Sunday Fairies Open Thread

This post is brought to you by my cousin Santana….in her woodland fairy wear. My Aunt Celeste has been visiting for a week, the first time without my mom, and its been bittersweet.

Have a wonderful evening…this is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

The Marquis gave his hand to the princess, and followed the king, who went up first.” Illustrations by Harry Clarke. Published in The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, Charles Perrault (1922).

Good Afternoon!!

The Fourth of July is coming up and Trump is busily working to ruin it for everyone but his ignorant deplorable base and his billionaire buddies.

The Washington Post: Trump plans ticketed-access area for VIPs, friends and family at July 4 celebration.

Plans by President Trump to reshape Washington’s Independence Day celebration now include an area in front of the Lincoln Memorial reserved for dignitaries, family and friends that will be accessible only through tickets distributed by the White House.

The VIP section will stretch roughly from the steps of the memorial to the midpoint of the reflecting pool, according to the U.S. Secret Service. It is in front of the spot from which Trump plans to address the nation as part of his rebranding of the traditional July 4 event into his own “Salute to America,” which includes moving the fireworks from the reflecting pool to two different sites, including West Potomac Park.

The revamped festivities will include additional fireworks, military bands and flyovers by Air Force One, the Blue Angels and aircraft from all branches of the military.

Where Trump plans to speak is not yet clear.

Kisa the Cat carries off Ingibjorg’s Feet from the giant’s cave, from Andrew Lang’s Brown Fairy Book, 1932

On Friday morning, bleachers had been set up on the plaza below the Lincoln Memorial, and workers were erecting other structures. Seats faced away from the memorial and toward the Washington Monument,making it unclear where exactly Trump plans to stand while giving his speech.

More problems:

Many people who have long-standing practices for how they get downtown, or where they position their boats for the best vantage points and ease of access, will need to make adjustments. Even travelers passing through the region’s skies will be affected, with all operations at Reagan National Airport suspended for up to an hour and 15 minutes on July 4, the FAA said late Friday….

The ongoing shifts to what had been established security and crowd-control protocols have left officials in the District and some federal agencies confused about logistics as basic as what Metro stops and roads might be open or closed, and for what period, and how many fireworks displays will launch….

In West Potomac Park, softball fields were fenced off Friday morning, a day earlier than had been announced, while 36 portable spotlights were parked along Ohio Drive. A crew from Garden State Fireworks was setting up its launch site near a baseball backstop.

Come July 4, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, a major thoroughfare that was open in the past on the holiday, will be closed for the day, cutting off people trying to drive into the District from Arlington National Cemetery and other nearby points. Transportation officials warned that the Smithsonian and Foggy Bottom Metro stops could experience extra crowding as a result.

Read the whole story. It’s going to be a clusterfuck.

Crookshanks and Scabbers from Harry Potter, by Stephen Andrade

Richard Nixon tried to pull something “special” on the Fourth of July, 1970, although it was supposedly “bipartisan.” From Timeline.com: On the 4th of July in 1970, the nonpartisan Honor America Day turned into a drugged-up protest.

Tensions all over America were high in the summer of 1970. The Nixon administration’s bombing of Cambodia and the continued war in Vietnam were seen by a vocal section of the population to be murderous disasters. Outraged students raised their voice, and in May, the National Guard killed four of them at Kent State and two others at Jackson State. It appeared to some as if the country doubled down on its sins, adding the blood of its own citizens to the mix.

A month later, a group of wealthy and prominent Americans assembled to do something about the national divide. Their mission was not to address the problems behind it, but to invigorate a broad and vague spirit of appreciation for the United States of America. They called it Honor America Day: a massive, entertainment-filled ceremony, to be held in Washington DC on the Fourth of July. For a day, Americans could swap their discontent for waving flags, live music, and old-fashioned pride….

And while the event was ostensibly apolitical, The New York Times noted that committee members almost unilaterally supported Nixon’s campaigns in Southeast Asia.

Naturally, there were protests.

Given the national and international situation, a counter protest was inevitable. And it was a doozy.

Perhaps the most inflammatory was a Fourth of July smoke-in on the National Mall by anti-war and pro-legalization protestors, slated to compete with the more wholesome Honor America Day activities. “Before this is over,” joked Bob Hope, “I may need some of that stuff myself.”

Green Cat with Lights, by Dr. Seuss

On the other side of the political spectrum, neo-Nazis and conservative groups also turned out to represent their causes.

Some 10,000 people attended the interfaith service led by Billy Graham on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at 10:30. But protesters appeared at the same time, with the audience cheering as security ejected those who broke past the line.

I wonder if there are protests planned for Trump’s idiotic celebration of himself. It will be interesting to see what happens, but I wouldn’t want to be there.

Colbert I. King at The Washington Post: Frederick Douglass would be outraged at Trump’s Fourth of July self-celebration.

“What, to the American slave,” Douglass demanded, “is your Fourth of July?”

Nearly 170 years later, Douglass’s bold declaration and haunting question resonate with new meaning.

President Trump has taken over Independence Day 2019, transforming the traditional celebration on the Mall of the nation’s founding into a salute to his egocentrism, staged with demonstrations of America’s military might, an Air Force One flyover and an address to the nation to be delivered by himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The brave signers of the Declaration of Independence — flawed men but men who, as Douglass said, “staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country” — will take a back seat next week.

This Fourth of July is Donald Trump’s — not theirs, not the nation’s, not mine.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

More food for thought from CREW: How Trump’s 4th of July Hijacking Could Violate the Hatch Act.

