Even as we worry about Trump and Bolton starting a war with Iran and about the Democrats refusing to follow the Impeachment road map provided by Robert Mueller, American women must face the fact that our very personhood is being attacked.
Personally, I have decided that I will not vote for any man for president. The right of women to make decisions about our own bodies is too important.
Here’s the latest on the War on Women:
Missouri’s Senate has passed what its authors call one of the nation’s most stringent anti-abortion bills, which would outlaw nearly all abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.
The Republican-led Senate passed the bill, dubbed Missouri Stands With The Unborn, by a margin of 24 to 10 early Thursday morning….
Missouri’s move comes hours after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill that would introduce a near-total abortion ban in that state. Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy.
Louisiana is following suit with its own “heartbeat” abortion ban, which was approved unopposed by the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.
Abortion right activists are mobilizing in Alabama. The Washington Post: Governor signs Alabama abortion ban, which has galvanized support on both sides, setting up a lengthy fight.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — As a crop duster with a banner saying “Abortion is okay” hummed above the capitol, circling back and forth around the governor’s mansion, a group of women below let out a cheer.
“Just another day in Alabama,” said Mia Raven, director of People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment and Rights (POWER) House. “We knew this would pass and we got ready.”
Amanda Reyes, who works with an abortion fund, was wearing an “I’m on the pill” T-shirt, complete with instructions printed on the back detailing how to get a medical abortion. She also looked skyward: “Here it comes again! That’s just the coolest thing.”
Hours after the Alabama Senate voted late Tuesday to ban abortions in almost all circumstances — including in cases of rape and incest — women’s rights activists and abortion rights advocates said the decision to approve the nation’s strictest abortion measure has energized them. Knowing that the bill was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, they are gearing up for the fight.
The Washington Post: Louisiana ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban nearing final passage.
BATON ROUGE, La. — A proposal to ban abortions in Louisiana as early as the sixth week of pregnancy continued to speed through the state legislature Wednesday, the same day Alabama’s governor signed the nation’s most restrictive law against the procedure.
Without objection, the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee backed legislation to prohibit abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, similar to laws passed in several conservative states that are aimed at challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion. Louisiana’s ban, however, only would take effect if a federal appeals court upholds a similar law in Mississippi.
Louisiana’s so-called fetal “heartbeat bill” is sponsored by state Sen. John Milkovich, one of several measures that lawmakers are advancing to add new restrictions on abortion. Senators already have supported the bill, which will next receive full House consideration, one step from final passage. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has indicated he will sign the measure if it reaches his desk.
The New York Times sums up the current abortion landscape: ‘The Time Is Now’: States Are Rushing to Restrict Abortion, or to Protect It.
States across the country are passing some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in decades, deepening the growing divide between liberal and conservative states and setting up momentous court battles that could profoundly reshape abortion access in America….
The national race to pass new legislation began last fall, after President Trump chose Brett M. Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, adding what some predicted would be a fifth vote to uphold new limits on abortion. Red states rushed to pass more restrictions and blue states to pass protections.
Now, as state legislative sessions draw to a close in many places, experts count about 30 abortion laws that have passed so far.
That is not necessarily more than in past years, said Elizabeth Nash, a legal expert at the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.
What’s different is the laws themselves, which have gone further than ever to frontally challenge Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that established federal protections for abortion.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Interestingly, these extreme laws could be interfering with right wing plans to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Even Pat Robertson thinks the Alabama law is too “extreme.” The Washington Post: Televangelist Pat Robertson: Alabama’s abortion ban is ‘extreme’ and has ‘gone too far.’
Longtime televangelist Pat Robertson decried Alabama’s new abortion ban as “extreme,” saying on his show on Wednesday that the state legislature has “gone too far.”
Alabama’s law, which has been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, includes a penalty of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions and has no exceptions for rape or incest, Robertson noted on his show.
“They want to challenge Roe vs. Wade, but my humble view is I don’t think that’s the case I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose,” Robertson told viewers of CBN’s “The 700 Club” on Wednesday.
David G. Savage at The Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court is not eager to overturn Roe vs. Wade — at least not soon.
The Supreme Court justices will meet behind closed doors Thursday morning and are expected to debate and discuss — for the 14th time — Indiana’s appeal of court rulings that have blocked a law to prohibit certain abortions.
The high court’s action — or so far, nonaction — in Indiana’s case gives one clue as to how the court’s conservative majority will decide the fate of abortion bans recently passed by lawmakers in Alabama and Georgia. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama signed her state’s ban into law on Wednesday.
Lawmakers in those states have said they approved the bans in an effort to force the high court to reconsider Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
The justices have many ways to avoid such a sweeping ruling, however. And Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in his 14 years on the high court, has typically resisted moving quickly to decide major controversies or to announce abrupt, far-reaching changes in the law.
Roberts’ history, along with the court’s handling of abortion cases in recent years, suggests he will not move to overturn the right to abortion soon, or all at once, and is particularly unlikely to do so in the next year or two with a presidential election pending.
At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick makes a similar argument: Alabama’s Extremist Abortion Bill Ruins John Roberts’ Roe Plan.
One could feel sorry for Chief Justice John Roberts. He is, after all, caught in an unsightly squeeze play between anti-abortion zealots in Alabama, and slightly less wild-eyed anti-abortion zealots in Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana (the court seems unable to make a decision on whether to grant the Indiana petition it has been sitting on for months now). There’s finally a five-justice majority within striking distance of a decades-long dream to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the anti-choice activists are getting ahead of themselves like slurring drunks at a frat party and making everything more transparently nasty than it need be.
