Tuesday Reads

Reading in the Valley of Arconville, Theodore Robinson, c. 1887

Good Morning!!

Can’t we ever have a day without Trump drama? Axios: Scoop: Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation.

President Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation as UN Ambassador, according to two sources briefed on their conversation. The timing of her departure is still unclear, the president promised a “big announcement” with her at 10:30 a.m.

What we’re hearing: Haley discussed her resignation with Trump last week when she visited him at the White House, these sources said. Her news shocked a number of senior foreign policy officials in the Trump administration.

The “big announcement” will come while I’m working on this post. Is he going to move her to another post? Surely it can’t be for corruption. Trump doesn’t care about that does he?

Charleston Post and Courier: Watchdog wants investigation of Nikki Haley’s private jet flights to SC.

COLUMBIA — A federal government watchdog asked the State Department on Monday to investigate whether U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley broke any regulations by accepting seven flights on private jets from three South Carolina executives last year.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, also questioned how Haley values the flights on “luxury private aircraft,” most of which also included her husband, Michael.

By Dee Nickerson

The former South Carolina governor based the cost on first-class commercial airline tickets for the flights from New York to three South Carolina cities. Her total was $3,219.

But the four flights Haley took on a plane belonging to Jimmy Gibbs, chief executive of Gibbs International in Spartanburg, were alone worth up to $24,000 based on publicly reported operating costs of a private jet, CREW said.

“Ambassador Haley should have been conscious of the appearance concerns surrounding her acceptance of gifts of private luxury air travel at a time when her colleagues in the administration were making news with their own lavish air travel,” CREW wrote.

Commentators on MSNBC are saying she could be out because of conflicts with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Hey, maybe she plans to primary Lindsey Graham. Graham has announced that he’s running in 2020 and has “zero interest” in being Attorney General.

So after the spectacle of Rod Rosenstein flying to Florida on Air Force One yesterday, and after the fake FBI background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, and Rosenstein’s presence at the political rally Trump held for Kavanaugh last night, some of us are getting nervous about which side Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray are really on in terms of the Russia investigation. Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa wants us to calm down.

The New York Times: The Mueller Investigation Is Bigger Than Rod Rosenstein.

On Monday, President Trump said he has no plans to fire [Rosenstein], and many Americans may have breathed a sigh of relief. But while it’s true that his departure would have been cause for worry for those who seek to protect the independence and integrity of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, at this stage of the inquiry, even a replacement dead set on shutting it down would find such a maneuver nearly impossible to accomplish — and with each day that goes by, it becomes even harder.

Claire Atwood, 1943

To begin with, there is no such thing as a single “Russia investigation.” The F.B.I. pursues cases against individuals and organizations, not topics — this allows each case to have the flexibility to go in the direction the evidence leads, regardless of what happens with other, related cases. After the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, “Pentbomb” was the umbrella name for hundreds of discrete cases on the hijackers, their networks and Al Qaeda.

Further, existing cases spawn new cases. This is especially true of counterintelligence and conspiracy investigations, where every newly discovered contact or association of a subject already under investigation could form the basis of a new case. That’s why the current Russia investigation, originally referred to in the F.B.I. as “Crossfire Hurricane,” isn’t just a single case on Russian election meddling. Rather, at this stage it is a spider web of tens or dozens of cases on intelligence officers, their agents and individuals and organizations helping Russia that are investigated independently, cross-referencing pertinent information to other cases as necessary.

Nor is an investigation of this magnitude limited to a single office. Each case generates leads — threads of inquiry, like an interview or surveillance of an intelligence officer who might be traveling to another state — that span the country. When this happens, F.B.I. agents don’t hop on a plane. Rather, the “home” office for the case (called the “office of origin”) will send a lead to the field office with jurisdiction over that area.

Lady with a Cat – Nikolai Yaroshenko

Mr. Mueller’s investigation is more closely held than most, but its tentacles have already clearly spread to other field offices — consider the investigation against President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, run out of the Southern District of New York office, or the plea deal of a California man, Richard Pinedo, who assisted Russia in executing its disinformation campaign on social media. Field offices are evaluated in part based on their success in following through on leads and making cases that result in arrests and convictions. No case agent worth their salt would remain quiet if their cases were closed in the face of a continuing threat. To “shut down” the investigation at this point would require not just a face-off with Mr. Mueller but also with special agents in charge of multiple field offices with a vested interest in seeing their responsibilities through, and possibly even a battle with the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Well that nasty old Hillary Clinton has dared to speak up again, and the menfolks are in an uproar. This morning Lawrence Tribe tweeted that Clinton should “button it up” for the next month, and was surprised to get a backlash from people who love Hillary–didn’t he notice that she won the popular vote in 2016? I can’t post the tweet, because Tribe has now deleted it and others that criticized Clinton.

