Friday Reads: What isn’t the matter with Brett Kavanaugh?

Good Morning

Sky Dancers!

The unraveling of Brett Kavanaugh’s privilege bubble continues.  Can those ugly old white male Republicans rescue him from all the women that want his heads on a platter.  Yes, both of them!

Okay, where to start …

How about something written by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker to get our day started. Here’s the headline: “After the Kavanaugh Allegations, Republicans Offer a Shocking Defense: Sexual Assault Isn’t a Big Deal”.  I’m actually thinking they’ll NEVER learn.

Ever since the professor Christine Blasey Ford revealed that she was the woman who had accused the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaughof sexual assault, in a previously confidential letter, the conservative attempt to protect Kavanaugh from her story has been, to put it mildly, forceful. Ford claims that, in the early nineteen-eighties, when they were both attending prestigious private high schools in suburban Maryland, Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party. Republicans have framed this story as a craven act of character assassination rather than an account worth investigating before Kavanaugh receives a lifetime appointment to make pivotal decisions for the future of the nation—including decisions about, for example, the options that will be available to women if they get pregnant after being raped.

Kavanaugh says that Ford’s story is not true. He told the Washington Post, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation.” Some of his allies appear to have settled on a strategy of insisting that Ford is simply mistaken—that she may well have been assaulted, but that it must have been someone else. (This theory quickly reached “Twin Peaks” levels of absurdity, with a conservative Post contributor writing a column titled “Is There a Kavanaugh Doppelganger?”) Other Kavanaugh supporters believe that Ford is outright lying, for political purposes. The conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who tweeted that he does not find the allegations “credible in any way, shape, or form,” later wrote, referencing Roe v. Wade, “Y’all, I’m sorry, but I have little patience for a group of people willing to destroy an innocent man so they can keep killing kids. And that’s exactly what this is about.”

But a startling number of conservative figures have reacted as if they believe Ford, and have thus ended up in the peculiar position of defending the right of a Supreme Court Justice to have previously attempted to commit rape—a stance that at once faithfully corresponds to and defiantly refutes the current Zeitgeist. These defenders think that the seventeen-year-old Kavanaugh could easily, as Ford alleges, have gotten wasted at a party, pushed a younger girl into a bedroom, pinned her on a bed, and tried to pull off her clothes while covering her mouth to keep her from screaming. They think this, they say, because they know that plenty of men and boys do things like this. On these points, they are in perfect agreement with the women who have defined the #MeToomovement. And yet their conclusion is so diametrically opposed to the moral lessons of the past year that it seems almost deliberately petulant. We now mostly accept that lots of men have committed sexual assault, but one part of the country is saying, “Yes, this is precisely the problem,” and the other part is saying, “Yes, that is why it would obviously be a non-issue to have one of these men on the Supreme Court.”

Go read the long form for a round up of all the rape apologia going on among white male elites who just want to be able to do the fuck what they want with women.

And, yes … some dude came up with an entire conspiracy theory just to prove Kavanaugh’s accuser was likely dazed and confused. This is from Margaret Hartmann writing for  New York Magazine.  Here’s the headline: “Kavanaugh Backer Presents Bonkers Theory: Christine Ford Was Assaulted by Judge’s Doppelgänger”.  Try not to scream too loudly.

The sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh has put Republicans in quite the jam. On the one hand, they think failing to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court in the next few weeks will hurt them in the midterms, and maybe even prevent them from putting another conservative on the Court. On the other hand, it’s no longer acceptable to dismiss women alleging sexual misconduct as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”

A few more moderate Republican senators successfully pushed to let Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while rejecting her request for an FBI investigation into her allegation. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh backers have already come up with a theory that exonerates him, without calling Ford a liar. Earlier this week, Senator Orrin Hatch said Kavanaugh told him “he didn’t do that, and he wasn’t at the party,” so clearly Ford must be “mistaken.” The same possibility of mistaken identity was floated by The Wall Street Journal editorial board, and by the Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, who mused, “Could there be a Kavanaugh doppelganger?”

Ed Whelan, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and the president of a think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, took this theory to a new, wildly irresponsible place on Thursday night, actually identifying a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, and suggesting that he, not the future judge, might have attempted to rape Ford.

The tweetstorm showed the results of Whelan’s internet sleuthing. The supposed evidence (which we are not embedding because there’s no reason to think the classmate was actually involved) includes:

• Real estate photos of the home where Whelan thinks the incident might have occurred, based on Ford saying the house was “not far from” the Columbia Country Club.• A floor plan that shows that the upstairs bathroom is across from a bedroom in this house, just like Ford described.
• And finally, the big reveal: 35 years ago, this was the home of a Georgetown Prep student who looks kind of like Kavanaugh and was also friends with Mark Judge (who was allegedly present during the assault). Yearbook photos and a current photo of the classmate are provided for comparison to Kavanaugh.

As Twitter users discussed the irony of the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center possibly being sued for defamation, Whelan added a disclaimer…

Jonathan Swift of Axios reports that the entire White House is trying to sit on Trumpers to make sure he doesn’t attack Dr. Blasey Ford. It must be a Herculean effort.

A source who has been talking to President Trump throughout the Kavanaugh crisis told Axios that “you have no idea” how hard it has been to keep him from attacking his Supreme Court nominee’s accuser.

A White House official said yesterday: “Hopefully he can keep it together until Monday. That’s only, like, another 48 hours right?” It didn’t last that long: this morning, a few hours after this story posted, the president cast doubt on Ford’s allegation on Twitter.

  • At a rally in Las Vegas last night, Trump praised Kavanaugh and added with rare restraint: “I’m not saying anything about anybody else. … So we gotta let it play out. … I think is everything is going to be just fine.”

Be smart: Kavanaugh’s Republican strategists are holding it together, but are still nervous about the unknowns — and nervous about additional stories.

  • There’s a constant rumor mill that X publication has more female accusers. (Yesterday’s rumor circulating Trumpworld was that it was the WaPo. Over the weekend, the rumor was Ronan Farrow.) Just very feverish.

Testimony in limbo: Lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it’s “not possible” to appear Monday (“and the Committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event”), but that she could testify later in the week, CNN reports.

  • “Ford’s lawyer made clear that at no point … could Ford be in the same room as Kavanaugh.”
  • “There was also a request that Kavanaugh testify first at the hearing — which a … source said … committee Republicans were unlikely to grant.”

More stuff spins off as the rumors spun yesterday about The Tiger Mom grooming female law clerks to look like models for Kavanaugh caused Yale Law  School to open an investigation.

The dean of Yale Law School on Thursday responded to reports that a prominent professor at the school had advised students seeking judicial clerkships with Brett Kavanaugh on their physical looks, saying the reported allegations of faculty misconduct are “of enormous concern” and calling on anyone affected to come forward.

According to reports in The Guardian, the Huffington Post and Above the Law, Amy Chua, a professor at the law school, would advise students on their physical appearance if they wanted to seek a clerkship for Kavanaugh. Specifically, Chua would help potential applicants to have a “model-like” appearance.

In a letter Thursday to the law school community, Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken wrote that she wanted to “address the press reports today regarding allegations of faculty misconduct” and that “the allegations being reported are of enormous concern to me and to the School.”

720full-madtv----------------------------------(1995--2016)-screenshotPolls show Kavanaugh’s popularity is giving the Bork bottom a run for its money.   Even Conservative Women don’t like or trust Kavanaugh.

THE BIG IDEA: The nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager argued passionately that professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her and covered her mouth when she screamed for help during a party in the 1980s “should be ignored.”

“Even if true, they tell us nothing about Brett Kavanaugh since the age of 17,” Prager, 70, wrote for National Review. “When my wife was a waitress in her mid teens, the manager of her restaurant grabbed her breasts and squeezed them on numerous occasions. She told him to buzz off, figured out how to avoid being in places where they were alone, and continued going about her job. That’s empowerment.”

The intense blowback to this piece from women across the ideological spectrum, especially younger women on the right and even at the magazine, has put into stark relief the chasm in attitudes toward sexual assault that continue to exist across generations and genders.

“Conservatives can never advocate ignoring allegations of sexual assault or diminish the importance of protecting women from abuse,” writes National Review staff writer Alexandra DeSanctis, who is in her mid-20s and two years out of college. “No moral society can overlook, downplay, or otherwise dismiss behavior as grave as what Ford alleges Kavanaugh did … To suggest otherwise is deeply perverse. … Prager’s argument in defense of Kavanaugh is destructive to the conservative movement. It is uniquely wounding to conservative women.”

There are a lot of washed up old white men that need to retire and doter their way to retirement and out of the news cycle. I’d like to include Joe Biden in that one. Doesn’t this just enrage you? From NBC News: “Biden: Senate must treat Kavanaugh accuser Ford better than Anita Hill”. This from the man of the no apology apology,

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday cautioned senators to treat the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault better than the Senate treated Anita Hill 27 years ago.

“Anita Hill was vilified when she came forward by a lot of my colleagues,” Biden said during an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Today.” “I wish I could have done more to prevent those questions and the way they asked them.”

“I hope my colleagues learned from that,” he said. In 1991, Hill came forward with sexual harassment allegations during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. At the time, Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and oversaw the hearings. Biden faced criticism for the way he handled the hearings, and for letting senators grill Hill with questions about her encounters with Thomas.

“I hope that they understand what courage it takes for someone to come forward and relive what they believe happened to them,” he said.

You’re free to draw your on conclusions on this but my bottom line is I will never vote for this man because he kept other women from telling similar stories that could’ve shown Anita Hill as one part of a pattern.  That’s just the first of my complaints about Mister “Grabby Hands” on the campaign trail Biden.

I want to read more of this:   “The Case for Impeaching Kavanaugh, If the Democrats win the House this fall, they can investigate the charges against him, should he be confirmed” by Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. writing for NYT.

Of course, even if the House impeached Mr. Kavanaugh, it would still take a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict and remove him from the Court. But the Senate vote would surely have at least something to do with the merits of the House’s case: If a full and fair investigation shows that Mr. Kavanaugh has lied regarding the incident — he has denied it categorically and says nothing even remotely like it ever occurred — Republican senators may find it hard to vote “no” in the #metoo era. It would be a terrible blow to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, of course, but this is the risk that Senators McConnell and Grassley seem willing to take.

Moreover, an impeachment investigation could also encompass allegations that Mr. Kavanaugh has committed perjury before the Senate, twice, related to his work on the nomination of District Judge Charles Pickering to be a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Under oath, both in 2006 and in 2018, he said he had no involvement with the White House strategy sessions associated with Judge Pickering’s nominations. Subsequently released emails, involving these sessions, suggest that these answers were at best misleading and at worst totally false.

Attending a strategy session as a White House staffer is not a crime. Lying under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, on the other hand, is. Perjury would be a perfectly justifiable, and constitutional, basis for impeachment.

An important caveat: Congress must take care to maintain the constitutional convention that has existed since the failed impeachment of Justice Chase. Federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, should not be impeached based on their judicial rulings or philosophy. Accordingly, if the House were to initiate impeachment proceedings against Justice Kavanaugh in 2019, such proceedings should be strictly limited to questions associated with his alleged intentional and deliberate efforts to mislead the Senate about his character and fitness to serve.

We do not know the truth of the troubling allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. But, before someone is confirmed to the Supreme Court, good faith efforts to discover the truth should be made. And if the Senate won’t conduct a credible investigation now, the House should offer its assistance next year.

So, let me end with this from CNN: “Where negotiations stand between Kavanaugh’s accuser and Republicans”.

The impasse is broken — sort of.

After days of communicating through sternly worded letters and media appearances, all the relevant parties — Debra Katz, the lawyer representing Christine Blasey Ford who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and both the majority and minority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee — are now negotiating the details of a public hearing.

Congressional aides briefed on the process say there is still a lot of detail to iron out, but all agree that after last night’s call between the parties, a hearing next week is more than likely.

Bottom line: Keen observers this week have predicted this was coming — that much of what we were seeing, the back and forth, the letters, the silence at times, was part of an overall strategy to set the best terms for each side.

That appears to be the case. Nothing is set yet — and nothing will be set until Senate Judiciary Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, gets sign off from the other 10 Republicans on the committee. But all signals are pointing to a hearing in the latter half of next week.

The conditions — and where they stand

These are the key conditions laid out by Katz, per multiple sources with direct knowledge, or briefed on, the call last night. Of note: those sources said they didn’t view all as red lines — just a few. That is why most believe they are on the road to the hearing.

  • The hearing cannot be on Monday. That’s not negotiable and is a red line. Katz proposed this Thursday; it’s possible, but not by any means set at this point.
  • Ford will not ever be in the same room as Kavanaugh. This also wasn’t negotiable, but it’s not a huge ask — witnesses can be separated and enter/leave at different times. It’s not an extraordinary request.
  • Safety. This was the other key non-negotiable. Ford must be made to feel safe, which, given the threats that Katz laid out that have been directed toward Ford since this was all made public, is understood by all parties.
  • Kavanaugh must testify first, before Ford. This, according to congressional aides, is a non-starter. It’s not how the committee works, and given Kavanaugh would need to respond to Ford’s testimony, will not occur.
  • No outside counsel to ask questions. Republicans on the committee agreed to hire outside counsel — a woman, with experience on these issues — to ask the bulk of the questions at the hearing. This is due to both optics (all 11 GOP members are men) and order (concern that the hearing would be deemed too quickly a political circus). Katz said this would make the hearing appear too much like a trial. This wasn’t viewed as a red line by Republicans, according to the sources, and wasn’t agreed to. It will be discussed amongst committee members and staff.
  • The possibility of a subpoena for Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge, who Ford alleged in her letter was also in the room at the time of the alleged assault. This is a non-starter for Republicans, who are firmly against allowing anyone outside the committee dictate who or what to subpoena.
  • It was made clear that it is still the preference of Ford and her legal team that the White House order an expanded background investigation. Republicans have not — and don’t plan to — agree to that, countering that their staff has been doing that work the last few days. Sources familiar with the call didn’t view the request as any sort of red line — just a preference. One that, at this point, won’t be accepted.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: This Is Our Reality Now

What might have been.

Good Morning!!

The news is ugly today. The “president” calls other countries “shitholes” as he works to turn the United States into a “shithole” full of ignorant white people who live in fear of anyone who doesn’t look and think exactly as they do. On top of the “president’s” classless vulgarity and racism, it looks like next we’re going to be subjected to examinations of the “president’s” degrading sexual history.

This nightmare reality we are living in might have been prevented if only the media weren’t populated by numerous misogynist men who prey on naive young women and at the same time enjoy mocking strong, competent women like Hillary Clinton when they dare to pursue their ambitious dreams.

In the wake of the *shitstorm* over the “president’s” vile and ignorant comments in a meeting about immigration, it looks as if one of the worst media misogynist could finally get his comeuppance.

The Cut: Exclusive: Watch Chris Matthews Joke About His ‘Bill Cosby Pill’ Before Interviewing Hillary Clinton.

On January 5, 2016, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews interviewed Hillary Clinton in an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season. Network footage obtained by the Cut shows Matthews, during the interview setup, making a couple of “jokes” about Clinton. He asks, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters?” And then, as he waits for the water, he adds, “Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” Matthews then laughs, delighted with the line, for an extended moment, as the staffers around him react with disbelief, clearly uncomfortable. (Cosby has been accused of sexual impropriety by dozens of women, some of whom allege that they were drugged and raped by the comedian, some of them got addicted to drugs so they went to a rehab center from firststepbh.com.) They consulted xarelto lawsuit after the incident.

“This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines,” Matthews said to the Cut. “I realize that’s no excuse. I deeply regret it and I’m sorry.”

Really? Fuck you Tweety. It’s time for you to retire.

Back to The Cut:

Matthews has a long history of talking disparagingly about Hillary Clinton, whom he once called “witchy,”and often seems to channel what a hypothetical sexist Republican might say about a woman candidate: “she-devil,” “Madame Defarge.” In 2005, he wondered whether the troops would “take the orders” from a (female) President Clinton. “Is she hemmed in by the fact that she’s a woman and can’t admit a mistake,” he asked in 2006, “or else the Republicans will say, ‘Oh, that’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind,’ or ‘another fickle woman’? Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?” He once pinched her cheekfollowing an interview, and, though he later apologized, on another occasion suggested that she only got as far as she did on the political stage because her husband had “messed around.”

We’re all familiar with Tweety’s garbage talk. To paraphrase Trump: “Take him out!”

Also worth reading, tweets by Matthew Gertz of Media Matters. A couple of examples:

That’s part of a long thread about Matthews ugly sexist remarks about Clinton you can read on Twitter.

And now let’s check out some of the latest stories about the “president” Chris Matthews and his kind helped put in the White House.

Trump’s racism

The New York Times Editorial Board on the “president’s” “shithole” shitstorm: Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation.

Where to begin? How about with a simple observation: The president of the United States is a racist. And another: The United States has a long and ugly history of excluding immigrants based on race or national origin. Mr. Trump seems determined to undo efforts taken by presidents of both parties in recent decades to overcome that history.

Mr. Trump denied making the remarks on Friday, but Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who attended the meeting, said the president did in fact say these “hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Of course he did. Remember, Mr. Trump is not just racist, ignorant, incompetent and undignified. He’s also a liar.

Even the president’s most sycophantic defenders didn’t bother denying the reports. Instead they justified them. Places like Haiti really are terrible, they reminded us. Never mind that many native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who fled countries (including Norway in the second half of the 19th century) that were considered hellholes at the time.

Read the rest at the NYT link. How appropriate that the headline contains the word “flushes.”

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words.

Francis Amasa Walker had fought to preserve the Union in the Grand Army of the Republic, but by 1896 he saw its doom in the huddled masses coming from Eastern Europe. The “immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia,” Walker lamented in The Atlantic, were “beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence,” people who had “none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains.”

More than a century later President Donald Trump would put it differently, as he considered immigration from Africa, wondering, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” instead suggesting that America take in more immigrants from places like Norway.

These remarks reflect scorn not only for those who wish to come here, but those who already have. It is a president of the United States expressing his contempt for the tens of millions of descendants of Africans, most of whose forefathers had no choice in crossing the Atlantic, American citizens whom any president is bound to serve. And it is a public admission of sorts that he is incapable of being a president for all Americans, the logic of his argument elevating not just white immigrants over brown ones, but white citizens over the people of color they share this country with.

Please go read the whole thing.

Philip Kennicott at The Washington Post: What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?

Over the past year, as our political culture has grown more coarse and corrupt, I’ve felt different things: sometimes, anger; often, bitter resignation; and occasionally, a bemused sense of pure absurdity. But the past two nights I have actually wept. Why now? Why in response to these particular prompts? A confused and ailing woman in a thin medical gown was tossed to the roadside in freezing weather by security guards from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore. Who orders such a thing, and why would anyone carry out that order? Then, the president of the United States calls Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “shithole” countries. Who says that kind of thing? Who thinks it? Who listens to it without reflexive outrage?

Back to the Post article:

According to a few of the president’s defenders, this is what we all really think. “This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” said a Fox News host, imputing to ordinary Americans sentiments they wouldn’t suffer to be said at their own dinner tables. There was the usual talk about “tough” language instead of talking about this course which helps improve language, as if using racist language was merely candor or an admirable impatience with euphemism.

His defenders seemed to say that if the president says things that we would be ashamed even to think, he is somehow speaking a kind of truth. But while there may be countries that are poor and suffer from civil discord, there are no “shithole” countries, not one, anywhere on Earth. The very idea of “shithole” countries is designed to short-circuit our capacity for empathy on a global scale.

These two incidents, in Baltimore and in the Oval Office, seem related — inhumane indifference from a hospital and blatant bigotry from the president — which is even more troubling. They are about who is on what side of the door, or the wall, or any other barrier that defines the primal “us and them” that governs so much of the worst of our human-made world. When Trump called disfavored countries “shitholes,” he was indulging the most lethal and persistent tribalism of all: pure, unabashed racism. After a candidacy and now a presidency marked by implications of racism, the president has grown more comfortable with speaking in overtly racist terms, condemning whole countries and their people for not being more like “Norway,” one of the whitest countries on Earth….

Remarks like these from the president are still shocking but hardly surprising, given the frequency with which they occur. What I want to know is how the men in the room with him reacted. This is the dinner table test: When you are sitting and socializing with a bigot, what do you do when he reveals his bigotry? I’ve seen it happen, once, when I was a young man, and I learned an invaluable lesson. An older guest at a formal dinner said something blatantly anti-Semitic. I was shocked and laughed nervously. Another friend stared at his plate silently. Another excused himself and fled to the bathroom. And then there was the professor, an accomplished and erudite man, who paused for a moment, then slammed his fist on the table and said, “I will never listen to that kind of language, so either you will leave, or I will leave.” The offender looked around the table, found no allies and left the gathering. I don’t know if he felt any shame upon expulsion.

Again, please go read the rest.

On the Trump scandal front:

Raw Story: Haitian government claims ousted dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier laundered stolen money through Trump Tower.

Trump and Baby Doc

More than a fifth of Trump’s condominiums in the U.S. have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive cash transactions that fit a Treasury Department definition of suspicious transactions, reported Buzzfeed News.

Records show more than 1,300 Trump condos were purchased through shell companies, which allow buyers to shield their finances and identities, and without a mortgage, which protects buyers from lender inquiries.

Those two characteristics raise alarms about possible money laundering, according to statements issued in recent months by the Department of Treasury, which has investigated transactions just like those all over the country….

According to the Buzzfeed News report, the Haitian government complained in the 1980s that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered money stolen from the Caribbean nation’s treasury by purchasing an apartment in Trump Tower.

Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” was overthrown in 1986, but three years earlier used a Panamanian shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy apartment 54-K in Trump’s Manhattan tower for $446,875 cash.

Trump, the future U.S. president, signed the deed of sale.

I tried to read the Buzzfeed story yesterday, but it got to be too much to deal with. Now I plan to go read it carefully.

CNN: James O’Keefe says Trump asked him to go on birther-linked mission.

James O’Keefe

Donald Trump in 2013 asked James O’Keefe, the controversial conservative filmmaker, if he could “get inside” Columbia University and obtain President Obama’s sealed college records, according to a passage in O’Keefe’s forthcoming book, a copy of which was reviewed by CNN.

O’Keefe, a guerrilla filmmaker whom critics have decried for his tactics and who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering federal property in 2010 under false pretenses, writes in “American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News” that during a meeting in New York City Trump complimented his ACORN sting videos (“That pimp and hooker thing you did, wow!”). But, O’Keefe writes, Trump “was a man with a plan” and “did not agree to this meeting to sing my praises.” [….]

According to O’Keefe, Trump “suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York’s Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way.”

O’Keefe wrote that during the 2013 meeting Trump suggested O’Keefe infiltrate Columbia and obtain the sealed records: “‘Nobody else can get this information,'” O’Keefe quoted Trump as saying. “‘Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'”

Read more at CNN.

The Washington Post: After drubbing by media, Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands apologizes for anti-Muslim remarks.

Pete Hoekstra and Trump

The embattled U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra apologized Friday for making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim claims at a conference in 2015, after his first week in the post was clouded by questions about the incendiary statements.

Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan and recent political appointee, made the apology during an interview Friday with De Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, at the end of a particularly rough introduction for the new ambassador.

“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” he told the newspaper. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”

Hoekstra made the remarks in question during a conference on terrorism hosted by the right-wing David Horowitz Freedom Center. He talked about the supposed “chaos” brought to Europe by immigrants from Islamic countries and repeated a baseless theory about so-called “no-go zones” that is popular in right-wing media.

“Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “With the influx of the Islamic community — and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands. All right? There are no-go zones in France.”

Considering the quality of people Trump is appointing to diplomatic posts, I’m sure we can expect more embarrassing episodes like this.

So . . . I could go on and on. I deliberately left out the story of Trump and the two porn stars. It’s still difficult for me to believe this horrible man is POTUS. He has to go before he completely wrecks this country and destroys any hope of our regaining respect around the world.

What stories are you following?


Thursday Reads

 

Good Morning!!

It was 3 degrees in my town when I woke up, and the high today will be 10 degrees with a wind chill up to 27 below 0. The previous record for the Boston area was 18 degrees in 1924. I’m not budging outside until the temperature gets up to at least 20 degrees.

In the news, the ugly old dotard is golfing again, so I thought we might have some peace for a few hours, but he found time to send out an idiotic tweet.

The moron doesn’t know that the new editor of Vanity Fair is Radhika Jones. Anna Wintour is the editor of Vogue. Daughter Ivanka probably knows that, but the moron was on the golf course and couldn’t ask her.

Meanwhile Vanity Fair is still dealing with the aftermath of their millennial editors’ insulting advice to Hillary Clinton, who was just voted the most admired woman for the 16th year in a row.

So many young “journalists” can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that Hillary got nearly 3 million more votes than the dotard or that she has stated clearly that she is not going to run for political office again.

Up in Minnesota, where it’s much colder than it is here, people don’t want Al Franken to resign.

Public Policy Polling: Minnesotans Don’t Think Franken Should Resign; Franken Remains Popular, Especially With Women.

-50% of voters think he should not resign, to only 42% who think he should go through with his planned resignation. There is little appetite from Democratic voters at the state level for Franken to go, with 71% opposing his departure. A majority of independents- 52%- as well think he should not resign, with just 41% favoring his exit.

-Franken remains well above average in popularity for a Senator, with 53% of voters approving of the job he’s doing to 42% who disapprove. PPP rarely finds Senators with majority approval in their home states. Franken’s continued popularity is being driven especially by women. 57% of them like the job he’s doing to 37% who don’t. By contrast Donald Trump stands at 40/58 with women in the state.

-Minnesotans don’t like how the process with Franken’s resignation has played out. 60% think the Senate Ethics Committee should have completed its investigation (including 79% of Democrats and 61% of independents) before any decision was made about Franken’s future, while only 35% think he should resign immediately. Beyond that 76% of Minnesota voters think their voices should have been more important in determining whether Franken stayed in the Senate or not, to only 12% who think that should have been determined more by his fellow Senators in Washington.

I said awhile back that I thought the rush equate the past inappropriate behavior of men like Franken would lead to a backlash against women that will hurt the cause of fighting sexual harassment and sexual assault. I still believe that. I want to share two articles on the subject that I read yesterday. I don’t agree with everything in them, but I think they are making important points.

Feminist psychologist Carol Tavris writes at The Skeptic: I, Too, Am Thinking About Me, Too.

Our whole country is living in a constant state of hyper-dissonance: “my political candidate/my most admired actor/a brilliant artist/my dear friend has been accused of sexual abuses and misconduct; how do I cope with this information? Do I support him/see his movies/enjoy his art/keep the friendship or must I repudiate him entirely?” Living with dissonance and complexity is not easy, but surely skeptics, of all people, must try. We hear a story that outrages us and, just like true believers and justice warriors of any kind, we’re off and running, and once we are off and running we don’t want to hear quibbles, caveats, doubts, complexities. Thus, when the Guardian (Dec. 17, 2017) reported Matt Damon’s remarks that there was “a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation. Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated,” Minnie Driver blasted him: it’s not for men to make distinctions; “there is no hierarchy of abuse”; men should just shut up for once. “If good men like Matt Damon are thinking like that then we’re in a lot of fucking trouble,” she said. “We need good intelligent men to say this is all bad across the board, condemn it all and start again.”

No hierarchy of abuse? Really? That is one of the universal symptoms of revolutionary zealotry: go for broke, ignore gradations of villainy, who cares if some innocents are thrown over the side, we are furious and we want everything at once. No wonder those of us in the boring older generation, who have lived through cycles of anger and protest, are so annoying. “Wait!” we keep saying. “Be careful! Remember the stupidity of ‘zero tolerance’ programs in schools, where a kid who brings a pocket knife for show-and- tell, or a 6-year-old boy who kisses a 6-year-old girl, got expelled?” We have also learned that while there is a time and place for revolutionary zealotry, the hardest challenge comes next, because change will not be accomplished without allies.

While many celebrate the courage of the accusers who are coming forth to tell their stories, let’s keep in mind that in today’s climate it also requires courage to raise dissonance-producing dissent.

Tavris refers to a piece by Claire Berlinski at The National Interest: The Warlock Hunt. Berlinski argues that “The #MeToo moment has now morphed into a moral panic that poses as much danger to women as it does to men.” I hope you’ll read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

Among us, it seems, lives a class of men who call to mind Caligula and Elagabalus not only in their depravity, but in their grotesque sense of impunity. Our debauched emperors, whether enthroned in Hollywood, media front offices, or the halls of Congress, truly imagined their victims had no choice but to shut up, take it, and stay silent forever. Many of these men are so physically disgusting, too—the thought of them forcing themselves on young women fills me with heaving disgust. Enough already. Check out the latest news about satellite media tour here.

All true; yet something is troubling me. Recently I saw a friend—a man—pilloried on Facebook for asking if #metoo is going too far. “No,” said his female interlocutors. “Women have endured far too many years of harassment, humiliation, and injustice. We’ll tell you when it’s gone too far.” But I’m part of that “we,” and I say it is going too far. Mass hysteria has set in. It has become a classic moral panic, one that is ultimately as dangerous to women as to men.

If you are reading this, it means I have found an outlet that has not just fired an editor for sexual harassment. This article circulated from publication to publication, like old-fashioned samizdat, and was rejected repeatedly with a sotto voce, “Don’t tell anyone. I agree with you. But no.” Friends have urged me not to publish it under my own name, vividly describing the mob that will tear me from limb to limb and leave the dingoes to pick over my flesh. It says something, doesn’t it, that I’ve been more hesitant to speak about this than I’ve been of getting on the wrong side of the mafia, al-Qaeda, or the Kremlin?

But speak I must. It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.

Again, I want to emphasize that I disagree with some of Berlinski’s arguments; nevertheless, her article is worth reading. As I said before, I’m afraid the “Me Too” movement is going to end up backfiring on women.

In political news, Roy Moore refuses to go away. David Wiegel reports: Roy Moore asks Alabama court for a new Senate election.

Roy Moore, the Republican nominee who lost Alabama’s closely watched Senate race this month, has filed a last-minute legal complaint alleging “election fraud” and asking the state not to confirm the victory of Democrat Doug Jones.

In the complaint filed in state court, Moore’s campaign argues that Alabama “will suffer irreparable harm if the election results are certified without preserving and investigating all the evidence of potential fraud.” It cites rumors of election fraud that have already been investigated and refuted by the Alabama secretary of state, argues that high Democratic turnout in key areas was statistically unlikely, and reports that Moore himself has taken a polygraph test — an attempt to disprove allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances on teenagers when he was in his 30s.

Moore’s lawyers filed the complaint at 10:33 p.m. Wednesday night and announced it to reporters less than two hours later. At 1 p.m. Thursday, Alabama’s election officials — all Republicans — are scheduled to certify the election. Early Thursday morning, they gave no indication that they would delay that process. In Washington, leaders of both parties expect Jones to take his oath of office when the Senate returns next month.

This is the man the dotard insisted on supporting in the Alabama special Senate election.

Last night, we learned that Trump and his gang plan to paint Michael Flynn as a liar if he testifies that Trump or his gang “engaged in wrongdoing.”  A liar calling another liar a liar doesn’t sound like a very convincing defense. Plus the dotard swore again and again that Flynn was a fine man who was treated unfairly.

New York Magazine: If Flynn Is Just a Liar, Why Did Trump Keep Defending Him?

As we’ve seen with Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos, Trump’s default position is to downplay his relationship with any former associates who happen to be indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. However, it’s harder to distance yourself from a former top White House official who memorably led a “lock her up” chant on the first night of your nominating convention.

The leniency of Flynn’s plea agreement suggests that he’s promised Mueller’s team valuable information, so Trump’s team has come up with another strategy. The Washington Postreports: “President Trump’s legal team plans to cast former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn as a liar seeking to protect himself if he accuses the president or his senior aides of any wrongdoing, according to three people familiar with the strategy.” As one person working on the plan put it, “He’s said it himself: He’s a liar.”

Who are you going to believe, an admitted liar or the president of the United States? sounds like a logical defense until you plug in what we know about this particular president, and his relationship with the liar in question. Aside from the hypocrisy of Trump attacking anyone for misstating the truth, the plan revives questions about why the president went out of his way to defend Flynn, even after he fired him for lying.

In the days after Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation, he said he had to go because he misled Vice-President Mike Pence about his conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. However, Trump argued that by making those calls Flynn was just “doing his job,” and stressed that he still considered him a man of fine character.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. I know there’s lots more news, but I’m ignoring it for the moment. What stories are you following?

 


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 about the sales marketing automation. 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?

 


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.

ctpyn2wxyaagvwd

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.

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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.

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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?