Tuesday Reads: The Humiliation of the Fake “President”

Good Morning!!

 

As if the fake “president” didn’t have enough humiliations to deal with this morning, Time Magazine has delivered a crushing blow to his ego, announcing Jamal Khashoggi and other journalists as their “Person of the Year.”

The Washington Post: Time’s Person of the Year: ‘Guardians’ of the truth, including slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Time magazine has announced its 2018 Person of the Year is “The Guardians,” four individuals and one group — all journalists — who this year helped expose “the manipulation and the abuse of truth” around the world.

They are the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributing columnist who was killed inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in October; the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland; journalist Maria Ressa, the CEO of the Rappler news website, who has been made a legal target in the Philippines; and journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for nearly a year for their work exposing the mass killing of Rohingya Muslims.

“As we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and the abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories, from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley,” Time magazine editor Edward Felsenthal said on the “Today” show Tuesday morning, where the announcement was made.

“The manipulation and abuse of truth” is a pretty clear reference to Trump’s governing style.

Here’s Time’s cover story: The Guardians and the War on Truth.

The stout man with the gray goatee and the gentle demeanor dared to disagree with his country’s government. He told the world the truth about its brutality toward those who would speak out. And he was murdered for it.

Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.

But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?

Khashoggi put his faith in bearing witness. He put it in the field reporting he had done since youth, in the newspaper editorship he was forced out of and in the columns he wrote from lonely exile. “Must we choose,” he asked in the Washington Post in May, “between movie theaters and our rights as citizens to speak out, whether in support of or critical of our government’s actions?” Khashoggi had fled his homeland last year even though he actually supported much of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s agenda in Saudi Arabia. What irked the kingdom and marked the journalist for death was Khashoggi’s insistence on coming to that conclusion on his own, tempering it with troubling facts and trusting the public to think for itself.

Such independence is no small thing. It marks the distinction between tyranny and democracy. And in a world where budding authoritarians have advanced by blurring the difference, there was a clarity in the spectacle of a tyrant’s fury visited upon a man armed only with a pen. Because the strongmen of the world only look strong. All despots live in fear of their people. To see genuine strength, look to the spaces where individuals dare to describe what’s going on in front of them.

Trump and his gullible son-in-law Jared Kushner won’t be happy about this. Plus, yesterday CNN published quotes from the transcript of the recording of the Kashoggi murder: ‘I can’t breathe.’ Jamal Khashoggi’s last words disclosed in transcript, source says.

“I can’t breathe.” These were the final words uttered by Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi hit squad at the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist.

The source, who has read a translated transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi’s painful last moments, said it was clear that the killing on October 2 was no botched rendition attempt, but the execution of a premeditated plan to murder the journalist.
During the course of the gruesome scene, the source describes Khashoggi struggling against a group of people determined to kill him.

“I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi says.

“I can’t breathe.”

“I can’t breathe.”

The transcript notes the sounds of Khashoggi’s body being dismembered by a saw, as the alleged perpetrators are advised to listen to music to block out the sound.

And, according to the source, the transcript suggests that a series of phone calls are made. Turkish officials believe the calls were placed to senior figures in Riyadh, briefing them on progress.

Nick Ayers and John Kelly

In other humiliations, the fake “president” decided to humiliate Chief of Staff John Kelly by announcing his firing without any warning, and then the fake “president” was in turn humiliated by his choice to replace Kelly. Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair:

On Friday night, members of Donald Trump’s West Wing gathered for drinks at the Trump International Hotel following a holiday dinner at the White House. As they mingled in the lobby, Bill Shine, Stephen MillerKellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and others grappled with the latest West Wing upheaval: Trump had changed the plan and fired Chief of Staff John Kellyearlier that afternoon. “It got back to Trump that Kelly was bad-mouthing him and Trump had decided he’d had enough. His attitude was, ‘fuck him,’” an attendee told me.

Kelly’s defenestration surprised few people—Trump had wanted to fire him for months—but the lingering problem had been finding a replacement whom Trump felt comfortable with (and who wanted the job). “The president really wanted someone he knows. He didn’t want to gamble,” a former West Wing official said. After weeks of lobbying by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump had been convinced that Mike Pence’s 36-year-old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, was the best candidate. On Friday afternoon, Trump met with Ayers, Pence, and Kelly and finalized the transition, a source briefed on the meeting said. A press release announcing Ayers’s hiring was reportedly drafted and ready to go for when Trump planned to announce Kelly’s departure on Monday.

But Trump’s frustration with Kelly boiled over after Kelly pressed him to name his deputy Zachary Fuentes interim chief of staff. “Trump didn’t like how Kelly was trying to dictate the terms of his departure,” a Republican briefed on the discussions told me. Trump blew up the carefully orchestrated announcement and told reporters on Saturday as he walked to Marine One that Kelly would be leaving by the end of the year. “John wanted to announce his own departure. This was a humiliation,” a former West Wing official said.

Trump’s impulsive announcement quickly became an even bigger problem when it turned out that Kelly’s replacement was not sewn up; Ayers surprised Trump later that day by insisting that he only wanted the job short term. “Trump was pissed, he was caught off guard,” a former West Wing official briefed on the talks said.

And to make sure the humiliation of the fake “president” was complete, Ayers announced his departure on Twitter.

Now Trump is left with no one to humiliate in the formerly prestigious Chief of Staff job. The Washington Post: ‘There was no Plan B’: Trump scrambles to find chief of staff after top candidate turns him down.

After announcing the exit of his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and being turned down by his pick to replace him, Nick Ayers, Trump found himself Monday in an unexpected predicament — scrambling to recruit someone to help run the executive branch of the federal government and guide the administration through the political tumult and possible legal peril ahead.

“Will you be my Chief of Staff?”

In any White House, the chief of staff is arguably the most punishing position. But in this White House — a den of disorder ruled by an impulsive president — it has proved to be an especially thankless job. The two people to hold the job were left with their reputations diminished after failing to constrain the president, who often prefers to function as his own chief of staff.

Three members of Trump’s Cabinet who have been discussed inside the West Wing as possible chiefs of staff — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer — each signaled Monday that they were not interested in the position.

Considerable buzz has centered on two other contenders. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) noted his interest in the job by issuing a statement saying that “serving as Chief of Staff would be an incredible honor.”

“It is not something I have been campaigning for,” Meadows told reporters Monday on Capitol Hill, adding that his phone “blew up” after the Ayers news broke. “The president has a good list of candidates. I’m honored to be one of those.”

And acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, who traveled with Trump to Kansas City, Mo., last week , is seen by the president and his allies as a loyalist.

But Trump’s advisers and aides cautioned that there was not yet a front-runner.

Although aides said the president is committed to finding a replacement for Kelly before the Christmas holiday, they said he has been vacillating — casting about in all corners for potential picks and frustrated by news coverage depicting his White House as a place where talented people do not want to work.

Why would anyone want to work for Trump? I guess it will have to be someone whose reputation is already in tatters. I can’t imagine anyone who has hopes for a future career being interested. That description could apply to Whitaker, but how could he get a security clearance when he’s associated with a company that is under investigation for fraud?

Of course Trump is claiming he has multiple applicants for the job.

Hahahahahahahaha!

That’s it for me today. What stories are you following?


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! I know I shouldn’t keep complaining about my weather, with all the tornadoes and floods in other places, but I sure wish we’d get a little bit of spring here in Beantown. It has been raining almost every day for the past couple of weeks. We had 1-1/2 nice days on Friday and Saturday, and then went back to rainy and soggy. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 80 degrees, but still raining. And it’s rain, rain, and more rain for the foreseeable future. Ugh! This kind of weather tends to make the news seem even more depressing than usual.

A couple of days ago, Sima posted a wonderful story about a fawn that was rescued by firefighters. That really cheered me up, so I decided to offer you some heartwarming animal rescue stories this morning.

72-Year Old Florida Man Saves Pet Dog from Alligator Attack

Gary Murphy, 72, was at his home in Palm City, about 80 miles north of Miami, on Thursday evening when he heard his West Highland terrier named “Doogie” making noise in the backyard.

Murphy found his beloved pet in the mouth of an alligator that had entered the yard from marshland behind the property, and launched a rescue bid by jumping on the reptile’s backing and hitting it on the head.

“I had loafers on and I hit the back of that gator. It was like jumping on a pile of rocks,” Murphy told the newspaper.

The alligator let go of Doogie, who needed veterinary treatment for deep gouges, lung injuries and liver damage, but was expected to make a full recovery.

Nemo

Kitten Rescued From Island In Detroit Park

The Michigan Humane Society said animal rescuers used a canoe to reach a kitten that was stranded Monday on an island in Detroit’s Palmer Park.

The organization said it didn’t know how the three-month kitten got there, or how long it had been stuck.

The kitten’s rescuers have named him Nemo.

He was taken to the MHS Detroit Center for Animal Care and checked out by veterinarians, who said he’s in good health.

Animal rescue team dispatched to Joplin

The Humane Society of Missouri is deploying a 15-person disaster response team to Joplin, Missouri to rescue and shelter pets affected by Sunday’s devastating tornado.

The team is made up of trained professionals, as well as a veterinarian to help care for sick and injured animals.

The HSMO field assessment team will work in conjunction with Joplin Animal Control and the Jasper County Emergency Management Agency to operate an animal shelter on the campus of Missouri Southern State University and to set up a separate pet shelter to care for hundreds of animals who are unable to be sheltered at MSSU.

For more information on donations to help this and future needs, please visit the Humane Society of Missouri’s website.

In other news, the Obama administration is raising objections to the new Indiana law that bans all government assistance to Planned Parenthood.

The changes in Indiana are subject to federal review and approval, and administration officials have made it clear they will not approve the changes in the form adopted by the state.

Federal officials have 90 days to act but may feel pressure to act sooner because Indiana is already enforcing its law, which took effect on May 10, and because legislators in other states are working on similar measures.

If a state Medicaid program is not in compliance with federal law and regulations, federal officials can take corrective action, including “the total or partial withholding” of federal Medicaid money. The mere threat of such a penalty is often enough to get states to comply. Actually imposing the penalty would, in many cases, hurt the very people whom Medicaid is intended to help.

Hmmm… that doesn’t sound so good. Isn’t there a better way? Fortunately, Mitch Daniels isn’t going to run for President. Tim Pawlenty is running, however, and a Minnesota reporter, Nick Pinto, has published a couple of embarrassing stories in honor of Pawlenty’s throwing his hat in the presidential ring.

Jeremy Giefer, accused child molester, got Pawlenty pardon to open childcare center

Child molester Giefer and friend Tim Pawlenty

Jeremy Giefer served time in jail in 1994 for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. But you wouldn’t know it to look at the record of the man now charged with sexually molesting his daughter more than 250 times over the last eight years.

That’s because two years ago, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and then-Chief Justice Eric Magnuson unanimously voted to wipe Giefer’s record clean, granting him a pardon extraordinary.

One reason Giefer wanted his record cleared? His wife wanted to open a childcare center in the house where they live–the same house where Giefer allegedly molested his young daughter throughout the six years prior.

Watch Nick Ayers, Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign manager, get arrested for DWI [VIDEO]

Back in the fall of 2006, Ayers, then only 24, was running the reelection campaign of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

On October 25, just days before the election, Trooper First Class J.W. Rickett of the Georgia State Patrol saw Ayers’ Chevy Tahoe weaving and doing 50 in a 35-mph zone. Rickett followed the truck, which turned into a parking lot, sped up, and nearly hit another vehicle in an apparent effort to hide.

As the dash-cam video of the incident shows, Ayers’ first words to Rickett are: “We’re with Governor Perdue’s campaign headquarters.”

Ayers claims he’s only had one Jack Daniels and Diet Coke, but Rickett’s report states he smelled strongly of alcohol.

Ayers’ association with the governor apparently doesn’t impress the trooper, who puts him through a field sobriety test, which he fails.

Ayers then refuses to take a breath test, so he’s arrested and put in handcuffs.

You can watch the video at the link.

This is a strange one from Raw Story: Alan Greenspan had to be convinced that he existed before meeting Ayn Rand

A friend had to convince Greenspan that he actually existed prior to a meeting with Ayn Rand in the 1950s.

Nathaniel Branden told the story about Greenspan in the BBC 2 documentary “All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace,” according to The Spectator. Part one of the three part series premiered Monday.

“You have to realize that Alan Greenspan was, and is, a brilliant mind doing brilliant things in the real world but in his 20s he is sitting with me in my apartment telling me that he cannot say with certainty that he exists, he cannot say for certain that I exist and he cannot say for certain that this conversation exists,” Branden recalled.

“That aside he’s got lots of opinions about everything… My challenge became to persuade him that he can be certain that he exists,” he explained.

Apparently, Ayn Rand didn’t like Greenspan much, but Brandon convinced her to allow him to join her group anyway. Greenspan went on to make major contributions to the destruction of the economy of the United States of America.

The U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t help a poor young girl who was forced to cheer for her rapist, but today they ordered the state of California to release tens of thousands of convicts from state prisons because of overcrowding.

The court gave the state two years to shrink the number of prisoners by more than 33,000 and two weeks to submit a schedule for achieving that goal. The state now has 143,335 inmates, according to Cate.

Monday’s 5-4 ruling, upholding one of the largest such orders in the nation’s history, came with vivid descriptions of indecent care from the majority and outraged warnings of a “grim roster of victims” from some in the minority.

In presenting the decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, spoke from the bench about suicidal prisoners being held in “telephone booth-sized cages without toilets” and others, sick with cancer or in severe pain, who died before being seen by a doctor. As many as 200 prisoners may live in a gymnasium, and as many as 54 may share a single toilet, he said.

Kennedy, whose opinion was joined by his four liberal colleagues, said the state’s prisons were built to hold 80,000 inmates, but were crowded with as many 156,000 a few years ago.

If they let small-time drug users go, that would be fine with me, but I hope they continue to keep Charlie Manson, Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie van Houten behind bars, along with other vicious murders.

I’ll end with the latest rapture news: Radio host says Rapture actually coming in October

California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on October 21.

Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions — some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

But Camping said that he’s now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.

{Sigh…}

So what are you reading and blogging about today?