Good Day Sky Dancers!
There are two themes to the news stream this morning. The first is that the Inflation Reduction Act is about to become law. The CBO has scored its expected budget and economic income impacts. It’s amazing how many idiots are lecturing me on how inflationary this Act will be, as if I don’t know what I’m talking about. Anyway, here’s the inflation analysis if any of your crazy right-wing parrots start screaming “inflation” at you.
This is actually a letter the CBO sent to Lady Lindsey, who is pearl-clutching over inflation because that’s the only thing the Republicans have to discuss.
In calendar year 2022, enacting the bill would have a negligible effect on inflation, in CBO’s assessment. In calendar year 2023, inflation would probably be between 0.1 percentage point lower and 0.1 percentage point higher under the bill than it would be under current law, CBO estimates.
That range of likely outcomes reflects uncertainty about how various provisions of the bill would affect overall demand and output, the supply of labor, the persistence of disruptions in the supply of goods and services, and how the Federal Reserve would respond to offset any increase in inflationary pressure. Responsiveness to the enhancement of health insurance subsidies established by the Affordable Care Act is the most important factor boosting inflationary pressure, and responsiveness to the new alternative minimum tax on corporations is the most important factor reducing inflationary pressure. The range applies to multiple measures of inflation: the GDP price index, the personal consumption expenditures price index, and the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
In other good news, Consumer’s inflation expectations are decreasing. This is important because it is a factor in how customers make decisions about spending. This is from CNBC and not written by the talking head at Fox Business that trolled my analysis. But, that link from the CBO with huge econometrics models agrees with me. My assumption is that Kenny Polcari can’t do modern finance and doesn’t have anything huge around him but his crony capitalism booty. He s undoubtedly enjoying his ability to avoid taxes with the treatment Sinema just granted him. I’m tempted to quote Swift on the confederacy of dunces. This is from Jeffy Cox at CNBC: “Consumers’ expectations of future inflation decreased significantly in win for the Federal Reserve.”
- A New York Fed survey showed that respondents in July expected inflation to run at a 6.2% pace over the next year and a 3.2% rate for the next three years.
- That marks a big drop-off from the respective 6.8% and 3.6% results from the June survey
- Expectations for food increases fell at the fastest rate in survey history and the second-fastest for gasoline prices.
The consumer outlook for inflation decreased significantly in July amid a sharp drop in gas prices and a growing belief that the rapid surges in food and housing also would ebb in the future.
The New York Federal Reserve’s monthly Survey of Consumer Expectations showed that respondents expect inflation to run at a 6.2% pace over the next year and a 3.2% rate for the next three years.
While those numbers are still very high by historical standards, they mark a big drop-off from the respective 6.8% and 3.6% results from the June survey
I guess that high inflation in the Nixon years is part of history. (sigh) But let me just quote from Business Insider on huge Kyrsten Sinema’s suck-up to hedge fund managers and the like. “Kyrsten Sinema ensured a $14 billion tax break for private equity, hedge fund, and real estate executives remains intact. It’s a win for many of her campaign donors.” The analysis is written by Sam Tabahriti.
The Arizona senator’s support was won late Thursday after fellow Democrats dropped a proposal to close the so-called “carried interest” loophole, which is commonly used by private equity, hedge fund, and property investment executives to pay a lower rate of tax on their compensation.
As such, it was a win for many Sinema campaign donors.
According to Open Secrets, the global private equity firms KKR, Carlyle, and Apollo Global Management are among the leading 20 sources of donations to Sinema’s campaign committee between 2017 and 2022.
As Open Secrets notes, it isn’t the organizations in the list that donated money directly, but rather, their “political action committees, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.” Further, subsidiaries and affiliates are included in the organizations’ total donations figure.
Other organizations listed by Open Secrets among the leading 20 sources of donations include Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has invested in companies including Facebook, Twitter, and Airbnb; and Rudin Management, a private commercial and residential landlord and developer in New York City.
All in all, Sinema has received $2.2 million from investment firms between 2017 and 2022, according to Open Secrets.
Well, that explains that. Then, the other icky result was that Republicans could not bring themselves to support a price control on Insulin which is cheap to make, but its price inelasticity is off the wall. That’s fancy economist talk, for if you need it, you’ll give up everything else. Insulin is basically treated like legal heroin from a huge drug cartel. Republicans used a dodgy procedure to kill that part of the Act.
This is from WAPO: “Republicans block cap on insulin costs for millions of patients. GOP senators move to strip a $35 price cap on insulin under private insurance from the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Republican lawmakers on Sunday successfully stripped a $35 price cap on the cost of insulin for many patients from the ambitious legislative package Democrats are moving through Congress this weekend, invoking arcane Senate rules to jettison the measure.
The insulin cap is a long-running ambition of Democrats, who want it to apply to patients on Medicare and private insurance. Republicans left the portion that applies to Medicare patients untouched but stripped the insulin cap for other patients. Bipartisan talks on a broader insulin pricing bill faltered earlier this year.
The Senate parliamentarian earlier in the weekend ruled that part of the Democrats’ cap, included in the Inflation Reduction Act, did not comply with the rules that allow them to advance a bill under the process known as reconciliation — a tactic that helps them avert a GOP filibuster. That gave the Republicans an opening to jettison it
So, now to more Trumpsters and their crime sprees. I will dump these links here with very few comments and quotes. The headlines say it all, but the stories are worth reading.
Sure enough, Trump returned to Washington determined to have his generals throw him the biggest, grandest military parade ever for the Fourth of July. The generals, to his bewilderment, reacted with disgust. “I’d rather swallow acid,” his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, said. Struggling to dissuade Trump, officials pointed out that the parade would cost millions of dollars and tear up the streets of the capital.
But the gulf between Trump and the generals was not really about money or practicalities, just as their endless policy battles were not only about clashing views on whether to withdraw from Afghanistan or how to combat the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and Iran. The divide was also a matter of values, of how they viewed the United States itself. That was never clearer than when Trump told his new chief of staff, John Kelly—like Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general—about his vision for Independence Day. “Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade,” Trump said. “This doesn’t look good for me.” He explained with distaste that at the Bastille Day parade there had been several formations of injured veterans, including wheelchair-bound soldiers who had lost limbs in battle.
Kelly could not believe what he was hearing. “Those are the heroes,” he told Trump. “In our society, there’s only one group of people who are more heroic than they are—and they are buried over in Arlington.” Kelly did not mention that his own son Robert, a lieutenant killed in action in Afghanistan, was among the dead interred there.
“I don’t want them,” Trump repeated. “It doesn’t look good for me.”
