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?


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?


Tuesday Reads: No More Finger-Wagging Old White Men, Please.

Good Morning!!

Did you see the disturbing interaction between Joy Reid and Joe Biden at the Poor People’s Campaign forum? I didn’t watch it, but Rachel Maddow showed the clip last night.

Hundreds of women reacted on Twitter, calling Biden’s body language intimidating and his tone condescending. I agree.

Two male authors at CNN said Biden “forcefully pushed back against criticism that he is naïve to think Democrats can work with Republicans in Congress,” seemingly missing Biden’s threatening body language.

Here’s another Biden interaction with a woman that was posted on Twitter:

The Daily Dot: Voter behind Biden finger photo says they were ‘shocked’ by candidate’s actions.

We all know those people who say, “no one is a bigger feminist than I am” yet go on to show through their actions that they are anything buta feminist. A recent photo of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden pointing a finger in a womxn‘s face illustrates this type of character perfectly. And, hopefully, the memes emerging from this photo will put a spotlight on the former vice president’s policies concerning reproductive rights, abortion, and assault.

K.C. Cayo, who goes by @thelocalmaniac8 on Twitter, shared the now-viral photo of Biden—who is currently campaigning in Iowa—pointing a finger in their face with the caption, “Told Biden we need someone stronger on reproductive justice, and after his reversal on the Hyde Amendment, we asked him to protect assault survivors. He said, ‘nobody has spoken about it, done more, or changed more than I have.’ I told him we deserve better.”

Just what we need–another finger-wagging white male in his 70s. More from the Daily Dot story:

Cayo told the Daily Dot in a direct message on Twitter that they were “overwhelmed and excited” by the response to the photo, which was taken by Sarah Pearson. “I’m glad that survivors of sexual assault are finding that my experience resonates so much with them, and that we were able to capture Biden’s true colors,” they said….

“When it was happening, I was shocked—we all were,” they said. “This was not supposed to be a ‘gotcha!’ moment…this was supposed to be a candid discussion about why people like us were wary of his policies and voting record, followed by a question about how he would protect womxn by reforming and restructuring our courts to keep people like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh off of it.”

“Our conversation never got that far,” Cayo continued. “He continued to change the subject to VAWA, got increasingly agitated, leaned close, raised his hand, and raised his voice.”

And where did Biden get the idea that he can get Republicans to work with him? Why didn’t he do it during his eight years as Vice President if he’s so confident?

According to The Washington Post, Obama administration veterans are mystified:

While Biden often cited his relationship with Obama, he left some members of the Obama administration frustrated with his promises to cooperate with Republicans.

Joy-Ann Reid, an MSNBC host who moderated the session, asked Biden how he would pass his plans through a stubborn Congress — in particular, how he would work with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who makes little secret of his satisfaction at blocking Democratic initiatives.

Biden bristled at the suggestion that his approach was misguided. As he wound through his response, Biden moved nearer to Reid, who was seated, and leaned over her.

“Joy-Ann, I know you’re one of the ones who thinks it’s naive to think we have to work together,” Biden said. “The fact of the matter is, if we can’t get a consensus, nothing happens except the abuse of power by the executive branch. Zero.” He added that “you can shame people into doing the right thing.”

Biden’s suggestion that he could persuade McConnell to cooperate prompted skepticism from those who have interacted with McConnell. Alyssa Mastro­monaco, a former Obama deputy chief of staff, tweeted, “maybe you can shame people. you can’t shame McConnell. it would be dope to find a path to greater bipartisanship but this isn’t that path.”

I will never vote for Biden. Never.

The youngest white man in the presidential race is having facing some trouble back home in South Bend. USA Today: Buttigieg cancels campaign events after fatal police shooting in South Bend.

Pete Buttigieg this week canceled several campaign events after returning to South Bend, Indiana, following a police-involved shooting that left a black man dead.

South Bend resident Eric Logan was shot early Sunday after the police responded to a report that a suspicious person was going through cars, the St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office said, according to the Associated Press.

Logan was confronted by a police officer in a vehicle at an apartment building parking lot, the AP reported. The prosecutor’s office said Logan exited the vehicle and approached the officer with a knife raised and the officer opened fire, according to the AP. The name and race/ethnicity of the officer were not released.

Logan, 54, died at a hospital and an autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

Eugene Scott at The Washington Post: Police shooting in South Bend will put scrutiny on Buttigieg’s handling of race and police.

