Fourth of July Reads: May The Weather Gods Bring Storms to DC Today

A painting titled Declaration of Independence hangs on the wall inside the U.S. Capitol on May 17, 2017.

Good (Late) Morning!!

Maybe there really is a god?

Oh please let the rain pour down on Trump’s ridiculous salute to himself!

The New York Times: Washington Prepares for a July 4 Spectacle, Starring and Produced by President Trump.

Two Bradley armored vehicles rumbled into place on Wednesday in front of the Lincoln Memorial, to be joined later by two Abrams tanks parked nearby. Cranes were putting into place the scaffolding for Jumbotron screens. And workers raced to finish a red, white and blue stage where President Trump will preside over one of the most unusual Fourth of July celebrations the capital has known.

The audience for Mr. Trump’s speech will include thousands of troops assembled by the White House to create a made-for-television moment in which the nation’s commander in chief is surrounded by the forces that he leads.

You won’t see it live on CBS, ABC, NBC, or MSNBC, thank goodness. Those who want to watch the disaster unfold will have to turn to C-Span or Fox News.

Weather permitting, the traditional songs for each branch of the military will be played while their officers stand by the president’s side and a procession of aircraft, including Air Force One and the Blue Angels, roars through the skies overhead. Hundreds of guests, many of them handpicked by the Republican National Committee, will watch from bleachers in a V.I.P. section erected close to the podium.

“It will be the show of a lifetime!” the president posted Wednesday morning on Twitter.

But Mr. Trump’s decision to turn Washington’s annual Fourth of July celebration into a kind of Trump-branded rally for America has drawn criticism from Democrats, top representatives of the city government and many military officials who believe the president is using the troops and their gear as political props.

I’m rooting for the flop of a lifetime.

 

Apparently the White House staff is worried about a repeat of Trump’s sad Inauguration day.

The Washington Post has the tick tock on the preparations: Inside the effort to build suspense — and crowds — for Trump’s Fourth of July.

As President Trump’s appointees have worked doggedly to assemble the most ambitious and costly Fourth of July ceremony the nation’s capital has ever seen, they have been guided by one overriding principle: It cannot be a repeat of his 2017 inauguration.

The transformation of the Lincoln Memorial’s grounds into a made-for-TV setting, complete with a VIP seating section for donors and other political supporters, represents the culmination of a four-month-long effort to produce the military celebration the president has envisioned for nearly two years.

For a public gathering that is ostensibly targeting an audience of hundreds of millions of Americans, the display of weaponry, aircraft and pyrotechnics has been scripted primarily to satisfy an audience of one. By having Trump speak to a select audience, flanked by armored tactical vehicles, organizers hope he will avoid the prospect of facing a smaller crowd of the sort that gathered on the Mall for his swearing-in.

But the White House has also been scrambling in recent days to line up enough attendees, as Trump’s aides fret that either thunderstorms or the traditional free concert on the other end of the Mall could diminish the crowd for Trump’s 6:30 p.m. speech. The issue of crowd size has been a sore point with Trump since his inauguration, when far fewer people showed up compared with Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural ceremony and the president pressed National Park Service officials for nonexistent photographic evidence of a larger audience.

The administration has provided 5,000 tickets to the military, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. Trump’s reelection campaign has handed passes out to allies, donors and trade associations — from the American Bankers Association to the British Embassy, according to people familiar with the matter, while several fundraisers and operatives also were tasked to hand out tickets.

It sure sounds this is an overtly political event. Trump should have to pay the expenses out of his own pocket–but who will force him to do it?

Nancy Cook at Politico: ‘They started this too late’: Trump officials and allies anxious about July 4 fest.

The White House and Republican National Committee have spent the past week scrambling to distribute VIP tickets to President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

Now, White House officials and allies are wringing their hands over the risk of the hastily arranged event morphing into Trump’s Inauguration 2.0, in which the size of the crowd and the ensuing media coverage do not meet the president’s own outsized expectations for the event.

“They started this too late and everyone has plans already,” said Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and CEO of the drilling services company Canary, LLC. “Everyone will be there in spirit, but in reality, people planned their July 4th activities weeks ago.”

Less than 36 hours before the event, White House aides were crafting Trump’s speech, while administration and RNC officials finalized the guest lists.

