Culture & Education & Religion

Details Of Another Trump Affair Shows How Trump Attempts To Keep His Transgressions Secret

A report out from the New Yorker Friday morning about President Donald Trump’s alleged affair with model Karen McDougal more than a decade ago shows how Trump’s allies paid women who had affairs with him to stay silent.

Trump and McDougal began an affair in 2006 after he met her at a party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, where he taped an episode of “The Apprentice,” according to notes about their relationship the New Yorker obtained from McDougal.

McDougal’s account of her affair with Trump is strikingly similar to reports about Trump’s affair with porn star Stephanie Clifford, who uses the screen name Stormy Daniels.

According to McDougal’s and Clifford’s accounts, Trump pursued both women while married to Melania Trump, and both women met up with him in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. (Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos alleged in 2016 that Trump inappropriately kissed and groped her at the same hotel years earlier.)

His allies also arranged payments to both McDougal and Clifford in exchange for their silence, according to reports, and the same lawyer — Keith Davidson — represented both women.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen paid Clifford $130,000 as part of an agreement for her to keep quiet about her relationship with Trump. Cohen on Wednesday confirmed that he made a payment in that amount to Clifford, though he would not say why.

According to the New Yorker’s report, American Media, Inc. (AMI), the company that owns the Trump-friendly National Enquirer, purchased the rights to McDougal’s story — for $150,000, as the Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 — but has yet to run her account.

McDougal told the New Yorker that Davidson represented her when she sold the rights to her story to AMI, and said he encouraged her to sign the deal. McDougal said that she now regrets signing the contract, in which AMI promised to feature her on two covers and publish regular columns by McDougal about fitness.

“It took my rights away,” she told the New Yorker. “At this point I feel I can’t talk about anything without getting into trouble, because I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about. I’m afraid to even mention his name.”

McDougal said that she did not fully understand the contract when she signed it. According to emails obtained by the New Yorker, Davidson pushed her to sign the deal to get things “wrapped up.” She also told the New Yorker that AMI has not upheld its commitment to publish her columns regularly, though AMI contended that McDougal did not submit the promised columns.

Trump has denied that he had an affair with either woman. A White House official in January told the Wall Street Journal that allegations of an affair between Trump and Clifford were “old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.” Cohen in January also said that Trump “vehemently” denied having a sexual relationship with Clifford.

A White House spokesperson told the New Yorker that McDougal’s account was “fake news,” and said, “The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal.”

Read the New Yorker’s full report here.

High School Shooting: The Aftermath

I feel like I can go back to the last mass shooting and cut and paste. With 17 dead (so far), the “day after” talk surrounding yesterday’s shooting is all too predictable.

We learn about heroes:

We learn details:

And graphic video [WARNING] —

And more about the killer, like he was adopted at birth by a kindly older couple…. and:

He had been getting treatment at a mental health clinic, but he had stopped. He had been expelled from school for disciplinary problems. Many of his acquaintances had cut ties in part because of his unnerving Instagram posts and reports that he liked shooting animals. His father died a few years ago, and his mother, among the only people with whom he was close, died around Thanksgiving. He was living at a friend’s house. He was showing signs of depression.

And the finger-pointing starts.  The left and reasonable rightly say this is an issue of gun control.  Why?  Because this doesn’t happen in other countries.  Other countries have mentally disturbed people.  Other countries have terrorists.  But other countries make it hard — or near impossible — to get a weapon of mass destruction, like the AR-15 used in so many mass shootings.  It is easier to get one of those than it is to get a driver’s license.

And the right — they are playing defense. Some are saying we need armed police in schools — except Stoneman Douglas High School had one.  He didn’t see or hear anything until the shooting started.

And it looks like the right has picked out, among others, their fall guy — their favorite punching bag of this administration, the FBI.  It comes from Buzzfeed, which reports this:

Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman and frequent YouTube vlogger noticed an alarming comment left on one of his videos. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said a user named Nikolas Cruz.

The YouTuber, 36-year-old Ben Bennight, alerted the FBI, emailing a screenshot of the comment and calling the bureau’s Mississippi field office. He also flagged the comment to YouTube, which removed it from the video.

Agents with the bureau’s Mississippi field office got back to him “immediately,” Bennight said, and conducted an in-person interview the following day, on Sept. 25.

“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”

And the President weighed in this morning with this:

And that prompted none other than Donald Trump Jr to like a tweet criticizing the FBI:

So clearly, the fault lies with the FBI and the people who failed to report him.

Trump’s tweet, I am happy say, is not enjoying as many “likes” as he usually gets. A tweet about DACA sent out at the same time got twice as many likes.

As for others on the right, they urge caution

In any event, the left is once again raising the issue about how our GOP politicians are beholden to the NRA, including Trump himself.

Here’s what the NRA posted on Instagram on Valentine’s Day, just hours before the shooting. It has not been taken down:

… and in two days, we will have moved on.

UPDATE:

This changes things. He was a domestic terrorist (in my eyes), having trained with a white supremacist group.

The group is known as the Republic of Florida. Here is their website (although I suspect it will be taken down soon). They claim no involvement in the shooting.  From their FAQ page (spelling errors are theirs):

What is your organization about? What does it do? 

We are a white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics, And the ultimate creation of a white ethnostate so we can be free from anti-white policies and have policies that reflect our values as white westerners.

Our current short-term goals are to occupy urban areas to recruit suburban young whites, Then to “Withdrawal” into majority white urban areas to create communes, While maintaining a permanent small presence.

Long term, Our towns will become our ethnostates. Were not going to ask permission from the estableshemnt to have our territorial imparrative!

Are you a hate group? Do you hate minorities? 

Considering we are minorities ourselves statistically in most cases, No we do not hate minorities.  Noting the spirit of the question, No. We don’t hate people who are not white. We have done business with many people who are not white and work with people who are nonwhite in our communities toward our ultimate goals. Ironically, Black people are very often a lot more accepting of our beliefs than white liberals. 

How would you summarize your outlook on history? 

ROFHARDTIMES

History is filled with conquest and struggle. If we come out on top of that struggle, We need to fell guilty about it.

Republic Of Florida is a Militia?

Republic Of Florida is an organization that has a militia, Just as the United States is a nation with an army. Not everyone in the ROF is required to be part of paramilitary training, However, Everyone is encouraged to arm themselves.

Republic Of Florida is to United States Of America

ROF Militia is to US Army.

Thinking of “ROF Militia” And “Republic Of Florida” As the same thing, is erroneous.

How can I get an ROF Flag?

First, Lets show you a picture of what an actual ROF Flag looks like:

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This is not to be confused with the Bonnie Blue, Which a flag that virtually every secessionist, And less-dedicated ROF members, Are sure to own.

Owning an authentic ROF flag is a sign of an extremely loyal member of an ROF cell; The reason being is they require dedication and sacrifice simply to produce them, Which means they were obtained for either 2 reasons:

  1. They made the ROF flag with knowledge on how to make them, And with financial willingness to spend the money required to make them.
  2. Were given the ROF flag by someone else who footed the bill, As a reward for that members dedication.

A genuine ROF Flag is very expensive to produce and made to rugged specifications. There is no website you go to to buy an ROF flag. There is however methods of creating them that you can learn if you are part of ROF, Or are creating an ROF cell. Several private companies have assisted us in the creation of our flags, Which are made out of the finest of thick yet light, Durable poly-cotton materials. ROF Flags

So if you want an ROF flag, You either have to know how to make it, Or be given one, Which is a major honor.

PhiR79JodyM

What does the ROF Flag Represent?

The white field represents purity/the white race, The St. Andrews cross is a symbol of our ancestors and the symbol of the cross of Burgundy used in the FL state flag, Which is part of Florida’s rich heritage. The blue represents the oceans surrounding our state, The righteousness of our cause, and a government that cares about the health and well being of the people.  The white star represents our independence and our freedom.

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It should be noted that different ROF flags carry different meanings.

Does ROF do anything positive in the community?

During hurricane IRMA, We passed out free water and food while Amazon.com charged +20$ for bottled water. The store shelves were EMPTY. We passed out these supplies to all colors and creeds, Albeit in a majority white area. 

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We do numerous positive non-partisan activities that help our communities:

The ROF Militia is on the front lines during hurricanes and natural disasters making sure people are properly cared for in the aftermath, And helping preparations before the storm.

We pass out water in the hottest days of the year, And educate people on the importance of hydration

We patrol the streets at night to combat crime- This mostly involves observing and reporting to local authorities, Unless we witness forcible felonies of certain types where we feel intervention is necessary to prevent great bodily injury or loss of life, or if children or elderly are in danger.

Can a nonwhite join ROF?

In theory, Yes. Ask your local company captain/Cell coordinator if he will allow it. This wont give you a free pass to race mix, And you would be fighting for segregated communities for racial self-determination. If this sounds like you- Then Join ROF; Regardless of what your racial background is.

Are you a Christian Organization?

Technically, Per amendments to the late 1990’s conventions, We are a Christian Organization that makes an exception for a few Odinists. Now in 2017 almost half of ROF is Odinists. If following ROF doctrine to exact spec from the late 1990’s/Early 2000’s, No other organizations are allowed. But no religious belief is outlawed by the 10 codes as of 2017.

Is Islam Compatible with ROF?

No. Islam is not a religion in the traditional sense, It is closer to a military doctrine than a religion, And its values are counter-intuitive to the belief systems of ROF. Islam is a serious threat to western civilization And an enemy of ROF and the Floridian people.

Are the uniforms US Army uniforms?

This is usually a loaded question asked by a childish person whom is attempting to accuse us of “Stolen Valor”. Its a “Power play”, Among many, that helpless childish nihilists use when they have no argument and when they are unable to stop us from operating. Needless to say in 2017, Almost none of our uniforms look that much like US Amry uniforms, And are easily identifiable as ROF uniforms.

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None of the well known ROF companies in North Florida use multicam as of late 2017.

Our pre-2017 uniforms are not, And never were, “Stolen valor” The were purchased from private companies. And if they ever were US Army uniforms, They ceased to be US Army Uniforms the moment we took the American Flag patches off and replaced them with ROF patches. We actually wore the multicam camoflage pattern before the US Army Adopted OCP, Which is their version of Multicam. Technically in a strange way that isn’t worth arguing about, The US Army is “Stealing our valor”, Which is very very Ironic considering people accuse ROF of “Stealing Valor”. Tactical Uniforms/Equipment are tools. They are not substitutes for courage, They are not playtoys. They are tools of utility and concealment.

Stolen valor is the impersonation of a military unit. We are not impersonating the ROF, We are the ROF.

Don’t you find your goals to be a bit absurd and Impossible? Aren’t you traitors to America? 

Culteral marxism was looked at as “Absured” 40 years ago, But is the law of the land in US politics today.

History is filled with groups like the ROF who were laughed at in the early days. There was a time when the idea of the the colonies becoming the United States (Which really wasn’t supposed to be one country by the way, It was supposed to be a union of nation states) Seemed crazy, And seemed like total treason against the British government. Now we celebrate this “treason” and call it patriotism every 4th of July.  Yet for us having this exact same mindset, And wanting to be truly free and have taxation with representation, Just as the founding fathers of the actual U.S. did, We get called traitors. You people calling us traitors must be the ancestors of the redcoats and loyalists of that time.

I heard X about your organization, And the X Organization/Individual said this about your organization.

A wise man believes none of what he hears and half of what he sees.

99% Of people who talk about ROF, media or not, Are simply not qualified to talk about ROF. There are even people in ROF who are not necessarily qualified. If it did not come from ROF doctrine, Then it doesn’t represent the belief systems of ROF. People outside of ROF do not get to decide on our behalf what our organization is about. That isn’t how this works.

Why are your members taking over hotel buildings and meeting with government officials?

Please understand that anybody can start a blog and start throwing out random “Facts” about ROF, About how we are having a “Right Wing Bilderberg”, About how our female members are somehow sex slaves that have no rights bla bla bla.

You have female members? Are they considered equals?

They are considered equally important, But we do not pretend that women are the same as men. Women are biologically different, And thus usually are committed to tasks that are different within ROF. We teach them defensive tactics rather than offensive ones. Women shouldn’t be on the front lines of combat. Women simply are not built for combat. You can use a shovel as a hammer, But its still the wrong tool for the job- Likewise, we biologically are suited toward different jobs.  The social engineers and feminists, Who by the way are miserable young gals with absolutely no direction in their life, find that gender roles are part of some oppressive patriarchal conspiracy to oppress women. The reality is men and women love eachother and work with eachother and raise families together. If that is a conspiracy it is one we are glad to be a part of.

Seems like a lot more men than women.

We have almost 4 women per every 10 men. A little under 40% of our membership is female. That is almost unheard of in right wing political organizations. Our male to female ratio very often surpasses the left wing groups.

Do ROF’s do drugs?

Those whom are in ROF Cells, Or living an ROF lifestyle, Are permitted from the recreational use of drugs. 10 codes, Code #4 says:
I will not poison myself with the misuse of chemical substances. Chemical substances have their place, But they should only be used medicinally. Drug abuse is the number one obstacle to the recruiting of the young in our society.

The definition of “Medicinal use” is a subject of fierce debate. Some ROF’s claim marijuana is a good treatment for stress and headaches. It also is a subject of debate where alcohol falls into this code.

Are you guys violent?

The short answer: Yes. 

Marxists

Many of us are involved in paramilitary training, and we are well aware of FL Statutes 776. We will stand our ground against all who attack us. Those who attack us better know what they are doing.  If your a military aged man and we believe you can cause us great bodily harm, We will do everything in our power to make you no longer be a threat, Which will probably involve us killing or hospitalizing you. Best bet is to fight us with your words if you disagree with us. But if you want to get violent and put your hands on us, That works in our favor. We can always use practice.

We will use all tools at our disposal to advance our objectives, But our first priority is to exercise what rights we have under the law.

What if a member of the press wants to contact you?

We have a 24 Hour Hotline 561-463-2713 

RROFrecruiter@Gmail.com – The same for as for recruitment inquiries. We have a lot of press organizations contacting us, And we reserve the right to deny any press organization an interview.

We did have a facebook page before Facebook decided that our advocating our own right to exist and have a territorial imperative was forbidden thought.

Do you support Trump?

We do not have any desire to be part of the United States, And want our own country, And do not support the federal government running our affairs, So we are unwilling to enter into a discussion on if we “Support” Trump, Because we don’t support the government he is in charge of.

Isn’t Jordan Jereb a crazy nutball? How the hell is he the leader of ROF?

Its quite simple; Jereb is not the leader of ROF. He is the leader of a single cell of ROF, A cell that has become successful and popular, And through Jereb’s knowledge of community organizing, Multimedia, The internet, Has created the most visible ROF related activity on the internet. There are many ROF cells that do not advertise themselves on the internet, Some actually hate Jereb, Some even believe Jereb is a provocateur who has ruined ROF. People who say “Jereb is the leader of ROF.” Simply have not done their research.

This will be updated as more frequently asked questions are asked. 

Knives Are Out For Chief Of Staff John Kelly, They Say

The media seems to be in a frenzy about the Rob Porter-wife beating scandal, as the White House enters Day 7 of being unable to explain the timeline of events about Porter’s firing, and why he was allowed to stay on as the right-hand man to President Trump even though he couldn’t get a security clearance.

To recap….. Rob Porter, Trump’s staff secretary, who has since resigned, was accused earlier this month of abusing both Colbie Holderness and Jennie Willoughby. Holderness, Porter’s first wife, said she was punched in the face by Porter in 2005 and shared photos of the black eye with CNN and other outlets. In an extensive interview last week, Holderness said Porter repeatedly choked her and threw her on the bed while putting his body weight on her using a limb. She revealed that she did not realize the severity of the situation until years into the marriage, when a trained counselor told her Porter’s behavior was unacceptable. Porter denies these claims.

But as I say, the continued mishandling of the Porter matter is what is plaguing the White House now.

