Thursday Reads: Trump Is Really Losing It This Time.

By Mona Bell

Good Morning!!

I’ve spent the past two days just trying to hold it together. I’m just glad tomorrow is Friday and maybe Trump will go play golf and leave us alone for awhile. Oh wait, I just remembered he’s going to the G7 this weekend. I may have to avoid TV, radio, and the internet for the duration.

My mother has been in the hospital this week. She fell down last week and had to have stitches in her elbow, but nothing was broken. After that she was having a lot of pain in her back and then she started having nausea and abdominal pain. That’s when the sent her to the emergency room. We’ve had a terrible time getting any information from the doctor, but he finally called my brother this morning. Mom has had every kind of test and x-ray and everything was negative.

The nurses want to send her to an acute rehab facility, but we want her to go back to her assisted living place where she has friends and will get daily therapy. We can also bring in outside caregivers to stay with her if she needs supervision. She is 94 years old and we don’t want her to get isolated and depressed, which is what happened the last time she was hospitalized for a few weeks. She needs to be with friends and people who know her.

By Edward C. Radford

Sorry to bore you with my problems, but I needed to get it off my chest. You can see why I’ve had it with Trump’s crazy behavior. And I do actually think he is decompensating. He shows clear signs of losing touch with reality–seeing himself as some kind of messianic figure, “the King of Israel” and “the chosen one.” And then there’s his desire to buy Greenland and cancelling his state visit to Denmark because he was told that won’t happen. Yesterday, he even revealed that he wanted to give himself the Congressional Medal of Honor! Politico reports:

President Donald Trump claimed to laughter on Wednesday that he sought to give himself a Medal of Honor, but decided not to after being counseled against the move by aides.

The offhand remark from the president came during his address to the 75th annual national convention of American Veterans, a volunteer-led veterans service organization also known as AMVETS….

At the event in Louisville, Kentucky, Trump singled out for praise WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams.

“Thank you, Woody. You’re looking good, Woody. Woody’s looking good,” Trump said.

“That was a big day, Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor,” he continued. “I wanted one, but they told me I don’t qualify, Woody. I said, ‘Can I give it to myself anyway?’ They said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’”

Because the medal is “awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor,” and Trump is a five time draft dodger who even as president has steered clear of combat zones.

If you don’t believe me about Trump’s deteriorating condition, here’s a psychiatrist who agrees with me. Newsweek: Trump’s ‘Chosen One’ Comment and Spat with Denmark Shows His ‘Psychotic-Like State’ Says Doctor who First Warned about President’s Mental Condition.

Dr. Lance Dodes, former assistant psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School, contributed to the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.

He had warned in 2017 that Trump’s mental condition would worsen and he said that his statements over the last few days have proven him right.

By Louise Williams Jackson

He told MSNBC that Trump had “a fundamental need to be all-powerful and all loved and can’t stand challenges.”

“He can’t stand anything that disagrees with him, and the more you challenge him, the more unhinged he becomes, the more paranoid, and the more violent, potentially,” Dodes said

“He doesn’t really love anyone except himself. That’s not a slur, that’s a psychological fact. People like him are about him. If he’s not useful to him, he stops loving him. That’s part of the essential emptiness of Donald Trump. He doesn’t have real relationships with people.”

When Trump looked toward the heavens and bragged about being “the chosen one,” Dodes said it was another example of Trump’s grandiosity.

“There’s something fundamentally different about him from normal people. It’s a psychotic-like state. The more you press him, the more you see how disorganized and empty he is. The more he flies into a disorganized rage.

“He thinks of himself as a dictator, and it’s all him and no one else really matters,” Dodes told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell.

More reads on the latest Trump crazy:

By János Apátfalvi Czene

Background from The New York Times’ gossip columnists Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: Trump’s Interest in Buying Greenland Seemed Like a Joke. Then It Got Ugly.

It started as a headline seemingly straight out of The Onion. Then it unleashed a torrent of jokes on late-night television and social media. And finally it exploded into a serious diplomatic rupture between the United States and one of its longtime allies.

In the latest only-in-Trumpland episode skating precariously along the line between farce and tragedy, the president of the United States on Wednesday attacked the prime minister of Denmark because she will not sell him Greenland — and found the very notion “absurd.”

Never mind that much of the rest of the world thought it sounded absurd as well. Amid a global laughing fit, Mr. Trump got his back up and lashed out, as he is wont to do, and called the prime minister “nasty,” one of his favorite insults, particularly employed against women who offend him, like Hillary Clinton and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.

All of which might be written off as just another odd moment in a presidency unlike any other. Except that attacking Denmark was not enough for the president. He decided to expand his target list to include NATO because, as he pointed out, Denmark is a member of the Atlantic alliance. And he chose to do this just two days before leaving Washington to travel to an international summit in France, which also happens to be a NATO member.

Click the link to read the rest.

Edward Luce at The Financial Times: The next stop on Donald Trump’s end-of-diplomacy tour.

The one good thing about Donald Trump’s failed bid to buy Greenland is that it softens up America’s allies for what is to come. This weekend Mr Trump will join his G7 counterparts in Biarritz for what promises to be one of the most bizarre meetings in its history. Summits are supposed to make global problems easier to manage. The G7 — and others of its kind, notably the G20 — are reaching a point where they result in the opposite: a world less manageable than if the leaders had never met. Mr Trump’s lunge for Greenland was the amuse-bouche before the meal.

