Posted: March 31, 2018 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics
Booklover, by Josephine Margaret Muntz Adams
Trump is enjoying another long weekend of golf in Florida, so presumably he won’t blow up the world between now and Monday. However, he did leave behind a couple of stunning announcements: one is just ludicrous and the other could be disastrous.
Vice News on the ludicrous one: Trump announces Sexual Assault Awareness Month with heartfelt, typo-ridden memo.
President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by 19 women and who was once caught on tape bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” announced Friday that April would be “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.”
In a typo-riddled White House statement, Trump pledged to raise awareness of sexual assault and to hold offenders accountable, since “these heinous crimes are committed indiscriminately.”
“We must not be afraid to talk about sexual assualt [sic] and sexual assult [sic] prevention with our loved ones, in our communities, and with those who have experienced these tragedies,” he said. “We must encourage victims to report sexual assault and law enforcement to hold offenders accountable, and we must support victims and survivors unremmittingly [sic]. Through a concerted effort to better educate ourselves, empower victims, and punish criminals, our Nation will move closer to ending the grief, fear, and suffering caused by sexual assult [sic].”
Trump also announced that the White House will create the Sexual Assault Victim Intervention Services Technical Assistance Center, which will help local organizations understand how to best support survivors of sexual assault.
Who knows what prompted that announcement. I doubt if Trump even knew about it.
The more serious announcement was Trump’s remark in a “speech” in Ohio that “We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.” CNN reported:
Girl Reading, by Vera Alabaster
President Donald Trump said Thursday that the US would “be coming out of Syria like very soon,” just hours after the Pentagon highlighted the need for US troops to remain in the country for the immediate future.
“We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” Trump told supporters at an Ohio event on infrastructure.
“We are going to have 100% of the caliphate, as they call it, sometimes referred to as land … But we are going to be coming out of there real soon. We are going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be,” Trump added.
One US defense official directly familiar with the ISIS campaign said it is unclear what the President meant by the comments. The military’s current assessment is that now is not the time to consider withdrawal, citing numerous challenges in Syria.
By the way, this came in a “speech” that was supposedly about infrastructure. More from CNN:
Who stands to gain if Trump pulls the US out of Syria?
The President’s apparent desire to exit Syria as soon as possible is likely to raise concerns among US backed groups in the region, particularly the SDF, and could embolden the forces of the Syrian regime, Iran and Turkey, all of which have mostly resisted attacking US allies in Syria due to concerns about US retaliation….
If the US were to withdraw, the de facto spheres of influence that have spared eastern Syria the same kind of fighting and bloodshed that the civil war has brought to the west would likely collapse, inviting a major escalation in the conflict.
That chaos could be exploited by ISIS which has already benefited from Turkey’s actions in northern Syria.
Earlier this month, the US warned that ISIS has begun reconstituting in some areas of Syria because a Turkish military offensive against a northern city has pulled the US’ Kurdish allies away from the fight against the terrorist group.
“We are very concerned about the effect fighting there has had on our defeat ISIS efforts and would like to see an end to the hostilities before ISIS has the opportunity to regroup in eastern Syria,” said Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning, discussing the Turkish offensive against Afrin.
Portrait of Lucie Reading, by Jacques-Emile Blanche
The State Department went a step farther, saying that ISIS has already begun to rebuild in places.
“The fighting in western Syria over the last two months, including in Afrin, has distracted from the defeat ISIS campaign and provided opportunity for ISIS to begin reconstituting in some areas,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said last week.
I guess Jim Mattis will be busy trying to explain all this to the moronic dunderhead when he returns from his golfing trip. I wonder what the new National Security Adviser John Bolton will think about it?
Obviously racism is alive and and thriving in Trump’s Amerika. Black men are regularly shot and killed by police officers, and this White House thinks that’s just a “local matter.” The Root: Police Shooting and Killing Black Men? It’s Not the White House’s Problem, Sarah Huckabee Sanders Says .
On March 18, two police officers in Sacramento, Calif., shot and killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark in the backyard of his grandparents’ home. It is not the first extrajudicial execution of a black man by police, and if there is no change soon, it likely won’t be the last. The nation is watching the aftermath of this shooting play out, and understandably, many of us have questions for both local and national government leaders as to what—if anything—will be done to prevent something like this from happening again.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aka Suckabee, was asked if the White House had any response to the public outcry for justice in the shootings of black men and women at the hands of police. Sanders said, “This is something that is a local matter, and that’s something that we feel should be left up to the local authorities at this point in time,” adding that the president is in full support of law enforcement officers.
I’m sure Attorney General Jeff Sessions agrees.
