Thursday Reads: Trump In Blunderland

Good Afternoon!!

I’m sure we’ve all thought at times that living in Trumpworld was like being down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass. Well, it turns out Jared Kushner thinks that’s a good thing. According to a Washington Post article on Bob Woodward’s soon-to-be released book, Rage:

Kushner advised people that one of the most important guiding texts to understand the Trump presidency was “Alice in Wonderland,” a novel about a young girl who falls through a rabbit hole. He singled out the Cheshire cat, whose strategy was endurance and persistence, not direction.

From CNN: Why Jared Kushner suggests reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ if you want to understand  Trump.

Woodward quotes Kushner paraphrasing the Cheshire Cat as a way of making sense of Trump’s chaotic style of management, saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.”

Woodward describes Kushner as an “ever-loyal cheerleader and true believer” of the President, but also someone who has intimate knowledge of how and why Trump makes decisions. While former top Cabinet officials describe Trump’s style as chaotic and dangerous, Kushner views his constant reversals as “an asset.”

Woodward writes, “Where others saw fickleness or even lies, Kushner saw Trump’s constant, shifting inconsistency as a challenge to be met with an ever-adapting form of managing up.”

“With the president, there’s a hundred different shades of gray,” Kushner is quoted as saying. “And if people try to get a quick answer out of him, it’s easy. You can get him to decide in your favor by limiting his information. But you better be sure as hell that people with competing views aren’t going to find their way to him. And when that happens, he’s going to undo his decision.”

Again, Kushner thinks this is a positive description of Trump’s blundering (mis)management style. Woodward writes that Kushner recommended.

…four texts people should “absorb” if they want to truly understand the President. Woodward writes the texts do not paint a flattering picture of someone who is both Kushner’s boss and father-in-law.

The first text Kushner recommends is a 2018 opinion piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal. Noonan’s assessment of Trump: “He’s crazy… and it’s kind of working.” Noonan also calls Trump a “circus act,” and “a living insult.” [….]

The second text Kushner points to is “Alice in Wonderland.” [….]

Woodward writes, “Did Kushner understand how negative this was? Was it possible the best roadmap for the administration was a novel about a young girl who falls through a rabbit hole, and Kushner was willing to acknowledge that Trump’s presidency was on shaky, directionless ground?”
The third text Kushner suggests is from author Chris Whipple’s book “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.”

Whipple writes, “What seems clear, as of this writing, and almost a year into his presidency, is that Trump will be Trump, no matter his chief of staff.”

The final text Kushner offers is “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter,” by Scott Adams, creator of the “Dilbert” comic strip. According to Adams, Trump employs a technique called “intentional wrongness persuasion,” and “can invent any reality” because “all you will remember is that he provided his reasons, he didn’t apologize, and his opponents called him a liar like they always do.”

It was clear to Woodward that none of this was meant to criticize Trump, just as a way to help understand him. That said, Woodward was surprised and writes, “when combined, Kushner’s four texts painted President Trump as crazy, aimless, stubborn and manipulative.

Is it possible that Kushner was simply trying to explain why he has been so successful in manipulating Trump? I can see Jared trying to show Woodward how clever and savvy he is.

Of course the big “news” from Woodward’s book was that Trump knew all along that the coronavirus was deadly despite his insistence for months that it was no worse than the flu and that it would magically “go away” without the federal government doing anything. We sort of knew that though. We knew that Trump was told about the dangers of a pandemic in March. Yesterday we learned that Trump actually knew plenty in January and February. From The Washington Post:

“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien told Trump, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”

Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

Trump also told Woodward early on that he knew children were just as vulnerable to the virus as adults, as he insisted that schools should be fully opened. Is anyone really surprised by this? It’s shocking to hear the Woodward’s recordings, but we already knew Trump didn’t give a shit how many Americans died as long as he could keep bluffing long enough to get himself four more years in the White House. What’s actually kind of surprising is that Trump would be stupid enough to talk to Woodward about all this on tape.

John Harris at Politico: Woodward Interviews Shallow Throat.

For years, President Donald Trump and his allies have warned about his adversaries in the “Deep State.” The phrase evokes images of anonymous officials with hidden motives buried deep in the government.

Recent days have made it clearer than ever that the real hazard to Trump is actually the Shallow State.

The people saying mean things about Trump aren’t lurking in the shadows. They are well-known names whom Trump recruited to work by his side. Their motives aren’t mysterious. They are obvious: A transactional president encourages transactional behavior in his midst. These sources have shocking stories to tell, but no longer any genuinely surprising ones….

The entire notion of the Deep State rests on soil tilled by Hollywood, in decades of movies and television shows in the genre of the paranoid thriller. In these conspiracy dramas, the plot tension flows from a slowly building, creepy realization that Things Are Not What They Seem.

Woodward, based on Wednesday’s barrage of publicity for next week’s official release of “Rage,” has once again delivered the goods with plenty of news-driving revelations. But these scoops are like so many in the Trump years: They reveal that things are pretty much Exactly What They Seem.

