Thursday Reads: Cover-Up General Barr Commits Crimes for Mob Boss Trump

Good Afternoon!!

Once again, I hardly know where to begin. Yesterday Cover-Up General Barr made a complete ass of himself during his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here’s a good summary of what happened from NBC News:

Just to put all of the news of Barr’s Senate testimony yesterday into one place, here are our seven highlights:

1. He said a president could replace an independent counsel if he thought in the investigation was unfair: “If the president is being falsely accused, which the evidence now suggests that the accusations against him were false, and he knew they were false, and he felt that this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents, and was hampering his ability to govern, that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel,” Barr said.

2. He admitted he didn’t review the underlying evidence in the Mueller report on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice: “We accepted the statements in the report as the factual record,” Barr said in an exchange with Kamala Harris. “We did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurately accepted as accurate.

3. He indicated he didn’t read the full Mueller report or even its executive summaries: “Polling data was shared, sir,” said Cory Booker. “It’s in the report; I can cite you the page.” Barr responded, “With who?” (Answer: Paul Manafort shared polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik – revealed on page 7 of Mueller’s executive summary of Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.)

4. He dodged Kamala Harris’ question on whether the president or anyone at the White House asked him or suggested to him to open an investigation into anyone: “I’m trying to grapple with the word ‘suggest.’ I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that… they have not asked me to open an investigation,” he said.

5. He said the Mueller report was his “baby” after Mueller submitted it: “At that point, it was my baby… It was my decision how and when to make it public.”

6. He said Mueller’s concern to him about his March 24 summary was inaccurate media reporting: “And I called Bob and said, you know, what’s the issue here? Are you — and I asked him if he was suggesting that the March 24th letter was inaccurate, and he said no, but that the press reporting had been inaccurate.” (But here’s Mueller’s letter complaining about Barr’s summary: It “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”

7. And/but he called Mueller’s letter “snitty”: “The letter’s a bit snitty, and I think it was written by one of his staff people.”

Afterward, he announced that he would refuse to attend a scheduled hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today.

Kamala Harris was the star of the show. Here’s her full examination of Barr in which she got him to stammer and stumble and finally admit he never looked at the evidence of Trump’s obstruction of the Russia investigation.

As noted in the NBC list, Cory Booker got Barr to admit that he didn’t know that Paul Manafort had shared internal polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik–who is connected to Russian intelligence services–indicating that Barr didn’t even read Mueller’s report or even the executive summaries! In fact, in his exchange with Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse, it appeared that Barr did not even know who Oleg Deripaska is!

Here’s Twitter thread from David Rothkopf on the long-term implications of Cover-Up Barr’s claims about presidential power.

I don’t think we fully realize the profundity of Barr’s assertions yesterday. The ideas that a president can determine whether or not he ought to be investigated or that a president is incapable of committing obstruction are not just outrageous assaults on Constitutional values.

Taken in the context of this administration’s systematic rejection of the oversight role of Congress and of the law–whether it is the emoluments clause of Constitution or the obligation of the IRS to hand over tax returns to the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee–what we are seeing is nothing less than a coup, to use a word the president has grown fond of. Trump and Barr are seeking to eliminate the checks and balances that are a hallmark of our system and to effectively render the Congress subservient to the presidency.

Combine this with the efforts of the Senate to load the courts with judicial candidates loyal to the president and the implication of McConnell, Graham & Co. that they will not fulfill their own Constitutional obligations, and you see a devastating picture.

Please click on the link and read the rest.

Some reactions to yesterday’s horror show

Neal Kaytal: Why Barr Can’t Whitewash the Mueller Report.

Many who watched Attorney General William Barr’s testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which followed the revelation that the special counsel Robert Mueller had expressed misgivings about Mr. Barr’s characterization of his report, are despairing about the rule of law. I am not among them. I think the system is working, and inching, however slowly, toward justice.

When it comes to investigating a president, the special counsel regulations I had the privilege of drafting in 1998-99 say that such inquiries have one ultimate destination: Congress. That is where this process is going, and has to go. We are in the fifth inning, and we should celebrate a system in which our own government can uncover so much evidence against a sitting president….

The underappreciated story right now is that we’ve not only learned that it was Mr. Barr — and pointedly not Mr. Mueller — who decided to clear President Trump of the obstruction charges, but also discovered the reasoning behind Mr. Barr’s decision. The American public and Congress now have the facts and evidence before them. The sunlight the regulations sought is shining.

Mr. Barr tried to spin these facts. He hid Mr. Mueller’s complaints, which were delivered to him in writing more than a month ago, even when Congress asked in a previous hearing about complaints by members of the special counsel’s team. And the four-page letter that Mr. Barr issued in March and supposedly described the Mueller report omitted the two key factors driving the special counsel’s decision (which were hard to miss, as they were on the first two pages of the report’s volume about obstruction): First, that he could not indict a sitting president, so it would be unfair to accuse Mr. Trump of crimes even if he were guilty as sin; and second, Mr. Mueller could and would clear a sitting president, but he did not believe the facts cleared the president.

These two items came out because the special counsel regulations allowed for public release of this information (and not, as Mr. Barr testified on Wednesday, because he “overrode” the regulations to give the information to the public). The attorney general was misleading through and through, not just about the investigation, but about the special counsel regulations themselves.

Read the rest at The New York Times. I hope Kaytal is right; I’m having a little trouble being optimistic right now.

Greg Sargent: William Barr is helping to cover up Trump’s biggest crime of all.

As the political world struggles to digest the enormity of Attorney General William P. Barr’s profound corruption of his role on President Trump’s behalf, it’s worth stepping back and surveying a distilled version of what we know, now that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s redacted report has been released:

  • Russia launched a massive attack on our political system, undermining the integrity of our elections, to elect Donald Trump president.
  • U.S. law enforcement launched an investigation primarily aimed at getting to the bottom of that attack so that we could fully reckon with what happened and ensure the integrity of future elections.
  • Trump tried in multiple ways to derail that accounting of this massive attack on our political system — and then tried to bury the truth about that derailment effort — in a manner that was at best corrupt, and at worst criminal.

The simplest way to understand much of what Barr has done — and what Trumpworld will be doing to impede inquiries going forward — is that it’s mainly aimed at obscuring the broad contours of that larger story.

The point here is not that everything they’re doing is deliberately aimed at this end. It’s that this bigger story is at the center of everything — and by “biggest crime of all,” I mean Trump’s most monstrous wrong — and thus efforts to keep smaller truths from coming out will inevitably be about obscuring that larger story.

Read the rest at The Washington Post.

Politico: Pelosi: Barr committed a crime by lying to Congress.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress, blasting him in a closed-door meeting and later at a news conference.

“We saw [Barr] commit a crime when he answered your question,” Pelosi told Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) during a private caucus meeting Thursday morning, according to two sources present for the gathering.

“He lied to Congress. He lied to Congress,” Pelosi said soon after at a news conference. “And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.“

Pelosi’s comments were an apparent reference to Barr’s response to Crist last month during a House Appropriations Committee hearing, during which the attorney generals aid he was not aware of any concerns that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team might have expressed about his four-page summary of Mueller’s findings.

