Monday Reads: This and That about #KavaughLies

Image result for historical images US supreme courtIt’s another Monday Sky Dancers!

And, we’re hearing more about the how Brett Kavanaugh was given a lot of special treatment on his short path to a seat on SCOTUS. This is from WAPO and it’s an opinion piece by Jennifer Ruben: “This is the Kavanaugh mess we feared”. The big question is will this make one damned bit of difference?

In September 2018, I warned about the abbreviated FBI investigation into allegations that Brett M. Kavanaugh engaged in sexually aggressive behavior: “If Democrats retake one or both houses in November, they will be able to investigate, subpoena witnesses and conduct their own inquiry. The result will be a cloud over the Supreme Court and possible impeachment hearings … Kavanaugh has not cleared himself but rather undermined faith in the judicial system that presumes that facts matter.”

And sure enough, two New York Times reporters have found multiple witnesses to the allegations from Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself during a dorm party at Yale. One newly discovered witness had information concerning yet another, similar event. That witness, Max Stier, is the chief executive of Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that, among other things, tracks nominations and confirmations. According to the Times report, he brought the information to the Senate Judiciary Committee (Who? Who knew about this?) and to the FBI. (I have relied on him for expertise about the federal government and found him to be scrupulously nonpartisan and honest.) He might have been a compelling witness. The New York Times now reports that the woman involved in the incident Stier witnessed does not remember it.

The initial NYT times story has triggered a flurry of calls for Kavanaugh’s impeachment. The article from VOX is from Tara Golshan and sums up the areas where he’s had truthfulness issues..

Democrats called for an investigation into Kavanaugh’s “truthfulness” during the confirmation process, but got nowhere.As new information — and another allegation — comes out, there have been renewed calls to reopen investigations into the Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh’s truthfulness has repeatedly come into question

Even before Saturday’s report, there were a lot of discrepancies in Kavanaugh’s story — especially when it came to Ramirez’s allegation.

During the confirmation process, an NBC report detailed communication between Kavanaugh, his team, and college friends to rebut Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at Yale, before she had come forward with allegations in an article in the New Yorker.

NBC’s reporting was in direct contradiction to Kavanaugh’s testimony, in which he angrily denied the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him and said he learned of Ramirez’s claim through the original New Yorker story:

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): When did you first hear of Ms. Ramirez’s allegations against you?

KAVANAUGH: … In the New Yorker.

HATCH: Did the ranking member [Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)] or any of her colleagues or any of their staffs ask you about Ms. Ramirez’s allegations before they were leaked to the press?

KAVANAUGH: No.

However, two friends of Kavanaugh’s — Kerry Berchem and Karen Yarasavage — were in contact with the Supreme Court nominee and his team, according to text messages obtained by NBC:

In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett’s guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too.”

In an interview with Republican congressional staff two days after Ramirez went public, Kavanaugh said he had “heard about” Ramirez calling college friends about the alleged incident. It’s not clear if he had heard about that after the allegations went public.

These text messages detailing Kavanaugh’s knowledge of Ramirez’s allegations aren’t the first time his truthfulness has come into question. Here are five other instances where discrepancies in Kavanaugh’s testimonies have been raised.

1) Kavanaugh’s drinking: The Supreme Court nominee has been adamant that while he enjoys beer and perhaps at time drank “too many,” it was never to the point of passing out, blacking out, or even causing slight lapses in memory.

His characterization of drinking has been denied by multiple friends and past roommates, as Vox’s Emily Stewart explained. He grew “belligerent and aggressive” as a drunk, according to Chad Ludington, one of Kavanaugh’s former classmates.

Liz Swisher, another former Yale classmate, recounted to CNN of Kavanaugh’s drinking: “There’s no problem with drinking beer in college. The problem is lying about it.”

Image result for historical images US supreme court

First photograph of the U.S. Supreme Court, by Mathew Brady, 1869 (courtesy of National Archives).

From the LA TImes: “New reporting details how FBI limited investigation of Kavanaugh allegations.”

The other allegation, previously unreported, came from Washington lawyer Max Stier, who told Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) that he witnessed Kavanaugh exposing himself to a different female classmate during their freshman year.

Both Kavanaugh and the woman were heavily intoxicated at the time, according to Stier’s account, as described by people familiar with the contacts between him and Coons and others who have spoken with Stier since Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The woman in that case, a friend of Ramirez, has denied that she was assaulted, telling friends she has no memory of such an incident. According to Stier’s account, the woman was so inebriated at the time that she could easily have no memory of it.

Coons sent Wray a letter on Oct. 2 — four days before the Senate voted on Kavanaugh — naming Stier as an “individual whom I would like to specifically refer to you for appropriate follow up.”

The FBI never contacted Stier. The bureau also did not interview other classmates who said they had heard at the time of either the incident Stier reported or the one involving Ramirez.

Stier has declined to comment publicly on the allegation. He wanted his account to remain confidential, both for the sake of the woman, a widow with three children, and for his own professional considerations.

Stier founded a nonpartisan, nonprofit group to promote public service roughly two decades ago. Before that, he was a lawyer at Washington’s Williams & Connolly firm, where he worked with the team that defended then-President Clinton. Several Republican commentators on Sunday zeroed in on that part of his resume to discredit his account as partisan.

During the hearings, Kavanaugh stated under oath that he was never so drunk that he would pass out or forget what he’d done while intoxicated. A number of former classmates who knew him said they were sufficiently upset by that statement, which they considered untruthful, that they contacted the FBI. None received responses from the bureau.

Image result for historical images US supreme court

Sandra Day O’Connor being sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice Warren Burger, with her husband, John O’Connor, 9/25/1981. (National Archives Identifier 1696015)

So, the usual suspects have lined up to either defend the feckless Kavanaugh.but it appears the calls for impeachment may not go any where at all.  From Politico and Kyle Cheney “Judiciary chairman throws cold water on Kavanaugh impeachment. Jerry Nadler says the committee is too busy ‘impeaching the president’ to consider investigating the Supreme Court justice.”

The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with “impeaching the president” to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday.

“We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer.

The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with “impeaching the president” to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday.

“We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer.

Image result for historical images US supreme courtThere just appears to be no depth of depravity to which all of Trump’s appointments can find themselves. And the worst thing?  They don’t ever seem to be held to account in a manner consistence with justice.

