Wednesday Reads: Chairs…Chairs would be nice.

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Oh, I know it is late. I spent last night…or should I say the early morning hours spying images to use for this afternoon’s post. Geez, imagine all that time being sucked into a black hole of Pinterest Far Side pins…and then realizing it is 5am and you have written nothing.

On the plus side, I do have some great cartoons for you, so enjoy those at least. (Most of them are from Gary Lawson, but there are other artist included as well…)

Now a few links,  I’m introducing this article with a clip from Absolutely Fabulous…it is a quick little bit about chairs:

 

Starting at the 14:31 mark, the character Catriona is giving her suggestion for a editorial in the Magazine…and she mentions “chairs”:

And chairs I thought might be interesting.
I’ve got a friend with some lovely chairs in her shop.
– Jocasta? – Yes.
She believes chairs are as important to civilisation as a masterpiece or something.
I wrote it down somewhere.
We could print that up and do some lovely photos.

And now the link:

Sitting Up: A Brief History of Chairs

A brief history of chairs.

Still from Lawrence of Arabia.

Still from Lawrence of Arabia.

There is a pivotal early scene in David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia in which T. E. Lawrence and his superior, Colonel Brighton, visit the desert encampment of Prince Faisal, a leader of the Arab Revolt. The royal tent is spartan yet luxurious, patterned woven cloths hang from the low ceiling, a large brass samovar gleams in the candlelight, the ground is covered with a rich carpet. There is no furniture; the men sit on the carpet. Brighton, in his tailored uniform, polished Sam Browne belt, and riding boots, looks distinctly ill at ease with his legs awkwardly stretched out in front of him. Lawrence, a lieutenant and less formally dressed, appears slightly more comfortable, with his legs folded to one side. The prince, attired in a dark robe and a white ghutrah, reclines on a pile of sheepskins, while his colleague Sherif Ali leans casually against a tent pole. The various postures cinematically underline a central point: the relaxed Bedouins are at home in this place—the desert—while the stiff English colonel is an interloper. Lawrence is somewhere in between.

The world is divided into people who sit on the floor and those who sit on chairs. In a classic study of human posture around the world, the anthropologist Gordon W. Hewes identified no fewer than a hundred common sitting positions. “At least a fourth of mankind habitually takes the load off its feet by crouching in a deep squat, both at rest and at work,” he observed. Deep squatting is favored by people in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but sitting cross-legged on the floor is almost as common. Many South Asians cook, dine, work, and relax in that position. Certain Native American tribes in the Southwest, as well as Melanesians, customarily sit on the floor with legs stretched straight out or crossed at the ankles. Sitting with the legs folded to one side—Lawrence’s position above—is described by Hewes as a predominantly female posture in many tribal societies.

The diversity of different postures around the world could be caused by differences in climate, dress, or lifestyle. Cold or damp floors would discourage kneeling and squatting and might lead people to seek raised alternatives; tight clothing would tend to inhibit deep squatting and cross-legged sitting; nomadic peoples would be less likely to use furniture than urban societies; and so on. But cause and effect does not explain why folding stools originated in ancient Egypt, a region with a warm, dry climate. Or why the Japanese and Koreans, who have cold winters, both traditionally sat on floor mats. Or why the nomadic Mongols traveled with collapsible furniture, while the equally nomadic Bedouins did not.

imageTake a look at the rest of that, it is interesting.

Sticking with non-Trump articles for now…BBC – Culture – The 21st Century’s 100 greatest films

The best that cinema has had to offer since 2000 as picked by 177 film critics from around the world.

That is the main link, but if you are like me you would rather read a criticism of the thing…

Here is one from TCM’s blog moviemorlocks.com – The Greatest Films of the 21st Century

I suffer from chronic list fatigue, initially eager to scroll through the latest re-ordering of greatest hits, but inevitably collapse into a heap before I ingest the whole thing. Enter the BBC to test my illness. Yesterday they unveiled the results of their mammoth “Greatest Films of the 21st Century” poll, in which 177 critics submitted their top movies of the current century. It confirms that David Lynch’s  fractured, terrifying Hollywood fairy tale Mulholland Drive (2001) is the consensus film of the age. It has been topping lists of this ilk for years now, and I welcome a film so mysterious as our millennium-overlord. My narcolepsy is triggered not by the quality of the works cited, but the recycled nature of the discourse it elicits, which tends to ignore the films entirely for a “this-over-that” essentialism that reduces complicated aesthetic experiences to numbers on a list. Which reminds me, now it is time for me to reduce complicated aesthetic experiences to numbers on a list! Below you’ll find my top ten films of the 21st Century that were not included in the BBC’s top twenty five, in a modest effort to expand the conversation.

Go and check out that list, you may be surprised by what is included.

imageFrom Jezebel: 177 Critics Picked the Best Films of the Century. Guess How Many Were Directed By Women!

The BBC published its long-awaited list of the 21st century’s best films, as selected by 177 film critics from around the world. Lists like these are meant to drum up conversations and controversies, and when appearing online they’re usually the creations of a single author—a single critical mind. But the BBC has provided a decent chunk of data to supplement its numbered list, so we have a pretty good understanding of who those film critics are.

The 177 are from 36 countries, but nearly half (81) are from the US. Going down the list:

“19 from the UK, five each from Canada, Cuba, France, and Germany, and four each from Australia, Colombia, India, Israel and Italy. Lebanon, the UAE, China, Bangladesh, Chile, Namibia, Kazakhstan and many others are represented too.”

OK! Great. So they did a little work attempting to create a truly international pool of people. But what about gender? Of the 177 critics, there were 55 women and 122 are men. That’s roughly 31%, which is depressing until you look at data released earlier this summer that says women make up only 27% of film critics, at which point it becomes ever so slightly less depressing.

Similar feelings may arise when looking at the breakdown of the directors on the list. Of the 102 films (there was a three-way tie for #100), 12 (or roughly 12%) had women as directors, which is just three percentage points higher than the industry as a whole.

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More at that link.

On another issue, yes I must mention the Trump campaign: Yes, CNN and ABC Really Did Live-Stream Mike Pence’s Haircut | Mediaite

It seems like only yesterday the big news in candidate’s hair was that high dollar haircut Edwards treated himself to years ago. Remember? Now, the media is fucking covering the haircuts live!

I think this politician should be running on the GOP presidential ticket…sound like he is pretty successful to me: America’s Only Dog Mayor Gets Elected to Third Term | Mental Floss

Just a few links now that may bring up your blood pressure:

WikiLeaks posted medical files of rape victims and children, investigation finds | Media | The Guardian

Why is WikiLeaks publishing private individuals’ personal information? | PBS NewsHour

imageFrench police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban | World news | The Guardian

‘It’s about freedom’: Ban boosts burkini sales ‘by 200%’ – BBC News

Mylan CEO saw 600% pay increase during EpiPen price raise – NY Daily News

Revealed: Zika’s damage to babies’ brains more extensive than microcephaly

At least one woman finally gets what is owed her: Homeless woman proves Social Security owed her $100,000 | Tampa Bay Times

Last for those who have the cash:

Get ready to strap Aunt Edna to the roof: the Vacation car is apparently on sale · Newswire · The A.V. Club

Everybody knows you can’t take the whole tribe cross-country without the proper chariot. And as fans of the 1980s comedy classic National Lampoon’s Vacation will tell you, there’s no holiday roadster better suited for a jaunt to road trip-purgatory than the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Now you, too, can know the luxury of gliding across the U.S. in a dinged-up metallic pea tank—“honky lips” graffiti not included—with a Houston-based auto dealership claiming to have theVacation car on sale for a measly 40 grand.

Listed as a “1979 Ford LTD,” the car features a Walley World bumper sticker, a dog leash, and a luggage rack, perfect for transporting any late relatives you might happen to pick up (and then drop off) along the way.

(Image: Carlyle Motors)

Of course, the seller makes no guarantees that this particular extremely ugly vehicle is one of the five Trucksters used in the film, so you’ll just have to take it on faith that this isn’t one of the many replicas people have made in tribute to the movie. (To quote the listing on the collectible car marketplace Hemmings, “Although this particular car is believed to be used in the filming of the movie, there is no documentation that comes with the car.“) We’re sorry if that’s a big disappointment for you, folks. Moose out front should have told ya.

