Monday Reads on Steriods

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

A Cup of Coffee

A cup of Coffee by Victor Gabriel Gilbert

There were so many newsy things breaking this weekend and today that it’s going to be nearly impossible to do much more than a link drop accompanied by a very large mug of hot, black coffee. The entire Russia thing is coming together which probably why there was a Twitler meltdown yesterday. (Richard Gates has flipped.)

Well, that news along with incredible rumors of a FLOTUS responding badly to all the infidelity stories which are doozies and getting doozier. White House officials are trying to calm the nerves of our allies by telling them to ignore the tweets as some of them took on a distinctly unfriendly and ominous tone coupled with a total misread of at least two foreign situations.

It looks like there’s more evidence that the Republican party is melting like the Wicked Witch from that bucket of water. It’s just really difficult for me to find a starting point with this so I’ll just randomly choose things after I share the article that indicates something my heart has known for many years. Uncle Clarence Thomas should never have become a Supreme Court Justice and really really really should be impeached. I have and will forever believe Anita Hill and will never EVER forgive Joe Biden. NEVER. EVER.

This is from Jill Abrahamson at New York Magazine: “Do You Believe Her Now? With new evidence that Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court, it’s time to talk seriously about impeachment.”

On the same fall night in 2016 that the infamous Access Hollywoodtape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was made public by the Washington Post and dominated the news, an Alaska attorney, Moira Smith, wrote on Facebook about her own experiences as a victim of sexual misconduct in 1999.

“At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas,” she began her post, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was famously accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, a woman who had worked for him at two federal agencies, including the EEOC, the federal sexual-harassment watchdog.

“I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding,” Smith continued. “He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable. But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again … ‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.” Smith had been silent for 17 years but, infuriated by the “Grab ’em by the pussy” utterings of a presidential candidate, could keep quiet no more.

Tipped to the post by a Maryland legal source who knew Smith, Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded and scrupulously nonideological Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, wrote a detailed story about Smith’s allegation of butt-squeezing, which included corroboration from Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and from her former husband. Coyle’s story, which Thomas denied, was published October 27, 2016. If you missed it, that’s because this news was immediately buried by a much bigger story — the James Comey letter reopening the Hillary Clinton email probe.

A Dutch girl at breakfast, by Jean-Etienne Liotard

I hope this bit puts an end to any Biden presidential aspirations.

The Thomas hearings were not just a national referendum on workplace behavior, sexual mores, and the interplay between those things; they were a typical example of partisan gamesmanship and flawed compromise. Chairman Biden was outmaneuvered and bluffed by the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. He had plenty of witnesses who could have testified about Thomas’s inappropriate sexualized office behavior and easily proven interest in the kind of porn Hill referenced in her testimony, but had made a bargain with his Republican colleagues that sealed Hill’s fate: He agreed only to call witnesses who had information about Thomas’s workplace behavior. Thomas’s “private life,” especially his taste for porn — then considered more outré than it might be now — would be out of bounds, despite the fact that information confirming his habit of talking about it would have cast extreme doubt on Thomas’s denials.

This gentleman’s agreement was typical of the then-all-male Judiciary Committee. Other high-profile Democrats like Ted Kennedy, who was in no position to poke into sexual misconduct, remained silent. Republicans looked for dirt on Hill wherever they could find it — painting her as a “little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” as Brock later said, with help from Thomas himself, who huddled with GOP congressmen to brainstorm what damaging information he could unearth on his former employee, some of which he seems to have leaked to the press — and ladled it into the Hill-Thomas testimony. Meanwhile, Biden played by Marquis of Queensberry rules.

Late last year, in an interview with Teen Vogue, Biden finally apologized to Hill after all these years, admitting that he had not done enough to protect her interests during the hearings. He said he believed Hill at the time: “And my one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends. ”

Among the corroborative stories — the potential #MeToos — that Biden knew about but was unwilling to use: those of Angela Wright; Rose Jourdain, another EEOC worker in whom Wright confided; and Sukari Hardnett, still another EEOC worker with relevant evidence. (“If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive and worked directly for Clarence Thomas, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female,” Hardnett wrote in a letter to the Judiciary Committee, contradicting Thomas’s claim “I do not and did not commingle my personal life with my work life” and supporting McEwen’s 2010 assertion that he “was always actively watching the women he worked with to see if they could be potential partners” as “a hobby of his.”) Kaye Savage, a friend of Thomas’s and Hill’s, knew of his extensive collection of Playboy magazines; Fred Cooke, a Washington attorney, saw Thomas renting porn videos that match Hill’s descriptions, as did Barry Maddox, the owner of the video store that Thomas frequented. And at least some members of Biden’s staff would have known Lillian McEwen had relevant information.

This is what any trial lawyer would call a bonanza of good, probative evidence (even without the additional weight of the other people with knowledge of Thomas’s peculiar sex talk, like Montwieler). In interviews over the years, five members of Biden’s Judiciary Committee at the time of the hearings told me they were certain that if Biden had called the other witnesses to testify, Thomas would never have been confirmed.

Sergey Smirnov – Cup of Coffee

Since his appointment, he’s done nothing outstanding but to glomb on to Scalia and other severely conservative justices for everything. Then, he’s gone out of his way to ignore all the conflicts of interest that both he and his wife have provided him. This entire saga will stick in my craw to the day I die.

This story by many at the NYT on the lengths Michael Cohen took to ‘fix’ Trump’s many dalliances and infidelities is simply astonishing.

Mr. Cohen’s role has come under scrutiny amid recent revelations that he facilitated a payment to silence a porn star, but his aggressive behind-the-scenes efforts stretch back years, according to interviews, emails and other records.

They intensified as Mr. Trump’s campaign began in the summer of 2015, when a former hedge-fund manager told Mr. Cohen that he had obtained photographs of Mr. Trump with a bare-breasted woman. The man said Mr. Cohen first blew up at him, then steered him to David J. Pecker, chairman of the tabloid company, which sometimes bought, then buried, embarrassing material about his high-profile friends and allies.

In early 2016, after a legal affairs website uncovered old court cases in which a female former Trump business partner had accused him of sexual misconduct, Mr. Cohen released a statement suggesting that the woman, Jill Harth, “would acknowledge” that the story was false. Ms. Harth said the statement was made without her permission, and that she stands by her claims. It was not the last time Mr. Cohen would present a denial on behalf of a woman who had alleged a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

In August of that year, Mr. Cohen learned details of a deal that American Media had struck with a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, that prevented her from going public about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen was not representing anyone in the confidential agreement, but he was apprised of it by Ms. McDougal’s lawyer, and earlier had been made aware of her attempt to tell her story by the media company, according to interviews and an email reviewed by The New York Times.

Ethopian folk art

Then, there’s Stormy Daniels. No wonder Melania has been chilly as a Siberian Bear.

Things looked frosty between the first couple last week when the president’s attempt at a public display of affection and unity appeared to be rebuffed by the first lady.

And about that twitter frenzy and its possible connection to developments in the Russia investigation. Trump’s tone and blame game has switched with Friday’s indictment of a Russian election scam cell.

President Trump lashed out with fresh anger about the intensifying Russia probe over the weekend, accusing Democrats of enabling a foreign adversary to interfere in the 2016 election and attacking the FBI as well as his own national security adviser.

In a defiant and error-laden tweetstorm that was remarkable even by his own combative standards, Trump stewed aloud about the latest indictments brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III against Russians for their elaborate campaign to denigrate the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and push voters toward Trump.

The president seized on Mueller’s evidence of the expansive scope of the Russian influence efforts to claim that the indictments exonerated him and proved there was “no collusion.” But the special counsel’s investigation of possible complicity between Russia and the Trump campaign is continuing, as is the examination of whether Trump has sought to obstruct justice.