Buttigieg has spent the past few months trying to convince black voters that he hears, and understands, their concerns when it comes to issues of police violence against people of color — and that he will work to address those concerns if elected president.

During Buttigieg’s 2015 State of the City address, he used the phrase “all lives matter,” which critics say displayed a lack of awareness or a lack of sensitivity about the ongoing tensions between law enforcement and communities of color:

There is no contradiction between respecting the risks police officers take every day in order to protect this community and recognizing the need to overcome the biases implicit in a justice system that treats people from different backgrounds differently, even when they are accused of the same offenses. We need to take both those things seriously, for the simple and profound reason that all lives matter.

“All Lives Matter” is a phrase often used to counter the argument made by those invoking “Black Lives Matter,” a slogan used to draw attention to police brutality against black people. The young mayor has said he was trying to acknowledge that police are worthy of respect for putting their lives on the line while also acknowledging implicit biases in the criminal justice system harm people of color.

Click the link to read much more about Buttigieg’s history with African Americans in South Bend.

Last night Trump sent a disturbing tweet about mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

some people on Twitter referenced Kristallnacht in reference to Trump’s threat.

The Washington Post: Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week.

President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities….

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, Calif., with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

Trump and his senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have been prodding Homeland Security officials to arrest and remove thousands of family members whose deportation orders were expedited by the Justice Department this year as part of a plan known as the “rocket docket.”

In April, acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were ousted after they hesitated to go forward with the plan, expressing concerns about its preparation, effectiveness and the risk of public outrage from images of migrant children being taken into custody or separated from their families.

It’s difficult to know if there really is such a plan for next week or if this is just bluster ahead of Trump’s hate rally in Florida tonight, where is supposedly announcing his run for reelection again. If he sees today’s Orlando Sentinel, he’ll have a nasty surprise.

Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial

Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.

We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.

Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.

Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.

Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is.

It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it.

There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career.

Not so for Trump, who claimed in 2017 that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (they didn’t). In 2018 he said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat (it is). And in 2019 he said windmills cause cancer (they don’t). Just last week he claimed the media fabricated unfavorable results from his campaign’s internal polling (it didn’t).

According to a Washington Post database, the president has tallied more than 10,000 lies since he took office.

Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.

Click the link to read the rest.

More stories of possible interest, links only:

The New York Times: Paul Manafort Seemed Headed to Rikers. Then the Justice Department Intervened.

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: “Crickets. They’re Gone” Why the Mercers, Trump’s Biggest 2016 Backers, Have Bailed on Him.

The New York Times: Kremlin Warns of Cyberwar After Report of U.S. Hacking Into Russian Power Grid.

Yahoo News: Shanahan’s confirmation hearing for defense secretary delayed amid FBI investigation.

Politico: Pentagon sending 1,000 more troops as tensions with Iran grow.

Politico: Trump prepares to bypass Congress to take on Iran.

Politico: The House committee quietly racking up oversight wins against Trump.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Thursday Reads: The “President” is Corrupt, Unethical, and Amoral.

Édouard Vuillard Woman Reading on a Bench, 1898

Good Morning!!

In 2016, Trump openly called for Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails. After he was elected with Russia’s help, we learned that Donald Trump Jr. organized a meeting on June 9, 2016 with a Russian lawyer who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The meeting included Paul Manafort and Jered Kushner. When the news of the meeting became public, Trump dictated a false statement about the meeting for his son. He clearly knew there was something wrong with the meeting, or he would not have felt he needed to lie about it.

Fast forward to yesterday: Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that if foreigners offer him opposition research on an opponent again, he would happily accept the help; and he wouldn’t inform the FBI about it.

Morris Kantor, Woman Reading in Bed, 1930

To be clear, if a candidate solicits or accepts foreign help for his campaign he has committed a crime under the Federal Election Campaign Act. From the FEC website:

The Act and Commission regulations include a broad prohibition on foreign national activity in connection with elections in the United States. 52 U.S.C. § 30121 and generally, 11 CFR 110.20. In general, foreign nationals are prohibited from the following activities:

  • Making any contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or making any expenditureindependent expenditure, or disbursement in connection with any federal, state or local election in the United States;
  • Making any contribution or donation to any committee or organization of any national, state, district, or local political party (including donations to a party nonfederal account or office building account);
  • Making any disbursement for an electioneering communication;
  • Making any donation to a presidential inaugural committee.

Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to an FEC enforcement action, criminal prosecution, or both.

ABC News: ‘I think I’d take it’: In exclusive interview, Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents.

Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners — such as China or Russia — or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, “I think maybe you do both.”

Green Pajamas – Leopold Seyffert

“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump continued. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.” [….]

Trump disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided information on a political opponent, it would be considered interference in our election process.

“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

President Trump lamented the attention on his son, Donald Trump Jr., for his role in the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. Stephanopoulos asked whether Trump Jr. should have taken the Russians’ offer for “dirt” on then-candidate Hillary Clinton to the FBI.

“Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI?” Trump responded.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do,” Trump continued. “Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.”

By David Hettinger

Trump also said that his own hand-picked FBI director Chris Wray “is wrong” when he says campaigns should report any approaches from foreign nationals to authorities.

If anyone had any doubts that Trump is utterly corrupt, unethical, and amoral, yesterday should have ended those doubts. This man is a crook, plain and simple. He has–with help from Mitch McConnell prevented his administration from doing anything to protect our future elections, and now he has invited foreign adversaries to help him get reelected in 2020. The real question is whether Trump has already been approached and offered more help from Russia, China, North Korea, or another country ruled by a despot.

Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: Trump just mused openly about committing what might well be a crime.

Trump said he would likely entertain the information and then tell the FBI if he felt something was amiss.

“I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said. “If somebody called from a country — Norway — [and said,] ‘We have information on your opponent?’ Oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

The comparison was startling even for Mr. Trump. Having tea with the queen of England is hardly the same as taking clandestine help from agents of President Vladimir V. Putin as part of a concerted campaign by Russian intelligence to tilt an American presidential election.

American law makes it a crime for a candidate to accept money or anything of value from foreign governments or citizens for purposes of winning an election. Many lawyers argued about whether incriminating information, as Mr. Trump’s campaign in 2016 agreed to take from the Russian government, would qualify as a thing of value.

By Darren Thompson, 2015

It was not clear what Trump thought might be “wrong” with such information. And Trump offered two reasons for why he might not go to the FBI — because it supposedly “doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it” and that if, “you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it.”

…there is no evidence that “all” members of Congress accept opposition research from foreigners, or even that many do.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

This morning, Trump childishly responded on Twitter to the outrage that followed release of portions of the ABC News interview.

The New York Times: Trump Equates Taking Dirt From Russia With Presidential Diplomacy.

President Trump on Thursday defended his willingness to accept campaign help from Russia or other foreign governments by equating it to the sort of diplomatic meetings he holds with world leaders as the nation’s chief executive.

In an interview broadcast on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump had rejected his own F.B.I. director’s recommendation that candidates call the authorities if foreign governments seek to influence American elections, saying he would gladly take incriminating information about a campaign opponent from adversaries like Russia.

“I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day,” he wrote Thursday on Twitter. “I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ‘Everything!’” he added, misspelling the title of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, before fixing and reposting it.

“Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings?” he continued. “How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again. With that being said, my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.”

Young woman reading (1902). Samuel Melton Fisher

The comparison was startling even for Mr. Trump. Having tea with the queen of England is hardly the same as taking clandestine help from agents of President Vladimir V. Putin as part of a concerted campaign by Russian intelligence to tilt an American presidential election.

American law makes it a crime for a candidate to accept money or anything of value from foreign governments or citizens for purposes of winning an election. Many lawyers argued about whether incriminating information, as Mr. Trump’s campaign in 2016 agreed to take from the Russian government, would qualify as a thing of value.

And for Republicans accusing Hillary Clinton of accepting foreign help, she didn’t use anything form the so-called Steele dossier; and in fact, she and her top campaign staff had no idea a DNC lawyer was paying from some of Christopher Steele’s research.

Kellyanne Conway’s husband George Conway called for Trump’s impeachment in an op-ed he coauthored with Neal Kaytal: Trump just invited Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

On Tuesday, Trump gave us direct evidence of his contempt toward the most foundational precept of our democracy — that no person, not even the president, is above the law. He filed a brief in the nation’s second-most-important court that takes the position that Congress cannot investigate the president, except possibly in impeachment proceedings. It’s a spectacularly anti-constitutional brief, and anyone who harbors such attitudes toward our Constitution’s architecture is not fit for office. Trump’s brief is nothing if not an invitation to commencing impeachment proceedings that, for reasons set out in the Mueller report, should have already commenced.