LEAFY KITTIES, Remedios Varo

Is President Trump trying to hijack the Independence Day celebration on the National Mall by turning it into a taxpayer-funded campaign rally? If he does, the Trump administration will violate federal appropriations law and the Hatch Act. In that case, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale had better have the campaign’s checkbook handy and be ready to write plenty of zeros.

At a kick-off rally for his re-election campaign last week, Trump sounded a lot like he was laying the groundwork for politicizing America’s birthday party—

This election is not merely a verdict on the amazing progress we’ve made. It’s a verdict on the un-American conduct of those who tried to undermine our great democracy, and undermine you. And by the way, on July 4th, in Washington, D.C., come on down, we’re going have a big day. Bring your flags, bring those flags, bring those American flags, July 4th. We’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people. We’re going to celebrate America. Sounds good, right? July 4th. Celebrate America. This election is a verdict on whether we want to live in a country where the people who lose an election refuse to concede and spend the next two years trying to shred our Constitution and rip your country apart.

The very next day, Trump’s Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, responded by issuing an announcement confirming that the July 4th event “will feature remarks by President Donald J. Trump.” [….]

If Trump is careful and has the self-discipline to talk only about government policies, the event may amount to little more than a garish display of nationalism….

But when has anyone ever accused Trump of being predictable or sounding like a dry policy wonk? It seems far more likely that he’ll talk about his reelection bid or fling schoolyard nicknames at his political rivals. That sort of bombast would be a whole lot more fun for Trump than having to deliver dull prepared remarks. And, hey, it’s a party after all. Right? The problem – as is so often the case for the Trump administration – is the rule of law.

The Cheshire Cat John Tenniel 1865

In other news, Kamala Harris was the breakout star of the first Democratic Debate and the Russian bots and Trump and his on-line army are attacking her.

The Daily Beast: Kamala Harris Is Surging and Birtherism Is Back. As Harris spoke about race and the history of busing,

she was attacked on Twitter by a conservative provocateur for not being an “American black.” It’s a play straight out of the racist birther playbook used against Barack Obama when he ran for president a decade earlier. This time, though, those kinds of allegations don’t have to circulate for years on obscure right-wing forums before they reach a mainstream audience. On Thursday night, spammers and even one of President Trump’s sons spread the attack to millions of people within hours….

“She is half Indian and half Jamaican,” [Ali] Alexander wrote. “I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It’s disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2? These are my people not her people. Freaking disgusting.” [….]

More Twitter users copied and pasted Alexander’s message verbatim and tweeted it as their own, according to screenshots posted by writer Caroline Orr. Some of those accounts, like “@prebs_73,” have copy-pasted other popular right-wing tweets verbatim. Other accounts with right-wing references in their usernames and biographies piled on, accusing Harris of not being black.mi

“Ummmmm @KamalaHarris you are NOT BLACK. you are Indian and Jamaican,” wrote a Twitter user with a cross emoji, the word “CONSERVATIVE,” a red “X” emoji (a right-wing Twitter trope), and three stars (a QAnon symbol) in their username.

Read more about this at Buzzfeed News: A New Racist Campaign Against Kamala Harris Is Taking Shape.

The New York Times has an important article on the crisis in Trump’s concentration camps: The Treatment of Migrants Likely ‘Meets the Definition of a Mass Atrocity,’ by Kate Cronin-Furman.

The mice hold a meeting, Belling the Cat, Aesop’s Fables for Kids

A pediatrician who visited in June said the [detention] centers could be compared to “torture facilities.” Having studied mass atrocities for over a decade, I agree.

At least seven migrant children have died in United States custody since last year. The details reported by lawyers who visited a Customs and Border Protection facility in Clint, Tex., in June were shocking: children who had not bathed in weeks, toddlers without diapers, sick babies being cared for by other children. As a human rights lawyer and then as a political scientist, I have spoken to the victims of some of the worst things that human beings have ever done to each other, in places ranging from Cambodia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Sri Lanka. What’s happening at the border doesn’t match the scale of these horrors, but if, as appears to be the case, these harsh conditions have been intentionally inflicted on children as part a broader plan to deter others from migrating, then it meets the definition of a mass atrocity: a deliberate, systematic attack on civilians. And like past atrocities, it is being committed by a complex organizational structure made up of people at all different levels of involvement.

Thinking of what’s happening in this way gives us a repertoire of tools with which to fight the abuses, beyond the usual exhortations to call our representatives and donate to border charities.

Those of us who want to stop what’s happening need to think about all the different individuals playing a role in the systematic mistreatment of migrant children and how we can get them to stop participating. We should focus most on those who have less of a personal commitment to the abusive policies that are being carried out.

A new take on Puss ‘n Boots by Ayano Imai

Cronin-Furman argues that the problem is that many of the people involved in what’s happening see themselves as just doing their jobs–or “following orders” as many people involved in the Nazi’s “final solution” did.

Testimony from trials and truth commissions has revealed that many atrocity perpetrators think of what they’re doing as they would think of any other day job. While the leaders who order atrocities may be acting out of strongly held ideological beliefs or political survival concerns, the so-called “foot soldiers” and the middle men and women are often just there for the paycheck.

This lack of personal investment means that these participants in atrocities can be much more susceptible to pressure than national leaders. Specifically, they are sensitive to social pressure, which has been shown to have played a huge role in atrocity commission and desistance in the HolocaustRwanda and elsewhere. The campaign to stop the abuses at the border should exploit this sensitivity and put social pressure on those involved in enforcing the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Read the rest at the NYT.

So . . . what stories are you following today?

 


Friday Reads: Obama (a verb) Our ( a noun)

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Too bad not every question thrown at Biden could be completely packaged in his way of riding our last real President’s coattails.  He might have managed to escape today’s headlines.