Trump and every one that surrounds him engage and scandalous, illegal behaviors and the system props them up.  The Republicans in their search for white male hegemony that only recognizes women and minorities that are enablers must be dealt with at the ballot box and in the committees of the House of Representatives.

Are we woke enough to get this done?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Sunday Reads: Penny Marshall, et al …2018

Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall Dead at 75.

 

It is that time of year, and in memory of those who are no longer with us…here is a review of who we lost this 2018.

 

 

 

Penny Marshall from Celebrity Deaths: 2018’s Fallen Stars | E! News

That link takes you to a gallery of pictures representing celebrity deaths from 2018….including:

SONDRA LOCKE

The Oscar-nominated actress passed away on Nov. 3. The Any Which Way You Can star was 74 years old.

RICKY JAY

The magician and actor, best known for his roles in Tomorrow Never Dies, Deadwood and Boogie Nightsdied on November 24 from natural causes. He was 72.

ROY CLARK

The country star was known for hosting Yee Haw died at the age of 85 on November 15. He died of complications from pneumonia while surrounded by family and friends at his Tulsa, Okla. home.

KATHERINE MACGREGOR

The star, who played Harriet Oleson in the ’70s hit series Little House on the Prarie, died on November 13 at the age of 93. She was living at the Motion Picture Fund Long Term Nursing Care facility in Woodland Hills, California at the time of her death.

NEIL SIMON

The famous Broadway playwright and screenwriter, known for plays such as The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, died at age 91 on August 26 after battling complications from pneumonia

ED KING

The Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist died on August 22 at age 68 after battling lung cancer.

ARETHA FRANKLIN

The iconic songstress died at home in Detroit on August 16 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76 years old.

TAB HUNTER

The ’50s movie idol (born Arthur Andrew Kelm) died July 8, three days shy of his 87th birthday. Known for starring in movies like The Burning Hills and Damn Yankees, Hunter came out of the closet in 2005 in his autobiography, confirming rumors that had been swirling since his heyday. Hunter’s cause of death was not immediately known.

KATE SPADE

The famous fashion designer died of apparent suicide in June 2018. She was 55 years old.

Designer, Kate Spade

 

The surprise for many was the recent death of Penny Marshall:

Penny Marshall in 1980.

 

Penny Marshall’s Legacy, From Laverne & Shirley to Directing

As both a performer and a filmmaker, Marshall, who died Monday at the age of 75, stood counter to the prevailing wisdom of what women like her were supposed to be, and do. From her breakthrough as a sitcom star to her subsequent success as a blockbuster filmmaker, Marshall never seemed to get hung up on what other people thought she was supposed to be doing — or if she did, you could never tell. And as both an actress and a director, she was simultaneously big and subtle, aiming at the widest possible audience while smuggling in little grace notes that caught even fans by surprise.

When viewers of a certain age first noticed Marshall on sitcoms in the 1970s — first as Oscar Madison’s secretary on The Odd Couple, and then as Laverne DeFazio on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley — they saw a throwback to character actresses from ’50s television and prewar movies. She was a scene-stealer with big city, white ethnic bluntness, the kind of woman who might’ve dispensed tough but loving advice to Grace Kelly or bashed a mugger over the head with an umbrella.

Give that obit a read through…it details Marshall’s work in Hollywood through the years.

Penny Marshall, Star of Laverne & Shirley, Dead at Age 75 | E! News

Actress and director Penny Marshall died “peacefully” last night at age 75 at her Hollywood Hills home, E! News has confirmed. Her cause of death was complications from diabetes, and a celebration of life ceremony will be held at a later date. “Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” a spokesperson for the star’s family told E! News in a statement. Born Oct. 15, 1943, Penny is predeceased by her brother, actor/director Garry Marshall. She is survived by her sister Ronny Marshall; her daughter Tracy Reiner; and her three grandchildren.

A no-nonsense New Yorker, Penny’s Hollywood breakthrough came from starring in the hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran for eight seasons on ABC from Jan. 27, 1976, until May 10, 1983. But Penny found even more success behind the camera, directing hit films like Big (1988), Awakenings (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and Riding in Cars With Boys (2001), among others. With Big, Penny made history as the first woman to direct a movie that grossed $100 million—something she did again with A League of Their Own.

“With directing, I didn’t have to wear makeup or get my hair done. But I do not like getting up that early,” she said in a Women and Hollywood interview in 2012. “In TV we did our show in front of an audience, so we got up early only one morning. We did camera blocking in the morning and we shot at night which was a much more humane existence. No one is funny at 7 a.m. It’s faster to act, but a lot of times you are sitting in a Winnebago waiting. Directing is more fun—if you can create stuff, if you can create business for people to do and not just pull lines out of people’s mouths. So if people come prepared then you can add business. I like behavior.”

A multitalented workhorse, Penny also produced a number of movies and TV series. “Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story,” the Marshall family said. “We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true.”

This next one deals with:

Carrie Fisher and Penny Marshall’s Friendship: A Timeline

When actress, director, and general multi-hyphenate trailblazer Penny Marshall died earlier this week, one of the trending topics that followed the news was her BFF status with Carrie Fisher — fun quotes they said about each other, some cute photos, you name it. We love it! But despite the very public celebration of their friendship on social media, the women enjoyed spending time together away from life’s flashbulbs and recorders, really only regaling us with their life’s anecdotes through memoirs and rare interviews. “We’ve lasted longer than all of our marriages combined. Our crazy lives have meshed perfectly,” Marshall perhaps put it best in her 2012 memoir. “We’ve always said it’s because we never liked the same drugs or men, but I know there’s more to it.” Here, let’s take an abridged look at the early stages of their pairing, which we promise we won’t refer to as “friendship goals.”

Great pictures there at that link…and read the few stories as well. A cheerful look on both women’s lives.

In another death of 2018:

Last Warsaw Ghetto uprising fighter dies in Israel

The last surviving fighter from the doomed 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising by Jewish partisans against the Nazis died Saturday in Israel aged 94, the country’s president said.

Simcha Rotem, who went by the nom-de-guerre Kazik, served in the Jewish Fighting Organisation that staged the uprising as the Nazis conducted mass deportations of residents to the death camps.

“This evening, we part from… Simcha Rotem, the last of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement.

“He joined the uprising and helped save dozens of fighters”.

Hundreds of Jewish fighters began their fight on April 19, 1943, after the Nazis began deporting the surviving residents of the Jewish ghetto they had set up after invading Poland.

