Notes and Comment Blog

A very friendly conversation

Apr 30th, 2017 9:38 am | By

Trump continues his program of outreach to murderous autocrats by inviting Duterte to the White House.

The two leaders had “a very friendly conversation” in which they talked about the North Korea threat, according to the White House’s readout of the call. The two men, who have drawn comparisons for their tough rhetoric, also discussed the Philippine government’s fight against drugs.

What remained unmentioned, however, are the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and users as part of the government’s drug war. Thousands have been killed by police and vigilantes since Duterte took office and vowed to eradicate his country’s massive drug problem. The rising death toll has drawn criticisms from international human rights groups, at least one of which, the Human Rights Watch, has made the case for a criminal investigation of the Duterte administration.

What’s to discuss? Trump likes that kind of thing. He thinks the cops should use whatever force and violence they think necessary, and everyone else should stfu.

In a brief phone call in December about the drug war, then-President-elect Trump told Duterte that he was doing it the “right way,” according to the Philippine president’s account of the conversation.

Extra-judicial killing is “the right way.” That’s our prez.


Apr 30th, 2017 9:10 am | By

A young Canadian artist was about to have an exhibition of her paintings at a gallery in Toronto.

Visions Gallery had planned to showcase the work of Amanda PL, 29, a local non-Indigenous artist who says she was inspired by the Woodlands style made famous by the Anishinabe artist Norval Morrisseau beginning in the ’60s, with a focus on nature, animals and Indigenous spirituality.

But within hours of the gallery’s email announcement promoting the exhibit, there was a backlash, with people alleging that PL had appropriated Indigenous culture and art.

So the gallery canceled the exhibit.

Chippewa artist Jay Soule was among those leading the charge. He argues PL blatantly copied Morrisseau with virtually no regard for the storytelling behind his work.

“What she’s doing is essentially cultural genocide, because she’s taking his stories and retelling them, which bastardizes it down the road. Other people will see her work and they’ll lose the connection between the real stories that are attached to it,” said Soule.

No doubt some will, but that happens with everything. People see what they see, read what they read, listen to what they listen to. All art has sources and influences. If you try to shut down art that has influences, there will be no art left, except what people create for their own enjoyment. Since Amanda PL is explicit about what inspired her, the chances are good that she would have motivated new people to find the work of Norval Morrisseau.

PL said she first became inspired by the Woodlands style when she was living in Thunder Bay, Ont., studying to become a visual arts teacher and taking Native studies.

“I just tried to learn all I could about the Aboriginal culture, their teachings, their stories, and I’ve tried to capture the beauty of the art style and make it my own by drawing upon elements of nature within Canada that have meaning to me,” she told CBC Toronto in an interview Friday.

Which is what artists and other culture purveyors do. It’s an inherent and crucial part of cultural conversation, and it’s a good thing, not a bad one. If Amanda PL were pretending she’d invented the style that would be appropriation, but she isn’t.

Visions Gallery co-owner Tony Magee acknowledged PL didn’t misrepresent herself to him or his partner, artist Francisco Castro Lostalo, in their conversations ahead of the planned exhibit.

Magee said it never came up, and he didn’t think to ask whether she was Indigenous. “In retrospect, I wish that I had,” he said in a phone interview Friday.

It was only after the exhibit was announced on Monday that he learned PL was not Indigenous.

Ok what are the rules here? If PL is not allowed to incorporate indigenous styles in her painting, does that mean that Indigenous painters are not allowed to incorporate European styles in theirs?

If artists aren’t allowed to incorporate styles of artists of the Wrong Race, that means they should avoid looking at art by people of the Wrong Race, doesn’t it? Maybe that means they should be forcibly prevented from looking at it, just to be safe? No Rembrandt or Vermeer or Velasquez for you First Nations peeps; no Frida Kahlo for you gringos; NO MIXING for anyone.

You can see some of her work here.

The Lake by Amanda PL

The Lake

It’s all about reversing the progress made

Apr 29th, 2017 5:20 pm | By

Make America great again: make sure our precious children have access to all the sugar and fat they want. That’ll show that uppity Michelle Obama for trying to make school food healthy.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 centered on cleaning up school food. Getting the act passed became a key focus of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to fight childhood obesity.

Now, the new USDA Chief, Sonny Perdue, is expected to put forward a new rule on Monday that will give schools “more flexibility in meeting federal nutrition standards for school lunches,” according to a new report in The Hill.

