Thursday Reads: Trump Publicly Admits Guilt Once Again

Among Lupine, Jeffrey T. Larson

Good Morning!!

Trump just can’t stop confessing his guilt. Yesterday, Trump stripped away John Brennan’s security clearance, claiming it was because of Brennan’s “erratic behavior” and “wild outbursts on the internet and television.” Then he proceeded to tell the Wall Street Journal that he did it because of the Russia investigation.

President Trump drew a direct connection between the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and review the clearances of several other former officials.

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Trump cited Mr. Brennan as among those he held responsible for the investigation, which also is looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Russia has denied interfering.

Mr. Brennan was director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Democratic administration of former President Obama and one of those who presented evidence to Mr. Trump shortly before his inauguration that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “And these people led it!”

He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

Trump has quite an enemies list now, and everyone on it is involved in some way with the investigation.

Reading Girl. Ármin Glatter (Hungarian, 1861-1916). Oil on canvas.

Earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was also reviewing the clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, and former National Security Agency and CIA chief Michael Hayden.

“I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” Mr. Trump said in the interview. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”

Most of the individuals left government service months or years ago under varied circumstances, including being fired by the president and his aides. Some, including Mr. Comey, have said they no longer have or use their clearances.

Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: Trump blurts out another Lester Holt moment.

You could be forgiven for having flashbacks to Trump’s interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in the aftermath of his firing last year of James B. Comey as FBI director. Then, as now, the White House offered a series of motivations for the crackdown on a person who was a liability in the Russia probe. Then, as now, it seemed clear what the actual motivation was. And then, as now, Trump appeared to go out and just admit the actual motivation….

In the case of the Holt interview, Trump never actually directly said that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation; instead, he merely said that Russia was on his mind when he did it. “And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,” Trump said back in May 2017.

In this case, Trump refers directly to the role of Brennan and others in leading the investigation, and then says, “So I think it’s something that had to be done” — suggesting that this was an action taken in direct response to their participation in the probe. He is saying he is punishing people who were involved in that, which at the very least would seem to create a chilling effect for other would-be critics.

John Brennan responded in an op-ed in today’s New York Times:

The artist’s wife reading – Fyffe Christie

Having worked closely with the F.B.I. over many years on counterintelligence investigations, I was well aware of Russia’s ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. Like Mr. Bortnikov, these Russian operatives and agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.

In my many conversations with James Comey, the F.B.I. director, in the summer of 2016, we talked about the potential for American citizens, involved in partisan politics or not, to be pawns in Russian hands. We knew that Russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives, which the United States intelligence community publicly assessed a few short months later were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, harm the electability of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and show preference for Mr. Trump. We also publicly assessed that Mr. Putin’s intelligence services were following his orders. Director Comey and I, along with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, pledged that our agencies would share, as appropriate, whatever information was collected, especially considering the proven ability of Russian intelligence services to suborn United States citizens.

The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt (1854-1905)

Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election. While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.

Today hundreds of newspapers published editorials condemning Trumps war on press freedom. CNN has publish a list of many of of these papers with links to their editorials. The list is broken down by state, so you can find your own newspaper. I’d love to read the one in my hometown newspaper The Boston Globe, but they only allow me to read two free articles per month and I can’t afford to subscribe. The free press isn’t accessible to all readers!

The jury in the Paul Manafort trial began deliberations this morning. CBS News reports:

After over an hour and a half of instructions from Judge T.S. Ellis, a jury, comprised of 6 men and 6 women, now begin deliberations on Thursday in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. It’s unclear how long it will take for them to consider and vote on the 18 charges against Manafort. CBS News’ Paula Reid reports that at a minimum, it will take the jury a few hours just to sort through the procedural paperwork and weigh their vote.

The government has recommended to the court anywhere between 8 to 10 years in prison for falsifying tax returns, bank fraud conspiracy and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial records. The maximum sentence for the 18 counts, however, is 305 years.

Emmanuel Garant

During Wednesday’s closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors Manafort lied to keep himself flush with cash for his luxurious lifestyle and lied some more to procure millions in bank loans when his income dropped off. In his defense, Manafort’s attorneys told jurors to question the entirety of the prosecution’s case as they sought to tarnish the credibility of Manafort’s longtime protege — and government witness — Rick Gates….

In the closing arguments, prosecutor Greg Andres said the government’s case boils down to “Mr. Manafort and his lies.”

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it is littered with lies,” Andres said as he made his final argument that the jury should find Manafort guilty of 18 felony counts.

Attorneys for Manafort, who is accused of tax evasion and bank fraud, spoke next, arguing against his guilt by saying he left the particulars of his finances to other people, including Gates.

