Friday Reads: An Emotionally Exhausted Nation watches Despot Worship and a Frog March

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

My day started with a disaster. I knocked the coffee pot full of water straight to the floor where it shattered into pieces. I’m hopeless before coffee. Just ask any of the attendees of my early morning lectures. I did not plan on having to arrange a trip to Dollar Ghetto for a new one. Fortunately, my friend Michelle did that deed while I cleaned up the mess. I did not want to face the day with out my coffee. I knew I’d have the news on during my Friday grading session. Yes! Summer school started! At least my class size is it’s usual smaller size. But, it’s going to be an insane news day for me and many weary Americans.

So, I got about a half a cup of coffee in when the news broke that Manafort’s ass is in jail and he’s facing obstruction of justice charges which are a BFD. Bye Felicia!

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will await his trial for foreign lobbying crimes from jail.

Two weeks after Robert Mueller’s prosecutors dropped new accusations of witness tampering on him, a federal judge Friday revoked Manafort’s current bail, which allowed him out on house arrest.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s order marks an end to months of attempts from Manafort to lighten his house arrest restrictions after he was charged and pleaded not guilty to foreign lobbying violations.
Three US marshals led Manafort out of the courtroom into the prisoner holding area immediately after the judge’s ruling. He was not placed in handcuffs. Before he disappeared through the door, he turned toward his wife and supporters and gave a stilted wave.
Minutes later, a marshal returned to give his wife, Kathleen, still standing in the courtroom’s front row, Manafort’s wallet, belt and the burgundy tie he wore Friday.

We’ve got one more court appearance today by Micheal Cohen. I stocked up on popcorn and I have red wine for later. We have some interesting gossip on that front. Cohen appears to be signal willingness to cooperate and KKKremlin Caligula told the press that Cohen is no longer his lawyer.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has indicated to family and friends he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators to alleviate the pressure on himself and his family, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Cohen has expressed anger with the treatment he has gotten from the President, who has minimized his relationship with Cohen, and comments from the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the source said. The treatment has left him feeling isolated and more open to cooperating, the source said.
Asked by reporters Friday if he was worried about Cohen cooperating, Trump said, “I did nothing wrong, nothing wrong.” He also said he hasn’t spoken with Cohen “in a long time,” adding, “I always liked Michael and he’s a good person.”

CBS News reported Thursday that Cohen believes Trump and his allies are turning against him.

Again, tRump is indicating Cohen was just a covfefe boy and isn’t his lawyer.

President Trump on Friday sought distance from Michael Cohen, his longtime personal attorney, who is under criminal investigation in New York.

“I haven’t spoken to Michael in a long time,” the president told reporters outside of the White House.

“No, he’s not my lawyer anymore, but I always liked Michael. And he’s a good person,” Trump added.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Politico last month that Cohen was not representing Trump, following an FBI raid in April on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room.

Trump was furious over the FBI raid, calling it a “disgrace” and “an attack on our country in a true sense.”

Sing little birds! Sing!

Meanwhile, industrialized gaslighting and weaponized lying emanates like nuclear waste from the White House. We’re also getting the impression KKKremlin Caligula masturbates daily to the pinup boyz in Despots Today.

So the first shocking quote this morning was this: “Trump says he wants “my people” to sit at attention for him like people do for Kim Jong Un”.

President Trump declared in a spur-of-the-moment interview with “Fox and Friends” Friday morning that he wants people to sit at attention for him like they do for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

It was just one of the surprising things the president said in the roughly 50 minutes he spent on the White House lawn speaking to the Fox News show and other reporters in a surprise appearance. The spur-of-the-moment White House lawn interview was, in the memory of those present, unprecedented.

Here are the highlights from Friday morning’s surprise free-for-all press availability and TV interview:

Kim stands accused of leading a murderous regime that starves its own people. But Mr. Trump has heaped praise on Kim since meeting with him in Singapore, saying repeatedly that the two have “good chemistry.”

“Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Steve Doocy on the White House lawn Friday. “Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

Pressed by a reporter about those remarks moments later, Mr. Trump said he was “kidding.”

F”I’m kidding, you don’t understand sarcasm,” the president said.

This latest Burning Despotman him so charged up he’s gung ho on a similar Putin Summit.

Fresh off his showy Singapore summit with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, President Trump is pushing his team to arrange another dramatic one-on-one meeting, this time with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, as soon as this summer. Negotiations with the Kremlin have bee under way for weeks. “There’s no stopping him,” a senior Administration official familiar with the internal deliberations said. “He’s going to do it. He wants to have a meeting with Putin, so he’s going to have a meeting with Putin.”

Ever since Putin’s reëlection to another six-year term in March, Trump has been pressing for a Putin summit, dismissing advisers’ warnings about the political dangers of such a meeting, given the ongoing special counsel investigation into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia as it interfered in the 2016 U.S. election on Trump’s behalf. With the Russia allegations swirling, Trump never had the formal meeting he wanted with Putin last year—settling for just two brief encounters on the sidelines of international gatherings—but he has clearly never given up on his campaign vision of closer ties with the Russian strongman, whose autocratic rule he has often praised. The North Korea summit this week, which Trump jubilantly declared a “historic” encounter that will lead to the end of Pyongyang’s nuclear program, has likely sealed the deal for an equally high-profile Putin meeting. Now Russia experts inside and outside the U.S. government are bracing themselves for a formal announcement of the summit, which is likely to happen as early as July, when Trump will be in Europe for the annual meeting of the nato alliance that Putin considers his country’s mortal enemy.

And, of course, our policies are going beyond Orwellian to throwbacks to our worst acts in history. From WAPO: “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday used a Bible verse to defend his department’s policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border from Mexico, suggesting that God supports the government in separating immigrant parents from their children.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

Government officials occasionally refer to the Bible as a line of argument — take, for instance, the Republicans who have quoted 2 Thessalonians (“if a man will not work, he shall not eat”) to justify more stringent food stamps requirements.

But the verse that Sessions cited, Romans 13, is an unusual choice.

“There are two dominant places in American history when Romans 13 is invoked,” said John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. “One is during the American Revolution [when] it was invoked by loyalists, those who opposed the American Revolution.”

The other, Fea said, “is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong. I mean, this is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made.”

Scott Pruitt’s grift and quid pro scam is moving right along coupled with his plan to roll back all kinds of laws in place to protect the environment. Say goodbye to the 21st and 20th century in America!

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is expected on Friday to send President Trump a detailed legal proposal to dramatically scale back an Obama-era regulation on water pollution, according to a senior E.P.A. official familiar with the plan. It is widely expected to be one of his agency’s most significant regulatory rollback efforts.

And, as soon as Monday, the same official said, Mr. Pruitt is expected to publish another major change: his agency’s legal proposal to gut President Barack Obama’s rule to reduce climate-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes. That proposal risks triggering a court battle with California and raises the prospect that the American car market could be split in two, with different groups of states enforcing different pollution rules.

Mr. Pruitt’s two moves come as he is dogged by allegations of legal and ethical violations and is seeking to burnish his reputation in the eyes of his boss, the president. While Mr. Pruitt has initiated the rollback of dozens of environmental rules over the past year and a half, the latest one-two push comes as he is battling allegations that he improperly used his government post to secure a job for his wife.

This week, the chorus of critics calling for Mr. Pruitt’s resignation swelled to include the conservative National Review, which once championed his appointment. And on Wednesday, Mr. Pruitt’s onetime political mentor, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, told the conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham that Mr. Pruitt needed to move past his management blunders and that it may be “time for him to go.”

There seems to be not one iota of conscientious or morality in this twit. From WAPO: “Energy PR executive helped get Scott Pruitt and his family Rose Bowl tickets”.

The head of an Oklahoma-based public relations firm with a large energy practice helped Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt secure tickets for his family to go to the Rose Bowl in January, agency officials confirmed Friday.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) detailed the transaction Friday morning in a letter he sent to Renzi Stone, a member of Oklahoma University’s Board of Regents and head of the communications firm Saxum, requesting information “regarding your actions in assisting EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in obtaining highly sought-after tickets to attend the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.” The Oklahoma Sooners played the Georgia Bulldogs that day in the national semifinals.

Cummings cites Millan Hupp, Pruitt’s former director of scheduling and advance, who told House Oversight Committee staffers during an interview last month that Stone had provided Pruitt’s family with the coveted tickets. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox confirmed Friday that Stone had put Pruitt in contact with Oklahoma University’s athletics department so that he could purchase the tickets “at face value.”

Trump’s popularity has plummeted since his election in all fifty states no matter what he says.. He’s less popular overall but it really varies state to state. He’s been pacing on the White House lawn and attacking the FBI and Comey over the release of the IG Report.