Enjoy the cartoons!

 

This is an open thread.

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Tuesday Reads: The Insane Campaign

Good Morning!!

Can this presidential campaign get any more ridiculous? I’m guessing it will. I know I’ve written this multiple times, but every morning I feel shocked all over again. On the days when I have to write a post, it’s even worse. I just can’t believe what is going on in the corporate media! As Donald Trump’s behavior gets more and more out-of-control insane, so-called “journalists” search for ways to make Hillary Clinton look equally horrible. It’s not working for them, and that has to be sooo frustrating.

Last night Hillary appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show and joked around about the conspiracy theories that Trump and his supporters are pushing about her health. The Washington Post reports:

It was a funny premise: Hillary Clinton would pick Donald Trump quotes out of a jar and try to read them with a straight face.

But when it came time for the last quote, she said she couldn’t even read it. She handed it to Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel read it: “‘I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.'” (Trump actually said this in 2006.) …..

“I do feel sometimes like this campaign has entered into an alternative universe,” she said. “I have to step into the alternative reality and, you know, answer questions about, am I alive, how much longer will I be alive, and the like.”

I know that feeling. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be the person who is dealing with all this right-wing craziness.

At NBC, First Read summarizes Trump’s efforts to get the media to make the campaign a referendum on Hillary Clinton and not on him. But could he ever really stand to have the attention on someone other than himself?

It’s time for a special prosecutor to look in the Clinton Foundation! Hillary Clinton has a health problem! Clinton and the Democrats are bad for minority voters! “Welcome to the Bannon campaign,” the New York Times’ Alex Burns observed, referring to new Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon of Breitbart News. Indeed, the Trump camp has been under new management for an entire week, and you see how it’s doing everything it can to turn this race from a referendum on Donald Trump — which it has been for months now — into a referendum on Hillary Clinton. Of course, there’s a legitimate question as to whether this will all work. After all, there’s no way the Obama administration will appoint a special prosecutor with 77 days before the election. And the allegations about Clinton’s health are unfounded — in fact, Clinton’s letter from her doctors is much more thorough than Trump’s four-paragraph letter (which begins “To Whom My Concern”). But you see what the Trump campaign is trying to do: Down in the polls, it’s trying to change the subject back to Clinton.

As for the Clinton Foundation, here’s what Trump said about it campaigning last night in Akron, OH: “Her foundation took in large payments from major corporations and wealthy individuals, foreign and domestic, and all the while she was Secretary of State. The Clinton Foundation accepted as much as $60 million from Middle Eastern countries that oppress women, gays and people of different faiths.” More Trump: “The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant numbers of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately.”

And he continued his pretend pitch to minority voters, delivered to a lily-white audience in Akron, Ohio:

Over the past week, Donald Trump has been making a pitch to minority voters. And it’s easy to see how it’s likely to fall on deaf ears, especially since he’s been making it in front of nearly all-white crowds. “Crime at levels that nobody has seen, you can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting, and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. They’re run by the Democrats,” Trump said in Akron, OH last night. “And I ask you this, I ask you this, crime, all of the problems, to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people — what the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out, I’ll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?”

First read left out a scary ad lib by Trump last night.

“Walk down the street and you get shot.” Wow.

Corey Lewandowski, the CNN “commentator” who is also being paid by the Trump campaign, explained why Trump “reaches out” to African Americans while speaking to all-white audiences. T-Bogg at Raw Story: Trump avoids speaking to black voters because he’s not safe in their communities.

Lewandowski was part of a panel Monday night hosted by Anderson Cooper when he was asked why Trump doesn’t appeal to black voter by actually meeting with them instead of talking about them in front of predominately white audiences.

“You know what’s amazing to me is that no one remembers Donald Trump went to go have a rally in Chicago at the university. And remember what happened?” Lewandowski  began. “It was so chaotic and it was so out-of-control that the Secret Service and the Chicago Police Department told him you cannot get in and out of the facility safely. And that rally was cancelled.”

Several panelists jumped in with the same question: “What does that have to do with communicating with the black community?”

“Look!” Lewandowski shot back. “That is a black community. He went to the heart of Chicago to give a speech to the University of Chicago in a campus that is predominately African-American to make that argument. And you know what happened? The campus was overrun and it was not a safe environment.”

Panelist Angela Rye replied, “Would you acknowledge that not all black communities all over the country are still not monolithic. So if he tried the same thing in Cleveland–”

Lewandowski immediately cut her off, saying “He tried to go to Chicago and wasn’t allowed to make the speech–” as Rye shot back, “What about Dallas? What about Los Angeles?”

160626130609-lewandowski-joins-cnn-00030527-full-169

Here’s Jill Lawrence at USA Today on whether any of us should “take a chance” on Donald Trump: Change is not your friend this year.

What do you have to lose? Donald Trump keeps asking African Americans. But really that’s his question to all of us. The core premise of his campaign is that our country is so weak, and our leaders are such losers, that we should put all our money on Trump the wild card, the savior. The restoration to greatness is at hand, but only if we choose him.

Trump made that explicit the other day by christening himself “Mr. Brexit.” He’s the candidate of disruptive change, exciting and unsettling and the ride of your life. What we can expect the day after Hurricane Trump makes landfall at the White House? Hey, don’t harsh the euphoria.

Here’s the thing, though. Trump may be asking “what do you have to lose?” as a rhetorical question, but there’s an answer to it, and that answer is “an enormous amount.”

I’m not even talking about the temperament issues that unnerve so many in both parties as they contemplate a President Trump in charge of nuclear codes, the military and relationships across the globe. Let’s look purely at economics and other indicators of national health.

The stock market continues to set new records during President Obama’s tenure, andonly George H.W. Bush presided over a bull market for more of his time in office. The jobs report for July, released on Aug. 5, was so positive that conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin called it impressive, “strong across the board,” and “the first month in recent memory that doesn’t have some significant downside.” Republican leaders were silent rather than issuing their usual negative responses….

…black Americans, like all Americans, would stand to lose plenty under President Trump. They’d have to put up with his inaccurate stereotyping of African Americans and hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement. From a pocketbook standpoint, his protectionist views could trigger trade wars and higher consumer prices. And he’d revive trickle-down economics, a major contrast to Obama policies that have directed resources to low-income rather than high-income Americans.

Do we really want to trade what gains we’ve made for a guy whose new tax plan is a boon for wealthy Americans, the national debt and lenders like China? As acerbic liberal Jason Sattler (aka @LOLGOP) put it on Twitter, “Trump is offering ‘change’ the way a high-impact collision with a tree offers your car ‘customizing.’ ”

I’ve been reading David Cay Johnston’s new book, The Making of Donald Trump. Whatever horrors you read in the media are just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t believe the dishonesty of this man. Sometimes I have to take breaks from reading just to recover a sense of normalcy. I can’t even imagine what would happen to the global economy if he somehow became POTUS.

Just check out this new story at Huffington Post: Donald Trump Jacked Up His Campaign’s Trump Tower Rent Once Someone Else Was Paying For It. HuffPo doesn’t allow cutting and pasting anymore, so I can’t excerpt from the article; but here are the basics. Trump “quintupled” the rent on his Trump Tower headquarters to $169, 758 beginning last month. Read much more about the Trump campaign’s spending at the link above.

Melania Trump has also run into some dishonesty issues. Raw Story: REVEALED: Melania Trump outright lied under oath about having a college degree.

Melania Trump’s website was yanked offline in July when discrepancies surfaced about her claim that she graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. She, in fact, did not graduate, rather she only attended classes before moving on to a modeling career and coming to the United States under possibly illegal visas.

Now it seems, new evidence shows that Trump may have lied about her degree under oath, which would make her guilty of perjury.

The case involved a now-defunct caviar skincare line, which Racked.com recalls Melania Trump promoted on “Good Morning America,” her husband’s show “The Apprentice” and on CNBC, but ultimately never made it to the market. The contract Trump had with a cosmetic company called New Sunshine LLC imploded when friend Steve Hilbert was fired from the company by another Trump friend, John Menard.

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The case ended up in court, where Melania was required to testify.

“Where were you born, Mrs. Trump?” the attorney asked.

“I was born in Slovenia,” she answered.