More on the Stephon Clark murder at the LA Times: Hundreds protest Stephon Clark killing as autopsy raises new questions.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Sacramento late Friday and early Saturday morning as new details emerged about the police killing of an unarmed African American man earlier this month….
The Pink Dress, by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, (1841-1920) The pink dress
It was the latest of numerous demonstrations in support of Stephon Clark, an African American man killed by police who, according to an independent forensic pathologist’s report Friday, was shot six times in the back.
Dr. Bennet Omalu conducted an autopsy days after Clark was killed by police. He told reporters that his examination showed that Clark was hit by eight bullets, and all but one entered while his back was turned toward the two officers.
Posted: March 30, 2018 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: bigotry
I’m a little late on this. Keely and I hopped on the St Claude Avenue bus and headed to the Vet at The Healing Center! It’s been part of a Main Street revitalization program and has really come to life. This place is a shopping centre of very small and eclectic local businesses.
There are at least two distinct Americas these days and I have come to the point I want nothing to do with the other one. I’m always looking over at posts and tweets from people I grew up with that didn’t flee as fast as they could like most of my friends who couldn’t get out fast enough. The folks that stayed are physically aging in the same hermetically sealed (sigh, white people) bottle.
I point out some thing really isn’t funny but quite racist and try to explain things like the historical roots of saggin’ and it falls on deaf ears and instead of being told I’m a humorless feminist, I get told I need to just lighten up and the fact the preschooler in that picture is a white boy telling a young black man that he can teach him how to pull his pants up would mean the same if the races of the individuals were flipped. Just like when I’m sitting on a crowded bus with my 8 lb kitten in a very secure cat carrier the only person who asks me if that’s a small dog in there and are they allowed on the buses is a bottle dyed red middle aged white woman all up in my business. All I say is “it’s a kitten” and “ask the bus driver”. Then, I shake my head and sigh. “White people.” I mumble and the black man behind me pulls off his earphones and says “what?” I repeat it louder and he laughs like crazy.
We need conversations with each other. I hear folks say that all the time. But, when these conversation start up, I realize we live in completely different realities. I’m the racial minority in my city. My dissertation chair is a devout Muslim. My eldest daughter married an American of Indian descent who was raised Hindu. I’m not threatened by “other”. I ruffle at stupidity. I present examples.
“Hillary Clinton fires back at critics: No one told a man who lost an election to shut up” (but I sure wish they’d try it on Mitt Romney.)
Hillary Clinton is striking back at critics telling her to “shut up” following her 2016 loss, saying, “They never said that to any man who was not elected.”
“I was really struck by how people said that to me – you know, mostly people in the press, for whatever reason – mostly, ‘Go away, go away,'” Clinton said Thursday during an event at Rutgers University.
“And I had one of the young people who works for me go back and do a bit of research. They never said that to any man who was not elected. I was kind of struck by that,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s remarks came in response to a question from Eagleton Institute of Politics’ director Ruth Mandel about the former Democratic presidential nominee’s reaction to those who say she should “get off the public stage and shut up.”
“I’m really glad that, you know, Al Gore didn’t stop talking about climate change,” Clinton said to applause.
“And I’m really glad John Kerry went to the Senate and became an excellent secretary of State,” the former first lady continued. “And I’m really glad John McCain kept speaking out and standing up and saying what he had to say. And for heavens sakes, Mitt Romney is running for the Senate,” Clinton said.
And that would be sexism. Guess that makes me humorless and too PC these days. Truth seems ethereal these days for some people. It’s too abstract. Truth is only what they desperately want it to be. Hence, lying, crooked, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, homophobic KKKremlin Caligula.
In Trump’s America, half the population lives in a world where the “crooked media” tells “fake news” made up of “alternative facts,” while the other half fights to maintain public trust in traditional media.
Much of the conflict stems from the parallel online universe that led up to the 2016 election: Clinton and Trump supporters really don’t listen to each otheron Twitter, according to an analysis from the Electome project at the MIT Media Lab provided exclusively to VICE News.
“At least on Twitter, we see that there is a separation of where the journalists, and who the journalists are following, and no one is really listening or plugged into this Trump supporter graph.” Eugene Yi, a data-scientists at the lab told VICE News.
Political opinions have always been polarizing, but the 2016 election saw the divide grow as formerly fringe bloggers, like Milo Yiannopolus and Mike Cernovich, seized the golden opportunity to speak directly to Trump supporters, flooding the internet with false information.
And on a larger level, the now-infamous data targeting company Cambridge Analytica allegedly used mass amounts of personal information on the internet to manipulate voters and spread pro-Trump news, no matter the factual evidence, which may have helped win the election for him.