Let’s just start with this Vox headline from Joe Prokop: “This wasn’t the way Joe Biden wanted the first debate to go. His exchange with Kamala Harris was the standout moment of the entire first debate.”

The biggest single question going into the first Democratic debate was whether any candidate would manage to lay a glove on the frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Well, Sen. Kamala Harris did that, and then some.

In an exchange that immediately became the standout moment of the two-night event, Harris sharply criticized Biden’s recent musings about his past productive work with segregationist senators. (“At least there was some civility. We got things done,” Biden had said.)

Biden tried to respond by arguing that he fought for civil rights — but Harris fired back, pressing him on the issue of busing in particular, and citing her own personal story. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Harris said. “And that little girl was me.”

Again, Biden tried to make a distinction. “I did not oppose busing in America,” he said. “What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education.” Harris, however, then responded by saying that the federal government does need to step in to support civil rights if state and local governments can’t or won’t.

At the end of the exchange, Biden ran out of things to stay. “Anyway, my time is up,” he said, trailing off.

Followed by this where Julian Castro and Kamala Harris were declared the winners of the first debate series.  This is also from Vox and this time written by Zach Beauchamps.

 

 

 

 

Before the debate, there were basically three tiers of candidates in the polls. You had the top three in double digits (Joe Biden, trailed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren), two runners-up around 6 percent (Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg), and then a whole mess of candidates near the bottom. By the end of both nights, there were only two candidates who seemed like they may have performed well enough to move up a tier: former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sen. Kamala Harris.

Castro’s extremely low poll numbers — he’s under 1 percent currently — were always a little odd. He’s a former mayor who was in President Obama’s Cabinet and also rumored as a potential VP choice in 2016. He had by far the most sophisticated policy platform on the high-profile issue of immigration. He’s done a lot of stuff and had ideas to offer but couldn’t seem to get traction.

From that standpoint, he couldn’t have hoped for a better night than the one he had on Wednesday. Castro’s bold idea on immigration — to decriminalize illegal entry — was taken up by other candidates onstage and then was endorsed by the vast majority of candidates on Thursday. He used his mastery of the issue to pounce on a fellow Texan, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, making O’Rourke look like an empty suit while elevating his own profile. (O’Rourke had a bad night in general, but Castro was the single biggest reason.)

It’s too early to tell what the effect of all this will be, but it seems like Castro’s numbers have at least a decent shot at going up; if they don’t, he certainly is looking like a more promising VP for whoever emerges on top.

Harris, meanwhile, needed to get out of her dead heat with Buttigieg — who is far from being her equal in national profile — and make it into the first tier. She did that brilliantly, dominating the conversation overall and delivering what feels like the biggest single moment of the debate: her takedown of Joe Biden, the frontrunner, on race.

The biggest laugh of the morning for me was this (via CBS and Emily Tillett): Kamala Harris responds to criticism that she delivered “low blow” to Joe Biden.

2020 contender Kamala Harris came out swinging with a memorable performance in the second night of Democratic debates in Miami.  It was Harris’ confrontation with former Vice President Joe Biden where she pressured to get him on the record on his past support of segregation-endorsing Democrats and as well as his past stance against busing to desegregate public schools, that left a mark on would-be voters’ minds.

In her only network TV interview, Harris responded to criticism from Biden’s camp that the contentious moment was a “low blow.”

“It was about just speaking truth and as I’ve said many times, I have a great deal of respect for Joe Biden…but he and I disagree on that,” Harris told “CBS This Morning” on Friday.

She added, “My purpose was to really just make sure that in this conversation we are appreciating the impact on real people of policies that have been pushed in the history of our country.”

The California Democrat stood out amongst the packed crowd of 10 candidates on stage, eliciting some of the loudest applause after she forced moderators to give her time to answer a question on race relations — noting that she was the only African American present on the debate stage.

Harris later said she does not believe the former vice president is a racist but called his statement about finding “common ground” with segregationists personally “hurtful” to people of color like her.

“It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Harris, 54, told Biden. “That little girl was me.”

“That’s a mischaracterization of my position across the board,” Biden shot back at Harris, defending his support for civil rights and highlighting his work as a public defender.

Harris explained to CBS that the issue was a clearly a personal one for her.

“If segregationists had their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate today,  I would not be a top contender to be president of the United States,” Harris said.

We’ve discussed Biden’s inability to really own his past and here it is just as we predicted! His trick of connecting his entire life to the 8 years of the Obama term are not going to work the more every sees and learns about him. He doesn’t respond to these things well at all. There were an awful lot of Ali’s twittering after Kamala started landing punches.  Hmmm?  Plus Junior tweeted out some stupid remark questioning if Kamala was really a black woman which I will not dignify by posting it here but you can view it if you want.

Also, here’s a link to the WAPO transcript of the second night’s debate if you prefer that format.

While our wanna be dictator POTUS was cozying up to his Dear Leader, we got this headline via the UK Guardian. “Trump jokes to Putin they should ‘get rid’ of journalists. US president voices disdain for ‘fake news’ at G20 and makes light of election meddling”  He’s at the G20 summit in Japan.

Donald Trump joked with Vladimir Putin about getting rid of journalists and Russian meddling in US elections when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Japan.

As they sat for photographs at the start of their first formal meeting in nearly a year, the US president lightheartedly sought common ground with Putin at the expense of the journalists around them in Osaka.

“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do,” Trump said.

To which Putin responded, in English: “We also have. It’s the same.”

Twenty-six journalists have been murdered in Russia since Putin first became president, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), many of them investigative reporters scrutinising governmental abuses.