Reading in the Afternoon, by Dennis Perrin

It had all the relevant ingredients. First it showcased Mr Trump’s transactional approach to diplomacy. A country has a piece of real estate that Mr Trump covets, so he offers to buy it. Perhaps it could work both ways. Russia has long had its eye on Alaska, for example. Second, it underlined that Mr Trump loathes alliances. By cancelling his trip to Denmark over its refusal to consider the sale, Mr Trump left a close ally in no doubt that its friendship meant nothing. Fifty Danish soldiers lost their lives fighting alongside US troops in Afghanistan. This death toll is a considerably higher ratio to population than the US.

Third, Mr Trump’s motive for buying Greenland undercuts a crucial aim of the other members of the G7: to fight global warming. The territory’s attraction is that its receding ice sheets will open its land for mineral extraction. Mr Trump does not accept that global warming is taking place, except when it offers a chance to make money. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, would have found it impossible to find a choice of words on global warming to which Mr Trump could have signed up. Little surprise then that Mr Macron announced that the G7 would no longer bother with a communiqué at all. Another day in the Trump era. Another precedent dies.

Finally, Mr Trump’s Greenland bid included the spiciest ingredient of all: his support for Russia to rejoin the G7 five years after it annexed Crimea.

Read more at FT.

The Daily Beast: U.S.-Denmark Relations Are Now in the Hands of a Conspiracy-Loving, Climate-Denying Ex-Actress.

Portrait of Winifred Robers by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

The United States ambassador tasked with cleaning up bizarrely strained relations with Denmark in the wake of Donald Trump’s failed attempt to buy Greenland is a frequent retweeter of conspiracy theories who once starred in a movie so bad it was parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Carla Sands heads the U.S. mission to the kingdom of Denmark, after having been confirmed to the post in 2017. Up until a few days ago, her time in the country was largely uneventful, save for a few domestic hiccups around the Trump administration’s LGBT policy and a more contentious dispute over Germany’s partnership with Russia on a gas pipeline.

Sands, like much of the rest of the universe, appeared utterly caught off-guard by the cancellation. Just hours earlier, she had tweeted her excitement for the visit. But unlike everyone else, she now finds herself at the vanguard of the diplomatic effort to keep matters calm. One Obama-era diplomat told The Daily Beast that he imagined Sands was scrambling to touch base with Danish leadership officials to try and repair hurt feelings and keep the lines of communication productive and open.

“This cancellation on such short notice and for the reason that was given, I think, in a way, it makes it a pretty straightforward discussion,” said Gordon Gray, the former ambassador to Tunisia. “I think the problem Ambassador Sands or any ambassador will have is how can a host government take a message from the ambassador, who is in theory the president’s personal representative, with anything other than a grain of salt at this point.”

Jordan Weissmann at Slate: What Republicans Really Mean When They Call Jews Disloyal.

By Charles-Clos Olsommer

Anti-Semitism is really a wonder to behold, because of how it manages to adapt to the times. Back in the good old days, the line was that Jews couldn’t be trusted because they were loyal to a foreign power. In 2019, we can’t be trusted because we’re disloyal to a foreign power.

That is the viewpoint Donald Trump decided to lay out this week. On Tuesday, while talking to reporters about Israel’s decision to bar two Muslim American congresswomen, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, he said: “I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel? I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

At first, there was a bit of confusion over whether Trump was accusing Jewish Democrats of disloyalty to Israel or the United States. On Wednesday, he clarified. “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” Trump said. (About 70 percent of Jews broke for Hillary Clinton in 2016.) [….]

And in light of recent events, some progressives have now accused Trump and the Republicans of perpetuating the real dual loyalty smear. But in some sense, that’s not quite right either. Conservatives have actually inverted the old libel. Instead of accusing Jews of being overly loyal to a foreign nation, Trump has turned centuries of anti-Semitism on its head by accusing them of not being loyal enough to one—and his followers are happy to echo the charge.

Read the rest at Slate.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?


Lazy Caturday Open Thread

Good Morning!!

Well, this is interesting. Jeffrey Epstein is dead. The New York Times: Jeffrey Epstein Commits Suicide at Manhattan Jail.

Jeffrey Epstein, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, committed suicide at a Manhattan jail, officials said on Saturday.

Mr. Epstein hanged himself and his body was found this morning at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan at roughly 7:30….

Last month, a week after being denied bail, Mr. Epstein was found unconscious in his cell at the jail in Manhattan with marks on his neck, and prison officials were investigating the incident as a possible suicide attempt.

It was not immediately clear on Saturday whether the authorities had put in additional safeguards to watch him after the incident last month.

Martin Weinberg, Mr. Epstein’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Why wasn’t he on suicide watch?

Conspiracy stories are already making  the rounds.

This one was probably inevitable. Naturally, Trump’s loyal stenographer Maggie Haberman is spreading the word.

Charles Pierce: Nobody Will Ever Believe the Official Story on This.

How in the hell do they let this happen? The guy was incarcerated in the Manhattan Correctional Center. He already had made one try. He had to be on suicide watch. And the suicide happens the day after a massive document dump in which a woman who said she was one of Epstein’s victims implicates an entire brigade of celebrity “clients,” up to an including some European royalty? There almost can’t be a dog more reluctant to hunt than this one.

