Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: February 2, 2019 Filed under: Cats, Foreign Affairs, morning reads, racism, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bandy X. Lee, Concord Management and Consulting, Donald Trump, Justin Fairfax, Ralph Northam, Robert E Lee, Robert Mueller, slavery, Stonewall Jackson 37 Comments
There is so much news this morning that it’s difficult to know what to focus on. I guess I’ll begin with the followup to the story Dakinikat wrote about in yesterday’s post–Trump’s horrifying decision to withdraw from the INF treaty. This was nothing but a gift to Trump’s puppet master Putin–did they coordinate this?
Associated Press: Russia to pull plug on nuclear arms pact after US does same.
MOSCOW (AP) — Following in the footsteps of the U.S., Russia will abandon a centerpiece nuclear arms treaty but will only deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles if Washington does so, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.
U.S. President Donald Trump accused Moscow on Friday of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with “impunity” by deploying banned missiles. Trump said in a statement that the U.S. will “move forward” with developing its own military response options to Russia’s new land-based cruise missiles that could target Western Europe.
The collapse of the INF Treaty has raised fears of a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent. Such weapons were seen as particularly destabilizing as they only take a few minutes to reach their targets, leaving no time for decision-makers and raising the likelihood of a global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning.
After the U.S. gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the treaty in six months, Putin said that Russia would do the same. He ordered the development of new land-based intermediate-range weapons, but emphasized that Russia won’t deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the U.S. does so.
“We will respond quid pro quo,” Putin said. “Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty and will do the same. They have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly.”
“Quid pro quo?” Is that shade from Putin? Because it’s obvious as this point that Trump is checking off everything on Putin’s wish list in order to repay him for the 2016 election and likely promises that he’ll eventually get that Trump Tower in Moscow.
And it’s not just the 2016 election. Natasha has a revealing post up at The Atlantic this morning on Robert Mueller’s latest court filing: Russia Is Attacking the U.S. System From Within.
A new court filing submitted on Wednesday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed that a Russian troll farm currently locked in a legal battle over its alleged interference in the 2016 election appeared to wage yet another disinformation campaign late last year—this time targeting Mueller himself.
According to the filing, the special counsel’s office turned over one million pages of evidence to lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting as part of the discovery process. The firm is accused of funding the troll farm, known as the Internet Research Agency. But someone connected to Concord allegedly manipulated and leaked those documents to reporters, hoping the documents would make people think that Mueller’s evidence against the troll farm and its owners was flimsy. The tactic didn’t seem to convince anyone, but it appeared to mark yet another example of Russia exploiting the U.S. justice system to undercut its rivals abroad….
When Mueller indicted Concord Management and Consulting in February 2018, along with two other corporate entities and 13 Russian nationals allegedly connected to the Internet Research Agency, it seemed highly unlikely that the indictment would result in a trial because Russians cannot be extradited to the United States. But Concord unexpectedly hired the well-connected American law firm, Reed Smith, to fight Mueller, arguing that the charges should be dropped because the special counsel was illegally appointed. The judge in the case, Dabney Friedrich, has twice refused to dismiss the case and recently lambasted Concord’s American lawyers for submitting “unprofessional, inappropriate and ineffective” court filings, and the legal battle has raged on.
Now, according to the Mueller filing this week, unidentified actors working out of Russia appear to have weaponize the U.S. discovery process to Concord’s benefit. Over 1,000 files on the website that hosted the leaked documents “match those produced in discovery,” the special counsel said. The documents were published from a computer with a Russian IP address, according to Mueller, and whoever released them clearly “had access to at least some of the non-sensitive discovery produced by the government.” But forged documents were mixed in to the trove, too, apparently in an attempt to accuse Mueller of characterizing American websites and Facebook pages like Occupy Democrats as Russian disinformation operations. The website also inserted irrelevant documents into the unique folder names—known only to those with access to the discovery materials—and characterized them as the sum-total of Mueller’s evidence “in an apparent effort to discredit the investigation,” the special counsel said.
It’s complicated, so I hope you’ll go read the rest at The Atlantic.
Yesterday, the The Virginian-Pilot broke the news that Governor Ralph Northam included a racist photo of himself and another man in his medical school yearbook. I’m not going to post the photo; I’m sure you’ve seen it by now.
Ralph Northam admits he’s in “clearly racist” photo; vows to serve out term amid calls for resignation.
A photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook shows him and another person in racist costumes — one wearing blackface and one a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood, though it was not clear which person was the future governor.
Hours after the 35-year-old photo came to light Friday, Northam apologized for his decision to appear in it. Elected officials and activist groups from across the political spectrum called for him to resign.
But in a video posted to Twitter Friday evening, Northam said he had spent the past year “fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people” and he would continue to do so throughout the rest of his term, which ends in January 2022.
Northam admitted that he appears in the photo, but for some reason did not say which of the costumed men he is. It’s obvious he is going to have to step down, but as of this morning he’s apparently still hanging on. Multiple Democratic politicians, including former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe have called for his resignation.
Shortly after this news broke, CBS New reported that the yearbook also lists a racist nickname for Northam, who was 25 years old at the time.
CBS News uncovered a page from Northam’s yearbook at the Virginia Military Institute that had nicknames listed underneath his name. One of them was “Coonman,” a racial slur.
Northam has to go, but the upside of this is that his Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax is a rising star and would be Virginia’s second black governor if Northam resigns. The Washington Post:
Justin Fairfax is an Ivy League-educated lawyer descended from slaves, who as lieutenant governor of Virginia was known mostly for sitting out tributes to Confederate leaders in the historic Capitol in Richmond.
He could now become the commonwealth’s 74th governor, if fellow Democrat Ralph Northam resigns over a racist photo he included in his medical school yearbook in 1984.
Fairfax, 39, was elected as Northam’s deputy in the 2017 blue wave in which Democrats won all three statewide offices and picked up 15 seats in the House of Delegates.
He would be the second African American governor of Virginia, following L. Douglas Wilder, who held the office from 1990 to 1994. Only two other African Americans have been governors in modern U.S. history.
Read more about Northam’s background at the WaPo. Also check out this powerful piece at the Root: Justin Fairfax, The King of Confederate Shade, Shuts Down 100-Year Tribute to American Traitors.
For more than 100 years, the Virginia State Senate has had a little tradition, where they honor Confederate “heroes” Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee at the close of a Senate session sometime near the birthdays of two men. Now if you didn’t take Treason 101 in high school, you probably missed the part where Jackson and Lee were part of the Confederacy that broke away from the United States and started the Civil War by firing on Fort Sumter. Perhaps you also didn’t learn that Robert E. Lee, as head of the Confederate Army, is responsible for more American deaths than the Nazis, The Vietcong, ISIS, the LAPD, Cobra, Hydra, and high blood pressure.
The point is, at the time and by modern standards, Jackson and Lee were horrible men. They also happen to have birthdays very close to each other (Jackson, January 21; Lee, January 19) and Jackson occasionally shares a birthday with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Consequently, for years, on or around the birthdays of these two Confederates, a member of the Virginia Senate would announce, “I would like to adjourn in honor of General Lee or Stonewall Jackson.”
The Senate would agree, someone would take the podium to speak a couple of words, and then everyone would break for orange slices and Mint Julip Capri-Suns. All of this has gone off without a hitch for decades, even after the first African Americans got elected to the Virginia Senate; even after the state adopted the ridiculous Lee-Jackson-King Holiday from 1984 to 2000; even after Virginia elected its first black governor, Doug Wilder, from 1990-1994. However, Justin Fairfax didn’t come to Richmond to play footsie with Confederates and he is very much his great-grandfather’s child….
Since being elected Lt. Governor of Virginia in 2017, Fairfax has served as the president of the state Senate and has quietly left the podium whenever state senators have attempted to honor Stonewall or Lee at the end of the session. He did it last Friday when a Republican senator stepped up to honor Robert E. Lee. The reasons are obvious. First, no one should be honoring American traitors in a government building, no matter where that traitor was born. Secondly, Justin Fairfax, a man who literally took his oath of office with his three-greats-ago grandfather’s Freedom papers in his pocket, knows history and knows power.
It sounds like Fairfax would do just fine as governor; he was expected to run in 2021 after Northam completed his term-limited governorship anyway.
I’m post a few more important reads in the comment thread, but I want to call attention to this one from Raw Story: ‘Incredibly dangerous’: Yale psychiatrist warns Trump will resort to ‘extreme measures’ as Mueller closes in.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump declared that he was not concerned about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
He claimed that departing Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had told him he was not a person of interest in the investigation.
“He told the attorneys that I’m not a subject, I’m not a target,” Mr. Trump told the New York Times.
Nevertheless, the probe seems to be circling closer to the president and his family. The arrest of long-time Trump ally Roger Stone—and wording in his indictment that suggested he’d been directed to perform criminal acts by a more senior campaign official—spurred discussion that Donald Trump Jr. or even Trump himself would be implicated in Stone’s alleged crimes.
Trump also told the Times that he would build a wall along the Southwest border with Mexico regardless of Congress.
Raw Story spoke with Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee about how the latest developments are likely to impact the president. Lee’s views are her own, not a reflection of Yale’s position.
I hope you’ll go read the whole interview. Here’s an excerpt:
Bandy X. Lee: His anxieties are palpable, as he resorts to more and more extreme measures and unreal justifications for building a wall. We had the extended shutdown that put us at real security risk, according to the FBI, and declaring a national emergency is a very real possibility.
He needs to maintain his shrinking base as well as to give himself a sense of victory, and he will go to all lengths to achieve it. What concerns me, however, is our own lack of readiness for when the real crisis comes. As a nation, we continue merely to react, while dangers escalate, and underestimate the profound effects that mental instability can have.
With all the negative news for Mr. Trump, “rational” people may feel relief, as he is finally held to account, but while being driven to a corner, the president’s only desperate remaining diversion may be war. Forces around the globe—the Israelis and the Saudis, for example—want that for their own reasons, and with a foreign policy team that now reflects his psychology, times could turn incredibly dangerous.
What stories have you been following?
More suggested reads:
Amanda Marcotte at Salon: Howard Schultz built a driveway through a park: This is why he shouldn’t be president
Seattle PI: Connelly: Howard Schultz sold our Sonics, now selling himself as president
The Washington Post: John Bolton is a serial arms control killer
Washington Examiner: Pelosi could force Senate Republicans into awkward vote on Trump emergency powers
Michael Morell at The Washington Post: Trump plays with fire when he insults his intelligence officers
How do we get rid of this menace before he totally destroys us all? I believe we cannot afford to wait until the 2020 election
I sure wish I knew the answer to that question!
Oh, yes, that Shultz stealing city park land incident! I remember that. Greedy rich bastard thinks he’s entitled to steal land from the commoners. Gives you an idea what he’d do as president. Go fck an overpriced cup of hot coffee, Shultz.
Don’t you love that?
I had to look at it a few times to get it!! Really fun!
Would you have known the painting down further was a Picasso? He painted in so many different styles.
The face and the background look like earlier Picasso; the cat doesn’t as it’s so illustratively realistic. The model reminds me of one of the Pre-Raphaelite women.
I really think Trump is losing it at an accelerating rate. Nice to see a professional can tell me why that feeling in my gut persists.
I’m afraid no one in Congress or elsewhere is going to do anything before it’s too late.
