Monday Reads on SteriodsPosted: February 19, 2018
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
There were so many newsy things breaking this weekend and today that it’s going to be nearly impossible to do much more than a link drop accompanied by a very large mug of hot, black coffee. The entire Russia thing is coming together which probably why there was a Twitler meltdown yesterday. (Richard Gates has flipped.)
Well, that news along with incredible rumors of a FLOTUS responding badly to all the infidelity stories which are doozies and getting doozier. White House officials are trying to calm the nerves of our allies by telling them to ignore the tweets as some of them took on a distinctly unfriendly and ominous tone coupled with a total misread of at least two foreign situations.
It looks like there’s more evidence that the Republican party is melting like the Wicked Witch from that bucket of water. It’s just really difficult for me to find a starting point with this so I’ll just randomly choose things after I share the article that indicates something my heart has known for many years. Uncle Clarence Thomas should never have become a Supreme Court Justice and really really really should be impeached. I have and will forever believe Anita Hill and will never EVER forgive Joe Biden. NEVER. EVER.
On the same fall night in 2016 that the infamous Access Hollywoodtape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was made public by the Washington Post and dominated the news, an Alaska attorney, Moira Smith, wrote on Facebook about her own experiences as a victim of sexual misconduct in 1999.
“At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas,” she began her post, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was famously accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, a woman who had worked for him at two federal agencies, including the EEOC, the federal sexual-harassment watchdog.
“I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding,” Smith continued. “He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable. But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again … ‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.” Smith had been silent for 17 years but, infuriated by the “Grab ’em by the pussy” utterings of a presidential candidate, could keep quiet no more.
Tipped to the post by a Maryland legal source who knew Smith, Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded and scrupulously nonideological Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, wrote a detailed story about Smith’s allegation of butt-squeezing, which included corroboration from Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and from her former husband. Coyle’s story, which Thomas denied, was published October 27, 2016. If you missed it, that’s because this news was immediately buried by a much bigger story — the James Comey letter reopening the Hillary Clinton email probe.
I hope this bit puts an end to any Biden presidential aspirations.
The Thomas hearings were not just a national referendum on workplace behavior, sexual mores, and the interplay between those things; they were a typical example of partisan gamesmanship and flawed compromise. Chairman Biden was outmaneuvered and bluffed by the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. He had plenty of witnesses who could have testified about Thomas’s inappropriate sexualized office behavior and easily proven interest in the kind of porn Hill referenced in her testimony, but had made a bargain with his Republican colleagues that sealed Hill’s fate: He agreed only to call witnesses who had information about Thomas’s workplace behavior. Thomas’s “private life,” especially his taste for porn — then considered more outré than it might be now — would be out of bounds, despite the fact that information confirming his habit of talking about it would have cast extreme doubt on Thomas’s denials.
This gentleman’s agreement was typical of the then-all-male Judiciary Committee. Other high-profile Democrats like Ted Kennedy, who was in no position to poke into sexual misconduct, remained silent. Republicans looked for dirt on Hill wherever they could find it — painting her as a “little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” as Brock later said, with help from Thomas himself, who huddled with GOP congressmen to brainstorm what damaging information he could unearth on his former employee, some of which he seems to have leaked to the press — and ladled it into the Hill-Thomas testimony. Meanwhile, Biden played by Marquis of Queensberry rules.
Late last year, in an interview with Teen Vogue, Biden finally apologized to Hill after all these years, admitting that he had not done enough to protect her interests during the hearings. He said he believed Hill at the time: “And my one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends. ”
Among the corroborative stories — the potential #MeToos — that Biden knew about but was unwilling to use: those of Angela Wright; Rose Jourdain, another EEOC worker in whom Wright confided; and Sukari Hardnett, still another EEOC worker with relevant evidence. (“If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive and worked directly for Clarence Thomas, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female,” Hardnett wrote in a letter to the Judiciary Committee, contradicting Thomas’s claim “I do not and did not commingle my personal life with my work life” and supporting McEwen’s 2010 assertion that he “was always actively watching the women he worked with to see if they could be potential partners” as “a hobby of his.”) Kaye Savage, a friend of Thomas’s and Hill’s, knew of his extensive collection of Playboy magazines; Fred Cooke, a Washington attorney, saw Thomas renting porn videos that match Hill’s descriptions, as did Barry Maddox, the owner of the video store that Thomas frequented. And at least some members of Biden’s staff would have known Lillian McEwen had relevant information.
This is what any trial lawyer would call a bonanza of good, probative evidence (even without the additional weight of the other people with knowledge of Thomas’s peculiar sex talk, like Montwieler). In interviews over the years, five members of Biden’s Judiciary Committee at the time of the hearings told me they were certain that if Biden had called the other witnesses to testify, Thomas would never have been confirmed.
Since his appointment, he’s done nothing outstanding but to glomb on to Scalia and other severely conservative justices for everything. Then, he’s gone out of his way to ignore all the conflicts of interest that both he and his wife have provided him. This entire saga will stick in my craw to the day I die.
This story by many at the NYT on the lengths Michael Cohen took to ‘fix’ Trump’s many dalliances and infidelities is simply astonishing.
Mr. Cohen’s role has come under scrutiny amid recent revelations that he facilitated a payment to silence a porn star, but his aggressive behind-the-scenes efforts stretch back years, according to interviews, emails and other records.
They intensified as Mr. Trump’s campaign began in the summer of 2015, when a former hedge-fund manager told Mr. Cohen that he had obtained photographs of Mr. Trump with a bare-breasted woman. The man said Mr. Cohen first blew up at him, then steered him to David J. Pecker, chairman of the tabloid company, which sometimes bought, then buried, embarrassing material about his high-profile friends and allies.
