We’ve gone through two years with an unfit, incompetent “president,” but I don’t know how much longer we as a country can deal with this quickly worsening situation. Thank goodness the Democrats won the House and will be able to exert some control over this maniac beginning on January 3, 2019. In the meantime, the government is likely going to continue getting more dysfunctional; and every day we’re hit with so much news that it’s impossible to process all of it.
As comic relief, I’m illustrating this post with photos of dogs’ facial expressions when they’re getting treats. Click the link to Vieler Photography to learn more.
Here is some of what’s going on today.
Robin Wright at The New Yorker: Trump Completes a Shameful Trip to Paris, Just as He Needs the Global Stage.
In unrelenting rain, more than sixty world leaders—Presidents and Prime Ministers, kings and princes, from a third of all the nations on Earth—shared big black umbrellas as they marched together down the Champs-Élysées, in Paris, on Sunday. They gathered to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice that ended the fighting of the First World War, and to express global unity. Donald Trump was not among them. He drove to the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in the dry comfort of his limousine. Aides cited security. The only apparent threat was from an unarmed topless activist, with the words “Fake Peacemaker” emblazoned across her chest, who tried to run near his motorcade.
The President did the same thing the previous day, calling off a trip to honor the more than two thousand Americans buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, some fifty miles outside of Paris. (All told, fifty thousand Americans died in the First World War.) The White House cited foul weather. The response was fast and furious on the President’s favorite medium. Nicholas Soames, the grandson of the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a Conservative Party member of the British Parliament, tweeted, “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen.” He added the hashtag “#hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.” Michael Beschloss, the Presidential historian, tweeted a picture of President John F. Kennedy and the French President Charles de Gaulle getting soaked (without umbrellas) in Paris when they honored the war dead, in 1961. There were numerous jibes on Twitter, including one from @votevets, about whether the decision had something to do with Trump’s hair. The same day, despite the rain, the leaders of France and Germany managed to visit Compiègne—also fifty miles from Paris—where the Armistice was signed in a railway car a century ago.
Trump flew his entourage almost four thousand miles for the commemoration but showed little interest in most of it. He lunched with his counterparts and offered brief remarks at a second American cemetery. But, otherwise, it was a dud of a trip. His disdain was all the more striking for the fact that he needs the rest of the world more than ever. The U.S. midterm elections produced a divided Congress, limiting movement on major domestic issues for the next two years. As he mounts his reëlection bid for 2020 Trump will need foreign-policy breakthroughs to appear either productive or Presidential. Yet he seems, instead, to be withdrawing further.
And back in Washington, Trump also failed to visit Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day. Today, he’s on Twitter making excuses for his behavior.
At the Atlantic, James Fallows questions the “helicopter can’t fly in the rain” excuse:
Why, exactly, did Donald Trump not join Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and Justin Trudeau at Saturday’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the original Armistice Day? I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone outside the White House does at this point.
As you’re looking for explanations, you can dismiss this one. Helicopters can fly just fine in the rain, and in conditions way worse than prevailed in Paris on November 10.
Fallows is a licensed pilot and flew on Marine One when he worked for Jimmy Carter. Click on the link to read why Trump’s excuse is complete bullshit. I hope someone in the Marines speaks up about this.
Trump is also busy trolling Emmanuel Macron on Twitter. The Washington Post: In a morning tweetstorm, Trump takes repeated aim at France’s Macron.
In the first of several barbs Tuesday on Twitter, Trump again misrepresented what Macron had said during last week’s radio interview and reminded him of the U.S. military’s role in aiding France in World War I and II.
“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump wrote. “But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two — How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along.”
Trump also inaccurately summarized Macron’s comments when he initially tweeted about them Friday while on Air Force One arriving in Paris. Trump said he found Macron’s comments “very insulting” and said that France should “first pay its fair share of NATO.”
In his tweet on Tuesday, Trump again referenced France’s spending, writing: “Pay for NATO or not!”
I won’t bore you with anymore of the “president’s” churlishness, but there’s more at the link.
Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as acting AG is being challenged in court. Charlie Savage at The New York Times:
The State of Maryland is expected to ask a federal judge on Tuesday for an injunction declaring that Mr. Whitaker is not the legitimate acting attorney general as a matter of law, and that the position — and all its powers — instead rightfully belongs to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein.
Mr. Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office,” the plaintiffs said in a draft filing obtained by The New York Times.
The legal action escalates the uproar surrounding Mr. Trump’s installation of Mr. Whitaker as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer, from criticism of his basic credentials and his views on the Russia investigation to challenges to the legality of his appointment. Last week, Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate’s top Democrat, sent a letter demanding to know why Mr. Trump chose an “unconfirmed political appointee” as acting attorney general, rather than follow the Justice Department’s statutory line of succession.
Maryland is asking a judge — Ellen L. Hollander of the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland, a 2010 Obama appointee — to rule on who is the real acting attorney general as part of a lawsuit in which it sued Mr. Sessions in his official capacity. Because Mr. Sessions is no longer the attorney general, the judge must substitute his successor as a defendant in the litigation, so she has to decide who that successor legally is.
The stakes are extraordinary. The acting attorney general is the most powerful law enforcement official in the United States and wields tremendous influence, from overseeing criminal and national-security investigations to deciding how to enforce immigration, environmental and civil rights laws.
Rep. Adam Schiff, who will likely chair the House Intelligence Committee next year warns Whitaker in today’s Washington Post: Matthew Whitaker, we’re watching you.
The president and Whitaker should heed this warning: The new Democratic majority will protect the special counsel and the integrity of the Justice Department. Should Whitaker fail to recuse himself — all indications are that he plans not to — and seek to obstruct the investigation, serve as a back channel to the president or his legal team or interfere in the investigations in any way, he will be called to answer. His actions will be exposed.
It is no mystery why the president chose Whitaker, an obscure and ill-qualified official never confirmed by the Senate, which many legal experts believe makes the appointment itself unconstitutional. Trump chose him to protect himself, his family and his close associates from the special counsel’s investigation and other investigations within the Justice Department.
Though I had many profound disagreements with Sessions, he was correct to follow the rules meant to ensure public confidence in the fair administration of justice and recuse himself, even though the president viewed Sessions’s compliance as a singular act of disloyalty. We must demand the highest ethical standards of everyone at the Justice Department, including the attorney general.
There is no indication that Whitaker has likewise consulted with ethics officials, as his past public statements, associations and the manner of his appointment make clear that he should have no role in overseeing the special counsel’s investigation or any matter related to the president and his campaign.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
CNN has decided to quit playing around with Trump and Sarah Huckleberry. NBC News: CNN files lawsuit against Trump administration over Jim Acosta’s press credentials.
CNN has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for revoking correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials, the network said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” a statement from CNN reads.
Listed as defendants in the suit are Trump in addition to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, and the U.S. Secret Service and its director Randolph Alles and an unnamed Secret Service agent….
The lawsuit says that Acosta and CNN have been favorite targets of the administration, adding that they intend this suit to “ensure that the press remains free to question the government and to report the business of the nation to the American people.”