A White House official declined to explain the system for handing out tickets or the various tiers of VIP access, except to say the reserved seating area — extending from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the middle the reflecting pool — will feature veterans, Trump family and friends and special guests. The first lady, vice president and second lady, and a number of Cabinet officials are expected to attend, as well as several senior White House officials — though the aide stressed this, too, was still coming together.

“They are creating this thing from scratch, and I do not know if anyone knows how it will go off,” said another White House aide. “There are questions about the ticket distribution and who will show up. The weather might be bad. Heads are spinning.”

David Remnick at The New Yorker: Little Rocket Man. Donald Trump is trying to conflate a patriotic celebration with his reëlection campaign.

Trump, who talks about “my generals” and “my military,” has decided to turn the normally pacific Independence Day ceremonies in the capital into a martially tinged self-branding exercise. We are watching him blow hard into the balloon of his own ego. Trump is also trying to conflate a patriotic celebration with his reëlection campaign. The White House is doling out passes to Republican donors, members of the Republican National Committee, and other supporters.

Troops, tanks and a flypast will give a military flavor to this year’s Independence Day celebration in Washington, DC. yesterday.

According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon leadership has reacted to the increased militarization of the Fourth by “hiding out and hoping it all blows over.” Trump, of course, has spoken for “his” generals, saying that they are, in fact, “thrilled.” He is not likely to hear any high-level public objections from the Pentagon. He has not had a Senate-confirmed Defense Secretary since James Mattis resigned, in December, when he could no longer influence or countenance Trump’s chaotic decision-making process. There are some signs of public unhappiness, however. One liberal-leaning veterans group, VoteVets, plans to give out thousands of U.S.S. John S. McCain T-shirts on the mall, the better to remind people of Trump’s vicious insults directed against the late Arizona senator, an American prisoner of war in Hanoi, and of the way White House aides tried pathetically to hide the destroyer from the President’s view during a state visit to Japan….

Perhaps the most significant event at the G-20 session came when Vladimir Putin used the occasion to declare, in a run-up interview with the Financial Times, that “the liberal idea has become obsolete.” Sounding much like Trump at his fearmongering worst, Putin said, “The liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. The migrants can kill, plunder, and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected.” Leaders including Emmanuel Macron of France and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, stood up to Putin and the idea that Russian-style authoritarianism was the wave of the future. By contrast, Trump voiced not a word of objection. Why would he? He is in total agreement with Putin. And, in Osaka, he stood with the Russian President and mocked both the idea of a free press and the notion that Russia had ever interfered in the 2016 elections on his behalf.

And so, on the Fourth, we will watch Trump, who evaded military service by pleading phantom bone spurs, spend millions of dollars of public funds in order to enact a fantasy of martial leadership. He is doing it to flatter his base. He is doing it to solicit the criticism of his enemies (the better to turn that criticism on its head). And he is doing it because he can.

Read the whole thing at the link.

That’s all I have the strength for today; I’m simultaneously enraged and despondent. I wish all you Sky Dancers a peaceful and Trump-free Fourth of July.


Thursday Reads: Democratic Debate First Night and Other News

Good Morning!!

Democratic Debate, First Night

I wasn’t too with it during the first Democratic debate last night. I had difficulty following the discussion; it seemed incoherent to me with so many people involved. It might have been better if the moderators stuck to one topic at a time instead of jumping around and having different candidates respond to different questions. But I was kind of tired, so maybe it was just me.

I really felt that some of the candidates–Delaney, Ryan, de Blasio–simply didn’t belong on the stage. My impression was that Julian Castro and Jay Inslee really stood out. Elizabeth Warren seemed to get more questions than the others. I still can’t get enthused about her. Anyway, here’s an annotated transcript that I might try to read through today.

Here’s a summary of the debate from The Guardian: Democratic 2020 candidates clash on healthcare, immigration and economy in first debate.

Ten Democratic presidential candidates cast themselves in sharp contrast to Donald Trump in the first primary debate of the 2020 election on Wednesday night, even as they disagreed on how far left the next US president should lean….

Candidates savaged Trump’s handling of the US economy and the migration crisis at the US-Mexico border. But despite his tweets, the president did not dominate the debate, which also saw clashes on healthcare, inequality and foreign policy, promises on immigration, reproductive rights and the economy, and a lengthy discussion of the climate crisis – a novel development for US presidential debates.