In a string of 10 Twitter messages — which began after 11 p.m. Saturday and ended around noon Sunday, and which included profanity and misspellings — Trump opened a window into his state of mind, even as Trump’s representatives at a global security conference in Germany advised jittery allies to generally ignore the president’s tweets.

Trump’s latest attacks built on remarks last week in which he misrepresented the evidence revealed by Mueller. He tweeted falsely, “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” He blamed President Barack Obama’s administration for doing “nothing” to stop the intrusion. Trump rebuked national security adviser H.R. McMaster for publicly saying the evidence of Russian interference was “incontrovertible.”

 

Once again, officials are suggesting the world ignore his tweets.

Amid global anxiety about President Trump’s approach to world affairs, U.S. officials had a message for a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: Pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.

U.S. lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — and top national security officials in the Trump administration offered the same advice publicly and privately, often clashing with Trump’s Twitter stream: The United States remains staunchly committed to its European allies, is furious with the Kremlin about election interference and isn’t contemplating a preemptive strike on North Korea to halt its nuclear program.

But Trump himself engaged in a running counterpoint to the message, taking aim on social media at his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, because he “forgot” on Saturday to tell the Munich Security Conference that the results of the 2016 election weren’t affected by Russian interference, a conclusion that is not supported by U.S. intelligence agencies. They say they will probably never be able to determine whether the Russian involvement swung the election toward Trump.

The determination to ignore Trump’s foreign policy tweets has been bipartisan.

“There is a lot more support for continuing our past policies than it might appear from some of the statements,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told an audience on Sunday that was made up mostly of Europe’s foreign policy elite. “The unanimity comes from those folks who are actually operationalizing policy.”

“The values are the same, the relationships are the same,” said Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). “What you do see is this administration willing to put pressure upon the systems.”

The question of whom they should believe — the president or his advisers — has befuddled European officials. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel confessed Saturday that he didn’t know where to look to understand America.

“Is it deeds? Is it words? Is it tweets?” he asked.

He said he was not sure whether he could recognize the United States.

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Laurette’s Head with a Coffee Cup by Henri Matisse

From Vanity Fair: ““THE CANARIES ARE DYING”: HOW TRUMP IS MAKING REPUBLICANS PICK THEIR 2018 POISON. Caught between the president’s rabid, loyal base and suburban women, Republican candidates may not survive a blue wave election.”

These races are like canaries in the coal mine,” Steve Israel, a former New York congressman and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told me last week. “For Republicans, the canaries are dying.”

The day before we spoke, Democrats had picked up a statehouse seat in a deep red district in Missouri, the latest in a series of electoral upsets the G.O.P. has suffered across the country in recent months. After a string of special election victories in South Carolina, Montana, and Georgia last spring, the Republican Party has had a reversal of fortune—losing gubernatorial races and dozens of state legislature seats in Virginia and New Jersey, and suffering defeats in traditionally red districts in Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama, Oklahoma, and elsewhere. Ten months out, strategists see the trend as a potential harbinger of the legendary blue wave in the 2018 midterms that could rob of the G.O.P. of its majority in the House—and possibly, the Senate.

For the G.O.P., these midterms are a puzzle box of a kind that they haven’t faced in several cycles, if ever. “Republican consultants in the last eight years have had a very easy job—that’s running against Barack Obama. . . . Now we have to do things differently and nobody is used to it yet,” a G.O.P. strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me. “That boogeyman is gone.”

 The Merchant’s Wife Drinking Tea by Boris Kustodiev

Well, now Trump is looking to Oprah for his race baiting. I’m not sure you take on O, bish. Yeah, he tweeted this on President’s day! Such the preznit!

Here! Hold my cuppa coffee!!

You may want to read this!!!

Meanwhile, the victims of the Florida High School continue to be heroes. Along with the mothers of #BlackLivesMatter. Along with the Women of #MeToo. All of us continue to give Twitler an eyeful, but right now those kids are on fire!

“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“How dare you,” he added.

So, there’s a lot going to be discussed. Grab your cuppa and share what’s on your reading and blogging list today? Thoughts?

Hope and change, folks! Hope and change!

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Friday Reads: Ain’t Dere No More

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I moved to New Orleans sight unseen in 1995 to discover that there were many people and traditions worth getting to know. I met the Chicken Man, Ruthie the Duck Girl, Tuba Fats, an original Rockette, and Mr Merrill of ‘that’ family who tooled around in his electric wheel chair with a seer sucker jacket, straw hat, and white shoes and pants in all kinds of seasons. He was usually in the company of a very young Hispanic man which I understand was why his family suggested he leave Manhattan and gave him the wherewithal to do so. I remember meeting two svelte and gorgeous elderly women on the steps of the hotel next to the cornstalk fence. One of them had been a mistress to Humphrey Bogart. A lot of the most colorful Queens that hung out at the original seedy version of The Golden Lantern were big Broadway stars in their day.

Ruthie

One of the fixtures of the city that passed by my home here daily has passed on. I’ve missed his fresh fruit and veggies, his brightly colored truck, and his song amplified by a bull horn listing the contents of available goods recently as he’s been doing poorly. Mister Okra was one of the last of the street venders here and he passed yesterday. He’s one of those folks that I discovered here that could be from no place else.

So, any way, enjoy the pictures and lets get to the reads.

Trump and his appointments are completely a basket of deplorables. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is a deplorable snowflake killing our natural resources. But, please don’t tell him that or it will cost us first class flight upgrades. Both Pruitt and DeVoss at Education can’t take heat.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt began flying first class in May when his security team determined that it would help him avoid confrontations, Henry Barnet, the director of the EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, told Politico on Thursday.

Barnet said that Pruitt “was approached in the airport numerous times, to the point of profanities being yelled at him and so forth.” He did not say what incident in May prompted the switch in protocol, but he offered an example from October.

Someone approached Pruitt and said, “‘Scott Pruitt, you’re f—ing up the environment,’ those sort of terms,” Barnet told Politico.

Barnet said that Pruitt’s team leader determined that flying first class would help Pruitt avoid any confrontations.

“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight,” Barnet told Politico. “We felt that based on the recommendation from the team leader, the special agent in charge, that it would be better suited to have him in business or first class, away from close proximity from those individuals who were approaching him and being extremely rude, using profanities and potential for altercations and so forth.”

Pruitt has faced an uptick in threats from previous EPA administrators, but none of those threats were related to air travel, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General told Politico.

Tuba Fats

And we have another one: “VA secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff retiring amid travel report findings.”

Shulkin confirmed the move to USA TODAY and said he intends to continue in his post and remains commited to fulfilling President Trump’s agenda in overhauling the VA.

He apologized earlier this week for mistakes he and his staff made in planning and taking the trip last July. He reimbursed the government for his wife’s airfare and is seeking to reimburse a British veterans’ advocate for Wimbledon tickets he and his wife accepted improperly.

“I am committed to continuing the work that I came here to do, which is to support the president’s agenda to reform the VA and fix the VA the way that veterans deserve, the care and services they’ve earned,” he said. “And I am going to remain focused on that task and I am not going to get distracted from what we have to do.”

The Chicken Man

Ronan Farrow has interviewed one of Trump’s dalliances for The New Yorker. It evidently takes a village to cover his tracks. I now know more than I want about an arrangement called “catch-and-kill.”

