including son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner — who was recently interviewed by Mueller’s team — or Donald Trump Jr., who was interviewed on Capitol Hill last week about his own Russian connections.

The women accusing Trump of Sexual Assault held a joint presser and appearance this morning. They were interviewed by Megyn Kelly.

Samantha Holvey, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks all shared their past experiences with Mr. Trump jointly at Monday’s event, which was held by the organization Brave New Films, a non-profit that creates media and film campaigns surrounding social justice issues.

The president of Brave New Films Robert Greenwald said that the 16 women featured in a video that share similar stories of sexual misconduct by the president now demand action.

“We know better, we know a lot better, predators and harassers must be held accountable,” said Greenwald.

He added that Mr. Trump should be investigated and that “elected officials no matter what party affiliation should act.”

One accuser, Rachel Crooks, called for Congress to “put aside party affiliations and investigate Trump’s history of sexual misconduct.” She called the actions carried out by the president “serial misconduct and perversion.”

Accuser Jessica Leeds said she hopes with the popularity of the “Me Too” movement, it will fuel further pressure on the president.

“I am hoping that this will come forward and produce enough pressure on Congress to address it more than just for their own members but to address it with the president,” said Leeds.

Samantha Holvey echoed that sentiment, saying a “non-partisan” effort to investigate Mr. Trump was imperative.

“They’ve investigated other Congress members so I think it only stands fair he be investigated as well,” said Holvey.

She added, “A non-partisan investigation is important not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them, this isn’t a partisan issue, this is how women are treated everyday.”

My favorite quote is this one from the Kelly interview:  ‘Let’s Try Again to Prove He’s a ‘Pervert’.

“We’re private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there to try to show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, and for them to say, ‘We don’t care,’ It hurt,” Holvey described to host Megyn Kelly. “And so, you know, now, it’s just like, all right, let’s try round two. The environment’s different. Let’s try again.”

That new “environment” Holvey described is one that, fueled by the #MeToo movement this year, has held powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct—from media moguls Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes, to actors like Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., to a bipartisan swath of elected officials like Al Franken and Trent Franks.

In the hopes that now Americans might reconsider their nonchalance toward the president’s 16-plus accusers, each woman told their stories one by one in unrelenting detail.

After listening to a soundbite of Trump bragging to Howard Stern on his radio show about how he “gets away with” going backstage at the Miss USA pageant to check out the women, Holvey told Kelly: “[It’s] just so gross… [he thinks] he owns the pageant, so he owned us.”

Trump’s accusers still cannot believe he was elected and frame election results as ‘heartbreaking’.

It was “heartbreaking” for women to go public with their claims against President Trump last year, only to see him ascend to the Oval Office, said Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant who in October 2016 said Trump inappropriately inspected pageant participants.

“I put myself out there for the entire world, and nobody cared,” Holvey said on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” show, appearing for an hour alongside Jessica Leeds, a New York woman who said Trump groped her on a plane, and Rachel Crooks, who said Trump kissed her on the lips after she introduced herself to him at Trump Tower.

The women also called for Congress to investigate the allegations against Trump, highlighting the dramatic shift happening nationwide in response to charges of sexual misconduct. Claims have erupted across industry after industry, against lawmakers and movie stars alike, while the country has shown a sudden, newfound willingness to take such accusations seriously.

Tomorrow is reckoning day for the state of Alabama.  A Fox Push poll shows Moore behind Jones but democrats should not be complacent.

A top newspaper group in Alabama is urging the state’s voters to write in another Republican in Tuesday’s special election rather than vote for embattled GOP nominee Roy Moore.

“Voting for Roy Moore just because he has an ‘R’ next to his name, ignoring his record of personal and official misconduct, is neither wise nor careful,” reads an editorial published Sunday on AL.com, which is home to three leading state newspapers, including The Birmingham News.

The deaths and mishaps mount as Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem continues to negatively impact the country and world. A would be suicide bomber has been taken into custody after injuring 3 NYC commuters at the Port Authority. 

The would-be suicide bomber who detonated an explosive device underground near the bustling Port Authority Bus Terminal, is a former New York City cab driver who told investigators that he carried out the attack for revenge, law enforcement sources said.

Akayed Ullah, 27, who is believed to be from Bangladesh and was living in Brooklyn, told authorities in sum and substance from his hospital bed: “They’ve been bombing in my country and I wanted to do damage here,” sources said.