There are easy and near invisible ways for the high court to end Roe. That has always been, and remains, the logical trajectory. As Mark Joseph Stern has shown, when Brett Kavanaugh came onto the court, with his dog whistles and signaling around reproductive rights, it became clear that he would guide the court to simply allow states to erect more and more barriers to abortion access (dolphin-skin window coverings on every clinic!). The five justices in the majority would do it all while finding ways to say that such regulations were not an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. The courts and state legislatures could continue their lilting love songs to the need for the states to protect maternal health and to help confused mommies make good choices, and nobody need dirty their hands by acknowledging that the real goal of three decades’ worth of cumbersome clinic regulations and admitting privileges laws were just pretexts for closing clinics and ending abortion altogether.
Read the rest at Slate.
(Mostly) male legislators are ignoring the realities of actual women’s lives.
When Senator Clyde Chambliss, a Republican, for example, was asked if the law would allow for incest victims to obtain abortions, he responded: “Yes, until she knows she’s pregnant.”
He did not elaborate on how someone would have an abortion before she knows she’s pregnant, outside of claiming, “It takes time for all the chromosomes to come together.”
Women’s bodies, lives, and futures are quite literally in the hands of men who seemingly couldn’t pass a high school health class. That’s part of what’s so hard about watching these debates: It’s not just that women’s rights and autonomy are being legislated away, but that it’s being done by complete morons.
This lack of remedial understanding of women’s bodies is not limited to Alabama. Representative John Becker of Ohio, a Republican, for example, sponsored a bill to limit insurance coverage for abortions, but claimed that it would have an exception for ectopic pregnancies, when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. “That treatment would be removing the embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus,” he said, explaining a procedure that doesn’t exist and isn’t medically possible.
There is also Texas state Representative Dan Flynn, a Republican, who believes abortion requires cutting into a woman’s uterus, or Vito Barbieri, the Idaho state Representative, a Republican, who thought you could give a woman a remote gynecological exam by having her swallow a tiny camera.
Shannon Dingle at USA Today: I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama’s abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.
I was that 11-year-old pregnant by rape in Ohio, except I had just turned 12 and lived in Florida….She is 11. She has experienced and is experiencing violating trauma. Maybe someday she will tell her story, but today is not that day.
I can tell my story, though. I was newly 12. I lived in a suburb of Tampa. I had gotten my period a couple years before, and it came regularly once it started. I knew to expect it every 32 days.
It was July, the summer between sixth and seventh grade, when days 33, 34, 35 and more passed with no period. I had read in one of my sister’s Seventeen magazines that periods aren’t always regular, so I figured this was my first one of those.
It wasn’t….I never chose to have sex at such a young age, but abusers in my family chose to rape me. I had lost count of the number of times by then. With a dad high ranking in the county sheriff’s office, I didn’t trust going to the police. I had tried to tell teachers and church volunteers, but that never went anywhere, either.
Please go read the rest if you haven’t already.
Women and girls in the U.S. are in real danger. For me this is the number one issue for women in the upcoming presidential election.
As always, this is an open thread.
So, on Mother’s Day…pre-GoT burnout, Mitt Romney twitted our a picture of his wife’s special gift:
To wit, the Games really began.
This is my favorite response. I actually started to write this post on Tuesday…thinking it was actually Wednesday. My brain is totally washed up.
A few more observations before we get to the cartoons.
I thought that was awesome.
We lost Doris Day and…
They always seem to come in threes.
Now the cartoons:
Oh, and by the way…
If you watched Chris Hayes last night you probably heard the shit DeSantis said when asked which two counties were hacked…
Let’s not forget the children….born children that is:
And on that note, this is an open thread.
There’s plenty of news today and none of it is good as far as I can see. Here are some stories that caught my eye this morning.
Following up on Dakinikat’s post yesterday, a couple of useful articles on Trump’s insane tarriffs:
Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien at Bloomberg: Don’t Go Searching for Strategy in Trump’s Tariffs.
As China and the U.S. dig in for what may become a protracted and possibly very painful trade war, a lot of time is being wasted trying to divine whether President Donald Trump has a strategy.
If we’re defining “strategy” as a cohesive, premeditated plan designed with clear goals in mind – goals that go beyond “gotcha!” – then no, the president doesn’t. “I’m going to teach China a lesson” isn’t a strategy. Slapping rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports is punitive, of course, and may ultimately convince the country’s leaders to open their markets and stop stealing intellectual property from the U.S. It’s unlikely to convince them to significantly reshape what has thus far proven to be a wildly successful, government-brokered industrial policy that has turned China into an economic powerhouse.
Meanwhile, Trump has been tweeting a series of bonkers and factually-challenged insights recently about what he thinks the impact of his tariffs will be and how U.S. consumers will respond to the likelihood of tariff-induced higher prices. None of this is knitted into a broader geopolitical argument about how best to deal with China on the world stage and challenge it militarily on the high seas and elsewhere.
Don’t expect most of that to change in a meaningful way. The president doesn’t have a sophisticated trade strategy any more than he has a thoughtful immigration strategy or a wily political strategy. What he has are resentments – resentments that are so deeply felt that much of Trump’s fuming can come across at times as the words and bile of someone who has been personally affronted. Trump’s fear and resentment of “the other” is profound and ubiquitous and speaks to sentiments he’s been harboring for much of his life.