Elizabeth Warren took center stage in more than one sense, as the only top-tier candidate to appear in the first debate…

The Guardian treated the rest of the candidates as also-rans, but had reactions to a few of them:

The debate was seen as clarifying moment for several candidates who have struggled to break through. Castro appeared to find his voice on immigration and afterward told reporters that he believed his standing would “change after tonight.”

O’Rourke, who entered the presidential race with a higher national profile than many of his rivals, found himself on the defensive. No candidate criticized Warren directly, allowing the Massachusetts senator to largely command the conversation.

In one of the most memorable exchanges of the evening, Inslee touted his record as the “only candidate here” who has passed legislation protecting a woman’s right to access reproductive health through her health insurance.

With a smile, Klobuchar shot back: “There are three women on this stage that have fought pretty hard to protect women’s right to choose.”

Inslee was just trying to highlight what he had accomplished in his state; but, of course, Senators don’t have the power to pass such legislation as long as Republicans remain in control.

Read more at The Guardian. It’s a pretty good summary of what happened. A few more reads to check out:

The New York Times: Democrats Diverge on Economy and Immigration in First Debate.

Slate: It Was Almost a Good Debate Until Chuck Todd Mucked It Up.

NBC News: Democrats trot out their español thrilling some Latinos, turning off others.

Jonathan Chait: Elizabeth Warren Takes a Huge Risk by Calling to End Private Health Insurance.

Vox: Why only 2 of 10 Democrats raised their hands to say they’d abolish private insurance.

Ezra Klein: Democrats need a better answer to the Mitch McConnell question.

Other News

Good news and bad news broke from the Supreme Court this morning. I’ll give you the bad news first.

The Washington Post: Supreme Court says federal courts don’t have a role in deciding partisan gerrymandering claims.

The Supreme Court’s conservatives decided Thursday that federal courts do not have a role to play in deciding whether partisan gerrymandering goes too far.

The 5 to 4 decision was written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and joined by the court’s other conservatives.

Elena Kagan and John Roberts

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Roberts wrote. “Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”

Justice Elena Kagan dissented for the court’s liberals. “For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities,” she wrote.

Kagan underscored her disagreement by reading a lengthy excerpt of her dissent from the bench.

While the Supreme Court regularly scrutinizes electoral districts for racial gerrymandering, the justices have never found a state’s redistricting map so infected with politics that it violates the Constitution. Such a decision would have marked a dramatic change for how the nation’s political maps are drawn.

Now the good news:

CNN: Supreme Court blocks 2020 census citizenship question in setback for Trump admin.

The Supreme Court has blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census for the time being in a major setback for the Trump administration.

The bitter controversy centers around whether the administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950.

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Commerce Department wanted to add the question. Roberts had the support of the four liberal justice.

If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case,” he wrote.

The decision raises the question of whether the administration will have enough time or the ability to add the citizenship question before the census begins. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Craig Ruttle/AP/Shutterstock (10320034c)
E. Jean Carroll is photographed, in New York.

E. Jean Carroll is back in the news, because her outcry witnesses have come forward.

The New York Times: Two Women Who Heard E. Jean Carroll’s Account of Being Attacked by Trump Go Public.

Two women in whom E. Jean Carroll confided about having allegedly been sexually attacked by Donald Trump in the 1990s spoke publicly about it for the first time in an interview excerpted on the New York Times podcast “The Daily,” describing the conflicting advice they gave their friend at the time.

On Wednesday, Megan Twohey, a Times reporter, interviewed Ms. Carroll and the two women, Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach, who had not been publicly identified until now. It was the first time since the alleged assault that the women had discussed it together.

Portions of the interview were played Thursday on “The Daily,” and a fuller article about Ms. Carroll by Ms. Twohey, Jessica Bennett and Alexandra Alter will follow later in the day. For now, here are the main takeaways from the interview:

• The two women in whom Ms. Carroll confided were well-known figures in the ’90s world of New York media. Ms. Martin was a news anchor on WCBS-TV in New York from 1975 to 1995. Ms. Birnbach is a writer best known for “The Official Preppy Handbook,” a best seller released in 1981. She has occasionally written for The Times.

Carol Martin

Both knew or had met Mr. Trump during that period: Ms. Birnbach had recently interviewed him at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., while Ms. Martin had met him at her news station and had a friend who briefly dated him.

