Notes and Comment Blog


Bye Mooch

Jul 31st, 2017 12:11 pm | By

Whoopsy – Mooch is out.

President Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, three people close to the decision said Monday, relieving him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.

Not to mention just days after hiring him in the first place.

No chaos! Everything fine here! Very very presidential! Send some Boy Scouts!

Mr. Scaramucci’s abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff.

That long!? Seems like 7 days at the most. How time flies.

The decision to remove Mr. Scaramucci, who had boasted about reporting directly to the president, not the chief of staff, John F. Kelly, came at Mr. Kelly’s request, the people said. Mr. Kelly made clear to members of the White House staff at a meeting Monday morning that he is in charge.

Totally normal! Nothing to see here! Let’s call Russia for a chat!



The fetus could get a lawyer

Jul 31st, 2017 12:03 pm | By

The AP reports news from Alabama:

A federal judge has struck down Alabama’s one-of-a-kind law that enabled judges to put minors seeking abortions through a trial-like proceeding in which the fetus could get a lawyer and prosecutors could object to the pregnant girl’s wishes.

Alabama legislators in 2014 changed the state’s process for girls who can’t or won’t get their parents’ permission for an abortion to obtain permission from a court instead. The new law empowered the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem “for the interests of the unborn child” and invited the local district attorney to call witnesses and question the girl to determine whether she’s mature enough to decide.

“…in which the fetus could get a lawyer”

Says it all, doesn’t it. A biological process could “get a lawyer” who would argue for the process against the person who wanted to stop the process happening inside her own body. It can’t get much more grotesque than that.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker sided Friday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama , writing that the law unconstitutionally and impermissibly imposes “an undue burden on a minor in Alabama who seeks an abortion through a judicial bypass,” and violates the girl’s privacy rights by enabling a prosecutor to call witnesses against her will.

Both the judge and the ACLU said they were aware of no other state with such a law.

The state had argued that the law was intended to allow a “meaningful” inquiry into the minor’s maturity and the process was still a “confidential, and expeditious option for a teenager who seeks an abortion without parental consent.”

The civil rights organization said it had the opposite effect, by enabling lawyers for the state or the fetus to subpoena the minor’s teacher, neighbor, relative or boyfriend to testify she’s too immature to choose an abortion, or that continuing the pregnancy would be in her best interest.

It is unclear how many such proceedings have happened since the law was enacted. Walker noted that a district attorney this summer opposed the abortion request of a 12-year-old girl who had been impregnated by a relative.

The girl was 13 weeks pregnant and had just completed fifth grade when she went before a family court judge, according to a court record. The judge approved the abortion on June 27, and the district attorney appealed the same day, arguing that the girl was too immature to make an informed decision. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals on July 12 ruled in favor of the girl.

The DA argued that the girl was too immature to decide to get an abortion…but not too immature to carry a pregnancy to term, to give birth, and to care for an infant or else give an infant up for adoption. How does that work exactly? How is the second scenario less of a demand on her maturity than the first?

Thanks ACLU and Judge Walker.

H/t Sackbut

Updating to add: The Daily Show reported on the fetal attorney program.



Men work harder

Jul 30th, 2017 5:30 pm | By

But then there’s Kevin Myers.

The Sunday Times has apologised for an “error of judgement” that led to the publication of a column which used anti-semitic tropes about Jews and argued women needed to “earn” equal pay.

The article by Kevin Myers about the BBC’s gender pay gap came from the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, but was published on the main website used by the UK based edition and its daily counterpart. It has since been removed and the publisher of both editions, News UK, is expected to launch an investigation into how the article made it through the newspaper’s editorial procedures.

In the article, Myers said that women were generally paid less because they were worth less, referencing two of the BBC’s better paid women, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, identifying them as Jewish and saying that “Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price”.

He also argued that the gender pay gap existed because “men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant”.

Haw haw, let’s all have a good laugh about how worthless women are and why are any of them working for the BBC at all?

