Notes and Comment Blog

A chilling message

Jun 3rd, 2018 9:36 am | By

Bad in itself and bad in the inspiration it gives to others.

Duterte tells U.N. human rights expert: ‘Go to hell’

The Philippine Supreme Court voted last month to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom Duterte had called an “enemy” for voting against controversial government proposals, citing violations in the way she was appointed.

Her dismissal is sending a chilling message to other supreme court judges and members of the judiciary, Diego García-Sayán, special U.N rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said on Friday.

It’s what modern tyrants do: they mess with the courts and the judges.

“Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell,” Duterte told a news conference late Saturday night, prior to leaving for an official visit to South Korea.

As if it’s Duterte’s own personal country that he owns. You don’t want a head of state who thinks that way.

Trump thinks he’s a fine fella.

The sacred responsibility of the President

Jun 2nd, 2018 5:40 pm | By

The Times published the whole letter with annotations. It’s a lot.

To take one item at random…

It is also worth responding to the popular suggestion that the President’s public criticism of the FBI either constitutes obstruction or serves as evidence of obstruction. Such criticism ignores the sacred responsibility of the President to hold his subordinates accountable — a function not unlike public Congressional oversight hearings. After all, the FBI is not above the law and we are now learning of the disappointing results of a lack of accountability in both the DOJ and FBI.

And that’s what Trump is doing, is it? Performing his sacred responsibility to hold his subordinates accountable? By screaming insults at them on Twitter every day? That’s how that’s supposed to be done?

Nixon too tried to “hold the FBI accountable” by telling Haldeman to tell the CIA to tell the FBI to drop its investigation of the Watergate break-in. The CIA did what it was told and that’s why Mark Felt talked to Bob Woodward.

Also what they say there ignores what we’ve been told a million times by now: that the White House is not supposed to meddle directly with the FBI or the DoJ, lest it appear to be interfering with law enforcement. That’s part of the president’s “sacred responsibility” too, we are told.

Mind you, all this does underline what a shit system we turn out to have, when a reckless criminal lunatic like Trump cannot be stopped.

Because he has unfettered authority

Jun 2nd, 2018 3:29 pm | By

Trump’s lawyers are seriously arguing, in a long memo to Mueller, that Trump can’t obstruct justice because as president he is justice himself.

President Trump’s lawyers have for months quietly waged a campaign to keep the special counsel from trying to force him to answer questions in the investigation into whether he obstructed justice, asserting that he cannot be compelled to testify and arguing in a confidential letter that he could not possibly have committed obstruction because he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations.

Including federal investigations into his own crimes. So a president can do anything at all and then simply shut down or forbid all federal investigations because his authority is that absolute.

So they’re saying presidents are dictators.

In a brash assertion of presidential power, the 20-page letter — sent to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and obtained by The New York Times — contends that the president cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling because the Constitution empowers him to, “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”

[Read the Trump lawyers’ confidential memo to Mr. Mueller here.]

Other lawyers don’t agree.

(I don’t know that Schumer is a lawyer. Whatever.)

The attempt to dissuade Mr. Mueller from seeking a grand jury subpoena is one of two fronts on which Mr. Trump’s lawyers are fighting. In recent weeks, they have also begun a public-relations campaign to discredit the investigation and in part to pre-empt a potentially damaging special counsel report that could prompt impeachment proceedings.

They have begun a public-relations campaign to discredit the investigation and the FBI and the Justice Department, all in the effort to shield the guy who is supposed to be working for the good of the country as a whole (and its people), not for himself.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers are gambling that Mr. Mueller may not want to risk an attempt to forge new legal ground by bringing a grand jury subpoena against a sitting president into a criminal proceeding.

“Ensuring that the office remains sacred and above the fray of shifting political winds and gamesmanship is of critical importance,” they wrote.

How can the office remain “sacred” when it’s occupied by that dreadful vulgar monster? He cheapens it with every word, every look, every gesture, every action, every photo op, and god knows every tweet.

