Lazy Caturday Reads

By Daniel Ryan

Good Morning!!

The surrealistic cat paintings in this post are by Daniel Ryan.

Today’s top story has to be E. Jean Carroll’s credible allegation of rape by Donald Trump. An excerpt from Carroll’s latest book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, appeared at New York Magazine’s The Cut yesterday. A photo of Carroll in the coat dress she wore that day is on the magazine’s cover.

Hideous Men: Donald Trump assaulted me in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room 23 years ago. But he’s not alone on the list of awful men in my life. Here’s the description of Trump’s attack, which followed a lighthearted flirtation in the lingerie department:

The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips. I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.

I am astonished by what I’m about to write: I keep laughing. The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle. I am wearing a pair of sturdy black patent-leather four-inch Barneys high heels, which puts my height around six-one, and I try to stomp his foot. I try to push him off with my one free hand — for some reason, I keep holding my purse with the other — and I finally get a knee up high enough to push him out and off and I turn, open the door, and run out of the dressing room.

The whole episode lasts no more than three minutes. I do not believe he ejaculates. I don’t remember if any person or attendant is now in the lingerie department. I don’t remember if I run for the elevator or if I take the slow ride down on the escalator. As soon as I land on the main floor, I run through the store and out the door — I don’t recall which door — and find myself outside on Fifth Avenue.

Carroll told two friends at the time, and New York Magazine confirmed they vividly recall her story.

I told two close friends. The first, a journalist, magazine writer, correspondent on the TV morning shows, author of many books, etc., begged me to go to the police.

Stampede

“He raped you,” she kept repeating when I called her. “He raped you. Go to the police! I’ll go with you. We’ll go together.”

My second friend is also a journalist, a New York anchorwoman. She grew very quiet when I told her, then she grasped both my hands in her own and said, “Tell no one. Forget it! He has 200 lawyers. He’ll bury you.” (Two decades later, both still remember the incident clearly and confirmed their accounts to New York.)

Of course Trump denies the episode. From The Washington Post:

Trump vigorously denied the accusation, calling it “fake news.” He questioned why there was no video footage of the incident or witnesses in the store.

“I’ve never met this person in my life,” the president said in a statement. “She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”

However,

The New York magazine piece includes a photo provided by Carroll of what appears to be Trump pictured from behind, standing with his then-wife, Ivana, and Carroll’s then-husband, John Johnson, at what Carroll said was an NBC party around 1987.

Here’s the photo:

Carroll is not the first woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, but hers is the first one to actually describe a violent rape. Surely that is an impeachable offense. Why is this horrible man still president?

Vox: E. Jean Carroll joins at least 21 other women in publicly accusing Trump of sexual assault or misconduct.

The accusations include rape, a threat of rape, unwanted groping, being kissed without consent, and being walked in on naked. Here are the accusations made by women who have come forward publicly under their own names.

Click on the link to see a list of the accusers with brief descriptions of their allegations.

Molly Jong Fast at The Daily Beast: Yes, Trump Will Brush Off E. Jean Carroll’s Assault Allegation — but Women Will Remember.

The last line of advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s story of sexual assault hits like a ton of bricks. “And whether it’s my age, the fact that I haven’t met anyone fascinating enough over the past couple of decades to feel ‘the sap rising,’ as Tom Wolfe put it, or if it’s the blot of the real-estate tycoon, I can’t say. But I have never had sex with anybody ever again.”

I know E. Jean—not well, but we’ve messaged each other, and my mother is friendly with her. And since I have lived my entire life in Manhattan, she’s not the only Donald Trump accuser I know. There’s another woman mentioned in the list of Trump’s accusers, Cathy Heller, the mother of my best friend from high school; and then there are other stories I’ve heard, anecdotally of course, from people who didn’t want to come forward: a touched breast, an aggressive kiss on the mouth.

Friday, New York magazine published an excerpt from Carroll’s forthcoming memoir, What Do We Need Men For. It’s a memoir structured as a list of men who’ve attacked her, this list she calls “the most hideous men list.” The men on this list are largely known for such allegations: Les MoonvesRoger Ailes, and Trump….

And then there are the evangelicals who seem completely committed to Trumpism despite the cost or the evidence that the Almighty might not be besties with the thrice-married adulterer. During a Jan. 1 interview with the Washington Post, Trump supporter and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr., answered the question, “Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?” with one word. The word was “no.”[….]

But if the 2018 midterms have taught us anything, it’s that women remember. We may never see the president impeached and removed from office but we can remove him ourselves on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, when we women go to the polls and show Republican politicians that character does in fact matter and that we believe women.

Read the whole thing at The Daily Beast.

In other news, another big story broke last night when a federal judge unsealed texts that were exchanged between Paul Manafort and Sean Hannity while Manafort was under investigation and on trial.

Politico: ‘Are u up?’: Texts show cozy relationship between Paul Manafort and Sean Hannity.

Paul Manafort had a sympathetic media ally in Sean Hannity as federal investigators closed in and ultimately prosecuted the former Trump campaign chairman for a series of financial crimes and witness tampering, according to hundreds of text messages released Friday.

The exchanges — which a federal judge ordered unsealed and placed onto the public court docket — cover a period starting around the FBI’s summertime 2017 raid on Manafort’s Northern Virginia home and extending through the late spring of 2018, when the longtime GOP operative was gearing up for back-to-back criminal trials.

Along the way, the Fox News host and Manafort engaged in many rapid-fire conversations discussing everything from Manafort’s criminal cases to Hannity’s on-air commentary that frequently targeted special counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors.

As news broke of the FBI raid on Manafort’s home, for example, Hannity wrote, “Please know you are in my prayers.” Manafort quickly replied, “Thank you. I need them. I feel so violated.”

Later in the day, Hannity wrote Manafort he was upset that “there are so many obvious crimes that are NOT being investigated” and added at the end of his message, “If you just ever want to talk, grab dinner, vent, strategize -whatever, I am here. I know this is very hard. Stand tall and strong.”

Hannity offered Manafort an ear on many more occasions, both to talk in private but also to appear on his primetime program to defend himself. They also frequently discussed what Hannity had just covered on air.

Read the rest at Politico.

I really hope this story will mark the end of Pete Buttigieg’s ridiculous run for president.

The South Bend Tribune: Marchers confront Pete Buttigieg, police chief with frustrations after South Bend shooting.

One by one, people at the “Justice for South Bend” rally Friday night confronted Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski, calling for everything from firing police officers to requiring more training programs for the city’s police force.

As the 150 or so demonstrators circled in, the event billed as a march actually spent its first 40 minutes in a tense discussion in front of police headquarters on West Sample Street, featuring shouts, expletives and raw emotions.

Homebody

The rally was another gathering this week in the wake of Sunday’s shooting of Eric Logan, 54, by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill in the parking lot of the Central High Apartments. While responding to a call for someone breaking into vehicles, O’Neill confronted Logan, who reportedly had a knife. O’Neill shot Logan when he went toward the police officer, officials have said.

“I’m mad because my brother died,” Tyree Bonds, brother of Eric, said in the middle of the loud, intense dialogue. “People are getting tired of you letting your officers do whatever they want to do.”

Shirley Newbill, Eric’s mother, asked Buttigieg and the city to act on her son’s death.

