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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Saturday, April 22, 2017

 
Saturday Night at the Movies

Stealing the sun from the day: Top 10 Eco-Flicks

By Dennis Hartley





Come on you world, won’t you give a damn?
Turn on some lights and see this garbage can
Time is the essence if we plan to stay
Death is in stride when filth is the pride of our home


-from “Powerful People” by Gino Vanelli


So, do you do anything special for Earth Day? It almost seems counter-productive to have a once-a-year Earth “day”, because when you stop to think about it for about, oh, 5 seconds, shouldn’t every day be “earth day”? It sort of devalues the importance of taking care of our planet (since we appear to have only been issued the one, far back as I can remember). At any rate, in honor of Earth Day, I’ve cobbled together my picks for the Top 10 “eco-flicks”. Per usual, my list is alphabetical; no ranking order. And, as long as you don’t print out a hardcopy, this week’s post is 100% biodegradable (it’s a com-post!).











Chasing Ice - Jeff Orlowski’s film is glacially paced; meaning: these days, “glacial pacing” ain’t what it used to be. Glaciers are moving along (”retreating”, technically) at a pretty good clip. This does not portend well for the planet. To put it in a less flowery way…we’re fucked. After all, according to renowned nature photographer (and subject of Orlowski’s film) James Balog, “The story…is in the ice.” Balog’s fascinating journey began in 2005, while he was on an assignment in the Arctic for National Geographic to document the effect of climate change. Up until that fateful trip, he candidly admits he “…didn’t think humans were capable” of affecting weather patterns in such a profound manner. His epiphany gave birth to a multi-year project utilizing specially modified time-lapse cameras to capture irrefutable proof that affective global warming had transcended academic speculation. The resulting images are beautiful and mesmerizing, yet troubling. Orlowski’s film itself mirrors the dichotomy, being in equal parts cautionary eco-doc and art installation. The images handily trump the squawking that emits from bloviating global climate deniers in the opening montage, and proves a picture is worth 1000 words.









Emerald Forest - Although it may give an initial impression as a heavy-handed (if well-intentioned) “save the rainforest” polemic, John Boorman’s underrated 1985 adventure (a cross between The Searchers and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan) goes much deeper. Powers Boothe portrays an American construction engineer working on a dam project in Brazil. One day, while his wife and young son are visiting him at his job site on the edge of the rainforest, the boy is abducted and adopted by an indigenous tribe who call themselves “The Invisible People”, touching off an obsessive decade-long search by the father. By the time he is finally (and serendipitously) reunited with his barely recognizable, now-teenaged son (Charley Boorman), the challenge becomes a matter of how he and his heartbroken wife (Meg Foster) are going to coax the reluctant young man back into “civilization”. Tautly directed, lushly photographed and well-acted.




Godzilla Vs. Hedorah - Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: there’s no accounting for some people’s tastes. But who ever said an environmental “message” movie couldn’t also provide us with some mindless, guilty fun? Let’s have a little action. Knock over a few buildings. Wreak havoc. Crash a wild party on the rim of a volcano with some Japanese flower children. Besides, Godzilla is on our side for a change. Watch him valiantly battle Hedora, a sludge-oozing toxic avenger out to make mankind collectively suck on his grody tailpipe. And you haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Save the Earth”-my vote for “best worst” song ever from a film (much less a monster movie!)





An Inconvenient Truth- I re-watched this on cable recently; I hadn’t seen it since it opened in 2006, and it struck me how it now plays less like a warning bell and more like the nightly news. It’s the end of the world as we know it. Apocalyptic sci-fi is now scientific fact. Former VP/Nobel winner Al Gore is a Power Point-packing Rod Serling, submitting a gallery of nightmare nature scenarios for our disapproval. I’m tempted to say that Gore and director Davis Guggenheim’s chilling look at the results of unchecked global warming only reveals the tip of the proverbial iceberg…but it’s melting too fast.




Koyaanisqatsi- In 1982, this innovative, genre-defying film quietly made its way around the art houses; it’s now a cult favorite. Directed by activist/ex-Christian monk Godfrey Reggio, with beautiful cinematography by Ron Fricke (who later directed Chronos, Baraka, and Samsara) and music by Philip Glass (who also scored Reggio’s sequels), it was considered a transcendent experience by some; New Age hokum by others (count me as a fan). The title (from ancient Hopi) translates as “life out of balance” The narrative-free imagery, running the gamut from natural vistas to scenes of First World urban decay, is open for interpretation. Reggio followed up in 1988 with Powaqqatsi (“parasitic way of life”), focusing on the First World’s drain on Third World resources, then book-ended his trilogy with Naqoyqatsi (“life as war”) in 2002. Do yourself a favor-clear a weekend!



Manufactured Landscapes -A unique eco-documentary from Jennifer Baichwal about photographer Edward Burtynsky, who is an “earth diarist” of sorts. While his photographs are striking, they don’t paint a pretty picture of our fragile planet. Burtynsky’s eye discerns a terrible beauty in the wake of the profound and irreversible human imprint incurred by accelerated modernization. As captured by Burtynsky’s camera, strip-mined vistas recall the stark desolation of NASA photos sent from the Martian surface; mountains of “e-waste” dumped in a vast Chinese landfill take on an almost gothic, cyber-punk dreamscape. The photographs play like a scroll through Google Earth images, as reinterpreted by Jackson Pollock. This one is a real eye-opener.




Princess Mononoke - Anime master Hayao Miyazaki and his cohorts at Studio Ghibli have raised the bar on the art form over the past several decades (that’s why I was sad when Miazaki-san announced his retirement from directing). This 1997 Ghibli production is one of their most visually resplendent offerings. Perhaps not as “kid-friendly” as per usual, but most of the patented Miyazaki themes are present: humanism, white magic, beneficent forest gods, female empowerment, and pacifist angst in a ubiquitously violent world. The lovely score is by frequent Miyazaki collaborator Joe Hisaishi. For another Miyazaki film with an environmental message, check out Nausicaa Valley of the Wind.





Queen Of The Sun - I never thought that a documentary about honeybees would make me both laugh and cry-but Taggart Siegel’s 2010 film managed to do just that. Appearing at first glance to be a distressing, hand-wringing examination of Colony Collapse Syndrome, a phenomenon that has puzzled and dismayed beekeepers and scientists alike with its accelerated frequency of occurrences over the past few decades, the film becomes a sometimes joyous, sometimes humbling meditation on how essential these seemingly insignificant yet complex social creatures are to the planet’s life cycle. We bipeds might harbor a pretty high opinion of our own place on the evolutionary ladder, but Siegel lays out a convincing case which proves that these “lowly” insects are, in fact, the boss of us.





Silent Running - In space, no one can hear you trimming the verge! Bruce Dern is an agrarian antihero in this 1972 sci-fi adventure, directed by legendary special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull. Produced around the time that “ecology” was a buzzword, its message may seem a little heavy-handed today, but the film remains a cult favorite to SF fans. Dern is the resident gardener on a commercial space freighter that houses several bio-domes, each one dedicated to preserving a species of vegetation (in this bleak future, the Earth has become barren of organic growth). While it’s just a 9 to 5 drudge to his blue collar shipmates, Dern’s character views his cultivating duties as a sacred mission. When the interests of commerce demand that the crew jettison the domes to make room for a more lucrative cargo, Dern goes off his nut, eventually ending up by his lonesome with two salvaged bio-domes and a trio of droids (named Huey, Dewey and Louie) who play Man Friday to his Robinson Crusoe. Joan Baez contributes two songs on the soundtrack.





Soylent Green - Based on a Harry Harrison novel, Richard Fleischer’s 1973 film is set in 2022, when traditional culinary fare is but a dim memory, due to overpopulation and environmental depletion. Only the wealthy can afford the odd tomato or stalk of celery; most of the U.S. population lives on processed “Soylent Corporation” product. The government encourages the sick and the elderly to politely move out of the way by providing handy suicide assistance centers (considering the current state of our Social Security system, that doesn’t sound like much of a stretch anymore, does it?). Oh-there is some ham being served up onscreen, courtesy of Charlton Heston’s scenery-chewing turn as a NYC cop, investigating the murder of a Soylent Corporation executive. Edward G. Robinson nearly steals the film; his moving death scene has the added poignancy of preceding his passing (from cancer) by less than two weeks after the production wrapped.



…and singing us out, Gino Vanelli (try to get past the skintight elephant bells, chest hair and disco moves, and focus on the lyrics…





More reviews at Den of Cinema



-- Dennis Hartley

 
Marching for (a) Reason

by digby



There was yet another big national march today, this one the March for Science. Here's a report from Los Angeles:
Ryan Erickson, 28, of Crenshaw, held a sign that read, “I like big brains and I cannot lie.” He said he was marching because he believes facts and science should dictate policy, and he’s worried the Trump administration doesn’t agree.

Asked why she was marching, Claudia Kries of San Pedro said, “Why wouldn’t I be? I’ve been at every march since Trump got elected. It’s how I stay sane.”

Saturday’s event fell within the first 100 days of the Trump administration, which has proposed drastic budget cuts for the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. Top administration officials are openly skeptical of the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity.
Saturday's march drew a diverse crowd of scientists, researchers and teachers, many of whom said they are new to activism.

Andrew and Chelsie Lee took the Gold Line from Pasadena for Saturday's protest. The couple said that beyond voting they aren't particularly politically active. He is an energy efficiency engineer and she is a customer service executive at a food company.

Since Trump's election they have been taking to the streets.

"With all of the things that are happening right now, it is exciting to be a part of something," she said. "Science is such a important underlying part of why we are successful as a nation.'

"As humankind," he chimed in.

Julianne Cuellar, 34, took a break from the march to sit under a tree in Grand Park. Cuellar, who works at an e-commerce company, had never been to a march before the November election. She described herself as being a casual observer of politics.

Trump changed that.

Since his inauguration, Cuellar has been to the Women's March in downtown, a Tax Day march last weekend demanding Trump release his tax returns, and a protest at Los Angeles International Airport against Trump's executive order limiting travel from several Muslim-majority countries.

"I just wanted to be part of a group standing up for facts and truth," she said. "I wanted to demonstrate resistance."

Allison Santos, a 31-year-old marine biologist and research assistant at Cal State Fullerton, said she had been so busy earning her master's degree that she only just voted for this first time last November. She said President Trump's victory shook her.

"I've never been a part of any type of march," she said in front of City Hall while holding a sign with a drawing of Earth that read, "I'm with her."

Daniel Blackburn, a software engineer from Irvine, held up a neon green sign that summed up how many scientists turned activists feel under the new administration: “We are so mad that even the introverts are outside with people.”

Blackburn said he is worried that the U.S. under Trump will fall behind on combating climate change through research or policy.

“We are losing out on valuable time we need to actually take action,” he said.

Blackburn is channeling his newfound activism into local politics.

He said he has been calling his congresswoman, Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), repeatedly but said he hasn’t gotten past interns or voicemail.

Walters is one of seven congressional Republicans in California who represent districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and that Democrats are targeting for defeat in 2018. Blackburn is keeping a close eye on that race.

“There is a lot of anger at her,” he said.

Jeniffer Hernandez, a professor and immunologist at the Keck Graduate Institute School of Pharmacy in Claremont, had never been to a protest before Saturday.

But she said she felt attacked by Trump: because her parents are immigrants from Mexico, because of Trump’s comments about assaulting women and because her research lab is funded in part by federal grants.

“I’m outraged. I’m upset,” she said. “We need to be out here.”

She carried a sign, written partially in the colors of the Mexican flag, that read: “I’m a 1st generation Mexican-American scientist not a murderer, rapist or drug dealer.”

But while Saturday's marches made a political point — calling on elected officials and policymakers to fund science that enhances the common good and to rely on scientific evidence when making decisions on behalf of the country — they were intended to be nonpartisan.

“Science is not just for us in ivory towers, or for the liberal elite, and it’s not opinion,” said Alex Bradley, a PhD student at UCLA and one of the organizers of Saturday’s event. “We want to make it known that there are Republicans and Democrats doing science, and we all recognize its value.”

There were a lot of those Mexican criminal scientists in this crowd.

Some pictures from LA and around the country:















There's a lot of energy out there and as far as I can tell, it's not dissipating. The Resistance is for real.

.
 
They knew he was a snake before they let him in

by digby


The Trump University fraud case was universally known before the election. 











The problem, of course, is that a majority of Americans didn't let him in. His deluded followers helped him sneak in through the basement and now we can't get him out.

 Think Progress reports:
Days after a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clause” added more plaintiffs, the House Oversight Committee is requesting the Trump Organization turn over documents detailing what processes Trump’s business has implemented, if any, to make sure the president isn’t profiting from foreign governments who want to curry favor with him.

On Friday, the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Sheri Dillon — the lawyer who detailed how Trump planned to avoid conflicts of interest during a January 11 news conference — asking her to detail how that plan is being implemented by no later than May 12.

The Constitution prohibits presidents from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” But the Trump International Hotel has taken money from foreign governments to rent out event spaces and rooms at the hotel. And since Trump has broken presidential precedent by refusing to divest from his business interests, he stands to personally profit.
The problem was captured succinctly in this recent tweet from the Georgian ambassador that effectively served as an advertisement for the Trump International.

