Posted: October 9, 2017 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bob Corker, Columbus Day, corruption, Dana Rohrabacher, Donald Trump, freedom of speech, Indianapolis Colts, Mike Pence, Puerto Rico, San Francisco 49ers, White House adult day care, World War III
Is this finally the beginning of the end? Trump has been attacking fellow Republicans for months, and this time one of them finally hit back hard. Yesterday Trump lashed out at Tennessee Senator Bob Corker on Twitter.
Of course none of that is true. Corker’s office said that Trump had repeatedly asked him to run for reelection, and offered to endorse him. As for the Secretary of State job, Corker withdrew his name from contention after his interview with Trump.
Corker’s Twitter response:
Then last night Corker gave a stunning interview to the New York Times: Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”
In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”
“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
Mr. Corker’s comments capped a remarkable day of sulfurous insults between the president and the Tennessee senator — a powerful, if lame-duck, lawmaker, whose support will be critical to the president on tax reform and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal….
The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.
Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.
…Mr. Corker, speaking carefully and purposefully, seemed to almost find cathartic satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans use only in private….
Without offering specifics, he said Mr. Trump had repeatedly undermined diplomacy with his Twitter fingers. “I know he has hurt, in several instances, he’s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Mr. Corker said.
All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.
“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”
Two Media reactions:
ABC News The Note: What’s dangerously serious about Trump’s feud with Corker
What happened to the calm part? The storms have begun, and just might spill over into real wars before they’re done. Sen. Bob Corker’s public feud with President Trump is no mere war of words, even in the Trumpian insult era. Corker is blowing the lid off of months of private frustrations and worries, harbored by erstwhile allies of the president, that the commander-in-chief is reckless, dishonest and could put the nation “on the path to World War III,” as Corker told The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker said. Combine that with the tensions between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly, and this has far bigger consequences than your typical Twitter feud. Just words? Perhaps. But they are words that are spurring confrontation with a nuclear-armed North Korea, and more words will come this week that could lead Iran to restart its own nuclear program. Corker’s reference to the White House as an “adult day care center” suggests that grown-ups are ultimately in charge. This may be the week that tests that proposition, and sorts out high-level presidential strategy from absolute and dangerous recklessness.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, referring to the NYT interview: Bob Corker just confirmed it: Republicans know Trump is unfit.
Corker declined to answer when asked if he believes Trump is unfit for the presidency. But the only reasonable way to read all these comments is as a declaration that Trump is indeed unfit — and that most Republicans know it. After all, Corker had previously said that Trump’s inner circle is helping to “separate our country from chaos.” Now he has added that Trump needs to be restrained by his inner circle from devolving into conduct that could end up unleashing untold global destruction — and that most Republicans know it.
Corker is getting a lot of press plaudits for his unvarnished appraisal. But as James Fallows writes, there is a good deal that Corker can actually do right nowif he wants to mitigate the threat that he himself says Trump poses. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has a range of powers that could help constrain Trump, including the power to hold public hearings to draw public attention to the ways in which Trump’s temperament threatens untold damage. At a minimum, Corker can be asked whether he intends to do these things, and if not, why not.
But whatever Corker says and does now, his new comments should precipitate a fundamental change in the way the press treats the ongoing GOP enabling of Trump. Corker has forced out into the open the fact that Republicans recognize the sheer abnormality and danger to the country of the situation we’re in, which opens the door for much tougher media questioning of them about their awareness of — and acquiescence to — this state of affairs.
This can start with a simple query: Do Republicans agree with Corker that Trump regularly needs to be constrained by his top advisers from engaging in conduct that threatens severe damage to the country and the world? If so, what are Republicans prepared to do about itrgent mentions.
People are still talking about Mike Pence’s ridiculous display at the Indianapolis Colts game yesterday on a day that was supposed to be dedicated to honoring long-time Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Trump and Pence cooked up a public relations stunt. Knowing that a number of players for the Colts’ opponent the SF 49ers would kneel during the national anthem, the two agreed that Pence would fly to Indy from Las Vegas and then abruptly walk out on the game after the anthem. The press knew this, because Pence told them to wait outside for him because he’d be leaving soon. Pence then flew back out to California for a fund-raiser for Putin’s favorite Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and other Republicans.
Pence is getting plenty of criticism for using taxpayer money to fly back and forth across the country for a political stunt.
CNN: The price tag for Pence’s trip to Indianapolis.
How much did Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Indianapolis to watch — and then abruptly leave — a football game Sunday between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers cost?
Holier than thou
Here is an estimate of just the air costs (which does not include costs of advance personnel, Secret Service or support on the ground):According to the Air Force, flying a C-32, the model of plane used for Air Force 2, for one hour costs about $30,000. Pence’s flight from Las Vegas to Indianapolis Saturday took about three hours and 20 minutes, so it cost about $100,000.\
Pence then flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles on Sunday, which took about four hours and 45 minutes, costing about $142,500.Some costs of the flight into Los Angeles will be reimbursed by the Republican National Committee because Pence is attending a political event there.
If he had flown just from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, a trip lasting about 90 minutes, the cost would have been about $45,000.
I don’t usually like Connor Friedersdorf, but he has a good reaction at The Atlantic: Mike Pence’s Flagrant Waste of Taxpayer Money.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence made a big show of leaving an NFL game early. He declared himself upset that some players knelt during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. “I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem,” he declared, as if attacking those things was the intent of the athletes.
The NFL players knelt in protest because they believe that African Americans are being denied their self-evident rights to life and liberty by a prejudiced criminal-justice system.
“This is not about the military, this is not about the flag, this is not about the anthem,” 49ers Safety Eric Reid later told reporters. “My mother served in the armed forces. Three of my uncles served … I have the utmost respect for the military, for the anthem, for the flag … This is about systemic oppression that has been rampant in this country … I will keep doing what I feel is necessary, to use the platform that I have, to make changes. It’s really disheartening when everything you were raised on, everything I was raised on, was to be the best person I can be, to help people who need help, and the vice president of the United States is trying to confuse the message that we’re trying to put out there. I don’t know what to say about it.”
Pence is not compelled to agree with how players protest. But by fleeing the entire NFL game, he adopted the tactics of a childish, petulant snowflake who reacts to speech he dislikes by misrepresenting it, expressing umbrage, and retreating to a “safe space.”