“I have been here all my life, and you have not done a damn thing about me or my son or none of these people out here,” she said. “It’s time for you to do something.”

At one point, a woman at the rally told Buttigieg,” You’re running for president and you want black people to vote for you? That’s not going to happen.”

More at the link.

More on the confrontation from The New York Times:

Once he arrived at the protest on a charter flight, around 6:30 p.m., healing was far from the minds of most in the crowd, a mix of bereaved relatives of the dead man, Eric Logan, family members of others injured or killed in police encounters and masked protesters in black waving signs reading, “Who do you call when police murder?”

 

“You’re running for president and you want black people to vote for you? That’s not going to happen,” a woman shouted.

“Ma’am, I’m not asking for your vote,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

Really? If he doesn’t want votes from black people he’s going to go down in flames. And good riddance!

A few more stories to check out, links only:

Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker: Clarence Thomas’s Astonishing Opinion on a Racist Mississippi Prosecutor. (Even Brett Kavanaugh disagreed with him!)

NBC News: Obama, others warned Trump that pulling out of Iran nuke deal could lead to war.

Masha Gessan at The New Yorker: The Unimaginable Reality of American Concentration Camps.

The Guardian: Trump defends pre-dawn Ice raids on migrant families set to begin on Sunday.

William D. Cohan at Vanity Fair: “There’s a Lot of Zombie Companies Out There”: Will Trump Bully Jerome Powell into Blowing Up the Economy?

What else is happening? What stories have you been following?


Fresh Hell Friday Reads: “He will Kill us All’

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, the Iran Situation is turning into the usual Trumpian Clusterfuck. And, this is what some Dems on Facebook. etc want in his place:

“Grampa Simpson runs for president”

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia.

I watched the Battle for Winterfield again last night. I can’t seem to get enough of the haunting “Night King” composition by Ramin Djawadi. I also keep looking for Arya to creep up behind what passes for our President these days with something that vaporizes him. Plus, there’s Joe imploding as he usually does to a chorus of but he’s our only hope. Voters of American, if Joe Biden is your answer you are asking the wrong damned question! The Grampa Simpson take is from politico and the keyboard of John F. Harris.

As thunderbolts crash around him, Joe Biden is facing an urgent question: What exactly is the rationale for his presidential candidacy?

The answers given by Biden sympathizers usually are rooted in character and personal history. Here is a decent man who has lived long and seen a lot, through setbacks and tragedy, and knows enough to understand and defend the timeless virtues that are so absent but also so needed in modern Washington. Late in life, the man and moment are in harmony at last for a heroic final chapter.

I’m sorry but Biden’s record in Congress and his habit of serially plagiarizing others, his treatment of Dr. Hill, and his damn inability to apologize for being totally insensitive to the feelings of others is disqualifying. A decent man does none of those things. A decent man realizes when what he says and does hurts others intentionally or not and he freaking APOLOGIZES and he makes amends and he works to never EVER do it again!

The hope is that voters will embrace Biden as a kind of American Churchill.

The past 24 hours raise, not for the first time, a more painful possibility: Grampa Simpson is running for president.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden bristled indignantly on Wednesday evening. But that wasn’t the primary concern about a 76-year-old’s paean to his youthful past, in which conscientious senators like himself supposedly could work productively and with “civility” even with segregationists like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia, that his values and assumptions were shaped by the last generation or even the one before that, that after many years in public life he still lacks the self-awareness or self-discipline to wonder whether modern voters will find his vagrant ruminations about the past as interesting or relevant as he does.

I’m not voting for fucking Joe Biden and I’m not going to be bullied into it or pleaded into it or kumbayah’d into it. Not going to do it. Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.

Biden, during 48 years on the national scene, has never had an especially strong ideological profile: He’s been a reasonably centrist Democrat for all of them. When he has deviated it was usually in right-leaning directions, as with his opposition to forced busing for integration in the 1970s or his support for expanding crimes covered by the death penalty in the 1990s.

Or his treatment of women and his real views on Abortion rights.

This history means that the most likely answer to the “why Biden” challenge will rest on character. The evidence of the past couple days—redundant to evidence amassed over several decades—is that if voters are going to embrace Biden’s character they must also embrace or overlook his penchant for the cringe-worthy remark. And realize that often the most cringey remarks will flirt with racial themes.

And misogynist and handsy. And yeah, totally ignoring any one at any time when it’s inconvenient for him.

Now, about the problem of Trump and his inability to have a cogent thought, any kind of strategy, and finding good people that can do that for him. This is the headline I woke up to from the NYT: “Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back.” Sort’ve sounds like a headline made for an impotent, senile old man doesn’t it? Only this one is not just playing with himself. He is the Commander and Chief and that should make all of us very afraid. Did some bad men shoot down your unmanned toy?

Yes he charged forward and then pulled out. Brave Brave Sir Donald! Dumb Dumb Sir Donald! This piece is written by the usual suspects: Michael D. Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman.

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

There’s no adult in charge of the Pentagon right now. WTF? Why even think about this unless John Bolton is sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet war diatribes in your ear?

Jacqueline Alemany writes this for WAPO :Power Up: Impeachment, Iran, Immigration: Trump’s “I” word trifecta”

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Reps. Sean Casten (Ill.), Katie Porter (Calif.) and Tom Malinowski (N.J.) are three Democrats who knocked off Republicans to win their seat in 2018 and take back the House majority. As of this week, they’re also now all in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, despite the potential electoral consequences.

  • “I didn’t run for Congress to impeach the president” is becoming a common disclaimer for those members who are hesitant to launch formal impeachment proceedings against the president.
  • Trickle effect: The momentum for impeachment keeps growing as slowly, more Democrats come out in favor of an official inquiry because they are defending their oversight function under the Constitution. That despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) firm opposition to formal impeachment proceedings.
  • The tally: Seventy-three lawmakers are now in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings, per a running list being kept by my colleagues J.M. Rieger, Amber Phillips and Kevin Schaul.

These are a lot for a person with a sound mind to deal with but I can’t even begin–and wouldn’t want to be there–to wander through the mind of Dotard Donald. You order your military on a mission and THEN you worry about fucking casualties? If this doesn’t move the impeachment meter, we’ve got no hope for the republic.

President Trump ordered an attack on Iran on Thursday in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz but called the operation off just before it was due to occur because it would have caused extensive casualties, he said Friday.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump said he called off strikes on three Iranian sites minutes before they were to be launched because he was informed of the likely loss of life among Iranians.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” Trump tweeted. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.”

Such a death toll was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote, adding: “I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”

Trump’s Friday morning tweets appeared to gloss over the fact that he was the one, as commander in chief, who had ordered the retaliation against Iran in the first place.

Iran said Friday the United States had “no justification” for a retaliatory strike and vowed to respond “firmly” to any U.S. military action.

Look. Old white men have been making bad decisions and failing upwards for way too long. They’ve been using the rest of us and ignorning what it does to us on the way.. Today just really reminds me of why it’s necessary to look for a leader that knows what it takes to face a complete uphill battle and still get there. It’s time for a different brand of leadership. I’m tired of being scared to death by ego and sheer incompetence.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Listen to this haunting background to the peak of the Battle for Winterfall and enjoy the work of this very talented musician and composer.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

This morning’s big news is that Iran shot down a U.S. drone. From The Guardian:

A full-scale model of The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned plane

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday that they had used a surface to air missile to shoot down what they called a US “spy” drone they claimed was flying in the country’s airspace.