Defense attorney Richard Westling noted that Manafort employed a team of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers, a fact he said showed his client wasn’t trying to hide anything. Westling also painted the prosecutions’ case as consisting of cherry-picked evidence that doesn’t show jurors the full picture.

The New York Times has a list of questions the jury will have to consider, including “Rick Gates’s credibility,” “the judge’s behavior,” “Manafort’s lifestyle.” Read all the details at the link.

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

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Wednesday Reads: 37% of Dumbfvcks is still a lot of Dumbfvcks!

 

Last night on the Chris Hayes show… the two guest were talking about the 36-38 percent of polls that continuously believe every fucking word tRump says, whatever tRump says…

Poll: Most think Trump lying about Russia probe

The president is relentlessly attacking Robert Mueller and what he keeps calling the “witch hunt.” A new poll finds it isn’t working.

That is the link to the video from the show….it is only 5 minutes if you didn’t see it last night.

 

How many times do we have to kick this dead horse?

37%!!!!!!

It is always the same.

I see people on The Last Word, discussing how tapes of tRump saying the N-word will be very bad for tRump:

We all know that 37% won’t be upset about tRump’s use of the N-word…hell, it will only delight his followers.

 

 

 

I think it is painfully clear….nothing tRump does…will get him what he truly deserves. Impeachment and prison.

 

It is all super bullshit.

 

Now the cartoons:

08/15 Mike Luckovich: Sheet yes!

Yes, exactly!

08/09/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 08/14/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

 

Nick Anderson cartoon: 08/11/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

 

Melania’s Parents: 08/14/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Melania's Parents

SPACE FARCE: 08/13/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - SPACE FARCE

Charlottesville 1: 08/11/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Charlottesville 1

Ingraham Angle: 08/10/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Ingraham Angle

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

Doug Jones Kavanaugh Decision: 08/10/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Doug Jones Kavanaugh Decision

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

08/07/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

 

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

08/13/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Omarosa: 08/14/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Omarosa

California fires: 08/13/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - California fires

Enriching his family: 08/10/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Enriching his family

Chris Collins arrested: 08/09/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Chris Collins arrested

08/11/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley -

08/11/2018 Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On that note, this is an open thread….


Sunday Reads: Blank Page?

 

Good Morning…

I spent over three hours last night looking for things to write about and link to for today’s thread. Actually, it was more than three hours, because my dad was watching his shitty island treasure shows…and that last one was a two hour long season finale. Ugh…

We are all exhausted over this never-ending shitty show going on in real life, the tRump pres… I can’t even type out the word.

So, here is the post, it is an open thread. Go out and do something today, find some happiness. Because we all know that later tonight some horrible news will be flashing before our eyes. Enjoy the day while it is young.

 


Thursday Reads: Trump and His Swamp Creatures

La lectura al borde del pantano. Dennis Perrin

Good Morning!!

One of Trump’s biggest lies was his promise to “drain the swamp.” Instead, he and his cronies have turned Washington, D.C. into a playground for swamp creatures from all over the country and the world.

And that tweet leaves out the asbestos story! Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post: Make America Asbestos Again.

One of them wants to come to your country legally, work a job, contribute and eventually become a citizen. The other… is asbestos.

Guess which one President Trump has, historically, been vocally in favor of, and which one Trump’s administration is about to emit guidelines to discourage as much as it can? No, you do not need to guess. It is the Trump administration, and obviously its attitude is “LEGAL IMMIGRANTS are the real danger here. Give us more asbestos, please.”

That’s right. Not only have we not gotten around to banning asbestos, as nearly 60 other countries have, but also a Significant New Use Rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in June (open for comment until Aug. 10!) would allow the case-by-case approval of certain uses of asbestos! Hooray! We have too many people coming here to try to build better lives! We have too little asbestos! You’re welcome!

Femme Lisant Pres de la Fenetre. Delphin Enjolras

One of them wants to come to your country legally, work a job, contribute and eventually become a citizen. The other… is asbestos.

Guess which one President Trump has, historically, been vocally in favor of, and which one Trump’s administration is about to emit guidelines to discourage as much as it can? No, you do not need to guess. It is the Trump administration, and obviously its attitude is “LEGAL IMMIGRANTS are the real danger here. Give us more asbestos, please.”

That’s right. Not only have we not gotten around to banning asbestos, as nearly 60 other countries have, but also a Significant New Use Rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in June (open for comment until Aug. 10!) would allow the case-by-case approval of certain uses of asbestos! Hooray! We have too many people coming here to try to build better lives! We have too little asbestos! You’re welcome! [….]

All of the things we had hoped to leave in the ’80s are here right now with a big TRUMP seal attached.

We could have had Hillary. We could have had the first woman president. Instead we got Trump and his pack of grifters.