The editors of the Sunday Times and its Irish edition issued an apology, saying the piece should never have been published. Martin Ivens, editor of the UK version, apologised for the “error of judgement that led to publication” and Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Irish edition said he took full responsibility for the piece, adding: “It contained views that have caused considerable distress and upset to a number of people. … This newspaper abhors antisemitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

But the insults to women are just fine, I guess.



T-shirts and mugs

Jul 30th, 2017 5:18 pm | By

A Sunday Times reporter went to talk to Richard Dawkins about all this no-platforming they get up to over there in Americaland.

He is in the news because, 10 days ago, a left-leaning Californian radio station suddenly “no-platformed” him. He had intended to speak in Berkeley, where he undertook graduate studies in the 1960s, but the event’s organisers cancelled his talk, citing his “abusive speech [against Islam]”, which had “offended and hurt . . . so many people”.

Dawkins insisted he had never spoken abusively against the religion, admitting that while he had called Islamism “vile”, Islamism is not the same as Islam. (In a 2013 tweet, he wrote that “Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today. I’ve said so, often and loudly.”)

More to the point, I think, was his prolific hostile tweeting about Ahmed Mohamed, whom he called “Clock Boy” and “Hoax Boy.” The kid was 14 at the time, and he is of course a Muslim. It was not Dawkins’s finest hour.

(Not that I think KPFA did the right thing. I don’t.)

Being no-platformed, he says, is “utterly appalling: a shocking, backward, cowardly step”. He is particularly sad that, these days, it happens so often at universities, “where you would have thought students would welcome visitors they could challenge and debate”.

What is causing the trend? “It could be social construction, which seems to foster the idea that opinions are what matter — opinions that don’t need to be defended. Terrible! Evidence is the only reason to believe anything.”

Sigh. No it isn’t. Evidence isn’t the only reason to believe it’s better not to be like Donald Trump, for instance. Evidence is one source of reasons to believe that, but it’s not the only source. Values have a lot to do with feelings and, yes Richard, opinions. Evidence informs those feelings and opinions, but not all by itself. Opinions do matter. They need to be defended, but defending opinions can be complicated and call on a variety of resources.

Valuing evidence above all is laudable — but has repeatedly got him into trouble. He should perhaps never have discovered Twitter: even some of his most devoted fans have challenged his intemperate remarks to his 2m followers.

Some of those who believe he is right about religion, reason and the scientific method say he often goes too far online, lacking emotional intelligence.

Quite so. And here’s a shocker: it’s not just evidence that would persuade him to do better. (Which is not to say I know what would persuade him to do better, because I don’t. The answer may be that nothing would. He’s a bit like Trump that way.)

When a woman contacted Dawkins on Twitter, worried what she would do if she became pregnant with a foetus with Down’s syndrome, Dawkins’s reply was brief: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

“People were saying to me, ‘You want to kill my child!’” he says. “Of course I wasn’t. You rightly love your child. Nevertheless, when you had the option of aborting it, that would have been the sensible thing to do.”

Does he not see how comments like that might deeply hurt the parents of children with Down’s syndrome? “Only if you allow emotion to ride above reason,” he says.

There. That’s why he should stay off Twitter forever. Gee golly imagine parents of children with Down syndrome having emotions on the subject!! There are arguments to be made on the subject but Twitter is not the place to make them…and what he said in that tweet was not an argument anyway, it was just an assertion.

Today you can buy T-shirts, mugs and other “merchandise” on his foundation’s website, while he used to sell membership of the “Dawkins Circle” for up to $9,999 (£7,600) a year.

Perfectly rational.



Please don’t be too Trump-like

Jul 30th, 2017 12:27 pm | By

Not all cops are delighted by Trump’s advice to let suspects slam their heads into the cars as they’re being shoved in.

The criticism online started shortly after Mr. Trump’s comments, which came at an event in Brentwood, N.Y., which was intended to support the police in their fight against La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang that has been accused of several murders on Long Island.