The law required the federal government to use recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to make the National School Lunch Program more nutritious, with more whole grains, a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, and less sodium and meat.

Well we can’t have that. This is America. Eating more fruits and vegetables is for those faggoty Europeans. Pass me the fried chicken.

Justin Rosario at the Daily Banter is struck by the sheer spite:

On Monday, former Republican governor Sonny Perdue was confirmed to be Secretary of Agriculture. By Friday, he had already announced he would be gutting Michelle Obama’s work in fighting childhood obesity:

On Friday, the department announced its secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, will introduce an interim rule to provide “regulatory flexibility” for the National School Lunch Program at a Virginia elementary school on Monday, alongside Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

“Regulatory flexibility” translates into “ignoring regulations we don’t like.” Ostensibly, this is about the “cost” of the program. In reality, this is just the latest attempt to erase the Obamas from the history books with the added bonus of hurting America’s children. Because if you’re going to be a sociopath, why not go all the way?

People whose job it is to care about the well-being of other humans are baffled by the seemingly pointless move:

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said much progress had been made and 99 percent of schools were complying with the program.”

Improving children’s health should be a top priority for the USDA, and serving more nutritious foods in schools is a clear-cut way to accomplish this goal,” Brown said. “Rather than altering the current path forward, we hope the agency focuses more on providing technical assistance that can help schools get across the finish line, if they haven’t done so already.”

Sadly, the top priority for every Republican has nothing to improving anything; it’s all about reversing the progress made and doing so out of sheer spite. It’s hard to wrap your head around it: What kind of person would deliberately make children less healthy just to get back at someone who did nothing but work to improve the live of America’s youth?

The kind who are with Donald Trump.

Donnie whips them up again

Apr 29th, 2017 4:35 pm | By

A glimpse of hell.

Ah the dignity and strength of the furious pout with folded arms.

Yay the Nazi salute.


Apr 29th, 2017 4:00 pm | By

Via Helen Dale on Twitter:

Maybe discuss it with women first?

Apr 29th, 2017 3:49 pm | By

News from Jordan:

A law which protected Jordan’s rapists from punishment if they married their victims looks set to be scrapped.

The Jordanian cabinet revoked Article 308 on Sunday, after years of campaigning by women’s activists, as well as Muslim and Christian scholars and others.

The law had meant rapists could avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim for at least three years.

Its supporters said the law protected a victim’s honour and reputation.

The victim’s “honour and reputation” shouldn’t be at issue anyway. It’s ridiculous. Imagine thinking someone whose wallet is stolen suffers damage to her honour and reputation.

And the rapist, blindingly obviously, should not escape punishment by further victimizing the victim. Imagine a guy beats up a woman, concussing her and breaking some ribs. Now imagine he gets to escape punishment if he marries her. The problem is obvious: oh gee, he beat her up once, what’s to stop him doing it again?

I suppose the logic is that then they would be married so then the forced sex would not be rape, it would just be sex. They’re married – married women don’t get to refuse sex with their husbands.

Heads men win, tails women lose.

Noor – not her real name – was just 20 when she was raped by a 55-year-old man.

He was her boss when one day, she complained of a headache. After taking the two pills he offered her, she lost consciousness.

“I couldn’t remember what happened next; I wake up and find myself naked and raped,” she told women’s rights campaign group Equality Now.

“I couldn’t tell my family what had happened. I cried and cried not knowing what to do. At that moment, I realised that my family will be devastated.”

It was only after Noor discovered she was pregnant, that she found the courage to report the rape – but then her attacker offered to marry her under Article 308.

Noor was given no choice in the matter.

“With all the hatred I have in my heart, my family forced me to marry him so as to save the ‘family’s honour’,” she said.

Nice “family.”

Guest post: Most people working today don’t remember how it used to be

Apr 29th, 2017 3:28 pm | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on Eliminate the safety regulations.

I wonder how the “let’s get rid of safety regulations” policy is going to go over with Trump’s presumed blue-collar, working man base

Most of the blue-collar workers that surround me are ecstatic about the idea. They have bought into the idea that these regulations are unnecessary, are telling them how to do their job, are keeping them from making better money…in short, they voted for Trump because of this sort of thing, not in spite of it. At a recent meeting of a group that benefits highly from OSHA regulations, they were all discussing how eager they were for OSHA regulations to go away.