Here — based on CNN’s reporting from more than a dozen sources with knowledge of the Porter fallout and public statements made by top Trump officials — is what Trump’s team actually knew when they were trying to clean up the Porter controversy:

Tuesday, February 6

What happened: The Daily Mail publishes its first report on the allegations leveled by staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennie Willoughby, at 7:09 p.m. The ex-wives allege physical and emotional abuse, but no photos of the abuse are published in the news article.

What the White House said: White House chief of staff John Kelly tells the Daily Mail that Porter “is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tells the outlet that Porter is “someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character.”

What they actually knew:  Top White House aides knew this story was coming and many — including communications director Hope Hicks and Kelly — worked to prepare a response to the story before it was published. But even though Kelly and Sanders lauded Porter, the White House had months earlier received both Porter’s partial and full background investigation, FBI Director Chris Wray told senators on Tuesday. Wray said the partial report was sent to the White House in March, while the full report was completed in July.

Additionally, CNN has reported previously that it was widely known among Trump’s top aides — including Kelly — both that Porter was facing troubles in obtaining the security clearance and that his ex-wives claimed he had abused them. Kelly took no action on this information and, instead, saw that Porter’s standing inside the White House was elevated.

And Porter told White House counsel Don McGahn in early 2017 that his background check could include derogatory information from the ex-wives, Holderness and Willoughby.

Wednesday, February 7

What happened: Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief for The Intercept, tweets a photo of Holderness’ black eye, which she says Porter caused while on vacation in Florence, Italy. The photos were tweeted at 1:53 a.m., marking the first time the disturbing photos were made public.

What the White House said:  The photos sent the White House scrambling, even as some top officials remained staunch supporters of Porter. The Daily Mail then published another story — with the photos — at 10:47 a.m.

Sanders, less than 24 hours after issuing a glowing statement about Porter, announces at the afternoon press briefing that Porter had resigned, but that his departure “won’t be immediate.”

Sanders — at a briefing that started at 1:32p ET — maintains that “Rob has been effective in his role as staff secretary, and the President and chief of staff have had full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance.”

Sanders reads a statement from Porter that includes a forceful denial: “These outrageous allegations are simply false.”

Kelly did not revise his glowing statement of Porter until 9:28 p.m., when he issued a new statement that said he was “shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter.” The statement includes a condemnation of domestic violence — “There is no place for domestic violence in our society” — but Kelly continues to stand by his previously positive comments about Porter.

Kelly would later say that it took only 40 minutes for him to see the photos and get Porter out.

What they actually knew: By this point, the White House had seen the photos and was well aware of the gravity, but Porter, who had resigned, was allowed to stay on at the White House until a successor could be named.

Though Kelly would later claim that it took him less than an hour to take action on Porter, it took him close to 24 hours to revise the glowing statement he issued about the now-departed Trump aide — and Porter was not dismissed immediately in light of the photos.

Additionally, Porter sat down for an interview with the FBI in the fall of 2017 and the domestic abuse allegations against him were brought up. After the interview, Porter provided more detail to McGahn about what his ex-wives are claiming, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

McGahn later learned in September, the source said, that the domestic violence allegations against Porter were causing his full security clearance to be delayed.

Thursday, February 8

What happened: White House spokesman Raj Shah, filling in for Sanders, declines to get into details about how much Kelly knew about the allegations and when he first learned of them. “He became fully aware of these allegations yesterday. I am not going to get into the specifics of who may have known,” Shah said.

What the White House said:  At the White House briefing that started at 3:40 p.m., Shah announced that Porter’s last day at the White House was Wednesday — despite the initial plan for him to stay on to find a replacement — and that he cleaned out his desk on Thursday morning. Shah also claimed that Porter’s background investigation “was ongoing” when he resigned.

What they actually knew: Wray’s testimony on February 13 undercut Shah’s claim that Porter’s background check was “ongoing” when he resigned.

Wray told senators that the FBI delivered its final report on Porter in July and closed its file on the aide in January, well before the White House claimed to have first learned of the gravity of the allegations against Porter.

Friday, February 9

What happened: During a regular morning meeting on Friday, Kelly tells aides that he was responsible for securing Porter’s decision to step down from his position and claims he took action within 40 minutes of seeing the photos that had surfaced overnight showing one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye.

The timeline Kelly provided is countered by how top White House aides acted on Wednesday.

What the White House said: Trump, during a meeting in the Oval Office with a supporter, makes his first on-camera statement about Rob Porter around 1p.m. ET:

“We wish him well, he worked very hard. I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well. It’s obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he’s also very sad now. Now he also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you’ll have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well, he did a very good job when he was at the White House.”

What they actually knew: Trump’s claim that he “found out about it recently” is undercut by a wealth of reporting that shows the FBI informed the White House about its concerns regarding Porter, including information that it obtained during interviews with his ex-wives.

In March 2017, when the FBI delivered its first report about Porter to the White House, the FBI flagged concerns over Porter’s clearance, according to two law enforcement officials.

And Kelly’s claim that it took him only 40 minutes after seeing the photos on Wednesday to force Porter’s resignation is also untrue, given the facts known. Porter was initially expected to stay on until a successor was found — a process that could have taken weeks — and Kelly left his glowing statement about Porter unedited for nearly 20 hours after the photos were first published on Twitter.

Saturday, February 10

What happened: Trump laments — via a tweet at 10:33 a.m. — that people’s “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” an apparent reference to Porter.

What they actually knew: By Saturday, Trump’s top aides were aware of the details and the seriousness with which the FBI and others had treated the allegations against Porter.

Trump, though, decided not to mention victims of domestic assault in his tweet, and instead focused on people like Porter, whose “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

Sanders said on February 12 that “the President and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously, and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly. Above all, the President supports victims of domestic violence and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.”

Sunday, February 11

What the White House said: Marc Short, Trump’s top legislative aide, tells NBC that the White House “had not received a final investigation” when Porter resigned. “The FBI has the ongoing investigations,” Short says. “They have not completed that investigation.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway adds that Trump is “very disturbed” by the allegations against Porter. “I think he’s very disappointed,” she tells CNN. “I think he believes that the resignation was appropriate.”

What they actually knew: Wray told the Senate on February 13 that the background investigation into Porter was, in fact, complete well before Porter resigned.

He told the senators that the FBI completed its background investigation in late July. He also said that the FBI was asked for follow up information on Porter in November and closed the file on Porter in January.

And though Conway said Trump was supportive of Porter stepping down, his tweet one day earlier seemingly expressed sympathy for Porter.

Monday, February 12

What the White House said: Sanders, again, declines to answer key questions about how the White House handled allegations against Porter, but she does claim that the White House “learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening.”

“We learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening,” she said. “And within 24 hours his resignation had been accepted and announced.”

What they actually knew: Wray’s testimony on February 13 calls Sanders’ claim into question. The FBI says it informed the White House about its concerns regarding Porter in March and later in July.

Additionally, around Thanksgiving, Porter’s ex-girlfriend called McGahn to express concerns about his romantic relationship with Hope Hicks and detailed the ex-wives’ abuse allegations.

And McGahn was told by the White House Security Office in November 2017 that there are “domestic issues” in Porter’s background, according to a source familiar with the matter. Kelly and deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin were also made aware of the domestic issues, the source said, but the White House contends that the “full nature” of the allegations did not come out until later.

Tuesday, February 13

What happened: Wray, in brief comments about Porter before the Senate Intelligence Committee, contradicts the White House’s suggestion that the delay in processing Porter’s security clearance was with the FBI.

What the White House said: Wray’s comments meant Sanders would have to change her story, so on Tuesday, she admitted that the FBI did complete their investigation. But, she added, the White House Personnel Security office — which Sanders said was staffed by “career officials” — “had not completed their process” on Porter yet.

What they actually knew: This directly contradicts what Sanders said 24 hours earlier, when she looked to blame the FBI for the backlog in security clearances. “Look, this is a process that doesn’t operate within the White House,” Sanders said. “It’s handled by our law enforcement and intelligence community.”

Which brings us to today. Clearly, it looks like Chief of Staff Kelly was protecting Porter for a long time, and his story is belied by Wray’s testimony yesterday. On top of that, a number of White House officials appear to have blabbed to reporters about what a mess Kelly has made of things. Wray’s FBI timeline makes one thing clear: the Kelly coverup is unraveling right before our eyes.

It’s so bad that CNN has an article up speculating about Kelly’s successor:

While the source said there was no indication on Friday that Trump would ask Kelly to resign over the matter, another source told CNN’s Gloria Borger that Trump has been asking friends and associates over the phone about various potential replacements for the chief of staff position.
Those would-be candidates include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows. Chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and CIA Director Mike Pompeo could also be on the list of potential replacements.

I don’t know. The decision is Trump’s and the reports that he wants Kelly out seems thin. Trump respects and is in awe of the military. Besides, we’ve learned that Kelly is very much like Trump, right down to the racism and sexism.

Maybe the Senate inquiry might push Trump to do something.  This came from Trey Gowdy yesterday.

You really have to laugh — and cry — when you recall that Trump was the one who said he would drain the swamp in DC.

Speaking Of Sex Scandals…

While we wait for the doors to blow wide open on the Trump-Daniels sex scandal (IF they blow open, that is), let’s chew on this:

Casino mogul and Republican National Committee (RNC) finance chair Steve Wynn is facing accusations of sexual misconduct, including that he forced a woman to have sex with him in 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Wynn, who was named an RNC official after President Trump’s inauguration, allegedly committed acts of sexual misconduct for decades, and would pressure some employees to take part in sex acts.

The Journal reported that Wynn reached a $7.5 million settlement with a manicurist who worked at his Wynn Las Vegas property after he forced her to have sex with him.

She returned from his office upset and told her colleagues about the incident, according to The Journal.
The settlement was referred to in a lawsuit filed by Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine.

Wynn denied the allegations in a statement to The Journal.

“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous. We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation,” Wynn said.

The mogul also said that “the instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement.”

Elaine Wynn’s lawyer told the Journal that the claim that she instigated the reporting “is just not true.”

This appears to be part of a decades-long pattern. The WSJ contacted over 150 current and former employees of Wynn. The majority of those who spoke worried that talking to the media would hurt their job opportunities, citing Wynn’s vast and powerful influence throughout Nevada and the casino industry.

Nevertheless, shares of Wynn Resorts have dropped 6 percent in trading since the story broke a couple hours ago.

Will Wynn get a mulligan too? I am, of course, referring to this:

Tony Perkins, the president of the conservative Family Research Council, contended Tuesday that the evangelical community has given President Donald Trump a “mulligan” when it comes to his personal behavior.

“Yes, evangelicals, conservatives, they gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do-over. They said we’ll start afresh with you and we’ll give you a second chance.” Perkins said in a interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

Perkins’ remarks come after a Wall Street Journal report that Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, formed a private LLC to pay a former porn star in exchange for not speaking publicly about an alleged sexual encounter with the then-candidate. CNN has not independently confirmed The Wall Street Journal’s reporting, and in response to the initial Wall Street Journal report about the affair, Cohen said the rumors had circulated since 2011 and that Trump “once again vehemently denies any such occurrence.”

Family Research Council is known for pushing socially conservative family values. One of the foundations of the organization, according to its website, is to promote marriage and family. “Family Research Council champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society,” according to the site. “Properly understood, ‘families’ are formed only by ties of blood, marriage, or adoption, and ‘marriage’ is a union of one man and one woman.”

Perkins said it is the relationship Trump has built with evangelicals, as well as his “constitutionally conservative” policies including appointing judges who oppose abortion, that garners the support.

Strange times.

Wynn also was at Mar-a-Lago for the New Year’s Eve party Trump attended.

Breaking: New Trump Scandal Not Even The Worst Of The Week

Chait is correct.

But it is sex and it is easy to understand, so maybe this one will have legs. Stephanie Clifford has privately alleged that a sexual encounter took place with Trump after they met at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Mr. Trump married Melania Trump in 2005, and Barron Trump was born in March 2006.  Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged payment to the former porn star, Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, in October 2016 after her lawyer negotiated an NDA to conceal alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

Let’s dig deeper shall we?

Fallout From Trump’s Racial Slur About Immigrants From “Shithole Countries”

“This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.”

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But political reaction? Very little domestically. The White House did not deny the remarks and one anonymous source said it would probably help Trump with his base.

Condemnation from the left pundits of course, as my Twitter feed reflects. Conservative pundits lamely said it was merely about immigration, completely ignoring the obvious racist overtones.

The U.N. human rights office said the comments, if confirmed, were “shocking and shameful” and “racist,” while Haiti’s foreign minister summoned the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Robin Diallo for clarification. (Fun fact: Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s exclusive club, reportedly hires more of its seasonal foreign workers from Haiti than it does from nearly any other country)

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, — the daughter of Haitian immigrants — released a statement Thursday saying Trump’s comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.” Love also demanded an apology from the president.

This morning, Trump tweeted

That sounds kind of like a denial.  Just a few minutes ago, Trump added another tweet

But who believes this? Nobody.  First of all, his late response (contradicting the initial and official White House response last night) was politically calculated

And a reaction to Fox & Friends

Furthermore, Trump is lying.

The New York Times op-ed page minces no words:

When it comes to President Trump and race, there is a predictable cycle. He makes a remark that seems racist, and people engage in an extended debate about whether he is personally racist. His critics say he is. His defenders argue for an interpretation in which race plays a secondary role (such as: Haiti really is a worse place to live than Norway).

It’s time to end this cycle.

No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differently than he treats white people.

And that makes him a racist.

Is it possible to defend some of his racially charged statements by pointing out that something other than race might explain them? Sure. Is it possible that he doesn’t think of himself as a racist who views white people as superior to nonwhite people? Yes.

But the definition of a racist — the textbook definition, as Paul Ryan might say — is someone who treats some people better than others because of their race. Trump fits that definition many times over…

It goes on to list all of Trump’s racist comments and actions, from his discriminatory housing to “very fine people” in the alt-right, and so on.

Speaking of Trump lying, there is this embarrassing tweet:

Wrong.

In fact, it was the George W. Bush administration that decided more than a decade ago to relocate the embassy during a worldwide push for greater security at U.S. diplomatic sites.

It was clear to all that Trump was…. well, chicken to go to England. Even the royal family was against it.

Here’s London’s mayor:

UPDATE: Some more fallout

And as Trump makes a pronouncement for MLK Day….

The new New Yorker cover is spot on:

Trumpism And Racism: Part Two — Breaking News

Holy Shit.

Washington Post headline:

Uh…. when have you ever seen that word in a headline?

Story:

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met yesterday.

The comments left lawmakers taken aback, according to people familiar with their reactions. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and then prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.

A White House spokesman declined to offer an immediate comment on Trump’s remarks.

Trumpism and Race

You need to read Charles Blow:

Trumpism is a religion founded on patriarchy and white supremacy.

It is the belief that even the least qualified man is a better choice than the most qualified woman and a belief that the most vile, anti-intellectual, scandal-plagued simpleton of a white man is sufficient to follow in the presidential footsteps of the best educated, most eloquent, most affable black man.

As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Trump’s supporters are saying to us, screaming to us, that although he may be the “lowest white man,” he is still better than Barack Obama, the “best colored man.”

Read the whole thing.

The “Stable Genius” At Work

With Trump’s mental stability the subject of much talk lately, some equally unintelligent person thought it would be a good idea to show the President negotiating with Congress about immigration issue — LIVE.  You know, so everyone could see that Trump is as excellent and in control as he tells everyone he is.

Yeah, right.

The Washington Post picks up the story:

White House officials made the unusual decision Tuesday to allow cameras to film a nearly hour-long immigration meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers. They probably wish they hadn’t.

For a moment, Democrats thought they had struck an unexpected deal with President Trump. Trump had previously insisted that any deal protecting “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — should also include border security and/or a border wall. But he now says that he would support a “clean” bill protecting dreamers, and then take up comprehensive immigration reform later.

“What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure?” asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Trump responded: “Yeah, I would like to do that. I think a lot of people would like to see that.”

The problem? Trump didn’t know what “clean DACA bill” meant. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) quickly interjected and made clear that Trump believes a “clean” bill would include border security. Except that’s not at all what a clean bill is; that’s a compromise bill. A clean bill, by definition, only has one component to it.