After calling for more immigration officers to help arrest the gang members, Mr. Trump told officers, “Please don’t be too nice.”

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over” their head, he said, putting his hand above his head for emphasis. “I said, ‘You can take the hand away, O.K.?’”

The president’s remark was denounced by police officials and organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation and Steve Soboroff, one of the civilian commissioners who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department.

“What the president recommended would be out of policy in the Los Angeles Police Department,” Mr. Soboroff told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s not what policing is about today.”

Michael Harrison, chief of the New Orleans Police Department, said in a statement on Saturday that Mr. Trump’s comments “stand in stark contrast to our department’s commitment to constitutional policing and community engagement.” The department is one of more than a dozen since 2009 to agree to make reforms under the direction of a federal monitor.

But he was making a joke. Don’t you have a sense of humor??

https://twitter.com/bluelivesmtr/status/891085581152866306

Sure it was a “joke” – but he meant it. He means a lot of his “jokes.”



In front of a mirror trying to project like Alec Baldwin

Jul 30th, 2017 11:16 am | By

Well I never expected to be knocked sideways by a piece in National Review, but that day has arrived. Kevin Williamson nails Trump by way of Glengarry Glen Ross.

Glengarry Glen Ross is the Macbeth of real estate, full of great, blistering lines and soliloquies so liberally peppered with profanity that the original cast had nicknamed the show “Death of a Fucking Salesman.” But a few of those attending the New York revival left disappointed. For a certain type of young man, the star of Glengarry Glen Ross is a character called Blake, played in the film by Alec Baldwin. We know that his name is “Blake” only from the credits; asked his name by one of the other salesmen, he answers: “What’s my name? Fuck you. That’s my name.” In the film, Blake sets things in motion by delivering a motivational speech and announcing a sales competition: “First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize? A set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired. Get the picture?” He berates the salesmen in terms both financial — “My watch cost more than your car!” — and sexual. Their problem, in Blake’s telling, isn’t that they’ve had a run of bad luck or bad sales leads — or that the real estate they’re trying to sell is crap — it is that they aren’t real men.

The leads are weak? You’re weak. . . . Your name is “you’re wanting,” and you can’t play the man’s game. You can’t close them? Then tell your wife your troubles, because only one thing counts in this world: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. Got that, you fucking fuckers?

A few young men waiting to see the show had been quoting Blake’s speech to one another. For them, and for a number of men who imagine themselves to be hard-hitting competitors (I’ve never met a woman of whom this is true), Blake’s speech is practically a creed. It’s one of those things that some guys memorize.

[asterisks removed]

Here’s the punchline: Blake isn’t in the play; the character was added for the movie because the money wizards wanted a star.

That’s some fine irony: Blake’s paean to salesmanship was written to satisfy salesmen who did not quite buy David Mamet’s original pitch. The play is if anything darker and more terrifying without Blake, leaving the poor feckless salesmen at the mercy of a faceless malevolence offstage rather than some regular jerk in a BMW. But a few finance bros went home disappointed that they did not get the chance to sing along, as it were, with their favorite hymn.

These guys don’t want to see Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. What they want is to beBlake. They want to swagger, to curse, to insult, and to exercise power over men, exercising power over men being the classical means to the end of exercising power over women, which is of course what this, and nine-tenths of everything else in human affairs, is about. Blake is a specimen of that famous creature, the “alpha male,” and establishing and advertising one’s alpha creds is an obsession for some sexually unhappy contemporary men.

That’s the part where I really started paying attention. Why yes, yes it is; that does describe today’s world.

There is a whole weird little ecosystem of websites (some of them very amusing) and pickup-artist manuals offering men tips on how to be more alpha, more dominant, more commanding, a literature that performs roughly the same function in the lives of these men that Cosmopolitan sex tips play in the lives of insecure women. Of course this advice ends up producing cartoonish, ridiculous behavior. If you’re wondering where Anthony Scaramucci learned to talk and behave like such a Scaramuccia, ask him how many times he’s seen Glengarry Glen Ross.