More reactions, links only

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton: ‘China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns?’

Jamie Bouie at The New York Times: Bill Barr’s Perverse Theory of Justice.

Aaron Blake at The Washingotn Post: William Barr’s ‘snitty’ slip-up gives away his game.

EJ Dionne at the Washington Post: William Barr has shamelessly corrupted the debate over the Mueller report.

Amanda Marcotte at Salon: Bill Barr runs from House Judiciary hearing — will Democrats let him hide?

Benjamin Wittes at The Atlantic: The Catastrophic Performance of Bill Barr.

Jennifer Rubin: Barr’s testimony was a low point in Justice Department history.

ABC News: Hillary Clinton: Barr is acting as Trump’s ‘defense lawyer.’

I expect there will be more news breaking today. What stories have you been following?

 


Friday Reads: The Trump Administration represents a Clear and Present Danger

Icicles in Minneapolis

Well, it’s another Friday Sky Dancers!

I would like to think we’re closer to neutering the crazy in Drumpfistan but we’re not. Each day it becomes radically clear that world order is being upended and that most third world nations have a better grasp on economic and foreign policy than our executive branch. Again, what fresh hell is this and how much longer can our country and the world tolerate this ignorant and rogue administration that lurches from the creation of one disaster to the next.

Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo–religious nutbag extraordinaire–announced that the US is withdrawing from a Cold War nuclear arms control treaty with Russia. Pompeo cited Russian violations which actually have been discussed by NATO and the UN for about 5 years. Why the hurry to leave the table now?

Pompeo first announced the U.S. intention to withdraw in December, giving Russia a 60-day window to come back into compliance, and that window runs out on Saturday. Withdrawal now requires an additional six-month window, according to the treaty’s terms. The agreement, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,100 miles.

While Pompeo spoke only of Russia, U.S. officials have been concerned about China’s growing military prowess as China is not a party to the Cold War pact. Officials worry that puts the U.S. at a military disadvantage, although a senior administration official denied Friday that the decision was made because of the actions of any other country besides Russia.

President Donald Trump issued a statement saying Russia had violated the INF Treaty with “impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad.”

The U.S. first accused Russia of violating the pact in 2014, but Russia first denied it possessed the weapon in violation and then later said that weapon didn’t violate the treaty’s terms.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Friday Russia regrets the U.S. decision and accused the U.S. of being “unwilling to hold any substantial talks.”

But the top U.S. diplomat for arms control had met with Russia repeatedly in the last two months, saying after each meeting that Russia continued to deny its deployment and the U.S. had no other choice.

I frankly wonder if these actions were taken because the President wanted some action that looked like he didn’t favor the Putin Regime over American interests. There appears to be no diplomatic path to resolution. It just seems one more act of chaos on the international stage.

US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson on Thursday held last-ditch talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Beijing ahead of the expiration on Saturday of a US 60-day deadline for Moscow to return to compliance with the treaty.

Thompson and Ryabkov said afterwards that the two countries had failed to bridge their differences. They met on the sidelines of a meeting of the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – all nuclear powers.

European officials are concerned about the treaty’s possible collapse, fearful that Europe could again become an arena for nuclear-armed, intermediate-range missile buildups by the United States and Russia.

In an interview, Thompson said she expected Washington to stop complying with the treaty as soon as this weekend, a move she said would allow the US military to immediately begin developing its own longer-range missiles if it chose to do so, raising the prospect they could be deployed in Europe.

“We’ll be able to do that (suspend our treaty obligations) on 2 February”, she told Reuters in Beijing. “We’ll have an announcement made, follow all the steps that need to be taken on the treaty to suspend our obligations with the intent to withdraw.”

Once announced, the formal withdrawal process takes six months. Halting treaty compliance would untie the US military’s hands, Thompson said.

“We are then also able to conduct the R&D and work on the systems we haven’t been able to use because we’ve been in compliance with the treaty,” she said. “Come 2 February, this weekend, if DoD (the US Department of Defense) chooses to do that, they’ll be able to do that.”

Washington remained open to further talks with Moscow about the treaty, she added.

Ryabkov said Moscow would continue working toward an agreement but accused Washington of ignoring Russian complaints about US missiles and of adopting what he called a destructive position.

Trump appears to be throwing all of his cards into white evangelical insanity. This Washington Monthly article appeared yesterday and rumors are that we’re going to be treated to a SOTU focused on fetus fetishes via Politico. We’ve already been told by the Huckabeast that white jesus made Trump President. These people join Trump in being a menace to the world.

We’ve already been treated to grisly rape fantasies about women seeking US asylum on the border. What horrid and particularly heinous lies will we hear on Tuesday? From the Politico article:

President Donald Trump is telling conservative allies he wants to incorporate firm anti-abortion language into his State of the Union address Tuesday, and potentially include an anti-abortion figure among his list of invitees, according to four sources familiar with his plans

Trump sees an opening to energize his evangelical supporters and capture moderate voters who administration officials believe may be turned off by widespread coverage of New York’s newest abortion law, which allows for termination of some pregnancies after the 24-week mark for health reasons.

Partially frozen Naigara Falls

The country continues to be regaled to the fetus fantasy fetish porn about so-called “third term abortions”. There are either successful or unsuccessful deliveries at this point but don’t expect the disingenuous religious nutters to believe or spout medicine. The unsuccessful deliveries are from something that’s gone extremely wrong and no positive outcome is ever expected so viability is central to any medical intervention at this point in the gestation cycle by both law and ethics. Kathy Tran from Virginia has proposed a similar bill to the New York bill. From The Intelligencer:

Tran’s bill wasn’t as salacious as its detractors insist. It would have reduced the number of doctors required to sign off on a third-term abortion from three to one, and it would have allowed that physician to approve a late-term abortion for any medical reason, including harm to a woman’s mental health. This provision would have altered the state’s existing statute, which currently allows a team of three physicians to approve third-term abortions for women whose health would be “substantially and irredeemably” harmed by continuing their pregnancies. The bill would have also allowed second-term abortions to be performed outside licensed hospitals, in facilities like clinics. A House subcommittee rejected the bill, but if it had become law it would not have licensed Virginia physicians to perform abortions as a fetus enters the birth canal. Tran’s bill resembles New York’s Reproductive Health Act in that it expands access to later-term abortions, but partial-birth abortion, or “born-alive abortion,” as GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called it in a tweet, is already illegal. RHA didn’t legalize it, and neither would Tran’s bill.

In other news, Cory Booker announces his candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for President.

From The Atlantic: “Cory Booker Launched His Presidential Campaign in the Most Cory Booker Way Possible”. He spent last night at his church. I’m still thinking on that one. I like deeply held beliefs guiding people’s individual choices in a sincere way and in private. It’s sort’ve like the difference between knowing you have a penis or vagina tucked away down there that influences your life and whipping either of them out for public display and commentary. I hate it when sanctimony gets on a public stage. But, we’ll see what he does.

