Monday Reads: How much more of this can Our Country Take?Posted: January 28, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?