“Would you please explain to the Judge your formal education including what schools you attended and from which you graduated?” the attorney requested.

“I attended and graduated from design school, from fashion and Industrial Design School and also attended, graduated from architecture degree, bachelor degree,” she testified under oath.

As was revealed in July after Trump’s plagiarism scandal, that isn’t an accurate account of Trump’s educational background. She does not have an architecture degree, nor did she graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

That’s all I have for you today. What new horrors will Tuesday bring? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Epic Meltdown Continues

Matisse-Woman-Reading-with-Tea1

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Trump fan Chris Matthews devoted much of his 7PM Hardball program to praising Donald Trump’s supposed “modulation” of his “tone.” By the time the rerun of the program aired at 10PM, it was already obsolete. Trump had given a speech in Michigan in which he blatantly lied about the state’s economy and delivered more stunning insults to black voters while speaking to a nearly all-white audience. The Detroit News reports:

DIMONDALE — On his second visit to Michigan in two weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday blasted Democratic policies he said have destroyed Detroit and other urban centers and called for African Americans to support him, saying blacks cannot expect change otherwise….

Trump’s remarks, however, seemed somewhat out of place, given that he was delivering it in a hall outside Lansing, halfway across the state from the Detroit. He also hammered away on a message than Michigan manufacturing is in the dumps, just days after Gov. Rick Snyder — also a Republican — noted that unemployment in the state has dropped to its lowest levels since the early 2000s.

“Your business and plants have been ripped out,” said Trump, who repeated earlier promises to stop manufacturing from leaving Michigan — even though auto jobs are up sharply since the depths of the 2007-9 recession….

Trump said “the Michigan manufacturing sector is a disaster,” and no sector has been hurt more by “Hillary Clinton’s policies than the auto sector,” statements which seemed to ignore that since the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler in 2008-9, auto manufacturing jobs in Michigan have grown from 22,800 to 38,200 and auto parts jobs also have grown, from 73,400 to 162,800.

Artist unknown

Artist unknown

Trump’s message to black voters:

“What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” he asked of blacks.

Trump noted that Detroit is the most violent city in America — a statistic he didn’t back up but Detroit does show up at or near the top of lists of major cities in terms of violent crime and murders — and said he could work changes on the city if elected. A recent EPIC-MRA poll reported by the Free Press last week showed Trump behind Clinton in Michigan by a margin on 85%-2%, with 10% undecided.

“It’s time to hold Democratic politicians accountable for what they have done to these communities,” Trump said. “At what point do we say enough?”

“I will produce for the African Americans,” he said. “All the Democrats have done is taken advantage of your vote. … You have nothing to lose.”

But that’s not all. Trump went off-script with these lovely remarks (h/t Slate):

“What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” he said. “What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty; your schools are no good; you have no jobs; 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

Never mind that Trump—who recently polled at 1 percent among black voters in a nationwide survey—was treating black people as a monolithic group of poor, unemployed people. His ad-libbed “what the hell do you have to lose” line sounded very much like Trump thinks he knows what’s better for black voters than they know for themselves….

There were other moments where Trump veered wildly off-script in a way that seemed absurd. Specifically, Trump said that he would not just win this election, but win re-election in 2020 with 95 percent of black voters supporting him—again, earlier this month Trump’s polling among black voters was somewhere between 1 and 4 percent.

“At the end of four years, I guarantee you that I will get 95 percent of the African-American vote,” he said. “I promise you, because I will produce for the inner cities and I will produce for the African-Americans.”

Darren Thompson

Darren Thompson

Cable news commentators are speculating that these disgusting remarks about black people are probably aimed at college-educated Republican women who have abandoned Trump in droves. I can’t imagine it will work.

Philip Bump responded to some of the charges made by Trump: It’s hard to imagine a much worse pitch Donald Trump could have made for the black vote.

Consider: Black Americans are not “living in poverty” as a general rule. A quarter of the black population is, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, about the same as the percentage of Hispanics. In Michigan, the figure is slightly higher. Most black Americans don’t live in poverty, just as most white Americans don’t.

Consider: The unemployment rate in the black community is higher than that in the white community, as it has been since the Department of Labor started keeping track. Among young blacks, though, the figure is not 59 percent — unless (as Politifact noted) you consider not the labor force butevery young black American, including high school students. Many young black high school students are unemployed. This isn’t a metric that Labor typically uses, for obvious reasons, but calculating the rates for young whites gives you about 50 percent, too.

Consider: Black voters are perfectly able to evaluate candidates on qualities other than their political parties. Black voters began supporting the Democratic Party heavily thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since then, they have consistently voted for the party — a party that is one-fifth black and which since 1964 has elected the vast majority of the black members of Congress. (This line of argument from Al Sharpton in 2004 is worth a read.) Democrats win the support of black voters consistently because those voters like the work that they do and like the fights that they fight.

When Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, 93 percent of black Americans thought he was doing a good job as president. That’s also the percentage of the vote he received, according to exit polls, beating Mitt Romney by 87 points.

And yet, somehow, Trump is doing worse.

Les Muses, Maurice Denis

Les Muses, Maurice Denis

There’s much more at the Washington Post link above. The gist is that Donald Trump is pathetically ignorant about the lives of African Americans.

Yesterday Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort resigned after being pushed aside in the latest campaign shakeup and after multiple revelations about his involvement with foreign leaders close to Russia. Politico has all the gory details: Inside the fall of Paul Manafort.

According to Politico, Manafort told Trump in early August that the stories coming out about his foreign consulting and lobbying would become a “distraction” and he wanted to come up with a new leadership plan just in case.

Although Manafort told associates that he thought he would be able to weather the controversy, his meeting with Trump nonetheless sparked internal discussions about changes to the campaign’s senior management structure. They included elevating pollster Kellyanne Conway, who had been brought onto the campaign last month, into a more senior role, and also officially bringing on Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon, who had been informally advising people around the campaign for months.

Still, Manafort associates said, he hoped he could ride out the storm and remain with the campaign until the end. That’s despite what the associates characterize as Manafort’s growing frustration with Trump’s unwillingness to embrace advice for a more scripted, measured tone and a greater reliance on more traditional campaign tactics.

But it quickly became clear that Manafort would have to go. More details about the crumbling mess of a campaign at the link.

Cocotte, reading, by Camille Pissarro

Cocotte, reading, by Camille Pissarro

There’s a federal investigation now, and it involves the Podesta Group, which is currently being run by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s brother. Rosie Gray at Buzzfeed: Top Firms Lawyer Up In Ukraine–Manafort Lobbying Controversy

Two powerful Washington lobbying firms are engaging outside counsel after becoming embroiled in a controversy over undisclosed foreign lobbying by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy.

The situation concerns a period between 2012 and 2014, when the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs worked on behalf the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The Brussels-based nonprofit is closely linked to the Party of Regions, the political party of Ukraine’s pro-Russian ex-president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort and his associate Rick Gates connected the European Centre with the two firms, according to the AP, which also reported that Gates personally gave instructions to Mercury and Podesta Group employees in a lobbying effort on behalf of Ukrainian officials. At the time, Manafort and Gates were consulting for Yanukovych in Ukraine. The AP’s story showed that Manafort and Gates had acted as unregistered foreign agents, never disclosing their work for the Ukrainians to the Department of Justice, as is required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Now, the Podesta Group is acknowledging that the European Centre may have been directed by the Party of Regions and has hired outside lawyers to advise on the situation.

“The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre’s potential ties to foreign governments or political parties,” Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fritts said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that ‘none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.’ We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale’s review, including possible legal action against the Centre.”

Much more at the link.

John L. Wellington

John L. Wellington

As Trump melts down, the media has tried to get voters outraged about “scandals” involving Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Global Foundation; but so far it’s not working very well. Trump’s high profile flame-out is getting most of the attention. There’s so much happening that I can’t possibly cover all of it, but here are a few more interesting links to check out.

NYT: In Maze of Trump’s Empire, Unknown Ties and $650 Million in Debt.

Sarah Kenzior at Quartz: Donald Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin underscores an unsettling truth about the two leaders.

Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul at the WaPo: Why Putin wants a Trump victory (so much he might even be trying to help him).

Ruth Marcus at the WaPo: Trump’s Sickening attacks on Clinton’s health.