Jonathan Chait: The Whole Republican Party Seems to Be Going to Jail Now.

The entire Trump era has been a festering pit of barely disguised ongoing corruption. But the whole sordid era has not had a 24-hour period quite like the orgy of criminality which we have just experienced. The events of the last day alone include:

(1) The trial of Paul Manafort, which has featured the accusation that President Trump’s campaign manager had embezzled funds, failed to report income, and falsified documents. His partner and fellow Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, confessed to participating in all these crimes, as well as to stealing from Manafort.

Albert Anker

(2) Yesterday, Forbes reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross may have stolen $120 million from his partners and customers. Meanwhile Ross has maintained foreign holdings in his investment portfolio that present a major conflict of interest with his public office. (The “Don’t worry, Wilbur Ross would never do anything unethical just to pad his bottom line” defense is likely to be, uh, unconvincing to the many people filing suit against Ross for allegedly doing exactly that.)

(3) Also yesterday, ProPublica reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs is being effectively run by three Trump cronies, none of whom have any official government title or public accountability. The three, reports the story, have “used their influence in ways that could benefit their private interests.”

(4) And then, this morning, Representative Chris Collins was arrestedfor insider trading. Collins had been known to openly boast about making millions of dollars for his colleagues with his insider knowledge. He is charged with learning of an adverse FDA trial, and immediately calling his son — from the White House! — urging him to sell his holdings.

Yes, yesterday was “quite a day.”

Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien on mega swamp creature Wilbur Ross. It’s hard to believe anyone could top Scott Pruitt’s corruption, but Ross has done it.

Wilbur Ross, like his former White House colleague, Scott Pruitt, is an interesting and unevolved version of Homo Paludosus: mired in myriad and ongoing ethical conflicts, subjected to tawdry revelations about his finances and business practices, and yet apparently impervious to extinction.

Brian Kershisnik (b. 1962, USA)

Ross, to be sure, hasn’t trafficked in all of the deeply swampy acts that made Pruitt so scandalicious. As far as we know, Ross hasn’t enlisted his security detail and staff to go shopping for him, he hasn’t hit up lobbyists for bargain condo rentals, and he hasn’t asked a big corporation to give his wife a business.

On the other hand, Ross, a veteran Wall Street dealmaker and investor, joined President Donald Trump’s cabinet as secretary of commerce already saddled with ongoing investments in companies and industries that would be directly affected – and possibly helped – by his policy decisions.

Ross is 80 and his biography on the Commerce Department website suggests how hard it would have been for him from his very first day in office to chart an unconflicted course…

Read the rest at Bloomberg News.

CNN follows up on ProPublica’s scoop on the Mar-a-Lago-gang who are running the VA from outside the government:

This group of three, led by Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, was very open about the fact that they had been “anointed by the President and had his full support to influence policy at the VA” despite never being appointed or installed as formal advisers, the source said.

Bruce Moskowitz, a Palm Beach doctor, and lawyer Marc Sherman were the other two individuals who worked to influence the VA from the outside, the source confirmed.

Mathis Miles Williams

The trio, known within the VA as “the Mar-a-Lago crowd,” have used their influence with Trump and within the VA for personal gain, badgering career staff, pushing certain policies and products and ignoring government rules and processes, ProPublica said.

It cited hundreds of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in the article, which says the three exercised their influence without “transparency, accountability or oversight,” and that officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views….

Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer reacted to ProPublica’s report on Twitter, calling the revelation “a huge corruption scandal.”

“Trump gave power to make decisions at the VA – affecting every US veteran – to three men who are neither government officials nor vets. Their only qualification: membership at Mar-A-Lago, for which they pay Trump,” Beyer said.

Membership to the exclusive 20-acre club in Palm Beach, Florida — now dubbed by Trump the “Winter White House” — reportedly costs $200,000, with annual dues of $14,000.

The ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs wrote to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Wednesday, demanding any and all communications between VA officials and Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman.

“The situation reeks of corruption and cronyism,” said Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota in a statement.

It reeks alright. Everything about Trump’s “administration” smells to high heaven!

Oma Koti, March 1934. Martha Wendelin (Finnish. 1893-1986).

When Trump told his MAGA cultists that “I know the best people,” he apparently meant the best cheaters, liars, and crooks–even worse than any normal person could imagine. One of those crooks is on trial in Virginia right now, good old Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager.

All the experts say that the case against Manafort is rock solid, but I can’t help worrying about the crazy judge who’s in charge of the case. The New York Times has a profile of him today: Judge in Manafort Trial Is a ‘Caesar’ in His Own Rome.

Judge T. S. Ellis III had dismissed the jury for the day, but he was not quite finished opining about what he saw as irrelevant and repetitive questioning of a witness in the financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort.

