Posted: May 24, 2018 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Foreign Affairs, Surreality, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adam Schiff, Devin Nunes, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, North Korea, stupidity, Trey Gowdy
It’s hard to believe things could get any crazier, but I think maybe Trump is going to find ways to make it happen. It’s so exhausting, that I spent some time this morning looking at photos of baby animals. As always, it calmed me down somewhat. I hope these pictures will do the same for you.
The big news last night was the latest Devin Nunes insanity, but this morning that has been eclipsed by threats exchanged between Pence and North Korea. So for now, the planned summit between Trump and Kim John Un is cancelled. Politico reports:
President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that was scheduled for next month, saying Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” made the historic meeting untenable.
“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote to Kim in a letter released by the White House.
In the letter, the U.S. leader thanked Kim for the “wonderful dialogue” that had developed in recent weeks between the two nations while leaving the door open to a rescheduled summit in the future.
“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write,” the president said. “The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.”
I still do a double take every time I see the words “President Donald Trump.” This can’t be happening, but it is. You can read the letter at the Politico link.
North Korea had threatened to cancel the meeting because of remarks made by Mike Pence on Fox News. CNN:
US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea that it could end up like Libya if it fails to make a nuclear deal with Washington.
“There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence said Monday.
When it was noted that the comparison could be interpreted as a threat, Pence told Fox News: “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”
Previous comments, by President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, that the administration was looking at Libya as a potential example for North Korea to follow, provoked alarm in Pyongyang.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to abandon his nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief in the early 2000s. Within years, Gadhafi was overthrown and killed by rebels backed by Washington.
A North Korean official responded by calling Pence “stupid” and a “political dummy.”
A North Korean official has lashed out at US Vice President Mike Pence and said Pyongyang is ready for a nuclear showdown if dialogue with the United States fails.
Choe Son Hui, a vice-minister in the North Korean Foreign Ministry, said if the US continued on its current path, she would suggest to North Korea‘s leadership that they reconsider the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” Choe said in comments carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency Thursday.Choe was responding to comments by Pence made Monday during a Fox News interview that she deemed “unbridled and impudent.
So, as Trump says repeatedly, “we’ll see what happens.”
Some Twitter reactions:
The art of deal folks! Trump just gave a little speech about the cancellation with Pence looking on adoringly.
So we’re still not sure what’s going on with Devin Nunes’ phony meeting to supposedly get classified information about an FBI informant who was asked to look into concerning contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. First it was going to be a meeting with just Intel officials, Nunes, and Trey Gowdy, no Democrats allowed. Then after Democrats and some Republicans objected, the White House agreed to have two meetings–the Nunes/Gowdy meeting followed by a briefing the Gang of Eight. Now apparently Adam Schiff will be included in the first meeting.
MSNBC is reporting that Schiff was seen going into the DOJ for the 12PM meeting. Vox is reporting that Paul Ryan will also be in the noon meeting, but I haven’t seen reports of him entering the DOJ.
We don’t yet know if John Kelly was included in the meeting, which would be completely inappropriate. Still Kelly doesn’t need to be there, because Nunes will report everything to Trump anyway. I haven’t heard anything about who will be in 2PM meeting yet. Paul Ryan has said he won’t be there.
If you didn’t see Rachel Maddow’s show on Tuesday, I’m sure you’ve heard about her interview with James Clapper, in which the former Intel chief said that Russian interference in the 2016 election clearly swung the result to Trump. PBS News Hour also interview Clapper: Here’s their report: Russia ‘turned’ election for Trump, Clapper believes.
Russians not only affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election — they decided it, says James Clapper, who served as the director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, and during the 2016 vote.
“To me, it just exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election, and it’s my belief they actually turned it,” he told the PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff on Wednesday.
Clapper, who chronicles his life and career in his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence,” said Russians are “are bent on undermining our fundamental system here. And when a foreign nation, particularly an adversary nation, gets involved as much as they did in our political process, that’s a real danger to this country.”
Clapper also responded to Trump’s idiotic conspiracy theory about “spies” in his campaign.
Clapper called those accusations “distorted.” He said there is a “a big gulf between a spy in the traditional sense — employing spycraft or tradecraft — and an informant who is open about … who he was and what the questions he was asking.”
“The important thing was not to spy on the campaign but rather to determine what the Russians were up to. Were they trying to penetrate to campaign, gain access, gain leverage, gain influence, and that was the concern that the FBI had? … I think they were just doing their job and trying to protect our political system.”
Even Carter Page says he didn’t have any problems with the FBI source who spoke with him. CNN: Carter Page: I ‘never found anything unusual’ in conversations with FBI source.
Former Trump campaign aide Carter Page on Tuesday discussed his encounters with an FBI confidential source during the 2016 campaign, saying he “never found anything unusual.”
Page said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that he first met the individual while attending an academic conference at Cambridge University in July 2016, a week after his visit to Russia.
“I never found anything unusual, whatsoever,” Page told Cooper about their conversations. Page said he and the source stayed in contact for more than a year, including meeting up back in the United States.
“We would talk about various things that are happening. And, you know, he’s someone who is, you know, long term, someone who had been in, part of the establishment in Republican politics. So typically around the convention time and halfway through a presidential year you keep bringing on more people in terms of potential supporters from the party, etc., and it just seemed like something like that,” he said.
In other news, the NFL released a new rule to prevent players from exercising their their free speech rights. The Daily Beast: The NFL’s New Anthem Policy Is Madness—But the Players Can Stop It.
In its own, typically blinkered and inimitable fashion, the NFL decided to dig in its heels on Wednesday, wrapping itself in the flag, and requiring players who are on the field to stand during the national anthem or face a series of penalties.
It’s a course of action that will fail, and spectacularly so. Ever since Colin Kaepernick—who has since been banished and is currently suing the NFL for collusion—began taking a knee, the league has wrung its hands, hemming and hawing as they tried to devise a means to stanch the tide of largely bad-faith criticism. In the end, they chose to silence its labor force….
Here’s the NFL’s newest solution to the grave and pressing matter of NFL players speaking out against systemic racism and the state-sanctioned violence perpetrated by law enforcement: Previously, all personnel were required to be on the field while someone belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with no further specifications regarding their behavior. That is, if someone wanted to take a knee, the NFL couldn’t do squat.
Baby Gray Parrots
Now the game operations manual has been adjusted, after two days of meetings between NFL owners and the league in Atlanta. Anyone who prefers not to place a hand on his heart during the anthem can remain in the locker room, but if they step on the field, they are required to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”
Read the rest at the link.
Trump was thrilled with the NFL’s stupid decision, and yesterday he suggested that any players who didn’t want to stand and salute the flag should be kicked out of the country. The Washington Post: Trump: NFL players unwilling to stand for anthem maybe ‘shouldn’t be in the country’
NFL players unwilling to stand for the national anthem should be barred from playing and maybe “shouldn’t be in the country,” President Trump said in a television interview that aired Thursday.
The president was reacting to the adoption Wednesday of a new NFL policy that could bring disciplinary action for players who kneel or make other protests during the national anthem.
Trump said he objected to a provision in the new policy that will allow players to stay in the locker room while the song is played, but added: “Still, I think it’s good.”
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe they shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said in an interview that aired Thursday morning on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News.
I can’t wait until this fascist numbskull is impeached, forced to resign, or preferably sent to prison.
What stories are you following today?
Posted: October 9, 2017 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bob Corker, Columbus Day, corruption, Dana Rohrabacher, Donald Trump, freedom of speech, Indianapolis Colts, Mike Pence, Puerto Rico, San Francisco 49ers, White House adult day care, World War III
Is this finally the beginning of the end? Trump has been attacking fellow Republicans for months, and this time one of them finally hit back hard. Yesterday Trump lashed out at Tennessee Senator Bob Corker on Twitter.
Of course none of that is true. Corker’s office said that Trump had repeatedly asked him to run for reelection, and offered to endorse him. As for the Secretary of State job, Corker withdrew his name from contention after his interview with Trump.
Corker’s Twitter response:
Then last night Corker gave a stunning interview to the New York Times: Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”
In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”
“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
Mr. Corker’s comments capped a remarkable day of sulfurous insults between the president and the Tennessee senator — a powerful, if lame-duck, lawmaker, whose support will be critical to the president on tax reform and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal….
The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.
Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.
…Mr. Corker, speaking carefully and purposefully, seemed to almost find cathartic satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans use only in private….
Without offering specifics, he said Mr. Trump had repeatedly undermined diplomacy with his Twitter fingers. “I know he has hurt, in several instances, he’s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Mr. Corker said.
All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.
“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”
Two Media reactions:
ABC News The Note: What’s dangerously serious about Trump’s feud with Corker
What happened to the calm part? The storms have begun, and just might spill over into real wars before they’re done. Sen. Bob Corker’s public feud with President Trump is no mere war of words, even in the Trumpian insult era. Corker is blowing the lid off of months of private frustrations and worries, harbored by erstwhile allies of the president, that the commander-in-chief is reckless, dishonest and could put the nation “on the path to World War III,” as Corker told The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker said. Combine that with the tensions between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly, and this has far bigger consequences than your typical Twitter feud. Just words? Perhaps. But they are words that are spurring confrontation with a nuclear-armed North Korea, and more words will come this week that could lead Iran to restart its own nuclear program. Corker’s reference to the White House as an “adult day care center” suggests that grown-ups are ultimately in charge. This may be the week that tests that proposition, and sorts out high-level presidential strategy from absolute and dangerous recklessness.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, referring to the NYT interview: Bob Corker just confirmed it: Republicans know Trump is unfit.
Corker declined to answer when asked if he believes Trump is unfit for the presidency. But the only reasonable way to read all these comments is as a declaration that Trump is indeed unfit — and that most Republicans know it. After all, Corker had previously said that Trump’s inner circle is helping to “separate our country from chaos.” Now he has added that Trump needs to be restrained by his inner circle from devolving into conduct that could end up unleashing untold global destruction — and that most Republicans know it.
Corker is getting a lot of press plaudits for his unvarnished appraisal. But as James Fallows writes, there is a good deal that Corker can actually do right nowif he wants to mitigate the threat that he himself says Trump poses. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has a range of powers that could help constrain Trump, including the power to hold public hearings to draw public attention to the ways in which Trump’s temperament threatens untold damage. At a minimum, Corker can be asked whether he intends to do these things, and if not, why not.
But whatever Corker says and does now, his new comments should precipitate a fundamental change in the way the press treats the ongoing GOP enabling of Trump. Corker has forced out into the open the fact that Republicans recognize the sheer abnormality and danger to the country of the situation we’re in, which opens the door for much tougher media questioning of them about their awareness of — and acquiescence to — this state of affairs.
This can start with a simple query: Do Republicans agree with Corker that Trump regularly needs to be constrained by his top advisers from engaging in conduct that threatens severe damage to the country and the world? If so, what are Republicans prepared to do about itrgent mentions.
People are still talking about Mike Pence’s ridiculous display at the Indianapolis Colts game yesterday on a day that was supposed to be dedicated to honoring long-time Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Trump and Pence cooked up a public relations stunt. Knowing that a number of players for the Colts’ opponent the SF 49ers would kneel during the national anthem, the two agreed that Pence would fly to Indy from Las Vegas and then abruptly walk out on the game after the anthem. The press knew this, because Pence told them to wait outside for him because he’d be leaving soon. Pence then flew back out to California for a fund-raiser for Putin’s favorite Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and other Republicans.
Pence is getting plenty of criticism for using taxpayer money to fly back and forth across the country for a political stunt.
CNN: The price tag for Pence’s trip to Indianapolis.
How much did Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Indianapolis to watch — and then abruptly leave — a football game Sunday between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers cost?
Holier than thou
Here is an estimate of just the air costs (which does not include costs of advance personnel, Secret Service or support on the ground):According to the Air Force, flying a C-32, the model of plane used for Air Force 2, for one hour costs about $30,000. Pence’s flight from Las Vegas to Indianapolis Saturday took about three hours and 20 minutes, so it cost about $100,000.\
Pence then flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles on Sunday, which took about four hours and 45 minutes, costing about $142,500.Some costs of the flight into Los Angeles will be reimbursed by the Republican National Committee because Pence is attending a political event there.
If he had flown just from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, a trip lasting about 90 minutes, the cost would have been about $45,000.
I don’t usually like Connor Friedersdorf, but he has a good reaction at The Atlantic: Mike Pence’s Flagrant Waste of Taxpayer Money.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence made a big show of leaving an NFL game early. He declared himself upset that some players knelt during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. “I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem,” he declared, as if attacking those things was the intent of the athletes.
The NFL players knelt in protest because they believe that African Americans are being denied their self-evident rights to life and liberty by a prejudiced criminal-justice system.
“This is not about the military, this is not about the flag, this is not about the anthem,” 49ers Safety Eric Reid later told reporters. “My mother served in the armed forces. Three of my uncles served … I have the utmost respect for the military, for the anthem, for the flag … This is about systemic oppression that has been rampant in this country … I will keep doing what I feel is necessary, to use the platform that I have, to make changes. It’s really disheartening when everything you were raised on, everything I was raised on, was to be the best person I can be, to help people who need help, and the vice president of the United States is trying to confuse the message that we’re trying to put out there. I don’t know what to say about it.”
Pence is not compelled to agree with how players protest. But by fleeing the entire NFL game, he adopted the tactics of a childish, petulant snowflake who reacts to speech he dislikes by misrepresenting it, expressing umbrage, and retreating to a “safe space.”
The major difference?
When an immature teenager makes a show of fleeing from expression that he regards as politically incorrect, he’s typically evading ideas he ought to confront on his own dime. Whereas Pence spent taxpayer money to get to that NFL game. Lots of it.
There is so much more news, and so little time and space to discuss it. Most notably, Puerto Rico is still in agony, and the Trump administration seems determined not to help.
The Daily Beast: Without Power Until Next Year, Puerto Ricans Are Leaving—Maybe Forever
VIEQUES, Puerto Rico—Joe and Maria Bernard cook in the dark over a gas stove outside their small hotel, the Tropical Guest House. “The days feel shorter,” says Maria, “we just have 12 hours of daylight to get everything done.”
When it gets dark, the entire island of Vieques is dark.
This is life on the world-renowned tourist island. And it’s going to be life for at least the next six to eight months, if not longer, before electricity is restored here.
“We’re in denial,” says Maria, “we’re going to give it another two weeks maybe a month, then maybe we’ll have to go back to the States.”
In 2005, the couple traded in the bustle of New York and jobs in the television industry for a more rewarding future in Puerto Rico, which offered triple-tax exemption for resettling here. With their savings, they got a loan to buy their turnkey hotel.
Read more painful stories at the link.
Oh, and today is Columbus Day. From the New York Times: Why People Have Protested Columbus Day Almost From Its Start.
A reverend at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan appeared on the front page of The New York Times after he criticized Christopher Columbus, the Italian navigator who sailed to the Americas on behalf of Spain in 1492.
The reverend, R. S. MacArthur, said Columbus was “cruel, and guilty of many crimes.”
That complaint may sound familiar to those who condemn the explorer for opening a door to European colonialism, which brought disease, destruction and catastrophic wars to the people who already lived here.
But Mr. MacArthur said those words more than a century ago, in 1893. His comments suggested he was more affronted by Spain, which he called “the poorest and most ignorant country in Europe,” than concerned about Native Americans.
He was one of many to have questioned the legacy of the explorer, whose arrival in the Americas has been celebrated in the United States for hundreds of years.
Read the rest at the NYT.
What’s left of Hurricane Nate has arrived in New England this morning giving us lots of rain and 40mph winds. I’m glad because it has been hot here for the past few days.
What’s happening where you are? What stories are you following today?
Posted: August 31, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: Arkema Plant, Beaumont Texas, chemical plant explosions, city planning, Climate change, Crosby Texas, Donald Trump, Houston Chronicle, Houston Texas, Hurricane Harvey, Matt Dempsey, Mike Pence, Rachel Maddow
Arkema Plant, Crosby, TX
If you watched Rachel Maddow the past two nights, you know about the flooded chemical plant in Crosby, Texas that was expected to explode. Well it happened this morning.
The Washington Post: Chemicals ignite at flooded plant in Texas as Harvey’s devastation lingers.
CROSBY, Tex. — The remnants of Hurricane Harvey carried its wrath up the Mississippi Delta on Thursday, but not before hammering the Gulf Coast with more punishing cloudbursts and growing threats that included reports of “pops” and “chemical reactions” at a crippled chemical plant and the collapse of the drinking water system in a Texas city.
Authorities warned of the danger posed by the plant in Crosby, about 30 miles northeast of Houston. The French company operating the plant said explosions were possible, and William “Brock” Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, called the potential for a chemical plume “incredibly dangerous.”
Still, officials offered differing accounts regarding what occurred at the Crosby plant, which makes organic peroxides for use in items such as counter tops and pipes. The plant’s operators, which had earlier Thursday reported explosions, later said they believe at least one valve “popped” there, though they noted it was impossible to know for sure since all employees had left the site.
The Environmental Protection Agency said that it dispatched personnel to the scene and did not immediately detect issues regarding toxic material.
Let’s hope that the EPA can still be trusted under Trump. According to Rachel’s report, Texas Governor Abbott made it illegal for people to know when and where toxic materials are being stored in the state. In case you missed it, here’s a bit of the report from last night. We covered the West, Texas explosion quite a bit here at Sky Dancing Blog.
A pair of blasts at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby sent plumes of smoke into the sky Thursday morning, and the company warned more blasts could follow.
“We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” Arkema said in a statement. “Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so.”
The twin blasts Thursday morning happened after organic peroxides overheated. The chemicals need to be kept cool, but after the plant lost power Sunday, the temperature rose, officials said.
That led to containers popping, including one container that caught fire — sending black smoke 30 to 40 feet into the air.
The thick black smoke “might be irritating to the eyes, skin and lungs,” Arkema officials said in a statement.
Fifteen Harris County sheriff’s deputies were hospitalized, but the smoke they inhaled was not believed to be toxic, the department said. By midmorning Thursday, all of the deputies had been released.
Reporter Matt Dempsy of the Houston Chronicle was on Rachel’s show last night, and his Twitter feed is helpful for following this story. More info in this Twitter thread:
Beaumont, Texas is now without water. HuffPost: Beaumont, Texas, In Crisis After City Loses Water Supply Indefinitely.
BEAUMONT ― Residents of this city in eastern Texas are desperate for clean water after the main municipal water pumps failed due to flooding.
Beaumont, which has a population of over 100,000 people, lost both its main and secondary water supplies on Wednesday. The storm caused the Neches River to overflow, which damaged the city’s water pumps, according to city officials. The city’s secondary water source, which is located at the Loeb wells in Hardin County, is also offline.
City officials said the outage is indefinite, pending inspection of the damaged pumps, which they are unable to do until the water recedes.
Read more details at the CNN link. MSNBC is currently showing a Beaumont hospital being evacuated because of the loss of water supply.
Here are a couple of stories that help explain the flooding in the Houston area.
Jay Casano at International Business Times via the National Memo: How Texas Republicans Rejected The Chance To Plan For Climate Change.
With rising sea levels and increased rainfall, experts agree, climate change made the flooding from Hurricane Harvey far worse than it would have been even a decade ago. The Texas legislature had multiple opportunities to create a “climate adaptation plan” that could have resulted in preparations, but the bills were killed every time. The sponsor of the legislation told International Business Times that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry made sure that the climate adaptation bills would not pass.
People begin lining up at a closed Wal-Mart store in Beaumont, TX at around 2:30 Thursday morning after hearing the water supply for the city had failed.
“When I filed that legislation, then-Governor Perry’s legislative staff told me that no legislation that had climate change in it would get out of committee,” former Texas state representative Lon Burnam told IBT. “They came to our office and said to stop filing these bills: ‘We’ll never let it out of committee.’”
Houston is the heart of the nation’s fossil fuels industry, making the discussion of climate change post-Hurricane Harvey particularly relevant. The Texas state government has been widely criticized for being beholden to oil industry interests. Campaign finance records bear out that claim: Over the last two election cycles, Texas state lawmakers have received more than $11.3 million from the oil and gas industry, including $2.3 million for Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus. Former Gov. Perry, now Donald Trump’s Secretary of Energy, received more than $1.6 million from the oil and gas industry during his very brief 2016 presidential run. As governor of Texas, he received more than $10 million across three elections, including $6 million in the 2010 race.
More at the link.
Bloomberg: Harvey Wasn’t Just Bad Weather. It Was Bad City Planning.
Houston has been wet since birth. In the 1840s, the German explorer Ferdinand von Roemer described the Brazos River prairie just outside the young town as an “endless swamp” that mired the wheels of his wagons. He reported that some people who’d intended to settle in Texas turned around and left after seeing the “sad picture.” But Houston never let itself be hampered by its hydrology. It spent billions patching together a mess of dams and drainage projects as it grew and grew. It’s the fourth-biggest city in the U.S., boasting one of the world’s largest medical centers, oil refineries, a stupendous livestock show and rodeo, highbrow culture, vibrant economic growth, and speakers of 145 languages. The consolidated metropolitan statistical area surrounding Houston and extending to Galveston is larger than the state of New Jersey.
Downtown Houston from the air.
Harvey is a devastating reminder to Houston that nature will have its due. The Category 4 hurricane that hung around as a stationary tropical storm punished greater Houston with rainfall measured in feet, not inches. No city could have withstood Harvey without serious harm, but Houston made itself more vulnerable than necessary. Paving over the saw-grass prairie reduced the ground’s capacity to absorb rainfall. Flood-control reservoirs were too small. Building codes were inadequate. Roads became rivers, so while hospitals were open, it was almost impossible to reach them by car.
Harvey’s damage was selective. It’s a minor event for the $19 trillion U.S. economy, since most of the economic activity that was interrupted will be made up later. It was a light hit for insurers, because few underwrite flood insurance and the wind damage they do cover was minimal; insurers’ stock prices barely fell. The refining and petrochemical industries lining the busy Houston Ship Channel also got off fairly lightly (this time), because they’ve invested heavily in storm defenses.
The impact on taxpayers is more serious, because Harvey is likely to generate tens of billions of dollars in emergency federal aid and claims on the money-losing National Flood Insurance Program….
Above all, Harvey is a humanitarian disaster. Ordinary Texans were defenseless against rising waters contaminated by sewage and dotted with floating colonies of fire ants. The confirmed death toll, 20 as of Aug. 30, is expected to rise as rescuers discover more bodies. Residents will return to damaged homes vulnerable to the spread of mold. Much of the damage, which could run to $100 billion or more by one estimate, is uninsured. “This will be the worst natural disaster in American history” in financial terms, Joel Myers, founder and president of AccuWeather, predicted in an Aug. 29 statement.
Mike Pence is in Texas today to fake empathy toward victims of Hurricane Harvey after Trump was unable to do so yesterday. The White House is busy trying to clean up the mess Trump made when he claimed to have seen the horror “first hand.” The Washington Post: Trump claimed he witnessed Harvey’s devastation ‘first hand.’ The White House basically admits he didn’t.
President Trump clearly and unmistakably exaggerated the “horror and devastation” he witnessed in Texas. The White House’s response? To pretend words don’t mean what they mean.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he had seen this horror and devastation “first hand.”
But reporters quickly took issue with that….
A reporter asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about this later Wednesday, and her answer was … something:
He met with a number of state and local officials who are eating, sleeping, breathing the Harvey disaster. He talked exI tensively with the governor, who certainly is right in the midst of every bit of this, as well as the mayors from several of the local towns that were hit hardest. And detailed briefing information throughout the day yesterday talking to a lot of the people on the ground. That certainly is a firsthand account.
No, it’s not. That’s a *second*hand account — the very definition of one, in fact.
There’s much more news, especially about the Russia investigation, but you probably heard about that last night. I’ll post a couple of links in the comment thread just in case. What stories are you following today?
Posted: August 17, 2017 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bells TN, Bethlehem PA, deplorables, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, police brutality, rape, Texas, Tony Schwartz
July 31, 2017 – A vehicle travels east on Front St. in Bells, TN on Monday afternoon. Bells is one of five small towns that comprises Crockett County, Tennessee. (Yalonda M. James for Mother Jones)
Ever wonder what is it like to be a person of color in a Trump-supporting state? Read some personal testimony at Mother Jones: “We Just Feel Like We Don’t Belong Here Anymore,” by Becca Andrews. Andrews returned to her hometown of Bells, Tennessee to find out.
I remember high-school Madyson Turner as a vibrant young black woman with a sense of humor that could dissipate tension in any room. (Turner’s name has been changed here to protect her privacy.) But when we meet up in a Subway sandwich shop in Alamo, there’s a new weight to her shoulders, and her infectious laugh doesn’t come quite so easily.
When she first began to see reports about the violence in Charlottesville, Turner thought it was a tasteless joke. Then she saw videos of the clash on Saturday, and her phone rang—her boyfriend was calling to check on her and process what was happening. He sounded upset. What he said tore at her: “I would rather the world end instead of us having to keep dealing with this stuff.” What hurt her more was the realization that she agreed with him.
“With the way it’s going now, I’m actually scared that I won’t make it,” she said to me in a text message.
Turner tells me that over the past year, life for her family has changed. She hints that her parents have been in West Tennessee long enough to know which families fought against civil rights “back in the day.” Since Trump’s election, they’ve warned her to steer clear of a list of people that is too long for comfort.
The day after the November presidential election, Turner went with her mother to the store, and they both kept their heads down. “We just feel like we don’t belong here anymore,” she says.
Turner’s mom, who cleans houses in town for a living, went to work a couple of days after that, and her employer, an older white woman, brought up the results of the recent election. The two had talked politics before—Turner’s mom is a Democrat, and her employer is a Republican. “Well, you might as well come and live with me now,” the employer said. “You gonna be mine eventually.”
She called her daughter in tears. Turner immediately got in her car and picked her mother up to bring her home.
Last year before the election, a young woman Turner described as one of her best friends casually mentioned she hoped for a Trump victory so that he might “do away with some of these African American people.” She quickly clarified that she wasn’t referring to Turner’s “type,” but when Turner sharply asked her what she meant, she couldn’t answer. Another friend assured her that it would be okay if Trump won the election because she would convince her parents to purchase Turner’s family as their new slaves. In a place where a few large plantation-style houses remain scattered through the county, the “joke” feels a lot like a threat.
The stories are heartbreaking. Please go read the rest if you haven’t already.
The Guardian reports what happened to an African American woman in Texas: Dashcam video shows police sexually assaulted Texas woman, lawyer says.
The attorney for a black woman subjected to an invasive and lengthy roadside strip search by Texas police has released a dashcam video of the incident that he says shows her treatment was a form of rape.
“When you stick your fingers in somebody without their effective consent, that’s rape in any state that I know of,” said Sam Cammack, an attorney for Charnesia Corley.
Cammack made the video public after two Harris County deputies, Ronaldine Pierre and William Strong, were cleared of official oppression by a grand jury earlier this month. They are still with the sheriff’s department. Cammack wants an independent prosecutor to look into the case; a federal civil rights trial is set for January.
Corley was pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign and failing to use turn signals. In the video, she is made to stand, handcuffed, outside her car while two officers look inside. She is then searched with the rear passenger-side door open, partially obscuring the camera’s view of her body.
Corley is then put on the ground, naked below the waist, and examined for about 11 minutes by a female officer using a flashlight. The incident happened in the parking lot of a Texaco garage in Houston late on a June evening in 2015, when she was a 20-year-old student.
The federal lawsuit against Harris County alleges: “When one of the Deputies tried to insert her fingers into Ms CorTheley’s vagina, Ms Corley protested. At that point, the Deputies forcibly threw Ms Corley to the ground, while she was still handcuffed, pinned her down with her legs spread apart, threatened to break her legs and without consent penetrated her vagina in a purported search for marijuana.”
The Guardian is on the ground in Pennsylvania: ‘Trump’s delivering exactly what they wanted: white male supremacy.’
Leaning over a table stacked with “Resist!” buttons and “Impeach Trump” stickers, Kathy Harrington pointed to the offending spot. “It’s probably still there somewhere,” she said. Harrington, 56, was inviting attendees of the annual Musikfest bash in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to sign up to support progressive causes – and to protest against Donald Trump. And then there was one guy who “just looked at us and spit”, said Sandra Davis, 58, a colleague of Harrington, who pointed out the evidence still evaporating from the pavement.
Kathy Harrington joins fellow political activists during Musikfest in Bethlehem. Mark Makela for the Guardian
“They feel empowered,” Davis said of Trump supporters since the election. “They’re given voice. The louder and the more vulgar, the better.”
Images from the night before of white supremacists carrying torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, were deeply disturbing but not surprising, said another activist, Ginny Atwell.
“I think his core base are the true deplorables,” Atwell, 72, said of Trump. “The white supremacists. He’s delivering exactly what they wanted. White male supremacy.”
Trump is never too busy defending white supremacists to find new ways to reverse things President Obama did. The Washingtonian: Trump Removed the White House’s Capital Bikeshare Station.
As Capital Bikeshare grew bigger and more widespread over the past seven years, there was always one station the vast majority of users could never access: a nine-slot dock inside the White House’s security perimeter. For more info about online security services, Check this out. The station, located at 17th Street and State Place, was visible to the eye when it was installed in 2010, but did not appear on any system map, making Capital Bikeshare’s smallest station an unofficial “secret” location.
The spot where the WH Capital bikeshare station used to be.
But on Tuesday, Twitter user Gregory Matlesky passed by the White House and noticed the station not there.
Turns out Matlesky’s intuition was correct. The station was removed earlier this week at the Trump Administration’s request, District Department of Transportation spokesperson Terry Owens tells Washingtonian.
Owens adds that the station was installed in 2010 at the request of the Obama Administration, which had a favorable record with the cycling community. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery—or TIGER—grant program in the 2009 stimulus act funded bike-infrastructure programs throughout the United States, including the installation of several bike lanes and cycling paths around Washington. Before former President Barack Obama left office in January, his Transportation Department signed off on new regulations redefining traffic as people who move on roads, rather than strictly vehicles—a change considered a coup for cyclists and pedestrians.
Posted: May 19, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Joe Biden, Mike Pence, religious nuts, VPOTUS
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I have to admit that getting rid of Kremlin Caligula would certainly make the entire world sleep easier. His brand of crazy, affluenza, and narcissism creates nothing but chaos. I find this appalling on all levels but as both a student and teacher of game theory I can only imagine what the folks are doing that use that tool for diplomatic negotiations, strategic arms control, terrorism scenarios, economic shocks, and all other types of endeavors where strategy, predictability, and the assumption of operating in rational best interest are intrinsic to the models. President Swiss Cheese for brains emanates black swans like a newborn fills diapers. It’s constant and YUGE and stinky!!! That’s a dangerous situation in a world with nuclear weapons, sophisticated war games, and global trade which all rely heavily on the game theory method of analyzing and containing fucked up situations.
However, what’s waiting in the wings at the moment is a scary predictable monster. Former Indiana Governor and current VPOTUS Mike Pence is a known and frightening quantity. What we know is extremely bad. He’s quiet yet conventionally political and as radical as they come. This is why I dread reading and hearing about a potential President Mike Pence. His religious, economic, and record of governance are appalling. He is forming a PAC and undoubtedly finding the finger of gawd up his ass with this Politico Headline and lede: ‘Conservatives begin to whisper: President Pence. With Trump swamped by self-inflicted scandals, Republicans find solace in the man waiting in the wings.’
And conservative New York Times op-ed writer Ross Douthat, argued that abandoning Trump now should be easier because someone competent is waiting in the wings. “Hillary Clinton will not be retroactively elected if Trump is removed, nor will Neil Gorsuch be unseated,” Douthat wrote in Wednesday’s Times.
The pining for Pence is nothing new, however. From Capitol Hill to K Street, the notion that many Republicans prefer Pence to Trump in the Oval Office is perhaps the worst-kept secret in Washington.
Just ask Republican lobbyists who have watched the Trump administration struggle to move tax reform, health care and other top priorities.
“I find it unlikely that Trump is going anywhere,” one GOP lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wrote in an email. “That being said, Pence is well-liked on the Hill, fairly predictable, and doesn’t stir up much unnecessary drama.”
A number of Republican lobbyists already view Pence as a source of stability in an otherwise tumultuous White House. Many of Pence’s top staffers — including his chief of staff, Josh Pitcock — worked for Pence during his years in the House and are deeply familiar with the legislative process. Other former Pence staffers from his House days are working elsewhere in the administration, including Marc Short, the legislative affairs director, and Russ Vought, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
While Pence may not be as commanding a figure in Trump’s White House as Dick Cheney was in George W. Bush’s, Trump has leaned on him heavily. Lobbyists who set up meetings between Pence and their clients must warn them that the vice president may be an hour and a half late or have to leave after 10 minutes because Trump is constantly calling him into the Oval Office to confer with him, according to one Republican lobbyist.
Ross Douthat is a philistine and throwback to the worst Western Civilization has ever offered. Anything he suggests should be immediately dumped into a nuclear waste dump. Both Pence and Douthat are likely reincarnations of the worst the Spanish Inquisition ever offered. You can tell that the Republican machine is closing ranks around him from these kinds of comments. Be very afraid!
Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged wrongdoing, according to a source close to the administration, who cited a potential “pattern” of not informing the vice president and calling it “malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”
A White House spokesman called The Times’ report “flat wrong” on Thursday, but the latest revelations, including a report that Flynn called off a military mission in Raqqa after working as a foreign agent for Turkey, only broadened the scope of questions around Flynn’s time as an adviser to the Trump campaign and the eventual National Security Adviser.
The source called the report of another discretion by Flynn “stunning.”
This would be the second time that Pence claims he was kept in the dark about possible Flynn wrongdoings, despite the White House’s alleged knowledge of them. Earlier this year, Pence said he was not made aware of Flynn’s discussions with Russian officials until 15 days after Trump and the White House were notified.
The source close to the administration, who requested anonymity as the White House denies the story, is now saying that Pence and his team were not made aware of any investigation relating to Flynn’s work as a foreign agent for Turkey.
“It’s also a fact that if he told McGahn that during the transition, it’s also a fact that not only was Pence not made aware of that, no one around Pence was as well,” the source said. “And that’s an egregious error — and it has to be intentional. It’s either malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”
Vice President Mike Pence is standing by a March statement that he first learned of now-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Turkey from media reports, despite renewed scrutiny and revelations President Donald Trump’s transition team was made aware far earlier.
“The vice president stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding General Flynn’s ties to Turkey and fully supports the President’s decision to ask for General Flynn’s resignation,” said an aide to Pence, who declined to be named.
But questions about what Pence knew and when are swirling thanks to new media reports about what Flynn revealed to Trump’s transition team, which Pence oversaw.
Flynn informed the Trump transition team more than two weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for his work as a lobbyist advocating for Turkish government interests, The New York Times reported Wednesday
. But Pence didn’t know, according to a senior administration official close to Pence.
Despite reportedly informing the transition’s chief lawyer Donald McGahn, now White House counsel, of the investigation’s existence, Flynn still walked into the West Wing on January 20 as the President’s top adviser on national security issues.
Even young evangelicals question Mike Pence as witnessed by a protest of him by students in a small bible college where he spoke at commencement. However, they still consider him to be a “good” christian. This is what worries me.
Pence is a radical. He’s also not very bright. He is, however, good at passing as a conventional human being. He also looks like the anchor to sanity compared to his unhinged boss. This is dangerous in a time when looking for safe ports is a minute by minute task.
During my travels across the self-proclaimed Crossroads of America, I learned that Mike Pence had once paid his mortgage with campaign funds, dragged his feet during an HIV epidemic and a lead-poisoning outbreak, signed an anti-gay-rights bill that nearly cost Indiana millions of dollars, lost his mind on national TV with George Stephanopoulos, and turned away Syrian refugees in an unconstitutional ploy laughed out of federal court. And he ended his gubernatorial term unpopular enough that his re-election bid in a Republican state seemed dicey at best.
Pence is the nation’s 48th vice president. Nine vice presidents have assumed the presidency as a result of death or resignation. That’s a 19 percent ascendancy rate. Between Trump’s trigger-happy Twitter persona, the ethical nightmare of his business empire, his KFC addiction and possible entanglements with Vladimir Putin, I’d say the chances for Mike Pence are more than 50-50.
So what do we know about Pence? The governor benefited greatly from the wall-to-wall “Trump is a crazy monkey throwing feces” media coverage during the fall campaign, in that his record was undercovered, but it’s out there and suggests that his impact as vice president will screw African-Americans, women, the poor and any other square peg in round America. His concerns for the parts of Indiana outside his comfort zone toggled between disinterest and disdain.
And here’s the frightening thing: Unlike his boss, Mike Pence has an actual ideology. Pence proclaimed at the 2016 GOP convention that “I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” However, his actual record – including turning down up to $80 million in federal pre-K funding – is the antithesis of Jesus’ “whatever you do for one of the least of my brothers, you do for me” theology.
This should worry anyone that is concerned about the rights of women and GLBT. It should concern those of us that like to live in the modern age. He’s no different from the Taliban except for the name and face on the prophet. We would do well to remember that!
In 2000, Pence made another bid for Congress. He checked the GOP boxes for cutting taxes while increasing military spending, but he also made it clear he was a Christian warrior, stating, “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.” He also argued that the AIDS resources bill, commonly known as the Ryan White Care Act, should be renewed only if resources were “directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” While Pence has argued that providing assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior meant abstinence groups, many gay activists heard code words for “conversion therapy.” In 2006, he spoke in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, arguing that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”
Pence fought against the pro-choice movement with vigor rare even by right-wing standards, introducing a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood year after year he was in the House. The death of a woman after taking an abortion pill led Pence to the House floor, where he spoke favorably of Lex Cornelia, a collection of ancient Roman laws, including one detailing how providers of abortion potions were sentenced to work in the mines.
His agenda was so radical that exactly zero of Pence’s bills became law. But he’d laid down markers that would be appreciated by the hard right who vote in presidential primaries.
These are excerpts from an extremely long but engaging piece in a January issue of Rolling Stone by Stephan Rodrick. It’s worth your time.
Oh, and speaking of dishrags that hold down VEEP jobs, Biden opened his mouth again and it’s not pretty. Here’s WAPO: ‘Biden disses Clinton: ‘I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate.’’ This from the man who could never climb out of the bottom tier of national candidates. This from the man who lead the real witch hunt on Anita Hill.
Former vice president Joe Biden stirred the Democratic pot a little bit on Thursday night.
Appearing at the SALT hedge fund conference in Las Vegas, the possible 2020 presidential candidate weighed in on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy in a way that Clinton supporters sure won’t like.
“I never thought she was a great candidate,” Biden said, according to reports. “I thought I was a great candidate.”
Biden clarified, according to CNN, that “Hillary would have been a really good president.” But that isn’t likely to make Clinton supporters feel much better.
Biden isn’t the first leading Democratic figure with possible designs on 2020 to apparently slight Clinton. Clinton’s 2016 primary foe, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has repeatedly offered some version of this quote: “It wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election; it was that the Democratic Party that lost the election.”
Those comments have definitely rubbed some Clinton supporters the wrong way, and Biden’s are likely to even more so, given how direct they were.
This is all followed, of course, by the proverbial MSM meme that Hillary was such a bad candidate. Yeah, you can tell that by the number of votes she’s gotten and the number of times she wins most admired woman in the world and in the US. WTF is wrong ? Can’t this nitwit just go peacefully into the night and tilt at a few windmills in the name of cancer research and the memory of his son?
I will never forget what he said about Clarence Thomas and what he did to Anita Hill in those confirmation hearings. NEVER!
So, as we swiftly continue our realization that white men will never give women a chance to lead, remember that our current VEEP calls his wife “MOTHER” and will not be left alone in any room with a woman.
Vice President Mike Pence is known for many things: the homophobic policies he instated while governor of Indiana, his fierce opposition to women’s health care, his tendency to defer to the Bible over the Constitution. Yet another facet of the vice president emerged recently: his desire to never dine alone in the company of a woman other than his wife. This is odd enough — but things get even weirder when you consider that Pence allegedly calls his wife, Karen, “Mother.” If the claims are true, why does he use this seemingly outdated nickname? There’s no clear answer, but I can take an educated guess.
Pence’s supposed penchant for calling Karen “Mother, Mother” (that’s two “mothers” in a row, if you’re keeping track), originally came to light in a January Rolling Stone profile on Mrs. Pence. The piece recounted a dinner Pence held for the Democratic minority while he was governor of Indiana. It was here, reportedly, that multiple members of the dinner party heard Pence refer to Karen as “Mother.”
“Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?” Pence allegedly asked. He followed this up with another question later in the evening, supposedly asking Karen, “Mother, Mother, whose china are we eating on?”
Flash forward to this week’s profile of Karen in the Washington Post. The publication cited a long-buried 2002 interview with the Hill, in which Pence said he never eats alone with a woman that isn’t his wife, and likewise never drinks alcohol without his wife present.
Could these seemingly outdated guidelines tie in with the alleged “Mother” nickname? I’m going to wager that yes, it’s very possible.
The boundaries he sets in his own marriage are up to him and “Mother” (erm, his wife), of course. But these rules Pence has placed on himself are no great surprise when you consider his socially conservative take on women’s issues at large, as well as his tendency to incorporate his own religious views into his political life. His tie-breaking Senate vote to allow states to withhold Title X funding from clinics that provide abortions, even though abortions are legal in the United States, is only the latest example.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: March 25, 2017 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: Carter Page, Devin Nunes, Donald Trump, GOP health care bill, Michael Flynn, Mike Pence, Obamacare, Paul Manafort, Paul Ryan, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, tRumpcare, Turkey
Last night, for the first time since November 8, 2016, I went to bed happy. Thanks in large part to the millions of Americans who marched in the streets, went to town halls or their representatives’ offices to defend Obamacare, the attempt by tRump and Ryan to destroy the health care system has been thwarted–at least for the time being.
Trump is being roasted in the media. Here are a few stories to check out, links only because there are so many:
The Washington Post: ‘The closer’? The inside story of how Trump tried — and failed — to make a deal on health care.
Politico: Trump gets tamed by Washington (click on this one if only to view the absolute worst photo of tRump’s hair so far).
Politico Magazine: Inside the GOP’s Health Care Debacle. Eighteen days that shook the Republican Party—and humbled a president.
The Atlantic: The Republicans Fold on Health Care. The House abandoned its legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, handing President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan a major defeat.
The New York Times: How the Health Care Vote Fell Apart, Step by Step.
Jonathan Chait: Why Obamacare Defeated Trumpcare.
I want to highlight one aspect of the tRump strategy. He let Steve Bannon talk to the Freedom Caucus, and it did not go well.
Mike Allen at Axios:
Posted: February 21, 2017 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: anti-semitism, attack on Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, bomb threats, Donald Trump, foreign policy confusion, Hillary Clinton, James Mattis, Mike Pence
The crowd at the Stand Up for Science Rally in Copley Square Boston, Feb. 17, 2017
The photos in this post are from the Stand Up for Science Rally in Boston on Friday.
How bad is the tRump presidency? Elderly people who remember great presidents like FDR are dissing tRump in their obituaries. Liz Smith of Norwalk, Ohio, died on Feb. 13. From her obit:
She was born June 12, 1929 in Pittsburgh, PA to the late Leo N. and Cathrine (Picker) Hierholzer. She was a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Music Education. She was a switchboard operator for many years. She was a lifetime member of Girl Scouts USA and was a 45 year volunteer for Erie Shores Girl Scout Council, and for 25 years she was a driving force behind Norwalk’s Girl Scout Day Camp. She was a recipient of the Thanks Badge, which is the highest award in Girl Scouting. She volunteered for the United Fund, Salvation Army soup kitchen, participated in crop walk, visited shut-ins at nursing homes, was an MDA Volunteer and a member of Huron County Democratic Party and a poll worker. She was an active member of St. Mary Catholic Church and served on parish council, renovation committee, finance council, funeral luncheons and parish festival committees , office aide at St. Mary’s, former Eucharistic minister and liaison for the Toledo Diocesan Association for the parish. She enjoyed traveling, especially to Yellowstone Park and heli-hiking in the Canadian Rockies, white water rafting on the New River in West Virginia and the Snake River in Idaho, Orient Express trip from Vienna to Paris, entire tour of Nova Scotia including Cape Breton. Liz is smiling now, not to be living during the Trump Presidency.
She isn’t the only one. See more at Indy100.
Boston, MA — 2/19/2017 – A dog named Louis Vuitton wears an Alternative Fact sweater as scientists, science advocates and community members rally in Copley Square. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Over the weekend, VP Mike Pence and Defense Sec. James Mattis were travelling around the world trying to convince U.S. allies that they–not the actual president–speak for our country. Today Reuters reports that the “White House delivered EU-skeptic message before Pence visit – sources.”
In the week before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Brussels and pledged America’s “steadfast and enduring” commitment to the European Union, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met with a German diplomat and delivered a different message, according to people familiar with the talks.
Bannon, these people said, signalled to Germany’s ambassador to Washington that he viewed the EU as a flawed construct and favoured conducting relations with Europe on a bilateral basis.
Three people who were briefed on the meeting spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. The German government and the ambassador, Peter Wittig, declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of the talks.
A White House official who checked with Bannon in response to a Reuters query confirmed the meeting had taken place but said the account provided to Reuters was inaccurate. “They only spoke for about three minutes and it was just a quick hello,” the official said.
The sources described a longer meeting in which Bannon took the time to spell out his world view. They said his message was similar to the one he delivered to a Vatican conference back in 2014 when he was running the right-wing website Breitbart News.
In those remarks, delivered via Skype, Bannon spoke favourably about European populist movements and described a yearning for nationalism by people who “don’t believe in this kind of pan-European Union.
“Western Europe, he said at the time, was built on a foundation of “strong nationalist movements”, adding: “I think it’s what can see us forward”.
Who should we believe: multiple sources who spoke to Reuters or the the lying White House? This morning Anita Kumar of Reuters (via The Miami Herald) asks how long Pence will have influence on policy: Pence has clout in Trump White House, but for how long?
Donald Trump has given Pence, whose connections, conservative credentials and knowledge of policy far outstrip those of his boss, a role that has him at the president’s elbow every day, relying on Pence to navigate Washington in ways that other modern presidents have not needed.
Pence is in the Oval Office when Trump calls foreign leaders. He’s in the room when the president meets with business executives, county sheriffs and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He’s there holding the executive orders after the president signs them. And he always has the best seat in the house when Trump holds a news conference.
Trump likens himself to a CEO who surrounds himself with multiple advisers, and it’s clear right now that Trump feels comfortable having Pence around. But observers caution it may not end up that way, as the new White House shakes itself out and other advisers learn the ways of Washington.
“Everything is going to depend on who Donald Trump believes is trustworthy,” said Leslie Lenkowsky, a former professor at Indiana University who has known Pence for two decades.
Pence’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump and Pence didn’t know each other well before Trump tapped him to be his running mate last summer. Pence had endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for president just days before the crucial Indiana primary and had criticized Trump for, among others things, calling for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
Kumar isn’t specific about what she thinks might lead to a break between tRump and Pence, but after this weekend, I think Americans and Europeans are wondering when Pence will be sent to the doghouse.
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin (via The Chicago Tribune) asks: Will it soon be Donald Trump vs. Mike Pence?
Trump, like most demagogues, needs an enemy — the elites, the press, Clinton. If he had to survive on his own merits and accomplishments, he’d flop. Press or Trump? Clinton or Trump? It’s all a tactic to keep his own popularity high, or as high as it can be.
Alas, the technique has not really paid off since people tend to judge presidents in office on what they do in office. Trump’s historically horrendous approval numbers (38 approve, 56 disapprove in Gallup; Pew had a nearly identical split, 39/56.) As Trump’s performance sends more voters, and lawmakers, reeling and the investigation of his and his aides’ ties to Russia get underway, we should remember how critical Vice President Mike Pence becomes. If things get really bad — impeachment or some 25th Amendment “solution” — the choice will not be Trump vs. Clinton. It will be Trump vs. Pence, who’d take over if Trump left or was removed. Uh-oh. Pence is in positive territory (43/39 in the Pollster.com average), and among Republicans, especially those on Capitol Hill, he’s exceptionally popular.
In other words, if down the road the president continues to unravel, there may be a very big bipartisan consensus to show Trump the door. It’s not like they’d be getting Clinton; they’d be getting the not erratic, not flashy, not crazy Mike Pence.
Speaking of Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, Secretary of State, and presidential candidate has spoken out about Trump’s refusal to condemn the many anti-Semitic threats and attacks around the country. The Washington Post: After weekend of anti-Semitic acts, Clinton urges Trump to ‘speak out.’
Hillary Clinton called on President Trump on Tuesday to speak out against anti-Semitic vandalism and threats after more than 170 Jewish graves were found toppled at a cemetery in Missouri.
A tweet from Clinton did not specifically mention the gravesite disturbances in University City, Mo., but noted increasing reports of “troubling” threats against Jewish community centers, cemetery desecrations and online intimidation.
She urged her former presidential campaign rival to lead denunciations amid complains by critics that the White House has not spoken out forcefully enough against anti-Semitic acts.
And what do you know? Trump has finally said something, according to Politico: Trump calls anti-Semitism ‘horrible.’
President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried anti-Semitism, calling recent threats against Jewish community centers “horrible” and a “reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
“This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we ha ave to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” Trump said Tuesday, delivering brief remarks after visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the first time. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.
”Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had called on Trump earlier Tuesday to speak out against anti-Semitic violence, an issue he side-stepped at his press conference last week….
Ahead of his brief address, the president had told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin that “anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s gonna stop and it has to stop.” He added that the racial divide in America is “age-old” and speculated that “something” is going on that prevents the country from fully healing.
Yeah, “something” is definitely going on–a bunch of ignorant white people elected a racist POTUS. The ADL had also called on tRump to speak out. It really doesn’t seem like enough to me, but it’s a start. Here’s a summary of what’s been happening from HuffPo: Jewish Community Centers Across the Country Hit with Another Wave of Bomb Threats.
Forcing evacuations in ten states Monday. There have been 67 incidents at 56 Jewish community centers in 27 states and one Canadian province since the start of 2017. Vandals also toppled over 100 headstones at a prominent Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism, tweeted about the incidentsMonday, and not all of Twitter was pleased.
Here’s a report on the vandalizing of a the Jewish cemetery from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Up to 200 headstones damaged at Jewish cemetery, director says.
Anita Feigenbaum, executive director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, said officials will be cataloging the damage Tuesday and notifying relatives whose families are affected. A monument company will decide which headstones need to be replaced and which need to be reset, she said.
Feigenbaum was emotional in describing the damage she saw.
“It’s hard to even express how terrible it was,” she said Tuesday morning. “It was horrible.”
Police are investigating the vandalism, which happened sometime over the weekend. No arrests had been made, as of Tuesday. Asked whether the incident is being investigated as a hate crime, Detective Lt. Fredrick Lemons II said police were keeping all options open….
The damage was done to an older part of the cemetery, on the southeast end. In one swath, for example, spread across about 40 yards, two dozen stones are toppled but 10 rows of stones nearby are untouched. A semicircle of destruction included stones marked with names of Schaefer, Weisman, Weinstein, Pearl and Levinson, but one headstone in the middle, with the name Levy, was unscathed. The years of death on these stones ranged from about 1921 to 1962.
Visitors streamed in to see if their family stones were pushed over.
Trump and the Bannon crowd own this.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!