Ullah, who officials say is a former city cab driver, whose license has lapsed, set off a “low-tech” homemade pipe bomb strapped to his mid-section at around 7:20 a.m. inside the subway passageway between W. 42nd Street and 8th Avenue and W. 42nd Street and 7th Avenue.

Ullah, who had the explosive device affixed to him with Velcro and zip ties, suffered burns to his hands and abdomen, along with lacerations, and injured three others who were in close proximity to him. He was quickly taken into custody and transported to Bellevue Hospita

 I frankly believe he’s been whipping up circumstances to create terrorist attacks and he’s getting them. There’s no US diplomacy any more. There is on Trump’s raw, angry id.

If ever there were a triumph of domestic politics and presidential ego over sound policy calculation, Trump’s Jerusalem decision was it. And it was indeed a fitting tribute to the end of Trump’s first year in office where politics on so many issues—pardon the pun—trumped policy (see the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the Paris climate agreement, NAFTA negotiations and even Iran decertification).

These days, all presidents are locked into the permanent campaign, which typically begins the day after an election. But rarely on foreign policy has a president—like a moth to a flame—been drawn so inexorably toward his own political needs. If you believe Sen. Bob Corker, Trump was ready to start the ball rolling on moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within 24 hours of his inauguration. And we know his national security team barely convinced him to use his power to invoke national security considerations to avoid a congressional mandate to move the embassy last June.

With the end of the year approaching, Steve Bannon’s white board to-do list of campaign promises beckoned. And with a public approval rating in the 30s, when it came to choosing between Evangelicals, Jews and donors like Sheldon Adelson on one hand and Palestinians, Europeans and much of the world on the other, well … there really wasn’t much of a choice, was there? Eager to say, “I am delivering,” and thrilled at the prospects of once again presenting himself as the anti-Obama, President Trump took great relish in butchering yet another sacred cow, overturning decades of U.S. policy.

How much of what Trump does is related to what Putin wants?  Julie Iofe writes a great answer at The Atlantic today.

Gleb Pavlovsky, a political consultant who helped Putin win his first presidential campaign, in 2000, and served as a Kremlin adviser until 2011, simply laughed when I asked him about Putin’s role in Donald Trump’s election. “We did an amazing job in the first decade of Putin’s rule of creating the illusion that Putin controls everything in Russia,” he said. “Now it’s just funny” how much Americans attribute to him.

A businessman who is high up in Putin’s United Russia party said over an espresso at a Moscow café: “You’re telling me that everything in Russia works as poorly as it does, except our hackers? Rosneft”—the state-owned oil giant—“doesn’t work well. Our health-care system doesn’t work well. Our education system doesn’t work well. And here, all of a sudden, are our hackers, and they’re amazing?”

In the same way that Russians overestimate America, seeing it as an all-powerful orchestrator of global political developments, Americans project their own fears onto Russia, a country that is a paradox of deftness, might, and profound weakness—unshakably steady, yet somehow always teetering on the verge of collapse. Like America, it is hostage to its peculiar history, tormented by its ghosts.

None of these factors obviates the dangers Russia poses; rather, each gives them shape. Both Putin and his country are aging, declining—but the insecurities of decline present their own risks to America. The United States intelligence community is unanimous in its assessment not only that Russians interfered in the U.S. election but that, in the words of former FBI Director James Comey, “they will be back.” It is a stunning escalation of hostilities for a troubled country whose elites still have only a tenuous grasp of American politics. And it is classically Putin, and classically Russian: using daring aggression to mask weakness, to avenge deep resentments, and, at all costs, to survive.

I’d come to Russia to try to answer two key questions. The more immediate is how the Kremlin, despite its limitations, pulled off one of the greatest acts of political sabotage in modern history, turning American democracy against itself. And the more important—for Americans, anyway—is what might still be in store, and how far an emboldened Vladimir Putin is prepared to go in order to get what he wants.