I think the problem is that most people working today don’t remember how it used to be. They assume the workplace would still be as clean and safe without the regulations, because they have been told that all the regulations do is mean that they can’t move this box without two people—oh, goodness, you mean I can’t lift a 100 pound box without help? How dare they! And they believe that the big benefactor of these regulations is the government, not the working man.

Now, once the regulations actually go away, they may find out the truth…by then, it will be too late. It took a long time and a lot of hard work, and dead people, to get the rules put in place to begin with. It may be even more difficult to get them back. (And it may not…people who have known what life is like with the rules may rise up very quickly and very firmly once they lose them…we can hope that is the scenario, that they throw the bums out).

The international project of flattering Ivanka Trump

Apr 29th, 2017 12:22 pm | By

Amy Davidson in the New Yorker looks at the abject process of paying homage to Princess Ivanka.

The international project of flattering Ivanka Trump—which some of the world’s most notable women, from Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, to Queen Máxima, of the Netherlands, engaged in at a panel discussion during the W20 conference, in Berlin, this week—does not always run smoothly. There was, first, the achingly obvious oddity of deciding that Trump, whose experience on the public stage largely consists of marketing her clothing and jewelry lines, and her efforts to get her father, Donald Trump, elected, was qualified to sit between Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and Chrystia Freeland, the Foreign Minister of Canada. That was quickly followed by the dispiriting thought that Trump might actually have as much power over people’s lives as the other women, through the influence that she supposedly wields over her father. Why else would the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, have co-authored an op-ed in the Financial Times with her, on the importance of promoting female entrepreneurship? Their insights include this: “mentorship opportunities and access to networks bring learning opportunities and connections to capital and markets.”

Ooh, you don’t say. Thank fuck we have Ivanka to explain us that.

At some point during her Berlin sojourn, Trump spoke to Mike Allen, the political journalist. Allen ran an item on Axios with the headline “Ivanka Trump’s new fund for female entrepreneurs,” illustrated with a photograph of Trump grazing her fingers on one of the slabs that make up Berlin’s Holocaust memorial. “Ivanka Trump told me yesterday from Berlin that she has begun building a massive fund that will benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe,” Allen wrote.

It sounded like a very big deal, until people started asking questions.

What about conflicts? Would this be a for-profit operation or a shakedown one? In a few hours, it became clear that it was neither of those—because “Ivanka Trump’s new fund” was a complete misnomer. This would be a World Bank project, as spokesmen for the White House and the bank emphasized. Trump would not be involved in raising money, managing it, or deciding how it would be spent. But the World Bank wanted everyone to know that it was very, very grateful to Ivanka for promoting the fund, or “facility,” as it would be called. It was kind of her idea.

Why are any journalists confused about this? She’s like her father – she’s a marketer. That’s all. She’s not a genius of policy or global empowerment of women – she’s a fashion marketer.

But maybe the make-believe about Ivanka coming up with world-changing ideas is harmless, if it means that her father will look kindly on the World Bank—although a report, this week, in the Washington Post about the conditions in a Chinese factory run by the contractor who makes her brand’s clothes (extremely low wages and long hours) does not quite fit into the picture.

I read that report in the Post. It’s grim. Funny how Ivanka’s not empowering those women.

There was that panel in Berlin…

“You’re the ‘First Daughter’ of the United States,” [Miriam Meckel] said to Trump. “And you’re also an assistant to the U.S. President. As a part of the audience, especially the German audience, is not that familiar with the concept of a First Daughter, I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and whom are you representing: Your father, as the President of the United States; the American people; or your business?”

“Well, certainly not the latter,” Trump said, smiling. “I am rather unfamiliar with this role as well, as it is quite new to me. It has been a little under a hundred days, but it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.” She continued to speak about how good the trip to Berlin was turning out to be for her, as a learning experience, and then moved on to her real job, which has always been marketing Donald J. Trump. “I’m very, very proud of my father’s advocacy, long before he came into the Presidency, but during the campaign, including in the primaries. He’s been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive in the new reality of a duelling—”

“You hear the reaction from the audience,” Meckel interrupted. According to press reports, the sound from the crowd was somewhere between a gasp, a boo, and a hiss. Meckel asked Trump to comment on “some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed” and how those might raise doubts about his commitment to empowering women.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that’s been perpetuated,” Trump said, but added that her own experience, and that of women who worked for him, demonstrated otherwise.