The major difference?
When an immature teenager makes a show of fleeing from expression that he regards as politically incorrect, he’s typically evading ideas he ought to confront on his own dime. Whereas Pence spent taxpayer money to get to that NFL game. Lots of it.
There is so much more news, and so little time and space to discuss it. Most notably, Puerto Rico is still in agony, and the Trump administration seems determined not to help.
The Daily Beast: Without Power Until Next Year, Puerto Ricans Are Leaving—Maybe Forever
VIEQUES, Puerto Rico—Joe and Maria Bernard cook in the dark over a gas stove outside their small hotel, the Tropical Guest House. “The days feel shorter,” says Maria, “we just have 12 hours of daylight to get everything done.”
When it gets dark, the entire island of Vieques is dark.
This is life on the world-renowned tourist island. And it’s going to be life for at least the next six to eight months, if not longer, before electricity is restored here.
“We’re in denial,” says Maria, “we’re going to give it another two weeks maybe a month, then maybe we’ll have to go back to the States.”
In 2005, the couple traded in the bustle of New York and jobs in the television industry for a more rewarding future in Puerto Rico, which offered triple-tax exemption for resettling here. With their savings, they got a loan to buy their turnkey hotel.
Read more painful stories at the link.
Oh, and today is Columbus Day. From the New York Times: Why People Have Protested Columbus Day Almost From Its Start.
A reverend at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan appeared on the front page of The New York Times after he criticized Christopher Columbus, the Italian navigator who sailed to the Americas on behalf of Spain in 1492.
The reverend, R. S. MacArthur, said Columbus was “cruel, and guilty of many crimes.”
That complaint may sound familiar to those who condemn the explorer for opening a door to European colonialism, which brought disease, destruction and catastrophic wars to the people who already lived here.
But Mr. MacArthur said those words more than a century ago, in 1893. His comments suggested he was more affronted by Spain, which he called “the poorest and most ignorant country in Europe,” than concerned about Native Americans.
He was one of many to have questioned the legacy of the explorer, whose arrival in the Americas has been celebrated in the United States for hundreds of years.
Read the rest at the NYT.
What’s left of Hurricane Nate has arrived in New England this morning giving us lots of rain and 40mph winds. I’m glad because it has been hot here for the past few days.
What’s happening where you are? What stories are you following today?
Posted: October 8, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Drumpfistan
Well, Nate was a no show for New Orleans but I have a feeling that it’s giving JJ a time up there in Georgia. Here are some things to chomp on for the moment. What isn’t particularly passing for a President in the White House is having more Twitter Trumper Tantrums.
Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on Sunday called the White House “an adult day care center” after President Trump attacked him in a morning Twitter tirade.
Setting off an extraordinary squabble between two leaders of the same party, Trump alleged in a trio of tweets that Corker “begged” him for his endorsement, did not receive it and decided to retire because he “didn’t have the guts” to run for reelection next year.
In response, Corker (Tenn.) tweeted, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean need our help. This headline from Think Progress shows more weaponized Twitter. “Desperate San Juan Mayor takes to Twitter after Trump administration ignores requests for help. Trump, meanwhile, is patting himself on the back.” It seems our only way to get the attention of this White House is to Troll Kremlin Caligula on TV or Twitter.
By official estimates, just under 12 percent of power is restored on the island. Even drinking water in many areas remains limited: just over half of customers reliant on Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) have potable water.
Mayor Cruz said the federal government’s response has been slow, inadequate, or downright nonexistent. She said FEMA had offered “no response” after a hospital requested aid.
Meanwhile, the deplorable veep takes aim at the NFL. WTF is wrong with these people? What kind of priorities do they have? “Trump says he directed Pence to walk out of game if 49ers protested during national anthem”.
The plan had been for Vice President Mike Pence to attend the Indianapolis Colts game at which Peyton Manning’s number is to be retired, a gala celebration of the former Colts quarterback’s contributions to Pence’s home state.
The former governor of Indiana and his wife, wearing a Manning No. 18 jersey, left Lucas Oil Stadium after the national anthem, following instructions from President Trump after a number of San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the anthem.
“I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled,” Trump posted on Twitter. “I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
Sometimes, you just have to scream. The NAZIs are at it again in Charlottesville.
Richard Spencer, who in August led white nationalists and white supremacists in a torchlight march across the University of Virginia campus that touched off a weekend of deadly clashes, returned Saturday night to Charlottesville.
Spencer, a white nationalist, posted video on social media of followers carrying torches to the statue of Robert E. Lee, which the city has sought to remove.
They showed up here in New Orleans too but didn’t gain any attention as they stood in the mist of Nathan on Jefferson Davis near the missing statue. Every one else was more concerned about the hurricane and the curfew.
He’s still going after every one’s health care. “How Trump is planning to gut Obamacare by executive order. The president could use association health plans to badly damage the law’s markets.”
With a repeal bill off the table, the Trump administration has drafted an executive order that could blow a huge hole in the Affordable Care Act, according to a source with direct knowledge of the plan.
The order would, in effect, exempt many association health plans, groups of small businesses that pool together to buy health insurance, from core Obamacare requirements like the coverage of certain essential health benefits. It would potentially allow individuals to join these plans too, which would put individual insurance marketplaces in serious peril by drawing younger and healthier people away from them.
The draft order is also said to broaden the definition of short-term insurance, which is also exempt from the law’s regulations. Together, these changes represent a serious threat to Obamacare: President Trump seems ready to open more loopholes for more people to buy insurance outside the health care law’s markets, which experts anticipate would destabilize the market for customers who are left behind with higher premiums and fewer insurers.
“This appears to be a backdoor way of undermining the Affordable Care Act,” Kevin Lucia, who studies the markets at Georgetown University, said of the alleged changes.
It’s possible that the order could change before Trump signs it, or never be signed at all, as has happened with other executive orders in the past. The details of the order as described, though, generally match up with what had been expected after Trump said he would soon issue an executive order on health care. Association health plans have been a priority for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has urged Trump to expand them.
The White House declined to comment when Vox inquired about the pending order. A senior administration official detailed the outline of the executive order to the Wall Street Journal on Saturday evening, which aligns with the description provided to Vox.
Okay, well, that’s enough scary headlines today. The real slasher villains appear to be in the West Wing. Freddy Kruger and Michael Meyers are benign in comparison. Who schemes to kill millions of people because the first black president zinged you at a press dinner?
