Monday Reads: How much more of this can Our Country Take?

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’ve found that writing our usual Monday Morning news round up has gone far far far beyond my usual gasping “What fresh hell is this?” as I search the usual sites for issues and policies that impact our daily lives.  I think we can safely say that no one left at the White House has a clue about governance, foreign policy, or economics and could care less. It’s all about their wealth and personal grievances against a secular democracy.

The pandering to religious nutters has gotten worse and any grasp on reality outside of reaction to the usual boob tube suspects has gone way beyond the obsession stage with Unindicted Individual #1.  There is clear and present danger in nearly all the headlines involving what is supposed to be our President and what he does every moment.  He’s clearly incompetent, thuggish, and ignorant beyond words.

There are a number of accounts of West Wing life that continue to stun me although I’m rarely surprised by the new heights of stupidity and the new low of corruptness and personal greed. It’s just really hard to know where to start and even my morning cuppa doesn’t bring relief to the massive feeling of panic that I get thinking this is a nightmare that will never end.

There are so many nightmarish headlines today that I can’t believe I’m reading them in real newspapers and that I’m actually awake.

Trump loves him some uneducated people and this ought to rock their world: “Trump offers encouragement for state efforts to teach Bible literacy in public schools”.  Great more ignorance from the iron ages!  Just what we need!  What’s next?  The department of Inquisitors?

President Trump gave his blessing Monday to lawmakers in several states who are pushing legislation to allow Bible literacy classes in public schools.

“Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible,” Trump wrote in a morning tweet. “Starting to make a turn back? Great!”

Last week, there was this in Slate: “The Trump Administration Will Let Adoption Agencies Turn Away Jews and Same-Sex Couples. Thank SCOTUS.”The Trump Administration Will Let Adoption Agencies Turn Away Jews and Same-Sex Couples. Thank SCOTUS.”

Then, there’s this from the AP: “Trump rollbacks for fossil fuel industries carry steep cost”.

As the Trump administration rolls back environmental and safety rules for the energy sector, government projections show billions of dollars in savings reaped by companies will come at a steep cost: more premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution, a jump in climate-warming emissions and more severe derailments of trains carrying explosive fuels.

The Associated Press analyzed 11 major rules targeted for repeal or relaxation under Trump, using the administration’s own estimates to tally how its actions would boost businesses and harm society.

The AP identified up to $11.6 billion in potential future savings for companies that extract, burn and transport fossil fuels. Industry windfalls of billions of dollars more could come from a freeze in vehicle efficiency standards that will yield an estimated 79 billion-gallon (300 million-liter) increase in fuel consumption.

On the opposite side of the government’s ledger, buried in thousands of pages of analyses, are the “social costs” of rolling back the regulations. Among them:

— Up to 1,400 additional premature deaths annually due to the pending repeal of a rule to cut coal plant pollution.

— An increase in greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 billion tons (907 million metric tons) from vehicles produced over the next decade — a figure equivalent to annual emissions of almost 200 million vehicles.

— Increased risk of water contamination from a drilling technique known as “fracking.”

— Fewer safety checks to prevent offshore oil spills.

For the Trump administration and its supporters, the rule changes examined by AP mark a much-needed pivot away from heavy regulations that threatened to hold back the Republican president’s goal of increasing U.S. energy production. But the AP’s findings also underscore the administration’s willingness to put company profits ahead of safety considerations and pollution effects.

Silly thing about all this is that we don’t need this and the world definitely is moving away from it all.

And, as planned, The Treasury has lifted sanctions punishing Russians oligarchs for their attack on our elections. Money over country should be this administration’s chant.

The Trump administration on Sunday lifted sanctions against the business empire of Oleg V. Deripaska, one of Russia’s most influential oligarchs.

Congressional Democrats had tried to block the move this month, assailing it as a capitulation to the Kremlin and a key ally of President Vladimir V. Putin. But they failed to win enough Republican support to enforce the sanctions.

The Treasury Department had announced the sanctionsagainst Mr. Deripaska, six other oligarchs and their companies in April as retaliation for Russia’s “malign activity” around the world.

Most of the sanctions went into effect, including against Mr. Deripaska personally. But their implementation was repeatedly delayed against Mr. Deripaska’s giant aluminum company, Rusal, as well as two linked firms, including EN+, the holding company that owned much of Rusal. The companies financed a sophisticated legal and lobbying campaign arguing that the sanctions would disrupt the aluminum market and damage companies in the United States and allied countries.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, was sensitive to that argument. He clarified that the goal of the sanctions was “to change the behavior” of Mr. Deripaska, and “not to put Rusal out of business,” given the company’s pivotal role as a global supplier of aluminum.