I usually have an opinion on everything, but I really don’t know what Congress (really, Democrats) can do to head off a Trump-unraveling disaster. There are so many ways Trump could provoke a world wide disaster, including all sorts of things he hasn’t even telegraphed to media yet. And the GOP won’t do anything proactively; they’re still dragging their feet on standing up to him on the shutdown and that issue went past critical a long time ago.
Yes, it needs the GOP otherwise measures to contain/remove him won’t pass the R-controlled Senate.
Northam is now claiming he doesn’t think it’s him in the racist photos. Here’s a Twitter thread on it:
You’d think that would be something a person would remember.
The good thing about this is that the LtGov seems like a better choice than the Gov ever was.
I’m still disturbed about the concept that Dems and/or the left react big to any offence archeologists on the Right, meanwhile the Right keeps all their current offenders and even outright criminals in place.
I don’t know what you do — Sexists, racists, bigots all should be banned from politics — but if they can use this to bully our nowhere-near-as-severe bigots while not touching their own, that will not end well. They’re master bullies.
No good ideas how to deal with it fairly and effectively.
It’s a real problem. This did come from a right wing paper But the fact that he used black face to dress as Michael Jackson is really bad.
As Michael Jackson? 😯
He talked about it at the press conference. He almost showed off his moon walk, but his wife stopped him. You should have seen the look on her face while he was talking. The whole thing was embarrassing.
They are master bullies, but the Republican party is not dependent on the African-American community to win elections. Northam has to go.
I don’t know about that angle, Sue. A resignation has to be on principle, from a felt need to atone for one’s wrongs. If it was me and somebody did that just to grub for my vote, I’d merely get offended. But that’s definitely just me. Politics doesn’t work on principle. (In all the meanings of that sentence.)
I always say don’t apologize for me. Say what you are moved to say. If that is “I am ashamed of myself” or if that is “I did nothing wrong”, but hontest. I am going to judge as best I can either way.
Northam should hold on or step down as he sees fit. But I am listening to him, the Dems , the media. Democratic leaders should say what they believe, don’t pounce because it is good politics. And don’t make it all about Blacky. Are YOU offended? Do YOU feel Northam is compromised now are a leader of all the people? Do YOU want new representation? Make it about the black voter and it becomes a fresh reason for people of ill-will or even lukewarm-will to blame and resent us. Racism is a blight on the culture. It diminishes us all.
You should always be your authentic self, but it matters who that is. That goes for racists sexist and ordinary assholes. Be yourself, I will figure out whether you are my guy or not.
Nobody is saying this but it would not surprise me if Northam switched parties before stepping down. Don’t think for a minute that the Repugs wouldn’t have him. A governorship is a governorship. Trump will even take credit.
Agree, the Republicans keep their racists and misogynists in office. The Dems get rid of a lot of their people without fair due diligence (Franken).This case of Northam is egregiously bad, unlike Franken’s which was started by Roger Stone.
The Lt Governor looks to be exceptionally qualified and what’s more he has convictions. I had no idea that the Virginia Senate “honored” the racist Confederate traitors. Horrible.
He made everything so much worse with that press conference. It was embarrassing.
Or, actually, resigns yesterday. He’s the worst of the worst.
IF it isn’t him and IF he never saw his own page in his own yearbook and IF no one friend or colleague ever told him that this damaging error was out there then so be it, but if he is lying about any of this then nothing on earth can help him. This is and important moment for him. What he does right now will seal the rest of his career. Lies now, even of omission will damn him.
Somebody remembers that moment in time, the party the dance the pictures the spirit week, whatever it was and probably more than one somebody.
Wonder why Trump wants to reward the Candyman?
Check this out. Trump was with Howard Lorber on the day of the Trump Tower meeting. Maybe that’s why Don Jr. called Lorber–to talk to Daddy.
Oops, he was with Lorber the day before the meeting. Still an odd coincidence.
“address your identity!” Maybe they could ask her to discuss her policy stands instead.
This is ridiculous. Should I “describe myself” as French-Scottish-British-Irish?