In early 2016, after a legal affairs website uncovered old court cases in which a female former Trump business partner had accused him of sexual misconduct, Mr. Cohen released a statement suggesting that the woman, Jill Harth, “would acknowledge” that the story was false. Ms. Harth said the statement was made without her permission, and that she stands by her claims. It was not the last time Mr. Cohen would present a denial on behalf of a woman who had alleged a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.
In August of that year, Mr. Cohen learned details of a deal that American Media had struck with a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, that prevented her from going public about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen was not representing anyone in the confidential agreement, but he was apprised of it by Ms. McDougal’s lawyer, and earlier had been made aware of her attempt to tell her story by the media company, according to interviews and an email reviewed by The New York Times.
Then, there’s Stormy Daniels. No wonder Melania has been chilly as a Siberian Bear.
Things looked frosty between the first couple last week when the president’s attempt at a public display of affection and unity appeared to be rebuffed by the first lady.
And about that twitter frenzy and its possible connection to developments in the Russia investigation. Trump’s tone and blame game has switched with Friday’s indictment of a Russian election scam cell.
President Trump lashed out with fresh anger about the intensifying Russia probe over the weekend, accusing Democrats of enabling a foreign adversary to interfere in the 2016 election and attacking the FBI as well as his own national security adviser.
In a defiant and error-laden tweetstorm that was remarkable even by his own combative standards, Trump stewed aloud about the latest indictments brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III against Russians for their elaborate campaign to denigrate the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and push voters toward Trump.
The president seized on Mueller’s evidence of the expansive scope of the Russian influence efforts to claim that the indictments exonerated him and proved there was “no collusion.” But the special counsel’s investigation of possible complicity between Russia and the Trump campaign is continuing, as is the examination of whether Trump has sought to obstruct justice.
In a string of 10 Twitter messages — which began after 11 p.m. Saturday and ended around noon Sunday, and which included profanity and misspellings — Trump opened a window into his state of mind, even as Trump’s representatives at a global security conference in Germany advised jittery allies to generally ignore the president’s tweets.
Trump’s latest attacks built on remarks last week in which he misrepresented the evidence revealed by Mueller. He tweeted falsely, “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” He blamed President Barack Obama’s administration for doing “nothing” to stop the intrusion. Trump rebuked national security adviser H.R. McMaster for publicly saying the evidence of Russian interference was “incontrovertible.”
Amid global anxiety about President Trump’s approach to world affairs, U.S. officials had a message for a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: Pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.
U.S. lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — and top national security officials in the Trump administration offered the same advice publicly and privately, often clashing with Trump’s Twitter stream: The United States remains staunchly committed to its European allies, is furious with the Kremlin about election interference and isn’t contemplating a preemptive strike on North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
But Trump himself engaged in a running counterpoint to the message, taking aim on social media at his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, because he “forgot” on Saturday to tell the Munich Security Conference that the results of the 2016 election weren’t affected by Russian interference, a conclusion that is not supported by U.S. intelligence agencies. They say they will probably never be able to determine whether the Russian involvement swung the election toward Trump.
The determination to ignore Trump’s foreign policy tweets has been bipartisan.
“There is a lot more support for continuing our past policies than it might appear from some of the statements,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told an audience on Sunday that was made up mostly of Europe’s foreign policy elite. “The unanimity comes from those folks who are actually operationalizing policy.”
“The values are the same, the relationships are the same,” said Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). “What you do see is this administration willing to put pressure upon the systems.”
The question of whom they should believe — the president or his advisers — has befuddled European officials. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel confessed Saturday that he didn’t know where to look to understand America.
“Is it deeds? Is it words? Is it tweets?” he asked.
He said he was not sure whether he could recognize the United States.
From Vanity Fair: ““THE CANARIES ARE DYING”: HOW TRUMP IS MAKING REPUBLICANS PICK THEIR 2018 POISON. Caught between the president’s rabid, loyal base and suburban women, Republican candidates may not survive a blue wave election.”
These races are like canaries in the coal mine,” Steve Israel, a former New York congressman and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told me last week. “For Republicans, the canaries are dying.”
The day before we spoke, Democrats had picked up a statehouse seat in a deep red district in Missouri, the latest in a series of electoral upsets the G.O.P. has suffered across the country in recent months. After a string of special election victories in South Carolina, Montana, and Georgia last spring, the Republican Party has had a reversal of fortune—losing gubernatorial races and dozens of state legislature seats in Virginia and New Jersey, and suffering defeats in traditionally red districts in Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama, Oklahoma, and elsewhere. Ten months out, strategists see the trend as a potential harbinger of the legendary blue wave in the 2018 midterms that could rob of the G.O.P. of its majority in the House—and possibly, the Senate.
For the G.O.P., these midterms are a puzzle box of a kind that they haven’t faced in several cycles, if ever. “Republican consultants in the last eight years have had a very easy job—that’s running against Barack Obama. . . . Now we have to do things differently and nobody is used to it yet,” a G.O.P. strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me. “That boogeyman is gone.”
Well, now Trump is looking to Oprah for his race baiting. I’m not sure you take on O, bish. Yeah, he tweeted this on President’s day! Such the preznit!
Here! Hold my cuppa coffee!!
You may want to read this!!!
Meanwhile, the victims of the Florida High School continue to be heroes. Along with the mothers of #BlackLivesMatter. Along with the Women of #MeToo. All of us continue to give Twitler an eyeful, but right now those kids are on fire!
“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“How dare you,” he added.
So, there’s a lot going to be discussed. Grab your cuppa and share what’s on your reading and blogging list today? Thoughts?
Hope and change, folks! Hope and change!