US Central Command confirmed that one of its unmanned aircraft had been taken down, but said it was in international airspace. A CentCom spokesman, Capt Bill Urban said it was a US navy Global Hawk surveillance drone, which had been downed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile over the Strait of Hormuz at 11.35pm GMT.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false. This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace,” Urban said.

The US military accused Iran last week of firing a missile at another drone that responded to the oil tanker attacks near the Gulf of Oman.

Tensions in the Gulf have been heightened since 13 June, when the US accused Iran of attacking two tankers in the the Gulf of Oman with mines. The US military released footage it said showed the Iranian military removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the tankers. There have also allegedly been Iranian-inspired attacks on US oil and military assets in Iraq, and increasingly sophisticated weaponry being fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels.

The Iranian state news agency said the downed drone was an RQ-4 Global Hawk. “It was shot down when it entered Iran’s airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in the south,” the Revolutionary Guards’ website added.

Now here’s a delicious story about how karma caught up with fake christian Jerry Falwell Jr.

Miami Herald: How cut-rate SoBe hostel launched Jerry Falwell Jr. ‘pool boy’ saga, naked picture hunt.

Giancarlo Granda and Jerry Falwell Jr. at Cheeca Lodge

The photograph shows Giancarlo Granda, a handsome, 20-something pool attendant whom Jerry and his wife, Rebecca, 52, befriended at the Fontainebleau hotel in 2012, and within months, would set up as part-owner and manager of a $4.7 million South Beach hostel.

It was an unusual partnership: The president of the largest Christian university in the world, a school that prohibits gay sex, agreeing to operate a Miami Beach hostel, regarded as gay friendly, in conjunction with a “pool boy” with virtually no hotel management experience after they met at the storied Fontainebleau, a favored South Florida vacation ground for the Falwells. Yet there they were, not only business partners but mingling socially at Cheeca, an idyllic, exclusive resort in the Keys.

The relationship between the Falwells and Granda forms the backdrop of an improbable Miami story that is causing political ripples beyond South Florida. It involves a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, the “pool boy” as he is described in the lawsuit, the comedian Tom Arnold, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s now imprisoned political fixer, naked photographs — and a Miami father and son who say they were defrauded in a real estate deal then forced to change their names due to “threats.”

The gist of the story is that photos of Falwell’s wife in “various stages of undress” have turned up in the court case. The Herald has seen three of them. These are the photos that Michael Cohen supposedly helped Falwell cover up.

Jerry Fallwell Jr. and his wife Becki

The timing of Cohen’s alleged photo-recovery mission roughly preceded Falwell’s pivotal evangelical endorsement of Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, which Cohen says he helped engineer. Ted Cruz, who became the last candidate standing in the fight to deprive Trump of the Republican nomination, wanted to land that endorsement for himself. That he didn’t get it remains a sore point with some of his backers and a source of curiosity, including speculation that the “pool boy” saga and the presidential endorsement could be somehow related.

“You have the chancellor of the largest Christian university in the world in South Beach, which is not exactly a hot spot for evangelicals to take a vacation, [who buys] a piece of property for someone with no business experience. There is something odd there,’’ said Rick Tyler, former spokesman for Cruz.

Tyler said that Falwell assured him that he had no intention of endorsing anyone in the primary in part because his board at Liberty University wouldn’t permit it. So Tyler and others on the Cruz campaign were caught off guard when Falwell suddenly endorsed Trump in January 2016 — a week before the crucial Iowa caucuses and at a time when Cruz and Trump were mounting a fight for key endorsements from powerful leaders on the religious right.

“Clearly, something changed that led him to endorse Trump, and I would like to know what that was,’’ said Tyler, who is now an MSNBC commentator.

Read the rest at the link above.

Joe Biden continues to get shoot himself in the foot with his 1970’s attitudes.

The Washington Post: Biden faces backlash over comments about the ‘civility’ of his past work with racist senators.

Racist Senator James Eastland

Joe Biden faced a growing backlash Wednesday from prominent Democrats — and a bit of second-guessing within his own campaign — over comments in which he proudly described his history of working hand-in-hand in the Senate with avowed racists.

Biden’s remarks, which came at a fundraiser Tuesday night in which he said one segregationist senator “never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son,’ ” seemed intended to highlight a central argument of his presidential candidacy: that he knows how to bring unity to a polarized nation.

Interestingly, segregationists Biden talked about working with–James O. Eastland and Herman Talmage– were Democrats, so he wasn’t even working “across the aisle.” Even Biden’s advisers were disturbed by his remarks.

As seemingly random as it was for Biden to reference Sen. James O. Eastland, a long-ago deceased segregationist senator from his own party, some in Biden’s campaign had heard him discuss this relationship before — and warned him against mentioning it in public. Eastland, who represented Mississippi in the Senate from the early 1940s to 1978, often said that African Americans were “an inferior race.”

Aides said they had urged Biden to find a less toxic example.

Apparently, another way that Biden resembles Trump (besides being an old white man who excuses racism) is that he doesn’t listen to his advisers.

From The New York Times:

Senator Kamala Harris of California said the former vice president “doesn’t understand the history of our country and the dark history of our country,” and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said Mr. Biden should immediately apologize for using segregationists to make a point about civility in the Senate.

Senator Kamala Harris of California said the former vice president “doesn’t understand the history of our country and the dark history of our country,” and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said Mr. Biden should immediately apologize for using segregationists to make a point about civility in the Senate….

Yet for much of the day, Mr. Biden and his campaign appeared publicly unbowed and intent on defending, or at least explaining, his worldview of politics, which is rooted in his early days in the Senate when, he said, legislators who disagreed still worked together….

“Apologize for what?” he said Wednesday evening before appearing at a fund-raiser in Maryland, adding that he “could not have disagreed with Jim Eastland more.”

Asked by reporters about Mr. Booker’s demand that he apologize for his remarks, Mr. Biden said: “Cory should apologize. He knows better. There’s not a racist bone in my body. I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career, period, period, period.”

Calling an African American Senator and presidential candidate “Cory” is not a good look either.  If Biden keeps this up, he’s going to crash and burn just like he did in 2008 and 1988.

More karma: another white male candidate faces a reckoning on race.

Wesley Lowery at The Washington Post: Back home in South Bend, Buttigieg faces ‘his nightmare.’

Lowery writes that Pete Buttigieg was “the surprise success of the 2020 presidential campaign” until he got bad news from South Bend, IN, where he is mayor.

A white police officer had shot and killed a black man early Sunday. Buttigieg canceled several days of campaign events — including an LGBTQ gala in New York — and rushed back to Indiana to “be with the South Bend community,” in the words of a campaign spokesman.

Pete Buddigieg faces his worst nightmare

Instead of showcasing But­tigieg’s ability to lead through a crisis, however, the shooting is exposing what has long been considered an Achilles’ heel of his candidacy: his frosty relationship with South Bend’s black residents. Since arriving on Sunday, Buttigieg has alienated the family of the dead man, Eric Logan, 54, skipped a vigil at the scene of the shooting, and sought advice from outsiders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.

On Wednesday, Buttigieg finally made his first extended public remarks about the shooting, appearing at South Bend police headquarters to lecture the city’s new cadet class about the importance of turning on their body cameras when they interact with members of the public. During Sunday’s shooting, the officer’s camera had been turned off.

“This is his nightmare,” said Jorden Gieger, a community organizer who is close to Logan’s family. “You have to imagine the first thing he said to the police chief was, ‘You all had one job: Don’t shoot a black guy while I’m running for president.’ ”

Head over to the WaPo to read the rest.

A story from Courthouse News that adds evidence for the meme that in the Trump administration, the cruelty is the point: Feds Tell 9th Circuit: Detained Kids ‘Safe and Sanitary’ Without Soap.

The Trump administration argued in front of a Ninth Circuit panel Tuesday that the government is not required to give soap or toothbrushes to children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and can have them sleep on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, despite a settlement agreement that requires detainees be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.

Trump concentration camp for immigrant children

All three judges appeared incredulous during the hearing in San Francisco, in which the Trump administration challenged previous legal findings that it is violating a landmark class action settlement by mistreating undocumented immigrant children at U.S. detention facilities.

“You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?’” U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon asked the Justice Department’s Sarah Fabian Tuesday.

U.S. Circuit Judge William Fletcher also questioned the government’s interpretation of the settlement agreement.

“Are you arguing seriously that you do not read the agreement as requiring you to do anything other than what I just described: cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleeping on concrete and you’ve got an aluminum foil blanket?” Fletcher asked Fabian. “I find that inconceivable that the government would say that that is safe and sanitary.”

The settlement at issue came out of Jenny Lisette Flores v. Edwin Meese, filed in 1985 on behalf of a class of unaccompanied minors fleeing torture and abuse in Central America.

Read more at the link.

I’ll add more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?


Friday Reads: Bang The Drum Slowly but Loudly!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Do you remember the lead up to the needless invasion of Iraq? Having flashbacks yet? According to The UK Independent, “Trump administration providing ‘false’ information about Gulf of Oman attack, says Japanese tanker owner.”

The owner of the Japanese tanker attacked on Thursday said US reports have provided “false” information about what happened in the Gulf of Oman

The ship operator said “flying objects” that may have been bullets were the cause of damage to the vessel, rather than mines used by Iranian forces, as the US has suggested. 

Yutaka Katada, chief executive of the Japanese company operating the ship called Kokuka Courageous, one of two vessels attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, said the damage could not have been caused by mines or torpedos that are shot underwater, since the damage was reportedly above the ship’s waterline. 

“It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Mr Katada said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, the Financial Times reported. 

Donald Trump’s administration has meanwhile insisted the attacks were carried out by Iran, which has denied having any involvement in either of the two incidents. 

The US insists that they have video of Iran taking a mine off of one of the ships.  This story line makes no sense to me.  What does Iran have to gain from attacking Japanese tankers and goods at a time when the regime is speaking to the leader of Japan for the first time since its revolution?  Also, there is continuing evidence that Iran has been living up to its agreements with the rest of the World.  Is this a false flag operation or some other weirdish situation Trump has set up to look like the role he loves to play most which is the aggrieved victim fighting back against some evil force?

Iran accused Washington of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it, while Trump countered that the country was “a nation of terror.”

“Iran did do it,” he said of the attack, in remarks Friday morning to “Fox & Friends.”

The black-and-white U.S. video of the Iranians alongside the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous came after its crew abandoned ship after seeing the undetonated explosive on its hull, said Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command. It separately shared photos of the vessel, which showed what appeared to be a conical limpet mine against its side.

In the video, the boat from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard pulls alongside Kokuka Courageous at 4:10 p.m. Thursday. The Iranians reach up and grab along where the limpet mine could be seen in the photo. They then sail away.

Limpet mines, which are magnetic and attach to a ship’s hull, are designed to disable a vessel without sinking it.

Analysts say Iran, if involved, wouldn’t want investigators to find an unexploded mine because they could check its serial numbers and other attributes to trace it.

Banging drums and making empty noises have always been a thing for religious nuts.  Adam Serwer discusses the role of culture wars by the religious right in Trumpistan at The Atlantic.   I don’t understand why these folks don’t get we don’t want to live within the parameters of their mythology.  Wanting them and their awful ways out of secular life and government is not an act of discrimination or oppression.

By the tail end of the Obama administration, the culture war seemed lost. The religious right sued for détente, having been swept up in one of the most rapid cultural shifts in generations. Gone were the decades of being able to count on attacking its traditional targets for political advantage. In 2013, Chuck Cooper, the attorney defending California’s ban on same-sex marriage, begged the justices to allow same-sex-marriage opponents to lose at the ballot box rather than in court. Conservatives such as George Will and Rod Drehergriped that LGBTQ activists were “sore winners,” intent on imposing their beliefs on prostrate Christians, who, after all, had already been defeated.

The rapidity of that cultural shift, though, should not obscure the contours of the society that the religious right still aspires to preserve: a world where women have no control over whether to carry a pregnancy to term, same-sex marriage is illegal, and gays and lesbians can be arrested and incarcerated for having sex in their own homes and be barred from raising children. The religious right showed no mercy and no charity toward these groups when it had the power to impose its will, but when it lost that power, it turned to invoking the importance of religious tolerance and pluralism in a democratic society.

That was then. The tide of illiberalism sweeping over Western countries and the election of Donald Trump have since renewed hope among some on the religious right that it might revive its cultural control through the power of the state. Inspired by Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Vladimir Putin in Russia, a faction of the religious right now looks to sectarian ethno-nationalism to restore its beliefs to their rightful primacy, and to rescue a degraded and degenerate culture. All that stands in their way is democracy, and the fact that most Americans reject what they have to offer.

The past few weeks have witnessed a nasty internecine fight among religious conservatives about whether liberal democracy’s time has passed. Sohrab Ahmari, writing at First Thingsattacked National Review’s David French for adhering to a traditional commitment to liberal democracy while “the overall balance of forces has tilted inexorably away from us.” Would the left have stood by liberal democracy in the face of such circumstances? In fact, the balance of forces tilted away from the left’s cultural priorities for most of my lifetime, and the left’s response was to win arguments—slowly, painfully, and at incalculable personal cost.

Many religious conservatives see antidiscrimination laws that compel owners of public accommodations to serve all customers, laws that might compel priests to break the seal of confession if they are told of child abuse, and the growing acceptance of trans people as a kind of impending apocalypse. It is no surprise that among their co-partisans, Ahmari seems to have the upper hand here; in such circles, “Crush your enemies” almost always plays better than “The other side has rights too.”

What follows is a diatribe that you’ll really suffer through but must read. 

We may be rid of Sarah Huckabee shortly but “The Queen of Gaslighting” is being encouraged to run for Arkansas Governor.  

When Sarah Sanders said Thursday that she hopes to be remembered for her transparency and honesty, the first impulse was to laugh.

But lying to citizens while being paid by them really isn’t all that funny.

Sanders took on an impossible job when she became Trump’s spokeswoman, a job that’s about to reach a welcome conclusion.

She would claim to represent the truth on behalf of a president who lies.

She did it disrespectfully, and apparently without shame or an understanding of what the role of White House press secretary should be.

She misled reporters or tried to, and through them, misled the American people. And all with her distinctive curled-lip disdain.

Thus, she delivered on what New York University professor Jay Rosen has called the “brand promise” of the Trump administration’s treatment of the press: “Watch, we will put these people down for you.”

 

Watching the Hatch Act go do in flames has another distressing bit of today’s news.  Conway’s violations have been punished with fines but sneering and asking about the court dates and handcuffs is just over the top  It is also a place where the Russian Potted Plant in the White House shows complete ignorance of the US Constitution and law.

Kellyanne Conway’s potential Hatch Act violations are anything but surprising.  Even less of a shock is President Donald Trump’s blatant apathy that a senior staffer openly and routinely flouts federal law.  Realistically, none of us expected Trump to fire Conway simply because it’s the recommended course of action. Still, though, it’s always jarring when the president proves that he doesn’t actually understand how the law works.

Trump’s official comment about Conway’s Hatch Act violations was that he’d submit himself to a “very strong briefing,” but that, “It looks to me they’re trying to take away her right from free speech, which is not fair.”

Trump might be interested to learn that a great many statutes abridge free speech.  Defamatory, inciteful, or obscene speech is properly prohibited by law. So is speech that violates a person’s medical privacy, that which violates court orders, and many, many other categories of communications.  Equating “free speech” with “absolutely unrestricted speech” is an error usually relegated to grade-schoolers who are still learning the words to the Star-Spangled Banner.

The purpose of the First Amendment was never to create a country in which any person could say anything at any time without consequences – it was to create one in which political discourse was unstifled by government. In fact, the Hatch Act is an example of a statute that abridges free speech for the purpose of keeping the government from inserting itself too much into politics.

Meanwhile, grifters continue to grift. The Trump Family Crime Syndicate also doesn’t believe the emollients clause of the US Constitution applies to Trump’s holdings. From Bloomberg:  “Ivanka Trump Made $4 Million From President’s Washington Hotel”.

Ivanka Trump made $4 million from her investment in her father’s Washington hotel last year, according to a disclosure released by the White House on Friday.

She also made at least $1 million from her line of branded apparel, jewelry and other merchandise, down from at least $5 million in the previous year. Trump, 37, announced in July that she was closing her fashion businesses amid controversies over her role in the White House and after some big-name department stores dropped the brand.

Together, Trump and husband Jared Kushner earned between $28.8 million and $135.1 million in outside income while working as unpaid senior advisers to her father, President Donald Trump, their disclosures, which covers 2018, show.

The reports, which list the assets and sources of income for Ivanka Trump, her husband and dependent children, have yet to be approved by the White House counsel’s office. They will also be reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics.

Well, here’s something from US New Today.  What do we do with “Trump Era Anxiety” ?’  The wisdom beings know I have no clues.  I meditate. I try to grade and limit my exposure to newspapers and TV but I’ve never been one to be attracted to reading anything or watching anything much but nonfiction.  I’m actually stumped but I can tell you that I’ve said the Mani Mantra so much over the last few years it should have liberated something.  We’ve gone from near war with North Korea to bromance and now near war with Iran.  We keep losing voting and civil rights. WTF can calm us?

More than two years after Donald Trump took the oath of office, many Americans find themselves not just taking sides – sometimes vehemently – but growing mentally anxious and exhausted, experts say.

“We know the polarization has been growing for decades but I think it’s spiking now because there’s so much division around and about this president,” said Bill Doherty, a long-time family therapist who has been watching the anger up close. “I think it’s worse now because there’s a central figure. A lot of reds did not like Obama at all, but their loathing of Obama wasn’t even close to the loathing blues have for Trump.”

“Reds” are Republicans and “Blues” are Democrats according to a group called Better Angels, which Doherty helped start in 2017 when it became clear half the country was having trouble getting over the election result and the other half resented them for not being able to accept it gracefully.

Doherty, a family social science professor who also runs the Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, has tried to resolve a number of family splits over political differences.

There was the adult son living abroad, who upon finding out his mother and father voted for Trump, told them “you’re no longer my parents.” In another case, a wife told her husband that she would divorce him if he voted for Trump.

To her, “it was like voting for Chancellor (Adolf) Hitler,” Doherty recalled. “We don’t share values.”

A study last year by political science researchers from four different universities found that many Americans are “dehumanizing” the political opposition. More than three-quarters of respondents rated their political opponents as less evolved than members of their own party, the study concluded.

One of its authors, Alexander Theodoridis of the University of California-Merced, calls efforts such as Better Angels an “encouraging” step to lower the temperature of political discourse. But he’s not optimistic.

“There is little reason to expect dinners and meet-ups to overcome the divides in our body politic,” he wrote in an email to USA TODAY. “For many Americans, they are a clash between people like ‘us’ and people like ‘them.’  It becomes increasingly easy to attribute pernicious motives to our opponents, and increasingly difficult to stomach compromise with them.”

In January, 87% of Republicans approved of Trump’s performance during 2018 versus only 8% of Democrats who did, according to a Gallup poll. That 79-percentage-point difference is the largest Gallup has measured in any presidential year to date.

Yes, Yes it’s a problem but wtf can we do?  Evidently, there’s a few groups trying to bridge the gap.  You can read more about them.  Meanwhile, I’m going to throw myself into work and find some fantasy fiction.  I can’t handle this world right now.

So, that’s it for me today.  What’s on you reading and blogging list?

 

 


Thursday Reads: D-Day 75th Anniversary

D-Day: U.S. navy patrol torpedo boats cross the English Channel as B-1s, known as Flying Fortresses, fly overhead.

Good Morning!!

Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. From History.com:

During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.

Read more at the link.

To our eternal shame, our representative at the D-Day anniversary ceremonies is Donald Trump. I tried to watch his speech this morning, but I had to turn it off. In a maudlin monotone he read words that he likely had never seen before, expressing emotions he doesn’t have the capacity to feel.

AP: D-Day 75: Nations honor veterans, memory of fallen troops.

OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) — With the silence of remembrance and respect, nations honored the memory of the fallen and the singular bravery of all Allied troops who sloshed through bloodied water to the landing beaches of Normandy, a tribute of thanks 75 years after the D-Day assault that doomed the Nazi occupation of France and portended the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich.

Troops on a landing craft approach a Normandy beach.

French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump praised the soldiers, sailors and airmen, the survivors and those who lost their lives, in powerful speeches Thursday that credited the June 6, 1944 surprise air and sea operation that brought tens of thousands of men to Normandy, each not knowing whether he would survive the day.

“You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our heart,” Trump said, of the “warriors” of an “epic battle” engaged in the ultimate fight of good against evil.

In his speech, Macron praised the “unthinkable courage,” ″the generosity” of the soldiers and “the strength of spirit” that made them press on “to help men and women they didn’t know, to liberate a land most hadn’t seen before, for no other cause but freedom, democracy.”

He expressed France’s debt to the United States for freeing his country from the reign of the Nazis. Macron awarded five American veterans with the Chevalier of Legion of Honor, France’s highest award.

“We know what we owe to you vets, our freedom,” he said, switching from French to English. “On behalf of my nation I just want to say ‘thank you.’”

Nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy on D-Day. Of those 73,000 were from the United States, 83,000 from Britain and Canada.

From USA Today: European allies made the D-Day landing at Normandy possible. 75 years later, Trump questions those bonds, by John Fritze

President Donald Trump shared in a modern presidential tradition that dates back four decades when he stood Thursday at the edge of Omaha Beach in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

While under attack from heavy machine gun fire from the German coastal defense forces, American soldiers wade ashore off the ramp of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft.

While the ceremony honored the sacrifices made on June 6, 1944, Trump’s “America First” presidency and the international drama he has carried with him duringhis third trip to France meant the president delivered an address less heavily focused on international alliances than many of his predecessors.

Like past presidents, Trump paid homage to the 160,000 American and Allied troops who landed on D-Day, altering the course of World War II. But he offered little embrace ofinstitutions such as NATO that rose out of the ashes of the fighting. Trump did not mention NATO by name in his address….

The American president has in the pastaccused allies and NATO partners of “ripping off” the United States.

“It’s going to be a tough challenge for him,” Nicholas Burns, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former U.S. ambassador to NATO who served presidents of both parties, said before the speech. “What we learned from D-Day and the Second World War is that we need allies.”

Read more at the link.

For a personal remembrance of D-Day, I highly recommend this piece in The Washington Post Magazine by Barry Svrluga: My Grandfather’s Secret D-Day Journal.

In the summer of 1992, my family gathered in central Minnesota for my grandfather’s 70th birthday. We were there to celebrate William J. Svrluga Sr. — father, golfer, husband, engineer, grandfather, Cubs fan, cheapskate, retiree. Seven of us joined in the celebration: Bill Sr.’s wife, Ruth, my grandmother; his two sons, my father, Bill Jr., and my uncle Dick; their wives; my younger brother, Brad, and me.

From left, Bill Svrluga Jr., Barry Svrluga, Dick Svrluga and Bill Svrluga Sr. at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France, on June 6, 2003. (Photo courtesy of the author)

At one point, maybe between the walleye and the turtle cheesecake, the conversation hit a lull. Uncle Dick filled it. “Okay, Dad,” he asked. “What are you most proud of in your life?” I think I half expected my grandfather to say the time he shot even-par 72. What could be better than that? This was chitchat, brag-­about-the-family stuff, set up on a tee. Instead, he knocked us over with his response. “D-Day,” he said.

I remember it as both matter-of-fact on his part and jarring to the rest of us. Why, if D-Day had been so important to him, had we never heard about D-Day? We knew he had been there, part of the Allied invasion of Normandy. Right then, it became apparent how little else we understood. As the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches, I’m again aghast that I thought he could have answered anything else.

After his grandfather’s death, Svrluga’s father Bill Jr. discovered the written record his father had kept of the D-Day preparations and fighting. Excerpts are included in the article. I hope you’ll read it.

So many men remained silent about their experiences in WWII. My father never talked about the horrors of Guadalcanal until the last couple few years of his life. Even then, he didn’t share many details of the fighting. But apparently many soldiers recorded their experiences of D-Day, as I learned when I googled “d-day diary” while searching for the WaPo story.

Another interesting story from The New York Times Magazine about journalist Ernie Pyle: The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day, By David Chrisinger

Most of the men in the first wave never stood a chance. In the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, thousands of American soldiers crawled down swaying cargo nets and thudded into steel landing craft bound for the Normandy coast. Their senses were soon choked with the smells of wet canvas gear, seawater and acrid clouds of powder from the huge naval guns firing just over their heads. As the landing craft drew close to shore, the deafening roar stopped, quickly replaced by German artillery rounds crashing into the water all around them. The flesh under the men’s sea-soaked uniforms prickled. They waited, like trapped mice, barely daring to breathe.

A blanket of smoke hid the heavily defended bluffs above the strip of sand code-named Omaha Beach. Concentrated in concrete pill boxes, nearly 2,000 German defenders lay in wait. The landing ramps slapped down into the surf, and a catastrophic hail of gunfire erupted from the bluffs. The ensuing slaughter was merciless.

But Allied troops kept landing, wave after wave, and by midday they had crossed the 300 yards of sandy killing ground, scaled the bluffs and overpowered the German defenses. By the end of the day, the beaches had been secured and the heaviest fighting had moved at least a mile inland. In the biggest and most complicated amphibious operation in military history, it wasn’t bombs, artillery or tanks that overwhelmed the Germans; it was men — many of them boys, really — slogging up the beaches and crawling over the corpses of their friends that won the Allies a toehold at the western edge of Europe.

That victory was a decisive leap toward defeating Hitler’s Germany and winning the Second World War. It also changed the way America’s most famous and beloved war correspondent reported what he saw. In June 1944, Ernie Pyle, a 43-year-old journalist from rural Indiana, was as ubiquitous in the everyday lives of millions of Americans as Walter Cronkite would be during the Vietnam War. What Pyle witnessed on the Normandy coast triggered a sort of journalistic conversion for him: Soon his readers — a broad section of the American public — were digesting columns that brought them more of the war’s pain, costs and losses. Before D-Day, Pyle’s dispatches from the front were full of gritty details of the troops’ daily struggles but served up with healthy doses of optimism and a reliable habit of looking away from the more horrifying aspects of war. Pyle was not a propagandist, but his columns seemed to offer the reader an unspoken agreement that they would not have to look too closely at the deaths, blood and corpses that are the reality of battle. Later, Pyle was more stark and honest.

Read the rest at the NYT.

More reads, links only:

David Frum at The Atlantic: The Ghosts of D-Day.

HuffPost: Trump Finally Arrives In Ireland For Taxpayer-Funded Visit To His Golf Resort.

The Washington Post: Trump to stay at Doonbeg, his money-losing golf course threatened by climate change.

The New York Times: Migrant Children May Lose School, Sports and Legal Aid as Shelters Swell.

The Intercept: Joe Biden worked to Undermine the Affordable Care Act’s Coverage of Contraception.

Politico: Pelosi tells Dems she wants to see Trump ‘in prison.’

NBC News: Warren wishes handcuffs for Trump, says Biden is wrong on abortion.

The Washington Post: Trump’s catastrophic fashion choices in England were not just a sign of bad taste.

Politico: Who’s in — and out — of the first Democratic debates.

Axios: Trump’s incredibly empty Cabinet.


Tuesday Reads: Trump Visits the Queen and Other News

Trump manages to look like a slob in white tie and tails.

Good Morning!!

As I write this, Trump and PM May are giving a joint press conference in London. One of the questions Trump was  asked about was the massive protests against his visit. Trump claimed that he didn’t see any protests and that there were thousands of people in the streets cheering for him. Reports of protests are “fake news.” He reiterated his attacked on London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, praised May on Brexit said it would be good for the UK. He also ranted about immigration. Of D-Day, Trump said  it was “a liberation like few people have seen before.” I doubt if Trump knows anything about D-Day or World War II.

The Washington Post reported on the “fake news” protests early this morning: Baby Trump and the Trump robot headline London protests against U.S. president’s visit.

After a day of pomp and pageantry with the British royals, Tuesday was shaping up to be a day of politics and protests. Trump is scheduled to have meetings at Downing Street and protesters are hoping that they can be close enough — and loud enough — to be heard.

The road outside of Downing Street was sealed off with steel barricades, and there was a heavy police presence.

But in nearby Trafalgar Square, one of the main gathering places in central London, the so-called “Carnival of Resistance” was in full swing.

One of the main features was a talking Trump robot who as sitting on a toilet and saying, “You’re fake news! I’m a very stable genius!”

What an embarrassment Trump is! Any why on earth did all his children–even Tiffany–go with him on the trip? Why were they at the state dinner yesterday?

The great British tradition of creating witty — and sometimes rude — placards was on full display. One protester held aloft a sign that read: “British Humour: the gift of a book to an illiterate man — well played Your Majesty.”

Another man was pushing a shopping cart filled with toilet paper featuring Trump’s face on it. “Come on down to Trafalgar and get your Donald Trump toilet paper,” he said.

The protests come a day after a lavish state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Here’s what happened when Ivanka Trump and then her father emerged from the PM’s residence.

Why was Ivanka there? Even more to the point, why were Donald Trump Jr., Eric, and Tiffany there? I heard someone on TV say it looked like a Trump family visit to Disneyland.

CNN: Trump’s children make play for royal treatment.

At a grand banquet table in a red-carpeted Buckingham Palace ballroom, the Queen, a couple of princes, dukes and duchesses, and lords and ladies were intermixed with the Trump family: a President, a first lady, four of his five children, and two of their spouses.

Queen Elizabeth II formally invited just President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump to travel to London for an official State Banquet at Buckingham Palace. But the event became more of an extended family affair, with Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and his wife Lara, and Tiffany Trump all joining the exclusive party.

Protesters fill the streets in London

The President’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, was already set to attend in her capacity as a formal adviser to the President, and a senior member of his administration. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is also part of the United States delegation attending the ceremonial events.

For the President, bringing his adult children, in his view, is akin to showcasing his version of royalty. In an interview ahead of the trip with the British tabloid newspaper The Sun, Trump said he wanted Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany to hold a “next generation” meeting with the Prince William and his wife, Kate, and Prince Harry.

“I think my children will be meeting them,” said Trump. “It would be nice.”

Though they mingled at the State Banquet, there were no plans for a sit-down meeting, a royal source told CNN International correspondent Max Foster.

“Next generation?” These people actually think Trump will pass on the presidency to his offspring?

Buzzfeed has a report on what everyone wore at last night’s state dinner: Here Are All The Looks That Were Served At Queen Elizabeth’s State Banquet For The Trumps. Why were Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders there? Trump is such an embarrassment.

Back in the USA,

Yesterday George Nader, who was interviewed for the Russia investigation, was arrest on child pornography charges.

The Washington Post: Figure linked to Trump transition charged with transporting child pornography.

George Nader and Trump in 2017

A key witness in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian election interference has been charged with transporting child pornography last year, according to court documents.

George Nader, who has a previous conviction on such charges, was charged in federal court in Virginia and is expected to make an initial court appearance in New York.

Nader played an unusual role as a kind of liaison between Trump supporters, Middle East leaders and Russians interested in making contact with the incoming administration in early 2017.

Officials said Nader, 60, was charged by criminal complaint over material he was traveling with when he arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport on Jan. 17, 2018, from Dubai. At the time, he was carrying a cellphone containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, officials said. The charges were unsealed after his arrest Monday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The charges carry a penalty of 15-40 years in prison.

Nader was known to Trump associates as someone with political connections in the Middle East who could help them navigate the diplomacy of the region.

He helped arrange a meeting in the Seychelles in January 2017 between Erik Prince, a Trump supporter who founded the private security firm Blackwater, and a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. The purpose of the meeting was of particular interest to Mueller’s investigators, and some questions about it remain unanswered, even after Mueller issued a 448-page report on his findings.

The New York Times: Paul Manafort to Be Sent to Rikers, Where He Faces Solitary Confinement.

Trump and Manafort during the campaign

Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, is expected to be transferred as early as this week to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, where he will most likely be held in solitary confinement while facing state fraud charges, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Mr. Manafort was convicted last year on federal bank fraud, tax and conspiracy charges in two related cases and is serving a seven-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence in Pennsylvania. The Manhattan district attorney obtained an indictment of Mr. Manafort on state mortgage fraud charges in an effort to ensure he would still face prison if Mr. Trump pardoned him for his federal crimes.

Mr. Manafort, 70, will most likely be arraigned on the new charges in State Supreme Court in Manhattan later this month and held at Rikers, though his lawyers could seek to have him held at a federal jail in New York, the people with knowledge said….

A law-enforcement official familiar with the correction department’s practices, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss security measures, said Mr. Manafort would most likely be housed in a former prison hospital on the island. That is where most high-profile detainees are held, including police officers, those accused of killing police officers, politicians and celebrities.

And Trump can’t pardon Manafort for those state charges.

The Washington Post reports: GOP lawmakers discuss vote to block Trump’s new tariffs on Mexico, in what would be a dramatic act of defiance.

Trucks passing the border from El Paso into Juárez, Mexico. Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Congressional Republicans have begun discussing whether they may have to vote to block President Trump’s planned new tariffs on Mexico, potentially igniting a second standoff this year over Trump’s use of executive powers to circumvent Congress, people familiar with the talks said.

The vote, which would be the GOP’s most dramatic act of defiance since Trump took office, could also have the effect of blocking billions of dollars in border wall funding that the president had announced in February when he declared a national emergency at the southern border, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on Mexico — with which the United States has a free-trade agreement — rely on the president’s declaration of a national emergency at the border. But the law gives Congress the right to override the national emergency determination by passing a resolution of disapproval.

Congress passed such a resolution in March after Trump reallocated the border wall funds, but he vetoed it. Now, as frustration on Capitol Hill grows over Trump’s latest tariff threat, a second vote could potentially command a veto-proof majority to nullify the national emergency, which in turn could undercut both the border-wall effort and the new tariffs.

We’ll see if they have the guts to do it.

What else is happening? What stories have you been following?


Lazy Caturday Reads: Trump’s Endless Trail of Destruction

Do Not Disturb – Persis Clayton Weirs

Good Afternoon!!

It’s the weekend, and I hope all you Sky Dancers are finding ways to take care of yourselves as Trump works to destroy democracy and civility in our country. We can only hope that House Democrats in the House will find some way to rid us of the evil monster.

Thanks to Trump and the NRA funded GOP, we have a mass shooting just about every day in the U.S. Yesterday’s was a horrific one in which a “disgruntled employee” murdered 12 co-workers and injured others. The new twist in this one was that the shooter used a silencer so that people wouldn’t be warned by hearing gunshots.

The Washington Post: Virginia Beach officials name shooting victims as investigation continues.

The man who shot and killed 12 people at a government building Friday was identified as a 15-year employee of the city Department of Public Works and all but one of his victims were city employees, authorities announced Saturday.

DeWayne Craddock, of Virginia Beach, was an engineer who served as a project manager and contact for a number of utility projects, according to posts on the Virginia Beach web site.

Authorities solemnly read the names of each of the victims at the outset of a press conference on Saturday morning, saying all worked for the Department of Public Works and the Department of Public Utilities, except for one contractor.

They were listed as Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake; Tara Welch Gallagher of Virginia Beach; Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach; Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach; Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach; Richard H. Nettleton of Norfolk; Christopher Kelly Rapp of Powhatan; Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach; Joshua A. Hardy of Virginia Beach; Michelle “Missy” Langer of Virginia Beach; Robert “Bobby” Williams of Chesapeake; and Herbert “Bert” Snelling of Virginia Beach.

“They leave a void we will never be able to fill,” city manager Dave Hansen said at the press conference.

