Lundi Gras Reads

Happy Lundi Gras!

It’s the day before Mardi Gras and traditionally a day of resting up to go full out on the big day. I’ll be working since–last time I checked–Indiana doesn’t recognize the day. Unlike the Universities here, Purdue ignores the chance to break the winter blues.

And, it is a bit New Orleans wintry down here. I’m putting up pictures for parades I’ve been missing due to the ongoing sinus crud. These parade pictures are from Krewe D’Etat. It’s always got serious satire going plus I have a friend that does a lot of the pictures and float designs. She’s basically a full time Mardi Gras artist which has to be the best gig ever. She also designs amazing headdresses. Meet Caroline Thomas!

It takes a lot to put on these huge parades. I think a lot of folks get carried away by the sheer spectacle of it all. But, I’d just like to remind you that it takes the creative genius of Caroline and her peers to really capture the sense of it all. Each krewe has its own vibe. It’s a real skill to be able to make art that’s a combination of show and tell.

So, that’s Caroline! And here’s some of her work for Krewe D’etat and Chaos. Enjoy it before I share my reads that have given so much fodder to the satire krewes and all the parade artists for two very long years. I love Caroline’s comment that accompanied her caricatures of “creepy men”.

So, speaking of creepy men,Harvey Weinstein’s office was basically a little shop of predatory horrors that he forced employees to stock.

Among notable examples of harassment cited by the lawsuit:

• Harvey Weinstein told several employees words to the effect of “I will kill you,” “I will kill your family,” and “You don’t know what I can do.” He also asserted that he had contacts within the Secret Service who could take care of problems for him.

• The Weinstein Company, the suit says, “employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany (Harvey) to events and to facilitate (his) sexual conquests. … One of the members of this entourage was flown from London to New York to teach” his assistants “how to dress and smell more attractive” to him.

• Another group of employees were assigned to “further his regular sexual activity, including by contacting … prospective sexual partners via text message or phone at his direction and maintaining space on his calendar for sexual activity.”

• A third set of employees also were forced to facilitate his sexual conquests. These female employees were supposed to help his company produce films and television projects. But despite their skills and stated job responsibilities, he required them to meet with prospective sexual conquests for his own personal interests. “This compelled service demeaned and humiliated them, contributing to the hostile work environment.”

• His use of vulgarity was widely noted in the suit, which described how he would call female employees “c—” or “p—-” when he was angry with them or felt they had done a task poorly or incorrectly. And he also used those terms to scold or degrade male employees. On some occasions, he asked female employees if they had their period, including asking an employee if her tampon was “up too far,” the filing says. In one 2012 incident, he launched into a tirade against a female employee in which he berated her in front of other employees and threatened to “cut (her) loins.”

• Weinstein’s assistants were required to provide childcare for his young children and handle other domestic work for his wife, Georgina Chapman, and an adult daughter.

• Assistants had copies of a document called the “Bible,” which included information about his likes and dislikes, and a list of people to assist arranging “personals,” or sexual activity.

• His drivers in both New York and Los Angeles were required to have available condoms and erectile dysfunction injections in the car at all times.

• The suit says the head of human resources at Weinstein’s company was not empowered to do anything about his ongoing sexual harassment of female employees. Victims were told by the director of HR that he “sympathized” with them, acknowledging that they had a “tough job,” but that there was nothing he could do.

Yeah, that’s pretty much representative of the mind of a psychopath. But, you know, KKKremlin Caligula is pretty disturbed along those lines too. Here’s Jennifer Rubin on Trump and breach of classified information.

Candidate Donald Trump used, more than any other issue, Hillary Clinton’s home email server to argue that she was unfit for office and, moreover, that there were grounds for sending her to jail. The eerie chants, more common in banana republics, to imprison his opponent (“Lock her up!”) would thrill his crowds and reignite the anti-Clinton anger that had gripped Republicans for decades. For less crazed voters, it was an effective reminder of the Clintons’s proclivity to break the rules, to disregard conflicts of interest and to only grudgingly come clean when caught misbehaving. Her offense, in retrospect, seems small and innocuous, in large part because Trump’s defiance of rules, indulgence in massive conflicts of interest and habitual lying in just one year in office dwarf anything (and everything) both Clintons have done in a lifetime in the public eye.

And that brings us to President Trump’s handling and mishandling of classified information. No president has more recklessly exposed the country’s secrets than this one.