The Treasury Department announced a deal last month to lift the sanctions in exchange for a restructuring that it said would reduce Mr. Deripaska’s control and ownership of the companies.

Yet a confidential, legally binding document detailing the agreement showed that Mr. Deripaska and his allies would retain majority ownership of EN+.

Headline after headline is just about one scam or constitutional crisis or foreign policy crisis or economic harbinger of doom after another. It’s like the entire newsfeed is filled with “Man bites Dog” headlines and the mad dog is Trump biting our entire country. Did you ever think you would see such criminal behavior so flagrantly flaunted in public? It’s not just criminal though, and it’s just not aimed at taking the country to third world status, it’s about handing what power we have over to international thug countries!

But a detailed look at the timeline of the week following the end of the Republican National Convention — from July 22 to July 27 — reveals that amid widespread skepticism of Trump’s presidential bid,  Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone embarked on a desperate push to get more information on what emails Wikileaks, which dropped its first tranche on July 22, had at its disposal.

The push, according to an indictment unveiled Friday against Stone, came after an unnamed Trump campaign official was directed by an unknown person to contact Stone “about any additional releases and what other damaging information” Wikileaks “had regarding the Clinton campaign.” Thus began a months-long backchannel between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks via Stone.

But one day after the close of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, it was a different time. Wikileaks had just begun to publish damaging emails showing the internal deliberations of Democratic National Committee staffers during the 2016 primary. The emails dropped the Friday before the Democratic convention was set to begin the following Monday.

Trump himself and those in his inner circle rushed to highlight the divisions within the Democratic Party exposed by the Wikileaks dump, just as the party headed into its national convention. The GOP nominee both scoffed at the idea that Russia was behind the leaks, while continuing to tout his warm feelings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and support for policy positions advanced by the Russian leader.

Sometime after the July 22 email release, “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE” about what else Wikileaks had, according to the Stone indictment.

The number of people in a position to direct a senior campaign official — apart from the candidate — is extremely limited.

It is also not clear when exactly that direction was handed down to the official. But “thereafter,” Stone “told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material” from Wikileaks, the indictment says.

By July 25, Stone had begun via email hassling “Person 1,” as the indictment dubs the individual who appears to be far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, about establishing contact with Assange and getting “the pending” Wikileaks emails …”they deal with Foundation, allegedly.” Corsi forwarded Stone’s message to Ted Malloch, a London-based conservative writer, and Stone’s outreach to Corsi about Assange would continue through late July and August.

During that same initial weekend, Trump ramped up his promotion of the material released by Wikileaks and specifically sought to convince Bernie Sanders’ support not to support Hillary Clinton.

This a truly horrifying narrative of treacherous actions met to bring a Russian Asset to the Presidency.  That’s from the legal documents standpoint. The most recent tell all stories are even more damning than we thought!  This is from this morning’s Atlantic: “An Obscure White House Staffer’s Jaw-Dropping Trump Tell-All. In Team of Vipers, Cliff Sims recounts his year and a half in a West Wing “out of control.” It’s overshadowing Chris Christie’s stories even.  The stories of Trump’s “best and brightest” are almost as horrifying as the stories on Trump himself.  These people clearly did not get anything from their vast bible literacy.

At times, Sims witnessed fellow staffers—Conway chief among them—take swipes at each other behind their backs. He calls Conway a “cartoon villain brought to life” who bad-mouthed colleagues to multiple reporters by the hour. He credits Stephen Miller’s survival to the speechwriter’s ability to play both sides of the “globalist/nationalist” divide in the White House. While the then–chief strategist Steve Bannon viewed Miller as his “right-wing protege,” his ideological ally against the so-called globalists, Miller was cultivating a close relationship with perhaps the globalist in chief, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Sims writes of listening in on Miller “plung[ing] the knife” into Bannon’s back and “twisting it with relish” during a conversation with the president. “Your polling numbers are actually very strong considering Steve won’t stop leaking to the press and trying to undermine Jared,” Miller said, according to Sims. “If Steve wasn’t doing that, I bet you’d be ten points higher.”