A whole bunch of Somebodies need to get fired behind this. Beyond it, of course, a thousand conspiracy theories will now bloom across all the Intertoobz. The other people involved have to be nervous. Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s alleged accomplice who has yet to be charged, has to be looking over her shoulder. Is she looking over her shoulder to see if the FBI is back there, or to see if something darker is closing in? This country is losing what’s left of its mind.

Julie K. Brown at The Miami Herald: Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein kills himself in New York jail.

The 66-year-old’s death came one day after the Miami Herald and other news organizationspublished a trove of documents describing in detail how he operated the equivalent of a sexual pyramid scheme, luring underage girls to his Palm Beach home, then coercing them into sex.

The Herald sued to have the records released.

The suicide — just weeks after what was apparently a previous attempt — short-circuits what would have been a spectacular sex-trafficking trial that likely would have drawn in an array of prominent witnesses. Epstein had a constellation of important friends in business, political and society circles, including former President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump.

 

Meanwhile, Trump is being played like a Stradivarius by his true love Kim Jong Un.

This moron doesn’t seem to understand that Kim is giving the U.S. an ultimatum. Trump seems perfectly happy to let Kim keep developing his nuclear weapons program because he (Trump) has fantasies of putting his name on hotels and apartment complexes on North Korean beaches. He really is that stupid. This alone should be grounds for impeachment.

USA Today: Donald Trump says he’s looking forward to another meeting with Kim Jong Un following missile tests.

President Donald Trump said Saturday he is looking forward to another meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss the elusive goal of denuclearization.

In a tweet about the recent letter he received from Kim, Trump said the North Korean leader “stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over.”

Kim protested the joint military exercises – as has Trump himself –  and offered “a small apology” for North Korea’s recent missile testing, Trump said. He said that Kim claimed that “this testing would stop when the exercises end” between the U.S. and South Korea.

Trump’s comments came just hours after North Korea conducted what looked to be even more missile tests, the latest in a series of aggressive moves by Kim’s government.

“I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future!” Trump said.

I’m going post this now, because my internet is still disconnecting periodically. I will add more links in the comment thread when I can. What stories have you been following?

 


Tuesday Reads: Bad News and Bad Hair

Bad News, by Ethan Jack Harrington

Good Morning!!

Sorry for the possibly disturbing image–there was just something I liked about it. Anyway, it’s Tuesday, and two formerly great nations–the USA and Great Britain–are now led by doltish leaders with embarrassingly bad hair. Welcome to the 21st Century.

The Guardian: Boris Johnson elected new Tory leader.

Boris Johnson will become Britain’s next prime minister after winning a convincing victory over Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative party leadership race.

The former mayor of London, who has long cherished an ambition to lead his country, won 66% of the votes – 92,153, to Hunt’s 46,656. Turnout was 87.4% among 159,320 party members.

In a characteristically lighthearted acceptance speech, Johnson conceded that even some of his own supporters may “wonder quite what they have done”….

He reminded his audience of ministers and party staff of his campaign mantra: “Deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.”

Saying “some wag” had pointed out that this spelled “dud”, he joked that the final e – “E for energise” – had been left out. “I say to all the doubters: dude, we are going to energise the country!”

And Johnson said he would “get Brexit done by 31 October” with a “new spirit of can-do”.

“We are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy-ropes of self-doubt and negativity.”

Remember Cesar Sayoc? He’s the rabid Trump fan who sent mail bombs to people Trump attacked publicly on Twitter or elsewhere. Sayoc is on trial right now.

Ryan J. Reilly at HuffPost: Lawyers For Trump ‘Super Fan’ Cesar Sayoc Say Trump’s Rhetoric Inspired Terrorist Plot On Democrats.

Cesar Sayoc, the fanatical Donald Trump fan who mailed package bombs to the president’s political opponents, is a cognitively limited sexual abuse survivor who thought of the now-president as a “surrogate father” and came to believe in an “alternative reality” fueled in part by Trump’s attacks on his political opponents, his attorneys told a federal court on Monday.

Sayoc has admitted to mailing pipe bombs to Democratic politicians, media figures and celebrities he perceived as Trump’s enemies last fall, and pleaded guilty to several federal crimes in March. He could face life in prison when he’s sentenced on August 5, but his federal public defenders said Monday he should serve 10 years in prison followed by community supervision (as well as mental health counseling and drug treatment).

Cesar Sayoc’s van plastered with anti-Hillary and pro-Trump images

Sayoc, his attorneys wrote in a sentencing memo filed in federal court in New York on Monday, was a Trump “super fan” and “began to consider Democrats as not just dangerous in theory, but imminently and seriously dangerous to his personal safety.”

“President Trump did nothing to dissuade this message,” they write. Their filing cites Trump’s Twitter attacks on the figures Sayoc targeted.

Sayoc was a Trump fan before the reality television host ran for president, and viewed him as “everything he wanted to be: self-made, successful, and a ‘playboy,’” his attorneys wrote.

But Sayoc “began watching Fox News religiously,” started following political news on Facebook and and “threw himself into” Trump’s campaign once he announced his candidacy because he “came to view Trump as a personal champion—someone who had helped him through the most difficult periods of his life and who could do the same for other people across the country.”

