Monday Reads: One Hundred Days of Shame

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’m a little slow getting started today as I deal with my ongoing shell shock.  I admit to waking up each morning and being quite surprised that nothing has been completely blown up yet. This includes our home planet, Earth.  Then, I head to twitter to see if something is likely to be blown up today.  That gets a little wearing after three months. Kremlin Caligula gave an interview to AP and it should convince every one that his frontal lobe is seriously damaged. I’m not going to be stopping that ritual for some time it seems.

This series of lined threads punctuated by excerpts from the interview transcript offered by Joy Reid says it succinctly.  The man operates at nursery school levels of thinking at best.  I’m still going for a combination of dementia with a huge dollop of personality disorders. I’m also waiting for the mother ship to take me to my home planet where these things don’t happen.  So, excuse me, I’m a little spaced today.

“Watch Trump’s mind wander from subject to subject with no apparent charted course, but always stumbling back to how cable news treats him…”

“He’s like a babbling brook of incoherence and obsession…”

“It’s not even funny. Trump clearly doesn’t know anything about the policies he’s trying to explain. He just recalls who likes him/is nice …”

There is so much crap in that interview that it’s a work fit for flies. Who is going to believe that the Russian Hacks of the election is the fault of Democrats? Bueller?

President Trump blamed Democratic officials for having weak cyber defenses that allowed hackers to compromise their email systems ahead of the 2016 election in a recent interview.

Trump faulted the Democratic National Committee for lacking  “the proper defensive devices” to safeguard against cyber intrusions in an interview with the Associated Press, according to a transcript published over the weekend.

Trump also indicated that his praise for WikiLeaks on the campaign trail last year did not actually mean he supports the organization, which was involved in publishing hacked emails from the DNC and former Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

The U.S. intelligence community said in January that the Russian government had ordered an influence campaign during the election to undermine democracy and damage Clinton. The GRU, Russia’s main intelligence agency, targeted the DNC and high-level Democratic officials and passed hacked material to WikiLeaks, the intelligence community assessed.

On Friday, Trump took aim at the DNC when asked about WikiLeaks’ involvement in the influence campaign, arguing that the DNC did not have the same defenses as the Republican National Committee.

“You know, they tried to hack the Republican, the RNC, but we had good defenses. They didn’t have defenses, which is pretty bad management,” Trump said, referring to the DNC. “But we had good defenses, they tried to hack both of them. They weren’t able to get through to Republicans.”

There is so much wrong with the facts in this that it’s hard to even know where to start but, hey, grab them by the pussy!  It’s always the victim’s fault!

Meanwhile, this week’s trauma is the likely shut down of government of what’s functional in the government. Oh, and 100 days will be celebrated with another flurry of Executive Orders.  This is what happens when you really, truly, can’t figure out how to get the system to work for you.  Or, perhaps a crisis … 

To see how Trump changes the normal calculation, consider what the appropriations process would look like in a more generic case, where Republicans enjoyed identical congressional majorities but under a president who behaved rationally.

In that case, we would expect the president and GOP leaders to work backwards from a desire to avoid a shutdown, toward an optimal outcome in which appropriations did not lapse and Congress funded as many of their priorities as possible. The hard fact that funding the government almost always requires a measure of bipartisanship places a fairly firm limit on what’s possible in that context. The minority party has a disproportionate amount of power over annual appropriations, but you go to the spending fight with the army you have, not the army you might want, or wish to have at a later time. If Democrats were horribly recalcitrant, they could reject every single Republican bid, leaving Republicans a choice between simply extending existing funds or shutting down the government—in which case a rational party would harrumph and agree to extend the funds.

The fact that Democrats are not horribly recalcitrant creates room for limited dealmaking. Republicans want to spend more money on defense and immigration enforcement, Democrats want to fund other priorities, and to the extent that these different points of emphasis don’t cross any ideological redlines, the parties can accommodate one another. But Democrats won’t persuade Republicans to agree to adequately fund the IRS, just as Republicans won’t convince Democrats to help them gut the EPA. The construction of a wall along the southern border, meanwhile, is a non-starter for Democrats and many Republicans. A rational GOP president would accept this reality and move on. Trump has made its inclusion in the funding bill a top priority.

It’s fund the wall or we’re all gonna die!!  So, what is it with Trump and ratings and cable? Does every one obsessively tune in?

During a small working lunch at the White House last month, the question of job security in President Trump’s tumultuous White House came up, and one of the attendees wondered whether press secretary Sean Spicer might be the first to go.

The president’s response was swift and unequivocal. “I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” he said, according to someone familiar with the encounter. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.”

Trump even likened Spicer’s daily news briefings to a daytime soap opera, noting proudly that his press secretary attracted nearly as many viewers.

For Trump — a reality TV star who parlayed his blustery-yet-knowing on-air persona into a winning political brand — television is often the guiding force of his day, both weapon and scalpel, megaphone and news feed. And the president’s obsession with the tube — as a governing tool, a metric for staff evaluation, and a two-way conduit with lawmakers and aides — has upended the traditional rhythms of the White House, influencing many spheres, including policy, his burgeoning relationship with Congress, and whether he taps out a late-night or early-morning tweet.

Those Trump tweet-storms, which contain some of his most controversial utterances, are usually prompted by something he has seen on television just moments before. The president, advisers said, also uses details gleaned from cable news as a starting point for policy discussions or a request for more information, and appears on TV himself when he wants to appeal directly to the public.

Some White House officials — who early on would appear on TV to emphasize points to their boss, who was likely to be watching just steps away in his residence — have started tuning into Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” because they know the president habitually clicks it on after waking near dawn.

Here’s a fact check list of what Candidate Caligula said he would do and what President (sic) Kremlin Caligula has done via NPR.

Back in October, before his election, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out a 100-Day Action Plan. He called it his “Contract With The American Voter.” Among other things, it called for the full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, suspension of immigration from certain “terror-prone regions” and the lifting of “roadblocks” to let “infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline move forward.”

The 100-day mark is not an official milestone, but in roughly the last century it has been a traditional point to take stock of a new administration. Throughout President Trump’s first 100 days, there have been both flurries of action and some setbacks. In many cases, the status of some of these efforts is not clear-cut — often with substantial talk but less action. In other areas, progress is clearer.

Charlie Pierce has nailed it on our 100 days of shame: ” The 100 Days: Who Can Stop an Unfit President*? Troubling signs in Trump’s Associated Press interview.”

The word for the 95th day of the presidency* of Donald Trump is “unintelligible.” As nearly as I can recall, the word first came to political prominence on April 29, 1974, when President Richard M. Nixon, in one of his last desperate attempts to throw the hounds of Watergate off his tracks, released to the nation edited transcripts of carefully selected White House tape recordings. (The president* will celebrate his 100th day in office with a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the 43rd anniversary of the release of these transcripts. History rhymes.) More famously, the transcripts injected the phrase, “Expletive deleted” into the political jargon.

 But “unintelligible” had its day, too. Given what they already knew about Nixon, many people around the country suspected that what was “unintelligible” probably had something to do with a crime or two. Over the weekend, “unintelligible” came back into our politics in a new and terrifying way.

The presidential elections in France took an interesting turn as the usual suspect party got eliminated and the moderate and the nationalist head to a run off. Statistically, it looks like the moderate will win. However, we do know that story here and this horrible sweep of white nationalism sweeping the west is like a plague with no end.  It looks like there will be no more socialist France for some time. But, what will they opt for?  The middle path or the path to destruction?

Emmanuel Macron will be almost certainly be the next French president. And the relief is immense. The much anticipated domino effect following the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election has not, so far, materialised. And the European project has won – at least for now. At Macron’s headquarters in Paris, a euphoric crowd was waving French flags, as well as many European ones. “C’est magnifique!”, his supporters kept saying. Being in the second round is a huge achievement, being the frontrunner even more so.

This result is a relief but it also represents a shock – not because of Marine Le Pen’s presence in the second round, which the polls prepared us for. But because the next president will come from neither of the two traditional main parties, the conservatives and socialists, the first time since the beginning of the fifth Republic, founded in 1958 by Charles de Gaulle.

François Fillon, who surprisingly won the conservative primaries last November, and was initially considered the frontrunner, has suffered badly as a result of allegations of corruption. He refused to stand down and even managed to make up some of his early losses, but not sufficiently to overcome Macron.

Benoît Hamon scored nearly the worst result of any socialist presidential candidate in the history of the fifth Republic. With just 6% of the votes, he comes just ahead of Gaston Defferre who scored just 5.01% in 1969, against Charles de Gaulle. Hamon’s lack of charisma failed to convince the socialist electorate, already badly disappointed by the Hollande presidency.

So, we’re hoping France does not go the way we went which basically is straight to crazy land.

I’m still loving the pictures and stories of the scientists who showed up to protest the Republican attack on Scientific findings and fundings. I adores seeing the number of women and girls fighting for science.  Doctor Daughter ran the Tutoring Center for the Science Department at LSU for a number of years. She was the only undergraduate who had done so at the time.  I always filled her room up with microscopes, rocks, shells, crystals and Sci Fi Books.  It’s easy to get kids interested in science!

From across the fields of science they came, marching to show that women in science have a lot to say.

Biologists and ecologists, medical researchers and EMTs, doctors and nurses, biomedical engineers and neuroscientists came with stories of why they fell in love with science.

They ranged from little girls to seasoned science veterans, all carrying a message of what they’d like to tell other women.

“It’s important for women scientists to be here because there are still too few of us,” said neuroscientist Sharri Zamore.

She drove from Blacksburg, Virginia, to support the cause, but also to “encourage more diversity” in the sciences, she told CNN.

There were many who stood up and marched for the first time in their lives.

Follow the link to read Sharri’s and other women scientists’ stories below.  It goes to a series of CNN interviews.

So, I’m going to go get lost in space for awhile in my particular form of science and grade some papers.   However,  I will not be drinking Starbuck’s Unicorn Frappucino.  It sounds horrible and it’s terrifically unhealthy.  What’s the big deal with it anyway?

Although Starbucks’ new Unicorn Frappuccino has garnered national attention for its whimsical name and and enchanting, pink-and-blue color scheme, at least one local group is cautioning people about its oh-so-sweet content.

On Friday, the Stratford Health Department succinctly called out the drink’s high sugar content on its Facebook page. “While the Unicorn Frappuccino may be pretty to look at, it’s loaded with 59 grams of sugar! That is over two times the amount of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association!”

That statement likely shocked few fans, as the Unicorn Frappuccino contains four kinds of syrup, according to its ingredients label — Frappuccino syrup (Water, Sugar, Salt, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid); Mango Syrup (Sugar, Water, Mango Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Passion Fruit Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Turmeric, Gum Arabic); Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid) and Classic Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid). The calorie count is also high, at 410 per 16 fluid-ounce serving.

Blech!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?