Notes and Comment Blog


If I want

Aug 20th, 2018 3:59 pm | By

Jeff Mason of Reuters:

“I could jump over the garage if I want. I could beat you up if I want. I could go into the bank and take all their money if I want. I could…I could…I could eat all the chocolate in the world if I want.”



At a conference on preventing cyberbullying

Aug 20th, 2018 3:39 pm | By

Today Melania Trump told people not to be abusive on social media.

Melania Trump warned that social media can be used in a “destructive and harmful” manner during remarks Monday at a conference on preventing cyberbullying. On the morning that she attended the event in Rockville, Md., her husband ripped into his adversaries on Twitter.

“In today’s global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives,” the first lady said. “It can be used in many positive ways but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly.”

After the first lady spoke, she listened to a panel titled “Perspectives From Social Media Industry: Existing Efforts to Support Youth.” One of the speakers was Lauren Culbertson, Twitter’s public policy manager.

“We have strong rules against abusive behavior, and we’ve leveraged technology to help us enforce those rules,” Culbertson said during the session.

No, they don’t. They really don’t. Their “rules” are no more effective against abusive behavior than Melania’s bleats about using social media “correctly.”

President Trump had already spent part of his morning on Twitter calling special counsel Robert S. Mueller III “disgraced and discredited.” After the first lady’s speech, the president was again on Twitter, calling John Brennan “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history.”

Which, in a president, is about as abusive as it gets.

Trump’s use of Twitter to target his real and perceived enemies is well known. Only last week he prompted an uproar by referring to former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as “that dog” — a term many found to be racist and misogynistic.

While many didn’t? Come on. Of course it’s racist and misogynistic to call a black woman “that dog.”

Anyway, the point is, it borders on insulting for Melania Trump to be lecturing us on not using social media to abuse when she’s married to the world’s biggest abuser and recently saw fit to announce that she really doesn’t care.



Such a starkly disproportionate impact

Aug 20th, 2018 12:22 pm | By

That Georgia county that’s planning to close 7 of its 9 polling places is getting a lot of attention from civil rights groups.

The closures would come just before a high-stakes midterm election in which Stacey Abrams, a black woman, is the Democratic nominee for governor.

“This is nothing more than a racially motivated, voter suppression scheme that aims to lock Black voters out of a historic election cycle,” Kristen Clarke, who leads the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights Under Law, tweeted on Sunday. The Lawyers’ Committee, representing three Georgia civil rights groups, sent a letter to the Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration threatening legal action if the plan moves forward.

It’s a rural county, with no public transportation, and a majority-black population.

Some residents would have to travel more than 10 miles to vote in a county that lacks public transportation. According to the Census Bureau, the county is more than 60 percent black, and 30 percent of residents live in poverty, nearly twice Georgia’s 16 percent statewide poverty rate.

Last week, the Georgia chapter of the ACLU likewise threatened legal action against the county. In a letter, the group pointed out that the transportation difficulties of reaching a polling location would fall disproportionately on the county’s poor, black, rural voters. “When polling place configurations or closures have such a starkly disproportionate impact on racial minorities or lower-income rural voters without transportation, such closures almost certainly constitute a violation of the Voting Rights Act or the United States Constitution,” the letter warned.

That kind of crap used to be absolutely routine in the South, and that’s why Johnson pushed for the Voting Rights Act.

The election board defended its plan at two contentious public meetings last week, according to the local Fox affiliate. A consultant hired by the board explained that the seven locations slated for closure are not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the board doesn’t have time to fix the problem before the election. The Lawyers’ Committee, finding the justification unreasonable, submitted a public records request in order to acquire information about how the board reached its decision. Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican nominee for governor, issued a statement urging the county to abandon the plan; Abrams likewise announced her opposition.

The plan to close these precincts was made possible by the Supreme Court, which in 2013 struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act that required jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to clear changes to voting procedures with the federal government. In his decision, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the South had changed since the law passed in 1965, and that the burden of clearing changes with the government was no longer necessary.

Ha. Ha ha ha fucking ha.



