Notes and Comment Blog

Must be the Wheaties

Oct 11th, 2019 5:01 pm | By

Oh good, another one. TV sports director tweets:

Today June Eastwood won the Griz home cross country meet and HBO Sports had a crew there filming


How about that. June is the great big one in the middle then?

Of course.

On Saturday, August 31, Juniper Eastwood will become the first transgender athlete to compete in DI cross country when she runs for the University of Montana in the women’s division at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet.

Assigned male at birth, Eastwood, now a 22-year-old senior, says she has identified as female since middle school and made the decision to transition during her third year competing on the men’s track team at Montana.

Because that way guess what, he’ll win everything. Of course that means no woman will win anything, but oh well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

It will be her first race for the Grizzlies since following the NCAA’s policy on transgender student-athlete participation, which requires transgender athletes who are transitioning from male to female to be treated with testosterone suppression medication for one year before competing on a women’s team.

Totally fair. The long legs remain, the greater lung capacity remains, the bigger muscles remain, but never you mind, it’s all totally fair.

Eastwood’s last race was 15 months ago when she placed seventh in the men’s 1500-meter final at the 2018 Big Sky Conference Championships.

This article is dated August 31. It’s a miracle! In the 41 days between then and now Eastwood has improved so much that he flat-out won!

He wants to make it dangerous to oppose him

Oct 11th, 2019 4:29 pm | By

Jack Holmes at Esquire on Trump’s new level of horror last night:

Donald Trump, American president took the stage and, among a great many other things, did this. The crowd laughed and cheered.

He may once have told you, in his way, not to believe your eyes and ears. But you can. The President of the United States did indeed just act out some sort of sexual fantasy, in front of thousands and on C-SPAN, between two characters from his extended Deep State Conspiracy Universe…

…This is the president deliberately debasing his office, going lower than ever before and bringing his supporters with him, because he knows they have ventured into the deep and dark together now and they can’t see any path back. They will follow him until he is stopped, and the farther they follow, the more they are his. There is nothing that cannot be excused away with half-baked crap about Fake News or What About Hillary. Nihilism is at the heart of things now. There are no standards or ethics to be observed, only enemies to lash out at from the darkness.

The rest of last night’s national disgrace was predictable by now. The president cooked up egregious lies about Democratic leaders in Congress. He recited the names of his greatest allies on State TV and talked about how great their ratings are. He proudly said, “There was no blackmail,” on his call with the leader of Ukraine. Mr. President: Thank you. He accused his enemies of that which he is guilty. He joked about serving more than his constitutionally mandated two terms. He exhibited clear signs of cognitive decline. He said Joe Biden, the former Vice President of the United States, only got the job “because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.” And what exactly was Proper Evangelical Good Boy Mike Pence doing while the president simulated orgasms on-stage last night? After all, he and Mother were standing there in the arena.

And then he incited racist hatred of Ilhan Omar and of Somalians. The US president did, out in the open, in a large public arena.

The president knows what he’s doing. He wants to make it not just unpleasant but physically dangerous to oppose him. He wants his enemies to be afraid to participate in our politics. It is the language of force. He also wanted to make clear that Omar’s Otherness was a proxy for the community she represents.

He’s ruining the country, and climate change will finish it off long before the damage he’s doing can be undone. We’re on a steepening slope to nightmare.

Disquieting omens

Oct 11th, 2019 11:04 am | By

Aaron Rupar live-tweeted Trump’s rally in Minneapolis last night and wrote it up for Vox:

It wasn’t surprising that Trump attacked one of his most regular targets of abuse, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) while rallying in the heart of her district in downtown Minneapolis. But what was jarring was not only how extreme his attacks were, but also the fact that he went out of his way to demonize the Somali community more broadly in a city that has one of the country’s largest Somali populations.

Citing articles from a fringe right-wing Minnesota-based blog, Trump called Omar “a disgrace to our country” and pushed unfounded conspiracy theories about her marital history. He also attacked the community of Somali refugees in Minneapolis of which Omar is a part.

“For many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers,” Trump said, as his mostly white crowd broke out in boos — in effect jeering their neighbors.

Trump’s attacks on Omar and Somalis illustrated how, with an impeachment inquiry underway in the House and the legal net tightening around his associates, the president is doubling down on the sort of barely varnished bigotry that got him there in the first place.

Unsurprising and completely disgusting.