The New Jersey senator announced his presidential campaign hours later on Friday morning, the first day of Black History Month, with a run of early-morning appearances on black and Spanish-language radio. His first big interview would be across the river in Manhattan for The View.

After a break for the Super Bowl, there will be more next week, then a swing to South Carolina and Iowa next weekend. His launch video, set to the snare drums of a high-school marching band, runs through his own family’s story of white lawyers helping his family break through a pattern of local housing discrimination in a way that changed the course of his life. It splices together clips of resistance marches and civil-rights marches, and talks about collective action and interwoven destiny, panning from shots of the homeless on a city street to a field growing corn.

Booker’s campaign will roll out big lists of staff hires and supporters in all the early-presidential-primary states, years of preparations unleashed for a show of force he and his aides think is going to pave the way for a traditional ground game, despite being built around a black man obsessed with the “conspiracy of love” who is not a traditional candidate at all. But before it began, he brought together a group of friends, supporters, and current and former aides for what the reverend described on Thursday night as an intimate prayer service. Booker’s Senate office in Washington is filled with religious books; last week he quoted the Torah in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He’s comfortable sitting for six hours in a church service, head bowed, nodding along. Even as other plans shifted, he knew he wanted this to be where he spent the night before everything became official.

Chicago

It’s one thing to use a belief system to extend civil rights to all individuals. It’s completely another to use it to deny others’ humanity. I’ll personally be watching Corey’s campaign carefully.

Meanwhile, the NYT did an Oval Office interview with our abysmal *President. They sent the usual suspects to interview him (Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker) which sent up warning flags to me. Here’s about how I would sum the entire thing.

You can, of course, read it for yourself. It’s full of the usual Trump whoppers so I really don’t see the point.

Anyway, it’s warming up a bit down here in New Orleans but I still keep hearing how frigid it is up there north of me. Stay Warm if you’re still deep in the Polar Vortex.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Constitutional Crisis in Crazytown

Good Morning!!

It’s difficult to know where to begin. Trump is isolated, melting down, we are certainly in a Constitutional crisis. Here’s a summary of the current situation from Politico: Trump, Alone.

LINE OF THE MORNING … THE WASHINGTON POST’S PHIL RUCKER, ASHLEY PARKER and JOSH DAWSEY said the combination of the Woodward book and the Times op-ed “landed like a thunder clap, portraying Trump as a danger to the country that elected him and feeding the president’s paranoia about whom around him he can trust. … According to one Trump friend, he fretted after Wednesday’s op-ed that he could trust only his children.” WaPo

IN SOME WAYS, this is a version of the same story we’ve been living for the past three years. The Washington establishment appalled, and Trump unmoved. This will, of course, heighten Trump’s distaste for the media, and fuel the media-and-swamp-out-to-get-me narrative.

THINK OF IT LIKE THIS: Trump’s own administration is criticizing him behind the cloak of anonymity. Whereas TRUMP HAS NO ARTIFICE. He just says what he thinks publicly. JUST THIS WEEK HE …

— SAID he might shut down the government if he doesn’t get what he wants on immigration policy. This came after SPEAKER PAUL RYAN sheepishly said Trump knew better than that.

— LASHED OUT AT ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS for allowing the indictment of two Trump supporters in Congress.

— INTIMATED he wouldn’t be terribly critical of Nike because it paid him big rent for its Midtown Manhattan store.

JUST LOOK HOW HE RESPONDED ON TWITTER — @realDonaldTrump at 6:11 p.m.: “TREASON?”

… at 7:40 p.m.: “Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

… at 11:22 p.m.: “I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don’t worry, we will win!”

WHAT’S THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE? How is it sustainable for the president to operate in an environment in which he trusts nobody? We’re about to find out.

Right now Democrats are staging a rebellion in the Senate Judiciary Committee over the unprecedented way that Republicans are trying to ram through Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh while keeping secret hundreds of thousands of documents about the nominee’s past history.

Cory Booker threatened to release a document having to do with racial profiling, and he challenged Republicans to bring charges against him if he has broken a committee rule. Most other Democrats are supporting him.

Several Democrats have spoken about the process by which an outside private attorney, Bill Burck, who used to work for the nominee and currently works for George W. Bush has been permitted to decide which documents will be made public. Burck is also the criminal attorney for Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon in the Russia investigation!

Vox: Who is Bill Burck? Meet the former Bush attorney vetting Kavanaugh documents.

Bill Burck, a private attorney employed by former president George W. Bush and a longtime Republican, is a key linchpin in the process for reviewing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s lengthy paper trail. In fact, he’s running the show — and Democrats see his involvement as yet another sign of how far norms have shifted in the way the Republican majority has conducted Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.

Bill Burck

Burck’s name may sound familiar because he’s a deeply entrenched player in Republican legal circles. Not only is he reportedly a longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s, he’s also more recently represented at least three current or former Trump White House officials — Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon — regarding special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He’s currently a co-managing partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

Burck’s representation of McGahn has particularly raised eyebrows, since McGahn is the main Trump White House official in charge of getting Kavanaugh confirmed. It’s also prompted questions given the potential role that Kavanaugh himself could have in ruling on elements of the Mueller investigation, if he advances to the high court.

What’s more, Burck and Kavanaugh were once colleagues in the Bush White House. He was a former special counsel and deputy counsel to President George W. Bush, while Kavanaugh served as White House counsel and staff secretary for the same administration. Certain Democrats argue that his ties across all these venues make him “triply conflicted,” per the Washington Post.

Democrats have also questioned why Burck — a private attorney as well as a very politically charged figure — has now been authorized to analyze and filter through all of Kavanaugh’s former White House records, documents that could include damning evidence about the nominee’s involvement in decisions on wiretapping, torture, and the detention of enemy combatants.

Read the rest at Vox.

Democrats on the Judiciary committee claimed last night that they have evidence that Kavanaugh lied in a previous confirmation hearing. In addition, they are suggesting that Kavanaugh discussed the Mueller investigation with someone in the a law firm that represents Donald Trump, Kasowitz Benson Torres. Kamala Harris questioned Kavanaugh about this last night and he was visibly rattled.

Vox: Kamala Harris’s mysterious Kasowitz question during the Kavanaugh hearings, explained.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday had the entire hearing room on tenterhooks, as she opened her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with a somewhat mysterious inquiry. Her question centered on a meeting Kavanaugh may have had about the Mueller investigation — with a member of a law firm founded by President Trump’s personal lawyer.

A meeting like this could underscore an inappropriately cozy relationship between Kavanaugh and the Trump administration, adding yet another potential conflict of interest to those that Democrats have been hammering throughout the hearing. And it’s one that a Democratic aide told Vox they believe might have taken place. (Democrats have argued that Kavanaugh’s nomination by Trump already poses a conflict of interest since he could potentially rule on elements of the Russia investigation.)

Kavanaugh, meanwhile, didn’t do much to settle the issue as he repeatedly deflected questions on the subject.

“Have you discussed the Mueller investigation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson Torres, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer?” Harris asked. “Be sure about your answer, sir.”

“I’m not remembering but if you have something, you want to …” Kavanaugh said, adding, “I’m not sure if I know everyone who works at that law firm … I’m not remembering.”