The insurgents preferred to die fighting instead of in a gas chamber at the Treblinka death camp where the Nazis had already sent more than 300,000 Warsaw Jews.

Speaking at a 2013 ceremony in Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the uprising, Rotem recalled that by April 1943 most of the ghetto’s Jews had died and the 50,000 who remained expected the same fate.

Rotem said he and his comrades launched the uprising to “choose the kind of death” they wanted.

“But to this very day I keep thinking whether we had the right to make the decision to start the uprising and by the same token to shorten the lives of many people by a week, a day or two,” Rotem said.

Thousands of Jews died in Europe’s first urban anti-Nazi revolt, most of them burned alive, and nearly all the rest were then sent to Treblinka.

Rotem survived by masterminding an escape through the drain system with dozens of comrades. Polish sewer workers guided them to the surface.

He went on to participate in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising led by Polish resistance fighters against the Nazis.

And let us not forget the death of Jakelin Caal… and the deaths of other children and immigrants who seemed to lurk in the background of news story recaps:

Where seven-year-old Jakelin Caal crossed, migrants risk death to enter US | US news | The Guardian

Antelope Wells, an isolated point of entry in New Mexico, is where hundreds cross over, seeking refuge from violence

The deceptively beautiful landscape around Antelope Wells in the remote south-western corner of New Mexico.
 The deceptively beautiful landscape around Antelope Wells in the remote south-western corner of New Mexico. Photograph: Don Usner/Searchlight New Mexico

The black shadows of yucca shrubs huddled under a three-quarter moon. A stiff desert wind hushed all but the deafening crunch of footsteps where a chest-high barrier divides the US and Mexico.

Behind María and her son were the thousands of miles they covered overland from Guatemala, with Mexico streaming by the bus window, day and night. On the way, she broke her ankle but pressed on with few stops.

Then came the last leg: the night crossing into the New Mexico Bootheel. The state’s rugged, remote south-western corner was where seven-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal crossed with her father one December night and became gravely ill.

Her death earlier this month became the symbol of a dangerous new pattern of human smuggling through New Mexico, where 20 groups of more than 100 migrants each have arrived since October, a massive increase from just eight large groups in all of fiscal 2018, according to US Customs and Border Protection. A record number are asking for asylum in the US.

I was going to end it there…but here are a few news worthy links:

A volcano…Child of Krakatoa has made some noise, this time causing a tsunami that has killed and injured many in Indonesia.

As of 7 am this morning:

Tsunami from erupting Krakatau kills at least 222 in Indonesia | Reuters

PANDEGLANG, Indonesia (Reuters) – A tsunami killed at least 222 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide believed caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano, officials and media said on Sunday.

Angry ‘Child of Krakatoa’ rumbles on

The volcano that apparently triggered a deadly tsunami in Indonesia late Saturday emerged from the sea around the legendary Krakatoa 90 years ago and has been on a high-level eruption watchlist for the past decade.

Anak Krakatoa (the “Child of Krakatoa”) has been particularly active since June, occasionally sending massive plumes of ash high into the sky and in October a tour boat was nearly hit by lava bombs from the erupting volcano.

Anak Krakatoa tsunami – in pictures | World news | The Guardian

A resident searches for items among the ruins of a villa after the area was hit by a tsunami, at Carita beach in Padeglang, Banten province, Indonesia,

 

Indonesia tsunami hits Sunda Strait after Krakatau eruption – BBC News

More than 220 people have been killed and 843 injured after a tsunami hit coastal towns on Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, government officials say.

The tsunami waves struck at night without any warning, destroying hundreds of buildings.

Officials say the tsunami could have been caused by undersea landslides after Anak Krakatau volcano erupted.

The Sunda Strait, between the islands of Java and Sumatra, connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.

More images and updates at the links above.

 

Here are a couple of articles on media. One deals with social media, the other with news media:

Social media is an existential threat to our idea of democracy | Opinion | The Guardian

At last, we’re getting somewhere. Two years after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, we’re finally beginning to understand the nature and extent of Russian interference in the democratic processes of two western democracies. The headlines are: the interference was much greater than what was belatedly discovered and/or admitted by the social media companies; it was more imaginative, ingenious and effective than we had previously supposed; and it’s still going on.

 

This next one I find important for this key component: Der Spiegel takes the blame for scandal of reporter who faked stories | World news | The Guardian

US ambassador says revelations prove magazine guilty of institutional bias, as far-right groups seek to exploit the case

The US government has waded into the scandal of the German journalist forDer Spiegel magazine who faked stories on a grand scale over years, calling it proof of “institutional bias” in the media against America.

In a scathing letter to the magazine’s editors, Richard Grenell, US ambassador to Germany, claims the journalism of Claas Relotius, who resigned from the German news magazine last week, was symptomatic of anti-American bias across the mainstream media. “It is clear that we were the victims of a campaign of institutional bias,” Grenell wrote to Der Spiegel, in a letter also seen by the daily newspaper Bild. He said he was aghast at the way “anti-American coverage” had been facilitated by the magazine.

You can read the details at the link, main focus being:

The scandal has sparked fears that the far right will exploit the scandal to sow further distrust of the media. The German far right has a long history of attacking the press.

In recent years, the anti-immigration group Pegida and elements of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) have resurrected the Nazi-era slur of Lügenpresse (“lying press”) to describe mainstream journalism they claim does not represent the world as they see it. These voices have been further emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and his use of the term “fake news.”

“Relotius is in the end only a product of an absurdly leftist writers’ fraternity that is increasingly seldom prepared to leave its own convenient moral comfort zone in favour of the facts,” wrote Alice Weidl, a leader of the AfD, in a Facebook post.

The leading German journalist Hendrik Wieduwilt wrote: “It’s started! The fraud of ‘reporter’ Relotius has now been made into ‘fake news’, or strategically fraudulent lies. The AfD will exploit this for all it is worth. That’s probably the biggest damage of the whole scandal.” The independent media journalist Stefan Niggemeier took to Twitter to express fears the case represented a “deep blow – not just for Der Spiegel, but for German journalism.” In a series of soul-searching written apologies, the magazine acknowledged the wider undermining affect Relotius’s actions will have on those striving to deliver objective, informative and well-sourced reporting.

