Thursday Reads: Some Good News for a Change

Good Morning!!

For once I can begin a post with some upbeat stories.

Chicago Tribune: llinois approves Equal Rights Amendment, 36 years after deadline.

The Illinois House voted Wednesday night to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment more than 45 years after it was approved by Congress, putting it one state away from possible enshrinement in the U.S. Constitution amid potential legal questions.

The 72-45 vote by the House, following an April vote by the Senate, was just one more vote than needed for ratification. It does not need the approval of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said he supports equal rights but was faulted by Democrats for not taking a position on the ERA….

As has been the case for decades, the legislative debate over the Equal Rights Amendment was fraught with controversy. Opponents largely contended the measure was aimed at ensuring an expansion of abortion rights for women. Supporters said it was needed to give women equal standing in the nation’s founding document.

Opponents also contended the measure may be moot, since its original 1982 ratification deadline has long since expired. Supporters argued, however, that the 1992 ratification of the 1789 “Madison Amendment,” preventing midterm changes in congressional pay, makes the ERA a legally viable change to the constitution.

Read the whole thing at the link above. Some history:

On March 22, 1972, the Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment, which banned discrimination on the basis of sex. The amendment fell three states shy of ratification.

In 1923, three years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, suffragist Alice Paul drafted an amendment to guarantee equal rights for women. Known as the Equal Rights Amendment or the Lucretia Mott Amendment, it stated, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”

The amendment was presented to Congress in 1923, and re-introduced to every session of Congress for nearly 50 years. It mostly stayed in committee until 1946, when a reworded proposal, dubbed the Alice Paul Amendment, lost a close vote in the Senate. Four years later, the Senate passed a weaker version of the amendment that was not supported by ERA proponents.

Opposition to ERA came from social conservatives and from labor leaders, who feared that it would threaten protective labor laws for women. Support for the amendment increased during the 1960s as the Civil Rights Movement inspired a second women’s rights movement. The National Organization for Women (NOW), founded in 1966, led to movement for the passage of ERA.

In 1970, Rep. Martha Griffiths of Michigan succeeded in getting the ERA out of committee and before Congress for debate. The House of Representatives passed the amendment without changes 352-15 in 1971. The Senate passed the amendment on March 22, 1972, a day after voting against any proposed changes.

The passed amendment read: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The second bit of good news, from The Washington Post: Virginia General Assembly approves Medicaid expansion to 400,000 low-income residents.

The Virginia legislature voted Wednesday to make government health insurance available to 400,000 low-income residents, overcoming five years of GOP resistance. The decision marks a leftward shift in the legislature and an enormous win for Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the pediatrician who ran on expanding access to health care.

Virginia will join 32 other states and the District in expanding Medicaid coverage. The measure is expected to take effectJan. 1.

“This is not just about helping this group of people,” said Sen. Frank Wagner (Virginia Beach), one of four Republicans in the Senate who split from their party to join Democrats and pass the measure by a vote of 23 to 17. “This is about getting out there and helping to bend the cost of health care for every Virginian. . . . It is the number one issue on our voters’ minds. By golly, it ought to be the number one issue on the General Assembly’s mind.”

Another Republican who broke ranks, Sen. Ben Chafin (Russell), is a lawyer and a cattle farmer from a rural district where health care is sorely lacking.

“I came to the conclusion that ‘no’ just wasn’t the answer anymore, that doing nothing about the medical conditions, the state of health care in my district, just wasn’t the answer any longer,” he said.

After the Senate vote, the House of Delegates approved the measure by 67 to 31 as the chamber erupted in cheers.

Also from the WaPo: Why Virginia’s Medicaid expansion is a big deal.

It’s another nail in the coffin for efforts to repeal Obamacare and a fresh reminder of how difficult it is to scale back any entitlement once it’s created. Many Republicans, in purple and red states alike, concluded that Congress is unlikely to get rid of the law, so they’ve become less willing to take political heat for leaving billions in federal money on the table.

Years of obstruction in the commonwealth gave way because key Republicans from rural areas couldn’t bear to deny coverage for their constituents any longer, moderates wanted to cut a deal and, most of all, Democrats made massive gains in November’s off-year elections.

Years of obstruction in the commonwealth gave way because key Republicans from rural areas couldn’t bear to deny coverage for their constituents any longer, moderates wanted to cut a deal and, most of all, Democrats made massive gains in November’s off-year elections.

As President Trump steps up efforts to undermine the law, from repealing the individual mandate to watering down requirements for what needs to be covered in “association health plans,” the administration’s willingness to let states impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients has paradoxically given a rationale for Republicans to flip-flop on an issue where they had dug in their heels.

And in New Jersey: Phil Murphy signs law protecting Obamacare from Trump with N.J. mandate to have health insurance.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed a law preserving a critical yet controversial part of the Affordable Care Act that President Donald Trump‘s administration repealed last year.

One of the laws creates a statewide individual mandate, which will require all New Jerseyans who don’t have health coverage through a government program like Medicare or their jobs to buy a policy, or pay a fee at tax time.

The landmark federal health care law, better known as Obamacare, imposed the mandate to ensure younger and healthier people who might otherwise forgo insurance will buy-in and share costs.

But the tax package approved by the Republican-led Congress and signed into law by Trump will end the mandate in 2019. The requirement was one of the more distasteful parts of the law for lawmakers and the public who believe it allowed government to intrude into people’s lives.

State Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, one of the prime sponsors of the law, said keeping the mandate “was needed to maintain a foundation for the insurance market and to allow the success of the ACA to continue.”

The resistance is making progress!

In other news, The Daily Beast reports that Trump wanted Howard Stern to speak at the 2016 Republican convention, according to his interview last night with David Letterman (emphasis added).

Letterman doesn’t spend much time on the subject of Trump, a person whom Stern has spent more time interviewing than anyone else on the planet, the host does ask the “King of All Media” how he feels about Trump’s tenure as president.

“Well you know, it was a very awkward kind of thing, because Donald asked me to speak at the Republican National Convention,” Stern reveals. “And he would call me from the campaign trail very often, and say, ‘Are you watching?’ I was tickled by this, because I really kind of felt, deep in my heart, that this campaign was really more about selling a book, or selling a brand. I didn’t really understand that he would really want to be president.” [….]

Stern continued: “I was put in a very awkward position of having to say publicly—and to him—that I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. I always have been, and I was honest with Donald. I said, ‘Donald, you also supported Hillary.’ And I do consider Donald a friend but my politics are different.”

The AP has an interesting story on Republican efforts to protect Jeff Sessions’ job.

In private meetings, public appearances on television and late-night phone calls, Trump’s advisers and allies have done all they can to persuade the president not to fire a Cabinet official he dismisses as disloyal. The effort is one of the few effective Republican attempts to install guardrails around a president who delights in defying advice and breaking the rules.

It’s an ongoing effort, though not everyone is convinced the relationship is sustainable for the long term….

The case that Sessions’ protectors have outlined to Trump time and again largely consists of three components: Firing Sessions, a witness in Mueller’s investigation of obstruction of justice, would add legal peril to his standing in the Russia probe; doing so would anger the president’s political base, which Trump cares deeply about, especially with midterm election looming this fall; and a number of Republican senators would rebel against the treatment of a longtime colleague who was following Justice Department guidelines in his recusal.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has said that he will not schedule a confirmation hearing for another attorney general nominee if Sessions is fired.

Click on the link to read the rest.

Melania Trump has missing from the public eye for 20 days now. Yesterday her husband apparently decided to send a message from her Twitter account, but he forgot to make the language sound like her.

A few more stories to check out:

The New Yorker: How the Trump Administration Got Comfortable Separating Immigrant Kids from Their Parents.

Nicholas Kristof at The New York Times: Trump Immigration Policy Veers From Abhorrent to Evil.

The Washington Post: Trump plans to impose metal tariffs on closest U.S. allies.

The New York Times: For ‘Columbiners,’ School Shootings Have a Deadly Allure.

The Daily Beast: What Happened to Jill Stein’s Recount Millions?

The New York Times: How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’

NPR: Russia’s Lavrov Meets With Kim Jong Un, As Pompeo Tries To Salvage Summit.

CNBC: Trump will pardon conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of campaign finance violation.


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? 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Students March for Their Lives (and other news)

By 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, a large crowd had already gathered for the March for Our Lives event in Washington on Saturday. Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Happy Saturday!!

Today is the “March For Our Lives” in Washington DC to demand serious legislation to deal with the scourge of gun violence. There will be hundreds of other marches around the country and around the world. A couple of basic articles:

The Washington Post: March for Our Lives: The nation’s capital has been preparing for weeks. Today, the voices will rise.

Students, teachers, parents and survivors of mass shootings streamed into Washington Saturday for the March for Our Lives, a demonstration against gun violence that could draw hundreds of thousands of protesters to the nation’s capital.

The march is part of a surge of political activism that has transformed America’s entrenched debate over gun violence. It was organized by students who survived the mass shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who hope to succeed where many adults have failed: By forcing Congress and the president to pass a comprehensive gun-control bill that will improve school safety.

Hundreds of sister protests are taking place in cities across the U.S., including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The main demonstration in Washington is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Marchers gather in Boston

The New York Times: March for Our Lives: Students Protesting Guns Say ‘We Just Have Our Lives to Lose’

Tens of thousands of people, outraged by a recent massacre at a South Florida school and energized by the students who survived, prepared to spill out in public protest in Washington and communities across the world on Saturday as they call for an end to gun violence.

The student activists, many of them sharp-tongued and defiant in the face of politicians and gun lobbyists, have kept attention on the issue in a time of renewed political activism on the left, as they helped lead a national school walkout and pushed state officials in Floridato enact gun legislation.

On Friday, the Justice Department proposed banning so-called bump stocks, but President Trump signed a spending bill that included only some background check and school safety measures. The effectiveness of the students’ efforts will be measured, in part, on the success of Saturday’s events — their most ambitious show of force yet.

Here’s what we’re watching as protests unfurl around the globe:

• More than 800 protests are planned in every American state and on every continent except for Antarctica, according to a website set up by organizersHere’s a map of planned protests.

• The National Park Service has approved a permit for the Washington march, which estimates 500,000 people could attend. Called March for Our Lives, the main event there kicks off around midday, and some of the most prominent student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a shooting left 17 dead last month, will speak.