Consider that he blabbed code-word intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. According to national security expert Amy Zegart of Stanford University, “On a scale of 1 to 10—and I’m just ball parking here—it’s about a billion. … The president could have jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Not America’s source. Somebody else’s. Presumably from an allied intelligence service who now knows that the American president cannot be trusted with sensitive information.”

Fast-forward to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who cooked up a memo falsely accusing the FBI of omitting information on a warrant application to the FISA court to conduct surveillance on longtime suspected spy Carter Page. Nunes has stubbornly refused to say if he drafted the memo in concert with the White House, but his refusal to deny the accusation speaks volumes. The president, contrary to the pleading of FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, released the memo publicly, sending out to everyone on the planet a document originally labeled “top secret.” (Countless national security experts have explained that “top secret” is usually the designation of material whose release would expose sources and methods of intelligence gathering.) Trump, even before the so-called vetting process, told a lawmaker at the State of the Union address that he intended to release the memo. Keeping our nation’s secrets, as well as releasing his tax records, are hindrances to his self-protection. Therefore, top-secret classification (and personal financial transparency) be damned.

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Then, there’s his continued defense of predators and men that commit physical violence on women. It’s undoubtedly because he’s been there done it.

One could barely get a night’s sleep before another White House aide, the speechwriter David Sorensen, was forced to resign after it was revealed that, during a background check, his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, had told the F.B.I. that he had abused her by, among other acts, putting out a cigarette on her hand and running over her foot with a car.

Trump’s response on social media to these allegations was not entirely surprising. He tweeted his suspicion of the #MeToo movement, saying, “People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused—life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Trump responded with similar fellow-feeling when charges were levelled at Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, and Roy Moore, the right-wing former judge who had seemed headed to victory in an Alabama Senate race. (Trump, of course, is unforgiving when it comes to Democrats like Al Franken and John Conyers.)

Kellyanne Conway, whose defenses of Trump’s most preposterous statements are sometimes so tortured that they become the stuff of late-night satire, could not bear to back the President on this one. She told CNN that she saw “no reason not to believe” Porter’s former spouses. “In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury,” Conway said. “You have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.” This was hardly a condemnation, but, in the context of this White House and these times, she showed, if fleetingly, common sense.

Trump is considered the “most anti-woman President* ever and polls are confirming what women think of him.

Donald Trump wants you to believe he has “great respect” for women, but his words and actions tell a far different story. In fact, Trump may be the most anti-women US president ever.

Case in point: On Friday, Trump defended his former aide Rob Porter after news broke of allegations that Porter had been physically abusive to his two ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby.

At that point, America had already seen the photo of Holderness with a black eye caused when Porter allegedly punched her. We had heard Porter’s second wife, Willoughby tell us that while married to Porter he had been abusive. He “grabbed me from the shower by my shoulders up close to my neck and pulled me out to continue to yell at me,” she said. Porter has denied these allegations.

It’s clear that women are increasingly not buying Trump’s lie that he respects them. According to exit polls for the 2016 election, Trump received the support of 41% of female voters, including 52% of white women. But now it appears Trump is losing favor among women, with a recent Marist Poll showing he not only has just a 33% approval rating among women, but also that 50% of women strongly disapprove of the job he is doing as president.

Reporters are finding that white, working class women in the rust belt have turned on Trump.

These twin forces—of class and gender—have established a sharp continuum of white attitudes toward Trump. White men without a college degree remain his foundation, even if the pillar is showing some cracks: Relative to his 2016 vote, Trump’s approval rating in 2017 among this group declined in all 13 states. But given his commanding initial position, Trump retains a very strong hold on those men, drawing 60 percent or more approval from them in each state except Michigan, Colorado, and Minnesota (though he still retains majority support in those).

At the opposite pole, college-educated women remain the engine of white resistance to Trump. In only four of the 13 states (more on them below) did Trump’s approval among college-educated white women exceed an anemic 34 percent. That widespread rejection of Trump keys the Democratic opportunity in 2018 in House seats in information-age, white-collar suburbs in major metropolitan areas.

The two other groups of whites are more conflicted. Among college-educated white men, Trump retains majority approval in five of the states and draws at least 45 percent in four more. The intense backlash against Trump from well-educated white women means that GOP hopes of minimizing their suburban losses may depend on maintaining majority support from college-educated white men—who many Republican strategists consider the audience most likely to snap back to GOP candidates over the tax bill and generally brightening economic picture (the stock market’s tumble this week notwithstanding).