“We are aware that the Relotius case makes the fight against fake news that much more difficult,” wrote the incoming Spiegel editor-in-chief Steffen Klusmann and deputy editor-in-chief Dirk Kurbjuweit in a joint open letter to readers. “For everyone. For other media outlets that are on our side and for citizens and politicians who are interested in an accurate portrayal of reality.”

One more link because, this is really a heavy post for a Sunday before Christmas…

The 2018 Medieval Book of the Year: The Golden Rhinoceros

Hundreds of books about the Middle Ages are published each year. They cover a vast number of topics, sometimes offering new research, sometimes retelling stories for new audiences. What makes one book stand out above the rest?

I’ve made it a habit the last few years of keeping track of as many new books about the Middle Ages as I can – a process that leads me to visit many libraries and book stories. I can’t possibly get familiar with all the works that have come out, so my choices are subjective, but I think the books mentioned below will prove to be important contributions to medieval studies. I look for those that I think will enlighten and expand our understanding of the Middle Ages, that are well written and well researched, and will have lasting significance in their field.

So, what is the book of the year?

The Golden Rhinoceros: Histories of the Africa, by François-Xavier Fauvelle, is my choice for the medieval book of the year. It’s not a particularly large book at just 264 pages, but it offers readers a great trove of topics related to the medieval history of Africa (with the exception of Egypt and the Mediterranean coast). It consists of 34 separate stories, each about six to eight pages long. They cover events between the eighth and fifteenth centuries, and zig-zag across the African continent, so you will be at first reading about Mauritania, then going to Zimbabwe, and then off to Ethiopia. Fauvelle is highly effective in giving us snapshots of life in these places, all the while acknowledging that his sources are often fragmentary and sparse.

Fauvelle’s aim in this book is to show that Africa was not mired in the ‘dark centuries’ as many historians have assumed, but was going through something more akin to a ‘golden age’ during the Middle Ages. Many of his sections reinforce the idea that merchants were flourishing in medieval Africa, with gold and slaves being sent across the continent into the Arab world, India, and even to China. Perhaps medievalists have been too focused on the connections between medieval Europe and Africa, which are very limited, and haven’t yet researched the much deeper relations between the Islamic and African worlds. Here Fauvelle offers a guide to historians on how they can learn more about Mali, Somalia or the Sahara, and the role they played in the medieval world.

Click here to read an interview with François-Xavier Fauvelle

There are a few other interesting reads that are recommended at that link, so please click over to check them out…one that even discusses emotions and sensibility in the middle ages…fascinating.

Well….I wish everyone a happy holiday, this is an open thread.

 

 


Friday Reads: “What fresh hell is this” to infinity and beyond!

Well, Sky Dancers!

Two more bombs discovered and an arrest this morning are happening as I frantically type this post!  The bombs were on their way to NJ Senator Corey Booker and James Clapper via CNN.

This morning, the FBI moved on to Southern Florida to the mail processing center where the additional bombs were found and evidence led police to believe that most, if not all, of the bombs were sent from that location.  Plantation, Florida delivered a suspect and an arrest.

The FBI said they think that regional post office processing center is where the pipe bombs first passed through, meaning some if not all of the 10 bombs were mailed from that area to top Democrats and others in New York, Washington, Delaware and Los Angeles

A man in his 50s has been taken into custody and we’ve recently learned that he has been put under arrest.  The police are currently towing a white van that’s plastered with bumper stickers.  The stickers are all right wing in nature. So much for the false flag meme.  Most of it is pro Trump.

Sen. Cory Booker and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are the latest high-profile figures to be targeted, sources said. –The shops and restaurants at the Time Warner Center in New York, the same complex that houses CNN, were briefly evacuated Thursday night after a false alarm over unattended packages inside the mall, police said.

–Federal investigators chasing leads pointing them to South Florida as a suspected origin of some of the 10 mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats and other public figures, sources said.

–Nationwide investigation underway.

–All 12 suspicious packages went through the U.S. postal system, sources said.

–The suspected mail bombs have been taken to the FBI’s lab in Quantico, Virginia, to be analyzed.

A suspect *is in custody for* a suspected mail bombing *campaign* that targeted top Democrats and other prominent figures across the country, officials said.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, confirmed on Twitter Friday morning that one person is in custody. The suspect has not been identified.

“We can confirm one person is in custody,” she wrote.

There’s a presser scheduled for later today.

I’d just like to say that we’ve seen nothing on the scale of this attempt to assassinate leaders since the assassination of Lincoln and the conspiracy to murder other members of his leadership team. Their other targets were Cabinet members.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the Lincoln assassination was how many people were familiar with the president’s murderer.

Even in the rogue’s gallery of people who have tried to kill a president, John Wilkes Booth still gets top billing. A member of the Booth acting clan—the Barrymores of the 19th century—he was a popular actor both north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line, appearing in theaters as far west as Leavenworth, Kansas.

When news of Lincoln’s assassination spread throughout Washington on Friday night and Saturday morning that April 150 years ago, people speaking of it referred to his killer as “the actor Booth.” No other identification was necessary.

To this day, Booth has fascinated historians and the general public alike, because he, more than any other assassin, wreaked such havoc on the nation’s history.

But there is another reason: Unlike his fellow killers, Booth was not demonstrably insane and he was certainly no marginalized nobody. On the contrary, he was a celebrity—an astonishingly handsome and successful actor.

Booth is perhaps one of first examples of the aggrieved white man who has privilege but feels that he’s been oppressed by rights gained by others.  The Trial of Booth and his co-conspirators really is history lesson like no other.  Perhaps, today’s arrest will unravel more evidence of that dark side of who we are..  I hope you take the opportunity to follow this link and discover how our government found and brought these men and one woman to justice.

Meanwhile, let’s see the Trumpsters wiggle out of this one.

I was going to write a lot more about how this event seems closely linked to the same kind of cultural grievances held by the Trumpsters but the news is getting away from us and today, we have experienced a mass assassination attempt unlike anything we’ve see this century.

The danger to our leaders may be over but the danger to our democracy continues.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

 


Sunday Reads

Good Morning

What a sunny way to start a Sunday post….a sun on skis. So, the images of today’s thread are from artist Celestino Piatti. You can see a bunch of his work here and read more about the artist here, Celestino Piatti – Swiss Graphic Design Foundation.