Daily News Bin: Donald Trump goes to Louisiana flooding site, spends a minute handing out Play-Doh, leaves.

Buzzfeed: Trump Campaign Manager On Manafort: “He Was Asked” To Resign.

Politico: Republicans prep ‘break glass’ emergency plan as Trump tumbles.

Christian Science Monitor: Trump hands his campaign to the ‘alt-right’ movement.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


Thursday Reads: Love Will Trump Hate in November

 2815Good Afternoon!!

Last night Dakinikat and I were talking about how the Donald Trump phenomenon is affecting us, and it dawned on me that it reminds me of what it’s like to live in an alcoholic family with an abusive and completely unpredictable father–only in this case it’s the entire country that is trying to deal with the crazy abuser. You never know what is going to happen next, but you know it will be incredibly stressful and emotionally exhausting.

In the case of Trump’s very public behavior, I never know what shocking news will greet me when I get up in the morning. If it’s a day when I write a post it’s even worse because I get overwhelmed trying to figure out what to write.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but it helps me understand why I feel so disoriented and stressed-out as I follow the news each day. I suppose it’s not as bad for people who aren’t paying as close attention to the campaign as we are; but judging by the polls, just about everyone except angry, racist white men is turned off by Trump’s bizarre behavior.

There have even been reports of bullying by children who have heard and been influenced by Trump’s ugly hate speech.

From The Guardian in June: ‘You were born in a Taco Bell’: Trump’s rhetoric fuels school bullies across US.

Tracey Iglehart, a teacher at Rosa Parks elementary school in Berkeley, California, did not expect Donald Trump to show up on the playground….

“They said things like ‘you’ll get deported’, ‘you weren’t born here’ and ‘you were born in a Taco Bell’,” said Iglehart, 49. “They may not know exactly what it means, but they know it’s powerful language.”

Hearing it in Rosa Parks elementary, of all places, came as a shock. “Berkeley is not an area where there are Trump supporters. This is not the land of Trump.”

Yet the spirit of the GOP presidential candidate has surfaced here and, according to one study, in schools across the country.

An online survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers by the Southern Poverty Law Center found toxic political rhetoric invading elementary, middle and high schools, emboldening children to make racist taunts that leave others bewildered and anxious.

“We mapped it out. There was no state or region that jumped out. It was everywhere,” said Maureen Costello, the study’s author. “Marginalized students are feeling very frightened, especially Muslims and Mexicans. Many teachers use the word terrified.” The children who did the taunting were echoing Trump’s rhetoric, she said. “Bad behavior has been normalized. They think it’s OK.”

So my notion of the Trump campaign as a dysfunctional family that is affecting millions of Americans is not so far-fetched.

aaaa

The latest Trump shock came early yesterday when his campaign announced its latest shake-up. The campaign “manager” will now be pollster Kellyanne Conway and the “chairman/CEO” of the campaign will now be Steve Bannon, editor of the far right white supremacist website Breitbart. In essence, there has been a hostile takeover of the Republican Party by the worst lowlifes in the right-wing fever swamp. I wonder how Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell feel about that?

Joshua Green at Bloomberg: Steve Bannon’s Plan to Free Donald Trump and Save His Campaign.

“I am who I am,” Donald Trump declared, shortly after the New York Times ran a story depicting chaos in his presidential campaign. “I don’t want to change.” He wasn’t lying. The next day, on Aug. 17, Trump shoved aside his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and installed Steve Bannon—ex-Naval officer, ex-Goldman Sachs banker, ex-Sarah Palin filmmaker. Until Trump called, he was executive chairman of Breitbart News, the avatar of the so-called alt-right: the nationalist, racially paranoid splinter group of anti-establishment conservatives who have rallied to Trump’s banner.

Since June, Manafort has tried fruitlessly to mold Trump into someone palatable to establishment Republicans and the swing voters he’ll need to win over if he’s to have any chance of beating Hillary Clinton. Bannon, who becomes chief executive of the Trump campaign, represents a sharp turn in the opposite direction—a fireball hurtling toward the 2016 presidential election. (In announcing the hiring, the Trump campaign quoted Bloomberg Businessweek’s description of Bannon from a profile last fall as “the most dangerous political operative in America.”) Along with campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Bannon will encourage Trump to cast aside political niceties and aggressively go with his gut. “I’ve known Steve for a long time—he is an extraordinary guy, an extraordinary talent, and he, like me, truly loves our country,” Trump said in a statement to Businessweek.

Trump’s own diagnosis of his campaign’s shortcomings led to this unusual prescription—which is the diametric opposite of what most Republicans have been counseling for their embattled nominee. “The campaign has been too lethargic, too reactive,” says a senior Trump official. “They wanted to bring in someone who understood new media, understood digital. It’s not going to be a traditional campaign.” Trump was frustrated by Manafort’s efforts to contain him and angry about his plummeting poll numbers. With Bannon in the fold, the source adds, Trump will feel free to unleash his inner Trump: “It’s very simple. This is a change election. He needs to position himself as anti-establishment, the candidate of change, and the candidate who’s anti-Washington.”

The shake-up is an ominous development for Republican elected officials alarmed at Trump’s collapse and the effect he could have on down-ballot races across the country. In recent years, Breitbart News has bedeviled Republican leaders, helping to drive out former House Speaker John Boehner and, more recently, making life difficult for his successor, Paul Ryan. Last fall, at Bannon’s insistence, Breitbart reporters visited Ryan’s Wisconsin home (which is surrounded by a wall) and published a story shaming him for not endorsing Trump’s proposal to erect a wall along the Mexico border.

Bannon, who’s as eager to attack Republicans as Democrats, is unlikely to worry much about the plight of mainstream GOP incumbents. At a New Year’s party at his Capitol Hill home last year, Bannon gave guests silver flasks stamped with his personal motto: “Honey badger don’t give a shit.”

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The piece ends with this choice quote from Stuart Stevens, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign:

“This is the bunker scene in Downfall, only the Trump crowd won’t tell Hitler the truth. It’s utter madness,” says Stuart Stevens, who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “Trump is a nut, and he likes to surround himself with nuts. It’s a disaster for the Republican Party.”

Read the whole thing at the Bloomberg link.

At Vanity Fair, Ken Stern has a longer article about Bannon and Trump, Exclusive: Stephen Bannon, Trump’s New CEO, Hints at His Master Plan. It’s well worth the read.

The night before the big shake-up, Trump gave a “law and order” speech in West Bend, Wisconsin, a lily-white town about 40 miles north of Milwaukee, where protests have been raging after police shot and killed a black man whom they claim had a gun. In the speech, Trump pretended to “reach out” to African Americans, while advocating for more and harsher policing in poor urban areas. During the speech, Trump repeatedly said he was in Milwaukee. It was insulting to black people and to anyone who cares about inequality.

While he was in Wisconsin, Trump gave an interview to The La Cross Tribune. At Huffington Post, Julia Craven called attention to one very “tone deaf” comment in the interview:

Trump, whose campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again!” said he views the 1980s as the time when things were good for the nation, though he also hearkened back to the late 1700s and early 1800s.

“The industrial revolution was certainly — in terms of economically — that was when we started to grow,” Trump said. “I liked the Ronald Reagan years. I thought the country had a wonderful, strong image.”

Craven notes that the Industrial Revolution was built on the backs of slaves and during the Reagan era, black neighborhoods were inundated with crack and “the war on drugs drove the incarceration rate for black people through the roof.”

I’m almost beginning to buy into Peter Daou’s theory that Trump is campaigning not for the presidency but for leadership of a white nationalist movement.  Here’s Daou’s latest at Blue Nation Review: We’re Witnessing History: The Extreme Right Just Seized Control of the GOP. Please go read the whole thing if you haven’t already.

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Now here’s something to help get the bad Trump taste out of our mouths: Wired Endorses Optimism.

Wired has never been neutral. For nearly a quarter of a century, this organization has championed a specific way of thinking about tomorrow. If it’s true, as the writer William Gibson once had it, that the future is already here, just unevenly distributed, then our task has been to locate the places where various futures break through to our present and identify which one we hope for….

We value freedom: open systems, open markets, free people, free information, free inquiry. We’ve become even more dedicated to scientific rigor, good data, and evidence-driven thinking. And we’ve never lost our optimism.

