Monday Mash Up: WTF were They Thinking Edition

Image result for famous paintings on thinking

Portrait of Dr Gachet. Vincent Van Gogh,1890

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Ever have one of those days where you’re so lost in your head that even the most menial daily tasks wind up all wrong?  Well, today, I managed to start the coffee pot without putting the coffee pot in the machine, went out to walk Temple, and came back to a steaming pile of wet grounds all over the kitchen cabinet and floor. I’m just exhausted.  That’s my excuse.  I’ve spent several weeks watching a building that shouldn’t have been built to begin with tumble down towards beautiful historic buildings and people  on the street and then spent a 3 day vigil hoping US engineers could accomplish a demolition feat which it appears they mostly did.  Three people died for some one’s profit maximization exercise.

I also have a houseful of guests that should be gone by now and work and bills keep piling up. I’m overwhelmed.

I know I’m distracted but this and watching genocide in Syria on TV knowing full well we had a hand in it although We the People don’t like it.  And, that we’re being grifted by a bunch of Thugs passing themselves off as a Political party while the economy is falling apart and we’re picking up the bills for stuff we really shouldn’t be.

Oh, and did I mention all roads from the White House lead to a very happy Vladimir Putin?

What’s an American Girl to do?

So, what the Fuck was Mitt Romney thinking when he did this?

thinking of him 1963 POP Artists Oil Paintings

Thinking of him, Roy Lichtenstein, 1963

Yes, Mitt Romney has a sock puppet that evidently represents his conscience or his manhood or something …  This is by

Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah, former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, is also, apparently, the man behind a Twitter account that uses the moniker “Pierre Delecto.”

Mr. Romney on Sunday admitted to McKay Coppins, a writer at The Atlantic, that he was responsible for the social media account, which he uses to covertly monitor political discourse and occasionally defend himself. It’s unclear what, if anything, Pierre Delecto is a reference to.

Several events preceded the admission.

First, The Atlantic published on Sunday a profile of Mr. Romney, one of the few prominent Republican lawmakers to criticize President Trump over his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. Those efforts form the basis of an impeachment investigation by the House.

Mr. Trump lashed out in response this month, calling the senator on Twitter a “pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning.” In one tweet, the president used the hashtag “#IMPEACHMITTROMNEY.”

I wonder if Pierre Delecto chats up Carlos Danger. Oh, and why do these names sound like sleazy characters from bad pulp fiction?  This is from Ashley Feinberg writing for Slate ” This Sure Looks Like Mitt Romney’s Secret Twitter Account (Update: It Is) Meet “Pierre Delecto.”  So there’s a difference between a sleazy sock puppet sending Dick picks trying to prop up Weiner’s manhood and a sleazy sock puppet trying to prop up Mitt Romney’s, right?

Earlier today, the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins published a lengthy profile on Mitt Romney, apparently part of Romney’s effort to set himself up as the noble Republican foil to an out-of-control president. These sorts of pieces, which are more about narrative setting than anything else, typically don’t contain a lot of new information, but this had one notable exception. About midway through, the usually guarded senator revealed that, just like fellow lone-voice-of reason-haver James Comey, he was the owner of a secret Twitter account.

At one point, as Coppins asked him about the #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY hashtag Trump tweeted into being earlier this month, Romney said this:

“That’s kind of what he does,” Romney said with a shrug, and then got up to retrieve an iPad from his desk. He explained that he uses a secret Twitter account—“What do they call me, a lurker?”—to keep tabs on the political conversation. “I won’t give you the name of it,” he said, but “I’m following 668 people.” Swiping at his tablet, he recited some of the accounts he follows, including journalists, late-night comedians (“What’s his name, the big redhead from Boston?”), and athletes. Trump was not among them. “He tweets so much,” Romney said, comparing the president to one of his nieces who overshares on Instagram. “I love her, but it’s like, Ah, it’s too much.”

In other words, a wealth of information that would be highly useful to anyone hoping to track down the senator’s supposedly secret Twitter hideout— or more specifically, to me. The chances seemed high that Romney, a known family man, would want to keep close tabs on his offspring. And as luck would have it, Romney has plenty of offspring . 

Not all of his five sons have public Twitter accounts, and some of them, like the dreaded Tagg, have too many followers to possibly dig through. Romney’s oldest grandchild, Allie Romney Critchlow, however, has just 481 followers, making digging through them an annoying-but-not-impossible feat. As I scrolled, while focusing on the ones that appeared to make an effort to conceal their real identities, one in particular caught my eye.

Reader, meet Twitter user @qaws9876, otherwise known as Pierre Delecto.