I’m going to go grade and hope we hear from JJ. Take care!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: October 7, 2017 Filed under: just because
The illustrations in this post are from an article at Literary Hub: 40 of the Creepiest Book Covers of All Time–just because it’s October and Halloween is approaching and the president is a monster.
Now to the news, beginning with Facebook helping Donald Trump.
Brad Pascale, the Trump Campaign’s digital director will be on 60 Minutes on Sunday. CBS teased the interview yesterday, and it seems that Pascale had help from Facebook employees in targeting specific voters.
“Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won,” Parscale tells Stahl. Parscale says he used the majority of his digital ad budget on Facebook ads and explained how efficient they could be, particularly in reaching the rural vote. “So now Facebook lets you get to…15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for,” says Parscale. And people anywhere could be targeted with the messages they cared about. “Infrastructure…so I started making ads that showed the bridge crumbling…that’s micro targeting…I can find the 1,500 people in one town that care about infrastructure. Now, that might be a voter that normally votes Democrat,” he says. Parscale says the campaign would average 50-60,000 different ad versions every day, some days peaking at 100,000 separate iterations – changing design, colors, backgrounds and words – all in an effort to refine ads and engage users.
Parscale received help utilizing Facebook’s technology from Facebook employees provided by the company who showed up for work to his office multiple days a week. He says they had to be partisan and he questioned them to make sure. “I wanted people who supported Donald Trump.” Parscale calls these Facebook employees “embeds” who could teach him every aspect of the technology. “I want to know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some,” he says he told them.
(Emphasis added.) That sounds highly problematic and I think Mark Zukerberg has some explaining to do.
This article by Max Read at New York Magazine from October 1 is well worth reading: Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?
Mark Zuckerberg had just returned from paternity leave, and he wanted to talk about Facebook, democracy, and elections and to define what he felt his creation owed the world in exchange for its hegemony. A few weeks earlier, in early September, the company’s chief security officer had admitted that Facebook had sold $100,000 worth of ads on its platform to Russian-government-linked trolls who intended to influence the American political process. Now, in a statement broadcast live on Facebook on September 21 and subsequently posted to his profile page, Zuckerberg pledged to increase the resources of Facebook’s security and election-integrity teams and to work “proactively to strengthen the democratic process.”
To effect this, he outlined specific steps to “make political advertising more transparent.” Facebook will soon require that all political ads disclose “which page” paid for them (“I’m Epic Fail Memes, and I approve this message”) and ensure that every ad a given advertiser runs is accessible to anyone, essentially ending the practice of “dark advertising” — promoted posts that are only ever seen by the specific groups at which they’re targeted. Zuckerberg, in his statement, compared this development favorably to old media, like radio and television, which already require political ads to reveal their funders: “We’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency,” he writes.
This pledge was, in some ways, the reverse of another announcement the company made earlier the same day, unveiling a new set of tools businesses can use to target Facebook members who have visited their stores: Now the experience of briefly visiting Zappos.com and finding yourself haunted for weeks by shoe ads could have an offline equivalent produced by a visit to your local shoe store (I hope you like shoe ads). Where Facebook’s new “offline outcomes” tools promise to entrap more of the analog world in Facebook’s broad surveillance net, Zuckerberg’s promise of transparency assured anxious readers that the company would submit itself to the established structures of offline politics.
It was an admirable commitment. But reading through it, I kept getting stuck on one line: “We have been working to ensure the integrity of the German elections this weekend,” Zuckerberg writes. It’s a comforting sentence, a statement that shows Zuckerberg and Facebook are eager to restore trust in their system. But … it’s not the kind of language we expect from media organizations, even the largest ones. It’s the language of governments, or political parties, or NGOs. A private company, working unilaterally to ensure election integrity in a country it’s not even based in? The only two I could think of that might feel obligated to make the same assurances are Diebold, the widely hated former manufacturer of electronic-voting systems, and Academi, the private military contractor whose founder keeps begging for a chance to run Afghanistan. This is not good company.
Rex Tillerson still has his job, but how much longer will he last?
Abigail Tracy at Vanity Fair’s The Hive: Tillerson’s Job on Death Watch at Moron-Gate Explodes.
Rex Tillerson’s already-shaky position within Donald Trump’s Cabinet is suddenly looking perilous. Simmering tensions between the president and his top diplomat spilled out into the open on Wednesday amid reports that the secretary of state had threatened to resign and called his boss a “moron” over the summer. Tillerson’s subsequent non-denial denial reportedly left Trump fuming and Chief of Staff John Kelly scrambling to contain the fallout, spurring a fresh wave of speculation that the long-rumored “Rexit” may be imminent.
Trump was livid when the “moron” story broke, according to NBC News, which first reported that Tillerson had vented about the president earlier this summer. With Trump on the warpath, Kelly reportedly canceled his plans to travel to Las Vegas with the president to clean up the mess, summoning Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis to outline a response to the deluge of negative press coverage. By 11 a.m. on Thursday, Tillerson was behind a lectern in damage-control mode, declaring that he “had never considered leaving” his post and praising the president.
Still, Tillerson stopped short of outright denying that he had called the president a “moron,” ushering in a fresh news cycle. When Trump insisted that NBC News had made up the story, and that nobody sought “verification” from him, the network hit back. “Sir, we didn’t need to verify that he called you a moron, he did it behind your back,” MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle said on air, delivering another round of bad press and further enraging the president. On Friday morning, Axios cited insiders as saying the relationship is “broken beyond repair,” with Trump furious that Tillerson didn’t shut down the story.
Kelly is reportedly trying to stanch the bleeding, figuring that another major staff shake-up will only further destabilize the administration. But the relationship between the White House and Foggy Bottom is so toxic, sources told Jonathan Swan, that there may be no coming back.
Click on the link to read the rest.
The New Yorker also has an interesting story that provides quite a bit of background on Tillerson. Once you read it, it becomes clear why Tillerson would be shocked by Trump’s dishonesty and corruption.
Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point. Will Donald Trump let the Secretary of State do his job?
Tillerson, who is sixty-five, was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, and grew up in a lower-middle-class family that roamed across the two states. He was named for two Hollywood actors famous for playing cowboys: Rex Allen and John Wayne (his middle name is Wayne). “I grew up pretty modest,” he told me. “My dad came back from World War Two and drove a truck selling bread at grocery stores. My mom had three kids—you know, the nineteen-fifties.”