“The president’s prime function as the chief executive ought not be hampered by requests for interview,” they wrote. “Having him testify demeans the office of the president before the world.”

That ship has sailed. That ship has made multiple circumnavigations of the globe; Trump himself demeans the office constantly. Having him testify would do a little bit to repair the damage he’s done by showing he’s not free to commit crimes and then laugh in our faces.

They also contended that nothing Mr. Trump did violated obstruction-of-justice statutes, making both a technical parsing of what one such law covers and a broad constitutional argument that Congress cannot infringe on how he exercises his power to supervise the executive branch. Because of the authority the Constitution gives him, it is impossible for him to obstruct justice by shutting down a case or firing a subordinate, no matter his motivation, they said.

If they’re right about it then this is a dictatorship. They’d better not be right.

Something to cheer

Jun 2nd, 2018 11:39 am | By

Hadley Freeman:

The column she wrote:

During the Irish abortion referendum there was a lot of talk about the extreme cases in which legal abortion is not just a right but a necessity: rape victims, foetuses with fatal abnormalities. But it would be dishonest not to mention the more banal stories like mine. Back then, I was with my first boyfriend, whom I loved very much. I was starting to recover from anorexia – which is why I hadn’t been more careful: I assumed I couldn’t conceive – and my boyfriend was then no more emotionally equipped than I was to look after a baby.

But the truth is, we – I – absolutely could have had that baby. I would have had to give up my job and move back in with my parents. My relationship would have eventually ended, and it would have taken years for me to be able to support myself and the baby. But, sure, I could have done it.

But she didn’t want to, and that should be all there is to it. It’s her body and her life so she should get to decide.

Since I had twins at 37, I’ve become even more pro-choice, because I now know the realities of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. Making anyone go through that when they don’t want to is so obviously self-defeating, it verges on the surreal.

My story is not every story, any more than an anti-choice campaigner’s love for their children is an argument against abortion. Women’s needs are different. That’s why they need a choice. Even some pro-choicers talk about abortion with distaste. But I love my abortion. It gave me the freedom to work, to choose when I wanted children and who I wanted them with. My now-long-ago-ex-boyfriend and I are not yoked together by a baby we weren’t ready for. And my abortion was so free of shame and fear that it has never affected me emotionally. The miscarriage that I had at 38, I think about every day, because I wanted that baby; my abortion at 23, I never think about at all. While I couldn’t control the outcome of the former, I am lucky to live in a place that let me control the latter.

Being able to put a stop to a pregnancy you don’t want is a thing to rejoice in.

I wrote about it in Free Inquiry back in 2014:

The more we buy into the meme that abortion is always a tragic lesser-of-two-evils situation, the more we lose sight of the reality, which is that for a woman or girl who does not want to be pregnant, abortion is a glorious human invention, a life-salvaging bit of technology.

Of course it is! It’s not the case that everyone everywhere would welcome any pregnancy, no matter what. Imagine if pregnancy were random, an abrupt unrequested gift of the gods that could happen to either sex at any time. Would it be a joy to the recipient every single time, in all possible circumstances? Obviously not. The same applies when only one sex is affected—traditionally the inferior, expendable, subordinate sex, the one whose whole purpose is to reproduce—and the chain of causation is understood. Just like anyone else, girls and women may not want to be pregnant at a particular time, just as they can not want to have a demanding job or a difficult project at a particular time. The existence of a method of ending a pregnancy is a good thing for women and girls in that situation. It’s not tragic. What’s tragic is the huge number of women who don’t have that option.

Hooray that Irish women now will.

Maybe they should

Jun 2nd, 2018 11:08 am | By

The LA Times wants to help.

Hate on Jordan Peterson all you want, but he’s tapping into frustration that feminists shouldn’t ignore. If feminists don’t like his message, maybe they should offer a better one.

Hmmmyes, and by the same token, hate on Richard Spencer all you want, but he’s tapping into frustration that Black Lives Matter shouldn’t ignore. If BLM activists don’t like his message, maybe they should offer a better one. Hate on “provocative” anti-PC warrior X all you want, but he’s tapping into frustration that progressives shouldn’t ignore. If progressives don’t like his message, maybe they should offer a better one.