Haberman’s sources report the document dumps happened multiple times at the White House, and on at least two foreign trips.
- “That Mr. Trump was discarding documents this way was not widely known within the West Wing, but some aides were aware of the habit, which he engaged in repeatedly,” Haberman tells us.
- “It was an extension of Trump’s term-long habit of ripping up documents that were supposed to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act.”
The handwriting is visibly Trump’s, written in the Sharpie ink he favored.
- Most of the words are illegible
- But the scrawls include the name of Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate New York, a Trump defender who’s a member of House Republican leadership.
From Mattathias Schwartz at Insider: Exclusive: Paul Manafort admits he passed Trump campaign data to a suspected Russian asset.
Here’s a discussion of the interview and findings at Raw Story by TBogg: Paul Manafort admits sharing info with the Russians during the 2016 Trump campaign.
For years, questions have been raised about Russian involvement in the campaign that saw the New York businessman beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Manafort is now stating that he handed polling data over to the Russians — in particular to “Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence.”
According to the report, “Kilimnik then passed the data on to Russian spies, according to the US Treasury Department, which has characterized the data as ‘sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy.'”
In the interview, Manafort excused his actions stating he wasn’t looking for help getting Trump elected and did it purely to make money, with Business Insider reporting, “Manafort told Insider that he directed his deputy, Rick Gates, to feed Kilimnik polling data via email to ‘keep Konstantin informed.’ The goal was to use his access to Trump to drum up business for himself.
Well, we already knew he’s a Russian Potted Plant. Didn’t we?
From Tim Miller / Morning Shots writing for The Bulwark: I’m Sorry, But He’s Running. Trump’s CPAC speech was his 2024 blueprint.”
With that little bit of throat-clearing out of the way, I have some bad news to report. If you, like me, had been compartmentalizing a Trump 2024 run for mental-health purposes, I’m sorry to break it to you, but he looks like a man who is definitely running for president in 2024. His CPAC speech this weekend was a rude awakening as to both his intentions and the strength he would bring to that campaign.
First, his intentions: There was no bigger roar from the crowd during the speech than during the following section, and there was no bigger shit-eating grin on his burnt-toast face than the one that came following the roar:
I ran twice. I won twice and did much better the second time than I did the first getting millions and millions of more votes than in 2016. And likewise getting more votes than any sitting president in the history of our country by far. . . . And now we may have to do it again. We may have to do it again.
That little bit of anti-democratic vamping came right on the heels of what would be his core campaign message to the GOP base in a 2024 campaign.
The border was the best and safest in U.S. recorded history. They’ve turned it into a nightmare so quickly, the election was rigged and stolen. And now our country is being systematically destroyed.
If you are reading this, then you are likely a person of reason who is not persuaded by the lies and childish hyperbole.
But let’s imagine this message in the context of a 2024 Republican primary. Trump is claiming that when he was president, everything was great. Then the election was stolen. And now everything is being destroyed by the people his voters hate.
What exactly is his hypothetical challenger’s response to this? It seems to me that Trump has everyone checkmated.
Say it ain’t so Tim!
Anyway, the Republicans aren’t going straight any time soon. We can only rely on the DOJ in a few states and nationally to send them straight to jail.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Freedom’s Ring is faint and disappearing in the USA!
State after state is signing laws to criminalize abortion under all circumstances making women chattel of the state. Many women with ectopic pregnancies are left to suffer until death’s door is nearly open on the advice of lawyers. Republicans with federal appointments and offices are trying to make that a Total Abortion Ban Federal Law.
Guns have more rights in this country than women and children. The Supreme Court is rewriting law after law with little more justification than they were put there by the Federalist Society to get the job done, they now hold a supermajority and their misguided religious fervor will rule every decision. Police can overlook stating Miranda Rights. The EPA can’t oversee pollution releases in carbon-producing companies This is what the post-2016 election era has brought us. We are living in a Republican dystopia and it’s getting worse.
Every American officeholder should announce that they will never appoint anyone recommended by the extremist group funded by the Koch brothers and others to any judicial appointment. Every candidate needs to announce their intent.
I would suggest you read a compelling book about Germany called The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic published in 2018 and written by Benjamin Carter Hett. As you ask yourselves what Germans in the years of 1933-1934 should’ve, would’ve, could’ve been doing finish by asking yourselves what should we be doing now?
To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany’s leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett lays bare the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler’s hands. They had willingly given him the tools to turn Germany into a vicious dictatorship.
Benjamin Carter Hett is a leading scholar of twentieth-century Germany and a gifted storyteller whose portraits of these feckless politicians show how fragile democracy can be when those in power do not respect it. He offers a powerful lesson for today, when democracy once again finds itself embattled and the siren song of strongmen sounds ever louder.
Realize that Republicans at all levels are using these same techniques. We have “spates” of right-wing insurgencies and they appear only helpless and enabling to stop the rise of White Nationalism. Patriot Front marched around the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston this weekend. The Patriot Front also showed up around Independence day in Philadelphia in 2021. The group was run off by residents. They were arrested in Idaho last month. They are a radical white Christian nationalist group. This is not normal. They’re showing up everywhere.
Driving the news: Police received a call around 12:30 p.m. that a group of protesters were marching through the city, though their route was unknown, CNN reported.
- Many of the marchers wore khaki pants and dark-colored polo shirts, with cloth coverings over their lower faces, along with sunglasses and caps.
State of play: The group approached a rental truck parked near the Haymarket metro stop and unloaded shields and a number of different flags, according to the Boston Herald.
- Among them were U.S. flags, with some being flown upside down and others showing just the 13 stars of the original U.S. colonies. Other flags displayed versions of the symbol used by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, per the Herald.
- Patriot Front flags were also flown, per CNN.
- Boston police received a report around 1:25 p.m. of a Black man being injured in a confrontation with Patriot Front marchers.
- The man told police that he was pushed around, knocked to the ground, and assaulted by members of the group, suffering several lacerations. He was later taken to Tufts Medical Center, the Herald reported.
- Around 1:30 p.m. the group left the scene via the metro system after packing their materials into a rental truck, per the Herald.
The big picture: City Council President Ed Flynn wrote in a letter Saturday that members of neo-Nazi groups have “continued to make their presence known” in Boston in recent months.
- In February they targeted doctors working to address racial disparities in healthcare at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and appeared at the city’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade in March, Flynn wrote.
- In June, 31 members of the Patriot Front were arrested in Idaho after being caught planning to riot at an LGBTQ Pride event.
What to watch: The Boston Police Department is conducting a civil rights investigation into the incident and no arrests have yet been made, per the Herald.