His formative experience was in the Boy Scouts. When he was young, his father took a job helping to set up local chapters, and Tillerson eventually became an Eagle Scout, one of an élite class of “servant-leaders” distinguished by obsessive, nerdish attainment. When he was fourteen, and living with his family in Stillwater, Oklahoma, he got a job washing dishes in the kitchen of the student union at Oklahoma State University, for seventy-five cents an hour. On weekends, he picked cotton: “You just show up Saturday morning at 6 a.m., climb into the back of a panel truck with a bunch of other guys, and you drive out to one of the farms and drag a big cotton sack behind you, picking cotton all day long, for a dollar an hour.”
When Tillerson was sixteen, he started sweeping floors at the university’s engineering school, and began thinking about engineering as a career. He got there by an unusual route. Tillerson, who had played drums in his high-school marching band, won a band scholarship to the University of Texas, where he studied civil engineering. Upon graduation, in 1975, he got a job at Exxon as a production engineer.
Exxon has historically been dominated by engineers, who pride themselves on their precise, quantifiable judgments. “Rex is what you would expect to get when you cross a Boy Scout with an engineer—straight and meticulous,” Alex Cranberg, an oil executive who went to college with Tillerson, said. Others described a more pragmatic sensibility, noting that Tillerson’s favorite book is “Atlas Shrugged,” the Ayn Rand novel extolling the virtues of capitalism and individualism. “The thing about Rex is, he’s got this big Texas aw-shucks thing going on,” a Russia expert who knows Tillerson told me. “You think he’s not the smartest guy in the room. He’s not the dominant male. But, after a while, he owns all your assets.”
Tillerson may be a conservative, but he’s the anti-Trump and very different from some other members of Trump’s cabinet–for example, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The New York Times: Seven Flights for $800,000: Mnuchin’s Travel on Military Jets.
WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircraft seven times since March at a cost of more than $800,000, including a $15,000 round-trip flight to New York to meet with President Trump at Trump Tower, according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General.
The inquiry into Mr. Mnuchin’s air travel, prompted by an Instagram posting by his wife, found he broke no laws in his use of military aircraft but lamented the loose justification provided for such costly flights.
“What is of concern is a disconnect between the standard of proof called for” by the Office of Management and Budget “and the actual amount of proof provided by Treasury and accepted by the White House in justifying these trip requests,” the inspector general wrote.
Mr. Mnuchin has made nine requests for military aircraft since assuming his position earlier this year and has taken seven flights. A request to use a military plane for his European honeymoon with his wife, Louise Linton, in August was withdrawn. A ninth flight is scheduled for later this month, when Mr. Mnuchin is expected to travel to the Middle East.
The investigation follows a series of controversies over the lavish travel of several members of President Trump’s cabinet, including Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, who resigned last week after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights.
Apparently Trump has come to depend on Chuck Shumer’s advice, to the consternation of Republicans.
Axios: Scoop: Trump phones Schumer for help on health care, worrying GOP.
President Trump telephoned Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday in an effort to revive health-care legislation, Republican sources said.
Trump was seeking “a path forward on health care,” a GOP source said….
Although it’s not known what Trump proposed or how Schumer responded, word traveled fast among Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill…
I’m going to wrap this up with a non-political piece, an excerpt from what looks like a fascinating new book.
The Atlantic: A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas, by Adam Rutherford.
Europeans arriving in the New World met people all the way from the frozen north to the frozen south. All had rich and mature cultures and established languages. The Skraeling were probably a people we now call Thule, who were the ancestors of the Inuit in Greenland and Canada and the Iñupiat in Alaska. The Taíno were a people spread across multiple chiefdoms around the Caribbean and Florida. Based on cultural and language similarities, we think that they had probably separated from earlier populations from South American lands, now Guyana and Trinidad. The Spanish brought no women with them in 1492, and raped the Taíno women, resulting in the first generation of “mestizo”—mixed ancestry people.
Immediately upon arrival, European alleles began to flow, admixed into the indigenous population, and that process has continued ever since: European DNA is found today throughout the Americas, no matter how remote or isolated a tribe might appear to be. But before Columbus, these continents were already populated. The indigenous people hadn’t always been there, nor had they originated there, as some of their traditions state, but they had occupied these American lands for at least 20,000 years.
It’s only because of the presence of Europeans from the 15th century onward that we even have terms such as Indians or Native Americans. How these people came to be is a subject that is complex and fraught, but it begins in the north. Alaska is separated from Russian land by the Bering Strait. There are islands that punctuate those icy waters, and on a clear day U.S. citizens of Little Diomede can see Russians on Big Diomede, just a little over two miles and one International Date Line away. Between December and June, the water between them freezes solid.
Go to the Atlantic to read the rest. The book is titled: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes.
What else is happening? What stories are you following? Are you in the path of Hurricane Nate?
Posted: October 6, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Drumpfistan, Hurricane Nate, Pompeo, Tillerson
I’m not sure what’s worse. I’ve got one eye on a developing Hurricane Nate and the other on the ongoing chaos in what is not passing as a functional administration of a developed nation. I’ve been attending cyber conferences too as well as grading econ homework. I keep looking at homes in Washington State and I’m focused on the area around Olympia now and the Sound. I feel overwhelmed and trapped.
Nate has killed 22 in Central American and is near Cancun, Mexico right now. We’re expecting it late Saturday. The photos on the post are various locations in Nicaragua and Honduras.
Tropical Storm Nate is winding up to wallop the Gulf Coast this weekend.
The latest NBC News forecast has the storm making landfall somewhere on the Mississippi or Alabama coasts sometime around 1 a.m. Sunday, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane.
With Nate expected to drench the region with anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of rain, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a statewide emergency and a dozen or so members of the National Guard were dispatched to New Orleans to help monitor the low-lying city’s fragile pumping and drainage system.
The big guns from the Weather Channel are around Gulf Port so I’m feeling a little better than last night about Nate. But still, there’s a blue tarp on the roof over my bed. The pumps are still busted in New Orleans. Our infrastructure never holds up in anything any more so I’m expecting outages. Hence, my first two hurricane supplies have been laid in. Basically, it’s Perrier and a box of wine.