It’s a stupid soundbite. It boils down to telling reformers that there are people who don’t like reformers, as if anyone were in any doubt about that. It also assumes none of the reformers have offered a better message, which is ludicrous. No feminist has said anything better than what Jordan Peterson says?


The baleful impact

Jun 2nd, 2018 9:59 am | By

Tom McCarthy at the Guardian talks to a couple of legal boffins about Trump’s erosion of democratic and legal norms.

“We’ve never had a president attack the intelligence and law enforcement agencies that work for him in this way,” Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and former assistant attorney general under George W Bush, said in an email. “He’s attacking them in order to discredit the Mueller investigation. But the baleful impact on those agencies’ morale and on public trust in them unfortunately extends far beyond that investigation.”

While whispers of a “constitutional crisis” are in the air, many mainstream analyses reject that idea, pointing out among other things that the Mueller investigation continues full steam ahead, no matter how much Trump might whine about it.

So far, it does. That could change. “So far so good” is not all that comforting given the maniac in the Oval Office who will bring it all down if he can.

The bad news is that it doesn’t take a constitutional crisis to constitute a national emergency, said Eric Posner, a University of Chicago professor specializing in constitutional law.

“I think the problem with thinking about this in terms of crisis is that we should be concerned about what Trump is doing whether or not there ever is a crisis,” Posner said. “It’s perfectly possible, for example, that Trump could undermine Mueller’s investigation without causing a constitutional crisis.”

Plus he could and can undermine a great deal more than Mueller’s investigation; he’s doing it every day. This is the crisis; we’re in it, we’ve been in it for months; it’s not one loud bang but an hourly onslaught.

“I think what people are worried about, when you look at other countries that have slid into authoritarianism, what has happened is that the leaders of those countries have proceeded incrementally, and so when he does some things initially that people didn’t resist, that enhances his power. Once he has more power he can do more things, take more action.

“And you could slide into an authoritarian regime without a real crisis ever taking place, and I think that’s what people should be focusing on.”

Especially since it’s already happening, it’s been happening since the day Obama left.

Shortly after Trump’s election, Amy Siskind, a former Wall Street executive, started a website called The Weekly List, seeking to catalogue news stories documenting “eroding norms under the current regime”.

The site, which Siskind said gets up to a million visitors a week and which this year produced a book blurbed by current Trump target Samantha Bee, bears this tagline: “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.”

That’s pretty much why I’ve been focusing so obsessively on Trump (along with the fact that I can’t look away). I feel a need to document it, to keep track.

Smiling photo-op

Jun 1st, 2018 5:55 pm | By

Trump loves Kim again.

Tiny Jewel Box

Jun 1st, 2018 12:01 pm | By

From the large to the tiny:

The account manager at the Tiny Jewel Box, which calls itself Washington’s “premier destination for fine jewelry and watches,” had promised to expedite the order of a dozen customized silver fountain pens — each emblazoned with the seal of the Environmental Protection Agency and the signature of its leader, Scott Pruitt.

Obviously a basic need.

Now all that the EPA staff member working with the store needed was for a top Pruitt aide to sign off on the $3,230 order, which also included personalized journals.

“The cost of the Qty. 12 Fountain Pens will be around $1,560.00,” the staffer emailed Aug. 14 to Millan Hupp, Pruitt’s head of scheduling and advance and a trusted confidante dating to his Oklahoma days. “All the other items total cost is around $1,670.00 which these items are in process. Please advise.”

“Yes, please order,” Hupp responded later that day. “Thank you.”

The exchange, included among thousands of pages of emails released this week as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Sierra Club, offered another glimpse of the high-end tastes of the EPA chief, who has faced months of scrutiny over his expenditures of taxpayer money on first-class travel, an unprecedented security detail, a $43,000 phone booth, a top-of-the-line SUV and other office upgrades.

Well you wouldn’t want the head of the EPA using some plebeian ordinary fountain pen would you?