Police Chief James A. Cervera declined to discuss a motive for the spree, but said Craddock was still a city employee at the time of the shooting and used a city issued badge to gain entry to a building in the city’ sprawling municipal complex.

Trump’s latest effort to destroy the economy is his “plan” to impose tariffs on good from Mexico. That could mean we’ll be paying a lot more for fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. But that’s only the beginning of the damage Trump is trying to do.

Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post: Justm a few of the reasons that Trump’s Mexico tariffs are deeply stupid.

Amid calls for impeachment, a persistently underwater approval rating, subpoenas for financial records and an. ever-growing list of scandals, the strong economy is pretty much the only thing President Trump has going for him right now. It’s his best shot at reelection.

And for some reason he seems keen on destroying it.

On Thursday evening the Trump administration announced that it would impose a new 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports, ratcheting up in increments to 25 percent by Oct. 1. This is allegedly to pressure Mexico to stop the flow of immigrants coming to the United States.

This decision is so mind-bogglingly stupid, it’s hard to keep track of all the reasons it’s dumb.

Here’s the list of stupid reasons Rampell discusses. Go to the article to read the details.

  1. Americans are paying these tariffs.
  2. This will seriously screw up supply chains and hurt American companies.
  3. We don’t know the full economic cost of the tariffs, but it would be painful for the United States.
  4. It’s not clear the tariffs are legal.
  5. Mexico does not have power to do the thing Trump seems to be asking the country to do.
  6. There is no plan. There was never a plan.
  7. This new self-inflicted trade-war wound gives us less leverage in negotiating a new trade deal with China (and the European Union and Japan, both of which we’re alsosimultaneously trade-warring with).
  8. It will also damage our ability to negotiate with China (and the E.U. and Japan) because it proves, once again, that Trump can’t be trusted to keep his word, including in the form of a signed international agreement.
  9. The decision to impose tariffs — and thereby harm red-state farmers and manufacturers — could cause a rift with the Republican lawmakers who have been protecting him.
  10. If Trump does indeed manage to wreck the Mexican economy, that would likely increase the flow of immigrants trying to cross the border into the United States.

Business Insider offers 2 maps show how every US state’s economy could be affected by Trump’s proposed Mexico tariffs.

If the proposed tariffs come into effect, certain states where trade with Mexico makes up a big part of the economy could be hardest hit.

The US Census Bureau publishes annual figures for the total amount of goods imported and exported in each US state and DC. The Bureau breaks out import and export volumes for the 25 biggest trading partners for each state.

Big state economies that border Mexico exported a large volume of goods to that country in 2017. Texas had nearly $98 billion in exports, and California had nearly $27 billion. While it doesn’t border Mexico, auto-industry supply chains contribute to Michigan’s $12.5 billion in exports in that year.

Meanwhile, states with smaller economies and that are geographically further away from Mexico exported fewer goods. Hawaii’s goods exports to Mexico in 2017 came to only about $1.4 million, and Alaska exported just $21 million in goods.

Click on the link to check out where your state stands. It looks like states that voted for Trump in 2016 will suffer the greatest damage.

Next week Trump takes his trail of destruction to Europe, beginning with a state visit to the UK. After that he’ll visit Ireland and wrap up the trip at the D-Day commemoration in France.

The Atlantic: Don’t Expect Trump’s Europe Trip to Go Smoothly.

Facing troubles at home, beleaguered presidents often look abroad for a reset. Richard Nixon dashed off to the Middle East to “wage peace” as his presidency wobbled during Watergate. Bill Clinton flew to Russia and northern Europe a couple of weeks after admitting his affair with Monica Lewinsky….

With congressional Democrats mulling impeachment, the Europe trip should be a welcome reprieve. What’s different in the Trump era is that the president doesn’t necessarily want one.  Seldom do Trump trips go smoothly. In past visits to Europe he’s ignited international incidents of varying degrees, insulting his hosts or threatening to unravel historic alliances. But always, his mind seems elsewhere.

Heading into the four-day trip, the president appears squarely focused on the domestic scandals that his predecessors seemed only too happy to escape. That much was clear from his recent trip to Tokyo, where Trump toasted the new Japanese emperor at a banquet in the Imperial Palace. At different moments in his stay he mocked Democrats for considering impeachment, tweeted that he “smiled” when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un insulted his potential rival in the 2020 election, Joe Biden, and boasted that he’d weathered Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “No obstruction, no collusion, no nothing,” Trump said at a news conference, standing beside his host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

President Donald Trump has taken this trusty playbook for deflecting domestic scandal and turned it inside out: When traveling overseas, Trump makes clear that he’d just as soon cannonball right back into the morass he left behind.

I have no doubt Trump will embarrass himself and make sane Americans shudder.

NBC News: Trump creates diplomatic headache for U.K. even before state visit.

LONDON — Britain and the U.S. may have a special relationship but President Donald Trump’s state visit will be a diplomatic balancing act for the U.K., where Trump is deeply unpopular.

Cat sleeps in vineyard

Trump’s trip comes as the U.K. is facing its most significant crisis since the Second World War.

Even before his arrival on British shores, the president caused a stir by wading into the contest to replace Theresa May as prime ministerand criticising Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex….

In an interview Friday with the British tabloid The Sun, Trump said Boris Johnson — the divisive populist and ex-foreign secretary who is favorite to replace May — would make an “excellent” prime minister.

“I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent,” Trump said.

The president also referred to the American-born Duchess of Sussex as “nasty” over comments she made in 2016 threatening to move to Canada if Trump won the White House.

But he wished her well in her new life as a princess. “I am sure she will do excellently,” he added.

The comments threatened to overshadow the build up to Trump’s long-awaited state visit.

Back here at home, Trump’s personal Attorney General Bill Barr will likely be stirring up trouble as he tries to defend Trump’s indefensible criminal behavior and help him destroy what’s left of our democracy. The latest:

Jonathan Chait: In Terrifying Interview, William Barr Goes Full MAGA.

After the legal Establishment had granted him the benefit of the doubt, Attorney General William Barr has shocked his erstwhile supporters with his aggressive and frequently dishonest interventions on behalf of President Trump. The spectacle of an esteemed lawyer abetting his would-be strongman boss’s every authoritarian instinct has left Barr’s critics grasping for explanations. Some have seized on the darker threads of his history in the Reagan and Bush administrations, when he misled the public about a secret Department of Justice memo and helped cover up the Iran-Contra scandal.

But Barr’s long, detailed interview with Jan Crawford suggests the rot goes much deeper than a simple mania for untrammeled Executive power. Barr has drunk deep from the Fox News worldview of Trumpian paranoia….

Barr, as he has done repeatedly, provides a deeply misleading account of what Robert Mueller found. “He did not reach a conclusion,” he says. “He provided both sides of the issue, and … his conclusion was he wasn’t exonerating the president, but he wasn’t finding a crime either.”

As Mueller stated in the report and again at his press conference, he felt bound by a policy preventing him from charging the president with a crime, or even saying the president had committed a crime. Mueller’s view is that his job vis-à-vis presidential misconduct is to describe the behavior and leave it up to Congress to decide if it’s a crime. Several hundred former federal prosecutors have stated, and Mueller clearly signaled, the actions he described in the Mueller report are crimes, or would be if the president could be charged with a crime.

I’ll end there and open the floor to you to discuss these stories and others of your own choosing. Have a great weekend Sky Dancers!