 

Why don’t we start of with a few tweets:

This tweet from @eaglewoman4 seems like a brilliant idea…if it could work:

Read some of the comments. Some claim that there could be precedent for this exact protection, as some tribes afforded protection to citizens during WW2 who faced being placed in internment camps. (I looked online and could not find any information on this…but it was not a very thorough search.) Still, it does seem like an idea to flesh out.

 

Meanwhile, it appears John Lewis isn’t the only one boycotting the SOTU:

 

I don’t think we will get anything together unless we go back to using paper ballots:

 

Over here tRump has been overly suggesting prison for his former opponent Hillary Clinton, in Russia…tRump’s puppet master has done just that:

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny arrested during protests – CNN

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Sunday during anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow as rallies continue nationwide.

“I’ve been detained. This doesn’t matter. Come to Tverskaya (Street). You are not going there for me, it’s for you and your future,” Navalny tweeted after his arrest.
Within minutes of arriving at Pushkinskaya Square, where hundreds of protesters had gathered, Navalny was wrestled into a patrol van by police, in dramatic footage posted on Youtube.
Moscow Police said Navalny was taken to a police station for arraignment and to be charged for illegally organizing a protest. If found guilty, he faces 30 days in detention and a fine.
How long before we get the jealous tweet from the orange dictator?

Tweets from Navalny:

Translation: The detention of one person loses any sense if there are many of us. Someone come and replace me

Moving on…

 

Oh brother.

This weekend marks another Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,

There is a key word here…which I think you may miss without knowing it.

It begins with the letter M.

 

I will leave with this latest breaking news:

Pennsylvania shooting rampage leaves 5 dead

Five people were killed and another was wounded Sunday in a shooting rampage in a small town 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State Police said.

Police said four people died at the scene and one died after being rushed to a hospital. The shootings took place at a car wash in Melcroft at about 3 a.m. ET. The facts were still being sorted out, but it was possible the shooter was among the victims, police said.

“There is no threat to the community, no imminent danger,” police said in a statement to USA TODAY. The identity of the victims, three men and two women, were not immediately available, police said.

Pennsylvania Shooting Rampage Live Updates: Deadly Attack at Small Town Car Wash

11:10 a.m. – A source at the scene told a KDKA reporter that the suspected shooter used a semi-automatic rifle. Police have not confirmed the weapon that was used.

This is an open thread.

 


Mos’ Scocious Monday Reads

Hi Sky Dancers!

Well, we made it through the first week of 2018 with just a series of Trumper Tantrums and nothing too life threatening.  This month ends with the SOTA. I seriously doubt I’m up to watching it but we’ll see.  Trump’s alleged first trek afterwards will be to to gratify himself before example wall parts. His obsession with things of certain shapes is completely Freudian.

President Trump plans to visit the concrete-and-steel prototypes of his beloved border wall in San Diego after his State of the Union address on Jan. 30, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Trump insiders say that as they think about 2020, no promise is more vital in Trump Country. He can’t blame Democrats for the fact that there’s not a wall — he has to find a way to deliver one. It was such a central and symbolic promise that there’s no averting your gaze from it.

The wall rhetoric and reality are as removed from each other as sanity and KKKremlin Caligula’s thought processes. To many, deportation is a death sentence as shown by this New Yorker article.

When Donald Trump announced his bid for the Presidency, he made anxieties about whiteness under siege a signature part of his platform. On the campaign trail, he promised to “deport all criminal aliens and save American lives.” After his Inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security created an office for the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, called voice—Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. The office is compiling an online database to track “illegal alien perpetrators of crime.” (Data show that immigrants actually commit crimes at lower rates than U.S. citizens.) There is, however, no White House initiative to track a more sprawling set of legal violations involving immigrants—violations for which the U.S. government is largely responsible.

In the past decade, a growing number of immigrants fearing for their safety have come to the U.S., only to be sent back to their home countries—with the help of border agents, immigration judges, politicians, and U.S. voters—to violent deaths. Even as border apprehensions have dropped, the number of migrants coming to the U.S. because their lives are in danger has soared. According to the United Nations, since 2008 there has been a fivefold increase in asylum seekers just from Central America’s Northern Triangle—Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—where organized gangs are dominant. In 2014, according to the U.N., Honduras had the world’s highest murder rate; El Salvador and Guatemala were close behind.

Politicians often invoke the prospect of death by deportation in debates about the fate of these immigrants and others with precarious status, like the Dreamers. In February, 2016, in a speech criticizing the lack of legal representation for Central American children seeking refuge, Harry Reid, at that time the Senate Minority Leader, warned Congress, “Deportation means death for some of these people.” That summer, Senator Edward J. Markey, of Massachusetts, told the press, “We should not be sending families back to situations where they can be killed.” He added, “That’s just un-American.”

These conversations have been largely theoretical, devoid of names and faces. No U.S. government body monitors the fate of deportees, and immigrant-aid groups typically lack the resources to document what happens to those who have been sent back. Fear of retribution keeps most grieving families from speaking publicly. In early 2016, as the director of the Global Migration Project, at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, I set out, with a dozen graduate students, to create a record of people who had been deported to their deaths or to other harms—a sort of shadow database of the one that the Trump Administration later compiled to track the crimes of “alien offenders.” We contacted more than two hundred local legal-aid organizations, domestic-violence shelters, and immigrants’-rights groups nationwide, as well as migrant shelters, humanitarian operations, law offices, and mortuaries across Central America. We spoke to families of the deceased. And we gathered the stories of immigrants who had endured other harms—including kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault—as a result of deportations under Obama and Trump.

Budget negotiations between Congressional Republicans and Democrats are seriously broken and caught in the middle are America’s Dreamers.  This should be a no brainer since even hard line anti immigrant activists support a some path that lets these 800,000 kids and young adults stay.

As Congress and the White House negotiate a deal to legalize nearly 800,000 undocumented DREAMers brought to the U.S. as children, they aren’t facing the usual pressure from hard-line groups lobbying for lower immigration levels.

“Rip off the Band-Aid and give them a green card,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, one of the groups that usually mobilizes against any effort to grant what they call “amnesty” for anyone who entered the country illegally.

Congressional leaders have until Mach 5 to restore deportation protections and work permits for DREAMers after President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established by President Barack Obama.

Roy Beck, who has led NumbersUSA for over 20 years and jokes that the organization is known as the “great anti-amnesty organization,” said: “We’re open to it.”

And Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said members of Congress wouldn’t face major backlash from his group’s supporters if they balance a DACA solution with extensive improvements to immigration enforcement.

One such drastic step to remove economic and political refugees from problems due to an earthquake is this action today. “Trump Administration Ends Temporary Immigration Status For 200,000 Salvadorans. The decision to end TPS also will affect their 192,000 US-citizen children.”

Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who’ve had temporary permission to live in the United States for the past 17 years will have until Sept. 9, 2019, to leave the US or face deportation, the Trump administration announced Monday.

The Salvadorans become the latest group of foreigners to lose what’s known as Temporary Protected Status after spending years in the United States because of natural disasters in their home countries. The Salvadorans were granted TPS after a pair of 2001 earthquakes slammed the country.

“Based on available information the secretary determined that the conditions supporting El Salvador’s TPS designation on the basis of environmental disaster, specifically the devastation cause by major earthquakes in 2001, no longer exist,” a senior Department of Homeland Security official said.

In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security also has announced an end to TPS for about 60,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans. However, DHS postponed a decision on 57,000 Hondurans.

Salvadorans make up the largest group with TPS and have about 192,700 US-citizen children, many of whom are likely to be forced to leave with their parents to resettle in a country they’ve never lived in.

Last week Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the president of El Salvador, asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to once again extend TPS, arguing that even if the US decides to send Salvadorans back it would give the government time to prepare to receive its compatriots.

In making the decision to end TPS Nielsen looked at whether conditions specific to the pair of 2001 earthquakes had improved and whether El Salvador was prepared to take back the nearly 200,000 people, a senior DHS official said.

Gang violence plaguing the country was not a factor in deciding whether to end TPS. Once their protections run out in 2019, the Salvadorans will be eligible for deportation. The US State Department currently has a travel advisory for El Salvador citing “high rates of crime and violence.”

These folks and their children will be uprooted from their lives to a chaotic country.  San Salvador–its capital–is also the murder capital of the world.  The gang MS-13 is responsible for a lot of deaths both there and here.

Over the past 20 years, MS-13 and its rival, 18th Street, have carved up territory in Central America, said a federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“If you grow up in one of these havens, that’s it. You are MS because your father was MS and your grandfather was MS,” he said. “And for you to be able to walk down the street and get a Coca-Cola or what have you, you have to make sure you are part of something so you’re not preyed upon. That’s their safety net.”

In these gang-controlled neighborhoods, satanism persisted.

“What the two gangs do have in common is the belief that life and death are somehow intermingled,” Pablo Trincia wrote in the Independent. “This belief partly explains the bones and devils tattooed on their bodies, as well as their satanic rituals, such as hacking a victim to death and scattering the organs on the ground in a pentagonal shape.”

As MS-13 violence returned to the United States with a vengeance in the mid 2000s — including a spate of high profile murders in the Washington region — so did reports of the gang’s satanism.

“The brutality of the gangs’ crimes is increasingly horrific,” the Los Angeles Times reportedin 2004. “Homicide victims, including many women and teenage girls, often are found so mutilated that Spanish priest Jose Maria Morataya, who runs a San Salvador rehabilitation and job training center for former gang members … suspects that some gang members practice satanic rituals.”

A year later, the Virginia Gang Investigators Association hosted a seminar for law enforcement officials on MS-13 and satanism.

Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech for Life Time Achievement at The Golden Globes has many people inkling her name as a presidential candidate.  Here’s the introductory part of the speech. The full transcript is at the link.

In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history — “The winner is Sidney Poitier.”

Up to the stage came the most elegant man I ever remembered. His tie was white, his skin was black, very smooth since he uses the derma roller amazon — I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses.

But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation [is] in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field,” ‘Amen, amen. Amen, amen.’ In 1982 Sidney received the Cecil B. Demille Award right here at the Golden Globes, and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.

Oh, by the way, the Goddess gifs are available here from Nina Paley. There are 24 of them and they’re great!   You can see them rock out while playing Dr. John below.  They’re kinda trippy like the Night Tripper!

Michael Wolff’s book and narratives continue to dominate the political press.  Wikileaks has offered it up free in PDF format.  I’m not sure if that’s to take money from Wolff or what.  Trump Defender–the truly bizarre Steven Miller–was on CNN this weekend with Jake Tapper.  He was thrown off the air and then out of the building.

White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done Miller was asked to leave several times.

He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.

CNN declined to comment.

Miller’s appearance on the cable network quickly went off the rails when Tapper pressed him on explosive claims about President Donald Trump that appeared in the book “Fire & Fury: Inside The Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.

Miller repeatedly attempted to pivot the conversation toward criticism of CNN, a favorite target of Trump’s. He then referred to Trump as a “political genius” and lamented his treatment during the interview, leading Tapper to reply that there was only “one viewer you care about right now.”

“I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you, Stephen,” Tapper said, bringing the interview to an abrupt end.

Shortly after the interview ended, Trump tweeted, “Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration.”

Then, Bannon made a complete ass and ass kisser 0f himself trying to get back into the good graces of money and power.  He mea culpea’d to everyone that would listen.

Steve Bannon expressed regret Sunday after he created a furor with comments critical of President Donald Trump’s family in a new book, dragging the controversy into its fifth day as the White House kept up its attacks on both the former chief strategist and “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff.

“Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man. He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around,” Bannon said in a statement. “I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

I really don’t know how much more of these people I can take.

Need to ask you to feed the kitty a little this month so we can keep the fancy Designer Font for Sky Dancing.  The price has gone up and I’m torn between keeping it and letting it go. Problem is that I really like it!  So, if you can donate a little that’s about all it would take.

Anyway, let me know what’s on your reading and blogging list today!!!


Sunday Reads: London….This is London 


The above tweet found this morning….

I’m not in the mindset to come up with the words today. In fact, I doubt that my brain can wrap itself around any type of news that poured out of London late last night.

When I heard the sirens on the television, my parents were watching live coverage, I did not have to see the screen to know that some attack had taken place…and that the target was somewhere in Great Britain. You can tell by the sound of those sirens, distinctive bitches aren’t they?

View this post on Instagram

Seven people have died after last night's terrorist attack in London Bridge and Borough Market and at least 48 people have been taken to hospital. Emergency services reacted quickly and report that the suspects were dead within eight minutes of the police receiving the phone call.