Woman reading by Lex Veen, 2013

The case involves a House committee’s efforts to follow up on the testimony of Trump’s now-incarcerated former attorney, Michael Cohen, that Trump had allegedly committed financial and tax fraud, and allegedly paid off paramours in violation of campaign finance laws. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaedTrump’s accountants in mid-April for relevant documents, and Trump tried to block the move, only to be sternly rebuked in mid-May by a federal judge in Washington.

The appeals brief filed Monday by Trump attacks that decision. But to describe Trump’s brief is to refute it. He argues that Congress is “trying to prove that the President broke the law” and that that’s something Congress can’t do, because it’s “an exercise of law enforcement authority that the Constitution reserves to the executive branch.”

But in fact, Congress investigates lawbreaking, and potential lawbreaking, all the time. Mobsters, fraudsters, government employees, small companies, big companies — like it or not, all types of people and businesses get subpoenaed from time to time so that Congress can figure out whether current laws are effective, whether new laws are needed, whether sufficient governmental resources are being devoted to the task, whether more disclosure to the government or the public is required, or greater penalties, and so on.

To this, Trump’s brief complains that “Congress could always make this (non-falsifiable) argument” to justify any investigation. But that’s simply the result of the fact that, as the district court explained, Congress’s “power to investigate is deeply rooted in the nation’s history.” Congress, relying on English parliamentary tradition, has performed this function since the founding.

Click the link to read the rest.

Conway’s wife Kellyanne is also in the news today. Politico: Federal agency recommends that Kellyanne Conway be removed from service over Hatch Act.

The government office that oversees compliance with the Hatch Act has recommended that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway be removed from federal service.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent a report to President Donald Trump on Thursday that said Conway violated the law numerous times by criticizing Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.

This is the first time this office has ever recommended that a White House official be fired.

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


Tuesday Reads: Enemies of the People (Trump, Barr, and the NYT)

Good Morning!!

The New York Times has really bitten the dust this time. Yesterday they announced they will no longer run any political cartoons. Not only are NYT editors terrified of offending Trump and his base, but also they clearly have no sense of humor.

Chapette reacted to his firing at his personal website: The end of political cartoons at The New York Times.

All my professional life, I have been driven by the conviction that the unique freedom of political cartooning entails a great sense of responsibility.

In 20-plus years of delivering a twice-weekly cartoon for the International Herald Tribune first, and then The New York Times, and after receiving three OPC awards in that category, I thought the case for political cartoons had been made (in a newspaper that was notoriously reluctant to the form in past history.) But something happened. In April 2019, a Netanyahu caricature from syndication reprinted in the international editions triggered widespread outrage, a Times apology and the termination of syndicated cartoons. Last week, my employers told me they’ll be ending in-house political cartoons as well by July. I’m putting down my pen, with a sigh: that’s a lot of years of work undone by a single cartoon – not even mine – that should never have run in the best newspaper of the world.

I’m afraid this is not just about cartoons, but about journalism and opinion in general. We are in a world where moralistic mobs gather on social media and rise like a storm, falling upon newsrooms in an overwhelming blow. This requires immediate counter-measures by publishers, leaving no room for ponderation or meaningful discussions. Twitter is a place for furor, not debate. The most outraged voices tend to define the conversation, and the angry crowd follows in.

Cartoon by Chappette

In 1995, at twenty-something, I moved to New York with a crazy dream: I would convince the New York Times to have political cartoons. An art director told me: “We never had political cartoons and we will never have any.“ But I was stubborn. For years, I did illustrations for NYT Opinion and the Book Review, then I persuaded the Paris-based International Herald Tribune (a NYT-Washington Post joint venture) to hire an in-house editorial cartoonist. By 2013, when the NYT had fully incorporated the IHT, there I was: featured on the NYT website, on its social media and in its international print editions. In 2018, we started translating my cartoons on the NYT Chinese and Spanish websites. The U.S. paper edition remained the last frontier. Gone out the door, I had come back through the window. And proven that art director wrong: The New York Times did have in-house political cartoons. For a while in history, they dared.