• When Ms. Carroll told the two women about the alleged attack, they had very different reactions: Ms. Birnbach said she told Ms. Carroll to call the police, while Ms. Martin told Ms. Carroll not to talk about it because Mr. Trump was too powerful. Ultimately, Ms. Carroll, thinking she was partially to blame for the encounter, remained silent about it for decades.

“I said: Don’t tell anybody. I wouldn’t tell anybody this,” Ms. Martin said.

Also check out Charles Blow’s piece at The New York Times: Is Trump a Rapist? America needs to give these women, and the accusations they’ve brought forth, the full attention they deserve. Blow sees the failure to take Trump’s accusers seriously is a symptom of the way

…the country, or large segments of it, seems to be acquiescing to a particular form of evil, one that is pernicious and even playful, one in which the means of chipping away at our values and morals grow even stronger, graduating from tack hammer to standard hammer to sledgehammer.

Lisa Birnbach

America, it seems to me, is drifting toward catastrophe. Donald Trump is leading us there. And all the while, our politicians plot about political outcomes and leverage. Republican politicians are afraid to upset him; Democratic politicians are afraid to impeach him.

Read the whole thing at the NYT.

One more example of the war on women and then I’m going to wrap this up because my internet keeps disconnecting.

Alabama.com: Alabama woman loses unborn child after being shot, gets arrested; shooter goes free.

A woman whose unborn baby was killed in a 2018 Pleasant Grove shooting has now been indicted in the death. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that this woman is black.

Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old Birmingham woman, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a manslaughter charge. She was taken into custody on Wednesday.

Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.

The shooting happened about noon on Dec. 4, 2018, outside Dollar General on Park Road. Officers were dispatched to the scene on a report of someone shot but arrived to find the shooting victim – later identified as Jones – had been picked up and driven to Fairfield. Police and paramedics then found the Jones at a Fairfield convenience store.

Marshae Jones

Jones was taken from Fairfield to UAB Hospital. She was five months pregnant and was shot in the stomach. The unborn baby did not survive the shooting.

“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid said at the time of the shooting. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”

Women’s rights advocates were outraged.

The Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds which helps women access abortion services, released a statement Wednesday night. The group gained national attention after the passage of Alabama’s new abortion law.

“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,’’ Executive Director Amanda Reyes said in the statement.“

“Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care,” Reyes said.

The presidential candidates should be asked about this. We desperately need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Women are losing their status as human beings with individual rights.

So . . . what stories have you been following?


Monday Reads: Pick your Trumpian Poison Pill for Democracy in the USA

Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Gómez Alonzo died in federal custody after they fled to the US from Guatemala. (CNN)  Felipe Gómez Alonzo was excited to come to the U.S. He thought he might get his own bicycle. His mom and dad let him make the trip after he got upset that his dad might leave without him. He died on Christmas Eve in our government’s custody. He was 8.  Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin liked to climb trees. She jumped when her dad told her she could come with him to the U.S. She thought she might get her first toy; she’d just got her first pair of shoes. She died on December 8 in our government’s custody. She was 7.

Well, it’s Monday Sky Dancers!

It’s getting extremely rough to watch the headlines these days in this country and above all, about this country.  I do not care what people that voted for Trump think. I only hope they are all extremely ashamed of what they’ve done to our country.  They probably won’t be, however, since most of them are so wrapped up in their state of  white muffin rage being focused on nothing but their self-created wretchedness and looking for others to blame.

I’m not sure what horrid news to headline first but our real President tweeted out our most pressing issue this morning. We have to stop killing and torturing children in the name of Trumpism which this day also means OUR names.

Trump defended his actions with immense and cruel lies on Sunday to “journalist” Chuck Todd.  Here’s the headline from USA Today. “Trump defends conditions for detained migrant kids, blames Obama for family separations; fact checkers call foul.”

When questioned by interviewers about migrant children detained at the southern border, President Donald Trump has tried to steer the blame toward the previous administration, saying former President Barack Obama initiated the policy of separating those children from their caregivers, even though fact checkers have consistently found that claim to be false

During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which aired Sunday, Trump told host Chuck Todd that he “inherited separation from President Obama” and that “I was the one that ended it.”

“When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that put them together,” he told Telemundo’s José Díaz Balart in an interview that aired Thursday.

And on Thursday he told Time magazine that “I inherited separation” and “I’m the one that put the families back together.”

But, according to FactCheck.org, “previous administrations did not have a blanket policy to prosecute parents and separate them from their children.” It was after the Trump administration announced its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy in April 2018, in which everyone who illegally entered the U.S. was referred for criminal prosecution, that thousands of migrant children were separated from their parents.

 

Charles Blow of the NYT writes today: “Trump’s ‘Concentration Camps’. The cruelty of immigrant family separations must not be tolerated.”

I have often wondered why good people of good conscience don’t respond to things like slavery or the Holocaust or human rights abuse.

Maybe they simply became numb to the horrific way we now rarely think about or discuss the men still being held at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial, and who may as well die there.

Maybe people grow weary of wrestling with their anger and helplessness, and shunt the thought to the back of their minds and try to simply go on with life, dealing with spouses and children, making dinner and making beds.

Maybe there is simply this giant, silent, cold thing drifting through the culture like an iceberg that barely pierces the surface.

I believe that we will one day reflect on this period in American history where migrant children are being separated from their parents, some having been kept in cages, and think to ourselves: How did this happen?

Why were we not in the streets every day demanding an end to this atrocity? How did we just go on with our lives, disgusted but not distracted?

Thousands of migrant children have now been separated from their parents.

As NBC News reported in May:

“At least seven children are known to have died in immigration custody since last year, after almost a decade in which no child reportedly died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

Homeland Security’s own inspector general has described egregious conditions at detention facilities.

And, last week, an attorney for the Trump administration argued before an incredulous panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit that toothbrushes, soap and appropriate sleeping arrangements were not necessary for the government to meet its requirement to keep migrant children in “safe and sanitary” conditions.

As one of the judges asked the attorney:

“Are you arguing seriously that you do not read the agreement as requiring you do something other than what I described: Cold all night long. Lights on all night long. Sleep on the concrete floor and you get an aluminum blanket?”

Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez loved playing the piano and the bass. His family called him Goyito. He had 8 brothers and sisters. One of them, Edgar, had special needs. Carlos came to the U.S. to help support Edgar.
He died on May 20 in our government’s custody. He was 16.

Here’s a report from ABC News: “Doctor compares conditions for unaccompanied children at immigrant holding centers to ‘torture facilities'”.

From sleeping on concrete floors with the lights on 24 hours a day to no access to soap or basic hygiene, migrant children in at least two U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities face conditions one doctor described as comparable to “torture facilities.”

The disturbing, first-hand account of the conditions were observed by lawyers and a board-certified physician in visits last week to border patrol holding facilities in Clint, Texas, and McAllen, a city in the southern part of the state.

The descriptions paint a bleak image of horrific conditions for children, the youngest of whom is 2 1/2 months old.

“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” the physician, Dolly Lucio Sevier, wrote in a medical declaration obtained exclusively by ABC News.

Lucio Sevier, who works in private practice in the area, was granted access to the Ursula facility in McAllen, which is the largest CBP detention center in the country, after lawyers found out about a flu outbreak there that sent five infants to the neonatal intensive care unit.

This is unacceptable and each one of us should be on the phone to our Senators and Representative to end this now.

Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle hadn’t seen her mom in 9 years. She came here to see her mom. She was hospitalized soon after she got here. Her mom asked for Darlyn to be released to her. The government refused.
She died on September 29 in our government’s custody. She was 10.

The NYT’s had this report a few days ago: ” ‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children.”

A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held, according to lawyers who visited the facility this week. Some of the children have been there for nearly a month.

Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.

Most of the young detainees have not been able to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, those who visited said. They have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap.

“There is a stench,” said Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, one of the lawyers who visited the facility. “The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border.”

I’ve actually reached the point where I think it’s necessary for all the living Presidents, their families, and as many other senior level officials that they can gather need to go to the border and put a name to it.  We’re operating Torture Centers for Children and I can’t think of a better group to shame this government.  Yes, that’s a radical thought because usually retired Presidents don’t get involved with the business in Washington and another administration unless asked. But, this is a radically different time with a radically different group in charge. Only true leadership can trump Trumpism.

There is another news today including massive leaks of Team Trump’s inability to get legitimate security clearances and a huge number of red flags that should have disqualified the lot of them.  Exclusive from Axios: “Exclusive: Leaked Trump vetting docs”.

Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to “Axios on HBO” identify a host of “red flags” about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.

Why it matters: The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government.

Some highlights:

  • Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his job as EPA Administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting form titled “allegations of coziness with big energy companies.”

  • Tom Price, who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging “criticisms of management ability” and “Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price’s Leadership Of The House Budget Committee.”

  • Mick Mulvaney, who became Trump’s Budget Director and is now his acting chief of staff, has a striking assortment of “red flags,” including his assessment that Trump “is not a very good person.”

  • The Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani, in line for Secretary of State, that they created a separate 25-page document titled “Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier” with copious accounting of his “foreign entanglements.”

  • One red flag for Gen. David Petraeus, who was under consideration for Secretary of State and National Security Adviser: “Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture.”

Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez’s mother brought him to the U.S. to get him medical care for a condition that left him unable to walk.
He died on May 14 in our government’s custody. He was 2.

Yes, well, that explains why we have children in Torture Camps.

Here’s some more tidbits. I suggest you go read the entire summary of the mess.

The RNC researchers identified some striking “Red Flags.”

  • The first red flag for Rex Tillerson, who became Trump’s first Secretary of State, was about Russia. “Tillerson’s Russia ties go deep,” it read.
  • One red flag for Fox News host Laura Ingraham, considered for White House press secretary: “Ingraham said people should wear diapers instead of sharing bathrooms with transgender people.”
  • One heading in the document about Kris Kobach, in the running for Homeland Security Secretary, listed “white supremacy” as a vulnerability. It cited accusations from past political opponents that he had ties to white supremacist groups.
  • Vetters had unique concerns about Gary Cohn. “Some Say Cohn Has An Abrasive, Curt, And Intimidating Style,” they wrote, citing a Bloomberg piece. “He Would Sometimes Hike Up One Leg And Plant His Foot On A Trader’s Desk, His Thigh Close To The Employee’s Face, And Ask How Markets Were Doing.”

Some of the contenders were strikingly swampy — even by the RNC vetters’ standards.

  • Seema Verma, who Trump appointed as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, had this paragraph near the top of her vetting form: “Verma was simultaneously advising Indiana ($3.5 million in contracts) on issues impacting how it would spend Medicaid funds while she was also being paid by a client that received Medicaid funds. Ethics experts have called the arrangement a conflict of interest that potentially put Indiana taxpayers at risk.”
  • Sonny Perdue, Trump’s pick for Agriculture Secretary, had a vetting form with sections labeled “Business conflicts of interest” and “Family conflicts of interest.” It noted that “Perdue is the owner of Houston Fertilizer and Grain, a company that has received contracts from the Department of Agriculture.”

The documents point to Trump’s willingness to meet with — and sometimes hire — people who had harshly criticized him. The vetting team often put these denigrations at the top of the documents. A source with direct knowledge told me many of these documents were handed to Trump; he knew about the insults, and picked the insulters anyway.

  • Nikki Haley, who became Trump’s U.N. ambassador, had a note that she’d said Trump is everything “we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten.”

  • Ryan Zinke, who became Interior Secretary, had described Trump as “un-defendable.”

  • Rick Perry, Energy Secretary, had voluminous vetting concerns: “Perry described Trumpism as a ‘toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition,'” the vetters noted.

Juan de León Gutierréz was shy, a good student. When he missed class to help his dad harvest coffee, he’d run to catch his teacher after school to explain his absence.
He died on April 30 in our government’s custody. He was 16.

We know that Trump is a disaster. Here is a Bloomberg headline from Timothy O’Brien: “Trump Suffers a Triple Fail on Iran, Mexico and Immigration. The president’s solo initiatives on Iran, Mexico and immigrants were all abandoned before taking effect. Twitter bravado is a terrible way to govern.”

In a word, President Trump was never going to become “presidential.” It was inevitable instead that he would find himself most interested in frequenting the corridors of power that allowed him to operate independently. That’s not an uncommon phenomenon for presidents, but in Trump’s case it’s uniquely perilous because no president in the modern era has been as ill-informed, unhinged and undisciplined as the current one. None has been as needy, nor as willing to playact without remorse while making the most consequential of decisions.

To help demonstrate the point, Trump has given the world a trifecta of sorts in recent weeks involving trade with Mexico, a military strike in Iran, and government raids on the homes of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Trump launched all three episodes with public threats and bravado showcased on Twitter, embroidered them with promises of imminent and decisive action, and tethered them to the notion that complex challenges can be solved with blunt force wielded by a single man. He then abruptly abandoned all three provocations just before they were to take effect.

In early June, Trump threatened, via Twitter, to impose onerous tariffs on Mexico if it failed to help solve the immigration and humanitarian crisis spilling over from Central America and into the U.S. His own political party and the business community brought him to heel within a week and he abandoned the tariff threat on the eve of imposing it. Mexico didn’t agree to substantially change any new policing activities along the border. But in the few days that his threat stood, Trump managed to destabilize financial markets and nearly upended a global trade and supply chain that supported legions of businesses and millions of people on both sides of the border.

Last Thursday, Trump noted on Twitter that “Iran made a very big mistake!” when it shot down a U.S. drone that Iran claimed had crossed into its airspace. Later that same day the president authorized a military strike against the country, only to call it off when, reportedly, he became aware that as many as 150 might be killed. While Trump is now embracing tougher economic sanctions against Iran, he has exposed deep divisions among his national security and military advisers. He’s also proven himself to be dangerously unpredictable to allies whose help he still needs if he wants to see substantial long-term changes gain traction in Iran and the rest of the Middle East.

To top it off, Trump barely gave observers time to digest his abandoned military strikes before he engaged in a bit of Orwellian doublespeak. “I never called the strike against Iran ‘BACK,’ as people are incorrectly reporting,” he said on Twitter on Saturday. “I just stopped it from going forward at this time!”

The same day – on Twitter, of course – Trump said he also had decided to postpone raids on the homes of about 2,000 undocumented immigrant families living in the U.S. who had already received deportation orders. This came on the heels of Trump’s threats earlier in the week – made just before he traveled to Florida to kick off his 2020 presidential campaign – to deport “millions” of immigrants (a figure that vastly overstated what his immigration officials were considering, but might have been reassuring for Trump’s political base to hear).

Trump said he postponed the raids because Democrats had asked him to wait so they could discuss other policy options with him. But the postponement was also reportedly due, in part, to concerns that Trump’s telegraphing of specifics about the raids had jeopardized the safety of immigration officers and the welfare of children potentially caught up in the sweeps.

In any event, the brinksmanship and escalation that marked Trump’s public blustering on tariffs and Iran had a decidedly more obscene quality when deployed against a population of migrants left vulnerable and rootless by the drug wars and economic uncertainty that have engulfed much of Central America. The president’s vacillating, set against a backdrop of an administration already under fire for separating migrant families at the southern border and jailing children and teenagers in squalid detention centers, may harden both sides in the border debate and prevent Congress from overhauling immigration laws in tandem with the White House.

Expect Trump’s cartwheeling to continue. It’s who he is.

Here’s the source of these portraits of children who came to our country with hope and died in negligence from our Trumpian horror.

I really didn’t want to put up all these today to overwhelm you as much as I am overwhelmed. I just remember that a year ago I was protesting this shit. These children have died since that protest. That’s not working. It’s time to do more. Write or call your representatives in Washington DC and demand something be done. Scream! Cry! Tell them you’ll work against them when they come up for re-election. Let everyone know we need to end all this now.

If that’s now you, maybe you can write a check to help.

Remember, Trump is promising massive round ups in most major cities. Find out if there’s any way you can help in your city.  He’s supposedly put this off but the date he’s given is our Independence Day Weekend.  That should horrify any of us.

In immigration news, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Friday it would start a mass roundup of immigrants starting Sunday under the name “family op,” targeting 10 cities. On Saturday, amid national outcry, President Trump backtracked on that plan, saying he would delay the deportations by two weeks and put the onus on Democrats to make changes to immigration policy if they wanted to avoid the plan from going ahead. But some media reports claim that the delay was prompted by a leak by acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan or his staff, which could have compromised the plan.

Democratic lawmakers accused the Trump administration of using the threat of mass deportations as a bargaining chip to push its immigration agenda. Texas Congressmember Joaquin Castro said, “The threat to knock and drag people away from their families and out of their communities shouldn’t be a negotiation tactic for an American president.”

New Orleans and many other cities are refusing to aid ICE in this action.  See if your city is on that list.

 

Look at the type of people we’re up against!

From Motherly: “10 powerful ways we can help immigrant children separated from their parents.”

This has a good list of places to write checks to and support.  Remember, thoughts and prayers do nothing!! This is a good person to have the last word today.