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton says Trump turned Kavanaugh ceremony into a ‘political rally.’

“What was done last night in the White House was a political rally,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “It further undermined the image and the integrity of the court, and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.”

Clinton’s comments referred to a boisterous event in the East Room on Monday night that began with Trump apologizing to Kavanaugh “for the terrible pain and suffering” he said they were forced to endure during a chaotic confirmation process.

Trump later praised Kavanaugh’s fortitude while facing allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct and profusely thanked Republican senators who advocated for him, culminating in a 50-to-48 confirmation vote largely along party lines on Saturday.

Among those Trump recognized was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who received resounding applause after the president asked him to stand up.

It was a disgusting partisan display, and Kavanaugh himself joined in with an embarrassing speech in which he thanked specific Republicans for putting him on the Court.

At the Guardian, Ian Samuel recommends fighting back by packing the Court: Kavanaugh will be on the US supreme court for life. Here’s how we fight back.

Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, and he will serve as a justice on the supreme court for the rest of his life. This event assures rightwing dominance of the court for a generation – or so we are told. After all, at 53, he is not even the youngest conservative: Justice Neil Gorsuch is 51. The chief justice, who has been there for more than a decade, is only 63. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by contrast, is 85, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 80. We are in, it seems, for decades of misery for labor unions, voting rights, regulation of businesses and all the rest….

The ray of hope, if there is one, lies in contradiction of the first of those premises. Nothing in the constitution fixes the number of supreme court seats at nine. The size of the court is set by legislation, and has varied over time. We started with six. We’ve gone as high as 10 (when Abraham Lincoln was president, and Congress worried about a reactionary supreme court invalidating his wartime measures). Only recently, Republicans held the court to eight members for a year in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death.

By Stan Moeller

So, then, the next time the left has some political power, why not just expand the size of the supreme court and add another handful of justices? Make Brett Kavanaugh a gifted and energetic member of a 10-to-5 minority. Don’t get mad, in other words: get even.

This is called “court-packing”. And although it enjoys a long and distinguished history in America, anyone who suggests it today will be met – swiftly – by serious and sober realists, all of whom who are eager to explain the reasons that this cannot possibly work.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

As Daknikat wrote yesterday, we’ve been seeing human rights violations increasing around the world lately, and the Trump administration seems unconcerned. Most recently, Saudi Arabia disappeared a journalist in Turkey and reportedly murdered him and dismembered the body; and China arrested the head of Interpol. Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Trump Gives Dictators the Green Light.

In September 2017, the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had gone into exile, wrote a column in The Washington Post headlined, “Saudi Arabia Wasn’t Always This Repressive. Now It’s Unbearable.”

As of this writing, Khashoggi is thought to be dead. Last Tuesday, he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document certifying his divorce so that he could remarry. He hasn’t been seen since. The Turkish government claims he was murdered inside.

“If the reports of Khashoggi’s murder are true, it’s so brazen, it’s so outlandish,” Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, told me. Saudi Arabia has killed people before, and put dissidents and bloggers in prison. “But this is at a whole different level,” she said.

Ohan Krouthen, Three reading women in a summer landscape, 1908

It’s not surprising, however, that the Saudi government would think it could get away with it. The United States has long maintained a close strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s abysmal human rights record, and tacit American support for its brutal war in Yemen began during Barack Obama’s administration. But there’s never been an American president as enthusiastically pro-Saudi as Trump.

Sure, he sees the country as an ally against Iran. But it’s more than that: Trump seems to feel a real affinity for the gaudy kleptocratic opulence of the country’s leaders. And his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, appears to view M.B.S. as a kindred spirit; both, after all, are rich millennials making world-altering decisions thanks to extreme nepotism.

Read the rest at the link. Be warned though, Goldberg sees Bernie Sanders as part of the solution.

One more before I turn the floor over to you: a mom tries to support Trump/Kavanaugh and in the process humiliates her son before the world. The Washington Post: ‘This is MY son’: Navy vet horrified as mom’s tweet miscasts him as #HimToo poster boy — and goes viral.

Pieter Hanson was in the middle of a marketing exam when his phone started blowing up, buzzing and buzzing until he was convinced something terrible had happened. Too anxious to focus, he whizzed through the rest of his test, handed it in to his University of Central Florida professor and bolted into the hallway to pull out his cellphone and find out what was going on.

Reading outdoors with cat above, by Marcus Stone, 1840-1921

Sure enough, something terrible had happened indeed: His mom accidentally turned him into a viral Twitter meme.

“This is MY son,” began his mom’s viral post, which featured a photograph of Hanson posing in his Navy uniform. “He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an axe to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.”

“Hey, Pieter, we want you to know that this is going on,” one friend texted him.

“We know this isn’t you,” said another.

It was all rather disorienting. The tweet, since deleted, had been widely shared, immediately casting Hanson as the poster boy for the #HimToo movement. The movement has more recently been seen by some as the antithesis of the #MeToo movement, suggesting in the wake of the Brett M. Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings that men are frequently victims of false sexual assault accusations and that many accusers are liars.

The problem: Hanson, a 32-year-old Navy veteran, doesn’t support this movement, considering himself an ally of the #MeToo movement, he told The Washington Post. Nor is he fearful of “solo dates.”

Wow. I wonder what Thanksgiving dinner will be like in that family?

So . . . what stories are you following today?

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35 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      To get all technical about it, an embassy is its country’s soil. That’s why Ecuador can shelter Assange (although at this point they wish he’d melt away) and the Brits can’t do more than watch from outside. So not technically NATO soil. Turkey could expel the diplomats and shut the embassy over this, but that’s pretty much it. If they knew who did it, that would be grounds to revoke the perps diplomatic passports and make them stand trial, but I’d be willing to bet the actual murderers (assuming Khashoggi was killed) got on the first plane out afterward.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The point is the “president” should say something about this. The guy worked for a U.S. newspaper.

        • quixote says:

          God, yes. The amazing thing about his level of not-caring is he hasn’t even delegated the job to some flunky. It’s not like a POTUS has no staff to invent things for him if his own brain is too congealed.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. Enheduanna says:

    Here’s some encouraging news from Georgia:

    https://www.wonkette.com/georgias-automatic-voter-registration-works-pretty-well-thats-pretty-sweet-if-dems-mobilize

    Excellent comments on this as well.

  5. RonStill4Hills says:

    I rather hope Nikki is stepping down because of her own ethics issues rather than something noble like scraping Trump off her shoe.

    I don’t want to hear the Nikki for President that is almost guaranteed to eventually come.

    I think she is a woman of color (sadly a talented one) who sold her soul to the devils. I never want to see her in high office. She cannot be trusted.

  6. NW Luna says:

  7. NW Luna says:

    BB, I love the paintings of women reading, especially with cats.

  8. NW Luna says:

    Thread:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Post and Courier: Nikki Haley has up to $1 million in debt as she steps down as U.N. ambassador

    Federal ethics reports show Haley had debt from $525,000 to about $1.1 million in 2017.

    She owed $25,000 to $65,000 on two credit cards since 2016. She listed a mortgage and a line of credit each for $250,000 to $500,000. She listed ranges of debt and income on the disclosure records.

    Federal ethics reports show Haley had debt from $525,000 to about $1.1 million in 2017.

    She owed $25,000 to $65,000 on two credit cards since 2016. She listed a mortgage and a line of credit each for $250,000 to $500,000. She listed ranges of debt and income on the disclosure records.

    Her parents’ home is going through foreclosure. I guess she’s hoping to cash in in the “private sector.” Lobbying?

  10. bostonboomer says:

  11. bostonboomer says:

  12. roofingbird says:

    Bolton hates the UN, maybe they will just pull out.

  13. RonStill4Hills says:

    The Septuagenarian Mutant Redneck Turtle chastises Hills about civility. Fuck off Mitch. Fuck off and die. Is that civil enough for you.

    • Catscatscats says:

      Tell us how you really feel, Ron! ❤️ you! I would like to send that same message to so many, too numerous to mention, but so worthy. My anger grows with each passing day.

  14. NW Luna says:

    It would be only sensible to extend the deadline in light of this storm.

  15. NW Luna says:

    Kavanaugh lost no time before using his ultra-conservative white male privilege judicial judgement. Don’t want to make it easy to vote, eh? Those shrieking women and POC might impeach you if they get a majority.