Along with The Economist, featuring the excellent Kal, The New York Times was one of the last venues for international political cartooning – for a U.S. newspaper aiming to have a meaningful impact worldwide, it made sense. Cartoons can jump over borders. Who will show the emperor Erdogan that he has no clothes, when Turkish cartoonists can’t do it ? – one of them, our friend Musa Kart, is now in jail. Cartoonists from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Russia were forced into exile. Over the last years, some of the very best cartoonists in the U.S., like Nick Anderson and Rob Rogers, lost their positions because their publishers found their work too critical of Trump. Maybe we should start worrying. And pushing back. Political cartoons were born with democracy. And they are challenged when freedom is.

I agree that this isn’t just about cartoons. Trump is succeeding in his war against the press, and the editors of the New York Times are helping him. Twitter commentary from two cartoonists:

Thread from Pat Bagley. More tweets on Twitter

Continuing on the subject of press freedom, CNN’s Jim Acosta has a book out: The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America. Sam Donaldson reviewed the book at CNN:

Reading Jim Acosta’s new book “Enemy of the People” is like watching a train wreck in progress, with passengers bracing for the inevitable crash.

Friends and critics agree we have never seen a president like Donald J. Trump, whose disdain, even contempt and apparent hatred for many members of the press is almost daily on display.
Acosta cites instance after instance when this President and many of his staff show that they are bent on interfering with the ability of reporters to bring the public an accurate account of the administration’s stewardship.

For most of his adult life, President Trump courted the press, lived for its attention, even for a time pretended he was someone else when calling reporters to sing Trump’s praises. Whether now he truly believes that the mainstream press, as he says, reports “fake” news and is the “enemy of the American people,” or that such language is simply part of a tactic meant to stoke the anger of his “base” while escaping an objective accounting of his actions doesn’t matter. The effect is to undermine the credibility of the media, leaving him free to pursue policies that harm us at home and abroad….

History shows that tyrants and would-be tyrants always attempt to destroy a free press. And that is why the First Amendment to our Constitution specifically forbids government from interfering with the work of the press.

Read the rest at CNN. I don’t know if I’ll read Acosta’s book, but what Donaldson has to say is vitally important.

I’m feeling so discouraged about the Democratic primary. There are far too many candidates and the ones leading the pack are pathetic. Biden, Buttigieg and Sanders? Please. At this point, I think Trump will win a second term unless his dementia gets so bad the press finally has to begin writing about it.

Eugene Robinson writes at The Washington Post: We don’t need 23 presidential candidates. There’s another important role to fill.

Dear Democratic presidential candidates: I know all 23 of you want to run against President Trump, but only one will get that opportunity. If you truly believe your own righteous rhetoric, some of you ought to be spending your time and energy in another vital pursuit — winning control of the Senate.

I’m talking to you, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, who would have a good chance of beating incumbent Republican Cory Gardner. I’m talking to you, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, who could knock off GOP incumbent Steve Daines. I’m even talking to you, Beto O’Rourke, who would have a better chance than any other Texas Democrat against veteran Republican John Cornyn.

And I’m talking to you, too, Stacey Abrams of Georgia, even though you haven’t jumped in. You came within a whisker of being elected governor, and you have a national profile that would bring in a tsunami of campaign funds. You could beat Republican David Perdue — and acquire real power to translate your stirring eloquence into concrete action.

I agree that we absolutely need Senate candidates, but the even greater problem is the candidates that are topping the polls. Biden, Sanders, and even Warren are too old. Biden and Sanders have far too many negatives in their past histories. Buttigieg is too inexperienced, and can you really imagine him beating Trump? More from Robinson on the importance of winning the Senate:

As the Republican Party has long understood, it’s all about power. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could not care less about lofty words and high ideals. Coldly and methodically, he has used his power to block widely supported progressive measures such as gun control, to enact a trickle-down economic agenda that favors the wealthy and to pack the federal bench with right-wing judges whom we’ll be stuck with for decades.

We all remember how McConnell refused even to schedule hearings for President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, ostensibly because the vacancy occurred during an election year. Were you surprised when he said recently that if a seat were to come open in 2020, he would hasten to confirm a replacement? I wasn’t. That’s how McConnell rolls. He exercises his power to its full extent and is not bothered by what you or I or anyone else might think. Charges of hypocrisy do not trouble his sweet slumber.

McConnell is not going to be reasoned, harangued or shamed into behaving differently. The only way to stop him is to take his power away, and the only way to do that is for Democrats to win the Senate.

Another danger we face is Cover-Up General Barr’s hostile takeover of the Justice Department. NBC News reports: New details of Barr’s far-reaching probe into ‘spying’ on Trump 2016 campaign.