With Trump in office, the conservative news media and the mainstream are now at war over who constitutes “fake news,” as Americans’ trust the press hit a record low of 32 percent. And President Trump’s personal crusade against the traditional press is only deepening the public divide.
The background to Harris’s shot at me is that last year, Harris had Charles Murray on his podcast. Murray is a popular conservative intellectual best known for co-writing The Bell Curve, which posited, in a controversial section, a genetic basis for the observed difference between black and white IQs.
Harris’s invitation came in the aftermath of Murray being shouted down, and his academic chaperone assaulted, as he tried to give an invited address on an unrelated topic at Middlebury College. The aftermath of the incident had made Murray a martyr for free speech, and Harris brought him on the show in part as a statement of disgust with the illiberalism that had greeted Murray on campus.
And enter churlish Andrew Sullivan in response to all of the above if you follow that link to Klein and Vox and read.
Klein cannot seem to hold the following two thoughts in his brain at the same time: that past racism and sexism are foul, disgusting, and have wrought enormous damage and pain and that unavoidable natural differences between races and genders can still exist.
I know this is a touchy, fraught, difficult subject. I completely understand the reluctance to discuss it, and the hideous history of similar ideas in the past. But when people seeking the truth are immediately targeted for abuse and stigma, it matters. When genetics are in a golden age, when neuroscience is maturing as a discipline, and when the truth about these things will emerge soon enough, it matters that we establish a liberalism that is immune to such genetic revelations, that can strive for equality of opportunity, and can affirm the moral and civic equality of every human being on the planet. Liberalism has never promised equality of outcomes, merely equality of rights. It’s a procedural political philosophy rooted in means, not a substantive one justified by achieving certain ends.
That liberalism is integral to our future as a free society — and it should not falsely be made contingent on something that can be empirically disproven. It must allow for the truth of genetics to be embraced, while drawing the firmest of lines against any moral or political abuse of it. When that classical liberalism is tarred as inherently racist because it cannot guarantee equality of outcomes, and when scientific research is under attack for revealing the fuller truth about our world, we are in deep trouble. Because we are robbing liberalism of the knowledge and the moderation it will soon desperately need to defend itself.
And let’s just jump in it all over at the NYT: “Anti-Semitism Is Rising.”
When the Anti-Defamation League, a century-old institution founded to combat anti-Semitism, released its guide to the “Alt Right and Alt Lite” last year, Ohio’s Republican state treasurer, Josh Mandel, who is Jewish, actually expressed support for two of the people on the list: Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, conservative provocateurs who have found notoriety in the Trump era. “Sad to see @ADL_National become a partisan witch hunt group targeting people for political beliefs. I stand with @Cernovich & @JackPosobiec,” Mr. Mandel proclaimed on Twitter above a link to Mr. Cernovich’s screed charging that the league was trying to have him killed
Mr. Cernovich advocates I.Q. tests for immigrants and “no white guilt,” and is an unapologetic misogynist. Last summer, he circulated a cartoon depicting H. R. McMaster, the White House national security adviser, as a dancing marionette with George Soros pulling his strings and a disembodied, wrinkled hand labeled “Rothschilds” controlling strings attached to Mr. Soros.
Mr. Posobiec has been one of the promulgators of fake news, including the “Pizzagate” story that claimed that Hillary Clinton helped run a child sex-trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor and the claim that a young Democratic National Committee staff member, Seth Rich, was murdered by the Clinton campaign.
And, yet, David Hogg successfully bit back at hate shark Laura Ingraham.
Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said it came down to one characteristic that led Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor and gun control activist David Hogg to get an apology from Fox News host Laura Ingraham: fearlessness.
“Maybe that’s what happens after you’ve been down range of an AR-15 that kills your classmates and comes close to killing you,” Schmidt said Thursday on Nicolle Wallace’s MSNBC show.
“You lose all fear. Because this kid’s not scared. He’s not scared of the NRA. He’s not intimidated and scared by Laura Ingraham.”Schmidt said that Hogg and his classmates are not like the elected Republican officials who are “scared to death of Fox News, of Laura Ingraham, of Rush Limbaugh.
”Schmidt’s comments came as several advertisers announced they would pull their commercials from Ingraham’s Fox News show after she mocked Hogg on Twitter for not getting into certain colleges.
Hogg and his 14-year-old sister, Lauren, responded to Ingraham’s attackWednesday night, calling out the Fox News host for cyberbullying students.“Coming from a 14-year-old, please grow up,” Lauren tweeted, while her brother called for an advertiser boycott.
I’m going to harken back to 2016 and a study: “Who You Hate Depends on How Smart You Are, Study Finds. According to a new study, people with both high and low intelligence are prejudiced—the difference is just who they are prejudiced against.”