Seated Harlequin, 1901, Pablo Picasso

Yeah, you can go see what he’s been up to as his super hero alter ego that he undoubtedly costumes in superhero jammies while tweeting away.
And we’re still watching Trumpists wiggle worm their way out of the idea of a Quid Quo Pro that’s been verified and something speculative.  You would think a Secretary of State with that much education would have something better to do on a Sunday that make a fool of himself. But then, he’s a Trumpist and a Fundie and a fool

This is from Peter Wade writing for Rolling Stone:  “Stunned Into Silence, State Department Chief Recalls Manafort at His Guiltiest. Sec. Mike Pompeo’s attempts to deflect questions about the president’s Ukraine quid pro quo scandal died a horrible death on Sunday.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s attempts to deflect and avoid giving honest and straight answers about President Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo scandal died a horrible death on Sunday during his appearance on ABC News’ The Week.

Host George Stephanopoulos asked the secretary if it was appropriate to withhold military aid to Ukraine until they pursued an investigation into the president’s political rivals. Stephanopoulos was referring to acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitting to the quid pro quo earlier this week. Pompeo said, “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals and secondary things based on what someone else has said.”

Stephanopoulos responded, “Except it’s not a hypothetical.”

um,,, cue the video

That was a poignant pause worthy of Captain James T Kirk of the USS Enterprise!

That is the moment when you could almost see Pompeo start to sweat and one could imagine the memes starting to multiply that would include the intro of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” playing in the background as Pompeo went quiet for a prolonged period of time. Then the secretary eventually awoke from his coma and, with a gravelly voice, righted himself and continued to insist that the question was a hypothetical.

As national security editor for the New Republic Adam Weinstein pointed out, the scene was reminiscent of Trump’s former campaign manager and now-jailed felon Paul Manafort’s infamous 2016 viral moment when he was stumped and stuttered through his answer when asked about Trump’s relationships with Russian oligarchs.

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Woman in a Purple Coat, 1937 by Henri Matisse

So, we also have this from the Philadephia Inquirer: by Julia Terruso:  “No one shows up to Joe Biden debate-watch parties in Philly. Does that matter? ”  Personally, I’ve been invited to both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris down here in New Orleans and both were held in very crowded bars, well attended, and not the only watch parties in town.

David Bradford set up a bowl of chips, salsa, and some grapes in the common room of his Center City apartment building.

He was hosting a presidential debate-watching party for Joe Biden supporters just blocks from the former vice president’s national campaign headquarters. He didn’t expect a big crowd, but in the end only one other person showed up.

The two men watched in silence and both left before the three-hour debate ended. A reporter turned off the TV on her way out. Bradford’s was one of three watch parties within a 20-mile radius of Center City registered with the campaign. None drew more than seven people.

Elsewhere in Philadelphia, fans of Sen. Elizabeth Warren pinned on buttons and wore “Philly for Warren” T-shirts. They gathered in six different locations from South Philadelphia to Wynnefield cheering at Warren’s responses and jeering when her opponents took shots. Local supporters of Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have also had well-attended watch parties here.

It makes for quite a contrast. But does it matter?

Biden draws from an older, less progressive, often less-educated crowd. That’s not the demographic that often gathers for watch parties. Polling shows his support is more pragmatic than passionate. His campaign has pushed back on the idea he has an “enthusiasm gap” before, arguing it’s something political operatives and journalists obsess over that means little to most Democratic voters.

“The Twitter Democrats are a very small subset of the Democratic Party,” said U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D.,Pa.), who supports Biden. “They are a much younger, more educated, wealthier, whiter subset — they’re important but let’s not make the mistake of extrapolating that they are the party.”

On the other hand, the kind of grassroots momentum that begins in bars and homes can turn into organization: Volunteers canvassing can have a tangible impact. And if some of Biden’s support is less enthusiastic, which polls suggest, there’s the risk it fractures.

Excuses! Excuses!  Sounds like something Pierre Delecto would say!  And then, here’s when the President got corrected by a Science GRRLLL up there in Space like a real Super Hero!

Seems like a lot of things are just not going as planned … and I’ll provide you with something that only slightly went awry when the entire project was a clusterfuck from the get go.  The Great Hard Rock Hotel New Orleans Crane Implosion.  We know have a huge crane body stationed like a metal christmas tree impaling Rampart Street.  Fortunately, it only took out a sewer and not the main gas and electric lines into the French Quarter.  So that was a win because of that and only a few historic buldings like the Saenger Theatre and the Old Roosevelt Hotel where my parents honeymooned in the late 40s lost a few windows.

From TV station WDSU “City: Demolition at Hard Rock went ‘as good as it could have’; next phase is search and extraction”.   Also, the next phase is just wait until we learn more about how a crooked developer got this pass the city council and mayor a few years back and managed a go round the planning commission and the master plan and undoubtedly got it through a crook in the city permits office.

Well, it’s a long post already and I’ve only covered a few things in the domestic news. Don’t ask me to look abroad today. Please don’t!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Sunday Reads

 

 

And then there’s the group of Dem candidates that are a serious disappointment…

Yang and Booker as well….pathetic.

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Boris Kustodiev (Russian artist, 1878–1927) The Merchant’s Wife, 1918

Good Morning!!