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list 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.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giancarlo Granda and Jerry Falwell Jr. at Cheeca Lodge

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

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

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

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

Jerry Fallwell Jr. and his wife Becki

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

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

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

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

Read the rest at the link above.

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

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

Racist Senator James Eastland

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

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

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

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

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

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

From The New York Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pete Buddigieg faces his worst nightmare

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

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

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

Head over to the WaPo to read the rest.

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

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

Trump concentration camp for immigrant children

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at the link.

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


Wednesday Reads: Supporters ala tRump

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Trump 2020

Trump 2020: 06/19/2019 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Do you ever look at a group of people…and say to yourself, tRump supporters.

SEE IT: Giant great white shark stuns fisherman during real-life ‘Jaws’ moment | Fox News

Aside from this story being on FoxNews….or the fact that the fishing boat is called, cough: “Big Nutz Required II”

A great white shark approaches the boat Big Nutz Required II while the boat was fishing 30 miles from Manasquan Inlet on June 18, 2019. (Photo: Jeff Crilly)

Jeff Crilly was out on his boat the “Big Nutz Required II” with some pals Monday when a great white shark swam up to the stem of the boat and grabbed a bag of chum, in a tale reminiscent of the 1975 blockbuster “Jaws.”

“Whoah! This thing is huge!” the group can be heard yelling in a video of the incident posted by Crilly on Facebook.

**WARNING: PROFANE LANGUAGE**

They continue to cry “holy sh-t!” as the beast approaches and circles the boat, rearing its nose to chow down on a yellow bag of chum.

“Dude that was the coolest f–ing thing I’ve ever seen, oh my God, dude! Once in a lifetime man,” one of the fishermen shouts as the others laugh and cheer in disbelief.

Crilly didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Post but told the Asbury Park Press the five-man fishing crew was about 30 miles southeast of Manasquan Inlet when the shark approached.

If you can’t watch the embedded link, go to the link to see the video clip. Like I said it is a typical macho tRumpazoid manzone…but the shark is amazing.

More tRumpzone crazy, SEE IT: Parents of youth baseball players brawl after 13-year-old umpire makes controversial call – New York Daily News

Parents of 7-year-old youth baseball players in Colorado brawled over the weekend after a controversial call was made by the umpire — who is 13.

Police in Lakewood released video of the ugly incident on Tuesday with the hope of collaring at least one of the assailants. Several people have already been cited, according to cops.

Video shows the parents and coaches slugging it out as horrified children and spectators look on.

“I think the saddest part in all of this is we’re talking about a 7-year-old baseball game,” police spokesman John Romero told TV station Fox 31. “I think it’s the parents who have to grow up.”

At least one person was seriously injured in the melee, which took place Saturday at Westgate Elementary School. The violence started after the teen umpire ruled that a player on one of the teams batted out of order, according to KKTV.

Video at the link….

One last link, to cleans the palette: Masculinity is a trap – which is why more men should wear skirts | Arwa Mahdawi | Opinion | The Guardian

It is sad that so many men are petrified about seeming effeminate. It is sad that it is not socially acceptable for men to experiment with fashion in the same way women can. Happily, however, things are changing gradually. No one looks twice at a guy with a man-bun or a man-bag any more; male makeup is a growing industry; and male rompers were a thing for a while.

While men in dresses are still considered noteworthy, guys such as Porter are sashaying into the mainstream. The rapper Young Thug is fond of skirts and the actor Jaden Smith frequently and unapologetically dons dresses. “If I Wanna Wear A Dress, Then I Will, And That Will Set The New Wave,” Smith wrote on Twitter last year. Meanwhile London fashion week featured so many men breezing along in gender-fluid fashion that GQ proclaimed: “2019 is the year men will start wearing skirts.” I certainly hope so. Masculinity is a straitjacket; it is high time more men broke free.

 

More Cartoons:

Pole numbers: 06/19/2019 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Pole numbers

Where we’re headed: 06/19/2019 Cartoon by Sage Stossel

Cartoon by Sage Stossel - Where we're headed

Sarah Sanders: 06/19/2019 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Sarah Sanders

Big Tech: 06/18/2019 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Big Tech

War Talk: 06/19/2019 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - War Talk

The house is too damn big: 06/19/2019 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - The house is too damn big

06/18/2019 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

06/15/2019 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

This is an open thread.