Trump Steps In It – Open Thread

Big Donald loves him some projection.

As is my preference, I’ve screenshot his tweets.

And Twitter lights up with the Access Hollywood tape, the accusations of rape, Trump backstage at teenage beauty pageants…



No One Could Have Predicted- Keystone Pipeline Edition

It never ends:

The Keystone pipeline running from Canada across the Great Plains leaked Thursday morning, spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil — or 210,000 gallons — southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota.

The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada.

Over and over and over again, experts warn us that something is a bad idea, we ignore them, then shit blow up. And we never learn and nothing ever changes.








Excellent Read: “A Q&A For the Post-Weinstein Era”

Perhaps what worries the fretting men is that this is about more than ending workplace harassment. It is the fear that society is being refashioned away from codes set by men. If women can refashion workplaces this way, who knows what other unwelcome changes may follow? Far better, then, to grab the warm blanket of victimhood and scream “witch-hunt”.

As so often in recent social furores, those with the greatest advantages in life claim a victim status they would not want to earn, portraying the erosion of a smidgen of their ascendancy as a monstrous purge instead of accepting that it may just be necessary to surrender a few of the spoils of the longest winning streak in history. — Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times

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Some of you are already fans of John Scalzi, but nobody should miss this little gem:

Hey there! As most of you know, I’m a dude. And like most dudes, I’ve been watching this whole post-Weinstein era we’re in with some interest. And because I am reasonably well-known on the internet for talking about things, I’ve had people, mostly dudes, contact me via social media and email with various questions about what’s going on and my opinions on these topics. So, let me go ahead and address several of them at once, with the help of my fictional interlocutor…

I’m worried that someone might call me out for having been a harassing piece of shit at some point in my past.

Well, let me ask you: Were you, in the past, in fact, a harassing piece of shit?

Maybe?

I’m gonna take that as a “yes.”

I wish you wouldn’t.

Too late! And here’s the thing: If in fact at some point in the past you were a harassing piece of shit to someone, probably to a woman but really, to anyone, then you deserve to be called out on your actions…

Yes, but now there’s consequences!

Well, yes, there are. There’s no statute of limitations on consequences, which apparently comes as an unhappy surprise to a lot of dudes. A lot of the mewling about this is, “well, it was so long ago.” It might be! But your actions almost certainly had consequences for the person you harassed (or assaulted, or raped) and may have altered the course of their life — caused them to change their career or quit a job to avoid you, or given them psychological or physical damage.

There were always consequences to your actions. It’s just that now you might have to share in them…

But why should I change the way I do things? If they have a problem with how I say or do things, it’s their problem, not mine.

Fine, don’t.

Wait, what?

Dude, I’m not the boss of you. If you want to continue to make people uncomfortable with your presence and actions, then follow your bliss. Just don’t expect to have a whole lot of friends who aren’t complete assholes. Also, be aware that if you keep that shit up, there’s an excellent chance that sooner or later five or six people are going to speak out about you and your asshole actions, all at the same time, and then you’ll be in the same boat as the “actual” harassers, i.e., being an actual harasser, because you didn’t think you had to learn.

Which is fine! Really, it’s fine. Go ahead, do that, it’s fine. Totally fine…



Menendez Verdict

Mistrial:

The federal corruption trial of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial Thursday after the jury reported it was hopelessly deadlocked.

The mistrial is a blow to the Justice Department, which has been investigating Menendez for nearly five years, and will be a sigh of relief to Democrats worried about possibly losing his Senate seat to Republicans.
Menendez said he felt vindicated.

“I want to thank the jury, 12 New Jerseyans who saw through the government’s false claims and used their Jersey common sense to reject it,” he told reporters outside the courthouse before blasting the Justice Department.

“The way this case started was wrong, the way it was investigated was wrong, the way it was prosecuted was wrong, and the way it was tried was wrong as well,” he said. “Certain elements of the FBI and of our state cannot understand or, even worse, accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County can grow up and be a US senator and be honest.”

Menendez also had harsh words for those who predicted his political doom.

“To those who were digging my political grave so that they could jump into my seat, I know who you are, and I won’t forget you,” he said.

This was expected, given that one of the jurors quit to go on vacation (did not know you could do that, btw- “Sure, I’ll serve on the jury, but if it goes past this date, piss off I’m hitting the beach?”) and told everyone that there was no way he was going to be convicted. So now I guess it is up to Sessions as to whether he will proceed with another trial, right?








Al Franken’s Updated Statement

I agree with Cole in the thread downstairs that the initial statement Al Franken issued was weak sauce. This one isn’t. Via Politico:

“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.

“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

“But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

“For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

“Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.

“While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.

“I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

“And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”

That sounds more like the Al Franken I’ve always admired, the guy who wrote several books that are on my shelves. My first thought when I read about this incident was that Franken should resign. Honest to Christ, I’m just so fed up with this bullshit!

And, there’s this: It would be rare for a man who behaved the way Tweeden alleges Franken behaved to act out that way only once. Especially a powerful man who gets away with it. If there are other shoes, they’ll drop.

But valued commenter Amir Khalid made a great point here:

Anyhoo, he’s asked the Senate to investigate his conduct. I’m with those here who want to see what that turns up before demanding Franken’s head.

That’s reasonable, and I was too hasty. I do hope Franken turns out to be a good guy who made a stupid mistake. We’ll know soon enough.

Open thread in case the subject was exhausted in the 600+ comments downstairs!



And a parade of the gray suited grafters

Populism:

The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan analysts.

President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts serious doubt on that claim. Tax hikes for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there. By the year 2027, Americans earning $30,000 to $75,000 a year would also be forced to pay more in taxes even though people earning over $100,000 continue to get substantial tax cuts.








Well That’s Just Fucking Great

Given his coke fueled years at SNL, I doubt this will be the last person to come forward:

As a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy, I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along.

When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.

On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

Franken’s response is weak tea:

Sen. Franken provided the following statement to Fox 9 on Thursday: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

I’m not sure how there is an innocent explanation for this, and unless and until I see one with some corroborating statements from the photographer or others, in my opinion, Franken should probably resign.

*** Update ***

Apparently it is of major importance that I note that I no longer think Franken should resign given the events of the day. My opinion was based on his bullshit first response. Things changed.








Repubs in Disarray Open Thread: More Moore (Of Course)

If ya let yer wimmen forget their place in God’s plan, then the coloreds are gonna get uppity! And if ya let the coloreds get uppity, next thing ya know yer wimmen will forget their place!

The ugly truth, of course, is that Roy Moore’s current candidacy is the distilled end product of the GOP’s forty-plus years’ refining a message that would resonant with all the worst instincts and practices of “true American” clannishness, misogyny, authoritarianism, and xenophobia. And the embodied sludge that is “Judge” Roy Moore is now… an embarrassment to his enablers.

McConnell aides express caution, saying they’re uncertain whether such a move, one of several options being discussed, is even possible. Yet the talks underscore the despair among top Republicans over relinquishing a seat in deep-red Alabama, further diminishing their slim Senate majority.

New GOP polling obtained by POLITICO suggests that Moore is cratering. A survey conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee after allegations emerged that Moore had engaged in sexual misconduct with teenagers showed him trailing Democratic candidate Doug Jones by 12 points. Other recent polling has the race closer.
Read more



Mostly you just make me mad

There was a thoughtful Caitlin Flanagan piece in the Atlantic you should all read about how liberals need to admit they were on the wrong side of history when they supported Bill Clinton through the Lewinsky affair. Until they do so, she argue persuasively, they will have no….ha ha, I’m kidding, fuck that shit and the totebaggers who gobble it up. It’s not even fair to the Soviets to call it whataboutism.

This post is about the crappy tax bill that ol’ blue eyes has scheduled today. It’s going to be tough to stop it in the House, but if you live in a Republican district, get on the horn with your representative.

We keep hearing about how it will be a big win politically for Republicans if it passes both chambers, is signed, and becomes law. I think that’s bullshit. The bill is already extremely unpopular. The Republicans are better off not passing it from the standpoint of the 2018 elections. But that’s not what matters. The bill is bad for the middle-class, bad for the country, bad for the future, and we need stop it.

Here’s one Republican who has the right idea:

Steve Louro, a Republican donor who hosted an event for Donald J. Trump at his Long Island home last year, abruptly quit his post as regional finance chairman for the state’s Republican Party on Tuesday over objections to the Republican-led tax bill advancing through Congress.

“The bill that’s going to get passed is not going to take care of the American people. It’s a disgrace,” Mr. Louro said in a phone interview. He had resigned from his post as a fund-raiser via email earlier in the day, he said.

“The Republican Party took control of the government against all odds, and the bottom line is” they messed up, he said, using an expletive. “It’s a disgrace. It’s going to hurt a lot of middle-class Republicans.”








Thursday Morning Open Thread


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Apart from working together to lift everyone up, what’s on the agenda for the day?

***********



Yay, Insomnia

Nightmares suck.








Yay, Food

My bff Tammy is up for a couple of days and we are planning Thanksgiving, which will be at my house. It’s going to be me, my mom and dad, Devon and her husband, my brother Seth, Tammy and her husband Brian, my aunt and uncle, and my neighbor Mrs. Wilson. At any rate, we’ve been cooking up a storm. Last night I made blackened catfish and new potatoes, and she made roasted cauliflower and her tomato pepper salad.

Tonight I fried up some cod and onion rings:

It’s nice having someone around to eat with. At any rate, tomorrow we are having Holly over for a big dinner and maybe to watch Atomic Blonde.

BTW- I highly recommend Pinch Spice Market’s blackening seasoning, which I purchased because it has no salt. I am too lazy to make my own and hate all the salt that comes in most blackening and just kills the taste of the fish, and this was really, really good.

*** Update ***

Here’s a picture of my dogs begging for treats from Tammy. Samantha was over visiting my parents and Ginny and Guesly.

There will be lots of pics tomorrow because we will be grooming all four dogs and Steve.



Open Thread: Steve Bannon, the New Karl Rove?

As in “the guy who’s about to have a major meltdown, live and on camera”? Somebody has it out for the man, because one doesn’t bring in professional assassin Olivia Nuzzi for just a puff piece…

When Steve Bannon was the chief strategist and senior counselor to President Donald Trump, he spent his days and often long into his nights in an office on the first floor of the West Wing, separated from the Oval Office only by his neighbor Jared Kushner and the presidential study…

The last time I saw him before he was fired in August, West Wing construction had forced him across the driveway into a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. His central whiteboard had been relocated to basement storage, and a smaller version had been wheeled in and positioned by the desk. Anywhere Bannon is existing, it seems, becomes a kind of pop-up war room.

Since leaving the White House and its adjacent properties altogether, he’s moved his operation back into a war townhouse he calls the Breitbart Embassy. Breitbart News, where he’s the executive chairman, is headquartered in the basement; upstairs, he hosts glitzy parties and plans his hostile takeover of the GOP. And, depending on which sources you believe, the Breitbart Embassy is also where he happens to live…

During his time in the White House, rumors circulated in D.C. about the Breitbart Embassy; he was thought by many in the White House press corps to be living there despite having claimed to put a barrier between himself and the website he ran that served, during the campaign and thereafter, as Trump’s very own Russia Today. During the campaign and into the current administration, there was little meaningful difference between Breitbart’s coverage of Trump and Trump’s own press releases. Under Bannon, Breitbart also incubated and amplified voices that played at the edges of right-wing extremism. In 2016, Bannon referred to it as “the platform of the alt-right,” but attempted to move closer to the middle — by hiring staff with traditional journalism backgrounds — once the alt-right became synonymous with neo-Nazism.

Even now, with ethical constraints in the rearview mirror, Bannon is unwilling to admit that he calls the Breitbart Embassy home. A source with knowledge of his real-estate holdings told me he lives in Northern Virginia and stays at the Embassy when his schedule demands it, but provided no further details or proof. Another source close to Bannon told me that wasn’t true, and for what it’s worth, the general consensus here in D.C. is the same. “Steve lives on the top two floors,” this source explained, “so Steve will do his meetings at the second-floor dining-room table.”…
Read more



Just seventeen, if you know what I mean

Worst David Brooks column ever:

In 1982, Kelly Harrison Thorp was working as a hostess at the Red Lobster restaurant in Gadsden. She was 17 years old and a high school senior.

One day Roy Moore came into the restaurant, and she recognized him.

“He was a public figure in this small town,” she said of Moore, who at the time was in his early 30s and the deputy district attorney for Etowah County. Later that year he would mount an unsuccessful campaign for circuit court judge.

Thorp said Moore asked her if she’d go out with him sometime.

“I just kind of said, ‘Do you know how old I am?'” she recalled.

“And he said, ‘Yeah. I go out with girls your age all the time.'”








A Deep Dive Into the Russian Active Measures Against the United States

The Guardian has published a long form, deep dive piece of investigative journalism into the Russian active measures against the US, provided what is close to the definitive context of how the Steele dossier came to be, and quickly and neatly debunked both the conspiracy theory that the FBI based its inquiry on the Steele dossier and that the Clinton campaign, and the Clintons, were really conspiring with Putin and Russia against the US.

Let’s start with that last item first:

In mid-2015, the Republican front-runner had been Jeb Bush, son of one US president and brother of another. But as the campaign got under way, Bush struggled. Trump dubbed the former Florida governor “low-energy”. During the primaries, a website funded by one of Trump’s wealthy Republican critics, Paul Singer, commissioned Fusion to investigate Trump.

After Trump became the presumptive nominee in May 2016, Singer’s involvement ended and senior Democrats seeking to elect Hillary Clinton took over the Trump contract. The new client was the Democratic National Committee. A lawyer working for Clinton’s campaign, Marc E Elias, retained Fusion and received its reports. The world of private investigation was a morally ambiguous one – a sort of open market in dirt. Information on Trump was of no further use to Republicans, but it could be of value to Democrats, Trump’s next set of opponents.

The FBI, as we know from following this story closely as it emerged across 2016, based its counterintelligence inquiry not on the Steele dossier, but on intercepts and intelligence products produced by US allies and partners. (emphasis mine)

In late 2015 the British eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, was carrying out standard “collection” against Moscow targets. These were known Kremlin operatives already on the grid. Nothing unusual here – except that the Russians were talking to people associated with Trump. The precise nature of these exchanges has not been made public, but according to sources in the US and the UK, they formed a suspicious pattern. They continued through the first half of 2016. The intelligence was handed to the US as part of a routine sharing of information.

The FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of these contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow. This was in part due to institutional squeamishness – the law prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of US citizens without a warrant.

But the electronic intelligence suggested Steele was right. According to one account, the US agencies looked as if they were asleep. “‘Wake up! There’s something not right here!’ – the BND [German intelligence], the Dutch, the French and SIS were all saying this,” one Washington-based source told me.

That summer, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, flew to the US to personally brief CIA chief John Brennan. The matter was deemed so important that it was handled at “director level”, face-to-face between the two agency chiefs. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, later confirmed the “sensitive” stream of intelligence from Europe. After a slow start, Brennan used the GCHQ information and other tip-offs to launch a major inter-agency investigation. Meanwhile, the FBI was receiving disturbing warnings from Steele.

As for how the Steele dossier came to be:

Before this, in early spring 2016, Simpson approached Steele, his friend and colleague. Steele began to scrutinise Paul Manafort, who would soon become Trump’s new campaign manager. From April, Steele investigated Trump on behalf of the DNC, Fusion’s anonymous client. All Steele knew at first was that the client was a law firm. He had no idea what he would find. He later told David Corn, Washington editor of the magazine Mother Jones: “It started off as a fairly general inquiry.” Trump’s organisation owned luxury hotels around the world. Trump had, as far back as 1987, sought to do real estate deals in Moscow. One obvious question for him, Steele said, was: “Are there business ties to Russia?”

Over time, Steele had built up a network of sources. He was protective of them: who they were he would never say. It could be someone well-known – a foreign government official or diplomat with access to secret material. Or it could be someone obscure – a lowly chambermaid cleaning the penthouse suite and emptying the bins in a five-star hotel.

Normally an intelligence officer would debrief sources directly, but since Steele could no longer visit Russia, this had to be done by others, or in third countries. There were intermediaries, subsources, operators – a sensitive chain. Only one of Steele’s sources on Trump knew of Steele. Steele put out his Trump-Russia query and waited for answers. His sources started reporting back. The information was astonishing; “hair-raising”. As he told friends: “For anyone who reads it, this is a life-changing experience.”

Steele had stumbled upon a well-advanced conspiracy that went beyond anything he had discovered with Litvinenko or Fifa. It was the boldest plot yet. It involved the Kremlin and Trump. Their relationship, Steele’s sources claimed, went back a long way. For at least the past five years, Russian intelligence had been secretly cultivating Trump. This operation had succeeded beyond Moscow’s wildest expectations. Not only had Trump upended political debate in the US – raining chaos wherever he went and winning the nomination – but it was just possible that he might become the next president. This opened all sorts of intriguing options for Putin.

I highly recommend you click across and read the whole thing. It will be well worth your time.