A post shared by The Guardian (@guardian) on

Reactions vary as expected:

(Incarcerate Deport Repeat? I think that phrase was already used on Veep already you fuckwad. )

Anyway, here’s some more reactions:

And then there is tRump:


** edited to add the screenshot of tRump latest tweets. 

I used to think that I hated certain politicians. Yeah, we all hate Ted Cruz and Santorum. Geez…remember the good old days of Bush 1 and 2?

But…the hate I feel for tRump is so deep, it almost disturbs me. Maybe my defenses are so worn down from what I’ve been dealing with…my mom and the rest. I don’t know…it has become a struggle to look at a news feed or read anything that connects to the outside world.

Every day there is a new onslaught of bad shit. Like a blitz of bad news that keeps proving tRump and all his merry men need to go…but still nothing is happening. I thought the despondent feeling I suffered from during the campaign was something I would not feel again.

Foolishly I thought:  Hey, once the stories started to break…people would finally snap out of it.

I can’t understand how folks who used to be so anti-Russian and all “fuck the commies” has turned into the kind of Putin loving population they are today. (I’m not talking the GOP politicians who obviously have been blackmailed or are otherwise indebted to Russian interests. ) I’m taking about the kind of people in towns like Banjoville who put tRump in office.  These are the people who still think that fluoridation is a conspiracy.

Can someone explain it to me?

Is it as simple as the repurposed neo-Nazi slogan tRump uses…Make America Great Again?

aka

Make America White Again?

Take a look at twitter now, after this latest attack, and see how the people around the world are reacting to tRump’s first Tweet when the news about #LondonBridge broke.  That asshole’s words reflects on our country no matter what anyone says. People around the world are disgusted with tRump. They are disgusted with us too.

Putin is succeeding, the people who want to see the United States fail are also succeeding. Our standing in the world is falling dramatically.

I know this post is about London and I have managed to turn it around into a rant about tRump and how he has brought our nation down.  But there is a point to all this.

Last night, when I heard those sirens on the TV, and knew something “terroristic” had happened in England…it no longer surprised me. I did not feel anything. Not even a hint of concern. I have become desensitized to the violence.

This realization, while staring onto a screen with bright lights from ambulances and cop cars which caused the living room to dance in colors of red and blue, I felt nothing. So what…I felt nothing. And, what’s more…that I was indifferent, meant nothing at all.

This is an open thread. Post whatever you want. I do not have the capacity to care anymore. What good does it do anyway?


Monday Reads: The Nation as Dumpster Fire

Good Afternoon!

Living under the rule of a crazy person surrounded by ideologues isn’t any thing I ever thought we’d see in my country.  It’s no longer tis of me or thee.  Tis of white nationalists and a greedy insane baby man stroking his ego and filling his coffers with Tax Payer dollars and access money.

We’ve again got a selective ban of countries Trump wrongly believes are responsible for terrorism in this country.  It’s basically a wholesale denial of VISAs. I can’t imagine this will hold up in court. It’s interesting that the countries where we’ve actually had foreign national terrorists hatch are still not on the ban list and still “coincidentally” are places where the Trump Syndicate Thugs operate. Evidently some Pentagon and NSA leaders managed to get Iraq taken off the list but the others remain.

The new guidelines mark a dramatic departure from Trump’s original ban. They lay out a far more specific national security basis for the order, block the issuance of only new visas, and name just six of the seven countries included in the first executive order, omitting Iraq.

The order also details specific sets of people who would be able to apply for case-by-case waivers to the order, including those previously admitted to the U.S. for “a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity,” those with “significant business or professional obligations” and those seeking to visit or live with family.

“This executive order responsibly provides a needed pause, so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in announcing the order had been signed.

Even before the ink was dry, though, Democrats and civil liberties groups asserted the new order was legally tainted in the same way as the first one: it was a thinly disguised Muslim ban.

“While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear,” said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman (D), who had joined the legal fight against the first ban. “This doesn’t just harm the families caught in the chaos of President Trump’s draconian policies – it’s diametrically opposed to our values, and makes us less safe.”

Trump’s administration is taking the blame for the public view that the first few weeks in the White House have been abysmal and produced nothing in the way of legislative change.  Trump evidently is upset that Obama was able to accomplish much more in his first month and it appears that Priebus is on top of the list for blame.   Video of Trump storming around the oval office with the Kushners, Preibus, and Bannon taking the brunt of the temper tantrum about leaks and bad press filled the Sunday Funnies oops political programs.

As the White House struggles to gain its footing almost two months into Donald Trump’s presidency, administration officials increasingly put the blame on one person: Reince Priebus.

In interviews, more than a dozen Trump aides, allies, and others close to the White House said Priebus, the 44-year-old chief of staff, was becoming a singular target of criticism within the White House.

They described a micromanager who sprints from one West Wing meeting to another, inserting himself into conversations big and small and leaving many staffers with the impression that he’s trying to block their access to Trump. They vented about his determination to fill the administration with his political allies. And they expressed alarm at what they say are directionless morning staff meetings Priebus oversees that could otherwise be used to rigorously set the day’s agenda and counterbalance the president’s own unpredictability.

The finger-pointing further complicates life in an already turmoil-filled West Wing, one that has been hobbled by dueling power centers and unclear lines of command.

“There’s a real frustration among many — including from the president — that things aren’t going as smoothly as one had hoped,” said one senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “Reince, fairly or not, is likely to take the blame and take the fault for that.”

“It’s sheer incompetence,” said another White House official. “There’s a lack of management, and a lack of strategy.”

Paul Krugman lays the blame on all Republicans saying “Why Republicans Have No Idea What They’re Doing”.  It’s been pretty apparent that Republicans have been increasingly ideological and unrealistic in terms of what can and cannot be done and be within the scope of the Constitution. They continually overpromise and underdeliver.  It’s because they never take time to learn about how to govern and how to get legislation pass because they’re not about doing that.  They’re about getting their way period.

As Paul Krugman reminds us in his Monday column, there’s a reason why the Republican party gravitated towards Trump in the first place. And it’s hardly surprising that they can’t get it together to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or reform corporate taxes, as promised.

“They have no idea how to turn their slogans into actual legislation, because they’ve never bothered to understand how anything important works,” Krugman says.

For seven years, “Republicans kept promising to offer an alternative to Obamacare any day now, but never did,” Krugman notes.