By the end, Trump sought to clarify things. “I think a clean DACA bill to me is a DACA bill, but we take care of the 800,000 people,” he said. “But I think to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA — we take care of them, and we also take care of security.”

If anything, the whole mess showed pretty vividly just how utterly disengaged Trump is in the finer details of policy discussions. Which is exactly the perception that he has recently fought against.

***

Even by the end of the meeting, Trump seemed to indicate that the border wall isn’t necessarily a must-have for him — becoming just the latest iteration in a dizzying series of back-and-forths on what he wants in a DACA deal.

“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump said. He added: “I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, gee, I want this,’ or ‘I want that.’ I will be signing it.”

Okay, so you’re no longer demanding the border wall or even border security, then?

Look. It’s fine if the President does not want to get into the finer nuances of immigration policy. But if the exercise was to show that Trump had a grasp of the issues, or that he was able to move the ball forward in any significant way and broker some “breakthrough”, then it was an objective failure.

And it certainly did not dismiss any concerns about his competency.

Who in the White House thought this was a good idea? Trump himself?

Twitter To Finally Enforce Ban On Hate Speech

itter began enforcing new policies to combat hate speech and abusive behavior on the platform Monday, leading to the suspension of several accounts associated with white nationalism.

As part of its new approach, Twitter says it will now start banning accounts that affiliate with groups “that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.” The company says that government entities are exempt from this policy.

Twitter began to act on the new policy Monday morning, suspending several prominent accounts involved in white nationalism or the August white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va. The site also cracked down on a far-right British activist who had been retweeted by President Trump, as well as several other accounts associated with her ultranationalist group.

Twitter will also expand their ban on violent threats to include content that glorifies violence.

“The first time an account violates this policy they will be required to delete the violating tweet and be temporarily placed in read-only mode,” the new rule reads. “Subsequent violations could lead to longer periods of read-only mode, and eventually result in permanent suspension.”

The social media platform is also expanding its efforts to combat hate speech by cracking down on racist or sexist messages in account bios and images. Twitter will start banning users that promote hate speech in their account information and require users to delete images that feature hateful imagery, including racist logos.

“In our efforts to be more aggressive here, we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process,” Twitter said in a blog post. “We’ll evaluate and iterate on these changes in the coming days and weeks, and will keep you posted on progress along the way.”

Newtown: Five Years Later

Five years ago today, a gunman went into Sandy Hook elementary school and opened fire.

I covered it on this blog, as the day unfolded.

And I visited Newtown two weeks after the event — the town was still reeling.

Policemen and firemen forming a line, as they pass the toys into the sub-basement of town hall.

On the doors to the town hall, a sign indicating that a counselling session was in progress.

Everywhere were flowers and memorials, covered by tarps to protect from the rain.

In the five years since the Sandy Hook shooting, Congress has enacted strong legislation to prevent the use of AK-47’s and other assault weapons designed to maximize the body count and….

No. Just kidding. No gun laws have been passed.

Disney Buys Most Of Fox

Big entertainment news:

The Walt Disney Co. has struck a deal valued at $52.4 billion to acquire much of the Hollywood holdings of 21st Century Fox, the global television and entertainment conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family. The deal occurs against a backdrop of swift changes to the industry’s finances and uncertainty about succession plans at both companies.

The sale represents a stunning turn of events for Murdoch, a reversal of decades of alternately calculated and impulsive expansion of a sprawling media empire that started with a single afternoon paper in a forgotten city on the southern coast of his native Australia.

Does this mean Fox News is going to be normal and nice?  Nope.

The most profitable and controversial part of the Fox empire — Fox News —would not be part of the deal. Yet the family is selling off other defining properties, including the movie studio 20th Century Fox. The deal is expected to face regulatory scrutiny, as it would greatly concentrate similar holdings in Disney.

Still, what does this say about the Murdochs? Money problems?  Maybe Fox’s days are numbered too.

Sexual Harassment Allegations Come To Doorstep of White House

This morning, three women who have accused Trump of sexual assaulting them appeared on Megyn Kelly’s talk show, sharing new details of what they say was abuse at the hands of the president. They are among at least 14 women who accuse Trump of sexual assault. In response, the White House issued a statement claiming these women are lying. Notably, the White House claims that the accusations were contradicted “in most cases” by eyewitnesses:

These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory. The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.

This is a lie. Only one “eyewitness” has ever emerged to dispute a claim of sexual assault against Trump. That man, Anthony Gilberthorpe, is a serial fableist with a history of pushing false stories for a few minutes of attention.

At her press conference today, Sarah Sanders promised to produce a list of “eyewitnesses” that dispute the accounts of the women who accused Trump of sexual assault.

Let’s hold her to this.

UPDATE BELOW THE FOLD

Black List 2017

The Black List was compiled from the suggestions of over 275 film executives, each of whom contributed the names of up to ten favorite  scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2017 and will not have begun principal photography during this calendar year.

This year, scripts had to receive at least six mentions to be included on the Black List.

All reasonable effort has been made to confirm the information contained herein.

The Black List apologizes for all misspellings, misattributions, incorrect representation identification, and questionable 2017 affiliations.

It has been said many times, but it’s worth repeating: The Black List is not a “best of” list. It is, at best, a “most liked” list.

Although many do not get made, previous “black list” films have been nominated for 264 Academy Awards, and have won 48, including Best Pictures SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING’S SPEECH, ARGO and SPOTLIGHT, and ten of the last twenty screenwriting Oscars.

Justice Served

It has been two and a half years since Walter Scott’s death.  I wrote about it here… but basically, he was running from a cop and was shot IN THE BACK AS HE WAS RUNNING AWAY.  The video makes this crystal clear:

Well, good news:

Michael Slager, the former South Carolina police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison, a decision the Scott family said gave it a “sense of justice.”

“This is an historic day for civil rights, in particular for officer-involved shootings,” said Chris Stewart, one of the Scott family’s attorneys, at a press conference following the sentencing.

US District Court Judge David Norton made his decision after hearing emotional statements from members of both families. Norton earlier Thursday had said the “appropriate underlying offense” for Slager, who is white, was second-degree murder.

Scott’s family has repeatedly expressed forgiveness to Slager, who said that he was thankful for that. But the victim’s relatives were glad to see the officer held accountable.

“We are hurt,” said Anthony Scott, Walter’s brother, “and we do have some type of passion for the Slager family, in that they have to suffer as well. And we do forgive Michael Slager for what he did. But yes, we did want justice for my brother, and we feel that we have gotten a sense of justice.”

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violation of civil rights by acting under the color of law in Scott’s April 2015 killing. Slager’s 2016 state murder trial ended in a mistrial.

At the time of the shooting, Scott was only the latest black man to be killed in a series of controversial officer-involved shootings that prompted “Black Lives Matter” protests and vigils.

In related news, another cop gets away with murder:

Police in Mesa, Arizona released disturbing body camera video on Thursday hours after a former officer was acquitted of a murder charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man.

The verdict cleared Philip Brailsford, 27, of criminal liability in the 2016 death of Daniel Shaver, of Granbury, Texas. He was also found not guilty of reckless manslaughter, reports CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV.

The shooting occurred at a hotel in the Phoenix suburb where officers responded to a report of someone pointing a gun out of a window. The video, obtained by KPHO, shows Brailsford pointing a gun at Shaver as Shaver lies on the ground, holds his hands in the air, cries and begs the officer not to shoot.

Check out this video. If the jurors got this right, then the law is messed up.

Trump Recognizes Jerusalem As Capital Of Israel

Trump’s speech in a nutshell:

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump said. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”

This is the actual presidential proclamation on Jerusalem.

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP’S PROCLAMATION ON JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL

“My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” – President Donald J. Trump

RECOGNIZING JERUSALEM: President Donald J. Trump is following through on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and has instructed the State Department to begin to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

  • Today, December 6, 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem, the ancient capital of the Jewish people, as the capital of the State of Israel.
    • In taking this action, President Trump fulfilled a major campaign promise of his and many previous Presidential candidates.
  • The Trump Administration is fully coordinated in supporting this historic action by the President, and has engaged broadly with both our Congressional and international partners on this issue.
    • President Trump’s action enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress, including as expressed in the Jerusalem Recognition Act of 1995.  This Act was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
  • President Trump has instructed the State Department to develop a plan to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  • Departments and Agencies have implemented a robust security plan to ensure the safety of our citizens and assets in the region.

STATUS OF JERUSALEM: President Trump recognizes that specific boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem is highly sensitive and subject to final status negotiations.

  • President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly-sensitive issue, but he does not think the peace process is aided by ignoring the simple truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, supreme court, President, and Prime Minister.
  • President Trump recognizes that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.
  • President Trump reaffirms United States support for the status quo at the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif.

COMMITTED TO THE PEACE PROCESS: President Trump is committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

  • President Trump remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and he is optimistic that peace can be achieved.
  • Delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has not helped achieve peace over the past two decades.
  • President Trump is prepared to support a two-state solution to the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians, if agreed to by the parties.

It’s hard to find anyone outside of the far right and Benjamin Netanyahu who thinks this will being peace to the Middle East. It’s throwing fuel on a dumpster fire. Secretary of Defense Mattis is against it. Secretary of State Tillerson is against it. The Pope, NATO and the EU are all against it. So are many of our Middle East allies, like Saudi Arabia.

The move hurts the administration’s stated goal of brokering a Middle East peace agreement with “an open and honest dialogue with both sides.” It also creates new international tension, and increases the risk of violent protests. Indeed, a day before Trump even made the announcement, there were already signs that the move was straining diplomatic relations and the world was bracing for unrest.

But… this was a campaign promise. Fortunately, the embassy isn’t actually moving anytime soon. Trump will still sign a waiver allowing the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv, which has come up every six months since Congress passed a law in 1995 saying the embassy should be in Jerusalem. Finding a site for the embassy and working out all the logistical and security details is expected to take three to four years.

Repercussions have started already:

It should be noted that to Trump’s evangelical base, religious strife in the Middle East is a feature, not a bug. Theologian Diana Butler Bass has written an informative twitter thread on this topic.

For decades, conservative evangelicals have been longing for this recognition. They believe it is necessary in order to regain control of the Temple mount. That is important because rebuilding the Temple is the event that will spark the events of the Book of Revelation and the End Times…They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this. They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies. For certain evangelicals, this is the climax of history. And Trump is taking them there. To the promised judgment, to their sure victory. The righteous will be ushered to heaven; the reprobate will be banished to hellfire.

This is why warnings from the rational world about Trump’s move raising tensions in the Middle East have the opposite effect on these people.

Time Person Of The Year: The Silence Breakers

The women featured on the cover include actress Ashley Judd, singer Taylor Swift, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, Visa lobbyist Adama Iwu, Mexican agricultural worker Isabel Pascual, and one woman whose face cannot be seen.

First it was a story. Then a moment. Now, two months after women began to come forward in droves to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment and assault, it is a movement.

Time magazine has named “the silence breakers” its person of the year for 2017, referring to those women, and the global conversation they have started.

The magazine’s editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, said in an interview on the “Today” show on Wednesday that the #MeToo movement represented the “fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too.”

Investigations published in October by The New York Timesand The New Yorker, both of them detailing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault against the movie producer Harvey Weinstein, sparked the sudden rush of women coming forward.

In a joint interview after the choice was announced, Tarana Burke, who created the Me Too mantra years ago, and the actress Alyssa Milano, who helped promote it more recently, focused on what was still left to do.

“I’ve been saying from the beginning that it’s not just a moment, it’s a movement,” Ms. Burke said. “I think now the work really begins. The hashtag is a declaration. But now we’re poised to really stand up and do the work.”

Ms. Milano agreed, laying out her aspirations for the movement.

“I want companies to take on a code of conduct, I want companies to hire more women, I want to teach our children better,” she said. “These are all things that we have to set in motion, and as women we have to support each other and stand together and say that’s it, we’re done, no more.”

Photo

Trump Endorses Accused Child Molester For Senate

The chyrons say it all:

Kayla Moore (Roy’s wife) confirms:

This is not normal. Can you imagine, in any other time, what would happen if a President endorsed a child molester as a candidate for Senate?

Polls have the two pretty close….

… BUT I am not sure how much to trust these polls. I think many people will lie about whether they are voting for Roy Moore to a pollster, out of embarrassment.

Since It Is Sexual Harassment Day

Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor have joined the ranks of men getting fired for sexual harassment.  That’s just TODAY… so far.

So I thought I would up a recent Washington Post article about our President:

President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

Here’s a list of 13 women who have publicly come forward with claims that Trump had physically touched them inappropriately in some way, and the witnesses they provided. We did not include claims that were made only through Facebook posts or other social media, or in lawsuits that subsequently were withdrawn.

We also did not include the accounts of former beauty contestants who say Trump walked in on them when they were half nude because there were no allegations of touching. Trump had bragged on the Howard Stern show of his “inspections” during the pageants: “You know they’re standing there with no clothes. Is everybody OK? And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.”

Two or more contemporary corroborators

Natasha Stoynoff

Allegation: While she was interviewing Trump in 2005 for an article for People magazine about the first anniversary of his third marriage, Trump lured her into a room at Mar-a-Lago, forced her against a wall and abruptly kissed her, forcing his tongue into her mouth. He then said they were going to have an affair.

Corroborators: 
Marina Grasic, who has known Stoynoff for more than 25 years. She said she got a call from her friend the day after the alleged attack, detailing exactly how Trump pushed Stoynoff against a wall.
Liz McNeil, at the time a reporter for People (she is now an editor). She said that she heard about the incident the day after Stoynoff returned from her assignment. “She was very upset and told me how he shoved her against a wall,” she said.
Mary Green, another People reporter (now editor) who had just returned to New York. “In an early conversation we had in her office, she told me about what happened with Donald Trump,” Green said. “She was shaky, sitting at her desk, relaying that, ‘He took me to this other room, and when we stepped inside, he pushed me against a wall and stuck his tongue down my throat. Melania was upstairs and could have walked in at any time.’ ”
Liza Hamm, part of a “tight-knit’ group of friends. “Natasha has always been a vivacious person who wants to believe in the best of people, and this experience definitely messed with that outlook,” she said.
Paul McLaughlin, Stoynoff’s former journalism professor. He said Stoynoff called him at the time of the alleged incident seeking advice on how to handle it: “She didn’t know what to do, she was very conflicted, she was angry, she was really confused about how to deal with this.” After a discussion, he said, Stoynoff decided it would be best if she kept the incident to herself.

Response: Anthony Senecal, Trump’s former butler, denied the incident: “No, that never happened. Come on, that’s just bull crap.” Trump said: “Why didn’t she do this 12 years ago? She’s a liar. … It never happened. It’s a lie.”

Rachel Crooks

Allegation: Trump in 2005 kissed her directly on the lips after she introduced herself and said she was a receptionist who worked for a company that did business with Trump.

Corroborators: 
Brianne Webb, her sister. She said Crooks called her about the incident as soon as she returned to her desk. “Being from a town of 1,600 people, being naive, I was like, ‘Are you sure he didn’t just miss trying to kiss you on the cheek?’ She said, ‘No, he kissed me on the mouth.’ I was like, ‘That is not normal.’ ”
Clint Hackenburg, her boyfriend at the time. After he asked her that evening how her day had gone, “she paused for a second, and then started hysterically crying.”

Response: Shouting at the New York Times reporter who called for comment, Trump said, “None of this ever took place.” He then told the reporter, “You are a disgusting human being.”

Cathy Heller

Allegation: While having Mother’s Day brunch at Mar-a-Lago in 1997 or 1998, her mother-in-law introduced her to Trump. She extended her hand to greet him and he grabbed her and kissed her on the mouth. She did turn her head slightly and so he wasn’t able to “get my whole mouth.”

Corroborators:
Lloyd Heller, her husband. He said that she immediately told him. He said he told her that “you should have punched him” and he remembers being “puzzled” by why Trump would do something like that in a public space.
A relative who was there, but wanted to stay unnamed. This person said Heller was immediately shocked and asked whether he or she had seen what happened. The two then talked about the incident asking, “Who does he think he is?”