Trump has frequently referred to the press as the “enemy of the people” and in February the CPJ expressed concernabout the safety of journalists covering Trump rallies, where they have been the target of derision and abuse from the president and his supporters. It is a year to the day since five Capital Gazette employees were killed in their newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. The shooting led to the organisation Reporters Without Borders adding the US to its list of the five deadliest countries for journalism.

So Friday Fresh Hell continues too .. well, not so fresh, more like Deja Vu all over again.

It’s just hard not to be grossed out and outraged by everything Trumpist.

So, let’s return to the Russian Troll Army and see what they’re up to via NBC. What have Putin’s sock puppets been up to?

Users from pro-Trump communities on 4chan and Reddit implored fellow members to vote for lower-polling candidates in online polls, specifically Tulsi Gabbard and Bill de Blasio, in the hours after Wednesday’s Democratic debate — a sign that digital manipulation efforts related to U.S. politics and elections remain very much alive.

Users on 4chan’s anonymous far-right /pol/message board repeatedly posted links to polls across the web, encouraging one another to “blow the polls out” for Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii who has developed a substantial support base among many of its users.

The posts pointed users toward polls on national news websites like the Drudge Report, The Washington Examiner, and Heavy.com, but also polls from local news providers like NJ.com, which posts from several newspapers in the state.

“GIVE HER YOUR POWER,” read one 4chan post from 1 a.m. Thursday, pointing to a screenshot of the still-active Drudge poll showing Gabbard leading.

The efforts from 4chan’s /pol/ board and Reddit’s pro-Trump subreddit mirror the notorious troll communities’ strategy from 2016, when they bombarded polls in an effort to drive more visibility and confidence to their candidate of choice, and hoped news websites and candidates lent credibility to the results later on.

Traditional polls, such as those run by researchers, polling companies and universities are not susceptible to such manipulations. Pollsters usually call a diverse set of citizens from various levels of political engagement, and those polled are not allowed to vote several times or through automation, unlike many online polls.

The results from the poll on the Drudge Report, where Gabbard netted almost 40 percent of the vote, despite previously polling at less than 2 percent in national polls, created coverage in itself. The politics blog The Hill and The Daily Mail wrote about Gabbard’s performance in the poll, with The Daily Mail calling Gabbard the “shock winner” in the “first poll” after the debate. As more mainstream outlets pick up the methodologically questionable polls, the likelihood that they will be covered by more prominent news media and political figures increases.

Well, that should be disqualifying for that candidate.

So, here’s something to think on from our oldest living President …

And with that … have a great weekend as we careen towards Independence Day. We have a Democratic Republic if we can keep it to paraphrase Ben Franklin.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Live Blog: Night 2 of the First Democratic Debate

 

Tonight 10 more Democratic presidential candidates will debate at 9PM Eastern in Miami. Last night’s debate dominated TV ratings. Will the second night–with more first tier candidates–attract even more viewers?

Deadline: Democratic Debate Night 1 Gets 15.3M Viewers Across NBC, MSNBC & Telemundo; 9M Watch Via Streaming.

Most of the contenders pulling in big poll numbers take the stage in Miami later today for Night 2 of the Democratic debates on NBC, but Night 1 has set a pretty high bar for Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and the rest to reach. That bar, however, is well below what both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump drew in the early stages of the 2016 Presidential election.

When NBC, MSNBC and Telemndo are all added up, Nielsen has the showdown last night pulling in 15.3 million viewers.

As we detailed earlier today and now have further confirmed, the total viewing numbers for last night’s warm-up debate of sorts are far behind the audience of 24 million that the first GOP debate pulled in in August 2015 on Fox News. Last night is also down 4.3% from what the five-0person first Democratic debate snagged in October 2015 on CNN….

In a look at the reality of small screen viewing in 2019, Night 1’s live stream saw more than 9 million viewers and 14 million video views across all platforms. Those services included the heft of NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, Telemundo.com, NBC News NOW on OTT devices, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The candidates in tonight’s debate are: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Kirstin Gillibrand, Andrew Yang, Eric Swalwell, Michael Bennett, John Hickenlooper, and Marianne Williamson.

From The New Yorker:

Tonight’s top tier: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will all be on the debate stage together on June 27

Thursday night’s debate will have the bigger characters, and the more obvious frame: Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders, center versus left. But there’s also a Colorado senator (Michael Bennet) versus a Colorado governor (John Hickenlooper), and an online phenomenon (Andrew Yang) versus a spiritual guru (Marianne Williamson). Wednesday night suggested that, with ten candidates onstage, the points of contrast will be more opportunistic and less predictable than we might expect—a knife fight, not a duel.

We’ll see. With both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in the lineup, we’re likely to see plenty of finger-wagging.

NBC News: On Night Two, all eyes — and jabs — will be on Biden.

It’s all about Joe Biden now.

The former vice president could solidify his status as the favorite to win his party’s presidential nomination with a strong debate performance here Thursday night.

But more than two months into a campaign noteworthy for the candidate’s limited interaction with the public and the news media, Biden could also walk out severely hobbled.

Voters, Biden’s Democratic rivals and President Donald Trump will be looking for any sign that he has lost heat off his fastball as a candidate — a gaffe, a moment of indecision or an inability to explain either his past or his plans for the future.

Any slip could be costly because Biden has built his lead in the polls in part on the perception of strength, and because he has struggled in recent weeks to effectively communicate about his change on a decades-old position in favor of restricting federal funding for abortion and his relationships with segregationist senators during his first terms in the Senate.

Even a lack of luster could spell trouble for the 76-year-old former senator from Delaware.

Read more at the link above.

The Moderators: José Diaz-Balart, Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow

The New York Times: Democratic Debate 2019: What to Watch for on Night 2.