Here’s the Daily Drumpf Dump. This one totally creeped me out last night around dinner time. Trump, during photo shoot, talks of ‘calm before the storm’. Did we mention he was surrounded by lots and lots of military brass?
President Donald Trump delivered a foreboding message Thursday night, telling reporters as he posed for photos with his senior military leaders that this might be “the calm before the storm.”
White House reporters were summoned suddenly Thursday evening and told the president had decided he wanted the press to document a dinner he was holding with the military leaders and their wives.
Reporters were led hastily to the grand State Dining Room, where they walked into a scene of the president, his highest-ranking military aides and their wives posing for a group photo. The cameras clicked and they smiled. A joke was made about someone’s face being tired. Live classical music played.
Dear Leader wanted to impress us. He doesn’t know how to do that. He just gives us all agita and nightmares. What would today’s propaganda be like without some selective site erasure? No bad news for the peons of Drumpfistan. “FEMA removes statistics about drinking water access and electricity in Puerto Rico from website.”
As of Wednesday, half of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water and 5 percent of the island had electricity, according to statistics published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on its Web page documenting the federal response to Hurricane Maria.
By Thursday morning, both of those key metrics were no longer on the Web page.
FEMA spokesman William Booher noted that both measures are still being reported on a website maintained by the office of Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, www.status.pr. According to that website, which is in Spanish, 9.2 percent of the island now has power and 54.2 percent of residents have access to drinking water. Booher said that these measures are also shared in news conferences and media calls that happen twice a day, but he didn’t elaborate on why they are no longer on the main FEMA page.
“Our mission is to support the governor and his response priorities through the unified command structure to help Puerto Ricans recover and return to routines. Information on the stats you are specifically looking for are readily available” on the website maintained by the governor’s office, Booher said.
Nobody calls dear leader a ‘fucking moron’ in Drumpfistan. Tillerson is bad but Pompeo in charge of State and 4th in line to BLOTUS? Good Wisdom Beings help us! Help the world!
- We’re told that President Trump is quite comfortable with Pompeo, asking his advice on topics from immigration to the inner workings of Congress.
- Pompeo personally delivers the President’s Daily Brief, making him one of the few people Trump spends a great deal of time with on a daily basis.
- Pompeo is one of the few in the administration who knows how to convey tough news to the president, and how to push back without turning DJT off. (SecDef Jim Mattis is good at that, too.)
- Trump doesn’t see Pompeo as a showboat.
- Pompeo would take the job, as the cap to a career that included being a U.S. House member from Kansas.
- Pompeo would have credibility with world leaders, who’d know he was a legit part of the president’s inner circle — something no one thinks about Tillerson.
Sources tell us Trump recognizes that a Cabinet shuffle would bring bad press. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wants stability, and so is discouraging high-level departures before next year.
And yet, insiders say Trump’s relationship with Tillerson is broken beyond repair. We’re told Trump was furious that Tillerson didn’t try to blunt the story about him calling the president a “moron,” by just going out and denying it (whether or not it actually occurred).
Here’s some disturbing things on Pompeo for you to chomp on.
WASHINGTON Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, just tapped to be Donald Trump’s new CIA director, has had a lot to say about torture, Muslims, terrorism, the Iranian nuclear deal and NSA spying. Here’s a sample:
Pompeo on the release of the 2014 Senate torture report:
“Our men and women who were tasked to keep us safe in the aftermath of 9/11 — our military and our intelligence warriors — are heroes, not pawns in some liberal game being played by the ACLU and Senator Feinstein,” Pompeo said in a statement on Dec. 9, 2014. “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots. The programs being used were within the law, within the constitution, and conducted with the full knowledge Senator Feinstein. If any individual did operate outside of the program’s legal framework, I would expect them to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Pompeo on American Muslims:
“It’s been just under two months since the attacks in Boston,” said in a speech on floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on June 11, 2013. “In those intervening weeks, the silence of Muslim leaders has been deafening. And that is sad, but most importantly, it is dangerous. When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith, and are performed in the name of that faith, a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith. Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and more importantly still, in those that may well follow.”
Pompeo on the Iran deal:
“It’s not a question whether America can prevent a nuclear Iran or stop Russian aggression; it’s a question of whether (the Obama) administration has the backbone to use the tools and solutions available,” Pompeo said on Dec. 3, 2014. “Each of these nations poses real threats to America and the West – what is needed is not ambiguity, but clarity, forcefulness and commitments that do not exceed America’s willingness to fulfill them.
“Ayatollah Khamenei watches America allow Iran to expand its power while our President writes him missives ensuring we will protect Iran’s interests. This is dangerous. The Islamic Republic cannot even feed its own people without access to markets and our President rewards that nation, which has killed countless Americans, with sanctions relief. Congress should immediately act to stop all oil shipments out of Iran, reinstitute economic sanctions and demand that our allies do so as well. We should make clear that nuclear enrichment is not acceptable inside of Iran for any purpose and, as President Bush once said, those who harbor terrorists who kill Americans will be treated in the same manner as if they had committed the act of terror themselves.”
Ladies! Kiss your birth control coverage good bye! All things Obama must go in Drumpfistan. “Trump just officially made it easier for employers to stop covering birth control. The new rules let big companies end contraceptive coverage — and take effect immediately.”
The Trump administration is relaxing an Obama-era requirement that nearly all employers offer health insurance that covers a wide array of contraceptive methods.
New regulations released Friday significantly broaden the types of companies and organizations that can request an exemption from that rule. This could lead to many American women who currently receive no-cost contraception having to pay out of pocket for their medication.
The new rules take effect immediately. And they allow large, publicly traded companies to seek an exemption from the birth control requirement if they have a religious or moral objection to providing such coverage. The Obama administration barred these large businesses from such exemptions.
“This provides an exemption, a limited one, for those with religious or moral convictions implicated by the contraceptive mandate,” an HHS official said in a Friday morning briefing with reporters previewing the rule.
HHS projects that “99.9 percent of women” will be unaffected by these changes but gave little explanation of how it came to that data point. Officials did note that only a few hundred small businesses have so far raised religious or moral objections against the requirement by filing lawsuits.
But it is possible that larger publicly traded companies could join their ranks as the exemption gets widened. And the rule itself is blunt about the possible effect, noting that “These final rules will result in some enrollees in plans of exempt entities not receiving coverage or payments for contraceptive services.”