His cis, straight, liberal parents

Aug 20th, 2018 11:57 am | By

Oh good god.

Staggered by the malevolent stupidity of that opening I rushed to find the source: “The ‘Nanette’ Problem.”

It took me a while to write a critique of Nanette, the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s universally praised one-woman Netflix special that premiered in June, because I couldn’t quite figure out what I hated about it.

But when my cis, straight, liberal parents told me how much they loved it, the reason for my dislike coalesced: In order to make straight, cis viewers feel comfortably woke, Gadsby shits on an entire language of comedy developed over decades largely by Jews and queers. The greatest trick Gadsby pulls is convincing those who have little interest in actual gender, sexuality, or political radicalism — and apparently little knowledge of comedy — that they are watching something new and radical.

“Little interest in gender,” says a man about a feminist lesbian. I guess this man simply assumes that people he calls “cis” have little interest in gender, because of being “cis” and all? That it’s only people who declare themselves trans or queer or nonbinary who have lotta interest in gender? Needless to say, Peter takes care to let us know he’s nonbinary.

Comedy, Gadsby says, cannot hold her trauma — and so she spends the last half of her show explicating her trauma, saying that she actually cut off a true story at the halfway point earlier in the set, because in truth it ended with her being beaten up for being gay, and that no one would laugh at that.

Gadsby is good at relaying these powerful and heartbreaking stories of trauma. They’re important to tell. As a nonbinary person with trans and queer friends who have been harassed and assaulted for who they are, they resonated with me. But it’s in her analysis of comedy that Gadsby lost me.

So apparently it’s only nonbinary, trans, and queer people who understand about being harassed and assaulted for who they are? Lesbians aren’t good enough? Women aren’t good enough? They’re all way too old hat and wrong wave and “cis” and parent-like?

Comedy can be radical; it’s just that when it is, it’s not typically on Netflix. Queer and trans people have been performing comedy that transgresses how we traditionally think of the form: sets without easy punchlines that are weird and often unreadable unless you’ve been deep into the lexicon of queerness for years. There’s new, fresh, and interesting queer comedy being performed in basements and clubs in New York and elsewhere (see: here and here ) — but it’s comedy that is written and performed in a self-referential vernacular built over years that makes it mostly accessible only to fellow queers (and less-covered by the mainstream media).

In other words, Peter Moskowitz is cooler than any of us can dream of being, and obviously way cooler than that boring lesbian Hannah Gadsby.

In a few lines, Gadsby completely lets her audience off the hook, transforming justified queer rage (whether it comes in the form of outward anger or inwardly facing self-deprecating humor) that is often ignored by the mainstream press and the rest of society because it can be so challenging to power structures, into a fault within herself, and by extension all of us.

As a queer person, I want my anger to be heard. I believe my anger constructive, even if it’s self-deprecating, and even if you don’t get it. By telling us we need to challenge our anger, sublimate it into love and understanding lest we destroy the world, Gadsby is not challenging her audience, she’s challenging her fellow queers to be more respectful, more civil, to display our pain in ways that cis, straight people can appreciate, in ways that get us called groundbreaking by those who have broken no ground, and have no interest in listening to us when we speak in ways that are unreadable. Gadsby hasn’t changed comedy, she’s just let cis and straight people in on the joke. And there’s nothing radical about that.

Seriously. The whole point is to exclude cis and straight people.



To try to prevent these abuses in the future

Aug 20th, 2018 11:19 am | By

Brennan says he’s willing to take Trump to court to prevent him from taking any more security clearances away for personal vindictive reasons.

“I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future, and if it means going to court, I will do that,” Brennan said in an appearance on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”

Brennan voiced his eagerness to challenge Trump on the same day that national security adviser John Bolton floated the idea of a sweeping review of all security clearances held by those both inside and outside the government. Such a review could affect more than 4 million Americans.

A review overseen by Bolton and Trump? Not a good plan.

Brennan, who is among Trump’s most outspoken critics, was abruptly stripped of his clearance by the White House last week. Brennan said Sunday that since then, a number of lawyers have contacted him to offer advice on pursuing an injunction to prevent Trump from taking similar actions in the future.

I imagine a great sea of restive lawyers out there, driven to near madness by a president with such a thoroughgoing disdain for the rule of law.

“If my clearances — and my reputation, as I’m being pulled through the mud now — if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people, to me, it’s a small price to pay,” Brennan said.

He did not elaborate on what such a legal move would entail.

Asked during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” about a possible lawsuit by Brennan, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, described it as a welcome opportunity.

“I would volunteer to do that case for the president. I would love to have Brennan under oath,” Giuliani said. “We will find out about Brennan, and we will find out what a terrible job he did.”

What a sack of shit Giuliani is.

As furor over Trump’s actions has intensified, the president has shown no signs of backing down. According to senior administration officials, the White House is preparing paperwork to strip the clearances of several other current and former officials who have either sharply critiqued Trump or have played a role in the Russia probe.

That last one looks like yet more obstruction of justice.

H/t Rob at Miscellany Room



An epithet too many

Aug 20th, 2018 10:44 am | By

Steve Benen at Maddow Blog gives some details on why it’s so absurd for Trump to scream about “McCarthyism.”

First, Trump might want to read his first book. In “The Art of the Deal,” his ghostwriter wrote, “Tough as he was, Roy Cohn had a lot of friends, and I’m not embarrassed to say I was one. He was a truly loyal guy.”

In a more recent interview with the Washington Post, Trump said of Cohn, “Some people didn’t like him, and some people were offended by him. I mean, they would literally leave a dinner. I had one evening where three or four people got up from a table and left the table because they couldn’t stand the mention of his name. But with all of that being said, he did a very good job for me as a lawyer. I get a kick out of winning, and Roy would win.”

Trump’s morality in a nutshell – he likes to win and he doesn’t give the tiniest damn about how he does it.

Also, Trump’s gang love McCarthy. Of course they do.

And third, if anyone in contemporary politics can credibly claim the mantle to McCarthyism, it’s the president who’s now asking us to “study” the late senator’s tactics. To understand anything about McCarthyism is to recognize the fact that the GOP demagogue relied on baseless allegations and conspiracy theories to generate fear. When pressed for evidence to support his incendiary accusations, McCarthy always refused, lashing out at those who asked.

Aka reversing victim and offender. Trump does it all the time.



Hiding in plain sight

Aug 20th, 2018 10:35 am | By

A new book says Trump may be a Russian asset compromised by billions of laundered dollars in shady real estate deals.

In House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia, veteran journalist and author Craig Unger names 59 Russians as business associates of Trump (who has claimed he has none) and follows the purported financial links between them and the Trump Organization going back decades.

Newsweek asked Unger some questions.

You call this the greatest intelligence operation of our time. What do you mean by that?
It started out as a simple money-laundering operation at Trump Tower in 1984, when a Russian mobster came to Trump Tower with $6 million in cash and bought five condos. This is the template for what begins to unfold. At least 1,300 of Trump condos in the United States have been sold similarly. All cash purchases through anonymous sources. Those numbers reflect only domestic property. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the KGB decided to create multibillion-dollar companies to survive. The use of the term mafia state is not just a metaphor. It really explains how Russia works. The mafia essentially reports to Putin.

But, Newsweek says, the Trumps have always talked about this openly, so how does the government not know about it? Unger says the real estate industry has terrible regulation.

Which of your findings do you think Americans would find most shocking?
There is a Russian asset in the White House. He is an asset. I believe he is an agent, but it’s hard to prove he is knowledgeable. When you look at the 59 Russians, some live in Trump Tower. The Russian mafia is a state actor, and it has direct ties to Russian intelligence, and they have been located in the home of the president of the United States!

And not only is he an asset, he is also a very obedient asset. Helsinki.



A scramble on Saturday

Aug 20th, 2018 9:46 am | By

Oopsie. Trump’s lawyers don’t know exactly what McGahn told the Mueller team.