Heather Egeland Martin, 36, and Ashley Egeland, 34

In the buildup to the march, there have been a number of good stories about survivors of previous school shootings. The best one I’ve read was in Glamour Magazine: Two Columbine Survivors on Life After a Mass Shooting, and Being at the Lead of ‘The Columbine Generation’.

“We call B.S.,” Emma Gonzales shouted, mesmerizing the crowd—and the nation—just one day after a shooter killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call B.S.!”

The student walkouts that took place across the country today were a breathtaking display of activism for González, her fellow survivors, and other student crusaders. They have accomplished much since Nikolas Cruz turned their Valentine’s Day to carnage: They’ve faced down politicians from Florida’s capitol to Washington, D.C., mobilized the upcoming national March for Our Lives, (complete with merch and Oprah donations), and helped pass a law that raises the age for buying firearms in Florida from 18 to 21—NRA lawsuits be damned.

But after the march on the 24th, will the country fade back to apathy as it has after so many mass other shootings? And what will life really be like for students of Parkland after the media lights fade?

We asked sisters Heather Egeland Martin, 36, and Ashley Egeland, 34, who were both students at Columbine High School when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold showed up with guns under their trench coats and left 15 people dead. At that time, Columbine was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history; it was also the first to happen in the digital age, with real-time cell phone calls from inside the schools. Since that day in 1999, U.S. students—the Columbine Generation—have never known school to be safe from terror.

It’s been nearly 19 years since Columbine, and both Ashley and Heather are still recovering. They know it can be a long road ahead.

Heather and Ashley talk about their long journeys after major trauma–through eating disorders and drug addiction to recovery. But the trauma itself never goes away. As a survivor of early childhood trauma, I really identified with these women’s stories. The article brought me to tears. I hope you’ll read it.

A few more to check out:

Virginia Tech massacre survivor Lisa Hamp (Photo by Rod Lamkey Jr.)

The Atlantic: My Life Since the 2007 Virginia Tech Shooting: Lisa Hamp’s Story.

Vox: They survived Columbine. Then came Sandy Hook. And Parkland.

Vox: “I hope you know that it’s not that we didn’t try”: a Columbine and Parkland survivor talk.

NPR: 20 Years Later, Jonesboro Shooting Survivors Conflicted Over Parkland.

Trump has fled to Palm Beach, where he’ll hole up and try to ignore the protesters and the 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels tomorrow night. Once again, Melania refused to ride with her husband on the helicopter to Air Force One. CNN:

The day after a CNN interview with a former Playboy model who claims to have had a 10-month affair with her husband, first lady Melania Trump opted to leave President Donald Trump alone for the ride from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base.

The official White House schedule, released Thursday evening, stated the first couple would depart the White House together aboard Marine One en route to Joint Base Andrews, but Mrs. Trump did not appear beside her husband. CNN reached out to the first lady’s communications office for an explanation or comment on the change in plan but did not receive a response.
According to CNN, Melania plans to stay in Palm Beach for the entire week with her son Barron, who is on spring break.

As he flew out of town, Trump left the government of our once-great nation in turmoil.

The New York Times: After Another Week of Chaos, Trump Repairs to Palm Beach. No One Knows What Comes Next.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump decamped to his oceanfront estate here on Friday after a head-spinning series of presidential decisions on national securitytrade and the budget that left the capital reeling and his advisers nervous about what comes next.

The decisions attested to a president riled up by cable news and unbound. Mr. Trump appeared heedless of his staff, unconcerned about Washington decorum, or the latest stock market dive, and confident of his instincts. He seemed determined to set the agenda himself, even if that agenda looked like a White House in disarray.

Inside the West Wing, aides described an atmosphere of bewildered resignation as they grappled with the all-too-familiar task of predicting and reacting in real time to Mr. Trump’s shifting moods.

Aides said there was no grand strategy to the president’s actions, and that he got up each morning this week not knowing what he would do. Much as he did as a New York businessman at Trump Tower, Mr. Trump watched television, reacted to what he saw on television and then reacted to the reaction.

Aides said he was still testing his limits as president while also feeling embattled by incoming fire — from Congress, the Russia investigation, foreign entanglements, a potential trade war and a pornographic film actress and a Playboy model who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump and were paid to keep quiet.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Yesterday morning Trump threatened on Twitter that he was thinking about vetoing the just-passed omnibus spending bill, which the White House staff had worked out with both Republicans and Democrats. Then he called a “press conference” at which he whined about the spending bill that he had finally agreed to sign and then refused to answer any questions from the press. It was a pathetic, disgusting display of temper.

David A. Graham writes at The Atlantic: Trump Can’t Get What He Wants and Doesn’t Know Why.

“I’ve signed this omnibus budget bill. There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill,” Trump said. “But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it again.” [….]

Over and over again, he talked about defense spending, including reading through a litany of what would be allocated for specific craft in the bill. (“The tanker aircraft is very important based on everything.”) Though there’s little evidence that large swaths of the population are concerned about a dearth of military spending, Trump sounded like a garbled John F. Kennedy, with everything but missile gaps popping up.

The reason became apparent at the very end of the press statement. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was present and spoke briefly, and it seems he convinced the president to sign the bill despite his reservations. As Trump left, reporters shouted out questions, and the president said, “I looked very seriously at the veto. I was thinking about doing the veto. But because of the incredible gains we’ve been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking.”

Trump also demanded that the Senate eliminate the filibuster, and called for the return of the line-item veto, the presidential tool ruled unconstitutional in 1998.

Graham writes that Trump simply doesn’t understand how legislation works and he isn’t interested in learning.

Trump’s grandiose, semi-authoritarian claim, “I alone can fix it,” in his speech accepting the 2016 Republican nomination was a subject of intense criticism, but in retrospect it seems to have represented not so much a vision of how Trump could transform the presidency but a mistaken impression of how the presidency already worked. Though political scientists and some journalists have explained clearly how the power of the bully pulpit is badly overrated, this was yet another case in which Trump had not carefully studied the realities of politics.

He seems to have subscribed, and may still subscribe, to an extreme version of what Matt Yglesias termed the “Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency,” in which presidents are superheroes who get what they want through sheer force of will. This is not, however, the way Washington really works, and while Trump has experienced that, he doesn’t seem to have quite come to understand it, thus his fury and threat on the spending bill Friday.

If Trump wanted to affect the text of the bill, he had ways to do it. He could have gotten intensely involved in the negotiation process early. He could have presented a budget that represented something like an opening volley in a negotiation, rather than a utopian scheme that Congress was never going to take seriously. But Trump has shown no appetite or patience for rolling up his sleeves and getting into the nitty-gritty. He’d rather make threats from the White House when it’s too late to change anything.

There’s more at the link. It’s a good piece, well worth a read.

What stories are you following today? What are your thoughts on the marches? Whatever you’re up to, have a great weekend.


Tuesday Reads: Trials of a Baby-Man

Good Morning!!

Like clockwork, the 70-year-old man-baby in the White House lets us know what he’s having a tantrum about this morning.

Apparently he was displeased with last night’s television coverage of his praise of a vicious dictator who murders journalists and political opponents and and his claim that the U.S. is no better because our military has killed people in war. It also seems he hasn’t yet figured out that the Iran deal was brokered with five other countries–including Russia!

Tomorrow we’ll likely be bombarded with tweets about whatever the judges decide in the muslim ban case, which is scheduled to be argued tonight at 6PM Eastern time. BTW, the audio of the hearing will be live-streamed. You can listen at that link.

baby-man2

NBC News reports:

In an 11-page reply to arguments filed by opponents, the Justice Department restated earlier arguments that the president has “unreviewable authority” to suspend entry of “any class of aliens to protect the national interest” and that states (in this case, Washington and Minnesota) can’t challenge federal denial of entry by third-party aliens.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has rebutted that contention, saying on NBC’s “TODAY” that “we have a checks-and-balances system in our country, and the president doesn’t have totally unfettered discretion.”

Numerous businesses and public officials have weighed in against the baby-man’s executive order.

Almost 100 big tech companies asked the appeals court not to restore Trump’s order, arguing that the restriction “hinders the ability of American companies to attract great talent; increases costs imposed on business; makes it more difficult for American firms to compete in the international marketplace; and gives global enterprises a new, significant incentive to build operations — and hire new employees — outside the United States.”

Numerous other third-party filings — called amicus curiae briefs — were entered by pro-immigration and civil liberties groups opposing the president’s order.

And several former top federal officials — including former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser — filed their own statement of support for Washington and Minnesota.

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Yesterday in a ridiculous “speech” at the U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, the baby-man again bragged about winning and his support from the military and attacked the media, claiming that the press refused to cover terrorist attacks. From Talking Points Memo:

During his speech, Trump claimed that the media is not reporting on terrorist attacks, though he did not explain why.

“It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it,” he said. “They have their reasons and you understand that.”

No one seem to know WTF baby-man was talking about, but that’s nothing new. Later yesterday, the White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks that they believe the media didn’t cover adequately. The list included the Paris and Nice attacks in France, the San Bernardino attack, and the Pulse Nightclub attack, all of which received wall-to-wall coverage. The Washington Post on the list:

It was bare-bones in nature and seemed to have been hastily assembled. The document contained numerous typos and several factual inaccuracies. Some of the attacks listed were so high-profile and thoroughly reported that anyone with Google would be hard-pressed to say they didn’t receive sufficient attention. Among them were the Pulse nightclub massacre, the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, the coordinated shootings and explosions in Paris, and the holiday party shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

The other attacks included on the list seemed to have been picked arbitrarily. More than half involved two or fewer deaths or injuries, so it’s no surprise that they didn’t receive front-page coverage.

Many significant attacks were missing from the list, and guess what they had in common:

Some of the countries most devastated by terrorism from Islamic extremists were left out entirely. Whether that suggests that the administration thinks they received adequate coverage is anyone’s guess. But it was a glaring omission either way.

In 2015, nearly three quarters of all deaths from terrorist attacks occurred in five countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, according to the State Department. The White House chose not to include any attacks from Iraq, Nigeria and Syria on its list. The two others got a single mention each — a knife attack that wounded a U.S. citizen in Pakistan in 2015, and a suicide bombing that killed 14 Nepalese security guards in Afghanistan last year.

Similarly, between 2004 and 2013, about half of all terrorist attacks and 60 percent of fatalities from terrorist attacks took place in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, Erin Miller, of the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, told the BBC.

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It appears the baby-man’s administration doesn’t think attacks on muslim victims are important.  I guess that’s why they ignored the recent attack on a Canadian mosque by a white supremacist tRump supporter.

Mark Follman at Mother Jones: The Terror Attacks Trump Won’t Talk About

On Monday, in a case little noticed by the national media, a man went on trial in federal court for plotting a potentially horrific terrorist attack in upstate New York. In 2015, this man allegedly planned to enlist accomplices to help him bomb a house of worship and open fire with assault rifles on any bystanders. “High casualty rates” was the goal. “If it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds,” he allegedly said, according to prosecutors.

Also on Monday, the Trump White House released a list of 78 attacks carried out in the US and abroad by “radical Islamic terrorists” since 2014, which it said were mostly “underreported,” following the president’s own claim earlier in the day that the media conspired to ignore such attacks. But had the upstate New York plotter succeeded, he would not have made the White House list. The individual charged with masterminding that plan was Robert Doggart, a 65-year-old white man from Tennessee who allegedly conspired to form a militia and attack a Muslim community in Islamberg, NY, on “behalf of American patriotism.” ….

After six people were killed and many others were injured while praying at a mosque in Quebec City on January 29, the White House and Fox News quickly ran with false claims that the suspected attacker was Moroccan. (That man was in fact interviewed as a witness.) Trump has not tweeted nor made any public remarks about the white nationalist (and Trump fan) who has been charged in the case.After avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in in Charleston in June 2015, Trump tweeted that the attack was “incomprehensible,” and expressed his “deepest condolences to all.” But Trump has said nothing publicly about the case at any point since Roof went on trial in December.

After a white man went on a deadly rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in November 2015—apparently motivated by an infamous video sting that falsely claimed Planned Parenthood was trafficking in “baby parts”—Trump described the perpetrator as a “maniac.” But after that, he went on at much greater length about Planned Parenthood’s alleged misdeeds.

More at the link.

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We’re learning more about the botched Yemen raid that the baby-man approved over dinner with his pals. NBC News reports: Yemen Raid Had Secret Target: Al Qaeda Leader Qassim Al-Rimi.

The Navy SEAL raid in Yemen last week had a secret objective — the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who survived and is now taunting President Donald Trump in an audio message.

Military and intelligence officials told NBC News the goal of the massive operation was to capture or kill Qassim al-Rimi, considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world and a master recruiter….

On Sunday, al-Rimi — who landed on the United States’ most-wanted terrorist list after taking over al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate in 2015 — released an audio recording that military sources said is authentic.

“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” he said in an apparent reference to the Jan. 29 raid.

I have to agree that the baby-man in the White House is a “fool.”

The White House is also upset about the Saturday Night Live portrayal of Sean Spicer by Melissa McCarthy, according to Politico.

More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him. And the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job in which he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the “opposition party,” and developing a functional relationship with the press.

“Trump doesn’t like his people to look weak,” added a top Trump donor.

Trump’s uncharacteristic Twitter silence over the weekend about the “Saturday Night Live” sketch was seen internally as a sign of how uncomfortable it made the White House feel. Sources said the caricature of Spicer by McCarthy struck a nerve and was upsetting to the press secretary and to his allies, who immediately saw how damaging it could be in Trump world.

Could Spicer’s days as press secretary already be numbered?

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Finally, poor Melania Trump’s lawsuit against The Daily Mail has been revealed to be based on the money she was hoping to make as part of her husband’s keptocracy. The Washington Post reports: Melania Trump missed out on ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to make millions, lawsuit says.

A lawyer for first lady Melania Trump argued in a lawsuit filed Monday that an article falsely alleging she once worked for an escort service hurt her chance to establish “multimillion dollar business relationships” during the years in which she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.”

The suit, filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Mail Media, the owner of the Daily Mail, said the article published by the Daily Mail and its online division last August caused Trump’s brand, Melania, to lose “significant value” as well as “major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her.” The suit noted that the article had damaged Trump’s “unique, once in a lifetime opportunity” to “launch a broad-based commercial brand.”

“These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Trump’s behalf by California attorney Charles Harder….

The suit filed Monday did not spell out a plan by Trump to market her products during her tenure as first lady, but mentioned that her reputation had suffered just as she was experiencing a “multi-year term” of elevated publicity. The suit says the Daily Mail article “impugned her fitness to perform her duties as First Lady of the United States.”

Wow.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please share in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday.


Tuesday Reads: The Insane Campaign

Good Morning!!

Can this presidential campaign get any more ridiculous? I’m guessing it will. I know I’ve written this multiple times, but every morning I feel shocked all over again. On the days when I have to write a post, it’s even worse. I just can’t believe what is going on in the corporate media! As Donald Trump’s behavior gets more and more out-of-control insane, so-called “journalists” search for ways to make Hillary Clinton look equally horrible. It’s not working for them, and that has to be sooo frustrating.

Last night Hillary appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show and joked around about the conspiracy theories that Trump and his supporters are pushing about her health. The Washington Post reports:

It was a funny premise: Hillary Clinton would pick Donald Trump quotes out of a jar and try to read them with a straight face.

But when it came time for the last quote, she said she couldn’t even read it. She handed it to Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel read it: “‘I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.'” (Trump actually said this in 2006.) …..

“I do feel sometimes like this campaign has entered into an alternative universe,” she said. “I have to step into the alternative reality and, you know, answer questions about, am I alive, how much longer will I be alive, and the like.”

I know that feeling. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be the person who is dealing with all this right-wing craziness.

At NBC, First Read summarizes Trump’s efforts to get the media to make the campaign a referendum on Hillary Clinton and not on him. But could he ever really stand to have the attention on someone other than himself?

It’s time for a special prosecutor to look in the Clinton Foundation! Hillary Clinton has a health problem! Clinton and the Democrats are bad for minority voters! “Welcome to the Bannon campaign,” the New York Times’ Alex Burns observed, referring to new Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon of Breitbart News. Indeed, the Trump camp has been under new management for an entire week, and you see how it’s doing everything it can to turn this race from a referendum on Donald Trump — which it has been for months now — into a referendum on Hillary Clinton. Of course, there’s a legitimate question as to whether this will all work. After all, there’s no way the Obama administration will appoint a special prosecutor with 77 days before the election. And the allegations about Clinton’s health are unfounded — in fact, Clinton’s letter from Dr. Jeffrey Epstein is much more thorough than Trump’s four-paragraph letter (which begins “To Whom My Concern”). But you see what the Trump campaign is trying to do: Down in the polls, it’s trying to change the subject back to Clinton.

As for the Clinton Foundation, here’s what Trump said about it campaigning last night in Akron, OH: “Her foundation took in large payments from major corporations and wealthy individuals, foreign and domestic, and all the while she was Secretary of State. The Clinton Foundation accepted as much as $60 million from Middle Eastern countries that oppress women, gays and people of different faiths.” More Trump: “The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant numbers of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately.”

And he continued his pretend pitch to minority voters, delivered to a lily-white audience in Akron, Ohio:

Over the past week, Donald Trump has been making a pitch to minority voters. And it’s easy to see how it’s likely to fall on deaf ears, especially since he’s been making it in front of nearly all-white crowds. “Crime at levels that nobody has seen, you can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting, and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. They’re run by the Democrats,” Trump said in Akron, OH last night. “And I ask you this, I ask you this, crime, all of the problems, to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people — what the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out, I’ll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?”

First read left out a scary ad lib by Trump last night.

“Walk down the street and you get shot.” Wow.

Corey Lewandowski, the CNN “commentator” who is also being paid by the Trump campaign, explained why Trump “reaches out” to African Americans while speaking to all-white audiences. T-Bogg at Raw Story: Trump avoids speaking to black voters because he’s not safe in their communities.

Lewandowski was part of a panel Monday night hosted by Anderson Cooper when he was asked why Trump doesn’t appeal to black voter by actually meeting with them instead of talking about them in front of predominately white audiences.

“You know what’s amazing to me is that no one remembers Donald Trump went to go have a rally in Chicago at the university. And remember what happened?” Lewandowski  began. “It was so chaotic and it was so out-of-control that the Secret Service and the Chicago Police Department told him you cannot get in and out of the facility safely. And that rally was cancelled.”

Several panelists jumped in with the same question: “What does that have to do with communicating with the black community?”

“Look!” Lewandowski shot back. “That is a black community. He went to the heart of Chicago to give a speech to the University of Chicago in a campus that is predominately African-American to make that argument. And you know what happened? The campus was overrun and it was not a safe environment.”

Panelist Angela Rye replied, “Would you acknowledge that not all black communities all over the country are still not monolithic. So if he tried the same thing in Cleveland–”

Lewandowski immediately cut her off, saying “He tried to go to Chicago and wasn’t allowed to make the speech–” as Rye shot back, “What about Dallas? What about Los Angeles?”

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Here’s Jill Lawrence at USA Today on whether any of us should “take a chance” on Donald Trump: Change is not your friend this year.

What do you have to lose? Donald Trump keeps asking African Americans. But really that’s his question to all of us. The core premise of his campaign is that our country is so weak, and our leaders are such losers, that we should put all our money on Trump the wild card, the savior. The restoration to greatness is at hand, but only if we choose him.

Trump made that explicit the other day by christening himself “Mr. Brexit.” He’s the candidate of disruptive change, exciting and unsettling and the ride of your life. What we can expect the day after Hurricane Trump makes landfall at the White House? Hey, don’t harsh the euphoria.

Here’s the thing, though. Trump may be asking “what do you have to lose?” as a rhetorical question, but there’s an answer to it, and that answer is “an enormous amount.”

I’m not even talking about the temperament issues that unnerve so many in both parties as they contemplate a President Trump in charge of nuclear codes, the military and relationships across the globe. Let’s look purely at economics and other indicators of national health.

The stock market continues to set new records during President Obama’s tenure, andonly George H.W. Bush presided over a bull market for more of his time in office. The jobs report for July, released on Aug. 5, was so positive that conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin called it impressive, “strong across the board,” and “the first month in recent memory that doesn’t have some significant downside.” Republican leaders were silent rather than issuing their usual negative responses….

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of overseas contract jobs for veterans available. But not all of these jobs are for “private security contractors,” you know, the scary looking guys with even scarier looking weapons. While “private security contractors” are the ones that seem to make all the headlines, there are many other overseas contract jobs available.

…black Americans, like all Americans, would stand to lose plenty under President Trump. They’d have to put up with his inaccurate stereotyping of African Americans and hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement. From a pocketbook standpoint, his protectionist views could trigger trade wars and higher consumer prices. And he’d revive trickle-down economics, a major contrast to Obama policies that have directed resources to low-income rather than high-income Americans.

