Thursday Reads: If Only We Had A Woman President

With the forecast calling for heavy snow, there were plenty of parking spots available, as well as very light traffic, so much so that a pedestrian could cross the street unimpeded on Beacon Street at 5:45 p.m., normally the height of rush hour. –Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Good Morning!!

The snowpocalypse never materialized in Boston, after we were told to expect up to 14 inches of the white stuff. I know it was bad in some places to the south of us. But not to worry, there’s another snow event coming this weekend. Meteorologist David Epstein explains:

I can tell you with a lot of certainty that it’s very frustrating for any meteorologist to miss a forecast, but it’s also humbling. It’s just a fact of the matter: The atmosphere is incredibly complicated and always will be.

Meteorologically, the storm never really got its act together because too much dry air ate away at the precipitation shield on the northern and western flank.

Whatever that means.

Of course, there are always computer models that we all use to guide us, but frankly, their performance hasn’t been as good in the past few weeks.

Although the models successfully understood a storm would form, they did a poor job of placing the precipitation within the storm. I suspect the unusual blocking pattern that we are in is throwing the models for a loop.

While the European model did a better job forecasting this system than other models, it also was way overdone. But in other recent storms, other models have outperformed the Euro, so it’s dangerous to just follow one model.

For example, if we had believed the NAM model on Wednesday morning, we would have forecast 10 to 15 inches of snow in Boston. This model accurately predicted the amount of snow seen in New York, but it arced the precipitation band way too far to the northwest.

Weather nerds (Dakinikat) can read the rest at The Boston Globe. The good news for us is that we didn’t get a lot more snow added to what was already on the ground. Now we look ahead to the next storm and hope for the weather trend to become more springlike soon.

At least the weather provides a distraction from the ongoing nightmare of the Trump “presidency.” The news of Trump family corruption is coming thick and fast these days; but before I get to some of that, here’s another distraction: two annoying old white men threatening to beat each other up.

Creepy Uncle Joe

ABC News: Biden says he would have ‘beat the hell out’ of Trump in high school for disrespecting women.

Former Vice President Joe Biden took fresh jabs at President Donald Trump on Tuesday while speaking at an anti-sexual assault rally, telling students at the University of Miami that he probably would have “beat the hell out” of Trump if they’d attended school together.

“A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'” Biden said. “They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said ‘no.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'”

“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life,” Biden continued. “I’m a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room.”

Naturally Trump responded on Twitter.

The Washington Post: Septuagenarian smackdown? Trump, Biden trade fighting words.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are in a rhetorical smackdown over who could clean the other’s clock in a brawl.

Biden, 75, made similar comments in the closing days of the 2016 campaign. He has kept open the possibility of a 2020 bid for president and is gearing up to play a big role campaigning for Democrats running in this year’s midterm elections.

Trump, 71, dismissed the prospect of a Biden run recently at the annual Gridiron Dinner with Washington journalists, calling him “Sleepy Joe” and saying he could “kick his ass.” Trump also attacked Biden on Twitter in 2016, calling him “Our not very bright Vice President.”

This is just plain embarrassing. Connor Friedersdorf reacts to Trump’s “bluster” at The Atlantic: 

Donald Trump is an undignified lout who cannot master his own emotions enough to be anything better….

No recent president would’ve publicly degraded himself in this manner. Neither would a teenager of slightly above-average maturity. Yet Trump is unembarrassed, and unapologetic, for the damage he does to America’s reputation.

Americans have grown used to conduct of this sort because Trump engages in it so often. But bygone generations would be appalled by how he comports himself. And every instance of such behavior causes the world to look upon the U.S. the same way that most Americans look upon the real housewives of New Jersey.

Frankly, Biden isn’t much better. Why, oh why couldn’t we have a woman president? Speaking of which, did you see this exchange on Twitter yesterday? People were attacking a woman writer, Roxanne Gay–what else is new?–because she tweeted that Justice League was a bad movie. She responded:

The attacks continued. But guess who really liked that tweet?

The attackers didn’t like Gay’s response to that either.

Yes, people really did try to explain to her that Hillary isn’t president. Sigh . . . being a famous woman is really hard. Misogyny is utterly pervasive in this country.

Hillary’s former communications director Jennifer Palmieri has a new book coming out: Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World. Time Magazine has an excerpt: Inside the Last Days of the Hillary Clinton Campaign.

It’s the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 9. We are at the New Yorker Hotel and Hillary has just finished her concession speech. I decide to just nod and smile wistfully when supporters and reporters, men and women alike, laud Hillary’s concession speech. “Where was ‘this Hillary’ during the campaign?” they would lament. “Why didn’t we see this side of her when it mattered?”

Yes, I am sure you loved her concession speech, I thought to myself. Because that’s what you think is acceptable for a woman to do — concede.

Not just the right wing media . . .

Had I never left the Obama White House to be part of the campaign, I am sure I would have asked the same question. I probably would have printed out the transcript of her remarks, and pored over them, trying to isolate the essence of what she had said that made this speech so much more appealing than anything she had said during the campaign. And I wouldn’t have found it. Because I needed to have the experience of working for a female presidential candidate to understand that why we liked “this Hillary” so much better than “candidate Hillary.” Fundamentally it wasn’t about the words she used in her concession speech but what she represented. She was no longer a woman pushing to be president. She was a gracious loser putting the needs of her country above her own. It was the role of Hillary as an ambitious candidate that troubled us.

We think a woman shines best when she is selflessly putting others’ interest above her own. It is more flattering than seeking her own spotlight.

I have to tell you that when I first joined Hillary’s campaign, I didn’t think it was going to be that hard or even that big of a deal to elect the first woman president. Let’s just say after having gone through this campaign, I have a different perspective.

Read the rest at the link.

Now let’s turn to the latest Trump administration scandals. This time it’s Jared Kushner in the Spotlight.

The Intercept: Saudi Crown Prince Boasted That Jared Kushner Was “In His Pocket.”

We’ve all heard about how Jared has been reading all that classified information in the PDB–the president’s daily brief. Well it looks like he may have shared some of it with his pal Mohammed bin Salman.

In June, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and took his place as next in line to the throne, upending the established line of succession. In the months that followed, the President’s Daily Brief contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to the crown prince’s power grab, according to the former White House official and two U.S. government officials with knowledge of the report. Like many others interviewed for this story, they declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters to the press.

In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time.

What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so….

On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown. The Saudi government arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoned them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which was first reported in English by The Intercept. The Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief were among those rounded up; at least one was reportedly tortured.

Read the rest at The Intercept.

The New York Times: How 2 Gulf Monarchies Sought to Influence the White House.

A cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation worked for more than a year to turn a top Trump fund-raiser into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to interviews and previously undisclosed documents.

Hundreds of pages of correspondence between the two men reveal an active effort to cultivate President Trump on behalf of the two oil-rich Arab monarchies, both close American allies.

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

High on the agenda of the two men — George Nader, a political adviser to the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., and Elliott Broidy, the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee — was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar and repeatedly pressing the president to meet privately outside the White House with the leader of the U.A.E.

Mr. Tillerson was fired last week, and the president has adopted tough approaches toward both Iran and Qatar.

A bit more from the NYT piece:

Mr. Nader tempted the fund-raiser, Mr. Broidy, with the prospect of more than $1 billion in contracts for his private security company, Circinus, and he helped deliver deals worth more than $200 million with the United Arab Emirates. He also flattered Mr. Broidy about “how well you handle Chairman,” a reference to Mr. Trump, and repeated to his well-connected friend that he told the effective rulers of both Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. about “the Pivotal Indispensable Magical Role you are playing

George Nader with Trump

to help them.”

Mr. Nader’s cultivation of Mr. Broidy, laid out in documents provided to The New York Times, provides a case study in the way two Persian Gulf monarchies have sought to gain influence inside the Trump White House. Mr. Nader has been granted immunity in a deal for his cooperation with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to people familiar with the matter, and his relationship with Mr. Broidy may also offer clues to the direction of that inquiry.

Mr. Nader has now been called back from abroad to provide additional testimony, one person familiar with the matter said this week. Mr. Mueller’s investigators have already asked witnesses about Mr. Nader’s contacts with top Trump administration officials and about his possible role in funneling Emirati money to Mr. Trump’s political efforts, a sign that the investigation has broadened to examine the role of foreign money in the Trump administration.

The documents contain evidence not previously reported that Mr. Nader also held himself out as intermediary for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who met with Mr. Trump on Tuesday in the Oval Office at the beginning of a tour of the United States to meet with political and business leaders.

Rachel Maddow talked about this story at length last night, and she said the Special Counsel has called Nader back from abroad. But The Daily Mail is claims that Nader has fled: EXCLUSIVE: Mueller probe witness who met Jared Kushner and was ‘best friends’ with Steve Bannon flees the country after being revealed as a pedophile. Summary of the story:

  • Robert Mueller co-operating witness George Nader has  fled the United States for the United Arab Emirates, DailyMail.com reveals
  • Nader, a convicted pedophile, was allegedly a paid adviser for the UAE’s de facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayef and had close ties to the Trump administration
  • He has been interviewed twice by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign
  • The Lebanese-born adviser was first stopped when he flew into Washington in January on his way to visit Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort
  • Nader has been cooperating with investigators following the stop and his lawyer said he ‘truthfully answered questions’
  • Investigators are interested in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between bin Zayef, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon which Nader was at and may have brokered
  • They also want to about a meeting he was at in the Seychelles, attended by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and UAE’s de-facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayed

One more Kushner scandal from the AP: NYC agency investigating more than a dozen Kushner buildings.

New York City’s buildings regulator launched investigations at more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties Wednesday following an Associated Press report that the real estate developer routinely filed false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings across the city.

The Department of Buildings is investigating possible “illegal activity” involving applications that sought permission to begin construction work at 13 of the developer’s buildings, according to public records maintained by the regulator. The AP reported Sunday that Kushner Cos. stated in more than 80 permit applications that it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings when it, in fact, had hundreds.

The false filings were made while Kushner Cos. was run by Jared Kushner, now senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. The false filings were all signed by a Kushner employee, sometimes by its chief operating officer. None were signed by Jared Kushner himself.

The false documents allowed the Kushner Cos. to escape extra scrutiny during construction at 34 of its buildings, many which showed a sharp decline in rent-regulated units following the work. Housing Rights Initiative, a watchdog group that uncovered the false filings, says that made it easier for the Kushner Cos. to harass the low-paying, rent-regulated tenants so they would leave, freeing up apartments for higher-paying tenants.

The Kushner Cos. said Wednesday that it is the victim of “politically motivated attacks.” It said it values and respects its tenants and operates under “the highest legal and ethical standards.”

I wonder if Jared and Ivanka are beginning to wish that Hillary had won?

There are more Trump scandals, but I have to wrap this up. What stories are you following?

 

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Saturday Reads and Live Blog: Hillary’s Official Campaign Launch

Hillary smiling

Good Morning!!

The day we’ve all be waiting for since June 2008 has finally arrived! Hillary Clinton will officially begin her campaign for the presidency this morning on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Let’s watch her speech together!

I signed up to get an email when the live feed begins on Hillary’s website. There doesn’t seems to be any other way to get the link–if you find one, please let us know. I assume CNN and other media outlets will be covering the event as well.

I’ll put up a second live blog if we need it.

Hillary’s big campaign kickoff

Hillary’s speech will reportedly focus on income inequality and how she would deal with the problem as president. From the AP, via ABC News: Clinton Calling for New Era of Shared Economic Prosperity.

At an outdoor rally Saturday on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, Clinton will portray herself as a fierce advocate for those left behind in the post-recession economy, detailing a lifetime of work on behalf of struggling families. She says her mother’s difficult childhood inspired what she considers a calling….

“Her story, her life, is she is someone who has always been advocating and fighting for someone else,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director….

Clinton is not expected to roll out specific policy proposals in her address. Aides say that will come in the following weeks on issues that include college affordability, jobs and the economy. She plans to give a policy address almost every week during the summer and fall, Palmieri said.

The rest of the article is criticism of Hillary’s “divisiveness” and her decision not to specifically address the Keystone Pipeline and the TPP. Sigh . . .

Yesterday Beata posted Hillary’s kickoff video, “Fighter.” Here it is again:

At NPR, Mara Liasson writes: How Would Hillary Clinton ‘Reshuffle’ Economic Inequality?

Clinton does talk about the economy a lot on the campaign trail, but so far only in broad strokes. She says she wants everyone to have the same chances she had — and that, as she said visiting a brewery in May, “here in Washington we know that unfortunately the deck is still being stacked for those at the top.”

She says that her job is to take that deck and “reshuffle the cards” but what does that mean?

“Paramount is how we’re going to have an economy that grows for everyone, that’s inclusive, in which middle class families and people struggling to get into the middle class can get ahead as the economy grows,” said Neera Tanden, an informal advisor to Clinton and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress….

She’ll start spelling it all out Saturday in her big kick off speech. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said that’s when Clinton will talk about the conditions of the country and “why people haven’t seen their wages rise even as we’ve seen private sector job growth come back in this country.”

He says she’ll also talk about “what she wants to do to make sure that people get ahead and stay ahead. She’ll lay out a template for that, and then through the course of the Summer and into the Fall she’ll get specific about what policies she thinks she’ can achieve to help people succeed in life,” he said.

In those Summer and Fall speeches, Clinton will lay out her plans for college affordability, early childhood education, Wall Street reform and paid family leave. At some point she will say exactly how high she wants the minimum wage to be, and how she’d finance big investments in infrastructure. And, her aides say, she’ll also eventually explain how she plans to solve one part of the income inequality puzzle — that even when profits and productivity go up, wages do not follow.

150609_politics_hillarymobilize.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge

You can also listen to Liasson’s interview with Tanden at NPR: Hillary Clinton To Address Economic Issues In Campaign Speech.

ABC News reports that the FAA has declared a no-fly zone during this morning’s rally.

Federal officials today took the rare step of creating a “no-fly zone” around the site of Hillary Clinton’s campaign kickoff rally in New York City on Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration established the protective zone in the form of a so-called “Notice to Airmen” announcing that a section along Manhattan’s East Side will be temporarily transformed into “national defense airspace.”

The FAA website lists the reason as “Temporary flight restrictions for VIP Movement” and cites the federal law that the FAA employs to ban flights over events attended by the president, vice president or other key dignitaries.

“The United States government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat,” according to the notice….

“This is highly unusual,” a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, told ABC News. The “no fly zones,” also known as “Temporary Flight Restrictions” are issued about 1,000 times a year, according to the association. But they usually are not issued for candidates for president….

City officials objected to the restriction because of the effect it is expected to have on popular sightseeing helicopters. The no-fly zone will not have any impact on commercial jets landing and taking off from nearby LaGuardia Airport.

article-de-blasio-0413

Speaking of city officials, The New York Times emphasizes that while most of New York City’s political elite will attend the event, Mayor Bill De Blasio chose not to accept his invitation. He told the Times that

I’m waiting to hear, as I said, her larger vision for addressing income inequality, and I look forward to that.

He’s beginning to look like a real jerk, IMO. But his effort to be a wet blanket isn’t going to have any effect. Does anyone but the Hillary-hating Times really care? I seriously doubt it.

Later tonight, Hillary will make her first campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa. From the Sioux City Journal: Sioux City Democrats await Hillary Clinton visit Saturday.

Rick Mullin is excited to see Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Saturday evening, when she’s scheduled to make her first stop in Sioux City during the 2016 election cycle.

Mullin has met Clinton a few times, dating to 1996, when she was the nation’s first lady and Mullin was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

“One on one, she is exceptionally good. Very warm, she listens to you,” said Mullin, a former Woodbury County Democratic Party Chairman, from Sioux City.

Mullin will meet Clinton at an airport and follow that by attending her appearance at a Sioux City home.

Coming in her third swing of the Hawkeye state this year, it will be Clinton’s first event in Northwest Iowa. Saturday’s house party will be simulcast nationally. After having smaller stops in Iowa through Saturday, Clinton on Sunday will step up to larger events, with a town hall meeting planned for the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

More at the link.

landscape-1433368034-gettyimages-455461894-clintons

Of course the media is dying to know what Bill Clinton’s role will be in Hillary’s campaign. CNN got an interview with the former president that is going to run on Sunday morning: Bill Clinton opens up about his relationship with Hillary.

Bill and Hillary Clinton rarely talk about their relationship with one another. But in an interview set to air Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the former president opened up about the woman he said he trusts with his life.

“Whenever I had trouble, she was a rock in our family,” Clinton said during an emotional interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in Denver.

“I trust her with my life, and have on more than one occasion,” he said, describing his wife as someone who helped him through some of the most trying times of his life.

Bill Clinton described how his wife helped him through years “plagued with self-doubt” in his late 20s and offered him someone to not only lean on, but to help guide him through perilous moments in his career.

“I was the youngest former governor in American history in 1980 on election night. I got killed in the Reagan landslide,” Clinton remembered. “People I had appointed to office would walk across the street, they were so afraid of the new regime in Arkansas, and would not shake hands with me. My career prospects were not particularly bright.”

“And she never blinked. She just said, ‘Hey. It’ll turn around. I believe in you. You’ve got this,'” he said.

Read more at the link.

Hillary

Bustle compiled from various sources, including the CNN interview: 8 Bill Clinton Quotes On Hillary Clinton And How She Inspired Him During Hard Times.

A couple more lightweight articles on Hillary’s campaign:

Billboard: How Hillary Clinton Is Soundtracking Her 2016 Presidential Campaign.,

Quartz: It’s official: Hillary Clinton’s logo is actually perfect.

News to discuss while we await Hillary’s big speech:

NYT: Suspects Open Fire Outside Dallas Police Headquarters.

CNN: Explosives found, suspect cornered after gunfire targets Dallas police HQ.

NYT: House Rejects Trade Measure, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal.

David Dayen at Salon: The Democrats’ TPP rebellion just drew blood. Everything you need to know about today’s shocking vote.

CBS DC: Dem Reps: Obama Became ‘Indignant’ On Capitol Hill, Visit ‘Absolutely’ Hurt Trade Bill

CNN: Race of Rachel Dolezal, head of Spokane NAACP, comes under question.

NAACP: NAACP STATEMENT ON RACHEL DOLEZAL.

Jonathan Capehart: The damage Rachel Dolezal has done.

The Federalist: If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?

Mary Beth Williams at Salon: Stop making excuses for Rachel Dolezal: The Spokane NAACP official’s fraud is unforgivable

Hillary2

WaPo: Chinese hack of federal personnel files included security-clearance database.

Politico: Newly disclosed hack got ‘crown jewels.’ ‘This is not the end of American human intelligence, but it’s a significant blow,’ a former NSA official says.

Think Progress: Romney’s E2 Summit.

LOL story from Politico: Mark Halperin, Ann Romney to host ‘Sunrise Pilates’ for GOP megadonors.

NBC News: What We Know: David Sweat and Richard Matt, Escaped Inmates, Still on the Run.

CNN: New York prison worker Joyce Mitchell charged with helping inmates escape.

Texas Observer: Federal Judges Disregard Impact of Abortion Law on Poor Women.

Mother Jones: The Supreme Court Could Make Abortion One of 2016’s Big Campaign Issues.

Mother Jones: A GOP Operative Just Got 2 Years in Prison For Breaking Super-PAC Rules.

Reuters, via Raw Story: Newly-released records show CIA in-house feud over inability to prevent 9/11 attacks.

Raw Story: Michigan adopts law to take away families’ food assistance if kids miss school.

The Weather Channel: When the Weather Changes, So Does Your DNA.

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