From the article, an example of Trump’s strategic thinking:
“I’ve read hundreds of books about China over the decades,” Trump said in “The Art of the Deal,” his nonfiction work of fiction. “I know the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind.”
He’s not really sure about that though, and sometimes his insecurity is transparent. “China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain,” Trump said last fall.
This moron is president of the U.S.!
The Dow Jones industrial average on Monday plunged 618 points, or roughly 2.7 percent, after a flurry of belligerent tweets from President Trump — and quick retaliation from China in the form of new tariffs — threw gut punches at hopes for a deal between the two nations.
The sell-off framed a central conflict inside the White House — and seemingly within the president’s own mind. Trump loves a booming stock market, which he tracks obsessively, and views it as an indicator of success on par with his approval rating. At the same time, he loves his power to unilaterally impose tariffs, and sees winning tough concessions from China as key to his 2020 reelection bid.
But those two political imperatives are once again at odds. And Wall Street traders and economists say that if Trump doesn’t make a deal, and moves forward with a threat to slap 25 percent tariffs on everything China exports to the U.S., he could further rattle markets, tip the economy toward recession and lose his best ticket to re-election.
Click the link to read the rest.
Also following up on Dakinikat’s Monday post, Irin Carmon at The Cut on the GOP war on women and Justice Breyer’s dire warning: We Have No Idea How Scary Our Abortion Future Will Get.
No one used to take Janet Porter seriously. The Ohio activist who pioneered so-called “heartbeat” six-week abortion bans was mostly known for the gags — a YouTube video with a tinny voice singing “Have a heart, don’t let them kill / Help us pass the heartbeat bill” sung to the tune of “99 Red Balloons,” or having two fetuses “testify” via ultrasound at a committee hearing. Radical as her goals were, she didn’t seem in danger of having them come true, since mainstream anti-abortion activists and elected officials long believed in going slowly to forestall political and legal backlash.
As Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis, who convinced John Kasich to veto Ohio’s heartbeat bill in 2016, put it to me then, “When you overreach, you lose. The courts can be very vicious to you.” Establishment anti-choicers also worry about waking up voters who think of abortion rights as basically secure, and prefer chipping away at Roe v. Wade, using tendentious and inaccurate phrases like “taxpayer-funded abortion” and “fetal pain,” and falsely comparing later abortions to “infanticide.” The anti-choice split is about speed, not goals. “If the court was 7-2 pro-life I would say, let’s do a ban at conception,” Gonidakis said. “I know everyone is swept up in Trump mania, but we have to be realistic.”
But just because that’s been abortion’s past doesn’t mean Porter is wrong about its future. Kasich is gone, and so is Justice Anthony Kennedy. Heartbeat bans are suddenly in place, if not in effect, in Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, and Kentucky. On Monday, the normally plodding and passionless Justice Stephen Breyer issued a Cassandra-like warning in a dissent joined by the other liberal justices, calling the majority’s overruling of a states’ rights precedent “dangerous” and adding ominously, “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.” If that wasn’t clear enough, he twice mentioned the court’s major abortion precedent when he didn’t have to. Only running down the court steps shrieking would have been less subtle.
The Handmaid’s Tale could become reality for American women.
In other news:
Cover-Up General Bill Barr is following Trump’s orders to investigate the investigators.
The New York Times: Barr Assigns U.S. Attorney in Connecticut to Review Origins of Russia Inquiry.
Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter, a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful.
John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees.
His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia’s election interference and Trump associates….
Mr. Durham, who was nominated by Mr. Trump in 2017 and has been a Justice Department lawyer since 1982, has conducted special investigations under administrations of both parties. Attorney General Janet Reno asked Mr. Durham in 1999 to investigate the F.B.I.’s handling of a notorious informant: the organized crime leader James (Whitey) Bulger.
In 2008, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey assigned Mr. Durham to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes in 2005 showing the torture of terrorism suspects. A year later, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate to also examine whether the agency broke any laws in its abuses of detainees in its custody.
According to Fox News, Durham has already been conducting this investigation “for weeks.”
The Guardian is reporting an incident that didn’t make it into the Mueller Report: Steve Bannon sought alliance with FBI in 2017 White House meeting.
Steve Bannon urged two senior FBI officials to put their differences with the White House “behind them” at a meeting in 2017, on the day after Donald Trump asked James Comey, the then head of the FBI, to pledge his loyalty to the president.
The exchange, which occurred on 28 January 2017 and has never been publicly disclosed, offers new insights into the ways in which senior White House officials, including Bannon, Trump’s closest adviser at the time, sought to ensure the FBI saw itself as an ally of the White House.
It also raises questions about why the incident was not included in the report by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian influence during the 2016 election, which contained detailed allegations of the ways in which Trump sought to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into the president and his campaign.
Bannon made the remarks to Andrew McCabe, who was then serving as deputy director of the FBI, and Bill Priestap, who was serving as the FBI’s assistant director of counter-intelligence. They were written up in a memo by McCabe and later raised when Bannon was questioned by US special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to people familiar with the matter.
Read more at The Guardian.
From Politico, Judge set to rule on Trump’s subpoena challenge.
President Donald Trump’s strategy of outright resistance to House subpoenas will face its first test in federal court on Tuesday, setting up a ruling that could boost Democrats’ efforts to investigate the president’s business dealings.