He also watched as senior officials privately laughed off many of the president’s stranger requests. In his first few days as director of the National Economic Council, Sims writes, Larry Kudlow emerged from a meeting with the president looking flustered. He told Gary Cohn, his predecessor, that Trump ordered him to “stop” a “special deal” that he believed Amazon was getting from the U.S. Postal Service. “Gary laughed loudly,” Sims writes. “‘Welcome to the White House,’ [Cohn] said, shaking Larry’s hand … ‘It’s total bulls—.’” Cohn explained that Amazon was not, in fact, getting “some special deal.” “He’s just mad at [Jeff] Bezos for owning The Washington Post.”

“‘So’ Larry replied hesitantly, ‘I shouldn’t do anything about this?’” Sims writes that Cohn told Kudlow not to bother, adding, “But now you know why I’m so happy to be leaving.”

Perhaps the liveliest pages of Sims’s book recount Anthony Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as communications director, when he maintained a singular focus on rooting out the leakers. Sims writes of a morning that Scaramucci gathered the full communications staff. His goal was to motivate them against leaking to the press. He tried to do so using a “horrifying” technique: role-playing. He pulled a young staffer on the regional media team to the front of the room, “probably the last person in the room who would ever leak anything,” Sims writes.

“Okay, Tyler, I’ll be Reince Priebus and you be you,” Scaramucci said. The “Mooch” then assumed the role of Priebus, who was chief of staff at the time: “Tyler, I need you to leak something for me.”

After a brief silence, a distressed-looking Tyler responded robotically, “I cannot do that.” Mooch twirled his finger in a circle, Sims writes, prompting him to continue. “I cannot do that,” Tyler reiterated. “I report to Anthony Scaramucci and he reports directly to the president of the United States.” “Perfect!” said the Mooch, who was beaming.

I have no plans to even read the Christie book but if it fingers Kushner and his Daddy-in-law I will stand and applaud.

Christie wrote that Trump told him, “This Russia thing is all over now, because I fired Flynn.”

The former New Jersey governor, a close Trump ally, told the president, “’Sir … this Russia thing is far from over,” he wrote.

“What do you mean?” Trump reportedly responded. “Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.”

Kushner chimed in then, according to Christie, saying, “That’s right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing.”

Christie in the book wrote that the conversation was “naïve,” according to the Times.

Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has lasted for more than a year.

In that time, more than two dozen Russian nationals and entities have been charged for their alleged efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and Mueller has indicted individuals with ties to the Trump campaign and administration.

Flynn was forced to resign early in the Trump administration over revelations about his communication with a Russian ambassador to the United States. The former national security adviser has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians.

“Flynn was a train wreck from beginning to end,” Christie wrote in the new book, according to the Times.

It seems that the majority of Americans have finally realized they’re trapped in a nightmare.  The problem is if the Republicans in the beltway will end it.

Needless to say, the poll numbers showing Trump cratering amid his handling of the shutdown will not pierce that bubble. And that makes a disastrous outcome in the next round more likely.

First, let’s look at the new Post-ABC polling. Some highlights:

  • 57 percent rate Trump’s handling of border security negatively, a remarkable indictment of Trump on his signature issue.
  • 61 percent say Trump is not honest or trustworthy.
  • 58 percent say Trump lacks the personality and temperament to serve effectively as president.
  • 56 percent say Trump has not brought needed change to Washington.
  • 65 percent say Trump does not understand the problems of people like them.
  • 58 percent say Trump is not good at making political deals.
  • 64 percent do not have a lot of confidence that Trump will make the right decisions for the country’s future.

A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll reports similar findings across the board.

Trump has gotten so whack that he’s now going after Fox News and Anne Coulter.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to take a rare jab at Fox News.

“Never thought I’d say this but I think @johnrobertsFox and @GillianHTurner @FoxNews have even less understanding of the Wall negotiations than the folks at FAKE NEWS CNN & NBC!” Trump wrote. “Look to final results! Don’t know how my poll numbers are so good, especially up 19% with Hispanics?”

While it is unclear exactly what prompted Trump’s tweet, on Sunday Fox News correspondent Gillian Turner joined John Roberts — who was filling for Chris Wallace — for a panel discussion on Fox News debating the winners and losers of the shutdown fight. At one point in the conversation, which included repeated reference to Trump’s wall, Turner said the president “fell on his sword on the wall issue.”

The Coulter attack was even more churlish and childish. That’s a pair of sociopath headline grabbers just made for each other, isn’t it?

President Donald Trump slammed Ann Coulter in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Sunday.

“I hear she’s become very hostile,” Trump said about Coulter, who has taken jabs of her own recently at Trump.