Harris continued this line of questioning for roughly five minutes, a move that not only seemed to make Kavanaugh uncomfortable but also elicited some broader confusion in the hearing room since she declined to provide immediate specifics about a person or meeting. “I think you’re thinking of someone and don’t want to tell us,” she said.

Democrats said last night that they believe a meeting did take place and they are working to get more information about it.

It looks to be another big news day today and tomorrow the Mueller grand jury meets. ABC News: Two Roger Stone associates to appear before Mueller grand jury Friday.

Two past associates of President Donald Trump ally and veteran political operative Roger Stone are expected to appear before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. on Friday in response to subpoenas from special counsel Robert Mueller, ABC News has learned.

Jerome Corsi, who until recently served as D.C. bureau chief for InfoWars, the alt-right program hosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and political humorist and radio show host Randy Credico are the two latest Stone associates to be summoned to testify in Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Read more at the link.

There is so much to read today that I’m going to list some stories of possible interest, links only.

Historian Sean Wilentz at The New York Times: Why Was Kavanaugh Obsessed With Vince Foster?

The Washington Post: ‘The sleeper cells have awoken’: Trump and aides shaken by ‘resistance’ op-ed.

The New York Times: Trump Lashes Out After Reports of ‘Quiet Resistance’ by Staff.

LA Times: Now Trump is targeting Vietnamese refugees.

The Washington Post: Trump administration to circumvent court limits on detention of child migrants.The Washington Post: McCain’s former chief of staff says he’s considering Senate bid as a Democrat.

There has been a shooting in Cincinnati, so cable new switched over to covering that. I’m going to keep watching the Kavanaugh hearing on C-Span. What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads: Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings and Woodward’s New Book

Good Morning!!

I had difficulties with my internet connection this morning, so I watched the beginning of the Kavanaugh hearing. The Democrats raised quite a ruckus over the Republicans–and Trump’s–refusal to make documents available from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House. Democrats moved to adjourn the hearing until the documents could be reviewed. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley refused to hold a vote on the motion.

The committee has now begun opening statements by Senators. Awhile ago, Grassley said the committee would adjourn after the opening statements and resume tomorrow. The opening statements are limited to 10 minutes each.

Raw Story: Kavanaugh hearing spirals into chaos as Democrats refuse to let GOP chair read opening statement.

The confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, began in chaos as several Democratic senators interrupted the opening remarks.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tried to welcome Kavanaugh and was immediately interrupted by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

“Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve as associate justice,” Grassley said.

“Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman? I would like to be recognized for a question before we proceed,” Harris said.

“Mr. Chairman I would like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. Mr. Chairman. I would like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received [requested documents] just last night, less than 15 hours ago,” Harris said. “We believe this hearing should be postponed.”

Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) gave a long speech appealing to Grassley to stop the hearing.

“You are taking advantage of my decency and integrity,” Grassley said.

There was much more after that. I have to at least give the Democrats credit for speaking up.

More from NBC News: Fireworks as Kavanaugh confirmation hearings get underway.

Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA)

The Senate confirmation hearing for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh launched with chaotic scenes Tuesday morning as Democrats pushed to adjourn, and protesters repeatedly interrupted the proceedings.

The Senate confirmation hearing for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh launched with chaotic scenes Tuesday morning as Democrats pushed to adjourn, and protesters repeatedly interrupted the proceedings.

The complaints from Democrats on the panel and protester fireworks that lasted through the hearing’s first hour followed the late-night release of tens of thousands of documents related to Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House.

“The committee received just last night, less than 15 hours ago, 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to read, review or analyze,” Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said moments after the hearing opened. “We cannot possibly move forward with this hearing.”

Sen. Amy Kobuchar (D-MN)

Sen. Amy Klobluchar, D-Minn., chimed in, agreeing with Harris and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., then added, “Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn…we had been denied real access to the real documents we need” and also said that Republicans have turned the hearing into a “mockery.”

Other Democrats began to add to the chorus of concerns, interrupting Grassley. “What are we trying to hide? Why are we rushing?” asked Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“This process will be tainted and stained forever” if the proceedings were not delayed, said Blumenthal. Grassley eventually denied Blumenthal’s repeated request for a roll call vote to adjourn the hearing.

As the Democratic pushback stretched into the hearing’s second hour, Grassley expressed mounting frustration. “Do you want to go on all afternoon?” he asked the panel’s Democrats.

Much more with background at the link.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed reports on the withholding of documents on Kavanaugh’s time in the White House: The Justice Department Was Behind The Decision To Keep 100,000 Pages Of Kavanaugh’s Record Secret.

After two days of questions about how it was decided that more than 100,000 pages of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s White House work would be withheld from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review, the Justice Department took responsibility for the decision on Monday night.

“The Department of Justice, which has advised both Democratic and Republican administrations on the application of the Presidential Records Act and constitutional privileges, was responsible for determining which documents were produced to the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said….

The news that the documents were being kept from the public and the committee was reported on Friday night, when the lawyer overseeing the review sent a letter to congressional leaders about the final status of his review. The development was just the latest step in a series of fights over the millions of documents from Kavanaugh’s time working in George W. Bush’s White House from 2001 until when he was confirmed to his seat on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

The office of former president Bush has been producing some of those documents to the committee in advance of the hearing — a decision that went outside of the usual process for congressional requests under the Presidential Records Act, which is handled by the National Archives.

Instead, lawyers for Bush, led by William Burck of Quinn Emanuel, reviewed the documents requested and then provided the presidential records they found to the Justice Department for review.

“[T]he White House and the Department of Justice have identified certain documents of the type traditionally protected by constitutional privilege,” Burck wrote. “The White House, after consultation with the Department of Justice, has directed that we not provide these documents for this reason.”

I don’t know what the basis is for a claim of “constitutional privilege” or “executive privilege” or why a lawyer who is not connected to the government would be able to make such a claim. Maybe someone else can enlighten me. Senator Dick Durbin said he’d never heard of it.

The mysterious and powerful William Burck of Quinn Emanuel.

The Bush lawyers released 42,000 pages of documents last night, too late for Senators to realistically review the material. Chuck Grassley ludicrously claimed that committee staff for the Republican had reviewed every page of the documents by this morning.

So we’ll see what happens. We know the Republicans are probably going to cram this nomination through, despite what the public wants. The biggest issue is that Kavanaugh would likely vote to overturn Roe V. Wade. According to Aída Chávez at The Intercept: There is No Grassroots Energy Rallying for Brett Kavanaugh. None.

LAST SUNDAY, SEVERAL hundred protestors rallied in Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado, against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh. Local reporters were on hand, and the protest earned a two-minute segment on that night’s local CBS broadcast. The “Unite for Justice” rally in Denver was just one of dozens held across the country that same day, and viewers of that evening’s news learned that the rally-goers were taking a stand against confirming a justice who would be the fifth vote to repeal Roe v. Wade.

The network’s attempt at balance, however, was foiled by advocates of Kavanaugh — or, more precisely, the lack of them. The anchor, at the end of the segment, deadpanned to the Denver metro viewership and said, “A pro-life rally was scheduled to run in opposition to the protest, but no one attended.”