A number of derogatory tweets and comments made by Trump about CNN are mentioned in the suit. The suit noted that Trump retweeted “a video depicting him tackling and punching a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his face, adding the comments ‘#FraudNewsCNN’ and ‘#FNN.'”
Read more at NBC News. Interestingly, CNN is represented by legendary conservative attorney Ted Olson, who turned down Trump’s attempts to hire him.
Counting of votes from last Tuesday’s election continues in several states. Yesterday, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was declared the winner of Jeff Flake’s Senate seat in Arizona. Russia-friendly Dana Rohrabacher lost to Democrat Democrat Harley Rouda. The Florida recounts continue, and Democrat Stacey Abrams is still holding out in Georgia.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Judge orders review of provisional ballots in Georgia election.
A federal judge on Monday ordered election officials to review thousands of provisional ballots that haven’t been counted in Georgia’s close election for governor.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s order calls for a hotline for voters to check if their provisional ballots were counted, a review of voter registrations, and updated reports from the state government about why many voters were required to use provisional ballots.
The court decision comes as votes are still being counted in the race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams trails Kemp and would need to gain more than 20,000 additional votes to force a runoff election.
Totenberg said she’s providing “limited, modest” relief to help protect voters. The order preserves Tuesday’s deadline for county election offices to certify results and the Nov. 20 deadline for Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden to certify the election. The ruling enjoins Crittenden from certifying the election before Friday at 5 p.m.
Amy Totenberg is the sister of NPR’s SCOTUS reporter Nina Totenberg.
That’s it for me. What stories are you following today?
Today is usually a solemn day where we remember the sacrifice of many to our country. Many of the men and women in this country give up their private lives and some times their lives altogether to defend the things that let our country aspire to become “a more perfect union” and to share our values of “liberty and justice for all”. Their personal sacrifices were made to make all of us better off.
We find many days in our national calendar to recognize their commitment to our country. Today is a big one. My Dad was a world war II bombardier in the US Army Air Corps. His uncle and namesake took mustard gas in his lungs in trenches in France during World War I. While Uncle Jack made it back home, he died quite young as the mustard gas eventually took his life. My family has served in every war since Revolution and we were always reminded to honor our legacy.
There are so many instances of all kinds of Americans stepping up to this duty that it’s not difficult to wonder why we don’t fully step up for all of them. Most Native Americans were not even considered citizens until 1924 but many fought in World War I. The Library of Congress has maps that show where their bodies were buried in the fields of such historic battles as Verdun. Many lie in the places where the current Placeholder in the Oval office skipped out on a service honoring them, because, well, rain.
While searching through our collections for maps to use for display in the exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I, I found one among our uncatalogued holdings that caught my attention. As the title states, it is a map presenting the role of North American Indians in the World War. The map was published by the Office of the Adjutant General of the Army in 1925. The North American Indian in the World War map documents the places where Native Americans fought with distinction during the First World War. Furthermore, it represents part of the broader social and political fight for Native American citizenship.
The map shows Native American participation, graves, notable battles, and military decorations awarded in France and Belgium.
The information for the map was taken from the work of Dr. Joseph Kossuth Dixon, a former Baptist preacher who became a photographer, author, and Native American rights advocate. Prior to the war, Dixon led three expeditions throughout the United States. Some of Dixon’s photographs can be found at the Library.
After World War I, Dixon traveled through Europe with the hope that documenting Native American service in the military would aid the struggle to obtain general U.S. citizenship. Forty percent of Native Americans were not citizens until 1924, though more than 12,000 served in the U.S. Army during World War I. As part of their service, many Native Americans of the 142nd Infantry, 36th Division became the nation’s first “Code Talkers.” Code Talkers sent messages encrypted in their native languages over radio, telephone, and telegraph lines which were never broken by Germany. On June 2, 1924, almost six years after the end of the war, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act granting citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States.
African Americans also made a huge commitment of lives to the battlefields of World War I too which they too considered “the war to end all wars”. We focus a lot on the stories of World War II with its Navajo Codetalkers’ vital role in helping end the war in the Pacific theatre. We also talk a lot about the Tuskegee Airmen and their role in the fight in the European theatre of WWII. Black Americans were also present on the battle fields of WW1. This war not only shaped black lives in the countrry then, it shaped the lives of black Americans today. Do you know about the migration of southern blacks to the factories of the north?
World War I was a transformative moment in African-American history. What began as a seemingly distant European conflict soon became an event with revolutionary implications for the social, economic, and political future of black people. The war directly impacted all African Americans, male and female, northerner and southerner, soldier and civilian. Migration, military service, racial violence, and political protest combined to make the war years one of the most dynamic periods of the African-American experience. Black people contested the boundaries of American democracy, demanded their rights as American citizens, and asserted their very humanity in ways both subtle and dramatic. Recognizing the significance of World War I is essential to developing a full understanding of modern African-American history and the struggle for black freedom.
When war erupted in Europe in August 1914, most Americans, African Americans included, saw no reason for the United States to become involved. This sentiment strengthened as war between the German-led Central Powers and the Allied nations of France, Great Britain, and Russia ground to a stalemate and the death toll increased dramatically. The black press sided with France, because of its purported commitment to racial equality, and chronicled the exploits of colonial African soldiers serving in the French army. Nevertheless, African Americans viewed the bloodshed and destruction occurring overseas as far removed from the immediacies of their everyday lives.
The war did, however, have a significant impact on African Americans, particularly the majority who lived in the South. The war years coincided with the Great Migration, one of the largest internal movements of people in American history.
Between 1914 and 1920, roughly 500,000 black southerners packed their bags and headed to the North, fundamentally transforming the social, cultural, and political landscape of cities such as Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. The Great Migration would reshape black America and the nation as a whole.
Black southerners faced a host of social, economic, and political challenges that prompted their migration to the North. The majority of black farmers labored as sharecroppers, remained in perpetual debt, and lived in dire poverty. Their condition worsened in 1915–16 as a result of a boll weevil infestation that ruined cotton crops throughout the South. These economic obstacles were made worse by social and political oppression. By the time of the war, most black people had been disfranchised, effectively stripped of their right to vote through both legal and extralegal means.
Jim Crow segregation, legitimized by the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) Supreme Court ruling, forced black people to use separate and usually inferior facilities. The southern justice system systematically denied them equal protection under the law and condoned the practice of vigilante mob violence. As an aspiring migrant from Alabama wrote in a letter to the Chicago Defender, “[I] am in the darkness of the south and [I] am trying my best to get out.”