As the pool party at the Playboy Mansion came to an end, Trump asked for McDougal’s telephone number. For McDougal, who grew up in a small town in Michigan and worked as a preschool teacher before beginning her modelling career, such advances were not unusual. John Crawford, McDougal’s friend, who also helped broker her deal with A.M.I., said that Trump was “another powerful guy hitting on her, a gal who’s paid to be at work.” Trump and McDougal began talking frequently on the phone, and soon had what McDougal described as their first date: dinner in a private bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. McDougal wrote that Trump impressed her. “I was so nervous! I was into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man,” she wrote. “We talked for a couple hours – then, it was “ON”! We got naked + had sex.” As McDougal was getting dressed to leave, Trump did something that surprised her. “He offered me money,” she wrote. “I looked at him (+ felt sad) + said, ‘No thanks – I’m not ‘that girl.’ I slept w/you because I like you – NOT for money’ – He told me ‘you are special.’ ”

George Dureau

Well, Romney isn’t taking up knitting any time soon.

Former 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced Friday that he’s running for Senate in Utah, saying that “I am ready to fight for this great state and advocate for solutions that improve the lives of Utahns.”

Romney was widely expected to enter the race after Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said in January that he wouldn’t run for reelection.

“I am running for United States Senate because in these trying times there is no better moment to bring Utah’s values to Washington. Utah’s economic and political success is a model for our nation,” Romney said.

Tennessee Williams behind a friend

I hope their words connect with the right hearts.

I also wish Lady Lindsey best of luck with this: “White House, Lindsey Graham go to war over immigration.”

“Who the hell wrote this?”

That’s how Sen. Lindsey Graham described his furious reaction to a Department of Homeland Security statement condemning a Senate immigration plan carefully crafted by Republicans and Democrats.

Graham has been working for months on writing a proposal that could win Senate approval. He’d spoken to President Donald Trump just days earlier, warning him, “I want to work with (you), but I’m not going to tolerate … some of the things coming out of this White House.”


Lundi Gras Reads

Happy Lundi Gras!

It’s the day before Mardi Gras and traditionally a day of resting up to go full out on the big day. I’ll be working since–last time I checked–Indiana doesn’t recognize the day. Unlike the Universities here, Purdue ignores the chance to break the winter blues.

And, it is a bit New Orleans wintry down here. I’m putting up pictures for parades I’ve been missing due to the ongoing sinus crud. These parade pictures are from Krewe D’Etat. It’s always got serious satire going plus I have a friend that does a lot of the pictures and float designs. She’s basically a full time Mardi Gras artist which has to be the best gig ever. She also designs amazing headdresses. Meet Caroline Thomas!

It takes a lot to put on these huge parades. I think a lot of folks get carried away by the sheer spectacle of it all. But, I’d just like to remind you that it takes the creative genius of Caroline and her peers to really capture the sense of it all. Each krewe has its own vibe. It’s a real skill to be able to make art that’s a combination of show and tell.

So, that’s Caroline! And here’s some of her work for Krewe D’etat and Chaos. Enjoy it before I share my reads that have given so much fodder to the satire krewes and all the parade artists for two very long years. I love Caroline’s comment that accompanied her caricatures of “creepy men”.

So, speaking of creepy men,Harvey Weinstein’s office was basically a little shop of predatory horrors that he forced employees to stock.

Among notable examples of harassment cited by the lawsuit:

• Harvey Weinstein told several employees words to the effect of “I will kill you,” “I will kill your family,” and “You don’t know what I can do.” He also asserted that he had contacts within the Secret Service who could take care of problems for him.

• The Weinstein Company, the suit says, “employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany (Harvey) to events and to facilitate (his) sexual conquests. … One of the members of this entourage was flown from London to New York to teach” his assistants “how to dress and smell more attractive” to him.

• Another group of employees were assigned to “further his regular sexual activity, including by contacting … prospective sexual partners via text message or phone at his direction and maintaining space on his calendar for sexual activity.”

• A third set of employees also were forced to facilitate his sexual conquests. These female employees were supposed to help his company produce films and television projects. But despite their skills and stated job responsibilities, he required them to meet with prospective sexual conquests for his own personal interests. “This compelled service demeaned and humiliated them, contributing to the hostile work environment.”

• His use of vulgarity was widely noted in the suit, which described how he would call female employees “c—” or “p—-” when he was angry with them or felt they had done a task poorly or incorrectly. And he also used those terms to scold or degrade male employees. On some occasions, he asked female employees if they had their period, including asking an employee if her tampon was “up too far,” the filing says. In one 2012 incident, he launched into a tirade against a female employee in which he berated her in front of other employees and threatened to “cut (her) loins.”

• Weinstein’s assistants were required to provide childcare for his young children and handle other domestic work for his wife, Georgina Chapman, and an adult daughter.

• Assistants had copies of a document called the “Bible,” which included information about his likes and dislikes, and a list of people to assist arranging “personals,” or sexual activity.

• His drivers in both New York and Los Angeles were required to have available condoms and erectile dysfunction injections in the car at all times.

• The suit says the head of human resources at Weinstein’s company was not empowered to do anything about his ongoing sexual harassment of female employees. Victims were told by the director of HR that he “sympathized” with them, acknowledging that they had a “tough job,” but that there was nothing he could do.

Yeah, that’s pretty much representative of the mind of a psychopath. But, you know, KKKremlin Caligula is pretty disturbed along those lines too. Here’s Jennifer Rubin on Trump and breach of classified information.

Candidate Donald Trump used, more than any other issue, Hillary Clinton’s home email server to argue that she was unfit for office and, moreover, that there were grounds for sending her to jail. The eerie chants, more common in banana republics, to imprison his opponent (“Lock her up!”) would thrill his crowds and reignite the anti-Clinton anger that had gripped Republicans for decades. For less crazed voters, it was an effective reminder of the Clintons’s proclivity to break the rules, to disregard conflicts of interest and to only grudgingly come clean when caught misbehaving. Her offense, in retrospect, seems small and innocuous, in large part because Trump’s defiance of rules, indulgence in massive conflicts of interest and habitual lying in just one year in office dwarf anything (and everything) both Clintons have done in a lifetime in the public eye.

And that brings us to President Trump’s handling and mishandling of classified information. No president has more recklessly exposed the country’s secrets than this one.

Consider that he blabbed code-word intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. According to national security expert Amy Zegart of Stanford University, “On a scale of 1 to 10—and I’m just ball parking here—it’s about a billion. … The president could have jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Not America’s source. Somebody else’s. Presumably from an allied intelligence service who now knows that the American president cannot be trusted with sensitive information.”

Fast-forward to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who cooked up a memo falsely accusing the FBI of omitting information on a warrant application to the FISA court to conduct surveillance on longtime suspected spy Carter Page. Nunes has stubbornly refused to say if he drafted the memo in concert with the White House, but his refusal to deny the accusation speaks volumes. The president, contrary to the pleading of FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, released the memo publicly, sending out to everyone on the planet a document originally labeled “top secret.” (Countless national security experts have explained that “top secret” is usually the designation of material whose release would expose sources and methods of intelligence gathering.) Trump, even before the so-called vetting process, told a lawmaker at the State of the Union address that he intended to release the memo. Keeping our nation’s secrets, as well as releasing his tax records, are hindrances to his self-protection. Therefore, top-secret classification (and personal financial transparency) be damned.

99

Then, there’s his continued defense of predators and men that commit physical violence on women. It’s undoubtedly because he’s been there done it.

One could barely get a night’s sleep before another White House aide, the speechwriter David Sorensen, was forced to resign after it was revealed that, during a background check, his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, had told the F.B.I. that he had abused her by, among other acts, putting out a cigarette on her hand and running over her foot with a car.

Trump’s response on social media to these allegations was not entirely surprising. He tweeted his suspicion of the #MeToo movement, saying, “People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused—life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Trump responded with similar fellow-feeling when charges were levelled at Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, and Roy Moore, the right-wing former judge who had seemed headed to victory in an Alabama Senate race. (Trump, of course, is unforgiving when it comes to Democrats like Al Franken and John Conyers.)