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta is set to rule on the Democrat-led House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump’s financial records. The committee’s demand is part of its investigation into alleged financial crimes committed by Trump.
Trump filed suit seeking to invalidate the subpoena three weeks ago — the first of two lawsuits aimed at hobbling House Democrats’ investigations targeting his administration, presidential campaign and business empire.
Mehta’s ruling will represent a flashpoint in the myriad disputes between the White House and Congress — marking the first time the judiciary weighs in on Trump’s blanket strategy of refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas and oversight requests from House Democrats.
That should be interesting.
As you probably know, Trump met with Hungary’s wannabe dictator and anti-Semite Victor Orban at the White House yesterday and praised him profusely. The Washington Post’s conservative columnist Anne Applebaum asks: It’s clear why Trump likes autocrats. But why are American conservatives following him?
…it isn’t necessary to be a left-wing Chavista to misunderstand a foreign country and celebrate its ugly ideas. Intellectuals of the right are just as susceptible to the lure of exotic ideologies, and equally prone to admire foreign authoritarians who seem to achieve things that democracies, with their boring coalition politics and their tedious rule of law, cannot.
On Monday, President Trump hosted one of these exotic foreign ideologues at the White House. Viktor Orban, prime minister of a country with just under 10 million inhabitants — less than the population of North Carolina — has set out to persuade British and American intellectuals to join his war against liberal democracy. At embassy dinners in London and at Washington events sponsored by Hungarian government foundations, elegantly dressed Hungarian officials expound the values of their corrupt, authoritarian state — and now some U.S. conservatives, perhaps frustrated because they can’t vanquish their own opponents so easily, have come to believe them. Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation imagines that other Europeans dislike Orban because Hungarians are “constantly reminding their neighbors not to be embarrassed by Europe’s history.” Christopher Caldwell, writing recently in the Claremont Review of Books, admires Orban’s attack on “neutral social structures and a level playing field,” presuming that the Hungarian leader derives these policies from some mystical need for organic community.
In fact, European anger at Orban has nothing do with being reminded of history, and everything to do with Orban’s all-out assault on his country’s legal and judicial institutions, on independent media, on academia and on culture. And the purpose of this assault has nothing to do with mystical organic communities: The reason the ruling party has undermined judicial independence and expelled the country’s leading university is because it wants to maintain its monopoly on power and continue accumulating wealth. No large business can operate in Hungary without ruling-party approval; many in Orban’s inner circle have mysteriously managed to make fortunes; independent businesspeople who do not toe the line are quietly threatened until they leave the country.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
That’s all I have for you today. What stories have you been following?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Well, he finally broke the economy. It was just a matter of time for those tarriffs to do their thing and now it appears we have a full out tit for tat trade war with China. I guarantee you that China will win. Even Lousy Larry Kudlow knows that it’s American households that will pay the full brunt of this tax on goods because that’s exactly what a tariff does. The price increases are already showing up in so-called “intermediate goods” and will very shortly show up at the cash register.
I’m going to get wonky on you but I will send you to the nontechnical briefing from this stellar NBER study that already shows the losses from 2018 from Trump’s Tariffs. That is the link to the full study. Here’s the part that’s important and easier to read from NBER’s May Digest.
In 2018, the United States imposed tariffs on a variety of imported goods, and other countries responded with tariffs on imports from America. Two new NBER working papers analyze how this “trade war” has affected U.S. households and firms.
The recent tariffs, which represent the most comprehensive protectionist U.S. trade policy since the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Act and 1971 tariff actions, ranged from 10 to 50 percent on about $300 billion of U.S. imports — about 13 percent of the total. Other countries responded with similar tariffs on about $100 billion worth of U.S. exports.
In The Impact of the 2018 Trade War on U.S. Prices and Welfare (NBER Working Paper No. 25672), Mary Amiti, Stephen J. Redding, and David Weinstein find that the costs of the new tariff structure were largely passed through as increases in U.S. prices, affecting domestic consumers and producers who buy imported goods rather than foreign exporters. The researchers estimate that the tariffs reduced real incomes by about $1.4 billion per month. Due to reduced foreign competition, domestic producer prices also increased. The prices of manufactured goods rose by one percentage point relative to a no-trade-war scenario. The reduction in real incomes represents the welfare cost of higher consumer prices, less the government revenue collected by the tariffs and the additional income of domestic producers who were able to sell their products at higher prices.
The researchers note that continuation of the tariff policy could be especially costly for multinational companies that have made substantial sunk-cost investments in supply chains in other countries, for example by relying on facilities in China or other impacted countries. The study estimates that around $165 billion worth of trade has been rerouted to avoid them.
Pablo D. Fajgelbaum, Pinelopi K. Goldberg, Patrick J. Kennedy, and Amit K. Khandelwal adopt a different methodological approach to address the welfare effect of recent tariffs. They also find complete pass-through of U.S. tariffs to import prices. In The Return to Protectionism (NBER Working Paper No. 25638), they estimate that the new tariff regime reduced U.S. imports by 32 percent, and that retaliatory tariffs from other countries resulted in an 11 percent decline of U.S. exports. They use these responses to estimate import demand and export supply elasticities, and then apply these estimates to calibrate a general equilibrium model of the U.S. economy with detailed input-output linkages. They estimate that higher prices facing U.S. consumers and firms who purchased imported goods generated a welfare loss of $68.8 billion, which was substantially offset by the income gains to U.S. producers who were able to charge higher prices ($61 billion). The researchers estimate the resulting real income decline at about $7.8 billion per year, a value broadly comparable to the net income decline estimated in the previous study.
Well, China is retaliating. This isn’t going to be pretty at all.
China announced that it will increase tariffs imposed on about $60 billion of U.S. goods in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s latest escalation of the trade war.
The tariffs will take effect on June 1, according to a statement on the Ministry of Finance’s website on Monday. The charges will thereby be raised on most of the goods listed on a previous retaliation list effective last September.
The yearlong trade frictions between the world’s two biggest economies worsened last week when the Trump administration announced an extra 25% tariff on thousands of Chinese products worth about $200 billion. The U.S. is set to release a plan to levy a 25% additional tariff on all remaining imports from China later on Monday.
So, of course, we saw equity markets respond with big down in all the indices and a big sell off this morning. Say bye bye to your retirement funds.
The rapid-fire succession of stark economic news spooked financial markets. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are both down sharply in morning trading. While many business executives and investors had hoped that tensions between the United States and China would be resolved easily, the recent developments show how much each country is digging in for a long fight.
“Over the past week, hopes for at least a partial and temporary cease-fire between the two sides have given way to the prospect of a rapidly escalating and broadening economic conflict between the two countries,” said Eswar Prasad, senior professor of trade policy at Cornell University
Amid signs that investors were questioning his adversarial approach, Trump attempted to assuage the public in a series of Twitter posts. But some of his tweets contained typos and misspellings, suggesting that his comments had not been thoroughly vetted by White House officials and might not represent fully planned-out policy initiatives.
The dramatic escalation came last week after Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on $200 billionof Chinese imports to the United States. He also told aides to begin plans to hit more than $300 billion in other Chinese goods. Trump has alleged that the Chinese government is ripping off American consumers and businesses by unfairly subsidizing Chinese companies, stealing intellectual property from U.S. firms and flooding global markets with cheap goods to put other companies out of business.
All of those issues were actually adressed in the TPP that Trump walked away from nearly immediately upon entering the White House. I really don’t see how we’re going to get out of this given Trump’s doubling down continually on losing deals.
You may want to read this article in the Atlantic “An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry. His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence; only slowly did he begin to understand how to use them to his advantage.”
In the years since then, Trump has assembled a long record of comment on issues involving African Americans as well as Mexicans, Hispanics more broadly, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, women, and people with disabilities. His statements have been reflected in his behavior—from public acts (placing ads calling for the execution of five young black and Latino men accused of rape, who were later shown to be innocent) to private preferences (“When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” a former employee of Trump’s Castle, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, told a writer for The New Yorker). Trump emerged as a political force owing to his full-throated embrace of “birtherism,” the false charge that the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, was not born in the United States. His presidential campaign was fueled by nativist sentiment directed at nonwhite immigrants, and he proposed barring Muslims from entering the country. In 2016, Trump described himself to The Washington Post as “the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.”
Instances of bigotry involving Donald Trump span more than four decades. The Atlantic interviewed a range of people with knowledge of several of those episodes. Their recollections have been edited for concision and clarity.
It’s pretty horrifying but I think it’s necessary to document just how racist this man is on top of all the other hateful things he brings to the table.
So, I wonder exactly how this is going to go: “House GOP focusing on women, minorities for 2020 challengers”
Finding women and minority candidates is an imperative for an overwhelmingly white GOP openly embarrassed that just 13 of its 197 House members are women. By contrast, 89 of the 235 House Democrats are women and nearly 90 are black or Hispanic.
But Republicans want challengers with other qualities too, following a 2018 election that saw the GOP lose 31 districts that President Donald Trump had won just two years earlier, many in moderate suburbs.
Desirable attributes include an ability to woo moderate GOP voters who’ve turned against Trump, whose name will be atop the ballot. In some districts they want political outsiders without voting records to attack, in others it’s political veterans with a proven ability to win votes. Enticing personal stories and an aptitude for raising money also help.
“You will see a party that’s reflective of the entire nation. That would mean from gender to race to others, but it will also show that we can compete in every single district,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
So, we’ll see but there seems to be a lot of emphasis right now on killing the rights of every one but white men and basically making the rest of us in servitude and “less than” human compared to them.
Finally, I’m really sorry to have to announce that we’ve lost Doris Day. She lived a long full life and was one of the most important advocate for animals that I know. She was also an important advocate for HIV/AIDS during a time when it was hard to get any one’s attention.
Actress and singer Doris Day made nearly three dozen films and more than 600 recordings. At the height of her career, she topped both the billboard and the box office charts. Day died of pneumonia on Monday at the age of 97.
Day remains one of the most successful female movie stars of all time. She embodied the “girl next door” even in her 40s, which is probably why her films with Rock Hudson were so successful. A scene from 1959’s Pillow Talk shows a split screen with Day and Hudson in their separate bathtubs, only it looks like they’re in the same one — with their feet touching. Kind of risqué for 1959.
That was Day at the height of her film success, but her career began as a big band “girl singer,” and with Les Brown’s big band she had one of the biggest hits of World War II: “A Sentimental Journey.” For many GIs, Doris Day represented the kind of girl you’d want to fight for and come home to.
The end of the war brought the end of the big band era and the beginning of Day’s film career. Alfred Hitchcock used Day’s voice as a plot device in The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which a distraught Day sings a distress signal, “Que Sera, Sera,” to her kidnapped son. It became her signature tune and went to the No. 2 spot on the charts.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day, please hug your mamas…
This is an open thread.
It’s getting more and more difficult for me to see a way out the mess we’re in with Trump. Perhaps the House will eventually impeach, but Republicans seem happy to accept election help from Russia and other foreign sources. Will any of them ever stand up to Trump?
And can we hope to win the election in 2020 with creepy old white guy Joe Biden when we’ve done nothing to protect the integrity of our elections from Russia’s interference? In 2020, will Trump have help from other countries like China, Israel, and Saudi Arabia?
Here are today’s disturbing reads:
Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker: The Constitutional System Is Not Built to Resist Trump’s Defiance of Congress.
Our constitutional system never contemplated a President like Donald Trump. The Framers anticipated friction among the three branches of government, which has been a constant throughout our history, but the Trump White House has now established a complete blockade against the legislative branch, thwarting any meaningful oversight. The system, it appears, may simply be incapable of responding to this kind of challenge.
The President has been candid about his plans for responding to investigations from the House of Representatives, which has been controlled by the Democrats since January. “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump said, last month, and the pace of his defiant actions has since quickened. The President and his Administration have defied congressional inquiries about security clearances, access to the full Mueller report, the President’s bank records, his tax returns, and the continuing investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia. (This week, it was revealed that the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed the President’s oldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., to testify before it again.) No White House documents have been produced to Congress; after the Attorney General, William Barr, made a contentious appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, last week, no other Administration officials have agreed to testify.
The fight between Trump and Congress will end up in the courts, but Toobin says the courts’ tendency to deal with these issues on “a case-by-case basis” instead of examining the overall problem of Trump’s blanket stonewalling may all Trump to keep stalling indefinitely.
But this approach by the courts—adjudicating one Administration claim of defiance at a time—will miss the point in the current era. There has never been a President who directed an open campaign of total defiance against another branch of government. It is simply misleading to consider these claims in isolation from one another, because the President has acknowledged that they are part of a coördinated campaign. The law has no clear mechanism for adjudicating these claims together—but they belong together. Trump is leading a political campaign, and it calls for a political, not just judicial, response.
Toobin thinks this could even interfere with the process of impeachment. I guess we are going to find out eventually.
The New York Times: White House Asked McGahn to Declare Trump Never Obstructed Justice.
White House officials asked at least twice in the past month for the key witness against President Trump in the Mueller report, Donald F. McGahn II, to say publicly that he never believed the president obstructed justice, according to two people briefed on the requests.
Mr. Trump asked White House officials to make the request to Mr. McGahn, who was the president’s first White House counsel, one of the people said. Mr. McGahn declined. His reluctance angered the president, who believed that Mr. McGahn showed disloyalty by telling investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about Mr. Trump’s attempts to maintain control over the Russia investigation.
The White House made one of the requests to Mr. McGahn’s lawyer, William A. Burck, before the Mueller report was released publicly but after the Justice Department gave a copy to Mr. Trump’s lawyers in the preceding days. Reading the report, the president’s lawyers saw that Mr. Mueller left out that Mr. McGahn had told investigators that he believed the president never obstructed justice. Mr. Burck had told them months earlier about his client’s belief on the matter and that he had shared it with investigators.
Mr. McGahn initially entertained the White House request. “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister,” Mr. Burck said in a statement. “It was a request, professionally and cordially made.” A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a message seeking comment.
But after the report was released, detailing the range of actions Mr. Trump took to try to impede the inquiry, Mr. McGahn decided to pass on putting out a statement supportive of the president. The report also revealed that Mr. Trump told aides he believed Mr. McGahn had leaked to the news media to make himself look good.
President Donald Trump told POLITICO on Friday that it would be “appropriate” for him to speak to Attorney General Bill Barr about launching an investigation into his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, or his son, Hunter.
The question of whether Trump could pressure Barr to probe Biden is coming under scrutiny after Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said he would be traveling to Ukraine to urge the incoming government there to look at Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company that has reportedly been in prosecutors’ crosshairs. The efforts appear to be part of a broader campaign by Trump’s allies to damage the former Democratic vice president’s White House campaign and have raised questions about whether Trump’s team is trying to enlist a foreign government to aid the president’s re-election bid.
“Certainly it would be an appropriate thing to speak to him about, but I have not done that as of yet. … It could be a very big situation,” Trump said in a 15-minute telephone interview on Friday afternoon, which stemmed from POLITICO’s inquiries for a separate story.
That should be mind-boggling, but statements like that from the “president” no longer surprise anyone. Trump acts like the dictator of a banana republic, and no one is shocked anymore.
Here’s more evidence from Trump’s belief that he’s a tin-pot dictator. The Washington Post: Trump takes over Fourth of July celebration, changing its location and inserting himself into the program.
President Trump has effectively taken charge of the nation’s premier Fourth of July celebration in Washington, moving the gargantuan fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River and making tentative plans to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, according to top administration officials.
The president’s starring role has the potential to turn what has long been a nonpartisan celebration of the nation’s founding into another version of a Trump campaign rally. Officials said it is unclear how much the changes may cost, but the plans have already raised alarms among city officials and some lawmakers about the potential impact of such major alterations to a time-honored and well-organized summer tradition.
Fireworks on the Mall, which the National Park Service has orchestrated for more than half a century, draw hundreds of thousands of Americans annually and mark one of the highlights of the city’s tourist season. The event has been broadcast live on television since 1947 and since 1981 has been accompanied by a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol featuring high-profile musicians and a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra….
The revised Independence Day celebration is the culmination of two years of attempts by Trump to create a major patriotic event centered on him and his supporters, including failed efforts to mount a military parade modeled on the Bastille Day celebration in France. The new event has become a top priority for new Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, whom Trump tasked with the job three months ago, officials said.
The president has received regular briefings on the effort in the Oval Office and has gotten involved in the minutiae of the planning — even discussing whether the fireworks should be launched from a barge in the Potomac River, administration aides said. The president has shown interest in the event that he often does not exhibit for other administration priorities, the aides added.
Because Trump is so incompetent that he mostly focuses on minutia–and that’s also what he apparently did in his business career, according to Trump ghostwriter Charles Leerhsen, in an essay for Yahoo News: Exclusive: Trump, the billion-dollar loser — I was his ghostwriter and saw it happen.
On Tuesday, the New York Times scooped the world on the news that from 1985 to 1994, Donald Trump incurred the biggest business losses of any single taxpayer in American history. What was it like for him to lose more than $1 billion in a decade? Was he perpetually ashen-faced with fear? Or smirking at the thought of outwitting the IRS “for sport,” as he said in a Wednesday morning tweet?
I happen to know, because from late 1988 to 1990, I was his ghostwriter, working on a book that would be called “Surviving at the Top.” Right in the middle of this period, I can tell you that the answer is that he was neither. Except for an occasional passing look of queasiness, or anger, when someone came into his Trump Tower office and whispered the daily win/loss numbers at his Atlantic City casinos, he seemed to be bored out of his mind.
According to Leerhsen Trump spent most of his time looking at fabric swatches.
Trump’s portfolio did not jibe with what I saw each day — which to a surprisingly large extent was him looking at fabric swatches. Indeed, flipping through fabric swatches seemed at times to be his main occupation. Some days he would do it for hours, then take me in what he always called his “French military helicopter” to Atlantic City — where he looked at more fabric swatches or sometimes small samples of wood paneling. It was true that the carpets and drapes at his properties needed to be refreshed frequently, and the seats on the renamed Trump Shuttle required occasional reupholstering. But the main thing about fabric swatches was that they were within his comfort zone — whereas, for example, the management of hotels and airlines clearly wasn’t. One of his aides once told me that every room at the Plaza could be filled at the “rack rate” (list price) every night, and the revenue still wouldn’t cover the monthly payment of the loan he’d taken out to buy the place. In other words, he’d made a ridiculous deal. Neither he nor the banks had done the math beforehand. Or perhaps Trump knew it because someone had told him, but didn’t want to think about it. The one thing he is above-average at is compartmentalization.
On days when there were no broadlooms or chenilles to ponder, we would sit around his office and shoot the breeze while (as we now know) out there someplace in the real world, his businesses were hemorrhaging cash. He’d talk about the Yankees, show me pictures of Marla Maples (whom he was then romancing while still married to Ivana) and tell me obviously made-up stories, such as how he had just the other day seen a beautiful, completely naked woman on the street. “Put that in the book!” he’d say, and I’d pretend to write it down.
Please go read the whole thing. It’s hilarious until you realize that Trump is probably doing the same thing in the Oval Office when he isn’t trying to start investigations into his political enemies.
I’ll end there. I know there is lots of other news for us to discuss. Please share your own thoughts and links in the comment thread below.
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
It’s a rainy Friday here in New Orleans. I’m actually happy for the break from the sun since my eyes are still not completely normal and I’m like one of those gremlins shouting “Bright light!” when I go outside my darkened room. Never the less,I persist and we persist here.
Today’s illustrations are from Aubrey Beardsley who is undoubtedly one of Britain’s greatest artists of the previous turn of the century. He’s known for “Erections, buttocks and beheadings” which is going to be the name of a show in his honor in 2020 at the Tate Gallery.
… it is delicious news that his perverse and often obscene art is to get the Tate Britain blockbuster treatment next year.
The fact that Beardsley worked in ink on paper, rather than paint on canvas, means his pictures are easy to hide in study rooms. Even in Queer British Art, the 2017 show at Tate Britain, Beardsley’s presence was surprisingly subdued. But the announcement that Tate will put 200 of his naughty little masterpieces on display next March, in a show that will tour to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, suggests we may finally be ready for one of the classiest purveyors of filth.
Beardsley produced a startling quantity of sensational art in a brief life. Born in Brighton in 1872, he died of tuberculosis in 1898, aged 25. Four years before his death, he already looked like a moribund figure to his fellow artistic radical Walter Sickert, who portrayed him walking weakly with a stick. Yet Beardsley presented himself the same year as a sensualist beast, nestled in a capacious bed whose covers swallow up his tiny figure. He’s lost in dirty reveries. “By the twin gods, not all the monsters are in Africa,” is inscribed in French in a corner.
No, Mr. Beardsley, not all the monsters are in Africa. Many of them appear to be in the White House, Senate, and the tainted Judiciary. We’re about to find out exactly how monstrous they really are even though we’ve had a taste of it the last few horrid years.
Republicans are so used to being stupid and to lying and getting away with it that this should hardly be news. However, it’s about Steve Sleaze that represents the white flight shithole next to New Orleans so I’m interested. He’s also the second most powerful Republican in the House. They’re always wrong but, hey it matters not as long as you’re willing to jail brown children and let women die while pregnant. Here he is defending Dumbo Jr and not recognizing one of his own.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-most powerful Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, is lying about a subpoena issued to Donald Trump Jr. by the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Scalise ironically says about the subpoena, issued by Chairman Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, to the President’s eldest son.
“Democrats are subpoenaing @DonaldJTrumpJr based on the testimony of Michael Cohen—a man who lied to Congress multiple times. This is how low they are willing to sink to harass @realDonaldTrump & his entire family. The #MuellerReport is done. Move on!” Scalise tweeted.
Actually, Sleazoid, you just said Democrats did something a Republican did so I guess you can either make things up or you’re so stupid that you don’t know WTF you’re talking about.
In one of the typical Biden Gaffeathons, Joe Boy looks for “‘middle ground’ climate policy”. Exactly how do you find middle ground in a situation where we are looking at the end of life on earth as we know it now? Joe and Sleaze can both go stand in some corner in hell and wear the Dunce caps as far as I’m concerned. My state is sinking into the Gulf. There’s going to be no ground here or in the all important electoral state of Florida either. Maybe he can wax poetic about increased trade routes with Secretary of State Pompeo the voice of radical xtianists.
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters that elected Donald Trump, according to two sources, carving out a middle ground approach that will likely face heavy resistance from green activists.
The backbone of the policy will likely include re-joining the United States with the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who has become Biden’s informal advisor on climate change policy. She previously advised President Barack Obama.
The second source, a former energy department official also advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy will likely also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities.
A spokesman for Biden’s campaign, TJ Ducklo, declined to comment on Biden’s emerging climate policy or his advisors, but said Biden takes climate change seriously. “Joe Biden has called climate change an ‘existential threat,’ and as Vice President was instrumental in orchestrating the Paris Climate Accord,” Ducklo said in an emailed statement.
So, I always know there’s something afoot in the Middle East when I spend two days being buzzed by fighter jets from the base over in Pensacola Florida. It’s going on as I type. Yesterday, I thought one was likely to land in the French Quarter it was so damn low and loud. I’m sensing that Bolton and Trump are cooking up something in the MENA region.
A top commander in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Friday that Tehran will not talk with the United States, an Iranian news agency reported — a day after President Donald Trump said he’d like Iranian leaders to “call me.”
The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Yadollah Javani as saying that “there will be no negotiations with America.”
The Iranian commander also claimed the U.S. would not dare take military action against Iran but did not elaborate.
The verbal exchange comes as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran. The Trump administration sent the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber squadron to the region in response to unspecified threats by Iran against American interests.And on Wednesday, Iran threatened to renew some nuclear enrichment that had been halted under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers — a year after Trump pulled America from the accord, saying it does nothing to stop Iran from developing missiles or destabilizing the Middle East.But in a softer approach, Trump told reporters on Thursday at the White House: “What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me.”Shortly after Trump spoke, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a written statement that reinforced Trump’s tone. After repeating the administration’s complaints about Iran, including what he called “40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities and taking American hostages,” Pompeo appealed to “those in Tehran who see a path to a prosperous future” through modifying their government’s behavior.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday gave European leaders a 60-day deadline to find a way to shield Iran from U.S. sanctions targeting its economy and oil industry. Otherwise, he said Tehran would begin to enrich uranium at levels closer to weapons-grade levels.
From all of my least favorite writers at the NYT (Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt), we get this: “A Strategy Emerges to Counter House Democrats: Dare Them to Impeach.”
Confident that there are not enough votes to remove him from office through an impeachment trial in the Senate, Mr. Trump and his advisers have chosen the path of maximum resistance, calculating that they can put the Democrats on the defensive in a fight that is politically useful for the president.
The decision to assert executive privilege and defy subpoenas across the board suits Mr. Trump’s natural combative instincts and fits the grievance narrative he has adopted by arguing that the establishment is out to get him. The president seems eager to force the hand of Democrats who are investigating him as if they are conducting an impeachment inquiry without actually calling it that and risking any of the political problems that might come with it.
“If it’s an impeachment proceeding, then somebody should call it that,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s personal lawyers. “If you don’t call their bluff now, they’ll just keep slithering around for four, five, six months.”
Meanwhile, Rudy is trying to get foreign intervention in elections again and it’s not even subtle. I guess they’re going full throttle on the collusion in open bit since they’ve convinced every one it’s not really a crime so what of it.
President Trump’s personal lawyer, is encouraging Ukraine to wade further into sensitive political issues in the United States, seeking to push the incoming government in Kiev to press ahead with investigations that he hopes will benefit Mr. Trump.
Mr. Giuliani said he plans to travel to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in the coming days and wants to meet with the nation’s president-elect to urge him to pursue inquiries that allies of the White House contend could yield new information about two matters of intense interest to Mr. Trump.
One is the origin of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.
Mr. Giuliani’s plans create the remarkable scene of a lawyer for the president of the United States pressing a foreign government to pursue investigations that Mr. Trump’s allies hope could help him in his re-election campaign. And it comes after Mr. Trump spent more than half of his term facing questions about whether his 2016 campaign conspired with a foreign power.
“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on Thursday when asked about the parallel to the special counsel’s inquiry.
“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
So, my electricity just went off and I’m tethering my computer to the hotspot on my phone to get this up in its current state. This should give you enough to chomp on. As you can see, we continue forward in a state of total abnormalcy.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?