Wartime opportunities in the urban North gave hope to such individuals. The American industrial economy grew significantly during the war. However, the conflict also cut off European immigration and reduced the pool of available cheap labor. Unable to meet demand with existing European immigrants and white women alone, northern businesses increasingly looked to black southerners to fill the void. In turn, the prospect of higher wages and improved working conditions prompted thousands of black southerners to abandon their agricultural lives and start anew in major industrial centers. Black women remained by and large confined to domestic work, while men for the first time in significant numbers made entryways into the northern manufacturing, packinghouse, and automobile industries.
h/t to NW LUNA:
Aside from their mass involvement in these voluntary organizations and efforts, a key difference between women’s service during World War I and that of previous wars was the class of women involved. Typically women who followed armies were from the working classes of society, but during the Great War, women from all classes served in many different capacities. Upper class women were the primary founders and members of voluntary wartime organizations, particularly because they could afford to devote so much of their time and money to these efforts. Middle- and lower-class women also participated in these organizations and drives, although they were more likely to be serving as nurses with the military or replacing men in their jobs on the home front as the men went off to war. For the first time in American history, women from every part of the class spectrum were serving in the war in some capacity.
Another significant change to women’s service during the Great War is that American civilian women donned uniforms. The uniforms allowed women to look the part and claim credibility for their services, as well as to be taken seriously by others; many women saw their wartime service as a way to claim full citizenship, and the uniforms symbolized “their credentials as citizens engaged in wartime service.” 2
Other women donned uniforms because of their association with the military—World War I was the first time in American history in which women were officially attached to arms of the American military and government agencies. Yeomen (F) served with the Navy and the Marine Corps, while the Army Nurse Corps was attached to the Army. In France, 223 American women popularly known as “Hello Girls” served as long-distance switchboard operators for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
And of course, those of us knowing the sacrfice of our military, well, we’re ashamed by these dreadful headlines this weekend: “Donald Trump jokes about ‘getting drenched’ during Armistice speech.”
‘You look so comfortable up there, under shelter,’ Donald Trump said while addressing second world war veterans at his armistice ceremony speech in Paris. ‘We are getting drenched, you’re very smart people,’ he said. The US president’s comments come a day after he cancelled a trip to a cemetery due to bad weather. Trump then went on to compliment the veterans: ‘You look like you’re in really good shape all of you. I hope I look like that someday, you look great’
And then, there’s this : “Macron reportedly asked Putin not to privately meet Trump during World War I commemorations — but they talked anyway.” Evidently, Putin ass kisisng was the Trump priority and not recoginzing the sacrfice of the millions of veterans of World War I lying dead in graveyards.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said France specifically asked him not to hold one-on-one meetings with US President Donald Trump during World War I commemorations in Paris this past weekend — but he ended up chatting with him anyway.
Putin on Sunday afternoon said he agreed to France’s request so as to “not violate” France’s planned events. “We will agree that we will not violate the schedule of the host party here: At their request, we will not organize any meetings here,” he told the Russian state-owned RT news channel, according to the state-run Interfax news agency.
Less than an hour later, however, Putin told reporters that he did end up having a brief conversation with Trump.
When asked by journalists whether he had a chance to talk to Trump, Putin said “yes,” Interfax and RT reported. According to RT, Putin added that the chat was “good.” Where and when that talk took place is unclear.
There are so many ways that KKKremlin Caligula is unfit for the job but the absolute lack of gravitas he brings to the world stage and to the rituals we set up to honor each other is perhaps the most mind boggling. The first lady was not much better. She showed up to the somber events dressed like an 8 year old ready for an Easter Egg Hunt and other rites of spring. Her tone deaf ensembles just about take the cake. From the “I don’t care do you?” jacket, to the colonial occupier costumes she wore to visit African nations, right to the fuck me pumps she always wears while tromping around national disaster sites, she’s got one hell of a display of really bad form.
While we wait for Mueller to dosey doe around the absolutely astounding appointment of a radical, radically unqualified Attorney General, I can only hope he’s as good as they say. The massively good news of the weekend was the apparent call to real hearings discussed by incoming Democratic Committee Chairs. Here’s a good list of who they are from WAPO.
I’ve picked the five that will upset the Trump family crime syndicate the most to highlight.
Schiff, 58, represents parts of Los Angeles, including Hollywood and Burbank. As the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, he has been one of Trump’s favorite foils in Congress. Schiff has repeatedly criticized the House’s Russia investigation, which his GOP colleagues conducted, saying it was inadequate.
Now Schiff will get his chance to conduct his own targeted investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign and its ties to Russia. He has said that he wants to look at whether Russians used laundered money for transactions with the Trump Organization. He also wants more information about communications the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., had with his father and others about a June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.
Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Cummings, 67, will likely head the committee that could make life the toughest for the Trump White House because of its broad investigative powers.
Cummings would likely seek Trump’s business tax returns and other company-related financial records. He said he will work to make the president accountable, but will also challenge Republicans to uphold their oversight responsibilities, saying, “I think we as a body can do better.”
The Maryland Democrat, who represents parts of Baltimore city and most of Howard County, has said he would also like the committee to examine prescription drug prices and whether some states have engaged in voter suppression.
“We cannot have a country where it becomes normal to do everything in Trump’s power to stop people from voting,” Cummings said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
He would also seek to bring Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross before the committee to testify about the decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census.
Nadler, 71, has been in Congress since 1992 and has served on the Judiciary Committee for much of that time. He represents a large swath of Trump’s hometown of New York.
He is expected to make one of his first priorities as chairman protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and requesting that Mueller’s materials are preserved in case he is fired. Nadler said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that Matthew Whitaker, whom Trump named acting attorney general last week, “should recuse himself” from Mueller probe because he “expressed total hostilities to the investigation” and “if necessary” the Judiciary Committee will “subpoena” him to appear before the committee
The Judiciary panel would also oversee impeachment proceedings, if Democrats decided to move in that direction. But Nadler has expressed caution about the idea, saying there would have to be “overwhelming evidence” from Mueller and some bipartisan support.
The panel is also expected to look into family separation at the border and the Trump administration’s management of the Affordable Care Act.
Financial Services Committee
Waters, 80, is expected to chair a committee with oversight of banks, insurers and investment firms. She has opposed Republican-led efforts to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and is promising colleagues that she will prioritize protecting consumers from abusive financial practices. The California lawmaker, whose district centers on south Los Angeles County, can also conduct aggressive oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and steps it has taken to reduce enforcement actions against student lenders, pay-day lenders and others.
The president railed against Waters on the campaign trail this year, frequently mentioning her during his rallies. Waters accuses Republicans of serving as Trump’s “accomplices.
In other words, the cavalry is coming. This time it includes native americans, black americans, hispanic americans, women, the glbt community.
Have a peaceful day of remembrance!
What’s in your reading and blogging list today?
Hey, I thought up the post’s title before I saw that tweet…referring to tRumps “squrriel’s nest toupee”…but before we get to a few links on the Orange Turd’s Paris trip, take a look at this thread.
As I said, that thread deserved the full treatment. For serious.
So what has happened today?
Now, here are several tweets for your review:
In honor of Armistice Day, (yesterday) …
Also, a new recording:
The soundscape of the Great War must have been devastating: constant artillery bombardment, rifle shots, fighter planes buzzing overhead and the screams of soldiers encountering gas. But we don’t actually know quite what the World War I sounded like. Magnetic tape didn’t exist yet and recording technology was in its infancy, requiring sound to be mechanically produced using a needle and soft wax or metal. Taking such machines into the field was not practical.