So, there’s a lot going on and some of it makes 2018 look a bit more promising. But, let’s see what happens in Alabama and how the elections next year shape up.  Don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves with the fanciful idea of a double impeachment ceremony for Pence and Trump!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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46 Comments on “Monday Reads: Karma catching up to Kremlin Caligula”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Evangelical women’s group sidelines Roy Moore accusers: Being pro-choice is worse than being a pedophile

    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/12/evangelical-womens-group-sidelines-roy-moore-accusers-being-pro-choice-is-worse-than-being-a-pedophile/#.Wi6s9pPmHF0.facebook

    NPR’s Steve Inskeep asked Nance on Monday if Moore is “worthy of being in the Senate” after eight women came forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct when they were as young as 14.

    “That’s a question for the people of Alabama,” Nance opined. “Unfortunately, the Democrats could have won this handily if they had been willing to put forward a pro-life Democrat.”

    Nance argued that abortion and the Supreme Court were the most important issues in the Alabama race.

    “This was a terrible accusation that was held until a month before the election,” she said of Moore’s accusers. “I think there still needs to be due process. I think people in Alabama need to go forward looking at the allegations.”

    “But what the people of Alabama are troubled by is the fact that Doug Jones supports abortion, even late-term abortion that requires dismemberment of a baby!” Nance said.

    Some women are really totally clueless.

    • NW Luna says:

      Sigh. Those “late-term abortion” procedures which require “dismemberment” are rare, and are to save the mother’s life. Nearly always the fetus is already dead and necrotic or will be unable to survive out of the uterus.

      But women are merely incubators, even for necrotic fetuses and for infants who only live a few minutes or hours.

      Some women are so habituated to misogyny that they believe it themselves.

      • dakinikat says:

        I know. My Doctor Daughter goes apoplectic over this.

      • Earlynerd says:

        It’s a natural result of having been raised in a society not only still drenched in bigotry against women, but which has grown worse in the past three decades, not better.

        It’s a natural result of being forced into segregation in jobs, home and society, with even the most ridiculous products for adults joining the pink vs. blue children’s aisles of gender conditioning.

        It’s a natural result of being raised from infancy in all the intimate and minute ways that religion has, renewed and reinforced in the last three decades, of convincing girls that God looks like boys, made boys better and loves boys more.

        It’s a natural result of going from this kind of constricted agency to a lifetime of economic bondage, dependent on a man’s salary for a decent life, because no liberal cares at all that women have been re-segregated out of the high status, high paying jobs that lead to an integrated independence and political power.

        Liberals have so left women out of any notion of equality that the only name I could remember from the famous “dolls” experiment from Brown vs. Board of Education was that of Dr. Kenneth Clark, courtesy of an NPR special on that case. It took this link from the NAACP to inform me that there were two Dr. Clarks, they worked together, and that Dr. Mamie Clark was second only to Kenneth in trailblazing a path at Columbia.

        http://www.naacpldf.org/brown-at-60-the-doll-test

        It has been obvious for some time that women, especially those hateful bigoted mysteriously auto-misogyning white women, point at the dolls without the penises when asked which is the worse doll. That hasn’t been a problem for liberals in the past three decades. It only becomes one when they unsurprising point at those who used to be lower down in the same caste system still enforced on every woman in America, and say, Oh, and those too.

      • jane says:

        I have a daughter born with a genetic anomaly. Some of these religious idiots still think that the only way this can happen if you try to have an abortion and it doesn’t work. Idiots!!! Believe me no amount of science will change their minds.

  2. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Watch the Rs scream that “it was only a kiss!” so no big deal. Yet they were howling for Franken’s blood.

  3. Sweet Sue says:

    Great photos and what a treat to open the page and see a picture of my forever spirit lover, the one and only Gene Kelly.
    Some days, I just want to fly away so bad.

  4. Sweet Sue says:

    Is that Miss Josephine Baker?

  5. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      This is one example of voter suppression. The DNC should be fighting this tooth and nail. I’ve heard about this issue from organizations working against it, but not from the DNC. (Yet another topic to lambast the DNC about when I email them.)

      • Catscatscats says:

        Wasn’t Barack supposed to be working on this? If these actions ever get to the SC, i wonder if they would even see the need to overturn them…

  6. NW Luna says:

    OT, but I liked this discussion of the pleasures of analog writing and reading.

    Weary of the Internet, I went back to mail. 108 letters later, here’s what I learned.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Results of long-term racism.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ll be interested in hearing our Boston contingent on this.