Trump’s rally in Minneapolis was also remarkable for just how incoherent it was. The president, who has spent the past couple weeks pretending to be deeply concerned about corruption abroad, at one point made a full-throated defense of his own corruption at home by dismissing the conflicts of interest that result from foreign governments spending money at hotels he still owns and profits from.

“If somebody stays, from let’s say a Middle East country, in one of my hotels, and we charge him $392.53 for staying, and I’ve never heard of the guy and I don’t want to hear about him, they say, ‘Trump is getting rich from our nation,’” Trump said. “If somebody rents a room someplace and they pay me two months in rent or hotel fees — I never heard of the people, I never know who they are — they say, ‘emoluments!’ Nobody ever heard of the word ‘emoluments’ before. ‘Emoluments!’ It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

That’s that other minds problem again. He’d never heard the word ‘emoluments’ before, so he assumes no one had.

As the walls close in on the president, he’s lashing out and framing the impeachment process that’s enshrined in the Constitution as something akin to an “overthrow.” These are disquieting omens for those holding out hope that the next transition of power in America, whether it happens after an election or Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, will be an orderly one.

Bumpy road ahead.

That will eventually result

Oct 11th, 2019 10:29 am | By

A subhead at the Telegraph:

Author David Thomas still lives as a man, but has begun the male-to-female gender transition that will eventually result in becoming a woman. Each week he chronicles his progress. This week, he talks about his attempts to lose weight

Have we all regressed to childhood?

There’s no such thing as doing or beginning or practicing the X “that will eventually result in becoming a woman” if you’re a man. A man beginning a “gender transition” can do all sorts of things to imitate women, perform being a woman, act the part of a woman, and the like, but there is no becoming a woman, not even eventually.

Private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment

Oct 11th, 2019 9:48 am | By

There is reporting on Yovanovitch’s testimony even though the deposition is behind closed doors.

Marie Yovanovitch told the House committees investigating impeachment that Trump had pushed for her removal as ambassador to Ukraine based on “false claims”, according to the New York Times.

The Times reports:

Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as the American ambassador to Ukraine, testified to impeachment investigators on Friday that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had ‘done nothing wrong.’

In a closed-door deposition that could further fuel calls for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, Ms. Yovanovitch delivered a scathing indictment of his administration’s conduct of foreign policy, warning that private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment, threatening to undermine the nation’s interests and drive talented professionals out of public service.

According to a copy of her opening statement obtained by The New York Times, the longtime diplomat said she was ‘incredulous’ that she was removed as ambassador ‘based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.’


According to her opening statement published by the Washington Post, Marie Yovanovitch said she had few interactions with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

But she noted that, based on news reports, some of Giuliani’s associates may have believed they would suffer financial losses due to the ambassador’s anti-corruption efforts.

Yovanovitch told the House committees: “With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me.

“But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

Could ambassadors from decent sane countries please come to the US to promote an anti-corruption policy here? As a matter of urgency? Please?

In her opening statement to the House committees, Yovanovitch sought to dispel some of the smears thrown at her by far-right pundits.

The former ambassador to Ukraine said: “I want to categorically state that I have never myself or through others, directly or indirectly, ever directed, suggested, or in any other way asked for any government or government official in Ukraine (or elsewhere) to refrain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption.

“Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump. I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the Embassy team to ignore the President’s orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing, to my Embassy colleagues or to anyone else.”

Yovanovitch added that she never discussed Hunter Biden or his Ukrainian company with Joe Biden or any other Obama official, although she has met the former vice president on several occasions.

Are we going to believe Yovanovitch, or Trump?

The question answers itself.

Whether the President has been accurate in his financial reporting

Oct 11th, 2019 9:16 am | By

Also in Trump loses:

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Donald Trump’s accounting firm must turn over financial records requested by a House committee, a legal blow to the administration’s efforts to block congressional investigations of his finances.

It’s almost as if we have more need to see the financial records of a corrupt lying crook rather than less.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a subpoena to Mazars USA, in April asking for documents related to Trump’s accounts going back to January 2009. His lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that Congress had no legitimate legislative purpose for getting the materials.

But Congress also has an oversight role. Legislation is not their only job.

House Democrats said they needed the documents to investigate whether the president accurately filled out the required financial disclosure forms. A former top Trump aide, Michael Cohen, told Congress that Trump “inflated his assets when it served his purposes” and deflated his assets in others.

Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Cohen’s testimony and other documents “raise grave questions about whether the President has been accurate in his financial reporting.”

Not that anyone anywhere actually thinks he has been accurate in his financial reporting.