Do we really want to trade what gains we’ve made for a guy whose new tax plan is a boon for wealthy Americans, the national debt and lenders like China? As acerbic liberal Jason Sattler (aka @LOLGOP) put it on Twitter, “Trump is offering ‘change’ the way a high-impact collision with a tree offers your car ‘customizing.’ ”

I’ve been reading David Cay Johnston’s new book, The Making of Donald Trump. Whatever horrors you read in the media are just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t believe the dishonesty of this man. Sometimes I have to take breaks from reading just to recover a sense of normalcy. I can’t even imagine what would happen to the global economy if he somehow became POTUS.

Just check out this new story at Huffington Post: Donald Trump Jacked Up His Campaign’s Trump Tower Rent Once Someone Else Was Paying For It. HuffPo doesn’t allow cutting and pasting anymore, so I can’t excerpt from the article; but here are the basics. Trump “quintupled” the rent on his Trump Tower headquarters to $169, 758 beginning last month. Read much more about the Trump campaign’s spending at the link above.

Melania Trump has also run into some dishonesty issues. Raw Story: REVEALED: Melania Trump outright lied under oath about having a college degree.

Melania Trump’s website was yanked offline in July when discrepancies surfaced about her claim that she graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. She, in fact, did not graduate, rather she only attended classes before moving on to a modeling career and coming to the United States under possibly illegal visas.

Now it seems, new evidence shows that Trump may have lied about her degree under oath, which would make her guilty of perjury.

The case involved a now-defunct caviar skincare line, which Racked.com recalls Melania Trump promoted on “Good Morning America,” her husband’s show “The Apprentice” and on CNBC, but ultimately never made it to the market. The contract Trump had with a cosmetic company called New Sunshine LLC imploded when friend Steve Hilbert was fired from the company by another Trump friend, John Menard.

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The case ended up in court, where Melania was required to testify.

“Where were you born, Mrs. Trump?” the attorney asked.

“I was born in Slovenia,” she answered.

“Would you please explain to the Judge your formal education including what schools you attended and from which you graduated?” the attorney requested.

“I attended and graduated from design school, from fashion and Industrial Design School and also attended, graduated from architecture degree, bachelor degree,” she testified under oath.

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As was revealed in July after Trump’s plagiarism scandal, that isn’t an accurate account of Trump’s educational background. She does not have an architecture degree, nor did she graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

That’s all I have for you today. What new horrors will Tuesday bring? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Tuesday Reads: Disastrous Day One of the Republican National Convention

Good Afternoon!!

After the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, there’s good news and bad news for the Trump campaign. The bad news is that the big story today is that Melania Trump’s speech last night was basically a light edit of Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 with a few paragraphs thrown in to make it look like it was about Donald Trump. The good news for Trump is that this story is distracting the media from the racist, misogynist, and xenophobic content of the rest of the Convention speeches.

The Washington Post: Republican National Convention: Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign came under new scrutiny Tuesday after it became apparent that part of Melania Trump’s primetime address Monday night at the Republican National Convention bore conspicuous similarities to a speech delivered by first lady Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic convention.

The plagiarism charges have cast a shadow over Trump and his campaign on the second day of the convention here in Cleveland, where Republicans are making the case to a skeptical country that the celebrity billionaire —the most unconventional and impulsive major-party standard-bearer in modern history — could be a credible and steadfast leader at a time of terrorist threats abroad and senseless tragedies at home.

Trump’s campaign and allies rushed to defend Melania Trump on Tuesday morning.

“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” wrote senior communications advisor Jason Miller in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.” ….

Melania Trump had previously indicated that she wrote the speech herself.h. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pretty much threw Melania under the bus by sticking to the story that she wrote it herself.

On Tuesday morning, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort denied that there had been any plagiarism, despite clear similarities between the two speeches. Some parts of the speeches appeared to be the same, word for word.

“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values that she cares about, her family, things like that,” Manafort said on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning. “She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night, she knew that, to think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

The sections in the video are only the beginning. There are similarities to Michelle Obama’s speech throughout. Even the final lines claiming “he will never turn his back on you” were borrowed from Michelle. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pretty much threw Melania under the bus by sticking to the story that she wrote it herself.

Oh yes, and Manafort also blamed Hillary for the mess the campaign is in. Think Progress: Trump Campaign Manager On Melania’s Plagiarism: It’s Hillary’s Fault

Donald Trump and his campaign are scrambling to address the apparent plagiarism in Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech, which replicated specific language from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Trump’s former rivals-turned-surrogates Ben Carson and Chris Christie both refused to acknowledge the plagiarism.

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort went even further. He not only denied the speech was plagiarized, but accused Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton of spreading the storybecause she hates other women.

“This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” he said. “It’s not going to work.”

Manafort repeated the sexist attack in a press conference a few hours later. “When Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person,” he told reporters.

There are now rumors that Trump is furious with Manafort. Perhaps he’ll be looking for a new campaign manager soon–right in the middle of the RNC.

Wow! That’s some heavy duty misogyny there.

Some folks on Twitter have been digging up tweets from Mr. and Mrs. Trump that suggest plagiarism is nothing new for these two.

And check this out:

Unbelievable.

And what about the parts of Melania’s speech that weren’t plagiarized? Isaac Chotiner at Slate: Melania Trump’s Pathetic Attempt to Humanize Her Husband.

The traditional role of the first lady is, in the clichéd language of our politics, to “humanize” her spouse. Melania Trump may in some sense appear to be nontraditional for the wife of a Republican nominee. But in her speech on Monday night she set for herself the same goal: showing a side of Donald Trump that voters had not seen. What she delivered, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaking from the convention floor, was the speech of the night. The CNN panel gushed. Hugh Hewitt got excited on MSNBC. But don’t believe it: Melania’s speech was just as morally questionable as Rudy Giuliani’s Mussolini-not-so-lite speech that preceded it.

The most striking feature of Melania’s speech was the lack of specifics: Perhaps because her husband is a gruesome demagogue rather than a halfway-decent person, there were no humanizing anecdotes or sweet stories to tell. The candidate’s public personality is clearly more than an act; those who know him have nothing truly nice or personal to say about him, just as he has nothing nice or personal to say about them. (People he likes in his orbit tend to be “absolutely terrific.”)

I noticed that last night. Melania didn’t provide a single specific anecdote to illustrate her husband’s supposed generosity, kindness, and other positive qualities she claims he has.

This morning Ivanka Trump told the AP that her dad wants her to make sure everything in her speech introducing him on Thursday is in her own words.

Could there be trouble between Trump’s third wife and his children from first wife Ivana? Joy Reid tweeted today that Melania refused to attend the introduction of Mike Pence and his family because she was angry with Donald’s children for pushing him to name a VP candidate that he didn’t really want.

Reid also cited a Daily Mail article that suggests trouble in the Trump extended family: ‘She can’t talk, she can’t give a speech’: Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana slams his current spouse Melania and suggests she would make a better First Lady.

Trump’s first wife Ivana, who was married to the Republican presidential front runner from 1977 to 1991, said Melania ‘can’t talk’ and ‘can’t give a speech’.

The 66-year-old – who had three children with the billionaire – reportedly said she would have made a good First Lady and backed her ex-husband to be a ‘great President’.

Ivana was told at a recent party in New York that she would have been a good First Lady.

According to the New York Daily News, she laughed and replied: ‘Yes, but the problem is, what is he going to do with his third wife?’

Referring to Melania Trump, Ivana continued: ‘She can’t talk, she can’t give a speech, she doesn’t go to events, she doesn’t want to be involved.’

Ivana also said Trump would be a successful President and backed him to win the Republican nomination.

‘He’ll be a great President,’ she said. ‘He’ll surround himself with the right people. He was always meant to be a politician.’

She added that she had backed Trump to run for President in the 1980s, but ‘then he got involved with Marla Maples and America hated him’.

ROFLOL! Most of America still hates him.

I’m going to wrap this up soon, because I’m completely exhausted after driving nearly 1,000 miles over the past two days. But I want to include stories about one more speech from last night.

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If you missed Rudy Giuliani’s crazy address to the convention, you really need to watch it. You can do that at Slate, where Fred Kaplan writes about it: What Has Happened to Rudy Giuliani? He used to be a pragmatic moderate. Now he’s spewing nonsense.

Exactly 20 years ago, as the Boston Globe’s New York bureau chief, I interviewed Mayor Rudy Giuliani in his office in City Hall. The 1996 Republican Convention was going on in San Diego, and I asked him why he wasn’t there. “It’s not my sort of thing,” he replied. “I’m much closer to moderates in both parties than to extremists in either.”

That was a long time ago….

Self-righteous and bombastic as he has become in recent years, I have never seen him—I have never imagined him—huffing and puffing with such fire and brimstone. Or spewing such rank nonsense.

Boasting that he changed New York “from the crime capital of America to the safest large city in America,” he said, “What I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America.” Stipulating that he played a role in cutting crime in New York (and I think he did, to some extent), what did he do? Most pertinent, he appointed William Bratton as his police chief, who tracked crime with daily computer statistics (before then, there were only quarterly statistics), then instantly redeployed cops to neighborhoods where crime was spurting. He also arrested people for committing small crimes, and many of those people, it turned out, were wanted for large crimes. Other things were happening in society, too. But these techniques and the surrounding circumstances have no application to the fight against global terrorism. Nor does the sophisticated approach that Giuliani and Bratton brought to urban disorder have any resemblance to Trump’s attitude to anything.

Then Giuliani delved into the shallowest realm of Trump’s attack on Obama’s (or Obama-Clinton’s) counterterrorism policies—the refusal to call our enemy by their name: as he bellowed it, “Islamic extremist terrorism” (words that drew an enormous ovation). Obama has addressed this critique: It is silly to believe that, if only he uttered those three words (like “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”), the bad guys would turn and run—or anything different would happen whatsoever. “If they are at war against us,” Giuliani roared, “we must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them.” What does that mean? What does the United States or the West have to do to achieve that goal? I ask Giuliani and others who speak in this language to put forth a three-point outline, a 100-page treatise—some idea of what new policies, tactics, or strategies they have in mind. I honestly don’t know, and I’m pretty sure they don’t either.

Kaplan carefully dissects the entire Giuliani diatribe.  The piece is well worth reading.

I wonder what atrocities Trump and the Republicans will produce in day 2 of the their convention? So far this week looks like it will be very good for Hillary Clinton.
What stories are you following today?