Friday Reads: What isn’t the matter with Brett Kavanaugh?

Good Morning

Sky Dancers!

The unraveling of Brett Kavanaugh’s privilege bubble continues.  Can those ugly old white male Republicans rescue him from all the women that want his heads on a platter.  Yes, both of them!

Okay, where to start …

How about something written by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker to get our day started. Here’s the headline: “After the Kavanaugh Allegations, Republicans Offer a Shocking Defense: Sexual Assault Isn’t a Big Deal”.  I’m actually thinking they’ll NEVER learn.

Ever since the professor Christine Blasey Ford revealed that she was the woman who had accused the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaughof sexual assault, in a previously confidential letter, the conservative attempt to protect Kavanaugh from her story has been, to put it mildly, forceful. Ford claims that, in the early nineteen-eighties, when they were both attending prestigious private high schools in suburban Maryland, Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party. Republicans have framed this story as a craven act of character assassination rather than an account worth investigating before Kavanaugh receives a lifetime appointment to make pivotal decisions for the future of the nation—including decisions about, for example, the options that will be available to women if they get pregnant after being raped.

Kavanaugh says that Ford’s story is not true. He told the Washington Post, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation.” Some of his allies appear to have settled on a strategy of insisting that Ford is simply mistaken—that she may well have been assaulted, but that it must have been someone else. (This theory quickly reached “Twin Peaks” levels of absurdity, with a conservative Post contributor writing a column titled “Is There a Kavanaugh Doppelganger?”) Other Kavanaugh supporters believe that Ford is outright lying, for political purposes. The conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who tweeted that he does not find the allegations “credible in any way, shape, or form,” later wrote, referencing Roe v. Wade, “Y’all, I’m sorry, but I have little patience for a group of people willing to destroy an innocent man so they can keep killing kids. And that’s exactly what this is about.”

But a startling number of conservative figures have reacted as if they believe Ford, and have thus ended up in the peculiar position of defending the right of a Supreme Court Justice to have previously attempted to commit rape—a stance that at once faithfully corresponds to and defiantly refutes the current Zeitgeist. These defenders think that the seventeen-year-old Kavanaugh could easily, as Ford alleges, have gotten wasted at a party, pushed a younger girl into a bedroom, pinned her on a bed, and tried to pull off her clothes while covering her mouth to keep her from screaming. They think this, they say, because they know that plenty of men and boys do things like this. On these points, they are in perfect agreement with the women who have defined the #MeToomovement. And yet their conclusion is so diametrically opposed to the moral lessons of the past year that it seems almost deliberately petulant. We now mostly accept that lots of men have committed sexual assault, but one part of the country is saying, “Yes, this is precisely the problem,” and the other part is saying, “Yes, that is why it would obviously be a non-issue to have one of these men on the Supreme Court.”

Go read the long form for a round up of all the rape apologia going on among white male elites who just want to be able to do the fuck what they want with women.

And, yes … some dude came up with an entire conspiracy theory just to prove Kavanaugh’s accuser was likely dazed and confused. This is from Margaret Hartmann writing for  New York Magazine.  Here’s the headline: “Kavanaugh Backer Presents Bonkers Theory: Christine Ford Was Assaulted by Judge’s Doppelgänger”.  Try not to scream too loudly.

The sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh has put Republicans in quite the jam. On the one hand, they think failing to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court in the next few weeks will hurt them in the midterms, and maybe even prevent them from putting another conservative on the Court. On the other hand, it’s no longer acceptable to dismiss women alleging sexual misconduct as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”

A few more moderate Republican senators successfully pushed to let Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while rejecting her request for an FBI investigation into her allegation. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh backers have already come up with a theory that exonerates him, without calling Ford a liar. Earlier this week, Senator Orrin Hatch said Kavanaugh told him “he didn’t do that, and he wasn’t at the party,” so clearly Ford must be “mistaken.” The same possibility of mistaken identity was floated by The Wall Street Journal editorial board, and by the Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, who mused, “Could there be a Kavanaugh doppelganger?”

Ed Whelan, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and the president of a think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, took this theory to a new, wildly irresponsible place on Thursday night, actually identifying a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, and suggesting that he, not the future judge, might have attempted to rape Ford.

The tweetstorm showed the results of Whelan’s internet sleuthing. The supposed evidence (which we are not embedding because there’s no reason to think the classmate was actually involved) includes:

• Real estate photos of the home where Whelan thinks the incident might have occurred, based on Ford saying the house was “not far from” the Columbia Country Club.• A floor plan that shows that the upstairs bathroom is across from a bedroom in this house, just like Ford described.
• And finally, the big reveal: 35 years ago, this was the home of a Georgetown Prep student who looks kind of like Kavanaugh and was also friends with Mark Judge (who was allegedly present during the assault). Yearbook photos and a current photo of the classmate are provided for comparison to Kavanaugh.

As Twitter users discussed the irony of the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center possibly being sued for defamation, Whelan added a disclaimer…

Jonathan Swift of Axios reports that the entire White House is trying to sit on Trumpers to make sure he doesn’t attack Dr. Blasey Ford. It must be a Herculean effort.

A source who has been talking to President Trump throughout the Kavanaugh crisis told Axios that “you have no idea” how hard it has been to keep him from attacking his Supreme Court nominee’s accuser.

A White House official said yesterday: “Hopefully he can keep it together until Monday. That’s only, like, another 48 hours right?” It didn’t last that long: this morning, a few hours after this story posted, the president cast doubt on Ford’s allegation on Twitter.

  • At a rally in Las Vegas last night, Trump praised Kavanaugh and added with rare restraint: “I’m not saying anything about anybody else. … So we gotta let it play out. … I think is everything is going to be just fine.”

Be smart: Kavanaugh’s Republican strategists are holding it together, but are still nervous about the unknowns — and nervous about additional stories.

  • There’s a constant rumor mill that X publication has more female accusers. (Yesterday’s rumor circulating Trumpworld was that it was the WaPo. Over the weekend, the rumor was Ronan Farrow.) Just very feverish.

Testimony in limbo: Lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it’s “not possible” to appear Monday (“and the Committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event”), but that she could testify later in the week, CNN reports.

  • “Ford’s lawyer made clear that at no point … could Ford be in the same room as Kavanaugh.”
  • “There was also a request that Kavanaugh testify first at the hearing — which a … source said … committee Republicans were unlikely to grant.”

More stuff spins off as the rumors spun yesterday about The Tiger Mom grooming female law clerks to look like models for Kavanaugh caused Yale Law  School to open an investigation.

The dean of Yale Law School on Thursday responded to reports that a prominent professor at the school had advised students seeking judicial clerkships with Brett Kavanaugh on their physical looks, saying the reported allegations of faculty misconduct are “of enormous concern” and calling on anyone affected to come forward.

According to reports in The Guardian, the Huffington Post and Above the Law, Amy Chua, a professor at the law school, would advise students on their physical appearance if they wanted to seek a clerkship for Kavanaugh. Specifically, Chua would help potential applicants to have a “model-like” appearance.

In a letter Thursday to the law school community, Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken wrote that she wanted to “address the press reports today regarding allegations of faculty misconduct” and that “the allegations being reported are of enormous concern to me and to the School.”

720full-madtv----------------------------------(1995--2016)-screenshotPolls show Kavanaugh’s popularity is giving the Bork bottom a run for its money.   Even Conservative Women don’t like or trust Kavanaugh.

THE BIG IDEA: The nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager argued passionately that professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her and covered her mouth when she screamed for help during a party in the 1980s “should be ignored.”

“Even if true, they tell us nothing about Brett Kavanaugh since the age of 17,” Prager, 70, wrote for National Review. “When my wife was a waitress in her mid teens, the manager of her restaurant grabbed her breasts and squeezed them on numerous occasions. She told him to buzz off, figured out how to avoid being in places where they were alone, and continued going about her job. That’s empowerment.”

The intense blowback to this piece from women across the ideological spectrum, especially younger women on the right and even at the magazine, has put into stark relief the chasm in attitudes toward sexual assault that continue to exist across generations and genders.

“Conservatives can never advocate ignoring allegations of sexual assault or diminish the importance of protecting women from abuse,” writes National Review staff writer Alexandra DeSanctis, who is in her mid-20s and two years out of college. “No moral society can overlook, downplay, or otherwise dismiss behavior as grave as what Ford alleges Kavanaugh did … To suggest otherwise is deeply perverse. … Prager’s argument in defense of Kavanaugh is destructive to the conservative movement. It is uniquely wounding to conservative women.”

There are a lot of washed up old white men that need to retire and doter their way to retirement and out of the news cycle. I’d like to include Joe Biden in that one. Doesn’t this just enrage you? From NBC News: “Biden: Senate must treat Kavanaugh accuser Ford better than Anita Hill”. This from the man of the no apology apology,

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday cautioned senators to treat the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault better than the Senate treated Anita Hill 27 years ago.

“Anita Hill was vilified when she came forward by a lot of my colleagues,” Biden said during an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Today.” “I wish I could have done more to prevent those questions and the way they asked them.”

“I hope my colleagues learned from that,” he said. In 1991, Hill came forward with sexual harassment allegations during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. At the time, Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and oversaw the hearings. Biden faced criticism for the way he handled the hearings, and for letting senators grill Hill with questions about her encounters with Thomas.

“I hope that they understand what courage it takes for someone to come forward and relive what they believe happened to them,” he said.

You’re free to draw your on conclusions on this but my bottom line is I will never vote for this man because he kept other women from telling similar stories that could’ve shown Anita Hill as one part of a pattern.  That’s just the first of my complaints about Mister “Grabby Hands” on the campaign trail Biden.

I want to read more of this:   “The Case for Impeaching Kavanaugh, If the Democrats win the House this fall, they can investigate the charges against him, should he be confirmed” by Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. writing for NYT.

Of course, even if the House impeached Mr. Kavanaugh, it would still take a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict and remove him from the Court. But the Senate vote would surely have at least something to do with the merits of the House’s case: If a full and fair investigation shows that Mr. Kavanaugh has lied regarding the incident — he has denied it categorically and says nothing even remotely like it ever occurred — Republican senators may find it hard to vote “no” in the #metoo era. It would be a terrible blow to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, of course, but this is the risk that Senators McConnell and Grassley seem willing to take.

Moreover, an impeachment investigation could also encompass allegations that Mr. Kavanaugh has committed perjury before the Senate, twice, related to his work on the nomination of District Judge Charles Pickering to be a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Under oath, both in 2006 and in 2018, he said he had no involvement with the White House strategy sessions associated with Judge Pickering’s nominations. Subsequently released emails, involving these sessions, suggest that these answers were at best misleading and at worst totally false.

Attending a strategy session as a White House staffer is not a crime. Lying under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, on the other hand, is. Perjury would be a perfectly justifiable, and constitutional, basis for impeachment.

An important caveat: Congress must take care to maintain the constitutional convention that has existed since the failed impeachment of Justice Chase. Federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, should not be impeached based on their judicial rulings or philosophy. Accordingly, if the House were to initiate impeachment proceedings against Justice Kavanaugh in 2019, such proceedings should be strictly limited to questions associated with his alleged intentional and deliberate efforts to mislead the Senate about his character and fitness to serve.

We do not know the truth of the troubling allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. But, before someone is confirmed to the Supreme Court, good faith efforts to discover the truth should be made. And if the Senate won’t conduct a credible investigation now, the House should offer its assistance next year.

So, let me end with this from CNN: “Where negotiations stand between Kavanaugh’s accuser and Republicans”.

The impasse is broken — sort of.

After days of communicating through sternly worded letters and media appearances, all the relevant parties — Debra Katz, the lawyer representing Christine Blasey Ford who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and both the majority and minority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee — are now negotiating the details of a public hearing.

Congressional aides briefed on the process say there is still a lot of detail to iron out, but all agree that after last night’s call between the parties, a hearing next week is more than likely.

Bottom line: Keen observers this week have predicted this was coming — that much of what we were seeing, the back and forth, the letters, the silence at times, was part of an overall strategy to set the best terms for each side.

That appears to be the case. Nothing is set yet — and nothing will be set until Senate Judiciary Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, gets sign off from the other 10 Republicans on the committee. But all signals are pointing to a hearing in the latter half of next week.

The conditions — and where they stand

These are the key conditions laid out by Katz, per multiple sources with direct knowledge, or briefed on, the call last night. Of note: those sources said they didn’t view all as red lines — just a few. That is why most believe they are on the road to the hearing.

  • The hearing cannot be on Monday. That’s not negotiable and is a red line. Katz proposed this Thursday; it’s possible, but not by any means set at this point.
  • Ford will not ever be in the same room as Kavanaugh. This also wasn’t negotiable, but it’s not a huge ask — witnesses can be separated and enter/leave at different times. It’s not an extraordinary request.
  • Safety. This was the other key non-negotiable. Ford must be made to feel safe, which, given the threats that Katz laid out that have been directed toward Ford since this was all made public, is understood by all parties.
  • Kavanaugh must testify first, before Ford. This, according to congressional aides, is a non-starter. It’s not how the committee works, and given Kavanaugh would need to respond to Ford’s testimony, will not occur.
  • No outside counsel to ask questions. Republicans on the committee agreed to hire outside counsel — a woman, with experience on these issues — to ask the bulk of the questions at the hearing. This is due to both optics (all 11 GOP members are men) and order (concern that the hearing would be deemed too quickly a political circus). Katz said this would make the hearing appear too much like a trial. This wasn’t viewed as a red line by Republicans, according to the sources, and wasn’t agreed to. It will be discussed amongst committee members and staff.
  • The possibility of a subpoena for Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge, who Ford alleged in her letter was also in the room at the time of the alleged assault. This is a non-starter for Republicans, who are firmly against allowing anyone outside the committee dictate who or what to subpoena.
  • It was made clear that it is still the preference of Ford and her legal team that the White House order an expanded background investigation. Republicans have not — and don’t plan to — agree to that, countering that their staff has been doing that work the last few days. Sources familiar with the call didn’t view the request as any sort of red line — just a preference. One that, at this point, won’t be accepted.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: United States of Embarrassment

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s hard to know where to start the day’s news round up because it’s just one big shit show brought to you by KKKremlin Caligula. There was an active school shooter this morning in Sante Fe, Texas where they have been injuries and fatalities reported. While this was going on, the most despised human being on the planet was tweeting about Hillary Clinton and some deep state cover up by the FBI which is tantamount to broadcasting some Alex Jones drug-induced conspiracy theory to the world.

I can only hope that this means that something has his tighty whities in a bunch.  Is it that Manafort’s son-in-law turned state’s evidence and cut a plea deal?  Was it the very idea that some one in his campaign triggered an FBI investigation which may have put an agent inside watching things? Is it just that every times he opens his mouth something completely idiotic and wrong slips out.

This is the same national embarrassment that is now speaking of himself in the third person and has no idea what the difference is between HPV and HIV and had to ask twice about it. But, he has an embarrassing level of detail and interest in the 22 year old daughter of Bill and Melinda Gates.  He keeps admitting that his pastime is “eyeing little girls with bad intent.”

From the Guardian: “Bill Gates: Trump twice asked me the difference between HIV and HPV. Microsoft co-founder tells foundation meeting it was ‘kind of scary’ how much Trump knew about what Gates’ daughter looked like.

Bill Gates, the billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, has claimed Donald Trump twice asked him the difference between HIV and HPV and knew a “scary” amount about Gates’s daughter’s looks.

The remarks were recorded at a recent Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation meeting, where Gates took questions from staff, according to MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes show, which broadcast the footage on Thursday.

Gates told the audience how Trump had encountered his daughter Jennifer, now 22, at a horse show in Florida. “And then about 20 minutes later he flew in on a helicopter to the same place,” the Microsoft co-founder said. “So clearly he had been driven away but he wanted to make a grand entrance in a helicopter.”

Gates himself met Trump for the first time in New York in December 2016, he recalled: “So when I first talked to him it was actually kind of scary how much he knew about my daughter’s appearance. Melinda [Gates’s wife] didn’t like that too well.”

This was the additional creepy thing.

Gates is hardly known for his comic timing but he frequently prompted laughter from the audience at the foundation event. In one anecdote he said: “When I walked in, his first sentence kind of threw me off. He said: ‘Trump hears that you don’t like what Trump is doing.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, but you’re Trump.’ I didn’t know the third-party form was always expected. ‘Gates says that Gates knows that you’re not doing things right.’”

Trump has a now-familiar verbal tic of referring to himself in the third person.

So, the man that does not know the difference between HIV and HPV and likened his personal fight against STDs to serving in Vietnam continues to surrender women’s health to a racist, nationalist religious cult called White Evangelical Christianity.

The Trump administration is preparing to announce on Friday a far-reaching change in how Title X family planning funds are awarded so that clinics that provide or abortion services or referrals will no longer be eligible — a move that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood by millions of dollars.

Under the proposal to be filed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the $260 million program would require a “bright line” of physical and financial separation between Title X services and providers that perform, support, or refer to abortion as a method of family planning.

These requirements are similar to those that were in place, although they were not enforced, during the Reagan era. Unlike the Reagan regulation, the proposal will not prohibit counseling for clients about abortion, meaning that there’s no “gag rule” that critics of the changes had feared, according to an administration official.

The changes, the official said, reflect the view that taxpayer funds should not be used to fund abortion and that Title X funds are for family planning services, and abortion is not family planning. The updates are also designed to establish more transparency about the activities of grantees and their sub-grantees.

Conservatives are confident that the new rules will withstand a legal challenge, because similar Reagan-era requirements overcame a Supreme Court challenge.

David Christensen, vice president of government affairs for the Family Research Council, said in an interview that those standards required operations receiving Title X funds to be physically and financially separate from those performing abortions.

“Under Reagan, they could not be co-located, they couldn’t refer for abortion,” Christensen said.

Why do all bad and evil things find their roots in the Reagan years?  Asking for womankind here.  So, now Faux news has decided that Trump just might be the “second coming” of Reagan.  And while I’m asking questions does any one find all this messianic language creepy?  I swear,the Republican party is a damned cult these days.

Bret Baier, chief political anchor of Fox News, President Trump’s favorite network, insists he isn’t living in some alternate reality. He knows that our current President is louder, cruder, and ruder than Ronald Reagan, “a counterpuncher” from New York far different from his genial Republican predecessor. Baier is not handing Trump the Nobel Prize for a North Korea summit that hasn’t even happened yet, and he footnotes every conversation with a caution that we don’t know how the Trump story turns out. “I’m not saying that Trump is Reagan, or Reagan is Trump,” he said when we met the other day, in his corner office at the Fox bureau in Washington, not long after handing me a signed copy of the new book he wrote with Catherine Whitney, “Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Union.”

Cautions dispensed with, Baier, who has carved out a profitable sideline moonlighting as a Presidential historian, reeled off what he sees as striking parallels between Trump and Reagan, and his book makes much of everything from their “similar rhetoric in big speeches” to tough media coverage and a shared penchant for being “underestimated.” Decades after many of the details about precisely what happened in Reagan’s eight-year Presidency, in the twilight of the Cold War, have faded from public memory, he remains an exalted figure in the Republican pantheon. Most significantly, Baier argues, Reagan met with the Soviets, but only after years of talking tough about the “evil empire.” A generation later, Trump may be poised for his own expectation-scrambling summitry with the North Korean leader, an example Baier and some Trump partisans portray as a modern-day equivalent of Reagan’s policy of “peace through strength.” “Heads were exploding back when Reagan was elected, and heads are exploding now,” Baier said, as we talked about the twin challenges of covering Trump, a President “unlike any we’ve ever seen,” and writing history amid the “fire hose” of Trump-era news.

Right before our conversation, Baier had appeared on the radio with Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk-show host who reveres Reagan so much he refers to him as Ronaldus Magnus. Limbaugh waxed on to Baier about “the parallels” between two different men, and Baier agreed. “Exactly,” he said. “One thing you can say is, like Reagan, Trump has changed the paradigm. I mean, the jury’s still out on the end result, but the game changed in the way Washington worked.” Baier, who devotes the entire last chapter of his Reagan book to a discussion of Trump, would go on to sell the Reagan-Trump comparison throughout the week, as his book launch continued, chatting amiably about it with the ladies of “The View,” nodding along with his colleagues at “Fox & Friends.” “Bret Baier talks Reagan-Trump parallels,” Fox touted in the video clip from its show, “The Five.”

Soon after our interview on Monday evening, Baier would head over to the Marriott Marquis hotel for his book party. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao showed up, as did White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. It was so crowded with Trump luminaries, it could have been a Cabinet meeting.

Here’s a real doozy of a “me too” story from Foreign Policy. “Sexpat Journalists Are Ruining Asia Coverage. Newsroom predators in foreign bureaus hurt their colleagues — and their stories.”  This is by Joanna Chiu.

Once, a fellow journalist exited our shared taxi outside my apartment. I thought we were sharing a cab to our respective homes, but he had other expectations, and suddenly his tongue was in my face. On another evening, another journalist grabbed my wrist and dragged me out of a nightclub without a word. I was clearly too drunk to consent; it was a caveman approach to get me into bed while I was intoxicated. And on yet another occasion, in a Beijing restaurant, a Western public relations executive reached under my dress and grabbed my crotch.

The incidents aren’t limited by proximity. I have received multiple unsolicited “dick pics” from foreign correspondents — generally on the highly monitored messaging service WeChat. Somewhere deep in the Chinese surveillance apparatus there is a startling collection of images of journalists’ genitalia.

The #MeToo campaign has reminded us of how common these stories are — but the behavior of foreign men working abroad has, in my experience, been far worse than anything I ever experienced at home. Fortunately for me, I’ve experienced this only as part of the wider journalist community, not in my own workplaces – but others haven’t been so lucky. The phenomenon is not a problem unique to the press, but it’s one that’s especially problematic for journalists.

A somber meeting this Tuesday of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, which represents the interests of foreign journalists in a difficult local environment, provided another painful example of this. As the New York Times reported, former club president Jonathan Kaiman, who had resigned in January after being accused of sexual misconduct by Laura Tucker, a former friend of his, was now accused of sexually assaulting a female journalist, Felicia Sonmez. After the second accusation, the Los Angeles Times quickly suspended him from his role as Beijing bureau chief and has begun an investigation. But as the Hong Kong Free Press noted, the original accusation had prompted many male correspondents to launch misogynistic attacks on Tucker in online conversations.

Such actions, and entitlement, reflect a sense of privilege and a penchant for sexual aggression that threatens to distort the stories told about Asia, and that too often leaves the telling in the hands of the same men preying on their colleagues. I have seen correspondents I know to be serial offenders in private take the lead role in reporting on the sufferings of Asian women, or boast of their bravery in covering human rights. In too many stories, Asian men are treated as the sole meaningful actors, while Asian women are reduced to sex objects or victims. And this bad behavior — and the bad coverage that follows — is a pattern that repeats across Asia, from Tokyo to Phnom Penh.

Meanwhile, it appears Trump has caved to NK’s Kim Jong Un and halted the joint training between the US and SK.  The only person that appears to be capable of maintaining maximum pressure is Michael Avenatti.  This is from Josh Rogin writing for WAPO.

The Trump administration says that if the upcoming summit between the United States and North Korea fails or doesn’t happen at all, the United States and its allies can go right back to the “maximum pressure” campaign that brought Kim Jong Un to the table in the first place. In reality, doing that would be difficult if not impossible. The pressure is already diminishing.

The administration’s claim that it can immediately turn on the pressure again is crucial to its effort to play it cool ahead of the Trump-Kim summit. President Trump often says that if Kim doesn’t want to strike a good deal, he will simply walk away, no harm done. After the North Korean government threatened to scuttle the talks this week in response to comments from national security adviser John Bolton, the White House doubled down on this assertion.

In reality, the dynamics that made a successful maximum-pressure campaign possible have changed fundamentally. The United States and its allies have paused their efforts to increase sanctions on North Korea to give diplomacy a chance to work. The sting of the existing sanctions naturally erodes over time. There are reports that China is already easing up on its sanctions enforcement, allowing more laborers and goods to flow over North Korea’s northern border. The mood in South Korea has changed significantly, making the threat of military action less credible.

Meanwhile, the United Nation is actively slapping US foreign policy on Israel to the ground. I’m actually thinking Trump will pull the US from the body at this point it’s so obviously aimed at him.  The UN has voted to investigate War Crimes in the Gaza Massacre that happened during the Kushner debacle opening an US embassy in Jerusalem. which, once again, panders to religious cultists. This is from The Independent.

The UN has voted to send an international war crimes probe to Gaza after the body’s leading human rights official slammed Israel‘s reaction to protests along the border as “wholly disproportionate.”

Israeli firing into Hamas-ruled Gaza killed nearly 60 Palestinians at mass border protests on Monday.

“There is little evidence of any attempt to minimise casualties on Monday,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The council voted through the resolution by 29 in favour and two opposed, while 14 states abstained.

Additionally, Kuwait wants to request a Palestianian protection force. This is likely to be vetoed by the US perThe Jerusalem Post.

The United Nations Security Council will begin talks on Monday on a Kuwait-drafted resolution that condemns Israeli force against Palestinian civilians and calls for an “international protection mission” to be deployed to the occupied territories.

The draft resolution, seen by Reuters on Friday, asks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report within 30 days of its adoption on “ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population.”

I’m going to close with the sad news that ‘Multiple Fatalities’ have been reported in that school shooting.

At least eight people are dead following a shooting at Santa Fe High School outside of Houston, Texas, law enforcement officials have told multiple local news sources.

One person, reportedly a male who federal officials believe to be a student, is in custody, and another person has been detained, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted. At least three people — two adults and one student — are being treated for injuries at a local hospital. One police officer was wounded. The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the officer was “clipped” and is not seriously injured.

November 18 is coming and we all need to vote to end this war on humanity, science, world peace, and civilization.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Boys will be Boys and many of their victims resist and persist

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s been a week where toxic masculinity has been on full display.  So, should I qualify that or not?  Do I need to say not all men? Do I need to say enablers count?   What do we say about all of this? Every day in Trump’s America is a day where we find yet another example of #MeToo but most of it is not a current event unless you point out that we’re finally getting some accountability but also some blowback.  Let me count the ways.

Katie J.M Baker writes this for the NYT: ‘What Do We Do With These Men?’

The bad men are plotting their comebacks.

In recent days, Page Six reported that the former CBS anchor Charlie Rose, accused by employees of acts ranging from groping to walking around naked in their presence, is shopping a return to television. His new project? Interviewing other men felled by #MeToo.

Mr. Rose isn’t alone: In the past few weeks, men from Tom Ashbrook to Matt Lauer to Mario Batali to Louis C.K. have reportedly been testing the waters. The response has been swift and incredulous. “Maybe don’t,” wrote Jessica Goldstein in a ThinkProgress piece called “Men who pulled out their penises at work think people want to see more of them now.” “Perhaps these guys could just stay quietly at home for a few more months and jerk each other off,” Anna Merlan wrote in a piece for Jezebel (where I previously worked).

I get it. For the first time in history, it seems, an unprecedented number of powerful men are facing significant consequences for predatory behavior. For a minority — such as Bill Cosby, who was found guilty this week in the first post-#MeToo celebrity sex crimes trial — the road to justice seems obvious. But for the vast majority, it isn’t. Still, it feels appalling, unfair, even beside the point to turn to questions of what should happen to the #MeToo-ed men who aren’t headed to court.

Yes, Cosby had his day in court.  He lost.

The verdict was widely celebrated as a win for sexual assault victims. Gloria Allred, the lawyer for dozens of Mr. Cosby’s accusers, said outside the courtroom, “After all is said and done, women were finally believed.”

Still, they persisted.

Will Tom Brokaw?  What about all the women of NBC that had to deal with Matt Lauer?

In the news business, “I think people generally did not care” about women’s stories of sexual harassment, said Soledad O’Brien, who worked at NBC for 12 years, went on to CNN for another decade and now runs her own production company. “I don’t think that people who were victims would feel particularly supported by going to someone and asking for help, whether that person was in HR or that person was a colleague.”

O’Brien added that she did not experience sexual harassment at NBC but said that within the industry, “People were mostly concerned they would lose their jobs if they complained. I think those concerns were valid.”

But, these weren’t the only stories making headlines this weeks.  We have the arrest of two mass murderers.  One that destroyed millions of lives of women over a period of time and another that shattered the lives of people in a few minutes.  What does it take to get folks to realize there is a common thread here?

Gary Younge writes this for The Guardian: “Nearly every mass killer is a man. We should all be talking more about that.”

From the Oklahoma bombing to the massacre in Norway it is always the same. In the immediate aftermath of mass murder, the initial hypothesis is that it must be a Muslim. And so it was on Monday that, within minutes of a van mowing down pedestrians in Toronto, a far-right lynching party was mobilised on social media looking for jihadis. Paul Joseph Watson, of conspiracy site Infowars, announced, “A jihadist has just killed nine people”; Katie Hopkins branded the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a “terrorist shill”.

But there is a far safer assumption one can generally make. For while a relatively small proportion of mass killers in North America are Muslim, across the globe they are almost all men.

There will be, though, no appeals for moderate men to denounce toxic masculinity, no extra surveillance where men congregate, no government-sponsored schemes to promote moderate manhood, or travel bans for men. Indeed, the one thing that is consistently true for such incidents, whether they are classified as terrorist or not, will for the most part go unremarked. Obviously not all men are killers. But the fact that virtually all mass killers are men should, at the very least, give pause for thought. If it were women slaying people at this rate, feminism would be in the dock. The fact they are male is both accepted and expected. Boys will be boys; mass murderers will be men.

Who got the Golden State Killer?A sort’ve public library of 23 and me for one.

To get a leg up in the investigation in the cold case of the “Golden State Killer” (aka the “East Area Rapist”), authorities recently turned to modern DNA and genealogy analysis tools.

But they didn’t use any of the big-name DNA analysis firms like 23andMe; instead they relied on GEDmatch, a free, open source site run by a small two-man Florida company that just a few years ago was soliciting donations via PayPal.

According to the East Bay Times, which first reported the connection to GEDmatch late Thursday evening, California investigators caught a huge break in the case when they matched DNA from some of the original crime scenes with genetic data that had already been uploaded to GEDmatch. This familial link eventually led authorities to Joseph James DeAngelo, the man who authorities have named the chief suspect in the case. To confirm the genetic match, Citrus Heights police physically surveilled him and captured DNA off of something that he had discarded.

The former police officer was arrested Tuesday at his home in suburban Sacramento, having eluded law enforcement for decades. DeAngelo is expected to be arraigned Friday in Sacramento County Superior Court.

The Yolo County District Attorney said Thursday that DeAngelo “is suspected of committing over 50 rapes and a dozen murders across 10 different Northern, Central, and Southern California counties between 1976 and 1986.”

Paul Holes, a retired Contra Costa County District Attorney inspector, told the East Bay Times that the investigation’s “biggest tool was GEDmatch, a Florida-based website that pools raw genetic profiles that people share publicly. No court order was needed to access that site’s large database of genetic blueprints.”

BB has suggested–and I would argue rightly so–that the obsessiveness of one woman brought the ice cold case back to life. This is from the New Yorker and it was published this last January.  (Caution Rape Trigger)

You were your approach: The thump against the fence. A temperature dip from a jimmied-open patio door. The odor of aftershave permeating a bedroom at 3 a.m. A blade at the base of the neck. “Don’t move, or I’ll kill you.” Their hardwired threat-detection systems flickered meekly through the sledgehammer of sleep. No one had time to sit up. Awakening meant understanding that they were under siege. Phone lines had been cut. Bullets emptied from guns. Ligatures prepared and laid out. You forced action from the periphery, a blur of mask and strange, gulping breaths. Your familiarity freaked them. Your hands flew to hard-to-find light switches. You knew names. Number of kids. Hangouts. Your preplanning gave you a crucial advantage, because, when your victims awoke to the blinding flashlight and clenched-teeth threats, you were always a stranger to them, but they never were to you.

Hearts drummed. Mouths dried. Your physicality remained unfathomable. You were a hard-soled shoe felt fleetingly. A penis slathered in baby lotion thrust into a pair of bound hands. “Do it good.” No one saw your face. No one felt your full body weight. Blindfolded, the victims relied on smell and hearing. Floral talcum powder. Hint of cinnamon. Chimes on a curtain rod. Zipper opening on a duffel bag. Coins falling to the floor. A whimper, a sob. “Oh, Mom.” A glimpse of royal-blue brushed-leather tennis shoes.

The barking of dogs fading away in a westerly direction.

These are the words of Michelle McNamara.

This piece is excerpted from “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer,” which was published on February 27th by HarperCollins. The Golden State Killer is the name McNamara gave to an unidentified man who raped more than fifty women and likely killed ten or more people in California in the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Several years ago, McNamara began investigating the case and blogging about it on her Web site. She died in April, 2016, at the age of forty-six.

Still, she persisted until death.

But again, not all men.

What caused Paul Ryan to dismiss a Catholic priest serving as chaplain for the House? The rumor mill is is busy with this one.

If you’re going to fire a beloved House chaplain, it helps to have bipartisan support. Even better if that person is a Catholic, too. Ryan thought he did have House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) sign off. “She and her office were fully read in and did not object,” AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokesman, told Kane.

Pelosi’s office denies they agreed Conroy should go. Ryan and Pelosi may fight in public a lot, but behind the scenes they have a fairly good working relationship. The fact they can’t agree on the basic facts of a conversation about the chaplain just adds to the mystery surrounding this.

There’s also talk that it came from outcries of the religiously whacky freedom caucus. “Ousted House chaplain: Ryan told me to ‘stay out of politics'”

Ousted House Chaplain Patrick Conroy said Thursday that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told him to “stay out of politics” after he offered a prayer on the House floor as the chamber was debating tax reform.

“A staffer came down and said, We are upset with this prayer; you are getting too political,” Conroy told The New York Times. “It suggests to me that there are members who have talked to him about being upset with that prayer.”

Conroy said that shortly afterward Ryan told him, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”

The prayer was said in November amid debate about overhauling the tax code.

“May all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” Conroy prayed on the House floor. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

 

Whatever the reasons, it’s another clear example of the many way that men who have power or seek it through destroying others run amok in these times. The irony that Paul Ryan is supposedly Catholic is not lost on us.

Still, we persist.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Monday Reads: Me Too

Yesterday and today, all of my social media began to light up with two simple words placed into hashtag format. #MeToo. 

Two simple words became a rallying cry on Twitter to stand against sexual harassment and assault.

“Me too.”

Social media was flooded with messages Sunday, mostly from women, who tagged their profiles to indicate that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted.

On Sunday actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a note that read “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” she wrote.

The movement started in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and its ensuing fall out.

One woman on twitter started the momentum as woman after woman admitted to having been assault and harassed during her lifetime.  That woman was actress Allysa Milano.

Twitter and Facebook have ignited with personal stories of abuse.

It started on Sunday with American actress Alyssa Milano calling on Twitter users to write “Me too” if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

I’ve felt this entire year has been the year of the Sexual Predator exposed.  We have an admitted one President who openly bragged about sexually assault caught on a hot mic.  We saw a Cable News Network exposed as a Ring of Predators with management and talent having paid hush money for years to stop allegations. I relived the horror of it all during a Presidential Debate watching disturbing acts of stalking, bullying and intimidation play out on the debate stage. Hilary Clinton was subjected to horrific abuse through out the campaign by Kremlin Caligula and his awful supporters.

Sexual harassment impacts to your health. 

Dr. Colleen Cullen, a licensed clinical psychologist, notes that for victims of sexual harassment, the most common diagnoses are depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“An experience [with sexual harassment] can either trigger symptoms of depression and anxiety that are new to the person; or it can exacerbate a previous condition that may have been controlled or resolved. Patients may also see a worsening of symptoms,” says Dr. Cullen. “Some research has found that sexual harassment early in one’s career in particular can [cause] long-term depressive symptoms.”

Someone going through or dealing with the aftermath of sexual harassment may also exhibit symptoms of PTSD, especially if the harassment leads to violence and/or assault

“Among women who experience a sexual assault, 90 percent who experience sexual violence in the immediate aftermath exhibit symptoms of acute stress,” says Dr. Helen Wilson, a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise on the effects of trauma. “For many people, these symptoms dissipate over time through social support and coping strategies, and many people totally recover and move on; others will be so distressed that it really interferes with their work and life. It takes a certain number of symptoms to diagnose, but that’s when it can become PTSD.”

There is nothing usual about this administration. Even if we manage to get rid of the man making Iranian leaders appear rational, we get the bizarre Mike Pence in his stead. This is the man who refuses to be in a room with women if his wife–who he calls ‘mother’–is not there.

Trump and Pence are misaligned politically, too. Trump campaigned as an unorthodox outsider, but Pence is a doctrinaire ideologue. Kellyanne Conway, the White House counsellor, who became a pollster for Pence in 2009, describes him as “a full-spectrum conservative” on social, moral, economic, and defense issues. Pence leans so far to the right that he has occasionally echoed A.C.L.U. arguments against government overreach; he has, for instance, supported a federal shield law that would protect journalists from having to identify whistle-blowers. According to Bannon, Pence is “the outreach guy, the connective tissue” between the Trump Administration and the most conservative wing of the Republican establishment. “Trump’s got the populist nationalists,” Bannon said. “But Pence is the base. Without Pence, you don’t win.”

Pence has taken care to appear extraordinarily loyal to Trump, so much so that Joel K. Goldstein, a historian and an expert on Vice-Presidents who teaches law at St. Louis University, refers to him as the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” But Pence has the political experience, the connections, the discipline, and the ideological mooring that Trump lacks. He also has a close relationship with the conservative billionaire donors who have captured the Republican Party’s agenda in recent years.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump characterized the Republican Party’s big spenders as “highly sophisticated killers” whose donations allowed them to control politicians. When he declared his candidacy, he claimed that, because of his real-estate fortune, he did not need support from “rich donors,” and he denounced super pacs, their depositories of unlimited campaign contributions, as “corrupt.” Pence’s political career, though, has been sponsored at almost every turn by the donors whom Trump has assailed. Pence is the inside man of the conservative money machine.

Oh, the loathsome West Wing Mommy   Both Trump and creepy KellyAnne attended the Values Voter Meeting held by the Hate Group “Family Research” council.  She told the cult gathering that she loves working for Trump because he truly “respects” and “elavates” women . She’s definitely on my Arya list probably as high up as Little Finger was on hers until last season.  “I work in a workplace where working moms and certainly women are respected.” Most likely she feels safe because there are armed guards around him.

 

She’s most likely Adult Day Care Mommy now.  Here’s more of our tax dollars at work.  It’s on the same level of his frequent trips to his properties to play golf and fleece us of funds.

Some Trump aides spend a significant part of their time devising ways to rein in and control the impetuous president, angling to avoid outbursts that might work against him, according to interviews with 18 aides, confidants and outside advisers, most of whom insisted on anonymity to speak candidly.

“If you visit the White House today, you see aides running around with red faces, shuffling paper and trying to keep up with this president,” said one Republican in frequent contact with the administration. “That’s what the scene is.”

The White House dismissed Corker’s suggestion that administration officials spend their days trying to contain the president. The point was highlighted last week in an unusual briefing by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who sought to tamp down reports that he was focused on attempting to control Trump.

“I was not brought to this job to control anything but the flow of information to our president so that he can make the best decisions,” Kelly told reporters. “So, again, I was not sent in to — or brought in to — control him.”

Kelly also praised Trump as “a decisive guy” and “a very thoughtful man” whose sole focus is on advancing American interests. “He takes information in from every avenue he can receive it,” Kelly said. “I restrict no one, by the way, from going in to see him. But when we go in to see him now, rather than onesies and twosies, we go in and help him collectively understand what he needs to understand to makes these vital decisions.”

Trump is hardly the first president whose aides have arranged themselves around him and his management style — part of a natural effort, one senior White House official said, to help ensure the president’s success. But Trump’s penchant for Twitter feuds, name-calling and temperamental outbursts presents a unique challenge.

One defining feature of managing Trump is frequent praise, which can leave his team in what seems to be a state of perpetual compliments. The White House pushes out news releases overflowing with top officials heaping flattery on Trump; in one particularly memorable Cabinet meeting this year, each member went around the room lavishing the president with accolades.

Speaking of more insane members of the Trump clown posse,  Axios today has this headline: “ The next CIA director could be Tom Cotton.”

We told you about internal administration conversations about sliding CIA Director Mike Pompeo over to replace SecState Rex Tillerson, whenever he heads back to Texas.

Now we’re hearing about a top possibility for the next chess move: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was considered for CIA director (and SecDef) during the transition, and is a candidate for CIA again:

Why he’s being considered: Cotton is one of the few senators with an easy relationship with Trump, talking to him a few times a week, giving him advice about top jobs (that Trump has taken), and planting the seed for the Iran policy announced Friday.

 Who he is: Cotton, 40, is a double Harvard (undergraduate and law); served in the Army’s 101st Airborne, with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (Bronze Star); then was a McKinsey & Co. consultant and served a term in the House.
Why it matters: MSNBC and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt — who talks frequently to Cotton on and off the air, and first floated the idea of Cotton for CIA — told me that Pompeo, Cotton, SecDef Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly would be “a quartet of serious intellectuals and warriors in the ‘big four’ jobs.” And you could add National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster as a fifth.
  • Hewitt says both Cotton and Pompeo “like and listen to the president” and “accept his realism in foreign affairs.”
  • A longtime friend of Cotton, asked if he’d take the CIA job, said: “This guy quit his fancy law firm to serve his country in the wake of 9/11. He does his duty when the country calls.”
  • Fun fact: Cotton is interesting enough that Jeffrey Toobin has been working on a New Yorker profile, including D.C. interviews and a trip to Cotton’s parents’ cattle farm in Yell County, Ark.

Be smart: The Tillerson situation doesn’t seem tenable to insiders: Pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday, he again refused to say he hadn’t called Trump a moron. Trump treats people like comfort food — he likes advisers he’s used to, and vice versa. Pompeo and Cotton fit the bill.

 So, that’s it from me. Your Turn.
 
What’s  on your reading and blogging list today?