What they’re saying: “The disgusting hate of white supremacists has no place here. [Especially] when so many of our rights are under attack, we will not normalize intimidation by bigots,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu tweeted on Saturday.
They marched with anti-abortion protestors in the loop in Chicago in January.
I will never go to Florida again. It’s become the fascist cookbook for laws that could be enforced by the White Nationalist Inquisition. They’ve come for me again. Every student and especially professor at any legitimate university or college has what is called Academic Freedom. It no longer exists in Florida
The concept of academic freedom is based on the idea that the free exchange of ideas on campus is essential to good education. Specifically, academic freedom is the right of faculty members, acting both as individuals and as a collective, to determine without outside interference: (1) the college curriculum; (2) course content; (3) teaching; (4) student evaluation; and (5) the conduct of scholarly inquiry. These rights are supported by two institutional practices—shared governance and tenure (see below.) Academic freedom ensures that colleges and universities are “safe havens” for inquiry, places where students and scholars can challenge the conventional wisdom of any field—art, science, politics or others.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday signed legislation mandating public colleges and universities survey students and faculty about their beliefs in an effort to promote intellectual diversity on campuses.
“We obviously want our universities to be focused on critical thinking, academic rigor,” DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday, according to the Naples Daily News.
“We do not want them as basically hotbeds for stale ideology,” he said.
“It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said. “Unfortunately, now the norm is, these are more intellectually repressive environments,” he added.
Under House Bill 233, surveys would be conducted annually on campuses to assess viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom, and determine “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented,” and whether students and faculty “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.”
I would hate to hear what DeSantis thinks is “stale ideology”. Academic freedom supports the free exchange of ideas but basically ensuring your faculty has an agenda you approve of is just about as fascist as you can get. Throw out theory and replace it with whatever. Does this mean Med Schools must teach that a clump of vibrating cells is a heartbeat when there are no valves present in a fetus at that point in development? How about me? We all live in mixed market economies. Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, whatever are political ideologies and are discussed just as philosophical takes on how to apply data and theory. They’re abstracts only. There, I just got in trouble because I use market economies and dump the philosophical vantages for the idea of doing what works for each individual market. Capitalism is a Marxist Construct. Are my views stale or is he just plain ignorant?
ESPN is not the place where you’d expect a headline or thought piece like this one by Howard Bryant:“Baseball, barbecue and losing freedom this Fourth of July”.
Last month, Major League Baseball and its partners again released Independence Day-themed baseball hats that each of the 30 teams will wear. This year’s version features a flush of stars across the front against a blue and white backdrop, offset with a shaggy shock of red. The Toronto Blue Jays, located in a country that does not celebrate American independence, were also issued the caps — even though the Canadian flag does not contain stars nor the color blue. Public outrage prompted a redesign of the Toronto caps. Next is the USA-themed socks, the marketing, the freedom-inspired spikes, gloves, wristbands, the inevitable paeans to the armed forces.
By now, we’re all numb to the spectacle. At least publicly, the emphasis on the Fourth of July shifted from family to symbols years ago — Sept. 11 did that. Two decades of paid patriotism has made it ever harder to center the Fourth on reconnecting with your favorite aunts and uncles. No backyard barbecue and badminton game could compete with 20 years of military tributes and unquestioned nationalism. You think back to Righetti. Cosmetically, there was nothing about that July 4, 1983, that said patriotism. All Yankee Stadium said that day 39 years ago was baseball. Ninety-four degrees. Sox-Yankees. The Stadium looked as it did every other day. The crowd came because it was July 4, a Monday day game — a great day for baseball and family — and, along with Bat Day, the biggest giveaway day of the year: Yankee Cap Day. You smile a little at the victory in that, because only a few decades earlier, the Yankees were most resistant to a brilliant piece of marketing. In the 1950s, the Yankees did not want fans wearing Yankees caps. George Weiss, the Yankees’ general manager at the time, thought a million New York kids wearing the team cap cheapened the brand. Yankees hats were a piece of a professional uniform. They were for players, not fans.
Grilling, baseball and fireworks, first replaced by symbols — and now by a country tearing itself completely apart. July 4, 2022, falls in the midst of devastation. It is Independence Day in America with independence under current and relentless assault. From Miranda rights to the environment, to the separation of church and state, to guns — so many guns — people are reeling. The U.S. Supreme Court has run a chain saw through what two generations of Americans had known to be the legal baselines of their lives. Tens of millions of women today do not feel freedom and certainly are not celebrating independence. The people who can become pregnant who feel celebratory toward the Court may do so from the victory of their position, but it nevertheless remains true that the power of choice — and the right to privacy — has been taken from all of them.
There’s not a fine line between honoring and disrespecting the flag, but Trumperz doesn’t appear to know that. If you want to see what a cult look likes take a look at this Guardian piece: “Trump supporters: what they wear – in pictures.” It’s frankly scary and depressing at the same time while being terrifically disrespectful to the flag.
Here’s a video from Ken Burns published at the New York Times. America Is Failing Refugees, and Itself/ For his 1985 documentary about the Statue of Liberty, the filmmaker Ken Burns interviewed two Jewish boys sitting on a bench in New York City. They were twins who had fled Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, with their father.”
Also from The New York Times and Peter Baker: “New Insights Into Trump’s State of Mind on Jan. 6 Chip Away at Doubts. Former President Donald J. Trump has weathered scandals by keeping his intentions under wraps, but recent testimony paints a stark portrait of a man willing to do almost anything to hang onto power.”
He was not speaking metaphorically. It was not an offhand comment. President Donald J. Trump had every intention of joining a mob of supporters he knew to be armed and dangerous as it marched to the Capitol. And there had even been talk of marching into the House chamber himself to disrupt Congress from ratifying his election defeat.
For a year and a half, Mr. Trump has been shielded by obfuscations and mischaracterizations, benefiting from uncertainty about what he was thinking on Jan. 6, 2021. If he truly believed the election had been stolen, if he genuinely expected the gathering at the Capitol would be a peaceful protest, the argument went, then could he be held accountable, much less indicted, for the mayhem that ensued?
But for a man who famously avoids leaving emails or other trails of evidence of his unspoken motives, any doubts about what was really going through Mr. Trump’s mind on that day of violence seemed to have been eviscerated by testimony presented in recent weeks by the House committee investigating the Capitol attack — especially the dramatic appearance last week of a 26-year-old former White House aide who offered a chilling portrait of a president willing to do almost anything to hang onto power.
So, this is not a drill. This is real. I think it’s time we dig into a little Weimar Republic History and see where the Germans got it wrong and then vow to get it right.