There were several juicy revelations in the report, including critical insight into former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. But Trump chose to first rebuke the text exchange between two former agents, in which former agent Peter Strzok said “we’ll stop” Trump from winning the election.

I have no idea who buys Trumps’ complaints other than his idiot cult followers since TWO Comey actions basically elected him. But, the right wing state media is desperate to keep him in office.

This report directly plays to those of us that believe–along with the reasonable data and minds supporting this–that Trump’s presidency is illegitimate. My guess is that trump will spend days ruminating over this and might sing his own little song of total

Matthew Miller is right when he says that this is infuriating.

But couple that with the fact that 23 days later, on October 28th, Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that the Clinton email investigation had been re-opened. Apparently, the windows hadn’t closed for an official statement on that one.

There are two other ways Comey could have gone. He could have applied his standard on the Trump/Russia investigation to the one about Clinton’s emails and not announced either one. Or, he could have made statements about both of them. But he chose the lopsided route that gave Trump a pass and hurt Clinton. Data guru Nate Silver documented the results.

What a clusterfuck!

So, all day we’re going to be deep in birdie do do. Let’s hope a few have useful songs to sing! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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Live Blog: A murderous Dictator and an Aspirant met up in a bar in Singapore with no one watching …

Hi Sky Dancers!

We’ve been together over 10 years and what a long strange ride it’s been. I struggled with the idea of putting up this as a live blog because while I’d really like to give peace a chance, I know that the seeds of poisonous fruit never grow anything but more poisonous fruit.  So, here’s some links.  I’m actually in no mood to join hands to sing Kumbayah.  I admit to hoping a very focused natural disaster hits a specific location on an island in Singapore.

“The whole Trump team has been an unreliable narrator throughout this process. It’s like ‘Rashomon,’ but really stupid.”

Emad Hajjaj / Jordan

or “Murderous Dictator Meets Dishonest President Behind Closed Doors. “How will the American public know what they actually said? They may not.”

The first-ever North Korea-United States summit will start with a one-on-one meeting between a brutal dictator known for breaking his word and a president famous for his daily dishonesties.

With two unreliable narrators in Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, how will Americans know what they actually said and agreed to with each other?

“We won’t,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “The whole Trump team has been an unreliable narrator throughout this process. It’s like ‘Rashomon,’ but really stupid.”

In Akira Kurosawa’s classic movie, the murder of a samurai is told through the vastly differing recollections of a handful of witnesses. For the meeting scheduled to begin in Singapore Tuesday morning ― Monday night on the United States East Coast ― there will only be two witnesses: each nation’s translator.

“And I don’t think either interpreter will be in a position to correct the record if the self-reporting by Kim and Trump doesn’t reflect what was actually said in the same manner and tone,” said Jenny Town, assistant director of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

The White House said it does not believe there is any cause for concern about getting an accurate description of the two men’s words.

Trump, nevertheless, on almost a daily basis says and writes things that are demonstrably untrue ― sometimes doing so even though he knows what he is saying is untrue.

Even White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has been forced to acknowledge, multiple times, that information she received from Trump and relayed to the public has not been correct.

Tom Nichols, a Russia scholar with expertise in Soviet Union-era arms control talks at the Naval War College, said Trump’s propensity for falsehoods makes getting an accurate rendering of the conversation essentially impossible. “There will no way of knowing what happens in that room, unless it’s being recorded ― knowingly or otherwise,” he said.

On top of Trump’s habit of untruths is Kim’s record of failing to honor his word.

Other news:

Evan Halper / Los Angeles Times:
Trump administration moves to block victims of gang violence, domestic abuse from claiming asylum

Tonda MacCharles / Toronto Star:
What led to Trump’s outburst against Trudeau: Behind the scenes at the G7

 

Here we go …

 

 


Monday Reads: Hello Darkness, my old friend

Traditional New Orleans Jazz funeral in the 1970s

Well, it’s another day to find out how low the party and appointments of KKKremlin Caligula can go and it’s low.  It’s about as low as the nadir of morality set by the monster himself.  Today’s news isn’t pleasant at all from any vantage point.  I’m reminded that death is a natural part of life and one that every one tries to ignore but must face.  I’d like to give a jazz funeral for some of these items, but I’m having a hard time celebrating the life before the loss.

Today, is our first day without Net Neutrality. Any of us that have been on the internet a long time–1981 for me–will know that everything use to be much freer, less commercial, and less ridden with stalkers.  I don’t miss the old modem that required a telephone ear/mouth piece.  I don’t miss having to direct dial to most sites.  I also do not miss that the only graphics you would ever see were in either gold and green and entirely composed of characters.  I do miss the days before AOL let all their subscribers lose on the web and there is much we will miss with the death of Net Neutrality. This is from Slate.

Monday, June 11, is the first day of the post-net neutrality internet. In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Obama-era rules that prohibit internet companies from slowing down or speeding up access to certain websites, but it took about six months for the repeal to get a sign-off from the Office of Management and Budget and for the new rules to be published in the federal register. Beginning, well, now, your internet access could—emphasis on could—feel dramatically different than it did yesterday.

Under the new network neutrality rules, internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are allowed to throttle traffic that travels over their network or even block access to entire websites as long as the companies alert their subscribers in their terms of service that they reserve the right to do so. But since most people in the United States don’t have more than one or two internet providers to choose from for broadband service, that means if users don’t wish to accept those terms, many won’t have anywhere else to go for their internet. Without net neutrality rules stopping them, internet providers will also be able to charge websites a fee to reach users faster.

Those internet providers stand to win the most from the net neutrality repeal, since they’ll be able to operate what is essentially a two-way toll, collecting money from both subscribers and websites that want priority access to users. Already-powerful, deep-pocketed companies that can afford to pay for the fast-lane service, like Facebook or Yelp could wind up in a position to set the price, relegating smaller companies, nonprofits, or struggling news organizations to what is, in effect, a slower internet.

Leo Touchet, Jazz Funeral No. 70 (New Orleans, Louisiana) (1969)

We’re seeing another nail in the coffin of voting rights.  Today’s death blow came from the Supreme Court of the United States and yes, you know the ones that did it to us. This is from Buzzfeed‘s Court Reporter Chris Geidner:”The Supreme Court Just Upheld Ohio’s Aggressive Process For Purging Voters From The Rolls. The court split 5–4 on ideological grounds.”

The Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s system for purging inactive voters from the rolls — a decision that could lead other states to implement its aggressive procedure that can be triggered after a person fails to vote in one federal election.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote Monday’s 5–4 decision for the court, which was split along ideological lines.

Under Ohio’s system, voters who do not vote in a two-year period are sent a notice from the state. If they do not return the notice and then fail to vote for the next four years, their voter registration is canceled.

The Supreme Court held that the state’s process did not violate federal law.

Ohio had argued that its process was based on a provision of the National Voter Registration Act that allows states to remove people from voting rolls based on the grounds that they moved.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute, which sued the state, argued that the state, in fact, violated a different provision — which says that a person cannot be removed from voter rolls simply for failing to vote.

The court ruled that the state only uses the failure to vote “as a rough way of identifying voters who may have moved,” but that it actually begins the removal process by sending “a preaddressed, postage prepaid card to these individuals asking them to verify that they still reside at the same address.”

The court rejected the challengers’ argument that Ohio’s system violates the “Failure-to-Vote Clause.” The clause, Alito wrote, “simply forbids the use of nonvoting as the sole criterion for removing a registrant, and Ohio does not use it that way.”

Justice Stephen Breyer summed up the dissenting justices’ view that Monday’s decision was an exercise in circular reasoning.

Most of us are still swooning from the weekend that basically cut the United States away from its closest allies, friends, and countries that share the values of reason, justice, and modernity.  Have we just witnessed the murder of the post-World War 2 coalition of the world’s greatest economic and democratic powers?  From the keyboard of Jeffrey Goldberg writing for The Atlantic:  “A Senior White House Official Defines the Trump Doctrine: ‘We’re America, Bitch’. The president believes that the United States owes nothing to anyone—especially its allies.”

Many of Donald Trump’s critics find it difficult to ascribe to a president they consider to be both subliterate and historically insensate a foreign-policy doctrine that approaches coherence. A Trump Doctrine would require evidence of Trump Thought, and proof of such thinking, the argument goes, is scant. This view is informed in part by feelings of condescension, but it is not meritless. Barack Obama, whose foreign-policy doctrine I studied in depth, was cerebral to a fault; the man who succeeded him is perhaps the most glandular president in American history. Unlike Obama, Trump possesses no ability to explain anything resembling a foreign-policy philosophy. But this does not mean that he is without ideas.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve asked a number of people close to the president to provide me with short descriptions of what might constitute the Trump Doctrine. I’ve been trying, as part of a larger project, to understand the revolutionary nature of Trump’s approach to world affairs. This task became even more interesting over the weekend, when Trump made his most ambitious move yet to dismantle the U.S.-led Western alliance; it becomes more interesting still as Trump launches, without preparation or baseline knowledge, a complicated nuclear negotiation with a fanatical and bizarre regime that quite possibly has his number.