Like last night:

The candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for rebuttals. There will be no opening statements, and each candidate will give a one-minute closing statement. The debate will be broken up into five segments with four commercial breaks.

Lester Holt of NBC News is the moderator. He will be joined in the first hour by Savannah Guthrie of the “Today” show and José Díaz-Balart of Telemundo. Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC will appear in the second hour.

On Biden:

Every candidate but one on stage Thursday has recently participated in a nationally televised town hall forum, taking tough questions with the cameras rolling. The exception is Mr. Biden.

The first debate will be one of the first times since he entered the race that Mr. Biden, the former vice president, will be pressed for answers about both his record and his vision for the future. He’ll answer in front of a national audience of millions.

Yes, Mr. Biden has run for president twice before, and has been on the debate stage in recent memory — when he ran on his own in 2008, and in the vice-presidential debate that year and in 2012. But years have passed since then, and given that he would be the oldest president ever elected, one of the first tests he will face is whether he looks rusty on stage.

Mr. Biden’s early strength in the polls is expected to make him a magnet for scrutiny, as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont seeks a foil for his argument that there is “no middle ground” when it comes to progressive priorities and others seek to chip away at Mr. Biden’s early lead.

There’s much more about tonight’s candidates at the NYT link.

Last night, MSNBC began their debate coverage at 8PM, so I’ll be turning it on then, and I’ll try to make it to the end. I hope you will join us and share your reactions tonight.


Thursday Reads: Democratic Debate First Night and Other News

Good Morning!!

Democratic Debate, First Night

I wasn’t too with it during the first Democratic debate last night. I had difficulty following the discussion; it seemed incoherent to me with so many people involved. It might have been better if the moderators stuck to one topic at a time instead of jumping around and having different candidates respond to different questions. But I was kind of tired, so maybe it was just me.

I really felt that some of the candidates–Delaney, Ryan, de Blasio–simply didn’t belong on the stage. My impression was that Julian Castro and Jay Inslee really stood out. Elizabeth Warren seemed to get more questions than the others. I still can’t get enthused about her. Anyway, here’s an annotated transcript that I might try to read through today.

Here’s a summary of the debate from The Guardian: Democratic 2020 candidates clash on healthcare, immigration and economy in first debate.

Ten Democratic presidential candidates cast themselves in sharp contrast to Donald Trump in the first primary debate of the 2020 election on Wednesday night, even as they disagreed on how far left the next US president should lean….

Candidates savaged Trump’s handling of the US economy and the migration crisis at the US-Mexico border. But despite his tweets, the president did not dominate the debate, which also saw clashes on healthcare, inequality and foreign policy, promises on immigration, reproductive rights and the economy, and a lengthy discussion of the climate crisis – a novel development for US presidential debates.

Elizabeth Warren took center stage in more than one sense, as the only top-tier candidate to appear in the first debate…

The Guardian treated the rest of the candidates as also-rans, but had reactions to a few of them:

The debate was seen as clarifying moment for several candidates who have struggled to break through. Castro appeared to find his voice on immigration and afterward told reporters that he believed his standing would “change after tonight.”

O’Rourke, who entered the presidential race with a higher national profile than many of his rivals, found himself on the defensive. No candidate criticized Warren directly, allowing the Massachusetts senator to largely command the conversation.

In one of the most memorable exchanges of the evening, Inslee touted his record as the “only candidate here” who has passed legislation protecting a woman’s right to access reproductive health through her health insurance.

With a smile, Klobuchar shot back: “There are three women on this stage that have fought pretty hard to protect women’s right to choose.”

Inslee was just trying to highlight what he had accomplished in his state; but, of course, Senators don’t have the power to pass such legislation as long as Republicans remain in control.

Read more at The Guardian. It’s a pretty good summary of what happened. A few more reads to check out:

The New York Times: Democrats Diverge on Economy and Immigration in First Debate.

Slate: It Was Almost a Good Debate Until Chuck Todd Mucked It Up.

NBC News: Democrats trot out their español thrilling some Latinos, turning off others.

Jonathan Chait: Elizabeth Warren Takes a Huge Risk by Calling to End Private Health Insurance.

Vox: Why only 2 of 10 Democrats raised their hands to say they’d abolish private insurance.

Ezra Klein: Democrats need a better answer to the Mitch McConnell question.

Other News

Good news and bad news broke from the Supreme Court this morning. I’ll give you the bad news first.

The Washington Post: Supreme Court says federal courts don’t have a role in deciding partisan gerrymandering claims.

The Supreme Court’s conservatives decided Thursday that federal courts do not have a role to play in deciding whether partisan gerrymandering goes too far.

The 5 to 4 decision was written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and joined by the court’s other conservatives.

Elena Kagan and John Roberts

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Roberts wrote. “Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”

Justice Elena Kagan dissented for the court’s liberals. “For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities,” she wrote.

Kagan underscored her disagreement by reading a lengthy excerpt of her dissent from the bench.

While the Supreme Court regularly scrutinizes electoral districts for racial gerrymandering, the justices have never found a state’s redistricting map so infected with politics that it violates the Constitution. Such a decision would have marked a dramatic change for how the nation’s political maps are drawn.

Now the good news:

CNN: Supreme Court blocks 2020 census citizenship question in setback for Trump admin.

The Supreme Court has blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census for the time being in a major setback for the Trump administration.

The bitter controversy centers around whether the administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950.

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Commerce Department wanted to add the question. Roberts had the support of the four liberal justice.

If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case,” he wrote.

The decision raises the question of whether the administration will have enough time or the ability to add the citizenship question before the census begins. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Craig Ruttle/AP/Shutterstock (10320034c)
E. Jean Carroll is photographed, in New York.

E. Jean Carroll is back in the news, because her outcry witnesses have come forward.

The New York Times: Two Women Who Heard E. Jean Carroll’s Account of Being Attacked by Trump Go Public.

Two women in whom E. Jean Carroll confided about having allegedly been sexually attacked by Donald Trump in the 1990s spoke publicly about it for the first time in an interview excerpted on the New York Times podcast “The Daily,” describing the conflicting advice they gave their friend at the time.

On Wednesday, Megan Twohey, a Times reporter, interviewed Ms. Carroll and the two women, Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach, who had not been publicly identified until now. It was the first time since the alleged assault that the women had discussed it together.

Portions of the interview were played Thursday on “The Daily,” and a fuller article about Ms. Carroll by Ms. Twohey, Jessica Bennett and Alexandra Alter will follow later in the day. For now, here are the main takeaways from the interview:

• The two women in whom Ms. Carroll confided were well-known figures in the ’90s world of New York media. Ms. Martin was a news anchor on WCBS-TV in New York from 1975 to 1995. Ms. Birnbach is a writer best known for “The Official Preppy Handbook,” a best seller released in 1981. She has occasionally written for The Times.

Carol Martin

Both knew or had met Mr. Trump during that period: Ms. Birnbach had recently interviewed him at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., while Ms. Martin had met him at her news station and had a friend who briefly dated him.

• When Ms. Carroll told the two women about the alleged attack, they had very different reactions: Ms. Birnbach said she told Ms. Carroll to call the police, while Ms. Martin told Ms. Carroll not to talk about it because Mr. Trump was too powerful. Ultimately, Ms. Carroll, thinking she was partially to blame for the encounter, remained silent about it for decades.

“I said: Don’t tell anybody. I wouldn’t tell anybody this,” Ms. Martin said.

Also check out Charles Blow’s piece at The New York Times: Is Trump a Rapist? America needs to give these women, and the accusations they’ve brought forth, the full attention they deserve. Blow sees the failure to take Trump’s accusers seriously is a symptom of the way

…the country, or large segments of it, seems to be acquiescing to a particular form of evil, one that is pernicious and even playful, one in which the means of chipping away at our values and morals grow even stronger, graduating from tack hammer to standard hammer to sledgehammer.

Lisa Birnbach

America, it seems to me, is drifting toward catastrophe. Donald Trump is leading us there. And all the while, our politicians plot about political outcomes and leverage. Republican politicians are afraid to upset him; Democratic politicians are afraid to impeach him.

Read the whole thing at the NYT.

One more example of the war on women and then I’m going to wrap this up because my internet keeps disconnecting.

Alabama.com: Alabama woman loses unborn child after being shot, gets arrested; shooter goes free.

A woman whose unborn baby was killed in a 2018 Pleasant Grove shooting has now been indicted in the death. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that this woman is black.

Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old Birmingham woman, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a manslaughter charge. She was taken into custody on Wednesday.

Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.

The shooting happened about noon on Dec. 4, 2018, outside Dollar General on Park Road. Officers were dispatched to the scene on a report of someone shot but arrived to find the shooting victim – later identified as Jones – had been picked up and driven to Fairfield. Police and paramedics then found the Jones at a Fairfield convenience store.

Marshae Jones

Jones was taken from Fairfield to UAB Hospital. She was five months pregnant and was shot in the stomach. The unborn baby did not survive the shooting.

“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid said at the time of the shooting. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”

Women’s rights advocates were outraged.

The Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds which helps women access abortion services, released a statement Wednesday night. The group gained national attention after the passage of Alabama’s new abortion law.

“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,’’ Executive Director Amanda Reyes said in the statement.“

“Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care,” Reyes said.

The presidential candidates should be asked about this. We desperately need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Women are losing their status as human beings with individual rights.

So . . . what stories have you been following?


Wednesday Night Live Blog of the first Dem Debates

The first 10 Candidates for the Democratic Nomination for President debate tonight on several channels at 9:00 pm EST.  This kicks off our discussion with the basic information via NYT.  Join us for the discussion!!

  • You can watch it on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. It will also stream live on Twitter and YouTube. The debate is taking place in Miami.

  • The 10 Democratic candidates in this debate (10 others will debate on Thursday) will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for rebuttals. There will be no opening statements, and each candidate will give a one-minute closing statement. The debate will be broken up into five segments with four commercial breaks.

  • Lester Holt of NBC News is the moderator. He will be joined in the first hour by Savannah Guthrie of the “Today” show and José Díaz-Balart of Telemundo. Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC will appear in the second hour.

Via NPR:

Up first on Wednesday night: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Candidates will have to be succinct: The debate’s rules grant 60-second answers and 30-second follow-ups. There will be no opening statements. Each night will offer some chances for candidates to catch their breath — four commercial breaks among five segments during each two-hour event.

The best news is that there will be more women and POC than ever before! (Via Vox)

It’s a significant milestone for a whole slew of reasons. For one, the presence of more diverse voices ensures that there are a range of perspectives expressed on issues central to the Democratic Party, including health care, immigration, and wages. For another, the presence of more women candidates this cycle on both the debate stage and the campaign trail normalizes the idea of women as presidential candidates, helping shift the definition of “electability.”

While the Democratic field is still predominantly male (19 of the 25 candidates, to be exact), the debates this week offer an opportunity to see what the conversation looks like as gender parity in politics continues to grow.

Until this cycle, only a handful of women candidates have participated in presidential debates held by either party: Democrats Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun, and Hillary Clinton, and Republicans Carly Fiorina and Michele Bachmann.

None of them ever faced each other on a debate stage.

What should we keep a eye out for? Here’s Five-Thirty-Eight’s political Chat.