Kellyanne Conway, whose defenses of Trump’s most preposterous statements are sometimes so tortured that they become the stuff of late-night satire, could not bear to back the President on this one. She told CNN that she saw “no reason not to believe” Porter’s former spouses. “In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury,” Conway said. “You have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.” This was hardly a condemnation, but, in the context of this White House and these times, she showed, if fleetingly, common sense.

Trump is considered the “most anti-woman President* ever and polls are confirming what women think of him.

Donald Trump wants you to believe he has “great respect” for women, but his words and actions tell a far different story. In fact, Trump may be the most anti-women US president ever.

Case in point: On Friday, Trump defended his former aide Rob Porter after news broke of allegations that Porter had been physically abusive to his two ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby.

At that point, America had already seen the photo of Holderness with a black eye caused when Porter allegedly punched her. We had heard Porter’s second wife, Willoughby tell us that while married to Porter he had been abusive. He “grabbed me from the shower by my shoulders up close to my neck and pulled me out to continue to yell at me,” she said. Porter has denied these allegations.

It’s clear that women are increasingly not buying Trump’s lie that he respects them. According to exit polls for the 2016 election, Trump received the support of 41% of female voters, including 52% of white women. But now it appears Trump is losing favor among women, with a recent Marist Poll showing he not only has just a 33% approval rating among women, but also that 50% of women strongly disapprove of the job he is doing as president.

Reporters are finding that white, working class women in the rust belt have turned on Trump.

These twin forces—of class and gender—have established a sharp continuum of white attitudes toward Trump. White men without a college degree remain his foundation, even if the pillar is showing some cracks: Relative to his 2016 vote, Trump’s approval rating in 2017 among this group declined in all 13 states. But given his commanding initial position, Trump retains a very strong hold on those men, drawing 60 percent or more approval from them in each state except Michigan, Colorado, and Minnesota (though he still retains majority support in those).

At the opposite pole, college-educated women remain the engine of white resistance to Trump. In only four of the 13 states (more on them below) did Trump’s approval among college-educated white women exceed an anemic 34 percent. That widespread rejection of Trump keys the Democratic opportunity in 2018 in House seats in information-age, white-collar suburbs in major metropolitan areas.

The two other groups of whites are more conflicted. Among college-educated white men, Trump retains majority approval in five of the states and draws at least 45 percent in four more. The intense backlash against Trump from well-educated white women means that GOP hopes of minimizing their suburban losses may depend on maintaining majority support from college-educated white men—who many Republican strategists consider the audience most likely to snap back to GOP candidates over the tax bill and generally brightening economic picture (the stock market’s tumble this week notwithstanding).

The situation looks even more volatile among white women without a college degree. No group was more central to Trump’s victory, especially in the Rustbelt states that effectively decided the election. (Trump won at least 56 percent of those women in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, according to exit polls.) In 2017, Gallup found, Trump averaged majority approval from these blue-collar white women in six of the 13 states. But that finding highlights the continuing force of regional variation in shaping attitudes about Trump: All six of those states are in the South and Southwest.

In the Rustbelt states that decided 2016, Trump has slipped into a much more precarious position with these women: Gallup put his 2017 approval with them at 45 percent in Pennsylvania, 42 percent in Michigan, and 39 percent or less in Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Compared to his 2016 vote, his 2017 approval among blue-collar white women in the Rustbelt represented some of his largest declines anywhere—18 percentage points in Ohio and 19 in Wisconsin and Minnesota. That erosion, which intensified during Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, creates the opening for Democrats to contest blue-collar and non-urban House seats this fall through the Midwest and Northeast.

I love the title of this piece in the Kansas City Star. “Rob Porter and the Team Trump men’s club: Accused of mistreating women? You’re hired!”

It’s almost as if domestic violence allegations are a résumé enhancer for the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump’s staff secretary, Rob Porter, who had the power to decide what information would cross the commander in chief’s uncluttered desk, was the second top Trump aide to have been accused of past spousal abuse. A third was out before week’s end.
Back when Steve Bannon was the new CEO of the Trump campaign, the news broke that he had been charged with domestic violence in 1996. But that in no way diminished his influence with the candidate.
Can Team Trump’s indifference to allegations of wife-beating endure in the #MeToo moment? It can, it has and it continues to. White House officials didn’t fire, suspend or otherwise signal they thought any less of Porter after reports that two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend had accused him of physical abuse. Why would they flinch when that was not news to them?

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But let’s not forget!!!

… on Saturday, Trump remained sad for his former aides, tweeting that men can be “shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”
Presumably, the president can relate. His first wife, Ivana, later withdrew her allegations that Trump had raped her and ripped a handful of her hair out around the time of their divorce. Some 19 women willing to be quoted by name have accused him of harassment and assault in the years since.
Trump, who has bragged about grabbing women but denied all specific allegations, is reportedly still looking for a job for former Carl’s Jr. head Andy Puzder, who took himself out of the running to be labor secretary after reports that ex-wife once went on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and accused him of abusing her. Like Bannon’s ex-wife, she has taken it back.
The president also remains in a mutual admiration society with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with assaulting Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. Like the charges against Bannon, those were dropped as well.
How did all these alleged hotheads slip past the filter? They didn’t.

I can only hope all the blowback from this translates to votes the House and Senate just in time to impeach Pence and Trump using Mueller’s findings. Oh, and with a Democratic Speaker.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

(Note: The Day time pictures are Caroline’s and “creepy men”.)

You can find Caroline’s work on Instagram. She goes by C_to_the_line and her website. Also, d’Etat designs are by Ryan Blackwood. The float with Matt Lauer on the front is painted by the very talented Noah Church.

 


Friday Reads: The Days of Palace Intrigue

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

You have to wonder what fresh hell we’ll wake up to each morning.  We continue to find out how deeply the men in this administration hate women and how deeply the women that side with them must hate themselves.  Sarah Sisterwife may still be in good stead, but Hope Hicks appears to be taking heat for dating not one but two serial wife beaters.  What did the men in charge know about these duds and when did they know it?  

A day after White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned amid allegations he physically abused his ex-wives, the Trump administration is still struggling to contain the fallout. The question of who knew what, and when, is being hotly debated in the West Wing. Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose relationship with Trump has been strained in recent weeks, is taking the lion’s share of the blame, as I reported yesterday. On Wednesday night, Donald Trump vented to advisers that Kelly had not fully briefed him on Porter’s issues with women until recently, two sources told me. Trump was also not aware of the severity of the alleged abuse until yesterday, when Ivanka walked into the Oval Office and showed her father a photo published in the Daily Mail of Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye. “He was fucking pissed,” said one Republican briefed on the conversation. According to a source, Ivanka and Jared Kushner have been discussing possible chief-of-staff replacements. The problem is there’s not an obvious candidate waiting in the wings.

West Wing staffers continue to wonder why Kelly would keep the Porter allegations from the president, and why he defended Porter so aggressively when presented with allegations by the Mail. Porter’s history with women had been known to Kelly for months, a source familiar with the matter said. (Porter has been working with a temporary security clearance because the allegations surfaced in an F.B.I. background interview.) According to a source, Kelly at first pushed back when White House officials wanted him to issue a second statement walking back his initial strong defense of Porter. Kelly ultimately wrote that he was “shocked by the new allegations.”

The crisis also raises questions about Hope Hicks’s decision-making, and whether her romantic relationship with Porter clouded her judgment. According to a source, Hicks did not get a sign off from Trump for the White House’s initial statement defending Porter, in which Kelly was quoted calling Porter a “man of true integrity.” She drafted the statement with her close friend, Kushner’s White House spokesman Josh Raffel, whom she’s known since their days working for Manhattan P.R. strategist Matthew Hiltzik. This morning, Hicks continued to defend Porter in private, a source said, telling people she thinks the allegations aren’t true. In recent weeks, Trump has been angry at Hicks for her role in approving interviews with Michael Wolff, a Republican close to the White House told me. (The White House did not respond to requests for comment.)