Trumpian chaos is, in fact, undergirded by a comprehensible worldview, a number of experts have insisted. The Brookings Institution scholar (and frequent Atlantic contributor) Thomas Wright argued in a January 2016 essaythat Trump’s views are both discernible and explicable. Wright, who published his analysis at a time when most everyone in the foreign-policy establishment considered Trump’s candidacy to be a farce, wrote that Trump loathes the liberal international order and would work against it as president; he wrote that Trump also dislikes America’s military alliances, and would work against them; he argued that Trump believes in his bones that the global economy is unfair to the U.S.; and, finally, he wrote that Trump has an innate sympathy for “authoritarian strongmen.”

We continue to discover how deep Russian interference was in our election in 2016.  This is horrifying and it shows how big money and big lobbyists are killing our democracy.

You should read the entire article but here’s the money line.

Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source.

The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.

Less we forget, Matt Ygelisias writing for Vox reminds us that: “There’s actually lots of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. The untenability of the “no collusion” talking point.”   We also need a jazz funeral for the truth.  We’re victims of weaponized, industrial strength gaslighting.

“In all of this, in any of this, there’s been no evidence that there’s been any collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday at his weekly press conference. “Let’s just make that really clear. There’s no evidence of collusion. This is about Russia and what they did and making sure they don’t do it again.”

From Ryan’s perspective, it would be convenient if it were true that Robert Mueller’s investigation had turned up no evidence of collusion, but it simply isn’t.

Republicans from Donald Trump on down have made “no collusion” a mantra. The term itself is ill-defined in this context; you won’t find in the US code. But roughly speaking, the question is whether the campaign got involved with Russian agents who committed computer crimes to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

The verdict on this is unclear. But there is certainly plenty of evidence pointing toward collusion; what you would call “probable cause” in a legal context, or what a journalist might simply consider reason to continue investigating the story. And the investigating thus far, both by special counsel Mueller and by journalists working on the story, has been fruitful. The efforts have continued to turn up contacts between Trumpworld and Putinland, cover-ups, and dishonesty.

Even as recently as Friday afternoon, we got new indictments charging Trump’s former campaign chair and his former GRU operative business partner with witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

It’s important, obviously, not to prejudge a case. It turns out that Saddam Hussein was acting like a man who was covering up a secret nuclear weapons arsenal because he didn’t want the world to know how weak his defenses really were.

By the same token, it’s certainly possible that the various Trump-Russia contacts never amounted to anything and that they’ve been consistently covered up for some reason otherthan an effort to hide collusion. But both the contacts that have been revealed so far and the deception used to deny their existence are certainly evidence of collusion — evidence that should be (and is being) pursued by the special counsel’s office and that should not be dismissed by the press or by elected officials.

Yglesias has documented a rather long list of fires and smoking guns.  Go check it out.  We definitely need to throw a jazz funeral for what’s left of the values the Republican party held and ran on for years.  This is from NBC News: “The GOP once championed alliances and free trade. Why is it silent now?”

But after a weekend when President Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak,” after he refused to sign the joint communique from the G-7 summit, and after a top Trump aide said “there’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door” — those same Republican leaders have been silent.

(What did Trudeau do, by the way, to earn that condemnation from Team Trump? He said that Canada would respond with reciprocal tariffs on the U.S. tariffs the Trump administration imposed on Canada — nothing he and his government haven’t said before, including on “Meet the Press” a week ago.)

The one exception to this GOP silence was Sen. John McCain, who tweeted: “To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

But other Republicans haven’t repeated that message, which is striking when free trade has been one of the GOP’s central tenets over the last few decades. And there’s only one explanation for that Republican silence: Trump has bullied the entire party into submission — well, at least those who will have to face voters again.

Today begins the frightening process of watching two madmen sit across the table to compare dick sizes.   My money is on the North Koreans.

As Rick Wilson says:  “Everything Trump touches dies.”  We have not attended our last funeral but let’s try to find ways to comfort ourselves in the small celebrations of our daily lives.   This includes all of my dear friends here on Sky Dancing who I consider the best of family.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Put on a Happy Face!!!

there was always light by Amanda Blake (contemporary), American

Good Morning Sky Dancers

I wish I could be your little ray of sunshine this morning but I don’t know how that’s possible given the utter daily chaos and destruction that the 2016 election brought us.  The chickens are definitely coming home to roost and the banty rooster is a crazy and mean little bird.

I woke up today to the sad news of a second celebrity suicide.  First, we had Kate Spade whose handbag designs were wonderful.  Now, it’s Anthony Bourdain. Both have left behind young daughters.

Celebrity suicide always starts a conversation that never reaches the ears of the our policymakers who could provide necessary things to solve problems but instead choose to exacerbate them. But more about Trump and the Republicans in Congress and the yanking of funds from the Children’s Health Program last night in a stealth, decidedly one sided vote. Any one with young ones in their life should spend time with them now.

According to several studies, publicity surrounding a suicide has been repeatedly linked to a subsequent increase in the act, particularly among young people.

After Marilyn Monroe died in August 1962, the cause listed as probable suicide, the nation mourned — publicly. In the month that followed there was sweeping news coverage, public memorials and a 12% increase in suicides. That month saw an additional 303 suicides in comparison to the year prior, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

When Robin Williams died in 2014, the world reacted similarly. The comedian’s image was everywhere, details of his untimely passing spawned countless news articles and think pieces. His death is also similarly associated with a 10% increase in suicide across the United States in the five months after his passing, according to a study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, in February.

The phenomenon is often referred to as “suicide contagion,” defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as an increase in suicides due to “the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide.”

And the overwhelming influence of a celebrity or high-profile suicide is far from a new discovery. Following the 1774 publication of Wolfgang Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther” — a book in which a young man ends his life after a failed love affair — Europe also saw a spike in suicides, particularly in men the same age as the protagonist.

The outbreak prompted the novel to be banned in several European locations.

 

PAUL RAFFERTY, American (contemporary)
Hydrangeas Contre Jour

Suicide, however, has been on the rise in the US since 1999.  Like most mental illnesses, it receives less preventative attention than it should.  It does, however, generate a lot of revenues for pharmaceutical companies.  It’s less likely the pills are accompanied by human help and counselling.

I’ve struggled with depression for like 50 years. Some of my youngest memories are of my dad, my baby sister, and me in Kansas City waiting in the car outside a small hospital while my mother sat with her mother during her shock treatments. My mother lived with it too. They put her on antidepressants the last year of her life and I saw a happy, cheery woman I had never known before.  I personally rely heavily on my Buddhist practice which grew from my adult-in-process practices of the relaxation response and positive affirmation. I hurl mantras like I live in a gompa some where up in the Himalayas with shaved head and nun vows. I only wish more people had access to learning meditation. It also helps me to stay away from mean, nasty people which is proving challenging in the Trump era.

But, actual science and properly funding and staffing the CDC is not a priority at all right now.

Suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016, according to research published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.

More than half of those who died by suicide had not been diagnosed with a mental health condition, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.

“These findings are disturbing. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US right now, and it’s one of three causes that is actually increasing recently, so we do consider it a public health problem — and something that is all around us,” Schuchat said. The other two top 10 causes of death that are on the rise are Alzheimer’s disease and drug overdoses, she noted.

In 2016 alone, about 45,000 lives were lost to suicide.

“Our data show that the problem is getting worse,” Schuchat said.

 

surprise!! chickens!  roosting!  crazy ass rooster!!!

The Daily Wire has some more of these stats.

Bourdain is just the latest in a string of prominent celebrities suffering from depression who have taken their own lives. Last week, Kate Spade committed suicide; she was reportedly fixated on Robin Williams’ suicide. And suicide rates across America have been spiking: as of 2014, American suicide rates had skyrocketed to their highest rate in three decades, all the way to 13 people per 100,000, even as death rates from other causes declined markedly. Suicide was particularly common among middle-aged white people. The overall suicide rate climbed 24 percent from 1999 to 2014; in 2014, over 14,000 middle-aged white Americans committed suicide. Between 2006 and 2016, the suicide rate for white children jumped 70 percent, and the suicide rate among black children (while lower than that of white children overall) jumped 77 percent. According to USA Today:

A study of pediatric hospitals released last May found admissions of patients ages 5 to 17 for suicidal thoughts and actions more than doubled from 2008 to 2015. The group at highest risk for suicide are white males between 14 and 21.

