"But What Is Harm?"

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:00 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Discussion of assisted death.]

Although this piece in the Guardian by Haider Javed Warraich has an absolutely dreadful headline, it is a very good piece on the history of right-to-die law and the current state of the assisted death debate in the United States.

I definitely recommend it, especially if you are, like me, someone who would like to have this legal choice available, when and if we need it.

[Note: Although discussions of right-to-die laws routinely refer to patients' deaths as "physician assisted suicide," right-to-die laws are really not about suicide, which is the intentional taking of one's own life. Terminally ill people's lives are already being taken by disease; they are just being given control of the "when" of their deaths. Please bear that distinction in mind in this thread and take care not to conflate "suicide" with assisted death in comments.]
[syndicated profile] crooked_timber_feed

Posted by Corey Robin

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the French leftist leader who I was hoping would beat Macron in the last election (as Chris knows, I’m really not a fan of Macron), sullies himself with this comment about French collaboration with the Holocaust. Responding to Macron’s speech in which Macron said France needed to take responsibility for its role in the roundup and extermination of the Jews (long a touchy subject in France), Mélenchon succumbs to the worst nationalist impulses to defend the honor of the French people.

Never, at any moment, did the French choose murder and anti-Semitic criminality. Those who were not Jewish were not all, and as French people, guilty of the crime that was carried out at the time! On the contrary, through its resistance, its fight against the [German] invader and through the reestablishment of the republic when the [Germans] were driven out of the territory, the French people, the French people proved which side they were actually on.

There’s an argument to be had (and one could see why in republican France some would want it to be had) about the relationship of the people to a collaborationist government under foreign occupation. Had Mélenchon simply said, look, the French people were divided, it’s hard to generalize, many collaborated, some resisted, Vichy wasn’t the official representative of the French people, let’s have a more textured understanding of history—that would be one thing. But that’s not simply what he says. (I’m not a reader of French, so I’m relying on the translations here. I’m also an outsider to French politics, and by no means an expert on all the local nuances and subtleties of this engagement. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) He goes further. With that last line in particular, he does more than try to remove the stain of collective guilt. He tries to claim collective innocence: what the Resistance did, that was France. What Vichy did, that wasn’t France. That was those evil ministers, forever betraying the French nation and the French people, who proved by the actions of the resisters who they really are.

Not only is what Mélenchon said an offense against the historical record, but it evinces all the worst features of nationalism that I loathe: the special pleading, the knee-jerk impulse to defend one’s own (with the implicit acknowledgment that the Jews aren’t thought of as one’s own), the retrograde identity politics (one might say the original form of identity politics), the offshoring of evil (though in this regard, Mélenchon ties himself in knots, saying, according to that Haaretz report, that Vichy wasn’t really France; France was off in London), the tribalism and groupiness. Even worse, this desire to assert and insist upon the purity of one’s group: deep down, we’re really good, it was those evil politicians, who weren’t really French in their hearts, who did the bad things. That kind of thinking is just the flip side of Bush-style axis of evil talk. The left should defend collectives, yes, but for God’s sake, let them be collectives based on justice rather than purity, and let them be collectives other than the French—or any other—nation.

This whole episode brings me back to a moment more than 25 years ago.

It was after my first year in grad school. I was spending the summer in Freiburg, learning German. At the language school where I was studying, I made a group of friends from Italy, France, Britain, and elsewhere. One guy, Pascal, and I really hit it off. He was from France, the south of France I think, and a hardcore leftist. Super sweet guy, with a German girlfriend named Claudia. I really liked them both.

One night, around the end of the summer, Pascal and Claudia had me over to dinner. They lived pretty far outside of the city, in the country. It was a lovely evening. We all spoke German (our one common language), with Claudia gently helping Pascal and me along when we needed help. There was a lot of wine.

Toward the end of the evening, the topic turned to French politics. Mitterand in particular. This must have been some time around his second term as President. I don’t remember what prompted this, but at some point in the discussion, through my wine-sodden haze, I heard Pascal hissing that Mitterand was a Jew. Everything bad that Mitterand did—and Pascal really hated Mitterand, from the left—was because Mitterand was a Jew. It was a tirade: Jew this, Jew that. I think Pascal even began slipping into French: Juif, Juif.