Women’s health groups, including the National Women’s Law Center and the Center for Reproductive Rights, have been preparing to file lawsuits against the regulation, based on an earlier draft that Vox obtained in late May.
Of course, you know how beneficent those “pro-lifers” can be when it comes to forced birth and supporting the living children. “Inside Tim Murphy’s reign of terror. The anti-abortion lawmaker’s abortion scandal was just the tipping point. Former aides say abuse inside his office was rampant.” Abortions are perfectly okay for mistresses of culture warring Congress Critters.
Rep. Tim Murphy, a staunch anti-abortion advocate, thought he could withstand the media furor that engulfed him after reports that he’d encouraged his extramarital lover to end her apparent pregnancy.
Just one day after announcing he would retire after the 2018 election, Murphy reversed course and told Speaker Paul Ryan he was resigning effective Oct. 21. Murphy’s abrupt decision ended a 15-year career on Capitol Hill in a shocking manner. The 65-year-old Pennsylvania Republican was so safe in his conservative district that Democrats hadn’t even fielded an opponent against him during the past two election cycles.
Ironically, Murphy’s swift collapse came not because of text messages he sent to a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, encouraging her to have an abortion as first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. In fact, fears among senior Republicans about a potential wave of negative stories on how Murphy ran his congressional office were what ultimately pushed him out the door.
Multiple top House Republicans during the past 24 hours pressured Murphy to resign once it became clear that the House Ethics Committee might have to investigate allegations tied to his reported mistreatment of staffers. Numerous GOP sources were aware of systemic problems in Murphy’s office, including high staff turnover, which had been the topic of gossip and speculation for years.
The Post-Gazette had reported on a June 2017 memo in which Murphy’s longtime chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, warned the Pennsylvania Republican that he was mistreating and “harassing” staff, causing 100 percent turnover.
So, I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to play fetch with Dear Leader. Paper towels work so well in place of functioning pumps, you know. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
And, JJ … hang in there. We’ll make it through this one too!!!
Posted: October 5, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Boston, Chicago, Donald Trump, elderly abuse, guardian system, Jesus Campos, Kody Robertson, Las Vegas Mass shooting, libraries, Michelle Vo, Nevada, Puerto Rico, Russia investigation
Dream Series 5 The Library by Jacob Lawrence 1967
Before I get to today’s news, I want to call attention to this investigative article in The New Yorker on legal elderly abuse. The author, Rachel Aviv, deeply researched the guardianship system in Nevada, but this apparently happens in other states as well. It’s a long read, but well worth it, especially for those of us who have elderly parents–and who are getting older ourselves.
How the Elderly Lose Their Rights
For years, Rudy North woke up at 9 a.m. and read the Las Vegas Review-Journal while eating a piece of toast. Then he read a novel—he liked James Patterson and Clive Cussler—or, if he was feeling more ambitious, Freud. On scraps of paper and legal notepads, he jotted down thoughts sparked by his reading. “Deep below the rational part of our brain is an underground ocean where strange things swim,” he wrote on one notepad. On another, “Life: the longer it cooks, the better it tastes.”
Rennie, his wife of fifty-seven years, was slower to rise. She was recovering from lymphoma and suffered from neuropathy so severe that her legs felt like sausages. Each morning, she spent nearly an hour in the bathroom applying makeup and lotions, the same brands she’d used for forty years. She always emerged wearing pale-pink lipstick. Rudy, who was prone to grandiosity, liked to refer to her as “my amour.”
In the Library, John Watkins Chapman
On the Friday before Labor Day, 2013, the Norths had just finished their toast when a nurse, who visited five times a week to help Rennie bathe and dress, came to their house, in Sun City Aliante, an “active adult” community in Las Vegas. They had moved there in 2005, when Rudy, a retired consultant for broadcasters, was sixty-eight and Rennie was sixty-six. They took pride in their view of the golf course, though neither of them played golf.
Rudy chatted with the nurse in the kitchen for twenty minutes, joking about marriage and laundry, until there was a knock at the door. A stocky woman with shiny black hair introduced herself as April Parks, the owner of the company A Private Professional Guardian. She was accompanied by three colleagues, who didn’t give their names. Parks told the Norths that she had an order from the Clark County Family Court to “remove” them from their home. She would be taking them to an assisted-living facility. “Go and gather your things,” she said.
Rennie began crying. “This is my home,” she said.
One of Parks’s colleagues said that if the Norths didn’t comply he would call the police. Rudy remembers thinking, You’re going to put my wife and me in jail for this? But he felt too confused to argue.
Parks drove a Pontiac G-6 convertible with a license plate that read “crtgrdn,” for “court guardian.” In the past twelve years, she had been a guardian for some four hundred wards of the court. Owing to age or disability, they had been deemed incompetent, a legal term that describes those who are unable to make reasoned choices about their lives or their property. As their guardian, Parks had the authority to manage their assets, and to choose where they lived, whom they associated with, and what medical treatment they received. They lost nearly all their civil rights.
That’s just the introduction. I hope you’ll go read the rest.
The Library, Elizabeth Shippen Green, 1905
The Las Vegas gun massacre continues to dominate the news. I’d like to recommend a couple of positive articles coming out of the horror. You may have read this one by Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post already, but just in case: Two strangers bond over country music and beer. Then the gunshots started.
Up-and-coming country star Luke Combs had just started his set on the smaller of the two festival stages when Kody Robertson, an auto parts salesman from Columbus, Ohio, squeezed in at the end of the bar next to Michelle Vo, an insurance agent from Los Angeles.
The 32-year-olds connected immediately. They joked about their mutual love of golf. He recommended new beers for her to try as she showed him the large floral tattoo covering much of her back. They realized that they were both staying at the Luxor.
A longtime country music fan, Robertson was in Vegas with a group of friends and told Vo about the fun they’d had at last year’s Route 91 Harvest festival. Vo replied that she’d only recently fallen for the genre; this was her first festival. She was here alone. By the time the night’s final act took the main stage, the fast friends had settled into a spot about 20 yards from the right side of the stage, nestled between a few cuddly married couples and a rambunctious bachelorette party.
It was 10:08 p.m. Robertson and Vo searched the air for the fireworks they assumed they were hearing. Then came a second burst: indiscriminate gunfire hailing from a 32nd-floor window at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Screams punctuated the pop-pop-pop. Jason Aldean, the headline act, ran from the stage. A bullet pierced the left side of Vo’s chest.
“She got hit and I turned and saw her immediately fall to the ground,” Robertson recalls. “She was literally right beside me, maybe two feet away.”
Robertson threw his body on top of hers as a shield from the bullets and, when the firing finally seemed to stop, worked with another man to carry Vo out of the venue — pausing for cover each time the gunfire resumed.
Robertson could have just left it there, but instead he recovered Vo’s purse and cell phone and embarked on a long search to find Michelle as well as communicating with her family. If you haven’t read it already, please do. Lowery’s writing is just brilliant.
The Daily Beast: Unarmed Security Guard Took On Las Vegas Killer Stephen Paddock.
LAS VEGAS—Jesus Campos had no firearm when he found Stephen Paddockand approached his room on the 32rd floor of Mandalay Bay on Sunday night.
Paddock, who had rigged cameras in the hallway and on the peephole of the door, saw Campos coming and fired through the door, hitting him in the leg, said Dave Hickey, president of the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America. The union represents Campos and hundreds of security guards at Mandalay Bay.
The Library, Hotel Lambert, Alexandre Serebriakoff
When Campos was hit, he radioed casino dispatch and told them his location—and Paddock’s.
“We received information via their dispatch center…that helped us locate where this individual was sequestered,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Tuesday.
When Campos first arrived on the 32nd floor, he did so by elevator because Paddock had somehow blocked stairwell doors leading to the hallway outside of his room, Hickey said. The door to the room itself was also barricaded, Campos found when he tried to open it, just before the bullets came through the door.
Police officers subsequently approached the room and were met with 200 rounds from Paddock, Lombardo said on Wednesday night. Police fell back until SWAT arrived.
Campos, wounded, stayed on the floor and even went door-to-door, clearing rooms with police, Lombardo said, until he was ordered to leave because he was wounded.
Click on the link to read the rest. Here are a few more stories you might want to check out.
The New York Times: Las Vegas Shooting: Investigators Grapple With Gunman’s ‘Secret Life’
Las Vegas Journal-Review: Las Vegas Strip shooter targeted aviation fuel tanks, source says.
BBC News: Las Vegas shooting: Paddock may have planned to escape.
NBC Boston: Sources: Las Vegas Shooter TheResearched Possible Boston Locations.
Chicago Tribune: Chicago police investigating reports that Las Vegas gunman booked hotel rooms overlooking Lollapalooza.
The Library, WindsorCastle, 1838 James Baker Pyne
The massacre in Las Vegas has completely overshadowed the Puerto Rico crisis in the headlines, but the situation there is still dire. NPR reports: 112 Degrees With No Water: Puerto Rican Hospitals Battle Life And Death Daily.
Every day across Puerto Rico, with its shattered power grid, hospitals are waging a life-and-death battle to keep their patients from getting sicker in the tropical heat. Now two weeks after the storm, about three-quarters of Puerto Rico’s hospitals remain on emergency power. This creates dangerous conditions for critically ill patients.
At the Pavia Arecibo Hospital, about an hour west of San Juan, administrator Jose Luis Rodriguez wipes sweat from his worried brow. “We don’t have any air conditioning,” he says. “We can handle maybe a week, but it’s already been two weeks almost.”
The government calls them “indirect deaths” – those who died after the violent storm: heart attack victims, people on kidney dialysis machines that failed, people who fell off roofs inspecting storm damage, and people killed in auto accidents on highways made more treacherous from Maria’s destruction.
“So far after the storm we have had 49 dead bodies,” says Rodriguez. Earlier this week, the governor of Puerto Rico raised the official fatality figure for Hurricane Maria from 16 people to 34. But with unofficial reports like the one from Arecibo, that number is expected to rise.
More at the link.
USA Today: Puerto Rico health system on life support two weeks after Hurricane Maria.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two weeks after Hurricane Maria toppled Puerto Rico’s communications towers, wrecked its electrical grid and knocked out power to water systems, medical officials said the island’s health system is “on life support.”
Among the multiple impacts that have left the island’s medical system deeply damaged:
-Patients are dying because of complications related to the primitive conditions and difficult transportation issues so many island residents now endure.
-A lack of transportation in small towns makes it difficult to transfer patients to larger hospitals.
-An administrator in a small-town hospital has to drive her car to an ambulance company a mile away to ask for a patient to be transferred to a larger hospital.
– Severe lack of communications on the island has resulted in less triage and coordination between hospitals, and more patients arriving at large medical centers than usual, which has stretched capacity.
-Doctors are afraid to discharge patients after surgery to places with unsanitary conditions and where care and transportation may not exist, adding strain to an already strained system.
Other stories of possible interest:
The Guardian: Trump came to Puerto Rico like an emperor: with pomp and little sympathy.
GQ: Turns Out Trump Spent His Puerto Rico Trip “Helping” in the Wealthy Suburbs.
Chicago Tribune: Trump said he wants to bail out Puerto Rico. His budget head says he didn’t mean it.
This is turning out to be a link dump, because there is so much news. I haven’t even gotten to the latest stories on the Russia investigation, and I’m running out of space. Some links to explore:
Business Insider: ‘The issue of collusion is still open’: Top senators hint the Russia probe is heating up.
Newsweek: Russia Investigation: Tell-Tale Signs Trump is Expecting the Worst.
Bloomberg: Russia Needed Help Targeting U.S. Voters, Two Former CIA Leaders Say.
Talking Points Memo: Russia Appeared To Target Wisconsin’s Elections Body Via A Banner Or Popup Ad.
Politico: Trump pushes for Senate intel panel probe of ‘Fake News Networks’ in U.S. (What a moron!)
CNN: FBI chief on Russian hacking: We ‘should have seen this coming.’
What else is happening? What stories are you following?
Posted: October 4, 2017 Filed under: just because, Political and Editorial Cartoons
What a racist asshole…
But there are so many assholes:
At least Mexico is coming to aid Puerto Rico:
And then there’s Maude:
Now the cartoons:
This is an open thread.
Posted: October 3, 2017 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics
Can things get any worse? I suppose they always can. But I don’t know how much more horrible news I can handle. I know I’ve said that before, and I just keep plugging along. But It’s not easy. It helps to know that I’m not alone. I know everyone who reads and/or comments on this blog probably feels this way too.
Terrible natural disasters and mass shootings are nothing new. What’s different now is Trump as “president.” That makes every disaster so much worse. Everything he touches turns to shit.
At least when Obama was president, we knew that someone stable, serious, and intelligent was in charge. We knew he would say the right things after a horrible event. We knew that he would be meeting with his cabinet and advisers to find solutions for problems and that he would go to the scenes of tragedies to comfort people who were desperate and grieving. Trump only cares about how events affect him and his fragile ego.
by Alfredo Protti
This morning, as Trump walked to his helicopter to leave for Puerto Rico, he again criticized the people there who are struggling to survive and lied about his administration’s failure to help people in desperate need.
As he took off Tuesday for Puerto Rico, President Trump defended the federal response to the hurricane that ravaged the island two weeks ago.
“In Texas and in Florida we get an A-plus,” he said, citing recovery efforts from earlier hurricanes on the U.S. mainland. “And I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s actually a much tougher situation.” [….]
On Sunday, Trump described critics of his government’s response to the humanitarian disaster “politically motivated ingrates.” Yet some residents took issue with Trump’s tone. “People need water, gasoline and tarps, without the politics,” resident Liza Minnelli Pacheco told USA TODAY.
Trump continued to attack the mayor of San Juan, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, suggesting that the people of Puerto Rico need to “give us more help,” by “driving trucks.”
Trump made it clear that all he cares about is that officials in Puerto Rico praise him for the government’s response, regardless of how bad has been.
He also addressed the mass shootings in Las Vegas, which resulted in the deaths of 59 people so far and injuries to more than 500 others. He characterized the police response as “a miracle,” and claimed that the shooter was quickly taken out. From Shareblue:
TRUMP: Look, we have a tragedy. What happened in Las Vegas was in many ways a miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job. And we’ll be talking about gun laws in as time goes by.
Dancer resting, Edgar Degas
According to the timeline from the Las Vegas police department, it took nearly two hours from the time the gunman started killing people from his hotel room for police to enter the room. When they entered, they found the gunman had already killed himself.
While law enforcement on the ground certainly acted heroically, the police were badly outgunned by the sniper who reportedly had more than a dozen high-powered rifles in his room. He also used tripods and scopes for his killing spree.
We’ll see what happens on Trump’s PR visit. My guess is he won’t go to any of the most troubled areas or try to comfort any agonized survivors of Hurricane Maria.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t link The National Review, but I found this article on the Las Vegas shooter interesting: Based on the early reports, the Las Vegas shooting is very, very strange. I’m not going to quote from it, because you need to read the whole thing. You might also want to check out the Twitter timeline of Rukmini Callimachi (recommended in the article), who writes about ISIS for The New York Times.
Another good piece to check out Splinter: Every Member of Congress Who Took Money From the NRA and Tweeted ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ to Las Vegas.
In other news, there are some developments in the Russia investigation.
Bloomberg: Mueller Tasks an Adviser With Getting Ahead of Pre-Emptive Pardons.
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a distinctly modern problem. The president, judging by his tweets, could try to pardon people in his circle even before prosecutors charge anyone with a crime.
The Orange Trees, Gustave Caillebotte
Mueller’s all-star team of prosecutors, with expertise in money laundering and foreign bribery, has an answer to that. He’s Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt.
Acting as Mueller’s top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dreeben’s broader brief is to make sure the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight. That could include anything from strategizing on novel interpretations of criminal law to making sure the recent search warrant on ex-campaign adviser Paul Manafort’s home would stand up to an appeal.
“He’s seen every criminal case of any consequence in the last 20 years,” said Kathryn Ruemmler of Latham & Watkins LLP, who served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama. “If you wanted to do a no-knock warrant, he’d be a great guy to consult with to determine if you were exposing yourself.”
Click on the link to read more about Dreeben and his expertise on presidential pardons.
Politico: Hundreds of White House emails sent to third Kushner family account.
White House officials have begun examining emails associated with a third and previously unreported email account on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s private domain, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Hundreds of emails have been sent since January from White House addresses to accounts on the Kushner family domain, these people said. Many of those emails went not to Kushner’s or Ivanka Trump’s personal addresses but to an account they both had access to and shared with their personal household staff for family scheduling….
The morning paper Leon Kroll (1884-1974)
The existence of additional accounts on the family domain beyond the two personal accounts used by Kushner and Ivanka Trump and reported earlier raises new questions about the extent of personal email use by the couple during their time as White House aides. Their use of private email accounts for White House business also raises concerns about the security of potentially sensitive government documents, which have been forwarded to private accounts.
The Washington Post: Trump’s company had more contact with Russia during campaign, according to documents turned over to investigators.
Associates of President Trump and his company have turned over documents to federal investigators that reveal two previously unreported contacts from Russia during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
In one case, Trump’s personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails weeks before the Republican National Convention about the lawyer possibly traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would be attended by top Russian financial and government leaders, including President Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the correspondence.
In the other case, the same Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a billionaire who once served in the upper house of the Russian parliament, these people said. The previously unreported inquiry marks the second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project that was delivered to the company during the presidential campaign and has since come to light.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
The Fisherman, Frank Richards, 1890
Finally, a long read from Julia Ioffe at The Atlantic: Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor With a Putin Ally?
On the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant Paul Manafort to lead his campaign’s efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?” Manafort wrote.
“Absolutely,” Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev. “Every article.”
“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort asks. “Has OVD operation seen?”
According to a source close to Manafort, the initials “OVD” refer to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and one of Russia’s richest men. The source also confirmed that one of the individuals repeatedly mentioned in the email exchange as an intermediary to Deripaska is an aide to the oligarch.
The emails were provided to The Atlantic on condition of anonymity. They are part of a trove of documents turned over by lawyers for Trump’s presidential campaign to investigators looking into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. A source close to Manafort confirmed their authenticity. Excerpts from these emails were firstreported by The Washington Post, but the full text of these exchanges, provided to The Atlantic, shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Manafort was deeply in debt, and did not earn a salary from the Trump campaign.
Click on the link to read the rest of this interesting article.
That’s all the news I can stomach writing about today. What stories are you following?