Response: Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller told People Magazine: “There is no way that something like this would have happened in a public place on Mother’s Day at Mr. Trump’s resort.”

One contemporary corroborator, one additional witness

Kristin Anderson

Allegation: While she was at a Manhattan nightclub in the early 1990s, Trump slid his fingers under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh and touched her vagina through her underwear.

Corroborators: 
Kelly Stedman, a friend. She said she was told about the incident at a women’s brunch a few days later. The women found themselves “laughing at how pathetic it was” on Trump’s part.
Brad Trent, a New York photographer. He says he heard the story from Anderson at a dinner in 2007. “It was just girls saying stories about how they got hit on by creepy old guys,” Trent said of the conversation around the table.

Response: The Trump campaign, in an emailed statement, said Anderson had fabricated the story: “Mr. Trump strongly denies this phony allegation by someone looking to get some free publicity. It is totally ridiculous.”

One corroborator

Summer Zervos

Allegation: Trump kissed Zervos on the lips when he met her in his New York office, which upset Zervos, who had been a contestant on Season 5 of Trump’s “The Apprentice.” She then met Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007 for what she thought would be dinner; instead, she was escorted to his private bungalow. “I stood up and he came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me toward him,” she said. “He then grabbed my shoulder and started kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast.” He kept pursuing her, she said, at one point “thrusting his genitals” against her as he tried to kiss her. She said she again rebuffed him.

Corroborator:
Ann Russo, friend: She said that Zervos told her in 2010 that Trump had been “verbally, physically, and sexually aggressive with her” but that she had rebuffed his advances. “It was apparent she was conflicted with what Mr. Trump had done to her,” she said, adding that Zervos was torn between her admiration for Trump and Trump’s behavior.

(In her lawsuit against Trump, Zervos says that in 2007 she “spoke to a friend and her parents about [the initial kiss], all of whom concluded that this must just be the way that Mr. Trump greeted people.” She then told her father about the hotel incident, the lawsuit says.)

Response: Trump issued a statement by John Barry, a cousin of Zervos’s: “I think Summer wishes she could still be on reality TV, and in an effort to get that back she’s saying all of these negative things about Mr. Trump. That’s not how she talked about him before. I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense, and I don’t think it reflects well.”

Mindy McGillivray

Allegation: McGillivray said she was groped by Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 2003, when she was 23, at a photo shoot during a concert by Ray Charles.  “All of a sudden I felt a grab, a little nudge. I think it’s Ken’s camera bag, that was my first instinct. I turn around and there’s Donald. He sort of looked away quickly. I quickly turned back, facing Ray Charles, and I’m stunned.’’ She told the Palm Beach Post she was certain it was not an accident. “This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab,’’ she said. “It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.’’

Corroborator:
Ken Davidoff, photographer: He vividly remembers when McGillivray pulled him aside moments after the alleged incident and told him, “Donald just grabbed my ass!’’ He did not witness the incident himself.

Jill Harth 

Allegation: In the early 1990s, Jill Harth and her boyfriend at the time, George Houraney, worked with Trump on a beauty pageant in Atlantic City, and later accused Trump of inappropriate behavior toward Harth during their business dealings. She said that Trump pursued her and groped her; she alleged attempted rape in a sexual harassment suit that was withdrawn as a condition for settling a contract dispute. (We are including her account here because she gave interviews making these charges even after the lawsuit was withdrawn.) Trump had “his hands all over me,” Harth told the New York Times. “He was trying to kiss me. I was freaking out.”

Corroborator:
George Houraney, her boyfriend and later husband. The two are divorced but he confirmed her account in an interview with Nicholas Kristof: “Houraney and Harth haven’t spoken in years, but they offered almost identical accounts when I interviewed them separately, and their stories match Harth’s deposition and her sexual harassment lawsuit from the time.”

Response: Trump said it was Harth who had pursued him, and his office shared email messages in which Harth thanked Trump for helping her personally and professionally. The campaign said she was a “pawn” in a lawsuit created by her ex-husband.

Jessica Leeds

Allegation: Trump attacked her while seated next to her on an airline flight. More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling business executive at a paper company, Leeds told the New York Times in 2016, she sat beside Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before. About 45 minutes after takeoff, Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” Leeds said. “His hands were everywhere.” She fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault,” she said.

Corroborator: Leeds told the story to at least four people close to her, who also spoke with the New York Times. But most appear to have heard about it more recently. Linda Ross, a neighbor and friend, heard about it six months before Leeds went public, for instance.

Reaction: The Trump campaign offered the perspective of a British man who claimed to have sat near the two on the plane and three decades later remembered the incident in detail. “She was the one being flirtatious,” he said.

Other accusers

Temple Taggart McDowell: The 1997 Miss Utah USA said Trump kissed her directly on the lips, at a time he was married to Marla Maples and McDowell was 21. Later, when she visited Trump Tower to discuss a modeling contract, she says Trump again embraced and kissed her on the lips, this time in front of two pageant chaperones and a receptionist. The New York encounter made one of the chaperones so “uncomfortable” that she advised McDowell not to go into any rooms with Trump alone, McDowell told NBC News.

Karena Virginia: A yoga instructor said Trump harassed and groped her during a chance encounter at the U.S. Open in 1998. Virginia said Trump, a total stranger, then grabbed her arm and touched her breast. “I was in shock,” Virginia said. “I flinched. He said, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ I felt intimidated and powerless. I said ‘yes.’”

Jennifer Murphy: A former Apprentice contestant said Trump in 2004 kissed her on the lips. “He walked me to the elevator, and I said goodbye. I was thinking ‘oh, he’s going to hug me,’ but … he pulled my face in and gave me a smooch.”

Ninni Laaksonen: A former Miss Finland said Trump in 2006 grabbed her bottom shortly after he had married Melania. “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt. He really grabbed my butt.”

Jessica Drake: A porn star and sex educator said that during a 2006 golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Trump “grabbed” her and two other unnamed women tightly and kissed them on the lips “without asking permission.” He then offered Drake $10,000 and the use of his private plane, she said, if she would agree to come back to his room and accompany him to a party.

Today Feels Like A Test

I don’t know. Everything really is awful.

Matt Lauer, long-standing host of the Today Show, was abruptly fired last night, after execs at NBC received notice of a credible claim of sexual harassment.  This #MeToo reckoning, as I’ve said before, but it really is disappointing to see otherwise good people go down.  Perhaps even more disappointing is that the only segment of society that isn’t holding its icons in line are GOP politicians and their followers.

But NBC handled it in a way that Fox didn’t. Fox let O’Reilly settle a lawsuit for $32 million and then kept him on, despite repeated allegations. Which makes this video from only three months ago pretty ironic.

Not one to miss an opportunity to be a grade-A asshole, the president tweeted the following:

Pretty ironic since Trump engaged in pussy-grabbing himself. And speaking of “unsolved mysteries”, he’s STILL going around questioning Obama’s birth certificate.

But the Lauer posts from Trump were nothing compared to these retweets:

The first video (bottom) is captioned: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches.”

The second post (middle) features a clip showing a Muslim man appearing to destroy a statue of the Virgin Mary.

The third and final tweet re-posted by the US President (top) claims to show a group of men killing a youngster and is titled: “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death.”

Who is this Jayda Fransen that Trump retweeted?  A racist.

Fransen is the deputy leader of far right group Britain First, an anti-Islam, anti-immigration and nationalist political party. It is known for its anti-Islam political stunts, including “invading” mosques and launching “Christian patrols.”

The group has used social media to disseminate its message, posting anti-Islam and anti-immigrant propaganda on Twitter and videos of provocative stunts designed to antagonize Muslims on YouTube and Facebook.

She is on bail facing four charges of causing religiously aggravated harassment as part of a Kent Police investigation into the distribution of leaflets and the posting of online videos during a trial held at Canterbury Crown Court in May.

London-born Fransen was arrested earlier this month and flown to Belfast over an anti-terrorism speech made in Northern Ireland in the summer.

Fransen will also appear in court in Northern Ireland in December charged with using threatening and abusive language in connection with a speech she made at an anti-terrorism demonstration in Belfast on August 6.

Here’s an interesting observation:

No kidding. But the guy who tweeted this (Paul Watson) is editor-in-chief of the nutso far-right-wing Infowars! And even he has a problem with Trump’s islamophobic tweets.

Full statement from the Anti-Defamation League:

UPDATE: Speaking of Matt Lauer behaving badly…

 

The Tax Bill Is An Attack On Higher Education

Trump is in hard core twitter world again, attacking the media for — well, not exactly sure.

The news isn’t good for Trump with the net closing on the Mueller scandal. Trump is obviously concerned.

But he did talk about the tax bill and how wonderful it supposedly is. I like how he calls the wealthy “job producers”, as if having money and creating jobs are the same thing (hint: they are not).

Well, that’s fine. Because I wanted to discuss the tax plan and just how horrible it is for higher education, particularly private education.

The version of the tax reform package passed by the House eliminates tax-exempt bond financing for private colleges and universities, while still advantaging public institutions with this option. Elimination of access to tax-exempt bond financing for private campuses will make it more expensive for campuses to add new facilities and is certain to slow or stall the facilities plans for many institutions.

The House version of the tax bill eliminates the student loan interest deduction, placing an additional burden on students who do not come from families with the means to pay for college without borrowing. The student loan business is already a profit-maker for the federal government. This proposal sends the wrong signal at a time when more students need to attain some form of education beyond high school to be competitive in today’s workforce.

The House version of tax reform also takes aim squarely at graduate students who perform vital teaching and research functions on many campuses. We live in a time when advanced degrees matter more than ever. People with advanced degrees are leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship and problem-solving. Adding to the tax liability of very modestly funded graduate students is simply counterproductive to nurturing American ingenuity and creativity, the seedbed of economic growth.

The way to become a better America is to become a smarter America. Now is the time to be investing in the young minds of our nation, not retrenching on our global leadership position for world-class higher education.

But this, I believe, is part of a long-term Republican strategy to kill higher education in private institutions (where they have no control), leaving us public universities and colleges.  There is nothing wrong with those except that they can be controlled by legislatures, and that it what Republicans and other authoritarians want.  This is a huge step in that direction, and it is very dangerous.

RELATED: The new CBO score shows that the Senate tax bill screws the poor even more than previously realized:

Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.

Democrats have repeatedly slammed the bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. In addition to lowering taxes for businesses and many individuals, the Senate bill also makes a major change to health insurance that the CBO projects would have a harsh impact on lower-income families.

By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations. (In the CBO table below, negative signs mean people in those income brackets pay less in taxes).

Why? The answer turns out to be healthcare:

The Senate Republican tax bill eliminates the requirement that almost all Americans purchase health insurance or else pay a penalty. The CBO has calculated that health insurance premiums would rise if this bill becomes law, leading 4 million Americans to lose health insurance by 2019 and 13 million to lose insurance by 2027.

Many of the people who are likely to drop health insurance have low or moderate incomes. If they drop health insurance, they will no longer receive some tax credits and subsidies from the government.

Conclusion: if you are poor, don’t get sick.

Trump Finally Weighs In On Moore

As for the open Alabama seat, Trump has remained unusually quiet, ignoring questions from reporters. But today, he couldn’t help himself.

This is worth noting because WH spokesperson Sarah Sanders had said on several occasions that Trump supported the RNC’s decision to cut off support for Roy Moore. Yeah, she lied.

When asked if it is better to have a child predator than a Democrat in that seat, Trump responded…

It’s better on video —

FCC Announces End Of Net Neutrality

Very bad news:

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it planned to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.

The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration that prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers.

The clear winners from the move would be telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast that have lobbied for years against regulations of broadband and will now have more control over the online experiences of American consumers. The losers could be internet sites that will have to answer to telecom firms to get their content in front of consumers. And consumers may see their bills increase for the best quality of internet service.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Mr. Pai said in a statement. “Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

This is not good for consumers and the way you can tell is that the businesses are cheering, while the consumers are storming the castle.

A couple of comments to the NY TImes reflect my feelings exactly:

Scott Mooneyham- Fayetteville NC

Pai’s words are absurd and he knows it. The big, incumbent telecom providers are virtual monopolies and he knows it. As such, government has always had a role in significant regulation of such utility companies, and that is what they are. To suggest that all small businesses’ need is technical information to succeed is more deception and absurdity. The big telecoms will continue to block innovation, squeeze out middle-mile/data storage tech companies, take over and dominate content providers, and the result will be that the US economy will fall further behind as government treats infrastructure critical to all US businesses like it is Sears or Best Buy. Why not give the Interstate system to a single company and let them dictate which companies can transport which goods down it? Ten years from now, when people are writing about the demise of the US as a world economic power, they will be writing about this decision. We are indeed following the Russian model.

Tom Krebsbach – Washington

The only way to view this decision is to view it as a gratuitous gift to the plutocracy and a total subjugation of the common man to the desires of powerful corporate interests. At a time when this country is trying to deal with the dramatic increase in inequality between the ordinary person and those who harvest the riches of this society, this decision is a giant slap in the face to the common man and woman. We can blame Trump and the Republicans for this. 

If Trump supporters actually believe that he cares about the ordinary citizen, this decision should disabuse them of that notion. Is this guy and his appointees capable of doing anything good? I haven’t seen it yet.

smurphy – Massachusetts

This is the beginning of the end of any hope of truth in media and our rights to free speech. The throttling, re-direction and micro-management of discussion and access to issues belonging in the “public square” will be killed by this move. The sale of our country to the corporatists has been completed.

And Now It’s…. Oh Dear… Senator Al Franken’s Turn?

The sexual harassment purge is getting ugly.

WaPo:

Broadcaster and model Leeann Tweeden said Thursday that Al Franken “forcibly kissed” and groped her during a USO tour in 2006, two years before the Minnesota Democrat’s election to the U.S. Senate.

“You knew exactly what you were doing,” Tweeden wrote in a blog post for Los Angeles radio station KABC, for which she works as a morning news anchor. “You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later and be ashamed.”

The allegations came two days after a stunning hearing in Washington, where lawmakers acknowledged sexual harassment is a pervasive problem on Capitol Hill — and amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations against Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who has brushed off calls from Republican leaders to end his Senate campaign.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately called on the Senate Ethics Committee to review the allegations against Franken, who issued a brief statement of apology.

Of course Mitch did. It took him three days to condemn Roy Moore, who groped several UNDERAGE girls, but he was on top of this within an hour.

In her blog post, Tweeden recalled that Franken “had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.”

Franken, she said, “had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.”

But on the day of the show, she wrote, “Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL … we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘okay’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

In a statement, Franken said: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann.

“As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Tweeden’s blog post included an image of Franken looking into a camera, his hands either over or on Tweeden’s chest as she slept.

This is that photo.

A few points:

(1) In the photo, I’m not sure he is touching her.

(2) I would feel much better if there was more than one accuser. While I am certain elements of her story are true, I wonder how much of it is exaggerated — in particular, the tongue down the throat. I’m not saying she is lying, but she may be mis-remembering it based on emotion.

(3) This is really really ugly, especially the art above.  But, standing alone, it does not show a pattern of predatory behavior.

(4) Franken should pay for this — censure, for sure.  I’m not 100% on board with resignation though, which many are calling for.  I’m about 85% there.

UPDATE —

Franken is doing this right —

A further thought:

The Moore Accuser Count Is Up To 8

Via WaPo:

Roy Moore. Born in 1947. He moved out of Gadsden, Ala., in 1954, returning after his service in Vietnam in 1977. He joined the office of the district attorney that year. In 1982, he again left Gadsden, returning in 1985, the year he married his wife, Kayla. She was 24, and he was 38. In 1992, he was appointed to the circuit court.

Leigh Corfman. Born in 1965. Corfman alleges that in 1977, when she was 14, Moore introduced himself to her outside a child custody hearing at the local courthouse. He later called her and asked her on a date, during which, she alleges, he took her to his house and tried to initiate sexual contact. Moore was 32.

