Lazy Caturday Reads: Famous Authors And Their Cats (Plus News)

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Dakinikat highlighted this article at The Independent in which the owner of a tanker that the Trump administration claims was attacked by Iran says the Trump folks are lying.

The ship operator said “flying objects” that may have been bullets were the cause of damage to the vessel, rather than mines used by Iranian forces, as the US has suggested.

Yutaka Katada, chief executive of the Japanese company operating the ship called Kokuka Courageous, one of two vessels attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, said the damage could not have been caused by mines or torpedos that are shot underwater, since the damage was reportedly above the ship’s waterline.

Now Germany has chimed in. Newsweek: Germany Joins Chorus Casting Doubt on Trump Administration Claim that Iran was Behind Attack on Oil Tankers.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday cast doubt on evidence that the U.S. government claims is proof that Iran was behind an attack this week on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

William Faulkner and cat

The attack on the two vessels, one Japanese and one Norwegian, took place as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran to try to calm tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The U.S. Navy later released a video that purported to show members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard sneaking over to the ship in the middle of the night to remove an unexploded mine. U.S. officials claimed this is evidence of Iran’s culpability, but Maas argued that the video was insufficient proof to pin the attack on Iran.

“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” Maas told reporters during a press conference on Friday. The boat’s Japanese owner also cast doubt on the theory that a mine had been used to attack the ship, telling journalists that members of his crew had witnessed a flying object.

Iran has denied any role in the event, and some observers have raised questions about whether the intelligence was being used as a pretext for the U.S. to escalate conflict with the country.

Peter Baker writes at The New York Times: As Trump Accuses Iran, He Has One Problem: His Own Credibility.

For any president, accusing another country of an act of war presents an enormous challenge to overcome skepticism at home and abroad. But for a president known for falsehoods and crisis-churning bombast, the test of credibility appears far more daunting.

Ursula Le Guin and cat

For two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump has spun out so many misleading or untrue statements about himself, his enemies, his policies, his politics, his family, his personal story, his finances and his interactions with staff that even his own former communications director once said “he’s a liar” and many Americans long ago concluded that he cannot be trusted.

Fact-checking Mr. Trump is a full-time occupation in Washington, and in no other circumstance is faith in a president’s word as vital as in matters of war and peace. The public grew cynical about presidents and intelligence after George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq based on false accusations of weapons of mass destruction, and the doubt spilled over to Barack Obama when he accused Syria of gassing its own people. As Mr. Trump confronts Iran, he carries the burden of their history and his own….

The task is all the more formidable for Mr. Trump, who himself has assailed the reliability of America’s intelligence agencies and even the intelligence chiefs he appointed, suggesting they could not be believed when their conclusions have not fit his worldview.

That’s an important point. Trump has been attacking the findings of the U.S. intelligence community since he was a candidate. He has repeatedly said he believes Vladimir Putin over his own FBI and CIA.

Again following up on Dakinikat’s post yesterday, here’s a brilliant essay by Virginia Heffernan at The Los Angeles Times: All the president’s lying ladies — Hicks, Sanders and Conway — make news.

Anton Chekhov and cat

The Trump White House is a bit like Shakespeare summer camp: not enough substantial parts for the girls. The female roles at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are for craven ladies-in-waiting who are allotted very little moral agency, let alone opportunities for heroics. They subvert their ambitions to their overlord’s; they lie, in short.

Yes, there’s a Lady Macbeth, portrayed in Trumpworld as a waxen blonde sleepwalker, a ghostly daughter-wife whose veins are certifiably free of the milk of human kindness. (Ivanka’s understudy, the creepy Melania, has skipped so many rehearsals she’s been written off.)

A shrewd, unholy trinity has settled for lesser roles: the liar-handmaidens Hope Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway. The president, according to Michael Wolff’s latest book, “Siege,” likes to see these three in a “cat fight,” in which each undermines the others as she competes to lie most robustly on his behalf.

The melancholic former White House Communications Director Hicks, choleric counselor Conway and splenetic Press Secretary Sanders aren’t just complicit in the president’s depravity. They have managed to advance it.

But the advantage this trio has over Lady Ivanka is that they can leave.

To further tempt you to read the whole thing, here is Heffernan’s characterization of Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

Sanders is known for her never-ending mendacity and her near-religious devotion to Trump, who, according to Wolff, calls her the “Huckabee Girl.”

Patricia Highsmith and cat

Indeed, Trump has often treated Sanders as if she were the possession of her father, Mike Huckabee, on loan to him as a scullery maid. Scullery for Trump includes, above all, mendacity. Sanders is featured in the Mueller report for her “slip of the tongue” — the claim that “countless” FBI agents disliked former FBI Director James Comey.

Not only was this fabrication part of Sanders’ tireless effort to make it seem as though Trump is a normal law-and-order Republican (and not a carnie thug with well-documented contempt for the whole FBI), it was also an effort to obfuscate Trump’s reason for firing Comey. We all know it: to kill the Russia investigation.

Go read the rest. You won’t be sorry.

At Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson explains how the trial of a border patrol agent could expose the “toxic culture” of his agency: ‘Guats,’ ‘Tonks’ and ‘Subhuman Shit’: The Shocking Texts of a Border Patrol Agent.

In the days before he allegedly struck a 23-year-old undocumented Guatemalan man with a government-issued Ford F-150, Border Patrol agent Matthew Bowen sent a text to a fellow agent. In the exchange, which federal prosecutors now claim offers “insight into his view of the aliens he apprehends,” Bowen railed against unauthorized migrants who’d thrown rocks at a colleague as “mindless murdering savages” and “disgusting subhuman shit unworthy of being kindling for a fire.” The text message also includes a plea to the president: “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!”

Kingsley Amis and cat

Two weeks later, on December 3rd, 2017, Bowen was on patrol near Nogales, Arizona, when he spotted a suspected unauthorized border crosser. Identified as Antolin Rolando Lopez-Aguilar in a federal affidavit, the man had been hiding but took off running back toward the Nogales point of entry, “in an apparent effort to avoid apprehension,” the affidavit states.

Instead of pursuing Lopez-Aguilar on foot, Bowen chased after him in his federal vehicle, known as a “Kilo Unit” in Border Patrol lingo. As caught on camera, Bowen maneuvered “the front grille of the truck directly behind Lopez-Aguilar,” according to the affidavit. With the F-150 bearing down on him, Lopez-Aguilar reached back “to ‘push off’ of the hood” before Bowen “accelerated the… Kilo Unit directly into the back of Lopez-Aguilar’s body, knocking Lopez-Aguilar to the ground,” the document states. The Ford’s tires came to a full stop “within inches of running Lopez-Aguilar over where he lay on the ground.”

Bowen, now 39, was indicted in May 2018, on two counts — one, a civil rights crime, for what prosecutors call Bowen’s choice to use “deadly force against a person who was running away from him and posed no threat,” and the other, an obstruction charge, for his alleged effort to “cover up his crime.” Bowen has pleaded not guilty to both counts. (Lopez-Aguilar was scraped up, but not seriously injured according to court documents, and reportedly sentenced to 30 days for the misdemeanor offense of illegal entry into the United States.)

PD James and cat

Bowen’s trial is due to begin in August. But the case is already shining a spotlight on a troubled culture at Border Patrol, the law enforcement arm of Customs and Border Protection, at a moment when both agencies have been grappling with a surge in migrants, and faced allegations of widespread wrongdoing, ranging from physical and sexual abuse of minors to housing migrants in substandard shelters, including one likened to “a human dog pound.”

Read the rest at Rolling Stone.

At The Washington Post, David Von Drehle examines the differential treatment given to rich men in the U.S. justice system: Jeffrey Epstein’s scandal of secrecy points to a creeping rot in the American justice system.

When rich people are credibly accused of crimes, does the public have a right to know? Should multimillionaires be allowed to silence their accusers with cash?

According to superlawyer David Boies, “dozens” of women who could give testimony about being sexually assaulted as girls by mysterious financier Jeffrey Epstein are silenced by settlements they reached with their alleged assailant. The exact number is yet another secret in this least transparent of criminal cases. “Three dozen or eight dozen, I don’t know, but there are dozens,” Boies told me recently. He himself represents two alleged Epstein victims bound by “non-disclosure agreements” (NDAs).

Robert Graves and cats

Because Epstein can afford to buy silence, he may succeed in shuttering the window of accountability pried open in a South Florida court back in February. U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled that federal prosecutors — led by the current labor secretary, Alexander Acosta — broke the law by entering a secret sweetheart deal to allow Epstein to serve a cushy sentence without facing evidence that he assaulted more than 30 underage girls in Palm Beach.

That ruling may prove hollow, however, if the alleged victims are now gagged by their settlements with Epstein. What a galling next chapter that would be in this appalling story.

Epstein, whose enormous and unexplained wealth attracted a circle of friends that included Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, actor Kevin Spacey and Britain’s Prince Andrew, travels from mansion to mansion while poor men accused of lesser crimes rot in prison.

This scandal of secrecy points to a creeping rot in the American justice system. Too many cases involving potential felonies are resolved through civil settlements that include ironclad NDAs. Once the money changes hands, witnesses can no longer testify to crimes; indeed, penalties for telling the truth after a settlement often run to the millions of dollars — ruinous for most crime victims. It’s a short step removed from silencing witnesses with cement shoes.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice weekend!


Monday: The Double Edged Sword of Comedy’s Double Standard or Why Can’t she just be a nice funny lady?

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Comedienne Michelle Wolf has managed to do what other Lady Comediennes have done before her. She scored a triple hit on Politics, Comedy, and  Journalism. She’s ripped apart another old boy’s club (or three) by letting us know it’s not funny when a woman does it to another woman.  We’re only allowed “cat fights” when there’s  the chance they get to see our lacy underwear.

So, the nerd prom exposed the pearl clutching double standards of DudeBros of Comedy, Journalism, and Politics. I’m actually counting Andrea Mitchell in the DudeBro ranks for this.  C’mon Imus?  He took deeply personal pot shots at the Clintons that made Trump’s Nasty woman comment look like a compliment!   Wolf pointed to the obvious amount of lying behavior rampant in any one speaking for this White House including its sycophant women.

From Masha Gessen and The New Yorker:

I recognize laughter in the age of Trump as though it were a cousin of anti-totalitarian laughter. It is the reaction to seeing act-based reality, as when “Saturday Night Live” essentially reënacts White House press conferences, or when late-night comedians offer up what amounts to straightforward reportage and analysis. The hunger for a reflection of reality is so desperate that, I have discovered repeatedly over the last year and a half, one can reliably get laughs simply by quoting Trump during a public talk.

Last month, Hillary Clinton got laughs and applause during her Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, which concluded pen America’s annual World Voices Festival, by merely referring to Trump’s lie about the size of the crowd at his Inauguration (around the twenty-three-minute mark here). There was nothing funny about any of it: not about the President’s lies, nor about the grief that this had not been Clinton’s Inauguration, nor about the fact that, speaking a year and a half after her electoral loss, addressing the friendliest of all possible audiences, Clinton was as stilted, scripted, and unapproachable as ever. She was still campaigning, still losing, and there was no reason to laugh.

Political satire in less troubled times exaggerates existing facts, pointing out the absurdities inherent in all ideologies, or playing up smaller disagreements and failures for bigger laughs. But Trump is hard to exaggerate—it is enough, it seems, merely to mirror him. But why does faithful portrayal of fact-based reality elicit laughter in a country that has a free press and a healthy public sphere in which, it seems, reality is robustly represented? What do late-night comedians reclaim from the Times?

Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner suggests an answer. She called the President a racist, a truth as self-evident as it has proved difficult for mainstream journalists to state. Her humor was obscene: she joked about the President’s affair with a porn star; about his “pulling out,” as promised (of the Paris agreement); and about the G.O.P.’s former deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy’s $1.6 million payoff to a former mistress. She also made minced meat of White House staff, House and Senate Republican leaders, the Democrats, and journalists on the right and left, in their presence or in that of their colleagues,

I often skewer Campaign Mommy (Kellywise Conway) and Sisterwife Huckabuck (Sarah “Aunt Lydia”Huckabee). They’re easy prey for any woke woman because they’ve so obviously sold out everything modern women hold dear and at what cost and benefit? From Emily Stewart writing for Vox:

Wolf, a former Daily Show correspondent and host of an upcoming Netflix late-night show, skewered Sanders as the press secretary sat just a few seats away from her onstage. Wolf compared Sanders to Aunt Lydia — a fearsome character from the dystopian Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale who reeducates women into subjugation and enforces strict punishmenton them — and drew attention to the press secretary’s lying, saying she was an “Uncle Tom for white women.”

Here’s what Wolf said:

We are graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.

Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited, because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get — you know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. “It’s shirts and skins, and this time don’t be such a little bitch, Jim Acosta!”

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.

And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you know? Is it Sarah Sanders, is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is it Cousin Huckabee, is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know. Aunt Coulter.

I’ve seen less flattering and meaner portraits of her and Conway in print media by political cartoonists.  Could it be Wolf’s sex or is it just that TV journalists are more self-absorbed with their own images and appearances?  Come on!  Every one know’s they both lie like rugs. Wolf just pointed that out in a comedic satirical frame.  Is it just the guilty conscience of an enabling set of TV journos?  Trump and his minions are out to destroy a free press and y’all want to demonize the ones shouting that the building is on fire?

From Eric Wemple at WAPO: ‘The president is seeking to destroy journalism. Now let’s debate dinner entertainment!’

And for a bit of historical enlightenment, who can forget the time that two WHCA titans used a USA Today essay to establish rough equivalence between the Trump and Clinton campaigns vis-a-vis their approach to the media?

Extreme caution. Bland statements. Neutrality above all else. Those are the pillars of the WHCA’s approach to the Trump White House. For more on this dynamic, check out New York University professor Jay Rosen’s new piece, “What savvy journalists say when they are minimizing Trump’s hate movement against journalists.” The gist: White House correspondents preoccupy themselves with matters of access and protocol while the president’s “fake news” campaign hacks away at their profession’s very core. “It’s just theater,” said New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker at a WHCA event.

Now consider this incongruity: It was this conciliatory and deferential organization that hired comedian Michelle Wolf to provide the entertainment at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. She killed it, in every way possible. Her jokes were original and nasty, as she roasted Sanders herself, who was seated nearby at the head table at the invitation of the WHCA itself; she did stuff about vaginas, stuff about President Trump and hookers, stuff about the day’s news; she advanced her own career by offending scores of longtime Washington types who used Twitter to express their consternation over her raunch-filled riffs.

Also from WAPO and Molly Roberts: ‘Michelle Wolf got it just right’.

“Thank you!”

That’s how comedian Michelle Wolf answered Sean Spicer’s declaration that her headliningstand-up set at the the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner was “a disgrace.” Her response is instructive: To Wolf, an insult from Spicer is an accolade – and accolades, surely, would be an insult. She’s right.

Wolf managed Saturday night to scandalize the majority of Washington’s tuxedo-clad intelligentsia with a barrage of bon mots that, in the eyes of much of the press and political establishment, weren’t really so bon at all. The speech, these pundits have argued, wasn’t amusing; it was lewd, and worse than that, it was mean.

Wolf faced particular criticism for (besides all that sex stuff) her satire of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who apparently was a profile in courage for sitting still with pursed lips while someone told jokes about her — “to her face!” These commentators spun the strange narrative that Wolf went after Sanders for her appearance, when in reality Wolf’s barbs centered on the press secretary’s falsehood-filled performance on the White House podium.

“She burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye,” Wolf said of Sanders. Correct, on both counts — and many would rejoice at such an endorsement of their eye makeup. Callous attacks on women for their looks, even after Saturday night, still belong to the president who refused to attend Saturday night’s event — not to the comedian who skewered his cohorts.

All the same, countless journalists rallied behind Sanders, the same woman who spends her days lying to them. And that says a lot more about them than it does about Wolf’s routine. Everyone who told Wolf to read the room is missing the point: The room, and the misplaced notion of a “special” night to celebrate the “special” relationship between the press and the presidency that brought everyone to it on Saturday, is precisely the problem.

Wolf, according to the commentariat, violated a sacred standard of decency that defines the correspondents’ dinner every year. The comedian should roast people, yes, but she should do it at a suitably low temperature for this town’s all-too-tender egos. Wolf broke protocol by turning on the broiler. Yet the figures she scorched have shattered norms that are far more important than an unspoken prohibition on vagina jokes.

The correspondents’ dinner supposedly celebrates the rapport that journalists have with the people they cover. This three-course fete of access journalism has always made some skeptics queasy, but after the Trump administration’s active attempts to undermine every organization in the room Saturday that doesn’t treat the president as an unassailable dear leader, it’s hard to pretend that the fourth estate and its subjects can carry on a relationship that’s adversarial and respectful all at once.

Yup, That is it. Exactly.

And who doesn’t remember all the examples of shooting women messengers?  Kathie Griffin any one?

Comedian Kathy Griffin has claimed President Donald Trump ordered federal agents to investigate her and make her life miserable in the wake of her ill-considered bloody severed head online post featuring him.

Griffin, who apologized in the wake of the post when she received a barrage of outrage from both sides of the aisle – but later said she wasn’t sorry – was speaking on the ABCStart Here podcast with host Brad Mielke.  She is also attending tonight’s White House Correspondents Dinner as a guest in what was anticipated to be a showdown with the president. Instead, Trump opted to hold a rally in Michigan.

Mielke asked Griffin about the aftermath of the photo incident. “You were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Secret Service. But you did say the investigation dragged on for months, and you have said this goes all the way to the White House. Are you saying that the president personally directed federal agents to investigate you?”

Griffin replied, “Of course.”

A woman’s place in journalism, politics, and comedy appears to be safe when you’re the bearer of patriarchy propaganda.  Otherwise, no white knight rescue for you princess!  Just a burning stake waiting for you baby!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads: The Usual Insanity Reigns in Trump World

Good Afternoon!!

As usual, there’s way too much news out there this morning. In Trump world, there’s never an opportunity to catch your breath and focus on one important thing. I can’t cover everything, so here are some random stories that caught my interest.

Cecile Richards has a new book out–Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead: My Life Story–and she included some creepy revelations about Jared and Ivanka Kushner. People Magazine: Planned Parenthood CEO Says Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Offered ‘Bribe’ to Stop Abortions.

In a riveting passage from Cecile Richards’ new memoir, the Planned Parenthood chief says Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were, during Donald Trump’s 2016 transition as president-elect, so eager to be recognized as shrewd political dealmakers that the soon-to-be first daughter and her husband made an offer that felt like a “bribe”: an increase in federal funding for Planned Parenthood in exchange for its agreement to stop providing abortions.

Richards says she “reached out” to Ivanka at the suggestion of a friend, in hopes of finding an ally in the Trump White House. Ivanka insisted on bringing Jared, so Richards asked her husband Kirk Adams to come with her.

According to a statement from Planned Parenthood given to Time.com, the purpose of the meeting “was to make sure that Ivanka Trump fully understood the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing health care to millions of people and why it would be a disastrous idea to block people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood.”

After Richards explained this, she writes that Kushner told her Planned Parenthood “had made a big mistake by becoming ‘political.’ ”

“The main issue, he explained, was abortion,” Richards writes. “If Planned Parenthood wanted to keep our federal funding, we would have to stop providing abortions. He described his ideal outcome: a national headline reading ‘Planned Parenthood Discontinues Abortion Services.’”

According to Make Trouble, Kushner said that if Richards agreed to the plan then funding could increase, but he urged them to “move fast.”

“If it wasn’t crystal clear before, it was now. Jared and Ivanka were there for one reason: to deliver a political win,” she writes. “In their eyes, if they could stop Planned Parenthood from providing abortions, it would confirm their reputation as savvy dealmakers. It was surreal, essentially being asked to barter away women’s rights for more money. It takes a lot to get Kirk mad, but it looked like his head was about to explode.”

Richards explained that there was “no way” Kushner’s proposal would work and that they’d continue to fight for funding.

“‘Our mission is to care for women who need us, and that means caring for all of their reproductive needs — including safe and legal abortion,’” she recalls saying.

Can you imagine the nerve? In Trump world, everything is about money. These people can’t even begin to conceive of the notion that there are people with personal values that are non-negotiable.

There’s another new book about Trump world–this time by Trump booster Ronald Kessler. Still, a few embarrassing tidbits are coming out in advice of its release date.

The Cut: Trump Reportedly Called Jared Kushner a ‘Little Boy.’

According to journalist Ronald Kessler in his new bookThe Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game, when Kushner addressed reporters during a live television appearance, President Trump told the aides watching with him, “Look at Jared, he looks like a little boy, like a child.”

Kessler also claims that Trump once told Kushner and his daughter, Ivanka, that “they never should have left New York,” and he “made it clear to them that he would not mind if they gave up their White House roles.” [….]

Trump calling Jared “a child” seems rather unfair. Not only has president given his son-in-law a set of absurdly stratospheric, decidedly adult responsibilities, Kushner clearly looks more like a haunted doll than a little boy.

Kessler writes that Kellyanne Conway is the “number one leaker” in the White House except for Trump himself, who leaks as as an “anonymous source” to specific reporters in hopes of positive coverage. According to Kessler, Melania Trump is an important adviser to her husband, and she once “walked out on” Trump in 1998 when she found out he was cheating on her. Now you don’t have to read the book, which reported is filled with Trump boosterism.

Luke Harding, who wrote the terrific book Collusion, has a new piece on Paul Manafort’s machinations at The Guardian: Former Trump aide approved ‘black ops’ to help Ukraine president.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort authorised a secret media operation on behalf of Ukraine’s former president, featuring “black ops”, “placed” articles in the Wall Street Journal and US websites, and anonymous briefings against Hillary Clinton.

The project was designed to boost the reputation of Ukraine’s then leader, Viktor Yanukovych. It was part of a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort carried out by Manafort on behalf of Yanukovych’s embattled government, emails and documents reveal.

The strategies included:

 Proposing to rewrite Wikipedia entries to smear a key opponent of the then Ukrainian president.

 Setting up a fake “thinktank” in Vienna to disseminate viewpoints supporting Yanukovych.

 A social media blitz “aimed at targeted audiences in Europe and the US”.

 Briefing journalists from the rightwing website Breitbart to attack Clinton, when she was US secretary of state.

Manafort’s Ukraine strategy anticipates later efforts by the Kremlin and its troll factory to use Twitter and Facebook to discredit Clinton and to help Trump win the 2016 US election. The material seen by the Guardian dates from 2011 to 2013.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

Another interesting long read from The Guardian by Donna Ladd: Dangerous, growing, yet unnoticed: the rise of America’s white gangs. It’s a portrait of one man–Benny Ivy–who as a kid joined “one of the oldest and largest white gangs in the US, the Simon City Royals.”

The Royals’ roots date to Chicago’s North Side in 1952, when two violent white “greaser” gangs – the Ashland Royals and Simon City – guarded Simon Park turf as Puerto Ricans moved in.

Early greasers were immigrants, often Italian, maligned by wealthier whites for greasing machines in blue-collar jobs. In 1968, the greasers united as the Simon City Royals, often rumbling with the nearby Latin Kings as well as the white supremacist Gaylords. (Their rhetoric is familiar: a Gaylords nostalgia websitecalled Latino gangs “storage bins for illegal immigrants”.)

The Royals were one of the biggest and most violent street gangs in Chicago by the 1970s, when they joined the Folk Nation alliance with the Black Gangster Disciples, began admitting Hispanics and, later, women and black members.

But by the 1980s, the gang had weakened after its leadership got locked up or killed.

Strength shifted to prisons, and the brand spread to midwestern and southern states like Mississippi, where the Royals are now one of the largest and most violent gangs in the state.

Surveys of young Americans have shown that 40% identifying as gang members are white, but police tend to undercount them at 10% to 14% and overcount black and Hispanic members, says Babe Howell, a criminal law professor at City University of New York who focuses on crime and race.

“Police see groups of young white people as individuals, each responsible for his or her own conduct, and hold young people of color in street gangs criminally liable for the conduct of their peers,” she says.

Much more at the link.

Trump is insisting on sending National Guard troops to the southern border because he heard about a so-called “caravan” of migrants marching across Mexico. We now have a “president” who uses to executive ordered to deal with fake crises. Trump probably doesn’t know that U.S. troops can’t take any actions against people to enforce domestic laws because of the Posse Commitatus Act. So he’s sending the troops down there anyway instead of just letting them train to do their real jobs. So what about this “caravan?”

The New York Times: ‘You Hate America!’: How the ‘Caravan’ Story Exploded on the Right.

It was the kind of story destined to take a dark turn through the conservative news media and grab President Trump’s attention: A vast horde of migrants was making its way through Mexico toward the United States, and no one was stopping them.

A Central American woman gives water to a baby as a large group of immigrants sets up camp for a few days at a sports center in Matias Romero in Mexico’s Oaxaca state late Monday. (Felix Marquez / Associated Press)

“Mysterious group deploys ‘caravan’ of illegal aliens headed for U.S. border,” warned Frontpage Mag, a site run by David Horowitz, a conservative commentator.

The Gateway Pundit, a website that was most recently in the news for spreading conspiracies about the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., suggested the real reason the migrants were trying to enter the United States was to collect social welfare benefits.

And as the president often does when immigration is at issue, he saw a reason for Americans to be afraid. “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming,” a Twitter post from Mr. Trump read.

The story of “the caravan” followed an arc similar to many events — whether real, embellished or entirely imagined — involving refugees and migrants that have roused intense suspicion and outrage on the right. The coverage tends to play on the fears that hiding among mass groups of immigrants are many criminals, vectors of disease and agents of terror. And often the president, who announced his candidacy by blaming Mexico for sending rapists and drug dealers into the United States, acts as an accelerant to the hysteria.

That’s the fake story, now for the real story.

The New York Times: Inside an Immigrant Caravan: Women and Children, Fleeing Violence.

MATÍAS ROMERO, Mexico — With a sarcastic half-smile, Nikolle Contreras, 27, surveyed her fellow members of the Central American caravan, which President Trump has called dangerous and has used as a justification to send troops to the border.

More than 1,000 people, mostly women and children, waited patiently on Wednesday in the shade of trees and makeshift shelters in a rundown sports complex in this Mexican town, about 600 miles south of the border. They were tired, having slept and eaten poorly for more than a week. All were facing an uncertain future.

“Imagine that!” said Ms. Contreras, a Honduran factory worker hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. “So many problems he has to solve and he gets involved with this caravan!”

The migrants, most of them Hondurans, left the southern Mexican border city of Tapachula on March 25 and for days traveled north en masse — by foot, hitchhiking and on the tops of trains — as they fled violence and poverty in their homelands and sought a better life elsewhere.

This sort of collective migration has become something of an annual event around Easter week, and a way for advocates to draw more attention to the plight of migrants.

But this particular caravan caught the attention of Mr. Trump, apparently after he heard about it on Fox News. In a Twitter tirade that began Sunday, he conjured up hordes of dangerous migrants surging toward the border. He demanded that Mexican officials halt the group, suggesting that otherwise he would make them pay dearly in trade negotiations or aid cuts.

Mr. Trump even boasted that his threat had forced Mexico’s government to halt and disperse the caravan participants. But there was no evidence of that on Wednesday.

Read the rest at the NYT.

What stories are you following today? 


Friday Reads: Rearranging the Deck Chairs in Das Führerbunker

Good Afternoon and Welcome to Day 32 of America Held Hostage by the RNC!

HBos-Game-of-Thrones-Season-6-Episode-10-The-Winds-of-Winter-Cersei-Lannister-sits-on-the-iron-throne-670x499When is an apology not an apology?

When the campaign mommy makes you do it and you can’t even bring yourself to mention all the folks you trashed,hurt, bullied and sicced the League of Angry White men on like reporters, women, and helpless children who just want their families to stay together, etc. This blatant, pandering play for the votes of suburban white women comes from the same Kellyanne Conway that tries to stop Republicans saying dumb things about women’s bodies and specifically rape and abortion. This woman makes Phyllis Schafly and Cersei Lannister look like your average fairy godmother.   Snakes would be embarrassed to compare their tongues with hers. They would definitely come up very short and straight.

Conway spent time on Hardball last evening patiently explaining how women were the real victims of abortion service providers and it was a matter of time before the wonderful people in the forced birth movement would get Donald to use the right code words.  That’s what it’s all about now. She also wants to unleash the inner Trump again but oddly enough it includes teleprompter speeches that appear to be written by Stephen Bannon and edited for woman appeal by Cersei Conway.

TRUmP_GOT_sceneThey’ve gone full throttle Breithbart while trying to fake it at rallies with teleprompter speeches to get educated white people and white women in the suburbans to ignore the Stormfront material and realize that Donald is just being Donald and just doesn’t select his words quite right since he’s not a real politician. She followed the ever-delusional Katrina Pierson in the increasingly-disgusting MSNBC guest schedule yesterday. Pierson diagnosed Hillary Clinton with Dysphasia on MTP Daily. Too bad the Doctor diagnosing the Donald can’t do another weird diagnosis and the fake one they tried earlier didn’t pass muster.  Meanwhile, Pierson–who actually works for Kellyanne now–spewed this weirdness yesterday.

The Trump spokeswoman was at it yet again, telling MSNBC’s Kristin Welker that Clinton is suffering from a rare brain disorder known as dysphasia.

In the MSNBC interview, after she tried to blame Michael Cohen’s #SaysWho exchange on technical difficulties, Pierson decided to diagnose the former Secretary of State with a rare brain disorder. Basing everything on fake reports from4chan,

In a later interview, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza remarked that the Pierson segment “was among the five most remarkable” Pierson interviews he’s seen, acknowledging that while she’s known to say crazy shit all the time, this was truly off the deep end. He also stated that the hit showed that there would be no pivot, other than the Trump campaign is going to triple down on crazy.

Just to recap Katrina Pierson’s last week or so:

— says President Obama started the War in Afghanistan

— states that liberal reporters are “literally” beating up Trump supporters

denies that there was a campaign shakeup after Trump placed two new people into leadership roles

— diagnoses Clinton with brain damage

Less than 90 days left of this folks. I think we can make it. I hope so.

Kellyanne–when asked by Tweety if this tact wasn’t a bit ratfuckerish–explained that she wasn’t a doctor and wanted Trump to stick to the issues.  If that’sTrump the case, why don’t we see Katrina Pierson’s real unemployment check today?  Believe me, just watch an interview with this woman and you’ll realize what a twisted sister she really is. Actually, either of them–but especially Kellyanne –can spin a tale that sounds somewhat plausible if you’re into wicked twisted stepsisters.

Let’s sum up the possible folks who really deserve a specific apology instead of a generic mea cupa event meant to endear the press and confuse white women.

160817120243-kellyanne-conway-july-2016-large-teaseThe press seems to have a short memory but he’s really relying on key white voting constituencies to have even shorter memories.  Will this really make them feel okay voting for this small-fingered vulgarian?

Three and a half months after sealing the Republican nomination, Donald Trump pivoted to contest the general election on Thursday night, expressing regret for his past failures to “choose the right words” and delivering one of the most comprehensive, on-message rationales for his candidacy to date.

Speaking from prepared remarks on the heels of another staffing shakeup, Trump positioned himself as the champion of voiceless Americans against a corrupt and incompetent elite and the leader of an inclusive movement who repeatedly condemned “bigotry.”

His address, delivered at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, presented the sort of message Republican leaders have been waiting months to hear. But with 82 days left until the election and early voting only weeks away, even a flawless sprint to the finish line may be too little too late for Trump to salvage his flailing campaign.

Early in his remarks, the New York businessman nodded at the months he has squandered, acknowledging that his own mouth had hindered his candidacy. “Sometimes in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that,” Trump said to laughter and cheers from his supporters.

“And believe it or not I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake is for us to be consumed by these issues, but one thing I can promise you is this. I will always tell you the truth,” said Trump, who did not specify which words he regrets saying.

The press is probably more gullible than Walmart or Security moms.

 

Meanwhile, Paul Manafort has quit and will undoubtedly be facing a number of FBI inquiries.  Bye Bye now!!! Out the moondoor with you!!

773049206-else-von-moellendorff-berghof-collection-eva-braun-berchtesgaden-alps

Trump campaign chairman and chief strategist Paul Manafort resigned on Friday, following a staff shake-up this week that reduced his role in the campaign.

GOP nominee Donald Trump confirmed the resignation in a statement: “This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign. I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”

Meanwhile, lurking at the edge of darkness remains Stephen Bannon who put the Go in Goebbels.  Every one’s hair continues to go on fire about this dude including people that have worked for him as BB indicated yesterday.

A former Breitbart News spokesman slammed Donald Trump’s new campaign chief executive, Stephen Bannon, for allegedly using racistrhetoric during editorial meetings at Breitbart that he said sounded “like a white supremacist rally,” while a Trump ally calls the new CEO a positive addition to the team. Both men joined this week’s episode of ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics podcast.

Kurt Bardella, who worked with Bannon at Breitbart for two years, says the former Breitbart News chairman regularly disparaged minorities, women, and immigrants during daily editorial calls at the publication.

ABC News reached out to Bannon for comment but did not receive a response.

“If anyone sat there and listened to that call, you’d think that you were attending a white supremacist rally,” said Bardella, citing what he called Bannon’s “nationalism and hatred for immigrants, people coming into this country to try to get a better life for themselves.”

“This is someone who has a very low moral compass,” he said of Bannon, “and the idea that this is the type of person that Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, as president, would have closest to him is very disturbing.”

Bardella joined this week’s episode of “Powerhouse Politics” podcastwith ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Deputy Political Director Shushannah Walshe to discuss the recent shakeup in the Trump campaign.

“I think it’s incredibly concerning and dangerous actually to have someone have this kind of influence with the person who is running for president of the United States, who would be a top adviser if he were to win the election,” he cautioned.

Bardella quit Breitbart in March in protest over how he believes the news organization handled allegations by then-reporter Michelle Fieldsthat she was manhandled by Trump’s campaign manager at the time,Corey Lewandowski. Police charges filed against Lewandowski in the case were later dropped. Bardella said he believes the Breitbart News organization did not defend Fields over the incident.

Politics-GQ-villiansWho would ever thought that we’d have an Epic Cartoon Villain and his team against Hillary Clinton this time out?

Donald Trump

Is the Lex Luthor of our time

When, exactly, did Donald Trump cross over—going from rank assholery into real-deal, can’t-not-watch, like-chugging-spoiled-milk super-villainevil? If we had to place it, it started after he called the good people of Mexico rapists, but definitely before he called for a ban on all Muslims. Because what’s so delightful about Trump’s villainy is how lazy it is—how drowsily he shifted from hollering about his BEST AND CLASSIEST campaign to pure, raw racism and misogyny. Maybe Donald Trump hates women, and Muslims, and our socialist Kenyan president. (Okay, he definitely does.) But the super-villain-y part is that he didn’treeeally hate them until it was politically expedient.

Trump is truly the villain we deserve in 2016—and not because he wants to take over the world. It’s because he’s after something far, far scarier: applause. — Sam Schube

Stay tuned.  It’s likely to get much worse.

As an example, check out the new Trump ad.

Last night, Donald Trump delivered a speech in which he spoke in soothing tones about the need to unify the country and expressed “regret” about any remarks that have caused “personal pain,” though he didn’t specify which particular remarks he regrets. This led some commentators to suggest that another “pivot” is underway.

This morning, Trump released his first general election ad, an ugly and dishonest production which shows he isn’t changing a thing.

In fact, the new ad is filled with precisely the same sort of dark, dystopian themes and content — and even some of the same sort of grainy, dark footage depicting illegal immigrants as invaders — that marked one of the first ads he ran during the GOP primaries.

Meh, more of the same!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?