…for all of its opinions and enthu­siasms, WIRED has never made a practice of endorsing candidates for president of the United States. Through five election cycles we’ve written about politics and politicians and held them up against our ideals. But we’ve avoided telling you, our readers, who WIRED viewed as the best choice.

Today we will. WIRED sees only one person running for president who can do the job: Hillary Clinton.

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Why have the magazine’s editors made this decision?

Right now we see two possible futures welling up in the present. In one, society’s every decision is dominated by scarcity. Except for a few oligarchs, nobody has enough of anything. In that future, we build literal and figurative walls to keep out those who hope to acquire our stuff, while through guile or violence we try to acquire theirs.

In the other future, the one WIRED is rooting for, new rounds of innovation allow people to do more with less work—in a way that translates into abundance, broadly enjoyed. Governments and markets and entrepreneurs create the conditions that allow us to take effective collective action against climate change. The flashlight beam of science keeps turning up cool stuff in the corners of the universe. The grand social experiments of the 20th and early 21st centuries—the mass entry of women into the workforce, civil rights, LGBTQ rights—continue and give way to new ones that are just as necessary and unsettling and empowering to people who got left out of previous rounds. And the sustainably manufactured, genetically modified fake meat tastes really good too.

Our sights might not be perfectly aligned, but it’s pretty clear Hillary Clinton has her eye on a similar trajectory. She intends to uphold the Paris Agreement on climate change and reduce carbon emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025. She hopes to produce enough renewable energy to power every American home by the end of her first term. She wants to increase the budgets of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, two major drivers of research and innovation via government funding. And she wants to do the same for Darpa, the defense research agency—without which, let’s face it, WIRED probably wouldn’t exist, because no one would have invented the things we cover.

Clinton also has ideas that clear away stumbling blocks for entrepreneurs and strivers. She proposes linking entre­preneurship to forgiveness of student loans, as a way to help young people start businesses. Clinton favors net neutrality—giving every packet of data on the Internet the same priority, regardless of whether they originate from a media corporation or from you and me. She has proposed easier paths to legal immigration for people with science, technology, and engineering degrees. And she has spent my entire adult life trying to work out how to give the maximum number of Americans access to health care; she will con­tinue to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, which among other things has helped people walk away from crappy, dead-end jobs by alleviating the fear that they’ll lose their insurance.

I agree that Hillary is an optimist and she has the competence and intelligence to turn her ideas into real change. I think most Americans will also choose optimism and love over negativity and hate in November.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!

 


Wednesday Reads: Sundowning, yeah!

image

 

I wonder, if you ever wonder…if Trump read stories like the one described up top? Circus Dan: A Mystery Story For Boys  Nah, I doubt it. What kind of childhood turns a person into the beast we see today? Obviously there has to be some nature or “bad seed” affect at work here, the dude was born with this pathology. We all can pretty much agree, Trump is fucked up.

Anyway, I just was thinking of that when I saw the illustration above. I don’t know why exactly…

Maybe the first link will give y’all a hint.

Here is an article, thanks for the link BB, I think y’all will find it more than interesting. (I know I did….in pathetically more ways than I’d had wanted to.)

Behavior changes trump memory lapses as signs dementia may be brewing | The Japan Times

Memory loss may not always be the first warning sign that dementia is brewing — changes in behavior or personality might be an early clue.

Researchers on Sunday outlined a syndrome called “mild behavioral impairment” that may be a harbinger of Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and proposed a checklist of symptoms to alert doctors and families.

Losing interest in favorite activities? Getting unusually anxious, aggressive or suspicious? Suddenly making crude comments in public?

“Historically those symptoms have been written off as a psychiatric issue, or as just part of aging,” said Dr. Zahinoor Ismail of the University of Calgary, who presented the checklist at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto.

Now, “when it comes to early detection, memory symptoms don’t have the corner on the market anymore,” he said.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, affects more than 5 million people in the U.S., a number growing as the population ages. It gradually strips people of their memory and the ability to think and reason.

But it creeps up, quietly ravaging the brain a decade or two before the first symptoms become noticeable. Early memory problems called “mild cognitive impairment,” or MCI, can raise the risk of later developing dementia, and worsening memory often is the trigger for potential patients or their loved ones to seek medical help.

It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to experience neuropsychiatric symptoms, too — problems such as depression or “sundowning,” agitation that occurs at the end of the day — as the degeneration spreads into brain regions responsible for more than memory. And previous studies have found that people with mild cognitive impairment are at greater risk of decline if they also suffer more subtle behavioral symptoms.

What’s new: The concept of pre-dementia “mild behavioral impairment,” or MBI, a term that describes specific changes in someone’s prior behavior that might signal degeneration is starting in brain regions not as crucial for memory, he said.

The Alzheimer Association has drawn up a new checklist of symptoms. If the checklist does become accepted it will help doctors determine who may be more prone to develop Alzheimers.

…new problems that linger at least six months, not temporary symptoms or ones explained by a clear mental health diagnosis or other issues such as bereavement, he stressed. They include apathy, anxiety about once routine events, loss of impulse control, flaunting social norms, loss of interest in food.

[…]

“It’s important for us to recognize that not everything’s forgetfulness,” said Dr. Ron Petersen, the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s research chief. He wasn’t involved in developing the behavior checklist but said it could raise awareness of the neuropsychiatric link with dementia.

Technology specialist Mike Belleville of Douglas, Massachusetts, thought stress was to blame when he found himself getting easily frustrated and angry. Normally patient, he began snapping at co-workers and rolling down his window to yell at other drivers, “things I’d never done before,” Belleville said.

The final red flag was a heated argument with his wife, Cheryl, who found herself wondering, “Who is this person?” When Mike Belleville didn’t remember the strong words the next morning, the two headed straight for a doctor. Physicians tested for depression and a list of other suspects. Eventually Belleville, now 55, was diagnosed with an early-onset form of dementia — and with medication no longer gets angry so easily, allowing him to volunteer his computer expertise.

“If you see changes, don’t take it lightly and assume it’s stress,” Cheryl Belleville advised.

The article goes on to discuss the benefit of cognitive training.

The team tested 284 adults in late middle-age whose brain scans showed changes that have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Comparing their cognitive ability and their careers, the researchers found those who worked primarily with people, rather than objects or data, functioned better even if brain scans showed more of that quiet damage.

— Preliminary results from a study of “brain training” suggested one type might help delay cognitive impairment.

Researchers examined records from 2,785 older adults who’d participated in a previous trial that compared three cognitive training strategies — to improve memory, reasoning or reaction times —with no intervention. A decade later, that reaction-time training suggested benefit: 12 percent of people who’d completed up to 10 hours had evidence of cognitive decline or dementia compared with 14 percent in the control group, said Dr. Jerri Edwards of the University of South Florida. The figure was lower — 8 percent — for people who got some extra booster training.

More study is needed of course, but it makes you think. It certainly scares me. I do know that sundowning thing makes complete sense to me.

Sundowning, gaslighting…wtf is it with the phrases?

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(I think that is the main reason most assholes are being assholes about Hillary…because she is a woman. Because this is, “A man’s world.”  And because of the, “Axis of Dick” as Veep puts it.)

What about the grope? I mean, come on.
– Thank you.
– That is an attack on America.
All right? That’s like a sexual 9/11 in my opinion.
Or a sexual Cuban Missile Crisis at the least.
It’s not like we can go public about the grope.
– It would define you.
– Right.
Your tit being fondled by a Finn would be all you’re remembered for.
– Yeah.
– You can’t build a statue on that.
That’s right.
Nobody can know about this.
– All right? Especially Kent.
– Oh, yeah.
And why is that? Because he’s gonna use it against me.
– A grope matrix.
– Right.
Because he’s a man.
Because this is a man’s world that we live in.
Because of the axis of dick.

 

This at Mother Jones: Is Trump Even Aware of Where He’s Speaking? | Mother Jones

After discussing manufacturing in the DC exurbs and wine in coal country, he’s delivering an address on ISIS in a hard-hit Rust Belt city.

I guess when you have a well known professional dictator’s PR guru as your campaign manager, what he says doesn’t matter for shit.