Kelly is an appalling racist and misogynist who continually outs himself in public. But, why on earth would Hicks defend Porter?  

President Donald Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with Hope Hicks, his communications director and one of his closest confidantes, amid the fallout from the Rob Porter scandal, people familiar with the matter say.

Meanwhile, the President has told associates he’s dismayed at how the allegations involving his former staff secretary accused of domestic abuse were handled, but he isn’t certain how to solve the mushrooming controversy, a person familiar with the conversations tells CNN.
Trump was not consulted when Hicks and several other aides drafted a White House statement defending Porter, and he is under the impression that Hicks has let her romantic relationship with Porter cloud her judgment, a source familiar said.
In the aftermath, Trump has told associates he feels that Hicks put her own priorities ahead of his. However, there is little to indicate that Hicks’ standing is in jeopardy.
Speaking during the White House briefing on Thursday, spokesman Raj Shah said Hicks had recused herself from some matters related to the Porter fallout. Porter was in the building for a short period to clean out his desk, Shah said.
Hicks continued to privately defend Porter to her White House colleagues Thursday, a source familiar said.
General John Kelly stands clearly in Trump’s cross hairs.  It appears that it’s more for bringing more unkind press to his life than for actually making a series of bad decisions and announcements.

The Rob Porter crisis has become a John Kelly crisis, and it has now totally engulfed the West Wing. White House staff — especially Porter’s close friendship circle —are shell-shocked by the allegations of domestic abuse by the departing aide. President Trump is enraged about the situation, though he still feels that it hasn’t touched him.

The bottom line: Trump’s affection for his chief of staff is gone, and Kelly has lost the goodwill of much of his staff. The president is mulling potential replacements, though aides doubt he has it in him to actually fire the retired general.

Where it stands: Kelly still has not adequately answered when he became aware of the horrific allegations against Porter. Nor have the other senior officials who should have had visibility over this: White House counsel Don McGahn and deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin.

The official White House line — that Kelly only became “fully aware” of the domestic assault allegations when the Daily Mail story broke — doesn’t pass the smell test.

  • Both of Porter’s ex-wives told the FBI about their claims.
  • There was a police report.
  • There was a restraining order.
  • There are photos.
  • All of this was part of his background checks which never passed muster.

The big picture: In any major corporation in America, Porter would have been escorted out the door the minute senior officials learned of these allegations. Everyone is entitled to their day in court, but in no normal corporation or White House could somebody continue serve under these conditions. And there is no organization in America more important than the White House.

Yes, but: It’s probably not enough to get Kelly fired — because unlike other Trump aides, Kelly never wanted the job in the first place and would never fight to save it. And as a source close to the president told me, “That changes Trump’s calculus.”

What we’re hearing: It’s not surprising that Trump would make noises about getting rid of Kelly. But sources close to the president don’t believe he has it in him to actually pull the trigger.

  • Yes, Kelly frustrates Trump. Yes, Trump complains about him. Yes, the two have never developed the  personal chemistry — full of off-color jokes and nicknames like Hopey (Hope Hicks) and Reincey (Reince Priebus) — that Trump has formed with some of his other advisers.
  • And yes, there’s not a ton of personal affection for Kelly across the White House staff.
  • But everyone respects the service of a man Trump calls “a tough cookie.” And Kelly’s four star status inoculates him from the normal reaches of Trump’s wrath.

“Trump is not going to fire him,” the source close to the president said. “And does Trump have the stomach to do what he normally does when he’s fed up with them? He usually makes their lives miserable, publicly humiliates them. But now he’s up against somebody who doesn’t care and would happily leave.”

Others in the White House knew of the abuse allegations.  They knew Porter was unable to get any kind of security clearance.

White House counsel Don McGahn knew a year ago that Rob Porter’s two former wives were preparing to testify to the FBI that he had abused them. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly knew about the domestic abuse allegations as early as November 2017. Other powerful administration figures may have been aware earlier than that.

No one took action.

Porter resigned this week as the allegations become public, including a photo of one of his wives with a black eye. But the White House defended him again and again, and President Trump told reporters today that Porter has claimed to be innocent and “will have a great career ahead of him.”

The White House’s inaction — and recent defense of Porter — bring to light a major conflict within the conservative movement in the age of Trump. While House Speaker Paul Ryan touts his support for bipartisan legislation to end harassment and misconduct committed by members of Congress, and other Republicans make changes within their own offices, the Trump White House is not even paying lip service to reform.

Instead, they’ve housed Porter, accused of spousal abuse, and Steve Bannon, also accused of spousal abuse (whom Trump nicknamed “Bam Bam” because of it), and backed an Alabama Senate candidate accused of molesting or assaulting minors.

It’s even said Kelly knew about Porter and knew he’d never get clearance.

White House chief of staff John Kelly was told several weeks ago that the FBI would recommend denying full security clearances to multiple White House aides who had been working in the West Wing on interim security clearances.

Those aides, according to a senior administration official, included former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who left the White House on Thursday after reports that he physically and verbally abused his two ex-wives.

The White House chief-of-staff told confidants in recent weeks that he had decided to fire anyone who had been denied a clearance — but had yet to act on that plan before the Porter allegations were first reported this week.

Kelly’s inaction has produced what may be the deepest crisis of his seven months on the job, unleashing a cascade of questions about whether Trump – who was accused by multiple women during the 2016 campaign of sexual impropriety – and his closest advisers take violence against women seriously at a time when the #MeToo movement has called other politicians, media moguls and entertainment icons to account.

The revelations about Porter included photographs of his first wife with a black eye she said he gave her on a trip to Italy. Kelly initially defended Porter, who has been romantically involved with White House communications director Hope Hicks, before expressing shock over the allegations on Thursday.

Those close to Kelly say they’re puzzled about why the former Marine general, whose singular focus since joining the West Wing in July has been to eliminate irregularities and chaos, failed to follow through on his determination to push out aides denied a permanent clearance.

Still, a lot of gossip is still circling Hope Hicks too. What was she thinking?

President Trump‘s communications director Hope Hicks has now been romantically linked to not one but two ousted Trump aides who have been accused of violence against women.

The Daily Mail reported last week that Hicks, 29, has been dating former top aide Rob Porter, 40, who resigned on Wednesday amid allegations of abuse from his two ex-wives.

The newspaper published photos of Hicks and Porter recently enjoying dinner and drinks with Ivanka Trump and others at Rosa Mexicano in Washington, D.C., before appearing to return to Hicks’ apartment alone together.

The Daily Mail said Hicks and Porter did not sit next to each other at the restaurant but that an eyewitness spotted them kissing and cuddling in the back of a taxi on their way home.

According to The Daily Mail, speculation that the two were romantically involved started last month, after Hicks and Porter were seen at a Washington, D.C., area church service on Jan. 7. Though Hicks is Roman Catholic and Porter is Mormon, they were reportedly seen praying together.

This is what happens when you let a man of low values and character with absolutely no skill set or emotional maturity surround himself with people that he doesn’t feel threatened by. I’m really tired of the chaos, the bigotry, and the daily outrage.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

and for something a bit more uplifting …

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Monday Reads: Going to the Dogs!!!!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

We’re in full throttle Mardi Gras mode down here and I’m laid up in bed with sinus crud. I’m a second-hander atm who is viewing all the Tu Deaux through the lens of friends. Meanwhile, I sniffle and cough on.

One of the big questions I had back in 2016 is the subject of a Politico feature featuring former diplomat Victoria Nuland. Why didn’t President Obama set off more alarms about the Russian Hacking?

By the summer of 2016, Victoria Nuland’s “Spidey sense” told her something was very wrong.