      • quixote says:

        I haven’t read the article yet, and I grew up in Cambridge, not Boston itself, and I was a kid which means you don’t get it on even more levels than an adult. With all those caveats, I’m pretty sure the racism had to be huge. Roxbury was the black part of town, known for its poverty. We never went there. The (few) blacks at Harvard Square were either students or foreigners, not people visiting from Roxbury. We lived next to Cambridge High and Latin, a vast high school, and I’d see hundreds and hundreds of kids going to and from school. I don’t remember ever seeing a black kid.

        At my own high school they were progressive and all so they actually recruited a black student. (Yes, singular.) She was so much smarter than everybody else there that it was noticeable even to me, a gormless over-confident teenager. That’s also pretty good evidence of discrimination when you have to be five times as good to even be admitted.

        So that statistic about $8 vs $247,500 doesn’t really surprise me.

        • NW Luna says:

          My mother was born in Cambridge and went to Cambridge High and Latin school. Back then it wasn’t anywhere as large.

          • bostonboomer says:

            My nephew goes to Cambridge Rindge and Latin. It is a very diverse environment. Two of my nephew’s best friends are black–his previous school (kindergarten- 8th grade) was majority children of color. The mayor of Cambridge is black.

            However, black students at Rindge and Latin recently made a video about racial issues they’ve dealt with.

            Racism is everywhere. Things have changed since Quixote and Luna’s mother attended school in Cambridge.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I lived, worked, and hung out in Harvard Square in the late ’60s. There were and still are black neighborhoods adjacent to Harvard Square and there were always plenty of black people around at that time. In fact, Cambridge is now much more integrated than it was then.

          If you’re talking about Harvard, I wouldn’t doubt that they still have issues with lack of diversity, but Harvard is not Cambridge.

          Coming to Harvard Square from Roxbury would be quite a journey. The two towns are many miles away from each other.

          • quixote says:

            Yes, I know the geography of the area. I know Harvard is not Cambridge. (Give me some credit.) I was commenting about my direct experiences as a kid, which were in and around Harvard Sq. I went through there twice a day to and from school. (I wasn’t talking about Harvard’s current issues with any part of social fairness. They have a boatload.) Even Central Sq, which had a good number more black people as I learned later, was a kind of foreign country. My point was simply that based on my experiences as a kid, in hindsight it’s obvious that the racism at the time had to be fairly all-encompassing.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Sorry, I wasn’t trying to insult you. What part of Cambridge did you grow up in and when was that? I would never deny that there is racism in Boston and Cambridge. But Cambridge is very diverse and even Arlington, where I live, is quite diverse now.

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    The New Yorker fired Ryan Lizza for “improper sexual conduct.” He denies it, and there was no due process.

    There is going to be an epic backlash because of all these firings based on accusations alone.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      I agree, BB, and it won’t be good for women. What is?

    • quixote says:

      He did good work. I wonder if what they had on him was so bulletproof, this was the least public solution for him and the NYer? If not, the lack of due process is a Bad Thing.

      The situation we’ve always had, where all a man has to do is say, “pooh, pooh” and the woman never gets heard is criminal. But falling into a French Revolution Reign of Terror where all you have to do is say, “J’accuse!” and it’s off to the guillotine is also all wrong.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if just once people could all do the right thing, all together? Aargh.

      • quixote says:

        Then again, maybe I have him confused with somebody else? I hear he was one of the rotten-tomatoes-at-Hillary crowd. I learned to avoid those articles, since they always proved to be bunk.

        • bostonboomer says:

          He is definitely a Hillary hater. I’m not defending him. I’m just saying there will be a backlash against women.

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. roofingbird says:

    Well, I’m confused. Are we bombing Bangladesh now?

  12. roofingbird says:

    I have to say I’m glad my antennae were working in 2008. Batali was all over Paltrow in the Spanish food trip they took. He was so leeringly creepy, I thought he was going to drive into a wall or ditch.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      My brother in law is in the NYC restaurant business and he’s been sharing stories about Batali for twenty years. You’d think that anybody who looked like him would be just so damn happy that someone married him that he’d toe the line, but no.
      Of course look at Harvey Weinstein whose wife looks like a supermodel.

  13. NW Luna says:

  14. NW Luna says:

    Luv my Congresswoman!

    • Joanelle says:

      So much evidence that he and the RNC cheated, he and Pence need to be FIRED, and the runner up become president (HRC)