Past researchers have found that people of lower cognitive ability are more likely to be prejudiced, but prejudice isn’t exclusive to dim bulbs. A new study finds that people at both high and low ends of the intelligence spectrum actually express equal levels of prejudice—the difference is just what they’re prejudiced against.
The researchers, social psychologists Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford, analyzed 5,914 subjects in their experiment, “Answering Unresolved Questions About the Relationship Between Cognitive Ability and Prejudice.” Removing value judgments about whether a specific prejudice is justified or not, they measured the amount of prejudice present in groups of higher cognitive ability and lower cognitive ability. They gauged the cognitive ability of their subjects using a wordsum test, which is considered to be correlated to an individual’s intelligence quotient (IQ). Brandt and Crawford replicated previous findings that people of low cognitive ability tend to be prejudiced against non-conventional or liberal groups, as well as groups that have “low choice” in their status—groups defined by their race or gender or sexual orientation, for example. According to their research, this tendency inverted among people of high cognitive ability. In other words, the smarter subjects in their study were likely to be prejudiced against groups considered conventional or conservative—groups perceived to have “high choice” in their associations.”
Posted: March 29, 2018 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: China, corruption, David Shulkin, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, John Bolton, John Dowd, Kim John Un, Latvia, Michael Flynn, North Korea, Paul Manafort, presidential pardons, privatization, Robert Mueller, Russia investigation, U.S. Constitution, Veterans Affairs
As usual in the horrifying new world of Trump, there is so much shocking news that there’s no way to deal with all of it. I guess the top story has to be that Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd dangled pardons in front of Michael Flynn and Paul Manifort last summer.
The New York Times: Trump’s Lawyer Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort.
A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump’s pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.
The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.
The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency. Mr. Mueller’s team could investigate the prospect that Mr. Dowd made pardon offers to thwart the inquiry, although legal experts are divided about whether such offers might constitute obstruction of justice.
Mr. Dowd’s conversation with Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, Robert K. Kelner, occurred sometime after Mr. Dowd took over last summer as the president’s personal lawyer, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Mr. Flynn on a range of potential crimes.
Flynn ultimately took the safe route and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation; but this could explain why Paul Manafort is holding out even though the evidence against him is overwhelming and he could face life in prison if convicted.
Cary Grant, 1960
Constitutional experts are now discussing whether Trump could get away with pardoning Manafort and others, even if he did it with corrupt intent. Some opinions:
Alex Whiting at Just Security: Why Dangling a Pardon Could Be an Obstruction of Justice—Even if the Pardon Power is Absolute. A brief excerpt:
Some experts have argued that the pardon power is absolute and that the President’s motives in issuing a pardon thus could not be questioned, while others contend that it could be a crime to issue a pardon for corrupt purposes (such as in exchange for cash). But the debate over the absolute nature of the pardon power is actually not relevant to the alleged incidents involving Trump’s lawyer. Indeed, that entire debate can be set aside for the moment. Why? Because there’s been no pardon. Instead, a pardon has only been dangled before Flynn and Manafort, and the analysis of whether that action could become part of an obstruction case against Trump raises entirely different considerations….
The pardon dangle works completely differently—and in important respects has the opposite effects. First, this kind of dangle is not a public act. Therefore, as long as it remained secret, it could be done without incurring any of the political downstream consequences that come with actually pardoning someone. It hides the President from scrutiny rather than exposes him to it as a potential check on the use of the power. Second, the objective of the dangle appears to have been to foreclose the prospect of Flynn and Manfort’s cooperating or testifying. Once again, this is the opposite effect of an actual exercise of the pardon. The message of the dangle was sufficiently clear: hang in there and keep fighting (do not cut a deal with the special counsel) because you will be pardoned before you spend a day in jail. The President and his lawyer’s hope would have been that with the threat of jail eliminated, neither former aid would feel compelled to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller to reduce his sentence. But, since they were not actually pardoned or not yet anyway, they still kept their Fifth Amendment privileges, and so Mueller could not simply demand they testify before the Grand Jury. In this way, the dangle could operate to stop any cooperation from Flynn and Manafort, who could then be pardoned later if and when they were indicted or even after their cases went through pretrial, trial and appeal. Indeed, you also have to put yourself back at the time these events all took place: before Manafort was indicted and Flynn pleaded guilty. That’s when the dangle could work its magic.
Because a pardon dangle is secret and seeks to discourage cooperation with an ongoing investigation without public scrutiny or consequences, it should be analyzed differently than a pardon when it comes to an obstruction case.
