Thursday Reads: “They Are Not That Smart.”

Michelle Obama speaks at The Royal Festival Hall on December 3 in London. Jack Taylor, Getty

Good Morning!!

The title of this post is a quote from Michelle Obama. In an interview in London, Obama discussed “impostor syndrome,” that feeling many women struggle with that we are undeserving of success. From Newsweek:

The former first lady opened up about how the struggle with self-doubt “never goes away,” during a sold-out talk with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in London, which drew lines of tens of thousands of people.

Asked at the event how Obama felt about being seen as a “symbol of hope,” she said: “I still have a little imposter syndrome, it never goes away, that you’re actually listening to me,” according to the BBC.

“It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.”

“If I’m giving people hope then that is a responsibility, so I have to make sure that I am accountable,” Obama said.

But here’s the quote I just loved:

Obama offered a “secret” to young women everywhere: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.”

It’s so true. And as long as mediocre white men are promoted over smarter and more experienced women, we will continue to be ruled by people who “are not that smart.”

You only need to look at the 2016 election, in which Hillary Clinton–a brilliant, experienced woman–was constantly denigrated in favor of two barely mediocre white men, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. And now that an ignorant, corrupt white man is “president,” that Hillary is repeatedly told to shut up and sit down, while mediocre, old white men like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden–who have already failed in primary races–are promoted by the media.

I’ve avoided day-time cable news this week so I didn’t have to listen to the endless, over-the-top praise of the late George H.W. Bush. But I have to admit that Bush at least knew how to behave like a human being, unlike the current resident of the White House.

Trump attended Bush’s funeral, but he didn’t seem comfortable. Still he is being praised in some quarters for not making a complete fool of himself. Apparently he has been unhappy about having to go through an entire week when the media focus wasn’t on him. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Trump has been snappish with aides most of the week, according to administration officials, miffed in part by so many ceremonial events not related to him. He was impatient for the memorials to end but expressed pride in himself for remaining publicly civil. People close to the president called it a course correction after his peevish reaction to Mr. McCain’s death.

What a pathetic asshole. He did the bare minimum, didn’t sing hymns or recite the Apostle’s Creed, and was the only person in the room who didn’t put his hand over his heart when the coffin was carried out.

At The Washington Post, Rick Wilson writes that George W. Bush’s invitation to Trump to attend the funeral prevented the asshole from ruining the solemn event.

By insisting on his successor’s inclusion in the proceedings, Bush forced the current White House occupant to briefly abandon his unfrozen cave-man act, denying him the chance to further debase the office of president by siphoning the dignity out of 41’s final hours in D.C. — something 45 likely would have relished, given the opportunity.

We’ll still be hearing about Poppy Bush for a couple more days because there is going to be another funeral in Texas today.

Mike Pence didn’t look too happy at the funeral yesterday either. Maybe this is why.

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: “They’re Beginning to Think About Whether Mike Pence Should Be Running Again.” As the Mueller Fire Nears, Trump Ponders Jettisoning His Loyal V.P.

On Monday, Trump hosted a 2020 strategy meeting with a group of advisers. Among the topics discussed was whether Mike Pence should remain on the ticket, given the hurricane-force political headwinds Trump will face, as demonstrated by the midterms, a source briefed on the session told me. “They’re beginning to think about whether Mike Pence should be running again,” the source said, adding that the advisers presented Trump with new polling that shows Pence doesn’t expand Trump’s coalition. “He doesn’t detract from it, but he doesn’t add anything either,” the source said. Last month, The New York Times reported that Trump had been privately asking advisers if Pence could be trusted, and that outside advisers have been pushing Nikki Haley to replace Pence. One veteran of Trump’s 2016 campaign who’s still advising Trump told me the president hasn’t been focused enough on 2020. “What he needs to do is consider his team for 2020 and make sure it’s in place,” the adviser said. “He has to have people on his team that are loyal to his agenda.”

Trump’s doubts about Pence are surprising given Pence’s frequent public encomiums and professions of loyalty. “Trump waxes and wanes on everyone,” a prominent Republican close to the White House explained. Part of what’s driving the debate over Pence’s political value is Trump’s stalled search for a chief of staff to replace John Kelly. According to a source, Kelly has recently been telling Trump that Pence doesn’t help him politically. The theory is that Kelly is unhappy that Pence’s 36-year-old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, has been openly campaigning for Kelly’s job. “Kelly has started to get more political and he’s whispering to Trump that Trump needs a running mate who can help him more politically,” the source said. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.)

I wonder how Evangelical voters would feel about pious Pence getting dumped?

There has been lots of Russia investigation news this week despite the wall-to-wall coverage of Bush’s passing. Some stories to check out:

David Ignatius at The Washington Post: Michael Flynn appears to have come full circle.

The Trump campaign warrior of 2016 who led chants of “lock her up” deriding Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and then lied to the FBI after President Trump’s inauguration about his secret contacts with Russia, once again became an “exemplary” figure whose example, Mueller says, encouraged others to do the right thing.

“The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government,” writes Mueller in the sentencing memo. Mueller praises Flynn’s “early cooperation” as a spur to others. “The defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming [with the special counsel’s office] and cooperate,” the memo notes.

This denouement, in which Flynn is once again on the side of law enforcement and truth-telling, is fascinating to me as someone who followed his career for more than a decade and remembers hearing his blisteringly honest briefings as a combat intelligence commander in Afghanistan. Flynn became disoriented during his years in Trump’s orbit, but the sentencing memo suggests that he recovered his balance and sense of duty after Mueller began his investigation.

There’s a bizarre irony here. Trump pleaded with James B. Comey, the FBI director at the time the investigation of Flynn began, to consider “letting this go.” That was a grossly improper attempt to interfere with the investigation and prosecution of Flynn’s false statements. How strange that it was Mueller, in the end, who decided in effect to “let this go” by recommending no jail time, after the investigation had run its course and Flynn had pleaded guilty and cooperated.

Frank Figliuzzi

Did Michael Flynn wear a wire for Mueller? MSNBC counterintelligence expert Frank Figliuzzi suggested as much yesterday. Hill Reporter.com:

MSNBC’s Morning Joe called on Frank Figluzzi to come in and help explain the memo. Figliuzzi was formerly an Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI and is familiar with Robert Mueller’s methods.

He began the segment by explaining that the extensive redactions meant that the info inside was sensitive. After stating that redactions are out of character for Mueller, Figluzzi said, “We saw lots of redaction. You do that in the FBI either when you have classified information or you are at such a sensitivity level that you cannot expose it.”

Figluzzi also felt the light sentence and amount of redactions meant the investigation was aiming for convictions at the highest levels. He continued, “I think, in fact, that underneath these redactions, if we were to lift these black magic marker points out, we would see people with the last name Trump or Kushner.”

Finally, Figluzzi ended the segment with a bombshell suggestion; Flynn may have worn a wire. He told the panel, “We see reference here to quick cooperation by Flynn. What does that mean? Did it happen in what we call the golden hour, where you could even wire somebody up and have him share communications in real time?”

At The Guardian, Marcia Chambers and Charles Kaiser made the same suggestion.

The least-noticed sentence in Michael Flynn’s plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller may also be the most important one.

Section eight of the deal reached by Donald Trump’s former national security adviser in the inquiry into Russian meddling in the US election is entitled “cooperation”. It specifies that as well as answering questions and submitting to government-administered polygraph tests, Flynn’s cooperation “may include … participating in covert law enforcement activities”.

Long-time students of federal law enforcement practices agreed, speaking anonymously, that “covert law enforcement activities” likely refers to the possibility of wearing a concealed wire or recording telephone conversations with other potential suspects. It is not known whether Flynn has worn a wire at any time.

“If the other subjects of investigation have had any conversations with Flynn during the last few months, that phrase must have all of them shaking in their boots,” said John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor in the southern district of New York.

“The one who must be particularly terrified is [Trump son-in-law and adviser] Jared Kushner, if he spoke to the special counsel’s office without immunity about the very matter that is the subject of Flynn’s plea. I think he must be paralyzed if he talked to Flynn before or after the investigators debriefed him.”

More Russia reads, links only:

Garrett M. Graff at Wired: 14 Questions Robert Mueller Knows the Answers To.

Vox: The Mueller investigation has gotten closer to Donald Trump.

Renato Mariotti at Time: Don’t Expect Mueller to Charge a Grand Conspiracy.

The Atlantic: The White House Has No Plan for Confronting the Mueller Report.

Betsy Woodruff at The Daily Beast: Senate Intelligence Committee Grilled Steve Bannon About Cambridge Analytica.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

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Monday Reads: Ball of Confusion

prince-purple-rainGood Morning Sky Dancers!

You know it’s just another week in Drumpfistan when I’ve got this old song by the Temptations stuck in my head.

Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, 
humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball Of Confusion that’s what the world is today (yeah, yeah)
The sale of pills is at an all time high 
young folks walkin’ ’round with their heads in the sky 
Cities aflame in the summer time, and oh the beat goes on
Eve of destruction, tax deduction,
City inspectors, bill collectors,
Evolution, revolution,

 

 

 

Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke out Saturday at the U.S. Summit of Women in L.A.  Her big question was this. ‘What is going on in our heads where we let that happen?’  Indeed.

“In light of this last election, I’m concerned about us as women and how we think,” she said at the event. “What is going on in our heads where we let that happen, you know?”

In the 2016 election, 54 percent of women voted for Clinton, though that figure was sharply divided by race.

“When the most qualified person running was a woman, and look what we did instead, I mean that says something about where we are,” Obama said, referencing President Trump‘s victory in the 2016 election. “That’s what we have to explore, because if we as women are still suspicious of one another, if we still have this crazy, crazy bar for each other that we don’t have for men … if we’re not comfortable with the notion that a woman could be our president compared to … what, then we have to have those conversations with ourselves as women.”

Obama encouraged women to have high aspirations, but went on to add that she wished “girls could fail as bad as men do and still be OK.”

“Watching men fail up is frustrating. It is frustrating watching men blow it, and win,” she later added while discussing standards for women.

Obama also touched on the importance of education for women and encouraging young girls to speak their minds.

The United State of Women describes itself on its website as a “national organization for any woman who sees that we need a different America for all women to survive and thrive.”

Nothing has made me more sharply aware of my white womaness than this last damned presidential race. Black women were not fooled and they worked hard to get Clinton elected down here in Louisiana. Many white woman simply will not Surrender the Ivory Pedestal.  Figuring this out and correcting it is something only white women can do with each other. Making sure that we do not disenfranchise the women of color around us is our challenge.

Why does any white woman vote for some one like this?  This is from Republican Whisperer Jonathan Swan writing for Axios.  These candidates make me feel like we’re still choosing sides in the Civil War.  Where do they come from? 

Republicans in D.C. are panicking over Tuesday’s West Virginia Senate primary.

The problem: Don Blankenship, a coal baron who’s spent time in prison, is running a demagogic campaign in which he’s repeatedly invoked the Chinese heritage of Mitch McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

  • He’s also taken to calling McConnell “cocaine Mitch” in his ads — which, according to Politico, “is in reference to a 2014 report that drugs were once found aboard a shipping vessel owned by McConnell’s in-laws; however, he always found the products from https://urinedrugtesthq.com/whizzinator-review/ to pass his drug tests in one day.”
  • Blankenship is outspending his opponents on TV and has a ton of his own money to play with. He’s aired one ad that refers to “China people,” which you can watch here (or not).
  • And yet … he’s gaining in the polls and may win on Tuesday.

20140306_103546_Michael-Jackson-FilesBlankenship is a doozy of a candidate.  Even KKKremlin Caligula fears a repeat of Alabama’s Roy Moore. This is from Emily Stewart writing for VOX,

Blankenship is running against Rep. Evan Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to be the Republican nominee to challenge Manchin in the fall. Their primary race is Tuesday, May 8. His credentials, and campaign tactics, have Republicans on edge about the prospect of him potentially becoming the party’s nominee.

Blankenship is a former coal baron who ran a company, Massey Energy, found to be violating federal safety regulations when a 2010 mining explosion killed 29 people, marking the worst coal disaster in 40 years. Blankenship stepped down after the incident but years later was indicted on conspiring to willfully violate federal mining regulations before the accident and lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission after it happened. He was convicted of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards and served one year in prison, and was released in May 2017.

exbdphlhra-1467533239There’s a behind the scenes look at this Hillbilly shoot out also at Vox by Dylan Scott.  This is for the seat held by Joe Manchin who is the Democrat we count on when we need a senate majority and little else.

Blankenship is, in many ways, an only-in-West-Virginia story. He grew up in Mingo County and got his college degree from Marshall University. He rose through the ranks at the Massey coal company, helping build it into one of the largest mining outfits in the country. By 2010, he was making nearly $20 million a year.

But then on April 5, 2010, 29 miners died in an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia.

Blankenship stepped down soon after, but four years later, federal prosecutors indicted him on conspiring to willfully violate federal mining regulations before the accident and making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission in its aftermath.

The investigation laid bare Blankenship’s cutthroat vision of capitalism. This was a businessman who broke unions, laughed off climate change, despised federal regulations, and described his industry in Darwinian imagery.

It’s an interesting read from there on out and I recommend it because this race will stay in the news for some time.  I don’t even think I’ve been to West Virginia so all I can do is watch and wonder.

 

 

Meanwhile, black men are trying to figure out what it means to be Kanye.  It’s the ongoing necessary discussion of what it means to be black in America. Again, I’m watching this all with an eye to being understanding and checking my own frames. I’ve also learned a lot by watching this new video by Donald Glover.  This thread  on Twitter is worth reading.

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates takes on the Kanye at The Atlantic.  He does this by first explaining that Michael Jackson–the idol of many a child in the 80s–was dying to be white. 

Even his accouterment felt beyond me—the studded jacket, the sparkling glove, the leather pants—raiment of the divine, untouchable by me, a mortal child who squinted to see past Saturday, who would not even see Motown 25 until it was past 30, who would not even own a copy of Thriller until I was a grown man, who no longer believed in miracles, and knew in my heart that if the black man’s God was not dead, he surely was dying.

And he had always been dying—dying to be white. That was what my mother said, that you could see the dying all over his face, the decaying, the thinning, that he was disappearing into something white, desiccating into something white, erasing himself, so that we would forget that he had once been Africa beautiful and Africa brown, and we would forget his pharaoh’s nose, forget his vast eyes, his dazzling smile, and Michael Jackson was but the extreme of what felt in those post-disco years to be a trend. Because when I think of that time, I think of black men on album covers smiling back at me in Jheri curls and blue contacts and I think of black women who seemed, by some mystic edict, to all be the color of manila folders. Michael Jackson might have been dying to be white, but he was not dying alone. There were the rest us out there, born, as he was, in the muck of this country, born in The Bottom. We knew that we were tied to him, that his physical destruction was our physical destruction, because if the black God, who made the zombies dance, who brokered great wars, who transformed stone to light, if he could not be beautiful in his own eyes, then what hope did we have—mortals, children—of ever escaping what they had taught us, of ever escaping what they said about our mouths, about our hair and our skin, what hope did we ever have of escaping the muck? And he was destroyed. It happened right before us. God was destroyed, and we could not stop him, though we did love him, we could not stop him, because who can really stop a black god dying to be white?

Kanye is deconstructed thusily:

And he is a god, though one born of a different time and a different need. Jackson rose in the last days of enigma and wonder; West, in an accessible age, when every fuck is a tweet and every defecation a status update. And perhaps, in that way, West has done something more remarkable, more amazing than Jackson, because he is a man of no mystery, overexposed, who holds the world’s attention through simply the consistent, amazing, near-peerless quality of his work.

West is 40 years old, a product of the Crack era and Reaganomic Years, a man who remembers the Challenger crash and The Cosby Show before syndication. But he never fell into the bitterness of his peers. He could not be found chasing ghosts, barking at Soulja Boy, hectoring Lil Yachty, and otherwise yelling at clouds. To his credit, West seemed to remember rappers having to defend their music as music against the withering fire of their elders. And so while, today, you find some of these same artists, once targets, adopting the sanctimonious pose of the arthritic jazz-men whom they vanquished, you will not find Yeezy among them, because Yeezy never got old.

Maybe that was the problem.

Coates argues that West is dying for ‘white freedom’.

I see these guys–Prince for that matter too–as men in a country that is deeply troubled and yet oddly awed by black male sexuality and strength.  I harken back to the days of Boney M when we were all allowed to demonstrate a bit of that obvious human need for sex and Boney M looked like Prince with a lower level of production value.  But, the shock and awe of black male sexuality harkens more back to slavery. This is why Glover’s video has images that both remind us of Black Lives Matter and Django.

 

 

 

 

The Drumpf occupation of the Oval Office keeps sorting us up into tribes then pitting us against each other.  It’s a long standing tradition in the white patriarchy to do that so that’s no surprise. What is a surprise is that it still works when so many of us are educated, aware of what’s going on in the world, and have choices.

180413-gillon-kerner-comission-hero_mtjkbo

So, since Der Hair Fury has suggested he might be holding a summit on Race Relations it seems appropriate to review the granddaddy of these kinds of efforts. ‘The 1968 Kerner Commission report harshly described a country increasingly polarized by race. Its findings inspired positive change, but also more polarization. ‘  This is from The Daily Beast and dated from last month.  This is the tale of how The Fair Housing Act was passed and the role of a Republican in doing it in House Committee.  It also reminds us how fragile even our laws can be as one Black Cabinet member enabled by a hell of a lot of Republicans is trying to water it down.

People movin’ out, people movin’ in.
Why, because of the color of their skin.
Run, run, run, but you sho’ can’t hide

These short-term victories—more effective policing, improved media coverage, and passage of the Fair Housing Act—were significant for the commission’s report, but its long-term legacy is less clear. Lindsay and Harris had fought for a summary that would grab attention and generate flashy headlines. Soon they began to worry that reporters were focusing only on the report’s most provocative language and ignoring its detailed descriptions of the problems facing America’s cities. Harris recalled that he knew the commission had a perception problem after talking to his father, a small farmer in southwestern Oklahoma who had worked hard his whole life and had little to show for it. Based on the media reports he had seen, his father interpreted the report as saying, “You should pay more taxes to help out the black people who are rioting in Detroit.” That did not make a lot of sense to his dad. “I’m already paying a lot in taxes and getting nothing for it,” he responded. “Why doesn’t someone pay attention to me? Is it because I’m not rioting?”

Lindsay was probably right in believing it necessary to include striking language in the summary about “two societies” and “white racism” to ensure that the report would garner the attention it deserved. But the downside to this strategy was that the summary distracted attention from the heart of the report—the thoughtful narrative about the cause of the riots and the detailed, statistical evidence to support the existence of persistent discrimination. Lindsay and Harris assumed that racism persisted because most middle-class whites were unaware that it existed, and they thought that if confronted with clear evidence that discrimination imposed undue hardship on African Americans, white suburbanites would embrace new social programs, accept higher taxes, and demand more aggressive efforts to integrate their communities. “I believe that white people in America are decent people,” Harris told the New York Times in February 1968, and that “if they can be shown the terrible conditions in which other Americans live and how this threatens our society, they will join together to try to solve these problems.”

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2014 - Weekend 1Today, I wonder how many white women are “decent people”.  Surely, the majority of us are but what is going on with the group that’s larger than it really should be?  Let’s take this one for example that once again proves that really, I would never vote for just any or this particular vagina bearer. From the Des Moines Register: The nation’s strictest abortion ban is now law. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill.”  Goddamn!  Iowa!  Really?

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday signed into law the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation, surrounded by toddler-toting supporters.

As Reynolds inked the bill, backers’ cheers nearly drowned out the echoing chorus of “My body, my choice” shouted by protesters just outside the door.

“I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred,” Reynolds said from her formal office before signing a bill that will outlaw nearly all abortions in the state. “And as governor, I have pledged to do everything in my power to protect it. And that’s what I’m doing today.”

Senate File 359 will take effect July 1, though Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa said they plan to quickly  challenge the law.

Under the legislation, physicians will be barred from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Experts said that heartbeat can be heard about six weeks into a pregnancy — often before a woman realizes she’s pregnant.

adidas-hasnt-discussed-dropping-kanye-west-bloombergWhat matter of insanity causes a white woman to do this?

So,let me stir this pot a bit more.  From the Guardian: Kei Miller essay about white women sparks tensions among Caribbean writers. Miller’s essay has been withdrawn after divisive reception, but supporters say it is part of a necessary conversation about race and privilege.  Kei is a black man from Jamaica.

Miller’s essay, The White Women and the Language of Bees, was published last week in Pree, a new magazine highlighting writers from the Caribbean. Asking “how many years and decades must pass before we can belong to a place and to its words? How much time before we can write it?”, the essay saw the Forward prize-winning author discuss his interactions with four white women writers from the region, evaluating their books, and the way they have interacted with the local literary community.

“Was she really afraid? Was she nervous about people like me reading her book and throwing words like ‘appropriation’ about? Am I a part of her anxiety?” he wrote of one. In another scene, he imagines one of the women telling another: “You can’t be writing this place and putting the wrong words in people’s mouths. This rock is not made of granite or limestone, but with words. You must be given the right words. And these, my dear sister, are things you have yet to learn.”

The essay drew both praise and condemnation from writers. Rhoda Bharath called it “a necessary addition to the global cultural conversations around identity, appropriation and privilege”, while Veerle Poupeye wrote, in an open letter to Miller, that “parts of the essay are indeed breathtaking, because of the writing and because of the sublime insights you offer”, but took issue with Miller’s publication of private conversations, his focus on white women and not white men, and his representation of the women in the essay.

Judy Raymond said: “Almost everything that has happened since Kei’s essay has been based on emotion. It’s clear we need to have urgent conversations about race, racism, gender and privilege. Instead, careers and friendships are being broken and those conversations are being replaced by the verbal equivalent of hurricanes.”

So, yeah … good luck to Herr DrumpfsterFire and his Race Relations Summit.  I’m sure Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway will be put in charge of it.   

One of President Donald Trump’s most trusted black advisers wants the president to hold a summit on race relations at the White House with rapper Kanye West.

Darrell Scott, a pastor from Cleveland, is scheduled to meet with the president on Thursday to discuss his proposal for the summit, which would also include other prominent artists and athletes, Politico reported.

Scott said the summit would be “totally unscripted” and no topic would be “off the table.” He’s reportedly pitching the summit alongside Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and an aide in the White House Office of Public Liaison.

Some one drop a mic please.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads and a Penchant for the Macabre

Good Afternoon!161027_cbox_diabolique-jpg-crop-promo-xlarge2

So, those of you that read my occasionally weirdish posts know that I have a thing for old grave yards and historical sites that are mysterious and ookie. There’s a distinctly granular feel to these places. It’s in the air and it’s in the dust that kicks up when you walk around. Bits and pieces of the past can be tangibly felt. I like the feel of the tingle and chill. I came to the realization that I love horror movies a little bit late in life but now I relish this time of year more than any.  Maybe it’s because I can feel the power surge of my inner crone. Maybe because I know that there is no dearth of places to indulge my need to feel creeped out by imaginary things.

I’m not alone in this fascination with how humanity deals with its mortality. Not by a long shot. Stories, art, and the entire religious thing have always dealt with such topics.  We created burial rituals and tools to cope with life and death early on.  October Horror movie binges just go right along with the roots and rites of our cave dwelling ancestors who lit fires and counted on the stars to help them.  My friend and fellow blogger Pete shared this link to Donald Fagan describing his early fascination with those black and white horror movies that rocked Saturday matinees back in the day of double features and bad special effects.  I thought I’d pass it on.

Fair Lawn, New Jersey, late ’50s. I must have been 9 or 10 when my Uncle Al surprised my cousin Jack and me by announcing his intention to take us to a midnight showing of Diabolique, the French thriller. The choice seemed odd, since Al, a burly luncheonette operator from Passaic, wasn’t the type you’d expect to harbor a taste for French cinema. Then again, it was no secret that an intermittently active strain of sadism ran in Al’s branch of the family. I guess he didn’t want to miss out on a rare opportunity to watch the kids squirm.

Shot in cadaverish black and white, Diabolique is about these two hot babes, the wife and mistress of a cruel boarding school headmaster, who conspire together to murder their tormentor. They drug him, drown him in the bathtub, and dump his body in the swimming pool. When the pool is drained, though, there’s no corpse to be found. The two women freak out for the rest of the movie. At the end, there’s a scene where the (supposedly) murdered headmaster inexplicably rises out of the bathtub with only the whites of his eyes showing. That’s when I started screaming. Jack, his body quaking from head to toe, slid off his seat and ended up on the sticky theater floor in tears. When we got home, Uncle Al, who’d had a merry old time, had to endure a tongue-lashing from my aunt for permanently damaging our heretofore immaculate sensibilities. We both had nightmares for weeks.

But movie terror is seriously addictive. As soon as we were sufficiently recovered, we started taking the bus to the HyWay Theater every Saturday afternoon to see the horror double feature. At 50 cents plus the price of the popcorn (or a bit more if you wanted a box of the race-regressive Chocolate Babies), it was a bargain.

I started out on the Addams Family and the Munsters and tamer fare.  But, TV in the 1960s and 70s also included its Friday night horror shows and that’s where I got exposed to the good stuff.  BTW, the “cool ghoul” has passed for any of you that might know the work of Joe Zacherle. Every big city had its horror host back in the day.

The great John Zacherle, known to generations of horror fans as Zacherley, “The Cool Ghoul,” has passed away at 98. The news came tonight as author Tom Weaver, a close friend of the Zacherle family, began informing colleagues of the the sad news, and an outpouring of tributes has already begun across the internet.

A veteran of World War II, Zacherle started working at WCAU in Philadelphia in 1954, and in 1957, he got the job of being Philly’s first late night horror movie host on Shock Theater, creating the character of Roland (pronounced Ro-LAND), who talked to his dead wife in her coffin. An association with Dick Clark, whose American Bandstand was based in Philadelphia, led to the recording of “Dinner With Drac” in 1958. He moved to New York’s WABC in ’59, became known as Zacherley and his show was renamed Zacherley At Large. He later hosted the Newark teenage dance show Disc-O-Teen, and was a DJ on WNEW and then WPLJ, where he stayed for ten years.

Considered by many to be the greatest TV horror host of all-time, Zacherele has spent the last several decades appearing on TV, radio, and film and making personal appearances at conventions and special events.

His horror-themed novelty records have remained perennial Halloween favorites, and you will surely hear them played on WFMU and elsewhere over the course of the next week. So, instead of posting those, I’ve decided to share the REAL DEAL, actual episodes of Shock Theater and Zacherley at Large as they were originally broadcast in the late 1950s. What we have here are three classic poverty row horrors: two Bela Lugosi features – The Devil Bat and Bowery At Midnight, and Rondo Hatton as The Creeper in The Brute Man. This is how original Monster Kids in the Northeast first saw these movies, and I’d recommend taking them all in for a great Halloween triple feature this weekend, just make sure you raise a glass of blood in honor of the Cool Ghoul himself before you’re done.  He gave his all!

 

annex-adams-julie-creature-from-the-black-lagoon_01Now, I’m totally enjoying SYFY channel that  really rocks October. My current favorites are ZNation and the ubercreepy Channel Zero.  I think what I like best about this season of the year as we head towards Halloween, the election, and my birthday is that movie horror can be so obviously campy and fun that it gives you a sense of control over the real nightmarish fiends and ghouls.  Of course, this is a Donald Trump reference.  It had to be.   Horror movies spin yarn and tales but not quite the way Trump does.

Donald Trump actually said this on the campaign trail late yesterday:

“What a difference this is. Just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election, and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for?”

Whether or not Trump was joking, his supporters greeted that remark with lusty cheers. But here’s the thing: Even as Trump supporters continue to lap up his various suggestions that the only legitimate outcome of the election would be a Trump victory, the broader American public is completely rejecting the story he’s telling.

Indeed, there’s new evidence this morning that Trump’s ongoing effort to undermine faith in our democracy has been accompanied by a strengthening of confidence in it. And there’s also new evidence that majorities see Trump as fundamentally disrespectful of our democratic institutions.

The new Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Trump by four points nationally. (There may be a tightening, but that would not be surprising; it probably represents Republicans who had been alienated by the awful headlines about his sex tape and allegations of unwanted advances coming back to him).

Now that’s a suggestion that really should strike terror in the souls of all peace and democracy-loving people.  

I’m glad our national nightmare will soon be over but we should take nothing for granted.  First Lady Michelle Obama gave another inspirational and wonderful speech yesterday along side Secretary Hillary Clinton.  All of her words were wonderful but I really want folks to take this message to heart.

Because here’s where I want to get real. If Hillary doesn’t win this election, that will be on us. It will be because we did not stand with her. It will be because we did not vote for her, and that is exactly what her opponent is hoping will happen. That’s the strategy, to make this election so dirty and ugly that we don’t want any part of it.

So when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy, and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, that the outcome has already been determined, and you shouldn’t even bother making your voice heard.

They are trying to take away your hope. And just for the record, in this country, the United States of America, the voters decide our elections, they’ve always decided, voters decided who wins and who loses, period, end of story.

(APPLAUSE)

And right now, thankfully folks are coming out in droves to vote early. It’s amazing to see. We are making our voices heard all across the country. Because when they go low…

AUDIENCE: We go high!

OBAMA: And we know that every vote matters. Every single vote. And if you have any doubt about that, consider this. Back in 2008, and I say this everywhere I go, Barack won North Carolina by about 14,000 votes.

(APPLAUSE)

Which sounds like a lot, but when you break the number down, the difference between winning and losing this state was a little over two votes per precinct.

See, I want you all to take that in. I know that there are people here who didn’t vote. Two votes. And people knew people who didn’t vote. Two votes. If just two or three folks per precinct had gone the other way, Barack would have lost that state and could have lost the election.

And let’s not forget back in 2012, Barack did actually lose this state by about 17 votes per precinct. 17. That is how presidential elections go. They are decided on a razor’s edge.

So each of you could swing. In this stadium, just think about it. Each of you could swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary, just by getting yourselves, your friends and your family out to vote.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s me at St Louis #1 for a funeral a few months ago. See, I do actually live by some historically creepy cemeteries. We love and cherish them down here in Swampland.

The Season of Horror should end here in October except on my favorite TV days.  Let’s all get every one out to vote so we can look forward to a New Year and a New Day with Madam President.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I usually enjoy this time of year.  I also usually enjoy the political season even though there are candidates here and there that make me very mad.  Usually, one weird state or another in the great outback sends a Senator or a Congressman to Washington that should be in Bizarro World instead.  I’ve lived in states most of my life that send complete morons and the occasional shining star to DC. I’m used to that.  This isn’t the usual at all.   The President and First Lady pointed that out eloquently yesterday.

They should know.
They’ve been under attack since they won their race. Michelle Obama knows what it’s like to be under attack for physical features you cannot change and others use to define you in unkind ways.  Her speech yesterday as well as her speech at the DNC will be the defining moments of US politics for some time when history gets around to sorting us out.  The lows have been very low and she went high.  She defined what we should be as a society and a country.  Some time during her tenure as FLOTUS, she found a powerful political voice and we are better off for it. She’s had every racist and sexist attack thrown at her for 8 years. She can preach it from a place of knowing.  This is from VOX.

Obama’s speech was emotional, and that makes sense. She knows firsthand that Trump’s infamous remarks, and the underlying views of women they reflect, are all too common.

When she talks about “vulgar words” and “shameful comments” that equate women’s value with their physical appearances, she could just as easily be referring to things that have been said about her, often with a dose of racism mixed in to increase the insults. Just a few examples:

  • In 2010, discussing the first lady’s promotion of breastfeeding, radio host Rush Limbaugh said he wasn’t surprised to see her “encouraging people to get on that teat.”
  • In 2012, a California comedian joked that “Playboy is offering Ann Romney $250,000 to pose in the magazine, and the White House is upset about it because National Geographic only offered Michelle Obama $50 to pose for them.”
  • In 2013, a Richmond, Virginia, school board member’s email captioned a photo of traditionally dressed African women with bare breasts “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.”
  • In July 2015, Patrick Rushing, the mayor of Airway Heights, Washington, referred to her as “monkey man” and “gorilla face” in a Facebook post.
  • Just in July, a loan officer lost her job after calling the first lady an “ugly black bitch” on Twitter, I bet a real professional from https://nation21loans.com/ wouldn’t have done that!

Obama didn’t speak out in response to any of these attacks, but it’s not hard to read her speech as partly catharsis about the pain she’s endured and what it says about how women — and black women in particular — are demeaned in this country.

Michelle Obama–like her husband–has grown in office. Her passion is children.  She is the mother of daughters. She wants a bright and happy future for all children.  She has this in common with many women and with Hillary Clinton.  This passion is the root and soul of her heartfelt speeches.

Her legacy at the White House will include this beautiful kitchen garden.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Wednesday a $2.5 million donation on behalf of the Burpee Foundation towards her beloved White House kitchen garden long after she leaves the grounds.

At the event that kicked off her final fall harvest, Mrs. Obama spoke emotionally and nostalgically as she recounted the effort and passion of those who helped the White House kitchen garden blossom into what it is today –a “refuge,” “symbol” of healthy living, and a “labor of love” to many.

“This garden has taught us that if we have the courage to plant a seed–to be brave enough to plant it, then take care of it, water it, tend to it, invite friends to help us take care of it, weather the storms that inevitably come… if we have the courage to do that, then we never know what might grow,” she said at a dedication ceremony. “Now, that’s what this garden has taught me, to be fearless in those efforts, to try new things, to not be afraid to mess up–things we tell our kids all the time.”

The White House kitchen garden and the “Let’s Move” initiative, Mrs Obama added, created a cultural movement, inspiring future generations from all industries to transform the American way of life

“After an era of everything being supersized, who would have thought that major companies would be racing to market smaller, lower calorie versions of their snacks and beverages, from half sized candy bars to little mini soda cans? We see it everywhere we go,” she said. “Who would have thought that chain restaurants focused solely on salad would be the hottest new trend, or that those fitness bracelets would become so common that we wouldn’t even notice them any longer?”

I have a few other reads to suggest today. I’m making this short because my struggle continues here.  My car is acting up terribly. My computer is being completely unreliable.  It has the same problem that BB’s Computer has. We’ve both had it since we bought these.  I finally got my third phone to replace the first one that quit charging itself.  It’s working at the moment.  My youngest gets married next Saturday.  I am the proverbial basket case.  I’m tossing down Valerian root like candy and meditating frequently.  I’ve found poverty in old age to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced.

There’s an interview with the author–Robert P. Jones–on a new book on the end of White American Christian hegemony. You can watch it at The Atlantic.

The United States is no longer a majority white, Christian country, and that is already beginning to have profound social and political implications. At 45 percent of the population, white Christians are a shrinking demographic—and the backlash from many members of the group against the increasing diversification of America has been swift and bitter. “People fight like that when they are losing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of the country that they understand and love,” says Robert P. Jones, the author of The End of White Christian America, in this animated interview. “How do they reengage in public life when they can’t be the majority?”

Many American Lawmakers from major US Cities are joining Elizabeth Warren’s fight against AirBnB.  This is a good feature article from The Guardian.

Airbnb is facing renewed calls for a federal investigation from more than a dozen US cities, boosting senator Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to force the popular home-sharing startup to release data on its affordable housing impact.

A coalition of American lawmakers, including leaders from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis and Portland, urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday to “help cities to protect consumers” and “study the extent to which the [short-term rental] industry is facilitating commercial operations”.

The joint letter, first reported by the Guardian, marks an escalation of a growing national campaign to force Airbnb to eliminate illegal hotels and large-scale commercial businesses that city leaders say are contributing to affordable housing shortages and urban displacement.

The push comes months after Warren – the progressive senator from Massachusetts and a high-profile Hillary Clinton supporterurged the FTC to examine Airbnb, an unprecedented step in US lawmakers’ scrutiny of the booming “sharing economy”.

The San Francisco-based startup is currently engaged in contentious legal battleswith city governments across the country, and has become one of the most high-profile California tech companies to dramatically disrupt a longstanding industry, raising complex challenges for regulators.

Opponents have increasingly pushed for tighter restrictions on the $30bncompany, which allows hosts to rent their homes to strangers. Although the firm markets itself as a third-party “sharing” platform for “short-term” rentals, reports have suggested that many are using the site for hotel-like businesses and long-term leases – taking much-needed affordable housing off the market

BBC News has a beautiful video up  showing prehistoric Chauvet Cave .  This actually an wp-1476475917497.jpgolder story from April 2015 but I really feel like we all could use some beauty.  (It’s also why I have used pictures of the White House Kitchen Garden with happy kids.)

It’s locked away behind a thick metal door, hidden halfway up a towering limestone cliff-face.

Few people have ever been allowed inside, but BBC Newsnight has been granted rare access by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

We slide through a metal passageway on our backsides, and then tentatively descend a ladder.

It takes a few moments to adjust to the darkness, but our head torches soon reveal that we’ve entered into a vast cave system of geological beauty.

We weave along the narrow metal walkways; stalactites and stalagmites glimmer in the light, sparkling curtains of calcite hang down from above and the floor is awash with the bones of long-dead animals.

Until recently, the last people to set eyes on this place were our Palaeolithic ancestors, before a rock fall cut it off from the outside world.

This exquisitely preserved time-capsule was sealed shut for more than 20,000 years, until it was discovered by three cavers – Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire and Jean-Marie Chauvet, after whom it is now named – on the 18th December 1994.

At first they thought they had uncovered a network of spectacular caverns.

But as they ventured deeper inside, they realised this was the discovery of a lifetime – the cave held some of the oldest art ever found.

It’s breathtaking when we get our first glimpse of it.

The walls are adorned with hundreds of paintings.

Most of them are animals – woolly rhinos, mammoths, lions and bears intermingle with horses, aurochs and ibex.

Some are isolated images: we wander past a small rhino, a single, lonely creature daubed on the rock. But there are also huge, complex compositions, a menagerie of beasts jostling for space on great swathes of the cavern wall.

Take care every one!  Guard what can go into your mind!  Things on TV are very toxic these days. Try to surround yourself with beauty and the love of family and friends.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: Democratic National Convention, Day One

Michelle Obama, shining star

Michelle Obama, shining star

Good Morning!!

I want to begin today with some excerpts from Michelle Obama’s brilliant and inspiring speech last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. In talking about her children and the nation’s children, she delivered a stunning rebuke to the ugly, divisive and racist campaign of Donald J. Trump.

A journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington when they set off for their first day at their new school. I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those men with guns. And that’s all their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, What have we done? At that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation of who they would become. And how well we manage this experience could truly make or break them.

That is what Barack and I think about every day as he tried to guide and protect our girls from the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight. How we urged them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are the most important role model.

Let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls but the children across this country. Kids who say, “I saw you on TV,” “I wrote the report on you for school.” Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, Is my hair like yours?

I’m tearing up just reading her words on my computer screen.

On Hillary:

I trust Hillary to lead this country because I have seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children. Not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection, but every child who needs a champion: kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they will ever afford college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but dream of a better life; who look to us to dream of what they can be.

Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless work to actually make a difference in their lives. Advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the senate.

And when she did not win the nomination eight years ago, she did not get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home because … Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own disappointment. She proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe. There were moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being [torn] apart for how she looked, or how she talked, or even how she laughed.

But here’s the thing: What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure.

She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that is what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere.

Yes, Hillary has persevered. There was a time when Michelle Obama didn’t have nice things to say about her. But Hillary didn’t quit. She wholeheartedly supported Barack Obama in 2008 and then became his Secretary of State. And she apparently won Michelle over with her efforts.

And finally these beautiful and heartbreaking words:

Leaders like Tim Kaine, who show our kids what decency and devotion look like. Leaders like Hillary Clinton, who have the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in the highest and hardest glass ceiling until they finally break through, lifting all of us along with her.

That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done. So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters — two beautiful intelligent black young women — play with the dog on the White House lawn

And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great. That somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.

Can we as a country truly rise above our long history of slavery and exploitation of people who are not rich white men? Michelle seems to believe it is possible. But only if we defeat the fascist menace of Donald Trump and elect Hillary the first woman President of the United States.

Without once mentioning Trump’s name Michelle Obama destroyed his childish Twitter campaign by saying this of Hillary:

Somebody who knows this job and takes it seriously. Somebody who understands that the issues of our nation are not black or white. It cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

That speech deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest political speeches ever.

I also thought Cory Booker’s speech was magnificent. If you missed it, you can read the transcript at that link. Bill Clinton was as transfixed as I was.

Sadly, Bernie-or-busters did the best they could to damage the Democrats’ chances of defeating Trump by screaming their childish chants right through all the speeches, including those of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. They even crossed out the word “love” in the “Love Trumps Hate” signs and wrote in “Bernie.” This morning Sanders tried to speak to his fans in the California delegation, and they shouted him down once again. Sanders has now cancelled several events that he had scheduled with “supporters.”

Sanders did the best he could to get his fans to accept reality and realize the dangers Donald Trump poses; but it was far too late. He encouraged their bad behavior for the past year, and at least 10 percent of them are still acting out. Many people who tuned in to the campaign for the first time last night wondered what all the fuss was about.

Sanders also announced this morning that, despite Jeff Weaver’s statement that Bernie is now a Democrat for life, he’s going back to being an independent.

He also announced that he will not raise money to support Hillary’s efforts to beat fascism.

Despite rumors that he would release his delegates, Sanders insisted on a roll call vote today, so erasure of Hillary’s enthusiastic supporters will probably continue on the cable channels. I think it’s very sad that Bernie can’t join with the rest of us in celebrating the nomination of the first woman in American history ever to head a major party ticket.

Last night I went to bed after watching MSNBC and CNN highlight Bernie-or-busters and denigrate the woman whose nomination this Convention was designed to celebrate. I woke up this morning determined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but now I know he’s not going to join the fight with the rest of us. But that’s his choice. Ninety percent of his supporters have already joined us, and the rest were never Democrats to begin with.

Some headlines to peruse today.

As usual, it was extremely difficult to find anything positive about Hillary in the media, but I found one at WBUR in Boston: Hillary Clinton’s Call to Public Service Came Early.

I found this at the WaPo, but I haven’t read it yet. I hope it’s positive: To understand Hillary Clinton, don’t watch the convention. Read her memoirs.

Ed Kilgore writes down his delusions: Bernie May Have Broken the ‘Never Hillary’ Movement Once and for All.

Jonathan Chait: How Bernie-or-Bust Fanatics Dominated the First Day of the Democratic Convention.

Sarah Kendzidor: The Democrats’ America on display: Flawed but not fatalistic.

CNN: Bernie Sanders: ‘I am proud to stand with her.’

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: Michelle Obama’s Message: Trust Hillary Like I Do. Davidson is unconvinced.

NYT: Attack on Church in France Kills Priest and ISIS is Blamed.

That’s all I can write for now, folks. I’m very sorry that I’m so angry and disappointed. To me Hillary is a beacon of light in a dark world. I can’t even begin to describe how enthusiastic I am about her becoming the Democratic nominee–and I hope the President of the United States. For my entire life I’ve dreamed that women could eventually gain equality with men. Now I know that will never happen in my lifetime; but having a woman president would be a beginning.

I knew this year was going to be difficult; I knew that the misogyny and CDS of 2008 would be magnified 100-fold. But today, I’m having a hard time with it.

I’m afraid the Bernie-or-busters will attack Bill Clinton tonight, and I hope he has been well prepared to handle it. I can’t imagine how painful it must be for him to see his beautiful, talented, hard-working wife treated so horribly by the media and by supposed “progressives.”

I hope and pray that on Thursday night MSNBC and CNN will stop talking about Bernie Sanders for just a few hours to at least tell their viewers they are watching history in the making.

Over to you. What stories are you following? If you can cheer me up a bit, I’d be very grateful.


Monday Reads: Let’s Party On!

Good Afternoon!! 13775518_10208996102160286_3629317989192247839_n

I’m looking forward to the opening Gavel of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia tonight.  Ohio Congress woman Marsha Fudge is the chair now of this DNC.  The other DNC is being chaired temporarily by Donna Brazile. Elizabeth Warren will be the Keynote Democratic Convention speaker tonight. Other speakers include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), first lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

It is rumored that Bernie Sanders will turn over his delegates tonight.  We shall see and we shall have an open thread for it.  I’m excited to hear  Booker, Michelle, and Warren.  Hopefully, Michelle will joke mightily on how she has already had her words ring through the RNC.

Meanwhile, as you may have noticed, we have a new front pager.  We’ve known her for a very long time as BlueLyon.  Today, she’s our woman on the spot in Philadelphia as an important member of Team Hillary Nevada!  She’s also been working since the caucuses with one of Hillary’s organizers that came to work with me in Louisiana so we’re getting all of our six degrees of separation connected!   I’m going to be working on the Florida general as part of Team Louisiana but if I get a chance to call up to Nevada I surely will. I’ve got that image of the front of  USA Today because Carissa is right there representing for Nevada and Hillary.

If you have an Apple phone. You can call and volunteer for Team Hillary and win cool swag. The Android ap is on its way. Check out the apple ap here. Help out those hard workers like Carissa Snedeker who are fighting to win a key state if you’re in a red state like me, or a super safe blue state like Boston Booomer.

I can’t think of a better way to welcome BlueLyon to our front page than by sharing the USA Today interview with her from Philadelphia. Well, that and to remind you that she is one helluva photographer too!!

“I’m so excited about the prospect that there could be children who are born who have never seen a Reno_Snedeker_Carissa_Clinton (1)white man in the White House as president because we’ve had eight years of Barack Obama and then maybe we go to a woman and it’s just the paradigm, it’s changes the conversation in a way that I’ve seen in my own lifetime. I’m a child of the ‘60s and ‘70s and, I mean, the horrific things that are happening now, but yet we have marriage equality, and we have trans rights and we’re talking about gay people where they’re our neighbors and they don’t have to hide anymore, and women can be CEOs and there’s no help wanted ads where “help wanted male” and “help wanted female.” I’ve seen all these things change in my life so I know that we can still keep making progress. I don’t want to go backwards, I want to go forwards. I want to move forward, and that’s why I do this.”

So, obviously she’s very very busy and will check in with us when she can!  Give her a great welcome and wish her luck!!!

So here’s a treat!!! There will be painted Donkeys all over Philadelphia this week.  I’m going to feature some pix of them. Fifty Seven Donkeys will be on display throughout Philadelphia.

Ed Rendell came up with the idea. Obviously.

A collection of 57 painted donkey statues will decorate Philadelphia during the months of July and August, the former governor and current chairman of the Democratic National Convention host committee announced today at a press conference. The point of the donkeys, he says, is to get Philadelphians excited about this summer’s Democratic Convention and encourage delegates to visit different parts of the city. We’re guessing it doesn’t hurt that the donkeys will inevitably inspire tons of photo-ops and selfies, too.

“You all remember the bulls or the cows in Chicago,” Rendell said. “I thought, what a great idea to have donkeys around town. … The host committee wants this to be a great convention for the Democratic Party, but we also want it to be a great convention for the people of Philadelphia.”

Donkey7-1000x562That being said, not all the Bernie supporters are getting on the Hillary Train.  I have a feeling we’re having similar problems to the ones we had in 2008 where Hillary Blogs got completely overrun by republican ratfucking Tea Partiers!  If you were with us when this blog turned from my personal file cabinet to a functioning blog, you’ll remember it well. I do believe those folks abandoned Hillary eventually and went on to hate her as much as they hated President Obama.  We were very critical of the President here–especially in his first term–because he seemed overly willing to give in to Republicans.  That being said, Obama learned a few lessons and he’s been doing great and we support him while still being critical based on whatever issues we care about.  We’ve been investigating Tim Kaine as part of that and are beginning to warm up to him.

The silliest kerfuffle of the day has been the Wikileaks DNC stuff.  My bottom line is this  on the very idea that an entire state or group of states can be rigged by the DNC.  I’m tired of freaking conspiracy theorists from the left and right wing. I don’t think people have a clue about the idea of rigging elections. Just because a bunch of us learned to actively dislike and not vote for a candidate running as a Democrat to Grift the benefits of party apparatus and then actively showing contempt for everyone and everything is not evidence of anything illegal. Party politics with its internecine infighting is always ugly. There are too many state and local governments run by Republicans for a Democratic political entity to rig any state election. If you want to get rid of the worst of it, fight to end caucuses.

Joshua Holland has this to say and I agree completely.  What worries me most is the idea that BostonBoomer discussed on Saturday.  Trump is beholden financially to the Russian state and most likely the Russian Mafia and it’s likely the hack was done for wikileaks by Russians.

You can’t prove a negative, but when you strip away the furious spin, the DNC leaks provide strong evidence that the DNC did nothing to influence the outcome of the primaries.

The key here is just how candid and unvarnished these discussions were. It’s abundantly clear that they never imagined that these emails would ever see the light of day. They are frank in their contempt for people like Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver. They don’t hesitate to say fuck this or that person. They are open in their discussions of how to respond to various accusations that they were influencing the primaries.

And yet, in almost 20,000 very candid emails among seven high-level DNC officials over a five-month period, there is zero evidence that the organization took any action to tilt the playing field. There is a single email where one staffer floats the idea of intervening in the primaries by questioning Sanders’ religious beliefs in the South, but that idea was shot down. (I think it’s obvious that guy should resign or be fired.)

You can’t prove a negative — maybe they used a Get Smart-style Cone of Silence to discuss rigging the primaries. But one would imagine that in such a large trove of totally unguarded correspondence, some evidence of active intervention would emerge if it were indeed happening.

Again, there’s a lot of spin going on here, including by Wikileaks itself, which has been tweeting links to banal documents with inflammatory editorial comments this am.

The leaks reveal two things that are being spun as evidence that the DNC wasn’t neutral.

First, it’s clear than over the course of the campaign, an enormous amount of bad blood developed between the organization and the Sanders camp. This likely dates back to the NGP-VAN brouhaha. The objective facts were that a Sanders staffer breached the Clinton campaign’s data. The campaign apologized for it, and fired the staffer responsible, but then cried foul when its access was suspended for 24 hours while they investigated how it had happened. Their frustration then grew noticeably when the campaign accused the Nevada Democratic Party of breaking its rules at the state convention — claims that have been widely debunked. Whatever one thinks about those incidents, neutrality does not mean pretending that you aren’t pissed off about constantly being accused of corruption.

Others are seizing on the fact that the DNC leadership seemed pretty sure that HRC would be the party’s nominee. The implication is that they were only so confident because they had a thumb on the scale. The problem with that argument is that if you surveyed Washington DC-based political professionals, it’s likely that 90+ percent of them would tell you that they never though Sanders had much of a chance of securing the nomination. That includes people who *supported* Sanders. I backed him and never thought he could win, and I know many other knowledgeable Sanders supporters who felt the same way. Neutrality doesn’t require either believing that all candidates have an equal shot of winning, or pretending to believe it.

The DNC Leaks would be a big nothingburger aside from the fact that they entailed a very serious breach of donors’ private data, including financial information.

Also troubling is the fact that some individuals or groups, perhaps allied with the Russian government and perhaps not, are very purposefully trying to intervene in the election in a way that might lead to the ascension of a fascist. That’s the part that should be really troubling.

So, I really don’t want to give much space too Trump but there are two links that I really minnesota prince donkeythink you should have for reference.  First, I’d like to just say that it appears that the hackers were Russian.

Is the Kremlin trying to throw the U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump? It sounds like something out of a spy novel. But many cybersecurity experts, as well as the Hillary Clinton campaign, are now saying the Russians are responsible for last month’s hack of the Democratic National Committee.

That hack has dominated the news cycle on the eve of the Democratic convention, and for good reason. The emails disclosed Friday by WikiLeaks are embarrassing. They show DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, plotting to undermine the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, confirming the worst suspicions of the left flank of the party. She resigned her post on Sunday.

But the bigger issue is who was responsible for the hack in the first place. Bob Gourley, a former chief technology officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency and now the co-founder and partner Cognitio, a cybersecurity consultancy, told me Sunday that he thinks the Russians did it.

“The software code that I have seen from the hack had all the telltale signs of being Russian, including code re-used from other attacks,” Gourley told me. “This is a really big deal. Some people in the community are saying this is the Russians pretending to be a hacker, then giving that information to Julian Assange is all part of an operation.” (Assange founded WikiLeaks.)

Gourley is not alone among cybersecurity experts. When the hack of the DNC was first disclosed in June, the security firm Crowdstrike alsopointed to the Russians. Crowdstrike investigated the incident for the Democratic party and concluded it was the same actor that penetrated the State Department, White House and Pentagon unclassified systems in 2015. Describing the code used for the penetration in a blog post, Crowdstrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch wrote: “Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.”

Virgin-Islands

Yesterday, folks were trying to say folks were trying to reignite the cold war.  Again, Cybersecurity and Intelligence experts say it’s the Russians not just Clinton Supporters.

Here’s a link which is from Reddit and contains the very troublesome, autocratic records, affiliations, comments, and foreign dictators of Trump.  I’ve provided a few examples which are just a few of us outrageous acts of war statements.

Trump openly calls for the U.S to commit war crimes and advocates for the murder of innocent women and children.

Trump doubles down after veterans speak out claiming U.S soldiers would not commit war crimes or torture children even if ordered to. Trump responds with, “They’re not going to refuse me. If I say do it, they’re going to do it.“

Trump on torture: “Even if it doesn’t work they probably deserved it anyway.”

Trump renews calls for torture citing public executions and mass rape committed by ISIS promising for the U.S to do the same, “fighting fire with fire.”

Trump says Geneva Conventions a problem and needs to be changed since, US soldiers are to afraid to do their job due to laws which outline the definition of war crimes.

Go check out the entire thing because if you ever need to convince any one we’re dealing with a fascist, this list will open your eyes.636041630797870281-071416-WIL-DNC-ART-JC00056

This other link is from The National: “Trump’s vision is one of exclusion and enmity.”  I have no doubt that this week in Philadelphia will be all about the opposite thing as we see the faces of all American and not just the angry few.

Historically it’s rare that the public isn’t warned about a would-be demagogue well in advance of their actual rise to power. Typically, this work is done by the narcissistic aspiring strongmen themselves. And in the case of Donald Trump, by now no American can claim they haven’t been put on ample notice about his character and intentions.

Last week’s Republican convention – a festival of rage, loss, anger and hatred – said it all. It was driven by vicious, personalised hatred against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, as delegates persistently chanted “Lock her up!”

One of Mr Trump’s campaign advisers suggested she should be shot for treason. Ben Carson accused her, literally and with a straight face, of being in league with Satan.

Hysterical outrage was compounded by the relentless cognitive dissonance of a movement that, no matter how brazen, is moving so far beyond the bounds of propriety that it has cultivated some deniability. Virtually every important message was shadowed by some twisted doppelganger lurking visibly in the background and contradicting it.

Mr Trump’s main appeal is his alleged competence. He claims the country is being run by crooks, losers and idiots, three of his favourite epithets, and suggests that not only can he do better, but that “I alone” can solve the apocalyptic “crisis” facing the country.

But the convention itself, and the Trump campaign more broadly, strongly suggest he can’t run a bath. From plagiarism to high-level defections, tedious programming, stunning no-shows and a reliance on the candidate’s own children, rather than national party leaders, to endorse him, one couldn’t have wished for a more thorough refutation of claims of minimal competency, let alone excellence.

After more than a year of unprecedented, systematic dishonesty, Mr Trump posed as a champion of truth. “There will be no lies here,” he promised. It’s easy to tell when he’s lying: his body language, penchant for repetition, and, above all, his insufferable catchphrase: “believe me” are his sure-fire “tells” (unconscious admissions of deception). Whenever he says “believe me”, he knows he’s brazenly lying.

New-Jersey-Donkey2-940x540-937x540So, I’m going to end with something cheery besides those marvelous Donkey Statues.  Hillary has promised us a very different convention from the HATERPALOOZA we saw last week.

Hillary Clinton pledged that Democrats would offer the country “a very different kind of convention” than Republicans as she campaigned Monday in this battleground state a few hours before the start of her party’s gathering in Philadelphia.

“I’m very excited about contrasting our vision and values with what we saw from Donald Trump and the Republicans,” Clinton told supporters packed into a theater here. “He offered a lot of fear, bigotry and smear.”

Here is the link to the live stream from Youtube of the convention.  As I type, I’m hearing Spanish!!!

See you during the speeches tonight!!  We’ll be here!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


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?