Happy Independence Day even though we are less independent today than we were when Hillary told us during her campaign that all of this was bound to happen.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Trump and his Death Cult seem to thrive on anger and chaos. We couldn’t even mourn the great legal mind and contributions to civil rights of our second woman on SCOTUS without Trump and the cult jumping into offer the usual platter of women that hate themselves to replace her. We’re supposed to get the pick on Friday or Saturday and I hope the Democrats go nuclear. I’ve been fighting these same damned battles for too long and I didn’t expect to hand my daughters more church control of their bodies sanctioned by the US Government.
There are two women that appear on Trump’s short list and they are both appalling religionists. One is definitely a member of a cult and a bit of an offshoot of Catholicism. The other is one of those Catholics that the court is stacked with already which is the subcult of Opus Dei. WTF is this? Are we reversing the entire Age of Enlightenment and Reason and the Renaissance? How far back into the Dark Ages must we be thrown before they’re satisfied?
and … Where do all these nuts keep coming from? Only monsters could raise monsters like these!
I’ve switched to Fauvism for awhile and peak Beatles during the psychedelics’ period because we all can see the wild and I’d rather have the artistic version of it than the political.
So first up on the crazy list is the literal crazy and definite cult member. This woman is basically Aunt Lydia. Her church was the basis of Hand Maid’s Tale. “What is People of Praise? A look inside Amy Coney Barrett’s church that inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale'” She’s on the short list but there are “safer” alternatives if you want to call them that because either way were fucked because most of the Republicans who said they’d never vote for a SCOTUS nomination so close to elections have folded like cheap deckchairs on the Titanic.
So, catch this:
Apart from being an attorney, Barrett and her family are members of a controversial church called People of Praise. The church asks members to take a “lifetime loyalty ‘covenant’, encourages female submission to their husbands”, as reported by Daily Mail. The church also inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, a show that gained popularity when it first made its debut in 2017. The church was formed as part of the Catholic revitalization movement in 1971, and at least 10 members from Barrett’s family are part of it. Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, is part of the board of members of the church. They are believed to be the “highest authority”.
The website of the church calls themselves “a charismatic Christian community. We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community”. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and “there were no needy persons among them”. Each member of the church is allotted a “personal adviser” who helps them with the “decisions on marriage, career, and other life choices”. Apart from this, the members are also asked to give out other information, such as sins committed by them, their financial information. While they are being called advisors, previously these people were known as “heads” for males and “handmaids” for females. The outlet further reports that the church believes the husband has authority over his wife. While members of the church had to make a lifelong commitment, they were given time to think about their decision.
(e.g. It’s a cult) OR we get the choice of all the Republican Whackados in Florida pushing this one because, well every one wants to win Florida in November. Plus, she’s Cubano and is one of those that carefully hides what she wants to do which seems to appeal to Susan Collins. From Politico: “Florida Republicans: Nominating Lagoa could clinch state for Trump. Top GOP leaders in the nation’s largest swing state say the Cuban-American federal judge could win Hispanic votes and shield vulnerable members of Congress.”
But it’s Lagoa’s background as a Florida Cuban-American that could have the most salience for Trump. His reelection hinges on the too-close-to-call battleground state, where his campaign has made outreach to Hispanic voters a top issue, worrying some Democrats.
“If the president picks Barbara Lagoa, they will be dancing salsa with joy in Hialeah well past November,” said Gaetz, referring to Lagoa’s home town, a blue-collar majority Cuban-American city that borders Miami and leans Republican.
Lagoa, a 52-year-old Columbia Law School graduate and mother of three children, emerged this weekend as a leading contender to take the Supreme Court seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the liberal stalwart who died Friday at the age of 87.
Lagoa is no lock for the post, however. She’s a relative unknown compared to the favorite of Washington’s conservative establishment anti-abortion groups, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who became a darling of the religious right after her bruising federal confirmation fight in 2017. Barrett and Lagoa are both high on the president’s short list for the post, officials with knowledge of the process told POLITICO.
In contrast, Lagoa’s views on abortion are little known. She had no high-profile rulings on the matter in the nearly 500 decisions she wrote as a state appeals court judge or in other decisions during her brief time on the Florida Supreme Court justice and, since late last year, a judge on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The ever location of both siderisms–The NYT–reports this today: “Trump and Democrats Brace for Showdown Over Supreme Court Seat. The president’s determination to confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election set lawmakers on a collision course as Congress deals with other major issues.” This is written by the dynamic duo of both-siderisms: Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman. S0, here’s Joe Biden’s side.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential challenger, on Sunday denounced Mr. Trump’s decision to move ahead with a nomination and appealed to the handful of moderate Senate Republicans to stop the president from making a lifetime appointment that would shift the balance of power on the nation’s highest court without waiting to see the results of the election.
“To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia, noting that Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, citing the coming election. “I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it. President Trump has already made it clear this is about power, pure and simple.”
If Mr. Trump wins the race, Mr. Biden added, then the Senate should consider his choice. “But if I win the election, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn,” said Mr. Biden, who has promised to make his first appointment to the Supreme Court an African-American woman. “As the new president, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.”
So, it is exactly as Mary Ziegler describes it.
The Supreme Court seems strangely immune to the bitterness that plagues our politics. Even now, when Americans can no longer agree on basic facts, the Court’s relative popularity has endured. Following Donald Trump’s 2016 election, the Court has what may be its most conservative majority in decades. And yet this August, the Supreme Court recorded its highest approval rating since 2009.
But there are so many ways that the current moment could turn out very badly for the Court. First off, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems ready to test just how much damage the Court’s institutional integrity can take. In 2016, McConnell refused to hold hearings for Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, because the next election was too close. Then, within hours of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, McConnell vowed to replace her before the next election.
Ginsburg, of course, was no ordinary justice. She was a hero to many. McConnell’s speed in replacing her comes across as not merely unseemly; to many who admired the late justice, it will also be a declaration of war.
Regardless of what McConnell does, the Court now looks far more conservative than the electorate. That too doesn’t bode well for the Court’s legitimacy, especially when the justices could once again decide the result of a presidential election. The Court may have to wade into one of the hundreds of voting-rights lawsuits triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have followed fights about whether the president has deliberately crippled the U.S. Postal Service to make it harder to vote. Republicans have claimed (without evidence) that mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud and have sued to stop it.
I’m not so certain that matters to the theocrats the Republicans spent decades placing carefully on the court to punish women, religious minorities, people of color and the GLBT for daring to think they could be equal to White Christianist Men.