The Oversight Committee’s letter actually cites a story first broken by ThinkProgress about how the Embassy of Kuwait changed plans shortly after the election and moved a February event from the Four Seasons to the Trump International. During the January 11 news conference, Dillon said that Trump’s plan to circumvent the constitutional problem posed by deals of that sort is “to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the United States Treasury.”


It's obvious that he hasn't done anthing and has no intention of doing anything.

Let's let Jason Chaffetz explain how this works in the minds of Republicans when it comes to Trump

"I think the people who voted for Donald Trump went into it with eyes wide open. Everybody knew he was rich, everybody knew he had lots of different entanglements… These other little intrigues about a wealthy family making money is a bit of a sideshow.”

Trump himself believes that it's perfectly ethical for him to run his businesses right out of he White House:

"I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don't like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to.
ale

He probably is although he has Ivanka and Jared there to help him keep an eye on Chip and Dale who aren't very together.

By the way, neither Ivanka or Jared have done much of anything to divest either. But why bother? According to the Republicans it's perfectly legitimate. The media is reporting ethical conflicts and potential for corruption every day and it just doesn't stick.

It's pretty clear that like military service before us, the requirement for adherence to ethics rules is for Democrats only. Republicans no longer have to worry about such trifles. After all, we know they're snakes before we let them in.


.











 
Trump's kitchen cabinet is made of solid gold

by digby




Note the two at the top. He's not supposed to speak with them about any official business because they are running the Trump Organization. We used to have this quaint notion that this would constitute a "conflict of interest" a concept that only applies to Democrats apparently.

The rest are --- predictable:

Relationships have always been President Trump’s currency and comfort, helping him talk his way into real estate deals over three decades in New York. Those who know him best say that his outer confidence has always belied an inner uncertainty, and that he needs to test ideas with a wide range of people.

As Mr. Trump’s White House advisers jostle for position, the president has turned to another group of advisers — from family, real estate, media, finance and politics, and all outside the White House gates — many of whom he consults at least once a week.

The media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Mr. Trump when he’s low and arguing that he focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues. The developer Richard LeFrak is a soothing voice who listens to Mr. Trump’s complaints that cost estimates for the border wall with Mexico are too high. Sean Hannity tells the president that keeping promises on core Republican issues is crucial.

The Run-Up
The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.
Mr. Trump’s West Wing aides, like President Bill Clinton’s staff two decades before, say they sometimes cringe at the input from people they can’t control, with consequences they can’t predict. Knowing these advisers — who are mostly white, male and older — is a key to figuring out the words coming from Mr. Trump’s mouth and his Twitter feed.

Here, based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, top aides and advisers inside and outside the White House, are 20 of Mr. Trump’s outside touchstones.

The Mogul
Rupert Murdoch

Mr. Trump’s relationships depend on two crucial measures: personal success and loyalty to him. Mr. Murdoch excels in both categories. His New York Post vaulted Mr. Trump from local housing developer to gossip-page royalty, and his Fox News Channel was pro-Trump in the 2016 general election.

The two share preferences for transactional tabloid journalism and never giving in to critics. (Mr. Trump said the fallen Fox star Bill O’Reilly should not have settled sexual harassment complaints.) The president’s relationship with Mr. Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and the two commiserate and plot strategy in their phone calls, according to people close to both.

Mr. Murdoch even called the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to buck him up after Mr. Spicer was savaged for a remark about Adolf Hitler.

The Media
Sean Hannity

Presidents always deploy surrogates to appear on television to spout their talking points, but Mr. Trump has expanded on that by developing relationships with sympathetic media figures like Mr. Hannity who also serve as advisers. Mr. Hannity, the Fox News host, defends Mr. Trump’s most controversial behavior in public, but privately, according to people close to Mr. Trump, he urges the president not to get distracted, and advises him to focus on keeping pledges like repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Chris Ruddy

The chief executive of Newsmax Media is a longtime Mar-a-Lago member and was a Trump cheerleader among conservative media well before the website Breitbart joined the parade. He employs writers and editors who tracked Mr. Trump’s career when they were at The New York Post. He recently visited the Oval Office, and he and Mr. Trump kibitz in Florida and by phone.

The Lawyer
Sheri A. Dillon

Ms. Dillon seemed out of place when she spoke at a too-large lectern in the lobby of Trump Tower on Jan. 11, describing the steps Mr. Trump planned to take to separate himself from his business. But Ms. Dillon, an ethics lawyer who worked out a highly criticized plan for Mr. Trump to retain ownership of his company but step back from running it, has repeatedly counseled the president about the business and made at least one White House visit. (Michael Cohen, a veteran Trump aide, has been serving as his personal lawyer.)

Campaign Advisers
Corey Lewandowski

Despite his “you’re fired” slogan, the president dislikes dismissing people. Mr. Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s hot-tempered first campaign manager, was fired in June but never really went away. A New England-bred operative whose working-class roots and clenched-teeth loyalty earned him Mr. Trump’s trust, he continued to be in frequent phone contact with Mr. Trump until the election and beyond. Friends of Mr. Lewandowski say that he can see the windows of the White House residence from his lobbying office on Pennsylvania Avenue, and that the view is even better during his visits to the West Wing, including when the New England Patriots were there this past week.

Newt Gingrich

The former House speaker talks more with Mr. Trump’s top advisers than he does with the president, but his presence permeates the administration. Mr. Gingrich’s former spokesman is at the State Department, and two former advisers work in the West Wing. Mr. Gingrich has relentlessly promoted Mr. Trump’s policy adviser, Stephen Miller, as the West Wing conservative ballast as the chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, has been under fire.

Childhood Friend
Richard LeFrak

Their fathers were developers together in New York, and the two men have been friends for decades. Mr. LeFrak is a Mar-a-Lago member, and he agreed to be part of an infrastructure effort that Mr. Trump hopes to put forward. Mr. Trump has turned to him to vent frustrations about the slow pace of bureaucracy.

The Peers
Thomas Barrack Jr.

Mr. Trump divides the people around him into broad categories: family, paid staff and wealthy men like Mr. Barrack whom he considers peers. A sunny and loyal near-billionaire who has socialized with the president for years, Mr. Barrack is less a strategic adviser than a trusted moneyman, fixer and sounding board who has often punctuated emails to Mr. Trump with exhortations like “YOU ROCK!” He has urged Mr. Trump to avoid needless, distracting fights.

Under Mr. Barrack’s leadership, Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee raised a record $106.7 million, much of it from big corporations, banks and Republican megadonors like the Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Barrack also helped usher Paul Manafort, the international political operative now under scrutiny for his ties to Russia, into the Trump fold last year. The velvet-voiced Mr. Barrack does not seek out attention for himself, one of the most important and elusive qualities by which the president judges people.