From what we know about the new plan—and Republicans have gone to tragicomic lengths to keep it a secret—it’s not very good. As Krugman observes:

Politically, it seems to embody the worst of both worlds: It’s enough like Obamacare to infuriate hard-line conservatives, but it weakens key aspects of the law enough to deprive millions of Americans — many of them white working-class voters who backed Donald Trump — of essential health care.

The plan was hatched by “smart” Republicans like Paul Ryan, who the media never tires of painting as the wonky intellectual of the GOP. But there are glaring inconsisencies in the GOP’s Obamacare replacement.

First off, as Krugman notes, “the only way to maintain coverage for the 20 million people who gained insurance thanks to Obamacare is with a plan that, surprise, looks a lot like Obamacare.” But instead of admitting their political failure, Ryan and Co are aiming to shove this bill down the throats of the American people before anyone has a chance to understand what’s in it.

Charles Blow has he best advice I’ve seen in short form.  While Krugman argues that the Republicans are a party not ready to govern, Blow says Pause this Presidency

The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this “president” until we can be assured that Russian efforts to hack our election, in a way that was clearly meant to help him and damage his opponent, did not also include collusion with or coverup by anyone involved in the Trump campaign and now administration.

This may sound extreme, but if the gathering fog of suspicion should yield an actual connection, it would be one of the most egregious assaults on our democracy ever. It would not only be unprecedented, it would be a profound wound to faith in our sovereignty.

Viewed through the serious lens of those epic implications, no action to put this presidency on pause is extreme. Rather, it is exceedingly prudent.

Some things must be done and some positions filled simply to keep the government operational. Absolute abrogation of administrative authority is infeasible and ill advised. But a bare minimum standard must be applied until we know more about what the current raft of investigations yield. Indeed, it may be that the current investigative apparatuses are insufficient and a special commission or special counsel is in order.

In any event, we can’t keep cruising along as if the unanswered question isn’t existential.

Americans must demand at least a momentary respite from — my preference would be a permanent termination of — Trump’s aggressive agenda to dramatically alter the social, economic and political contours of this country.

Greg Sargent also has a point:  “At the root of Trump’s new fury: Total contempt for American democracy”.  We don’t need a reboot of the Trump insurgency, we need a reboot of our democracy.  The system is trying to right itself and its causing Trump to have temper tantrums of epic proportions as well as a frequent need to run to his private resort to repad his fragile feefees.

President Trump is now wallowing in fury, we are told, because he can’t make the Russia story disappear; he can’t stem the leaks to the media; and he can’t seem to realize his promises. Some reports tell us that unflattering comparisons to Barack Obama’s early accomplishments are “gnawing at Trump,” while others say he went “ballistic” when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, because it telegraphed capitulation to Trump’s foes.

But all of these things are connected by a common thread: Trump is enraged at being subjected to a system of democratic and institutional constraints, for which he has signaled nothing but absolute, unbridled contempt. The system is pushing back, and he can’t bear it.

On Monday morning, the latest chapter in this tale — Trump’s unsupported accusation that Obama wiretapped his phones — took another turn. Trump’s spokeswoman said on ABC News that Trump does not accept FBI Director James Comey’s claim — which was reported on over the weekend — that no such wiretapping ever happened.

As E.J. Dionne writes, this episode is a “tipping point” in the Trump experiment. Trump leveled the charge based on conservative media. Then, after an internal search for evidenceto back it up produced nothing, the White House press secretary called on Congress to investigate it and declared the administration’s work done. While the previous administration did wiretap, the problem is the recklessness and baselessness of Trump’s specific allegations, and the White House’s insistence that the burden of disproving them must fall on others — on Congress and on the FBI. Trump’s allegations must be humored at all costs, simply because he declared them to be true — there can be no admission of error, and worse, the White House has declared itself liberated from the need to even pretend to have evidence to back up even Trump’s most explosive claims.

The best example of this is the temper tantrum resulting from Jeff Sessions actually doing the prudent and right thing over the Russia situation.  

Mr Trump is growing increasingly angry at the performance of his senior staff and at the way the Russia investigation is overshadowing his political message, several sources told multiple publications.

He called his inner circle to the Oval Office at the end of last week to talk about this week’s schedule, but the meeting became heated when the topic turned to Mr Sessions.

Sources told CNN Mr Trump used “a lot of expletives” and “nobody has seen him that upset”.

Other sources told Politico there were “fireworks” during the “robust discussion”.

There’s a tape of it even.   The man is self-destructing.

Meanwhile, SCOTUS is working.  It’s not advantaging the Republicans case at all.

From WAPO: “Supreme Court sends Virginia transgender case back to lower court

The Supreme Court on Monday vacated a lower court’s ruling in favor of a Virginia transgender student after the Trump administration withdrew the federal government’s guidance to public schools about a controversial bathroom policy.

The justices were scheduled to hear the case later this month. But after the government’s position changed, the court said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit should reconsider the dispute between the Gloucester County school board and 17-year-old Gavin Grimm.

In what had been a big victory for Grimm and the transgender movement, the 4th Circuit had relied on the government’s guidance that schools should let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds with the student’s gender identity.

The Trump administration withdrew that guidance, which was issued by the Obama administration.

From ABC News: “Supreme Court: Jury secrecy no bar to looking into race bias

A juror’s use of racial or ethnic slurs during deliberations over a defendant’s guilt can be a reason for breaching the centuries-old legal principle of secrecy in the jury room, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The justices ruled 5-3 in a case from Colorado that lower courts can take the unusual step of examining jury deliberations when there are indications that racial bias deprived a defendant of his right to a fair trial.

The decision followed another ruling last month in which the court took a hard line against racial bias in the criminal justice system. In that case, the justices ruled in favor of an African-American prison inmate in Texas whose death sentence may have been tainted by troubling references to race in court testimony.

In Monday’s case, defendant Miguel Angel Pena Rodriguez appealed to the Supreme Court after two jurors reported that a third juror tied Pena Rodriguez’s guilt to his Hispanic heritage.

The juror’s statements reportedly saying Pena Rodriguez was guilty because he is “Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want” only came to light after he was convicted of inappropriately touching teenage girls.

Colorado courts ruled against Pena Rodriguez because of a legal rule that protects jury deliberations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority “that blatant racial prejudice is antithetical to the functioning of the jury system and must be confronted in egregious cases like this one despite the general bar of the no-impeachment rule.” The court’s four liberal justices joined with Kennedy to form a majority.