Wendy Miller. Born in 1963. Miller alleges that Moore first started talking to her while she was working as an elf at Gadsden Mall at the age of 14. Two years later, he began to ask her on dates. Her mother prevented her from doing so. Moore was 32.

Debbie Gibson. Born in 1964. Gibson alleges that Moore came to her civics class at Etowah High School to talk about serving as an assistant district attorney before asking her out on a date. They dated for several months while she was 17. Moore was 34.

Gloria Thacker. Born in 1961. Thacker alleges that she was working at a store at the mall at the age of 18 when Moore asked her out. They dated off and on for several months. Moore was 32.

Beverly Young Nelson. Born in 1961. Nelson was 16 when she worked at a restaurant called Old Hickory House in 1977. Moore, she said during a news conference this week, was a regular customer who, at one point, signed her high school yearbook. On one evening, he offered her a ride home. Nelson alleges that he instead drove behind the restaurant and assaulted her. Moore was 30.

Gena Richardson. Born in 1959. Richardson alleges that she was working at Gadsden Mall in 1977, at age 18, when Moore introduced himself. He called her at school, interrupting her trigonometry class, to ask her out. He was 30.

Tina Johnson. Born in 1963. Johnson told AL.com that she was 28 when she visited Moore’s office for a legal issue in 1991. Moore, she says, made several inappropriate comments and, as she was leaving, groped her. He was 44.

Moore has specifically denied the allegations levied by Corfman and Nelson.

That’s where things stand today — this morning.

 

In Fairness, It Is Hard To Keep All These Mass Shootings Straight

This week saw another mass shooting, this time in Northern California (4 dead, shooter killed — UPDATE: 5 dead — they found his wife’s bodied hidden in his house).

Trump, returning from his Asia stint, tweeted this in response late last night:

Unfortunately, the Sutherland Springs Texas shooting was LAST week’s mass shooting.  He deleted the above tweet, although it does look remarkably like a tweet he sent out on November 5:

Embarrassing.

It actually wasn’t the only embarrassing tweet from Trump in the past 12 hours.  There was another one.  First, the backstory. Three UCLA basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting last week. When Trump was in China, he asked President Xi to intervene. The three basketball players, all black, are coming back to America.  And Trump tweeted this about an hour ago:

WHO DOES THIS?  It is almost as if he is being critical of them, expecting them not to be thankful. I’m sure they are.

I have no doubt that if the three student athletes were white, he would not have tweeted this. This is Trump signaling his supporters that black people are ungrateful, and should be grateful.  It’s disgusting.

More More Moore (How Do You Like It?)

Roy Moore is now adopting the “best defense is a good offense” strategy. He is setting up to hit the Washington Post with a lawsuit over the allegations that he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl while Moore was in his 30’s.

According to AP, Moore told his supporters in Huntsville, Alabama on Sunday that the WaPo story was “fake news” and “a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign.”

Moore added that the newspaper “will be sued,” a declaration that received applause from the crowd.

I put the chances of this at or about zero percent.  Why?

Discovery, that’s why.

This is like when Donald Trump threatened to sue the women who accused him of sexual harassment. The lawsuits never happened.

Meanwhile, at least five companies said over the weekend that they will no longer advertise their products during Fox News’ “Hannity” television show, which sparked an outpouring on Sunday of counter-protests on social media.

Keurig, Realtor.com, 23 and Me, Eloquii and Nature’s Bounty all pulled their ads from the television show, in response to Fox host Sean Hannity’s coverage of the sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Although Hannity is “in the tank” for Moore, his actual interview of Moore the day after the allegations broke was pretty aggressive, at least for Hannity.  He came back to several points and Moore readily admitted dating younger women, although he denied the worst allegations (fondling a 14 year old).

But that wasn’t what caused advertisers to balk.

On Thursday, the Fox News host spoke about the allegations against Roy Moore, the Alabama senate candidate who, The Washington Post had reported that day, made sexual advances toward teenage girls when he was in his early 30s, including a 14-year-old.

Mr. Hannity, describing those actions on his radio show while speaking with a co-host, Lynda McLaughlin, seemed to justify Mr. Moore’s reported conduct by calling one of the encounters “consensual. Later, on his television show, Mr. Hannity said that the statement “was absolutely wrong” and that he “misspoke.” He then brought up the possibility of accusers lying for money, or for political purposes.

On Friday, Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, the partisan watchdog organization that has campaigned against Mr. Hannity since at least May, began to criticize advertisers for sponsoring his show in light of his comments about Mr. Moore.

Keurig responded to Mr. Carusone, and said that it had stopped an ad from airing during Mr. Hannity’s show.

Conservatives have responded to Keurig’s boycott with their own boycott of Keurig, although it is likely to grow except for a few viral videos like this:

This clearly annoyed Hannity who has tweeted about Keurig repeatedly over the past few days.

And while some on the left dutifully took up arms, tweeting in support of Keurig, others just seemed bemused (or amused).

“Sorry, I was off Twitter for a while,” wrote the author Geraldine DeRuiter. “It appears that people are destroying coffee machines to show their support of child molesters?”

It is unclear what impact any of this has on Alabama voters.  One poll puts Moore’s Democratic competitor, Doug Jones, up by 4.  Another poll, taken over the same span of days, has Moore up by 10.

Here’s a nice editorial from a leading Alabama newspaper. The author is worried that Moore, if elected, will become Alabama’s “brand” and will hurt business (he’s right):

The Republicans in Congress would REALLY like this go away, and even Senator McConnell came out (moments ago) and said he believes the women.

UPDATE — Here’s Moore’s response

Back to usual post….

Moore defenders — mostly Breitbart at this point — are trying lame attacks.  Like the 14 year old woman is lying, or was paid by the Washington Post. Proof of lying is scant, but they only need to convince those with a propensity to believe Moore, and that’s not hard.

Some are saying that, even if true, it’s not a big deal. Alabama state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) told the Washington Examiner that the allegations are “much ado about nothing.” Zeigler said that even if the allegations are true, Moore never had sexual intercourse with any of the women. He also dismissed the revelations because the accusations are from “40 years” ago and Moore ”

Another tack is to say — so what?  Here is an ugly tweet about that:

Hard to believe. That’s the state of the GOP today: Democrats are worse than child molesters, literally.

The next chapter in the scandal is coming later today…..

More Moore to come….

UPDATE — The next accuser….

Beverly Young Nelson said Moore she was approached by Moore in 1975 in a Gadsen, Alabama restaurant where she worked. One night, Nelson said Moore offered her a ride home in his car. Instead of getting on the highway, Moore parked in the back of the Olde Hickory House restaurant. Nelson said she asked Moore what he was doing.

“Instead of answering my question, Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me, putting his hands on my breasts,” Nelson said. “I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over and locked it so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch. I continued to struggle. I was determined that I was not going to allow him to force me to have sex with him. I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting and struggling and begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face.

“At some point he gave up. He then looked at me and said, “You are a child. I am the District Attorney of Etowah County,” she continued. “If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.” He finally allowed me to open the car door and I either fell out or he pushed me out. I was on the ground as he pulled out of the parking area behind the restaurant. The passenger door was open as he burned rubber pulling away leaving me laying there on the cold concrete in the dark.”

Two years later, Moore signed Nelson’s yearbook:

More Fallout From More Pedophilia

  • Republican Alabama State Representative Ed Henry said on Friday that he wanted someone to bring charges against the women who accused GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of making sexual advances on them when they were teenage. This has brought huge backlash against Henry, naturally.
  • Vulnerable GOP Senator:

  • The national Republican Party is creating distance. Locals, however, are running to the candidate’s defense. A joint fundraising committee benefitting Moore and a handful of Republican Party organs filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Friday removing the National Republican Senatorial Committee as one of its beneficiaries. Going forward, the committee’s fundraising will benefit Moore’s Senate campaign, the Alabama Republican Party, and the Republican National Committee but not the NRSC.
  • Roy Moore’s brother reportedly defended him against allegations of sexual conduct with a minor, comparing the situation to the persecution of Jesus Christ, according to CNN.
  • Buzzfeed News reports:

    Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are tied at 46% in the survey, which was conducted Thursday by Opinion Savvy and commissioned by Decision Desk HQ in the aftermath of a bombshell Washington Post report in which the accuser, now 53, went on record with her story.

    The results also suggested that a write-in campaign by another Republican could tip the seat to Democrats — a prospect that once seemed far-fetched in deep-red Alabama. A three-way race — with Moore, Jones, and interim Sen. Luther Strange as a write-in candidate — would favor Jones with roughly 44% of the vote, followed by Moore at 41%, and Strange at 12%.

In Which My Brilliant Comment Makes The NY Times Pick

UPDATE:  And just as I was typing this, Louis C.K. released a short, emotional statement. It’s as if he read what I wrote. This is a good apology.

But…

In a related story, Roy Moore, accused yesterday of having physical relations with a 14 year old in 1979, is not leaving the race. In fact, he and his Alabama cronies are invoking Jesus’ persecution.

No Pee Tape, BUT….

Breaking from NBC:

WASHINGTON — After a business meeting before the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013, a Russian participant offered to “send five women” to Donald Trump’s hotel room in Moscow, his longtime bodyguard told Congress this week, according to three sources who were present for the interview.

Two of the sources said the bodyguard, Keith Schiller, viewed the offer as a joke, and immediately responded, “We don’t do that type of stuff.”

The two sources said Schiller’s comments came in the context of him adamantly disputing the allegations made in the Trump dossier, written by a former British intelligence operative, which describes Trump having an encounter with prostitutes at the hotel during the pageant. Schiller he described his reaction to that story as being, “Oh my God, that’s bull—-,” two sources said.

The conversation with the Russian about the five women took place after a morning meeting about the pageant in Moscow broke up, two sources said.

That night, two sources said, Schiller said he discussed the conversation with Trump as Trump was walking back to his hotel room, and Schiller said the two men laughed about it as Trump went to bed alone. Schiller testified that he stood outside Trump’s hotel room for a time and then went to bed.

One source noted that Schiller testified he eventually left Trump’s hotel room door and could not say for sure what happened during the remainder of the night.

Two other sources said Schiller testified he was confident nothing happened.

Schiller said he and Trump were aware of the risk that hotel rooms in Moscow could be set up to capture hidden video, two sources said.

Schiller was grilled about the Moscow trip as part of four hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. The questioning around the Moscow trip took a significant amount of time, the sources said. Schiller was also asked about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and Russians, two of the sources said. He testified that he did not recall much about that day.

This doesn’t mean the tape exists, but it DOES mean that the salacious allegations in the dossier were not ENTIRELY made up out of thin air.

Roy Moore Sex Scandal

The woman is a god-fearing, Trump-voting Republican:

Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore.

It was early 1979 and Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing.

“He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’ ” says Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71. “I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.”

Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.

“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did.

Two of Corfman’s childhood friends say she told them at the time that she was seeing an older man, and one says Corfman identified the man as Moore. Wells says her daughter told her about the encounter more than a decade later, as Moore was becoming more prominent as a local judge.

Aside from Corfman, three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s, episodes they say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older. None of the women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact.

Wendy Miller says she was 14 and working as a Santa’s helper at the Gadsden Mall when Moore first approached her, and 16 when he asked her on dates, which her mother forbade. Debbie Wesson Gibson says she was 17 when Moore spoke to her high school civics class and asked her out on the first of several dates that did not progress beyond kissing. Gloria Thacker Deason says she was an 18-year-old cheerleader when Moore began taking her on dates that included bottles of Mateus Rosé wine. The legal drinking age in Alabama was 19.

Of the four women, the youngest at the time was Corfman, who is the only one who says she had sexual contact with Moore that went beyond kissing. She says they did not have intercourse.

In a written statement, Moore denied the allegations.

“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Moore, now 70, said.

The campaign said in a subsequent statement that if the allegations were true they would have surfaced during his previous campaigns, adding “this garbage is the very definition of fake news.”

None of the women have donated to or worked for Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, or his rivals in the Republican primary, Luther Strange, according to campaign reports.

Corfman, 53, who works as a customer service representative at a payday loan business, says she has voted for Republicans in the past three presidential elections, including for Donald Trump in 2016. She says she thought of confronting Moore personally for years, and almost came forward publicly during his first campaign for state Supreme Court in 2000, but decided against it. Her two children were still in school then and she worried about how it would affect them. She also was concerned that her background — three divorces and a messy financial history — might undermine her credibility.

The sad thing is that this woman is going to get death threats and be dragged through the mud, and it is unclear if she will even be believed. Obviously, Trump supporters (including herself!) don’t think sexual harassment is an impediment to holding public office. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

That said, I’m not even a little bit surprised.

These women did not seek out the Post and are not looking for the limelight. They only revealed their story after some coaxing:

The implication of this is actually pretty big. If Moore loses the Alabama Senate race in the special election next month (and Doug Jones wins), the Senate is in play. Dems might be able to retake it in 2018.

UPDATE:  Apparently, it is too late to take Moore off the ballot, even if he withdraws, and even if the GOP pulls him.  Furthermore…

Then again…

The JFK Files

The federal government just released thousands of documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The papers were posted online by the National Archives in compliance with a 1992 law requiring their release after 25 years.

After a chaotic last-minute review in which intelligence agencies lobbied against full disclosure, the White House said it would take more time to process and release thousands more documents that were also supposed to be made public. It set a deadline of late April for the release of those documents.

What is out there from the release?  A few shiny objects::

  • Mexico was a cooperative partner with the United States in many ways — from helping to wiretap the Soviet and Cuban Embassies well prior to the assassination, to thorough attempts to investigate Lee Harvey Oswald’s ties in the country after Kennedy’s murder. Sources told the C.I.A. that Oswald had deposited $5,000 in a Mexican bank. In a document dated March 9, 1964, Mexico was reported to have traced all deposits in Mexican banks, looking for the money. They found no such Oswald transaction.

  • The F.B.I. closely monitored the activities of attorney and conspiracy advocate Mark Lane, who was representing Marguerite Oswald, mother of Lee. According to an F.B.I. source, a bizarre meeting Mr. Lane had with a Polish journalist in January 1964 saw wild conspiracy theories tossed around, including a ridiculous claim in a far-right Italian newspaper that J.D. Tippit, the Dallas policeman killed by Oswald shortly after Oswald shot Kennedy, was the real presidential assassin — and that Jack Ruby had killed Mr. Tippit.
  • C.I.A. document alleges that Oswald may have been accompanied on his mysterious September 1963 trip to Mexico City by “El Mexicano.” According to another document, “El Mexicano” is believed to have been Francisco Rodriguez Tamayo, the captain of Cuban Rebel Army 57 until he defected to the United States in June of 1959. A third file also identifies Rodriguez Tamayo as the head of the anti-Castro Training Camp at Pontchartrain, La.
  • A British newspaper received a mystery call minutes before the assassination of John F Kennedy. A memo to the director of FBI revealed that a call was made to the senior reporter at the Cambridge News at 6.05pm on the day Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas.The document, from deputy director James Angleton, said: “The British Security Service (MI-5) has reported that at 1805GMT on 22 November an anonymous telephone call was made in Cambridge, England, to the senior reporter of the Cambridge News. “The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London for some big news and then hung up.” More strange revelations came from the memo, including that just 25 minutes after the call ended, the President was shot. It continued: “After the word of the President’s death was received the reporter informed the Cambridge police of the anonymous call and the police informed MI-5. “The important point is that the call was made, according to MI-5 calculations, about 25 minutes before the President was shot.

Document Dump: Federal Court Blocks Trump’s Travel Ban… Yet Again

Tired of winning…?

UPDATE: A second federal court rules the same

A federal judge in Maryland early Wednesday issued a second halt on the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, asserting that the president’s own comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter convinced him that the directive was akin to an unconstitutional Muslim ban.

Trump: Blaming The Victim

This is outright inhumane:

Trump is laying the groundwork for abandoning Puerto Rico, and blaming it for its infrastructure problems that existed pre-hurricane. Lost in his “analysis” is that the people suffering there (still no power or clean water on most of the Island) are AMERICANS.

If Bush was negligent with Katrina response, Trump is being outright punishing.

According to some sources, there are now 117 people listed missing in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 20. (I’m trying to verify)

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — who hasn’t been shy about calling out the President for the federal response to the devastation in Puerto Rico, which she thinks has been inadequate — pushed back.

She called his comments “unbecoming” of a commander-in-chief and said they seem “more to come from a ‘Hater in Chief.’”

He really is a hater.  This is proof.  This has little to do with the fact that Puerto Rico is a territory, not a state, and everything to do with the fact that the people there are Latino.

UPDATE:  More words from the San Juan Mayor — scathing:

And for comparison:

And the White House contradicts Trump:

Asked for a response to Trump’s remarks, the White House later said it was “committed to helping Puerto Rico” and working with local leaders and Congress “to identify the best fiscally responsible path forward.”

“Successful recoveries do not last forever; they should be as swift as possible to help people resume their normal lives,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reiterated during a Thursday news briefing that the Trump administration would “stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done.”

Republican Hypocrisy Exhibit No 352

Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which “would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy,” according to GovTrack.

The congressman has been lauded by the Family Research Council, for his stance on abortion, as well as for family values, generally. He also has been endorsed by LifePAC, which opposes abortion rights, and is a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, an affiliation that is often cited by his office.

But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found out something:

A text message sent in January to U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy by a woman with whom he had an extra-marital relationship took him to task for an anti-abortion statement posted on Facebook from his office’s public account.

“And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options,” Shannon Edwards, a forensic psychologist in Pittsburgh with whom the congressman admitted last month to having a relationship, wrote to Mr. Murphy on Jan. 25…

And the kicker? She wasn’t actually pregnant. It was just a scare.

“After discussions with my family and staff, I have come to the decision that I will not seek reelection to Congress at the end of my current term,” he wrote in a statement. He added: “In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing. I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.”

Yyyyyyeah.

[NOTE: As for the probably unconstitutional bill, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans don’t have the votes to override a filibuster from Democrats, who blocked similar versions of the legislation in 2013 and 2015.]

UPDATE: 

Why Is Trump Tweeting About The NFL?

Thursday night in Alabama, at a rally, Trump went off on a tangent about the NFL and its bad ratings and how players who refused to stand for the national anthem (i.e., Colin Kaepernick) should be fired by the owners.  This got cheers from the Alabamians, because they are Alabamians.  And it made headlines on Friday (since he never says anything of substance), so Trump doubled down this weekend.  And tripled down.  And 4X downed. Etc.  Here’s SOME of those tweets, which are continuing into this morning:

For its part, the NFL stood united. For the Sunday games, many owners released statements supporting their players’ right to protest.  And of course, there was kneeling.  Players kneeled.  An owner kneeled.  A singer of the National Anthem kneeled on the last line.  Many in the crowds kneeled or stayed seated.  Some booed.  Others cheered.  Some teams, rather than take part in a political spectacle, decided to stay in the locker room during the anthem.  Players who didn’t kneel locked arms with those who did, in a sign of solidarity (including Trump’s friend, Tom Brady).

All-in-all, there was significant pushback.  And what was once a smattering of kneels became an overwhelming number of them. Trump seemed please with those who booed.

Later, many players spoke out.  They spoke of being “disappointed” or “disheartened”. A Seattle Seahawks wide receiver minced no words:

Trump does not seem to understand (or care) why some players had been choosing to kneel in the first place.  It is not a stand against American ideals, the flag, or the Anthem.  It is that the American ideals symbolized by the flag and the Anthem are not being applied to all of America’s citizens — black people in particular.

And now Trump is creating  fight, challenging the patriotism of those who kneel. Trump is making clear his moral priorities. He is infinitely more offended by the sight of a black ballplayer quietly, peacefully protesting racism in the United States than he is by racism itself.

The question is why, e.g., why would Trump continue to poke at the players and, as he did Sunday night, call for the NFL to change its policies to ban any sort of protests surrounding the anthem?

The most basic (and right) answer is because he knows that, for his base, this fight is a winner for him. Specifically:

1. The players are rich. Remember that Trump, despite being a billionaire, sees himself (and is regarded) as the voice of the Average Joe. And he knows that lots of Average Joes resent how much money these players make for playing a game.

2. The players are playing a game. Spend 10 minutes talking about football (or any pro sport) with a group of people, and I guarantee that you will hear someone (if not several) say something like: “Man, they get to play a game for their job. I’d do that for free.” (Obviously points No. 1 and No. 2 are closely tied.)

3. The players are (mostly) black. Trump insisted on Sunday night that “this has nothing to do with race.” But that simply doesn’t fly. The vast majority of the players in the NFL are black. Ditto the players in the NBA, whom Trump also went after over the weekend. Trump knows that. And he also knows that when he uses phrases such as “our heritage” to describe what’s allegedly under assault in the anthem protests, many of his supporters see that in racial terms. You don’t simply get to repeatedly flick at racial animus — in the campaign and as President — and then plead total innocence when those code words trigger a reaction.

4. Trump can paint this as a battle for patriotism. The anthem protest was begun last year by then-San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who cited concerns about the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police as the motivation for his stance. Trump has seized on the protests as some sort of slap in the face to the military, which it’s not. By painting the players as insufficiently loyal to the country, Trump can make an appeal to patriotism — a powerful emotion not just in his base but in the country.

It certainly does not appear to be working. Yes, maybe it pleases his base, but most people recognize it as being divisive, even if they disagree with the protests. It is stirring a hornet’s nest, plain and simple.

Others are wondering about his priorities. Days after Maria struck, Puerto Rico remains crippled by widespread destruction and catastrophic flooding. Villages were razed and communications ruined, leaving officials unable to tally an accurate toll of the death and devastation. Power is out, and restoration of the electrical grid may take months, not weeks. A dam was compromised, threatening major flooding and a loss of drinking water.

There is no food.

There is no agriculture.

Although Puerto Rico cannot vote for president and has no voting representatives in Congress, its citizens are entitled to the same federal emergency funds and resources that Washington has been funneling to the far more politically powerful and economically resilient states of Texas and Florida in their hurricane miseries.

The same holds true for the US Virgin Islands.

Yet Trump has said (or tweeted) nothing these past few days on the subject.  Instead, he throws oil on the fire of an already too-polarized country.  It’s difficult to see the benefit in rending this country apart in a culture war.  But apparently the White House sees this as good.

Clearly, this is why Russia wanted him to be president – to start wars in his own country.

FLASHBACK: From an owner of the USFL football team in Tampa Bay:

UPDATE:  Conservatives, republicans and old white people have Trump’s back, but all told, only 38% agree with Trump

UPDATE: Props to Greg Popovich, head coach for the Spurs (basketball) for saying this at NBA Media Day:

Not A Hoax

That’s an odd assertion for Trump to make.  Sure, he can make the argument that there was no collusion, but to say that Russia never bought ads on Facebook?  How would TRUMP know that’s not true?  Mueller isn’t saying it… Facebook itself is:

Under growing pressure from Congress and the public to reveal more about the spread of covert Russian propaganda on Facebook, the company said on Thursday that it was turning over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads to congressional committees investigating the Kremlin’s influence operation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity,” Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said during an appearance on Facebook Live, the company’s video service. He added that he did not want anyone “to use our tools to undermine democracy.”

“That’s not what we stand for,” he said.

The announcement that Facebook would share the ads with the Senate and House intelligence committees came after the social network spent two weeks on the defensive. The company faced calls for greater transparency about 470 Russia-linked accounts — in which fictional people posed as American activists — which were taken down after they had promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues. Facebook had previously angered congressional staff by showing only a sample of the ads, some of which attacked Hillary Clinton or praised Donald J. Trump.

Facebook’s admission on Sept. 6 that Russian agents covertly bought ads on the site during last year’s campaign has brought intense scrutiny on the social network and on Twitter, entangling both companies in the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. Both companies have turned over detailed data to Mr. Mueller.

I’m not sure “it’s a hoax” is the way to go. It happened. The Intel Committees have documentation, as does Mueller.  Soon, we all will get to see it.  Then Trump will have to move the goalposts.

Hell Hath No Firy Like A Base Scorned

I’m not even sure what Trump did.

Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer announced after a dinner with the president Wednesday that they had reached a deal securing the protection of DACA. A “big, beautiful wall” that Trump campaigned on was reportedly not part of the agreement.

It’s not a done deal. Trump tweeted so, as did Chuck and Nancy.  However, Trrump’s tweets basically defended his decision to allow Dreamers to stay.

Trump’s base went ballistic:

One Republican in Congress, Rep. Steve King, told CNN Thursday morning that his “life’s work” would be undone if Trump truly struck a deal protecting DACA recipients. When asked what he would do if Trump handed a win over to Democrats without any policy consolations in return, King suggested he was powerless and that all he could do was move on to trade and tax reform.

King did say, however, that if Trump moves forward on this DACA deal, “the base will leave him.”

For its part, Fox News stayed in Trump’s corner.  Both Sean Hannity and the “Fox & Friends” crew tried to spin the latest news as a win for Trump because the agreement makes it look as if the White House is working with Democrats to move the country forward. Host Steve Doocy said that Trump was only reaching across the aisle to Democrats because he could get nothing done with Republicans.

But….

But keep in mind, Trump has made deals before and not gone through with them.  The question is… who has his ear? The Fox News Ass-kissers, or the Breitbart Banner fire-breathers?

Either way, it seems like a Dem win-by-triangulation.

Over at the conservative Redstate:

So much butthurt!

While I’m enjoying the schadenfreude, I have to say I’m mystified. Those who knew Trump’s past, and heard all the warnings from those of us who knew a B-list celebrity with liberal leanings and no real ideological foundation would flip, are falling all over themselves today, stunned that everything Never Trump said would happen, has actually happened.

Why? Did you think we were kidding?

In the meantime….

 

The Less Said, The Better

Ted Cruz is an evangelical Christian who once defended a ban on dildos in Texas, has referred to birth control as “abortifacients,” and pulled an ad during the 2016 primary when he discovered one of the actors he’d hired was a softcore porn actress.

I thought that was important context for this:

Sen. Ted Cruz‘s official Twitter account appeared to “like” an explicit tweet Monday night, causing a stir on social media.

The Texas senator’s account, which has more than 3 million followers, liked a tweet from the account @SexuallPosts, which posts explicit content and porn. The “like” was later removed from the senator’s account, Cruz’s senior communications adviser Catherine Frazier said.

So… that happened.  It’s amusing and hard to know where to take the joke, but in this age of Trump, Ted can probably ride it out by doing nothing. No attempt to say “my account was hacked”.  Just…. nothing.

UPDATE:  I stand corrected.

9/11 Plus 16 — What If Trump Was President?

Each year as 9/11 comes and goes, there is less added to the perspective. An entire generation is now politically aware, who cannot remember that horrible day.  Bizarre, to me.

We forget that Bush, like Trump, was in the infancy of his presidency. I remember thinking that he was over his head — partly because it was unprecedented, and partly because it was, frankly, Bush.

But at least he was surrounded (mostly) by smart people (mostly) and the crisis was handled deftly in the immediate days… until it became a war against Iraq (who did not attack us).

One wonders if the Trump Administration is prepared for something on that level. I suspect not, and I say that knowing that he has the benefit of a 9/11/ type attack no longer being “unprecedented”.  But consider this:

  • The White House is in constant disarray as key personnel are hired and fired at an unprecedented rate. One cost is that most basic measure of experience: days on the job. Another is an inability to forge sustained working relationships as colleagues are summarily dispatched in the manner of a reality-TV show. And how can those who remain do their best work when the boss at the top exhibits a management style that is as volatile and erratic as it is petty? Many dignified people have simply refused to consider working for him.
  • Huge numbers of important State Department positions are still unfilled, including key undersecretary positions; and the ability of the United States to conduct diplomacy or to draw on country-specific expertise seems to have atrophied.
  • The United States is crazy divided. And according to a recent Fox News poll, it isn’t just that a majority of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing—56 percent say that he is “tearing the country apart.”
  • The Trump Organization’s murky asset portfolio, with heavy investments in numerous foreign countries, and the Trump family’s refusal to divest from it, makes it impossible for congressional overseers or the public to adequately discern when the Trump family’s business interests diverge from America’s interests.

And none of this gets to Trump’s incompetency.

One HOPES that there is enough institutional competency such that a terrorist attack would not flummox us. After all, at this very moment, Texas is still reeling from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma just trampled Florida.  And FEMA seems to be doing fine (Trump’s role seems to be limited to tweeting).

So maybe we can get by without Trump’s leadership, even in a 9/11-type event.

I just would prefer not to test that theory.

Ivanka Is Either A Fake Or Stupid On Equal Pay

A few months ago:

From TPM:

First daughter Ivanka Trump, who made wage equality and workplace protections for women one of her signature issues on the campaign trail and in her personal brand, declared her support for the White House’s announcement Tuesday that it will halt a proposal requiring businesses to disclose employees’ pay, gender, race and ethnicity.

“While I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, OMB, Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.”

Wait — information about employees’ pay and gender will not help provide information on gender wage gap?  It sounds to me like JUST the sort of things that is needed.

 

You Say You Want A Revolution?

Well, what do you even MEAN by the word “revolution”?

It’s often said that reformists are former revolutionaries who simply got old, tired and beaten down. Maybe.  But reformists get things done and actually bring about social change.  After all, revolutionaries tend to gripe about the problem (terrible society) and the process to change that problem (revolution), but always fall short on what comes after.  And I refer to all revolutionaries, whether they be Marxists on the left, or the Tea Party on the right. Revolutionaries tend to…. well, gripe.

Which brings me to this piece by Jonathan Matthew Smucker, a piece so good I am reprinting it in its entirety (without permission) although you can find it here. Smucker argues as I do that revolution has become meaningless — an almost dreamlike hope of an apocalyptic event that will magically change society. Please read:

Trumpers See Whatever They Want To See In Trump – Exhibit A

“He is unashamed in standing up for increasing an awareness of God in the United States. He recognizes how important that is and that that is a basis of Western civilization. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I could not be more happy with what I am seeing coming out of the Trump White House. This is beyond my wildest expectations.

“The president himself is man of prayer and man who loves to receive prayer. He is a man who, I do believe, understands who the God of the Bible is and he wants to lift up the God of the Bible here in the United States.

“The Lord is working mightily in our government and I believe it is because God is being reverenced, God is being lifted up. Prayer is not foreign in the White House, it’s not foreign in the Executive Office Building; looking to God, looking through Bible studies, this is not foreign anymore.” – Michele Bachmann, speaking this weekend on Christian radio.

From Joe. My God.

There are few certainties in life, but there is no doubt that Trump is NOT NOW and NEVER WAS a man of God.

Trust The GOP, Do You?

Well, read this:

Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server.

The data leak contains a wealth of personal information on roughly 61 percent of the US population. Along with home addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the records include advanced sentiment analyses used by political groups to predict where individual voters fall on hot-button issues such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, as well as suspected religious affiliation and ethnicity. The data was amassed from a variety of sources—from the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove.

Deep Root Analytics, a conservative data firm that identifies audiences for political ads, confirmed ownership of the data to Gizmodo on Friday.

Verdict in on Philando Castile Killing

Remember this? I wrote about it last year.

A Minnesota jury has reached a verdict in the manslaughter trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year.  Yanez is on trial for one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety because Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter were also in the car.

Announcement soon.

UPDATE: NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS

Of course.

Trump’s Tweets Today Are The Most Unhinged And SELF-Destructive (And It’s Only 10:00 AM)

God knows why they just don’t take his phone away. Or give him a fake phone with a fake Twitter account.

This is how bad it has gotten: Trump’s own advisers have gone on television and stated that Trump’s tweets are not his policy.  Well, who knows? How can we tell? Would Trump agree with that?

Even this morning, Kellyanne Conway said that the media is obsessed with Trump’s tweets, implying that people should not place emphasis on them.  But that is in contradiction from what others in the White House – and Trump himself — have said:

“This obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little what he does as president …” Conway said during that interview.

“That’s his preferred method of communication with the American people,” said Craig Melvin, the show’s co-host.

“That’s not true,” Conway interjected.

“Well, he hasn’t given an interview in three weeks, so lately it has been his preferred method,” Melvin replied.

Even setting aside that three-week modification, Melvin is correct that the administration has touted Twitter as being more important than media coverage. After Trump won the presidency in November, he and his team were asked if he would stop tweeting so much as president. The answer? No — because the media can’t be trusted.

Shortly after the election, Trump spoke with CBS’s Leslie Stahl, telling her how he planned to moderate his Twitter use once he was sworn in.

“I’m going to do very restrained, if I use it at all, I’m going to do very restrained,” he said. “I find it tremendous. It’s a modern form of communication. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. It’s — it’s where it’s at.”

By January, his description of his Twitter habit was a bit less enthusiastic.

“Look, I don’t like tweeting. I have other things I could be doing. But I get very dishonest media, very dishonest press. And it’s my only way that I can counteract,” Trump told Reuters in January. That’s the theme: The media is the enemy, so Trump will tweet to the people directly.

On ABC’s “This Week” in January, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer made that same case.

And more to the point, even if his tweets are not policy, they sometimes contradict policy.  And that makes for headaches for Trump’s team.

Today being a prime example. Let’s start with his first four tweets of the day (which apparently were made while watching Morning Joe on MSNBC):

Let’s start with the first tweet at the bottom, where he calls “it” a “travel ban” and a “watered down, politically correct” version of his original executive order which banned all travel from 7 mostly-Muslim nations. Arguably, Trump is showing his intent to disfavor Muslims by the executive order, a point that has doomed the executive orders in court so far. In court briefs, DOJ lawyers have said the orders are “religion-neutral” in operation, drawing “distinctions among countries based on national-security risks identified by Congress and the Executive Branch, not religion, and applies evenhandedly in the six designated countries.”

There is also a glaring problem: the revised travel ban was authored by Trump’s administration and signed by Trump himself — the Justice Department’s role is merely defending its legality.  Why is he taking umbrage with the Justice Department?

In any event, his tweets this morning on the subject of the travel ban hurt his already weak case.

Next up on this morning’s hit parade, this:

Again, he was watching Fox & Friends and they were apparently talking about vacancies.  Odd that he would blame the Democrats, since they do not control the Senate (who has to improve Ambassadors and other certain posts).

Almost two months ago, Politico did a story on why this is taking so long, and it has nothing to do with the Democrats:

Hundreds of key jobs across the federal government remain vacant as a result of an overworked White House personnel office that is frustrating Cabinet secretaries and hampering President Donald Trump’s ability to carry out his ambitious legislative agenda.

The process is bogged down as a result of micromanaging by the president and senior staff, turf wars between the West Wing and Cabinet secretaries and a largely inexperienced and overworked staff, say more than a dozen sources including administration insiders, lobbyists, lawyers and Republican strategists.

Trump personally oversees the hiring process for agency staff by insisting on combing through a binder full of names each week and likes to sign off on each one, according to two people with knowledge of the administration’s hiring process. Also weighing in on the names — and not always agreeing on final picks — are leaders of sometimes warring factions, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, senior strategist Steve Bannon, Cabinet secretaries and, sometimes, the White House’s top lawyer, Don McGahn.

“It’s like a medieval court,” said one person advising potential nominees through the confirmation process. “The White House meets once a week to go over personnel in some attempt to create uniformity, but in this White House, you just have to smile at that. … It’s hard to impose uniformity among the White House’s different coalitions.”

The only uniformity is that potential hires must show fealty to the president. One person close to the White House said a sense of “paranoia” has taken over amid fears that disloyal hires might undercut Trump’s agenda or leak to the press.

Another reason they are having a hard time getting positions filled? People don’t want to serve under Trump. especially with a special counsel investigation and FBI probe hanging over the White House.

Even if it were true that Dems were somehow slowing up the confirmation process, that doesn’t explain the vacancies. From the LA Times:

What’s the effect? Just eight of 120 State Department posts, including ambassadorships, that require Senate confirmation have been filled, according to the Partnership for Public Service. As a result, foreign officials and diplomats struggle to find someone to discuss trade and security issues with.

We have officially entered hurricane season with no head of NOAA and no head of FEMA.

And in the Pentagon, Trump has filled only five of the 53 top jobs – the slowest pace for nominations and confirmations in over half a century. No Army Secretary. No Navy Secretary.

The hold-up, insiders say, is Trump’s insistence on absolute loyalty… to him.

The Washington Post has a wonderful database tracker page to keep up with Trump’s lack of progress on filling key positions.

And finally, Trump’s final tweet of the morning (we hope):

This is Trump engaging in an attack against London mayor Sadiq Khan (a Muslim) when Khan said that is “no reason to be alarmed”. Trump attacked that quote, complaining that London had just had a terrorist attack, and they should be freaking out (I guess).

What happened here? Trump watched Fox News, which had truncated the quote and changed its meaning:

But Mr Trump’s criticism is based on a quotation entirely removed from its context. He appears to be confused about what happened in part because Fox News repeated the same short quote but without the full remarks from the mayor of London.

What Mr Khan actually said was that there is no reason to be alarmed about the increased police presence on the streets after the attack.

“My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today,” Mr Khan said. “You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers.

“There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world. You saw last night as a consequence of our planning, our preparation, the rehearsals that take place, the swift response from the emergency services tackling the terrorists and also helping the injured.”

There is no reason to be alarmed by this… with “this” referring to the increased police presence.

Rather than admit he was misquoting Khan, Trump doubled down… on the mayor of a city just attacked by terrorists.

Could it be because this particular mayor is Muslim?

Today could have been a good day for Trump — he intended to announce an infrastructure bill (which Dems could get behind). But he squandered it with these Tweets.  With Comey testifying in a few days, Trump does not have many more chances to have “good days”.

Day 116. Jeopardized.

1/ Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats during their Oval Office meeting last week, which has jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Trump’s decision to disclose information risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. A US official said Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” Trump’s disclosures are not illegal as he has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it represents a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Trump is considering a “huge reboot” that could take out everyone from Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and Sean Spicer. Trump is irritated with several Cabinet members and “frustrated, and angry at everyone.” (Axios)

3/ Senate Republicans are looking at steep cuts to Medicaid that could drop millions of people from coverage and reduce programs for the poor. Under pressure to balance the budget, Republicans are considering slashing more than $400 billion in spending on food stamps, welfare, and even veterans’ benefits through a process to evade Democratic filibusters in the Senate. If the Medicaid cutbacks get passed by both chambers, it could significantly scale back the federal-state insurance program that covers 73 million low-income or disabled Americans and shift significant costs onto hospitals and states. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

4/ James Clapper said that US institutions are under assault from Trump and warned that federal checks and balances are eroding. Former Director of National Intelligence called on the other branches of the federal government to step up in their roles as a check on the executive. (CNN / Associated Press)

  • Republicans and Democrats agree that if Trump has tapes, he’ll need to turn them over to Congress. Lawmakers from both parties said any White House recordings must be preserved for congressional review and that “it’s probably inevitable” that they would be subpoenaed. (Washington Post)

5/ North Korea successfully test-fired a new type of ballistic missile, signaling an advance in their development of an intercontinental ballistic missile program. North Korea said the new “medium long-range” missile is capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, warning that the United States’ military bases in the Pacific were within its range. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / Associated Press)

  • Putin warns against “intimidating” North Korea after its latest missile launch. Putin called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and said that Russia is “categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states.” (CNN)

6/ The 9th Circuit Court will hear the travel ban appeal, again. A three-judge panel will hear a challenge to a Hawaii judge’s decision to halt travel ban 2.0. Lawyers at the Justice Department must convince at least two of the judges to ignore Trump’s record of campaign calls to ban Muslims from entering the US. (CNN)

7/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will brief the full Senate on Thursday about the firing of James Comey. The briefing is classified and will take place in the regular secure room in the Capitol Visitors Center. (CNN / Washington Post)

8/ The Supreme Court rejected an appeal to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification law, which a lower court said targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued a statement noting that there was a dispute about who represented the state in the case and that nothing should be read into the court’s decision to decline to hear it. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times)

9/ The Dakota Access pipeline has its first leak. The $3.8bn oil pipeline is not yet fully operational, but managed to spill 84 gallons of crude oil. (The Guardian)

10/ White Nationalist Richard Spencer led a torch-bearing group protesting the sale of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia. The group chanted “You will not replace us.” Spencer added: “What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced.” (NPR / Washington Post)

11/ Trump thinks that exercising too much uses up the body’s “finite” energy. Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.” (Washington Post)

12/ Comey said he’d be willing to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but wants it to be in public. Comey originally declined an invitation from the committee to be interviewed in a closed-door hearing. (New York Times)

13/ Syria is using a crematorium to hide executions, the State Department said. The US believes Syria’s “building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison.” A State Department official said the regime could be killing as many as 50 detainees a day. (CNN / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

14/ Senate Republicans are breaking away from Trump as they try to forge a more traditional Republican agenda and protect their political fortunes. Republican senators are drafting a health care bill with little White House input and pushing back on Trump’s impending budget request. Many high-ranking Republicans have said they will not support any move by Trump to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. (New York Times)

poll/ 29% approve of Trump’s firing of James Comey. Trump’s job-approval rating stands at 39%. (NBC News)

Trump’s Executive Order On “Religious Liberty”

I was dreading this. Trump signed it about half an hour ago.

But the final version of the order addresses two issues. First, it instructs the Internal Revenue Service to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion” in cases of pastors and other religious leaders speaking about political candidates from the pulpit, which is currently outlawed by a provision typically referred to as the Johnson Amendment. ““We are giving churches their voices back,” Trump said. Second, it provides “regulatory relief” to religious organizations that object to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires most employers to cover contraception in employee insurance plans.

This is good news.

Trump could not overturn the Johnson Amendment — that would require an act of Congress.  All he could to was instruct the IRS not to enforce it much, which it wasn’t doing anyway.  As for the regulatory relief, well, the Hobby Lobby case took care of that issue before he came into office.

So this doesn’t change things much (although it appeases his fundie base and Trump gets to do a victory lap).

There was no LGBTQ provision, which was in an earlier draft.

Maybe that’s why many fundamentalist people are not happy. On Twitter, the National Review columnist David French called the order “total weaksauce” and a “sop to the gullible.” Russell Moore, the head of the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said “I am hoping that the draft we are seeing this morning is not the entire project, and that more will be forthcoming.” And on Ryan Anderson, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation who works on religious issues, called the new order “woefully inadequate.”

Praise the Lord — Trump fools people again.

Trump Has More Civil War Issues

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!

Like many of Mr. Trump’s claims, the inscription was evidently not fact-checked.

“No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,” said Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, a historical preservation and education group devoted to an 1,800-square-mile section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont, including the Lowes Island site.

“The only thing that was remotely close to that,” Mr. Gillespie said, was 11 miles up the river at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861, a rout of Union forces in which several hundred were killed. “The River of Blood?” he added. “Nope, not there.”

Mr. Gillespie’s contradiction of the plaque’s account was seconded by Alana Blumenthal, the curator of the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg. (A third local expert, who said he had written to Mr. Trump’s company about the inscription’s falsehoods and offered to provide historically valid replacement text, insisted on anonymity because he did not want to cross the Trump Organization by disclosing a private exchange.)

And It Was Only Monday

Politico:

President Donald Trump questioned why the Civil War— which erupted 150 years ago over slavery — needed to happen. He said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong-Un, the violent North Korean dictator who is developing nuclear missiles and oppresses his people, under the “right circumstances.”

The president floated, and backed away from, a tax on gasoline. Trump said he was “looking at” breaking up the big banks, sending the stock market sliding. He seemed to praise Philippines strongman President Rodrigo Duterte for his high approval ratings. He promised changes to the Republican health care bill, though he has seemed unsure what was in the legislation, even as his advisers whipped votes for it.

And Monday still had nine hours to go.

It was a bewildering day of bizarre interviews.  (Note: Yesterday was the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month)

This morning, on Morning Joe, Mika and Joe admitted that Trump’s behavior is pathological, saying the President is literally unfit to serve. “Beyond bizarre.” “Erratic.” “A confused mental state.”  Interesting assessment, since Mika and Joe have done a lot over the past year to normalize Trump. Also on Morning Joe, Jon Meacham said Trump told him last year that he could’ve done a deal to stop the Civil War.

If it was a White House plan to flummox the press and the country, it is hard to see the purpose.  On one hand, it was more of the same. On the other hand, it was just too much, especially as he embarked on his post-100 presidency.

Let’s sum up yesterday:

1/ Congress reached a deal to keep the government open through September. The plan would add billions for the Pentagon and border security, but it doesn’t allow the money to be spent on building Trump’s wall. There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities. Votes in both chambers are expected by the end of the week. (CNN)

2/ North Korea said it will continue its nuclear weapons tests and bolster its nuclear force “to the maximum.” The North called US sanctions and its show of force – sending an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula and joint drills with South Korea – aggression and hysteria. (Reuters)

3/ Trump said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong Un if the circumstances were right. “I would be honored to do it,” he said amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. (Bloomberg)

  • Trump calls Kim Jong-un a “a pretty smart cookie” for managing to hold on to power after taking over at a young age. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump doesn’t know what’s in his health care bill. The Republican health care plan Trump described on Face the Nation is at odds with his health care goals. He said that people with preexisting conditions will be protected, but the latest amendment says they won’t be. Trump also said deductibles will go down under the Republican plan, but a nonpartisan analysis expects deductibles to go up. (Vox)

  • GOP faces a make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal. This week may be the last, best chance to get it done in the House. (Politico)

5/ The administration ends Michelle Obama’s girls education program. The “Let Girls Learn” program comes to an end as Melania Trump begins to define her own platform as first lady. (CNN)

6/ The Department of Agriculture is relaxing Obama-era school lunch standards. The new rules suspend the sodium reduction and whole-grain requirements, as well as allow 1% fat chocolate milk back into school cafeterias nationwide because of “palatability issues.” (ABC News)

7/ Trump claims Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War and wonders why that the issues “could not have been worked out.” Jackson died 16 years before the war began. Trump suggested that if Jackson had been president “a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War.” (Associated Press)


8/ Trump abruptly ended an interview after being pushed on his claims that Obama ordered surveillance of him. He said his allegation that he was illegally surveilled has “been proven very strongly” and that he is entitled to his own “opinions.” (Politico)

  • Trump’s interview with “Face the Nation.” (CBS News)

9/ Trump invited Duterte to visit him at the White House after their “very friendly conversation.” The authoritarian leader is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, which has drawn criticism from human rights groups. The State Department and the National Security Council were both caught off guard by the invitation and raised objections internally. (New York Times)

  • Rodrigo Duterte says he may be too busy for a White House visit. (New York Times)

10/ Reince Priebus said the Trump administration has “looked at” changes to libel laws that would curtail press freedoms. Trump has frequently slammed the press for its coverage of him and has suggested changing libel laws. Libel is when defamatory statements about someone are published. But the American press enjoys some protection from lawsuits claiming libel because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech rights. (ABC News)

11/ Trump says his rally crowd broke records despite empty seats at his 100-day rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. Journalists pointed out rows of empty seats at the expo center. (The Hill)

Just insane.  Most of the focus was on Trump’s comments regarding Andrew Jackson, which he tried to clean up in a tweet saying that Jackson was dead 16 years before the Civil War (see everyone, I knew that!) but he saw it coming and was angry about it.

No, he didn’t see it coming, and he wasn’t angry about it. Trump just made that up.

Also…

Anyway….. Seth Meyers puts it together

This morning, we get two more tweets.  Clearly he was tweeting in response to the show he was watching, but we don’t know what that is:

Uh…. he WANTS a government shutdown?  Interesting, seeing as he blamed Democrats four days ago for almost bringing on a government shutdown. Remember this?

Government shutdowns are bad, Mr. President. Here’s what happened in 2013 when we did that:

  • $2.5 billion in compensation costs for furloughed workers (whose lack of pay for two weeks hampered consumer spending);
  • 120,000 fewer private-sector jobs created in the first half of October;
  • $500 million lost in visitor spending because of closed National Parks ;
  • $11 million in lost National Parks and Smithsonian Institution revenue;
  • Interest accrued on billions of dollars of payments owed to third parties that the government was unable to pay during the shutdown;
  • Resources spent on putting activities in standby or maintaining them in an idle mode;
  • 1.2 million Internal Revenue Service identity verification requests that couldn’t be processed, causing a delay in private-sector lending and other activities;
  • Stalled approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delayed moving products to market.

Yyyyeah. Of course, as President, he COULD just veto what he doesn’t like. Does he know that yet?

Look, when Trump was a businessman and failed, he simply declared bankruptcy. I think, in Trump’s mind, “shutdown” is the political equivalent of bankruptcy.  I think he saw the morning shows and saw that his Trumpcare was failing (again).  He wants a “shutdown”, a clean slate (in his mind).

2017 Tony Nominees

Best Musical

Come From Away

Dear Evan Hansen

Groundhog Day

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Best Play

A Doll’s House, Part 2

Indecent

Oslo

Sweat

Falsettos

Hello, Dolly!

Miss Saigon

Best Revival of a Play

Jitney

The Little Foxes

Present Laughter

Six Degrees of Separation

Best Book of a Musical

Come From Away,” Irene Sankoff and David Hein

“Dear Evan Hansen,” Steven Levenson

“Groundhog Day,” Danny Rubin

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” Dave Malloy

Best Original Score

“Come From Away,” Music and Lyrics: Irene Sankoff and David Hein

“Dear Evan Hansen,” Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

“Groundhog Day,” Music and Lyrics: Tim Minchin

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” Music and Lyrics: Dave Malloy

Best Leading Actor in a Play

Denis Arndt, “Heisenberg”

Chris Cooper, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Corey Hawkins, “Six Degrees of Separation”

Kevin Kline, “Present Laughter”

Jefferson Mays, “Oslo”

Best Leading Actress in a Play

Cate Blanchett, “The Present”

Jennifer Ehle, “Oslo”

Sally Field, “The Glass Menagerie”

Laura Linney, “The Little Foxes”

Laurie Metcalf, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best Leading Actor in a Musical

Christian Borle, “Falsettos”

Josh Groban, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Andy Karl, “Groundhog Day”

David Hyde Pierce, “Hello, Dolly!”

Ben Platt, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best Leading Actress in a Musical

Denée Benton, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Christine Ebersole, “War Paint”

Patti LuPone, “War Paint”

Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!”

Eva Noblezada, “Miss Saigon”

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Michael Aronov, “Oslo”

Danny DeVito, “The Price”

Nathan Lane, “The Front Page”

Richard Thomas, “The Little Foxes”

John Douglas Thompson, “Jitney”

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Johanna Day, “Sweat”

Jayne Houdyshell, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Cynthia Nixon, “The Little Foxes”

Condola Rashad, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Michelle Wilson, “Sweat”

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Gavin Creel, “Hello, Dolly!”

Mike Faist, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Andrew Rannells, “Falsettos”

Lucas Steele, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Brandon Uranowitz, “Falsettos”

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, “Hello, Dolly!”

Stephanie J. Block, “Falsettos”

Jenn Colella, “Come From Away”

Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Mary Beth Peil, “Anastasia”

Best Scenic Design of a Play

David Gallo, “Jitney”

Nigel Hook, “The Play That Goes Wrong”

Douglas W. Schmidt, “The Front Page”

Michael Yeargan, “Oslo”

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Rob Howell, “Groundhog Day”

David Korins, “War Paint”

Mimi Lien, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood, “The Little Foxes”

Susan Hilferty, “Present Laughter”

Toni-Leslie James, “Jitney”

David Zinn, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Linda Cho, “Anastasia”

Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

Paloma Young, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Catherine Zuber, “War Paint”

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent”

Jane Cox, “Jitney”

Donald Holder, “Oslo”

Jennifer Tipton, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Howell Binkley, “Come From Away”

Natasha Katz, “Hello, Dolly!”

Bradley King, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Japhy Weideman, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best Direction of a Play

Sam Gold, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “Jitney”

Bartlett Sher, “Oslo”

Daniel Sullivan, “The Little Foxes”

Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent”

Best Direction of a Musical

Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away”

Rachel Chavkin, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Michael Greif, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Matthew Warchus, “Groundhog Day”

Jerry Zaks, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best Choreography

Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand”

Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, “Groundhog Day”

Kelly Devine, “Come From Away”

Denis Jones, “Holiday Inn”

Sam Pinkleton, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best Orchestrations

Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, “Bandstand”

Larry Hochman, “Hello, Dolly!”

Alex Lacamoire, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Dave Malloy, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater

James Earl Jones

Special Tony Award

Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, Sound Designers for “The Encounter”

Regional Theater Tony Award

Dallas Theater Center, Dallas

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Baayork Lee

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater

Nina Lannan

Alan Wasser

Trump Loses In Federal Court…. Again…. This Time on Sanctuary Cities

A federal district court ruling yesterday bars President Trump from withholding funds from jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal agencies to deport undocumented immigrants, marking his second setback in court on immigration.  The first setback, of course, was his Muslim ban.

Before I get to the substance of this post, first things first:

No, it wasn’t the Ninth Circuit that ruled against Donald — it was a federal district court — one level down.  Yes, the court is within the Ninth Circuit, but it isn’t the ACTUAL Ninth Circuit court itself.  So the next stop isn’t the Supreme Court, it’s the Ninth Circuit.

Also, it wasn’t JUST the Ninth Circuit that ruled against Trump’s Muslim ban; it was a federal district court in Maryland.  And Massachusetts, I believe, as well.

*Sigh*.  He apparently thinks you sue a circuit court when you don’t like a decision.

Look, the opinion was a no-brainer.

Trump’s order, signed Jan. 25, threatened to cut off funding from local governments that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. Santa Clara County and the city of San Francisco challenged the order, arguing, among other things, that the president doesn’t have the power to withhold federal money.

They’re right. He doesn’t.

The 49-page ruling focused largely on an all-too-familiar theme for this administration: the consequences of bragging and bluster by Trump and top administration officials.

Just like the judges who ruled on Trump’s travel ban, Judge Orrick homed in on the vast discrepancies between what government lawyers defending the sanctuary cities order argued in court and what administration officials said about it in public.

In court, the government tried to make the case that the order doesn’t actually do anything, at least not at the moment, because the administration has yet to define what exactly a sanctuary city is or threaten any particular jurisdiction with a loss of funds.  It was their way of convincing the judge to toss out the lawsuit on the grounds that no city or county has yet suffered any harm.

The problem with that approach is that administration officials boasted about how the order would force sanctuary cities to their knees, singling out particular places.  So, in court, the Trump lawyers argued that it was essentially an empty shell even though it was portrayed in news conferences, briefings and television interviews as a powerful tool to protect the public from dangerous undocumented immigrants being shielded by wayward cities and counties.

Fine,said, Judge Orrick. If the order is powerless, then surely you won’t mind if I impose this injunction which prevents you from actually doing anything. So that’s what he did.

I somehow don’t think Trump was briefed about that, because he is treating it as a loss.  Which it IS, but it’s just what his lawyers argued.

According to Orrick, the government contended that the order was merely an example of Trump using the “bully pulpit” to “highlight a changed approach to immigration enforcement” — in essence, something much more benign than what Trump and company had described.

The argument was lost on the judge, who ridiculed the government’s position as “schizophrenic.”

“If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments,” Orrick wrote.

“Is the Order merely a rhetorical device,” he added, “or a ‘weapon’ to defund the Counties and those who have implemented a different law enforcement strategy than the Government currently believes is desirable?”

The ruling continued: “The statements of the President, his press secretary and the Attorney General belie the Government’s argument in the briefing that the Order does not change the law. They have repeatedly indicated an intent to defund sanctuary jurisdictions in compliance with the Executive Order.”

Here is the decision.  If you do nothing else, read the last paragraph.

The Hole Left By Bill O’Reilly Is Filled By Another Skeevy Guy

So with Bill O’Reilly out at Fox News, they’ve done some moving around of people, but they still need to promote talent to fill O’Reilly’s absence.  That guy is Jesse Watters, an O’Reilly protege of sorts (appearing on O’Reilly regularly). He’s not a pundit — more like Fox’s answer to a political humorist. Except he’s not funny.  Kind of a jerk.  Think of Rupert Pupkin.

Watters premiered this week with “The Five”, Fox’s panel discussion show, which moved to O’Reilly’s slot.  And, well…..the trouble for Watters started on Tuesday, when he said that he liked the way that Ivanka Trump was “speaking into that microphone” during a panel discussion on The Five, as he smiled and made a gesture with his hands that seemed to imply he was talking about oral sex.

Notice how he said it just seconds after he decryed “liberals” for apparently claiming that they respect women, but booing Ivanka Trump in Germany.

Getting hit with the backlash today, Watters tried to defend his remarks:

People aren’t buying it:

And of course, even if you accept his perspective, he’s still reducing her to superficial features (it’s her voice, not what she’s saying).

And you wonder why Fox has a sexual harassment problem.

Is WikiTribune The Answer To “Fake News”?

Nieman Lab:

Good things can happen when a crowd goes to work on trying to figure out a problem in journalism. At the same time, completely crowdsourced news investigations can go bad without oversight — as when, for example, a group of Redditors falsely accused someone of being the Boston Marathon bomber. An entirely crowdsourced investigation with nobody to oversee it or pay for it will probably go nowhere. At the same time, trust in the media is low and fact-checking efforts have become entwined with partisan politics.

So what would happen if you combined professional journalism with fact checking by the people? On Monday evening, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launched Wikitribune, an independent site (not affiliated with Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation) “that brings journalists and a community 
of volunteers together” in a combination that Wales hopes will combat fake news online — initially in English, then in other languages.

The site is launching with a crowdfunding campaign to fund the first Wikitribune journalists (the default amount is $10 a month, but users can donate any amount they wish) “with the first issue of Wikitribune following shortly.” The Wikitribune page said that the goal is to hire 10 journalists.

The idea is that the professional journalists will be paid to write “global news stories,” while volunteer contributors will “vet the facts, helps make sure the language is factual and neutral, and will to the maximum extent possible be transparent about the source of news posting full transcripts, video, and audio of interviews. In this way Wikitribune aims to combat the increasing proliferation of online fake news.”

The Wiki concept is always interesting, but the old adage of computers remains true: “garbage in, garbage out”.  Crowdsourcing, as the article suggests, is not necessarily the best way to get at truths, and we just had an election where huge percentages of people swallowed false news line and hook.  So just how will WikiTribune deal with this?  Described above, it just sounds like professional journalists being edited by, well, everybody.  A lot of sniping about semantics.

And even if the changes are substantive, at what point in the never-ending editing and rewriting process does an article cease to be by the person who originally wrote it? The answer to this question will have to be reflected in WikiTribune’s design. If the model is anything like Wikipedia’s page history, the level of transparency that is necessary can make it incredibly time-consuming for readers to synthesize the true source of what they’re reading.

And suppose journalist Jones quotes Congressman Smith, and Congressman Smith wants to retract? Or alter slightly the words he said? He can just go into Wikitribune and edit.  And who is to say who is right?

Still, Wikipedia, despite having accuracy problems here and there, does actually self-correct over time, and that’s a good starting model. The question is whether or not “news” has the time for that kind of self-correction before it stops being news.

 

The Culture At Fox News

Apparently, someone unearthed an accusation of sexual harassment against Sean Hannity, and the accuser is a right wing pundit Debbie Schlussel, who apparently stands by the story but says it doesn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment, but she may sue Hannity anyway because he insulted her in his denial and….

Well, I’m just going to put this here.  Apparently, there are more heads that need to roll at Fox News.  Maybe not Hannity’s, but certainly whoever is running that place.  Someone higher up.  Time for a better corporate culture.

UPDATE:  Okay fine — here’s the Daily Beast summary:

During a Friday interview with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based radio host Pat Campbell, former Fox News guest Debbie Schlussel accused Hannity of inviting her to his hotel room before and after a debate with a pro-Palestinian guest in Detroit. Schlussel said she rejected Hannity’s alleged advances and that she was never invited on his show again.

Schlussel and Hannity were scheduled to speak together at the Detroit show, Schlussel said. But before the show, Hannity allegedly invited her to an event at a nearby bookstore. The Daily Beast was not able to confirm whether the pair ever spoke at such a show.

“He had some event at a bookstore where he signed his book for people standing in line. He asked me to come meet him at this book signing,” Schlussel said on Campbell’s show. “So I met him there and it was very awkward. He had me up there with him while he signed books and I felt very weird. These people don’t know me and they didn’t come for me to sign their books. Then I left to get ready for the show, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come back with me to my hotel?’ and I said no, I have to get ready for the show.”

Shortly before the show, Hannity allegedly told Schlussel they would team up against another panelist. But Schlussel told Campbell that the move was a “head-fake” against her.

“Sean came up to me and said we’re gonna double-team (which was a weird phrase to use) this Palestinian guy that I was up against on the show,” Schlussel said. “And then every time I tried to open my mouth and say something, they yelled at me and said obey your host, you can’t say anything or else we’re gonna shut off your microphone.”

After the show, Schlussel claims Hannity made another advance on her. “My dad and my brother were there in the green room,” Schlussel said, claiming that Hannity “tried to get me to go back with him to the hotel after the show.”

Schlussel claimed she rejected the offer a second time, and was not invited on any future Hannity programs.

“After that, I wasn’t booked on his show again. And he called me and yelled at me,” Schlussel said. “I got a very weird feeling about the whole thing, and I kind of knew I wouldn’t be back on his show.”

After her comments to Talk 1170 Radio received widespread media attention, Schlussel told Law Newz that she would not characterize Hannity’s behavior as sexual harassment. “I would never accuse him of that. Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law,” she said.

She did, however, confirm that Hannity had propositioned her. “I never thought I was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, I thought he was weird and creepy,” she said.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Hannity denied Schlussel’s allegations and accused her of seeking attention.

“LET ME BE CLEAR THE COMMENTS ABOUT ME ON A RADIO SHOW THIS WEEK by this individual ARE 100 percent false and a complete fabrication,” Hannity wrote. “This individual is a serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade. The individual has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation.”

“The individual has not just slandered me over the years but many people who this individual disagrees with,” Hannity wrote. “This individual desperately seeks attention by any means necessary, including making unfounded personal attacks and using indefensible and outrageous political rhetoric.”

He went on to threaten legal action against Schlussel.

“My patience with this individual is over. I have retained a team of some of the finest and toughest lawyers in the country who are now in the process of laying out the legal course of action we will be taking against this individual. In this fiercely divided and vindictive political climate I will no longer allow slander and lies about me to go unchallenged, as I see a coordinated effort afoot to now silence those with conservative views. I will fight every single lie about me by all legal means available to me as an American.”

Hannity and Schlussel have a history of clashing, after she wrote a 2010 blog post accusing him of running a scam charity for military families. Schlussel alleged that less than 4 percent of the revenue from Hannity’s “Freedom Concerts” went to U.S. troops and their families, and that most of the concerts’ earnings went to lavish expenses. Hannity and his colleagues denied the allegations.

In 2007, Schlussel wrote a blog post accusing Hannity of “deliberately ripping off” an anti-Muslim column she wrote in the New York Post.

“That’s Sean Hannity for you,” she wrote in the 2007 post. “This is not the first time he’s done this to me, just the latest.”

UPDATE #2:  And it isn’t just sexual harassment. Fox News has a race problem:

The letter also includes new allegations of racism in Fox News’ accounting department. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Slater demanded that black female employees hold “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in her office, just down the hall from Ailes’s office on the second floor of Fox headquarters. “Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.

The new claims, if true, reveal not just the failures of the legal and HR departments to deal with problematic managers but also just how deep the culture of discrimination and harassment may have run during Ailes’s reign.