Image result for emperor

The greatest gift a President can bestow

Jun 1st, 2018 11:33 am | By

Rachel Maddow did a brilliant cold open last night about Trump and pardons and Nixon and Haldeman and criminal obstruction of justice. Her opening segment sometimes loses me, but this one was genius.

One part of it was about Camp David (complete with photos of various buildings there and explanation that they are named after trees and that the presidential building is called Aspen and sometimes people talk about the president at Aspen and they don’t mean the one in Colorado), and the fact that Bob Haldeman made a recorded diary entry at the end of every day as Chief of Staff, and he made one after a conversation with Nixon at Aspen right before the indictments and firings. It’s quite incriminating in places yet Haldeman dutifully described the whole thing on the tape, Maddow said in wonder.

Then the indictments came down. She showed us the Times headline for that day and said if anyone wanted to needlepoint her a Times headline that’s the one she would choose.

Image result for new york times headline watergate indictments

One evening in May Nixon called Haldeman on the phone (the one that recorded his phone calls).
The Times published part of the transcript of that conversation in 1997:

What better way to mark the anniversaries of Richard Nixon’s resignation (Aug. 9, 1974) and pardon by Gerald Ford (Sept. 8, 1974) than with this never-before-published transcript. The scene: Nixon’s Executive Office Building hideaway, May 18, 1973, the day after the Senate Watergate Committee’s televised hearings began. John Dean will soon testify that Nixon committed high crimes, and the long slide toward resignation will accelerate. As the final Watergate tapes released by the National Archives reveal, Nixon wanted to give three of his allies — H.R. (Bob) Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and John Mitchell, who had all resigned by then — the greatest gift a President can bestow: a blanket pardon. According to Samuel Dash, chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee, this exchange, if known to the committee at the time, would have justified a separate article of impeachment all by itself. ”Even Haldeman,” he says, ”was trying to shut him up.”

According to Samuel Dash, chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee, this exchange, if known to the committee at the time, would have justified a separate article of impeachment all by itself. Maddow repeated that at least three times.

What better way to mark the anniversaries of Richard Nixon’s resignation (Aug. 9, 1974) and pardon by Gerald Ford (Sept. 8, 1974) than with this never-before-published transcript. The scene: Nixon’s Executive Office Building hideaway, May 18, 1973, the day after the Senate Watergate Committee’s televised hearings began. John Dean will soon testify that Nixon committed high crimes, and the long slide toward resignation will accelerate. As the final Watergate tapes released by the National Archives reveal, Nixon wanted to give three of his allies — H.R. (Bob) Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and John Mitchell, who had all resigned by then — the greatest gift a President can bestow: a blanket pardon. According to Samuel Dash, chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee, this exchange, if known to the committee at the time, would have justified a separate article of impeachment all by itself. ”Even Haldeman,” he says, ”was trying to shut him up.”

Nixon: What I mean to say is this — talking in the confidence of this room … I don’t give a (expletive) what comes out on you or John (Ehrlichman) — even that poor damn dumb John Mitchell. There is gonna be a total pardon.

Haldeman: Don’t — don’t — don’t even say that.

Nixon: You know it. You know it and I know it.

Haldeman: Nope. Don’t say it.

Nixon: Forget you ever heard it.

Nope. Don’t say it. Why not? Because, Maddow said, it’s criminal obstruction of justice. That’s why not.

Trump repeatedly used the word ‘wacky’ to describe the shooter

Jun 1st, 2018 10:36 am | By

Trump met yesterday with families of the people killed in the Santa Fe school shooting slaughter.

One mother said he showed sincerity and compassion. Another, not so much.

Rhonda Hart, whose 14-year-old daughter, Kimberly Vaughan, was killed at the school, told The Associated Press that Trump repeatedly used the word ‘wacky’ to describe the shooter and the trench coat he wore. She said she told Trump, “Maybe if everyone had access to mental health care, we wouldn’t be in the situation.”