Click on the link to read the rest.

The Trump administration is proposing a frightening new immigration policy.

The Washington Post: Trump administration to expand its power to deport undocumented immigrants.

The Trump administration on Tuesday will significantly expand its power to quickly deport undocumented immigrants who have illegally entered the United States within the past two years, using a fast-track deportation process that bypasses immigration judges.

Officials are calling the new strategy, which will take effect immediately, a “necessary response” to the influx of Central Americans and others at the southern border. It will allow immigration authorities to quickly remove immigrants from anywhere they encounter them across the United States, and they expect the approach will help alleviate the nation’s immigration-court backlog and free up space in Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails.

Trump HItler by Pegasus

The stated targets of the change are people who sneaked into the United States and do not have an asylum case or immigration-court date pending. Previously, the administration’s policy for “expedited removal” had been limited to migrants caught within 100 miles of the U.S. border who had been in the country for less than two weeks. The new rule would apply to immigrants anywhere in the United States who have been in the country for less than two years — adhering to a time limit included in the 1996 federal law that authorized the expedited process.

Immigrants apprehended in Iowa, Nebraska or other inland states would have to prove to immigration officials that they have been in the United States continuously for the past two years, or they could end up in an immigration jail facing quick deportation. And it could be relatively low-level immigration officers — not officers of a court — making the decisions.

What this means in reality is that anyone in the U.S. could be ordered by ICE/CBP to “show your papers.” From the article:

Immigrants’ advocates warned that the policy could ensnare longtime legal residents or even U.S. citizens who have been deported in error before. Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said she fears the rule will lead to increased racial profiling and turn ICE into a “show-me-your-papers militia.”

“This new directive flows directly from the racist rhetoric that the president has been using for the last week and indeed months, but this new rule is going to terrorize communities of color,” said Gupta, who was head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

U.S. citizens could be rapidly deported on the word of an ICE agent, without a court hearing. Read this story in The Dallas Morning News: A Dallas-born citizen picked up by the Border Patrol has been detained for three weeks.

An 18-year-old Dallas-born U.S. citizen has been in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more than three weeks, his attorney says.

Now his family fears he may be deported.

Bully Culprit, by Robbie Conal

Francisco Erwin Galicia was detained at a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias on June 27, said Claudia Galan, his attorney.

Galicia was traveling with his 17-year-old brother Marlon Galicia and a group of friends from Edinburg where they live to Ranger College in North Texas for a soccer scouting event when they came upon a CBP checkpoint, said Sanjuana Galicia, his mother.

It was about 8 p.m. Marlon, who was born in Mexico and lacked legal status, had only been through a border checkpoint on school trips and had never been pressed to provide travel documents.

But this time was different, Marlon said. He had only a school ID. His brother was carrying only his Texas ID, which can only be obtained with a Social Security number.

“We were confident that we’d be able to pass. We were going to do something good for our futures,” he said. “I didn’t imagine this could happen and now I’m so sad that I’m not with my family,” Marlon said by phone from Reynosa, Mexico, where he is staying with his grandmother.

After two days in detention, Marlon signed a voluntary deportation form.

“I signed because I wanted to talk with my mom. Now, we just have to wait and see and hope that they release my brother,” Marlon said.

Francisco Galicia told his mother, who lives in Edinburg, that he was detained because he didn’t have his U.S. passport. But she said he did present CBP with his Texas ID.

Read more at the link.

And of course Trump’s brown shirts are already torturing children in his concentration camps. NBC News reports: Abner, 17, describes 11 days of hunger and thirst at Yuma’s border station.

Abner, a 17-year-old Guatemalan boy, vividly recalls the first 48 hours he spent inside the U.S. Border Patrol station in Yuma, Arizona. He was awake for all of them because there was no space to lie down.

James Ostrer, Emotion Download

Packed into a cell with other migrant boys, Abner said the older children would give the 8, 9, and 10-year-olds space to lie down on the floor while they would try to sleep sitting or standing up. With nothing to cover him, Abner would tremble.

“I had to stay almost two days like this, standing. I didn’t sleep. And they didn’t treat me well because I would ask for at least food or water or something to cover myself with and they would deny it,” Abner told NBC News in Spanish.

Eventually, he learned to sleep on a pile of trash in the corner of the cell, said Abner, who does not want his full name or his face used out of fear he will be targeted for deportation….

In total Abner spent 11 days from late May to early June in the Yuma border station. He describes them as filled with hunger and thirst, extreme temperatures and fear of the guards manning the facility. They refused to give him food when he asked, mocked him if he asked what time it was, and, on one occasion, punched another boy in the stomach, Abner said.

Abner says the children were fed only twice a day.

The older boys in Abner’s cell learned to protect the younger children, whose cries would anger the guards.

“Sometimes, we would give one [hamburger] to the little ones. Because the little ones were the ones that wanted to eat more than others. At least, [the older kids could] stand the hunger a little more,” Abner said.

This is being done in our name, and the whole world is watching.

I haven’t yet said anything about Robert Mueller’s Congressional testimony tomorrow. I’m sure you’ve heard that what used to be called the Department of Justice but is now Donald Trump’s personal law firm is trying to put limits on what Mueller can say. Politico reports:

Justice Department officials have communicated to Robert Mueller that the department expects him to limit his congressional testimony this week to the public findings of his 448-page report, according to one current and one former U.S. official familiar with the preparations.