Abortion opponents’ inability to gather even a handful of counter protesters in Denver made for an awkward aside, but it also underscored the near total absence of organic grassroots energy from a supposedly rabid anti-choice movement. As the Senate began confirmation hearings Tuesday, the politics of the nomination are being shaped by a myth that has been constructed over decades by a small minority of fervent abortion rights opponents: that the country is evenly divided when it comes to abortion.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

In reality, the politics are lopsided. Voters want Roe protected by more than a 2-1 margin, and even oppose overturning it in states like North Dakota, where Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is up for re-election. The opposition that does exist, meanwhile, is concentrated among a minority of hardcore Republicans who consider it a moral travesty to vote for Democrats — not the kind of voter Heitkamp could win over by supporting Kavanaugh.

All of this has been evident for years, yet the sophisticated political antenna of Democratic leaders in Washington suddenly fail them when it comes to reading polls on the question of abortion. Instead, Democratic leadership is worried about the political consequences for Democrats in red states who vote no. If all Democrats vote no, Republicans would need to win Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, Republicans from Maine and Alaska, respectively, who publicly support abortion rights.

Click on the link to read the rest.

In other news, people are already talking about Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump White House, which is scheduled for release next Tuesday. The Washington Post: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency.

John Dowd was convinced that President Trump would commit perjury if he talked to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. So, on Jan. 27, the president’s then-personal attorney staged a practice session to try to make his point.

In the White House residence, Dowd peppered Trump with questions about the Russia investigation, provoking stumbles, contradictions and lies until the president eventually lost his cool.

Bob Woodward

“This thing’s a goddamn hoax,” Trump erupted at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, “I don’t really want to testify.”

The dramatic and previously untold scene is recounted in “Fear,” a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.

Woodward depicts Trump’s anger and paranoia about the Russia inquiry as unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West Wing for entire days. Learning of the appointment of Mueller in May 2017, Trump groused, “Everybody’s trying to get me”— part of a venting period that shellshocked aides compared to Richard Nixon’s final days as president.

A bit more:

A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him.

After Trump left the meeting, Woodward reconts, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’”

I’d say that’s being generous. a sixth grader would surely be able to understand that explanation. Read more at the WaPo.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads: Democratic National Convention, Day One

Michelle Obama, shining star

Michelle Obama, shining star

Good Morning!!

I want to begin today with some excerpts from Michelle Obama’s brilliant and inspiring speech last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. In talking about her children and the nation’s children, she delivered a stunning rebuke to the ugly, divisive and racist campaign of Donald J. Trump.

A journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington when they set off for their first day at their new school. I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those men with guns. And that’s all their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, What have we done? At that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation of who they would become. And how well we manage this experience could truly make or break them.

That is what Barack and I think about every day as he tried to guide and protect our girls from the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight. How we urged them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are the most important role model.

Let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls but the children across this country. Kids who say, “I saw you on TV,” “I wrote the report on you for school.” Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, Is my hair like yours?

I’m tearing up just reading her words on my computer screen.

On Hillary:

I trust Hillary to lead this country because I have seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children. Not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection, but every child who needs a champion: kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they will ever afford college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but dream of a better life; who look to us to dream of what they can be.

Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless work to actually make a difference in their lives. Advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the senate.

And when she did not win the nomination eight years ago, she did not get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home because … Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own disappointment. She proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe. There were moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being [torn] apart for how she looked, or how she talked, or even how she laughed.

But here’s the thing: What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure.

She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that is what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere.

Yes, Hillary has persevered. There was a time when Michelle Obama didn’t have nice things to say about her. But Hillary didn’t quit. She wholeheartedly supported Barack Obama in 2008 and then became his Secretary of State. And she apparently won Michelle over with her efforts.

And finally these beautiful and heartbreaking words:

Leaders like Tim Kaine, who show our kids what decency and devotion look like. Leaders like Hillary Clinton, who have the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in the highest and hardest glass ceiling until they finally break through, lifting all of us along with her.

That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done. So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters — two beautiful intelligent black young women — play with the dog on the White House lawn

And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great. That somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.

Can we as a country truly rise above our long history of slavery and exploitation of people who are not rich white men? Michelle seems to believe it is possible. But only if we defeat the fascist menace of Donald Trump and elect Hillary the first woman President of the United States.

Without once mentioning Trump’s name Michelle Obama destroyed his childish Twitter campaign by saying this of Hillary:

Somebody who knows this job and takes it seriously. Somebody who understands that the issues of our nation are not black or white. It cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

That speech deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest political speeches ever.

I also thought Cory Booker’s speech was magnificent. If you missed it, you can read the transcript at that link. Bill Clinton was as transfixed as I was.

Sadly, Bernie-or-busters did the best they could to damage the Democrats’ chances of defeating Trump by screaming their childish chants right through all the speeches, including those of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. They even crossed out the word “love” in the “Love Trumps Hate” signs and wrote in “Bernie.” This morning Sanders tried to speak to his fans in the California delegation, and they shouted him down once again. Sanders has now cancelled several events that he had scheduled with “supporters.”

Sanders did the best he could to get his fans to accept reality and realize the dangers Donald Trump poses; but it was far too late. He encouraged their bad behavior for the past year, and at least 10 percent of them are still acting out. Many people who tuned in to the campaign for the first time last night wondered what all the fuss was about.

Sanders also announced this morning that, despite Jeff Weaver’s statement that Bernie is now a Democrat for life, he’s going back to being an independent.

He also announced that he will not raise money to support Hillary’s efforts to beat fascism.

Despite rumors that he would release his delegates, Sanders insisted on a roll call vote today, so erasure of Hillary’s enthusiastic supporters will probably continue on the cable channels. I think it’s very sad that Bernie can’t join with the rest of us in celebrating the nomination of the first woman in American history ever to head a major party ticket.

Last night I went to bed after watching MSNBC and CNN highlight Bernie-or-busters and denigrate the woman whose nomination this Convention was designed to celebrate. I woke up this morning determined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but now I know he’s not going to join the fight with the rest of us. But that’s his choice. Ninety percent of his supporters have already joined us, and the rest were never Democrats to begin with.

Some headlines to peruse today.

As usual, it was extremely difficult to find anything positive about Hillary in the media, but I found one at WBUR in Boston: Hillary Clinton’s Call to Public Service Came Early.

I found this at the WaPo, but I haven’t read it yet. I hope it’s positive: To understand Hillary Clinton, don’t watch the convention. Read her memoirs.

Ed Kilgore writes down his delusions: Bernie May Have Broken the ‘Never Hillary’ Movement Once and for All.

Jonathan Chait: How Bernie-or-Bust Fanatics Dominated the First Day of the Democratic Convention.

Sarah Kendzidor: The Democrats’ America on display: Flawed but not fatalistic.

CNN: Bernie Sanders: ‘I am proud to stand with her.’

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: Michelle Obama’s Message: Trust Hillary Like I Do. Davidson is unconvinced.

NYT: Attack on Church in France Kills Priest and ISIS is Blamed.

That’s all I can write for now, folks. I’m very sorry that I’m so angry and disappointed. To me Hillary is a beacon of light in a dark world. I can’t even begin to describe how enthusiastic I am about her becoming the Democratic nominee–and I hope the President of the United States. For my entire life I’ve dreamed that women could eventually gain equality with men. Now I know that will never happen in my lifetime; but having a woman president would be a beginning.

I knew this year was going to be difficult; I knew that the misogyny and CDS of 2008 would be magnified 100-fold. But today, I’m having a hard time with it.

I’m afraid the Bernie-or-busters will attack Bill Clinton tonight, and I hope he has been well prepared to handle it. I can’t imagine how painful it must be for him to see his beautiful, talented, hard-working wife treated so horribly by the media and by supposed “progressives.”

I hope and pray that on Thursday night MSNBC and CNN will stop talking about Bernie Sanders for just a few hours to at least tell their viewers they are watching history in the making.

Over to you. What stories are you following? If you can cheer me up a bit, I’d be very grateful.


Wednesday Reads: Womens Rights, LGBT Rights and Human Rights

a09059c71030e5d95798e3d8d0217c94Good Morning

Wow that is some title for a morning post…

I guess we should just get down to it.

There’s still a lot of questions on what actions the US will take (if any) in Russia’s promise to enforce its anti-LGBT “propaganda” laws during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Yesterday, the big soccer association behind World Cup got involved. Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup and FIFA has a strict no discrimination policy: FIFA asks Russia to explain anti-gay law

FIFA says it has asked 2018 World Cup host Russia for “clarification and more details” about a new anti-gay law.

The legislation prohibiting “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors” prompted an international furor and the IOC already is seeking answers about how Russia will enforce it during the Sochi Winter Olympics next February.

FIFA says in a statement that “Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety” during its monthlong marquee tournament. Football’s governing body added that it “trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise.”

FIFA says its statutes foresee “zero tolerance against discrimination.”

I won’t praise FIFA for the query…seeing as their “zero” tolerance is a mere few months old…and comes after so many questionable actions of their own. Mostly however regarding the discrimination of women, but that is another story.

You can read about that stuff here:

Soccer: FIFA clears space for female executives — A females-only seat has been created on FIFA’s executive committee after the organisation last year co-opted a woman into its ExCo for the first time in over a century.

Women’s Soccer World Cup: Controversy Off the Field

James Dorsey: FIFA Anti-Racism Campaign Has Work Cut Out for It in the Middle East

FIFA: Activists to Converge in Frankfurt on ‘Day Against Discrimination’ | The New Civil Rights Movement

FIFA must no longer stand idle to human rights abuses in World Football

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: French women groups protest FIFA decision to endorse hijab

Lack of understanding might explain UEFA’s record on racism | World Soccer

But back to the anti-gay crap over in Russia… would you believe that even the conservative mouthpiece over at WaPo, Jennifer Rubin, has something to say about supporting Human Rights, and by a round about way…gay rights…check it out: Support human rights, punish Sochi sponsors

I’m a bit of an Olympics grouch. Maybe it was holding games in repressive, pollution-laden communist China. Maybe it was the refusal to designate a moment of silence commemorating the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games. Or maybe it is the anti-nationalistic blather voiced about games in which every athlete wears his country’s uniform and each nation’s medal haul is calculated by the hour. But Sochi, Russia, really is the last straw.

I agree with Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch. She explains that host countries are supposed to comply with the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” which include respect for human rights and freedom of the press:

Starting in 2008, Human Rights Watch has documented myriad Russian abuses associated with preparation for the Olympics. These include government harassment and intimidation of activists and journalists, abuses of migrant workers from the former Soviet bloc who are building all the major Olympic venues (including the media center) and forced evictions of some families without compensation. Some migrant workers who tried to complain have been detained.

Over the past year, Russia has also introduced repressive laws targeting certain nonprofit organizations as “foreign agents.” With raids, threats and intimidation, the crackdown has been the most severe of its kind in the post-Soviet era. Central to this campaign is a new law targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. All these efforts are at odds with the Olympic ideal, as expressed in its charter, of “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Russian authorities are apparently counting on the I.O.C. to keep quiet again.

And then there are the rigged elections, corrupt government, imprisonment of political opponents and — let’s not forget — invasion and occupation of 20 percent of Georgia.

The International Olympic Committee is hopeless, and Vladimir Putin is indifferent to public criticism, but sponsors are another matter altogether. Worden is most upset about gay rights (“Unless sponsors and franchise-holders like NBC, Coca-Cola, G.E., McDonalds and Visa want to risk being associated with an officially homophobic Olympics, they must find their voices — before the next I.O.C. head is anointed.”) But there are many reasons not to patronize the Olympics or patronize those companies getting blood money for the mockery of the Olympic spirit.

Yeah, I went ahead and quoted the whole post…it was a short one but I wanted to make sure you saw all of Rubin’s op/ed. Dang…doesn’t this go against everything a Jennifer Rubin should believe in? Looks like she is calling for the kind of boycott uprising ala Stop Rush.

Actually, I am being a bitch there…and should be thrilled that someone like Rubin is supportive of what is right…for a change.

I also think the IOC is going to pull a Sgt.Schultz on the entire mess…”I see nothing, I hear nothing.”  I mean, for an organization that would throw out wrestling and baseball and consider pole dancing as a sanctioned Olympic sport, what else would you expect?  As Worden states above:

…the Olympic ideal, as expressed in its charter, of “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

Yeah…nothing says “human dignity” more than a woman dressed in skimpy clothing doing a “Spatchcock’ on a stripper pole. (You read that right…spatch…cock.)

[image]
IPSFLiza Szabo tries a ‘Spatchcock’ at the World Pole Sports Championships.

I’ve got another op/ed for you, this one is from Kathleen Parker and it is about Human Rights…are Womens Rights: Parker: ‘Human rights are women’s rights’

Three years out and you’d think the deed was done: Madame President Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.

She’s everywhere these days because: (a) It’s August; (b) Reporters are bored with President Obama; (c) Reporters are bored with Joe Biden; (d) Clintons are never boring.

Correct.

Op-ed columns are filled with advice about what Hillary needs to do. She needs a narrative. A message. It can’t be that she’s a Clinton or a woman. It has to be …

What?

Here’s a thought: She can save the world.

Shit…we know that already. I just wish assholes like Anthony Weiner would shut the fuck up: Hillary Clinton’s Team Reacts To Anthony Weiner’s Remarks On Huma Abedin’s Role In Potential 2016 Bid

Did you hear what the Twitterdick said at a press conference?

A spokesman for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has thrown cold water on comments New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner made about her potential 2016 campaign.

In a BuzzFeed Brews interview on Monday, Weiner (D) said he knows what wife Huma Abedin’s role in Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential bid will be.

“I do,” Weiner said when asked if he knew how Abedin, an aide to Clinton since the Former First Lady’s White House days, would factor into a 2016 presidential run. “I’m not telling you.”

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill denied having any idea what Weiner could have been referencing, Politico reports.

“We have absolutely no clue what he was talking about,” Merrill said, according to Politico. “Maybe his campaign does. Doubt it though.”

Weiner said Monday he believed his multiple sexting controversies have hurt Abedin, who spoke out in defense of her husband during a July 23 conference.

“I feel that what I have done has hurt her, yeah,” Weiner said. “It’s hurt her professionally, it’s hurt her personally.”

No shit Sherlock. Ugh. This guy pisses me off, disgust me, and makes me want to puke.

But if you want to feel better go up and read that Parker link, it is nothing new to us, but it is nice to see it said in print in other media outlets.

Just a few more links…in link dump fashion:

Gunman killed, hostages wounded as police storm Louisiana bank | Reuters

A police SWAT team stormed a rural Louisiana bank early on Wednesday, killing a gunman after he shot and critically injured two hostages, in a dramatic end to a 12-hour standoff.

State Police spokesman Albert Paxton said officers entered the bank building in the small town of St. Joseph shortly after midnight because the gunman was threatening to kill one or both of the hostages he was holding.

The man, identified as 20-year-old Fuaed Abdo Ahmed, the California-born son of Yemeni parents, shot both hostages when police entered the building. Police then shot and killed him, Paxton said.

“He was angry and he wanted to kill hostages,” Paxton said of the gunman, who initially took three bank employees hostage but released one woman after several hours.

Paxton said Ahmed was mentally ill and had complained of hearing voices. The gunman’s family owned a convenience store in the town, officials said.

The wounded hostages, previously identified as one woman and one man, were taken to local hospitals. Their names were not released.

New Jersey Senate Election: Cory Booker Wins Democratic Primary (UPDATE)

New Jersey voters took a step closer to choosing a new United States senator Tuesday, picking Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan to face off in an October special election.

Tuesday’s vote capped a frantic two-month scramble for votes consistently led by Booker, the popular Newark mayor, and Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor with ties to the Koch brothers. Booker easily defeated Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Rush Holt, and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. Lonegan beat physician Alieta Eck.

Booker captured 18 of the state’s 21 counties in his landslide win. Pallone, the second-place Democrat, easily won his home county of Monmouth, but lost to Booker in Middlesex County, which he has long represented in Congress. Holt, the third-place finisher, captured his home county of Mercer and also won in Hunterdon County, which he has represented in Congress.

Well, the last story sounds more like a creature feature to me: Team of scientists create cloned glow-in-the-dark rabbits

Scientists have cloned a colony of rabbits that glow bright green in the dark, in an attempt to advance research into treatments for life-threatening illnesses.

Scientists have produced a litter of fluorescent green rabbits

Researchers based in Hawaii and Turkey produced a litter of eight rabbits, two of which glow green in the dark.

Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, a biogenesis researcher, said the rabbits are like “an LED light”, during an interview with Khon2. “And on top of it, their fur is beginning to grow and the greenness is shining right through their fur. It’s so intense,” he added.

The florescent colouring is used to indicate that the genetic material injected into the embryos is incorporated into the rabbits’ natural make up.

‘It’s just a marker to show that we can take a gene that was not originally in the animal and now exists in the animal,’ Dr Moisyadi explained.

Dr Moisyadi said the animals are not affected by the fluorescent protein and will have the same life span as other rabbits. “The green is only a marker to show that’s it’s working easily,” he said.

Video at the link and a description of how the scientist made the little green buggers.

I hope that these stories were not repeats, I haven’t been able to read much of anything the last day or so. We had a dishwasher blowout at my house Tuesday around 3 am…I went down to the kitchen to get an ice cream sandwich and stepped into a puddle in front of the refrigerator. I’m not talking a little puddle either, I’m talking a Singing in the Rain puddle.

Oh, it was a mess. And it went down into the basement too. Yesterday was also the day I had promised to make the Sicilian pizza for the family.  So there was the dishwasher disaster combined with the big swelling lumps of dough, rising for the crust…looking like my Nana’s huge eggplant shaped breast nestled inside the glass Pyrex pans and bursting out of the saran wrap. Hot and sweaty and cooking up something good. What fun. All we needed was a pole and I could have given my best try at a Spatchcock. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

That is all I got for you, now what do you have for us this morning? Share your thoughts below!


Tuesday Reads: Moose, Black Bears, a Laudable FBI Sting, and Various Slimy Politicians

Good Morning!!

I just had to share this news about wildlife encroaching on Boston’s western suburbs: Black bear and moose sighted in Needham and Wellesley

It was a wild Monday in the suburbs west of Boston, with reports of a black bear ambling down by the Charles River in Needham and sightings of a 600-pound moose racing through backyards and across streets in Wellesley.

Isn’t that exciting?

The suburban sightings follow a rash of similar wildlife reports across the state – coyotes, of course, and more recently, black bears. One particularly adventurous bear spent weeks roaming Cape Cod, romping through cranberry bogs and backyards and spawning bear-themed T-shirts before being tranquilized in Wellfleet.

A bear was spotted in a few yards around Norwood Saturday night, according to local police. And State Environmental Police investigated reports of a black bear in the woods along Route 109 in Dedham Sunday morning. Officers did not locate the bear, and officials speculated it had moved on.

According to the article, the bear population in Massachusetts has increased since it was estimated at 3,000 in 2005 and bears have started to move into the eastern part of the state. It’s mating season now, so the bears are out searching for mates and looking to establish their own territories.

As for the moose:

While authorities combed Wellesley backyards Monday afternoon, people puttered around in their cars hollering out the latest updates on the moose’s location from the police scanners. Groups on foot swapped backyard-sighting stories, and shared pictures on cell phones. They gathered with cameras at the ready to watch as authorities blocked off a home on Lexington Road to search its woody backyard for the wild interloper.

Police searched for hours but were unable to locate the moose.

An FBI Sting Operation Worth Applauding

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the FBI broke up prostitution rings across the U.S., freeing 79 underage prostitutes and arresting 105 pimps “as part of the…Innocence Lost National Initiative entitled ‘Operation Cross Country VI.'”

Reuters:

Seventy-nine teenagers held against their will and forced into prostitution were rescued at hotels, truck stops and storefronts in a three-day sweep of sex-trafficking rings across the United States, law enforcement officials said on Monday.

The FBI said 104 alleged pimps were arrested during sting operations in 57 U.S. cities including Atlanta, Sacramento, and Toledo, Ohio. The operation lasted between Thursday and Saturday and involved state and local authorities as well as the FBI.

The teenagers, aged from 13 to 17 years old, were being held in custody until they could be placed with child welfare organizations. They were all U.S. citizens and included 77 girls and two boys, the FBI said.

One of the minors recovered in the sweep reported being involved in prostitution from the age of 11, according to Kevin Perkins, acting executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.

He said the cases were not “one-off” incidents, but evidence of “criminal enterprises” that lure minors in, often through social media, hold them against their will through threats to them or their families, and then traffic them through different U.S. cities.

CNN has more from Perkins:

“Many times the children that are taken in in these types of criminal activities are children that are dissaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves — they are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them, and that’s really the first approach that’s made,” said Perkins.

“Once the child has been taken out of harm’s way, then really the story just begins at that point,” said Perkins. “That’s where the real work starts, where we have to call upon the community, various social welfare agencies, our own office of victim assistance has to work with each child on an individual basis to see what their requirements are.

“This is a very difficult task. These children are very damaged — very harmed, and they need a great deal of help — it’s really taxing the social welfare agencies and it’s something that, going forward, we need to pay particular attention to.”

Unfortunately many of these children may still end up back on the streets. Still, it’s a worthwhile effort, IMHO.

Mitt Romney Updates

ABC News The Note managed to get some details about Romney’s ultra-secret weekend millionaire/billionare donor retreat in Park City, Utah.

Chateaux at Silver Lake

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: As attendees entered the Chateaux at Silver Lake, the host hotel, throughout the sunny afternoon, they were handed a Vineyard Vines tan canvas tote bag with navy piping and the words “Believe in America” stitched on the side. Inside the bag was a blue baseball hat with “Romney” written over a circular American flag and a thick white binder, detailing the weekend’s schedule from policy discussions to social events, along with a list of Romney’s upcoming events and Romney for president pins.

In addition to the Romney swag, there was also a typed note from Romney’s National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick addressed to the attendees by their first names. “Welcome to the first Romney Victory Leadership Retreat! We are very glad you were able to join us for this special weekend. Thank you for the continued support and leadership. On to victory!,” the card read.
Some were even personalized with a handwritten note from Zwick expressing appreciation to the donor and his or her family, signed with his initials “SZ.”

Golf carts whipped attendees around the complex and to discussions on healthcare, Israel, the state of the race, and the financial services industry that were conducted both Friday and Saturday.

There’s lots more at the link.

Despite the complaints of corporate Democrats like Cory Booker and Ed Rendell, the Obama campaign has continued to hammer Mitt Romney over his history as a corporate raider. And over the weekend, there were three in-depth articles on Romney’s time at Bain Capital. Today James Downie highlighted those pieces at the WaPo: Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and a ‘profit-first’ presidency

The first, from Friday’s Post, described how Romney’s Bain was an early supporter of companies that outsourced American jobs. “While Bain was not the largest player in the outsourcing field,” The Post reported, “the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment.” That outsourcing damaged American job creation was no matter; Bain made its profit.

The second, in Saturday’s New York Times, outlined how, again and again, Romney’s Bain reaped revenue from companies even as they were failing. “At least seven [of the 40 U.S.-based companies that Bain held a majority stake in while Romney was active at Bain] eventually filed for bankruptcy while Bain remained involved, or shortly afterward . . . In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money.” In several of the bankruptcies, companies made their situation worse by borrowing more to return money to Bain and its investors. And even when both outside investors and the companies themselves failed to do well, “lucrative fees helped insulate Bain and its executives.” Again, Bain made its profit.

The third, and perhaps most damning article, came from Sunday’s Boston Globe, depicting Romney’s work with disgraced junk-bond king Michael Milken. In 1988, Romney was searching for money to finance a heavily-leveraged buyout of two small department store chains. “At the time of the deal, it was widely known that Milken and his company were under federal investigation” for insider trading and stock manipulation. Despite this, Romney and his partners, after personally meeting with Milken, went ahead with the deal. With financing from Milken’s shady business, Romney and Bain were able to make a $10 billion investment, not long before Milken was sentenced to 22 months in prison. Bain eventually profited to the tune of $175 million (although the merged department stores later went bankrupt, shortly after dumping its Bain-appointed chief executive). Sure, an important chunk of the financing may have come from questionable sources, but Bain made its profit.

I included the Boston Globe article in my Sunday morning roundup. If you haven’t read it yet, please do.

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has been taking the John Kerry approach–ignoring the attacks on Romney’s primary claim to presidential qualifications, just as Kerry long ignored the attacks on him by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” That didn’t work out so well for Kerry.

Today, President Obama mocked Romney’s response to the outsourcing story at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

The president noted that Romney’s campaign had pushed back against the Post’s scoop by complaining it didn’t sufficiently distinguish between “outsourcing” and “offshoring,” only the latter of which expressly involves shipping jobs overseas.

“You cannot make this stuff up!” Obama said. “What Gov. Romney and his advisers don’t seem to understand is this: If you’re a worker whose job went overseas, you don’t need somebody trying to explain to you the difference between outsourcing and offshoring, you need someone who’s going to wake up every day and fight for American jobs and investment here in the United States.”

Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law

Pennsylvania is one of the many Republican-controlled states that have instituted voter ID laws. Usually the claim is that these laws will prevent the massive amount of voter fraud that Republicans claim is happening (of course, there’s no evidence whatsoever for this claim). But recently a Pennsylvania Republican state legislator actually told the truth.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) suggested that the House’s end game in passing the Voter ID law was to benefit the GOP politically.

“We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years,” said Turzai in a speech to committee members Saturday. He mentioned the law among a laundry list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature.

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

The statement drew a loud round of applause from the audience. It also struck a nerve among critics, who called it an admission that they passed the bill to make it harder for Democrats to vote — and not to prevent voter fraud as the legislators claimed.

The Pennsylvania voter ID law is particularly complex and strict in its requirements. Most onerous is the requirement that the ID must include a specific date of expiration.

As this article in The Nation explains, most employment and student ID’s do not have expiration dates listed. Even the Republican Secretary of State Carol Aichele did not know that her employee ID would not be accepted for voting!

Back in April, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele visited the editorial board of the Erie Times-News newspaper to speak with them about the new photo voter ID bill Governor Tom Corbett had just signed into law….Aichele’s Erie visit was part of a state tour to educate voters about what they’d need for compliance with law and for the ability to exercise their right to vote. One of the IDs acceptable for voting is a state employee photo identification card. However, the law also says that IDs must have a current expiration date for voter eligibility, and the state employee cards do not. Aichele seemed to overlook this paradox in her education drive.

“Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele showed her state photo ID, which is not acceptable for voting because it doesn’t have an expiration date,” wrote the editorial board after she showed hers to them. It must have been humiliating for the secretary who was promoting the new law to find that her own example didn’t hold muster. It’s bad enough mandating that voters have ID cards, but to add the additional restriction that the ID needs an expiration date makes it even more obtrusive. The editorial says that 10 percent of Pennsylvanians, or 88,000, do not have a valid photo ID—though that number is contested and is thought to be much larger.

The law will make voting difficult for many senior citizens.

Take the example of Henrietta Kay Dickerson, 75, of Pittsburgh, a black woman who was born in Louisiana. She came to Pennsylvania as an infant and grew up her whole life in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the historical black neighborhood immortalized in the plays of August Wilson. In May last year her state ID expired. She went to the state’s department of transportation where she was refused a free voter ID card, even after she paid the $13.50 fee, according to her account in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project against the state, which says the law violates voting rights granted by the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Pennsylvania’s many college students could also have difficulties if they don’t research the law’s requirements and follow them exactly. Most college IDs do not have dates of expiration.

I’m going to end here, because this post is getting way too long! I’ll turn the floor over to you now–what are your reading recommendations for today?