She persisted

Oct 11th, 2019 8:22 am | By

The Guardian’s Julian Borger has background on Marie Yovanovitch:

Since leaving Kyiv, Yovanovitch has been on sabbatical at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, but is still a serving foreign service officer.

Her reported decision to appear seems to be in defiance of a block imposed by the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, ordering state department officials not to give depositions to the congressional impeachment hearings. It is unclear whether the Trump administration will take further measures to try to stop her, in which case the Democrats running the House committees leading the impeachment investigation have signaled they are ready to issue friendly subpoenas.

First Pompeo yanks her out of Ukraine at Trump’s behest, then he orders state department officials to refuse to answer Congress’s questions. They think they have already completed the coup.

Pompeo’s claim that the House committees were seeking to “intimidate, bully and treat improperly” state department officials has drawn accusations of hypocrisy, particularly in light of his treatment of Yovanovitch.

He appears to have bowed to pressure from the White House by pulling her out of Kyiv two months before her posting was due to end, and failed to speak out in her defence when she was smeared by rightwing pundits and talkshow hosts.

Pompeo likes to claim he has brought “swagger” to the state department, but the treatment of Yovanovitch and the state department’s embroilment in the impeachment scandal has badly hit morale at the organisation.

Fuck swagger. Swagger is a Trump thing, an aggressive guy thing, a bully thing; at the extreme an authoritarian and/or fascist thing. Pompeo is a Tea Party hack and a very bad man.

In picking on Yovanovitch, the detractors have chosen a tough target. She has had a stellar career, serving as ambassador under three presidents to three countries (a rare distinction), Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Ukraine, as well as senior adviser to the under secretary of state for political affairs.

She is one of the state department’s foremost experts on Russia, Ukraine and the surrounding region. She was born in Canada to Soviet emigrants and grew up speaking Russian, and is known to friends and colleagues as Masha. Her parents moved to the US when she was young and she became a naturalised US citizen in her teens, studying history and Russian studies at Princeton, and doing her postgraduate studies at the Pushkin Institute and the National War College.

Former colleagues all describe her as meticulous, calm under pressure, supremely qualified and steeped in the nonpartisan culture of professional diplomacy, all which set her apart from the campaign donors who are given an increasing share of ambassadorial posts.

In other words all of which set her apart from the people who buy an increasing share of ambassadorial posts.

After Trump’s election, according to former officials, Yovanovitch lost a good deal of her clout because the Ukrainians to whom she was talking began to suspect she was not speaking for the White House, which had its own agenda. Lutsenko and others looked instead for other channels, like Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

That split widened when Yovanovitch would not help Giuliani look for compromising material about Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic frontrunner for next year’s presidential election.

“She refused to allow her embassy to be dragged into some sort of effort to concoct dirt for political purposes,” a former official said, adding that she was also not prepared to bend the rules by using personal devices for off-the-books conversations, a mistake made by the former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Volker’s messages, reflecting enthusiastic cooperation with Giuliani, made him look complicit. He has resigned from that part-time envoy job and also lost his academic post.

What Trump said about Yovanovitch on that phone call:

Months after the US Ambassador to Ukraine was unexpectedly recalled from her post, President Donald Trump disparaged the career diplomat in a call with his Ukrainian counterpart, a White House transcript released on Wednesday revealed.

Trump’s comments about Marie Yovanovitch — a member of his own country’s diplomatic corps — are a stunning breach of norms, former officials say, and lend credence to the claim that her early departure from the post was politically motivated.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that,” Donald Trump told Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call, according to a White House transcript released Wednesday.

Zelensky, who was elected in April 2019, echoed the US President’s sentiment, saying “I agree with you 100%.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” Trump added.

Tables turned, except this time it’s not a criminal in a secretive phone conversation the transcript of which will be hidden in a Top Secret file where it doesn’t belong. This time it’s “the woman” talking to Congress in a closed but far from secret session of the impeachment inquiry. Donnie the rat is going to go through some things.

Good morning Ms Yovanovitch

Oct 11th, 2019 7:45 am | By

Oh hey – Marie Yovanovitch has arrived to testify. They failed to stop her.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch just walked into the Capitol for her deposition in the House’s impeachment investigation.


No doubt most or all of her testimony will be kept secret at least for now, but their failure to stop her is itself of note.

The charming, reasonable response

Oct 11th, 2019 7:28 am | By

Kathleen Stock tells us:

So last night at the Philosophy Dept of @unimelb this talk happened; and this was the charming, reasonable response from protestors…


“TERF GRAVES ARE GENDER NEUTRAL BATHROOMS” – aka we piss on your graves, bitches.