Every day I wake up asking myself, “Can this really be happening?” We’ve been living this nightmare for years now, and it still feels so unreal. The good news is that more and more people in positions of power–government and media–are beginning to wake up to Trump’s insanity.

Peter Baker at The New York Times: On Day 1,001, Trump Made It Clear: Being ‘Presidential’ Is Boring.

DALLAS — At one point during one of his most unpresidential of days, President Trump insisted that he knew how to be presidential.

“It’s much easier being presidential, it’s easy,” he told a stadium full of more than 20,000 boisterous supporters in MAGA hats and T-shirts cheering his every word on Thursday night. “All you have to do is act like a stiff.”

By Charles Spencelayh

He buttoned his suit coat, pursed his lips, squared his shoulders and dropped his arms rigidly at his sides. “Ladies and gentlemen of Texas,” he then droned in a sleep-inducing staccato monotone the way he imagined most of the other 44 presidents had done. “It is a great honor to be with you this evening.”

The crowd loved it, roaring with laughter. Transforming back into the unpresidential president America has come to know, Mr. Trump added, “And everybody would be out of here so fast! You wouldn’t come in in the first place!” Being presidential, he was saying, is so boring. Who wants that?

Most Americans want exactly that. We are sick of being shocked and ashamed every day by this deranged freak. We don’t want to live in his reality TV show.

After 1,000 days in office, Mr. Trump has redefined what it means to be presidential. On the 1,001st day of his tenure, which was Thursday, all pretense of normalcy went out the window. It was a day when he boasted of saving “millions of lives” by temporarily stopping a Middle East war that he effectively allowed to start in the first place, then compared the combatants to children who had to be allowed to slug each other to get it out of their system.

It was a day when he announced without any evident embarrassment that officials of the federal government that answers to him had scoured the country for a site for next year’s Group of 7 summit meeting and determined that the perfect location, the very best site in all the United States, just happened to be a property he owned in Florida.

It was a day when he sent out his top aide, an adviser who has served as “acting” White House chief of staff for nearly 10 months without ever being granted the respect of earning the title outright, to try to quell the whole impeachment furor, only to have him essentially admit the quid pro quo that the president had so adamantly denied.

It was a day that ended with a rally where one of the warm-up acts, the Texas lieutenant governor, declared that liberals “are not our opponents, they are our enemy,” and the president called the speaker of the House “crazy,” a rival candidate “very dumb,” a House committee chairman a “fraud” and the governor of another state a “crackpot.”

By Mary Cassatt (1944-1926)

This one is from Thursday. Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg: Does Trump Realize the Trouble He’s In?

Wednesday, the 1,000th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, went badly. That’s no surprise; most of the first 999 days went badly too. I have no idea if he’s going to wind up getting ousted from office, either as a result of the impeachment House Democrats are readying or the 2020 election. But things are getting worse for Trump — whether he realizes it or not.

Every once in a while, some event offers a clarifying reminder of the president’s poor judgment. On Wednesday, it was the release of a letter Trump wrote to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The letter itself was an embarrassment, in which Trump, soon after telling Erdogan on the phone that U.S. forces would move out of his way to enable Turkey’s invasion of Syria, tried to walk things back. Sort of. As Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman put it at the Monkey Cage, the president opted for “threatening rhetoric reminiscent of a Mafia boss” to “make loud threats that he may not be able to deliver on.” As soon as the letter was published, professional diplomats and historians said they had never seen something so amateurish from a U.S. president.

But what really underlined Trump’s problem for me wasn’t that he wrote an incompetent letter to follow up on what seems to have been an incompetent phone call. Or that his Syria policy, as my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Eli Lake notes, has resulted in chaos and death. Or that, on a crass political level, he’s managed to alienate his congressional allies just as he needs them most, with House Republicans voting overwhelmingly on Wednesday to condemn his decision.

No, what really got to me was that Trump distributed copies of this letter to congressional leaders when they showed up at the White House for a briefing. Think of it. Even if the letter had been perfectly normal, what Trump was handing them was an Oct. 9 request to Erdogan to halt his invasion — a request that Erdogan has, as we’ve seen, totally ignored. Trump was bragging about what he considered to be a sign of his own brilliance without realizing that it was instead evidence of abject failure.

Jeune-Fille-au-Chat, by Suzanne Valedon, 1919

Is it possible that Trump doesn’t understand that he’s an international laughing stock? Yes. It appears that he is that delusional. It was shortly after the meeting in which he distributed the insane letter that he tweeted the now iconic photo of Nancy Pelosi standing up and pointing at him–because he thought the photo made him look good!

Erdogan spoke about the letter to NPR. Bloomberg: Erdogan Says He Won’t Forget Trump’s ‘Devil’ Letter.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he won’t forget a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump that warned him not to be a “fool,” a “tough guy” or a “devil,” and vowed a response to what he said was a missive out of line with diplomatic courtesies.