Standing up so as to loom even larger over the courtroom, he angrily confronted Greg D. Andres, the lead prosecutor.

“Look at me,” the judge demanded, slamming his hand on the wooden ledge. “When you look down, it’s as if to say, you know, that’s B.S., I don’t want to listen to any more from you.”

“Don’t look down. Don’t roll your eyes,” he told Mr. Andres.

And so for the second time that afternoon, the prosecutor had to try to convince the judge that he only looked down because otherwise, he said, he would “be yelled at again by the Court” for his facial expression when “I’m not doing anything wrong, but trying my case.”

The Judge keeps riding the prosecution and trying to control how they present their case.

Leon Viorescu

Judge Ellis, 78, is the formidable ringmaster of the greatest show in the United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., demanding both precise questioning and a breakneck pace in the trial of Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman.

He has routinely broken in on questioning, limited admission of evidence and exhorted lawyers to “expedite” — all the while entertaining spectators with humorous asides about his age, his wife, his Navy past, his lack of an email address, the jury’s lunch menu, split infinitives and the noise produced by a machine intended to keep bench conferences from being overheard (like “the sound of waves crashing”).

An appointee of President Ronald Reagan, he has pushed the customary limits of judicial intervention so far that Mr. Andres at one point seemed to suggest the prosecution had grounds to appeal. After the prosecutor complained Monday about the number of times “your honor stops us and asks us to move on,” the judge declared that he would stand by the record.

“I will stand by the record, as well,” Mr. Andres responded.

“Then you will lose,” Judge Ellis said.

But this morning, the judge apologized. The Washington Post reports:

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has raked prosecutors from the special counsel’s office over the coals for the past week and a half. But on Thursday, he backed down, telling jurors to ignore one piece of criticism.

“I was critical of counsel for … allowing an expert to remain in the courtroom,” he said before testimony began. “You may put that aside… I may well have been wrong.”

On Wednesday, Ellis scolded prosecutors for calling an IRS expert who has sat through the trial in the gallery. Prosecutors filed a motion Thursday morning pointing out that the transcript backed up their understanding that Ellis had explicitly allowed the expert to do so.

I’m just hoping the jury will pay more attention to the reams of documentary evidence the prosecution is producing than to the judge’s tantrums.

So . . . what stories are you following today?


Wednesday Reads: Fvck!

 

Hey, sometimes one fuck just isn’t enough….

 

Yeah.

I wanted to share this with you:

The British Heat Wave and Aerial Archeology | The New Yorker

The U.K. is experiencing its driest summer in fifty-seven years. It’s not been great. A British summer is usually a doubtful, fleeting thing. Sunshine and heat arrive in bursts from June until September, as if you were walking down a green-shaded path with occasional breaks in the canopy. When the sun does come out—during Wimbledon, say, or for a spell in August—British people go reliably mad, take their tops off, and barbecue frantically for a few days, until the skies cloud over again. This year hasn’t been like that. The country warmed up in June and has baked steadily since, like an oven that has reached its cooking temperature. Between late June and early July, Britain endured sixteen consecutive days when the temperature hit eighty-two degrees. Last month, eastern England had four per cent of its usual rainfall. In London, a city not known for its air-conditioning, the parks turned brown, the road surfaces went mushy in the afternoon ferment, and the nights became unbearably still. Foul, sweet smells hung in the air. This unusual British summer has been accompanied by terrible wildfires in California and Greece, a balmy Arctic, and dozens of heat-related deaths in Japan. Even when it finally rained, late last week, it didn’t bring much relief. Last Friday, Britain was hit by an estimated hundred and thirty thousand lightning bolts—enough electricity to boil a billion cups of tea—as summer storms played havoc with the nation’s roads, railways, and airports. August is going to be even hotter.

But at least the archeologists are happy. “It’s a bit like kids in a candy shop,” Robert Bewley, an aerial archeologist at the University of Oxford, told me, a few days ago. The freak conditions have made this summer one of the best in living memory for what archeologists call “parch marks”—ghostly, pale outlines of vanished castles, settlements, and burial sites that materialize on the land when it dries out and grass and crops die off. In recent weeks, archeologists in light aircraft, hobbyists with drones, and even people walking through their local parks have discovered Iron Age farms in South Wales, a Roman road passing near Basingstoke, burial mounds in Ireland, and the outline of Second World War bomb shelters on the lawns of Cambridge. Seen from above, the parch marks have a magical quality, as if a giant had doodled them from memory, but they are also disconcertingly real. They are only there because something else was.