Former U.S. Attorney Harry Littman at The Washington Post: We may know why Paul Manafort has kept quiet. But his bet is still risky.
Manafort’s refusal to cooperate can’t be driven by a rational calculation that he has any reasonable chance of escaping conviction, multimillion-dollar legal fees and a prison sentence that will result in years behind bars.
The indictments against him lay out an overwhelming case of money laundering in particular. The meticulously gathered evidence will be as clear for the jury as a laundry detergent commercial: The jury will see the dirty money go in and the clean money come out. To the extent there had been a small risk, inherent in paper-driven chases, that the jury could become bored at the accounting presentation and tune out, Mueller now has a narrator for the trial in Manafort’s co-conspirator Rick Gates.
So is hoping for a Trump pardon a good bet for Manafort?
…the Times story does not definitively solve the Manafort mystery. First, Dowd’s reported overture, particularly if done with the president’s knowledge or consent, could have constituted a conspiracy to obstruct justice, a separate impeachable offense. That presumably is why the story includes a categorical denial from Dowd that he ever discussed pardons for the president’s former advisers with lawyers. For Dowd, the conduct would be putting his license at risk.
Second, Manafort surely recognizes that he can’t fully count on Trump, both because the president is a habitual liar and because the political dynamic is subject to such extreme and violent turns. (Of course, under this hypothesis, Manafort retains the valuable insurance policy of spilling the goods if Trump double-crosses him, leaving both huge losers in a real-life prisoners dilemma.)
Third, Manafort could still be required to testify after any pardon, when he would no longer be in federal jeopardy. Undoubtedly, the plan would be for him to deny assurances of a pardon from Trump. Still, were Mueller to catch him in a lie, the special counsel would surely come down on him.
Finally, it is likely that in the event of a pardon for federal crimes, which is all Trump can provide, some state attorneys general, such as New York’s Eric T. Schneiderman, would prosecute Manafort for financial crimes under their potent state statutes.
Maybe Manafort figures a possible pardon is a better bet than hoping Putin doesn’t send his goons to shut him (Manafort) up for good.
A few more pardon stories:
Bloomberg: Pardon Talk Could Put Trump Lawyer in Hot Water.
CNN: Emails reveal DOJ would have ‘very little involvement’ if Trump tweeted a pardon.
The Washington Post: This overlooked part of the Constitution could stop Trump from abusing his pardon power.
Another big story broke late yesterday. Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Today Shulkin is speaking out, claiming he was fired because he opposed privatizing the VA. Shulkin spoke to NPR’s Morning Edition:
Fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin tells NPR’s Morning Edition that political forces in the Trump administration want to privatize the VA — and that he was standing in the way.
“There are many political appointees in the VA that believe that we are moving in the wrong direction or weren’t moving fast enough toward privatizing the VA,” he said. “I think that it’s essential for national security and for the country that we honor our commitment by having a strong VA. I was not against reforming VA, but I was against privatization.”
Those political forces may be why Shulkin says he wasn’t allowed to speak out to defend himself against an ethics controversy over use of funds on a trip to Europe that he says was overhyped and intended to weaken him.
“This was completely mischaracterized,” Shulkin said. “There was nothing improper about this trip, and I was not allowed to put up an official statement or to even respond to this by the White House. … I think this was really just being used in a political context to try to make sure that I wasn’t as effective as a leader moving forward.”
Shulkin argued his case in an op-ed at The New York Times: David J. Shulkin: Privatizing the V.A. Will Hurt Veterans.
That’s a lot of news, but I’ve barely touched on everything that’s happening. Here’s a shocking Trump corruption story that broke at The Guardian this morning: FBI looked into Trump plans to build hotel in Latvia with Putin supporter.
In 2010, a small group of businessmen including a wealthy Russian supporter of Vladimir Putin began working on plans to build a glitzy hotel and entertainment complex with Donald Trump in Riga, the capital of Latvia.
A senior Trump executive visited the city to scout for locations. Trump and his daughter Ivanka spent hours at Trump Tower with the Russian, Igor Krutoy, who also knows compatriots involved in arranging a fateful meeting at the same building during the 2016 US election campaign.
Then the Latvian government’s anti-corruption bureau began asking questions.
The Guardian has learned that talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Krutoy and another of the businessmen were questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry there – and that the FBI later looked into Trump’s interactions with them at Latvia’s request.
Those involved deny that the inquiry was to blame for the deal’s collapse.
Latvia asked the US for assistance in 2014 and received a response from the FBI the following year, according to a source familiar with the process. Latvian investigators also examined secret recordings in which Trump was mentioned by a suspect.