(Mitterand, incidentally, also liked to pull this line that France wasn’t responsible for the roundup of the Jews, that it was this alien, un-French presence called Vichy that did that.)

After a few minutes of this kind of filth, I gathered myself, and said, as calm and composed as I could be (why is it so hard to assert one’s dignity in these situations?): Mitterand is not a Jew, but I am.

It was a terrible moment: a wonderful summer’s friendship, across the barriers of language and nation , poisoned by this sudden extrusion of anti-Semitism. From the left.

I said I wanted to leave. They drove me home (as I said, we were way out of town). Claudia, the German, was scandalized by what her boyfriend, the Frenchman, had said and told him so. She couldn’t stop apologizing to me, up until the minute I got out of the car. He just drove, silently. That was the last I ever saw of them.

I’ve traveled a lot, have lived abroad, and have been friends with people from all across the globe. I’ve been involved in all kinds of anti-Zionist politics here in the US, with Jews, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, and atheists. But it’s only been among Europeans—I talked about my experiences in Britain here—that I’ve ever felt someone look at me and see: Jew Jew Jew.

The Jewish Question has always been, for me, a European question.

[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

So, Donald Trump did another interview with the New York Times, extended excerpts from which [Content Note: video may autoplay at link] have been published for all of us to read and build core strength by repeatedly recoiling in horror.

The major pull item from the interview has been [CN: video may autoplay] Trump complaining about Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation: "Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else."

Yikes. Walter Schaub, who recently resigned as Director of the Office of Government Ethics, said bluntly: "That's an absolutely outrageous statement for the president to have made." Yup. And it was hardly the only outrageous statement he made regarding the Russia investigation: Trump "also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey's dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election," warning "investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia."

All of which constitutes just a small percentage of the alarming content of the far-ranging interview, during which he also referred once again to his "enemies" in the press and described his granddaughter (who just happened to stroll in during the interview to say "I love you, Grandpa" in Chinese) as having "good, smart genes."

Following are just a few other quotes which piqued my interest for various reasons (and, yes, all of these are real):

On healthcare.

"So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you're 21 years old, you start working and you're paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you're 70, you get a nice plan. Here's something where you walk up and say, 'I want my insurance.' It's a very tough deal, but it is something that we're doing a good job of."

"I want to either get it done or not get it done. If we don't get it done, we are going to watch Obamacare go down the tubes, and we'll blame the Democrats."

"This health care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning. No. 1, you know, a lot of the papers were saying — actually, these guys couldn't believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about health care. [garbled]"

On his travels abroad.

"I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president."

"[French President Emmanuel Macron]'s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand. People don't realize he loves holding my hand. And that's good, as far as that goes. I mean, really. He's a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand."

"It was a two-hour parade. They had so many different zones. Maybe 100,000 different uniforms, different divisions, different bands. Then we had the retired, the older, the ones who were badly injured. The whole thing, it was an incredible thing."

"We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, 'cause they heard we were having dinner."

On...history?

"Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: 'No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.' [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn't go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [garbled] Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army. But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they've won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It's pretty amazing. So, we're having a good time. The economy is doing great."

On the economy.

"I've given the farmers back their farms. I've given the builders back their land to build houses and to build other things."

"Dodd-Frank is going to be, you know, modified, and again, I want rules and regulations. But you don't want to choke, right? People can't get loans to buy a pizza parlor."

On his undisclosed meeting with Putin at the G20.

"We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr.] had in that meeting. As I've said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, 'By the way, we have information on your opponent,' I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], 'Who wouldn't have taken a meeting like that?'"

On foreign policy.

"Crimea was gone during the Obama administration, and he gave, he allowed it to get away. You know, he can talk tough all he wants, in the meantime he talked tough to North Korea. And he didn't actually. He didn't talk tough to North Korea. You know, we have a big problem with North Korea. Big. Big, big. You look at all of the things, you look at the line in the sand. The red line in the sand in Syria. He didn't do the shot. I did the shot."

On Jeff Sessions' recusal.

"Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else. ...So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I can't, you know, I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair, and that's a mild word, to the president."

"Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, 'Why didn't you tell me this before?' I would have — then I said, 'Who's your deputy?' So his deputy he hardly knew, and that's Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he's from Baltimore."

On Bob Mueller's investigation.

"By the way, I would say, I don't — I don't — I mean, it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don't make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don't make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don't have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don't. They said I made money from Russia. I don't. It's not my thing. I don't, I don't do that. Over the years, I've looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years [crosstalk]."

Oh.

Music meme: day 13 of 30

Jul. 20th, 2017 04:32 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane


I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )

Trump Hands Putin Another Gift

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:28 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous at the Washington Post: Trump Ends Covert CIA Program to Arm Anti-Assad Rebels in Syria, a Move Sought by Moscow.
[Donald] Trump has decided to end the CIA's covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials.

...Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump's interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests.

...After the Trump-Putin meeting, the United States and Russia announced an agreement to back a new cease-fire in southwest Syria, along the Jordanian border, where many of the CIA-backed rebels have long operated. Trump described the limited cease-fire deal as one of the benefits of a constructive working relationship with Moscow.
To describe this as "a move long sought by Moscow" is an understatement. My friend (and expert in this area) Leah McElrath explains:
By ceasing U.S. military aid to anti-Assad forces in Syria, Trump gave Russian Putin a gift Russia has sought for more than a century: Earlier this year, Putin signed a treaty with Assad to establish and expand a naval base on the coast of Syria that is allowed to house up to eleven nuclear-powered warships at a time for 49 years, with ability to extend for another 25 years.

Historically, a central geopolitical goal for Russia has been to conquer enough territory to obtain a warm-water port for itself which will enable it to reach the Mediterranean Sea and, from there, the Atlantic Ocean. The vast majority of its extensive coastline is in the north in cold-waters that tend to freeze over. The warm-water coastal areas in Russia front land-locked seas.

So, by withdrawing the relatively minimal support provided by the U.S. to the anti-Assad forces, the likelihood of Assad killing everyone who is left opposing him in Syria is much higher. And Putin gets Russia its warm-water port after more than a century of effort by the country, as it has moved through its various iterations as an empire, a socialist union, and an authoritarian federation.
This is, of course, the second long-sought gift Trump has delivered to Putin, the first being subversion the of U.S.-Germany alliance. As I noted in May: "Trump is working very hard to undermine goodwill with our NATO allies, with a special insult to Germany. Since the end of WWII, Russia has had an explicit objective of busting up the U.S.-German alliance, because the combined strength of the U.S. and Germany, in both military might and democratic cultural influence, provided a check on the empiric aspirations of the Soviet Union, now Russia. Trump's subversion of the U.S-Germany relationship is providing a dangerous opening to Putin, who has already made abundantly clear his intent to rebuild Russia's reach with his annexation of Crimea and moves in Ukraine."

Aspirations about which two female world leaders — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May — have explicitly warned Trump. (Three female world leaders, if we count Hillary Clinton. Which we should.) But one of the problems with choosing a rank misogynist to run the country is that he won't listen to women, especially when he's also a disloyal scofflaw who is intent on making Putin's wish fulfillment the centerpiece of his presidency.

So here we are.

One last item: Last month, I detailed the curious history of this "work with Russia to defeat IS in Syria" foreign policy approach — and how, before the 2016 election, joining forces with Russia to defeat ISIS was not a mainstream position, on either side of the aisle, because, as Hillary Clinton explained during the second presidential debate, Putin "isn't interested in ISIS" and Russia's assault on Aleppo was instead intended to destroy Syrian rebels opposed to Assad's regime.

Nonetheless, during the 2016 election, the one in which Russia interfered with the objective of critically weakening Clinton, every single one of her leading opponents suggested working with Russia in some manner, using the justification of joining forces to defeat ISIS.

Her Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders, and all of her general election opponents — Donald Trump, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson — all four from across the political spectrum, and all four with campaign ties to Russia, each offered a policy of aligning with Russia, with the rationale of defeating ISIS, a foreign policy position that was not being advocated by any serious politicians before the 2016 election.

And a rationale that has never made, and continues to make, no sense based on the most basic understanding of Russia's objectives and alliances in Syria.

Trump, whose campaign appears to have received the most direct help from Russia and may have colluded with Russia during the election, is now the president. And so he is the one who is now enacting this "futile and dangerous" policy.

Hillary Clinton was the only candidate who we can be certain never would have handed this gift to Putin.

The Big Idea: Nat Segaloff

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:34 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

When biographer and historian Nat Segaloff sat down to interview science fiction Grand Master Harlan Ellison for his new book A Lit Fuse, he knew that he was in for a challenge. What surprised him about the process was how much it wasn’t just about Ellison, but also about him.

NAT SEGALOFF:

How do you write something new about someone everybody thinks they already know? A writer who is famous for putting so much of his life into his stories that his fans feel that even his most bizarre work is autobiographical? That was the unspoken challenge in late 2013 when I agreed to write Harlan Ellison’s biography, an adventure that is just now seeing daylight with the publican of A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison.

I wrote the book because Harlan wouldn’t. He came close in 2008 when he announced he would write Working Without a Net for “a major publisher,” but he never did. Maybe he figured he’d said enough in his 1700 short stories, essays, and articles he’s published over the last 60 years. It wasn’t as if he was afraid of the truth; he always said he never lies about himself because that way nobody can hold anything against him. That was my challenge.

When we shook hands and I became his biographer, I also became the only person he ever gave permission to quote from his work and take a tour of his life. What I really wanted to do, though, was to explore his mind. What I didn’t expect was that, as I examined his creative process, I would also bare my own.

When you sit down with someone for a conversation, it’s fun; when you sit down with someone for an interview, it’s serious. Harlan has been interviewed countless times and he has always been in control. This time, I was. I had to get him to say stuff that was new, and I had to go beyond where others had stopped.

A Harlan Ellison interview is a performance. He will be quotable, precise, vague, and outrageous. He takes no prisoners. He will run and fetch a comic book, figurine, photograph, or book to illustrate a point, all of which breaks the mood. My job was to get him to sit still and not be “Harlan Ellison” but simply Harlan.

Harlan is one of the few speculative fiction writers (along with Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and a handful of others) who became public figures. Part of this stemmed from the quality of his work but much of it was created by his being, as I kept finding in the clippings, ““fractious,” “famously litigious,” and “argumentative.” Indeed, most of the stories I found during my research could be divided into two categories: “What a wild man Harlan is” and “I alone escaped to tell thee.”

Balderdash. What I discovered was a man who takes his craft seriously and fiercely defends others who labor in the field of words. An attack on them was an attack on him, and an attack on him was not to be deflected but returned in kind. “I don’t mind if you think I’m stupid,” he told one antagonist, “it’s just that I resent it when you talk to me as if I’m stupid.”

Even though I had final cut, I ran whole sections past him to get his reaction. He never flinched. In fact, he challenged me to go deeper. It was almost as if – and don’t take this the wrong way – I was Clarice Starling and he was Hannibal Lecter — the more I asked of Harlan, the more I had to give of myself. Both of us put our blood in the book even though I am the author.

—-

A Lit Fuse: Amazon|NESFA Press

 


An ode to Susan Duncan

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:29 pm
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
I'm finally caught up on this week's Orphan Black!

everything goes under a spoiler cut )
[syndicated profile] digby_feed

Without rudder or keel

by Tom Sullivan

Our ain't-right president's hair-raising New York Times interview yesterday demonstrated for the nth time how unfit in every way Donald Trump is for the job he won last November. Trump is as Jack London might have described him:

... a magnificent atavism, a man so purely primitive that he was of the type that came into the world before the development of the moral nature. He was not immoral, but merely unmoral.
He has neither the skill nor the time for legislating. He will not lift a finger to pass the legislation he demands from his own caucus. He has no respect for the institutions of the government he took an oath to preserve, protect and defend, nor for the oath itself, nor for rule of law he believes himself above. In the interview, he all but formally asked for the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not covering his rear on the Russia investigation. After months of whining about White House leaks, Trump leaked it in an interview with a newspaper he famously loathes rather than confront Sessions personally, man-to-man.

Donald Trump wouldn't have any class if you gave him a room, thirty students, and a chalkboard. So when a dumpster fire gif was the first to appear in my Twitter feed this morning, it seemed only appropriate.

via GIPHY

But Donald Trump is merely a symptom of a country that has lost its bearings, a ship without rudder or keel. A new poll from Public Policy Polling finds that only 45 percent of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with Russians he publicly admitted having. Thirty-two percent don't believe the meeting happened and 24 percent are not sure. No, Not Sure is not their names.

A large fraction of our neighbors, in many places a controlling fraction, has abandoned the very notion of pluralism at the heart of the American experiment. As if e pluribus unum were some sort of crypto-Kenyan incantation against their personal freedom. For many across this country yet unconscious of it, metastasized capitalism and Randian teen fantasies of male dominance have brewed up a debased America that serves patriotism à la carte, an America for me but not for thee. Where government exists to stay out of my life and to keep Others in their place. Donald Trump is their patron saint.

Cooperation and communitarianism is replaced with dominance politics, not only among conservatives, but a sliver of the American left that has abandoned faith. Among Christian conservatives who long ago accepted as dogma that the country and its framework were handed to them by the Almighty, their own religious liberty is the only religious liberty government exists to protect. Recognition that non-Christian faiths and non-faiths fall under the same constitutional is "increasingly cast as bristling religious animus or even hate speech."

Across the country, GOP-led state legislators have abandoned any pretense of regard for equal representation, opting for voter suppression tactics and radical gerrymandering to keep democracy from unmaking their rule. Inside the Beltway, the anti-vaxxers of public policy with their crackpot economics and science denial, have set about deconstructing the state that nurtured them.

The Trump administration and its enablers have climbed out on a limb and begun sawing it off. The question at hand is whether the falling branch will take the rest of us with them.

cupcake_goth: (Default)
[personal profile] cupcake_goth


Yes? No?

On the one hand: B&W stripes! Giant red roses! Oooh, it's all very Night Circus, isn't it?

On the other hand, I can't tell if this is too busy. Plus, while it's a full skirt, it's also 100% polyester.

But let's be real here, I'll probably end up buying it.

Bah

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:12 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Reliable sources report the death of Jordin Kare.
[syndicated profile] digby_feed
Today's the day he decided to issue a warning to anyone who crosses him

by digby




The president seems to believe that the job of the Attorney General is to cover up for the president:



This latest NY Times interview is astonishing:

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office.

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

While the interview touched on an array of issues, including health care, foreign affairs and politics, the investigation dominated the conversation. He said that as far as he knew, he was not under investigation himself, despite reports that Mr. Mueller is looking at whether the president obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey.

“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Describing a newly disclosed informal conversation he had with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a dinner of world leaders in Germany earlier this month, Mr. Trump said they talked for about 15 minutes, mostly about “pleasantries.” But Mr. Trump did say that they talked “about adoptions.” Mr. Putin banned American adoptions of Russian children in 2012 after the United States enacted sanctions on Russians accused of human rights abuses, an issue that remains a sore point in relations with Moscow.

Mr. Trump acknowledged that it was “interesting” that adoptions came up since his son, Donald Trump Jr., said that was the topic of a meeting he had with several Russians with ties to the Kremlin during last year’s campaign. Even though emails show that the session had been set up to pass along incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, the president said he did not need such material from Russia about Mrs. Clinton last year because he already had more than enough.

[...]
But Mr. Trump left little doubt during the interview that the Russia investigation remained a sore point. His pique at Mr. Sessions, in particular, seemed fresh even months after the attorney general’s recusal. Mr. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy and was rewarded with a key Cabinet slot, but has been more distant from the president lately.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Mr. Trump also faulted Mr. Sessions for his testimony during Senate confirmation hearings when Mr. Sessions said he had not met with any Russians even though he had met at least twice with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. “Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” the president said. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”

Here's he accuses Comey of blackmailing him --- by briefing him on the Steele dossier:

The president added a new allegation against Mr. Comey, whose dismissal has become a central issue for critics who said it amounts to an attempt to obstruct the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election and any possible collusion with Mr. Trump’s team.

Mr. Trump recalled that a little more than two weeks before his inauguration, Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower on Russian meddling. Mr. Comey afterward pulled Mr. Trump aside and told him about a dossier that had been assembled by a former British spy filled with salacious allegations against the incoming president, including supposed sexual escapades in Moscow. The F.B.I. has not corroborated the most sensational assertions in the dossier.

In the interview, Mr. Trump said he believes Mr. Comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to hold over the president. “In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Mr. Trump said. As leverage? “Yeah, I think so,’’ Mr. Trump said. “In retrospect.”

The president dismissed the assertions in the dossier: “When he brought it to me, I said this is really, made-up junk. I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about man, this is such a phony deal.”

Mr. Comey declined to comment on Wednesday.

But Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials decided it was best for him to raise the subject with Mr. Trump alone because he was going to remain as F.B.I. director. Mr. Comey testified before Congress that he disclosed the details of the dossier to Mr. Trump because he thought that the media would soon be publishing details from it and that Mr. Trump had a right to know what information was out there about him.

Mr. Trump rebutted Mr. Comey’s claim that in a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on Feb. 14, the president asked him to end the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey testified before Congress that Mr. Trump kicked the vice president, attorney general and several other senior administration officials out of the room before having the discussion with Mr. Comey.

“I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff,” Mr. Trump said. “He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?”

Here's where he goes after Mueller:

Mr. Trump was also critical of Mr. Mueller, a longtime former F.B.I. director, reprising some of his past complaints that lawyers in his office contributed money to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. He noted that he actually interviewed Mr. Mueller to replace Mr. Comey just before his appointment as special counsel.

“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Mr. Trump said. After he was named special counsel, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

The president also expressed discontent with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former federal prosecutor from Baltimore. When Mr. Sessions recused himself, the president said he was irritated to learn where his deputy was from. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” he said of the predominately Democratic city.

He complained that Mr. Rosenstein had in effect been on both sides when it came to Mr. Comey. The deputy attorney general recommended Mr. Comey be fired but then appointed Mr. Mueller, who may be investigating whether the dismissal was an obstruction of justice. “Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”

As for Andrew G. McCabe, the acting F.B.I. director, the president suggested that he too had a conflict. Mr. McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, received nearly $500,000 in 2015 during a losing campaign for the Virginia state Senate from a political action committee affiliated with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Rosenstein lives in Bethesda, not Baltimore.

And here we have him talking about the 2nd meeting with Putin:

In his first description of his dinnertime conversation with Mr. Putin at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, Mr. Trump downplayed its significance. He said his wife, Melania, was seated next to Mr. Putin at the other end of a table filled with world leaders.

“The meal was going toward dessert,’’ he said. “I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.”

He noted the adoption issue came up in the June 2016 meeting between his son and Russian visitors. “I actually talked about Russian adoption with him,’’ he said, meaning Mr. Putin. “Which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don had in that meeting.”

But the president repeated that he did not know about his son’s meeting at the time and added that he did not need the Russians to provide damaging information about Mrs. Clinton.

“There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying,” he said. “Unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.”

"Adoptions" means sanctions. He talked to him about sanctions. Privately, with no record of what was said.

And, oh, by the way, today it was announced that we're pulling our support for the rebels who are fighting against Assad, Russia's ally in Syria.

I don't know what to say anymore. He's at war with the entire Justice Department and the Intelligence agencies and he seems to be threatening to fire anyone who crosses him.

Is this the new normal? Is this America?


.



Thug in chief

Jul. 19th, 2017 04:30 pm
[syndicated profile] digby_feed
Thug in chief

by digby






HuffPost Hill:

PETULANT BULLYING HAVING FAILED, TRUMP TURNS TO … … more petulant bullying. Marina Fang: “President Donald Trump used a lunch with Republican senators Wednesday to jokingly threaten vulnerable GOP lawmakers who have opposed recent Senate attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. ‘The other night, I was very surprised when I heard a couple of my friends — my friends,’ Trump said, looking around at the senators in the room. ‘They really were — and are.’ ‘They might not be very much longer, but that’s OK,’ he added. Seated next to Trump at the lunch was Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is up for re-election next year. ‘This was the one we were worried about,’ Trump said, turning to Heller. ‘Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?’ Heller laughed uncomfortably.

Truly nauseating:



In case you were wondering, the new CBO report on the bill Mitch McConnell is bringing up for a vote next week --- the same bill that Obama vetoed in 2015:

”Thirty-two million fewer people would have health coverage, health insurance premiums would double and the insurance market would destabilize over the next 10 years under legislation the Senate may take up next week, according to a report the Congressional Budget Office published Wednesday…. About three-quarters of the country’s population would live in geographic areas with no health insurance providers by 2026, the report says.”