The president added: “Maybe I didn’t return her phone call or something.”

On Friday, Coulter called Trump a “wimp” after learning the temporary shutdown deal did not include money for the wall.

“Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States,” Coulter wrote on Twitter.

The big question is can we last that long?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

52 Comments on “Monday Reads: How much more of this can Our Country Take?”

  1. NW Luna says:

    “Bible Literacy classes” So they are also going to teach Torah, Koran, and the Pali Canon literacy classes? That’s what church, synagogue, temple etc are for! As for prayer in schools, you can already pray all you want — silently.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Trump is the perfect example of an ill informed public who has less understanding of how government works than he does.

    Most people under a certain age do no realize there are 3 equal branches of government. Most people of a certain age do not wholly comprehend the 2 branches of congress. Most people have very little understanding of how a bill wends it way through committee. Most people could not tell you why there is an Electoral College or why it still exists. Most people have little understanding of the difference between federal and state employment. Most people have little comprehension of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Most people do not understand the number of deaths and sacrifices it took to maintain this fragile democracy. Most people are consumed by celebrity.

    Fewer people read books or newspapers. They are unable to differentiate from journalism and opinion. History for them is a matter of perhaps 20 years ago if that. We seem to have lost a sense of outrage in what is being done to us by elected officials and high end donors with special interests. Commonsense has almost disappeared.

    Truth seems to matter less and less. Truth seekers are becoming the minority. Cynicism has overridden trust and we seem to be fine with that. Tribalism has replaced the common good.

    Trump is not an anomaly, He is the symptom that reflects a deliberately ill informed electorate that turned out in droves to cast their votes for this ignoramus.

    How do we overcome this? I seriously doubt we ever will. “Teaching” comes from the home first followed by the classroom where the foundation of this nation is barely mentioned. That along with social media that has captured the minds so effectively it is difficult to see a change coming any time soon.

    We are becoming a nation of “Know Nothings” and proud of it. It is what brought us this fool.

    • teele says:

      Pat, you are spot on with that analysis. I just finished reading “The Fifth Risk,” and my blood ran cold as I realized that behind the tweets and the theatricality, this idiot is systematically destroying our government, in a way that we probably cannot recover from. Behind the scenes, the people who collect massive amounts of data that is used by all kinds of different businesses, the people who fund medical research, science research, and innovation, are all being replaced by Ayn Rand/Jesus fanboyz who couldn’t find their asses with both hands and a mirror. Or are being driven out and not replaced at all. The scene is being set for total collapse of our government and way of life, and most people will perceive that catastrophe as sudden and unforeseeable.

      But her effin’ e-mails…

    • dakinikat says:

      I dunno. His base seems to be a group of old white people that missed the entire civil rights era or something. I’m not sure it’s so much education now as it was segregation and churches then.

      • Enheduanna says:

        As an old white person who remembers “colored” waiting rooms in health clinics, I can attest to the whiteness of my upbringing. The only black person at my elementary school was the (much beloved) janitor, Mr Fred and one very elegant advanced class teacher – she could have been Anita Hill as far as appearance.

        I wasn’t raised to be a bigot but I have had to learn empathy for black and brown people – it just hardly existed in Florida in 1965. I live in a very diverse neighborhood now and it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me.

        Brokaw is just incredibly blind to his privilege. I hope they ditch him or he chooses to go away. It reminds me of a show Chris Mathews had with the brilliant idea to resurrect Dick Cavet – it did not go well. His misogyny made a bone-headed appearance.

        There should be diversity classes for these guys…

  3. TokyoSand says:

    The evidence that Kushner doesn’t have a clue about politics keeps adding up, doesn’t it. Sooo glad he’s the de facto Chief of Staff. (eyeroll)

    • dakinikat says:

      I have yet to see him have a clue about anything except the a fortunate birth and marrying a woman whose entire family is crime syndicate like his dad ran that’s not jailed yet.

  4. Enheduanna says:

    So Dump cannot have been happy about the Press reporting how subservient he was to Coulter. Watching those two go at each other is a guilty pleasure.

  5. Enheduanna says:

    Hope everyone is nice and warm – it’s 54 in ATL and gorgeous. Tomorrow we get some rain/snow and then down to 22 (above zero).

    Hope you guys up north get through this comfortably. Dump will say see no global warming – when these polar vortexes are caused by global warming. Idjit.