Stephen Schwarzman

The chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, Mr. Schwarzman is the head of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council. He and the president don’t speak daily, West Wing aides said, but do talk frequently. Mr. Schwarzman has counseled him on a number of topics, including advising him to leave in place President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” from deportation.

Steve Roth

A good way to get on Mr. Trump’s side is to do a deal with him, particularly if it means rescuing him from his own financial crisis. That’s what Mr. Roth, a real estate tycoon, did a decade ago when he bought out Mr. Trump’s share in a West Side real estate deal that went sour. Mr. Roth, head of Vornado Realty Trust and a longtime Democratic donor, also helped Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, when he injected $80 million into 666 Fifth Avenue, a Kushner family property in danger of defaulting on $1.1 billion in loans. Mr. Trump speaks with Mr. Roth frequently, and is leaning on him to help develop a trillion-dollar infrastructure package expected this year.

Phil Ruffin

Mr. Trump has 20-odd business partners, but none is closer to him than Mr. Ruffin, 82, a Texas billionaire who has lent his ear and private jet. The president was best man at the 2008 wedding of Mr. Ruffin to his third wife, a 26-year-old model and former Miss Ukraine. Mr. Ruffin has a knack for showing up when Mr. Trump needs him most and remains a die-hard defender. “This stuff about him having financial investments all over Russia — that’s just pure crap,” Mr. Ruffin told Forbes. “I went to Russia with him. We took my airplane. We were having lunch with one of the oligarchs there. No business was discussed.”

Carl Icahn

Rounding out Mr. Trump’s roster of wealthy octogenarians is this 81-year-old corporate raider and real estate mogul, who occupies perhaps the most respected perch in the president’s circle of businessmen buddies. The affection is longstanding: The Queens-bred Mr. Icahn has known Mr. Trump and his family for decades. It’s also numerical: Mr. Icahn is worth an estimated $16 billion, a major plus in the eyes of a president who keeps score. Mr. Icahn serves as a free-roving economic counselor and the head of Mr. Trump’s effort to reduce government regulations on business.

Man of Mystery
Roger J. Stone Jr.

Few alliances in politics are as complicated as the 40-year relationship between the Nixon-tattooed Mr. Stone and Mr. Trump. Mr. Stone won’t say how frequently they speak these days, but he shares the president’s tear-down-the-system impulses and is ubiquitous on cable news, radio and the website InfoWars defending Mr. Trump.

The Clubgoers
Ike Perlmutter

Mr. Perlmutter, the chief executive of Marvel Comics, who is so reclusive that there are few public photographs of him, has been informally advising Mr. Trump on veterans issues. The two men are old friends, and Mr. Perlmutter has been a presence at Mar-a-Lago.

Robert Kraft

The owner of the New England Patriots is a Democrat, but his loyalty to Mr. Trump, Mr. Kraft once said, dates partly to the president’s thoughtfulness when Mr. Kraft’s father died. Mr. Trump loved talking about the Patriots during the campaign, and Mr. Kraft has been a Mar-a-Lago presence since the transition.

The First Lady
Melania Trump

Mrs. Trump is uninterested in the limelight, but she has remained a powerful adviser by telephone from New York. Among her roles: giving Mr. Trump feedback on media coverage, counseling him on staff choices and urging him, repeatedly, to tone down his Twitter feed. Lately, he has listened closely, and has a more disciplined Twitter finger.

The Governor
Chris Christie

Mr. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and palace gatekeeper, has shown a capacity to hobble his rivals, but few have been finished off. The most durable has been Mr. Christie, whose transition planning, several West Wing aides now concede, should not have been discarded. He has been a frequent Oval Office visitor and has worked with the White House on the opioid addiction crisis.

The Speaker
Paul D. Ryan

Mr. Trump and the clean-cut and wonky Wisconsinite aren’t exactly best friends forever. But their relationship is closer than in the bad old days of the 2016 campaign when Mr. Ryan delayed a hold-my-nose endorsement of Mr. Trump, whose morality he had long questioned. But as the president’s agenda passes through the razor-blade gantlet of the House, where Mr. Ryan faces the constant threat of opposition and overthrow, the two men have become foxhole buddies.

They seem nice.

And yeah, I'm sure he really listens to Melania ....

via GIPHY



 
There is no conflict between human rights and economic justice. They are two sides of the same coin.

by digby





I'm not an economic determinist so I don't find these arguments more compelling than the principles of human rights and civil liberties. But a lot of people apparently need to see women's reproductive freedom in economic terms and I think Ilyse Hogue of NARAL does a good job in this tweetstorm:

Had talk w/ @jmartNYT abt situation w/ @DNC and why women's rights, security should not be traded away for political gain.

At a Unity Stop in Nebraska, Democrats Find Anything But

Piece is good reporting on what happened but bad understanding on reality at play. Said it before & will say it a million times if required.
Calling repro rts/lgbtq rts "cultural catechism" or "social issues" or "single issue" send clear message to peopel that we are still not included. Sets up a false choice that undermines unity & denies reality of massive numbers of party base.

I challenge every reporter & every male politician to look in eyes of single mother buckling under weight of low-wage jobs, childcare housing costs and tell her that her ability to  determine if she adds to her family is a "social issue" or a "cultural  catcechism."

What you are clearly communicating is that your version of economic justice has no room FOR her or for the rest of us who are not white men.

Most white men know this btw since middle and working class families dependent on 2 incomes and pregnancies disrupt that contribution.

Those leaders who deny this are so emotionally connected 2 their own message of gender blind/race blind economic justice that they ignore reams of data from US & all over world that you can't lift women out of poverty w/out centralizing family planning. That includes abortion.

Here are the rest of the tweets:



















Rebecca Traiser takes this topic on in long form and it's really good.

Human rights and economic justice are not in philosophical, moral or ideological conflict.  Indeed, they are inextricably linked. You cannot have one without the other. If you de-link them, the whole foundation and framework of the argument falls apart.

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He told them he already knew everything

by digby




Remember this?
He said in a series of interviews that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.”

Trump said he is skeptical of experts because “they can’t see the forest for the trees.” He believes that when he makes decisions, people see that he instinctively knows the right thing to do: “A lot of people said, ‘Man, he was more accurate than guys who have studied it all the time.’ ”

Trump’s approach to understanding complex issues and reaching decisions is not unique in the annals of the presidency. Historians who have studied presidential styles depict a divide between men such as President Obama or presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, who were given to reading extensively ahead of important decisions, and presidents Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who preferred to have issues presented to them in short memos or orally.