Still, there were people on the front recording. Special units used a technique called “sound ranging” to try and determine where enemy gunfire was coming from. To do so, technicians set up strings of microphones—actually barrels of oil dug into the ground—a certain distance apart, then used a piece of photographic film to visually record noise intensity. The effect is similar to the way a seismometer records an earthquake. Using that data and the time between when a shot was fired and when it hit, they could then triangulate where enemy artillery was located—and adjust their own guns accordingly.
At least one bit of that “sound ranging” film survived the War—the film recording the last few minutes of World War I when the guns finally fell silent at the River Moselle on the American Front. As Richard Connor at Deutsche Welde reports, part of a new exhibit called Making a New World at London’s Imperial War Museum uses those graphic sound waves to recreate the moment the Armistice went into effect and the guns fell silent.
As part of a celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, the museum commissioned the sound production company Coda to Coda to use the film strip of the guns firing away at 10:58 A.M. on November 11, 1918, then going silent when the clock strikes 11, the symbolic moment politicians determined the war would end, to try and recreate what that instant may have sounded like.
More information at the link.
Here is where you can hear the recording:
That link is to the direct Coda to Coda website, it plays the full one minute of the last sounds of WWI.
The Facebook link below does not play the full recording.
One hundred years later, the absence from the orange asshole mouth fuckwad, is overwhelming:
(Hey, the point is he is there in the fucking rain. And he was there on Saturday.)
I guess Putin was the reason he was late?
Read some of the responses to that tweet.
I guess tRump finally did show up for the dinner…coming into the event through the back door…WTF?
You can see all the dignitaries photos, on the red carpet etc., at that Daily Mail link above.
A few more articles:
This is an interesting interview:
Last surviving prosecutor at Nuremberg trials says Trump’s family separation policy is ‘crime against humanity’ | The Independent
The lawyer said it was “painful” when he heard about how the Trump administration had separated more than 2,000 children from their families after they had crossed the US-Mexico border.
Video at the link.
Can you fucking believe this shit?
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government impose criminal liability on correctional facility staff who have sexual contact with people in their custody. These laws recognize that any sexual activity between detainees and detention facility staff, with or without the use of force, is unlawful because of the inherent power imbalance when people are in custody. Yet, one immigration detention center is trying to avoid responsibility for sexual violence within its walls by arguing that the detainee “consented” to sexual abuse.
E.D., an asylum-seeker and domestic violence survivor from Honduras, was sexually assaulted by an employee while she was detained with her 3-year-old child at the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania. At the time of the assault, E.D. was 19 years old.
She filed suit against the detention center and its staff for their failure to protect her from sexual violence, even though they were aware of the risk. The record in the case, E.D. v. Sharkey, shows that her assailant coerced and threatened her, including with possible deportation, while the defendants stood by and made jokes.
Although the employee pled guilty to criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law, the defendants contend that they should not be liable for any constitutional violations. Their argument rests in part on their assessment that the sexual abuse was “consensual” and that they should be held to a different standard because the Berks Family Residential Center is an immigration detention facility rather than a jail or prison.
Read the rest of this disturbing case at the link.
Some updates on the California killer:
And lastly, these few articles that have a tie-in…civil war.
n the 158th year of the American civil war, also known as 2018, the Confederacy continues its recent resurgence. Its victims include black people, of course, but also immigrants, Jews, Muslims, Latinos, trans people, gay people and women who want to exercise jurisdiction over their bodies. The Confederacy battles in favor of uncontrolled guns and poisons, including toxins in streams, mercury from coal plants, carbon emissions into the upper atmosphere, and oil exploitation in previously protected lands and waters.
Its premise appears to be that protection of others limits the rights of white men, and those rights should be unlimited. The Brazilian philosopher of education Paulo Freire once noted that “the oppressors are afraid of losing the ‘freedom to oppress’”. Of course, not all white men support extending that old domination, but those who do see themselves and their privileges as under threat in a society in which women are gaining powers, and demographic shift is taking us to a US in which white people will be a minority by 2045.
More of course, at the link.
Those racist will tell you, the Civil War was strictly over the question of “state’s rights”:
Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said he believed states have a right to nullify federal law, CNN reports. In a campaign speech for his GOP primary run for Iowa Senator, Whitaker touted the need for states to have “political courage” to nullify federal laws. “Now we need to remember that the states set up the federal government and not vice versa. And so the question is, do we have the political courage in the state of Iowa or some other state to nullify Obamacare and pay the consequences for that?” Whitaker said in response to a question at a September 2013 campaign speech. “The federal government’s done a very good job about tying goodies to our compliance with federal programs, whether it’s the Department of Education, whether it’s Obamacare with its generous Medicare and Medicaid dollars and the like… But do I believe in nullification? I think our founding fathers believed in nullification. There’s no doubt about that.” According to a Des Moines Register columnist, Whitaker reportedly made similar remarks about nullification in April 2014 but said he didn’t believed states would do it.
I swear that Whitaker looks like a skinhead/Nazi.
And….at last we come to this:
- The Russian media has published more than 30 articles in the past few days suggesting that America could devolve into a civil wardue to the 2020 election.
- Stories that seek to undermine faith in Western democracy among Russian audiences are a staple of the Russian media, much of which is state-controlled.
- The source for these articles was an opinion piece published by conservative commentator Niall Ferguson, who references a “cultural civil war” but concludes that civil war is not imminent.
- This type of coverage in the Russian media highlights the challenge of contending with information that is distorted to the point of inaccuracy but is not explicitly fake.
The Russian media is obsessed with the American civil war. No, not the one that erupted in 1861 over the secession of the South — the civil war that’s coming with the next US presidential election.
tRump’s 30% are just hateful enough…and armed enough, to actually do something crazy like start a war.
This is all I have for today…btw….Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, he would have been 48 years old. I miss him so fucking much.
This is an open thread.
It has been another insane week in the USA, a third-world country that was once (theoretically) a democracy.
Nowadays, we’re ruled by an senile old man who thinks he’s a tin-pot dictator.
He throws tantrums at idiotic, incomprehensible press conferences and acts like a spoiled child at press scrums as he lumbers toward his helicopter.
He screams at reporters and calls them “enemies of the people,” reserving his most vicious epithets for black women journalists.
The Washington Post: ‘What a stupid question’: Trump demeans three black female reporters in three days.
President Trump has made no secret of his contempt for reporters, whom he calls “fake news” and “enemy of the American people.” He’s also had unkind things to say about women and people who are African American.
This week, he hit a trifecta, singling out three African American women who are journalists. The women — Abby Phillip, April Ryan and Yamiche Alcindor — earned his contempt apparently just for asking him questions.
Trump called one of Phillip’s questions “stupid,” described Ryan as “a loser” and brushed off Alcindor, saying her question was “racist.”
Phillip, a CNN reporter and former Washington Post journalist, drew Trump’s wrath on Friday, after she asked whether he hoped Matthew G. Whitaker, Trump’s appointee as acting attorney general, would “rein in” special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Trump’s presidential campaign.
“What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question,” Trump snapped. He didn’t answer the allegedly “stupid” question, but he did pour more contempt on Phillip. “I watch you a lot,” he said. “You ask a lot of stupid questions.”
He suggested he was considering pulling other reporters’ press credentials to cover the White House, as he did with CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday. Among those he brought up in that context was Ryan.
“You talk about someone who’s a loser,” Trump said of Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks and a contributor to CNN. “She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. She gets publicity and then she gets a pay raise, or she gets a contract with, I think, CNN. But she’s very nasty and she shouldn’t be. You’ve got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect.”
When the “president” is a fucking asshole and a complete moron, he doesn’t deserve anyone’s respect. Just my not-so-humble opinion.
Today, the wannabe dictator is in France where he undoubtedly will make a complete ass of himself in his dealings with foreign leaders and foreign press. And . . . he’s already done it. Is anyone surprised that Trump doesn’t know the difference between the Baltics and the Balkans?
Supposedly Trump is in France in honor of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. He was supposed to travel to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial but he cancelled because it was raining. So now he’ll be sitting in his hotel room, probably tweeting and watching TV.
Max Boot registered his disappointment on Twitter.
Boot wrote at The Washington Post: Trump should use his trip to France to learn a few simple lessons from history.
I am still haunted by my visit 14 years ago to the World War I battlefields of France, from Verdun to the Somme. All those long, neat rows of graves — all those young men struck down in a senseless, inconclusive conflict that claimed 40 million lives. Particularly heartbreaking were the markers commemorating “Soldat Inconnu, Mort Pour la France” (an unknown soldier who died for France) — someone whose identity has been erased from history.
I pray — with no expectation that my prayer will be answered — that President Trump will pause during his visit to France this weekend for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I to contemplate what happened and why. He will have a chance for some sober reflection, if he is capable of it, when he visits the American war cemeteries at Aisne-Marne and Suresnes. But it does not augur well that he will skip President Emmanuel Macron’s Paris Peace Forum,designed to bring together leaders to foster international cooperation.
Macron has been clear-eyed about what caused the Great War: “the leprosy of nationalism.” He warns that the danger of another catastrophe is rising because nationalism has been loosed on the world once again. “The world is fracturing, new disorders are appearing and Europe is tipping almost everywhere toward extremes and again is giving way to nationalism,” Macron said in a televised address. “Those who do not see what is going on around us are sleepwalking. Not me.”
His choice of word — “sleepwalking” — is significant because one of the best new histories of the outbreak of World War I, by the Cambridge University historian Christopher Clark, is called “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914.” One cannot help thinking of the present day when Clark writes of “monarchs and statesmen” such as Kaiser Wilhelm II who “were positively obsessive about the press and spent hours each day poring through cuttings.” Sound like anyone we know? So, too, we can hear contemporary echoes when Clark describes “aggressive ultranationalist organizations whose voices could be heard in all the European capitals,” even though they “represented small, extremist constituencies.” Their aggressive ideology was the kindling that ignited when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.
Trump also picked a fight with French President Macron. Politico:
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday slammed Emmanuel Macron after the French president suggested earlier this week that Europe needs to build a “real European army” to protect itself from Russia, China and the United States.
“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted shortly after landing in Paris to attend a ceremony commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I.
“Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!” the president continued.
Of course Trump had no idea what Macron was actually talking about, but somehow Trump’s delicate feelings were soothed. Politico: Truce in Paris after Trump’s offense at Macron’s EU army pledge.
It was an awkward truce to avert a Twitter war, a day before the big Armistice Day commemoration in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump, meeting at the Élysée Palace on Saturday morning, appeared to smooth over any differences after the visiting American took offense on Friday to comments Macron had made earlier in the week.
Macron, in the interview with Europe 1, had called for the EU to create its own army, “to protect us against China, Russia and even the United States of America,” citing Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
Macron’s comments were perhaps provocative — but not for the reasons cited by Trump. Many other European leaders do not support the idea of an EU army, which many view as an overly integrationist approach to European common security and defense policy. It can be a subject of heated disagreement in Brussels.
Macron told Europe 1: “We will not protect the European if we don’t decide to have a real European army. Faced with Russia, which is at our borders and which showed us that it could be threatening, we must have a Europe that defends itself more on its own, without only depending on the United States and in a more sovereign way.”
He also castigated Trump from withdrawing from the INF treaty. “Who will be the main victim?,” Macron asked. “Europe and its security.”
None of us will ever forget how James Comey kneecapped Hillary Clinton in 2016 because she used a private email server. Well guess what? Comey used his gmail account for FBI business! The New York Post: James Comey discussed sensitive FBI business on his private email.
Fired FBI chief James Comey used his private Gmail account hundreds of times to conduct government business — and at least seven of tho..se messages were deemed so sensitive by the Justice Department that they declined to release them.
The former top G-man repeatedly claimed he only used his private account for “incidental” purposes and never for anything that was classified — and that appears to be true.
But Justice acknowledged in response to a Freedom of Information request that Comey and his chief of staff discussed government business on about 1,200 pages of messages, 156 of which were obtained by The Post.
The Cause of Action Institute, a conservative watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit for Comey’s Gmail correspondence involving his work for the bureau.
The Justice Department responded that there were an eye-popping 1,200 pages of messages for Comey and his chief of staff that met the criteria.
Yes, these are right-wing sources, but the info seems legit.
I’m running out of space, and I haven’t even touched on the subject of Trump’s fake Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Here’s the latest:
Federal investigators last year looked into whether Matthew G. Whitaker, as an advisory board member of a Miami patent company accused of fraud by customers, played a role in trying to help the company silence critics by threatening legal action, according to two people with knowledge of the inquiry.
Whitaker, named this week by President Trump as acting attorney general, occasionally served as an outside legal adviser to the company, World Patent Marketing, writing a series of letters on its behalf, according to people familiar with his role.
But he rebuffed an October 2017 subpoena from the Federal Trade Commission seeking his records related to the company, according to two people with knowledge of the case.
The FTC alleged in a 2017 complaint that the company bilked customers with fraudulent promises that it would help them market their invention. The FBI has also investigated World Patent Marketing, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Whitaker was not named in the FTC complaint. World Patent Marketing, without admitting fault, settled the case for more than $25 million earlier this year, according to court documents.
More on the scam company from The Guardian: Trump’s acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings.
The appointment this week of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general has sparked sharp concerns among lawmakers over the possibility that he may bottle up Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election.
Inside the Department of Justice, however, the fears are more expansive. Whitaker is seen as a rogue and under-qualified new leader whose impact won’t just be felt on the Mueller probe but throughout the federal government.
“He’s a fucking fool,” one trial attorney inside the department said of the new AG. “He’s spent so much time trying to suck up to the president to get here. But this is a big job. It comes with many responsibilities. He just simply doesn’t have the wherewithal.” [….]
“We’ve seen this over and over again with the Trump administration. They never vet these people,” said one former official from the department. “It shows that they don’t really have a strategy when it comes to these things and then they end up having to backtrack.”
Trump has already begun to disown Whitaker. The Washington Post: Trump distances himself from Whitaker amid scrutiny over past comments and business ties.
With the White House scrambling to manage public examination of Whitaker’s background and resistance to his leadership within the Justice Department, Trump sought to douse speculation that he had installed the partisan loyalist to curtail the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump insisted that he had not spoken with Whitaker about the investigation being led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — and the president upbraided a reporter when she asked whether he wanted Whitaker to rein in Mueller. “What a stupid question,” he said.
Defiant and testy as he departed the White House on Friday morning for a weekend visit to Paris, Trump claimed four separate times that he did not personally know Whitaker, who had been serving as chief of staff at the Justice Department.
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Trump told reporters, adding that he knew him only by reputation.
That claim is false, according to the president’s past statements as well as the accounts of White House officials — one of whom laughed Friday at Trump’s suggestion that he did not know Whitaker.
Read more at the link if you missed the “testy” press availability yesterday.
More Whitaker stories, links only:
The New York Times: Matthew Whitaker: An Attack Dog With Ambition Beyond Protecting Trump.
That’s all I’ve got. What stories are you following today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
The nation’s overwhelmed electoral system is still delivering women to Congress and possible recounts.
Remember hanging chads? Well, Florida is about to do it to us again for both the Senate and Gubernatorial races there. Uncounted votes are still out there in Florida and Arizona. This is about as good of a headline as any to start the day. It’s from The Daily Beast and the keyboard of Will Sommer. “Republicans Freak Out as New Ballots Threaten Florida Senate Win”.
As the Republican margin in Florida’s U.S. Senate race narrowed and the contest headed toward a manual recount, everyone from elected Republicans to online conspiracy-mongers began screaming foul on Thursday night.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is clinging to a roughly 34,000-vote lead over Sen. Bill Nelson (D), held a press conference at the Florida governor’s mansion in which he called on law enforcement to launch an investigation and announced that he and the National Republican Senate Committee were bringing a lawsuit against officials in Broward County, where many votes are still being counted.
In other words, the state governor used his state-funded official residence to launch legal action against his own state’s election officials about an election he was a candidate in.
That was merely the formal legal tip of the brewing Republican pushback.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had a social media meltdown, claiming in a long series of tweets that Democratic lawyers had come to Broward to “change the results of the election.”
It’s no wonder Florida gets to be the butt of every national joke. I mean really. Can’t they ever get elections right? From local TV station “local 10”: “Broward County elections supervisor explains why it’s taking so long to count ballots.”
As Broward County appears to be at the epicenter of another recount, Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes is on the defensive about how her office has handled Tuesday’s election results.
Snipes, who has been at the helm of Broward County elections since 2003, had a testy exchange with Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier during an interview Thursday.
The embattled elections supervisor was surprised by reporters as she stepped out of a bathroom and asked about the status of the recount.
“Could I please get a moment to go into the room and find out?” Snipes asked the group huddled around her. “OK, when I come back I’ll let you know.”
“But, Dr. Snipes, it is now Thursday,” Weinsier said. “We are still counting ballots in Broward County.”
“We’re counting five pages or six pages for each of the people who voted,” Snipes said.
“But other counties have been able to do it,” Weinsier said.
“But other counties didn’t have 600,000 votes out there,” Snipes shot back.
“Well, Miami-Dade did,” Weinsier said.
“Well, have you been inside my — never mind, let me go check. I’ll check,” Snipes said.
“But it’s a serious issue. It always seems like…” Weinsier said before Snipes interrupted him.
“It’s a serious issue with me,” she told him. “I’ve been doing this now since Oct. 22.”
“But if it’s a serious issue with you…” Weinsier said, only to be interrupted again.
“We ran 22 sites, we ran 14 days, we ran 12 hours, we had a big vote by mail (during early voting), so don’t try to turn it around to make it seem like I’m making comedy out of this,” Snipes replied.
Then Snipes walked away.
She later confirmed that 205 provisional ballots in the county are being looked at Thursday by a canvassing board.
This isn’t the first time Snipes has come under scrutiny for her office’s seemingly mismanagement of ballots.
The Tampa Bay TImes is live blogging the recount/count events. We finally got rid of Scott Walker. Can we get rid of Rick Scott now?
9:05 — Rick Scott is also suing Palm Beach County. Here’s the lawsuit.
9:00 — Rick Scott filed suit against Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes over the county’s delay in completing its count of the votes from the midterm election. Scott sued as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, not in his capacity as governor of Florida.
Scott followed up by lashing out at Snipes in an extraordinary press conference at the Governor’s Mansion on Thursday night.
Broward County lags the rest of the state in completing the first, crucial phases of counting ballots from Tuesday’s midterm election. As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the same time the governor summoned reporters to the mansion, Broward County was the only one of the state’s 67 counties that had not reported to the state that it had completed its tabulation of early votes. Early voting ended Sunday in Broward.
Read the full recap of Scott’s press conference here.
8:55 — Republican House Speaker-designate Jose R. Oliva today released the following statement:
” I fully support and commend the Governor for directing FDLE to investigate. The power of the vote is only as strong as the trust in the count. With each new ballot ‘found’ that trust erodes.”
8: 46 — Andrew Gillum tweets his response to Rick Scott’s lawsuit.
Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy.
Count every vote.
8:34 — Sen. Bill Nelson responded to Gov. Rick Scott’s late-night announcement through a statement from his spokesman Dan McLaughlin.
“The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.”
8:31 — “I am proud to be the next Senator for the great state of Florida,” Rick Scott said.
Scott ends the press conference without taking any questions.
8:30 — “Some believe this is simply rank incompetence. That is certainly true,” Rick Scott said. But it would be naive to think they are overruling the will of the voters, he adds.
Scott is asking for law enforcement to investigate immediately and he will use every legal options necessary, he said.
This race is tight and will hopefully cut into the Republican’s senate majority when finally called.
Suspense and uncertainty now hang over the supertight U.S. Senate race, which has Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally separated by just 9,610 votes, according to updated election results.
The results were updated after 5 p.m. Thursday, the first time since election night that the tallies had been substantially updated.
Sinema was leading as of 6:20 p.m. She had 932,870 votes,representing 49.10 percent of the total reported votes while McSally had 923,260 votes, or 48.59 percent. Green Party candidate Angela Green had earned 43,838.
It’s too soon to know who will ultimately prevail.
With tens of thousands of outstanding ballots, the campaign managers for both teams conveyed confidence, with each saying the remaining ballots would favor their candidate.
After Sinema’s lead widened Thursday, McSally’s campaign manager, Jim Bognet, predicted Sinema’s lead would “disappear.” In a written statement, he said outstanding ballots in Maricopa County arrived on days when early GOP turnout was higher than the votes reflected in Thursday’s results.
“With half a million ballots left to count we remain confidence that as votes continue to come in from counties across the state, Martha McSally will be elected Arizona’s next Senator,” Bognet said in the statement.
I’m peppering today’s posts with pictures of former First Lady Michelle Obama because her book is out and it’s going on my reading list. Among the things she discusses are her trouble getting pregnant and how awful the placeholder in the oval office behaves. She slams Trump. This is from WAPO and the keyboard of Krissah Thompson.
The first-lady memoir is a rite of passage, but Obama’s is different by virtue of her very identity. “Becoming” takes her historic status as the first black woman to serve as first lady and melds it deftly into the American narrative. She writes of the common aspects of her story and — as the only White House resident to count an enslaved great-great-grandfather as an ancestor — of its singular sweep.
In the 426-page book, Obama lays out her complicated relationship with the political world that made her famous. But her memoir is not a Washington read full of gossip and political score-settling — though she does lay bare her deep, quaking disdain for Trump, who she believes put her family’s safety at risk with his vehement promotion of the false birther conspiracy theory.
“The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” she writes. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”
It is the most direct and personal language she’s used about him. Trump reacted angrily Friday, jabbing his finger as he told reporters that “she got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always insist that you come up with controversy. Well, I’ll give you a little controversy back. I’ll never forgive him for what he did to the United States military by not funding it properly. It was depleted. . . . She talked about safety. What he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you.”
The notoriously private first lady speaks openly about a miscarriage which is a difficult conversation for any woman. It’s perhaps another first step for a first lady who made history with a lot of firsts.
“I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about them,” Obama said. “We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”
She added, “That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen.”
The free press is finding reasons for the Congress to refuse to recognize Mark Whitaker’s take over of the DOJ. I would like to say that I am a Whittaker with two ‘ts’ and it takes two ‘ts’ to get to truth and integrity. Here’s Jonathan Swan writing for Axios.
Matt Whitaker has been acting attorney general for just one full day but he’s already under extreme pressure.
Why it matters: President Trump, who shocked even some of his senior most staff with the hasty timing of his firing of Jeff Sessions, threw Whitaker into an immediate political and legal storm. The White House expected opposition from Democrats but the blowback is widening and now includes a growing body of conservative legal opinion.
He needs to go. Massive protests were held all over the world and the country last night.
Good news for the environment comes from the pen of a Judge. From the Hill “Judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline” The reason is just terrific.
A federal judge blocked the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline Thursday, saying the Trump administration’s justification for approving it last year was incomplete.
In a major victory for environmentalists and indigenous rights groups, Judge Brian Morris of the District Court for the District of Montana overturned President Trump’s permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which the president signed shortly after taking office last year.
Morris’s ruling repeatedly faulted the Trump administration for reversing then-President Obama’s 2015 denial of the pipeline permit without proper explanation. He said the State Department “simply discarded” climate change concerns related to the project.
The decision once again throws into doubt the future of the 1,179-mile Keystone XL, which for much of the decade since its proposal by TransCanada Corp. has been a lightning rod in national energy policy.
The Trump administration had tried to argue that federal courts didn’t even have the right to review Trump’s approval, saying that it extended from his constitutional authority over border crossings. The court rejected that argument.
So there’s a lot out there today in this time of hourly breaking news. We can discuss it down thread. I’m just waiting for January and Auntie Maxine, and Nancy and Elijah and all those banging gavels right now.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Today’s News is overwhelming, so here’s a list of top stories.
1. A Mass shooting in California:
UPDATE: USA Today says shooter identified as David Long, 28, former marine.
A gunman threw smoke bombs and rained bullets on a crowd of hundreds inside a Thousand Oaks bar Wednesday night, killing a dozen people including a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department sergeant who was trying to stop the carnage
Authorities have not yet identified the gunman, who died in the incident, or any of the victims inside the bar.
The gunman was dressed in black when he burst into the Borderline Bar & Grill, a country-music-themed venue that is popular with college students, around 11:20 p.m., according to Sheriff Geoff Dean.
2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg injured and hospitalized.
3. Constitutional Crisis
Yesterday Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed Matt Whitaker, a partisan who could shut down the Mueller investigation, as acting AG. Important reads:
Donald Trump’s new acting attorney general was part of a company accused by the US government of running a multimillion-dollar scam.
Matthew Whitaker was paid to sit on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing, which was ordered in May this year to pay a $26m settlement following legal action by federal authorities, which said it tricked aspiring inventors.
Court filings in the case against World Patent Marketing show that Whitaker received regular payments of $1,875 from the Florida-based company, and sent a threatening email to a victim of the alleged scam.
Whitaker publicly vouched for the company, claiming in a December 2014 statement that they “go beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate those words into action”.
Whitaker, a former US attorney for the southern district of Iowa, said at the time: “I would only align myself with a first-class organization.”
Whitaker’s role in the alleged scam was first reported by the Miami New Times in August 2017, shortly before he joined the Trump administration as a senior aide to Sessions.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the 48-year-old Republican, an ex-prosecutor and failed political candidate who less than two years ago was the head of a little-known conservative nonprofit with designs on a judgeship in his home state of Iowa.
Through that nonprofit, and with the help of a PR firm later tied to a bizarre conspiracy theory, Whitaker ran interference for Sessions at one of the most fraught moments in his tumultuous time as attorney general.
In March 2017, The Washington Post reported that Sessions had neglected to tell the Senate at his confirmation hearing about prior conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.
The attorney general came under blistering criticism, especially as he had not yet recused himself from supervising the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Then Whitaker spoke up. As executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, an organization that served primarily to level ethics complaints against Democrats, he released a statement defending Sessions.
“If we are going to have a national discussion about Senators meeting with ambassadors it is appropriate for all Senators to disclose who they met with so the public, and apparently the media, understand that all Senator Sessions did was his job,” Whitaker said in the statement.
Gee, I wonder why Trump installed Whitaker in the DOJ?
With Whitaker suddenly in charge of the nation’s top law enforcement agency, and poised to disrupt investigations into President Trump’s possible collusion with Russia to steal the presidential election (among other things), we need to know as much as possible about who he is and what he believes.
In 2004, Whitaker was appointed by former President George W. Bush to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. While serving as U.S. Attorney, Whitaker helped launch an extortion investigation into state senator Matt McCoy — then Iowa’s highest-ranking gay official.
But according to McCoy, the extortion charges were nothing but an excuse to target him for his gay rights advocacy in office, which included passing a school anti-bullying measure, fighting a state ban on same-sex marriage, and working to pass anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people in housing and employment. In a 2007 interview with the Advocate, McCoy said Whitaker was behind a campaign to smear him with extortion charges because he was a tireless proponent of LGBTQ rights measures, whereas Whitaker wanted to prove his conservative loyalties.
“Since coming out as an openly gay man, I have been a continuous target of groups targeting gays to advance their own agendas of intolerance and hate,” McCoy told the Advocate. “Clearly, there is significant speculation about what has motivated federal officials to take this action against me.”
Whitaker made his anti-LGBTQ views known most prominently during his 2014 run for Iowa Senate. In an interview with the conservative Christian news site Caffeinated Thoughts, then-candidate Whitaker decried President Obama’s handling of same-sex marriage — which the Supreme Court did not make legal nationwide until June 2015.
More at the link.
Des Moines Register: Matthew Whitaker’s troubling opinion: Judges need a biblical view.
(Rekha Basu column from May, 2014)
If elected to the U.S. Senate, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker says he would only support federal judges who have a Biblical view, and specifically a New Testament view, of justice. “If they have a secular world view, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge,” Whitaker said at an April 25, 2014, Family Leader debate.
Whitaker didn’t return my call to his office, but as a lawyer, one might expect him to know that setting religious conditions for holding a public office would violate the Iowa and U.S. constitutions. He was effectively saying that if elected, he would see no place for a judge of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic or other faith, or of no faith. Yet no one in the audience or on the podium seemed to have a problem with that, and his answer drew applause.
The debate venue had something to do with that. The event was sponsored by the Family Leader, the conservative Christian organization that engineered the ouster by voters in 2010 of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The moderator, blogger Erick Erickson, asked questions designed to compel the four Republican candidates to prove their Christian credentials. And though U.S. senator is a secular office, they mostly obliged.
More on Whitaker:
4. Sarah Huckabee Sanders bans CNN’s Jim Acosta from White House grounds, uses doctored Infowars video to falsely accused Acosta of “putting hands on” WH intern.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders posted a video to Twitter of the clash between CNN’s Jim Acosta and President Donald Trump that appears to be a doctored version shared previously by an editor for conspiracy website InfoWars.
Acosta had his White House pass revoked after an incident in which he sparred verbally with the president and refused to hand over the microphone to a staffer. Acosta is CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent.
The edited footage is speeded up to make it look like Acosta forced the woman’s arm down as she went to grab the mic.
Paul Joseph Watson, a far-right conspiracy theorist and editor-at-large of InfoWars, wrote for the Alex Jones-run website that “Acosta clearly uses his left arm to physically resist/restrain the woman.”
On Twitter, Watson accused Acosta of using his arm “to overpower her” and shared the doctored footage, which zooms in on the reporter’s arm.
The original clip shows the staffer grabbing the mic and attempting to pull it away as Acosta holds on. Her arm meets with Acosta’s hand, which drops with his arm as she tries to pull the mic and turn to hand it to another reporter.
“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video,” Sanders tweeted along with the misleading InfoWars version of the footage.
5. Election Updates
As the United States Senate race in Florida headed to a recount, the governor’s race there on Wednesday morning also looked likely to go to a recount of its own even though Democrat Andrew Gillum, as The New York Times reported, gave a concession speech on Tuesday and Republican Ron DeSantis, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, declared victory.
Though the latest vote count in the race, reported by The Times, showed DeSantis ahead by 55,439 votes, a margin of 0.7 percent — outside the margin of 0.5 percent which would entitle Gillum to demand a recount — according to one report, Gillum’s camp now says that the vote gap between the two candidates is much smaller.
According to April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, Gillum’s representatives as of Wednesday morning said that his losing margin was only about 15,000 votes.
Courage, Sky Dancers! Please share your thoughts and links to stories on any topic in the comment thread.
We can turn this shit around!
Hey, I know…that is a little too positive, coming from someone like me…but even I have to grasp at some rays of hope. Yesterday, on my way to practice I took a picture of the sunset. It made me think of the future, in this way:
I said a little prayer, may this setting sun be the last of “tRumpian unaccountability”…and will tomorrow’s morning sun bring hope for our democracy.
That image of Tank Girl, it is morning…she is having tea and putting on her boots…preparing herself for the day’s ass kicking. We can turn this shit around! Let’s see what comes from winning the House?
Meanwhile, in Georgia:
As of 8:45 this morning, only 75,386 votes separate Kemp and Abrams…
The Democrat Stacey Abrams, a black woman, made a valiant effort to win the governor’s race in Georgia, one of the original 13 states, whose commitment to human bondage ensured that the U.S. Constitution would treat slavery with kid gloves. A state that was part of the Confederacy. A state scorched by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Civil War. A state that refused to accept the outcome of that war, treating its black residents as second-class citizens—if that—until the federal government forced its hand, a century later, with the Voting Rights Act. She tried to write a new narrative for this state.
Although Abrams has not yet conceded, citing uncounted ballots, it looks as though the other side has won, and the narrative is the same as ever. Abrams didn’t have to fight just an electoral campaign; she had to fight a civil-rights campaign against the forces of voter suppression.
Indeed, I can’t quite bring myself to say that Abrams “lost,” because there’s an asterisk next to her Republican opponent’s victory.
Brian Kemp, who billed himself as a “Trump conservative,” refused to step aside as Georgia’s secretary of state; he ran for governor of a state while overseeing the elections in that state. Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgian with much experience monitoring elections abroad, stressed that this conflict of interest ran “counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections—that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority.” Kemp had no intention of relinquishing a post he has held since 2010, and often wields as a weapon to cull Georgia’s electorate. He understood that he would need every trick in the book because he was up against a woman who, in addition to serving as the minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, founded a formidable voter-registration organization, the New Georgia Project.[…]Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls, eliminating 10.6 percent of voters from the state’s registered electorate from 2016 to 2018 alone. The state shut down 214 polling places, the bulk of them in minority and poor neighborhoods. From 2013 to 2016 it blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens. Georgia accomplished this feat of disfranchisement based on a screening process called “exact match,” meaning the state accepted new registrations only if they matched the information in state databases precisely, including hyphens in names, accents, and even typos.[…]Days before the deadline to register for the November election, the Associated Press reported that Kemp had put 53,000 applicants on hold due to exact-match problems. An analysis of Kemp’s records found that 70 percent of those applicants were black. (Georgia is roughly 32 percent black.) Separately, the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union found that some 700 absentee-ballot applications and almost 200 absentee ballots were rejected by county officials due to a law mandating that the signatures on absentee applications and ballots visually match the signatures on file. Thus, poor penmanship was added to the list of crimes that can lead to disenfranchisement in Georgia.[…]
In the end, it looks like Kemp won. It’s impossible to know if his attempts to restrict the franchise are what pushed him over the line. But if the Georgia race had taken place in another country—say, the Republic of Georgia—U.S. media and the U.S. State Department would not have hesitated to question its legitimacy, if for no other reason than Kemp’s dual roles as candidate and election overseer. Of course, there were other reasons. As of this morning, he led by about 75,000 votes; more than 85,000 registrations were canceled through August 1 of this year alone.
Stacy Abrams is vowing not to concede until all votes are counted. I think she should demand a recount…as well.
This is a good thread to round up the tRump effect:
From down along this thread:
This piece of shit is gone:
On that note, here are a few cartoons:
I think Boston Boomer had this in one of her post, but it is so good I have to repeat it:
I wonder what the rest of today will bring?
See you in the comments…this is an open thread.