While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: October 20, 2020 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bill Barr, CNN, coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump, Edward Hopper, Hunter Biden, Ivanka Trump, Jeffrey Toobin, Joe Biden, Michael Steele, never Trump Republicans, Russian disinformation, Stephanie Kane, Stony blonde, The New Yorker 21 Comments
A few days ago, I came across an article about Edward Hopper’s paintings of a “stony blonde” woman at Crime Reads. I’m going to use some of the paintings mentioned in the article to illustrate this post. Here’s the article: How Edward Hopper’s Stony Blonde Became A Noir Icon. On The Femme Fatale Who Flipped the Script, by Stephanie Kane.
Best known for his disengaged customers at a neon-lit diner counter and his flapper staring into a coffee cup in a lonely automat at night, Hopper depicted social isolation before a pandemic made it a way of life. It’s no surprise that the famously reclusive artist binged on movies when he was creatively blocked, read pulp fiction, and had a lasting impact on film noir. He even influenced Alfred Hitchcock: the house in Psycho is modeled on a Hopper painting.
Hopper apparently had issues with women, and only connected with three of them, one of whom was his wife and fellow artist Jo Nivison. You can read Jo and the other two women in the article. Here are the paintings selected by Kane to illustrate her points:
The blonde first appears in Hopper’s 1906 watercolor, Couple near Poplars, as a petite Gibson girl with a gawky swain. Hair upswept, with a pinafore over her corseted waist, she faces into the wind with her arms tightly crossed and lips grimly set. Forty years later she’s the girl on the porch in 1947’s Summer Evening, provocatively dressed in a pink bandeau and high-cut shorts, staring sullenly down as her date leans in imploringly. In 1932’s Room in New York, she’s the wife in the evening dress at the piano, idly touching a key while her husband ignores her for his newspaper. Her hand on the keyboard is poised to come crashing down.
When she is alone, the blonde tells another story. In 1927’s Automat, she’s a flapper slumped over a coffee cup in a neon-lit cafeteria. If she’s contemplating her next move, it takes her four years. In 1931’s Hotel Room, she sits at the edge of a bed in a chemise, shoes kicked off and bags on the floor, bent over a train schedule in her lap. Preparing to make a run for it, like that collie in the grass.
In 1957’s Western Motel, she flips the script.
Blonde hair pulled back, in a striking red dress, she sits upright at the foot of a neatly made bed. The picture window behind her frames what could be a Western movie set: blue sky, mountains, and an Aztec green Buick sedan with a bull’s-eye chrome bombsite on the hood, raring to go. Tagged and packed, her bags stand at the door. A pair of blue men’s boxer shorts is draped on a chair. She’s leaving without him. And after 50 years, she finally looks straight at the viewer.
Here, as she faces us for the very first time, Hopper’s blonde’s arc ends. In walking out of Western Motel and into the world, this femme fatale chooses life over love or death.
Can you tell I’m not in the mood for politics today? I’m so sick and tired of Donald Trump that I just want to escape from the world for the next two weeks. Of course I can’t really do that, because another part of me is completely obsessed with knowing what is happening in the lead-up to the election.
Yesterday we did get a distraction when the news broke that Jeffrey Toobin was caught masturbating during a Zoom call with his New Yorker colleagues. Vice: New Yorker Suspends Jeffrey Toobin for Masturbating on Zoom Call.
The New Yorker has suspended reporter Jeffrey Toobin for masturbating on a Zoom video chat between members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio last week. Toobin says he did not realize his video was on.
“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” Toobin told Motherboard.
“I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video,” he added.
Two people who were on the call told VICE separately that the call was an election simulation featuring many of the New Yorker’s biggest stars: Jane Mayer was playing establishment Republicans; Evan Osnos was Joe Biden, Jelani Cobb was establishment Democrats, Masha Gessen played Donald Trump, Andrew Marantz was the far right, Sue Halpern was left wing democrats, Dexter Filkins was the military, and Jeffrey Toobin playing the courts. There were also a handful of other producers on the call from the New Yorker and WNYC.
Both people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, noted that it was unclear how much each person saw, but both said that they saw Toobin jerking off. The two sources described a juncture in the election simulation when there was a strategy session, and the Democrats and Republicans went into their respective break out rooms for about 10 minutes. At this point, they said, it seemed like Toobin was on a second video call. The sources said that when the groups returned from their break out rooms, Toobin lowered the camera. The people on the call said they could see Toobin touching his penis. Toobin then left the call. Moments later, he called back in, seemingly unaware of what his colleagues had been able to see, and the simulation continued.
The New Yorker says they are “investigating,” and CNN has given Toobin some time off to deal with his “personal issue.” It seems to me that Toobin should just be fired, but he’s a powerful white man, so . . . slap on the wrist I guess.
Apparently, Toobin has a history of sexual misconduct. Read about it in this 2010 New York Daily News piece: CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin made ‘shockingly sexual’ proposition to well-known media figure, she claims.
In today’s news, Trump continues to flog the Hunter Biden non-story. He went on Fox News this morning to rant about it. Raw Story: Trump publicly demands Bill Barr appoint special counsel to investigate Joe Biden in off-the-rails Fox News interview.
In a wide-ranging and off-the-rails Fox News interview President Donald Trump is demanding Attorney General Bill Barr appoint a special counsel to investigate his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, over Russian disinformation spread by his personal attorney and a conservative media outlet owned by his friend.
Trump told “Fox & Friends” Barr has “got to act” against the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden, insisting the Attorney General give credence to the disinformation before Election Day.
“We’ve go to get the Attorney General to act, and he’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election,” Trump demanded, before declaring, “we’re going to win the election.”
But more than 50 former intelligence officials say the Hunter Biden story is Russian disinformation. Natasha Bertrand at Politico:
More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
The letter, signed on Monday, centers around a batch of documents released by the New York Post last week that purport to tie the Democratic nominee to his son Hunter’s business dealings. Under the banner headline “Biden Secret E-mails,” the Post reported it was given a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said he got it from a Mac shop owner in Delaware who also alerted the FBI.
“If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”
Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan, provided POLITICO with the letter on Monday. He noted that “the IC leaders who have signed this letter worked for the past four presidents, including Trump. The real power here however is the number of former, working-level IC officers who want the American people to know that once again the Russians are interfering.”
Read more at Politico.
Anyway Trump’s kids are blatantly profiting from their dad’s corrupt presidency. Biden should bring that up in the debate on Thursday night.
Joan Venocchi at The Boston Globe: Enough about Hunter Biden. What about Ivanka Trump?
Trump’s strategy is clear. His own children are brazenly trading on the Trump family name to advance the Trump Organization’s business interests. Changing the subject to “What about Hunter Biden?” becomes a way to project the corruption spotlight onto the Bidens and away from the Trumps. Plus, if the final weeks of the campaign are all about Hunter Biden, that allows Trump to distract from what are the real issues: Trump’s failed leadership, especially regarding the coronavirus pandemic; Trump’s ongoing commitment to dividing the country by race and political ideology, rather than trying to unite it; and Trump’s utter lack of character, integrity, and honesty….
At least Joe Biden acknowledges it was a mistake for his son to join the Burisma board and is pledging that no family members will have any involvement with any foreign government if he’s elected president. Trump, meanwhile, calls the Bidens “an organized crime family,” yet takes no responsibility for the conflicts of interest corrupting his own presidency.
“Can you imagine if my kids did what this guy Hunter has done,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Florida. “Ivanka! Oh my beautiful, my wonderful Ivanka. She’s a good kid. Can you imagine? “
We can do more than imagine. According to Forbes, the Chinese government has granted 41 trademarks to companies linked to Trump’s daughter. And “the trademarks she applied for after her father became president reportedly got approved roughly 40 percent faster than those she requested before her father’s victory in the 2016 election,” Forbes reported.
Read the whole thing at the Globe.
Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele has endorsed Joe Biden. He explains at NBC News: I’m a Republican voting for Joe Biden over Trump. Because I’m an American first.
So here we are, faced with the re-election of President Donald Trump and the prospect of a nation still struggling against Covid-19, reeling from the ravages of a flattened economy and in pain from civil unrest and our genuine concern for how we treat one another.
Rather than binding up the nation’s wounds, Trump exacerbates division. Rather than standing up to the world’s dictators, Trump cravenly seeks the favor of thugs. Rather than fostering free enterprise, Trump embraces economic principles not only outdated in Lincoln’s time, but made even worse today by a leader who lost close to a billion dollars in a single year running a casino. Rather than seeking to build on the legacy of the Republican Party’s founders, of which Trump is surely ignorant, Trump has posited a single purpose for the GOP — the celebration of him.
Consequently, America has watched as the Republican Party stopped pursuing its animating principles of freedom and opportunity. It has given up its voice on things that mattered and instead bent the arc of the party towards the baser motives of one man, who is neither a Republican nor a conservative.
Read the rest at the link. I don’t agree with most of it, I’m glad Steele came out publicly. More and more never Trump Republicans are announcing that they will vote for Biden, and we need all the help we can get.
More stories to check out:
The New York Times: Voters Prefer Biden Over Trump on Almost All Major Issues, Poll Shows.
Financial Times: US voters turn against Donal d Trump’s economic policies.
Axios: Axios-Ipsos poll: Trump’s sickness makes him harder to trust.
Brian Karem at The Bulwark: The Donald Trump Show Must Go On. The madness continues on the campaign trail.
The Daily Beast: Even Parts of Trumpworld Are Like: Rudy, WTF Are You Doing?
The New York Times: U.S. Diplomats and Spies Battle Trump Administration Over Suspected Attacks.
Julia Ioffe at GQ: The Mystery of the Immaculate Concussion.
Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: What Kristen Welker can learn from Savannah Guthrie about dealing with Trump.
Raw Story: Just two weeks before the election, Justice Department sues Google in biggest antitrust case in decades.
Have a nice Thursday everyone, and please check in with us in the comments if you have the time and inclination.
Wednesday ReadsPosted: November 10, 2010 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: . Minority Whip, CIA, Clyburn, destruction of evidence, DOJ, Durham, health insurance industry, Hoyer, Michael Steele, RNC, Torture 29 Comments
The infighting for Democratic party leadership positions is getting heated. The Hill highlights the struggle between Clyburn and Hoyer for minority whip status. Clyburn is calling shennanigans on Hoyer but both insist the squabble doesn’t signal a party split.
Clyburn, currently the majority whip, said Majority Leader Hoyer’s strategy of releasing the names of his supporters is threatening a process that is historically “about respecting and honoring” fellow Democrats.
“This is not about playing the numbers game,” Clyburn told The Hill outside Washington’s Newseum when asked about his whip count . “This is about respecting and honoring the members of our caucus in such a way that they will be comfortable with the process.
“I don’t see how you maintain a comfort level for all of our members by rolling out these names. I don’t think it does the process any real good. I’ve never done it; I’m not going to do it.”
It must be getting bad since CNN reported a letter by some congress critters suggesting that a delayed leadership election might be in the best interest of the upcoming lame duck session. A copy of the letter is available at the link.
Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D- Ohio) and Peter Defazio (D-Oregon) say in the letter that the “historic results” of the Democrat’s 60-seat loss in the House is one reason to push back leadership selection.
The letter comes as the soon-to-be former House Democratic majority leaders are embroiled in a controversy over who will lead the Democrats when the House changes to Republican hands in January.
Defazio is a known critic of the Democratic leadership and has vocalized his opposition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- California) remaining in a leadership role. Kaptur has occasionally broken with leadership, but her spokesman told CNN that Kaptur’s request to delay the elections is not about Pelosi, but about giving Democratic members some time to return to Washington and discuss future moves for all leadership slots before any decisions are made.
Meanwhile the Republicans–despite a good election year– are still trying to get rid of Michael Steele. Well, that’s if you believe the NYT.
So far, the effort has been tentative, with Mr. Steele’s most ardent opponents working behind the scenes to persuade an alternative to run against him — fearful that any overt moves will create a backlash in Mr. Steele’s favor among those committee members who tend to view the establishment in Washington with suspicion.
One man leading the effort is a Mississippi Republican Party committeeman, Henry Barbour, who is a nephew of Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi — a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, himself. Governor Barbour is said by people involved in the discussions to be among those eager to see a change at the top of the party and recently criticized party fund-raising under Mr. Steele.
Officials close to the presumed new House speaker, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, and the Senate minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said that both men would prefer a new chairman as well, but that they were also resigned to Mr. Steele’s continued leadership should no clear alternative emerge to defeat him.
In an interview Tuesday night, Henry Barbour said, “I like Mike Steele, and I’ve worked hard to support him as chairman.” But, he added, “I do think we have to make a change, and I have actively talked to some other members in the last week or so and encouraged a few of them to consider running.”
The CEO of Cigna doesn’t think that repealing the U.S. Health Reform law is a worthwhile endeavor. What exactly does that say? There’s a lot of talk about how the industry is gearing up for the changes already and the trouble that any additional major changes would cost. Is this why some GOPers are standing down from their earlier threats to move for repeal? Or, is it some other industry reason? This is from Reuters.
“I don’t think it’s in our society’s best interest to expend energy in repealing the law,” David Cordani told the Reuters Health Summit in New York. “Our country expended over a year of sweat equity around the formation of it.”
Debate over the law, passed in March, has reignited after Republican gains in last week’s congressional election. The party promised to overturn the overhaul, but some leaders have backed off, saying they would target specific changes and funding.
There’s a great blog entry by EmptyWheel at FDL about the DOJ decision that basically infers its’ okay to cover up torture and destroy the evidence if you’re the CIA and it’s in the name of terrorism. You can read how no criminal charges will be sought against the CIA at the NYT. Then, go read the the FDL blog piece. Why is it even called the Department of JUSTICE any more?
Of course no one will be charged for destroying the evidence of torture! Our country has spun so far beyond holding the criminals who run our country accountable that even the notion of accountability for torture was becoming quaint and musty while we waited and screamed for some kind of acknowledgment that Durham had let the statute of limitations on the torture tape destruction expire. I doubt they would have even marked the moment–yet another criminal investigation of the Bush Administration ending in nothing–it if weren’t for the big stink bmaz has been making. Well, maybe that’s not right–after all, Bob Bennett was bound to do a very public victory lap, because that’s what he’s paid for.
The investigation continues, DOJ tells us, into obstruction of the Durham investigation itself. Maybe they think they’ve caught someone like Porter Goss in a lie. But at this point, that almost seems like a nice story the prosecutors are telling themselves so they can believe they’re still prosecutors, so they can believe we still have rule of law in this country.
This inquiry started long before Obama started looking forward, not backward. It started before the White House allowed the Chief of Staff to override the Attorney General on Gitmo and torture. It started before we found out that someone had destroyed many of the torture documents at DOJ–only to find no one at DOJ cared. It started before the Obama DOJ made up silly reasons why Americans couldn’t see what the Vice President had to say about ordering the leak of a CIA officer’s identity. It started before the Obama White House kept invoking State Secrets to cover up Bush’s crimes, from illegal wiretapping, to kidnapping, to torture. It started at a time when we naively believed that Change might include putting the legal abuses of the past behind us.
This inquiry started before the Obama Administration assumed the right to kill American citizens with no due process–all the while invoking State Secrets to hide that, too.
Explain to me again how this a change from the Dubya/Cheney years? You can read the WAPO take here. I swear, the more I read about some of what’s not happening with the worst abuses of the Dubya/Cheney years, the more I get convinced we’re just in their third term.
David Leonhardt at Economix is calling the recent gold highs as not so high as you think. Leonhardt says that most of the gold quotes are in nominal and not real terms (i.e. adjusted for inflation over time). He does the math so you don’t have to.
Gold is at a record only if you fail to adjust for inflation. And you should almost always adjust for inflation. Otherwise, you end up with a series of meaningless records — Gold reaches record high! Oil reaches record high! Lettuce reaches record high! — that depend on the fact that a dollar in 2010 does not have the same value as a dollar did in, say, 1980.
More than a month ago, Ryan Chittum of The Columbia Journalism Review noticed the epidemic of supposed gold records and urged those of us in the media to stop. As he explained, the actual record was set 30 years ago, when the price of gold, in today’s dollars, hit $2,318 — or 65 percent higher than it closed on Monday.
This isn’t simply a question of math. Anyone who says gold is at a record high (or who said oil was several years ago) is getting the story wrong. Why? Because $10 today is not more valuable than $9 a few decades ago. Claiming otherwise is tantamount to saying that 10 rupees is more valuable than $9 because 10 is a bigger number than 9.
Getting information out of any one responsible for the BP Oil Gusher is not quite an act of Congress, but almost. The EPA had to subpoena Halliburton to get that data on the “fracking” chemicals. And no, that’s not my way of avoiding the cuss word, there actually is something called “fracking” chemicals. The story is on HuffPo.
The Environmental Protection Agency subpoenaed energy giant Halliburton Tuesday, seeking a description of the chemical components used in a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing.
The EPA said it issued the subpoena after Texas-based Halliburton refused to voluntarily disclose the chemicals used in the controversial drilling practice, also known as “fracking.” Halliburton was the only one of nine major energy companies that refused the EPA’s request.
The agency said the information is important to its study of fracking, in which crews inject millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and chemicals underground to force open channels in sand and rock formations so oil and natural gas will flow.
The EPA is studying whether the practice affects drinking water and the public health.
Now, if we could only get our fracking checks down here.
“There continue to be obvious deficiencies with the claims system,” said Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Ruth Johnson, who, along with the Division of Administration, is overseeing the state’s role in the oil spill claims process. “An emergency payment should not take six months to process. For people waiting on those payments, the six month delay has moved from an emergency status, to one of survival. Although the Gulf Coast Claims Facility’s (GCCF) claims system is an improvement over BP’s, the state believes that claims need to be processed faster, a priority scale be implemented and baseline compensation models used for claimants who can prove their profession but not their income.”
Since Feinberg took over from BP processing oil spill claims, the GCCF has paid out more than $1.6 billion, $612 million of that in Louisiana. However, despite that large figure, only 23 percent of claims filed in Louisiana have been approved for payment
[MABlue here] You’ve probably all heard that George W. Bush has released
a Mt Vesuvius-size of dog droppings an autobiography. Some people have been documenting the absurdity. Here are a couple of must-read:
The UK Guardian has a really good play-by-play of the book release, along with great comments.
George Bush’s memoirs published – as it happened
Professor Stephen Walt went through “Decision Points” and had this to say:
Don’t fall for the nostalgia — George W. Bush’s foreign policy really was that bad.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder says George Bush is a liar in addition to being delusional:
Bush-Schröder Enmity Continues in Memoirs
[Schröder] Ssaid Bush used “almost Biblical semantics” and, in reference to the US president’s repeated mentions of his faith, wrote: “The problem begins when the impression is created that political decisions are a result of this conversation with God.”
On Tuesday, the day that Bush’s own presidential memoirs, “Decision Points,” finally hit the shelves, Schröder went even further. “The former American president is not telling the truth,” he said on Tuesday in Berlin.
Schröder was referring to a passage in Bush’s memoirs in which the former president described a meeting that took place between the two leaders in the White House on Jan. 31, 2002. Bush writes that, when he told Schröder that he would pursue diplomacy against Iraq but would use military force should the need arise, the German leader responded, “‘What is true of Afghanistan is true of Iraq. Nations that sponsor terror must face consequences. If you make it fast and make it decisive, I will be with you.'”
Matthew Norman of the UK Independent has my favorite review. This is unbeatable.
How did this wastrel ever find his way to the White House?
It takes a certain minimal intelligence for the truly dim to have a notion of their own dimness, but this is denied George Bush. He has the self-awareness of a bison.
Apparently he concludes his memoir Decision Points with the familiar anecdote of how, within days of leaving Washington, he was picking up his dog’s mess with a plastic bag in a Texas park. Evidently he regards this as a cute vignette of the transience of power, as well as his own endearing lack of pomp. Yet what causes the stab of pity is the stupidity at which it hints.
How could anyone in possession of a three-figure IQ (still a moot point with Bush) fail to see what a golden gift that image is to satirists?
His mere resurgence brought back some memories. Here’s a witness account:
Bush: “I probably won’t even vote for McCain”
A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.
Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.
Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”
We already knew there was no love lost between Bush and McCain. I think Bush voted for Obama.
Oh, before I go, let me bring you this earth-shattering announcement from Captain Obvious:
Tony Hayward says BP was ‘not prepared’ for the Gulf oil spill
The former boss of BP Tony Hayward has admitted that the company was “not prepared” to deal with fallout over the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the media “feeding frenzy” surrounding it.
No kidding, Einstein!