“We’ve had good presidents of both styles,” said David Greenberg, a presidency historian at Rutgers University. “There’s a kind of danger when intellectuals and journalists see these presidents who don’t read much and scorn them as being not so swift. There’s some political prejudice there on the part of liberals against these business types who have a different executive style.”

Trump’s approach goes beyond the chief executive manner of Reagan or the younger Bush. “We’ve had presidents who have reveled in their lack of erudition,” said Allan Lichtman, a political historian at American University, citing Warren Harding and Lyndon Johnson as leaders who scoffed at academics and other experts. “But Trump is really something of an outlier with this idea that knowing things is almost a distraction. He doesn’t have a historical anchor, so you see his gut changing on issues from moment to moment.”

One day last month, Trump had a visit from a delegation of prominent executives in the oil, steel and retail industries, and one of the executives told Trump that the Chinese were taking advantage of the United States. “He said, ‘I’d like to send you a report,’ ” Trump recalled. “He said, ‘I’d love to be able to send you’ — oh boy, he’s got a lengthy report, hundreds of pages. . . . I said, ‘Do me a favor: Don’t send me a report. Send me, like, three pages.’ ”

Trump said reading long documents is a waste of time because he absorbs the gist of an issue very quickly. “I’m a very efficient guy,” he said. “Now, I could also do it verbally, which is fine. I’d always rather have — I want it short. There’s no reason to do hundreds of pages because I know exactly what it is.”

Well, he lives in a golden penthouse and flies around in a jet with his name on it so he must be a genius.

The fact that whatever money he has he inherited and he's obviously a con man dancing as fast as he can to keep up his lifestyle which is so threatened he had to start hawking cheap consumer items and defrauding unsuspecting TV fans of their hard-earned money.

Anyway, here's some insight from a piece in the New Yorker about how presidents learn on the job:
“It turns out” and “nobody knew” are two of the signal phrases by which Trump indicates that an epiphany has arrived: that health-care policy is “so complicated,” or that North Korea is not a Chinese client state. “After listening [to President Xi Jinping, of China] for ten minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. Never mind the obviousness of these statements, or Trump’s weird guilelessness in presenting them as insights; they are being received, by some, as signs that Trump is growing in office. “I think President Trump is learning the job,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said last week.

Learning the job, in fairness, is a big task for any new President. “Regardless of his prior training, nothing he has done will have prepared him for all the facets of that job,” Richard Neustadt, the great scholar of the American Presidency, wrote in “Presidential Power,” his influential study, in 1960. All Presidents, he argued, enter office ignorant, innocent, and arrogant—liabilities it can take two, three, or even six years for them to overcome. Some never do. Neustadt saw “a certain rhythm” in the Presidential learning process, and, indeed, in most cases, it follows a well-worn path: the chaotic cram session of the transition; the headiness and disappointments of the first year; the midterm elections in the second (a “shellacking” of the President’s party, as Barack Obama described it in 2010, tends to dispel any lingering arrogance); and, of course, the crises—domestic and foreign—that come without warning. The education of a President is episodic, driven by events. The results, as we know, are uneven. They depend not only on fate but on the answers to three basic questions: what are the “particulars of [a President’s] ignorance,” in Neustadt’s phrase; does he have the humility to acknowledge them; and does he have the capacity—political, moral, intellectual—to address them?
[...]
What is Trump’s particular ignorance? It is not a stretch to say that Trump knows less about policy, history, the workings of government, and world affairs than any of the men who preceded him as President. Trump’s ignorance sends historians and commentators scrambling for sufficient adverbs: to Daniel Bell of Princeton, Trump is “abysmally” ignorant; to Josh Marshall, of Talking Points Memo, he is “militant[ly]” so. “Proudly” is another popular one. Last summer, Trump told the Washington Post that he doesn’t need to read much because he makes great decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense.” The problem is not just what Trump doesn’t know; there is an expanding, alternative universe of things he imagines or insists to be true, from his claim that “millions” of illegal immigrants gave Hillary Clinton her victory in the popular vote to his charge that President Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower. “He has made himself the stooge, the mark, for every crazy blogger, political quack, racial theorist, foreign leader or nutcase peddling a story that he might repackage to his benefit as a tweet, an appointment, an executive order or a policy,” the Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote earlier this month. Trump is somehow both credulous and cynical; if he were “mugged by reality,” in the old, conservative cliché, he would pin it on Obama, or perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This man is in so far over his head I think it's far more likely that he'll have a breakdown before he ever becomes even remotely competent. There is no area in which he has even the slightest ability. Even his self-promotion, the only thing he's ever really been successful at, is a pathetic failure in this global arena. And he is in very poor mental health.

We just have to keep our fingers crossed that the institutions will hold long enough to keep the country from completely falling apart before we can fix this monumental error.


 

They want to rule, Part eleventy-leven

by Tom Sullivan

Six years ago, I asked, Colonist or Royalist? Because the rich have put a lot of time and money behind programming people to support maintaining a society that keeps them safely on top. Business schools that teach Ayn Rand. Money-losing conservative newspapers. Fox News. Talk radio. How many people around your workplace marinate in it all day? On headphones? (Happens where I work.)



It's working:

“Corporations shouldn’t pay taxes at all. That’s a terrible idea.” — pro-Walker demonstrator Jay from LaCrosse in Madison, WI.
All that is prelude to how obvious (or careless) over time our friends across the aisle have become about what the real game is. North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan have been test beds for Republicans to rig the election system, by restricting voting and through redistricting. If traditional rules no longer protect their dominance, change the rule. If the courts stop them, try, try again.

It's clear from the expectations the Trump administration brings to the White House that they too expect not to govern, but to rule.

Ahead of this week's congressional special election in Georgia which sends Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel to a June 20 runoff, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported:
At a GOP breakfast on the district’s eastern DeKalb outskirts, state Sen. Fran Millar criticized Democrats who think it’s a “done deal that this kid’s going to become the Congressman.”

“I’ll be very blunt: These lines were not drawn to get Hank Johnson’s protégé to be my representative. And you didn’t hear that,” said Millar. “They were not drawn for that purpose, OK? They were not drawn for that purpose.”

Rep. Hank Johnson, Democrat representing Georgia's 4th District.

In an era in which shifting demographics are reducing the voting majorities white America treat as a birthright:
Losing power is very personal for people on the right. Both left and right talk about taking "their country" back, but it seems much more personal for conservatives. In their America, it seems, there is no we, just i and me.