Guest post: Just a feeling and not something you can see

Oct 10th, 2019 5:56 pm | By

Originally a comment by Artymorty on Decrease is a symptom of the thing decreased.

Did you see today’s article in the New Yorker by Masha Gessen about trans rights and the Supreme Court?

I greatly admire her writing about Russian politics and gay rights, but I think she’s very wrong about bathrooms and trans rights.

I became a journalist at a time when one was not supposed to cover issues that concerned one personally. The (very few) black reporters working in the mainstream media were not assigned to write about the civil-rights movement. Women were not assigned to stories on feminism. The handful of openly gay reporters were not allowed to write about gay-and-lesbian rights or the aids epidemic. The underlying logic of this approach was that reasonable people could disagree on issues that people with a stake in the outcome would be unable to cover in a fair and balanced manner.

And yet she’s doing exactly that — not covering this issue in a fair and balanced manner.

She identifies as non-binary (like so many butch lesbians do these days), so she sees the whole debate in terms of her ability to feel comfortable using a men’s washroom despite her having been “assigned” (ugh) female at birth.

For all her defense of trans people’s right to use the washroom of their choice, she didn’t even try to define who exactly counts as a genuine trans person, how gender non-conforming a man has to be in order to be permitted to use a women’s washroom, or what mechanism we could use in practice and in law to distinguish men from transwomen, since trans is not the same as gender-non-conforming: trans is just a feeling and not something you can see, and many men who claim the label aren’t all that gender non-conforming at all.

Masha Gessen may look and dress in a way that’s perceived as more male than female, and Laverne Cox may look for all intents and purposes like a biological female, but following right behind her through the door to the women’s loo are six hulking middle-aged men with an erotic fetish for penetrating into women’s private spaces.

When Bill met Roopy

Oct 10th, 2019 4:49 pm | By

“Attorney General” Bill Barr met with Rupert Murdoch last night; nobody knows what they talked about.

I’m sure it’s all very innocent. I’m sure Barr in no way tried to pressure Murdoch to make Fox even more slavishly adoring of Trump. I’m sure it’s entirely normal for an Attorney General to visit the boss of a notoriously political tv network, just to lift a few beers and shoot the shit.

Also, the Guardian tells us:

At least four national security officials raised concerns over the Trump administrations’ efforts to pressure Ukraine with a White House lawyer, the Washington Post reports:

The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood — including before the call that precipitated a whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the president.

At the time, the officials were unnerved by the removal in May of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; subsequent efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to promote Ukraine-related conspiracies; as well as signals in meetings at the White House that Trump wanted the new government in Kiev to deliver material that might be politically damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Well when you put it all together like that it does sound unnerving, but…but…no, I got nothin’.

Tens of thousands of people have fled

Oct 10th, 2019 4:23 pm | By

So, this is what Trump wanted? He’s happy? All going according to plan?

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Syria, as Turkish forces step up their cross-border offensive on Kurdish-held areas.

Turkish troops have encircled the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad and aid agencies fear the exodus could reach hundreds of thousands.

International clamour has increased for Turkey to halt the attack.

Turkey has defended its bid to create a “safe zone” free of Kurdish militias which could also house Syrian refugees.

Aw yeah, everybody has a right to create a “safe zone” in other people’s towns. Canada can create a “safe zone” by attacking Detroit and Buffalo because they are just plain too damn close to Canada for comfort. Trump would be fine with that, right?

The International Rescue Committee aid organisation said that 64,000 people had already reportedly fled their homes. The UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, gave a similar figure.

The IRC’s Misty Buswell said: “If the offensive continues it’s possible a total of 300,000 people could be displaced to already overstretched camps and towns still recovering from the fight against IS.”

Another group of 14 humanitarian organisations, including the Mercy Corps, warned the figure could be 450,000.

But Trump told Erdoğan to go ahead, and who are we to argue?

A bear lashing out at whatever’s around him

Oct 10th, 2019 11:18 am | By

Rebecca Solnit sees Trump as an enraged bear:

The chaos takes so many forms. Innumerable stories have made it clear that even the president’s own aides and cabinet members treat him like a captive bear or a person having a psychotic breakdown – like someone unstable who must be kept from harming himself and others. They have done that by heaping on the flattery, and by warping and limiting the information he receives, and often by doing their best to prevent his directives from being realized.

The New York Times recently reported on a March meeting about the border. According to aides, Trump “suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down”. When he was told that wasn’t allowed, he ordered that the border be closed. That set off a “frenzied week of presidential rages, round-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him.”

This is the kind of story we’ve become used to – outrages and viciousness and inanity and all – but it’s worth reading another way, as a story about a bear lashing out at whatever’s around him and gobbling up the scraps they feed him while he is still chained to the wall.

Oh that’s pretty much how I’ve read it all along. I’m just holding my breath hoping he doesn’t break the chains before he dies of thwarted rage. That won’t be soon, because far too many people are enabling Trump rather than containing him.

William Barr is supposed to be this nation’s attorney general, whose job the Judiciary Act of 1789 defined as “to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the president of the United States.” But Barr has been bouncing all over the globe pushing the president’s self-serving conspiracy theories and smears of rival candidates, a stunning violation of his role.

Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, took an oath to “support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and has since become one of those enemies in service of others. He was on the July phone call in which Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s potential 2020 rival Joe Biden and discredit the story of the Russian intervention in the 2016 election. The leverage for this request seems to have been the hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid – taxpayer dollars – withheld by President Trump at the time.

The Guardian reported a few days ago that Pompeo “dismissed summonses from Democratic committee chairmen in the House of Representatives for five current and former state department officials to testify on the president’s attempts to push Ukraine to dig up dirt on his leading political rival.” And Tuesday, Pompeo’s State Department blocked former ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who’s implicated in the Ukrainian shakedown, from testifying to Congress, a clear and open obstruction of justice.

Pompeo didn’t mean the oath.

The Federal Election Commission normally has six members and needs four to have a quorum; it is currently at three with no sign of a new appointment in sight. “Without the quorum,” the New York Times reports, “the FEC can’t investigate complaints, issue opinions, or fine violators.” I didn’t formerly think of myself as a big fan of rule of law, since those laws have always been applied harshly to the most vulnerable and most marginalized and were often written to embed racism, misogyny, and homophobia into law. But we now face something worse: the corruption and decay of rule of law in the service of billionaires and misogynistic white supremacists, a system in which the most powerful gain power and shed accountability.

Same here. “The rule of law” used to function as code for cracking down on all those crazy lefties, and now it’s something that could end Trump’s crime spree if only we had it.

Decrease is a symptom of the thing decreased

Oct 10th, 2019 10:00 am | By

How to create a market:

Market creation. First they say that gender dysphoria isn’t a mental health condition and then they say that mental health conditions and neuro-diversity are signs of being transgender. Then they teach gender ideology in schools and target ads to children on Youtube.


So gender dysphoria “may present” as depression, anxiety, doing badly in school, family quarrels, frustration, anger, not dating, feeling guilty or lonely or like a loser, sadness, anhedonia, diagnosis of borderline personality disorder or autism among other items, and feelings of decreased gender dysphoria.

So, basically, everything.

Whoever their Pollster is, they suck

Oct 10th, 2019 8:55 am | By

Aw, it looks as if Trump and Fox have quarreled. Donnie two hours ago:

From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews
Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. But @FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days. With people like Andrew Napolitano, who wanted to be a Supreme…….Court Justice & I turned him down (he’s been terrible ever since), Shep Smith, @donnabrazile (who gave Crooked Hillary the debate questions & got fired from @CNN), & others, @FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore. It is so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!

First of all, it’s fascinating that he thinks polls are supposed to be massaged to be either good or bad as opposed to being, you know, accurate. It’s fascinating that he thinks Fox News is supposed to be giving him “good” polls, i.e. lying about the numbers.

It’s also of course fascinating but not surprising that he thinks Fox News is supposed to flatter him.

It’s fascinating and profoundly nauseating that he thinks all this is suitable for public exposure.

600k just for the limos

Oct 10th, 2019 8:45 am | By

So Pence has government business in Dublin so he books himself and his retinue into Trump’s golf course on the opposite side of Ireland so that Trump can squeeze some more $$$$ out of his fun government job, and who pays for the extra travel between Dublin and Doonbeg? Trump? Pence? Hahahaha don’t be silly; we do.

Mike Pence’s controversial visit to President Trump’s resort in Doonbeg is slated to cost taxpayers $599,454.36 in limousine service alone, according to State Department contracts reviewed by CREW.

The choice to stay at Trump’s Irish resort in Doonbeg was both highly inconvenient, and extremely expensive. Located 181 miles away on the opposite side of the country from Pence’s meetings in Dublin, Doonbeg was far from a convenient location.

It’s not as if there are no hotels in Dublin after all. Dublin is both the capital and a major tourist destination. People go to Dublin on purpose to look at things; Doonbeg not so much. Dublin has an array of hotels to serve all needs and budgets. Pence and retinue could have stayed in Dublin.

Pence’s $600k limo bill does not even cover the full cost of the trip, because it excludes the cost of Secret Service detail and lodging. CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service records for a more complete picture of what the detour cost taxpayers.

The stay at Doonbeg was so ethically dubious that it has already sparked a congressional inquiry. So far, the Trump organization has provided no satisfying answers to ethics questions about the trip. Pence’s stay at the Trump golf course has been variously explained by the administration as Trump’s suggestion that Pence stay at the resort, visiting Pence’s family in Doonbeg, and the fact that Secret Service had already vetted to property. Trump insists on Twitter that it had nothing to do with him. The administration’s constantly changing story calls the real motivation in to question, but what is clear is that the detour was not convenient, and it did not come cheap.

Well sure, but the point is, the profit went to Trump and the expenses went to us.

They didn’t help us

Oct 9th, 2019 6:15 pm | By

Trump saying it:

They didn’t help us with Normandy as an example

Oct 9th, 2019 5:41 pm | By

Trump says it’s cool that he abandoned the Kurds to their fate because hey where were they on D-Day? Did they help save Private Ryan? Were they there next to John Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger? I don’t think so.

The US president told reporters that the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example – they mention the names of different battles, they weren’t there”, in a staggering comment following the signing of executive orders on the federal regulation at the White House on Wednesday.

“We have spent a tremendous amount of money helping the Kurds,” the president said. “They’re fighting for their land. When you say they’re fighting with the US, yes. But they’re fighting for their land.”

Kurdish forces fought alongside the US against the Islamic State for nearly five years, losing roughly 11,000 fighters.

Trump said he learned that the Kurds didn’t help in Normandy from a “very, very powerful article”, apparently referencing a column by conservative opinion writer Kurt Schlichter.

Which somebody read to him.

Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer tweets:

Trump appears to have gotten his “Kurds didn’t help us at Normandy” line from a Kurt Schlichter column.


It’s kind of as if the US is being run by people who get their intelligence briefings from tabloids they pick up at 7-Eleven along with a six pack and a bag of pork rinds.

Syrian Kurds under bombardment from Turkish jets

Oct 9th, 2019 11:52 am | By

Amy Siskind:

Our country is already an authoritarian state from a practical standpoint: one person is making all major decisions, both foreign and domestic. He refuses to follow the law or recognize the Constitution. So long as the GOP enables him, things will only get worse.

Indeed. This has been the case from the moment he took office. He does what he feels like and no one so far can stop him.

Fox News Pentagon reporter Lucas Tomlinson:

Syrian Kurds under bombardment from Turkish jets urgently request air support from U.S. and “No fly zone” to protect civilians: SDF statement

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin responds:

The US military has been ordered by President Trump not to help.

It’s going to be another Srebrenica.

Creating a safe zone

Oct 9th, 2019 10:32 am | By

Turkey has accepted Trump’s green light to invade northern Syria.

Turkish warplanes have bombed parts of north-eastern Syria at the start of an offensive which could lead to conflict with Kurdish-led allies of the US.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation was to create a “safe zone” cleared of Kurdish militias which will also house Syrian refugees.

The Kurds – key US allies in defeating IS in Syria – guard thousands of IS fighters and their relatives in prisons and camps in areas under their control and it is unclear whether they will continue to be safely detained.

Turkish ground forces have been massing on the border. The offensive was launched just days after President Donald Trump controversially withdrew US troops from northern Syria, a decision announced after a phone call with Mr Erdogan that sparked widespread criticism at home and abroad.

I’m sure Trump knows what he’s doing.

President Erdogan says this is the beginning of Operation Peace Spring. There is no doubt that for the Syrian civilians who are just across the border this is going to be seen as another round of battling in an agonisingly long war.

The Kurdish forces have emphasised almost frantically in the last few days that the hard-won gains in their long battle against IS are now being put at risk. The SDF have lost an estimated 11,000 fighters in battling IS. They succeeded with American help.

But they point out, for example, that they may have to withdraw their forces from prisons where they are holding IS fighters or from cities that have been liberated from IS. The Kurds are basically saying to the West: the war that we fought on your behalf is now at risk because of what Turkey wants to do.

Yes but Trump said it was okay. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.