In extensive discussions since the former special counsel was subpoenaed on June 25 to testify, department officials have emphasized that they consider any evidence he gathered throughout the course of his investigation to be “presumptively privileged” and shielded from public disclosure.

Of course this is complete bullshit. Mueller is a private citizen now and doesn’t have to take orders from Bill Barr or Trump. Also from Politico: Nadler calls DOJ ‘incredibly arrogant’ for trying to limit Mueller’s testimony.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Tuesday blasted President Donald Trump’s Justice Department as “incredibly arrogant” for instructing Robert Mueller to limit the scope of his upcoming congressional testimony.

But the New York Democrat predicted that the Justice Department’s Monday directive would not affect Wednesday’s highly anticipated pair of hearings with the former special counsel.

“I don’t think it’s much of an impediment, simply because Bob Mueller had indicated repeatedly that he was going to do exactly that,” Nadler said on CNN. “I think it’s incredibly arrogant of the department to try to instruct him as to what to say. It’s a part of the ongoing cover-up by the administration to keep information away from the American people, but I think that it’s not going to have a real impact.”

Here are some articles on Muller’s long-anticipated testimony:

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Here’s how Mueller’s testimony could damage Trump.

Carol Lee at NBC News: Among the questions for Mueller: Why wasn’t Donald Trump Jr. interviewed?

Neil Kaytal at The New York Times: With Three Simple Answers, Mueller Can Speak Volumes.

In June, Mimi Rocha wrote at NBC News Think: What Barr’s ongoing smear campaign against Robert Mueller is really about.

The Daily Beast: Can Mueller Cut Through Barr’s ‘Fog of Propaganda’?

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


Tuesday Reads: Fourth of July Hijacking and Other News

Good Morning!!

Do you suppose Trump knows that the 4th of July was designated as a day to celebrate the Declaration of Independence? Does he know that the founding fathers didn’t think we should have a large standing army? Naaaaah . . . what was I thinking? The 4th of July is just another day to celebrate himself and the massive military machine he controls.

The New York Times: Trump Says Tanks Will Be on Display in Washington for July 4.

President Trump said on Monday that the Pentagon would put military tanks on display on Thursday in Washington as part of his plans to turn the annual Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital into a salute to the country’s military prowess.

The tanks will join an airborne display of the nation’s firepower, including a flight of Air Force One over Washington and a performance by the Navy’s Blue Angels jets. Mr. Trump, who is to speak at the celebration, has requested that the chiefs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him as aircraft from each of their services fly overhead and their respective hymns play on loudspeakers.

“It’ll be like no other — it’ll be special, and I hope a lot of people come,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “We have some incredible equipment, military equipment, on display — brand-new. And we’re very proud of it.”

Does Trump care that many Americans, including those in the military, aren’t thrilled with his hijacking of the holiday? No, of course not.

Mr. Trump’s Fourth of July homage to the military sets up a cultural clash between the Republican president and a mostly Democratic city that has for decades celebrated America’s independence with almost no public participation by presidents of either party. The City Council for the District of Columbia, which was not happy with Mr. Trump’s decision, posted on Twitter that “we have said it before, and we’ll say it again: Tanks, but no tanks.”

The president’s decision also reflects the divide between Mr. Trump and the forces at his command. Top military officials have expressed deep concern about letting the armed forces be used by the president to advance a political agenda, and earlier resisted his efforts for a military parade on Veterans Day.

Pentagon officials have long been reluctant to parade tanks, missiles and other weapons through the nation’s capital like the authoritarian leaders of North Korea and China. They say the United States, which has the world’s most powerful military and spends more on defense than the seven next largest military spenders combined — China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, Britain and Germany — does not need to broadcast its strength.

And if this is supposedly a “bipartisan” celebration, why are Trump’s buddies getting special seating and why are the tickets being handled by the RNC?

HuffPost: RNC Giving Out Tickets To Trump’s Hijacked Fourth Of July Celebration.

President Donald Trump has hijacked what for decades had been a nonpolitical Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, packing his ticketed-event speech with political appointees and Republican donors.

The Republican National Committee has been offering major donors tickets to Trump’s speech, as have political appointees at the White House and executive branch agencies….

Trump has been enamored of public displays of military might since he attended the Bastille Day festivities in Paris in 2017. His plan for a massive military parade last year was canceled after a Defense Department estimate became public showing that it would cost $92 million and damage the city’s roads because of the weight of tanks and other equipment.

The current plans for Thursday do not include a parade, but Trump is still pushing for tanks or other military vehicles to be displayed on the National Mall, The Washington Post reported, even though their weight is liable to damage the grass and roads. Flyovers by military planes ― including Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels squadron ― are also planned.

It’s going to be a giant Hatch Act violation and it reflects Trump’s attraction to authoritarian leaders.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University history professor and expert on fascism, said Trump’s need to display military hardware is a feature of authoritarians throughout history. “He needs to colonize our lives. He needs to colonize our public spaces,” she said, adding that it was “dismaying” that the Pentagon this year failed to thwart Trump’s impulses. “The military has been domesticated. I think the will to resist him has evaporated.”

Groups that advocate for government transparency and ethics, meanwhile, railed against the RNC’s involvement.

“This partisan appropriation of a public event is consistent with the record of an administration that has no regard for lines between personal or partisan interests and its public obligations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

There’s more about the problems with Trump’s plans at the link.

And of course Trump’s Nazi fans will show up for the long nighmarish weekend. The Daily Beast: Proud Boys and Allies to Rally in D.C. to Capitalize on ‘Trumpstravaganza.’

Members of the far-right Proud Boys men’s group and their allies will rally in D.C. on July 6, just a week after violence at rival Portland rallies ratcheted up tensions between groups on both the right and left. The Proud Boys event and a rival counterprotest threaten to add even more tension for what’s already shaping up to be a hot, strange week in Washington.

The Proud Boys—self-described “Western chauvinists” who adhere to a dizzying array of rules, including restrictions on how much they can masturbate —will be joined by a number of right-wing internet personalities at the “Rally for Free Speech” at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza.

The event’s website lists a number of right-wing internet provocateurs, including conservative smear-pusher Jacob Wohl, anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, British far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos, and former Pizzagate promoter Jack Posobiec. The bill also names a host of lesser-known social media figures, including YouTube prankster-turned-congressional candidate Joey Salads and “Copper Cab,” the YouTuber who became famous in 2010 for the viral “gingers have souls” video.

Meanwhile some veterans plan a sort of counter-protest. HuffPost: Vets To Give Out Thousands Of USS John McCain Shirts At Trump’s July 4 Event.

Irked by President Donald Trump’s plan to hold his own July Fourth event on the National Mall, veterans plan to give out thousands of USS John S. McCain T-shirts to make the president face a crowd of people honoring the McCain family’s legacy and the idea of putting one’s country before oneself.

VoteVets, a left-leaning nonprofit group founded in 2006 by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, is organizing the effort in response to Trump’s unprecedented “Salute to America” celebration. While Americans will still be able to catch the annual fireworks display on the National Mall, Trump is hosting his own event at the Lincoln Memorial, where he will give remarks and has set up a ticketed area for VIPs, friends, family and members of the military. Trump’s event will include military flyovers and possibly tanks.

“Today, we learned the news that Donald Trump is turning the national 4th of July celebration into a 2020 campaign event, complete with a ticketed VIP section for friends and supporters,” reads a Sunday email from VoteVets. “That’s not what America is about.”

VoteVets has already raised enough money to make more than 5,000 T-shirts, which veterans will hand out to people on the National Mall and, before that, deliver to members of Congress. All of the shirts, which feature an image of the Navy destroyer named after three generations of John S. McCains — including the late Arizona senator and Trump critic — are being made by Rags of Honor, a company that employs homeless veterans.

It’s all so depressing.

In other news, Trump is upset about the way people mocked his daughter Barbie Ivanka’s behavior at the G20, so he sent Sarah Huckabee Sanders (didn’t she already leave?) to tamp down the Twitter brigade.

But some unnamed White House officials were confused by Ivanka’s behavior overseas. The Daily Beast: Ivanka’s North Korea Photobombs Perplex White House Officials.

When Donald Trump and his advisers crossed over from South Korea into the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between North and South Korea over the weekend, the cameras were ready. Images of the president greeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as “my friend” in a last-minute meetup streamed across televisions worldwide.

Trump wasn’t alone. After a few snapshots, Ivanka Trump, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, followed the president into what’s known as the Freedom House—a building on the South Korean side of the zone. That’s when the cameras stopped. The media was reportedly blocked from entering and covering the historic event.

It wasn’t until later that reporters learned Ivanka and Kushner did more than accompany the president into the Freedom House. They were reportedly present at a closed-door meeting between the two leaders, who ended up speaking about one of the most sensitive topics on the planet—North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program.

WTF?!

Here’s a story you won’t find surprising, even if the mainstream media does.

NBC News: New study shows Russian propaganda may really have helped Trump.

The study, by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, does not prove that Russian interference swung the election to Trump. But it demonstrates that Trump’s gains in popularity during the 2016 campaign correlated closely with high levels of social media activity by the Russian trolls and bots of the Internet Research Agency, a key weapon in the Russian attack.

“Our results show that the weeks when Russian trolls were accumulating likes and retweets on Twitter, that activity reliably foreshadowed gains for Trump in the opinion polls,” wrote Damian Ruck, the study’s lead researcher, in an article explaining his findings.

The study found that every 25,000 re-tweets by accounts connected to the IRA predicted a 1 percent increase in opinion polls for Trump.

In an interview with NBC News, Ruck said the research suggests that Russian trolls helped shift U.S public opinion in Trump’s favor. As to whether it affected the outcome of the election: “The answer is that we still don’t know, but we can’t rule it out.”

Given that the election turned on 75,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, “it is a prospect that should be taken seriously,” Ruck wrote, adding that more study was needed in those swing states.

Just as we knew all along, the election was stolen from Hillary and from us.

That’s it for me today. What stories have you been following?


Tuesday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

As usual, there’s way too much important news to cover today. I long for the days when Obama was president and there weren’t scandals and outrages every single day including Saturdays and Sundays.

Overhead view of the shelter for migrant children in Clint, TX

After the public response to Trump’s concentration camps/torture chambers for children on border, NBC News reports: Almost 300 migrant children removed from Texas facility described as ‘appalling.’

Almost 300 migrant children have been removed from a border patrol facility in Texas after media reports of lawyers describing “appalling” and potentially dangerous conditions, Department of Homeland Security officials told NBC News….

The children who were removed were being held at a border station in Clint, Texas. Some were wearing dirty clothes covered in mucus or even urine, said Elora Mukherjee, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School. Teenage mothers wore clothing stained with breast milk. None of the children had access to soap or toothpaste, she said.

The children have been taken to a tent detention camp also in El Paso, Texas, where they will remain under the custody of Border Patrol until they can be placed with the Department of Health and Human Services, the DHS officials said. The Associated Press first reported on the conditions at the facility.

But will conditions be better in the tent camp? Who knows? Reporters aren’t allowed in to report on Trump’s concentration camps. The Washington Post: Migrant children are suffering at the border. But reporters are kept away from the story.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Clint, Texas is seen in this undated image from Google Maps.

News stories emerged last week about squalid conditions at a Border Patrol detention facility housing about 300 migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border. The media accounts described the facility in Clint, Tex., near El Paso, that houses children separated from their parents by order of the Trump administration.

Apart from their appalling specifics, the stories were notable for one element: They were all based on secondhand accounts. Reporters were unable to see the facilities themselves or speak to any of the children. Instead, they relied on descriptions provided by lawyers and advocates who were granted access under a legal settlement with the Border Patrol.

The blackout on press access has left Americans largely in the dark about conditions in government facilities designed to handle migrants who have crossed the border. Photographs and TV images are both rare and often dated. Rarer still are interviews with federal agency managers and employees and with the children themselves.

Journalists, government officials and migrant advocates agree that permitting reporters to see the facilities firsthand would change public perceptions about the treatment of migrants. There’s disagreement, however, about how it would change.

“If journalists had access to the detention centers at the border where children are being held in filthy conditions, those centers would not exist,” said Elora Mukherjee, an attorney who interviewed children at the Texas facility and described them to reporters last week. “If videos were released there would be massive changes” because the public outcry would be enormous.

From left: Meagan O’Toole-Pitts, Ashley Cortez, Oliver Cortez, and his father, Mark Cortez, attempt to drop off diapers and toys for detained children at the immigration detention center in Clint. Courtesy of Armando Martinez Photography

The Boarder Patrol won’t even accept donations from people who want to help the children, according to The Texas Tribune.

Oh, and good old Melania chose yesterday to tweet about helping children. Raw Story: Melania Trump ripped for bragging about helping children while her husband runs concentration camps for kids. “Be best” like her husband the child abuser and rapist?

Two more important stories on this topic:

Damon Linker at The Week: Trump’s border policy: If cruelty isn’t the point, what is?

Dahlia Lithwick and Margo Schlanger at Slate: What You Need to Know About the Crisis at the Border.

Big media largely ignored or downplayed E. Jean Carroll’s rape allegation against Trump. Now multiple outlets are asking why it wasn’t treated as front page news.

Paul Waldman at The Washington Post: Have we become numb to Trump’s loathsomeness?

When we look back on June 2019, we’ll say that this was the time when a credible allegation of rape was made against the president of the United States, and he had already shown himself to be such a loathsome character that it was treated as a third-tier story, not worthy of much more than a passing mention here and there in the news.

After New York magazine published author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s account last Friday of an encounter she says she had with Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman that ended with him raping her in a dressing room, many of our most important news outlets reacted with only minor interest. Most of the nation’s biggest newspapers — aside from The Post — left it off on their front page the next day. None of the five Sunday shows mentioned it at all.

There are many reasons to find Carroll’s allegation credible. She’s a fairly well-known public figure. Her description of what happened to her — him slamming her against a wall, mashing his face against hers, yanking down her tights, and penetrating her — accords not only with the allegations of multiple other women but Trump’s own words on that infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he bragged that he can sexually assault any woman he pleases. “I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Yet Trump’s position on Carroll’s allegation is the same he has taken on all the others: She’s a liar. He doesn’t say it was a misunderstanding or it was consensual, just that she’s a liar.

A liar and somehow not the sort of woman he would choose to rape, according to Trump.

The New York Times: ‘She’s Not My Type’: Accused Again of Sexual Assault, Trump Resorts to Old Insult.

Mr. Trump said that E. Jean Carroll, who wrote for years for Elle magazine, was “lying” when she said that he threw her up against a wall and forced himself on her in the mid-1990s, and he insisted that he did not know her.

“I’ll say it with great respect,” he said in an interview with The Hill, a Capitol Hill news organization. “No. 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, it never happened. It never happened, O.K.?” [….]

In the Hill interview, Mr. Trump said Ms. Carroll was making up the story. “Totally lying. I don’t know anything about her,” he said. “I know nothing about this woman. I know nothing about her. She is — it’s just a terrible thing that people can make statements like that.”

Mr. Trump in the past has rejected other sexual assault accusations by asserting that the women who accused him of taking advantage of them were not attractive enough to engage in such behavior.

“Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you,” Trump told supporters at a campaign event in 2016 after a woman accused him of putting his hand up her skirt while on an airplane. “You don’t know. That would not be my first choice.” As the crowd laughed, he said, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.”

Of course Carroll is very much his “type.” She was a blonde beauty queen and a cheerleader, for cripes sake.

Look at the photos. I’d say she fits the mold, wouldn’t you? Here’s another take on this story at The Atlantic: The Cruel Paradox at the Heart of E. Jean Carroll’s Allegation Against Trump.

Yesterday, the dotard in chief issued new sanctions against Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who has been dead for 20 years. Iran responded that the Trump administration is “afflicted with mental retardation.” CBS This Morning: Iran leaders lash out at White House over “idiotic” new sanctions.

Officials in Iran lashed out on Tuesday at the latest round of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, casting doubt on any hope of an imminent diplomatic end to the standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. President Hassan Rouhani called the new U.S. sanctions “outrageous and idiotic,” and suggested the Trump administration was “afflicted by mental retardation” for imposing them.

The country’s foreign ministry spokesman said the latest move by the U.S. brought a “permanent closure” to any hope of diplomacy between the two nations.

President Trump imposed the new sanctions on Monday. For the first time they target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directly, barring his access to the international financial system. The punitive measures — which add to a long list of financial sanctions already slapped on Tehran by Mr. Trump since he pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year — also target other officials.

Rouhani mocked Mr. Trump over the sanctions, saying: “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks?”

CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy says the latest statements from Iran are further evidence that President Trump’s strategy, of forcing the Islamic Republic to change its behavior by strangling its economy, is not working.

Oh, and Trump is still thinking about cutting off military aid to Japan. Bloomberg: Trump Muses Privately About Ending Postwar Japan Defense Pact.

President Donald Trump has recently mused to confidants about withdrawing from a longstanding defense treaty with Japan, according to three people familiar with the matter, in his latest complaint about what he sees as unfair U.S. security pacts.

Trump regards the accord as too one-sided because it promises U.S. aid if Japan is ever attacked, but doesn’t oblige Japan’s military to come to America’s defense, the people said. The treaty, signed more than 60 years ago, forms the foundation of the alliance between the countries that emerged from World War II….

Exiting the pact would jeopardize a postwar alliance that has helped guarantee security in the Asia Pacific, laying the foundation for the region’s economic rise. Under the terms of its surrender in World War II, Japan agreed to a pacifist constitution in which it renounced the right to wage war….

Scrapping the treaty would risk ceding security of the Western Pacific to China and potentially spurring a fresh nuclear arms race, if Japan decided it needed to protect itself from nuclear-armed neighbors. It would also call into question the U.S.’s military commitments to Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and a host of other allies around the world.

This man is really really old.

Joe Biden is still leading in the polls as we approach the first Democratic primary debate on Wednesday and Thursday, so here are a couple of interesting pieces on Biden.

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Joe Biden Doesn’t Look So Electable in Person.

On Saturday, Joe Biden was one of 20 presidential candidates to speak at a Planned Parenthood forum in Columbia, S.C., held right next door to the state’s Democratic convention. It was just a couple of weeks after he’d reversed his longtime support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion. One of the moderators asked him what he’d say to pro-choice voters who have concerns about his mixed record on the issue.

This was part of his answer: “The fact of the matter is that we’re in a situation where mortality rate for poor women and black women, here in this state, 26.5 percent of the, 24, 25.6 people, who of 100,000 who need, who end up dying as a consequence of birth, it’s absolutely absurd.” (He was referring to South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate, which is 26.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.)

Seeing Biden on the stump often feels like watching an actor who can’t quite remember his lines. Even if you don’t support him, it’s hard not to feel anxious on his behalf.

I had the chance to watch Biden campaign three times over the weekend, when almost the entire Democratic field descended on Columbia. On Friday he appeared at the famous fish fry held by Congressman Jim Clyburn. The next day he was at the Planned Parenthood event and at the state convention.

Biden speaks at James Clyburn’s fish fry.

His performance was unnerving. I don’t want Biden to be the nominee for ideological reasons, but polls show him far ahead, and if he’s going to be the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer against Donald Trump, I want him to be a strong one. He didn’t seem strong in South Carolina.

Donald Trump, of course, also speaks in gibberish, but with a bombastic unearned confidence; rather than flailing around for the right figure he makes one up. Biden, by contrast, was just shaky. And while there’s great affection for him on the ground, there’s little excitement. You can see why his campaign has been limiting his public events and why he’s been avoiding the press.

The Washington Post: Once the poorest senator, ‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden has reaped millions in income since leaving the vice presidency.

Biden points out on the presidential campaign trail that he was often the poorest member of the United States Senate, and for at least a decade has referred to himself as “Middle Class Joe.” But since leaving office he has enjoyed an explosion of wealth, making millions of dollars largely from book deals and speaking fees that ranged to as much as $200,000 per speech, public documents show.

As Biden traveled the country before announcing his presidential campaign this spring, his sponsors provided VIP hotel suites, town cars and professional drivers, chartered flights and travel expense reimbursements that for some of his appearances reached at least $10,000 per event, according to contracts obtained by The Post through public records requests.

The Washington Post found at least 65 instances in which Biden gave a speech or appeared at a book event; in at least 10 instances he did not take a fee, although in some of those cases he was reimbursed for travel expenses. Biden’s campaign said he has given less than 50 paid speeches, but declined to be more specific about exactly how many he delivered, or how much he earned in total.

I’d better wrap this up; this post is getting way too long. What stories are you following today?


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.