One place you hear it is in their rhetoric about voter fraud. It is a very personal affront to them that the power of their votes might be diminished by the Other. Every time someone ineligible casts a fraudulent ballot, they insist, it "steals your vote." Your vote. They have convinced themselves that there are thousands and thousands of invisible felons stealing their votes every election. Passing more restrictive voting laws is a matter of justice and voting integrity, of course. What other motivation could there be for railroading eligible poor, minority, and college-age voters?
So it is no surprise at all that after Tuesday's jungle primary in Georgia, Karen Handel, a real pioneer in Republican voter suppression, invoked the notion that losing an election to Democrats amounts to theft. The president himself joined the chorus: Does someone "as morally bankrupt as this president" even know the meaning of the word "steal"? Nancy LeTourneau asks. In court this week, his lawyers argued that protesters' First Amendment rights do not extend to "the campaign rally of the political candidates they oppose.” LeTourneau writes:
What it comes down to is that Trump’s reaction to anything he doesn’t like is to define it as criminal. Back in January, Martin wrote about the 12 early warning signs of fascism posted at the U.S. Holocaust Museum. This tendency is embedded in several of them, but most notably this one: “obsession with crime and punishment.”

You might suggest that this time it was simply a fundraising email for one House seat in Georgia. But using rhetoric about “stealing” an election is serious business in my book.
It is serious. It's a strategy.




Friday, April 21, 2017

 
Friday Night Soother: you hadn't otter....


by digby


You need some juggling otters. You need them so much:





And then there are these two adorable critters:











Little guys:
The Chicago Zoological Society announced Wednesday that twin river otter pups had been born at Brookfield Zoo in February.

The male and female pups, born Feb. 23, are the first successful river otter births in the zoo's history.

The mother, Charlotte, has been at Brookfield Zoo since 2012, and father Benny has been at the zoo since 2004. Otter pups are born with their eyes closed, fully furred and weighing about 4 ounces, the zoo said.

The pups are being kept behind the scenes at the zoo to bond with their mother and learn how to swim. They are expected to make their public debut later in April.

Here's another baby otter learning how to swim. They have to be taught. Who knew?



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Costumes and codpieces

by digby



The man who calls his wife mother went to North Korea to stare down Kim Jong Un in person. Well, from South Korea. For a pathetic costumed photo op.

John Amato wrote it up:
VP Mike Pence went to South Korea to tell the world the time of appeasing North Korea is over and then he headed over to the DMZ to stare them down.

What that means, nobody knows and I imagine the South Korean people, who don't have a government at this point, are a bit nervous right now.

After all, they are in the direct line of fire as the Trump administration continues to wag their codpieces for all to see.

Didn't America already see this farce once already?

Yeah, we did:


























How'd that work out for us?

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No, nothing remotely fascist about Trump

by digby

Well,except for his support for  the fascist candidate for president of France, Marine LePen:

Two days before a French election that has Europe on edge, President Donald Trump weighed in, expressing support for far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen — though he stopped short of a complete endorsement. 
In an interview with the Associated Press, Trump said although he was not offering an endorsement, he thinks Le Pen is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” 
Earlier in the day, he posted a tweet responding to a shooting Thursday on Paris’s Champs Elysees that outgoing French President Francois Hollande called a likely act of terrorism 
"Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!” Trump wrote.
And that's terrific!

Hopefully the French aren't as pathetically dumb as we are. From what I hear Trump is massively unpopular there so maybe his quasi-endorsement will actually hurt her.

Seriously, God help us when there's another terrorist attack in the US. Trump and Sessions are just chomping at the bit ...

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Semper falafel

by digby






Hey, remember when Bill O'Reilly claimed he'd been in combat in the Falklands? Good times.

This one is from 2015:

A hero in his own mind

Gee, I wonder why people thought Bill O'Reilly said he was in combat in the Falklands war?

KEVIN (CALLER): Hey, yeah, I have to say real quick, I've been -- I've listened to interviews from the guy that was saved and from some of the other Swift Boat, the guys in these new groups that have come on talking about it.

And if you listen to interviews with the guy, he's not smearing the guy who got the, you know, who fell in the water, but he gave a rational, cognizant explanation what happened that day, and these boats are always in pairs and packs --

O'REILLY: Right.

KEVIN: -- so they're always trying to say well, no -- well, you weren't on Kerry's you -- you -- his Swift boat. You didn't have to be. You were 20 feet away on another one.

O'REILLY: All right, let me challenge that, Kevin, from --

KEVIN: Uh-huh.

O'REILLY: -- from personal experience.

KEVIN: Sure.

O'REILLY: I -- I was in a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War, OK?

KEVIN: Mm-hmm.

O'REILLY: And I can tell you when the Kool-Aid hits the fan, OK, nobody is locking in on anybody else. Nobody.

KEVIN: And you're right.

O'REILLY: OK, ad --

KEVIN: I know (inaudible; overlapping dialogue)

O'REILLY: -- adrenaline -- adrenaline surges and you veterans out there listening right now, you know exactly what I'm talking about here. Adrenaline surges, your senses become very attune, much sharper than they are ordinarily, and you are locked in, focused in, on your survival and achieving the means of staying alive.

You're not watching what happens in the boat next to year. You're not watching any of that. OK? You are -- you are zeroed in on your situation.

And that's why I am believing the guys that are sitting next to this Kerry, because the guys away from him, yeah, maybe somebody looked over, and yeah, but what probably happened was after the fact people talked. And that's what always happens. And then perceptions are shaped. But they're always ab -- they're never primary source perceptions.

Now, again, I don't have anything against these Swift Boats guys. They -- I'm sure they believe what they're saying. But I'm going to go with the guy in the water. I got to go with him. [Westwood One, The Radio Factor, 8/9/04, transcript via Escriptionist.com/Media Matters internal archives]

There's more where that came from. Here's another one:

O'REILLY: But again, look, I mean all of us who are reporters -- and I was a reporter for 24 years, even, you know -- and I was in El Salvador, and in the Falkland War in Argentina, and in Northern Ireland, and in the Middle East. And I did some pretty risky things. I was single and nobody cared, but you know -- a couple of girlfriends would have been - 'oh, no more free dinners from Bill.'

But I did. I put myself, you know, in positions that perhaps I should not have, but I got good stories. And that's what people do. That's what journalists do. But I volunteered. Nobody sent me. Nobody forced me. I went it. And that's what these guys did. And these guys were in much more danger than I was ever in, although it got a little hairy in the Falklands, that's for sure. [Westwood One, The Radio Factor, 1/30/06]

He pretty clearly wants people to believe that he's been in combat even going so far as to compare himself as superior to actual combat veterans, something Brian Williams never did. He's a liar.

The biggest lie is that he continually portrays Buenos Aires as a war zone during the Falklands war. It was not. He covered some street demonstrations after the war was over. If that is the definition of being in the shit, then anyone who was on the streets in Ferguson, Missouri last summer is a combat veteran. 