Hart, an Army veteran, said she also suggested employing veterans as sentinels in schools. She said Trump responded, “And arm them?” She replied, “No,” but said Trump “kept mentioning” arming classroom teachers. “It was like talking to a toddler,” Hart said.

But without the cuteness factor.

Trump then headed to a fundraiser at a luxury hotel in downtown Houston, the first of his two big-dollar events in Texas on Thursday. A White House official did not immediately respond to requests for details about how much money was to be raised, and who was benefiting, from the fundraising events.

After 17 teachers and students were killed during a February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Trump said he would work to improve school safety, but has not called for new gun control legislation. He created the commission to review ways to make schools safer.

Not including gun control.

As the Parkland students became vocal advocates for gun control, embracing their public positions as few school survivors had before, Trump quickly became a focal point for their anger. In Trump’s visit to Florida after the shooting, aides kept him clear of the school, which could have been the site of protests, and he instead met with a few victims at a local hospital and paid tribute to first responders at the nearby sheriff’s office.

There has yet to be a similar outcry for restrictions on firearms from the students and survivors in deep-red Texas.

In Texas school shootings are just The Price of Freedom, I guess. We take the risk of driving in cars, and the same applies to attending school in a country overflowing with guns.

Displaying empathy does not come naturally to Trump, who has been criticized for appearing unfeeling in times of tragedy, including when he sharply criticized a mayor in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of a deadly hurricane and fought with a Gold Star military family.

The reason displaying empathy does not come naturally to Trump is because empathy itself does not come naturally to Trump. He can’t display it because he doesn’t feel it. This isn’t an issue of a feeling man rendered awkwardly mute by his stoic character or his reluctance to speak up. This is an issue of a man who is entirely indifferent to everyone on the planet who is not himself.

Weaponized graciousness

May 31st, 2018 2:42 pm | By

Emily Nussbaum two years ago on Princess Ivanka:

Ivanka’s made the choice to use her gifts to prop up her father’s ugly and xenophobic campaign, employing her charm as a kind of weaponized graciousness. She’s his consort, because Melania can’t be. And could Donald be bad, if Ivanka is good? Where Donald is rude, Ivanka is polite. Where Donald makes piggish insults, Ivanka shrugs: “Oh, Dad!” In last night’s seductive speech, with her corporate-P.R.-wiz delivery, she offered the same anodyne generalizations that her siblings and stepmother made in their speeches. Her dad inspired them; he taught good values; he can be trusted. It was like a Mad Libs compiled from Successories motivational posters…

If he inspired them, he inspired them to be greedy and crooked; he did not teach good values; he cannot be trusted. She lies just as he does.

Before Ivanka’s performance, her brother, Donald, Jr., predicted that his sister would succeed, because she “does the princess thing very well.” Her royalty is what makes her father’s royalty feel real. You’re not supposed to criticize someone’s daughter—and, if the press does, Trump will surely be able to score points by defending her. But this is the ugly truth: Ivanka has made a conscious choice to deodorize the stink of her father’s misogyny, to suggest that because he loves her that means he loves women—to erase the actual policies he supports. She could have stood by his side and smiled in mere family solidarity. She could have used her newborn or her work as an excuse to stay away from active campaigning. Instead, she’s stepped forward to blind female voters to who her father is and what he stands for.

And she’s still doing it.

It makes us uncomfortable to face the reality

May 31st, 2018 1:36 pm | By

Edward Burmila at The Nation says we should be looking at why ABC decided to resurrect Roseanne in the first place.

The simplest, least satisfying explanation of why this happened is money. An industry reduced to mining nostalgia for an endless parade of reboots, remakes, and sequels could not resist reviving one of the essential, culture-defining sitcoms of the nineties. In this light, ABC saw the new Roseanne as no different than Fuller House—mindless, derivative, easy to churn out, and profitable.

