Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

We lost one of the all-time greats last night. Carl Reiner is dead at 98. TMZ:

Carl Reiner, one of the most prolific entertainers in the history of show business has died … TMZ has learned.

We’re told Reiner died Monday night at his Beverly Hills home.  We’re told his family was with him when he passed.

Reiner was a producer. He was also a director. He was also an actor. He was also a Grammy winner. He won 9 Emmys in over 7 decades. He has more than 400 credits….

For most people … they remember Carl best for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which he created and starred in. Carl played the role of a very temperamental comedian — Alan Brady — who terrorized Dick Van Dyke‘s character and the other writers. Oh, and there was this new actress Carl cast for Dick’s wife — Mary Tyler Moore

Carl made a best-selling album with Mel Brooks called “2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks” which earned a Grammy nomination and sparked his writing career.

There were other smash hits, including directing “Oh God” with George Burns and “The Jerk” with Steve Martin. He worked with Martin on several movies, including “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “Man with Two Brains” and “All of Me.”

Reiner appeared in a bunch of TV shows and movies, including “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming,” and “Enter Laughing.”

The directing credits are endless — “Summer Rental” with John Candy, “Summer School” with Mark Harmon, “That Old Feeling” with Bette Midler and “Sibling Rivalry” with Kirstie Alley and Carrie Fisher.

Click the link to read the rest.

Vanity Fair: Carl Reiner, Comedy Patriarch, Dies at 98.

If Carl Reiner had written a deathbed memoir, it would have been titled Exit Laughing. After all, the legendary comedy writer, performer, and director had already published Enter Laughing and Continue Laughing. Having conquered TV, movies, Broadway, and traditional publishing over his seven-decade-plus career, Reiner spent his last years mastering e-books and Twitter, writing and tweeting until Monday night, when he died at age 98 in his Beverly Hills home, TMZ reports. Reiner died of natural causes, Variety writes. He was prolific til the end, even sitting for an interview in an episode of the YouTube series “Dispatches from Quarantine” that premiered on June 22.

Born in the Bronx, Reiner began his New York stage career as a serious Shakespearean thespian, but he found that comedy was what paid the bills. He worked as a Borscht Belt joker at the Allaben Acres resort in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, where he met his future wife, singer Estelle Lebost, and he learned the skills that served him as a comedy writer under actor Maurice Evans in the U.S. Army’s entertainment unit in Hawaii during World War II.

After the war, Reiner landed two jobs with one audition: summer entertainment director at the Lake Spofford Hotel in New Hampshire, and replacement for star Jules Munshin in the touring production of the revue Call Me Mister. Roles such as the latter, as well as in Broadway musicals Inside U.S.A. and Alive and Kicking, led to his casting in the sketch company of Sid Caesar’s landmark live-TV comedy series Your Show of Shows. Throughout the 1950s, Reiner would work as a performer and writer on Caesar’s various shows, working with a legendary team of scribes that included Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, and Woody Allen. He also wrote his first book, 1958’s Enter Laughing, an autobiographical novel about his early days as an actor.

Reiner drew from his own life to create his first sitcom, Head of the Family, about a young, recently married TV-sketch-comedy writer, in which Reiner also starred. The show was a flop until Reiner retooled it with a new leading actor and actress and took a supporting role as the sketch show’s egotistical host, Alan Brady. The result was The Dick Van Dyke Show (which was on-air from 1960 to 1966), an innovative series that made Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore into stars and earned Reiner several Emmys for the show’s mix of sexy, sophisticated comedy and silly slapstick.

And that was just the beginning. Read more about Reiner’s storied career at VF.

In other news . . .

Stories on the Russian bounty scandal are still breaking.

AP sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019.

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File).

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.

The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.

The White House did not respond to questions about Trump or other officials’ awareness of Russia’s provocations in 2019. The White House has said Trump was not — and still has not been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they have not been fully verified. However, it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials.

Of course he knew, and he didn’t care.

The intelligence that surfaced in early 2019 indicated Russian operatives had become more aggressive in their desire to contract with the Taliban and members of the Haqqani Network, a militant group aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan and designated a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 during the Obama administration.

The National Security Council and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence did hold meetings regarding the intelligence. The Pentagon declined to comment and the NSC did not respond to questions about the meetings.

Concerns about Russian bounties flared anew this year after members of the elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known to the public as SEAL Team Six, raided a Taliban outpost and recovered roughly $500,000 in U.S. currency. The funds bolstered the suspicions of the American intelligence community that the Russians had offered money to Taliban militants and other linked associations.

The White House contends the president was unaware of this development as well.

If that’s true then WTF is Trump doing pretending to be “president?” There’s quite a bit more detail at the link.

David Ignatius at The Washington Post: Trump doesn’t understand that Putin is in the payback business.

A basic truth about Russian President Vladimir Putin, which President Trump evidently doesn’t understand: Putin is in the payback business. He believes the United States destroyed his former country, the Soviet Union. He likes the United States to feel pain, in Afghanistan and everywhere else.

