Lazy Caturday Reads: Another Insane Week Draws to a ClosePosted: November 10, 2018
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?