I wish someone had insisted that she explain herself at that point. It’s not just “the criticism from the media” – it’s that tape. It’s that tape that we’ve all listened to, that tape that Trump dismissed brutally as “locker room talk” (as if that makes it just fine), that tape on which he brags about being able to grab women by the pussy. It’s disgusting that she skirted around that with “I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media.”

When asked, more specifically, how she advised him, she said, “It’s been an ongoing discussion I’ve had with my father most of my adult life, and we’re very aligned in many, many areas. And that’s why he’s encouraged me to fully lean into this opportunity and come into the White House and be by his side.” The implication was that nepotism was one of her father’s virtues, and proof of his good character.

Exactly. That “he’s encouraged me to fully lean into this opportunity” is revolting. Melania’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail and a blogger also cited her “opportunities” – to make huge amounts of money because her husband is president. These people are sleazy all the way down.

A certain authenticity and willingness to engage

Apr 29th, 2017 11:58 am | By

The Times has a piece on ways Donnie has changed the presidency. This one made me laugh.

…he has cast off conventions that constrained others in his office. He has retained his business interests, which he implicitly cultivates with regular visits to his properties. He has been both more and less transparent than other presidents, shielding his tax returns and White House visitor logs from public scrutiny while appearing to leave few thoughts unexpressed, no matter how incendiary or inaccurate.

Ha! Doin’ it wrong, Donnie. You’re supposed to reveal the stuff relevant to the job and hide the inappropriate thoughts that lurk in the pestilent swamp of your mind.

Although Mr. Trump assumed that his experience in business and entertainment would translate to the White House, he has found out otherwise.

“I never realized how big it was,” he said of the presidency in an interview with The Associated Press. “Every decision,” he added, “is much harder than you’d normally make.”

How mindless do you have to be not to know that ahead of time? How could he possibly not have realized “how big” it is? How can it be that no one told him? Or that he didn’t listen when people did tell him? It still baffles me.

Mr. Trump arrived at the White House unimpressed by conventions that governed the presidency. At first, he blew off the idea of receiving intelligence briefings every day because he was “a smart person” and did not need to hear “the same thing every day.” He telephoned foreign leaders during the transition without consulting or even informing government experts on those countries.

But he’s not a smart person, is he. A smart person would have understood that being president “is big” ahead of time. A smart person wouldn’t charge around like a buffalo on speed, breaking everything in sight. A smart person would take the whole thing seriously.

His Twitter account, of course, has been the vehicle for all sorts of outbursts that defy tradition, often fueled by the latest segment on Fox News. Presidents rarely taunt reality-show hosts about poor ratings, complain about late-night television comedy skits, berate judges or members of their own party who defy them, trash talk Hollywood stars and Sweden, declare the “fake news” media to be “the enemy of the American people” or accuse the last president of illegally wiretapping them without any proof.

Well presidents other than Trump never do that. Not rarely, but never. Never ever.

David Gergen, a White House aide to four presidents, including Reagan, noted that Franklin D. Roosevelt talked about the “moral leadership” of the presidency. “Unfortunately, we have lost sight of that vision in recent years, and it has almost disappeared during the first 100 days of the Trump administration,” Mr. Gergen said.

In a way that’s the worst thing about him. He’s a moral nightmare. He’s poison for a generation of children watching him.

But if the presidency had grown somewhat stale under the old norms as its occupants increasingly stuck to carefully crafted talking points and avoided spontaneity, Mr. Trump has brought back a certain authenticity and willingness to engage. His frequent news conferences and interviews can be bracingly candid, uninhibited, even raw. He leaves little mystery about what is on his mind.

Oh shut up, Times. Shut up, Peter Baker. We don’t need “balance” on this subject. No balance is possible. There’s no “balance” on the subject of a president who calls a senator “Pocahontas” to a cheering audience of gun-fanatics.

Among the likely winners

Apr 29th, 2017 11:37 am | By

Guess who would benefit from Trump’s (sketched) tax plan?

Oh darn you must have peeked. That’s right: it’s the man himself.

Among the likely winners in President Donald Trump’s tax-cut plan would be a real estate developer turned reality TV star who now happens to occupy the White House.

The one-page proposal released Wednesday seems sure to benefit the president’s businesses. It would eliminate the estate tax, repeal the alternative minimum tax that affects some affluent people, deeply slash corporate rates and reduce investment taxes — all of which could in theory benefit a billionaire real estate magnate like Trump.

It’s a sensitive subject for a White House that is telling Americans its proposed cuts to individual and corporate tax rates would aid the middle class and fuel stronger economic growth.