Well it works though, right? Every woman I know sure as hell wants to have sex with the Mooch.

The advice for aspiring alpha males, Williamson says, is the same as advice for aspiring marketers and hustlers. Fake it ’til you make it; pretend to be confident and arrogant and lo, you will be.

If that sounds preposterous, remind yourself who the president of the United States of America is.

Trump is the political version of a pickup artist, and Republicans — and America — went to bed with him convinced that he was something other than what he is. Trump inherited his fortune but describes himself as though he were a self-made man.

Well, not America. A much too large chunk of America, but far from the whole of it. Much of the other chunk hates him like poison, in very large part because of this huckster braggadocio.

He has had a middling career in real estate and a poor one as a hotelier and casino operator but convinced people he is a titan of industry. He has never managed a large, complex corporate enterprise, but he did play an executive on a reality show. He presents himself as a confident ladies’ man but is so insecure that he invented an imaginary friend to lie to the New York press about his love life and is now married to a woman who is open and blasé about the fact that she married him for his money. He fixates on certain words (“negotiator”) and certain classes of words (mainly adjectives and adverbs, “bigly,” “major,” “world-class,” “top,” and superlatives), but he isn’t much of a negotiator, manager, or leader. He cannot negotiate a health-care deal among members of a party desperate for one, can’t manage his own factionalized and leak-ridden White House, and cannot lead a political movement that aspires to anything greater than the service of his own pathetic vanity.

He wants to be John Wayne, but what he is is “Woody Allen without the humor.” Peggy Noonan, to whom we owe that observation, has his number: He is soft, weak, whimpering, and petulant. He isn’t smart enough to do the job and isn’t man enough to own up to the fact. For all his gold-plated toilets, he is at heart that middling junior salesman watching Glengarry Glen Ross and thinking to himself: “That’s the man I want to be.” How many times do you imagine he has stood in front of a mirror trying to project like Alec Baldwin? Unfortunately for the president, it’s Baldwin who does the good imitation of Trump, not the other way around.

Blake’s Revenge. Classic.



Intensive manspreading

Jul 30th, 2017 10:41 am | By

Robert Reich:

Here’s a photo of the interns in the Trump administration. I think it’s great for young people to have a chance to intern in government. But is it possible that the Trump officials who selected Trump’s interns left some young people out of consideration? Just asking.

Image may contain: 23 people, people smiling, people standing



He has ideas, she has smiles

Jul 29th, 2017 3:08 pm | By

From Facebook:

No automatic alt text available.

Morrisons, are you serious?

Boys’ top: “Little Man, Big Ideas”
Girls’ top: “Little Girl, Big Smiles”
Boys’ top: “King Of The Castle”
Girls’ top: “Pretty Little Me”

This has to be a joke, right?

Sexism? I don’t see any sexism, do you see any sexism?

 



Payments that the federal government owes insurers

Jul 29th, 2017 2:54 pm | By

Evil Donald Trump announces he’s going to kill Obamacare by withholding funds; Chuck Schumer points out that’s not ok.

 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged President Donald Trump to release payments that the federal government owes insurers as part of the Affordable Care Act, firing a salvo in the latest stage of the health care reform fight.

Schumer’s reaction came after Trump launched a Saturday afternoon tweet threatening to end “BAILOUTS to insurance companies” if Congress does not repeal and replace Obamacare.

They’re not “bailouts” of course.

Although Trump did not specify exactly what he meant, Schumer interpreted it as an indication that Trump plans to withhold subsidies to insurers for plans on the Obamacare individual insurance marketplaces that provide lower out-of-pocket costs for people with incomes under 250 percent of the poverty line. Delivering on the threat, which Trump has issued more explicitly in the past, would, on average, prompt insurers to increase premiums for typical plans by 19 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and likely plunge the marketplaces into chaos.

“If the President refuses to make the cost sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans,” Schumer said in a statement. “The president ought to stop playing politics with people’s lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting Presidential.”

But acting like a giant bullying baby on a big stage is what he likes, so he never will begin acting presidential.

I look forward to the next round of tweets about “Cryin’ Chuck” from the giant bullying baby.



You hold the pencil like this

Jul 29th, 2017 10:48 am | By

Maggie Haberman explains what Trump doesn’t understand about the legislative process.

Despite naming a chief of staff who is expected to bring a new sense of discipline to the White House, President Trump resorted to his old Twitter playbook on Saturday, attacking Senate Republicans who he said “look like fools” — even as he demonstrated an uncertain understanding of the legislative process.

In a series of early morning messages, the president criticized the Senate’s filibuster rules, saying they were hampering his agenda.

It was not clear why he was focused on the filibuster rule, a parliamentary delay tactic that requires 60 votes to overcome. Republicans have a 52-seat majority in the Senate. A proposal this week to repeal portions of the health care law, as long demanded by Mr. Trump, required a simple 51-vote majority to pass and still failed.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump plowed on in the flurry of Twitter posts that started shortly after 7 a.m., saying “many great Republican bills will never pass,” including health care, under the filibuster rule.

In other words the head of state doesn’t understand the basics of his own government. The very basic basics.



And a little child shall shout at them

Jul 29th, 2017 9:15 am | By

Today’s Donald-tantrum.

Yes, that’s how it’s done: shout at Senate Republicans on Twitter. That’s grownup adult professional governing right there.



Trump spits more venom

Jul 28th, 2017 3:08 pm | By

Priebus is out, and Trump has replaced him with yet another military man, a retired general. He’s running a military dictatorship.

To warm up for the excitement, he went to Long Island to tell the police to get violent with suspects.

President Donald Trump told a crowd of police officers Friday not to be “too nice” to suspected gang members and others under arrest.

“When you see thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in; rough. I said, ‘please don’t be too nice,'” Trump said Friday at a Suffolk County, New York event discussing the administration’s efforts to handle a violent gang known as MS-13. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over it. Like, don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody. I said, you can take the hand away, O.K.?.”

A lawyer friend of mine points out that quite apart from the idiot brutality, that would get the case thrown out.

President Trump appeared before federal, state, and local law enforcement officers Friday to discuss his administration’s ongoing efforts to rid the country of illegal immigrants, particularly members of the MS-13 gang. Police say the gang has been responsible for 17 killings on Long Island since January of 2016.

“They kidnap, they extort, they rape, and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn’t be here,” President Trump said of MS-13, which first arose in Los Angeles. “They are animals.”

“We cannot accept this violence one day more,” Trump continued. “You’re not going to allow it and we’re backing you up one hundred precent.”

By inciting violence and talking as if gangs represented immigrants in general.

The man is poison.



What was that about a “sewer” again?

Jul 28th, 2017 11:04 am | By

Meanwhile

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, Brian A. Benczkowski, said on Tuesday that he helped Russia’s Alfa Bank investigate whether its computer servers contacted the Trump Organization.

Mr. Benczkowski had told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he represented Alfa Bank, which is one of Russia’s largest financial institutions and whose owners have ties to President Vladimir V. Putin.

On Tuesday, as Mr. Benczkowski came before the panel for his confirmation hearing, he acknowledged that his work for Alfa Bank directly touched on suspicions related to the bank in connection with the Trump-Russia affair.

Oh. Oh really. Well that seems fine – no possibility of conflict of interest there, right?

Mr. Benczkowski said he had agreed to help his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, represent Alfa Bank amid the intense scrutiny of the Trump-Russia investigation knowing that he might be nominated for a job in the Trump administration, a disclosure that prompted incredulity from several Democrats.

That “seems to me an odd, inexplicable decision by you in light of all the suspicions and all the investigations underway,” said Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.

He explained it.

Mr. Benczkowski said that he accepted a law firm partner’s request in March that he help represent Alfa Bank in part because he understood that suspicions about illicit contacts with the Trump Organization were “inaccurate,” noting also that it was not certain at the time that the administration would offer him any job.

Cool cool cool, that’s all taken care of then.



He channelled Priebus as he spoke

Jul 28th, 2017 6:06 am | By

Ryan Lizza’s phone conversation with Scaramucci is a hot item.

Mooch called Lizza Wednesday night wanting to know who “leaked” the information that he was having dinner with Don and Melania plus Hannity and former Fox News executive Bill Shine, information which Lizza had tweeted.

“Who leaked that to you?” he asked. I said I couldn’t give him that information. He responded by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. “What I’m going to do is, I will eliminate everyone in the comms team and we’ll start over,” he said. I laughed, not sure if he really believed that such a threat would convince a journalist to reveal a source. He continued to press me and complain about the staff he’s inherited in his new job. “I ask these guys not to leak anything and they can’t help themselves,” he said. “You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.”

That’s some good professional press secretarying right there.

Meanwhile, several damaging stories about Scaramucci have appeared in the press, and he blamed Priebus for most of them. Now, he wanted to know whom I had been talking to about his dinner with the President. Scaramucci, who initiated the call, did not ask for the conversation to be off the record or on background.

“Is it an assistant to the President?” he asked. I again told him I couldn’t say. “O.K., I’m going to fire every one of them, and then you haven’t protected anybody, so the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks.”

He said that without having asked for the conversation to be off the record or on background. Smart guy.

“They’ll all be fired by me,” he said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ” (Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.)

This is the White House press secretary, remember.

“The swamp will not defeat him,” he said, breaking into the third person. “They’re trying to resist me, but it’s not going to work. I’ve done nothing wrong on my financial disclosures, so they’re going to have to go fuck themselves.”

Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (Bannon declined to comment.)

Bannon declined to comment, but jokes about contortionist Bannon are proliferating as we speak.

I got the sense that Scaramucci’s campaign against leakers flows from his intense loyalty to Trump. Unlike other Trump advisers, I’ve never heard him say a bad word about the President. “What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers and I want to get the President’s agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people,” he told me.

Nothing strange about any of this. Not at all. Completely normal.



Based on the paperwork we have to put forward

Jul 28th, 2017 4:42 am | By

Kellyanne Conway considers ethics rules an unreasonable imposition.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, speaking on Fox & Friends Thursday, said the Trump administration’s hiring efforts are being hindered by the “hoops you have to jump through” to comply with Office of Government Ethics rules.

“There are so many qualified men and women who wanted to serve this administration and their country who have been completely demoralized and completely disinclined to do so based on the paperwork we have to put forward, divesting assets,” Conway said.

The “hoops” are intended to prevent people from using government jobs to help their own financial interests. The reason for that is that we want people in government to be working for the public good as opposed to their own profit. It’s not a difficult concept; it’s pretty disgusting that Conway pretends not to understand it.

Kathleen Clark, an ethics law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, disagreed about the impact of ethics disclosure forms, saying they help ensure that government employees prioritize the public good.

“Someone who is not used to putting the interests of the people first is probably more likely to see this as an inappropriate burden, but if you put it into the context of the ethics laws, it makes sense that people have a requirement to make these disclosures,” Clark said.

Someone who is not used to putting the interests of the people first shouldn’t be in politics or government work.



Mavericky

Jul 28th, 2017 4:34 am | By

So McCain sucker-punched them after all. He joined Murkowski and Collins in voting down the latest repeal of the ACA, which means that effort is over for now.

Republican senators said there was no consensus and no plan for what comes next on health care. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warned of potentially severe political consequences for Republicans for failing to deliver on what has been the GOP’s unifying campaign pledge for the previous three elections.

“I sadly feel a great many Americans will feel betrayed,” Cruz told reporters, “that they were lied to, and that sentiment will not be unjustified.”

And a great many Americans will feel relieved that their health insurance won’t be yanked away.

The “skinny repeal” was a pared down version of Republican proposals to undo Obamacare with no plan for what to replace it with. It would have eliminated the individual and employer mandate and key taxes, defunded Planned Parenthood for a year and eliminated key protections of health benefits that were required under Obamacare.

The bill was deeply unpopular, but GOP leaders worked to assure members it would never become law. Instead, they wanted the Senate to pass it in order to advance the legislation to a third round of negotiations with the House to try to craft a final bill both chambers could pass.

Yeah brilliant, pass a terrible bill by promising it won’t become law. What could possibly go wrong?

No this isn’t McCain being a hero. I enjoy the sucker-punch aspect though.



In his mind, he is his own best advocate

Jul 27th, 2017 6:24 pm | By

Will he, won’t he? Nobody knows for sure. Don really really wants to get rid of Sessions, but how to do it without getting into another mess that could turn out to be just as bad or even worse? It’s keeping him awake on the job.

President Trump has discussed with confidants and advisers in recent days the possibility of installing a new attorney general through a recess appointment if Jeff Sessions leaves the job, but he has been warned not to move to push him out because of the political and legal ramifications, according to people briefed on the conversations.

Still raging over Sessions’s recusal from the Justice Department’s escalating Russia investigation, Trump has been talking privately about how he might replace Sessions and possibly sidestep Senate oversight, four people familiar with the issue said.

Those who have discussed Sessions this week with Trump or with top West Wing officials have drawn different conclusions from their conversations — in part because the president ruminates aloud and floats hypotheticals, often changing his views hour to hour.

Like the chaotic indiscreet undisciplined child he is.

Some advisers have come away convinced that Trump is determined to ultimately remove Sessions and is seriously considering a recess appointment to replace him — an idea that has been discussed on some of the cable news shows the president watches. These advisers said Trump would prefer that the attorney general resign rather than have to be fired.

“My understanding is the Sessions thing ends with Sessions leaving the attorney general job to go spend more time with his family,” said one outside counselor to the White House, who, like many others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the subject is highly sensitive.

But others involved in the discussions have concluded that Trump is merely venting with his continued assault against Sessions — one described it as “an emotional exercise,” while another called it “just a rough-up job.” They said Trump has neither fully articulated nor set in motion a plan to replace Sessions.

Instead he just talks a lot of reckless smack that makes him sound like an idiot. No problem.

everal lawyers around Trump have been urging the president to stop his saber-rattling against Sessions and Mueller, according to three advisers. The president has countered that he believes the probe is a mere political attack — a “witch hunt” and “hoax,” as he often says on Twitter — and that he has no legal jeopardy to worry about.

But several lawyers have told Trump that his comments send a signal to Mueller that the president is trying to shut down or curtail the probe, as though he does have something to hide.

Trump has largely shrugged off these concerns. “In his mind, he is his own best advocate, his own best lawyer,” one adviser said. “He’s not willing to let the Mueller probe and other events unfold without taking action himself. ”

In his own mind he’s a genius, and more presidential than anyone except possibly that Lincoln guy.



His dinner with Donnie

Jul 27th, 2017 6:13 pm | By

Nothing at all sleazy about this, oh no, perfectly normal and appropriate.

President Trump dined at the White House on Wednesday night with Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity, former Fox executive Bill Shine and newly installed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to discuss overhauling the West Wing staff and his political strategy, a senior White House official said.

The private dinner comes as Trump is contemplating major changes inside his White House, empowering Scaramucci to reimagine his communications strategy.

The president and his new aide solicited advice from Hannity and Shine over a meal in the Blue Room that was described by the senior White House official as social.

Hannity has his head so far up Trump’s ass he can study how the comb-over is done…or as the Post put it,

Hannity hosts one of Fox’s highest-rated programs and is one of cable television’s staunchest Trump boosters. Shine was a longtime lieutenant to the late Roger Ailes, former Fox chairman and chief executive, and served as co-president of Fox News until resigning this spring amid the sexual harassment scandal involving Ailes and ousted anchor Bill O’Reilly.

Hannity works for the sleazy dishonest rabidly right-wing “news” station that helped get Trump elected, and the head of state has him over for din-dins. Hannity fawns on Trump on Fox “News” while telling lies about his critics, and Trump shares the presidential ice cream with him.

All perfectly fine.



Actively working to expose people to discrimination

Jul 27th, 2017 5:16 pm | By

Meanwhile in Trump World

The Justice Department has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, taking a stand against a decision reached under President Barack Obama.

The department’s move to insert itself into a federal case in New York was an unusual example of top officials in Washington intervening in court in what is an important but essentially private dispute between a worker and his boss over gay rights issues.

“The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination,” the Justice Department said in a friend-of-the-court brief, citing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in the workplace based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” “It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts.”

The Pussygrabber wants to put those nasty HoMoSekshual people back in their place. They give good red-blooded Amurrican pussygrabbers the squicks.

The filing came in a discrimination case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit involving Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor. In 2010, Mr. Zarda was fired by his employer, a Long Island company called Altitude Express. Before taking a female client on a tandem dive, Mr. Zarda told the woman he was gay to assuage any awkwardness that might arise from his being tightly strapped to her during the jump. The woman’s husband complained to the company, which subsequently fired Mr. Zarda. Mr. Zarda then sued Altitude Express, claiming it had violated Title VII.

The woman’s husband complained because…the skydiving instructor wasn’t a pussygrabber?

Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department has now stepped into the fray. In its brief, the department noted that every Congress since 1974 has declined to add a sexual-orientation provision to Title VII, despite what it called “notable changes in societal and cultural attitudes.” The brief also said that the federal government, as the largest employer in the country, had a “substantial and unique interest” in the proper interpretation of Title VII.

In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, under Mr. Obama, issued a contrary ruling, deciding on a vote of three Democrats to two Republicans that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was illegal. That ruling, which was reviewed by the Obama administration’s Justice Department, did not formally bind the federal courts, although courts often defer to federal agencies when they interpret laws that come under their jurisdiction.

In its brief, the Trump administration’s Justice Department said the E.E.O.C., which had also filed court papers supporting Mr. Zarda, was “not speaking for the United States.”

It couldn’t be; it has the word “equal” in the very title. Republicans are allergic to that word.

Shortly after the new brief was filed, civil rights activists attacked it. In a statement on Wednesday, Vanita Gupta, who ran the Justice Department’s civil rights division under Mr. Obama, said the Trump administration’s court filing “contravenes recent court decisions and guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

On Twitter on Wednesday night, Ms. Gupta, who is the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, noted that only political appointees, not career employees, from her former office at the Justice Department had signed the brief.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the brief a “gratuitous and extraordinary attack on L.G.B.T. people’s civil rights.” In a statement, James Esseks, the director of the organization’s L.G.B.T. and H.I.V. Project, added, “The Sessions-led Justice Department and the Trump administration are actively working to expose people to discrimination.”

It’s how they roll.



Their most stylish and advanced beauty product to date

Jul 27th, 2017 1:34 pm | By

The Onion reports:

Touting it as their most stylish and advanced beauty product to date, officials from global cosmetics brand Maybelline unveiled Thursday the Ideal-Woman Rubber Mask, a flexible facial covering that can be worn over the head in lieu of makeup. “Instead of spending hours each morning applying multiple cosmetic products, now women can simply roll out of bed, grab their stunning latex polymer beauty mask that has been molded to accepted standards of female beauty, and stretch it snugly over their face and hair,” Maybelline spokeswoman Jessica Healy said of the one-size-fits-all contoured masks, which designers carefully crafted with rouged cheeks, pouty full lips, high cheekbones, and a small taut chin for maximum physical appeal. “In the short time it takes to line up the mask’s mouth, nose, and eye holes with your own features, you’ll easily achieve a look that would have otherwise taken hours to create, allowing you to confidently go through the day without ever having to pause to reapply.” Maybelline executives noted that the Ideal-Woman Rubber Mask is only available in Caucasian.

Princess Ivanka in short.