The president’s lawyers said on Sunday that they were confident that Mr. McGahn had said nothing injurious to the president during the 30 hours of interviews. But Mr. McGahn’s lawyer has offered only a limited accounting of what Mr. McGahn told the investigators, according to two people close to the president.

That has prompted concern among Mr. Trump’s advisers that Mr. McGahn’s statements could help serve as a key component for a damning report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which the Justice Department could send to Congress, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

But that’s ok, because Trump is telling us on Twitter that Mueller is “disgraced” so naturally nobody will care about his stinky old report.

Or, even more likely, the Republicans will just bury it…unless they’re outnumbered.

Trump’s lawyers realized they had this little problem once they read the Times story about McGahn. I’m sure that made for a jolly weekend.

The article set off a scramble on Saturday among Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers. The president, sequestered at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., solicited opinions from a small group of advisers on the possible repercussions from the article. The president ordered Mr. Giuliani to tell reporters that the article was wrong, but Mr. Giuliani did not go that far in his television appearances.

Donnie ordered Rudy to lie for him but Rudy told slightly fewer lies than Donnie ordered him to tell. This is the state of things.

Mr. Trump was rattled by the Times report, according to people familiar with his thinking. The president, who is said to be obsessed with the role that John W. Dean, the White House counsel to President Richard M. Nixon, played as an informant during Watergate, was jolted by the notion that he did not know what Mr. McGahn had shared.

I hope he’s miserable. I hope he’s stressed all to fuck and climbing the walls.



The enemies list

Aug 19th, 2018 3:24 pm | By

Heads of government aren’t supposed to punish their critics. That may be normal in Saudi Arabia, but it’s not normal in putative democracies.

Nixon did it anyway.

Nixon’s Enemies List, officially called his “Opponents List,” was a document that was initially compiled by presidential advisor George T. Bell for Charles Colson, the infamous “hatchet man.” Colson turned over the list to White House Counsel John Dean on September 9, 1971. The list, which at first included 20 names, was a compilation of figures from all walks of life, ranging from the actor Paul Newman (“Radic-Lib causes … Heavy McCarthy involvement ’68”) to journalists such as Mary McGrory and Daniel Schorr (a “real media enemy”) to politicians like the African American legislators Ron Dellums and John Conyers (“a leading black anti-Nixon spokesman”), to the labor leader Leonard Woodstock, president of the United Auto Workers. The New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath even made the document.

The goal of the Enemies List was to highlight and target some of the president’s most pesky critics. The document described “how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”

The White House attempted to use numerous tactics to go after these figures. The Internal Revenue Service turned to audits as a method of harassment, while federal contracts became a tool to punish other perceived enemies of the state.

Enemies of the Nixon, rather.

The list remained hidden from public view. In the early 1970s, the president and his advisers assumed that doing any of this out in the open would be devastating. There was still a sense of norms that restrained an administration from publicly abusing its power in this way. Americans only learned of the list on June 27, 1973, when Dean informed the Senate Watergate Committee about what his colleagues had done. Dean told the panel that “There was also maintained, what was called, an Enemies List, which was rather extensive and continually being updated.”

The Enemies List became yet one more piece of evidence that Nixon had abused his power. In the path toward Nixon’s resignation, the shocking news that a president was willing to act in this fashion against citizens who were legitimately doing their business fueled the feeling of anger and betrayal that played into a bigger narrative of how he misused the office. Colson went to visit Senator Lowell Weicker, a Connecticut Republican, to deny compiling the list. But when Colson admitted authoring the memo about Gibbons, Weicker exploded with anger and ordered Colson out of his office.

The list made it into Article II of the impeachment charges drawn up against Nixon: “He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in the income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

But that was then. Now? Trump has Fox News, and Putin, and Twitter, and a pack of craven Republicans in Congress. He also has a psychopathic level of indifference to norms and rules; he does what he wants until someone can stop him.



They blame Canada first

Aug 19th, 2018 2:54 pm | By

I guess some people are saying Trudeau should apologize to the Saudis, because a former Canadian ambassador to the UN says he should not.

Urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to jump on a plane to Riyadh to apologize for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s tweet on Saudi human rights abuses is bad advice. Suggesting that we should seek U.S. President Donald Trump’s intervention with the Saudis is no better. And portraying Saudi Arabia as a friend and ally is preposterous.

Apologists for the Saudis need to give their heads a shake. Saudi Arabian authorities continue to subject peaceful dissidents to arbitrary arrests, trials and convictions. Human rights defenders are imprisoned and tortured into confessing.

Saudi authorities continue to discriminate against religious minorities and women. Without a man’s permission, women cannot marry, open a bank account, get major medical treatment, obtain a passport or travel. Nor can women dress as they please in public; black head-to-foot garb is the standard, even in the sizzling heat of a Saudi summer.

According to Human Rights Watch, judges routinely sentence defendants to floggings consisting of hundreds of lashes. Raif Badawi, whose wife and children are Canadian, was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes – for doing nothing more than blogging. His sister, prominent women’s rights activist Samar Badawi, was recently arrested, possibly for urging for his release. All this while Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman enthusiastically promotes his liberal Vision 2030 plans abroad.

And there’s the way they treat foreign domestic workers (hint: extremely badly and racist-ly).

Ms. Freeland’s tweet did not come out of the blue. The Trudeau government has been engaging in quiet diplomacy with the kingdom to release Mr. Badawi since it came to office three years ago. The tweet came after the regime’s arrest of Samar Badawi, which itself followed a phone conversation between Mr. Trudeau and King Salman. Quiet diplomacy has accomplished nothing so far. The language used in the tweet was consistent with past press releases by successive Canadian governments. Ms. Freeland’s detractors should focus their attention on the threatening language about Canada promoted on Saudi television and the aggressive style of governance of the inexperienced Crown Prince. But they blame Canada first.

Where would you prefer to live, Canada or Saudi Arabia? Especially if you’re a woman, an atheist, African, Malaysian, Sri Lankan…

As for asking for Mr. Trump’s intervention with Riyadh, the only thing worse than his rejection would be his acceptance. The last thing we need in the NAFTA context is to undermine Ms. Freeland, a very capable chief negotiator. Further, owing the U.S. President a favour would hand him another stick to beat us with.

Ms. Freeland was right to speak up. Canada has the wherewithal to let the chips fall where they may.

No apologies.



They hid it all

Aug 19th, 2018 12:03 pm | By

Nick Little on the busy Pennsylvania priests:

Yesterday a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report was released, detailing credible accusations of sexual abuse against over 300 priests in just six dioceses. Over 1,000 child victims were identified.

That’s a lot of priests and a lot of child victims. And yet, and yet, they still consider themselves to have the moral authority not only to tell us what to do, but also to stop us, forcibly, doing things they consider Religiously Forbidden. Women putting a stop to their own pregnancies is forbidden by god but priests raping children is not. That is one very fucked up god.

 

While the reports against individual priests shock the conscience, the descriptions of institutional knowledge, cover-ups, and complicity are perhaps more despicable.

“While each church district had its idiosyncrasies,” writes the Grand Jury, “the pattern was pretty much the same. The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid ‘scandal.’”

FBI agents who testified to the Grand Jury “identified a series of practices that regularly appeared, in various configurations, in the diocesan files they had analyzed. It’s like a playbook for concealing the truth.

Children who reported abuse were belittled and disbelieved. Incontrovertible evidence was ignored. Rapist priests were treated with compassion and understanding by their employer, left in place to continue violating children, or moved to new hunting grounds without any warning given to the next crop of potential prey. Teenage victims were accused of seducing their abusers, the sort of blame shifting that is common amongst pedophiles and sex offenders.

It’s all about the church, the (all-male, never forget) priesthood, the insider powerful men – the children might as well be an infestation of weevils for all the church cares about them.

The Church hierarchy was (and is?) rotten to the core. “[D]espite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” states the report. The betrayal of trust in this situation cannot be overstated. Families and individuals looked to the church for solace and salvation. Instead, the rape of their children was swept under the carpet as an inconvenient occurrence that threatened the reputation and assets of the organization. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.

Like Trump, they might as well be mob bosses. Like Trump, they assume they have the right to shout at us and tell us what to do. Like Trump, they are scum.



A phase that would pass

Aug 19th, 2018 11:47 am | By

Does it make sense to see McCain as The Good Wing of the Republicans? The New Yorker toys with the question:

McCain spent the months after Trump’s Inauguration on an international reassurance tour, telling overseas allies the story that some Republicans in Washington were telling themselves—that Trump’s authoritarianism would be constrained by those around him, that this was a phase that would pass.

Or to put it another way, “It’s not our fault.”

“He has a lot of faith in Mattis,” Salter said, of James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense. In February, 2017, at the Munich Security Conference, an annual meeting of Western military officers and defense officials, McCain, without naming the President, delivered a broadside against Putin, Trump, and the national retrenchments across the West that struck some valedictory notes. “I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries,” McCain said. “I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it.”

Salter said, “That speech was really, ‘Hey, this thing we’ve done together is the greatest thing an alliance of nations has ever done in history. Be proud of it. It’s worth preserving. Don’t give up on us.’ ” Of course the nativism he so despised had taken hold of his own political party, and his choice of Sarah Palin as his Vice-Presidential nominee marked an obvious pivot toward Trumpism.

Indeed it was. His repudiation of it came a good deal too late.



Ya dirty rat

Aug 19th, 2018 9:43 am | By

The Times ran a much discussed piece yesterday about a White House lawyer telling the Mueller inquiry the truth.

The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

This isn’t what lawyers usually do.

Mr. McGahn’s cooperation began in part as a result of a decision by Mr. Trump’s first team of criminal lawyers to collaborate fully with Mr. Mueller. The president’s lawyers have explained that they believed their client had nothing to hide and that they could bring the investigation to an end quickly.

Oops.

McGahn didn’t want to suffer John Dean’s fate, so he talked frankly to Mueller’s team.

To investigators, Mr. McGahn was a fruitful witness, people familiar with the investigation said. He had been directly involved in nearly every episode they are scrutinizing to determine whether the president obstructed justice. To make an obstruction case, prosecutors who lack a piece of slam-dunk evidence generally point to a range of actions that prove that the suspect tried to interfere with the inquiry.

Mr. McGahn gave to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the people said, a sense of the president’s mind-set in the days leading to the firing of Mr. Comey; how the White House handled the firing of the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn; and how Mr. Trump repeatedly berated Mr. Sessions, tried to get him to assert control over the investigation and threatened to fire him.

So now Trump is pitching a fit.

President Trump attacked The New York Times on Sunday in a series of tweets in which he denounced a report describing the extensive cooperation between the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and the special counsel’s investigators.

In the Twitter posts, the president confirmed that he had made the unusual decision to allow Mr. McGahn and other officials to cooperate fully with the inquiry, saying he had “nothing to hide.” But Mr. Trump said the Times article had falsely insinuated that Mr. McGahn had “turned” on him.

“The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,’” Mr. Trump said, referring to the Nixon White House counsel who cooperated with investigators in the Watergate investigation.

Notice how breezily Trump reveals his mindset – that Dean’s telling the truth to Watergate investigators makes him a RAT. It couldn’t be more mob-boss-like.

The Times stands by its story.

The article detailed how Mr. McGahn, fearing that he could be made a scapegoat by the president, has described Mr. Trump’s actions and anger toward the Russia inquiry in at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled about 30 hours. In those interviews, Mr. McGahn gave the investigators information that they might not otherwise have gotten, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others.

Mr. Trump used his tweets on Sunday morning, which he wrote from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., to intensify his assault on the special counsel investigation.

He called the inquiry “McCarthyism at its WORST!” — a reference to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s persecution of suspected communist sympathizers in the 1950s.

“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!” Mr. Trump said of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and his federal prosecutors. “Rigged Witch Hunt!”

I don’t think Trump himself has studied Joe McCarthy, because what he did is not similar to what Mueller is doing. I think Trump recognizes the name solely as a pejorative label meaning “something I don’t like,” so he has no idea how to apply it accurately or illuminatingly. Trump is far more akin to McCarthy in thinking and character than Mueller is.



Shrouded

Aug 19th, 2018 9:05 am | By

Shaaz Mahboob at British & Global Muslims for Secular Democracy:

Behold the military’s pet and Islamist prime minister of Pakistan #ImranKhan and the mindset he carries.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing

Taslima also remarks on the white cloth object next to him:



He’s got more important things on his mind

Aug 18th, 2018 5:57 pm | By

You might think Republicans would want to distance themselves from Trump’s racist outbursts, but no, they’re cool with all that.

The president of the United States had just lobbed another racially charged insult — this time calling his former top African American adviser a “dog” — but Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) had no interest in talking about it.

“I’ve got more important things on my mind, so I really don’t have a comment on that,” said the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, chuckling at the question.

Oh, more important things – so the president spewing racist insults on Twitter isn’t important. Well it’s not important to this one white guy at least.

Has President Trump ever said anything on race that made Cornyn uncomfortable? “I think the most important thing is to pay attention to what the president does, which I think has been good for the country,” the senator demurred.

What he says is included in what he does.

What about his constituents back home — are they concerned? “I know you have to ask these questions but I’m not going to talk about that,” Cornyn said, politely ending the brief interview in the basement of the U.S. Capitol. “I just think that’s an endless little wild goose chase and I’m not going there.”

Ah yes, silly reporters, thinking racist abuse matters.



Jesus and the motherfuckers

Aug 18th, 2018 4:34 pm | By

So here’s this very nice man in baggy T shirt and shorts and a baseball cap (not a MAGA cap, that I can see) talking to hotel workers in Uganda. He appears to be distraught because the electronic key to his room didn’t work. He’s apparently a missionary? Or maybe just a pretend missionary, aka a crank who uses “jesus” as a veil for abusing people. His favorite thing to call the hotel workers (who are all men, which is probably fortunate) is “bitch” – or more like “biiiitch.”

He got busted.

Uganda police arrested an older American man after reviewing a video that showed him striking out at hotel workers and using racial slurs.

The police identified the man as Jimmy L. Taylor, a U.S. citizen who claims to be a missionary. The alleged assault took place in the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala, the capital, according to police. Video of the incident surfaced on the internet on Friday, but it is unclear when it was filmed.

In the video, Taylor can be seen punching and slapping at the workers. He also calls them “n****rs,” tells them they have to obey him and threatens to kill them.

There’s video; it’s seriously disgusting to watch.

Come on, bitch. Come on, whore…You fuckers, why have you hated Jesus, why have you hated your own soul…You refuse to repent and be saved. Motherfuckers…

He has a Facebook page. Recent posts have rather sharp comments on them. On August 16 he posted this inspirational message:

Jesus
Is separating the chaff
From the Wheat
I have many wealthy ( past friends ) who won’t even support Christ in me for the true needy.
I say , Fuck U unworthy bitches, Jesus will command trees to provide me.
In the last days , many will say, Lord lord , did we not heal the sick, and cast oit demonds in thy name, Jesus will say, I never knew u Motherfucker, depart from me U workers of inequity.
Its not ur Goddam money.
Money is useless in ur pocket

Image result for saint



Spiderman in a thong

Aug 18th, 2018 3:50 pm | By

Ripe for satire:

An artist in India is challenging sexist drawings of women in comic books by parodying them using male heroes in poses typically associated with women.

She-Hulk has superhuman strength and speed and is one of the most formidable hand-to-hand combatants in the Marvel world.

Like Hulk, not only does she have physical power, she’s also completely green.

Yet, on a 1991 comic book cover, she is shown in a seductive pose, wearing a G-string bikini, with her curves sharply accentuated.

Because power shmower, getcher tits out.

Comic cover by Shreya Arora showing an issue of The Sensational She-Hulk (left), with Shreya Arora's reimagination (right)

SHREYA ARORA

The Indian artist Shreya Arora finds this annoying.

Her artwork draws inspiration from comic book covers but parodies the male superheroes using body language typically associated with women.

The result – covers with familiar characters, such as Superman and Batman, in strikingly unusual poses and outfits.

A scantily-clad Spiderman is pictured in only a thong, a coy Hulk covers himself with a newspaper, while an Iron Man with prominent buttocks crawls on a ledge.

I like her.



Menstruators, folks with uteruses, etc

Aug 18th, 2018 1:02 pm | By

We live in strange times.

A woman, bragging about writing a book on menstruation that rarely mentions women, as if that’s something to be proud of.



Neoteny

Aug 18th, 2018 12:47 pm | By

I knew about this but PBS gives a very entertaining explanation and illustration of it.



Trump has accused Brennan of lèse majesté

Aug 18th, 2018 12:04 pm | By

Tim Weiner, a former NY Times reporter and author of a history of the CIA and one of the FBI, reminds us (and Trump) that Trump is not a king.

(It’s true that literally speaking he’s not, but we’re learning every day that he has royal and more than royal powers. He’s doing shit that constitutional monarchs in Europe wouldn’t dare do, and we can’t stop him.)

In times of crisis, the leaders of the military and intelligence communities try to put aside their differences, often many and sundry, and work together for the good of the country. That’s what’s happening today with a remarkable group of retired generals, admirals and spymasters who have signed up for the resistance, telling the president of the United States, in so many words, that he is not a king.

The open letter from the thirteen intelligence boffins did that.

They rebuked Mr. Trump for revoking the security clearance of John Brennan, the C.I.A. director under President Obama, in retaliation for his scalding condemnations and, ominously, for his role in “the rigged witch hunt” — the investigation into Russia’s attempt to fix the 2016 election, now in the hands of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. The president’s latest attempt to punish or silence everyone connected with the case, along with his fiercest critics in political life, will not be his last.

First he went after his F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the acting attorney general, Sally Yates. Then he came for Mr. Brennan. Now it’s Bruce Ohr, a previously obscure Justice Department official targeted by right-wing conspiracy theories, a man who will lose his job if he loses his clearances. Tomorrow it may be James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, a cable-news Trump critic and a co-signer of the letter. It’s clear there will be more.

It’s clear because Trump has explicitly said so, because news reports say he is working on it, and because of course he is.

The text was equally striking: “You don’t have to agree with what John Brennan says (and, again, not all of us do) to agree with his right to say it, subject to his obligation to protect classified information,” they wrote. “We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case.” The president sent “a signal to other former and current officials” to refrain from criticizing him, the letter continued, and “that signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable.”

Notice their confidence that Brennan wasn’t violating his obligation to protect classified information. That’s significant because the right is accusing him of doing just that.

It’s clear that Mr. Brennan’s fierce political and personal attacks rattled the china in the Oval Office. The president essentially has accused Mr. Brennan of lèse majesté — the crime of criticizing the monarch, tantamount to treason. Remarkably, this relic of the days when kings were deemed divine remains on the books in some European monarchies as well as nations like Saudi Arabia, where a critique of the crown is considered terrorism.

It’s not a crime in the United States. That’s why we fought a revolution against a mad king.

It’s not a crime, and it’s a protected right under the First Amendment. As people keep having to point out, the First Amendment doesn’t prohibit private entities from interfering with speech, but it damn well does prohibit the government from doing so, and Trump has parked his syphilitic bum on top of that government. He can’t come after us for mentioning his syphilitic bum…but he can do things like take security clearances away.

You don’t need a secret decoder ring to see what’s happening here. John Brennan, who knows whereof he speaks, believes that the president is a threat to the security of the United States — a counterintelligence threat, no less, in thrall to President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The president attacks him, severing Mr. Brennan’s access to classified information. The deans of national security rise up to defend him — and, by implication, intelligence officers and federal investigators who are closing in on the White House.

They are sending a message to active-duty generals and admirals, soldiers and spies. Remember your oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Think twice before following this man’s orders in a crisis. You might first consider throwing down your stars.

Trump is, in short, a domestic enemy of the Constitution.