This means the FBI looked into Trump’s efforts to do business deals in the former Soviet Union earlier than was widely known. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is now investigating other Trump dealings with Russians as part of his wide-ranging criminal inquiry into alleged collusion between Moscow and members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team.
The Riga developers saw their potential partner in New York as a ticket to lucrative western revenues.
This shit just never ends. I haven’t even touched on the North Korea news or the Bolton mess or the fact that Trump wants to put his personal physician in charge of the VA. More headlines to check out:
The Washington Post: Who is Trump’s new Veterans Affairs pick, Ronny Jackson?
NBC News: Kim Jong Un met China’s Xi. What does it mean for Trump summit?
CNBC: China says North Korea wants denuclearization, but Kim Jong Un’s motives remain shrouded in mystery as Trump meeting approaches.
The Washington Post: Three big questions about a Trump-Kim summit.
Business Insider: Kim Jong Un became a regional power overnight by saying a single, meaningless word to Trump.
Vox: “Otherwise, they subpoena”: White House lawyer Ty Cobb on why Trump is cooperating with Mueller.
Bloomberg: Kelly Loses White House Clout as Trump Blazes Own Path.
CNN: Did Trump campaign and John Bolton PAC get help from overseas?
Talking Points Memo: WSJ: Kushner Has Phoned Bolton For Advice In The Past Year.
BBC News: Julian Assange has internet cut at Ecuadorean embassy in London.
The Daily Beast: ICE Now Detaining Pregnant Women, Thanks to Trump Order.
Slate: It’s Time to Stop Yammering About Liberal Bias.
Posted: March 28, 2018 Filed under: Fox News, morning reads, open thread, Political and Editorial Cartoons, U.S. Politics, Wednesday Hump Day Cartoons
I don’t know why…but this post above from early this morning had me laughing, like the shit was really about to hit the fan.
If any of you watched Maddow last night, you may have seen the foreshadowing. Just why certain actions…and letters of request for key promises from attorney generals, specifically…the DOJ line of succession. Starting with Rod Rosenstein down the top five in the Department of Justice….Senate Democrats ask DoJ officials to protect Mueller from Trump That link will take you to the video segment. It is too good for you to miss it.
At the end of that segment, Maddow ask why now? Well, I guess maybe this could be the answer:
That will take you to the actual docs filled with the court…
I just want to post a few more tweets, on various outrageous shit:
And tell me, what the fuck is this shit?
Now the cartoons, did you forget today was Wednesday?
WILL WORK FOR FOOD: 03/28/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath
JOHN neocon BOLTON: 03/27/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath
03/28/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson
03/28/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller
03/26/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller
Rick’s First Aid: 03/28/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers
Break-In: 03/27/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers
Poking Mueller: 03/23/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers
FBI Bravery: 03/22/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers
Panic Attack: 03/27/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell
Stay Home: 03/26/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell
Branches of Government: 03/28/2018 Cartoon by Mike Keefe
Post-Facebook privacy breakthrough: 03/28/2018 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen
John Bolton: 03/27/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis
Kids March/Cranky NRA: 03/27/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe
And then there is this shit:
03/27/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler
I only put this one up to show how awful the right can be…this is from a right leaning cartoonist.
03/27/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker
And with that, I will end this thread…it is open of course.
I wanted to share some pictures from yesterday, we went to Asheville and meet my Aunt Celeste for lunch. This is an artsy fartsy district and some pictures of a haunted bridge and cemetery.
Posted: March 27, 2018 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: baby elephants, Donald Trump, evangelical Christians, Islamophobia, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Rob Porter, Ryan Costello, Stormy Daniels
I’ve been feeling almost catatonic with shock for the past few days, ever since Trump appointed John Bolton as National Security Adviser. And that was on top of his nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.
It just feels as if we’re inching closer and closer to a real world-wide disaster. With those two in charge, it seems likely Trump will pull us out of the Iran agreement and maybe even get us into wars in Iran and North Korea. The joke’s over, folks. This is getting way too real.
The photos of baby elephants in this post are an attempt to keep me from going completely around the bend.
At The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky writes: Trump Does Trump, and Things Get Worse. Tomasky notes that Trump appears to have concluded that he doesn’t need advisers who tell him he can’t do what he wants to do. He’s decided to run the country the way he the business that he repeatedly drove into bankruptcy.
The hiring of John Bolton highlights Donald Trump’s instability, his total lack of any coherent worldview, and most of all—and most dangerously of all—his need to feel that no limits are being imposed on him. Here’s what I mean. When talking foreign policy, sometimes Trump sounds like Bolton, with all that overheated rhetoric he’s thrown at Kim Jong Un. But at other times, he’s an isolationist. At still other times, like when he’s agreeing to meet with Kim with no preconditions, he’s a Neville Chamberlain in the making. (By the way, is Lloyd’s of London taking odds yet on whether that summit will actually happen?)
So if he wasn’t happy with H.R. McMaster and wanted new blood, he could have gone in any number of ways. That he chose the guy who will reinforce his worst instincts tells us, I think, that what he values most (aside from unquestioning loyalty) is someone who won’t hem him in; in other words, Trump may decide to launch a first strike against North Korea, or he may not. But if he does, by God, he doesn’t want some globalist ninny telling him not to. So the principle at work here is not hawkishness per se. It’s having someone who won’t tell him no.
Tomasky discusses Trump’s ludicrous handling of economic issues, and his total lack of knowledge and understanding of how legislation is crafted. Now Trump is facing the Stormy Daniels problem, and it may get him into real trouble:
The Stormy Daniels story was kind of non-newsy on certain levels. That Trump slept with a porn star and behaved crudely toward her is about the least shocking thing in the world. But the threats made against her are the real story here. That’s going to be the new iteration of this story, and depending on how it plays out it stands the chance of reminding the country of something that many have forgotten, or never knew: The president of the United States has mob ties.
Here’s David Cay Johnston cataloguing a few of them, like how Trump went out of his way to use Mafia-controlled companies to pour the concrete for Trump Tower. The great Wayne Barrett was the master chronicler of all this, going back to the 1990s. All you need to know for now is that back in the day, the government of Australia denied him a permit to open a casino in Sydney because the government deemed him to be too mobbed up. Trump will say of this failure that he lost interest in Australia, but Australia also lost interest in him.
How can anyone who is paying attention not be frightened to have this idiot running our government?
At Vox, Zach Beauchamp writes about one serious problem with Trump’s two recent appointments: How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo mainstreamed Islamophobia.
John Bolton, President Trump’s pick for his next national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of state, are well-known hawks. Less well known are their deep and extensive ties to an organized group of anti-Muslim writers and activists.
The members of the so-called “counter-jihad” movement aren’t exactly household names. But its leading lights — people like Reagan Defense Department official Frank Gaffney, activist Brigitte Gabriel, and blogger Pamela Geller — are surprisingly well-financed and influential. Their major arguments include the idea that Islam is an intrinsically violent religion and that most mainstream American Muslim organizations are involved in a secret plot to replace American law with Islamic law. One “study” published by Gaffney’s organization, the Center for Security Policy, argued that 80 percent of mosques in America “are incubators of, at best, subversion and, at worst, violence and should be treated accordingly.”
Neither Bolton nor Pompeo has endorsed views this radical, though both have come relatively close. In February 2015, Pompeo appeared on Gaffney’s radio show and warned darkly of an Islamic conspiracy against America.
“There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways,” Pompeo said in a February 2015 interview on Gaffney’s radio program. “They’re not just in places like Libya and Syria and Iraq, but in places like Coldwater, Kansas, and small towns all throughout America.”
Bolton, for his part, has defended the Islamophobic attacks against Huma Abedin, a Muslim American who spent years as a top aide to Hillary Clinton. Some Republican members of Congress accused Abedin being a secret Islamist operative (which, it goes without saying, is wholly unfounded) in 2012; that July, Bolton went on Gaffney’s show and said there was nothing wrong with that line of attack. “What is wrong with raising the question?” Bolton asked.
Read all the scary details at Vox.
The Economist on Pompeo’s religious views:
Even among broadly conservative watchers of American foreign policy, there is worry that Mr Pompeo’s apparent sectarian sentiment might be a problem. In the words of Robert D. Kaplan, a veteran global-affairs writer, Mr Pompeo “emblemises an increasingly theological bent in American politics, and in particular in a strand of American conservatism.” This contrasted with earlier eras when “American leaders were often churchgoers but their governing spirit was refreshingly secular.”
As is noted by Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution think-tank, Mr Pompeo comes across as an educated person whose negative ideas about Islam are more thought-through, and hence perhaps more worrisome, than the “visceral, almost incoherent” suspicion of that faith which Mr Trump exuded as a candidate. “It is not a good thing when the public face of American diplomacy holds views which demean an entire religion,” says Mr Hamid.
Several things have earned Mr Pompeo the reputation of being a kind of latter-day Crusader. One is a video clip in which he argues vigorously that at least some individuals are motivated by their Muslim beliefs, and by things they read in the Koran, to commit terrible violence. Watched closely, the video does not show him to believe that all Muslims think that way. What is more striking is the remedy of Christian solidarity he proposes: Islam-inspired terrorists “will continue to press against us until we make sure…we know that Jesus Christ is the only solution for our world.”
There is also concern about Mr Pompeo’s reaction to the bomb attack on the Boston marathon in 2013. As a Congressman, he said Muslim leaders who failed to condemn the outrage, and to call it incompatible with Muhammad’s teaching, were “potentially complicit”. Arsalan Iftikhar, a writer and lawyer who helps run an anti-Islamophobia programme at Georgetown University, was one of many Muslim-Americans who found those comments insulting to leaders of Islam in America, who used all their authority to excoriate the bombing.
Read the rest at link.
Could Trump’s behavior with women finally be causing serious problems for the GOP? The New York Times: After Stormy Daniels, Republicans Face a Referendum on Trump’s Conduct.
When Representative Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania announced on Sunday that he would join more than 40 other congressional Republicans not seeking re-election in November, he left no doubt about the reason: President Trump’s conduct made it impossible to talk about anything else.
Were he running, Mr. Costello said in an interview, he would be inundated with questions about Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels, who has said she had an affair with Mr. Trump and was threatened to stay silent about it.
“If I had a town hall this week, it would be question after question,” Mr. Costello said. “‘Do you believe him or do you believe her? Why don’t you believe her?’”
While Republicans have been bracing for months for a punishing election in November, they are increasingly alarmed that their losses may be even worse than feared because the midterm campaign appears destined to turn more on the behavior of the man in the White House than any other in decades.
As much as gun control, immigration, the sweeping tax overhaul and other issues are mobilizing voters on the left and the right, the seamy sex allegations and Mr. Trump’s erratic style could end up alienating crucial blocs of suburban voters and politically moderate women who might be drawn to some Republican policies but find the president’s purported sex antics to be reprehensible.
Some funny quotes from the article:
“Trump is way more than the proverbial elephant in the room — he’s the elephant in the room with political bad breath, B.O. and a foul mouth,” said Ace Smith, a veteran Democratic consultant, who argued that the last time a president’s conduct loomed so large in congressional midterms was in the post-Watergate election of 1974….
“I don’t see headlines with: ‘Porn star sues Nancy Pelosi,’” said Representative Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, when asked about his party’s polarizing House leader.
Trump’s new “trust his gut” approach has talking about bringing back fired staffer Rob Porter. I’ll bet that would be a big hit with women voters. Wonkette reacts: Sad And Lonely Trump Misses His Old Wife-Beaty Friend Rob 😦
A few days/years back, the White House unceremoniously fired a guy whose main fault seems to be that he loves Donald Trump for some reason. His name was Johnny Feelgood, Johnny Right On, Johnny Miss You, Johnny Light On, Johnny Makes Me Feel Strangely Good About Myself, AKA Johnny McEntee. He was Donald Trump’s body man, and he is very pretty, and UH OH seems to have gotten himself into some fraudy financial trouble of some sort, for which he is being investigated by the Secret Service.
We only bring up Johnny McEntee to point out that that he would be a completely reasonable person for Donald Trump to be pining for, wandering the halls of the West Wing with a Big Mac stuffed down the front of his pants and a lost look in his eyes. Instead, Donald Trump is reportedly broken-hearted and lost without Rob Porter, the guy who got fired from the White House because he couldn’t stop beating his wives all the time, which meant he couldn’t get a permanent security clearance. Yeah, THAT guy.
Maggie Haberman reports, because of course it is Maggie Haberman:
President Trump has stayed in touch with Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary who stepped down after allegations that he had abused his two former wives came to light, according to three people familiar with the conversations, and has told some advisers he hopes Mr. Porter returns to work in the West Wing.
Oh for Christ’s sake. Without a security clearance? Because remember how Rob Porter can’t get a security clearance because he’s a rage douche who couldn’t stop beating his wives all the time?
Haberman reports that Trump ‘n’ Rob are always on the phone talking about clothes and boys and tariffs because, big sadface, Trump has fired everybody else, or else they have quit. Hope-y Hicks is gone, McMaster has cleared out his office to make room for John Bolton’s mustache grooming table, and of course Johnny Feelgood is off being hot in greener pastures, and though many of the people who have left the White House were fired in petulant fits of rage by the historically stupid man known as President Poop Waffle, that doesn’t mean the president doesn’t hate to see them go. This is because the president of the United States is a pathetic and lonely person who doesn’t have real friends.
Now look, don’t assume Trump is going to let his head get ahead of his heart and sneak Rob into the White House or anything:
The president has told the advisers he has talked with that he knows he probably cannot bring Mr. Porter back.
Because of the whole wife-beater thing. 😦
This is our reality now. This moron is the “president.” What stories are you following?