That spring, Nuland, the top State Department official charged with overseeing U.S. policy toward Russia, was one of those who had “first rung the alarm bell” inside the Obama administration, warning that Russia appeared to be trying to “discredit the democratic process” in the United States as part of a concerted 2016 strategy.

Now, the Russian campaign was turning out to be even more serious than she had imagined. She had known since late 2015 that the Democratic National Committee’s email servers had been hacked; all these months later, the stolen DNC emails were being publicly released by websites known to be Russian conduits right on the eve of the Democratic convention, and the hack would soon be confirmed as a Russian operation by U.S. intelligence agencies.

“That’s when the hairs really went up on the back of our necks,” she recounted in an interview with The Global Politico, her first extensive public comments about what it was like to spend months in the middle of the U.S. government’s halting, frustrating attempts to understand the Russian attack on the U.S. electoral system — and then try to figure out how to respond to it.

While the broad contours of that response are known, hearing it viscerally described by one of those who tried to stop it is bracing. Nuland is now confirming publicly that she pushed Obama to respond more aggressively to the hacking before the election and acknowledging that she and others at the State Department were informed by “sometime in late July” about the inflammatory findings of former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele apparently linking the Russian effort to Republican candidate Donald Trump. Unbeknownst to her, the FBI, also in July 2016, had begun a secret investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, and the issue of whether the Steele report, paid for by Democrats, helped fuel that investigation is now the subject of heated partisan dispute on Capitol Hill.

It’s an interesting read so go check it out.

It’s clear that the Republican party has become unhinged. There is a Holocaust denier/NAZI running as the sole Republican for a suburban Chicago Congressional Seat.

Arthur Jones — an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite and white supremacist — is poised to become the Republican nominee for an Illinois congressional seat representing parts of Chicago and nearby suburbs.

“Well first of all, I’m running for Congress not the chancellor of Germany. All right. To me the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket,” Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Indeed, Jones’ website for his latest congressional run includes a section titled “The ‘Holocaust Racket’” where he calls the genocide carried out by the German Nazi regime and collaborators in other nations “the biggest blackest lie in history.”

Jones, 70, a retired insurance agent who lives in suburban Lyons, has unsuccessfully run for elected offices in the Chicago area and Milwaukee since the 1970s.

He ran for Milwaukee mayor in 1976 and 13th Ward alderman on Chicago’s Southwest Side in 1987.

Since the 1990s to 2016, Jones has jumped in the GOP 3rd Congressional District primary seven times, never even close to becoming a viable contender.

The outcome will be different for Jones in the Illinois primary on March 20, 2018.

To Jones’ own amazement, he is the only one on the Republican ballot.

Trump voters have all the appearances and characteristics of a cult. They’ve totally run the traditional party off the rails.

Rarely has a president changed his party as fast and profoundly as Donald J. Trump. Love him or hate him, you can no longer argue his ability to bend an entire party to his will.

In the two and a half years since he announced his candidacy, he has moved the party away from decades of orthodoxy on trade, Russia, deficits and more — and has helped make the law-and-order party skeptical of FBI leadership.

Perhaps the most profound thing Trump has done is show how many movement leaders and Republicans in Congress are out of touch with Republican voters:

  • There’s a massive cohort of Republican voters who are socially conservative and culturally reactionary but fiscally liberal, even if they don’t know it.
  • The base is very skeptical of trade deals — convinced that ordinary Americans have lost at globalization.
  • Huge swaths of Trump Country are dependent on Social Security, Medicaid and other government programs.

While much of the GOP donor class is passionate about issues like criminal justice reform and expanded high-skilled immigration, many GOP voters want the exact opposite:

  • The ratio between the number of Republicans who think that way, versus number of conservatives who talk that way on cable TV or at the Capitol, is way out of whack. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum were their lonely on-air champions.
  • If Trump has tapped into a silent majority, it’s those voters — the opposite of Paul Ryan voters, the opposite of Rubio, the opposite of Jeb.
  • The source close to GOP leadership said: “All evidence in the last two years points to the fact that the R base was never as ‘conservative’ on economic policy as we portrayed them during the Obama years.”

What will Trump’s brand of reactionary populism continue to let him get away with?

This, then, is the article we thought we would never write: a frank statement that a certain form of partisanship is now a moral necessity. The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates. We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers, and of saving the Republican Party from itself, is to do as Toren Beasley did: vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former).

Of course, lots of people vote a straight ticket. Some do so because they are partisan. Others do so because of a particular policy position: Many pro-lifers, for example, will not vote for Democrats, even pro-life Democrats, because they see the Democratic Party as institutionally committed to the slaughter of babies.

We’re proposing something different. We’re suggesting that in today’s situation, people should vote a straight Democratic ticket even if they are not partisan, and despite their policy views. They should vote against Republicans in a spirit that is, if you will, prepartisan and prepolitical. Their attitude should be: The rule of law is a threshold value in American politics, and a party that endangers this value disqualifies itself, period. In other words, under certain peculiar and deeply regrettable circumstances, sophisticated, independent-minded voters need to act as if they were dumb-ass partisans.

For us, this represents a counsel of desperation. So allow us to step back and explain what drove us to what we call oppositional partisanship.

Is the current SpokesSisterWife for the Trump Family Crime Syndicate on her way to an obstruction of Justice charge? A FOIA request shows internal memos from FBI Agents reacting to the Comey firing. It’s not the one portrayed by Huckabee or Trump.

In a , the same day McDermott was asking her staff to make sure one another were “doing OK,” then-Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that the president had “lost confidence in Director Comey” and that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” She stated that the president had “had countless conversations with members from within the FBI” in the course of making his decision to fire Comey. , Sanders stated that she personally had “heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision” and that the president believed “Director Comey was not up to the task…that he wasn’t the right person in the job. [Trump] wanted somebody that could bring credibility back to the FBI.”

Trump himself blasted Comey too, stating that the former director was “a showboat. He’s a grandstander” and that the FBI “has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that, everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil—less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.” A few days later, the New York Times that Trump had told Russian officials visiting him in the Oval Office the day after Comey’s firing that Comey was a “nut job.”

Over the next few days, to suggest that Trump and Sanders were playing fast and loose with the truth. But we now have the documents to prove that decisively. Their disclosure was not a leak but an authorized action by the FBI, which released to us under the Freedom of Information Act more than 100 pages of leadership communications to staff dealing with the firing. This material tells a dramatic story about the FBI’s reaction to the Comey firing—but it is neither a story of gratitude to the president nor a story of an organization in turmoil relieved by a much-needed leadership transition.

Within a few days of the firing, both current and former FBI officials began pushing back against the White House’s claims. Then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that Comey “enjoyed broad support within the FBI” and that “the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”

Yes, that’s me up there in 1999 with Honey and Karma parading in 007: From Barkus with Love. Good grief that was a long time ago!! We were “Bondage” Girls!!! and clearly on the side fighting the Russians!!

Meanwhile, Trump still finds Presidential life to be a combination of spending time at Trump properties on the Tax Payer dime. This weekend it was back to Florida for Super Bowl Party. Then, it’s time spent twitting and elimination shit.

President Donald Trump traded insults with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Monday, a day after Democrats and Republicans said Trump was wrong to assert that a GOP-produced classified memo on FBI surveillance powers cleared him in the Russia investigation.

Trump’s attack on California Rep. Adam Schiff came before a planned meeting of the House intelligence panel Monday, where the committee is expected to consider whether to release a Democratic rebuttal memo. Democrats are seeking to push back on the Republican document, which questions the FBI methods used to apply for a surveillance warrant on a onetime Trump campaign associate.

On Twitter, Trump called Schiff “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington,” adding that he “must be stopped.”

Schiff quickly shot back: “Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or … really anything else.”

Trump also praised Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Twitter, calling him a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!”

Meanwhile, Trump is “poo-pooing” the bipartisan effort to give Dreamers legal permanent status.

The White House is dismissing an immigration deal brokered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as a non-starter just hours before it is expected to be formally introduced in the Senate.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are slated to introduce a bill Monday that would grant eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2013 and came to the US as children, but it does not address all of the President’s stated immigration priorities, like ending family-based immigration categories — which Republicans call “chain migration” — or ending the diversity visa program

It also would not immediately authorize the $30 billion that Trump is seeking to build the border wall, instead greenlighting a study of border security needs. The bill would also seek to address the number of undocumented immigrants staying in the US by increasing the number of resources for the immigration courts, where cases can take years to finish.

The bill is a companion to a piece of House legislation that has 54 co-sponsors split evenly by party.

A White House official rebuffed the effort, telling CNN that it takes “a lot of effort” to write up a bill worse than the Graham-Durbin immigration bill, but somehow “this one is worse.”

An update on a story from New Orleans that captured many hearts prior to the end of the Football Season.

Oh, and this about sums up my thoughts about the latest pannem et circenses event. Well, that and WTF did Justin Timberlake think he was doing with Prince. White people! Wake the fuck up! Black people, black culture, black history, and black labor is not yours to co-op!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list?

This is an open thread! I’ll check in as the sniffling allows!

Oh, and BB!! Here is something special for you!

It has often been claimed that humans learn language using brain components that are specifically dedicated to this purpose. Now, new evidence strongly suggests that language is in fact learned in brain systems that are also used for many other purposes and even pre-existed humans.

And something for JJ

Scientists studying brain scans of people who were asked to come up with inventive uses for everyday objects found a specific pattern of connectivity that correlated with the most creative responses. Researchers were then able to use that pattern to predict how creative other people’s responses would be based on their connections in this network.

And something from me to Everyone:

It may sound like sci-fi, but mind reading equipment are much closer to become a reality than most people can imagine. Researchers used a magnetic resonance machine to read participants’ minds and find out what song they were listening to. The study contributes to improve the technique and pave the way to new research on reconstruction of auditory imagination, inner speech and to enhance brain-computer interfaces for communication with locked-in syndrome patients.

 

 


Groundhog Day Reads

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

Another day! Another Constitutional Crisis!  It’s Groundhog Day KKKrelim Caligula Style!

Ezra Klein of VOX has written an extensive article based on How Democracies DieHis basis is the book and an interview with the authors available in podcast.

Where Levitsky and Ziblatt make their mark is in weaving together political science and historical analysis of both domestic and international democratic crises; in doing so, they expand the conversation beyond Trump and before him, to other countries and to the deep structure of American democracy and politics.

They also offer a lesson that should ring in our minds as we watch congressional Republicans agitate to release a memo designed to smear the FBI — setting up a confrontation between a president with authoritarian impulses and the FBI that’s investigating him — and cheer lustily as Trump delivers his State of the Union address.

Demagogues and authoritarians do not destroy democracies. It’s established political parties, and the choices they make when faced with demagogues and authoritarians, that decide whether democracies survive.

“2017 was the best year for conservatives in the 30 years that I’ve been here,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week. “The best year on all fronts. And a lot of people were shocked because we didn’t know what we were getting with Donald Trump.”

The best year on all fronts. Think about that for a moment. If you want to know why congressional Republicans are opening an assault on the FBI in order to protect Trump, it can be found in that comment. This was a year in which Trump undermined the press, fired the director of the FBI, cozied up to Russia, baselessly alleged he was wiretapped, threatened to jail his political opponents, publicly humiliated his attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation, repeatedly claimed massive voter fraud against him, appointed a raft of unqualified and occasionally ridiculous candidates to key positions, mishandled the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, and threatened to use antitrust and libel laws against his enemies.

And yet McConnell surveyed the tax cuts he passed and the regulations he repealed and called this not a mixed year for his political movement, not a good year for his political movement, but the best year he’d ever seen.

Speaking of Republicans who have completely sold out our country, you may read Rep. Devin Nunes (R- RUSSIA) at this link at WAPO.

The Nunes memo is a document created by the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority, particularly when it sought a secret court order to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser. The FBI and the Justice Department had lobbied strenuously against its release. On Wednesday, the FBI had said it was “gravely concerned” that key facts were missing from the memo. President approves release of GOP memo criticizing FBI surveillance

The White House released the memo with no redactions but a lot of stern tweet lying and shaming.

President Donald Trump has declassified the GOP memo and approved its release by the House Intelligence Committee without redactions, a White House official tells ABC News.

The White House transmitted the president’s opinion to the committee in a letter this morning, the official said.

As ABC News has previously reported, the memo is critical of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his role in renewing a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page after Trump took office.

Trump’s Republican allies have suggested that Rosenstein — who is also overseeing the Mueller investigation — is guilty of political bias toward the president because he supported surveillance on Page based in part on information from a Democrat-funded dossier.

“Does it make you more likely to fire Rosenstein? Do you still have confidence in him after reading the memo?” a reporter asked the president in the Oval Office.

“You figure that one out,” Trump responded.

Here’s some VOX analysis of why the Republicans (RUSSIA) think the memo will destroy the credibility of Mueller and his team.9

1) A FISA court judge reviewed evidence and approved a warrant to wiretap a Trump associate

In fall 2016, FBI investigators applied for a warrant with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump adviser. They presented evidence that Page may be acting as a Russian agent and the judge approved the warrant.

There isn’t much disagreement up to this point.

2) The core of the Nunes argument

The FBI says it got its evidence from several sources, and typically FISA warrant applications require corroboration of the information.

But the Nunes memo implies the case was primarily built on the Steele dossier — and points out that it was funded partially by a law firm on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

And here’s the important part: Nunes says investigators misled the judge by not saying they were relying on the Steele dossier.

3) Rod Rosenstein is dragged into this as well

The Nunes memo points out that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved the application for a renewal of the warrant knowing they were relying heavily on the DNC-funded Steele dossier.

This part is crucial because it is saying Rosenstein knew about the warrant and approved of it. And since Nunes believes the warrant application was mostly from a DNC- and Clinton-funded report, he is trying to imply Rosenstein has an anti-Trump bias.

This is clearly a move to remove Rosenstein and replace him with some one that will fire Mueller.  It’s also beyond Nixonian.

It’s always been held–but not determined by the Supreme Court–that a sitting President cannot be indicted. This is being challenged by two lawyers with connections to lawyers familiar with the investigation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has gathered enough steam that some lawyers representing key Donald Trump associates are considering the possibility of a historic first: an indictment against a sitting president.

While many legal experts contend that Mueller lacks the standing to bring criminal charges against Trump, at least two attorneys working with clients swept up in the Russia probe told POLITICO they consider it possible that Mueller could indict the president for obstruction of justice.

Neither attorney claimed to have specific knowledge of Mueller’s plans. Both based their opinions on their understanding of the law; one also cited his interactions with the special counsel’s team, whose interviews have recently examined whether Trump tried to derail the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet against the president,” said one of the lawyers.

The second attorney, who represents a senior Trump official, speculated that Mueller could try to bring an indictment against Trump even if he expects the move to draw fierce procedural challenges from the president’s lawyers – if only to demonstrate the gravity of his findings.

“It’s entirely possible that Mueller may go that route on the theory that, as an open question, it should be for the courts to decide,” the attorney said. “Even if the indictment is dismissed, it puts maximum pressure on Congress to treat this with the independence and intellectual honesty that it will never, ever get.”

I’m sure will hear all about this on news today. Meanwhile, share what you think and what you’re hearing!

 

 


Monday Reads

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Pop Culture generally trolls political figures with good reason. Will Ferrell’s George Bush on SNL was always a treat as the word garbling, incurious George who bumbled us into two wars. Ferrell’s recent performance filled up twitter for at least a day and is still a subject of discussion.

“Saturday Night Live” opened last night with a hilarious sketch of Will Ferrell reprising his role as President George W. Bush. Having worked on SNL’s production staff for most of the Bush years, I can say that this was one of the best Bush sketches the show has served up in terms of laughs. But I have to disagree with SNL’s implication that Bush was as bad, if not worse, of a president as Donald Trump. It’s no comparison — Trump is far worse.

SNL’s Bush cold open kicked off with a few jokes that reminded us of the way the iconic comedy show portrayed the 43rd President as a bumbling but likable guy. There was Will Ferrell as Bush telling us: “You might remember, the W stands for wassssup!” and adding that lately he had been working on his oil paintings and earning an online MFA from the University of Phoenix.

The show then turned to the politics of today. “Bush” boasted that his approval ratings are at an all-time-high, referring to recent news that his favorability has drastically increased since he left office. (When Bush left office, he was saddled with a dismal 33% favorability rating.) Ferrell then joked, “That’s right. Donny Q. Trump came in, and suddenly I’m looking pretty sweet by comparison. At this rate, I might even end up on Mount Rushmore, right next to Washington, Lincoln and I want to say, uh, Kensington?”

But then SNL pivoted to remind us how bad Bush was as President, with Ferrell laughingly reminding us: “I was really bad — like historically not good.”

“Don’t forget: We’re still in two different wars that I started,” he added. Ferrell then paused before delivering a killer line: “What has two thumbs and created ISIS? This guy!” and pointing at himself.

“Bush” also highlighted how awful the economy was when he left office. He held up a chart that showed the stock market tanking and joked: “Now I’m no ‘economer’ but even I know that was ‘no bueno.'”

SNL was right that Bush had earned his horrible approval ratings. But what SNL missed — perhaps even intentionally to spark a debate — is how horrific Trump is in terms of trying to divide us by race, religion and even immigration status as compared to Bush.

For example, during Trump’s presidential campaign he despicably ginned up hate against Muslims with his comment that he thinks “Islam hates us” and his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” And as President, he has tried to implement an immigration ban primarily directed at a number of Muslim majority nations.

What a contrast to Bush and his words only weeks after the 9/11 terror attack committed by Al Qaeda. With the nation watching, Bush didn’t try to stoke hate against Muslims. Instead, he declared: “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends.” Bush then added about Islam, “Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.”

Then, the Grammys trolled Trump with celebs reading excerpts from “Fire and Fury”. Hillary Clinton was the surprise ending for this gag reading the part about Trump’s obsession with being poisoned and trusting that won’t happen with a Big Mac.

Bruno Mars beat Jay-Z for the top Grammy Awards on Sunday, but the surprise star of the night was former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reading from Michael Wolff’s controversial book “Fire and Fury.”

A taped parody sketch saw Grammy Awards host James Corden audition celebrities, including John Legend, Cher, Cardi B and Snoop Dogg. They read excerpts from the deeply critical book about President Donald Trump’s first year in office, ostensibly as contenders for a spoken word Grammy.

The Twitter erupted with all kinds of things including upset tweets from Nikki Haley and Drumpfling Jr.

This raises a concern in my mind. Granted, Smothers’ Brothers or SNL or any myriad of Talk Shows have always done sketches on Presidents. Some of the parodies and bits probably bothered them because they were generally unflattering but we’ve not had a President that’s such a toddler and so narcissistic that it makes me wonder if we’re not playing into it and feeding the monster? Toddlers generally find any attention to be worth doing whatever to get it. KKKremlin Caligula seems to find a way into everything media oriented this day to the point I just want to shut it all off. I’m beginning to not be entertained by this stuff at all. I’d just like them to ignore him for awhile. This man is a bottomless pit of ego needs. I’d like to hear about just about any one else for a change!

Except, the stuff like this that should be EVERYWHERE!!!

Today, all Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter asking Chairman Trey Gowdy to issue a subpoena to finally compel the Department of Homeland Security to produce documents it has been withholding from Congress for months relating to Russian government-backed efforts to monitor, penetrate, or otherwise hack at least 21 state election systems in the 2016 election.

and this from Politico: “Mark Warner: ‘We’ve Had New Information That Raises More Questions’. The top Democrat on the Senate’s Russia investigation says he’s worried about what he’s just learned.”

Congress late last year received “extraordinarily important new documents” in its investigation of President Donald Trump and his campaign’s possible collusion with the 2016 Russian election hacking, opening up significant new lines of inquiry in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe of the president, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) says in an exclusive new interview.

Warner, the intel committee’s top Democrat, says “end-of-the-year document dumps” produced “very significant” revelations that “opened a lot of new questions” that Senate investigators are now looking into, meaning the inquiry into Trump and the Russia hacking—already nearly a year old—will not be finished for months longer. “We’ve had new information that raises more questions,” Warner says in the interview, an extensive briefing on the state of the Senate’s Trump-Russia probe for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs.

and this which the placeholder in the oval office has twitted as a good idea.

Congress is in disarray too. Are they really prepared to go down the road of an oncoming constitutional crisis?

The 115th Congress owes its historic turnover to the confluence of two events, one normal and one abnormal. First, there’s the start of a new presidential administration. Five of the first six members to resign this session1 did so to accept jobs in President Trump’s administration. That’s not unusual. It’s similar to the seven members who resigned in 2009 to join the Obama administration2 and the five members who left in 1993 to join Bill Clinton’s.

But in addition, three of the four most recent members to resign from the 115th Congress did so because they were accused of unwanted sexual advances: John Conyers, Trent Franks and Al Franken. (Ruben Kihuen, Blake Farenthold and Pat Meehan have announced they will not run for re-election for the same reason. However, a retirement from Congress at the end of one’s regularly scheduled term is not the same as a mid-session resignation, which is what we’re looking at here.)

The extraordinary string of sexual misconduct allegations over the past few months has led many people to conclude we are in the midst of an unprecedented cultural moment. In the political world, at least, the data bears that out. There has never been a concentration of sexual misconduct allegations that has caused as much public fallout before: The number of resignations over non-consensual sexual overtures in the last two months (three) has nearly matched the number in the preceding 116 years (five).3And it seems to be a recent phenomenon — the first member to resign for this reason was Bob Packwood in 1995. Admittedly, the data may be skewed; we’re relying partly on news reports for divining members’ reasoning, and sexual misconduct wasn’t exactly a big topic of media coverage for most of the 20th century. Even so, it shows a public reckoning like never before.

We have a midterm election coming up. Can we be certain that the Russians won’t be actively hacking key states again? Has social media gotten to the problem of the Russian Bots? Here’s something from UK’s Independent.

Russian bots retweeted Donald Trump nearly 500,000 times in the 10 weeks leading up to and directly following the US presidential election – 10 times more than they retweeted his rival, Hillary Clinton.

The findings come from Twitter’s latest report to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as Congress attempts to assess the effect of Russian social media activity on the 2016 election.

Twitter found that Russia-connected, automated accounts sent more than 2m election-related tweets between 1 September and 15 November 2016. The tweets came from more than 50,000 Russian bots, and accounted for approximately one per cent of all tweets sent at the time.

The bots engaged more heavily with Mr Trump than his opponent, accounting for more than 4 percent of the retweets he received. They accounted for less than 1 per cent of retweets received by Ms Clinton.

The bots also engaged heavily with Wikileaks, the organisation that first released emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Russian bot accounts retweeted Wikileaks some 200,000 times over the 10-week timespan. They were responsible for nearly 5 per cent of tweets using #PodestaEmails.

I think it’s time we get more serious about these ongoing threats to our country and to democracy. It’s easy to laugh at the Reality Star occupying the White House but that part of him is the side show. The real threat is out there. It just needs more attention.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?