Trump penned the warnings in a letter to Erdogan dated Oct. 9 in an effort to persuade the Turkish leader not to start a military offensive in Syria. Turkey sent troops across the border to push back American-backed Kurdish fighters on the same day, and the operation was its response to Trump’s letter, Erdogan aide Gulnur Aybet told NPR in an interview….

“We don’t see this issue as our priority today,” he told press in Istanbul. But, “it should be known that when the time comes, necessary action will be taken regarding this issue.”

Trump has been dictating a lot of letters lately, like the one he had his White House Counsel send to Congressional committees claiming their impeachment inquiry is illegitimate. The latest was a missive threatening to sue CNN for their news coverage.

Jonathan Chait: Trump Writes Unhinged ‘Legal’ Letter Demanding That CNN Pay Him Money.

This week, right-wing hoaxster James O’Keefe launched the latest of his series of secretly recorded videos, which purport to prove various conservative conspiracy theories but fail. The new version involves a CNN contractor recording employees grumbling about various complaints about the network, none of which establish the plot O’Keefe set out to prove, and some of which suggest the opposite (an employee complains that CNN covers Trump rallies but not Biden ones, which are too boring).

Mimi and her cat, by Paul Gauguin

Even some of the conservative movement’s dimmest stars came away unimpressed. The project nonetheless seems to have left an impression on Donald Trump, a devoted follower and purveyor of nearly all the right’s conspiracy theories, a fanatical devotee of cable news, and, incidentally, the president of the United States. Trump has directed his lawyer to threaten a lawsuit against CNN on the basis of O’Keefe’s flimsy video.

The letter claims that O’Keefe has personally disproven CNN’s claim to be a news network dedicated to reporting facts. “In the Footage, your employees
appear to state that CNN attempts to make its reporting appear neutral and unbiased, when in fact its reporting is far from neutral and highly biased against the President.” The letter then moves on to its true complaint, stating (without any evidence whatsoever), “Never in the history of this country has a President been the subject of such a sustained barrage of unfair, unfounded, unethical and unlawful attacks by so-called ‘mainstream’ news, as the current situation.”

Continuing from this extremely shaky factual foundation, Trump’s letter proceeds to a ludicrous legal argument: CNN has violated the Lanham Act, which controls truth in advertising. Therefore, by claiming to be a real news network while subjecting Trump to hours of critical coverage, it has misrepresented itself.

Read the rest at New York Magazine.

Two more reads on Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior.

Politico: Trump veterans see a presidency veering off the rails.

Former Trump White House officials and other Republicans close to the White House are increasingly worried about President Trump’s erratic behavior and say there are no longer enough safeguards around him to prevent self-inflicted disasters large and small.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec, Lechaton Minette

Just in the last two weeks, Trump precipitously withdrew U.S. troops from northern Syria and attacked America’s Kurdish allies as “no angels,” sparking outrage among GOP lawmakers; released a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose undiplomatic language was widely mocked; called his former defense secretary “the world’s most overrated general”; and blew up at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a meeting his own White House had called….

Under the strain of a metastasizing impeachment probe on Capitol Hill and helming an administration run by a diminishing number of heavyweight officials of independent stature, the president is displaying the kind of capricious behavior that once might have been contained or at least mitigated, former officials say.

“The wheels are not off the car. The situation is way worse than that. The car has been impounded and we are now waiting to figure out what the fine is and to see whether or not we’re going to get the car back,” said former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

Peter Nicholas at The Atlantic: The Unraveling of Donald Trump.

The country is entering a new and precarious phase, in which the central question about President Donald Trump is not whether he is coming unstrung, but rather just how unstrung he is going to get.

Giovanni Boldini (Italian artist, 1842-1931) A Lady with a Cat

The boiling mind of Trump has spawned a cottage industry for cognitive experts who have questioned whether he is, well, all there. But as the impeachment inquiry barrels ahead on Capitol Hill, several associates of the president, including former White House aides, worry that his behavior is likely to get worse. Angered by the proceedings, unencumbered by aides willing to question his judgment, and more and more isolated in the West Wing, Trump is apt to lash out more at enemies imagined and real, these people told me. Conduct that has long been unsettling figures to deteriorate as Trump comes under mounting stress. What unfolded Wednesday inside the West Wing’s walls might be only a foretaste of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described that day, after a meeting with Trump, as a presidential “meltdown.”

“He’s grown more comfortable in the job and less willing to assimilate new information and trust new advisers,” a former White House official told me. “He’s decided to throw caution to the wind and go it alone, especially when he’s stressed and feels under attack and threatened in various ways. Then his worst impulses and vices shine through.” [….]

At least one associate has confronted Trump recently about his judgment, specifically his decision to repeatedly attack the Biden family. Isn’t it unseemly for a president to target Joe Biden’s son Hunter? Wouldn’t it be smarter, at least, to outsource this sort of attack to someone else?