    • Joanelle says:

      Welcome to our world, Enheduanna, We’re having a heat wave here in northern NJ, the current temp is 27 above.

      • Enheduanna says:

        Yeah – that 22 degrees is a nighttime low temp. We’re still in the 40s during the day. For some reason ATL seems to dodge all the nasty weather happening everywhere. I feel very lucky.

    • teele says:

      Enjoy! I am in Michigan, where about 6 inches of an expected 10 – 12 inches of snow has fallen so far today. And our high on Wednesday is expected to be 0 degrees F. Only way to stay nice and warm here is to stay indoors (I wish).

  6. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      I was hoping maybe he was a mole for our side – being that he and Mueller are very good friends.

  7. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Emotional intelligence? Really. I’m skeptical. Bosses will need to be very different people from what they are now to value that aspect.

  8. dakinikat says:

    The Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion cut tax package appeared to have no major impact on businesses’ capital investment or hiring plans, according to a survey released a year after the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years.

    The National Association of Business Economics’ (NABE) quarterly business conditions poll published on Monday found that while some companies reported accelerating investments because of lower corporate taxes, 84 percent of respondents said they had not changed plans. That compares to 81 percent in the previous survey published in October.

    The White House had predicted that the massive fiscal stimulus package, marked by the reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, would boost business spending and job growth. The tax cuts came into effect in January 2018.

    • quixote says:

      If I remember right, the “White House had predicted” the same excuse to give money to their rich buddies ever since Laffer had the “brain”wave of using “jobs!” as a cover for the agenda.

      The only reaason it ever worked is not because people are stupid enough to believe it. It’s because they’re stupid enough to think they’re only temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

    • NW Luna says:

      Told. Them. So.

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Howard Schultz is not a “centrist.” He wants to cut Social Security, Medicare and other safety net programs, and he’s using the Nixon phrase “silent majority.” What a fucking asshole. I can’t see how he will compete with Democrats.

    • dakinikat says:

      No wonder he mentioned he was going to represent “the silent majority” …. kinda sounds familiar!

    • NW Luna says:

      “both parties” Ahem, no. Just no. Besides, you wrecked what Starbucks was and spread overpriced coffee like it’s a plague. Even if you’re not as bad as Trump, we don’t need another businessman trying to run a country like a business.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Leaders actually doing good! US politicians we don’t have to wince at and be ashamed of. Damn. Seems like another world now.

  12. dakinikat says:

  13. dakinikat says:

  14. NW Luna says:

    GOP senators propose repealing estate tax, which is expected to be paid by fewer than 2,000 Americans a year

    Three Republican Senators introduced a plan Monday to repeal the federal estate tax, moving to eliminate a tax on a small number of the wealthiest households just as leading Democrats ramp up calls to tax the richest Americans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-SD), members of the Senate Finance Committee, in releasing legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, which conservatives refer to as “the death tax.”

    The Republican tax law passed in 2017 already dramatically weakened the estate tax, allowing couples with $22 million to pass on their estates without facing the tax.

    In 2018, following the GOP tax law, only 5,000 taxpayers were expected to file estate tax returns, according to projections by the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, an organization of estate attorneys, based on Internal Revenue Service data. About 1,700 families are expected to actually pay the tax annually, said Howard Gleckman, a tax expert with the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

  15. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      This makes me want to cry

      • quixote says:

        Just keep thinking about all the young women who thought Bernie was cool while all the old crones, for whom it personally didn’t matter anymore, tried to warn them.

        I know. Not the first time. Nobody listened to Cassandra either.

        • dakinikat says:

          I’ve always identified with Cassandra. I wrote a short story about her in like 7th grade.

        • NW Luna says:

          The first time I read about Cassandra I could not understand why no one listened to her.

          • quixote says:

            Yeah. It takes living it to see that that’s indeed how it works. Can’t say I *understand* it even now, but I’m not so much as surprised at this point.

          • NW Luna says:

            I actually had put “and I still don’t understand” then deleted it because it’s of course because she’s female. Otherwise he would have been a great prophet.

    • NW Luna says:

      It’s more important than ever that the states ensure women’s right to bodily autonomy.

  16. bostonboomer says:

  17. OG says:

    Another fun day in paradise. I am all ready for a two hour, two inch snowstorm tomorrow. Temperature will be in the forties all afternoon after it us over. Governor Kemp has closed all states offices so traffic can flow between all six snowflakes expected to fall. Brrr tonight. Down to 22 before dawn.

  18. NW Luna says: