Thursday Reads: If Only We Had A Woman President

With the forecast calling for heavy snow, there were plenty of parking spots available, as well as very light traffic, so much so that a pedestrian could cross the street unimpeded on Beacon Street at 5:45 p.m., normally the height of rush hour. –Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Good Morning!!

The snowpocalypse never materialized in Boston, after we were told to expect up to 14 inches of the white stuff. I know it was bad in some places to the south of us. But not to worry, there’s another snow event coming this weekend. Meteorologist David Epstein explains:

I can tell you with a lot of certainty that it’s very frustrating for any meteorologist to miss a forecast, but it’s also humbling. It’s just a fact of the matter: The atmosphere is incredibly complicated and always will be.

Meteorologically, the storm never really got its act together because too much dry air ate away at the precipitation shield on the northern and western flank.

Whatever that means.

Of course, there are always computer models that we all use to guide us, but frankly, their performance hasn’t been as good in the past few weeks.

Although the models successfully understood a storm would form, they did a poor job of placing the precipitation within the storm. I suspect the unusual blocking pattern that we are in is throwing the models for a loop.

While the European model did a better job forecasting this system than other models, it also was way overdone. But in other recent storms, other models have outperformed the Euro, so it’s dangerous to just follow one model.

For example, if we had believed the NAM model on Wednesday morning, we would have forecast 10 to 15 inches of snow in Boston. This model accurately predicted the amount of snow seen in New York, but it arced the precipitation band way too far to the northwest.

Weather nerds (Dakinikat) can read the rest at The Boston Globe. The good news for us is that we didn’t get a lot more snow added to what was already on the ground. Now we look ahead to the next storm and hope for the weather trend to become more springlike soon.

At least the weather provides a distraction from the ongoing nightmare of the Trump “presidency.” The news of Trump family corruption is coming thick and fast these days; but before I get to some of that, here’s another distraction: two annoying old white men threatening to beat each other up.

Creepy Uncle Joe

ABC News: Biden says he would have ‘beat the hell out’ of Trump in high school for disrespecting women.

Former Vice President Joe Biden took fresh jabs at President Donald Trump on Tuesday while speaking at an anti-sexual assault rally, telling students at the University of Miami that he probably would have “beat the hell out” of Trump if they’d attended school together.

“A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'” Biden said. “They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said ‘no.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'”

“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life,” Biden continued. “I’m a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room.”

Naturally Trump responded on Twitter.

The Washington Post: Septuagenarian smackdown? Trump, Biden trade fighting words.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are in a rhetorical smackdown over who could clean the other’s clock in a brawl.

Biden, 75, made similar comments in the closing days of the 2016 campaign. He has kept open the possibility of a 2020 bid for president and is gearing up to play a big role campaigning for Democrats running in this year’s midterm elections.

Trump, 71, dismissed the prospect of a Biden run recently at the annual Gridiron Dinner with Washington journalists, calling him “Sleepy Joe” and saying he could “kick his ass.” Trump also attacked Biden on Twitter in 2016, calling him “Our not very bright Vice President.”

This is just plain embarrassing. Connor Friedersdorf reacts to Trump’s “bluster” at The Atlantic: 

Donald Trump is an undignified lout who cannot master his own emotions enough to be anything better….

No recent president would’ve publicly degraded himself in this manner. Neither would a teenager of slightly above-average maturity. Yet Trump is unembarrassed, and unapologetic, for the damage he does to America’s reputation.

Americans have grown used to conduct of this sort because Trump engages in it so often. But bygone generations would be appalled by how he comports himself. And every instance of such behavior causes the world to look upon the U.S. the same way that most Americans look upon the real housewives of New Jersey.

Frankly, Biden isn’t much better. Why, oh why couldn’t we have a woman president? Speaking of which, did you see this exchange on Twitter yesterday? People were attacking a woman writer, Roxanne Gay–what else is new?–because she tweeted that Justice League was a bad movie. She responded:

The attacks continued. But guess who really liked that tweet?

The attackers didn’t like Gay’s response to that either.

Yes, people really did try to explain to her that Hillary isn’t president. Sigh . . . being a famous woman is really hard. Misogyny is utterly pervasive in this country.

Hillary’s former communications director Jennifer Palmieri has a new book coming out: Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World. Time Magazine has an excerpt: Inside the Last Days of the Hillary Clinton Campaign.

It’s the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 9. We are at the New Yorker Hotel and Hillary has just finished her concession speech. I decide to just nod and smile wistfully when supporters and reporters, men and women alike, laud Hillary’s concession speech. “Where was ‘this Hillary’ during the campaign?” they would lament. “Why didn’t we see this side of her when it mattered?”

Yes, I am sure you loved her concession speech, I thought to myself. Because that’s what you think is acceptable for a woman to do — concede.

Not just the right wing media . . .

Had I never left the Obama White House to be part of the campaign, I am sure I would have asked the same question. I probably would have printed out the transcript of her remarks, and pored over them, trying to isolate the essence of what she had said that made this speech so much more appealing than anything she had said during the campaign. And I wouldn’t have found it. Because I needed to have the experience of working for a female presidential candidate to understand that why we liked “this Hillary” so much better than “candidate Hillary.” Fundamentally it wasn’t about the words she used in her concession speech but what she represented. She was no longer a woman pushing to be president. She was a gracious loser putting the needs of her country above her own. It was the role of Hillary as an ambitious candidate that troubled us.

We think a woman shines best when she is selflessly putting others’ interest above her own. It is more flattering than seeking her own spotlight.

I have to tell you that when I first joined Hillary’s campaign, I didn’t think it was going to be that hard or even that big of a deal to elect the first woman president. Let’s just say after having gone through this campaign, I have a different perspective.

Read the rest at the link.

Now let’s turn to the latest Trump administration scandals. This time it’s Jared Kushner in the Spotlight.

The Intercept: Saudi Crown Prince Boasted That Jared Kushner Was “In His Pocket.”

We’ve all heard about how Jared has been reading all that classified information in the PDB–the president’s daily brief. Well it looks like he may have shared some of it with his pal Mohammed bin Salman.

In June, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and took his place as next in line to the throne, upending the established line of succession. In the months that followed, the President’s Daily Brief contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to the crown prince’s power grab, according to the former White House official and two U.S. government officials with knowledge of the report. Like many others interviewed for this story, they declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters to the press.

In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time.

What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so….

On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown. The Saudi government arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoned them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which was first reported in English by The Intercept. The Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief were among those rounded up; at least one was reportedly tortured.

Read the rest at The Intercept.

The New York Times: How 2 Gulf Monarchies Sought to Influence the White House.

A cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation worked for more than a year to turn a top Trump fund-raiser into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to interviews and previously undisclosed documents.

Hundreds of pages of correspondence between the two men reveal an active effort to cultivate President Trump on behalf of the two oil-rich Arab monarchies, both close American allies.

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

High on the agenda of the two men — George Nader, a political adviser to the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., and Elliott Broidy, the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee — was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar and repeatedly pressing the president to meet privately outside the White House with the leader of the U.A.E.

Mr. Tillerson was fired last week, and the president has adopted tough approaches toward both Iran and Qatar.

A bit more from the NYT piece:

Mr. Nader tempted the fund-raiser, Mr. Broidy, with the prospect of more than $1 billion in contracts for his private security company, Circinus, and he helped deliver deals worth more than $200 million with the United Arab Emirates. He also flattered Mr. Broidy about “how well you handle Chairman,” a reference to Mr. Trump, and repeated to his well-connected friend that he told the effective rulers of both Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. about “the Pivotal Indispensable Magical Role you are playing

George Nader with Trump

to help them.”

Mr. Nader’s cultivation of Mr. Broidy, laid out in documents provided to The New York Times, provides a case study in the way two Persian Gulf monarchies have sought to gain influence inside the Trump White House. Mr. Nader has been granted immunity in a deal for his cooperation with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to people familiar with the matter, and his relationship with Mr. Broidy may also offer clues to the direction of that inquiry.

Mr. Nader has now been called back from abroad to provide additional testimony, one person familiar with the matter said this week. Mr. Mueller’s investigators have already asked witnesses about Mr. Nader’s contacts with top Trump administration officials and about his possible role in funneling Emirati money to Mr. Trump’s political efforts, a sign that the investigation has broadened to examine the role of foreign money in the Trump administration.

The documents contain evidence not previously reported that Mr. Nader also held himself out as intermediary for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who met with Mr. Trump on Tuesday in the Oval Office at the beginning of a tour of the United States to meet with political and business leaders.

Rachel Maddow talked about this story at length last night, and she said the Special Counsel has called Nader back from abroad. But The Daily Mail is claims that Nader has fled: EXCLUSIVE: Mueller probe witness who met Jared Kushner and was ‘best friends’ with Steve Bannon flees the country after being revealed as a pedophile. Summary of the story:

  • Robert Mueller co-operating witness George Nader has  fled the United States for the United Arab Emirates, DailyMail.com reveals
  • Nader, a convicted pedophile, was allegedly a paid adviser for the UAE’s de facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayef and had close ties to the Trump administration
  • He has been interviewed twice by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign
  • The Lebanese-born adviser was first stopped when he flew into Washington in January on his way to visit Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort
  • Nader has been cooperating with investigators following the stop and his lawyer said he ‘truthfully answered questions’
  • Investigators are interested in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between bin Zayef, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon which Nader was at and may have brokered
  • They also want to about a meeting he was at in the Seychelles, attended by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and UAE’s de-facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayed

One more Kushner scandal from the AP: NYC agency investigating more than a dozen Kushner buildings.

New York City’s buildings regulator launched investigations at more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties Wednesday following an Associated Press report that the real estate developer routinely filed false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings across the city.

The Department of Buildings is investigating possible “illegal activity” involving applications that sought permission to begin construction work at 13 of the developer’s buildings, according to public records maintained by the regulator. The AP reported Sunday that Kushner Cos. stated in more than 80 permit applications that it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings when it, in fact, had hundreds.

The false filings were made while Kushner Cos. was run by Jared Kushner, now senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. The false filings were all signed by a Kushner employee, sometimes by its chief operating officer. None were signed by Jared Kushner himself.

The false documents allowed the Kushner Cos. to escape extra scrutiny during construction at 34 of its buildings, many which showed a sharp decline in rent-regulated units following the work. Housing Rights Initiative, a watchdog group that uncovered the false filings, says that made it easier for the Kushner Cos. to harass the low-paying, rent-regulated tenants so they would leave, freeing up apartments for higher-paying tenants.

The Kushner Cos. said Wednesday that it is the victim of “politically motivated attacks.” It said it values and respects its tenants and operates under “the highest legal and ethical standards.”

I wonder if Jared and Ivanka are beginning to wish that Hillary had won?

There are more Trump scandals, but I have to wrap this up. What stories are you following?