According to a person close to the president, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations, Trump’s explanation was that he acts as any normal person might, and that he won’t be moved by what he calls “political correctness.” “You don’t get it,” Trump said.

The only ones who “get it” are the wackos at his Hitler rallies. Even Republicans are beginning to wake up from their long sleep.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s happening in the news. What stories are you following today?


Fraud Filled Friday Reads: Pity the US Taxpayer and pray for the Kurds

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The Beginnings of Chaos, Zhong Baio, 2009

Good Morning!

I figured things that went crazy yesterday would be further elucidated today.  I was right.  Yesterday’s Trumpist regime actions still look appalling even with a bit more information and explanation.   We have Mike Pence getting outfoxed by the Turks which unfortunately means death for the Kursish people in Syria.  His negotiations were basically a recipe for capitulation and genocide. I’m also wondering how much money from the US Treasury will be piled into refitting the Doral for a grand old case of emoluments violations?  Plus there was  Mulvaney’s mea culpa on a Trumpist quid pro quo that cannot be unwound once put on national TV.  Is there a stronger description of what’s going on in the White House other than utter chaos? Labeling it all chaos seems like such an understatement!

kennedy memeLet me start with USA Today’s opinion page and the heading from Paul Brandus: “Trump’s unmatched sleaze: Grifters, women, trampling Constitution and now G-7 at Doral”. 

We’ve had presidents who were used by members of their own family for personal gain, like Ulysses S. Grant.

We’ve had presidents who stocked their Cabinet with greedy, self-serving mediocrities who took advantage of the public trust, like Warren G. Harding.

We’ve had presidents who swore to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution, only to then abuse it, like Richard Nixon.

And we’ve had presidents who, thanks to a presumptive sense of entitlement, lived slimy private lives, using countless women before tossing them aside — Harding again, plus John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

President Donald Trump falls into every single sleazy category, squarely and shamelessly. Just Thursday, we learned that he’ll hold next year’s Group of Seven meeting (with leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom) at his own Doral golf resort in Miami.

It’s the latest example of how Trump, who never divested from his businesses, continues to make millions from them. It’s also the latest reminder that he constantly violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which is supposed to ban presidents from accepting money from foreign governments. This while the House is in the middle of an impeachment inquiry and there are two lawsuits pending over the emoluments clause.

This is unbelievable,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which filed one of those suits, speaking for much of America.

WILSON FLOWER%20OF%20DEATH SAAM

“Flower of Death—The Bursting of a Heavy Shell— Not as It Looks, but as It Feels and Sounds and Smells” (1919) by Claggett Wilson Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

And then there’s this tell-all book by Ex VA chief Shulkin as reviewed in WAPO by Lisa Rein.  Here’s the headline: “Ex-VA chief Shulkin’s new book decries ‘toxic, subversive’ culture in Trump’s Washington”.

His security detail leaked his schedule, putting him at risk. A senior adviser on his team circulated a three-page memo outlining his ouster — with a succession plan. His inner circle held meetings without him and scurried to secret huddles at the White House.

And a trio of rich men who are fixtures at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. — but had no experience in the federal government — were his keepers.

These are some of the scenes from David Shulkin’s new book, “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country,” an account of his tumultuous 15 months as Trump’s first Veterans Affairs secretary.

The book portrays a toxic, backstabbing culture in Trump’s Washington that, as its title suggests, should give pause to anyone considering public service, Shulkin writes. From his rib-tickling interview with the president-elect to his dismissal by tweet in March 2018, Shulkin says he was blindsided at almost every turn by a multitude of institutions, from his inspector general to the media. And he says veterans are paying the cost.

“The VA was once thought to be the only part of the federal government that was above politics,” Shulkin, 60, writes. But “the environment in Washington had grown so toxic, chaotic and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve.”

Ultimately his own staff did him in, Shulkin writes, turning ethics questions about a trip he took to Europe that mixed business with pleasure to their advantage. The Ivy League-trained physician who had excelled at turning around ailing hospitals was unprepared for the onslaught.

The score-settling book, to be published Tuesday by a division of Hachette Book Group, is Shulkin’s comeback to the forces that derailed him. He describes a deep state of subordinates within his own inner circle — not of career bureaucrats but political appointees — who assumed outsize power with a singular goal: to privatize veterans’ health care.

Two halves of a fractured face next to a serene ocean.

René Magritte. The Double Secret, 1927.

I can only imagine that every privatized VA hospital would also carry the Trump logo across its entrance paid for with a hefty bill by the US Taxpayer while Vets languish in lines waiting for services they’ll never receive in the name of personal profit for Trump and his family crime syndicate.

And meanwhile, what is supposed to be a ceasefire in Syria, appears to be a free for all including chemical weapons. This headline is from Foreign Policy and is written by Lara Seligman: “Turkish Proxies Appear to Be Using White Phosphorus in Syria. Photos of children show horrific burns caused by what looks like white phosphorus.”   This is a NATO all.  WTF?

Turkish-backed forces appear to be using munitions loaded with white phosphorus—a chemical that can maim and kill when it comes in contact with human flesh—in their violent campaign against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, Foreign Policy has learned.

Meanwhile, reports emerged overnight that Turkey has continued to attack Kurdish fighters and civilian settlements in the border town of Ras al-Ain, despite a cease-fire agreement announced by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Turkish-backed forces targeted a Kurdish medical convoy and an American aid organization trying to get into the town to evacuate wounded civilians, according to a Syrian conflict monitor.

Photos provided to Foreign Policy by a Kurdish source and confirmed by a senior U.S. administration official show children in Ras al-Ain with chemical burns on their chests and faces consistent with wounds from white phosphorus. (One of the photos, which is graphic, is published here.)

An official with an aid organization, who declined to be named for security reasons, confirmed that several people had been admitted into the National Hospital in Hasakah city coming from Ras al-Ain with “severe burns” that appeared to have been caused by white phosphorus or napalm.

In a letter supplied to Foreign Policy by Bassam Saker, the representative of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) to the United States, the co-secretaries of the SDC’s health department, Rapareen Hasn and Manal Mhemed, urgently called on the international community to evacuate the wounded civilians.

“Turkey uses all kind of weapons including the internationally prohibited ones, and our medical teams are unable to evacuate the civilians,” according to the letter, which was also confirmed by the senior U.S. administration official. Saker confirmed that the prohibited weapons referred to in the letter are suspected to be “unusual bombs” loaded with white phosphorus.

Separately, a former combat medic who deployed to Syria in 2017-2018 confirmed to Foreign Policy that the photos appeared to show chemical burns.

The She Wolf, 1943 - Jackson Pollock

The She Wolf, 1943 – Jackson Pollock

This is what the Orange Snot Blob in the Oval office laughs off as “not our problem”.

And the letter sent to Erdogen by the Toddler in Chief was seen as an insult to Turkey so there’s this reporting from the UK Independent. “Erdogan says Turkey will take necessary steps against Trump’s ‘disrespectful’ letter. Letter ‘was not in line with diplomatic and political courtesy. We will not forget this lack of respect'”.

The letter “was not in line with diplomatic and political courtesy. We will not forget this lack of respect. This is not a priority for us. But when the time comes we would like it to be known that we will take the necessary steps.”

The extraordinary missive warned the Turkish leader not to be a “fool” over Turkish plans to start a military campaign in northern Syria.

It emerged on Thursday that Mr Erdogan reacted angrily to the letter, throwing it in the bin and commencing the military offensive, which has left dozens of civilians dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Well, so much for impressing folks with his stable genius and art of the deal.  From Raw Story Today: “Turkey’s foreign minister bursts out laughing as he mocks Trump’s erratic tweets.”

Speaking to the BBC’s HARDtalk this Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu scoffed at the Trump administration’s threat of sanctions over his country’s military operation in northeast Syria, saying that the threat is the result of erratic confused messaging that’s not doing anything to help the situation.

Cavusoglu laughed and mocked Trump for his constant tweeting about various issues, including Turkey.

“Different voices, different positions are coming from the United States, because of the differences between the administration, the State Department, Pentagon, and this and that,” he said.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s partying at Mar A Lago these days.  Yeah, it’s still grifting bigots pushing conspiracy theories and stupid rich people if you want to know.  This is from the Palm Beach Post: “Another anti-Muslim group to host event at Mar-a-Lago”.

Another anti-Muslim group has scheduled a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, prompting the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group to again ask the Trump Organization to cancel an event sponsored by such a group.

The Center for Security Policy, a Washington, DC think-tank whose founder, Frank Gaffney once suggested President Barack Obama was a Muslim and that Sharia law threatens American society, intends to host its annual Flame Dinner at Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 23. Tickets for the event start at $650, according to the Center’s website.

Fred Fleitz, the Center’s president and CEO, said the group was not deterred by the Trump Organization’s abrupt decision on Oct. 6 to cancel an event hosted by another anti-Muslim group, ACT for America, after news of that group’s dinner plans grabbed national headlines and drew widespread criticism.

“We are honored to have this event at Mar-a-Lago,” said Fleitz, adding that he has dined at the club many times.

And then there was another HaterPalooza in Texas with the typical Trumpist Rage and Rant.  It was even more amped up than usual.

Plus, there was the usual misogyny and lies and insanity. Where do these Trumpers spring from? Who likes this sort’ve thing? Trump’s hateful catharsis in front of aggrieved white bigots is something you could not pay me to do. Not any amount. No HOW.

The Fall of the Rebel Angels by Pieter Bruegel | © Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium/WikiCommons

The Fall of the Rebel Angels, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1592

 Beto O’Rouke had a counter rally in what the Dallas Observer called a packed venue.

Standing on a platform surrounded by a crowd of screaming fans and waving signs, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke told a packed theater at his Rally Against Fear about his plans and dreams for the country.

Throughout the night, he and other speakers focused on the need for gun control, immigration and healthcare reform and denounced the imprisonment of immigrant children and last week’s shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old woman who was killed in her home by a Fort Worth police officer.

Many issues make it easy to be afraid right now, he said, but it’s important to come together and work to overcome terror, racism, sexism and discrimination.

“We cannot stand for that fear because we must stand for those who have been the victims of that fear,” he said.

Rather than speak from the stage behind him, he opted to stand among the people who came to support him at Thursday night’s event in Grand Prairie. The theater seats 6,000 people and was packed to the gills.

Quite a contrast to the usual attacks on Hillary, “crazy” Nancy Pelosi and any one that dares name the orange devil for what he is.

So let me end with a few things that show we can make progress despite him.  Notice this is another moment from a Democratic Candidate President celebrating the strides women have made in Space.

And, there are other things that go on despite the chaos … like Bulldog Mattis roasting Trump which you know always makes the Orange Snot Blob testy.

So, let me end with a classic song that also sums up the times today:

Have a good weekend! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Elijah Cummings in Baltimore, 1997, Andre Chung, Baltimore Sun

Good Morning!!

I woke up this morning at 5:30 and I turned on the TV to see if there was any news. There was. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings had died at age 68. What a heartbreaking loss for our country.

Reactions:

The Washington Post: Rep. Elijah Cummings, Democratic leader and regular Trump target, dies at 68.

Elijah E. Cummings, a Democratic congressman from Maryland who gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore, and his forceful opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump, died early Thursday morning at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate in Baltimore. He was 68.

After undergoing an unspecified medical procedure, the Democratic leader did not return to his office this week, the Baltimore Sun reported. A statement from his office said that he had passed away due to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” Mr. Cummings was chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a leading figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry.

Born to a family of Southern sharecroppers and Baptist preachers, Mr. Cummings grew up in the racially fractured Baltimore of the 1950s and 1960s. At 11, he helped integrate a local swimming pool while being attacked with bottles and rocks. “Perry Mason,” the popular TV series about a fictional defense lawyer, inspired him to enter the legal profession.

“Many young men in my neighborhood were going to reform school,” he told the East Texas Review. “Though I didn’t completely know what reform school was, I knew that Perry Mason won a lot of cases. I also thought that these young men probably needed lawyers.”

In the Maryland House of Delegates, he became the youngest chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus and the first African American to serve as speaker pro tempore, the member who presides in the speaker’s absence.

In 1996, he won the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that Kweisi Mfume (D) vacated to become NAACP president. Mr. Cummings eventually served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and as ranking Democrat and then chairman of what became the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

He drew national attention as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief defender during 2015 congressional hearings into her handling of the attack three years earlier on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The attack killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

He was “the quintessential speaking-truth-to-power representative,” said Herbert C. Smith, a political science professor at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md. “Cummings has never shied from a very forceful give-and-take.”

Here is Rep. Cummings last tweet.

ABC News quotes a statement from Cummings’ wife:

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and Cummings’ wife, said in a statement that Cummings was “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”

“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. “I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”

In other news, Trump is still Trump and he’s still occupying the people’s house.

Trump lackey Gordon Sondland is testifying at the impeachment hearing today. He seems to be claiming that he was completely in the dark about Trump’s and Giuliani’s machinations in Ukraine, even while he (Sondland) was carrying out their orders.

The Daily Beast: Sondland Throws Trump Under the Bus.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, will tell Congress that he was told by President Trump that he had to help his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani with his plan on Ukraine.

In his opening statement, which was obtained by The Daily Beast, Sondland will say: “I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President’s2020 reelection campaign.”

“Based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns.”

Click the link to read the full statement. We’ll probably hear more details later on today.

I’m sure you’ve read Trump’s idiotic letter to Turkey’s Erdogan. This is from Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: “Is This Real?”: Trump Sends Third-Grade Reading-Level Letter to Erdogan.

Donald Trump has said or done something certifiably insane nearly every day of his presidency. And not like, “This guy’s a little kooky”-level insane, but full-on “Mr. President, put down the stapler and unhand the president of Finland”-level insane. But last week, apparently seeking to prove to the world that we ain’t seen nothing yet re: the depths of his mental instability, he wrote and reportedly proudly distributed the following letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for all the world to see:

The Turkish government was not amused. Middle East Eye: ‘We dumped it in the trash’: Trump’s letter to Erdogan gets hostile reception.

A leaked letter written by US President Donald Trump to Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning his Turkish counterpart not to be a “fool” has sent shockwaves around Turkey due to its lack of protocol and seriousness.

Dated 9 October, the day Erdogan launched an offensive in northeastern Syria against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, the letter aimed to make a deal between Turkey and the SDF and included an open economic sanctions threat.