It seemed last winter and spring that Trump was prattling on with a lot of happy talk that he couldn’t possibly believe about how the coronavirus wouldn’t be that serious—even as his own government officials were warning that it would be—because he was desperately trying to create reality by proclamation. Months later, Woodward has confirmed that to be true.

What’s more, his source was not a latter-day Deep Throat skulking around garages on behalf of the Deep State. The most damaging source for Woodward is on the record and on tape: Trump himself.

It had previously seemed that Trump, despite his constant attacks on the “Fake News” media, had a compulsive fascination with establishment media figures and the coverage they give him. Now the president has confirmed that to be true, giving 18 (!) interviews to Woodward. Think of him as Shallow Throat.

Read the rest at Politico.

Trump also told Woodward about a top secret weapons system that, thanks to Trump, is no longer secret. Forbes: Trump Claims To Have Built A New, Secret Nuclear Weapons System.

President Donald Trump claimed to journalist Bob Woodward that he had overseen the creation of a new U.S. nuclear weapons system, saying, “We have stuff that you haven’t ever seen or heard about,”as the two discussed tensions between the United States and North Korea.

It’s not clear what Trump was referring to, but Woodward writes in his new book Rage that he later confirmed with sources that the U.S. military indeed had a secret new weapon system, and the sources said they were surprised Trump had disclosed the information, according to The Washington Post.

It’s possible that Trump was referring to the W76-2 warhead, according to the defense publication Task & Purpose.

That weapon was announced in Feb. 2018 as a relatively “low-cost” addition to the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and has a smaller explosive yield than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

CNN reports that those around Trump are freaking out: ‘Calls without us knowing:’ Aides point fingers in wake of Woodward’s latest book.

Furious he didn’t speak with Bob Woodward for the first book he wrote on his presidency, President Donald Trump determined full participation with the follow-up would provide the best chance of securing a positive take on his rollicking tenure….

Yet instead of outmaneuvering the journalist famous for exposing Nixon’s Watergate scandal, Trump appears to have become a victim of his own confidence. And instead of a glowing portrait of a successful presidency, Trump is facing another damaging account two months before the election.

The fallout has caused internal strife at the White House as aides assign blame for allowing the taped interviews to proceed. Fingers have been thrust at ex-press secretaries, longtime confidants and old friends.

But people familiar with the situation say it is Trump himself who ultimately determined at the outset he could talk Woodward into writing a positive portrayal of his administration, reckoning the powers of salesmanship that have sustained him his entire adult life would yield another unlikely success.

So confident was Trump he could generate a favorable depiction that he provided Woodward with his personal cellphone number, eager to speak with a man whose long record of interviewing his predecessors has not exactly produced flattering results.

In phone calls late at night from the White House residence, Trump spun his tenure as one of historic successes and unparalleled victory.

The Daily Beast: Trump Was ‘Ecstatic’ About Talking to Woodward—Until He Wasn’t.

President Trump was “ecstatic” about the prospect of sitting for interviews with Woodward, according to a White House official, and relished some of his conversations with the famous Washington Post journalist.

Ultimately, Trump spoke with Woodward 18 times for the book. And at some point along the way, he had a change of heart, becoming convinced that Woodward was using him. Trump then began rage-tweeting the very reporter with whom he was so psyched to go on the record.

“The Bob Woodward book will be a FAKE, as always, just as many of the others have been,” the president tweeted, seemingly out of the blue, last month. Later that month, Trump logged back on to blast the veteran reporter as a “social pretender” who “never has anything good to say.”

It is unclear when, exactly, Trump decided that the Woodward book could prove harmful. According to a person with direct knowledge, Trump privately said before sitting for interviews with Woodward, that one reason he was looking forward to doing so was because of how “fair” the journalist was to him on the issue of “Russian collusion.” However, late last month this source recalled the president complaining unprompted that the then-upcoming Woodward book would be filled with “fake stories,” and that the author was a “big phony.” The source did not recall Trump bringing up any of the stories or quotes he directly gave Woodward.

Apparently, Lindsey Graham pushed Trump to talk to Woodward. I wonder how soon they will be golfing together again. Read all about that and more at the Daily Beast.

What will today bring? Who knows? I’m just going to stay hunkered down and trying to stay healthy and sane. Take care of yourselves today, Sky Dancers!


Tuesday Reads: Lying Dotard Precipitates Apocalypse

Coffee, by Pierre Bonnard

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Dakinikat eloquently articulated the mess Trump has made of our once powerful nation. I have to agree with her that it looks like the “American Century” is ending. Will the U.S. go the of the British empire? Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we could get rid of Trump and McConnell and elect leaders who are committed to upholding the Constitution and protecting democracy.

Who knows what will happen? But right now we are dealing with a possible apocalypse led by an demented old man who spends most of his time either playing golf or watching Fox News. There are no more “adults” advising him–if there ever were–and two of the most powerful people in his administration are end-of-the-world evangelicals Pence and Pompeo. And those two seem just fine with Trump starting a war with Iran.

We have a long way to go before the November election and I don’t have a lot of faith in any of the Democratic presidential candidates. I hope I’m wrong.

As for impeachment, we still don’t know if there will be a real trial in the Senate. Bolton says he will testify, but he knows it’s unlikely the Republican Senate will ask him to.

So that’s where things stand today. Here’s the latest news and opinion from around the internet.

Tsuguaru Fujita At the Cafe

There’s been another natural disaster in Puerto Rico. The Washington Post: Puerto Rico earthquake Tuesday morning triggers blackout, reports of injuries and at least one dead.

A powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake off Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast early Tuesday morning has triggered a widespread blackout, interrupted telecommunications and sent homeowners scrambling out of collapsing homes in towns near the epicenter.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the shaking began about 4:24 a.m. and was followed by intense aftershocks, including a 6.0-magnitude shock wave that also was felt across the U.S. territory. As the sun rose on Puerto Rico, reports of significant damage and injuries were beginning to emerge from areas already impacted by a 5.8-magnitude quake on Monday that destroyed homes and a natural rock formation that was a signature coastal tourist attraction. The Tuesday morning earthquake briefly triggered tsunami-warning sirens and authorities alerted residents that a tsunami was possible — but that warning was later canceled.

Gov. Wanda Vásquez Garced told government employees to stay home as more aftershocks are expected throughout the day. Emergency personnel are evaluating the damage and inspecting Puerto Rico’s power generation plants — all of which are located along the southern coast near the origin of the seismic activity.

Gladyra Archilla, a spokesperson for the city of Ponce, confirmed that a 77-year-old man was killed when a wall in his home fell on top of him. Emergency personnel are trying to rescue one other person in that home who is pinned under debris. Archilla said that many local buildings in the southern city were damaged.

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times on the dire U.S. political situation: The Nightmare Stage of Trump’s Rule Is Here.

After three harrowing years, we’ve reached the point many of us feared from the moment Donald Trump was elected. His decision to kill Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s second most important official, made at Mar-a-Lago with little discernible deliberation, has brought the United States to the brink of a devastating new conflict in the Middle East.

Mickalene Thomas, Portrait of Mnonja, 2010

We don’t yet know how Iran will retaliate, or whether all-out war will be averted. But already, NATO has suspended its mission training Iraqi forces to fight ISIS. Iraq’s Parliament has voted to expel American troops — a longtime Iranian objective. (On Monday, U.S. forces sent a letter saying they were withdrawing from Iraq in response, only to then claim that it was a draft released in error.) On Sunday, Iran said it will no longer be bound by the remaining restrictions on its nuclear program in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal that Trump abandoned in 2018. Trump has been threatening to commit war crimes by destroying Iran’s cultural sites and tried to use Twitter to notify Congress of his intention to respond to any Iranian reprisals with military escalation.

The administration has said that the killing of Suleimani was justified by an imminent threat to American lives, but there is no reason to believe this. One skeptical American official told The New York Times that the new intelligence indicated nothing but “a normal Monday in the Middle East,” and Democrats briefed on it were unconvinced by the administration’s case. The Washington Post reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who last year agreed with a Christian Broadcasting Network interviewer that God might have sent Trump to save Israel from the “Iranian menace” — has been pushing for a hit on Suleimani for months.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Also at The New York Times, David Leonhardt writes: No One Believes Trump.Which isn’t good in an international crisis.

“This is where having credibility — and having a president who didn’t lie about everything — would be really, really helpful,” Samantha Power, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, wrote recently.

Jean Edouard Vuillard, Lucy Hessel reading

A president with credibility would be better able to persuade foreign governments to help protect American diplomats and military members who are now at risk.

A president with credibility would be more likely to beat Iran in the global court of public opinion.

A president with credibility would be able to set clear red lines that might influence Iran’s behavior in coming weeks.

But President Trump has no credibility. His political rise was built on a lie (about Barack Obama’s birthplace). He has told thousands of untruths since becoming president. He appears to be lying again — about why he ordered the assassination of Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most significant military leader.

To emphasize Trump’s lack of credibility, here’s stunning piece of fact-checking at The Washington Post: Anatomy of a Trump rally: 67 percent of claims are false or lacking evidence.

We’re kicking off the new year with a line-by-line fact check of President Trump’s longest rally to date.

It was the Moby Dick of fact-checking assignments, a two-hour tornado of false and bewildering claims. Trump was in rare form. The rally was held Dec. 18, just as the House was voting to impeach him.

The president surpassed 15,400 false or misleading claims as of Dec. 10, according to our database tracking all of his suspect statements. But it’s worth drilling down on his rallies. They’ve gotten longer over time, and they’re a key part of Trump’s reelection bid, drawing supporters by the thousands.

By Ron Francis

We wanted to do the math and find out whether the president speaks more fictions or facts in front of his crowds. We focused only on statements of material fact at the December rally in Michigan, avoiding trivialities and opinions. We didn’t double-count statements when the president repeated himself.

According to our analysis, the truth took a beating once again. From a grand total of 179 factual statements we identified, 67 percent were false, mostly false or unsupported by evidence.

Read the detailed analysis of the rally at the WaPo link.

At Rolling Stone, Mark Binelli attempts to explain what happened to the old Lindsey Graham: How Lindsey Graham Lost His Way.

Over the course of his three terms representing South Carolina in the Senate, Graham had become predominantly known for two things: extreme hawkishness on foreign policy, following the lead of his close friend and mentor, the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, and a bipartisan streak that resulted in high-profile attempts to cut big deals on issues like immigration reform and climate change. A former senior staffer for a Democratic senator who has worked alongside Graham on bipartisan legislation tells me, “Like John McCain, he was a conservative Republican, but it was always worth asking where he was going to be on a particular issue, because he wasn’t completely beholden to party orthodoxy. He’d often be way out ahead of his staff, negotiating on the Senate floor unbeknownst to them, and they would be playing catch-up.”

Will Folks, a conservative political blogger in South Carolina, says, “The joke here is Graham has a ‘count to six’ approach to governing: He spends the first four years of his term doing whatever he wants, veering off toward the left, and then the last two years, when the electorate is paying more attention, he comes right.”

On the Green Bank, Sanary, 1911 Hanri Lebasque

Graham is “never flustered, and just a natural at dealing with people who don’t like him,” says David Woodard, a political-science professor at Clemson University who ran Graham’s first two campaigns for the House of Representatives and recalls the first-term congressman as quickly becoming the unofficial social director for his freshman class, though he added, “You’re going to find Lindsey knows a lot of people, but he’s not close to anybody.”

Like much of the GOP establishment, Graham had opposed Trump during the 2015 primary, but he spoke out more forcefully than most, and in the general election, he wrote in third-party candidate Evan McMullin. Which has made his subsequent capitulation all the more breathtaking, even in the context of a modern Republican Party completely transformed into the party of Trump.

Read the rest at Rolling Stone.

More stories of possible interest, links only:

CNN: Senate GOP swing votes sidestep questions about Bolton testimony.

Neal Katyal and Joshua Geltzer at The Washington Post: Trump wants us to trust him on Iran. Without a real impeachment trial, we can’t.

The Texas Tribune: Former Castro supporters in Texas switch to Biden after Castro drops out.

The New York Times: Pentagon Rules Out Striking Iranian Cultural Sites, Contradicting Trump.

Reuters: Iran considering 13 ‘revenge scenarios’ after U.S. strike: report.

The Washington Post: Russian trolls are targeting American veterans, and Trump’s government isn’t helping, group says.

Courthouse News Service: Feds to Hand Over Roger Stone Records to Media Outlets.

The Washington Post: The old Nikki Haley called for civility. The new one just said Democrats are ‘mourning’ a terrorist.


Monday Reads: Farewell my Lovely!

795584d4afa6807e8967bfb2d7d1e515Good Morning and Happy Solstice!

It is a very gloomy Monday here in New Orleans.  It’s supposed to be 71  degrees Fahrenheit but I think the dampness has taken the warmth away.  I’m sitting at my desk in my thick and sloppy chenille sweater that I slept in last night.  It does double duty over sweats and flannel pajamas when it gets like this.  Yes, the word for it is bone-chilling cold.  Some times I’m glad for the breeze off the mighty Mississippi–blocks from my door–but it’s not July so I’m shivering while watching the big green leaves of my avocado tree flutter in the wind.  I’m most fortunate that Temple is an excellent hot water bottle because the cold, damp, and age are taking a toll on me. My fingers ache and don’t seem to want to type as fast as usual.

There are some interesting tids and bits in the morning news.   Lady Lindsey has given up on the Republican nomination having gained just about as much traction as pig on ice.  I’m actually going to miss him because he sounded reasonable and actually less of a war monger than the rest of the slate as impossible as that sounds!  All of us are very aware of the Lady’s love of the manly pursuit of war. Oh, and his last words were inkled to Hillary Clinton. Back to the quiet of your closet m’lady!!  You sashayed mightily across the stage of the kiddie debate.

Senator Lindsey Graham is ending his presidential campaign, he told CNN during an exclusive interview airing Monday.

“I’m going to suspend my campaign. I’m not going to suspend my desire to help the country,” the South Carolina senator said in a wide-ranging and candid discussion in which he acknowledged: “I’ve hit a wall here.”

He made the official announcement in an email to supporters and Youtube video posted Monday morning.

Graham is known for his quick wit and famous for his one-liners (just ask Princess Buttercup about his retort from the last debate), but he was sober, serious and emotional as he described his decision to leave the race just weeks before the voting begins.

One thing is clear: Graham still wants his voice heard on the direction his party is headed, especially with regard to the Middle East.

“Here’s what I predict. I think the nominee of our party is going to adopt my plan when it comes time to articulate how to destroy ISIL,” he said. “We’ve fallen short here, but the fight continues. To those who are doing the fighting, I want to be your voice. To those in the Republican Party who want to win, check my plan out. Hillary, if you get to be President, I’ll help you where I can. I hope you’re not. But if you are, I’ll be there to help you win a war we can’t afford to lose.”

One of the most frustrating things about the inability of life to accommodate women is your basic restroom visit.  Bathrooms are generally inadequate for women in all ways. They are too small and badly placed probably by design or male architectural ignorance.  I knew exactly why Hillary was a bit late to the 4ad9f9be1ec7cb42332e73c2163e124dstage during one of those breaks.  It had to be the shortness of time and the hassle of using a public restroom. I guess it was inevitable given the scout work Huma did prior to Saturday’s shindig. But, here we go women, I give you Pottygate.

The reason is one many women are familiar with: An unexpected line for the loo. While Clinton waited for the ladies’ room to clear out, time ticked down, and the debate organizers allowed the show to go on without her.

What viewers didn’t know was the sole women’s bathroom was a little further than the men’s room from the stage. And when the debate went to a long commercial break Clinton lost out to Lis Smith, the caffeine-guzzling deputy campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who beat her to the restroom. Smith declined to comment for the story.

A top Clinton staffer who was strategically posted outside the bathroom (presumably to avoid these kinds of situations) gave Smith a verbal OK to make a quick pit stop, according to one person familiar with the ladies’ line.

Meanwhile, we continue to see the fallout from Datagate.  Bernie Sanders has suspended two staffers.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign suspended two more staffers directly involved in the data breach that has roiled the party, a Sanders aide confirmed to POLITICO after the Democratic debate on Saturday night.

Pending an investigation, the two aides join data director Josh Uretsky in leaving the campaign following the revelation that they accessed and downloaded voter information from Hillary Clinton’s team during a technology glitch on Wednesday

9053f3971117e22887a97304a012cc20Sanders did apologize for the breach at the debate.  An independent investigation into the incident has been agreed to by both Clinton and Sanders.  The Clinton campaign is assessing the damage.

Clinton’s top strategist and pollster-in-chief Joel Benenson, who oversaw two successful Obama campaign operations that set records for maximizing core-voter turnout, says his staff is eagerly awaiting the results of a third-party audit into the hack of the Democratic National Committee-housed lists. The DNC said it is just beginning the process of securing an independent audit by a data security firm.

The Clinton campaign also wants to learn basic details of the narrative — like why, for instance, Sanders’ campaign manager didn’t tell his candidate when he learned of the breach last Wednesday; Sanders was only looped in a day later, after DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called him personally with the news. Weaver told POLITICO on Saturday he withheld the information from Sanders because he at first believed the breach was a staff-level concern that could be dealt with in-house. “My field director informed me,” he recalled. “I said, ‘let everyone know that no one is to do anything with the Clinton data.’ It was not clear immediately there was any problem on our side.”

On Saturday, it was still not clear to the Clinton campaign how much damage had been done. “I don’t think any of us will know until this audit is completed how serious this all is,” Benenson said after the debate at St. Anselm’s College — adding that the value of the information is less about the specific voters being targeted than hints about how Clinton’s campaign plans to deploy its resources.

“All of [the data] is extremely valuable, it is work produced by tens of thousands of volunteers. … it is part of a roadmap to how we are running and strategizing in our campaign and how we get to the totals we need to win in Iowa and New Hampshire, especially,” he said, his voice rising with exasperation.

I have a few other links for you today.  First, a new study shows the impact 27865bcf2633a32984c3f2b6c39ccf61of Poverty on intellectual development.  This should concern us given the number of US children living in poverty and their treatment by states like Kansas, Wisconsin, etc.

Whether intelligence is more the product of nature or nurture has long fascinated American social scientists and the general public alike. Typically the result is explained as some balance of genetics and environment, but since the early 1970s, researchers have noticed that this scale tends to shift dramatically across social classes. It’s as if nature and nurture play by different rules for rich and poor.

Generally speakingthiswork has found that genetic variance tends to explain the bulk of IQ scores for advantaged groups, whereas environmental variance plays a larger role for disadvantaged ones. (This line of research draws its results from comparative analyses of identical twins, who share a complete genetic makeup, and fraternal twins or siblings.) In other words, when it comes to intelligence, a comfortable upbringing seems to help nature reach its potential, but an impoverished one seems to interfere at every turn.

Still, other studies have failed to confirm these findings, enough so that scholars continue to wonder. But a strong new analysis published in the journalPsychological Science suggests that the role of genetics in intelligence indeed varies with socioeconomic status—at least in the United States. The data reveal no such pattern in other parts of the developed world, a finding the researchers attribute to “more uniform access” to social programs such as strong education and health care.

“The differences observed across nations might be explained by weaker social safety nets in the U.S. compared to Western Europe and Australia,” the psychologist Elliot Tucker-Drob of the University of Texas at Austin, the paper’s lead author, tells CityLab via email. “While this study did not investigate specific policies or services that might explain the differences … I think that it is fair to say that the causes of the difference are likely to be manifold.”

If that isn’t cause enough for concern, consider the impact of increased lead in the water in Flint, Michigan due to their wicked stupid Governor and his administration.  This has put nearly every child in the city in extreme danger.  Rachel Maddow has done some excellent shows on this disaster.  Here’s an in depth article from AJ.seasonal-reindeer-milking

In October, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that the city of Flint would change its water source. This was in response to the discovery that temporarily pulling water from a local river produced high levels of lead in the water supply for Flint, an economically struggling community of 100,000 residents roughly an hour northwest of Detroit.

It was a crisis months in the making. Problems began as soon as officials decided in April 2014 to have Flint stop using Detroit’s water system and begin drawing water from the Flint River.

This was billed as a measure that would save millions of dollars. But residents almost immediately raised concerns about the discolored and smelly water that was flowing from their taps. Tests revealed high levels of chemicals that could cause liver or kidney problems, and some complained of losing hair and getting rashes after drinking the water.

In response to the growing backlash and the evidence that residents were drinking poisoned water, state and city officials sought to quell concerns, insisting the water was safe to drink and continually disputing local studies published this fall that showed lead levels sharply increased in the bloodstreams of Flint residents, including children. (Research suggests that lead can cause irreversible cognitive and developmental damage to children.)

But even as Snyder and other state officials relented, a question has continued to linger among activists and residents with children who could face life-altering circumstances as a result of lead poisoning: Who’s to blame for this mess?

At the October announcement that Flint would switch back to Detroit’s water system, Snyder made clear that he was interested solely in finding a solution to fix the problem, not in revisiting mistakes. Nonprofit donations, along with appropriations from the state and city, would pay for the $12 million transition back to Detroit’s system, he said.

22bdd54a94418c617213d38efa5d3c03The impact on Flint’s children is devastating and may be permanent.

Research published by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha in September showed levels of lead in children’s blood spiked at the same time as the water switch. Elevated blood lead levels are especially harmful for children, who can suffer stunted growth and irreversible brain damage. In October, after denying any problem, state officials acknowledged they failed to treat the water to adjust for its corrosiveness, and Snyder signed legislation switching Flint back to Detroit’s water.

The city has told residents it could take as long as six months for the water lead levels to decline. A Dec. 11 report from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said the state found elevated blood lead in 39 of 1,836 Flint residents who had testing done since early October. Blood lead levels can decline in a matter of weeks after a person is exposed to lead.

This week, in response to Weaver’s new disaster declaration, a spokesman for Snyder referred HuffPost to previous statements from the governor’s office outlining actions already taken, including an Oct. 2 action plan and the Oct. 21 creation of a special task force to investigate what went wrong and recommend solutions.

Well, that’s it for me today.  Hope your week goes well and that you get to spend some relaxing and fun time with family and friends!  On to the celebration of Festivus for the rest of us!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Woman in Red: Debate, Election and the Shutdown…The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate

Womaninred

 

Good Morning

As promised…I bring you the latest edition of The Woman in Red….(It has taken me days, in fact almost the last 24 hours has been straight on through.)

You can read the earlier issues at these links:

The Woman in Red: Protector of the Uteri, Defender of Vajayjay Rights and Fighter Against the #WarOnWomen | Sky Dancing

The Woman In Red: Against The Monsters On The Hill… A comic-ill perspective observation | Sky Dancing

The Woman In Red: Battle of the Sexes…Fight Until the Vacuum Cleaner is Broken | Sky Dancing

As before, click the image to see the full size…and then click on the image itself to enlarge the picture, otherwise you will not be able to read the captions.

So….here we go!

Woman in Red:

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Debate, Election and the Shutdown…

The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate

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Tonight is the Republican Presidential Candidate Debate…..

4 things to watch in Wednesday’s Republican debate | MSNBC

Republican Presidential Debate 2015: Start Time, TV Channel, Radio Info For Second GOP Debate

Gloves likely to come off at second GOP 2016 debate – NY Daily News

 

Let’s take you to the debate venue, shortly before the event is to begin……

 

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Bloody hell, I am exhausted!

Hope you enjoyed this edition of The Woman in Red, and the introduction of the new arch nemesis…S.P.Ermand…The Sperm Man!

This is an open thread.


Thursday Reads: GOP Clown Car Update and Other News

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Good Morning!!

I can’t believe I have a cold in June–sore throat, stuffy nose, and a cough. Ugh. Plus the town is working the water pipes on my street, and they are right in front of my house for the second day. This morning they have shut off my running water. I don’t know how long it will be, because I wasn’t even warned they were going to be digging a giant trench that would keep me from getting my car out of the driveway for two days straight. What if I had to get to a job?

There is a huge digger machine in front of the house, men all over my yard and driveway. Occasionally there are loud thumps that shake the house. Late yesterday they filled in the trench temporarily, but I still wouldn’t have dared drive my car out because there was a depression at the end of the driveway that looked like it would be difficult to get past.

I just hope they finish up today. I have known for a long time that they were going to do this, but I expected to be told when they would be shutting off my water and blocking my driveway. Oh well . . . fortunately I don’t need to get out.

I had something really interesting that I wanted to write about today, but I’m going to postpone that until Saturday when I hope I’ll be feeling more like myself. This post will be basically a link dump.

Here’s the latest on the GOP clown car.

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We all knew that Ted Cruz was a giant a-hole, but this is really beyond the pale. From David Nir at DailyKos,

Joe Biden has suffered far, far more tragedy than anyone should ever have to endure in a lifetime. In 1972, just weeks after he first won election to the Senate, Biden’s wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident. Last week, his 46-year-old son Beau, who survived that same accident, died of brain cancer.

As Biden’s son Beau’s body awaited burial, Cruz decided to tell a “cruel joke” about his grieving father.

“You know, Vice President Joe Biden,” he said as a few chuckles emerged from the crowd, setting up the joke for him.

“You know the nice thing. You don’t need a punchline. I promise you it works. At the next party you’re at, just walk up to someone and say, ‘Vice President Joe Biden,’ and just close your mouth. They will crack up laughing.”

Afterward reporter Chad Livengood asked Cruz about the death of Biden’s son. Cruz’s response was telling.

Q: Could you talk about the vice president losing his son this week?

A: Heartbreaking and tragic, and our prayers are very much with Vice President Biden, with Jill. It’s a tragedy no one should have to endure.

Q: Why’d you tell a joke about the vice president tonight?

A: Uh …. [walks away]

 Cruz later “apologized,” according to The Detroit News:

“It was a mistake to use an old joke about Joe Biden during his time of grief, and I sincerely apologize,” Cruz said in a statement. “The loss of his son is heartbreaking and tragic, and our prayers are very much with the Vice President and his family.”

Biden’s eldest son, Beau, died Saturday of brain cancer. Beau Biden was a former two-term attorney general of Delaware and is to be buried Saturday in the Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Cruz used the joke to talk about Biden’s past comments about firing off a double-barrel shotgun to ward off intrudersone of several stump-speech jabs at Democrats.

“That is very, very good advice — if it so happens that you’re being attacked by a flock of geese,” Cruz said….

Cruz was the keynote speaker for the Livingston County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner at Crystal Gardens banquet center in Howell.

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I thought Jeb Bush was already running for president, but apparently he’s still playing games in an attempt to get media attention. From the AP, via Huffington Post: Jeb Bush Teases Presidential Announcement On June 15.

The former Florida governor, widely expected to run for the GOP nomination, tweeted “coming soon” with a link to the website jebannouncement.com. On that page, the date 06.15.15 was listed, followed by the tease, “BE THE FIRST TO KNOW. RSVP NOW!” Visitors to the site could enter their name and email address. Bush also tweeted it in Spanish, “Próximamente 6.15.15.”

Boooooorrrrrrringggggg . . .

And then there’s the scandal-ridden former governor of Texas.

USA Today: Rick Perry launches 2016 presidential campaign.

ADDISON, Texas — Former Texas governor Rick Perry will announce Thursday that he’ll make a second bid for the White House.

The campaign’s new website went up early in the day, saying that Perry offers “tested leadership” and “proven results,” particularly in job creation.

Perry, who served as Texas governor for 14 years, plans to stress his experience, saying in a campaign video: “It’s going to be a show-me, don’t-tell-me, election.”

Yawn . . . .

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Politico reports that Lady Lindsey “compare[d] Hillary Clinton to Kim Jong Un.”

Lindsey Graham says Hillary Clinton is avoiding media questions on the campaign trail because she lacks confidence in her own foreign policy record.

“Well, it’s easier to talk to the North Korean guy than it is her,” the Republican senator from South Carolina said in a “Fox & Friends” interview Thursday, an apparent reference to dictator Kim Jong-un.

“I think it’s the lack of confidence in her ability to distinguish herself from Barack Obama,” he added.

Clinton will be speaking on voting rights this afternoon at Texas Southern University, whose press guidance for the speech circulated Wednesday stipulated that there will be “NO opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton; her speech will be her interview.”

Hahahahaha! Now why wouldn’t Hillary want to talk to the media? Here are a few clues:

Josh Rogin at Bloomberg View: Why Hillary Can’t Run on Her State Department Record.

Washington Post: Clinton rivals pounce as her ratings fall.

Business Insider: There’s only one thing Wall Street hates about Hillary Clinton, and it has nothing to do with all the scandals. This one is incredible. according to author Linette Lopez, Wall Street insiders think the Clintons are “so shady, but Wall Street is a shady business.” And If supporting Clintons makes someone more money or gives them more power, they will instantly overlook their incessant corruption,”

At least the media wants to talk to her, unlike some of her competitors.

So far no one is reporting that Martin O’Malley is largely responsible for the policing problems in Baltimore. Maybe it’s because O’Malley has no chance in hell to beat Hillary.

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And then there’s former Republican Lincoln Chafee, who would probably fit in pretty well in the clown car.

Business Insider: A Democrat just launched his presidential campaign in a ‘half empty’ school auditorium.

Politico: Lincoln Chafee can’t win his local paper.

Moving on to other news . . . .

I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but Boston Police shot a man on Tuesday. He was a suspected terrorist.

From The Boston Herald: Roslindale man killed in showdown with anti-terror task force.

An armed 26-year-old man under constant surveillance by an anti-terrorism task force was shot and killed by an FBI agent and a Boston police officer in Roslindale this morning after he came at them with a military-style knife, authorities say.

The suspect was identified by police as Usaama Rahim of Roslindale.

“He was on foot, under surveillance,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said. “The officers have been surveilling him and again they wanted to speak to him … and he turned and our officers gave several commands for him to drop the weapon and unfortunately he came at the officers and they did what they were trained to do and that’s never an easy decision for any officer to make.”

One FBI agent and one BPD officer fired, FBI Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi said.

Evans said “the level of alarm” had them want to question Rahim today.

Lisi added task-force members — who had Rahim under 24-hour watch — wanted to “interview him and talk to him about his intentions and some other matters.” At the time, Lisi added, Rahim was considered armed and dangerous.

Evans said a video shows Rahim “coming at the officers” as police retreated telling him to “drop the knife!” They then shot him twice, once in the torso and abdomen.

(Boston, MA, 06/02/15) A picture of the military style knife that was used to threaten officers during a police involved shooting this morning at 4600 Washington St. in Roslindale, during a press conference at Boston Police Headquarters on Tuesday,  June  02, 2015.   Staff Photo by Matt Stone

(Boston, MA, 06/02/15) A picture of the military style knife that was used to threaten officers during a police involved shooting this morning at 4600 Washington St. in Roslindale, during a press conference at Boston Police Headquarters on Tuesday, June 02, 2015. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

The Christian Science Monitor: After terror shooting, Boston police choose transparency over tradition.

As US police officers acknowledge feeling under siege by public unrest over deaths at the hands of police, the city of Boston, for the second time in just over a month, tried a new strategy – sharing grainy video of a police shooting with civic and religious leaders.

The new video involved a terrorism suspect, Usaama Rahim, who authorities say threatened retreating officers with a military-style knife on Tuesday before being fatally shot. The footage, community leaders said a day later, contradicted the contention by Mr. Rahim’s brother, an imam named Ibrahim Rahim, that he was shot in the back while talking to his father on the phone.

Darnell Williams, CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, declared after watching the video that Rahim “was not on a cellphone and was not shot in the back.”

Quickly releasing video to community leaders, acknowledges Daniel Conley, district attorney for Suffolk County in Massachusetts, goes against a long-held policing tradition in which investigative details are kept under wraps until a trial. The strategy stands in sharp contrast to how officers acted after last year’s shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. There, days after violent protests had already erupted, police revealed only piecemeal and contradictory information….

Boston’s strategy is an attempt at transparency – to reach out to those who may have questions and concerns about what happened, and whose views can be influential in the community.

We’ll see if that holds up after further investigation, but so far it sounds somewhat positive.

According to The Boston Globe, Rahim planned to behead police officers. He was overheard talking about it on phone taps. I don’t know how he thought he’d accomplish that goal even though he had a very scary looking knife.

Usaama Rahim had been plotting for days, officials said. He bought three long-bladed fighting knives — “good for carving,” he said — and confided to his nephew and another man that he would travel to another state to commit a beheading.

But at 5 a.m. Tuesday, the plan abruptly changed, according to a federal affidavit. Rahim would murder police officers in Massachusetts.

“I’m just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue,” Rahim allegedly told his nephew David Wright, in a phone call recorded by an anti-terrorism task force.

Two hours later, when members of that task force approached him in a Roslindale parking lot, Rahim allegedly brandished one of his military knives. They told him to drop his weapon. “You drop yours,” he allegedly replied, before a Boston Police officer and an FBI agent shot him to death.

The details emerged as Wright, Rahim’s nephew and alleged conspirator, appeared in federal court on a charge that he obstructed the investigation by encouraging his uncle to destroy his cellphone to hide evidence.

I don’t know. It still sounds like one of those FBI sting operations . . . .

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A few more links:

This sounds like another Freddie Gray incident. From Raw Story: ‘Nobody knows what happened’: Florida inmate mysteriously dies after ride in sheriff’s van.

Vox: I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.

Rhonda Garelick in an op-ed at the New York Times: The Price of Caitlyn Jenner’s Heroism. It’s not what it sounds like. Heroism should have been in quotes. Please read this one.

Eric Boehlert at Salon on why Hillary won’t talk to the media: GOP’s obscene sex-cop hypocrisy: Dennis Hastert, Hillary and the absurdity of the Clinton impeachment.

Why won’t Hillary Clinton open up to the press? Why can’t Bill and Hillary handle the media? Why has she ”withdrawn into a gilded shell“? Why does she wear media “armor“? Those questions have been rehashed in recent months as journalists focus on themselves and what role they’ll play in the unfolding nomination contest.

A suggestion: Follow the path back to Dennis Hastert’s impeachment era for clues to those Clinton press questions.

AP via the WaPo: Co-owner of Four Seasons charged with sex abuse in New York.

Think Progress: Jim Bob Duggar Repeatedly Minimizes The Sexual Molestation Of His Own Daughters.

Pop Crush: Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar Defend Son: ‘He Was Just Curious About Girls.’

Good Morning America: Duggars Say Son Josh ‘Improperly Touched’ 4 of Their Daughters.

Gawker: Gawker Media Votes To Unionize.

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