The situation looks even more volatile among white women without a college degree. No group was more central to Trump’s victory, especially in the Rustbelt states that effectively decided the election. (Trump won at least 56 percent of those women in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, according to exit polls.) In 2017, Gallup found, Trump averaged majority approval from these blue-collar white women in six of the 13 states. But that finding highlights the continuing force of regional variation in shaping attitudes about Trump: All six of those states are in the South and Southwest.

In the Rustbelt states that decided 2016, Trump has slipped into a much more precarious position with these women: Gallup put his 2017 approval with them at 45 percent in Pennsylvania, 42 percent in Michigan, and 39 percent or less in Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Compared to his 2016 vote, his 2017 approval among blue-collar white women in the Rustbelt represented some of his largest declines anywhere—18 percentage points in Ohio and 19 in Wisconsin and Minnesota. That erosion, which intensified during Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, creates the opening for Democrats to contest blue-collar and non-urban House seats this fall through the Midwest and Northeast.

I love the title of this piece in the Kansas City Star. “Rob Porter and the Team Trump men’s club: Accused of mistreating women? You’re hired!”

It’s almost as if domestic violence allegations are a résumé enhancer for the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump’s staff secretary, Rob Porter, who had the power to decide what information would cross the commander in chief’s uncluttered desk, was the second top Trump aide to have been accused of past spousal abuse. A third was out before week’s end.
Back when Steve Bannon was the new CEO of the Trump campaign, the news broke that he had been charged with domestic violence in 1996. But that in no way diminished his influence with the candidate.
Can Team Trump’s indifference to allegations of wife-beating endure in the #MeToo moment? It can, it has and it continues to. White House officials didn’t fire, suspend or otherwise signal they thought any less of Porter after reports that two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend had accused him of physical abuse. Why would they flinch when that was not news to them?

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But let’s not forget!!!

… on Saturday, Trump remained sad for his former aides, tweeting that men can be “shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”
Presumably, the president can relate. His first wife, Ivana, later withdrew her allegations that Trump had raped her and ripped a handful of her hair out around the time of their divorce. Some 19 women willing to be quoted by name have accused him of harassment and assault in the years since.
Trump, who has bragged about grabbing women but denied all specific allegations, is reportedly still looking for a job for former Carl’s Jr. head Andy Puzder, who took himself out of the running to be labor secretary after reports that ex-wife once went on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and accused him of abusing her. Like Bannon’s ex-wife, she has taken it back.
The president also remains in a mutual admiration society with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with assaulting Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. Like the charges against Bannon, those were dropped as well.
How did all these alleged hotheads slip past the filter? They didn’t.

I can only hope all the blowback from this translates to votes the House and Senate just in time to impeach Pence and Trump using Mueller’s findings. Oh, and with a Democratic Speaker.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

(Note: The Day time pictures are Caroline’s and “creepy men”.)

You can find Caroline’s work on Instagram. She goes by C_to_the_line and her website. Also, d’Etat designs are by Ryan Blackwood. The float with Matt Lauer on the front is painted by the very talented Noah Church.

 

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Thursday Reads: Total Meltdown

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Good Morning!

Donald Trump continues to traumatize America. So far, eleven women have come forward to accuse the GOP presidential nominee of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault since he denial of predatory sexual behavior at the second presidential debate. Melissa McEwan at Shakesville provides a very good summary of the allegations so far.

Yesterday morning, I noted that four competitors in the Miss Teen USA pageant had alleged Donald Trump walked in on them while they were in various states of undress, which is also alleged to have done to Miss Universe and/or Miss USA contestants.

By the end of the day, there were at least seven more assault allegations against Trump.

Jessica Leeds says she was groped by Donald Trump on an airplane.

Jessica Leeds says she was groped by Donald Trump on an airplane.

The Trump campaign is denying these claims and questioning the timing of the stories. McEwan:

I will simply note, again, that the only reason these stories became “public decades later” is because the women he assaulted saw him lie during a presidential debate and refused to let him get away with it.

Leeds’ and Crooks’ stories are very much like those of Jill Harth and Temple Taggart, which were already public….

Trump has gotten away with this behavior for a very long time. There are certainly lots of women he has abused over many decades. And every member of the Republican Party who has supported this guy, and continues to support him, is abetting his continued abuse. The last thing he needs is more power.

And our choice is between a woman who used her position as Secretary of State to faciliate the prevention of sexual violence around the globe, or a man who is himself a sexual predator.

After a day filled with shocking stories about Trump’s disgusting behavior, People Magazine published a story by one of their own reporters late last night.

Natasha Stoynoff, People Magazine reporter

Natasha Stoynoff, People Magazine reporter

Physically Attacked by Donald Trump – a PEOPLE Writer’s Own Harrowing Story, by Natasha Stoynoff.