I can't believe he's going to get away with this in the wake of Brian Williams being vilified for much less. O'Reilly has continuously portrayed himself as a fucking hero, someone who stared down the barrel of a gun and saved his cameraman from the the enemy. And he was in a street protest. 


And this from 2007:

Semper Falafel

O'Reilly understands that war is hell:

Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash. If that wounded insurgent had a grenade or other explosive device, the entire marine squad and the photographer could be dead right now. In a killing zone, one cannot afford the luxury of knowing what is certain.

As with all literary greats like Mailer, Jones and Heller, O'Reilly has memorialized his scorching combat experiences in his novel, "Those Who Trespass" a murder mystery set in Argentina during the hell on earth that was the Falklands:
The policemen were clearly frightened. Their fascist powers were being brazenly challenged. Standing directly in front of the police were nearly ten thousand very angry Argentine citizens screaming curses and revolutionary slogans:

ALa gente unida venceramos!

AMuera la Junta!

AMuera Galtieri!


GNN News Correspondent Shannon Michaels translated the chant and wrote it into his notebook: "The people, united, will never be defeated! Death to the Junta! Death to the dictator Galtieri!" Shannon and his video crew stood behind the police, five hundred strong crowded together in a massive show of force. Their assignment was to guard the presidential palace, called the Casa Rosada--the Pink House--and to protect President General Leopoldo Galtieri. But the crowd was getting more and more aggressive, pushing toward the large metal gate that provided access to the palatial grounds. Shannon saw that The Plaza de Mayo, the huge square in front of the Casa Rosada, was now filled to capacity. Something very ugly was going to happen, Shannon thought, and happen soon.

The sky was clear, but clouds were assembling in the west. Shannon ran his fingers through his thick mane of wavy brown hair. His teal blue eyes were locked on the agitated crowd. It was his eyes that most people noticed first--a very unusual color that some thought materialized from a contact lens case. But Shannon, the product of two Celtic parents, didn't go in for cosmetic enhancements. His 6' 4 frame was well toned by constant athletics, and his pale white skin was flawless--another genetic gift. Shannon's looks, which he thoroughly capitalized on, made him a natural for television.

As the mob continued its boisterous serenade, Shannon slowly shook his head. Most wars were foolish, he thought, but this one was unusually idiotic. The Argentine Junta, a group of military thugs led by General Galtieri, had ordered an invasion of the British-administered Falkland Islands on April Fool's Day, 1982. The government claim was that the islands, which the Argentines called the Malvinas, became a part of Argentina through a Papal declaration in 1493. The British disagreed. So, nearly five hundred years after the grant of land, the Argentine Army swarmed ashore, startling eighteen hundred British subjects and tens of thousands of bewildered sheep.

[...]


During his seven-year career as a TV news correspondent, Michaels had seen rank stupidity, but this moronic government strategy boggled the mind. Anyone who read a newspaper knew that the British Parliament, and especially Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, would never allow British honor to be besmirched. It took the Brits just three months to thoroughly humiliate the Junta, further angering the Argentine citizenry. No wonder they were now filling the streets in passionate demonstration against the Galtieri government.


Sends chills down your spine, doesn't it? Has anyone matched this searing prose chronicling the nightmare of the Falklands war? 

I don't want to ruin the story by revealing the fiery hell that our blue eyed Celtic hero had to endure. Let's just say that that marine in Falluja won't know what hell is until he's had to film a news story with his flawless white skin covered in dust and dirt. It just makes you sick to even think about it. 

The horror...

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Poor Jason, so scared

by digby



Poor Jason Chaffetz says he's quitting because of all the violent protesters who are trying to kill him:

Police had warned him not to bring his family. In secret, Facebook groups agitation had been growing for weeks. More than 1,000 protesters stood outside: soccer moms who’d driven from Provo, bearded granolas in Patagonia fleece with spray-painted signs demanding he keep Utah wild, lefties who’d driven up from California and Arizona. A few protesters were masked and dressed in black. They worried Chaffetz most. They carried guns and, he would later learn, were prowling the parking lot trying to find his car.

Out on the stage the fire marshal was getting nowhere. He was trying to point out the exits, in case of mayhem, but the crowd had no interest. Let them in, they chanted of the protesters outside. Utah was known for being civil and calm. This didn’t feel like Utah. This didn’t feel like home.


Jessica Mamey approaches the stage to ask Rep. Jason Chaffetz a question during a town hall meeting in Cottonwood Heights on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. | Ravell Call, Deseret News

Something had flipped after the election, Chaffetz had noticed, an ugly impulse unfurling across America. He had seen anger directed at him before, but nothing like this. He’d been getting death threats, on his voicemail and in his inbox, and in the ensuing weeks it would only get worse.

He had become a target, the face of Republican fecklessness. At his D.C. office, his young staffers fielded calls from all over the country, hundreds a day, demanding he investigate Trump. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee, Chaffetz had risen to national prominence for his aggressive inquiries into missteps by the Obama administration, making him a hero to the “Fox and Friends” crowd.

He’d hammered the Secret Service, demanded documents on the Fast and Furious gun running scandal, and most notably, grilled Hillary Clinton for hours on the deaths of four Americans at a compound in Benghazi, Libya. So why wasn’t he investigating Donald Trump? People asked him this wherever he went, at the airport, at Five Guys when he was standing in line for a burger. Tonight they wanted answers.

He stepped out from behind the curtain.

The crowd erupted in deafening boos, rising to their feet. Chaffetz smiled. He’d seen worse. As a placekicker at BYU in the mid-1980s he’d played before hostile football crowds with Ty Detmer and Jason Buck. “You think this is bad,” he thought to himself. “You’ve never been to Laramie, Wyoming.”

Besides, plainclothes police officers were standing behind the curtain, and others were scattered throughout the crowd. No one here could rattle him, not really. And even if they did, he wouldn’t let them see it. He would keep smiling, no matter what he felt inside.

Clips of the town hall were starting to go viral. For the part of the electorate who felt the Trump administration was a threat to the republic, this was a moment, #Resistance. Here was one of the few people who could bring Trump to heel, who could subpoena his tax records, force him to testify under oath, really anything he wanted, and his constituents were demanding he do it.


“Do your job! Do your job!” they chanted. Chaffetz smiled through his teeth, pleading for the crowd to calm down, but no one was listening.

In the ensuing weeks, Chaffetz insisted the protesters didn’t bother him, but those closest to him began to worry if all the unhinged Facebook posts and death threats were taking a toll. Trey Gowdy, the Republican congressman from South Carolina who Chaffetz considers his best friend, openly wondered if Chaffetz’s ever-ready smile was masking pain.

“Some of the stuff left on his voicemail,” Gowdy said, pausing. “He plays it for me and I’m trying to evaluate, do you take it seriously? What do you do about it?”