 

sarahf (Sarah Frostenson, politics editor): The first Democratic primary debates are finally here. And with two back-to-back nights, featuring 10 candidates each, it’ll be a challenge for many candidates to make an impression, especially those hovering around 1 percent in the polls.

 

So, join us  for the live action!

I’m pretty sure we won’t be in for a lot of finger wagging tonight but what else will we find out?

 


Tuesday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

As usual, there’s way too much important news to cover today. I long for the days when Obama was president and there weren’t scandals and outrages every single day including Saturdays and Sundays.

Overhead view of the shelter for migrant children in Clint, TX

After the public response to Trump’s concentration camps/torture chambers for children on border, NBC News reports: Almost 300 migrant children removed from Texas facility described as ‘appalling.’

Almost 300 migrant children have been removed from a border patrol facility in Texas after media reports of lawyers describing “appalling” and potentially dangerous conditions, Department of Homeland Security officials told NBC News….

The children who were removed were being held at a border station in Clint, Texas. Some were wearing dirty clothes covered in mucus or even urine, said Elora Mukherjee, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School. Teenage mothers wore clothing stained with breast milk. None of the children had access to soap or toothpaste, she said.

The children have been taken to a tent detention camp also in El Paso, Texas, where they will remain under the custody of Border Patrol until they can be placed with the Department of Health and Human Services, the DHS officials said. The Associated Press first reported on the conditions at the facility.

But will conditions be better in the tent camp? Who knows? Reporters aren’t allowed in to report on Trump’s concentration camps. The Washington Post: Migrant children are suffering at the border. But reporters are kept away from the story.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Clint, Texas is seen in this undated image from Google Maps.

News stories emerged last week about squalid conditions at a Border Patrol detention facility housing about 300 migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border. The media accounts described the facility in Clint, Tex., near El Paso, that houses children separated from their parents by order of the Trump administration.

Apart from their appalling specifics, the stories were notable for one element: They were all based on secondhand accounts. Reporters were unable to see the facilities themselves or speak to any of the children. Instead, they relied on descriptions provided by lawyers and advocates who were granted access under a legal settlement with the Border Patrol.

The blackout on press access has left Americans largely in the dark about conditions in government facilities designed to handle migrants who have crossed the border. Photographs and TV images are both rare and often dated. Rarer still are interviews with federal agency managers and employees and with the children themselves.

Journalists, government officials and migrant advocates agree that permitting reporters to see the facilities firsthand would change public perceptions about the treatment of migrants. There’s disagreement, however, about how it would change.

“If journalists had access to the detention centers at the border where children are being held in filthy conditions, those centers would not exist,” said Elora Mukherjee, an attorney who interviewed children at the Texas facility and described them to reporters last week. “If videos were released there would be massive changes” because the public outcry would be enormous.

From left: Meagan O’Toole-Pitts, Ashley Cortez, Oliver Cortez, and his father, Mark Cortez, attempt to drop off diapers and toys for detained children at the immigration detention center in Clint. Courtesy of Armando Martinez Photography

The Boarder Patrol won’t even accept donations from people who want to help the children, according to The Texas Tribune.

Oh, and good old Melania chose yesterday to tweet about helping children. Raw Story: Melania Trump ripped for bragging about helping children while her husband runs concentration camps for kids. “Be best” like her husband the child abuser and rapist?

Two more important stories on this topic:

Damon Linker at The Week: Trump’s border policy: If cruelty isn’t the point, what is?

Dahlia Lithwick and Margo Schlanger at Slate: What You Need to Know About the Crisis at the Border.

Big media largely ignored or downplayed E. Jean Carroll’s rape allegation against Trump. Now multiple outlets are asking why it wasn’t treated as front page news.

Paul Waldman at The Washington Post: Have we become numb to Trump’s loathsomeness?

When we look back on June 2019, we’ll say that this was the time when a credible allegation of rape was made against the president of the United States, and he had already shown himself to be such a loathsome character that it was treated as a third-tier story, not worthy of much more than a passing mention here and there in the news.

After New York magazine published author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s account last Friday of an encounter she says she had with Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman that ended with him raping her in a dressing room, many of our most important news outlets reacted with only minor interest. Most of the nation’s biggest newspapers — aside from The Post — left it off on their front page the next day. None of the five Sunday shows mentioned it at all.

There are many reasons to find Carroll’s allegation credible. She’s a fairly well-known public figure. Her description of what happened to her — him slamming her against a wall, mashing his face against hers, yanking down her tights, and penetrating her — accords not only with the allegations of multiple other women but Trump’s own words on that infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he bragged that he can sexually assault any woman he pleases. “I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Yet Trump’s position on Carroll’s allegation is the same he has taken on all the others: She’s a liar. He doesn’t say it was a misunderstanding or it was consensual, just that she’s a liar.

A liar and somehow not the sort of woman he would choose to rape, according to Trump.

The New York Times: ‘She’s Not My Type’: Accused Again of Sexual Assault, Trump Resorts to Old Insult.

Mr. Trump said that E. Jean Carroll, who wrote for years for Elle magazine, was “lying” when she said that he threw her up against a wall and forced himself on her in the mid-1990s, and he insisted that he did not know her.

“I’ll say it with great respect,” he said in an interview with The Hill, a Capitol Hill news organization. “No. 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, it never happened. It never happened, O.K.?” [….]

In the Hill interview, Mr. Trump said Ms. Carroll was making up the story. “Totally lying. I don’t know anything about her,” he said. “I know nothing about this woman. I know nothing about her. She is — it’s just a terrible thing that people can make statements like that.”

Mr. Trump in the past has rejected other sexual assault accusations by asserting that the women who accused him of taking advantage of them were not attractive enough to engage in such behavior.

“Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you,” Trump told supporters at a campaign event in 2016 after a woman accused him of putting his hand up her skirt while on an airplane. “You don’t know. That would not be my first choice.” As the crowd laughed, he said, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.”

Of course Carroll is very much his “type.” She was a blonde beauty queen and a cheerleader, for cripes sake.

Look at the photos. I’d say she fits the mold, wouldn’t you? Here’s another take on this story at The Atlantic: The Cruel Paradox at the Heart of E. Jean Carroll’s Allegation Against Trump.

Yesterday, the dotard in chief issued new sanctions against Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who has been dead for 20 years. Iran responded that the Trump administration is “afflicted with mental retardation.” CBS This Morning: Iran leaders lash out at White House over “idiotic” new sanctions.

Officials in Iran lashed out on Tuesday at the latest round of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, casting doubt on any hope of an imminent diplomatic end to the standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. President Hassan Rouhani called the new U.S. sanctions “outrageous and idiotic,” and suggested the Trump administration was “afflicted by mental retardation” for imposing them.

The country’s foreign ministry spokesman said the latest move by the U.S. brought a “permanent closure” to any hope of diplomacy between the two nations.

President Trump imposed the new sanctions on Monday. For the first time they target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directly, barring his access to the international financial system. The punitive measures — which add to a long list of financial sanctions already slapped on Tehran by Mr. Trump since he pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year — also target other officials.

Rouhani mocked Mr. Trump over the sanctions, saying: “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks?”

CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy says the latest statements from Iran are further evidence that President Trump’s strategy, of forcing the Islamic Republic to change its behavior by strangling its economy, is not working.

Oh, and Trump is still thinking about cutting off military aid to Japan. Bloomberg: Trump Muses Privately About Ending Postwar Japan Defense Pact.

President Donald Trump has recently mused to confidants about withdrawing from a longstanding defense treaty with Japan, according to three people familiar with the matter, in his latest complaint about what he sees as unfair U.S. security pacts.

Trump regards the accord as too one-sided because it promises U.S. aid if Japan is ever attacked, but doesn’t oblige Japan’s military to come to America’s defense, the people said. The treaty, signed more than 60 years ago, forms the foundation of the alliance between the countries that emerged from World War II….

Exiting the pact would jeopardize a postwar alliance that has helped guarantee security in the Asia Pacific, laying the foundation for the region’s economic rise. Under the terms of its surrender in World War II, Japan agreed to a pacifist constitution in which it renounced the right to wage war….

Scrapping the treaty would risk ceding security of the Western Pacific to China and potentially spurring a fresh nuclear arms race, if Japan decided it needed to protect itself from nuclear-armed neighbors. It would also call into question the U.S.’s military commitments to Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and a host of other allies around the world.

This man is really really old.

Joe Biden is still leading in the polls as we approach the first Democratic primary debate on Wednesday and Thursday, so here are a couple of interesting pieces on Biden.

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Joe Biden Doesn’t Look So Electable in Person.

On Saturday, Joe Biden was one of 20 presidential candidates to speak at a Planned Parenthood forum in Columbia, S.C., held right next door to the state’s Democratic convention. It was just a couple of weeks after he’d reversed his longtime support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion. One of the moderators asked him what he’d say to pro-choice voters who have concerns about his mixed record on the issue.

This was part of his answer: “The fact of the matter is that we’re in a situation where mortality rate for poor women and black women, here in this state, 26.5 percent of the, 24, 25.6 people, who of 100,000 who need, who end up dying as a consequence of birth, it’s absolutely absurd.” (He was referring to South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate, which is 26.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.)

Seeing Biden on the stump often feels like watching an actor who can’t quite remember his lines. Even if you don’t support him, it’s hard not to feel anxious on his behalf.

I had the chance to watch Biden campaign three times over the weekend, when almost the entire Democratic field descended on Columbia. On Friday he appeared at the famous fish fry held by Congressman Jim Clyburn. The next day he was at the Planned Parenthood event and at the state convention.

Biden speaks at James Clyburn’s fish fry.

His performance was unnerving. I don’t want Biden to be the nominee for ideological reasons, but polls show him far ahead, and if he’s going to be the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer against Donald Trump, I want him to be a strong one. He didn’t seem strong in South Carolina.

Donald Trump, of course, also speaks in gibberish, but with a bombastic unearned confidence; rather than flailing around for the right figure he makes one up. Biden, by contrast, was just shaky. And while there’s great affection for him on the ground, there’s little excitement. You can see why his campaign has been limiting his public events and why he’s been avoiding the press.

The Washington Post: Once the poorest senator, ‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden has reaped millions in income since leaving the vice presidency.

Biden points out on the presidential campaign trail that he was often the poorest member of the United States Senate, and for at least a decade has referred to himself as “Middle Class Joe.” But since leaving office he has enjoyed an explosion of wealth, making millions of dollars largely from book deals and speaking fees that ranged to as much as $200,000 per speech, public documents show.

As Biden traveled the country before announcing his presidential campaign this spring, his sponsors provided VIP hotel suites, town cars and professional drivers, chartered flights and travel expense reimbursements that for some of his appearances reached at least $10,000 per event, according to contracts obtained by The Post through public records requests.

The Washington Post found at least 65 instances in which Biden gave a speech or appeared at a book event; in at least 10 instances he did not take a fee, although in some of those cases he was reimbursed for travel expenses. Biden’s campaign said he has given less than 50 paid speeches, but declined to be more specific about exactly how many he delivered, or how much he earned in total.

I’d better wrap this up; this post is getting way too long. What stories are you following today?