The more complicated answer involves the media’s drive to “humanize” and explain those who see Trump as their long-awaited salvation. Like the endless journalistic forays into the Rust Belt to profile Trumpers with shuttered steel mills as a photo backdrop, the Roseanne reboot intended to show what the media kept calling the “white working class” sympathetically. The latest iteration of Roseanne Conner would demonstrate that the real-life people her character represents are not racist caricatures. This is, after all, what we would like to think about our fellow Americans—that we have differences, but we can still come together as one nation.

We would like to think that if it were true – but having differences is one thing, and being a fan of Trump is another. That’s not some little difference you can just overlook by talking about baseball instead.

But so often the actual Trump supporters ruin that narrative. Journalists and researchers are now finding that the veneer of “economic anxiety” among Trump supporters is built on a foundation of hate. Fans of Trump say little about the president’s Gilded Age economic policies, but boy do they fume over kneeling NFL players. And because this racism, xenophobia, and paranoia is not what we want to find, we go looking again and again until we find an answer that is more comforting.

Exactly. It’s not about misogyny and racism, it’s about elitism, the story goes. I wrote a Free Inquiry column about it last year:

What do we talk about when we talk about elites?

We should talk about power and money, but too much of the time we talk about snobbery, speaking French, flavored coffee drinks and similar social markers that may be psychologically wounding but do not, say, keep millions of children in inferior schools or workers in minimum wage jobs with no benefits.

In July 2016 Rod Dreher at The American Conservative asked J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, a leading question about this more touchy-feely version of elitism:

I’m not a hillbilly, nor do I descend from hillbilly stock, strictly speaking. But I do come from poor rural white people in the South. I have spent most of my life and career living among professional class urbanite[s], most of them on the East Coast, and the barely-banked contempt they — the professional-class whites, I mean — have for poor white people is visceral, and obvious to me. Yet it is invisible to them. Why is that? And what does it have to do with our politics today?

It’s obvious to Rod Dreher but then he’s been primed to find it obvious, hasn’t he. We all have. It’s been a cliché of political campaigns for decades that liberals are effete snobs while conservatives are salt of the earth workin’ folks constantly wounded by the scorn of the pointy-headed intellectuals (aka the Jews). We hear about snooty consumer choices, instead of policies on unions and worker protections. Given that background I have to wonder how much Dreher really does experience professional class urbanites displaying obvious contempt for poor white people, and how much he just imagines he does because we’ve all heard about it a million times.

Back to Burmila:

Roseanne is inseparable from this quest to find evidence that Trumpers are ultimately good, kindhearted people whose fears and economic insecurity are being exploited by a charlatan. It makes us uncomfortable to face the reality that tens of millions of Americans need no encouragement at all to support authoritarian and racist politics. Try as we may to tell ourselves that the masses are tricked into supporting far-right regimes in the United States or Europe, the uncomfortable reality is that many are willing, even eager.

It worked briefly. The show was lauded initially for being “incredibly honest” about who Trump voters are. Conservatives loved the ratings success of a show they saw as a rebuke of leftist Hollywood. After the initial surge of interest, the show appeared to settle into a consistent ratings generator for ABC.

Ultimately, the real Roseanne undermined the fictional one. Roseanne the character could humanize the show’s white, Midwestern, salt-of-the-earth types only if Barr kept up appearances, at least well enough for viewers to suspend disbelief. She could not. Rather than celebrate the network and the show’s famous co-stars for speaking out now, it is better to reconsider their initial motives. If they did this simply for the money, they are unprincipled. If they did it to show audiences relatable and “normal” Trump-loving Americans, they are misguided.

Barr may have wanted to use a fictional version of herself to prove that white people who love Donald Trump—people like her, in short—are not racists who traffic in ludicrous conspiracy theories and detest anyone who isn’t like them. She failed because that is exactly what she is. ABC, in abetting this mess, found that even Hollywood magic can’t make sympathetic characters out of such people, although I suspect it will keep trying. The alternative is confronting the fact that the beliefs of a substantial number of Americans are malevolent and dangerous, not mere differences of opinion that can be resolved in 20 minutes, with a hug.

And it’s nothing to do with coffee.