The Justice Department on Monday offered new insight into what it called a “broad” and “multifaceted” review of the origins of the Russia investigation, and sought to assure lawmakers that the probe ordered by President Donald Trump would work to protect sensitive intelligence at the heart of it.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said the investigation — referred to throughout as a “review” — would evaluate whether the counterintelligence investigation launched in 2016 into potential contacts between foreign entities and individuals associated with Donald Trump’s campaign “complied with applicable policies and laws.”

“There remain open questions relating to the origins of this counterintelligence investigation and the U.S. and foreign intelligence activities that took place prior to and during that investigation. The purpose of the Review is to more fully understand the efficacy and propriety of those steps and to answer, to the satisfaction of the Attorney General, those open questions,” Boyd wrote.

DOJ announced in May that Attorney Gen. William Barr had assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, to oversee a review long called for by Trump into whether the Russia probe, launched in the heat of the presidential campaign, was influenced by politics and whether established protocols were followed involving the surveillance of Trump campaign officials.

A counterpoint from former CIA Chief of Station John Sipher at The Washington Post: Trump’s conspiracy theories about intelligence will make the CIA’s job harder.

President Trump’s attempts to craft a public narrative that a government conspiracy was aimed at his presidential campaign moved off Twitter and into the real world of official documents last month. Trump issued a directive assigning Attorney General William P. Barr to probe the origins of the Russia investigation, giving Barr the authority to declassify secret intelligence. As the president stated, “We’re exposing everything.”

The order directly undercuts Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, who is responsible for both protecting and potentially releasing intelligence. And it suggests that Trump is still disputing the fact that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

The president hardly needs to create a public furor to determine what the intelligence community knew about Russian interference, when they knew it or how they learned it. The CIA would gladly provide detailed briefings to him, the attorney general or anyone Trump might request one for. There are well-established means of sharing information within the executive branch. If the president wants to see the specific intelligence, he can.

But that’s not what Trump wants, is it?

But a private inquiry would not provide Trump with the political weapon of a public scapegoat. If he’s looking to discredit the intelligence behind the unanimous assessment by U.S. agencies in 2016 — since affirmed by the Mueller report, numerous indictments and no shortage of public evidence — he seems to want someone to blame. The recent directive hints at Trump’s eagerness to find a CIA version of his favorite targets at the FBI: James B. Comey, Peter Strzok, Bruce Ohr, Andrew McCabe or Robert S. Mueller III’s “angry Democrats.”

Creating a boogeyman inside the CIA is probably an effective tool if Trump’s goal is to persuade voters that he faced a “coup” and that the Russian attack was a “hoax,” as he has claimed. The necessary secrecy of the CIA’s activities makes it easy to spin a conspiracy and scare the public. A weaponized charge can appear simple and compelling, while the CIA’s ability to respond is limited; the issues involved are complicated and hard to explain in the length of a tweet. It is not hard to whip up fear and assume the worst of a powerful and shadowy secret agency if the most powerful man in the world is willing to deceive the public in the process.

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


Sunday Reads: Purple Water

And with that specific cartoon…attention folks in West Virginia!

Here is the tweet that L Ron Mexico is responding to:

I’m going to post a few more reactions to this obvious bullshit notice about the magenta water conditions:

For another turn, check out who gets the last laugh on Bill Maher…

So good.

As many of you know, we have been moving into a new house the past week. I hope it will be the last move of my lifetime. The internet has been sporadic at best, Windstream is the worst. I just wanted to share a few more items with you.

Lastly, this bit of shit headline:

 

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

By Marc Chagall

Good Morning!!

Before I begin, a note on the art works in this post: Each has an interesting back story that you can read about at this link. Now on to today’s reads.

Have you heard the news? The “president” says the moon is “part of Mars.”

Yes, folks. The “president” is loony tunes and we have to deal with that every day of our lives now. It’s so exhausting.

Bloomberg: Trump Chides NASA for Focus on Moon After Focusing NASA on Moon.

President Donald Trump criticized NASA on Friday for focusing on travel to the moon, raising questions about the space agency’s mandate just months after his administration declared the U.S. would return astronauts to the moon within five years “by any means necessary.”

“For all the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” Trump said on Twitter.

