Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Trump began the day with another Twitter meltdown, attacking the Special Counsel’s investigation and then railing against Kirsten Gillibrand and Hillary Clinton.

Gillibrand “would do anything for” campaign contributions? Referring to Hillary as “Crooked,” and what’s the meaning of “USED?”

Senator Gillibrand responded:

About 90 minutes later, Trump tweeted his usual lying attack on Doug Jones and once again endorsed a man who sexually abused young women and wants to return the U.S. to the days of slavery.

This is how degraded the U.S. presidency is in 2017.

I first saw Trump’s tweets when I turned on MSNBC at about 8:30. It amazed to see Mika Brzezinski’s response. She even told men on the panel to stop interrupting her, and interrupted Joe Scarborough. Watch her rants at MSNBC. (You have to sit through remarks from other people on the panel to get all of what Mika had to say).

Tonight we’ll find out whether Mitch McConnell is going to have to deal with Roy Moore representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Some Republicans must be hoping that somehow Democrat Doug Jones can win. No one really knows what is going to happen. The polls are all over the place. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight: What The Hell Is Happening With These Alabama Polls?

What we’re seeing in Alabama goes beyond the usual warnings about minding the margin of error, however. There’s a massive spread in results from poll to poll — with surveys on Monday morning showing everything from a 9-point lead for Moore to a 10-point advantage for Democrat Doug Jones — and they reflect two highly different approaches to polling.

Most polls of the state have been made using automated scripts (these are sometimes also called IVR or “robopolls”). These polls have generally shown Moore ahead and closing strongly toward the end of the campaign, such as the Emerson College poll on Monday that showed Moore leading by 9 points. Recent automated polls from Trafalgar GroupJMC Analytics and PollingGravis Marketing and Strategy Research have also shown Moore with the lead.

But when traditional, live-caller polls have weighed in — although these polls have been few and far between — they’ve shown a much different result. A Monmouth University survey released on Monday showed a tied race. Fox News’s final poll of the race, also released on Monday, showed Jones ahead by 10 percentage points. An earlier Fox News survey also had Jones comfortably ahead, while a Washington Post poll from late November had Jones up 3 points at a time when most other polls showed the race swinging back to Moore. And a poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in mid-November — possibly released to the public in an effort to get Moore to withdraw from the race — also showed Jones well ahead.1

These differences are significant, according to Silver, because automated polls cannot call cell phones and may have less representative samples because so many people just hang up on them.

Last night a heartbroken Alabama father spoke outside Roy Moore’s final rally before the election. The Washington Post reports:

Perhaps it was the man’s strong but plain-spoken rebuke outside a Roy Moore rally on the campaign’s final night, condemning the Republican candidate’s past comments lambasting homosexuality.

Perhaps it was the admission of the man, a peanut farmer, that he too, had harbored some of the same anti-gay feelings.

Perhaps it was his sign, a photograph of his daughter, a lesbian who, he said, had killed herself when she was 23.

Whatever it was, the two-minute video of Nathan Mathis struck a nerve, traveling far and wide as a sort of emotional coda to a wrenching U.S. Senate race in Alabama that has captivated the country.

And here’s an energized Doug Jones voter speaking this morning:

Interesting tweets this morning from former Alabama U.S. Attorney Joyce Alene:

Here’s the link Alene responded to:

A couple of weird things happened during Moore’s closing argument.

New York Magazine: Roy Moore’s Wife: We’re Not Anti-Semitic, ‘One of Our Attorneys Is a Jew’

Roy Moore’s stance on Jewish people probably isn’t at the top of anyone’s list of reasons not to vote for the Alabama Senate candidate. Yet on the eve of Tuesday’s election, his wife, Kayla Moore, attempted to shoot down one of the lesser-known allegations against her husband.

“Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews,” Kayla Moore said Monday night while introducing her husband at a rally in Midland City, Alabama.

“I tell you all this because I’ve seen it all, so I just want to set the record straight while they’re here,” she said, gesturing to members of the media.

“One of our attorneys is a Jew,” she continued, pausing for cheers and laughter from the crowd.

“We have very close friends that are Jewish, and rabbis, we also do fellowship with them.”

Um . . . okay . . .

Another speaker “joked” about how he and Roy Moore “accidentally” ended up in a brothel full of underage girls in Vietnam. Think Progress:

One of the introductory speakers was Bill Staehle, who said he served with Moore in Vietnam. Staehle told the story of a night he spent with Moore and a third man, who he did not name. According to Staehle, it was the third man’s last night in Vietnam and the man invited them to a “private club” in the city to celebrate with “a couple of beers.”

Moore and Staehle agreed. According to Staehle, they didn’t expect there was anything untoward going on at the “private club” because “there were legitimate private clubs” in Vietnam. The third man drove them to the club in his Jeep.

Staehle said that, when he and Moore arrived, they soon realized the man had taken them to a brothel. The third man, Staehle suggested, essentially tricked them. “I could tell you what I saw but I don’t want to,” Staehle said mischievously.

“There were certainly pretty girls. And they were girls. They were young. Some were very young,” Staehle acknowledged. But according to Staehle, Moore was shocked by what he saw. “We shouldn’t be here, I’m leaving,” Moore said, according to Staehle.

They asked the third man to leave with them but he didn’t want to. So Staehle and Moore took his Jeep and left him there all night with sex workers, who they agreed were underage. The man returned to base the next morning on the back of a motorcycle, Staehle said with a grin.

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan must be so proud.

 

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, the “president’s” men are plotting against Robert Mueller.

Mike Allen at Axios: Trump lawyers want second special counsel appointed now.

President Trump’s legal team believes Attorney General Jeff Session’s Justice Department and the FBI — more than special counsel Robert Mueller himself — are to blame for what they see as a witch hunt.

The result: They want an additional special counsel named to investigate the investigators.

Trump officials outlined their new line of thinking to me last night.

— The new demand was prompted by a Fox News article last evening by James Rosen and Jake Gibson: “A senior Justice Department official [Bruce Ohr] demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier’ had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed: … The official’s wife [Nellie Ohr] worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.”

— Jay Sekulow, a member of the President’s legal team, tells me: “The Department of Justice and FBI cannot ignore the multiple problems that have been created by these obvious conflicts of interests. These new revelations require the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate.”

More at the link.

At The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky asks: Will the Senate Still Protect Robert Mueller From Donald Trump’s Ax?

Remember the first round of gossip about whether President Trump would fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller, back during the summer? Republican senators were quick to say what a grave error this would be. Susan Collins said in June it would be “an extraordinarily unwise move” back. In July, Lindsey Graham said that “any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency unless Mueller did something wrong.”

Most of them chimed in along similar lines. Consequently we were all assured: Yes, maybe they’ve been in the tank for Trump up to now, but surely they would never tolerate that. That is the moment when they’d say enough.

Well. We may find out about that very soon.

People keep saying “we’re close to a crisis.” No we’re not. We’re in it. We have a president who already obstructed justice on national television…..

A former national security adviser copped a felony plea. Three former campaign officials are under indictment. This has never happened in the first year of a modern presidency. Probably any presidency. And that’s just the legal stuff. Then there are all the lies. Obama spied on Trump (this one still has legs among the creatures of the black-ops lagoons of the far right). Trump has no Russia ties. Hillary sold our plutonium to Putin.

And finally, there’s the madness, which is slightly different from lies. The current madness is that Russia is great and can do no wrong, while the FBI is suddenly a subversive and un-American organization. And Robert Mueller is a partisan, pro-Clinton, Never-Trump pawn of the liberal order….

We have never been here. Richard Nixon and his henchmen subverted the law. They did not attempt to subvert reality itself. Nixon did not go around saying that in fact it was George McGovern who belonged in prison. A news network did not exist to scream on a daily basis that McGovern should face indictment, peddling false “scandals” about him. In the summer and fall of 1973, before Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, influential congressional Republicans and prominent former congressional Republicans did not go around saying that there wasn’t one honest investigator on Cox’s staff or that Cox was corrupt.

Please read the rest at the link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?

 

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Lazy Saturday Reads: A Shocking Day In Politics

 matisse-woman-reading-with-tea1Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday was the worst day in politics that I can recall seeing in my many years of following politics closely. The closest thing I can remember is the “Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973, when Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox along with Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William D. Ruckelshaus. That was a shocking day.

Yesterday was a shocking day, and not just because of the video of Donald Trump degrading women and bragging about sexually assaulting them. Anyone who has paid any attention to Trump’s behavior over the past year and to his career before running for POTUS should have understood this is the kind of man he is. Just this year Trump has repeated defended Roger Ailes for sexually harassing and abusing women at Fox News.

And does anyone actually believe that there isn’t plenty more video demonstrating Trump’s abusive behavior?

Trump’s treatment of women has been well known over the years. In May, the New York Times published a lengthy article with example after example of Trump’s sexist and abusive behavior toward women. It sunk like a stone as the Times and the rest of the media focused on Hillary Clinton’s emails and then the Clinton Foundation.

But the shocking video released yesterday was not the only shocking revelation that came out. Trump also stated that he still believes the Central Park Five–African American and Hispanic teenagers who were wrongly convicted and served full sentences for raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989–are guilty, even though they were exhonerated by DNA evidence and the confession of the real perpetrator. NBC News New York:

Félix Vallotton, The Reader

Félix Vallotton, The Reader

Donald Trump stepped back into one of the most racially charged controversies in New York City history this week, saying he still believed the “Central Park Five” were guilty.

Two years after a judge approved a $41 million settlement with the five men, Trump told CNN they should not have been exonerated, after one of the men said he was hoping for an apology from the Republican presidential nominee.

“They admitted they were guilty,” Trump told CNN in a statement. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty.” ….

Following their arrest, Trump took out full-page ads in the city’s newspapers calling for New York to bring back the death penalty, though he did not explicitly say those five defendants should be executed.

And yet, many Republicans–including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have not withdrawn their support from this man who has and will continue to shame their party and our country. Some Republicans are coming out to say they will no longer vote for Trump, it’s far too little and far too late. These people know who and what Trump was all along. Anyone who hadn’t already denounced him before yesterday are stuck with him.

Georges d'Espangnat

Georges d’Espangnat

There is no way the GOP can dump Trump from the ticket, and this morning he told Robert Costa of The Washington Post that he will never quit. 

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in an interview Saturday that he would not drop out of the race under any circumstances, following calls from several in his party to do so.

“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” Trump told the Washington Post in a phone call from his home in Trump Tower in New York. “No, I’m not quitting this race. I have tremendous support.”

“People are calling and saying, ‘Don’t even think about doing anything else but running,” Trump said when asked about GOP defections. “You have to see what’s going on. The real story is that people have no idea the support. I don’t know how that’s going to boil down but people have no idea the support.

“Running against her,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, makes keeping the party behind him easier, Trump added.

“It’s because she’s so bad. She’s so flawed as a candidate. Running against her, I can’t say it’d be the same if I ran against someone else, but running against her makes it a lot easier, that’s for sure.”

jean-edouard-vuillard

jean-edouard-vuillard

Late last night in his so-called apology, Trump tried to excuse his behavior by claiming that Hillary and Bill Clinton have done far worse to women. If you haven’t seen it, here’s one place to watch it. Rolling Stone: 

Trump’s video apology came hours after the Republican nominee dismissed the footage as “locker room talk” and apologized only if “anyone was offended” by the comments.

However, rather than simply apologize, Trump used his video to further blast Bill and Hillary Clinton for alleged previous improprieties. Here’s the full transcript:

I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.

Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.

Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.

So bragging about sexually abusing and assaulting women–actions that Trump admitted in the video–are “nothing more than a distraction.” That’s not an apology. And Trump went on to threaten more horrible behavior to come on Sunday night.

jacques emile blanche

jacques emile blanche

There undoubtedly will be more fallout today, but many Republicans are still saying this isn’t a “game-changer.”

Politico: GOP insiders: It’s not a knockout punch.

Leaked audio of Donald Trump making crude, sexually aggressive comments about women has dealt a serious blow to the GOP nominee’s presidential campaign, but swing-state Republican insiders aren’t convinced it will effectively end Trump’s chances in November.

A slim majority of Republican members of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 battleground states — said they don’t think news reports of the Trump tape are a “knockout blow” for the GOP ticket. But while 54 percent of Republicans say Trump can overcome these comments, 46 percent say the New York real-estate magnate’s chances are doomed.

“Trump’s obscene comments might be the straw that broke the camel’s back for evangelical voters, Republican women and any remaining undecided voters,” said a Colorado Republican — who like all insiders, completed the survey anonymously in the hours after the tape of Trump describing trying to sleep with a married woman and boasting that he could kiss and grope women because of his celebrity.

“Our politics is tribal and polarized. So it’s not like this swings the thing 10 points,” a Virginia Republican added. “What it does though, and it has the same impact, is it further devastates Trump amongst women and white college-educated voters, two groups he had to make up big time ground with to even stand a chance of winning. Those windows have now permanently closed.”

We’ll see. Honestly it was hard for me to even write this post, and I’m sure it will be painful to read. It disgusts me that Hillary and here supporters have to deal with this racist, bigoted asshole when we should be celebrating the election of the first woman President of the United States. But I have no doubt that Hillary will maintain her dignity and make us proud again on Sunday night.

In a way it actually seems fitting that this woman who has been attacked for decades in the most disgusting and sexist ways will be the one to save our country from the danger and shame of a President Donald Trump.

I’ll have more links in the comment thread. Please feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic. 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Donald Trump’s Massive Meltdown Continues

trump_tweeted_the_whole_thing

Good Afternoon!!

Where to begin? Donald Trump appears to be very publicly self-destructing while Hillary Clinton goes about her business, giving speeches about real issues. The Sun-Sentinel:

CORAL SPRINGS – Hillary Clinton showed she knew her South Florida audience, provided a dose of policy prescriptions and offered lots of Donald Trump bashing at a campaign rally Friday.

People in the crowd of more than 2,000 — most of whom stood for hours in a sweltering gymnasium waiting for her arrival and during her speech — loved what they heard.

The article summarizes the high points of Hillary speech and later discusses the latest Florida polls–Hillary is leading now.

Most of the 28-minute speech alternated between citing the lofty policy goals she wants to achieve if elected and criticizing Trump, the Republican nominee. She’d mention a goal, jab at Trump, mention another policy, criticize Trump again, then continue repeating the pattern.

Clinton said she offers a more optimistic view of America than Trump. “I’ve never heard such a dark, fearful image of our country coming from someone who wants to be president of the United States,” she said. “When he talks, sometimes I don’t even recognize the country he’s talking about.”

After she bought up clean energy, she mocked Trump for being afraid to mention his idea of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico when he visited that country. Then she ridiculed Trump for his middle-of the-night Twitter tirades.

“Really, who gets up at 3 o’clock in the morning to engage in a Twitter attack against a former Miss Universe?” she said. “I mean his latest Twitter meltdown is unhinged, even for him. It proves yet again that he is temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States.”

Trump’s early-morning tweets Friday attacked former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. The Clinton-supporting Machado said that when Trump ran the pageant, he called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”

Hillary Clinton greets supporters Friday at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Hillary Clinton greets supporters Friday at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The LA Times: In Florida, Hillary Clinton pushes new plan for volunteering.

Hillary Clinton on Friday called for a new national focus on volunteer service, drawing a contrast between her vision of communal assistance with Donald Trump‘s claim that “I alone can fix” the country’s problems.

The Democratic candidate said she wants to triple the size of AmeriCorps, a domestic service program created by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in 1993, and double the amount of college scholarships available for people who sign up.

She also suggested a “national service reserve” — sort of like the Army Reserve — for people who don’t want to quit their jobs but are still looking for part-time opportunities to volunteer.

“There is so much work to be done, and so many people who want to help do it,” Clinton said.

Just more “boring” Hillary, proposing programs to engage young people in public service.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has wasted an entire week attacking former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and complaining the debate that he lost so badly was somehow rigged against him.

The Washington Post: Trump’s bad week is a ‘nightmare’ for the GOP.

Republican leaders and strategists are unnerved by Donald Trump’s erratic attacks on a Latina beauty queen and other outbursts this week, increasingly fearful that the GOP nominee is damaging his White House hopes and doing lasting harm to the party in the campaign’s final stretch.

Party officials said they are newly embarrassed by Trump’s impulsive behavior and exasperated by his inability to concentrate on his change message and frame the race as a referendum on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to interviews with more than two dozen of them….

Trump went into the first presidential debate Monday night in Hempstead, N.Y., with swagger, ahead or tied in some national and battleground-state polls and, momentarily at least, relatively disciplined on the stump. But his performance was widely panned and revealed his thin skin. In the days since, he has become distracted by old grudges and picked new fights, often involving female or minority targets.

Trump plunged into a feud with Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe winner he mocked and humiliated for her weight gain two decades ago. He punctuated his campaign to discredit her with a series of tweets around 5 a.m. Friday maligning her and referring his followers to Machado’s “sex tape.” There is no evidence that such a tape exists; he appears to have been referring to racy footage of her from a reality television show.

Also this week, Trump raised former president Bill Clinton’s pastextramarital affairs as a campaign issue, delivered his most direct attack yet on Hillary Clinton’s health and waged war with news organizations over alleged bias.

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Ezra Klein at Vox: The last six days proved Donald Trump is dangerously unfit for the presidency.

The problem isn’t that Trump is cruel, though he is. The problem isn’t that Trump is boorish, though he is. The problem isn’t that Trump is undisciplined, though he is.

The problem is that Trump is predictable and controllable.

Through most of this election, those would be the last two words anyone would associate with Donald J. Trump. His brand is impulsivity. The central fact of his political style is that staff can’t control his actions. Who else would launch a presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers? Who else would accuse an opponent’s father of being involved in JFK Jr.’s assassination? Who else would humiliate their running mate before introducing him? Who else would tweet schoolyard insults at his challengers and retweet white supremacists praising his virtues?

Over the past six days, Hillary Clinton’s campaign revealed that this is a misreading of Donald Trump. His behavior, though unusual, is quite predictable — a fact the campaign proved by predicting it. His actions, though beyond the control of his allies, can be controlled by his enemies — a fact they proved by controlling them.

So far, this has played out, within the safe space of a presidential campaign, as farce. If Trump were to win the White House, it would play out as tragedy.

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Late last night, Trump gave a disastrous interview to the New York Times. I can’t quote from it, but you can read the whole thing at that link. Klein discusses the article in his Vox post.

On Friday, he told the New York Times that, in response to the Clinton campaign bringing up Machado, he would begin attacking Hillary Clinton for being “married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics” — thus launching the line of assault likeliest to engender sympathy for Hillary Clinton, and opening his checkered marital history to public scrutiny.

“She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be,” is a thing Trump actually said, aloud, to reporters, in an interview meant to help his campaign.

To appreciate just how self-destructive this strategy is, read the third paragraph of the Times story:

In an interview with The New York Times, he also contended that infidelity was “never a problem” during his three marriages, though his first ended in an ugly divorce after Mr. Trump began a relationship with the woman who became his second wife.

There is a part of me that believes the entire Alicia Machado trap was a long con to bait Trump into berating Clinton for her husband’s infidelities at the second debate, and making his past marital betrayals fair game for the press.

What is extraordinary in all this is how enthusiastically Trump has taken the Clinton campaign’s bait, and how unconcerned he’s been with the fact that they meticulously planned all this in advance to damage him.

Klein goes on to discuss how Trump’s behavior might play out if he were win the presidency. Read the rest at Vox.

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More on that from Paul Waldman at The Washington Post: Why Trump’s tweets matter: They shed light on how he’d behave as president.

This has happened before. Trump went on an extended tear about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a fraud trial in connection with Trump University, saying that Curiel couldn’t be impartial because “He’s a Mexican” (Curiel is actually an American). Though his comments were roundly condemned by both Democrats and Republicans as racist, Trump kept making them. Later, after he was criticized by Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a soldier who died in Iraq, Trump got in a protracted argument with them, leading to days and days of brutal press coverage, and again, bipartisan condemnation.

On the simplest level, we know why Trump does this: He believes firmly that whenever anyone criticizes him, he simply must attack them back. As he wrote in his 2007 book “Think Big and Kick Ass”:

“When someone crosses you, my advice is ‘Get Even!’…If you’re afraid to fight back people will think of you as a loser, a ‘schmuck!’ They will know they can get away with insulting you, disrespecting you, and taking advantage of you. Don’t let it happen! Always fight back and get even. People will respect you for it.”

But it’s more than that. Trump is right now trying to get even with Machado, even though there’s almost nothing to be gained from it and a tremendous amount to lose. Trump is doing poorly with Latinos and women voters, and one of the biggest risks to his campaign would be anything that not only turns them against him but motivates them to turn out to vote. At the same time, he is very publicly toying with the idea of attacking Clinton because her husband cheated on her.

Given his history and the things he has said, I have no doubt that Trump believes that when a man cheats on a woman it’s her fault for not being attractive enough to keep him faithful; he probably finds Hillary Clinton contemptible for this reason, just as he probably felt the same about his first and second wives when he cheated on and then divorced them. But surely someone has suggested to him that this is not a fruitful strategy to pursue. Yet he just can’t help himself.

What does this have to do with being president? If he were in the Oval Office, Donald Trump would face one crisis after another and situations that demand a kind of delayed emotional gratification. In order to be successful he’d have to regularly set aside whatever impulsive reaction he has to a particular turn of events in favor of a long-term strategy that would be more beneficial to the country.

Last night I watched the Frontline program The Choice, and I highly recommend it. The parts about Trump are fascinating and the parts about Clinton are really wonderful and humanizing. The documentary discusses their early years and compares and contrasts their careers leading up to the presidential race.

Probably the most shocking revelation about the Trump family is that they firmly believe in the “gene theory” of success–that certain people are superior to others because of their genetic heritage. Sound familar?

The Independent: Donald Trump believes he has superior genes, biographer claims.

In an interview for US TV channel PBS, the Republican presidential nominee’s biographer Michael D’Antonio claimed the candidate’s father, Fred Trump, had taught him that the family’s success was genetic.

He said: “The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development.

“They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

The theory, known as eugenics, first emerged during the 19th century and was used as a pretext for the sterilisation of disabled people until the practice was discredited after the Second World War.

Adolf Hitler’s justification for the Holocaust – in which 11 million people were killed, 6 million of them Jewish – was based on a similar theory of racial hierarchy.

I hope you’ll watch the entire Frontline show if you can find time.

Now what stories are you following today? Let us know in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


Thursday Reads: Trump In Trouble?

Trump family and supporters watching Monday night's debate

Trump family and supporters watching Monday night’s debate

Good Afternoon!!

I just love that photo taken during Monday’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They are all trying to claim their candidate won, but that’s how they looked while they were watching their candidate self-immolate in front of 80 million viewers.

And how did the Clinton side look? Check it out.

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A picture is worth a thousand words. Then there’s this one taken backstage after the debate.

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I love that one! Now for the news of the day.

Kurt Eichenwald has another big scoop on Trump’s dirty dealings: How Donald Trump’s Company Violated the United States Embargo against Cuba.

A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami, where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowedto maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.

He did not disclose that, seven months earlier, Trump Hotels already had reimbursed its consultants for the money they spent on their secret business trip to Havana.

At the time, Americans traveling to Cuba had to receive specific U.S. government permission, which was granted only for an extremely limited number of purposes, such as humanitarian efforts. Neither an American nor a company based in the United States could spend any cash in Cuba; instead, a foreign charity or similar sponsoring entity needed to pay all expenses, including travel. Without obtaining a license from the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before the consultants went to Cuba, the undertaking by Trump Hotels would have been in violation of federal law, trade experts say.

Read the rest at the Newsweek link above. This story seems to be getting a lot more attention than Eichenwald’s previous ones. I think some reporters are finally waking up to the fact that while they were obsessing on Hillary Clinton’s emails a few real journalists like Eichenwald and David Fahrenthold were doing serious investigative work that is suddenly paying off for them and making others in the mainstream media look like lazy fools.

Yeah, not incredible at all. The media has acted like a pack of ravening wolves trying to tear Hillary apart for the past year while they laughed and joked about a thin-skinned authoritarian nationalist and white supremacist with a realistic chance of winning the U.S. presidency.

Trump’s misogyny and fat-shaming are getting a lot of attention after Hillary brought it up at the debate. I know there are plenty of men who think this is not a serious issue, but for women who have had to deal with men like Trump it certainly is one. Besides, misogyny and sexism obviously have real-life economic effects too.

The LA Times: Employees at Trump’s California golf course say he wanted to fire women who weren’t pretty enough.

After the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes opened for play in 2005, its world-famous owner didn’t stop by more than a few times a year to visit the course hugging the coast of the Pacific.

When Trump did visit, the club’s managers went on alert. They scheduled the young, thin, pretty women on staff to work the clubhouse restaurant  — because when Trump saw less-attractive women working at his club, according to court records, he wanted them fired.

“I had witnessed Donald Trump tell managers many times while he was visiting the club that restaurant hostesses were ‘not pretty enough’ and that they should be fired and replaced with more attractive women,” Hayley Strozier, who was director of catering at the club until 2008, said in a sworn declaration.

Initially, Trump gave this command “almost every time” he visited, Strozier said. Managers eventually changed employee schedules “so that the most attractive women were scheduled to work when Mr. Trump was scheduled to be at the club,” she said.

miss-congeniality

Trump’s sexist behavior came out in a “labor relations lawsuit.”

The employees’ declarations in support of the lawsuit, which have not been reported in detail until now, show the extent to which they believed Trump, now the Republican presidential nominee, pressured subordinates at one of his businesses to create and enforce a culture of beauty, where female employees’ appearances were prized over their skills….

Employees said in their declarations that the apparent preference for attractive women came from the top.

“Donald Trump always wanted good looking women working at the club,” said Sue Kwiatkowski, a restaurant manager at the club until 2009, in a declaration. “I know this because one time he took me aside and said, ‘I want you to get some good looking hostesses here. People like to see good looking people when they come in.’ ”

As a result, Kwiatkowski said, “I and the other managers always tried to have our most attractive hostesses working when Mr. Trump was in town and going to be on the premises.”

Read more at the link.

Jennifer Lin, a former reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote at BillyPenn.com about a personal experience she had with Trump in 1988. She had written an article about how Trump tried to cheat shareholders in his casino company by buying them out for $15 per share. Lin wrote about Dale Scutti who realized the shares were worth a lot more than that and starting buying them. Merv Griffin, who wanted to get into the Atlantic City casino business got wind of Scutti’s activities and made a counteroffer.

The situation got ugly and after a month of fighting, the moguls made a deal: Trump would get the unfinished Taj Mahal, Griffin would get everything else, and investors would get $36 a share.

My story that morning made the point that if it wasn’t for this unknown investor from upstate New York, shareholders might not be earning more than twice what Trump originally offered. Scutti had told me he thought Trump was trying to scare shareholders into accepting his offer with threats of bankruptcy in San Diego and warnings that he was the only one capable of completing the over-budget Taj Mahal project.

Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe

Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe

She had tried and failed to reach Trump for comment, but when the story appeared he suddenly wanted to talk to her.

And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.

There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.

The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.

I had shit for brains.

I worked for a shitty newspaper.

What sort of shit did I write.

Before I could reply, he hung up.

Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”

Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”

Craig, a calm Iowan, asked Trump what was wrong with the story. He explained that The Inquirerwould run a correction if the paper had made an error.

Trump snapped that he didn’t read the story.

“No one reads the story,” the 41-year-old blustered. “I read the headline and I didn’t like it.”

Craig suggested that he read the story, then call him back if there were any problems.

He did not hear back from Trump.

So presidential.

If you haven’t read this remarkable review of a new biography of Adolf Hitler by Volker Ullrich: In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue. New York Time book reviewer Michiko Kakatani seems to have specifically written the piece to highlight resemblances between Hitler and Donald Trump–and she did it without ever mentioning Trump’s name. I’m not able to cut and paste from this amazing piece, but I hope you’ll go read it.

stamina

I have quite few links for you today, so I’m going to just post headlines for the rest.

Washington Post: Trump’s method for the big fib: Defend, defend, then grasp at straws.

Vanity Fair: How Hillary Clinton Played Trump for a Fool.

Vox: The press thought Trump’s first 30 minutes were his best. They were his worst.

Politico: Trump accuses Google of ‘suppressing’ Clinton info. (Based on a story from a Russian propaganda site)

Gabe Ortiz at Medium: For All The “Miss Housekeepings” — Including My Mom.

NBC News: Donald Trump’s Campaign Is Quietly Shouting About Clinton Sex Scandals.

Washington Post: Enabler or family defender? How Hillary Clinton responded to husband’s accusers. (Because every wife should respond with kindness and empathy to women who have affairs with her husband, right?)

PBS Frontline: The FRONTLINE Interview: Tony Schwartz. (Trump’s ghostwriter)

STAT: How Trump was named ‘Grand Benefactor’ for a Dana-Farber gala without donating a penny.

Cosmopolitan: Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado Won’t Be Defined by Donald Trump’s Fat-Shaming

Vanity Fair: Revisit the Time Donald Trump Said Kim Kardashian Had “Gotten a Bit Large” [Updated].

Huffington Post: Another Miss Universe Contestant Says She Was Fat-Shamed By Donald Trump.

Huffington Post: Megyn Kelly Goes After Kellyanne Conway On Trump’s Misogyny.

What stories are you following today?

 


Sunday Reads

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Good Afternoon!

The U.S. Virgin Islands gave Hillary Clinton all of their seven delegates and one super delegate for the Democratic Convention. Clinton should have the nomination sewed up by Tuesday after the New Jersey polls close.  The lead over Senator Bernie Sanders was commanding.  Remember, we will be there with a live blog on Tuesday night watching Herstory be made.  Be sure to join us!!

Hillary Clinton scored a sweeping win in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday, picking up all seven pledged delegates at stake as she inched tantalizingly close to the Democratic nomination.

She is now just 60 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to advance to the November general election.

The party said Clinton won 84.2 percent of the vote, while Bernie Sanders earned 12.2 percent. Under Democratic National Committee rules, a candidate must win at least 15 percent of the vote to be eligible to receive delegates.

The gadfly senator continues to display narcissism and should be disabused of his grandiose idea that the majority of voters, Democrats, or super Delegates consider him fit for office.  The press is finally beginning to describe him as delusional butslide_485178_6661708_free continues to provide him with a public platform given that his supporters are showing up at events where violence and intimidation eventually occur.  Among the many things Sanders appears completely devoid of knowledge is the idea of a “contested convention”.  

Bernie Sanders urged news organizations on Saturday to hold off on declaring a victor in the Democratic presidential race following Tuesday’s primaries and vowed to soldier on to the party’s convention in July.

Sanders comments come as his rival, Hillary Clinton, is poised to effectively clinch the nomination following the close of the polls Tuesday in California, New Jersey, and four other states.

But the Vermont senator insisted that the delegate count is fluid. And he expressed confidence that he could persuade some “super delegates”— the party leaders who are not locked into voting for a particular candidate — to peel away from Clinton in the “six long weeks” before Democrats gather in Philadelphia.

“Now, I have heard reports that Secretary Clinton has said it’s all going to be over on Tuesday night. I have heard reports that the media, after the New Jersey results come in, are going to declare that it is all over. That simply is not accurate,” Sanders said at a news conference here.

Sanders then added, with emphasis, that the “Democratic National Convention will be a contested convention.”

bloom-county-is-back-splashHe is the very definition of a sad, old man these days. Sanders truly needs to think about how he will be remembered, if at all, in the future and what kind of legacy he thinks he’ll be leaving with his brief foray into the national spotlight.

Clinton appeared on “This Week” this morning .  I’m linking to the full transcript here in case you missed it.  Clinton is clearly focused on the Republican nominee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your supporters have been pretty fired up in the last couple of days as you’ve been taking it to Donald Trump and you also step it up, using words like “demagogue” and “dictator.”

Have you concluded that the best way to beat Donald Trump is to be a bit more like him?

CLINTON: No, not at all. I laid out in my speech in San Diego the crux of my concerns and my case against him on foreign policy and national security.

And a lot of what he says plays into what I consider to be a very divisive and dangerous view of the world. And I think it’s important that we call it for what it is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also said that he’s temperamentally unfit to be president and, in that speech, you said you’re going to leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.

Are you suggesting that he’s mentally unstable?

CLINTON: Well, no, I’m suggesting exactly what I said, that he’s temperamentally unfit. He doesn’t really have ideas. He makes bizarre rants and engages in personal feuds and outright lies.

He does apparently seem to have very thin skin and I think that those kinds of attributes, that temperament, is ill-suited for someone to be our president and commander in chief.

And he’s already, as I recited in my San Diego speech, on record on so many issues that run counter to what Democrats, Republicans alike over many decades have thought was in America’s interests in accordance with our values.

And that, to me, is cause for concern.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s the biggest danger coming from his temperament?

CLINTON: I think he engages in so much scapegoating and finger-pointing and he is someone who doesn’t tell the truth. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the constant inherent contradictions.

I said that he had said that he would not mind having other countries have nuclear weapons, including Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia. He said he didn’t. A lot of news outlets, of course, easily pulled up the video of him saying all of that.

His unpredictability, his putting everything in highly personal terms has rattled — and that’s the word President Obama used — has rattled our closest allies, has caused a lot of serious concern around the world, because people are not used to seeing anyone, a Republican or a Democrat, running for president, who is so loose with the truth, so divisive and so dismissive of very legitimate concerns about safety, security, our values and who we are as a nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, he said several times over the last few days that he thinks you should be going to jail over the e-mail issues and on “Face the Nation” he’s just given an interview to John Dickerson, where he said he would look at this when he becomes president. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I would have my attorney general look at it because everyone knows that she’s guilty. Now I would say this, she’s guilty but I would let my attorney general make that determination. Maybe they would disagree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

CLINTON: Well, it’s a typical Trumpism. And I don’t have any response, you know; when he attacks me, I am not going to respond.

But I think it is in keeping with his very vicious public attack against the judge, the federal judge, who is hearing the case against so-called Trump University, a judge who has an impeccable record as a prosecutor, who actually spent, as I’m told, nearly a year in hiding because of threats from criminal drug cartels against his life, who was appointed first by the Republican governor of California, Governor Schwarzenegger, then appointed by a Democratic president, President Obama, because of his extraordinary legal record.

And what Trump is doing is trying to divert attention from the very serious fraud charges against Trump University, that have basically been confirmed by some of the highest officials who worked with him.

So this is typical. He does have that thin skin and, you know, Judge Cureil is as American as I am and certainly as American as Donald Trump is. And Trump’s continuing ethnic slurs and rants against everyone, including a distinguished federal judge, I think makes my point rather conclusively.

bernie-sanders-clueless-298x437Trump continues to insult every one while trying to pander.  This week we learn that the women working for his campaign earn less than than the men.

Donald Trump has paid men on his campaign staff one-third more than women, while Hillary Clinton has compensated men and women equally, according to a Globe analysis of payroll data for both campaigns.

Trump’s campaign staff is also far less diverse than that of his likely Democratic opponent. Only about 9 percent of his team are minorities, compared with nearly a third of Clinton’s staff.
The Globe analyzed the payroll for both campaigns for April, the most recent month with publicly available data. The snapshot provides clues as to how the aspiring Oval Office occupants might fill a White House team, and to what extent they include people with diverse viewpoints in the inner workings of their organizations.

In an election that is already focused on gender — including Clinton’s quest to be the first female president and Trump’s accusations she is playing the “woman card’’ — the payroll differences stand out.

This story slays me. It’s probably one of the most typical Trump moves we’ve seen to date in the election.  Trump used a picture of a random black family to show that he does have support from the African American community.  The family is incensed.

At a Friday afternoon rally in California, Trump sought to highlight his support from minorities.

“Look at my African-American over there,” he shouted.

He seems to have made things worse, with many noting that his phrasing implied ownership over the man.

One of the major hurdles for Donald Trump to win the presidency is his deep unpopularity among non-white voters. A recent survey found Trump is viewed unfavorably by 86% of black voters and 75% of Latinos.

Trump’s comments about the African American man came after reiterating his belief that a federal judge should be disqualified from presiding over the Trump University fraud case because of his “Mexican heritage.” (The judge was born in Indiana.)

This morning on Twitter, Trump was back at it, highlighting the support of an African-American family.

The father has made it clear that the family does not support Trump.resize

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, the parents in the photo — Eddie and Vanessa Perry — said they are not Trump supporters. They aren’t endorsing or publicly supporting anyone. Eddie Perry called Trump’s use of the photo “misleading” and “political propaganda.”

Clearly, Trump has gotten away with so many lies and he is such a disturbed person that he thinks he can do anything and get a way with it.resize (1)

I’d like to point out the artist of the next few pictures who takes pictures of candidates and turns them into clowns.  They’re pretty funny.  Will Espada has done a great job with all the Republican candidates. Go take a gander at the others.

So, I wanted to end with another Hillary story.  This is about Hillary and the Pride movement.   Clinton has written a think piece for CNN on her policies and hopes for the community.

So the stakes in this election are high. And even if we do prevail against the open bigotry of Donald Trump, we’ll still have our work cut out for us.
We need to pass the Equality Act, to ensure full federal equality for LGBT Americans.
We need to continue to fight discrimination at all levels of government and in all 50 states, as I did at the State Department, where we strengthened the department’s policies on anti-discrimination, worked with global advocates and other stakeholders in encouraging countries to decriminalize same-sex relationships and supported policies that extended benefits and additional protections to LGBT individuals.
And we need to tackle the intersectional pressures that make life even harder for many of our fellow human beings. In particular, acts of violence against transgender women of color continue to be reported at an alarming rate. It’s an emergency, and we need to treat it like one.
This issue is important to me. As secretary of state, I fought to make it possible for transgender Americans to have their true identities reflected on their passports.
And as president, I’ll fight for the rights of transgender people, because no one should be harmed or mistreated for being who they are.
Not long ago, I met a mom from New York named Jodie Patterson. Her youngest child, Penelope, was uncomfortable early on acting, dressing or being treated like a girl. “I don’t feel like a boy,” Penelope said. “I am a boy.”
So Jodie let him be who he knew he was. Today, he’s a happy little boy named Penel who loves soccer and karate. But Penel’s mom worries about his future. She dreads how he will handle puberty, and whether kids in school will be kind or cruel. And she wonders how he will find his place in the world, when there’s so much hostility toward people like him.
Kids like Penel are why all of us do what we do. They are why we fight for an America where every child is supported and loved for who they are, and nothing stands in the way of what they can become.

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Today, I celebrate the fact we will have our first woman candidate for President on a major party ticket within a few days. Tomorrow, it will be up to each one of us to see that President Hillary Clinton becomes a reality and that Donald Trump is sent back to the Trust Fund Farm.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Remember, this is an open thread!!!


Thursday Reads: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

modigliani young woman in a yellow dress

Good Afternoon!!

If you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, have a good one!

I’m illustrating this post with portraits of unsmiling women by Amadeo Modigliani. Why, you may ask? It’s just a little symbolic protest of the constant barrage of “instructions” from the media on how Hillary Clinton should behave.

For months we’ve been hearing from various male commentators–and even from her very loud male opponent–that Hillary needs to stop “shouting.” As Lawrence O’Donnell condescendingly explained, with help from Chris Matthews, “the microphone works.” Hillary should speak more softly and modulate her “tone.” She’s not being “ladylike” enough for them.

Tsk tsk tsk

On Tuesday after Hillary swept five Democratic primaries, Howard Kurtz offered this:

Glenn Thrush agreed.

Britt Hume thought she looked angry.

And then there was Joe Scarborough:

Each of these men was resoundingly mocked on Twitter, but not one of them apologized. Instead they were defensive. They complained about being attacked for their helpful advice and provided examples of various negative things they had written about male candidates’ speeches. They refused to listen to women who tried to explain to them why such unsolicited advice is sexist. You can check out their timelines to read more.

Amedeo-Modigliani-Woman-with-Red-Hair-1917-large-1341477858

Every woman has experienced this kind of “constructive criticism” again again. It’s not helpful, and refusing to listen to women explain why is also sexist. Some examples at Vogue.

Samantha Bee had a great response. She tweeted a photo of herself frowning into the camera and asked for responses. Lots of other women tweeted back unsmiling selfies. Click on the link to go to Mediaite and see some of the responses.

Connie Shultz at The National Memo: Hey, Hillary: Smile, Girl.

You know, the world would be a happier place if a girl would just smile more.

Just ask the guys on Twitter.

Now, by “girl,” I mean a former U.S. senator and secretary of state who is likely to be the first female president of these allegedly united states.

As for “the world,” let’s narrow it down. We’re talking mean men who apparently spend much of their day breathing into paper bags because they’re not even allowed to ask a secretary to grab them a cuppa joe anymore without someone from HR signing them up for diversity training.

What? No more office wife? Evidence of hell in a handbasket right there. Just ask them.

So now we’ve got this Hillary woman going all presidential on us. She’s everywhere. Giving speeches. Declaring victories. Starring in one town hall after another. How much suffering must a good ol’ boy endure? ….

Some men hear what they want to hear, and too many men don’t want to hear from women at all. This is an unhappy century for them, and it’s only going to get worse. One grandmother barreling her way toward the presidency is bound to work up all kinds of other women who’ve had it up to here with the catcall mentality of men who measure our worth by our ability to make them feel better about their limited view of us.

Much more at the link.

Amedeo_Modigliani_-_Portrait_de_Jeanne_Hébuterne_au_Collier

Of course the advice about smiling and speaking in a softer tone are only the beginning of the unsolicited advice pundits have for Hillary.

Amanda Marcotte: Stop “helping” Hillary: Sorry, guys, but Clinton doesn’t need to smile, whisper, or have John Kasich as her running mate.

Tuesday night, those who were lucky enough to be watching their primary coverage on MSNBC were treated to what may be a record-setter in scorching hot takes, courtesy of, who else, Chris Matthews. “I do think if you could ever find a way to put a ticket together that would actually end some of this mishegoss, to use a Yiddish word,” Matthews spun out before coughing up, and you could feel this coming, that he’d like to see Hillary Clinton pick John Kasich as her running mate

“If Hillary Clinton were smart,” Matthews said, with a certainty that is unique to men discrediting the intelligence of women who are, in reality, much smarter than they are, “she’d make herself the alternative” for Republicans who don’t want to vote for Trump by putting Kasich on her ticket.
“Of course, this doesn’t happen in American politics,” he added wistfully, “because American politics is so free of wonder anymore. It’s so predictable.”
Yes, he said this during the administration of the first black president, during a campaign that pits the first major party female candidate against a reality TV star who is winning his party’s nomination against the party leaders’ wills and while running a fascism-reminiscient campaign. But what we really need to get out of the doldrums is for a liberal Democrat to pick a running mate that stands against everything she and her party stand for.

Read the rest at Salon.

amedeo-modigliani-XX-Madame-Georges-van-Muyden-1917

Of course the big news is President Obama’s Supreme Court pick of Merrick Garland. JJ covered it thoroughly yesterday. Today the pundits are speculating about why Obama picked an “old white guy” instead of making a “truly progressive” choice. Of course Merrick is Jewish, so he would add to the diversity of a court that is packed with right win Catholics. Forward.com:

Merrick Garland grew up Jewish in Chicago suburbs of Skokie, worked his way to Harvard Law School and investigated the Oklahoma City bombing as a federal prosecutor.

The “mensch” of a jurist with a most un-Jewish sounding name and a sterling reputation for fairness won a coveted spot on the Washington D.C. court of appeals and rose to lead that prestigious court.

After twice being passed over for the Supreme Court, he is now aiming to become an unprecedented fourth Jew on the nine-member top court.

“He’s a total mensch,” said Jay Michaelson, a Forward columnist who once clerked for Garland. “He really wanted to get the law right.”

Garland’s first cousin, Marty Shukert, an urban designer in Omaha, Nebraska, said it was “almost dreamlike” to see Garland nominated by President Obama.

Garland called the nomination “the greatest honor of my life,” in a carefully scripted roll-out to the nation.

Recounting his Jewish family’s battle with persecution, Garland made an emotional pitch for the job he has coveted for decades.

“My grandparents left the Pale of Settlement…in the early 1900’s, fleeing anti-Semitism and hoping to make a better life for their children in America,” Garland told reporters in the Rose Garden, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

As the headline of the story says, Garland seems like a real “mensch.”

Modigliani woman

Josh Lederman at the AP: Analysis: Obama Dares GOP to Let Clinton, Trump Pick Justice.

By nominating an uncontroversial 63-year-old judge, President Barack Obama handed Republicans an unwelcome election-year proposition: Give in or risk letting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump pick a Supreme Court justice the GOP might like even less.

Obama’s selection of appellate judge Merrick Garland landed with a bang the morning after primaries in Florida, Ohio and other key states made clear that Clinton and Trump will be their parties’ presidential candidates, barring extraordinary circumstances. Obama described Garland as an evenhanded consensus-builder, all but daring Republicans to block him and face uncertain consequences from voters.

Republican leaders dug in on their insistence that the next president get to choose the replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, the influential conservative and high court’s most provocative member. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “an issue where we can’t agree.” ….

Republicans loathe Clinton, but they recognize that if she wins the presidency, she could nominate someone far more liberal than Garland, who’s regarded as a centrist. At the same time, the GOP establishment is extremely wary of the unpredictable Trump and desperate for an alternative.

A Democratic victory at the presidential level could be accompanied by a return of the Senate to Democratic control, further complicating Republicans’ ability to prevent Democrats from getting their way. Republicans are fighting their toughest Senate races this year in states like New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois where Democrats are hoping independent-minded voters will be turned off by the GOP’s hardline position.

Brian Beutler calls Garland an “old white guy” and opines that Obama isn’t playing 11 dimensional chess. He just made a mistake in not choosing someone who would make all the progs happy.

Did you hear about the story that PBS News ran about the Tilly family, first-time voters working for Trump in North Carolina?  Please go to the link and watch it. PBS did not notice that a woman they featured prominently while she phone-banked for Trump had white supremacist tattoos all over her arms and hands. Gawker did notice. Here’s a photo of Grace Tilly.

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From the Gawker story:

Above, you see Grace phone banking for Donald Trump, with the Celtic Cross tattoo on her right hand. Despite the tattoo being in plain view of PBS’ cameras, the story never acknowledges that it is interviewing a walking white power billboard. The Anti-Defamation League explains that the Celtic Cross is one of the most “commonly used white supremacist symbols.” Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the ADL, tells me:

The Celtic Cross is an ancient and revered Christian symbol typically not associated with extremism at all. However, one particular version of the Celtic Cross—a squarish cross with a thick circle intersecting with it (also known as Odin’s Cross), has become one of the most popular white supremacist symbols around. In the past 20 years, its popularity has done little but grow, thanks to its use as the logo by Stormfront, the largest white supremacist website in the world.

And on her hand, Grace has a large tattoo that reads “88,” which according to ADL is “code for Heil Hitler.” See that photo at Gawker. So far, PBS has reacted to the Gawker story.

Woman with a necklace

On Tuesday night we learned that the Sanders Campaign plans to try to convince superdelegates to vote for him at the Democratic convention. Yesterday they announced plans to poach delegates that are pledged to vote for Clinton. It’s hard to remember now that only a couple of months ago, Sanders was supposedly running a clean, positive campaign. Time reports on a call with reporters hosted by camapaign manager Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ and strategist Tad Devine:

Although the Democratic pledged delegates are bound to a particular candidate based on state Democratic votes, Sanders senior strategist Tad Devine suggested there is some leeway there. Devine pointed to the Carter campaigns 1980 victory and their worry about holding onto pledged delegates. The Carter campaign was “deeply concerned about the defection of pledged delegates” to Ted Kennedy, Devine said.

“My point is that a frontrunner in a process like this needs to continue to win if you want to keep hold of delegates,” Devine continued. When pressed by a reporter, Devine said there was no plan “at the moment” to try to sway pledged delegates.

Weaver said that Sanders is doing Clinton a favor by staying in the race–because Bernie will protect poor fragile Hillary from Donald Trump.

“Were this contest to end, you know, by Secretary Clinton, or us getting out—certainly if the Secretary were still in the race, she could expect months and months and months of immediate, and vicious, and very personal attacks from the Trump people,” Weaver said. “So I don’t know if that’s necessarily healthy for her.”

woman-with-a-fan-lunia-czechowska-1919

WTF?! The people who said all along that the superdelegate process is undemocratic now want to win with their votes? And on top of that, they want to usurp the voters’ choices by stealing pledge delegates?

It’s just breathtaking. Here’s a great Greg Sargent interview with Hillary’s chief strategist Joel Benenson as an antidote: Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist: Sanders can’t win, and we’re ready to take down Trump. Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Thursday.

 


Super Saturday Reads

Smoking Bar for Ladies, Harry Grant Dart

Smoking Bar for Ladies, Harry Grant Dart

Good Morning!!

A note on the illustration above: It is an anti-women’s suffrage cartoon originally publish in the satire magazine Puck, showing the horror that could befall the country if women actually got the vote.

We have a busy few days coming up for presidential politics. Today is the Louisiana primary, and Hillary is expected to win overwhelmingly on the Democratic side. There will also be Democratic and Republican caucuses in Kansas and Nebraska. For Republicans, there will be additional caucuses in Maine and Kentucky. Maine Democrats will caucus tomorrow and there will be a GOP primary in Puerto Rico. Then on Tuesday there will be primaries in Michigan and Mississippi.

Tomorrow night there will be a CNN Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan and on Monday night Fox News will hold a Democratic town hall event. Hillary originally declined the invitation, but yesterday she agreed to go. I think it’s a mistake for her to go, but we’ll see. The next Republican debate will be on March 10 in Miami.

Washington Post: Five more states ready to chip in delegates to campaign 2016.

Hunting for delegates, Trump added a last-minute rally in Wichita, Kansas, to his Saturday morning schedule and Cruz planned to stop in Kansas on caucus day, too, one day after Rubio visited the state.

Trump’s decision to skip an appearance Saturday at a conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union in the Washington area to get in one last Kansas rally rankled members of the group, who tweeted that it “sends a clear message to conservatives.”

The billionaire businessman’s rivals have been increasingly questioning his commitment to conservative policies, painting his promise to be flexible on issues as a giant red flag….

With the GOP race in chaos, establishment figures are frantically looking for any way to stop Trump, perhaps at a contested convention if none of the candidates can roll up the 1,237 delegates needed to snag the nomination. Going into Saturday’s voting, Trump led the field with 329 delegates. Cruz had 231, Rubio 110 and Kasich 25. In all, 155 GOP delegates are at stake in Saturday’s races.

Illustration of "founding mothers" "Woman is a slave from the cradle to the grave -- Ernestine Rose

Illustration of “founding mothers”
“Woman is a slave from the cradle to the grave — Ernestine Rose

On the Democrats:

Clinton is farther along than Trump on the march to her party’s nomination, outpacing Sanders with 1,066 delegates to his 432, including pledged superdelegates. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. There are 109 at stake on Saturday.

In Louisiana, Clinton was hoping that strong support from the state’s sizable black population will give her a boost. Both Democrats have campaigned heavily in Nebraska and saturated the state with ads. In Kansas, Clinton has the backing of its former governor and onetime Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. Sanders held a pre-caucus rally in Kansas’ liberal bastion of Lawrence hoping to attract voters.

A couple of big stories out of Louisiana:

Think Progress: BREAKING: Supreme Court Reopens Clinics Closed By Anti-Abortion Law.

The Supreme Court handed down a brief order Friday allowing four Louisiana abortion clinics to reopen after they were closed due to a recent decision by a conservative federal appeals court.

Last week, an especially conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down an “emergency” decision permitting an anti-abortion Louisiana law to go into effect. Under this law, physicians cannot perform abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital — an increasingly common requirement masterminded by an anti-abortion group that drafts model bills for state legislatures. A challenge to a similar Texas law is currently pending before the justices.

The Supreme Court’s order temporarily suspends the Louisiana law, effectively preventing the Fifth Circuit’s Wednesday decision from taking effect. Only Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly dissented from the Court’s order.

Could this be a good sign for the Texas case that is currently being considered by SCOTUS?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Texas case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, this Wednesday. During those arguments, conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared open to striking down the Texas law — although he also seemed concerned with a procedural issue unique to that case. The Court’s decision to halt the Louisiana law is another sign that the conservative-but-not-absolutist justice believes that laws like the ones in Texas and Louisiana may go too far.

DeclarationSentiments

I sure hope so. Meanwhile Louisiana’s economy is in desperate shape, thanks mostly to former Governor Bobby Jindal’s horrendous policies.

Wonkblog: Battered by drop in oil prices and Jindal’s fiscal policies, Louisiana falls into budget crisis.

Already, the state of Louisiana had gutted university spending and depleted its rainy-day funds. It had cut 30,000 employees and furloughed others. It had slashed the number of child services staffers, including those devoted to foster family recruitment, and young abuse victims for the first time were spending nights at government offices.

And then, the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards (D), came on TV and said the worst was yet to come.

Edwards, in a prime-time address on Feb. 11, said he’d learned of “devastating facts” about the extent of the state’s budget shortfall and said that Louisiana was plunging into a “historic fiscal crisis.” Despite all the cuts of the previous years, the nation’s second-poorest state still needed nearly $3 billion — almost $650 per person — just to maintain its regular services over the next 16 months. Edwards  gave the state’s lawmakers three weeks to figure out a solution, a period that expires March 9 with no clear answer in reach.

Louisiana stands at the brink of economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities and certain programs for the needy. A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships. Select hospitals will close. Patients will lose funding for treatment of disabilities. Some reports of child abuse will go uninvestigated.

“Doomsday,” said Marketa Garner Walters, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services. If the state can’t raise any new revenue, her agency’s budget, like several others, will be slashed 60 percent.

“At that level,” she said in an interview, “the agency is unsustainable.”

Read more about the disastrous consequences of Jindal’s embrace of Koch brothers politics at the link.

Seneca Falls, 1848

Seneca Falls, 1848

The Tax Policy Center just released its analysis of Bernie Sanders’ tax plan, and it’s stunning. Here’s the abstract:

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposes significant increases in federal income, payroll, business, and estate taxes, and new excise taxes on financial transactions and carbon. New revenues would pay for universal health care, education, family leave, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and more. TPC estimates the tax proposals would raise $15.3 trillion over the next decade. All income groups would pay some additional tax, but most would come from high-income households, particularly those with the very highest income. His proposals would raise taxes on work, saving, and investment, in some cases to rates well beyond recent historical experience in the US.

You can read the entire report in a pdf at the link. From Bloomberg:

Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposals for sweeping tax hikes on businesses and individuals to bankroll universal health care, infrastructure and free college tuition would raise $15.3 trillion over the next decade but “substantially reduce incentives to save and invest in the United States,” according to a new policy study.

Sanders’s plan would “modestly raise” tax rates for average taxpayers and “raise them significantly for high-income taxpayers,” according to the report by the Tax Policy Center, a research group in Washington, D.C. that’s a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. The report is the last of the center’s analyses of leading presidential candidates’ tax plans.

While the plan — which would be sure to face opposition in a Republican-controlled Congress — could generate benefits by increasing “the nation’s investment in productive physical and human capital,” economists are unsettled on the question of just how much increases in tax rates spur or stymie economic growth. Sanders’s proposals “would be a great experiment,” said Len Burman, director of the Tax Policy Center.

Warren Gunnels, Sanders’s policy director, criticized the tax center’s findings. The analysis was conducted “in a vacuum without taking into account the savings the American people would gain” under the candidate’s proposal to replace private health-insurance with a publicly funded “Medicare-for-all” plan, he said. Gunnels cited an earlier study by Citizens for Tax Justice, which found that 95 percent of U.S. households would see their take-home pay increase under Sanders’s health plan.

Girls in a milk-bar in England, 1954

Girls in a milk-bar in England, 1954

Kevin Drum on the analyses of the five candidates’ tax plans so far:

As before, the Republican plans are all the same: a tiny tax cut for the middle class as a sop to distract them from the enormous payday they give to the rich, and a massive hole in the deficit.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s plan is fairly modest. It leaves the middle class alone and taxes the rich a little more. Once her domestic proposals are paid for, it’s probably deficit neutral. Bernie Sanders is far more extreme. He’s basically the mirror image of the Republicans: he’d tax the middle class moderately more and soak the hell out of the rich. This would raise a tremendous amount of money, which he’d use to pay for his health care plan and his other domestic proposals. It’s impossible to say for sure how this would affect the deficit, but the evidence suggests that it would blow a pretty big hole.

It looks like Sanders is going to continue and even increase his attacks on Hillary Clinton even though she will likely have the nomination in hand by March 15. It doesn’t seem to bother him in the least that he’s hurting the Democratic Party and making it more difficult for their candidate to win the White House in November.

From The Hill: Sanders blames Clinton for Michigan’s declining middle class.

“If the people of Michigan want to make a decision about which candidate stood with workers against corporate America and against these disastrous trade agreements, that candidate is Bernie Sanders,” he said during a rally in Traverse City, according to a campaign statement obtained by NBC News.

Sanders argued that Clinton’s support of legislation like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had helped create the Great Lakes State’s crippling poverty.

“[NAFTA] is one of the reasons that the middle class in this country is disappearing,” the self-described Democratic socialist said.

“[NAFTA and other trade deals are] crafted by the big-money interests and corporations. Hillary Clinton was on the wrong side of many of these trade agreements.”

I love this photo of the 2013 class of women in the House.

I love this photo of the 2013 class of women in the House.

Hillary did not hold political office when NAFTA passed Congress. I believe she opposed NAFTA as first lady, but to blame her for bill passed by a right wing Republican Congress and signed by her husband is both unfair and sexist. But that’s how Bernie rolls.

Markos laid down the law at Daily Kos yesterday, and the reaction was hilarious. As background, the front pagers have been supporting Hillary in 2016, but the majority of diarists have been pushing for Bernie, attacking Hillary using every right wing meme they can find and the most misogynistic language they can dream up. Read about it here: March 15, and Daily Kos transition to General Election footing.

The gist is that Kossacks have to stop attacking Hillary with right wing memes and ugly sexist language and if they are planning to vote for Donald Trump or Jill Stein if the Democrats nominate Hillary, they have to keep it to themselves. They can criticize Hillary, but only in positive ways that could help the party.

The response was predictable, with people posting “goodbye cruel world” diaries and threats to continue advocating for Bernie in any way they choose if if Kos bans them. It was like watching kids arguing on a playground or like the last GOP debate.

So . . . what are you hearing and reading about today? I’ll post a live blog later for discussion of the primary and caucus results.