What’s causing this uptick? Traditional theories regarding poverty don’t seem to hold much water – the economic recovery was well underway by 2014, and more poverty-stricken demographic groups in the United States had lower suicide rates than whites did on a consistent basis. And theories regarding bullying don’t seem to solve the question either – bullying isn’t worse in 2017 than it was in 1999, and studies seem to show that once depression and delinquency are factored out, bullying does not rate as an independent variable changing suicide rates.

Suicide is a complex social phenomenon, and it’s difficult to pin down cause and effect. Surely rising rates of opioid abuse have contributed to the suicide increase, but that wouldn’t explain the jump among young people. There’s a case to be made that decline of religiosity in wealthier societies has led to an uptick in suicide(poorer societies tend to have far less of a suicide problem than wealthy societies, so religious differences matter less statistically). We are suffering a crisis of meaning in the West, and it’s having a significant impact on suicidality.

Hendrick ter Brugghen, Old Man Writing by Candlelight, c. 1626-27, Dutch Baroque painter and leading member of the Utrecht followers of Caravaggio

I don’t think religiosity necessarily connects to leading a meaningful life. But, I’d say constantly be sent off to war is one factor because suicide rates for Vets is off the wall.  I’d also say feeling helpless to change things in your work life and community leads to some of that too.  (From Foreign Policy, September, 2017)

Veterans are about 20 percent more likely than nonveterans to kill themselves, according to a Veterans Affairs press release issued on Friday afternoon at the close of business. (Traditionally, that’s when Washington public affairs types put out bad news they don’t wish to discuss. Mainly they hope to see it tucked into Saturday newspapers that no one reads.)

Also, the suicide rate for female veterans is 250 percent that for female non-vets.

Then, there’s death by abhorrently racist federal policy.  There’s a surge in that.  From the daily paper of my childhood days The Des Moines Register: “Des Moines DREAMer dies within weeks after being sent back to Mexico’s violence.”

Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco should have graduated from high school in Des Moines last month. The oldest of four siblings should have walked across a stage in a cap and gown to become a proud symbol to his sister and brothers of the rewards of hard work and education.

Instead, Manuel died a brutal death alone in a foreign land, a symbol of gang supremacy in a country plagued by violent drug cartels. It happened three weeks after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned him to Mexico, a country he had left at age 3 when his parents brought him here without a visa.

The fact that America was the only home he has known made Manuel eligible to apply for and be granted DACA status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program initiated by former President Barack Obama. It exempted from deportation certain young people, referred to as DREAMERS, who were brought to the U.S. without papers as children.

But that status didn’t protect Manuel when he came to immigration authorities’ attention after being stopped for speeding last fall and charged with driving under the influence. An ICE spokesperson said in a statement that ICE officers arrested him in Polk County Jail and a federal immigration judge terminated his DACA status because of two  misdemeanor convictions.

The statement from Shawn Neudauer, ICE public affairs officer, also said Manuel wasn’t technically deported, but was escorted to Mexico by ICE deportation officers at the Laredo, Texas border this past April 24. He called it a voluntary departure process that doesn’t carry the penalties of a formal deportation. But  the impact was the same: Manuel had no choice but to go back, either as a deportee or in a “voluntary departure.” He chose the “voluntary” route.

The Glasgow Rose, Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Scottish, Glasgow School

You may read more about this young man’s short life at the newspaper’s link.

Other Republican policies will be cutting the lives of children short if this bill passes the US Senate. It moved through the House like a stealth fighter. Funny, how Republicans can get it done when it involves propping up their give-aways to the rich and powerful.

The House voted along party lines late Thursday to pass a White House proposal that would claw back nearly $15 billion in previously approved government funding.

The House approved the measure in a vote of 210-206, with conservatives calling it a step in the right direction after they ripped into the price tag of the $1.3 trillion spending bill President Trump signed earlier this year.

“President Trump and this Administration are fully committed to protecting taxpayers, and Senate passage of this legislation is critical to reducing wasteful, unnecessary spending and making our Federal Government more efficient, effective, and accountable,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late Thursday.

Trump had pushed lawmakers earlier this week to vote in favor of the clawback plan, known as the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act, which GOP leaders have been working on for two months.

“The HISTORIC Rescissions Package we’ve proposed would cut $15,000,000,000 in Wasteful Spending! We are getting our government back on track,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

The push to slash spending stemmed from conversations between Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in April, weeks after Trump signed the omnibus into law.

“The President’s rescissions request is a straightforward approach to begin cleaning up a bloated federal budget and respecting hardworking taxpayer dollars,” McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday.

While the move was welcomed by fiscal hawks, Democrats and a handful of moderates argued it could hinder future budget negotiations and drain unused funds that may prove necessary for programs down the road.

Opponents blasted the administration’s decision to target unobligated funds within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) –– which make up nearly half of the $14.7 billion in rollbacks –– alleging the cuts could lead to a loss of coverage if enrollment is higher than expected.

“The nearly $15 billion in rescissions cut numerous efforts to create jobs, grow our economy, and strengthen our communities. It cuts funding for the economic development administration, and for community development financial institutions. Both of which create jobs in rural areas and distress communities,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said on the floor.

Officer with a Laughing Girl: ca 1657, Johannes Vermeer, Dutch Baroque Painter

Then, there’s a stab at Obamacare again. This time it’s by the Oldest Living Confederate widow as she attempts to get people with preexisting conditions thrown out and re-establish womanhood as a preexisting condition.  From Forbes Magazine: “The Trump Administration Is Using a New Tactic to Dismantle Obamacare. What You Need to Know About It”

The Trump administration is trying out a new tactic to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): calling at least one provision of it unconstitutional.

In a brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department sided with Texas and a coalition of other Republican-led states that had filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. While it is uncommon for the Justice Department to go against federal law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he acted with the “approval of the President of the United States.”

Here’s their argument, and what they want.

The filing declares unconstitutional the so-called individual mandate—which requires almost all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a “tax” if they don’t—and calls for several elements of ACA to be invalidated. These include a “ban on insurers denying coverage and charging higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions.” The Justice Department reportedly also wants to repeal limits on insurance costs based on gender and age.

Nevertheless, the Justice Department’s position did not go quite as far as the Texas suit. In it, the states deem the entirety of Obamacare and its regulations invalid.

 

Childe Hassam, The Goldfish Window, 1916,

The DOJ will not defend the cases brought by GOP state.  This why we have a spate of crazy obviously unconstitutional shit coming up from the states. The DOJ is deciding which cases to defend based on religious and ideological whims instead of actual legal grounds.

The Trump administration said Thursday night that it will not defend the Affordable Care Act against the latest legal challenge to its constitutionality — a dramatic break from the executive branch’s tradition of arguing to uphold existing statutes and a land mine for health insurance changes the ACA brought about.

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to the House and Senate leaders of both parties, the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states that brought the suit. They contend that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional and that, as a result, consumer insurance protections under the law will not be valid, either.

The three-page letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions begins by saying that Justice adopted its position “with the approval of the President of the United States.” The letter acknowledges that the decision not to defend an existing law deviates from history

Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose
Georgia O’Keeffe (United States, Wisconsin, Sun Prairie, 1887-1986)
United States, 1931 

 but contends that it is not unprecedented.

Stacking the benches with unqualified judges is a good way to get a decision based on total ignorance of law and precedent and even the Constitution.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report Friday accusing their Republican colleagues of conspiring with President Donald Trump to reshape the federal judiciary by appointing judges whose only qualifications are youth and conservative ideology.

“President Trump and Senate Republicans are stacking our courts at record-breaking speed,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee and one of several signatories on the report. “Nominees have been largely controversial and incredibly young, allowing them to shape our courts for generations.”

The 61-page report titled “Review of Republican Efforts to Stack the Federal Courts” details both the pace and volume of the nomination and confirmation process, as well as the obstruction and filibustering of President Barack Obama nominees that afforded Trump the opportunity to shift the balance of federal courts.

“President Trump entered office with 112 judicial vacancies, compared to just 53 vacancies when President Obama entered office,” the report states. “To fill these vacancies and change the nature of the federal judiciary for decades, President Trump and Senate Republicans have been rushing nominees through the Senate at a breakneck pace by changing the process for consideration and eliminating traditions that had been followed for over a century.”