Blagojevich and Stewart

May 31st, 2018 10:06 am | By

And for his next trick…

Hmm. Corruption and lying to the FBI. That sounds familiar somehow…

What’s the commonality here I wonder…

Oh yes, that’s it!

They will have a little fun today

May 31st, 2018 9:53 am | By

He’s off to Texas to meet with family members of the victims killed in the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School; he plans to have fun there.

Speaking with reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews Thursday morning, the president detailed his schedule for the day, boasting about the state of the economy and ongoing efforts to arrange a previously scrapped meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I just want to tell you we’re doing very well with North Korea … a letter is going to be delivered to me from Kim Jong Un, so I look forward to seeing what’s in the letter,” Trump said. “…Other than that, the economy is good, stock market is up, a lot of jobs, best unemployment we’ve had in many, many decades actually. And we’re going to Dallas and Houston and we will have a little fun today.”

Throw paper towels at them, that should fix everything.

What a naked abuse of the pardon power

May 31st, 2018 9:21 am | By

Joining torturer Joe Arpaio…

He’s busy

May 30th, 2018 4:03 pm | By

Yesterday Trump was way too busy with important president stuff to be talking about Roseanne Barr.

On Tuesday, when Sarah Sanders was asked for Trump’s view about the cancellation, Sanders said “that’s not what the president is looking at. That’s not what he’s spending his time on. And I think that we have a lot bigger things going on in the country right now, certainly that the President is spending his time when it comes to policy.”

He was thinking about North Korea, trade deals, the military, the economy, not trivial stuff about some sitcom actor’s racist tweets.

Today, on the other hand, he was thinking about himself and how come nobody calls him up to apologize? North Korea and trade deals forgotten.

The White House insisted on Wednesday it was not defending Roseanne Barr for the racist tweet that ultimately led to her sitcom’s cancellation on ABC.

But President Donald Trump and his press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted they were also owed an apology from ABC for airing derogatory comments about the administration.

It was an expansive answer on a topic Sanders had said just a day before was not on Trump’s radar. It reflected the President’s deeply felt resentment at his portrayal in the media, and his long list of grievances at perceived slights over the past year.

“The President is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media saying the most horrible things about this President and nobody addresses it,” Sanders told reporters at Wednesday’s press briefing.

Which is what presidents do, naturally. That was Obama’s reaction to the massacre in Charleston, for sure – “why isn’t everyone talking about meeeeeeee?”

No, that’s a bitter joke; that wasn’t his reaction, because he’s not a fucking child. But Sarah Sanders goes out there and says that, with apparent sincerity.

Sanders expanded on that sentiment, reading from a list of examples meant to bolster Trump’s point, including ESPN host Jemele Hill calling Trump a white supremacist on Twitter, “The View” host Joy Behar likening Christianity to mental illness and ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann attacking Trump as a Nazi.

“This is a double standard that the President is speaking about,” Sanders said. “No one is defending her comments. They were inappropriate. But that was the point that he was making.”

“The President is simply calling out media bias,” Sanders said. “No one is defending what she said. The President is the President of all Americans and he’s focused on doing what is best for our country.”

All Americans? Really? Immigrants? Poor people? Brown people? Liberals? Democrats? Women? Civil servants? FBI agents?

Nah. That’s just another lie.

Enjoy the climate change

May 30th, 2018 3:17 pm | By

Bill McKibben on Justin Trudeau and Big Oil:

In case anyone wondered, this is how the world ends: with the cutest, progressivest, boybandiest leader in the world going fully in the tank for the oil industry.

Justin Trudeau’s government announced on Tuesday that it would nationalize the Kinder Morgan pipeline running from the tar sands of Alberta to the tidewater of British Columbia. It will fork over at least $4.5bn in Canadian taxpayers’ money for the right to own a 60-year-old pipe that springs leaks regularly, and for the right to push through a second pipeline on the same route – a proposal that has provoked strong opposition.

Uh oh.