Have you seen this? #IllWalkWithYou: People Offer To Walk Muslims To Mosques After Imam Killed

The fatal shooting of a New York City imam and his associate in Queens has prompted people around the country to offer to accompany Muslim worshippers to and from mosques so that they won’t have to fear for their safety.

[…]

In response to the killings, many non-Muslims posted tweets with the hashtag #IllWalkWithYou to offer to physically accompany Muslims to their houses of worship.

Muslim Twitter users expressed appreciation, while also urging allies to vote against candidates who espouse Islamophobia.

A similar hashtag, #IllRideWithYou, sprang up in Australia in 2014 after a Muslim gunman held people hostage at a Sydney café. Australians offered to ride the train with Muslim commuters who feared an Islamophobic backlash to the incident.

Allies Offer To Walk Muslims To Mosque After New York Shooting

You can read many of the tweets at the links above.

Next up, an article about depression: Is depression in parents, grandparents linked to grandchildren’s depression? — ScienceDaily

Having both parents and grandparents with major depressive disorder (MDD) was associated with higher risk of MDD for grandchildren, which could help identify those who may benefit from early intervention, according to a study published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

It is well known that having depressed parents increases children’s risk of psychiatric disorders. There are no published studies of depression examining three generations with grandchildren in the age of risk for depression and with direct interviews of all family members.

Myrna M. Weissman, Ph.D., of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, studied 251 grandchildren (average age 18) interviewed an average of two times and their biological parents, who were interviewed an average of nearly five times, and grandparents interviewed up to 30 years.

Sounds good doesn’t it? Go and read the article in full. You can find the JAMA entry here:

A 30-Year Study of 3 Generations at High Risk and Low Risk for Depression | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network

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Lastly, vintage everyday: Long Road to Civil Rights – See 27 Iconic Photos From the Civil Rights Movements From Between the 1930s and 1960s

Because large segments of the populace–particularly African-Americans, women, and men without property–have not always been accorded full citizenship rights in the American Republic, civil rights movements, or “freedom struggles,” have been a frequent feature of the nation’s history.

In particular, movements to obtain civil rights for black Americans have had special historical significance. Such movements have not only secured citizenship rights for blacks but have also redefined prevailing conceptions of the nature of civil rights and the role of government in protecting these rights.

The most important achievements of African-American civil rights movements have been the post-Civil War constitutional amendments that abolished slavery and established the citizenship status of blacks and the judicial decisions and legislation based on these amendments, notably the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Moreover, these legal changes greatly affected the opportunities available to women, nonblack minorities, disabled individuals, and other victims of discrimination.
A sign on a restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, August 1938. (Photo by Reuters/Library of Congress)
A high school student being educated via television during the period that schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, were closed to avoid integration, September 1958. (Photo by Reuters/Library of Congress)
Many more images at the link. Now, good thing I got this up before the sundowning starts to hit me.
This is an open thread.

 


Tuesday Reads

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton welcomes Vice President Joe Biden as he disembarks from Air Force Two for a joint campaign event in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden appeared together in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Atlantic reports:

For Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, their joint campaign stop Monday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was a play for the swing state’s crucial voters, particularly those from the white working class who Donald Trump has taken pains to attract.

But it was also something of a homecoming: Both the vice president and Clinton’s father, Hugh Rodham, were born in the city, a former coal-mining and manufacturing hub. Biden has long used Scranton as a symbol of the American dream, and often invokes his early years there as evidence he’s a man of the people. During his remarks Monday, he framed Clinton as a fellow child of Scranton: the product of one of its families, yes, but also of its ethos.

The city “is made up of so many people with grit and courage—I mean this sincerely, from the bottom of my heart—with grit, courage, determination, who never, never, ever give up,” Biden said. “They deserve someone who not only understands them, they deserve someone who’s with them. And they deserve someone who’s made of the same stuff. That’s Hillary Clinton. That’s who she is.”

Biden also had plenty to say about Donald Trump, none of it nice. From Politico:

Vice President Joe Biden on Monday ripped into Donald Trump for his overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin, declaring that the Republican nominee “would have loved Stalin.”

At a rally in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden assailed Trump as unfit to be president and slammed his proposals on foreign policy and the military. With Hillary Clinton at his side, Biden criticized the GOP nominee’s repeated warm statements toward Putin and said “Trump’s ideas are not only profoundly wrong, they’re very dangerous and they’re very un-American.”

“This guy’s shame has no limits. He’s even gone so far as to ask Putin and Russia to conduct cyberattacks against the United States of America,” Biden said, raising his voice for emphasis over the raucous crowd. “Even if he is joking — which he’s not — even if he’s joking, what an outrageous thing to say.”

Pointing out his aide who travels with him and carries the U.S. nuclear codes, Biden said Trump is too unstable and lacks the knowledge to be given control over such weapons. The vice president also spoke warmly of his son Beau, a military veteran who went on to serve as Delaware’s attorney general before losing a battle with cancer in 2015. Biden said he would have tried to stop his son from serving if Trump were commander in chief.

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As usual Biden went on and on, but he did have some very nice things to say about Hillary. There was also an awkward moment when Biden disembarked from his plane and gave Hillary a hug that seemed as if it would never end. Mediaite:

Vice President Joe Biden and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shared a tarmac hug Monday that got a little awkward when Biden just kinda refused to let go.

Biden deplaned before a Pennsylvania joint rally and hugged Clinton. But while Clinton broke off the hug after an appropriate amount of time, Biden held onto her. In a move easily recognizable to wrestlers and friend-zoners everywhere, Clinton starting tapping Biden on the arm as he continued the embrace.

All told, the hug lasted about fifteen seconds and three attempted tap-outs.

Donald Trump was in Youngstown, Ohio yesterday to make a supposedly “serious” speech about how he would combat terrorism. Many of the ideas he presented were for policies that the Obama administration is already carrying out. The rest were the usual insane, racist plans that have become his trademark. Tim Mak at The Daily Beast: Donald Trump Cribs His War Plan From the ‘Founder’ of ISIS: Barack Obama.

Trump spent a substantial amount of time in his speech hammering the Obama administration for not doing enough to defeat ISIS.

But in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, the multinational effort to defeat ISIS appears now to be on the upswing. And in the sparse moments when Trump actually proposed ideas to defeat ISIS, it sounded suspiciously like the ideas already being put into practice by his arch-nemesis Obama.

You know: the guy Trump called the “founder” of ISIS….

“They’re trying to make it look much better than it is. It’s bad,” Trump said, referring to the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign’s assessment of ISIS….

But while the Republican nominee’s address in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday was billed as a speech describing new ways to defeat ISIS—in recent weeks ISIS has seen serious setbacks.

Trump denounced the situation in Libya, which he blamed on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But ISIS’s grip there is changing rapidly. ISIS appears to be on the verge of losing its African capital in the city of Sirte to local militia fighters who lately have been bolstered by U.S. airstrikes.

While Trump referred to stopping Syrian refugees from entering the United States, ISIS just suffered a major loss there Monday. After a months-long battle, Arab and Kurdish forces reclaimed a northern city that is on a key route for ISIS fighters, equipment and money traveling from Turkey into Syria. Over the weekend, video emerged showing female residents of this city burning their burkas and men cutting their beards, an outward display of the end of ISIS rule.

Meanwhile, ISIS already has lost territory in several Iraqi cities, including Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tikrit.

I wouldn’t expect Trump to know about what’s actually happening; I don’t think he reads anything in newspapers unless it’s about him. But you have to wonder who is writing his speeches.

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland

Much of the speech was devoted to his proposed anti-immigrant policies. Trump said that as president he would suspend immigration from countries that have problems with terrorism, although he didn’t specify which countries he was referring to. And how would President Trump keep these potential immigrants out? He would use something he calls “extreme vetting.” NBC News reports:

Donald Trump on Monday promised “extreme vetting” of immigrants, including ideological screening that that will allow only those who “share our values and respect our people” into the United States.

Among the traits that Trump would screen for are those who have “hostile attitudes” toward the U.S., those who believe “Sharia law should supplant American law,” people who “don’t believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred.”

Those who Trump will allow in are “only those who we expect to flourish in our country.”

The Republican nominee did not disavow his prior proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The position, released in December 2015, is still on the nominee’s website. He did, however, call for a temporary suspension “from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism” in order to succeed in the goal of extreme ideological vetting.