By Leon Bakst

The president’s tweet followed an announcement by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that it would allow private citizens to travel to the International Space Station and open some facilities to businesses to help pay for the plan to return to the moon. But his remarks stood in contrast to his previous directive that NASA return astronauts to the moon by 2025.

He unveiled the plan in December, saying: “The directive I’m signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use.” [….]

It’s unclear when the president decided NASA shouldn’t focus on the moon. Less than a month ago, Trump reiterated his enthusiasm for the plan in a tweet: “Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”

And just last week, during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said: “We’ll be going to the moon. We’ll be going to Mars very soon. It’s very exciting. And from a military standpoint, there is nothing more important right now than space.”

Trump probably didn’t pay attention to what he was saying. Perhaps he was just reading words handed to him by his staff. Either that or he forgot. Who knows what’s going on in his dementia-addled brain?

But where did he get the idea that the moon is part of Mars?

Sarah Kaplan reacts to Trump’s tweet at The Washington Post: Fact check: What is the moon?

First, let’s give credit where credit is due: It is a fact that American astronauts landed on the moon 50 years ago (no matter what the conspiracy theorists say).

By Gustav Klimt

But the president might want to take another look at the space policy directive he signed his first year in office, which directed NASA to return to the lunar surface. He could also re-watch the big speech Vice President Pence gave this spring, in which he gave NASA a five-year deadline for the moon mission. And it could be worth reexamining his administration’s request that Congress add $1.6 billion to NASA’s budget for this purpose (maybe Pell Grant recipients will want it back?).

NASA has framed its lunar ambitions as a steppingstone to an eventual human mission to the Red Planet, which is possibly what Trump was referring to when he called the moon “a part” of Mars.

But just in case, it seems worth stating for the record: The moon is a satellite of Earth.

In fact, the moon is probably most accurately described as part of our own planet. Rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts show that lunar material carries chemical fingerprints almost identical to those found on Earth. Scientists think that the moon was formed from debris produced during an ancient, giant collision between Earth and a now-vanished protoplanet called Theia.

OK, so maybe the problem is just Trump’s inability to speak comprehensible English. Whatever the problem is, we’re stuck with it for now; and this lunatic has control over our nuclear arsenal.

I haven’t watched the Netflix series “When They See Us” yet, but I’ve been following the fallout that has hit former prosecutor and author Linda Fairstein. Fairstein led sex crimes unit prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office for many years (1976-2002) and was the inspiration for the long-running TV show Law and Order SVU. She prosecuted the case against the Central Park Five. Her portrayal in Ava DuVernay’s miniseries has suddenly focused public attention on Fairstein’s role in the case.

By Max Ernst

I need to watch the program and read more about Fairstein’s history before I buy into everything that is being said about her. I know that filmmakers tend to take liberties with the facts and compress people and events to make their points. For example, the popular Netflix series “Making a Murderer” is loaded with inaccuracies. However, the backlash against Fairstein began before the miniseries came out. Last November, the Mystery Writers of American were forced to withdraw the “Grand Master Award” they had planned to award two Fairstein. From the Washington Post last November:

On Tuesday, Fairstein, the former chief of the sex-crimes unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, was awarded the association’s Grand Master Award, its highest honor. “How is THIS news for a thrilling surprise,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am Mystery Writers of America 2019 GRANDMASTER…..I’m pinching myself.”

She wasn’t the only one surprised. In a matter of hours, fellow novelists were calling on the association to take the award back.

The problem wasn’t her writing. It was Fairstein’s role as a prosecutor in the Central Park Five jogger rape case, one of the most infamous wrongful conviction cases in New York history.

On Fairstein’s role in the Central Park Five case:

Fairstein was not the lead prosecutor on the case, but as sex crimes unit chief, she was the supervisor.

By Salvador Dali

She was present while the suspects were interrogated for hours, describing her role in a 2002 interview with the New Yorker as being “the 800-pound gorilla, to help [the lead prosecutor] and the cops get the resources they needed.” Four of the five boys ultimately falsely confessed on video under pressure. In 2002, however, a serial rapist, Matias Reyes, came forward and said he was the real attacker — a confession bolstered by the fact that his DNA matched the semen found on the victim. The five teenagers were later exonerated.

But as recently as Tuesday, Fairstein has continued to suggest that the Central Park Five are guilty of something — if not the rape, then assault. Fairstein has held steadfast to the belief that “these five men were participants, not only in the other attacks that night but in the attack on the jogger,” as she summarized it to the New Yorker in 2002. Fairstein contended the boys simply “moved on” before Reyes finished the assault, leaving his DNA behind — despite the fact that Reyes has insisted he acted alone.

As recently as July 2018, after thousands of pages of documents from the case were released, Fairstein penned an essay for the New York Law Journal defending the investigation and prosecution, insisting the confessions were not coerced.

From The New York Times yesterday: Linda Fairstein Dropped by Her Publisher After TV Series on the Central Park 5.

Linda Fairstein, a prominent sex-crimes prosecutor who became a successful crime novelist, was dropped by her publisher this week after a Netflix mini-series renewed focus on her role in the wrongful conviction of five teenagers for a brutal rape.

By Rene Magritte

Since the series, “When They See Us,” premiered last week, Ms. Fairstein, 72, has been the target of tremendous public outrage, including online petitions and a #CancelLindaFairstein hashtag. This week, she resigned from a number of prominent boards, including that of Vassar College, her alma mater.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Dutton, the Penguin Random House imprint that published Ms. Fairstein, said that she and Dutton “decided to terminate their relationship.” A person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were confidential, said that Dutton was buying out Ms. Fairstein’s contract.

This piece at The Grio by Sophia A. Nelson got quite a bit of attention on Twitter a couple of days ago: Karma is Real: Why Central Park Five should push for racist prosecutor Linda Fairstein to be disbarred. Check it out if you’re interested.

I’ll wrap up this post with the latest Russia/Mueller Report news:

CNN: Mystery company off the hook from Mueller subpoena and contempt of court charge.

The anonymous foreign-government-owned company that fought a subpoena in the special counsel investigation for months appears to be off the hook, while prosecutors continue to put significant resources into investigating what Robert Mueller pursued related to the company, according to newly unsealed court records.

Federal judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court stopped fining the company in February, when it turned almost 1,000 pages of documents over to Mueller.

By Aubrey Beardsley

The court fight dragged on from February into April, however, because Mueller’s team and other prosecutors believed the company had kept records from them, according to the newly unsealed information.

She finally deciding [sic] the company was no longer in contempt on April 17.

Read the details at CNN. Will we ever find out the name of the company?

Natasha Bertrand: New subpoena for Roger Stone’s former aide offers glimpse at ongoing investigation.

A former aide to political operative Roger Stone has turned over to a grand jury all of his text messages with Stone from October 2016 to March 2017, as well as the written agenda for Stone while he was at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

The aide, Andrew Miller, turned over the documents in response to a federal grand jury subpoena following his two-hour testimony last Friday before the body, according to communications between Miller’s lawyer and the government that were reviewed by POLITICO.

The subpoena offers a glimpse into the government’s ongoing investigation of Stone, an informal Trump campaign adviser who was indicted in January on charges of lying to Congress and the FBI about his dealings with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial, set for November.

Get all the details at Politico.

Quinta Jurecic: The New York Times: 4 Disturbing Details You May Have Missed in the Mueller Report.

By Giorgio de Chirico

After two years of silence, the special counsel Robert Mueller recently made his first public remarks — to complain, it seemed, that no one had read his report. “We chose those words carefully,” Mr. Mueller said, “and the work speaks for itself.”

But at a dense 440-plus pages, if the report speaks for itself, it takes a great deal of time and focus to listen to what it has to say. Mr. Mueller tells a complicated story of “multiple, systematic” efforts at Russian election interference from which the Trump campaign was eager to benefit. And he describes a president eager to shut down an investigation into his own abusive conduct. This is far from, as the president put it, “no collusion, no obstruction.”

The document is packed with even more details, ranging from the troubling to the outright damning. Yet these have been lost in the flurry of discussion around the report’s release.

Even the most attentive reader could have trouble keeping track of the report’s loose ends and dropped subplots. Here are four of the most surprising details that you might have missed — and none of them are favorable to the president.

Again, you’ll have to read the details at the link. The incidents Jurecic addresses are evidence of Trump coordination with Wikileaks, Trump’s efforts to get Clinton’s “missing emails,” Manafort’s sharing of insider polling data, and Trump’s attempt to get Cory Lewandowski involved in firing Jeff Sessions.

William Saletan at Slate offers a detailed breakdown of Bill Barr’s lies about the Mueller report: Barr Is Lying About Mueller’s Evidence. Read it at Slate.

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