That opposition has come from three main sources. First are many of Canada’s First Nations groups, who don’t want their land used for this purpose without their permission, and who fear the effects of oil spills on the oceans and forests they depend on. Second are the residents of Canada’s west coast, who don’t want hundreds of additional tankers plying the narrow inlets around Vancouver on the theory that eventually there’s going to be an oil spill. And third are climate scientists, who point out that even if Trudeau’s pipeline doesn’t spill oil into the ocean, it will spill carbon into the atmosphere.

Lots of carbon: 173 billion barrels of oil’s worth.

[T]he one half of 1% of the planet that is Canadian will have awarded to itself almost one-third of the remaining carbon budget between us and the 1.5 degree rise in temperature the planet drew as a red line in Paris. There’s no way of spinning the math that makes that okay – Canadians already emit more carbon per capita than Americans. Hell, than Saudi Arabians.

More than US Americans? I didn’t know that was possible.

Is this a clever financial decision that will somehow make Canada rich? Certainly not in the long run. Cleaning up the tar sands complex in Alberta – the biggest, ugliest scar on the surface of the earth – is already estimated to cost more than the total revenues generated by all the oil that’s come out of the ground. Meanwhile, when something goes wrong, Canada is now on the hook: when BP tarred the Gulf of Mexico, the US was at least able to exact billions of dollars in fines to help with the cleanup. Canada will get to sue itself.

So why is he doing it? Politics, McKibben says. Doesn’t seem like much of a reason, does it.


The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy says that approximately 100 litres of crude oil have leaked from the Trans Mountain pipeline in Darfield B.C.

Since 1961 Trans Mountain says they have reported approximately 82 spills to the National Energy Board — around 67 spills occurred with oil products. They add that 69.5 per cent of spills occurred at pump stations or terminals, and the remaining 30.5 per cent along the pipeline.

The news comes just four days before Kinder Morgan, the company who operates the Trans Mountain pipeline, will announce if they will continue with their pipeline twinning construction project.

The $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would parallel the 1,150-kilometre route of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline — which was built in 1953.

Pipeline capacity would increase from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of oil per day if the project goes through.

The expansion project has been the centre of intense debate both within the public and between the province and Alberta and Federal Governments.

Gotta keep those SUVs humming.

A core sample of lies

May 30th, 2018 11:27 am | By

Fact checker Linda Qiu checks facts:

During the rally, Mr. Trump also reiterated many claims that The Times and others have previously debunked: that Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, supported MS-13 (she never said this), that illegal border crossings had declined 40 percent (they recently increased), and that tax cuts he signed into law last year were the largest in history (they rank 12th). He also incorrectly described other countries as not “sending their best” through the diversity visa program (applicants enter of their own volition), claimed construction had begun on his border wall (it hasn’t), and said that the suspect in the Manhattan truck attack in October had sponsored two dozen family members through “chain migration” (this is implausible).

And the crowd cheered.

Creepy stuff

May 30th, 2018 11:17 am | By

Our Hitler in action:


May 30th, 2018 9:40 am | By

Barr is scorching the earth and sowing it with salt.

Roseanne Barr’s Twitter saga didn’t end with the cancellation of her show Tuesday. Early Wednesday morning, she was back at it, first blaming Ambien and defensively comparing ABC’s response to her racist and otherwise offensive tweetstorm to those of other celebrities who have made controversial comments.

But what she said yesterday wasn’t just “controversial” – in fact in sane circles it wasn’t controversial at all, it was unmistakably and crudely racist. “Ape” is not ambiguous.

Barr seemed to liken the reaction from her co-stars and those a supporter called “her underlings” to the way President Trump complains about members of his administration being “disloyal.” In response to tweets calling out Gilbert and Emma Kenney, who plays Barr’s granddaughter, Barr wrote, “i feel bad for -he goes thru this every single day.”

Hmm yes POTUS feels bad for POTUS too, but neither of them has any business feeling sorry for him, because he spends his life insulting people in public. “Pocahontas.” “Cryin’ Chuck.” “Failing New York Times.” “Crooked Hillary.” Heidi Cruz:

Trump will probably give Barr a cabinet post soon.