Trump has his own, much rosier take on Putin. And I can’t help wondering whether that explains why, assuming his account is true, the American president was never briefed about intelligence reports early this year that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Perhaps Trump’s national security aides were afraid to upset him.

When it comes to the military, Trump has the opposite of a Midas touch. Everything he handles becomes tarnished. That was true of his meddling last year in the discipline case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher; his encouragement of the firing Capt. Brett Crozier as skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt; and his enlistment of Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a publicity stunt at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.

More from Ignatius:

There’s a lot we still don’t know about the Russian bounties in Afghanistan. But sources have provided some basics that allow us to see this incident in context.

First, we must understand that the Russians wish us ill in Afghanistan. Putin’s generation remains bitter about their forced withdrawal that finished in 1989, under American pressure, which presaged the collapse of the Soviet Union. There’s a tiny Afghan War Museum in Moscow’s Perovo district: two dark rooms, pictures of the fallen, guns, maps and other trinkets of a war that broke the Soviet Union’s spirit.

About 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in their nine-year Afghanistan war. By comparison, the United States has suffered 2,372 military deaths in our Afghan war, waged for more than twice as long.

What makes Afghanistan especially painful for Russia is that the Soviet Union’s final defeat resulted from a secret CIA program to supply the Afghan mujahideen with Stinger antiaircraft missiles, which could shoot down Soviet helicopters and were a death sentence for Moscow’s recruits.

More Russian bounty stories to check out:

CNN: Intelligence on Russian bounty plot was included in the President’s Daily Brief earlier this year, source says.

CNBC: Mom of Marine killed in Afghanistan wants investigation of claim Russians paid Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers.

The New York Times: Trump Got Written Briefing in February on Possible Russian Bounties, Officials Say.

Blockbuster story on Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders from Carl Bernstein at CNN

From pandering to Putin to abusing allies and ignoring his own advisers, Trump’s phone calls alarm US officials

In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

The calls caused former top Trump deputies — including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials — to conclude that the President was often “delusional,” as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest….

By far the greatest number of Trump’s telephone discussions with an individual head of state were with Erdogan, who sometimes phoned the White House at least twice a week and was put through directly to the President on standing orders from Trump, according to the sources. Meanwhile, the President regularly bullied and demeaned the leaders of America’s principal allies, especially two women: telling Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom she was weak and lacked courage; and telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “stupid.”

Trump incessantly boasted to his fellow heads of state, including Saudi Arabia’s autocratic royal heir Mohammed bin Salman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, about his own wealth, genius, “great” accomplishments as President, and the “idiocy” of his Oval Office predecessors, according to the sources.

In his conversations with both Putin and Erdogan, Trump took special delight in trashing former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and suggested that dealing directly with him — Trump — would be far more fruitful than during previous administrations. “They didn’t know BS,” he said of Bush and Obama — one of several derisive tropes the sources said he favored when discussing his predecessors with the Turkish and Russian leaders.

Read the whole thing at CNN. We knew about some of these calls, but the details in Bernstein’s story are breathtaking.

It’s only Tuesday and there will likely be more Trump scandals before the week’s end. Take care of yourselves, Sky Dancers!!


16 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      I’m glad McGrath won. We need more Democratic women, and Booker was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, which is the kiss of death, especially in a state like Kentucky.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. quixote says:

    That business about the Dump “doesn’t understand” Putin is in the payback business.

    When does the asinine media plan to stop normalizing the Pile-o-Garbage?

    Of course he understands. It’s the only way of doing business he knows. He’s in the same business himself. “Yes, but before that, we need a favor……..”

    • Enheduanna says:

      No kidding – it’s in his DNA. I’m not sure if he understands the ethical problem with it though.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I doubt if Trump knows the history and I also think he doesn’t understand he’s getting played by Putin.

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. NW Luna says:

    States shouldn’t be providing assistance to religious schools — it’s taxpayer money going to tax-exempt organizations. Montana should stop subsidizing all private schools anyway.

    Supreme Court says Montana program aiding private schools must be open to religious schools

    A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday said that states that provide assistance to private schools may not exclude some solely because they are religious, a major victory for those who want to see religious institutions play a more robust role in “school choice.”

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for a conservative majority in the 5-to-4 ruling, said the Montana Supreme Court was wrong to strike down a tuition assistance program passed by the legislature. It allowed tax incentives for scholarships to private schools, including religious ones, but the state court said that ran afoul of a state constitution provision forbidding public funds from going to religious institutions.

    The U.S. Constitution’s protection of religious freedom prevails, he said. “A state need not subsidize private education,” Roberts wrote. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Cause for celebration!

    BREAKING NEWS ALERT

    For the first time in months, state officials on Tuesday reported zero new deaths in Massachusetts due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, an encouraging milestone that stood in stark contrast with other states nationwide that have seen recent spikes in their numbers.

    — Boston Globe