…in December 2005, around the time Trump had his now infamous conversation with Billy Bush, I traveled to Mar-a-Lago to interview the couple for a first-wedding-anniversary feature story.

Our photo team shot the Trumps on the lush grounds of their Florida estate, and I interviewed them about how happy their first year of marriage had been. When we took a break for the then-very-pregnant Melania to go upstairs and change wardrobe for more photos, Donald wanted to show me around the mansion. There was one “tremendous” room in particular, he said, that I just had to see.

We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.

Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.

Rachel Crooks says Donald Trump kissed her on the lips without permission.

Rachel Crooks says Donald Trump kissed her on the lips without permission.

Trump then went on to tell Stoynoff:

“You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?” he declared, in the same confident tone he uses when he says he’s going to make America great again. “Have you ever been to Peter Luger’s for steaks? I’ll take you. We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you.” He also referenced the infamous cover of the New York Post during his affair with Marla Maples.

“You remember,” he said. “‘Best Sex I Ever Had.’ ”

Read about Stoynoff’s reactions and the aftermath for her at People.

This morning Time Magazine unveiled its latest cover, an updating of the “meltdown” cover from August 22. (See both versions at the top of this post.) This week’s cover story: Inside Donald Trump’s Total Meltdown. The piece begins with a description of the remarkable decision by evangelical Christians to stick with Trump despite the Access Hollywood tape that came out last Friday, then moved on to how Trump has traumatized most Americans.

As the 2016 campaign moved into its final weeks, Trump had put the whole country on the rack alongside the Christian conservatives, stretching the sinews of American politics to the breaking point. While some voters were tugged toward the wincing sophistry of the conference call, a larger number pulled disgustedly into the ranks of #nevertrump. The candidate himself was consumed by petty grudges. The furor over the leaked recording seemed to liberate him. Free of the “shackles”–his own tweeted word–Trump reduced his campaign to a primal grunt.

It sounded, at times, like the last gasp of the angry white man. Trump threatened to throw his opponent in jail, bragged of avoiding income taxes and peddled an empty conspiracy theory about undocumented immigrants’ being given voter-registration cards. He insisted he was right to stoke the racial tensions of New York City during the Central Park jogger drama in the 1990s, refusing to accept the DNA proof that he had the case wrong. He promoted a fiction that Muslim friends of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorists knew their plans but failed to alert authorities, and he injected a crude Russian propaganda effort into one of his rallies without a care about its inaccuracy. Another tape (it wasn’t easy keeping track) caught him agreeing as a radio shock jock labeled his daughter Ivanka “a piece of ass.” Having congratulated himself for keeping the first presidential debate slightly above the muck, in Round 2 he plunged into the wallow, deflecting attention from his own vulgarity by saddling Clinton with the alleged sexual sins of her husband and trying to seat Bill Clinton’s accusers in the front row.

Jill Harth accused Donald Trump of attempted rape.

Jill Harth accused Donald Trump of attempted rape.

Trump once said on the campaign trail that he would approve of torture as President, “even if it doesn’t work.” With four weeks left to Election Day, he seemed to be testing the proposition on the public. Unshackled, he flirted with unhinged and erased the emollient line between a campaign aimed at the base and one intended to debase.

Read the rest at the link above.

Naturally, Trump himself has been busy tweeting this morning.

For the record, the New York Times’s May 2016 story about Trump’s repulsive behavior toward women has not been discredited.

For me, one of the most fascinating thing about the information that has been coming out about Trump since last Friday is observing men in the media beginning to understand the extent of the sexual aggression most women experience constantly in the workplace, on the street, and in private. Women have seen who and what Trump is all along. The real question is will men continue to keep their new awareness, or will it just fade away after the election?

Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature

Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature

In other news, Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. The Washington Post: ‘Poetry for the ear’: Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in literature.

Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday for work that the Swedish Academy described as “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

He is the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison in 1993, and a groundbreaking choice by the Nobel committee to select the first literature laureate whose career has primarily been as a musician.

Although long rumored as a contender for the prize, Dylan was far down the list of predicted winners, which included such renown writers as Haruki Murakami and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

This is the second year in a row that the academy has turned away from fiction writers for the literature prize. And it’s possibly the first year that the prize has gone to someone who is primarily a musician, not a writer.

The next few weeks are going to be awful to watch, but at least we can be pretty confident that in January 2017 Hillary Clinton will be sworn in as the first woman President of the United States.

What stories are you following today?