The “blue slip” tradition referred to in the report is an unwritten rule in the Senate process, honored by both parties for decades, meant to simultaneously preserve a more bipartisan approach to the judicial nomination process and make sure both home-state senators approve of judicial nominees.

The tradition is named after a blue form that is given to the two home-state senators asking for their assessment of the nominee. If the senator has no objection, the blue slip is returned to the committee chairman with a positive response. If they don’t approve of the nominee, the blue form is withheld or returned with a negative response.

Friday’s report says Republicans used blue slips to block 18 Obama court nominees, including six nominees for federal appeals courts, which rank just below the U.S. Supreme Court and have a huge hand in determining some of the most important matters of law in the nation. 

After Trump was elected, Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, eschewed the blue-slip tradition, according to the report.

Michael Brennan was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit on Thursday over the objection of Tammy Baldwin, the home-state senator from Wisconsin. Similarly, Ryan Bounds was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Ninth Circuit over the objections of Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Democratic senators from Oregon.

Republicans can only get things done by sneaking stuff through in thoroughly undemocratic and crooked ways.

And here’s why Germaine Greer is trending.

 

Speaking in a BBC documentary that will be aired on Saturday, called Germaine Bloody Greer, and reported in the Sun and the Mirror, she says: “Someone like Beyoncé – who I think is a fantastic musician, a beautiful voice as true as a bell – why has she always got to be fucking naked and have her tits hanging out? Why?

“I’m not saying you have to keep your clothes on, but why is sexual display part of the job? I might as well ask that question to a barmaid who says she doesn’t get any tips if she doesn’t show cleavage.”

Greer also criticises female athletes, saying: “Why do women athletes have to be naked? I watched bloody figure skating and the woman is virtually naked. She has got a few wisps of cloth and the man is in evening dress. You think nakedness is usually a sign of submission, it’s a sign of inequality.”

She describes her own nude photos, taken for Suck magazine in 1971, as “revolutionary” and a “disruptive gesture”.

Accused of transphobia having repeatedly declared that people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery are not women, Greer caused further outrage recently when she said that “most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever”.

Oh, yeah there’s more. She’s written a book “Rape” due out in September.  I actually think she and Bernie Sanders should take up knitting. Oh, and Susanne Sarandon can join them too!

I think I’ve had enough sunshine for one day!  Did the paintings help?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Monday Reads: SCOTUS Slices the Cake Thinly

Good Morning

I’m not a big fan of the institution of marriage. It’s one of those things purposefully set up to make men unnecessarily comfortable and women overtly miserable even though men swear they’re continually put out by it. Women are really sold a fish story on how the marriage thing is in their interests. Few marriages actually wind up being happy and equitable but still, every one hopes for it. I always hope that the institution evolves and think expanding it to the GLBT community helps that along although I wouldn’t be adverse to it going the way of the dinosaurs.

I’ve worked in a man’s field forever and my biggest shock was the level of upmanship expressed by men in groups–when no women are present–on whose wife is the worst. It’s almost always lists of reasonable requests like helping out with work, paying for something that kids or the house requires or doing some activity beyond living at work or on the couch. For some reason, I’ve always been a fly on the wall during these prick sessions. Women share stories about what theatrics men undertake to avoid work. We also know large numbers of wives beaten and/or emotionally abused by husbands. That’s central to women’s gatherings. That plus discussions of everything we gave up and continually give up. I’m going through the DV support with two friends now and it never gets easier. We trudge along with the drudge. Men make their wives monsters for it.

These are the reasons I always have problems with the traditional, patriarchal, religious frame hammered to marriage. This creates some of its worst tendencies as an institution. It always worries me to see laws and legal decisions that add more nails. Man act oppressed by it while taking advantage of its built-in safety net for them to oppress.

Domestic violence is central to enforcing dominance and marriages can be rife with it. You always think it won’t happen to you. You are amazed when they try to tell the family that you made them do it. Well#MeToo One day it went beyond eye rolling and heavy sighs and the “how dare you bitch!” look and I was headed with the youngest in diapers to my parents’ house totally in bruises but only after he tried to stop me from dialing 911 over and over. The instances of domestic violence alone make me happily single, alone in blissful solitude, and never in need of the experience of anything else.

I heard Bill Murray one night express my exact thoughts about marriage both gay and hetero. He failed miserably at it and I personally believe his exwife. After having been mired in marriage for 20 years, all I could think was if the GLBT community really wants it they should have it and I hope they can make less of a mess of it. He said about the same thing.

To be honest, even a large percentage of my long time married friends basically say what I say. If I had it to do over again, I’d have the kids and skip the husband. I’ve been divorced now since 1995. I do not want one of them around useless, in the way, constantly looking put out or angry, and just waiting for you to commit some imaginary sin so they can hit you, turn people against you, and go on doing whatever it is that meets their needs. I’d never enter into that fucked up bargain again. I discouraged my daughters from it. I remember my mom endlessly wailing “But what about my needs?” At one point, I understood fully what “until death us part” really meant. I’d gotten life in prison.

The funny thing is that I’ve gotten to the point now where I truly never fill lonely or understand what that means when folks express the feeling. I’ve grown so comfortable being in solitude that I can’t imagine wanting anything else.

But, I’m old, overly experienced, and I understand everything that’s bundled up and pressed on folks to be married and have a family. I also understand how it functions as an institution that establishes property rights and control. All the Abrahamic religions use it to establish male dominance and supremacy under the grift of it being some kind of sky fairy blessing. I can understand why they hate having all of that taken away and they don’t want to share it.

So, we’ve established that I really don’t do weddings unless truly forced into it. I just cannot contain my strong urge to tell the bride to run because she’s about to do irreparable damage to her entire life.

That being said marriage is between two people and it’s not up to any one else to interpret it or deny their access to what they want from it or the Merger Day. Religion should only define it for those who adhere to that religion. But, that’s not what all religions preach or do.

SCOTUS is comprised of a group of judges with a majority belonging to a cult within Catholicism. That would be Opus Dei. That’s something that even creeps Popes and the Jesuits out and they know a lot about oppression of women and children within religious institutions. It was started in 1928 and adores the concept of “Corporal Mortification”. That should tell you how sick they are. It’s basically a cult. But, a bunch of them sit on the bench because the Republicans love religious fanatics. They vote. Religious diversity left the building when it comes to SCOTUS and the christofascists love it! So, does every other bigoted throwback religion.

They love it because they gradually get to enshrine their sick, twisted, religious views into law. Now, today’s ruling was written by Kennedy and it’s leaving a door cracked open for future dissent, but what it basically does is create a weird notion of ‘religious liberty’. This is not just about the guy that just couldn’t bake a wedding cake for a gay couple and the laws and lawsuits that followed. This is also about situation that followed. It’s about 3 bakeries refusing to make 2 hateful, ‘christian’ themed sheet cakes condemning gay marriage.

Does this decision basically allow hatred and bigotry in the name of religious sects basically infamous for that?

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

In an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that leaves many questions unanswered, the court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not adequately taken into account the religious beliefs of baker Jack Phillips.

In fact, Kennedy said, the commission had been hostile to the baker’s faith, denying him the neutral consideration he deserved. While the justices split in their reasoning, only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Kennedy wrote that the question of when religious beliefs must give way to anti-discrimination laws might be different in future cases. But in this case, he said, Phillips did not get the proper consideration.

“The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws,” he wrote. “Still, the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor in the balance the State sought to reach. That requirement, however, was not met here.”

So, tell me, wtf does this mean? Here’s SCOTUS blog.

Almost six months to the day after the oral argument, the justices today handed Phillips a victory, even if not necessarily the ruling that he and his supporters had hoped for. Kennedy, the author of some of the court’s most important gay-rights rulings, began by explaining that the case involved a conflict between two important principles: on the one hand, the state’s power “to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services”; and, on the other, the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

As a general rule, Kennedy explained, the Supreme Court’s cases make clear that Phillips’ right to freely exercise his religion is not absolute, and can be limited by neutral laws that apply to everyone. But the critical question of when Phillips’ right to exercise his religion can be limited had to be determined, Kennedy emphasized, in a proceeding that was not tainted by hostility to religion.

Here, Kennedy observed, the “neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised” by comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. One commissioner, Kennedy pointed out, “even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission’s treatment of Phillips’ religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes “with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage.” Therefore, Kennedy concluded, the commission’s order – which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports – “must be set aside.”

The majority left open, however, the possibility that a future case could come out differently, particularly if the decisionmaker in the case considered religious objections neutrally and fairly. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances,” the majority closed, “must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the court’s ruling, in an opinion joined only by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Ginsburg stressed that there “is much in the Court’s opinion with which I agree,” but she “strongly” disagreed with the idea that the same-sex couple “should lose this case.” In particular, she argued, neither the commissioners’ statements about religion nor the commission’s disparate treatment of other bakers who refused to make cakes disapproving of same-sex marriage justified a ruling in favor of Phillips.

So, this is an odd narrow scope. Really odd. Really narrow. Really wtf?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the state of Colorado’s enforcement of its civil rights law was flawed, while reaffirming that LGBTQ Americans should not face discrimination in the provision of goods and services and state law may continue to prohibit such discrimination.

“In today’s narrow ruling against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court acknowledged that LGBTQ people are equal and have a right to live free from the indignity of discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Anti-LGBTQ extremists did not win the sweeping ‘license to discriminate’ they have been hoping for — and today’s ruling does not change our nation’s longstanding civil rights laws. Yet, the fact remains that LGBTQ people face alarming levels of discrimination all across the country and HRC’s efforts to advance equality are as urgent as ever. With LGBTQ people at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services in 31 states, HRC continues to build momentum for the Equality Act, to elect pro-equality candidates up and down the ballot, and to fight in every corner of our country to advance policies that protect LGBTQ people from being targeted for who they are or whom they love.”

This is basically an invitation to flood the court with wedding cake cases I guess. Does this create the inroads that religious bigots truly desire?

Like a good wedding cake, the Supreme Court’s 7–2 decision on Monday in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commissionhas a little something for everyone. Gay people, who were justifiably terrified that the case could undermine their right to equal service, get a reaffirmation of their “dignity and worth.” Religious-liberty advocates get a continued expansion of the Free Exercise Clause. Anti-gay activists get a victory—a midsize and possibly temporary but still very real win, in a case that few initially expected to even reach the Supreme Court.

Who loses? Everybody who hoped this decision would definitively settle the ostensible clash between LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. In the end, Masterpiece Cakeshop barely resolves anything and doesn’t even touch the free-speech claim at the center of the case. Instead, it punts that question, leaving lower courts (and American society) to continue fighting about how, exactly, Justice Anthony Kennedy should feel about it. A great wedding cake might leave you wanting more, but Masterpiece Cakeshop just leaves you craving something you can actually sink your teeth into.

Like I said, best wishes and good luck to all of you in or entering the marital merge thing! You have me hoping you prove me wrong!!!

Other SCOTUS Decisions

From WAPO: Supreme Court throws out lower-court decision that allowed immigrant teenager to obtain abortion

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a lower court’s decision that allowed an undocumented immigrant teenager to obtain an abortion over the protests of the Trump administration.

The action, which came in an unsigned opinion without noted dissents, throws out a precedent that might allow other teenagers in the same circumstance to obtain an abortion.

The five-page order directs the lower courts to dismiss as moot the teen’s individual claim seeking access to abortion services. The girl, known in court papers as Jane Doe, was able to terminate her pregnancy before the high court got involved. She has since turned 18 and is no longer in federal custody.

Her lawyer, Brigitte Amiri of the American Civil Liberties Union, described as narrow the Monday ruling that she said does not affect a broader challenge to the government’s policy for pregnant teens in federal immigration custody that is pending in District Court in Washington.

zombie-wedding-cake-topper-6-7674SCOTUS Bound Nonsense

Also from WAPO: “Trump says he has ‘absolute right’ to pardon himself of federal crimes but denies any wrongdoing”

President Trump on Monday asserted an “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes but said he has no reason to do so because he has not engaged in any wrongdoing.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In a subsequent tweet Monday, Trump also claimed that the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election had been “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

“Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong! Trump said.

Trump’s assessment of his pardon powers echoed that of his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who offered an expansive view of the president’s executive powers during interviews Sunday, arguing that Trump probably has the ability to pardon himself.

“He probably does,” Giuliani said Sunday, when asked on ABC News’s “This Week” whether Trump has the ability to pardon himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”

So, that’s it for me!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Frankly, I can think of worse things to call Ivanka Trump

Roman Empress Aggripina Great-Granddaughter Of Emperor Augustus, Great-Niece; Adoptive Granddaughter Of Emperor Tiberius, Sister Of Emperor Caligula, Niece & Fourth Wife Of Emperor Claudius, Mother Of Emperor Nero!

Happy “yet another Tempest in a Teapot while America Burns” Day!

First, I’d like to remind y’all that vaginas are deep and warm and Ivanka Trump is neither so I suggest we think of a better set of words to describe KKKremlin Caligula’s daughter than “feckless cunt”.  We could adopt Demoness reincarnation of Diva August or good ol’ Aunt Livia to keep it all in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Historically, Livia was the mother of Tiberius and if you know anything about Roman history of the time, you’ll know he was as perverted and evil as the rest of them. Remember, Rome was still supposed to be a Republic at the time but that dreadful set of ghouls–including the fiddling Nero–ruined nearly everything within a few generations.  We could give her a nick name based on Agrippina but that would be a weirder sexual dynamic than I’m prepared to put through my mind.  However, I am praying for a few good men with lean and hungry looks to end our Trumpvian nightmare.

So, let me do a shout out for Samantha Bee whose ‘feckless cunt’ description was probably kinder than Ivanka deserved but who timed the use of the c word badly. I’ve never particularly liked the word when used by American men because it completely drips of toxic masculinity, the patriarchy and misogyny.  Canadians–of which Bee is one–and the English use the word differently and profusely.  But, as Childish Gambino raps, “This is America”.   Still, there’s is no way it’s misogynistic in this context or equivalent to the virulent, ongoing racism displayed by Roseanne Barr.

Rebecca Traister explains it best at The Cut.

As a left-leaning feminist, I agree with Sarah Huckabee Sanders that “silence” on the matter of Bee’s comedic critique — and its connection to ABC’s recent cancellation of Roseanne is inexcusable. So even though I am on the last day of my leave from New York/the Cut and am supposed to be finishing the book I’ve been writing — which is not coincidentally about women’s rage — it is important to be clear about the dynamics at play in these situations, which are absolutely not remotely in any way equivalent to each other.

Language’s ability to inflict harm depends on the power of who’s wielding it and against whom it is being wielded. I’m not talking simply about the power of the individuals in question. For example, it’s not about the damage done by Samantha Bee to Ivanka Trump or Roseanne Barr to Valerie Jarrett, all of whom are individuals with various kinds of power. It’s not about them. Rather, it’s about considering the relative degrees of power of the entities and ideas that those individuals are representing.

It is true that in her critique of Ivanka Trump, Bee used an expletive that is explicitly misogynistic; it is wholly reasonable to object to the word cunt for feminist reasons. It is also reasonable and worthwhile to consider why a term for female anatomy has become such a potent pejorative; why does a word that means vagina also mean “very bad person,”? That’s a valid question, but it’s crucial to consider it in this context. Bee was not reinforcing or replicating the crude harm that “cunt” has been used to inflict historically: the patriarchal diminishment and vilification of women. In fact, Bee was using it to criticize a woman precisely because that woman is acting on behalf of that patriarchy, one that systematically diminishes women, destroys families, and hurts children.

This context makes the situation fundamentally different from Roseanne Barr comparing Valerie Jarrett to an ape, as she did earlier this week. That comparison was an explicitly racist locution with explicitly racist roots, but unlike Bee’s deployment of “cunt” against a misogynistic and racist administration, Barr’s racism has been deployed in support of that racist and misogynistic administration. That administration, as well as the party that has helped to build and shield it, came to power in part on explicitly racist and misogynistic rhetoric that both vilified and promised revenge against the previous, historic administration of Barack Obama, of which Jarrett was a member. That context matters, as does the fact that the Trump administration is using the power it so gained to inflict real-world racist and misogynistic harm on human beings.

Russian proclaimed Emperor KKKremlin Caligula

Yes.  This!

While all the little Trumpsterfires around the country and in the West Wing call for Samantha Bee’s head, Chealsea Clinton reminds us that they’ve all called her mother worse!  Specifically, that subhuman asswipe known as Ted Nugent–bless his little heart– called Hillary Clinton a ‘toxic cunt” and got invited to the White House for tea and cake!

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Clinton, on Thursday resurfaced a photo of President Trump meeting with Ted Nugent, who once called her mother a “toxic c—,” after the White House condemned Samantha Bee for using the slur about Ivanka Trump.

Clinton shared a tweet by Shareblue writer Oliver Willis, who put a transcript of Nugent’s use of the crude term next to an image of the musician with Trump. Willis captioned the photos “something something something samantha bee fake outrage something.”

“I keep hoping for consistency too, Oliver. Though I’m not holding my breath!” Clinton tweeted.

Nugent had used the term to describe then-first lady Hillary Clinton during a 1994 interview with music magazine “Westword.”