Yet this wasn’t the part Turks focused on.

“It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen,” Trump wrote. “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” [….]

It has now been confirmed as genuine by the White House, but soon after the leak on Wednesday, thousands of Turks asked each other on Twitter and WhatsApp whether the letter was authentic or a joke.

“If this letter is real, Trump is absolutely completely crazy,” one Turk tweeted.

Turkish officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Middle East Eye that they responded to Trump’s letter in kind and with stronger language.

“We just dumped his letter into the trash,” one of them said.

The leak comes at a particularly sensitive time, with US Vice President Mike Pence touching down in Ankara on Thursday in a bid to seek a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdish-led SDF.

“This Trump letter to Erdogan is the most damaging correspondence that could’ve been leaked ahead of VP Pence’s visit to Ankara tomorrow,” Soner Cagaptay, a prominent Turkey expert tweeted on Wednesday.

“Now, Erdogan has no option but to delay ceasefire in Syria, less he be humiliated in front of his nation as weak and bowing to America’s threat.”

Trump was so proud of this letter that he bragged about it in the same meeting in which he attacked Nancy Pelosi as a “third-grade politician.” From the AP:

The administration called in congressional leadership to discuss the situation in Syria. The House had just voted, 354-60, to overwhelmingly oppose the president’s announced U.S. troop withdrawal, a rare bipartisan rebuke. Trump’s action has opened the door for a Turkish military attack on Syrian Kurds who have been aligned with the U.S. in fighting the country’s long-running war.

Trump kicked off the meeting bragging about his “nasty” letter to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it. In the letter, Trump warned the Turkish leader, with exclamation points, not to be “slaughtering” the Kurds. The person called Trump’s opening a lengthy, bombastic monologue.

Pelosi mentioned the House vote and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, started to read the president a quote from former Defense Secretary James Mattis on the need to keep U.S. troops in Syria to prevent a resurgent of Islamic State fighters.

But Trump cut Schumer off, complaining that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough.” Trump went on, “I captured ISIS.”

Pelosi explained to Trump that Russia has always wanted a “foothold in the Middle East,” and now it has one with the U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Democratic aide who was also granted anonymity.

“All roads with you lead to Putin,” the speaker said.

Then it began.

Trump said to Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do.”

Pelosi responded, “You don’t know that.”

Schumer intervened at one point and said, “Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?”

Trump replied, “Our plan is to keep the American people safe.”

Pelosi said: “That’s not a plan. That’s a goal.”

Trump turned to Pelosi and complained about former President Barack Obama’s “red line” over Syria. According to Schumer, he then called her “a third-rate politician.”

At that point, the genteel Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, interjected, “This is not useful.”

Pelosi and Hoyer stood and left the meeting. As they did, Trump said, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”

From the White House driveway, Pelosi told reporters Trump was having some kind of “meltdown” inside. She said they had to leave because Trump was unable to grasp the reality of the situation.

Later, she would insist he even botched the insult, calling her “third-grade” rather than “third-rate.”

The impeachment inquiry never came up, she said.

Trump insisted later on Twitter that it was Pelosi who had a “total meltdown,” calling her “a very sick person!”

He also tweeted pictures from the room. “Do you think they like me?” he asked mockingly about one, showing Pelosi and Schumer looking exhausted and glum.

“Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” he tweeted with another.

In that photo, Pelosi can be seen, surrounded by congressional leaders and military brass around a table at the White House, finger outpointed. She is standing up, literally, to Trump.

Pelosi turned the photo into the banner on her Twitter page.

No one likes him.

Mike Pence is in Turkey right now and it’s not going well.

Who knows what horrors today may bring. This is our reality now. Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Wednesday Reads: #PronounsDay

 

Have you added your pronouns to your social media?

Support #PronounDay!

Here’s a few other tweets to round out this open thread:

 

 

It is so disgustingly true…

This is an open thread.


Things that go bump in the Night! (12 Democratic Candidates for President crowd onto a stage)

"Image:from NBC Live blog for tonight

Well, it’s that Time again!!

From the NBC: link under the photos:

“The largest group of candidates to take the stage will face off Tuesday night at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. They include front-runners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren; Bernie Sanders, who returns to the campaign after suffering a heart attack; billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who’s joining a debate for the first time; and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who missed the September go-round after failing to qualify.”

Image result for debate bingo card

 

The Debate will be hosted by CNN as announced by CBS:

How to watch the Democratic debate Tonight

  • Date: Tuesday, October 15, 2019
  • Time: 8 to 11 p.m. ET
  • Location: Otterbein University – Westerville, OH
  • TV Channel: CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International
  • Online stream: Watch the debate on CNN.com or watch CNN on fuboTV (free trial offer)
  • Analysis: Watch CBSN for live coverage of the debate before, during and after

 

Joe Heller Copyright 2019 Hellertoon.com

 

We will be live blogging tonight so join us!!!