So, want some new crazy by a White Christianist Man in charge of the DOJ? And straight from the DOJ: “Department Of Justice Identifies New York City, Portland And Seattle As Jurisdictions Permitting Violence And Destruction Of Property
Identification is Response to Presidential Memorandum Reviewing Federal Funding to State and Local Governments that are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities ”
This WAPO analysis was written by Devlin Barrett.
The Justice Department labeled the cities of Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle on Monday as jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” targeting them for possible cuts in federal funding.
Following a memorandum that President Trump issued earlier this month, the Justice Department published a list of cities that the White House wants to get more aggressive on civil unrest in the wake of police shootings and killings.
“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”
The Trump administration was unsuccessful in a similar funding-cut move against New York and other cities over their immigration policies. A federal appeals court ruled that the move violated the separation of powers spelled out in the Constitution.
So, I would like a little peace and quiet and boring ol’ Joe Biden sounds better all the time. But, we also need to concentrate on getting rid of this asshole: “Mitch McConnell is the apex predator of U.S. politics” by Howard Fineman.
Historian Rick Perlstein has long described this chapter in the American story as “Nixonland,” a jagged terrain of White racial fear and populist resentment of the federal authority that began in the mid-1960s. But while GOP presidents from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump have tilled that soil when it suited their purposes, McConnell has been, over the years, its most constant gardener, mixing arcane, cynically hypocritical legislative procedure and judicial appointments to turn emotion into lasting policy.
He has jammed hundreds of conservative judges onto the federal bench, making it younger, Whiter and more male — and far more partisan — in the process. In concert with the Federalist Society, McConnell is transforming the federal judiciary from sometimes-defenders of the poor, immigrants and people of color into the Praetorian Guard of corporations, the wealthy, and those whose cultural and racial privileges make them, at best, oblivious to their collective responsibility to all Americans. At the same time, McConnell is standing in the schoolhouse door of dozens if not hundreds of pieces of needed legislation, rendering the “world’s greatest deliberative body” an empty pantomime of itself.
And if he succeeds in forcing another pliable justice onto the Supreme Court, he may prove responsible for undercutting whatever legitimacy a possibly disputed presidential election might have if, as many suspect, it must be settled by that court. One reason to move fast and give the court a 6-3 conservative majority? To take the relatively independent (and therefore unreliable) Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. out of the equation.
McConnell has been around so long people think they know him. But they don’t, and that is by design. When you are the apex predator of U.S. politics, you don’t really care what anyone thinks. In Kentucky, where I worked for six years as McConnell was beginning his rise, he is not so much loved as endured. People talk about him like the rainy Ohio River Valley weather: It’s a pain, but it waters the crops. He retains an iron grip on state politics, has been elected statewide six times and is likely to win a seventh term in November. Democrats are pouring millions into defeating him. It’s not a great bet.
My best strategy offer is to get him out of the Senate Majority Seat. We need to make sure Republicans go down where we can make them go down and Susan Collins and Martha McSally are at the top of my list. Which brings me back to the idea of why so many white women sell the rest of the women of the world out?
Oh, well, I close here before I have to go curl up in a ball and suck my thumb.
Be safe and stay home if you can as much as possible! Be kind to yourself and others! Check in and let us know you’re safe because we care!
What’s on you reading and blogging list today?
Good Day Sky Dancers!
The headlines today are so outrageous that I had trouble reading even one of them for awhile. We have to get rid of Mitch McConnell. This greeted me from Salon and I had to go lie down in bed for awhile to pet the dog. Petting my cats and dogs is getting to be such a comfort ritual for me they all take turns jumping up to see if I’m okay.
“Mitch McConnell rams through six Trump judges in 30 hours after blocking coronavirus aid for months. Planned Parenthood warned that “many” of the judges have “hostile records” toward human rights and abortion.” Republicans are beholden to White Male Supremacy and a very narrow view of Christianity and the rest of us are held hostage. This was written by Igor Derysh
The Republican-led Senate confirmed six of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees to lifetime appointments over two days this week, even though it has delayed crucial coronavirus relief since May.
The Senate filled four federal vacancies in California and two in Illinois, Bloomberg Law reported. It is also expected to confirm two additional Illinois judges in short order.
“The Senate has confirmed six of Trump’s judicial nominees in the past 30 hours,” tweeted Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “These are lifetime appointments that McConnell’s pushing through instead of the HEROES Act & other crucial legislation.”
Three of the judges were appointed to seats covering Los Angeles, while another was appointed to a seat covering San Diego. There are 11 additional nominees to California courts awaiting Senate confirmation.
The Senate additionally confirmed David Dugan and Stephen McGlynn to the Eastern District of Illinois while ending the debate on the nominations of Iain Johnston to the Northern District. The upper chamber is also expected to end debate on the nomination of Franklin Ulyses Valderrama to the Northern District of Illinois.
Three of the judges were appointed to seats covering Los Angeles, while another was appointed to a seat covering San Diego. There are 11 additional nominees to California courts awaiting Senate confirmation.
The Senate additionally confirmed David Dugan and Stephen McGlynn to the Eastern District of Illinois while ending the debate on the nominations of Iain Johnston to the Northern District. The upper chamber is also expected to end debate on the nomination of Franklin Ulyses Valderrama to the Northern District of Illinois.
Advocacy groups sounded the alarm over the confirmations of Dugan and McGlynn, who received support from anti-abortion organizations and signaled their opposition to abortion rights.
“Today’s vote should never have even happened. People are calling on their senators to provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and the rampant anti-Black violence occurring around the country,” Anisha Singh, the director of judiciary affairs at Planned Parenthood, said in a statement. “And yet, the Senate majority continues to prioritize confirming judges for lifetime appointments — many with hostile records on reproductive and civil rights, including abortion.”
Singh called on the Senate to “immediately halt” upcoming votes, noting that the two judges’ “records demonstrate they are more likely to be threats to people’s health, rights and bodily autonomy.”
Today’s Republican Party is a pantheon of anti-democratic values. These judges they appoint are the same kinds of goose steppers you’d expect to find in any Banana Republic. From Vox and Ian Millhiser: “Chief Justice Roberts’s lifelong crusade against voting rights, explained. He has fought to undermine voting rights his entire career.”
John Roberts was 26 years old, and he was outraged that he’d just been outmaneuvered by older and much more experienced political hands.
It was 1981. Roberts had just completed a prestigious clerkship with Justice William Rehnquist — then the most conservative judge to serve on the Supreme Court in decades — and, as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith, Roberts was tasked with making the case against one of the most consequential voting rights laws in the nation’s history.
The House had recently passed legislation extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a seminal civil rights bill that dismantled much of Jim Crow — and shoring up one of its key provisions after a 1980 Supreme Court decision had severely weakened the law. Meanwhile, a filibuster-proof majority of the Senate had co-sponsored the same bill.