“You probably can’t use the term ‘toxic c—’ in your magazine, but that’s what she is,” Nugent said of Hillary Clinton. “Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro.”

Bee apologized Thursday after she called Ivanka Trump a “feckless c—” during her show Wednesday night.

The White House had sharply condemned Bee’s comments, saying TBS’s “Full Frontal” is “not fit for broadcast.”

Livia Drusilla (58 BCE – 29 CE) the third wife of emperor Augustus of Rome, mother of emperor Tiberius, and grandmother of emperor Claudius.

No one ever asks for an apology for all that Trump called Hillary Clinton.  She still hasn’t gotten any from the press either for endlessly repeating it.

Frankly, Sister Huckabuck and White House Mommy don’t get to complain about any of this given they both suck patriarchal dick and send women to the ash-heap of male property with glee. Ivanka was supposedly different but she evidently is okay with her 40 shekel payment in terms of Chinese Trademarks on her lousy products along with the continued use of child labor.

Nice ladies do not employ companies that enslave children.  Am I right?

First daughter Ivanka Trump has billed herself as an advocate in the White House for women’s rights. But the first daughter, who owns her namesake brand but no longer closely manages it, did not speak out when three men with New York nonprofit China Labor Watch were arrested while investigating low wages, forced overtime, and physical and verbal abuse at Chinese factories producing shoes for her company.

The men were accused of using secret recording devices illegally and jailed, leaving the wife of one of them, Deng Guilian, with no choice but to work an overnight shift at a karaoke parlor that gave her only three days off a month to see her two young children, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

“They seem accustomed to not having their mom,” Deng said of her 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

Trump’s company did not respond to a request for comment from Newsweek.

“As a public figure, she has the ability and resources to not only work on labor conditions at her own brand’s factories, but also to help improve labor conditions of the global supply chain as a whole,” China Labor Watch founder Li Qiang said of Trump. “However, she did not use her influence to do these things.”

Rome’s 3rd Emperor Caligula

Oh, and about those Chinese patents and a distinct lack of ethics …

“We have recently seen a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties trying to capitalize on the name and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark.” That’s somewhat mitigating, in that it does not suggest that Ms. Trump is engaged in aggressive new trading on her name, but she’s still trading on it.

The fact that China granted some of these valuable intellectual property rights just a few days before the president agreed to relax U.S. sanctions on Chinese telecom giant ZTE only fortifies the appearance that foreign governments seek to influence the U.S. government by bestowing business favors on the president’s daughter. This is an inference of impropriety that most ethical people, whether in business or in government, would go to the greatest possible lengths to dispel, but — so far, at least — not Ms. Trump.

And, she’s no friend of other women as Elizabeth Spiers writes for The Chicago Tribune: “Ivanka Trump wants power with no accountability'”

“Ivanka Trump is the president’s visible right-hand woman, and she stands by her man no matter what.”

As an adviser, Ivanka Trump has traveled the globe (on the taxpayers’ dime, no less) claiming to be an advocate for women’s rights and speaking on behalf of the country. Whether the president — who aside from being her father is also her boss — has sexually assaulted 19 women is obviously relevant for an administration that just this month dismissed senior aide Rob Porter over reports that he allegedly abused his ex-wives. It’s an obvious question for any senior White House adviser. But Ivanka Trump wants to put it off limits because the president is her dad. She acts like a sort of ersatz first lady, while Trump’s actual wife, Melania Trump, occupies more of a seen-and-not-heard role usually relegated to children. Ivanka Trump is the president’s visible right-hand woman, and she stands by her man no matter what.

Why else does she work at the White House despite her total and absolute lack of political and policy experience? Or despite her refusal to divest herself fully of her businesses and relationships to the Trump Organization, or the inability of either Ivanka Trump or her husband to get a full security clearance (possibly because of her business relationships and the conflicts of interest and potential for corruption they present)? Because she and Kushner are related to the president. And because they wanted powerful jobs they could simply take even though they weren’t qualified for them.

The desire to have it both ways extends beyond convenient vacillation between her role as a daughter and adviser to the administration. Ivanka Trump also implausibly attaches herself to disparate and often contradictory political agendas. She came to the White House a socially liberal Democrat who espoused better policies for working women and environmentally friendly approaches to climate change, and she supposedly found the administration’s immigration ban abhorrent. But her convictions on these issues haven’t been so strong that they have stopped her from continuing to publicly support and enable a White House with an appalling record on what she’s supposed to believe.

But she has no problem with the dissonance because she has never known how to be authentic in the first place. She’s been in the spotlight since she was a child; she was a runway model as a teenager. She evaluates everything she does in terms of optics. If she has or had any strongly held beliefs or values, they’re secondary to her utilitarianism.

Livia Drusilla

The bottom line–writes Peggy Drexler of CNN–is Samantha Bee is right. And, I might add, Roseanne Barr is a repeat racist and bigot PERIOD.

But Bee is not Barr — she is not spewing random and racist, anti-Semitic, conspiracy-theory views over years on Twitter, as Barr has, and often in the service of supporting the President’s policies. Nor, let’s be honest, are we living in a time of particularly polite discourse.

It’s important, too, to remember that Bee is a comedian known for delivering a standup monologue which, like that of other comedians, often uses outrageous, boundary-pushing and, to some, offensive comedy to make strong points about politics. In Bee’s case, though, and unlike in Barr’s, these points are usually made on behalf of those harmed by this President’s policies.
Which is why there’s a difference between Bee and Barr. Directing a single insult, even a vulgar one, at one person, for reasons of defending the disenfranchised, as Bee did, is one thing; promoting racist beliefs, specifically calling a black person “an ape” in response to, well, nothing, is quite another.

All of which is why it’s a shame that Bee’s message has been largely overshadowed by debate over this single word, whether she should have used it, how and if she should be reprimanded and whether her show should be canceled.

Although she apologized Wednesday — sincerely, it seems — for using the word about the President’s daughter, in truth, perhaps the biggest problem with her calling first daughter Ivanka Trump a “feckless c***” Wednesday night on her TBS show “Full Frontal” is that the comedian undercut her own message.

The point Bee was attempting to make was that Ivanka Trump, a close presidential adviser, should be held accountable for her failure to influence her father to end his cruel immigration policies, which include separating immigrant parents from children.
As such, the overall point was valid: Sitting idly by when you’re in a position to help is as bad as carrying out the actions yourself.
What sent Bee over the edge though, it seems, was Ivanka’s tone-deaf tweet Sunday in which the first daughter pictured herself cuddling with her 2-year-old son Theodore, even as reports swirled that the government had lost track of some 1,500 immigrant children it had placed with sponsors in recent years.

Emperor Claudius

So, yeah, she is a feckless cunt and worse. She’s sat by and done or said nothing.  We now these things because of her father and she’s a senior policy advisor.

1. Resurrected and radically expanded the global gag rule

2. Banned U.S. funding for the UN reproductive health and rights agency

3. Slashed funding for international family planning programs

4. Installed an anti-abortion extremist to represent the U.S.

5. Tried to hire a staunch opponent of women’s health and rights

6. Puts people’s lives at risk with broad refusal policy

7. Broke a Senate deadlock to install Sam Brownback as Ambassador for International Religious Freedom

8. Slammed the door on immigrants fleeing violence

9. Endangered underserved women by withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement

10. Censoring the State Department’s annual human rights report

In his first 100 days alone, women and children were hurt by her inaction as a women’s policy advisor.  There’s a list of 100 things there. They are all under these broad headlines.

  • Eroding family economic security

  • Putting children at risk

  • Attacking reproductive rights

  • Undermining women’s legal rights

  • Weakening protections against gender-based violence

  • Undermining women’s leadership

  • Tearing families apart

  • Endangering healthy communities

  • Slashing health benefits

Seriously, go read all the things Ivanka enabled her father to do that made the lives of women and children worse all around the world. So, scrape the freaking bottom of the barrel for all the possible invectives we could hurl at Ivanka and use them resplendently.  The entire realm is under siege by this shit show.

So, I, Claudius remains one of my favorite Brit series.  It led me to do a lot of studying about that time period and little did I know that I would live this 1976 TV series starting in 2016.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Memorial Day Reads

It’s the Memorial Day Holiday!

Sewell Chan writes for the NYT about the ‘unofficial’ history of Memorial Day. It is something we discovered and shared before but it bears repeating because it explains why the holiday still gets short shrift in here in the Deep South. It also explains why some Southern States still have a separate Confederate Memorial Day.  I still remain shocked that Mississippi refused to recognize it as a holiday until recently.