Parch marks—and their less dramatic form, crop marks—are fairly common clues for archeologists who are working in places with long, dense histories of human habitation. (Bewley also works in North Africa and the Middle East.) The buried remains of Roman foundations or medieval walls will cause “negative” crop marks in a field of grass or wheat, because the roots of the plants on top of the ruins have less soil to work with—a phenomenon that becomes more noticeable when water is in short supply. The opposite is also true: filled-in ditches and moats, with their deeper soil, can lead to taller, greener plants and “positive” crop marks. The first aerial image to really excite British archeologists was taken in 1906, when British Army officers photographed Stonehenge from a balloon and noticed a darker ring of grass around the stones—the trace of an ancient ditch. “You go to a site to photograph what you know is there, and then you see something next to it,” Bewley told me. “That happens virtually every time we go flying.”

 

It is very interesting….please check the rest of that article out.

Now.

This first cartoon is surely something we all will see one day…I am telling you:

Matter Of Time: 08/07/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Matter Of Time

3D Jeff Sessions/Dr. Evil Trump: 08/07/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - 3D Jeff Sessions/Dr. Evil Trump

Religious Liberty Task Force: 08/04/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Religious Liberty Task Force

Buried: 08/07/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Buried

Freedom of speech: 08/07/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Freedom of speech

LeBron v trump: 08/04/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - LeBron v trump

LGBT TASK FORCE: 08/03/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - LGBT TASK FORCE

Freedom Of Press: 08/02/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Freedom Of Press

08/07/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

Nick Anderson cartoon: 08/07/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

Nick Anderson cartoon: 08/04/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

08/06/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

08/03/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

PRESIDENT TRUMP paints hiself in a corner in Mueller probe: 08/04/2018 Cartoon by David G. Brown

Cartoon by David G. Brown - PRESIDENT TRUMP paints hiself in a corner in Mueller probe

08/02 Mike Luckovich: Trumproach

08/03 Mike Luckovich: Open door policy

08/05 Mike Luckovich: Flesh the press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had to end it with that one….this is an open thread.

BTW, I am heading down to Atlanta today…to pick up my skates and stuff. So I will not be around, I hope everyone has a good day.


Tuesday Reads

Great white shark swims beneath paddleboarding man on Cape Cod last week.

Good Morning!!

We’re having an incredible heat wave in Boston, and I know we’re not alone. It’s hot just about everywhere. Today it’s supposed to hit 100 degrees here. Anyone who believes the climate isn’t changing is delusional.

Maybe the sharks are affected too, because we’ve had some Great White close encounters here in Massachusetts lately. The Boston Globe: Shark sightings force swimmers out of the water in Plymouth, Cape Cod.

Swimmers at Plymouth and Wellfleet beaches looking to catch a break from the oppressive heat were forced out of the water Monday afternoon after sharks were spotted lurking nearby.

Plymouth beaches were closed after a great white shark was seen off Manomet Point. Red flags were flying at the beaches as crews investigated, the Plymouth harbormaster tweeted shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Researchers with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy were about a quarter-mile from Marconi Beach in Wellfleet when they saw a great white shark at around 1:45 p.m. They reported it to beach officials, and lifeguards promptly pulled everyone out of the water, Leslie Reynolds, chief ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore, said. The beach was closed for an hour as a standard precautionary measure.

Also from the Globe: ‘It came right up, and opened its mouth’: Great white shark breaches water below boat.

State biologist Greg Skomal got an up-close look at a great white shark during a recent excursion off Cape Cod when one of the apex predators that researchers had been observing breached the water right beneath him, exposing its large teeth.

“Did you see that?! Did you see that?!” Skomal can be heard saying in a video posted by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Monday morning. “It came right up, and opened its mouth right at my feet!”

In the video, Skomal can be seen standing on the research boat’s pulpit, as the captain closes in on a shark. Skomal was using a long pole with a GoPro camera attached at the end so he could dip it into the water and capture footage of the shark. That’s when it suddenly breached the ocean’s surface.

“Oh!,” the boat’s captain, John J. King II, can be heard saying. “Holy crap! It dove right out of the water.”

Here’s the video. Be sure to put it on full screen and wait for the close-up.

Holy crap!

Seriously though, have we already lost the fight to reverse climate change? That’s the argument put forth by Nathaniel Rich in last week’s New York Times Magazine: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.

The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement — the nonbinding, unenforceable and already unheeded treaty signed on Earth Day in 2016 — hoped to restrict warming to two degrees. The odds of succeeding, according to a recent study based on current emissions trends, are one in 20. If by some miracle we are able to limit warming to two degrees, we will only have to negotiate the extinction of the world’s tropical reefs, sea-level rise of several meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf. The climate scientist James Hansen has called two-degree warming “a prescription for long-term disaster.” Long-term disaster is now the best-case scenario. Three-degree warming is a prescription for short-term disaster: forests in the Arctic and the loss of most coastal cities. Robert Watson, a former director of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has argued that three-degree warming is the realistic minimum. Four degrees: Europe in permanent drought; vast areas of China, India and Bangladesh claimed by desert; Polynesia swallowed by the sea; the Colorado River thinned to a trickle; the American Southwest largely uninhabitable. The prospect of a five-degree warming has prompted some of the world’s leading climate scientists to warn of the end of human civilization.

Is it a comfort or a curse, the knowledge that we could have avoided all this?

Because in the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions — far closer than we’ve come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for our current inaction had yet to emerge. Almost nothing stood in our way — nothing except ourselves.

Check out the full story at the NYT.

Today there are some interesting primary elections and one special election to watch. Will we see portents of a blue wave in November?

Vox: Every August 7 primary election you should know about, briefly explained.

Voters head to the polls in five states Tuesday to test whether Democrats will get their “blue wave” on Election Day this fall.

Danny O’Connor

The most heated race to watch is a special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, where a Democrat hasn’t won since the 1980s. Despite big spending by Republicans, a huge ground push, and even campaign appearances by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, polls show the Democrat, Danny O’Connor, might actually beat Republican Troy Balderson.

Washington state’s top-two primary will be a similar test of how Democrats might perform in historically conservative districts.

In a governor’s race in Michigan and a House race in Kansas, meanwhile, Democrats will test whether the future of the party is rooted in its progressive wing.

To win back a House majority in November, Democrats will have to triumph in historically red districts, as they did in Pennsylvania earlier this year when Conor Lamb pulled off a surprise victory. Some big wins on Tuesday night could be another sign that a wave year is possible.

Read the details at Vox.

On Sunday, we watched Trump incriminate himself and throw his own son under the bus on Twitter. Will Don Jr. be indicted? Charles Savage at The New York Times: Donald Trump Jr.’s Potential Legal Troubles, Explained.

“I did not collude with any foreign government and did not know anyone who did,” Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017. But his participation in the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, as well as another meeting, has put that claim under scrutiny.

Ahead of the meeting with Russians, an intermediary promised Donald Trump Jr. that a “Russian government attorney” would provide “very high level” dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” He wrote back, “If it’s what you say I love it.”

In a meeting three months before the election, Donald Trump Jr. met with another small group offering to help his father win the election. It included an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes who run Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. The younger Mr. Trump responded approvingly, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The New York Times.

Of course we all know by now that “collusion” is just another word for “conspiracy,” which can be a crime.

….lawyers instead talk about conspiracy: an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime — whether or not they end up doing so. A powerful tool for prosecutors, conspiracy charges allow them to hold each conspirator responsible for illegal acts committed by others in the circle as part of the arrangement. To convict someone of such a conspiracy, prosecutors would need to obtain evidence of an agreement to commit a specific crime….

A provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act, Section 30121 of Title 52, broadly outlaws donations or other contributions of a “thing of value” by any foreigner in connection with an American election — or even an express or implied promise to take such action, directly or indirectly.

Depending on how a grand jury interprets the facts the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has gathered about the two Trump Tower meetings, it could find that the foreigners violated that law — and that Donald Trump Jr. conspired in that offense.

Another provision of the same statute makes it illegal for an American to solicit a foreigner for such illicit campaign help — again, even indirectly. If a grand jury were to interpret the evidence about Donald Trump Jr.’s words and actions as a solicitation, he could also be vulnerable to direct charges under that law, experts said.

Notably, the statute can be violated even if the promised or requested help is never provided.

Read the rest at the NYT.

At The Washington Post, William Ruckleshaus, who served as deputy attorney general under Nixon writes about Trump’s behavior: Only one other president has ever acted this desperate.

President Trump is acting with a desperation I’ve seen only once before in Washington: 45 years ago when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon was fixated on ending the Watergate investigation, just as Trump wants to shut down the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A lesson for the president from history: It turned out badly for Nixon. Not only could he not derail the investigation, but also, 10 months later, he was forced to resign the presidency.

In fact, in some ways, Trump is conducting himself more frantically than Nixon, all the while protesting his innocence. Nixon fought to the end because he knew that what was on the tape recordings that the prosecutor wanted would incriminate him. We don’t know what Trump is hiding, if anything. But if he is innocent of any wrongdoing, why not let Robert S. Mueller III do his job and prove it?

On the way Trump and his minions are attacking the investigation:

…the cynical conduct of this president, his lawyers and a handful of congressional Republicans is frightening to me and should be to every citizen of this country. We are not playing just another Washington political game; there is much more at stake.

The vehemence and irresponsibility of the rhetoric attacking the Mueller investigation tear at the very structure of our governance. Men who have sworn to use and protect our institutions of justice are steadily weakening them. Should the president finally decide to fire Mueller and put in place someone who will do his bidding, the country could be thrown into a political crisis that would scar our democracy and further erode the trust of our people in our governmental institutions.

We need leaders who tell the truth. This is not now happening. Mueller is living up to his superior reputation as a model public servant. His is a search for the truth; we should not complicate his job. Support him, and when he has finished his work, listen to what he has found.

Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

There are a lot more interesting reads out there today. Some to check out:

Forbes: New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting.

Rolling Stone: Rick Wilson: Trump’s Tweets May Actually Be His Undoing.

NBC News: Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants.

Politico: Manafort prosecution’s frustration with judge leads to fiery clashes.

The Washington Post: Trump’s political base is weaker than it seems, our new study finds.

Think Progress: Here’s what a new trove of Russian Twitter accounts tell us about Moscow’s support for Jill Stein.

Buzzfeed News: Accused Russian Agent’s Journey To Washington Began In South Dakota.

Franklin Foer at The Atlantic: How Trump Radicalized ICE.

What stories are you following today?


Monday Reads

Monday Strikes Again!

So, BB and I could not figure out anything that made sense about the “Q Anon” stuff that was a press hot item last week.  Do you remember back in the day before the internet was overtaken by commercial interests and most of its denizens were academic nerdy types like me?  Well, folks started inventing real life versions of fanfic games including maps, and secrets, and treasures that may have followed a reality set up by a game console game. Most of it was just really bad fanfic too.  The entire QAnon thing just read like really, really bad fanfic to me. and that is what it now appears to be.  Its motivation was to evidently drive boomers nuts and it’s evidently a leftie bro thing. The nonsensical conspiracy site was called “Bread Crumbs.”

According to Q, nearly every president before Trump was a “criminal president” who was part of an evil global organization of Satanist pedophiles. It also claims members of the US military who are not working for the global pedophile cabal supposedly approached Trump and begged him to run for president so that they could purge the government of the deep state operatives without a military coup.

Q claims Trump is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, but that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are. And Trump is actually working with Mueller.

Q regularly drops clues that followers call “crumbs,” which are meant to predict things. For instance, he claimed John Podesta would be arrested or indicted Nov. 3, 2017 — which, of course, didn’t happen

See, bad fanfic. But the bottom line, with tons of documentation at the Buzzfeed piece citied here is that it was a hoax which finally makes sense to me.  Imagine bored dateless BernieBros in a basement some where ….

“Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There’s no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who’s pulling it on whom?” they said.

They also point to the fact that even this article runs the risk of being sucked into the QAnon vortex and just adding more fuel to the fire. “If [QAnon’s] perpetrators claimed responsibility for it and showed some evidence (for example, unmistakeable references to our book and the Luther Blissett Project), would the explanation itself become yet another part of the narrative, or would it generate a new narrative encompassing and defusing the previous one?”

So, now that’s cleared up the press can leave it alone.  There are real things out there.  That sucking sound you hear are wages and wealth going to the richest of the rich.

On May 8th, Brookings officially launched a new initiative on the Future of the Middle Class. Through this initiative, we will publish research, analysis, and insights that are motivated by a desire to improve the quality of life for those in America’s middle class and to improve upward mobility into its ranks. We have already wrestled with how we define this group, considered its changing racial composition, and called upon experts to outline major policies geared toward improving its fate. But why all of this attention? Here are seven of the reasons we are worried about the American middle class.

Today, I feel the “dismal” in the dismal science meme.  Retirement prospects for many Boomers includes Bankruptcy.

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Driving the surge, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks.

The transfer has come in the form of, among other things, longer waits for full Social Security benefits, the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compound the challenge.

Well, that’s no surprise.  It’s also no surprise that Trump is behaving badly on the World Stage again. “Trump signs order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it ‘deeply’ regrets.”  Well, we knew Bolten had to be getting something to help with all that Putin Ass Kissing.

Donald Trump has signed an executive order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it “deeply” regretted.

Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of wide range of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of a wide range of  of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. A second set will be reimposed in a further three months.

“[The Iran nuclear deal] a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased.  The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond.”

In the aftermath of Mr Trump’s unilateral decision in May, the other parties to the 2015 deal – Russia, China, Germany, France, the UK and the EU – vowed to stick with the deal and to and continue to trade with Iran. Several companies, such as French-based Airbus, felt obliged to pull out of a deal with Iran, rather than risk sanctions from Washington.

The revoking of licensees to the company and its rival, Boeing, saw the aircraft manufacturer lose out on a $39bn deal with Tehran for new planes. Easing sanctions such as this was a major inducement get Tehran to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 under President Barack Obama.

The executive order signed on Monday, which will come into effect at midnight EST, releases to the purchase or acquisition of US currency Iran, the trade in gold and other precious metals, materials such as graphite, aluminium, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes. They also target the country’ automotive sector.

The remaining sanctions to be reimposed on November 5 relate to Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors. Crucially, they will also target its oil industry and foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

It’s like he’s single handedly destroying our economic, world order, and the environment.   This news is awful but typical Trump policy.

Two of America’s biggest steel manufacturers — both with deep ties to administration officials — have successfully objected to hundreds of requests by American companies that buy foreign steel to exempt themselves from President Trump’s stiff metal tariffs. They have argued that the imported products are readily available from American steel manufacturers.

Charlotte-based Nucor, which financed a documentary filmmade by a top trade adviser to Mr. Trump, and Pittsburgh-based United States Steel, which has previously employed several top administration officials, have objected to 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department over the past several months.

To date, their efforts have never failed, resulting in denials for companies that are based in the United States but rely on imported pipes, screws, wire and other foreign steel products for their supply chains.

The ability of a single industry to exert so much influence over the exclusions process is striking even in Mr. Trump’s business-friendly White House, given the high stakes for thousands of American companies that depend on foreign metals. But the boundaries of trade policy are being tested by the scope of Mr. Trump’s multifront trade war with allies and adversaries alike, which includes tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of goods from China and possible tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.

And the psychic trauma will only increase:

But after watching Trump for all this time, there’s no reason to beat around the bush on this question anymore. Donald Trump is a racist, and we all know it. He could barely have tried any harder to convince us. Not only did he turn himself into a political figure by making himself America’s most prominent birther, he repeatedly demanded to see Barack Obama’s high school and college transcripts, on the theory that Obama couldn’t possibly have been smart enough to get into Columbia and Harvard Law School on his own merit. He ran a white nationalist campaign for president, and said that the judge in his Trump University fraud cause couldn’t be fair because “He’s a Mexican” (in fact, the judge is an American). On multiple occasions he retweeted racist memes from white supremacists. In a White House meeting about immigration, he said that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and complained that once Nigerian immigrants had seen the United States they would never “go back to their huts” (Nigerian immigrants are one of the most highly educated groups in America). He meets a group of Native American war heroes, and decides to bring up the fact that he insults Elizabeth Warren by calling her “Pocahontas.” And of course, he called non-white nations “shithole countries” and averred that a group of neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis were “very fine people.”

So we know who Donald Trump is, and why he says what he does. The fact that much of what Trump says about African Americans is performative—a public show meant to keep his base angry—doesn’t mean that the bigotry isn’t sincerely felt.

This is a good reminder that Trump’s 2020 campaign will be no less built on hate than his 2016 campaign was. In fact, it could be even more so. Trump will no longer be able to plausibly argue that there’s a system controlled by an elite that’s keeping regular people down, since he and his party are the ones with all the power. So it’s likely that he’ll rely even more heavily on white nationalism to get re-elected.

The weirdest thing happened Sunday in a Twitler Special that basically was a confession to collusion and to a cover up.

Donald Trump has admitted for the first time that his son met a Kremlin-connected lawyer in 2016 to collect information about Hillary Clinton, but insists the meeting was legal.

In one of a series of Sunday morning tweets issued in apparent reaction to a CNN report, the US president wrote: “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

That explanation differs entirely from one given by Trump 13 months ago, when a statement dictated by the president but released under the name of Donald Trump Jr read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”

The 2016 meeting is pivotal to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation, though Trump’s tweets appeared aimed at conveying the message that he is not worried about Donald Trump Jr’s exposure to the inquiry.

He made the remarks as one of his lawyers warned the special counsel against trying to force the president to be interviewed.

The dude seriously keeps admitting to crimes. Why can’t we lock hIm up?   “President Trump changes story in Twitter rant admitting Trump Tower meeting was to gather intel on Hillary Clinton.”

The President’s latest social media meltdown was in reaction to what he called a “complete fabrication” in Sunday’s Washington Post claiming Trump was concerned “innocent and decent people,” including his son Donald Trump Jr., could be hurt by Mueller’s probe exploring links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere,” he wrote. “I did not know about it!”

Thirteen months ago, Trump gave a different explanation for the meeting between his eldest son and parties alleging ties to the Russian government. A July 2017 statement credited to Don Jr. and later discovered to have been dictated by the President read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”

Though the President maintains he knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting prior to its taking place, his former fixer Michael Cohen, who has reportedly indicated a willingness to cooperate with Mueller’s team, has allegedly said otherwise.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he had “bad information” when he personally argued that the meeting was about adoption.

So, this is just an open news dump thread!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?