Well, if they will believe a lying cheating stealing real estate hustler when he tells them he’s on their side…but then not all of them did, did they. We like to “elect” people with fewer votes than the closest rival.

When Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, was asked by reporters Thursday whether it was fair to inquire about the benefits that the tax cuts would provide for the president and his family, he sidestepped the question.

“I would guess that most Americans would applaud what the president is doing,” Spicer said.

Aw quit lying, Spicey. No you wouldn’t. Most Americans think Trump sucks, and some of them can spot a tax cut for the rich when it’s in front of their noses.

The plan calls for the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which raises the federal tax bill of wealthy Americans like Trump who would otherwise capitalize on special tax breaks to pay far less. The benefit to Trump could run as high as tens of millions of dollars a year. According to recently leaked Trump documents from 2005 cited by Pelosi, Trump paid $36.5 million in federal taxes that year because of the AMT. Without it, he would have owed just $5.5 million.

But that’s not why he wants to eliminate the AMT. No no no. It’s all about stimulating growth.

The worst 100

Apr 28th, 2017 4:03 pm | By

So about those “hundred days”…

David Leonhardt gives Donnie low marks.

No doubt, you’ve seen a torrent of coverage in recent days of the milestone. And while it’s certainly an arbitrary milestone, it’s also a meaningful one. Presidents are at their most influential in their early months, which makes that period a particularly important one for a presidency.

In other words the hundred days is an arbitrary number, but the first few months of a presidency, is not. Trump’s hundred, Leonhardt says gently, is the worst ever.

Trump has made no significant progress on any major legislation. His health care bill is a zombie. His border wall is stalled. He’s only now releasing basic principles of a tax plan. Even his executive order on immigration is tied up in the courts. By contrast, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan had made substantial progress toward passing tax cuts, and Barack Obama had passed, among other things, a huge stimulus bill that also addressed education and climate policy.

Well cut him a little slack – he was very busy with other things. Rallies; trips to Taco del Mar; photo ops; watching Spicey on tv; watching cable news on tv; watching Fox on tv; tweeting; bragging; threatening; calling people names. There are only so many hours in the day, ya know.

Trump is far behind staffing his administration. Trump has made a mere 50 nominations to fill the top 553 positions of the executive branch, as of Friday. That’s right: He hasn’t even nominated anyone for 90 percent of its top jobs. The average president since 1989 had nominated twice as many, according to the Partnership for Public Service.

He’s saving money. That’s 503 people not drawing a government paycheck!

The Trump administration is more nagged by scandal than any previous administration. No new administration has dealt with a potential scandal anywhere near as large or as distracting as the Russia investigation. It could recede over time, true. But it also could come to dominate the Trump presidency.

Plus the countless ethics violations and conflicts of interest. That shit’s not going to recede over time.

His basement-level popularity is another problem.

Trump’s low approval isn’t only a reflection of his struggles. It also becomes a cause of further struggles. Members of Congress aren’t afraid to buck an unpopular president, which helps explain the collapse of Trumpcare.

Obviously, Trump can claim some successes on his own terms. Most consequentially, he has named a Supreme Court justice who could serve for decades. Trump has also put in place some meaningful executive orders, on climate policy above all, and he has allied the federal government with the cause of white nationalism, as Jonathan Chait wrote.

He got some stuff done, but it’s bad stuff.

It’s worth considering one final point, too. So far, I’ve been judging him on his own terms. History, of course, will not. And I expect that a couple of his biggest so-called accomplishments — aggravating climate change and treating nonwhite citizens as less than fully American — are likely to be judged very harshly one day.

Or right now. Lots of us are judging them that way right now.


Apr 28th, 2017 11:55 am | By

Trump has been giving a talk at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting. In that talk – on camera, with reporters present – he called Senator Warren “Pocahontas” again.

I am so sick of this trashy, vulgar, nasty, schoolyard-bully man.

Eliminate the safety regulations

Apr 28th, 2017 11:06 am | By

I guess Trump thinks the Gulf oil spill was a nice jobs-creator, or something. He wants to encourage that kind of thing.

Just past the seventh anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, President Trump on Friday directed the Interior Department to “reconsider” several safety regulations on offshore drilling implemented after one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history.

Friday’s executive order was aimed at rolling back the Obama administration’s attempts to ban oil drilling off the southeastern Atlantic and Alaskan coasts. It would erase or narrow the boundaries of some federally-protected marine sanctuaries, opening them up to commercial fishing and oil drilling.

Because marine life, meh, who needs it, whereas oil – now there’s a useful and beneficent substance. We need to drive around in cars far more than we need to eat or breathe.

Mr. Trump also took aim at regulations on oil-rig safety. In the final years of the Obama administration, the Interior Department implemented several new rules aimed at improving the safety of specific pieces of offshore drilling equipment that had failed during the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and were found to have been responsible for the deadly BP oil rig explosion that caused that spill.

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon killed 11, set off a weeks-long crisis for the Obama administration and spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the sea.

Among other directives, the order instructs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review an Obama administration plan that delineated where offshore drilling could and could not take place between 2017 to 2022. The plan put the entire southeast Atlantic coast and large portions of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling.

Because when in doubt, it’s always better to risk more spills.

The order also appears designed to roll back a permanent ban placed by President Barack Obama on offshore drilling off some portions of the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts, but that move is expected to be met with immediate legal challenges.

Friday’s order will also direct Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary — who has jurisdiction over marine sanctuaries — to conduct a review of all such sanctuaries created over the past 10 years, and not to create any new sanctuaries during that review period.

No marine sanctuaries! Let’s destroy the oceans entirely! Future generations won’t thank us but who cares, we won’t be here.

Also last year, the Obama administration unveiled a set of regulations on offshore oil and gas drilling equipment, intended to tighten the safety requirements on underwater drilling equipment and well-control operations. In particular, the new rules tighten controls on blowout preventers, the industry-standard devices that are the last line of protection to stop explosions in undersea oil and gas wells.

The 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig was caused in part by the buckling of a section of drill pipe, prompting the malfunction of a supposedly fail-safe blowout preventer on a BP well.

It appears that those rules may be targeted in Mr. Trump’s new order. But when questioned on which specific equipment regulations would be reviewed, Mr. Zinke simply replied that the review would apply ”from bow to stern.”

They want more Deepwater Horizon disasters. That’s who they are.

They won’t let him drive

Apr 28th, 2017 7:27 am | By

Reuters talked to Donnie and found out that he wants his old life back. We want that for you, Donnie! Do feel free to resign.

He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.

President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

He thought it would be easier. He thought it would be easier. Oh my god.

More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump’s mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

He had copies for each of the three Reuters reporters in the room.

He won. He was voted prom king. He won he won he won. Little Donnie from Queens who got no respect – he won. Sadly, that meant he had to work much harder than he wanted to, but still – he won, he won, he won. Make enough copies for every single reporter.

Trump, who said he was accustomed to not having privacy in his “old life,” expressed surprise at how little he had now. And he made clear he was still getting used to having 24-hour Secret Service protection and its accompanying constraints.

“You’re really into your own little cocoon, because you have such massive protection that you really can’t go anywhere,” he said.

Yes, it sounds absolutely horrible. But surely he was aware of that before he decided to campaign for the job?

Ah well, he has his final map of the numbers to cheer him up.

Out the other side in excellent shape

Apr 27th, 2017 6:04 pm | By

Elsewhere today – Cassini took a deep breath and dove through the rings of Saturn.

In the wee hours of this morning, NASA established that Cassini had survived. Now the little craft has begun sending back a stream of images that are the closest look at Saturn’s atmosphere yet.

Cassini was launched in 1997 on a mission to explore Saturn and it’s various moons. Over the years, it’s sent back a massive amount of data, including the recent discovery that potentially microbe-friendly hydrogen is spouting from the icy moon Enceladus. But Cassini has come to the end of its fuel and is now beginning its grand finale mission in which it will dive between Saturn and its rings once a week for 22 weeks, beaming back info on the planet’s atmosphere and magnetic field. On September 15, Cassini will make a dramatic exit, crashing into Saturn’s atmosphere.

How amazing is that?

“No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn’s other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like,” Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says in the press release. “I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape.”

According to the European Space Agency, Saturn’s atmosphere is very complex. NASA hopes the Cassini dives will help provide more data about its makeup. The ESA reports that it is composed of 75 percent hydrogen and 25 percent helium with other trace elements and is known to have some of the strongest wind storms in the solar system, up to 1,100 miles per hour. It’s believed that the atmosphere is composed of three cloud decks, with the top layer made of ammonia clouds, a middle layer made of ammonium hydrosulfide and a bottom deck made of water vapor clouds.

In 2013, Cassini discovered a giant hexagonal jetstream at Saturn’s north pole with a massive hurricane, including an eye more than 1,000 miles across. According to Bill Chappell at NPR, Cassini’s dive yesterday took it over the hexagon, and many of the images it is sending back are of the strange storm. It’s scheduled to make its second dive through the rings on May 2.

Pretty god damn amazing.

He totally meant her voice

Apr 27th, 2017 5:17 pm | By

Poor Fox. They just can’t get it right.

Jesse Watters, the Fox News host who took heat this week for making a joke about Ivanka Trump that was criticized as lewd, said on Wednesday that he would be taking a family vacation until Monday. The move came just three days after his show began airing in a new high-profile time slot.

Mr. Watters, who denied that his comment about President Trump’s daughter was sexual, announced his upcoming absence near the end of Wednesday night’s edition of “The Five.” He will miss two days of the show’s first week in prime time after it took over the 9 p.m. slot from “The O’Reilly Factor,” and he will miss his “Watters’ World” show on Saturday.

So he messed up on his second day. That’s gotta hurt.

Mr. Watters’s highly scrutinized joke came during Tuesday’s show as the hosts discussed footage of Ms. Trump being jeered onstage in Berlin while she was speaking on a panel about female entrepreneurship.

“It’s funny, the left says they really respect women, and then when given an opportunity to respect a woman like that, they boo and hiss,” he said.

Oh yeah, the zany left doesn’t admire Sarah Palin, either. That’s because respecting women as a class is about thinking women are people; it’s not about thinking all women are perfect. I think that’s a pretty clear distinction.

Then he added with a grin: “So I don’t really get what’s going on here, but I really liked how she was speaking into that microphone.”

On Wednesday, after the clip had been shared widely on social media, Mr. Watters said in a statement that the comment had not been sexual innuendo, as critics perceived it to be.

Because Fox just isn’t like that, right?

Managing him

Apr 27th, 2017 1:02 pm | By

Another piece on how Trump’s people have to manage him as if he were a volatile heavily-armed toddler.

As Trump is beginning to better understand the challenges—and the limits—of the presidency, his aides are understanding better how to manage perhaps the most improvisational and free-wheeling president in history. “If you’re an adviser to him, your job is to help him at the margins,” said one Trump confidante. “To talk him out of doing crazy things.”

Interviews with White House officials, friends of Trump, veterans of his campaign and lawmakers paint a picture of a White House that has been slow to adapt to the demands of the most powerful office on earth.

“Everyone is concerned that things are not running that well,” said one senior official. “There should be more structure in place so we know who is working on what and who is responsible for what, instead of everyone freelancing on everything.”

But they’re learning. One key development: White House aides have figured out that it’s best not to present Trump with too many competing options when it comes to matters of policy or strategy. Instead, the way to win Trump over, they say, is to present him a single preferred course of action and then walk him through what the outcome could be – and especially how it will play in the press.

As if he were a literal child. They have to “manage” him as if he were a literal child but one with dangerous powers. They can’t treat him like a fellow adult, because he isn’t.

“You don’t walk in with a traditional presentation, like a binder or a PowerPoint. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t consume information that way,” said one senior administration official. “You go in and tell him the pros and cons, and what the media coverage is going to be like.”

He doesn’t consume information that way – meaning, he’s stupid, and barely literate, and lazy, and not in the habit of thinking.

Downplaying the downside risk of a decision can win out in the short term. But the risk is a presidential dressing-down—delivered in a yell. “You don’t want to be the person who sold him on something that turned out to be a bad idea,” the person said.

Advisers have tried to curtail Trump’s idle hours, hoping to prevent him from watching cable news or calling old friends and then tweeting about it. That only works during the workday, though—Trump’s evenings and weekends have remained largely his own.

“It’s not like the White House doesn’t have a plan to fill his time productively but at the end of the day he’s in charge of his schedule,” said one person close to the White House. “He does not like being managed.”

Of course he doesn’t, but he’s so dangerous he has to be managed. But he refuses to be managed, and some damn fool left the door open and let him be elected president.

While his predecessor was known as “no-drama Obama,” Trump has presided over a series of melodramas involving his top aides, including Priebus, Bannon, counselor Kellyanne Conway and economic adviser Gary Cohn.

“He has always been a guy who loves the idea of being a royal surrounded by a court,” said Michael D’Antonio, one of Trump’s biographers.

Not the idea of doing the real work of presiding over a major government, but the idea of playing king surrounded by lackeys.

Trump continues to crave attention and approval from news media figures. Trump huddled in the Oval Office with Matt Drudge, the reclusive operator of the influential Drudge Report, to talk about his administration and the site. Drudge and Kushner have also begun to communicate frequently, said people familiar with the conversations. Drudge, whose visits to the White House haven’t previously been reported, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Several senior administration aides said Trump loves nothing more than talking to reporters – no matter what he says about the “failing” New York Times or CNN – and he often seems personally stung by negative coverage, cursing and yelling at the TV.

Good. I hope it stings sharply. It’s the only consolation we’ll ever get.

Trump was grinning in his office last week. He wanted to pose for pictures behind the cleaned-off Resolute desk and in front of his gold curtains. He has posed for hundreds of pictures there – sometimes with a grin, sometimes with a thumbs-up – and has guests stand behind him.

Of course he has. That’s what he is – a shallow, greedy, self-important child.

Beep beep

Apr 27th, 2017 12:07 pm | By

Trump is pining to break up the Ninth Circuit.

President Donald Trump is threatening to break up the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which blocked his executive order banning travel from several nations with large Muslim populations and restricted the acceptance of refugees.

Asked by the Washington Examiner if he had considered proposals to split the court, Trump replied: “Absolutely, I have.”

“There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous,” Trump told the website. “Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that’s like, semi-automatic.”

Trump claimed that those who oppose him are “shopping” for sympathetic judges by going to the 9th Circuit, where 18 of the 25 jurists were appointed by Democratic presidents.

“You see judge-shopping, or what’s gone on with these people, they immediately run to the 9th Circuit,” he said. “It’s got close to an 80 percent reversal period, and what’s going on in the 9th Circuit is a shame.”

Anything that impedes Trump’s ability to say “do it” and have it be done is “a shame” in his eyes. He thinks he’s the boss of all the things.

The statistic Trump cited about the appeals court’s rulings being overturned 80 percent of the time was also misleading.

According to The Washington Post, 80 percent of the 9th Circuit decisions taken up by the Supreme Court were reversed in 2015-2016. Yet only one-tenth of 1 percent of the 9th Circuit’s decisions were heard by the Supreme Court. In addition, other circuit courts had even higher reversal rates.

That’s not “misleading,” it’s wildly wrong. The difference between 80% of decisions and 80% of .01% of decisions is an enormous difference.

It’s an odd thing about Trump that his own ignorance seems never to give him pause, no matter what. I don’t understand that. You’d think that he would, being so vain, be careful not to expose himself to the risk of being shown up by trying to do things he’s not equipped to do.

But maybe to him it’s all like driving the big truck. You just sit in the seat and blow the horn and scream, and that’s all it takes.

Image result for trump truck

Judge not lest ye be judged

Apr 27th, 2017 11:27 am | By

Moses bites the bullet.


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He was arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy

Apr 27th, 2017 10:43 am | By

Our dear ally Saudi Arabia

A  man in Saudi Arabia has reportedly been sentenced to death on charges of apostasy after losing two appeals.

Several local media reports identified the man as Ahmad Al Shamri, in his 20s, from the town of Hafar al-Batin, who first came to the authorities’ attention in 2014 after allegedly uploading videos to social media in which he renounced Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

He was arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy and held in prison before being convicted by a local court and sentenced to death in February 2015.

The Saudi state plans to kill a man for not believing in a god and for rejecting Islam.

Under Saudi Arabia’s strict religious laws, leaving Islam can be punishable by harsh prison sentences and corporeal punishment – and a 2014 string of royal decrees under the late King Abdullah re-defined atheists as terrorists, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

Last year, a citizen was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing atheistic sentiment in hundreds of social media posts.

This is our ally, keep in mind. Brave hater of Mooslims Donald Trump hasn’t uttered a peep about Saudi Arabia.

International human rights watchdogs have consistently condemned Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

The Kingdom came under further scrutiny last week when it emerged it had been elected to the UN’s women’s rights commission.

Under the country’s system of guardianship, women’s rights and freedom of movement is heavily restricted. They are not allowed to drive, and voted for the first time in 2015.

“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer said. “It’s absurd.”

Saudi Arabia has sat on the UN’s human rights council since September 2015.

That too is ridiculous. Saudi Arabia has contempt for human rights.

Maajid Nawaz tweets: