Sunday, March 11, 2018

News Nuggets 1568

DAYLEE PICTURE: Stormy Daniels edifying exhibition. From the New York Times.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Trump Presidency: "Worse Than I Had Imagined..."

It’s Worse Than We Thought (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"While I’ve been following the Trump era for going on three years and long been a pessimist about the depth of his corruption – both venal and otherwise – the last two weeks has made me think the situation is significantly worse than I’d imagined.  Let me refer very briefly to two points."

Trump, Now Liberated to Act on His Impulses... ?!

“Trump is Going for a Clean Reset": Fuming in the West Wing (Gabriel Sherman) from Vanity Fair
"Donald Trump was telling friends he was tired of being reined in. “I’m doing great, but I’m getting all these bad headlines,” Trump told a friend recently. A Republican in frequent contact with the White House told me Trump is “frustrated by all these people telling him what to do.”  With the departures of Hope Hicks and Gary Cohn, the Trump presidency is entering a new phase—one in which Trump is feeling liberated to act on his impulses."
AH!  So what we have seen so far has been the buttoned down, under-control Trump!!

America: A Hapless Cartoon Character on the World TV Screen

Trump is Wile E. Coyote (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
" When it comes to global diplomacy, America under President Trump has become something of a hapless cartoon villain, detonating bombs on itself and running into walls — while our nimbler adversaries dart away in a blur of dust. ... His strategy, if you can call it that, has been to disrupt America’s traditional economic and security relationships and commitments. He must imagine that this gives him new leverage, but mostly the result has been a series of self-inflicted wounds."

Time for Kushner's Close Up -- and It Isn't Pretty!

The corruption of Kushner (Ryan Cooper) from The Week
"Obviously, the Kushner situation is galactically worse than Trump simply hiring a relatively dim relative. Indeed, Kushner (who recently lost his Top Secret security clearance) is also up to his armpits in extremely shady business deals that reek of corruption. In a healthy democracy, law enforcement would already be closing in. ... Let's just run through just a few publicly known facts and see if we can't connect the dots."

For Christians, After Trump, What Could They Ever Be "Public Witnesses" To?

The Last Temptation (Michael Gerson) from the Atlantic
"Loyalty to Trump has involved progressively more difficult, self-abasing demands. And there appears to be no limit to what some evangelical leaders will endure. ...  The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification. This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption. Blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents, these leaders can’t see how they are undermining the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness."

Prince and Obstruction of Justice?

Erik Prince Might Want To Shift Investments To Private Prison Industry from Talking Points Memo
"Prince appears caught conducting clandestine business, which may not be criminal in itself (you can meet people in the Seychelles) but may or may not be part of a broader criminal conspiracy. But here he may be caught not only in a lie but a highly material lie and perhaps one that is so clear-cut and designed to impede a lawful investigation that he can be prosecuted for it."
Prince has been one of the more prominent war profiteering shit heels for many years.  This couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

More Dangers in the Daniels Discolsures

One Night with Stormy Daniels, the Hero America Needs from Rolling Stone Magazine
""Penguins have terrible breath," she says. "How do you know penguins have terrible breath?" I ask. "They smell like they've been eating bad vagina. I got to pet one at a zoo – if you ever go to the zoo, the penguin habitat is the stinkiest one. It smells like a really bad porn set." ... this meeting began with one such message, promoting a "Make America Horny Again" tour date at a club on Long Island. The release was riddled with typos..."
Wow!  Jennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinski look like really classy dames (like for real) compared to this one.  The Donald sure can choose them!  
On a more serious note, I think there is A LOT of danger to Trump in this Daniels business.  I think it is inevitable that all the lurid details and photos (and accessories?) will come out.  But the danger comes from (at least two fronts)--  fronts that go beyond what most reporters are talking about right now: first, that ALL of the women who have signed NDAs with Trump will go back and find that he didn't sign their agreements either -- and thus they would be free to speak.  It is my sense that some of those cases go way beyond consensual affairs but deal with sexual harassment, rape, and worse.  Second, if this stand alone sex case metastasizes into dozens involving much darker behaviors, at what point will this scandal cross the Russia probe -- where we ultimately confirm the worst allegations from the Steele Dossier with actual videos involving a range of characters and situations?  It seems to me that law abiding people sign an NDA.  More nefarious folks simply blackmail.  I suspect Trump has had to deal with both types many times.
If you want to get a sense of the salacious aspects of his affair with Daniels, see THIS.

When You Have No Shame, Scandals Don't Matter

The President and the Porn Star: A Story’s Slow Rise Above the Din (Matthew Flagenheimer) from the New York Times
"Here is a leader who crowds out scandal with more scandal, who tends to insist that the buck stops elsewhere, who boasted of sexual assault on tape and got to the White House anyway. It is not quite that nothing sticks to Mr. Trump; it is that so much sticks that nothing stays visible for very long. ... The moment touches several crosscurrents of the Trump age: an administration defined largely by its chaos; the #MeToo movement; and a news media still grappling, nearly three years after Mr. Trump declared his candidacy, with how to cover his excess of excesses.  “Scandals run on shame. Trump is completely exempt from any shame,” Mr. Murphy said. “So instead of talking about the crime, we just score-keep.”"

No Staff -- No Problem

Devastating graphic featured by MSNBC’s Katy Tur destroys the White House spin on its staffing crisis from Raw Story
“President Trump does not treat his staff well, he publicly embarrasses them and undermines them,” noted former White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “So if you know you’re going to get criticized or undermined by your boss before you even get there, and once you get there you’re not likely to have influence on the process, then why would you even go?”

A Fully Automated McDonalds on the Horizon

Meet Flippy, the world's first burger-flipping robot from The Week
"Artificial intelligence is poised to enter yet another aspect of your life: fast food. After years of preparation, a burger-flipping robot named Flippy made its debut on Monday at the Pasadena, California, location of the restaurant chain CaliBurger."

Sunday, March 4, 2018

News Nuggets 1567

Guangxi Province in China.  From Smithsonian Magazine

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Trump Gradually Losing His Marbles

The great unraveling: Trump's allies are really worried about him (Gloria Borger) from CNN
"Not since Richard Nixon started talking to the portraits on the walls of the West Wing has a president seemed so alone against the world. One source -- who is a presidential ally -- is worried, really worried. The source says this past week is "different," that advisers are scared the President is spiraling, lashing out, just out of control."

The Emerging Landscape of Partisan Demographics

New Survey Shows Young People Are Staying Liberal and Conservatives Are Dying Off (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"... the fact remains that America is politically sorted by generations in a way it never has before. The oldest voters are the most conservative, white, and Republican, and the youngest voters the most liberal, racially diverse, and Democratic. There is absolutely no sign the dynamic is abating during the Trump years. If anything, it is accelerating."

Chain Reactions for the Common Good

The Force of Decency Awakens (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Political scientists have a term and a theory for what we’re seeing on #MeToo, guns and perhaps more: “regime change cascades.” Here’s how it works: When people see the status quo as immovable, they tend to be passive even if they are themselves dissatisfied. Indeed, they may be unwilling to reveal their discontent, or to fully admit it to themselves. But once they see others visibly taking a stand, they both gain more confidence in their dissent and become more willing to act on it — and by their actions they may induce the same response in others, causing a kind of chain reaction."

Mueller ... Going Deep

Robert Mueller Has Trump and Family in His Crosshairs (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"One safe conclusion is that the investigation is probably not near done. Another is that Trump and his family are not safe. ... The big picture is that, after Trump burned enough creditors that American banks stopped dealing with him, he became deeply reliant on Russian capital. The Russian economy is deeply connected to Vladimir Putin, and uses its leverage to advance political goals."

Trump's People Following the Watergate Play Book

Robert Mueller Doesn’t Need a Smoking Gun (Elizabeth Drew) from the New Republic
"The latest indictments suggest a pattern of behavior on the part of Trump and his associates—the kind of pattern that brought down Richard Nixon."

Russia Scandal: Biggest Political Scandal ... Ever

Collusion or not, Russia probe is worst political scandal in decades (Chuck Todd) from NBC News
"Whether or not Mueller ever finds a smoking gun that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia, this is already the biggest political scandal in decades. And we are just more than a year into Trump’s presidency and nine months into Mueller’s probe. “Clearly the worst presidential scandal since at least Iran-Contra, but probably since Watergate,” said political scientist Jonathan Bernstein."
When it's all over, Watergate will look like the equivalent of Travelgate from the Clinton years!  Biggest political scandal in US history! That's what we are looking at with Trump."

Trump's Road Has No Rails

Trump Thought the Rules Didn’t Apply—and Now He’s Paying the Price (David Graham) from the Atlantic
"The Trump administration decided early on that many guidelines were either antiquated or punitive, and is belatedly discovering that they were there for its own protection."

Trump's Partisan Corruption Fairness Doctrine

Trump urges national unity, investigation of 'the other side' amid Russia probe from Politico
"Saying there were "no phone calls, no meetings, no collusion," President Donald Trump on Saturday pushed for an investigation of "the other side" amid the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election ..."
Left unattended, Trump always reveals what he really thinks.  He thinks Sessions and the Justice Department needs to be investigating the Dems out of some warped version of partisan "fairness".  In his world view, since he is under so much investigation, the DOJ should be investigating the Dems FOR SOMETHING!  On his own, he couldn't come up with any real reason to -- but it should happen. Obama, Hilary, the party, whatever.  Trump's view: invent something! -- Nuggetsman

Were Some Trump Folks Too Stupid to be Worth Recruiting by Russians?

Russian Spies Thought Trump Adviser Carter Page Was an ‘Idiot’—But Still Tried to Recruit Him from the Daily Beast
"...  the FBI had been watching Page as a potential Russian spy since 2013, long before Page was mentioned in the dossier of dirt on the Trump-Russia connection compiled by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele over the summer and fall of 2016."

Trump Routinely Ignores Advice of his Legal Team

Trump ignored 'bright line' on discussing Russia with Hicks from Politico
"President Donald Trump’s lawyers have urged him not to discuss details of the unfolding Russia investigation with anyone outside his legal team, warning of a conversational “bright line” that could put aides and associates in legal jeopardy, according to current and former Trump aides.  But Trump often ignores that legal advice in the presence of senior aides — including his departing confidante and White House communications director, Hope Hicks."

Economic Trouble Nugget!

The Mortgage Market Is Moving Into the Shadows from Bloomberg
"The last financial crisis occurred in part because unregulated lending in the mortgage market got out of hand. Believe it or not, it’s starting to happen again, and could ultimately precipitate another disaster unless regulators get their act together."
Regular NN reader Keith Richmond and I have been tracking a number of important stories on the economy.  Neither of us are buying all the happy talk about the economy.  In their hearts, most economists know that we are DUE for a downturn right about now -- and there are MANY indicators of conditions that resemble what was occurring right before the great recession.  Not enough was done after the last recession to prevent future bubbles and abuses. -- Nuggetsman

Right Wing Pundit Nugget!

If this is what conservatism has become, count me out (Max Boot) from the Washington Post
"That, in a nutshell, is the credo of today’s high-profile conservatives: Say anything to “trigger” the “libtards” and “snowflakes.” The dumber and more offensive, the better. Whatever it takes to get on (and stay on) Fox News and land the next book contract!  Naturally, just as drug addicts need bigger doses over time, these outrage artists must be ever more transgressive to get the attention they crave."

Another Right Wing Pundit Nugget!

I’m Glad I Got Booed at CPAC (Mona Charon) from the New York Times
"... this time, and particularly in front of this crowd, it felt far more urgent to point out the hypocrisy of our side. How can conservative women hope to have any credibility on the subject of sexual harassment or relations between the sexes when they excuse the behavior of President Trump? ... I watched my fellow panelists’ eyes widen. And then the booing began.  I’d been dreading it for days, but when it came, I almost welcomed it. There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth."
I have NEVER liked Mona Charon.  She has always seemed to me to be way too ideologically straight-jacketed -- so I am glad to see her breaking with her crowd.  Having said that, there is so much about her column that speaks to where the conservative movement went wrong.  Example: she says at the end of the column, "Just before I reached the exit, a woman approached me and called my name. “That was so brave!” she told me. She was one of my fellow panelists."  This fellow panelist spoke at CPAC, took the big payday, mouthed some alt-right bromides and will live large on all the follow-on business that comes from it,  This, despite the fact she was unwilling to speak the truth.  Charon herself for years was one of those folks who were featured speakers on high-priced, donor ass-kissing cruises.  For so many of these people (and I include the Limbaughs and Inghrams in this conversation), they are too addicted to the big paydays that come with being a right-wing talking head.  What can you say about a crowd that continues to this day to milk 1990s era Bill and Hilary stories to keep their readers/listeners tuned in and hopping mad?!  -- Nuggetsman

2018 Campaign Nugget!!

Do Democrats Really Need a Message? from the New Republic
" positive effect of the lack of a “message” is that it allows a candidate to define his or her own race and to come off as authentic rather than as a party tool. Running as an individual can also protect a candidate from being “Nancy Pelosied.” "

Movie Nugget!

"In Marvel's depiction of Wakanda, many African fans see something rarer than vibranium: a big-screen image of Africa that defies Hollywood stereotypes."

Hollywood Academy Awards Nugget!

At 101, a Survivor of Hollywood’s Golden Age Throws Down the Gauntlet from the New York Times
"In the era of “I, Tonya,” the Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland’s lawsuit against FX and Ryan Murphy Productions has a certain potent symbolism."

Saturday, February 24, 2018

News Nuggets 1566

Daylee Picture: A Spotted Deer reflected in the water in India.  From Smithsonian Magazine

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The GOP Leaves the Door Open for Russian Interference -- To Win in 2018 They Will Make That Deal

America Is Under Attack and the President Doesn't Care (David Frum) from the Atlantic
"This Mueller indictment references only Russian operations on Facebook. It does not deal with the weaponization of hacked information via WikiLeaks. Or the reports that the Russians funneled millions of dollars of election spending through the NRA’s political action committees. ... Americans once thought it was a big deal that Alger Hiss rose to serve as acting temporary secretary general of the United Nations. This time, a Russian-backed  individual was installed in the Oval Office.  ... At every turn, Trump has failed to do what a patriotic president would do—failed to put the national interest first. He has left the 2018 elections as vulnerable as the 2016 elections to Russian intervention on his behalf.  The president’s malignant narcissism surely explains much of this passivity. He cannot endure the thought that he owes the presidency to anything other than his own magnificence. ... Authoritarian nationalist parties across the western world have outright cooperated with the Russians. Russian money has helped to finance the National Front in France, and the election and re-election of the president of the Czech Republic. In Germany, Russia first created a hoax refugee-rape case—then widely publicized it—in an effort to boost its preferred extremist party in that country’s 2017 election, the Alternative for Germany. Russia supported pro-AfD comment in media favored by Germany’s surprisingly substantial Russian-speaking communities. ... To what extent does President Trump—to what extent do congressional Republicans—look to Russian interference to help their party in the 2018 cycle? ... in front of our very eyes we can observe that they are leaving the door open to Russian intervention on their behalf in the next election. You might call it collusion in advance—a dereliction of duty as grave as any since President Buchanan looked the other way as Southern state governments pillaged federal arsenals on the eve of the Civil War."
Frum gives an excellent "big picture" look at Russia's interference both with the Trump administration and in the larger picture!  Well worth quoting at length here!   Nuggetsman

What Trump is Up to and the Damage He's Causing

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now (Thomas L. Friedman) from the New York Times
"Trump is either trying so hard to hide it or is so naïve about Russia that he is ready to not only resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he’s actually ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, the F.B.I. and Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden. That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office."
Friedman is using the word "either" here.  It is multiple versions of "all of the above."

The Russia Probe Starting to Hit Trump's Congressional Cronies

Latest Twist in Russia Investigation Involves Unnamed Member of Congress from Roll Call
"The wide-ranging investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign took an unexpected diversion to Capitol Hill on Friday, when former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about a meeting between his boss Paul Manafort and an unnamed member of Congress. ... Public filings show that the the March 19, 2013 meeting detailed in court documents coincided with a meeting between Manafort and Dana Rohrabacher, a Russia-friendly Republican congressman from California, Bloomberg reported Friday."
With Nunes's nonsense on the House oversight committee, you had to know the Russia probe was going to eventually suck in Republican leaders in the House and Senate.  Who is next?   Nuggetsman

Progressivism Paying Off on the Local Level

The Anti-Trump Movement Has Already Made Profound Progressive Change from New York Magazine
"Elections aren’t everything. The far left is right to insist that workers, tenants, and communities can expand the boundaries of political possibility by organizing and exercising their collective power outside of the ballot box. Nonetheless, through good, old-fashioned electoral politics, progressives can make this country a significantly better place — and in 2018, they already have."

Underlying Beliefs of Young People Driving Them to the Democratic Party

The Kids are all Democrats (David Faris) from The Week
"...the data gets worse for Republicans the deeper you dig into it. In 2016 exit polling, for instance, 18- to 24-year-olds went more heavily for Hillary Clinton than their older millennial counterparts, suggesting that, if anything, the Republican position is falling apart with the tail end of the millennial generation. Had complacency and the wreckage of the bitter Democratic primary not led many millennials to vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, those numbers would likely look much worse.  And it gets even worse for the GOP: A 2017 Pew poll found that fully a quarter of young Republicans had defected to the Democrats since 2015.  Nor does the increasing progressivism of America's youngest voters seem to be driven by short-term reactions to particular political figures or developments. Instead, the avocado toast and Instagram set is being driven into the arms of Democrats by their underlying beliefs. An astonishing 66 percent of respondents in that youthful age bracket told Pew that they favor single-payer health care. Nearly three-fourths of the youngest Americans favor gay marriage. We are likely witnessing the maturation of the most liberal generation of voters since the New Deal."

Gun Activists Nugget

The NRA is being supported by these companies from Think Progress
"Much like AARP or AAA, the organization promotes its discounts for members as a selling point for why people should join. The “valuable 5-star benefits” promised include not just a subscription to an NRA magazine and a gun-owner liability protection policy but also savings on insurance, identity theft protection, hearing aids, car rentals, moving vans, shipping, and even wine. While some of these perks are provided by in-house subsidiaries, many are offered through corporate partners — including some household names."

The Challenge of Having an Honest Debate on Guns

Why is only one side in the gun culture war required to show respect? (E.J.Dionne) from the Washington Post
"Those in favor of reforming our firearms laws are scolded as horrific elitists who disrespect a valued way of life. And as the mass killings continue, we are urged to be patient and to spend our time listening earnestly to the views of those who see even a smidgen of action to limit access to guns as the first step toward confiscation. Our task is not to fight for laws to protect innocents, but to demonstrate that we really, honestly, truly, cross-our-hearts, positively love gun owners and wouldn’t for an instant think anything ill of them.  What is odd is that those with extreme pro-gun views — those pushing for new laws to allow people to carry just about anytime, anywhere — are never called upon to model similar empathy toward children killed, the mourning parents left behind, people in urban neighborhoods suffering from violence, or the majority of Americans who don’t own guns."

American Culture in 2018: A Culture "Yearning to Give Up"

The Poison We Pick (Andrew Sullivan) from New York Magazine
"The scale and darkness of this phenomenon is a sign of a civilization in a more acute crisis than we knew, a nation overwhelmed by a warp-speed, postindustrial world, a culture yearning to give up, indifferent to life and death, enraptured by withdrawal and nothingness. America, having pioneered the modern way of life, is now in the midst of trying to escape it."

Immigration insanity mainlined in the GOP

CPAC Immigration Panel Goes Off The Rails from Talking Points Memo
"As David Bier, a policy analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute, attempted to lay out research proving that immigrants actually have lower crime rates than native-born Americans, contribute significantly to the economy  and are assimilating just as well or better than past generations of immigrants, his fellow panelists derided his statements as “nutty” and angry audience members shouted him down."

Hollywood Culture Nugget!

Why ‘Black Panther’ Is a Defining Moment for Black America from New York Times Magazine
"Ryan Coogler’s film is a vivid re-imagination of something black Americans have cherished for centuries — Africa as a dream of our wholeness, greatness and self-realization."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

News Nuggets 1565

Daylee Picture: The Charles River in Massachusetts.  From Smithsonian Magazine

Well, the gritty, ugly details are FINALLY starting to ooze out from this cesspool of an administration!  This week's nuggets begin to open up in detail what Russia's campaign to influence our elections actually looked like on the ground.  And if you care about our country, one can only say we look like a country of f#@&ing imbeciles!!   The ease with which a group of cyber-slaves in Saint Petersburg was able to screw our politics and play all the right notes to turn us against each other will make you physically ill.  I can only say, don't look away.  Read the posts below; start to get grounded in what actually happened -- because it is heading our way AGAIN this November! -- Nuggetsman

POWERFUL Big Nugget of the Day: The Anatomy of the Russian "Campaign" of 2016

The 21st-century Russian sleeper agent is a troll with an American accent from the Washington Post
"The secretive, multimillion-dollar disinformation campaign, which U.S. officials said was called the “Translator Project,” sought to undermine Clinton, bolster Donald Trump and turn Americans against each other — all from the remove of thousands of miles away, in an office building in St. Petersburg. ...  The Russians involved in the campaign executed it with almost perfect pitch — learning to mimic the way Americans talk online about politics so well that real Americans with whom they interacted found them in no way suspicious.  Such deception did not happen by accident. Russian trolls worked hard to sound like Americans and camouflage their political messages in other content."

Russian Collusion: A Campaign "Bigger Than Jeb Bush's..."

‘Go Donald!’: Inside the Russian shadow campaign to elect Trump from the Washington Post
"The Russian effort to meddle in the 2016 presidential election spanned at least two countries and multiple states, and included fake rallies, false identities and divisive slogans intended to magnify Trump’s message and undermine Clinton’s candidacy, according to a 37-page indictment of a notorious Russian troll farm announced by the Justice Department’s special counsel. “I’m amazed — and I suppose I shouldn’t be — what a widespread campaign it was,” said Republican consultant Doug Heye. “It looks like the size of this was probably bigger than Jeb Bush’s primary campaign.”"

Russian Interference: A Russian Operative's Perspective

A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’ (Anton Troianovski) from the Washington Post
"I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book “1984” by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world."

The Question No One is Asking

Is Donald Trump a Traitor? (James Risen) from the Intercept
"I find it hard to write about Donald Trump.  It is not that he is a complicated subject. Quite the opposite. It is that everything about him is so painfully obvious. He is a low-rent racist, a shameless misogynist, and an unbalanced narcissist. He is an unrelenting liar and a two-bit white identity demagogue. .... At the end of the day, he is certain to be left in the dustbin of history, alongside Father Coughlin and Gen. Edwin Walker. (Exactly – you don’t remember them, either.) ...Which brings me to the only question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a traitor? ...One year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and think about that for a moment. ... Trump-Russia story is really about treason. They all want to say it’s about something else – what, they aren’t quite sure. They are afraid to use serious words."

Looking Forward

Four steps to fight foreign interference in U.S. elections from the Washington Post
"The government can take many steps to improve its cybersecurity, across the many elements of critical infrastructure and parts of our system that underpin our democratic institutions. But with time running out before the 2018 midterms, the Trump administration and Congress should take four steps immediately."

America and the World; What's Missing Over Here

Here are 9 things Americans just don’t understand — compared to the rest of the world from Raw Story
"To hear the far-right ideologues of Fox News and AM talk radio tell it, life in Europe is hell on Earth. Taxes are high, sexual promiscuity prevails, universal healthcare doesn’t work, and millions of people don’t even speak English as their primary language! ..., lack of foreign travel means accepting clichés about the rest of the world over the reality. And that lack of worldliness clouds many Americans’ views on everything from economics to sex to religion.  Here are nine things Americans can learn from the rest of the world. ..."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

News Nuggets 1564

Daylee Picture: The Slot Canyon in Arizona.  From Smithsonian Magazine

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Trump: Oh, Those Poor Abusers...

Trump Sees Himself in Every Man Accused (Mimi Kramer) from The Cut
"Most striking, though, about Trump’s Saturday tweet on the departing White House abusers is the way it turns the scenario on its head: It is the men’s lives that are “shattered” and “destroyed.” [...] That this protective, almost loving side of Trump should be brought out by the figure of an accused abuser of women is a bizarre development, more startling, perhaps, even than what the verbiage of his two statements this weekend suggest about the utter valueless-ness and invisibility of women in his own mental landscape. ... For a quarter of a century, Trump has been telling us that all the men he knows who abuse women are “good” people and/or “innocent,” by which he means not that he doesn’t believe that his friends and acquaintances abuse women. He means that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Maybe it’s time we started believing him."

Trump's Indiscretions Floating out in the World of Dark Intelligence

US Secretly Negotiated with Russians to Buy Stolen NSA Documents -- and the Russians Offered Trump-Related Material Too from the Intercept
"The US intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives, according to sources familiar with the matter. The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cach of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election."

Preibus's View Now: "Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50..."

"Who Needs a Controversy Over the Inauguration?" Reince Priebus Opens Up About His Six Months of Magical Thinking from Vanity Fair
"Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50. ...  [A]s the pundits excoriated the Trump White House on every cable news show, Kushner did a slow burn. He was livid, furious that the communications team could not defend Comey’s firing. Bannon blew his stack. “There’s not a fucking thing you can do to sell this!,” he shouted at Kushner. “Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn’t sell this! People aren’t stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that’s going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump’s presidency—and it’s because of you, Jared Kushner!”"

In the White House, With No Integrity Nothing Works

The Trump Stain Spreads (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
...dishonor is like a cancer that spreads inexorably as it feeds upon ambition, protects itself with lies and doubles down with cover-ups.  Looking at the chaos in the White House these days, I worry about inexperience, incompetence and lack of judgment. But maybe I worry most about an utter lack of integrity — and the way it is proving infectious.

The THREE ZONES of Dysfunction in the Trump White House

Why there’s so much chaos in the Trump administration (Ezra Klein) from Vox
"Discussions with people who work in the Trump administration, or work closely with the Trump administration, make clear that the core of the staffing crisis is a management crisis. Working in this White House is a frustrating, dispiriting, and often surreal experience, and it exposes staffers to both legal and reputational risks. Insiders tend to trace three zones of dysfunction, all of which overlap, and all of which destabilize daily functioning and, in turn, scare off potential recruits."

White House Aide: "Truth is Simply Not in Our DNA. ... We Don't Even Have a Coherent Strategy to Obfusicate"

White House reels as FBI director contradicts official claims about alleged abuser from the Washington Post
"Kelly sounded defensive and complained that the media was overhyping the story, according to a senior White House official who spoke with him. But not all of Kelly’s team shared his view. During Wray’s testimony, another White House aide texted a Washington Post reporter, describing the moment as “a killer.” When asked if Kelly could have been more transparent or truthful, that official wrote: “In this White House, it’s simply not in our DNA. Truthful and transparent is great, but we don’t even have a coherent strategy to obfuscate.”
This rather standard issue headline masks  A LOT of further evidence of the administration's deep dysfunctionality!

Trump's New 'Let Them Eat Cake' Policy for Food Stamp Recipients

Trump wants to slash food stamps and replace them with a ‘Blue Apron-type program’ from the Washington Post
"The Trump administration wants to slash food aid to low-income families and make up the difference with a box of canned goods — a change that Office of Management and budget director Mick Mulvaney described in a Monday briefing as a “Blue Apron-type program.” ... Mulvaney's remarks drew raised eyebrows from some critics, who accuse the Trump administration official of drawing an unfair comparison between the food stamp program, which delivers an average of $1.37 per meal to America's poorest, and a high-end meal kit that runs $10 per serving."
Bet: Companies that produce those meals-in-a-box are major major Trump buddies or GOP donors.

A New Food Stamp Program ... Designed by People Who are Clueless About Foodstamps

Poor People Deserve Better Than Food in a Box (Bobbi Dempsey) from the New York Times
"As someone who grew up needing food stamps and free school lunches, I cannot understand the logic or lack of empathy behind this plan.  I spent my entire childhood in poverty, reliant on public assistance from the day I was born until my high school graduation and with a few brief sporadic returns after that. Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve accompanying my mother to the store, where she exchanged food stamps for the groceries our family needed."