Over the years, Chaffetz’s wife, Julie, had learned to tune out criticisms of her husband, but what she saw at the town hall was different, something that she had not witnessed before, and this time, she couldn’t just tune it out. “I felt it,” she said.

Chaffetz began seriously thinking about his political future. He publicly toyed with the idea of running for senator, and then governor. What no one outside of a very tight circle knew is that he was also considering something else: quitting.

On Wednesday morning, Chaffetz showed up at the KSL Broadcast House in downtown Salt Lake City for a spot on the “The Doug Wright Show,” the most respected talk radio show in the market.


Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, leaves after giving an interview on the KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Chaffetz just turned 50, but he carries himself with a youthful energy and the gait of an athlete. Ready for the cameras (as always), he was dressed in a tailored, pin-striped suit, his curly, dark hair perfectly coiffed as usual. He flashed a smile at a reporter he recognized, gave a nod to a cameraman that looked familiar, and stepped into the studio.

Earlier that morning, he had shocked the nation by announcing on Facebook that he would not run for re-election. Now he was here to answer the question on everyone’s minds: why?

He said that after “prayerful consideration,” he had decided he wouldn’t run for any office in 2018 (killing speculation he had an eye on Orrin Hatch’s Senate seat), but didn’t rule out returning to political life sometime in the future.

It is highly unlikely that this is the reason he quit. Politicians get crank calls all the time and I have strong suspicion that he got plenty of criticism before the election when he was chomping at the bit to become Hillary Clinton's executioner. He wasn't afraid of criticism then. All this does is gin up the fatuous notion that townhall protesters are violent.

No, he's playing the victim now for some other reason. To me, it makes him look childish, but to right wingers, it's a wink and nod, "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" little bit of hand-wringing to turn liberals inside out. They love phony concern about their personal safety at the hands of hippies, whom they all concede are worthless wimps but it's kind of a kick to call for the smelling salts and pretend like their are being persecuted.


I think Chaffetz is quitting because he sees no future in being the guy who refuses to investigate Donald Trump.
He's right about that.



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What about all that winning?

by digby




Not so much I'm afraid. I wrote about it for Salon this morning:


There is a lot of chatter these days about the looming milestone of the “first 100 days” of the Donald Trump administration and how he measures up in presidential history. This trope goes back to Franklin Roosevelt’s first term, when he took office in 1933 amid the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in America history, and promised to get to work immediately to bring relief to millions of suffering Americans. He declared a bank holiday to stop the run on withdrawals and called Congress immediately into session to pass legislation to help farmers and the unemployed and create a federal jobs program.

Since then, all presidents come up for a 100-day report card. Most recently, President Barack Obama entered office during a major economic upheaval unleashed by a global financial crisis which had unfolded during the presidential campaign. He warned that it wasn’t going to be easy, asking for the nation’s patience and saying, “The first hundred days is going to be important, but it’s probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference.”

During his transition period, Obama had been focused on finding bipartisan support for a stimulus plan to stop the bleeding of jobs and home foreclosures and managed to get it passed in eight days, with support from a handful of Republicans. He passed a budget resolution and signed major legislation on worker’s rights and health care that had been stalled or vetoed under President George W. Bush. Obama also issued executive orders on numerous topics, from closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay to new government ethics rules. At the 100-day mark, 65 percent of Americans approved of the job he was doing, with only 29 percent disapproving.

Back on the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump portrayed the nation as a desperate dystopian hellscape and promised his adoring followers that he would make America great again. But he he went beyond that. From NAFTA to inner-city crime to bringing back jobs to undocumented immigrants to undoing regulations and fighting ISIS, Trump promised to fix it all “very, very quickly.” Sometimes he’d add that it would “happen so fast your head will spin.”

Indeed, Trump’s pitch to his voters was that none of these were difficult issues and that the problem had been our “stupid” leaders who just didn’t know what they were doing. He famously said in his nominating convention speech, “I alone can fix it,” making it clear that he planned to do it all at once.

Just before the election, Trump released his plan for the first 100 days and it was extremely ambitious. He promised to reverse every Obama executive order he could think of and issue as many of his own as possible on the very first day. His ill-conceived travel ban was the most controversial and a few of his promises, like his pledge to “propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress,” have been quietly shelved. Others, in light of subsequent events, now seem mordantly amusing, such as “a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.”


Trump didn’t manage to do everything on his list the first day but he fulfilled many of those promises during the first few months, most of them serving as props for his tedious daily signing photo-ops, even if they don’t really add up to any substantial accomplishments. And while his “big, beautiful wall” may be indefinitely put on hold (because it was an imbecilic idea in the first place) he’s made real progress on his draconian immigration crackdown.

The Department of Homeland Security under former Gen. John Kelly and the Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions have most definitely taken off the gloves, and plans are underway for an even more drastic crackdown. In fact, Sessions is systematically carrying out Trump’s “law and order” campaign pledges by turning back voting rights enforcement, “reviewing” police consent decrees, talking up the drug war and rejecting forensic science that leads to fewer innocent people being convicted.

But presidents are generally not considered to have had a successful first 100 days without any major legislative achievement, particularly when their party controls both houses of Congress. And the great negotiator presented himself as someone who could make “deals” almost magically. Indeed, it was the single most important skill he allegedly possessed. He was so good at it he would make Mexico pay for the wall and singlehandedly renegotiate all the trade deals so thoroughly that our trading partners would give up all their jobs and profits and thank us for the privilege.

Unfortunately for the president, he does not have even one real legislative victory. His most substantial achievement is a bill allowing hunters to kill bear cubs in their dens during hibernation. His only serious attempt at negotiating a legislative deal was so badly botched it ended in ignominious failure after just 18 days of debate in the House. That, of course, was the health care bill meant to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. Recent rumors of a quick revival are, according to savvy observers, a product of White House hype and desperation for a 100-day “win,” rather than a sign of any real movement on the issue.

In other words, Trump’s 100-day achievements have consisted of him signing some orders, getting his picture taken with people around a big table, instituting “law and order” through his henchman Jeff Sessions — and failing to get even one major piece of legislation passed into law, despite his party’s congressional majorities.

According to the latest Gallup Poll, he has the worst average approval rating (41 percent) during this period of any president in that survey’s history, and by a margin of 14 points. Nonetheless, Trump says it’s been the most successful first 100 days in history, telling Fox Business News:


We freed up so much and we’re getting great, great credit for it. We have done so much for so many people. I don’t think that there is a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone has done nearly what we’ve been able to do.

To borrow one of his favorite phrases: That’s fake news. And it’s so profoundly delusional that it’s actually kind of sad.


Update: Haha. Trump has now decided that the hundred days stuff is stupid.




Boohoohoo.

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