Sounds good. Cull the herd.

.

Where the jobs at?

Jul. 19th, 2017 03:00 pm
[syndicated profile] digby_feed
Where the jobs at?

by digby




Oh heck:

Donald Trump brokered a deal to keep roughly 1,000 jobs at a facility in Indiana from moving to Mexico. But it failed to live up to the hype while other firms have quietly continued to outsource — a trend that drained the state of 5,000 manufacturing jobs since February. For example, reports on former workers of Manitowoc Beverage Systems show many have been unable to find gigs as good as the ones they lost after the firm shipped 84 jobs to Mexico.

His photo-op at the Carrier plant didn't really work out:


President Trump touted his deal to save jobs at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis last year as a win for the American manufacturing industry.

But that victory didn't even extend to everyone at the factory.

Thursday marks the last day for more than 300 Carrier employees whose jobs have been eliminated in favor of outsourcing to Mexico.

It's the first round of cuts at the plant, which last year epitomized the working-class grievances that Trump swore to fix.


Is it possible that Donald Trump is full of shit? Say it ain't so!

.

cupcake_goth: (Default)
[personal profile] cupcake_goth
One problem with this new-ish fascination for vintage floral print full skirts is that so many of the sellers on Etsy and eBay use a slur in their description. I know they're clueless and think it evokes a free-spirited air, but dammit.

With that bit of venting out of the way, these are different ones I'm idly contemplating. (All images hotlinked from the various Etsy listings, because apparently that's an okay thing to do now, especially because places like Etsy are never going to run out of bandwidth.)

I really like this one.



The print is beautiful in this, but I'm not sure about the mix of colors?



This is probably my least favorite, mostly because it's similar to the skirt I have that kicked off this whole fashion tangent.

Poor lil' rich boys

Jul. 19th, 2017 01:30 pm
[syndicated profile] digby_feed
Poor lil' rich boys

by digby



The boyz are unhappy. Waaaah.


According to a new report in People Magazine, friends of the Trump family revealed the president’s sons Don Jr. and Eric are miserable and want the next three years to be over.

In a family guided by their father’s need to win and avoid admitting mistakes, friends noticed when Don Jr. agreed he would have “done things a little differently” with the campaign meeting between higher-ups and Russian contacts.

“He doesn’t like failure and mistakes, and he doesn’t accept them,” one source who has done business with Trump told People. “You have to justify your existence to be in his realm.”

The ones who are most in his “realm,” however, are his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who have offices in the West Wing of the White House because Trump likes to keep their counsel close. For the children now heading up the Trump Organization, the transition to a larger spotlight has been a difficult one and they’re having a difficult time adjusting.

Most weekends Trump Jr. leaves Manhattan for a cabin in upstate New York with his wife and their five children. He can also be spotted at the Riverside Cafe in Roscoe, New York, where the manager claims Trump Jr. is a good person and doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. “He never has his hair slicked back like he does on TV,” the manager said.

The spotlight also brings about annoying transparencies for him.

“Don can’t do any deals because he’ll be overly scrutinized. He just goes to work every day and is miserable,” said one source in the boys’ circle.

It's not over yet boys. And you both are right in the middle of all this. Fasten your seatbelts.


.

Getting Lucky With College Costs

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:02 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

The bill for Athena’s fall semester at Miami University arrived a couple of days ago, and we paid it, and I have some various thoughts about that I want to share.

When I went to college, 30 years ago now, I couldn’t pay for it. I did what the majority of people did then and do now — I cobbled together various sorts of funding from multiple sources. A scholarship here, a Pell grant there, a work study job and loans — and still it wasn’t quite enough when one of my funding sources fumbled the ball pretty badly and I had to ask my grandfather for help (which to be clear, he was happy to provide, with the only provision being that I would write him a letter a month, a request very much in my wheelhouse). I graduated with a fair amount of student debt, rather more than the average amount back in 1991, which was around $8,200. I think I was around 30 when we paid it off.

I don’t regret my college debt — I’m of the opinion that my education was worth what I paid for it and then some — but at the time I didn’t really like having the anxiety of wondering how it was all going to be paid for, and my education being contingent on outside financial forces, over which I had no control. I was lucky I was able to find ways to cover it all. I was also lucky that I got a good job right out of college (in 1991, during a recession), and was always financially solvent afterward. That college debt never became a drag or a worry, as it easily could have been, and which it did become for a number of my friends.

I don’t think scrambling for money or paying down college debt added anything beneficial to my life, however. As much as certain people might make a fetish of having to struggle in one way or another for one’s education, and that struggle having a value in itself, I’m not especially convinced that the current American manner of “struggle” — pricing college education at excessive rates and then requiring students and family to take on significant amounts of debt, effectively transferring decades of capital from the poor, working and middle classes to banks and their (generally wealthy) shareholders — is really such a great way to do that, especially since wages in general have stagnated over the last 40 years, the same period of time in which college tuition costs have skyrocketed, consistently above the rate of inflation. Worrying about college funding and paying off college debt isn’t character-building in any real sense. It’s opportunity cost, time wasted that might be productively spent doing something else educationally or financially beneficial.

So: I don’t regret my college debt, but I don’t think it was something that added value, either, to my education or my life. All things being equal, I suspect I would have been better off not having to worry whether I had enough funding for college any particular quarter, or being able to take the monthly post-collegiate debt payment and use it for something else, including investment. Not just me, of course; I don’t think anyone, students or parents (or colleges, for that matter), benefits from the current patchwork method of college funding, or the decade-long (or longer) hangover of college debt service.

We always assumed Athena would go to college; very early on we began saving and investing with the specific goal of funding her education. Along the way we caught the break of my writing career taking off, which meant the account intended for her education plumped out substantially. By the time it was the moment for Athena to decide where to go to college, we were in the fortunate position of being able to pay for it — all of it — wherever it was she decided to go. So, to go back to the initial paragraph, when that first Miami University bill came up, we were able to cut that check and send it off. No muss, no fuss. We’ll be able to do the same for the other college bills over the next four years.

Which is great for us! And not bad for Athena, who will end her college experience debt-free in a world where the average US student with college debt in 2016 was in the hole for $37,000, with that number only likely to go up from here. But let’s also look at everything that had to happen in order for us to get to that point: We saved early, which was smart of us, but we also had the wherewithal to save, which meant we got lucky that Krissy and I both had work, that in her case her gig included health insurance for all of us and that in my case I was in constant demand as a freelance writer, which, I assure you, is not always the case. We got lucky that the books took off as they did; the odds on that were not great. We were lucky that no one of us got seriously or chronically ill, or that other family crises depleted savings. Athena is an only child; that’s not necessarily lucky, but it definitely was a factor when it came to paying for college. We only have to do this once.

All of which is to say that Athena will be getting out of college debt-free partly because we planned early but mostly because of factors that we had only some control over, and over which she had almost none. She didn’t choose her parents or her circumstances; she got what she got. And in this case, she got lucky.

That’s fine for her. But it’s not a very useful strategy for paying for college. “Get lucky picking your parents” should not be the determining factor for whether you leave college debt-free, leave with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, or can’t afford to go to college at all. Every single one of those circumstances can have a substantial effect on how the rest of one’s economic life will go — and how the economic life of how one’s children will go. There’s a reason why in the United States, home of the “American Dream,” it’s actually pretty difficult to move up the social ladder. Yes, I did it, but I also don’t pretend I didn’t get lucky — a lot — or that my path is easily repeatable. Take it from someone who is living the American Dream: It stays only a dream for most of those dreaming of it.

I’m proud that we can pay for our daughter’s college education. I’m also well aware how many things had to break our way to be at this point, which just as easily could have gone another way. It would be better to live in a world where luck, one way or another, is not a salient, determinative factor for whether one can afford college, or whether one can graduate from college without debt. In fact, that world does exist; just not here in the US. College tuition in most developed countries is substantially less than it is here, including being basically free in places like Germany and France. We could do that here, for state schools at least, if we decided we wanted to.

But we don’t. I know we have our reasons. I just don’t think those reasons are very good.


Profile

rosered32: (Default)
Sally Robinson

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
2122 2324252627
28293031   

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 20th, 2017 04:26 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios