It appears that Cover-Up General Bill Barr has struck again. He apparently ordered the Southern District of New York to end their investigation of campaign finance violations by Michael Cohen and Individual 1 (AKA Donald Trump).
The Washington Post: Prosecutors have ‘concluded’ Michael Cohen campaign finance probe, judge says.
Federal prosecutors have concluded the campaign finance investigation centered on President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, or at least key aspects of it, a federal judge overseeing the case wrote Wednesday, suggesting prosecutors will not charge executives in the Trump Organization or any others who have been linked to the matter.
The good news is that Judge William H. Pauley ordered the public release of search warrants and other documents related to the case. Prosecutors asked Pauley to allow some redactions of the materials, but the judge said no dice. The materials should be available sometime this morning.
He [Pauley] wrote that the government disclosed in a secret filing Monday that it had “concluded the aspects of its investigation that justified the continued sealing of the portions of the Materials relating to Cohen’s campaign finance violations.” He rejected their request to file the materials with redactions to protect “third-party privacy interests,” because, by his telling, the case is over and the public deserves to see everything.
“The campaign finance violations discussed in the Materials are a matter of national importance,” Pauley wrote. “Now that the Government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the Materials.”
So Barr has made sure that the Trump Organization will no longer be in danger of prosecution. Will the investigations into Trump’s inauguration be axed next?
Rachel Maddow talked about this last night.
Folks, this is getting scarier with every passing day. Trump now controls the Department of Justice and apparently can order investigations stopped or opened. Republicans control the Senate, so nothing the Democrats pass will even be considered there, including impeachment. The only protection we have left is the courts, and Trump and the GOP are working overtime to stock them with Trump judges.
Last night Trump held another Nazi/KKK rally in North Carolina, during which he attacked has latest target Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and encouraged the crowd as they screamed “send her back!”
And in case you thought Trump was ad libbing, here’s the proof that the attack was orchestrated.
From The Charlotte Observer editorial board: ’Send her back’: A dark reminder of who we are.
It happened in the first half of Wednesday’s speech. Donald Trump, our president, began to talk about Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democratic from Minnesota who was among the four women of color he had attacked Sunday in a racist tweet. Everyone knew Trump would speak about the women at some point to the Greenville, North Carolina crowd. Did we know what would come next?
“Send her back.”
The chant rose quickly from a handful of voices to a chorus of bigotry. It was a chilling moment. It was “lock her up” in a white hood. It was despicable.
It could have happened at any Donald Trump rally. It might have happened in any state, north or south. But it happened in Greenville, in our state, and it was one of North Carolina’s darkest moments.
“Send her back.”
Or perhaps not. Maybe the chant will be absorbed in the vortex that is Donald Trump. In a presidency of so many shameful moments, of so many new lows, the singularly awful ones tend to lose their significance. It’s possible that North Carolina might be forgotten when the chant inevitably spreads to the next rally. But North Carolina shouldn’t forget.
The Associated Press: Trump leans on issue of race in bid for a 2nd term in 2020.
President Donald Trump has placed racial animus at the center of his reelection campaign, and even some of his critics believe it could deliver him a second term.
Every successful modern presidential campaign has been built on the notion of addition, winning over voters beyond core supporters. But Trump has chosen division on the belief that the polarized country he leads will simply choose sides over issues like race.
He intensified his attacks on Wednesday, blasting four young congresswomen of color during a rally in Greenville, North Carolina . The crowd responded by chanting, “Send her back!” echoing Trump’s weekend tweet in which he said the lawmakers, all American citizens, should “go back” to the countries from which they came.
Not since George Wallace’s campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate — and certainly not an incumbent president — put racial polarization at the center of his call to voters. Though Trump’s comments generated outrage and even a resolution of condemnation in the House, the president and his campaign believe the strategy carries far more benefits than risks.
The Irish Times: Fintan O’Toole: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow.
To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being trialled is fascism – a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget “post-fascist” – what we are living with is pre-fascism.
It is easy to dismiss Donald Trump as an ignoramus, not least because he is. But he has an acute understanding of one thing: test marketing. He created himself in the gossip pages of the New York tabloids, where celebrity is manufactured by planting outrageous stories that you can later confirm or deny depending on how they go down. And he recreated himself in reality TV where the storylines can be adjusted according to the ratings. Put something out there, pull it back, adjust, go again.
Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.
One of the basic tools of fascism is the rigging of elections – we’ve seen that trialled in the election of Trump, in the Brexit referendum and (less successfully) in the French presidential elections. Another is the generation of tribal identities, the division of society into mutually exclusive polarities. Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about 40 per cent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your 40 per cent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too. And fascism of course needs a propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities. Again, the testing for this is very far advanced.
Read the rest at the link above.
Last night Trump also celebrated a meaningless vote in the house about impeachment. Politico suggests that he might actually think the vote has ended the threat.
IT BARELY TOOK THE PRESIDENT ANY TIME before he said this Wednesday evening at his campaign rally in Greenville, N.C.: “I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I’ve ever been involved in: the resolution — how stupid is that — on impeachment. I want to thank those Democrats because many of them voted for us, the vote was a totally lopsided 332-95-1.” … Upon arriving in North Carolina, President Donald Trump said the same thing: “We have just received an overwhelming vote against impeachment. And that’s the end of it. Let the Democrats now go back to work….
a few smart, seasoned people in the White House wondered to us Wednesday night if TRUMP actually believes this vote ended impeachment. Of course, it didn’t. This was a procedural vote that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. There are still nearly 90 Democrats who are now on record supporting an impeachment inquiry, and ROBERT MUELLER is coming to the Hill next week. There are Democrats who believe the impeachment caucus will swell as soon as he opens his mouth.
At Bloomberg, Jonathan Bernstein writes: That Strange Impeachment Vote? It May Be a Big Deal.
Representative Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, has regularly introduced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Usually, when a regular bill or resolution has been introduced, it’s then referred to committee. If the majority party doesn’t want to consider the bill, it will die with no further action. Under House rules, however, any member can force an impeachment resolution onto the floor as pending business. That’s what Green did Wednesday.
This maneuver doesn’t mean that impeachment gets a final vote, or even debate. What it does get is a “motion to table,” which means that lawmakers can vote to either keep the resolution as pending business or kill it off. When Green did this in 2017, 58 Democrats voted to keep the impeachment measure alive. In 2018, 66 did so. This time, it was up to 95.
Of course, there are more Democrats in the current Congress than in the previous one. And we can’t assume that all the votes to table were necessarily votes against impeachment (pro-impeachment independent Justin Amash voted to table, for instance). Some legislators may have objected to bringing the resolution straight to the floor on procedural grounds, or thought that Green’s articles were poorly drafted. Still, the vote offers a decent proxy for where impeachment sentiment stands in the House: It divides Democrats and unites Republicans in opposition. For now.
What I found interesting was that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has said she opposes impeachment, apparently didn’t whip the vote. If that’s the case, what does it say about her real position? One interpretation is that she simply wanted to mollify pro-impeachment Democrats by giving them an easy opportunity to express their views. Another is that Pelosi isn’t as opposed to impeachment as she has let on, and was using this vote to gauge sentiment within the caucus – or even to demonstrate that support for ousting the president is growing.
I’ll end with this breaking news from The Miami Herald: Judge keeps Jeffrey Epstein in N.Y. jail as prosecutors build on sex trafficking case.
Wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will have to wait out a sex trafficking trial from a jail cell after a federal judge in New York ruled Thursday against his request for release on bail.
Epstein, 66, had offered to put up any collateral the judge wished from his self-estimated $559 million fortune. He said he would live in isolation in his Manhattan mansion, and pay for private security to ensure he remains inside and that no one enters unless authorized by the courts.
But with prosecutors warning that Epstein could easily flee or attempt to interfere with their witnesses, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Berman has ordered that Epstein remain at the Manhattan Correctional Institute as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York seeks his conviction on child sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Berman, according to reporters covering the hearing in New York, cited concerns that Epstein is a “danger” to others.
Berman’s ruling is a major victory for Epstein’s accusers, who have grown by the dozens since he was first investigated on trafficking allegations in South Florida more than a dozen years ago. The wealthy financier was first arrested in Palm Beach County in the mid-2000s after police began to suspect that he was abusing underage girls.
I’ll post anything I find about the release of Cohen materials from SDNY. What stories are you following today?
Dakinikat has a doctor’s appointment, so I’m filling in for her today. I’m illustrating this post with fantasy animal houses (mostly bunnies), just because.
So what’s happening?
House Democrats are inching toward impeachment hearings. They aren’t going to have much choice, since Trump and Cover-Up General Barr are stonewalling on releasing the full Mueller report along with the underlying evidence.
The New Yorker: House Democrats Debate Impeachment. The article notes that after two years of caution about impeachment from Democratic leaders, even moderate Democrats are now calling for it.
In recent days, however, even more moderate Democrats have begun speaking about impeachment, in response to Trump’s stonewalling of House investigations. “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” he told reporters last week. “Look, these aren’t like impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win in 2020.” In response, Representative Jamie Raskin, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told the Times that he is open to a limited impeachment inquiry, adding, “President Trump’s defiance of Congress is far more comprehensive and sweeping than anything Congress experienced during the Watergate period.”
After Attorney General William Barr refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, rejecting the committee’s condition that staff attorneys question him, other House members echoed Raskin’s warning. That morning, on CNN, Representative Ted Lieu said, “If the Trump Administration wants impeachment, they’re doing a good job of pushing Democrats there, because we want to first gather facts to decide if we should impeach. If we can’t gather facts, then we’re going to launch an impeachment.” Of the three articles of impeachment presented against Richard Nixon after Watergate, Lieu noted, the third was contempt of Congress.
For now, Democrats are pursuing a strategy that, in practice, could easily turn out to be the first, informal phase of an impeachment inquiry. They’re investigating, but without formally signalling that they believe Trump committed impeachable offenses. When I spoke to several members of the House Judiciary Committee last week, none ruled out the possibility of impeachment. “That’s another possible reasonable course,” Representative Madeleine Dean said. “I happen to like the course we’re on better, and here’s why. I have several key takeaways from the Mueller report that, for me, demand answers to questions. So I’d rather not pre-frame it with ‘We’re doing it in order to impeach or with the hope of impeaching.’ ”
Read more at the link.
Yesterday, Gerry Nadler gave a strong speech at the Judiciary Committee hearing that Barr was supposed to attend. I hope you’ll listen to it.
Nadler has a long history with Trump in New York, and I don’t think he is going to put up with Trump’s and Barr’s obstruction much longer. Yesterday we learned that his committee is in direct talks with Robert Mueller about testifying. The Hill reports:
Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team is in direct talks with the House Judiciary Committee about whether he will testify before Congress, according to multiple reports.
NBC News and ABC News reported that the committee is now speaking with Mueller’s team when it was previously dealing with the Justice Department. NBC reports that a hearing has not been finalized and a date was not set.
That’s good news. It’s about time Mueller started speaking out. He really should have done so sooner.
All his life, the Vietnam War Marine veteran has lived out a code of discreet personal values — elevating government service, the rule of law and respect for the chain of command.
But now, the uproar triggered in the wake of Mueller’s Russia investigation raises the question of whether his time-honored methods have left him vulnerable to exploitation in a new political era of hyper-partisanship and self-aggrandizing.
And the discord is increasing calls for Mueller to break his silence in the most public way — in hearings being demanded by House Democrats, which would become one of the most hotly anticipated congressional appearances in years.
Mueller’s habitual reticence earned him a reputation for integrity that made him the ideal choice for the radioactive mission of investigating a sitting president’s campaign.
But in retrospect, it let others — who do not necessarily follow his blueprint for life — tell his story themselves.
Ultimately, the special counsel’s absence allowed Attorney General William Barr to step in and provide his own interpretation of Mueller’s report — with which Mueller now differs.
That left the long-held assumption that Mueller’s words in his report would speak for themselves undermined — to the political advantage of President Donald Trump, who is claiming blanket exoneration that the report does not confer.
Read the rest at CNN.
Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: Mueller Can’t Get Away With Silence Anymore. The gist:
If Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday demonstrated anything, it was that a deep rupture has yawned open between these two old friends and Washington lifers. It wasn’t just that Barr denigrated Mueller as a “political appointee” or dismissed his March 27 letter as “snitty,” and thus clearly the work of underlings. It wasn’t just that Barr implied that Mueller was either too timid or too incompetent to come to a conclusion on the question of whether Donald Trump had obstructed justice. And it wasn’t just that Barr suggested that since the entire Mueller probe had been proven to be “based on false accusations,” it was illegitimate, which certainly suggests that Mueller devoted two long years to a—you guessed it—witch hunt. Presumably, from now on, if the president decides any legal investigation is “based on false accusations,” he can just go ahead and impede it, a framing that makes a hash of everything Mueller sought to do. When pressed Wednesday on Mueller’s bona fides, Barr snapped that “Bob Mueller is the equivalent of a U.S. Attorney. … His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general. At that point, it was my baby.” This is not how you talk about a colleague you respect.
But it’s not just that. At the most basic level, Barr has distorted Mueller’s actual work product, including his polite and confidential and lawyerly letter asking (twice) that Barr correct his inaccurate summary of Mueller’s careful report. It’s a letter that Wired’s Garrett Graff, who wrote a book about Mueller, described thusly: “I’ve read just about every word Bob Mueller has ever said publicly or published. He’s written precisely one letter like the angry one he sent to Barr: It excoriated Scotland for letting the Pan Am 103 bomber out of prison.”
Read the whole thing at Slate.
Last night, Rachel Maddow made an argument for what I’ve been saying all along. Cover-Up General Barr effectively fired Mueller for Trump. He likely shut down the investigation, with the help of Rod Rosenstein. Here’s Rachel’s take on it, in case you missed it.
In other news, The media is vetting Bernie Sanders this time. The Washington Post has a big story on Bernie’s honeymoon in the Soviet Union: Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union: Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union.
Bernie Sanders was bare-chested, towel-draped, sitting at a table lined with vodka bottles, as he sang “This Land Is Your Land” to his hosts in the Soviet Union in the spring of 1988.
The just-married socialist mayor from Vermont was on what he called “a very strange honeymoon,” an official 10-day visit to the communist country, and he was enthralled with the hospitality and the lessons that could be brought home.
“Let’s take the strengths of both systems,” he said upon completing the trip. “Let’s learn from each other.”
The Soviet sojourn has long been an extraordinary, if little understood, chapter in Sanders lore. He has for years used it to help explain his views about foreign policy, citing it as recently as last month….
As he stood on Soviet soil, Sanders, then 46 years old, criticized the cost of housing and health care in the United States, while lauding the lower prices — but not the quality — of that available in the Soviet Union. Then, at a banquet attended by about 100 people, Sanders blasted the way the United States had intervened in other countries, stunning one of those who had accompanied him.
“I got really upset and walked out,” said David F. Kelley, who had helped arrange the trip and was the only Republican in Sanders’s entourage. “When you are a critic of your country, you can say anything you want on home soil. At that point, the Cold War wasn’t over, the arms race wasn’t over, and I just wasn’t comfortable with it.”
I imagine Trump will have fun with that.
More stories to check out, links only:
The Washington Post: Trump is already set to use the government to destroy the Democratic nominee.
Heather Digby Parton at Raw Story: Will Trump order Bill Barr to sabotage Joe Biden?
The New York Times: The Coming Subpoena Fights Between Trump and Congress, Explained.
The Washington Post: Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes.
The New York Times: Woody Allen Pitched a Memoir. Publishers Weren’t Interested.
Vanity Fair: Apparently, No One Wants Woody Allen’s New Memoir.
So . . . what else is happening? What stories have you been following?
I said a few days ago that I didn’t believe Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the Supreme Court. I’m even more sure of that now. It’s looking like the Republicans don’t have the votes as of now, and each days that goes by more ugly information comes out about Trump’s nominee.
Politico: GOP support for Kavanaugh wavers.
Senate Republicans have gone from confidently predicting the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to a new message: It all comes down to Thursday.
The GOP is staking Kavanaugh’s prospects to his hearing later this week, when he and Christine Blasey Ford will testify publicly about her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school more than 30 years ago. It’s a shift that puts some of the onus on Kavanaugh to convince a growing number of wary senators whether his word is more credible than hers in the battle over the high court seat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is warning his colleagues publicly and privately that his plan is to hold a floor vote on Kavanaugh no matter what happens in the Judiciary Committee, possibly as soon as early next week. Though Kavanaugh currently lacks the votes to be confirmed, the GOP leader is signaling that he will hold the vote anyway to force all 100 senators to go on record and put maximum pressure on red state Democrats that the GOP is hoping to defeat this fall, Republican senators said.
Whether that vote will be successful remains in doubt, the senators said.
That’s quite a shift. And more information could very well come out. Even a Yale professor who strongly supported Kavanaugh’s nomination is now having second doubts. The Yale Daily News: Second thoughts on Kavanaugh, by Akhil Amar.
Minutes after President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 to the Supreme Court, I published a controversial op-ed in The New York Times endorsing the nomination. I later testified in support of Kavanaugh on the final day of his confirmation hearings. I still stand by what I have said about Kavanaugh’s uniquely impressive judicial and scholarly record over the last dozen years. But now that serious accusations have arisen about his conduct in his teenage years, I believe that these accusations deserve the best and most professional investigation possible — even if that means a brief additional delay on the ultimate vote on Judge Kavanaugh, and even if that investigatory delay imperils his confirmation.
As agonizing as this delay might be for all concerned, in the long run this additional investigation is the best way forward, not just for the Court and the country and Kavanaugh’s accusers, but also for Kavanaugh himself. If the investigation’s facts and findings support him, then he will join the Court in the sunshine and not under a cloud. If instead the investigation uncovers compelling evidence against him, President Trump should be ready with a pre-announced back-up nominee.
Read the rest at the link.
I don’t know whether to buy into Michael Avenatti’s claims about a woman he represents or not. I really don’t like the way he’s hyping whatever he knows on Twitter and in TV appearances instead of having the woman and her other witnesses talk to someone in the media. The Daily Beast:
On Sunday evening, just as The New Yorker revealed the identity of a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, attorney Michael Avenatti announced that he, too, had “credible information” about Kavanaugh and his high-school friend Mark Judge.
The media-savvy lawyer told The Daily Beast on Monday that his client would be coming forward “in the next 48 hours” with details and accusations that mirrored those already leveled and could, in his estimation, torpedo Kavanaugh’s confirmation—all of which would seem helpful for Democrats as they make the case that Kavanaugh is morally unfit to sit on the Supreme Court….
Avenatti, who has flirted with a 2020 presidential bid, has so far revealed only some information about the allegations he is set to bring forward. He has yet to provide evidence or identify the woman he is representing, only teasing that he may do so via a television interview before Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford—who has accused the federal judge of sexual assault—appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Still, Rachel Maddow thought it was worth having Avenatti on her show last night, so I’ll reserve judgement until I see what he reveals tomorrow.
Based on watching his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and what I’ve seen of his Fox News interview last night, I have to say that Kavanaugh is a completely unimpressive person. I have to wonder if he would have gotten as far in his career as he has if he had not been dialed into the right wing anti-Clinton forces back in the 1990s.
Last night on Fox News, Kavanaugh came across as weird–wearing heavy pancake makeup, repeating the same talking points over and over, and seeming almost whiny about what he’s going through. Some clips from Aaron Rupar’s Twitter feed:
Kavanaugh repeatedly claimed that he always treated women with respect, but that claim was destroyed by a disgusting report in The New York Times last night: Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page Is ‘Horrible, Hurtful’ to a Woman It Named.
Brett Kavanaugh’s page in his high school yearbook offers a glimpse of the teenage years of the man who is now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: lots of football, plenty of drinking, parties at the beach. Among the reminiscences about sports and booze is a mysterious entry: “Renate Alumnius.”
The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the “Renate Alumni.” It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.
Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.
“They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” said Sean Hagan, a Georgetown Prep student at the time, referring to Judge Kavanaugh and his teammates. “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now.”
The woman who was the butt of these sickening “jokes” never knew about it until recently.
This month, Renate Schroeder Dolphin joined 64 other women who, saying they knew Judge Kavanaugh during their high school years, signed a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is weighing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. The letter stated that “he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”
When Ms. Dolphin signed the Sept. 14 letter, she wasn’t aware of the “Renate” yearbook references on the pages of Judge Kavanaugh and his football teammates.
“I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,” Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to The New York Times. “I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”
Obviously, Kavanaugh was not respectful to women when he was in high school and he isn’t now based on his judicial opposition women’s bodily autonomy. Read more about the yearbook page vs. the Fox News interview in this piece by James Hohman at The Washington Post: The Daily 202: Kavanaugh’s memory of himself in high school is very different than his portrayal in the yearbook.
Last night, a man who was Kavanaugh’s roommate during his freshman year at Yale came forward, speaking to ABC News in San Mateo, CA: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Yale roommate says he believes second accuser.
James Roche says he was Kavanaugh’s roommate in the Fall of 1983.
“We shared a two-bedroom unit in the basement of Lawrence Hall on the Old Campus. Despite our living conditions, Brett and I did not socialize beyond the first few days of freshman year. We talked at night as freshman roommates do and I would see him as he returned from nights out with his friends,” Roche said in a statement….
“It is from this experience that I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.”
Roche says he became friends with Debbie Ramirez. “She stood out as being exceptionally honest, with a trusting manner. As we got to know one another, I discovered that Debbie was very worried about fitting in. She felt that everyone at Yale was very rich, very smart and very sophisticated and that as a Puerto Rican woman from a less privileged background she was an outsider. Her response was to try hard to make friends and get along.”
Deborah Ramirez is the woman who accused Kavanaugh of exposing his penis and waving in her face during a drinking game. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s the article in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer published on Sunday: Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years.
In his Fox News interview, Kavanaugh claimed this couldn’t possibly have happened because it would have been the talk of the campus. But according to the article, students were talking about it then and are still doing so now.
Kavanaugh also claimed in the interview that he never had intercourse in high school and for years afterward. But of course he hasn’t been charged with that and there are many ways to sexually assault someone without vaginal penetration. Yuck I can hardly believe he said that on TV. So embarrassing for him and his wife!
Now people have come forward to say either that’s not true or he lied to them.
Kantrowitz is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin and an award-winning author.
I guess that’s it for me today. I really think Kavanaugh’s nomination will be withdrawn before the scheduled Thursday hearing. If it isn’t, the Republicans are going to look even worse than they do now.
I know there’s lots more happening in the news. What stories are you following?
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
The world is a dangerous place and international relations are challenging to even the most skilled world leaders. Then, there is Kremlin Caligula. Tweeting all things ‘unhelpful’ at all times. This time it was about a terrorist attack in London.
An “improvised explosive device” was detonated on a Tube train in south-west London during Friday’s morning rush hour, injuring 29 people.
The blast, at Parsons Green station on a District Line train from Wimbledon, is being treated as terrorism.
So-called Islamic State says it carried out the attack, which Prime Minister Theresa May condemned as “cowardly”.,
A hunt is under way for the person who placed the device and the area around the station has been evacuated.
Speciralist officers there securing the remains 0f the improvised device and ensuring it is stable.
Trump never offers condolences or the proverbial thoughts and prayers. Instead, he tweets verbal bombs.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday said speculation about those behind the terror attack at London’s Parsons Green subway station was unhelpful, a clear reference to a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump.
“I never think it is helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation,” May told the BBC, without naming Trump. “The police and security services are working to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack and to identify all those responsible.”
Earlier Friday, Trump implied authorities were monitoring those responsible for setting off explosives.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” Trump tweeted.
He added in a second tweet that “loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”
The explosion in southwest London, which authorities are calling a “terrorist incident,” left 29 people wounded. None of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters that most of the injuries appeared to be flash burns.
Rowley said police believe the explosion, at about 8:20 a.m. local time, was caused by an improvised explosive device.
Pictures of the alleged explosive device — a white bucket inside a plastic bag in an underground train carriage — circulated on social media but the blast did not seem to have caused major damage, according to the BBC.
“Londoners particularly can expect to see an enhanced police presence, particularly across the transport system across the day,” Rowley said
Meanwhile, North Korea has fired another ballistic missile over Japan. This came after a flurry of threats from its rogue leader that sounded like a big ol’ return fire to Trump. Thursday saw NK threaten to “sink Japan and turn America to ashes” which sounds similar to “fire and fury” to me.
North Korea has fired a ballistic missile across Japan, creating new tension in the region after its nuclear bomb test less than two weeks ago.
The missile reached an altitude of about 770km (478 miles), travelling 3,700km before landing in the sea off Hokkaido, South Korea’s military says.
It flew higher and further than one fired over Japan late last month.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country would “never tolerate” such “dangerous provocative action”.
South Korea responded within minutes by firing two ballistic missiles into the sea in a simulated strike on the North.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also condemned the launch and the UN Security Council will meet later on Friday in New York at the request of the United States and Japan.
Guess who did have substantive comments on North Korea?
Hillary Clinton may have lost the 2016 presidential election, but MSNBC host Rachel Maddow declared she “is not a retired politician” after an hour long interview with her Thursday.
Her assessment was echoed by many on Twitter as well, with many users agreeing with Clinton’s take on last year’s election, the Donald Trump presidency and current political situation around issues such as the Russia Investigation, North Korea, and DACA.
The interview with Maddow was a part of a book tour for Clinton’s “What Happened,” which follows her journey during the 2016 election.
Speaking about the situation in North Korea, Clinton said it was important for the country to work with allies like South Korea, which she thought the Trump administration was alienating; she also said Trump was failing to braing in experts to deal with the situation.
“We have decimated our state department. I don’t believe that people who have decades of experience with North Korean diplomacy are being brought to the table, even though they should be,” she said.
Speaking on the contentious Russian meddling in the presidential election, she summed up what Trump aspired toward. “I do believe Trump admires authoritarians. He doesn’t just like Putin, he wants to be like Putin. He wants to have that kind of power that is largely unaccountable,” she said.
Following Clinton’s interview, many users on Twitter commented how different the country would have been if Clinton had been elected the president of the U.S.
A Twitter user by the name Joy Reid was quick to draw comparisons between Trump and Clinton. “Excellent @HillaryClinton interview by #Maddow, and what a reminder of the contrast between the president we have and the one we could have,” she tweeted.
Bob Cesca from the Stephanie Miller Show called Clinton an exceptional woman. “Watching HRC on @Maddow and growing furious (again) at whoever first said presidents should be like us. They should be exceptional like her,” he tweeted.
There were many other tweets which hailed Clinton’s clear headedness and articulateness, with many users asserting she should have been the president of the U.S. instead of Trump.
There is no joy in MAGAville today. “‘You will never make America great again!‘: Watch angry Trump fans burn their MAGA hats over DACA deal.”
Supporters of President Donald Trump are still furious about his decision to work with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on helping to shield undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as children from being deported.Now some Trump fans have taken their displeasure a step further and have started setting their “Make America Great Again” hats on fire to protest Trump seemingly going soft on his signature campaign issue.
Angry Trump fan Luis Withrow posted a video of himself on Twitter angrily telling Trump that he will “never make America great again” if he didn’t “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC. He then set his MAGA hat ablaze.
Burn baby burn!
Last night was another reminder that we should have had a President Hillary! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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?
I thought I’d put up a thread so we could discuss our impressions of tonight’s townhalls on MSNBC. They will be livestreamed at the link.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are scheduled to take the stage at back-to-back MSNBC-televised town halls in Philadelphia Monday evening, just a day before Pennsylvania voters head to the polls. As in past town halls, both candidates will answer questions by the moderators as well as by prospective voters in the audience. Live streams of both town hall events can be viewed by clicking here or by watching below.
Sanders’ hourlong session will be hosted by MSNBC host Chris Hayes, beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. Rachel Maddow will moderate an hourlong session with Clinton immediately afterward, starting at 9 p.m. EDT.
Pennsylvania is among five states with presidential primary elections Tuesday, along with Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island. Excluding superdelegates, Clinton has a comfortable lead with 1,428 delegates, while Sanders has 1,153 delegates.
According to opinion polling, Clinton is projected to do well Tuesday. Sanders’ best chance is in Rhode Island. There are a combined 384 delegates at stake for Democrats Tuesday. Many in the party will be watching Pennsylvania, with 210 delegates, and Maryland, with 118 delegates.
Sanders has no real path to the nomination at this point but is still in the race.
There’s good news and bad news today. The bad news is that there’s a Republican debate tonight. The good news is this is the last Republican debate before the primaries begin.
Honestly, I don’t know if I can stand to watch another GOP debate. I’ll probably give it a try, but I don’t know how long I’ll last. I’d watch the MSNBC coverage if Rachel Maddow were anchoring it; but for some reason Chris Matthews is doing it again.
It’s been quiet here as it usually is during the holiday season, so maybe we can use this thread to comment on the debate. If for some reason we get really busy, I’ll put up another thread tonight. Please let me know if you plan to watch the debate, and we’ll just play it by ear.
The main debate will begin at 8:30PM on CNN, and it will be live streamed on CNN’s website. There will be a kids table debate at 6PM with only four participants: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsay Graham, and George Pataki.
Rand Paul should be at the kid’s table; but for some strange reason CNN is letting him appear on the main stage–perhaps because he whined about it or maybe because CNN likes him, who knows. If you didn’t see it last night, I highly recommend watching Rachel Maddow’s report on the Rand Paul story.
Some stories about what could happen in tonight’s circus/horror show:
Ed Kilgore at NY Magazine: Can CNN Get the Cage Match It Wants in GOP Debate?
Here’s another strange story leading up to the debate in Las Vegas tonight. A very wealthy person has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and he wants to remain anonymous–even to the paper’s employees. Now who could this person be. Someone should ask Sheldon Adelson about it.
Mother Jones reports: Did a Republican Megadonor Just Secretly Buy Nevada’s Biggest Newspaper?
The sale has created a controversy because, while there is no rule requiring a newspaper to disclose its owners, the Journal-Review will be, by far, the largest newspaper in America whose owners are secret. The intrigue is not just journalistic: For a well-heeled person interested in influencing an election, owning the largest paper in the state that in a few short months will hold one of the first nominating events of the primary season (third for Democrats and fourth for Republicans) is a good place to start.
The news broke on Friday, when the paper’s management told employees that the publication, which had been owned by a publicly traded chain of newspapers called New Media Investment Group, had been sold for $140 million. The new owners? An LLC based in Delaware called News + Media Capital Group LLC. The only publicly available information on News + Media Capital Group LLC is that it was founded two months ago in Delaware, and it used a corporate agent that hides any identifying information.
TheReview-Journal’s management introduced a man named Michael Schroeder as the manager of News + Media Capital Group LLC. Schroeder has been the publisher of a very small chain of newspapers in Connecticut and declined to tell theReview-Journal who the new bosses were, other than to say they were “undisclosed financial backers with expertise in the media industry,” a description that does little to narrow down the field. Another detail that leaked from the paper’s management was that there are multiple owners, at least some of whom are based in Las Vegas. The description is odd, since most individuals who have invested in news organizations previously would be aware that refusing to say who owned the paper would do nothing but stir controversy, especially within the paper’s own staff.
The paper’s management also seemed almost determined to stoke controversy. According to the Huffington Post, a version of the story detailing the paper’s sale went to press with a quote that suggested Schroeder was dismissive of employee concerns about the new ownership.
“They want you to focus on your jobs…don’t worry about who they are,” Schroeder allegedly said at a meeting with employees. But the quote was pulled, as were other critical comments, before a new version of the article was printed.
I guess we’ll find out who it is eventually; but Adelson seems to be the most likely candidate, since he lives in Nevada.
I know I’ve been writing way too much about Donald Trump lately, but I just had to share something that Dakinikat told me about yesterday. These are old links that I somehow missed when I wasn’t taking Trump seriously early on. Apologies if someone has posted these at Sky Dancing previously.
It looks very much like Donald Trump’s father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a young man. From Boing Boing: 1927 news report: Donald Trump’s dad arrested in KKK brawl with cops.
According to a New York Times article published in June 1927, a man with the name and address of Donald Trump’s father was arraigned after Klan members attacked cops in Queens, N.Y.
In an article subtitled “Klan assails policeman”, Fred Trump is named in among those taken in during a late May “battle” in which “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all.” At least two officers were hurt during the event, after which the Klan’s activities were denounced by the city’s Police Commissioner, Joseph A. Warren.
“The Klan not only wore gowns, but had hoods over their faces almost completely hiding their identity,” Warren was quoted as saying in the article, which goes on to identify seven men “arrested in the near-riot of the parade.”
Named alongside Trump are John E Kapp and John Marcy (charged with felonious assault in the attack on Patrolman William O’Neill and Sgt. William Lockyear), Fred Lyons, Thomas Caroll, Thomas Erwin, and Harry J Free. They were arraigned in Jamaica, N.Y. All seven were represented by the same lawyers, according to the article.
The final entry on the list reads: “Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Road, Jamaica, was discharged.”
In 1927, Donald Trump’s father would have been 21 years old, and not yet a well-known figure. Multiple sources report his residence at the time—and throughout his life—at the same address.
Later on in his life, the elder Trump was sued for refusing to rent or sell his properties to African Americans.
A 1979 article, published by Village Voice, reported ona civil rights suitthat alleged that the Trumps refused to rent to black home-seekers, and quotes a rental agent who said Fred Trump instructed him not to rent to blacks and to encourage existing black tenants to leave. The case was settled in a 1975 consent degree described as “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated,” but the Justice Department subsequently complained that continuing “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.”
If Donald Trump was raised in a home where racism was acceptable, that could explain some of his behavior today. It’s certainly interesting to know about this, and I regret that I didn’t read this article when it first appeared in September. You might want to read this piece at the Academe blog as well: Does It Matter if Donald Trump’s Father Was a Member of the Ku Klux Klan?
Naturally the Trump rally in Las Vegas last night produced more shocking news. McKay Coppins reports at Buzzfeed: Trump Campaign Rally Erupts In Chaos And Ugly Confrontation.
The Republican frontrunner had invited a supporter up to the stage to recount how his son was killed by an undocumented immigrant. Midway though the story, a pair of protesters interrupted.
“That’s why we need gun control!” one called out from the sea of Trump die-hards in the Westgate Resort and Casino ballroom. Click useful source here.
A zealous chorus of boos filled the room, while the two protesters brandished a homemade poster (“NO HATE. YOU’RE FIRED.”) and began shouting over the din….
By the time security swooped in, several amped-up Trump supporters had already encircled the protesters — booing, and chanting, and slowly closing in — while a crush of smartphone-wielding media scrambled to capture footage of the clash. The guards managed to remove one protester, but the other resisted, stiffening his limbs and screaming about the First Amendment as they tried to haul him toward the exits. When he toppled to the floor, a horde of rallygoers assembled to hurl insults and threats at him.
“Light the motherfucker on fire!” one Trump supporter yelled….
One after another, protesters were forcibly dragged from the ballroom — limbs flailing, torsos twisting in resistance — while wild-eyed Trump supporters spewed abuse and calls to violence.
“Kick his ass!” yelled one.
“Shoot him!” shouted another.
Trump’s main competitor tonight should be Ted Cruz. From CBS News: Why Ted Cruz might be a threat to Donald Trump.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has surpassed businessman Donald Trump in three recent Iowa polls of likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers. Trump has taken notice, and has begun to cast doubt on Cruz’s fitness for the presidency, calling Cruz a “bit of a maniac” on Fox News Sunday, for instance. The two have come a long way sincecampaigning together against the nuclear deal a few months ago, but that was back before Cruz was polling so well in Iowa.
Trump doesn’t like anyone who challenges his lead in the polls – he compared neurosurgeon Ben Carson to a child molester with a pathological disease when Carson’s popularity began rising among Iowans. But while Carson may be seeing his moment pass, Cruz is peaking as voters begin to settle on their favorite candidates, and his mastery of the issues reassures many evangelical voters who would otherwise like Carson.
Read the rest to learn the reasons author Rebecca Kaplan believes Cruz could beat Trump. Frankly, I think Cruz is actually the scarier of the two. A couple more articles on Cruz:
WaPo Wonkblog: A guide to what Ted Cruz really believes.
So . . . will you be watching the clown show tonight? What stories are you following?