It’s unclear whether or not this is in addition to, or in place of, his original temporary ban. In the past, as Trump has proposed a regional and country-based ban, he’s called it an “expansion” on his original ban — not a scaling back.

Trump did not name any countries that would be included in the regional ban, but said that should he be elected, his administration will ask the Department of State to “identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. There are many such regions,” Trump said. “We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” One of Trump’s long standing complaints about Syrian, and other, refugees, is that they are not sufficiently vetted and, because of that, could be a “Trojan Horse.”

Here’s a good analysis of the speech by NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin: Making Sense of Donald Trump’s Disjointed Foreign Policy Pitch. Check it out at the link.

Tharid Udin and Imam Maulama Akonjee

Tharid Udin and Imam Maulama Akonjee

In other news, a Brooklyn man has been charged in the shocking murders of Queens Imam Maulama Akonjee and his friend Thara Uddin. Police don’t know the motive yet, but you have to wonder if Donald Trump’s hate speech could have contributed to this crime. From New York Magazine:

Police have charged a Brooklyn man for the brazen murders of a Queens imam and his associate on Saturday. Oscar Morel, 35, was taken into NYPD custody Sunday night after allegedly ramming his car into an unmarked police car around 11 p.m. in the Ozone Park neighborhood — the same community where the killings occurred. Police identified Morel on Monday evening, and said he’d been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, according to the New York Times. He’s also facing two counts of criminal possession of a weapon after police searched his home and found what they believe to be the revolver used in the killing and clothes worn by the gunman in surveillance video.

Police have not yet named a motive in the killing of the 55-year-old imam Maulama Akonjee and his friend and assistant 64-year-old Thara Uddin, both Bangladeshi immigrants and religious leaders in their Queens neighborhood. The men were shot in the head at close range in broad daylight around 2 p.m. on Saturday. The victims were a block away from the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque, where both men, who wore traditional Muslim garb, had just finished afternoon prayers.

NYPD chief of detectives Robert Boyce said it’s still unclear if Morel had any connection to the two victims. “We’re still drilling down on it,” he said, adding that it’s “certainly on the table that it’s a hate crime.

A home-surveillance video of the shooting, released Sunday, shows the killer approaching the two men from behind. He rushes up behind them and lifts his arm and aims at the back of their heads; the two men crumple to the ground. The shooter appears to stuff the gun in his pocket and walk calmly away from the scene.

Read more at the link.

We’ve gone through years of public shootings, and there seems to be a new phenomenon developing–people thinking they hear gunshots and then freaking out mobs of other people. Will this become a regular “thing?” Two examples:

People running out of Crabtree Mall in NC to escape shooting that never happened.

People running out of Crabtree Mall in NC to escape shooting that never happened.

ABC News: Reports of Gunshots in Bustling Mall: Chaos, People Running.

Witness reports of gunshots ringing out inside a busy North Carolina mall caused chaos Saturday afternoon as shoppers ran screaming for the doors or sheltered in stores while dozens of officers arrived.

Police said hours later they were investigating but hadn’t confirmed whether any shots had been fired, adding no one was found wounded by gunfire although there were several minor injuries among people running away. The shopping complex in an affluent area of Raleigh was put on lockdown while helicopters buzzed overhead and numerous law enforcement vehicles swarmed the shopping area….

The police chief said no shell casings had been found by late afternoon. But she noted that witnesses heard what sounded like gunshots, and added that the FBI, sheriff’s office and state investigators were also on scene.

Eight people ranging in age from 10 to 70 were transported to hospitals for treatment of injuries suffered as they rushed to leave the mall, she said. None of those injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Video posted on social media sites shows dozens of people running toward mall exit doors as numerous screams were heard. Outside the mall, where people gathered afterward, a police officer got on the loudspeaker of a fire truck and said there was no one shot in the mall. Witnesses described chaos after reports of shots.

New York Magazine: Scenes From the Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Airport Shooting That Wasn’t.

When the first stampede began, my plane had just landed. It started, apparently, with a group of passengers awaiting departure in John F. Kennedy Airport Terminal 8 cheering Usain Bolt’s superhuman 100-meter dash. The applause sounded like gunfire, somehow, or to someone; really, it only takes one. According to some reports, one woman screamed that she saw a gun. The cascading effect was easier to figure: When people started running, a man I met later on the tarmac said, they plowed through the metal poles strung throughout the terminal to organize lines, and the metal clacking on the tile floors sounded like gunfire. Because the clacking was caused by the crowd, wherever you were and however far you’d run already, it was always right around you.

Passengers huddled near the ground at immigration control while police looked for a possible shooter at JFK airport. It turned out to be a false alarm. PHOTO: BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Passengers huddled near the ground at immigration control while police looked for a possible shooter at JFK airport. It turned out to be a false alarm. PHOTO: BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

There was a second stampede, I heard some time later, in Terminal 4. I was caught up in two separate ones, genuine stampedes, both in Terminal 1. The first was in the long, narrow, low-ceilinged second-floor hallway approaching customs that was so stuffed with restless passengers that it felt like a cattle call, even before the fire alarm and the screaming and all the contradictory squeals that sent people running and yelling and barreling over each other — as well as the dropped luggage, passports, and crouched panicked women who just wanted to take shelter between their knees and hope for it, or “them,” to pass. The second was later, after security guards had just hustled hundreds of us off of the tarmac directly into passport control, when a woman in a hijab appeared at the top of a flight of stairs, yelling out for a family member, it seemed, who had been separated from her in the chaos. The crowd seemed to rise up, squealing, and rush for the two small sets of double doors.

Probably there were other stampedes, some small and some large, throughout the airport, to judge by the thousands of passengers massed outside on the tarmac by about 11 p.m. — not a peaceful mass, but a panicked one. Some of them had been swept outside by police charging through the terminals with guns drawn, shouting for people to get down, show their hands, and drop their luggage, since nothing was more important than your life. Others had been on lines where TSA agents grabbed their gear and just ran, at least according to reports on Twitter.

More at the link.

So . . . what else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!


Lazy Saturday Reads: Follow the Money?

Portrait of two women, Diego Rivera

Portrait of two women, Diego Rivera

Good Afternoon!!

How is Donald Trump spending his campaign money? He raised about $80 million in July, but he isn’t running any TV ads and doesn’t seem to be spending much for on-the-ground organizing. At HuffPo, Bob Burnett calculates based on Open Secrets data that Trump has spent about $63 million of his cash on had in July. Where did those millions go? Burnett suggests three possibilities:

  1. Trump could be planning to “flood the airwaves” with ads just before the election.
  2. Trump may have used the money to repay a load he made to his campaign early on. He has claimed that he forgave the loan, but everyone knows Trump is a pathological liar.
  3. Perhaps the $63 million was transferred to the RNC to pay for GOTV operations. I’d say that’s pretty doubtful.

I’d suggest another possibility–that Trump has simply used the money to pay himself for flights on his private planes and helicopter and to rent space for rallies in his personal properties. Election law requires campaign to pay market rates for these services; but in Trump’s case, the law allows him to make a personal profit by campaigning for office. I guess we’ll find out what’s going on when the July FEC report comes out.

Auguste reading to her daughter, Mary Cassatt

Auguste reading to her daughter, Mary Cassatt

Quite a few observers are also wondering why Trump is campaigning in traditionally blue states like Maine and Connecticut while he’s falling far behind in the polls in battleground states and even red states like North Carolina.

CNN: Republicans question Trump’s travel choices, tight purse strings.

The last time Connecticut voted for a Republican presidential candidate, Americans were listening to music on cassette tapes and most cell phones were the size of shoe boxes.

Yet Donald Trump’s campaign spokesman insists they believe he has a chance to turn Connecticut red for the first time since 1988, and that’s why he is holding weekend rally there on Saturday.
Veteran Republicans, however, see Trump’s Fairfield, Connecticut, campaign stop [is] a fool’s errand — a prime example of what many worry is a political operation that takes Trump’s proclivity for defying convention a step too far.
And, it isn’t just Connecticut that has Republicans scratching their heads. Trump traveled to Maine last week, a state that has also been blue since 1992….
Concerned Republicans say their worries go beyond the campaign’s decision to send its greatest resource — the candidate himself — to chase one or two electoral votes in Maine, or to what they believe are unwinnable states like Connecticut. The other phenomenon perplexing veteran operatives is that the Trump campaign now has the needed money to finance television ads and ground operations — they just don’t appear to be spending it.

According to the article, Republicans are worried that even if Trump eventually begins running ads, it will be too late. They note that Obama’s early negative ads against Romney were successful in defining him, and now Trump is making the same mistake. In addition, Trump’s ground game is basically non-existent. From the CNN article:

“The campaign has yet to find or appoint key local leaders or open a campaign office in the county and isn’t yet sure which Hamilton County Republican party’s central committee members are allied with the Republican presidential nominee,” reported the Enquirer.
In other key states like Florida, where Trump, along with the RNC, does have staff, they are outnumbered by Democrats. The RNC says it has over 70 paid staffers and plans at least 20 offices statewide. Democrats already have 200 staffers and say they’re aiming for 100 offices in Florida.
A Page-Turner, Keith Larson

A Page-Turner, Keith Larson

Here’s Philip Bump at the WaPo: Cincinnati is the perfect demonstration of Donald Trump’s nonexistent campaign.

On Wednesday, the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story that described the efforts of the Trump campaign in the critical county. Hamilton has declined as a percentage of the state’s population since 1990, but it is still home to 7 percent of Ohioans. So what’s Donald Trump doing there?

With the presidential election 90 days away, the Donald Trump campaign is scrambling to set up the basics of a campaign in Hamilton County, a key county in a swing state crucial to a Republican victory, a recent internal email obtained by The Enquirer shows.

The campaign has yet to find or appoint key local leaders or open a campaign office in the county and isn’t yet sure which Hamilton County Republican party’s central committee members are allied with the Republican presidential nominee. … Even campaign materials, such as signs and stickers, aren’t yet available.

What’s more, Trump hasn’t yet run a single general election ad in Hamilton County — or anywhere.

Last week, the Enquirer reported that Trump supporters, frustrated by the lack of infrastructure in their area, set up their own Trump headquarters in a small house. The campaign tried to spin this as a positive — such enthusiasm! — but it clearly isn’t.

Is it possible that the Trump campaign is nothing but a massive grifting operation to help Trump make money and perhaps to help him get another reality show?

Art and Literature, Loren Entz

Art and Literature, Loren Entz

Yesterday Trump claimed that if he doesn’t win Pennsylvania, where he trails by 11 points in the latest poll, it will be because Hillary Clinton somehow cheated. Again from Philip Bump: Trump says he will only lose Pennsylvania if there’s widespread voter fraud. That’s very wrong.

CBS’s Sopan Deb transcribed Trump’s comments.

We’re gonna watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times. … The only way we can lose, in my opinion — and I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on. I really believe it. Because I looked at Erie and it was the same thing as this. …

[L]et me just tell you, I looked over Pennsylvania. And I’m studying it. And we have some great people here. Some great leaders here of the Republican Party, and they’re very concerned about that. And that’s the way we can lose the state. And we have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching. Because if we get cheated out of this election, if we get cheated out of a win in Pennsylvania, which is such a vital state, especially when I know what’s happening here, folks. I know. She can’t beat what’s happening here.

The only way they can beat it in my opinion — and I mean this 100 percent — if in certain sections of the state they cheat, OK? So I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the 8th, go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine, because without voter identification — which is shocking, shocking that you don’t have it.

There is almost no actual in-person voter fraud. In a survey of 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014, 241 possible — possible! — fraudulent ballots were found. Several of those ballots were cast in elections in Pennsylvania where a man named “Joseph Cheeseboro” and another named “Joseph J. Cheeseborough” each cast a ballot. That’s all that was uncovered in Pennsylvania.

The “certain sections of the state” to which Trump is referring is almost certainly are a reference to a long-standing conspiracy theory involving the results in Philadelphia in 2012, where, in some places Mitt Romney got zero votes. Trump ally Sean Hannity raised it during a dispute with CNN’s Brian Stelter.

Mother reading with two girls, Lee Lufkin Kaula

Mother reading with two girls, Lee Lufkin Kaula

It’s all about racism, folks; but no one in the public sphere seems to want to admit it. Check this out at the WaPo: A massive new study debunks a widespread theory for Donald Trump’s success.

Economic distress and anxiety across working-class white America have become a widely discussed explanation for the success of Donald Trump. It seems to make sense. Trump’s most fervent supporters tend to be white men without college degrees. This same group has suffered economically in our increasingly globalized world, as machines have replaced workers in factories and labor has shifted overseas. Trump has promised to curtail trade and other perceived threats to American workers, including immigrants.

Yet a major new analysis from Gallup, based on 87,000 interviews the polling company conducted over the past year, suggests this narrative is not complete. While there does seem to be a relationship between economic anxiety and Trump’s appeal, the straightforward connection that many observers have assumed does not appear in the data.

According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.

Please go read the entire article, and you’ll find that in this “massive study” Gallup did not even consider racism as an explanation for Trump support!

While Trump is swift-boating himself and the media is busily covering his self-destruction, Hillary Clinton is quietly going about her business–campaigning in swing states, advertising during the Olympics, and building her GOTV operation–as the media tries desperately to fan the flames of some “scandal” or other in hopes of bringing her down.

Girl reading, George Cochran Lambdin

Girl reading, George Cochran Lambdin

The obsession with Hillary’s emails is going nowhere except with media Hillary haters and right wing nuts. ABC News reports: Emails Do Not Show Improper Influence From Clinton Foundation, State Department Says.

The State Department said today that there was nothing inappropriate in the communications that Hillary Clinton‘s staff had with the Clinton Foundation when she was secretary of state, recently exposed in new emails released by the conservative group Judicial Watch,

“The State Department is not aware of any actions that were influenced by the Clinton Foundation,” State Department Spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau said during today’s daily press briefing.

That comment comes after the release of two new emails sent by Clinton Foundation executive Doug Band, raising concerns about the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton family’s philanthropic organization, the Clinton Foundation. In one email, Band requested a meeting between a wealthy donor and an ambassador, and in another he asked Clinton’s aides to find a job for an associated, whose name was redacted from the email.

Donald Trump has described the emails as “pay for play,” without producing any evidence of an exchange of money or political favors.

“The Department does not believe it was inappropriate for Mr. Band or any other individual to recommend someone be considered for employment at the State Department,” Trudeau said today. “We also do not believe it’s inappropriate for someone recommended in this manner to be potentially hired insofar as they meet the necessary qualifications for the job.”

The Clinton campaign said on Wednesday that this person was not a donor nor a Clinton Foundation employee, but refused to release his or her identity. Trudeau added that even if this person had been a Foundation employee or a donor, it would not have precluded the individual from being hired at the State Department.

Woman reading, Jon Urban

Woman reading, Jon Urban

The media will surely try to “trump”-up this story from CNN: Bill Clinton talks email controversy: ‘Biggest load of bull.’

The questioner identified himself as a Democrat who loved Clinton as president and is supporting his wife, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 election. But, he wanted to know: Why should Americans trust the Democratic nominee when she lied about her emails?
“Wait a minute,” Bill Clinton said. “It’s not true.”
And so began the ex-president’s unexpected fiery defense of one of the biggest controversies dogging Hillary Clinton’s White House bid.
“First of all, the FBI director said when he testified before Congress, he had to amend his previous day’s statement that she had never received any emails that are classified. They saw two little notes with a ‘C’ on it,” Clinton said. “This is the biggest load of bull I’ve ever heard.”
Clinton went on to say that while the classification system of sensitive emails was “too complicated to explain to people,” what is clear is that Clinton and her colleagues were never being careless with national security.
“Do you really believe there are 300 career diplomats because that’s how many people were on these emails, all of whom were careless with national security? Do you believe that?” he said. “Forget about Hillary, forget about her. Is that conceivable?”
Clinton pointed to the number of prominent Republican leaders — particularly those in the national security arena — who have endorsed Clinton in recent weeks, as a sign that she is the only person fit to run the country.
“There are people who spent their lifetimes advancing national security who believe she’s the only person that you can trust,” Clinton said.

I say good for Bill and good luck to the media in trying to make this a “scandal” over the weekend.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a great Saturday!