David W. Blight, a historian at Yale, has a different account. He traces the holiday to a series of commemorations that freed black Americans held in the spring of 1865, after Union soldiers, including members of the 21st United States Colored Infantry, liberated the port city of Charleston, S.C.

Digging through an archive at Harvard, Dr. Blight found that the largest of these commemorations took place on May 1, 1865, at an old racecourse and jockey club where hundreds of captive Union prisoners had died of disease and been buried in a mass grave. The black residents exhumed the bodies and gave them proper burials, erected a fence around the cemetery, and built an archway over it with the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Some 10,000 black people then staged a procession of mourning, led by thousands of schoolchildren carrying roses and singing the Union anthem “John Brown’s Body.” Hundreds of black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Black men, including Union infantrymen, also marched. A children’s choir sang spirituals and patriotic songs, including “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration,” Dr. Blight wrotein a 2011 essay for The New York Times. “The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.”

The African-American origins of the holiday were later suppressed, Dr. Blight found, by white Southerners who reclaimed power after the end of Reconstruction and interpreted Memorial Day as a holiday of reconciliation, marking sacrifices — by white Americans — on both sides. Black Americans were largely marginalized in this narrative.

“In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream recognition,” Dr. Blight wrote.

His claim is not universally accepted; the fact-checking website Snopes says of the 1865 remembrance: “Whether it was truly the first such ceremony, and what influence (if any) it might have had on later observances, are still matters of contention.”

Here is BostonBoomer’s blog from 2014 and Mink’s from 2012.  We remember the role of slaves freed by the sacrifice of Union Soldiers in our Civil War in celebrating that sacrifice.

I always remember Decoration Day because when I was very young we would do what my parents did as children.  We went to small cemeteries in Kansas and Missouri to make certain the family grave sites were attended and clean. We picnicked  and trimmed bushes then put peonies in jars on the graves of greats and cousins who died in war. For some reason, all of our family grave plots were resplendent with huge peony bushes.  My mother always beat them back and would announce loudly how much she hated them. Peony bushes were not allowed any where near home. They were left to the dead in my family and they bloomed profusely each Memorial Day.

In Caney Kansas, where my own grandparents are now buried, lays my Great Uncle Jack along side his mother, my Great Grandmother Anna.  He didn’t die in the battlefields of Europe during World War 1 but came home with complications from Mustard Gas. He died quite young on the family farm but it was of his wounds brought home as a dough boy fighting in a trench.  Many soldiers come home with wounds seen and unseen that eventually catch up to them. I never understood why I was told Dad’s Uncle Jack wasn’t quite included in the same way as those whose graves got the peonies properly but we gave him peonies because my Dad and Nana adored him and it felt right to me.  Some times our country has a short memory with a narrow focus. It doesn’t really remember all of the sacrifices of those who came before us including every single slave who died unfree.

Today, we also remember the sacrifice of every gold star family too. I hope Cadet Bonespurs plays golf and that his selfish, hateful face stays away from the one holiday he can truly sully with just his presence. Unfortunately, he left long enough to give a lofty speech at Arlington that should have been given by any better person.  But, take heart, he still had a way of making it all about him!

I read this article last night and even reviewed the variables and methodology of the original study.  It’s amazing to actually review the panel data and see which attributes are significant to the question at hand but the findings are not surprising. NBC shares “The Trump effect: New study connects white American intolerance and support for authoritarianism.”

A new study, however, suggests that the main threat to our democracy may not be the hardening of political ideology, but rather the hardening of one particular political ideology. Political scientists Steven V. Miller of Clemson and Nicholas T. Davis of Texas A&M have released a working paper titled “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy.” Their study finds a correlation between white American’s intolerance, and support for authoritarian rule. In other words, when intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy.

Miller and Davis used information from the World Values Survey, a research project organized by a worldwide network of social scientists which polls individuals in numerous countries on a wide range of beliefs and values. Based on surveys from the United States, the authors found that white people who did not want to have immigrants or people of different races living next door to them were more likely to be supportive of authoritarianism. For instance, people who said they did not want to live next door to immigrants or to people of another race were more supportive Iof the idea of military rule, or of a strongman-type leader who could ignore legislatures and election results.

The World Values Survey data used is from the period 1995 to 2011 — well before Donald Trump’s 2016 run for president. It suggests, though, that Trump’s bigotry and his authoritarianism are not separate problems, but are intertwined. When Trump calls Mexicans “rapists,” and when he praises authoritarian leaders, he is appealing to the same voters.

The Chinese Trade Wars are showing winners and losers already. Winners include Trump himself–and now, Ivanka– plus Chinese Companies including ones that threaten US National Security. The losers are US companies.  We seem completely unable to stop this.

Ivanka Trump’s brand continues to win foreign trademarks in China and the Philippines, adding to questions about conflicts of interest at the White House, The Associated Press has found.

On Sunday, China granted the first daughter’s company final approval for its 13th trademark in the last three months, trademark office records show. Over the same period, the Chinese government has granted Ivanka Trump’s company provisional approval for another eight trademark s, which can be finalized if no objections are raised during a three-month comment period.

Taken together, the trademarks could allow her brand to market a lifetime’s worth of products in China, from baby blankets to coffins, and a host of things in between, including perfume, make-up, bowls, mirrors, furniture, books, coffee, chocolate and honey. Ivanka Trump stepped back from management of her brand and placed its assets in a family-run trust, but she continues to profit from the business.

“Ivanka Trump’s refusal to divest from her business is especially troubling as the Ivanka brand continues to expand its business in foreign countries,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in an email Monday. “It raises significant questions about corruption, as it invites the possibility that she could be benefiting financially from her position and her father’s presidency or that she could be influenced in her policy work by countries’ treatment of her business.”

As Ivanka Trump and her father have built their global brands, largely through licensing deals, they have pursued trademarks in dozens of countries. Those global trademarks have drawn the attention of ethics lawyers because they are granted by foreign governments and can confer enormous value. Concerns about political influence have been especially sharp in China, where the courts and bureaucracy are designed to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.

Chinese officials have emphasized that all trademark applications are handled in accordance with the law.

More approvals are likely to come. Online records from China’s trademark office indicate that Ivanka Trump’s company last applied for trademarks — 17 of them — on March 28, 2017, the day before she took on a formal role at the White House. Those records on Monday showed at least 25 Ivanka Trump trademarks pending review, 36 active marks and eight with provisional approval.

Don’t forget!  Trump’s Indonesia project has been financial enhanced by the Chinese Government after he announced he would help with ZTE.   China is definitely on the winning side with the Trumps.  However, what about US Businesses?  

As Washington and Beijing try to resolve their trade disputes, several big companies are caught in the middle.

One is Qualcomm (QCOM), an American chipmaker whose $44 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), a Dutch company, has been waiting for Chinese regulators’ approval.

Far more controversial is the case of ZTE (ZTCOF), the Chinese phone and telecom equipment maker that was crippled by a US export ban issued last monthin punishment for what the US said were violations of its sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

Easing penalties on ZTE is a key priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Trump has indicated he’s willing to yield in order to move ahead with further trade discussions.

But members of Congress from both parties, many increasingly wary of China’s trade practices, believe such leniency would be a mistake. A growing number of senatorshave drawn a red line on ZTE, and have been vocal in recent days about their opposition to restoring the company.

Are we winning yet?

Meanwhile, TrumpsterFires continue to break out as white men go after our national “enemies” like young men from China attending school  here.  This must be an additional feature to calling the police because black people are going about their lives in clear view!

California police say they thwarted a vigilante deportation attempt last week – in which a pilot allegedly kidnapped a foreign student, took him to an airport and tried to send him “back to China.”

Jonathan McConkey, a pilot and certified flight instructor, is accused of orchestrating the kidnapping with his assistant, Kelsi Hoser, a ground instructor. Both reportedly worked at the IASCO flight training school in Redding, California.

Among IASCO’s students were dozens of Chinese nationals with student visas, according to court records. KRCR News 7 reported that the school contracted with China’s civil aviation authority to train its new pilots, one of whom was apparently Tianshu Shi.

Shi told reporters that he had been in the United States for about seven months – living with several other IASCO trainees at an apartment in Redding. It was there, police said, that McConkey and Hoser came for the student.

Some interesting stats from Axios you can review.  Which part of our country has lost the most on the battlefield since 9/11?

Today is the 17th Memorial Day since 9/11. Since then, 6,940 U.S. military service members have died for America.

Why it matters: Every part of the country has lost soldiers to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All were Americans — someone’s neighbor, child, parent, mentor, buddy. Their average age was between 26 and 27 years old.

Have a great day and be safe if you’re in the path of all that weather on the East coast and the panhandle of Florida!.