Roberts was distraught.
“Something must be done to educate the Senators on the seriousness of this problem,” Roberts wrote his boss, Smith, just a few days before Christmas. In a subsequent memo, he argued that the rapidly advancing bill — which now forms much of the backbone of American voting rights law — was “not only constitutionally suspect, but also contrary to the most fundamental tenants [sic]of the legislative process on which the laws of this country are based.”
Roberts’s early crusade against voting rights ended in failure. Though President Reagan preferred a weaker voting rights law — he once described the Voting Rights Act as “humiliating to the South” — the conservative president eventually bowed to political pressure and signed the legislation Roberts deemed contrary to many of our nation’s “most fundamental” tenets.
But time was on Roberts’s side. He rose within government and within the legal profession until President George W. Bush made him chief justice of the United States in 2005. Roberts is now the most powerful judge in the country. As Congress has grown more and more dysfunctional, the Supreme Court is increasingly the locus of policymaking within the United States.
What follows in this long read is a good explanation of what Conservative (sic) Republicans have against voting rights even though the last time it passed it had overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by Dubya. But, then came Shelby.
Justice Antonin Scalia gave voice to this frustration during oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Roberts Court case that quashed preclearance. The Voting Rights Act, Scalia claimed, was a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” and “whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”
“I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act,” Scalia continued. “And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution.”
Scalia had just turned 76 when his Court heard Shelby County, and he’d watched his fellow Republicans bow over and over again to liberals. That, in Scalia’s mind, was a failure of democracy. His side had won the presidency and, in some cases, control of Congress. And yet the victor did not collect the spoils.
And so the Supreme Court’s Republican majority stepped up to cure this perceived injustice. Chief Justice Roberts led the charge.
There are more whistle blowers coming forward than ever before, including a few in the Justice Department that are testifying in front of Congress. Here is FBI Director Christopher Wray warning of Russian Interference Redux.
FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday described “very active efforts” by Russia to interfere in the 2020 election, primarily by working to damage former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Wray said Russians have been using social media, as well as “proxies, state media, online journals” and other vehicles to hurt Biden and what it views as anti-Russian factions in U.S. politics.
Wray’s assessment affirms the findings of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which last month described Russia’s efforts to damage Biden and specifically identified Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who has met with President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as an agent of Russia’s influence operations.
Wray’s testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee affirmed that Russia is continuing to take an active role in the 2020 campaign with less than 50 days until Election Day. He offered no new specifics in the early-going of the hearing, but emphasized that the intelligence community has not seen evidence that Russia is reprising its 2016 attempt to target election infrastructure, such as voter databases.
In testimony to the Homeland Security Committee, Wray also diverged from Trump’s claim that “antifa” is a terrorist organization. Rather, Wray said antifa is “more of an ideology or a movement than an organization” and though there has been violence by some who self-identify as antifa, it has not appeared to be part of a central organization.
“Antifa is a real thing,” Wray said. “But it’s not an organization or a structure.”
Under questioning from Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Wray indicated that white supremacist violence is the largest portion of what he described as the most significant domestic terrorism threat in the country: “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Oh, look, two groups looking to overthrow the US’s form of government are basically the Trump Base and Trump’s Handler Putin. Which brings to me to the music accompanying my art theme today which is, again, German expressionists painting life during the rise of Hitler.
So, the most stunning thing to me this week is that our Attorney General and Head of Federal Law Enforcement has decided to not even hide his fascist and theocratic tendencies. BB had an entire list of Barr’s crazy notions in yesterday’s post. Grinding through them yesterday was one of the most depressing things I have ever done. The man should be tossed in a padded cell.
And so, after reading all that, this headline made a lot of sense to me. It’s from WAPO: ” The United States is backsliding into autocracy under Trump, scholars warn. The weakening of democratic values — a path that’s difficult to reverse — has accelerated, according to hundreds of indicators assessed each year.” This is by Christopher Ingraham.
Three years into the Trump administration, American democracy has eroded to a point that more often than not leads to full-blown autocracy, according to a project that tracks the health of representative government in nations around the world.
The project, called V-Dem, or Varieties of Democracy, is an effort to precisely quantify global democracy at the country level based on hundreds indicators assessed annually by thousands of individual experts. It’s one of several ongoing projects by political scientists that have registered a weakening of democratic values in the United States in recent years.
V-Dem’s findings are bracing: The United States is undergoing “substantial autocratization” — defined as the loss of democratic traits — that has accelerated precipitously under President Trump. This is particularly alarming in light of what the group’s historic data show: Only 1 in 5 democracies that start down this path are able to reverse the damage before succumbing to full-blown autocracy.
Each year, the V-Dem project asks its experts to rate their respective nations on hundreds of measures of democracy, such as the presence of legislative checks on executive power, freedom of personal expression, the civility of political discourse, free and open elections, and executive branch corruption, among others.
The United States is backsliding on all of those measures. “Executive respect for the Constitution is now at the lowest level since 1865,” said Michael Coppedge, a Notre Dame political scientist and one of the project’s chief investigators. “Corruption in the executive branch is basically the worst since Harding.”
Warren G. Harding, whose administration was tainted by corruption and scandal, is routinely ranked among the nation’s worst chief executives
Keep reading the article. The list is horrifying.
I’m pretty sure Mitchie is off doing his dirty work because already seated judges are busy overturning all kinds of Trumpist things at the state level. Today, a judge banned a Michigan law making it illegal to drive people to polls which is something churches routinely do for their elderly and homebound down here. Yesterday, a judge ordered the Post Office to stop and reverse everything it was doing to slow down the mail.
A federal judge on Thursday blocked controversial changes to the United States postal service, saying they were “a politically motivated attack” that had slowed the nation’s mail and likely would slow the delivery of ballots in the upcoming presidential election.
And, of course we’re back to the time where we just might possibly be purposefully sterilizing women of color in ICE Detention. This story grows more horrifying by the day too. “AP Exclusive: More migrant women say they didn’t OK surgery” reported b
Sitting across from her lawyer at an immigration detention center in rural Georgia, Mileidy Cardentey Fernandez unbuttoned her jail jumpsuit to show the scars on her abdomen. There were three small, circular marks.
The 39-year-old woman from Cuba was told only that she would undergo an operation to treat her ovarian cysts, but a month later, she’s still not sure what procedure she got. After Cardentey repeatedly requested her medical records to find out, Irwin County Detention Center gave her more than 100 pages showing a diagnosis of cysts but nothing from the day of the surgery.
“The only thing they told me was: ‘You’re going to go to sleep and when you wake up, we will have finished,’” Cardentey said this week in a phone interview.
Cardentey kept her hospital bracelet. It has the date, Aug. 14, and part of the doctor’s name, Dr. Mahendra Amin, a gynecologist linked this week to allegations of unwanted hysterectomies and other procedures done on detained immigrant women that jeopardize their ability to have children.
An Associated Press review of medical records for four women and interviews with lawyers revealed growing allegations that Amin performed surgeries and other procedures on detained immigrants that they never sought or didn’t fully understand. Although some procedures could be justified based on problems documented in the records, the women’s lack of consent or knowledge raises severe legal and ethical issues, lawyers and medical experts said.
Amin has performed surgery or other gynecological treatment on at least eight women detained at Irwin County Detention Center since 2017, including one hysterectomy, said Andrew Free, an immigration and civil rights lawyer working with other attorneys to investigate medical treatment at the jail. Doctors are helping the attorneys examine new records and more women are coming forward to report their treatment by Amin, Free said.
“The indication is there’s a systemic lack of truly informed and legally valid consent to perform procedures that could ultimately result — intentionally or unintentionally — in sterilization,” he said.
Is this just limited to this one doctor so it is likely fraud of some kind or is it systemic ?
Well, yesterday and today’s news is that the CDC was forced to publish Covid-19 testing guidelines against scientists complaints that were written by the Trumpist Regime and inserted on the site against every one’s advice. And TWICE now.
The guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus. It came at a time when public health experts were pushing for more testing rather than less, and administration officials told The Times that the document was a C.D.C. product and had been revised with input from the agency’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield.
But officials told The Times this week that the Department of Health and Human Services did the rewriting and then “dropped” it into the C.D.C.’s public website, flouting the agency’s strict scientific review process.
“That was a doc that came from the top down, from the H.H.S. and the task force,” said a federal official with knowledge of the matter, referring to the White House task force on the coronavirus. “That policy does not reflect what many people at the C.D.C. feel should be the policy.”
And we have Dan Coates and more Generals sounding an alarm..
So with that, I feel I need to leave you with this:
So, you know the routine! Be safe! Be kind and gentle to yourself and others! Stay home as much as you can! Check in with us so we know you’re okay!! We care about you!!!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I’m hoping we get good news this week on Mueller Friday. I am certainly wishfully thinking we’ll get more perp walks with all those sealed indictments out there. There’s something making the Twitter Troll in Chief nervous because he’s sure been active today. It takes a lot of asshole to rage at a dying old man just because he says he misses the last republican president. He has said worse before.
Plus, there’s some news about more of Trump sexual assault exploits during his campaign–err Russian based usurpation–during 2016. He’s also called Spike Lee a racist for his Oscar Speech of all things. Doesn’t he have a country to actually run or something? Or a North Korea play date to plan for?
One of the most serious and largely ignored issues so far this century has been the rise of white nationalism and terror. Donald the white nationalist has certainly brought them out from their hidey holes. An FBI report showed that many of the adherents came from military backgrounds. We had a serious issue this month with a Coast Guard member. Will we finally see policy and laws to keep track and route these racists out of the military once and for all? Dan Lamothe reports for WAPO with this hopeful headline: “House Democrats press the U.S. military about how it is screening for white nationalism and other extremism in the ranks”. The last thing we need to do is provide weapons training to potential domestic terrorists.
“Our hope is that these incidents are isolated events and are not indicative of a larger, systemic issue within the United States Armed Services,” the lawmakers wrote. “Beyond the extremes of domestic terrorism, we are additionally concerned with low level racism and other identity-based harassment that disrupts unit cohesion, impacts readiness, and degrades the ability of our servicemembers to protect our nation. Servicemembers who experience or witness racist or hateful behavior must be able to report such behavior without fear of repercussions.”
Hasson, 49, was arrested Feb. 15 in Silver Spring, Md., after an investigation that began last fall when a computer program the Coast Guard uses to search for insider threats identified suspicious behavior allegedly tied to him. He was charged with possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of Tramadol, an opioid painkiller.
On Thursday, a judge ordered that he be held for 14 days while federal authorities consider bringing additional charges. Hasson’s attorney, Julie Stelzig, has argued that there was no indication he planned to carry out any violence and that it is not a crime to have negative thoughts.
Hasson had previously served in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard in the late 1980s and 1990s. In a letter to a neo-Nazi quoted in his court filing, authorities said he wrote that he was a “long time White Nationalist” and had “been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military.”
A Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, said Monday that Hasson’s secret security clearance was suspended Feb. 19, the day that news of his arrest became public.
“The Coast Guard takes active measures to prevent, detect, respond, and mitigate insider threats,” he said.
In their letter Monday, the lawmakers also noted that service members participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., in which white nationalists, neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan and other extremists gathered. Several were later identified as U.S. service members. In one case, a Marine — Lance Cpl. Vasillios G. Pistolis — was court-martialed and separated from the military.
A Crew report details multiple crimes committed by Trump during his campaign and first year in office.
In a new report, A Campaign to Defraud, CREW combs through the facts behind these apparent crimes, based on admissions by two of President Trump’s likely co-conspirators and news reports, detailing how criminal law can already be applied to publicly known facts. Most of President Trump’s potential violations are related to illegal campaign contributions meant to cover up evidence of Trump’s affairs with two women, preventing voters from learning the truth about his behavior ahead of the election, though at least one continued well into his first year in office. The eight criminal offenses, including seven felonies, potentially committed by Trump include:
- Causing American Media Inc. (AMI) to make and/or accepting (or causing his then lawyer Michael Cohen to accept) an unlawful corporate contribution related to Karen McDougal.
- Two instances of causing Cohen to make and/or accepting an unlawful individual contributions related to Stephanie Clifford and February 2015 online polling.
- Two instances of causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC’s failure to report contributions from AMI and Cohen related to McDougal and Clifford.
- Causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC to file false reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
- Making a false statement by failing to disclose liability to Cohen for the Clifford payment on his 2017 public financial disclosure form.
- Conspiracy to defraud the United States by undermining the lawful function of the FEC and/or violating federal campaign finance law related to “hush money” payments, false statements, and cover-ups of reimbursement payments to Cohen made by the Trump Organization.
“There has already been significant attention to the President’s possible exposure for obstruction of justice, but it is deeply troubling to discover that he also may have been personally involved in a whole other set of criminal offenses for causing or accepting illegal campaign contributions and then covering up those payments,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “These potential offenses highlight a concerted effort by the President and those around him to deprive the American people of information relevant to making informed election decisions, severely eroding public trust.”
A lawsuit filed by a former campaign staffer details sexual assault and battery committed by Candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign. His life as a sexual predator undoubtedly continues. This is by Ronan Farrow writing for The New Yorker.
A staff member of Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court in Florida on Monday, alleging that she experienced “racial and gender discrimination” while working for the campaign, that she was paid less than male and white colleagues, and that Trump once kissed her partially on the mouth, without her consent. The claim related to the kiss may prove difficult to verify. Four people said that the campaign worker, Alva Johnson, told them about the incident afterward, but two other people, who Johnson said were present at the time of the kiss, told me that they did not see it. In a statement, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied that it had taken place.
The most legally significant aspect of Johnson’s suit may ultimately be something the complaint does not explicitly address: the pervasive use of nondisclosure agreements by Trump during his campaign and in his Administration. Johnson’s suit is at least the sixth legal case in which Trump campaign or Administration employees have defied their nondisclosure agreements. Three of those actions, including Johnson’s, were filed this month. Johnson, who was the campaign’s administrative field-operations director in Florida, signed a nondisclosure agreement that bars her from revealing any information “in any way detrimental to the Company, Mr. Trump, any Family Member, any Trump Company or any Family Member company.” Johnson’s attorney, Hassan Zavareei, said, “We expect that Trump will try to use the unconscionable N.D.A. and forced arbitration agreement to silence Ms. Johnson. We will fight this strong-arm tactic.”
The White House referred questions about the nondisclosure agreements to Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer of Trump’s reëlection campaign. He said in a statement, “The campaign takes our NDA agreements very seriously, and will enforce them aggressively if they are breached.” Johnson said that she considers the issues raised by her suit important enough to merit breaching the contract. “I am suing because my work holds the same value as the work of my white male counterparts,” Johnson said, in an interview. “I am suing because this predatory behavior should not be minimized, especially when committed by the most powerful man in the world.”
The Daily Beast has some interesting scuttlebutt: “Trump Tells His Lawyers: Stay for the Coming Legal Hellscape. The president has made private admissions that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.” News Break ! Serial criminal under multiple investigations suddenly figures out that they have his number!
Donald Trump has signaled to his inner circle that even he knows Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishing his investigation will be a new beginning, not a dramatic end, for Trumpworld’s eclectic legal hellscape.
The president made clear to his outside legal team, which includes Rudy Giulianiand Jay Sekulow, that he didn’t want his lawyers going anywhere—even after the Mueller probe ends. The conversations served as a private admission that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.
The president broached the topic of keeping his team together starting late last year, according to two sources familiar with the exchanges, by discussing other legal woes he might face after the Special Counsel’s Office submits its report to the Department of Justice
Trump’s focus at the time? The Southern District of New York. The jurisdiction, known as SDNY, is currently looking into matters involving the president. Those cases have long been considered by Trump’s close allies as a far graver potential threat than the Mueller investigation.
Details about Trump and his family business could be laid bare for public scrutiny as Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and self-described fixer, heads to the Hill to testify this week. He is set to answer questions regarding Trump’s debts and payments, compliance with federal disclosure requirements, tax laws, campaign finance laws, and potentially fraudulent practices by the Trump foundation.
Meanwhile, Assholes have to be assholes.
Harry Reid gave an interview to CNN and minced no words.
Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has news he is eager to spread: He is feeling “very good.”
The former US Senator from Nevada was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and New York Times Magazine writer Mark Leibovich wrote last month after an interview with Reid that he “does not have long to live.”
But make no mistake: this Harry Reid is still the same former boxer and political street fighter I covered for decades in the US Senate.
A searing critic of President George W. Bush and his administration, Reid now says in the age of Trump, he wishes for Bush again “every day,” saying Bush would be “Babe Ruth” compared to the current president.
In an apparent reaction to the interview Monday morning, Trump returned the spars, tweeting that Reid got “thrown out” (he retired) and was working to “put a good swing on his failed career.”
Since the 2016 presidential election, Reid has been colorful in criticizing Trump. He called the now-President everything from a “con man” to a “human leech” to a “big fat guy.” He is especially proud of using the word “amoral” in his New York Times Magazine interview because he says it resulted in a boost of googling the dictionary definition of the word.
I asked him if he has anything nice to say about the President. He pondered that question hard, took time to look for an answer and after a pregnant pause, finally replied, “I just have trouble accepting him as a person, so frankly I don’t see anything he’s doing right.
Give ’em hell Harry!
So, yeah, he’s headed to Vietnam to embarrass us on the world stage yet again. The BBC seems to show the level of diplomatic thought he displays in this lede: “Trump: North Korea ‘could be great power’ without nuclear weapons”. Um, no, just NO. So are your plans for the week watching Trump be duped there or keeping your eye on the mess that keeps emerging from his criminal acts here? Nixon lite any one?
He reiterated that he was “in no rush” to press for North Korea’s denuclearisation. “I don’t want to rush anybody. I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy,” he said.
The Singapore summit was historic as the first meeting between a sitting US president and a leader of North Korea, but the agreement the two men signed was vague on detail. Little has been done since about their stated goal – finding a way to get nuclear weapons off the Korean peninsula.
The president’s latest remarks come on the eve of his departure for Vietnam, and are being seen as a bid to manage expectations.
So, what exactly is he gambling on? This is from The Atlantic and the keyboard of Uri Friedman.
Trump’s negotiators have thus been left in a bind: The only way to make major progress under such circumstances is to get the U.S. and North Korean leaders in a room, but they can’t get them in a room without taking a high-risk gamble.
That’s what Trump’s meeting with Kim in Vietnam, on February 27–28, amounts to. At best, the two leaders will achieve a breakthrough on peace and denuclearization that has eluded their predecessors for decades. At worst, the United States will reward North Korea without reducing the danger it poses. Somewhere in the middle would be a repeat of the leaders’ first summit in Singapore last June: a spectacle with little of substance to show for it.
“Both leaders are free to put aside their briefing books—assuming they even look at them—and move according to their instincts and sense of the possible. Bureaucracies and advisors working with kings, emperors and presidents have known that for centuries,” wrote Stanford’s Robert Carlin, a North Korea scholar who recently held the most detailed discussion yet with Trump’s special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, on the administration’s vision for diplomacy with Kim.
“Many experts would be more comfortable with the working-level process leading, possibly and eventually, to the summit,” he added. “But we have the reverse, and no one really knows what it will mean to ski downhill from the top of Mt. Everest.”
Well, that’s a metaphor for ya!
So, there’s no panic inducing news today. Not yet any way!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?