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

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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 26, 2016

 
Fun Video by SketchShe for RedNoseDay

by Spocko


I’m a huge fan of Shae-Lee @ShaeLeeShack, Lana @LanaKington and Madison @madisonLloyd from the comedy group SketchShe.

They made this fun video last year for #RedNoseDay It’s them lipsyncing to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” across Luna Park in Sydney.

Red Nose Day is about helping lift children out of poverty. This video helped lift me out of gloominess. Watch it, it’s really fun.
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. rings opening bell for RedNoseDay Nasdaq: WBA
This year the sponsors had some fun. This is Skip Bourdo, Walgreens Corporate Operations Vice President [Nasdaq: WBA] and Christy Gibb of the Comic Relief Board of Trustees ringing the Opening Bell at Nasdaq. I wonder if this years’ Red Nose Day partners from Mars Chocolate North America brought any snacks?

I think it is great when companies do this, it’s one way of showing that they care about their customers and their communities–while having fun doing it.
I often focus on serious issues, but I believe that most people in companies are decent and want to do the right thing. Sometimes they just need an excuse and a way to do it.

People in businesses often make decisions because they think one method is the only profitable one, but if you can show them that doing the right things is just as profitable, if not more so, they will go with it.

For the last 10 years my friends and I have reminded thousands of businesses they don’t want to associate their brand with the hateful and cruel comments of right wing talk show hosts. Those businesses agreed.
The people running businesses probably won't thank us for giving them a reason to disassociate themselves from hate and nastiness, but we know. You are welcome. Now embrace the fun! It’s what the people want!

For another fun video I also recommend SketchShe’s Hammertime video

 
Moral monsters

by digby















I wrote the other day about the GOP congressional majority's unwillingness to appropriate the necessary funds to combat the Zika virus. I called them monsters because that's what they are.

Now we have the head of the CDC begging for money from private sources in order to try to stem the number of babies that are born with horrific birth defects:

Dr. Tom Frieden has dealt with a number of epidemics during his seven-year tenure as director of the Centers for Disease Control. But the rapidly spreading Zika virus, the terrifying birth defects it causes and Congress’ inexplicable foot-dragging on funding anti-Zika efforts has him feeling downright desperate.

“Imagine that you’re standing by and you see someone drowning, and you have the ability to stop them from drowning, but you can’t,” Frieden told a packed room of reporters and potential donors at the National Press Club on Thursday. “Now multiply that by 1,000 or 100,000. That’s what it feels like to know how to change the course of an epidemic and not be able to do it.”

Frieden displayed an unusual level of vulnerability for a public official on Thursday as he begged for more private sector donations and implored a divided Congress to move faster to combat the “extraordinary and unusually urgent” crisis.

“I’m often asked how I feel as CDC director,” he said. “In the heat of the moment, you’re mostly concerned about getting the job done.... but for me, when faced with emergencies like this, the greatest emotion has been frustration.”

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that can cause babies to be born with unusually small and deformed heads, is rapidly spreading through South and Central America and has already infected at least 1,500 people in the United States. Frieden said the need to stop Zika in its tracks in the U.S. is more urgent than ever right now, as the weather grows hotter and more mosquito-friendly. But the challenges of combatting Zika are enormous and unusual.

First, diagnosing Zika is difficult. Four out of five people affected display no symptoms and the virus only stays in a person’s blood or urine for one to two weeks. Second, the type of mosquito that transmits Zika is very difficult to control. Frieden said his researchers put a Zika-infected mosquito in a bottle coated with a strong insecticide, and the insect flew “happily” around the jar for hours.

“This is the cockroach of mosquitos,” he said. “It lives indoors and out, bites in the day and in the night. The eggs can last more than a year, and they can hatch in a drop of water.... When they take a blood meal, they’ll bite four or five people at once, so they’re capable of rapidly spreading infection.”

Frieden said the CDC needs funding to stop the epidemic in its tracks and protect pregnant women from becoming affected. The agency is trying to confront Zika in Puerto Rico, which because of its climate is particularly friendly to the mosquito, and to support women who choose not to get pregnant right now with effective modern contraceptives. The CDC also needs to develop retroactive tests so that pregnant women can discover whether they’ve been affected at any point in their gestation. But nearly four months after the CDC first asked for $1.9 billion in funding to deal with the epidemic, Congress just failed to pass a bill to give health officials the money they need and then left for a 10-day recess.

Frieden said his “jaw dropped” when he realized how long it would take Congress to move on the issue. “Three months in an epidemic is an eternity,” he said.

The cost for treating just one baby with microcephaly, the birth defect caused by Zika, is estimated to be about $10 million. More than 300 pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories are confirmed to have Zika. Democrats skewered their Republican colleagues Thursday for trying to be “fiscally responsible” during a public health emergency.

“We can nickel and dime this if we want, but we do so at our own peril,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

Frieden said Congress doesn’t have time to bicker over funding right now.

“Memorial Day weekend heralds the start of mosquito season,” he said. “We have a narrow window of opportunity to scale up Zika prevention measures, and that window is closing.”

It's a nightmare.

.


 
"You can believe me or you can believe your lyin' eyes --- or else"

by digby














Jonathan Chait has written one of those pieces that when you finish it you go "ahhh, now I get it."  It's really, really great and a truly important insight. He teases out the relationship between the two most important aspects of Trump's personality: his fundamental disregard for truth or even reality --- and his frightening authoritarianism. They are two sides of the same coin.

Chait writes about Trump's penchant for lying about everything and doing it with impunity on both the big stuff and the small stuff like this:
Where he has broken truly unique ground is in his lies about relatively small, routine matters. As I’ve pointed out before — it’s become a small personal fixation — after Mitt Romney mocked the failure of Trump Steaks, Trump held a press conference in which he insisted Trump Steaks remained a going concern, despite the undeniable fact that the business no longer exists. (His campaign displayed store-bought steaks for the media, not even bothering to fully remove the labels of the store at which they purchased them.) The New York Times actually reported this week that Trump had displayed his steaks, without mentioning the blatant deception. Another such example is Trump’s prior habit of impersonating an imaginary p.r. representative while speaking to reporters. Obviously, the practice itself is strange enough, but the truly Trumpian touch is that he admitted to the ruse publicly, and then subsequently went back to denying it.
He also notes that Trump routinely describes his critics in the crudest and most insulting ways and then immediately changes his tune when that person changes hie or her tube and comes groveling. He uses the example of Rick Perry who he once said should take an IQ test before being allowed to debate and now says is a "good guy, good governor" now that he's come crawling for  role in the party. This is related to the lying in a very specific way.

The question is why?  it's tempting to say he's just a pathological liar which he may very well be.  But what Chait observes is that it serves an important purpose:
Donald Trump is a wildly promiscuous liar. He also has disturbing authoritarian tendencies. Trump’s many critics have seized upon both traits as his two major disqualifications for the presidency, yet both of them frustratingly defy easy quantification. All politicians lie some, and many of them lie a lot, and most presidents also push the limits of their authority in ways that can frighten their opponents. So what is so uniquely dangerous about Trump? Perhaps the answer is that both of these qualities are, in a sense, the same thing. His contempt for objective truth is the rejection of democratic accountability, an implicit demand that his supporters place undying faith in him. Because the only measure of truth he accepts is what he claims at any given moment, the power his supporters vest in him is unlimited.
His followers believe that it doesn't matter what Trump says because they trust him. They don't want to know the details they just know he's going to "take care" of everything. He demonstrates every day that he is unaccountable and that's what they love about him. They know he's lying but every time he blows off the lie or changes his tune or simply says "you can believe me or you can believe your lying eyes" he's demonstrating his dominance. He is saying that the truth is what he says it is.

Chait quotes this chilling passage from "1984" (which he rightfully notes was about totalitarianism not authoritarianism, but operates in similar ways)
The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford were guilty of the crimes they were charged with. He had never seen the photograph that disproved their guilt. It had never existed, he had invented it. He remembered remembering contrary things, but those were false memories, products of self-deception.
He concludes:
Truth and reason are weapons of the powerless against the powerful. There is no external doctrine he can be measured against, not even conservative dogma, which he embraces or discards at will and with no recognition of having done so. Trump’s version of truth is multiple truths, the only consistent element of which is Trump himself is always, by definition, correct. Trump’s mind is so difficult to grapple with because it is an authoritarian epistemology that lies outside the democratic norms that have shaped all of our collective experiences.
The only consistent element of truth is Trump himself who is always, by definition, correct. That's what we're dealing with.  And I'm not sure that our fast paced highly partisan social media is capable of dealing with it.  Our mainstream media certainly isn't. Still desperate to prove they are not biased (and still having old axes to grind) they are flummoxed by the sui generis political figure and simply treat him as business as usual. (Earlier today I watched mark Halperin on MSNBC say that Trump's "energy policy" is going to be a defining feature of the fall campaign. I burst out laughing.)

Read the whole Chait piece. I don't do it justice here. It's a very important insight which I hope the press corps reads and thinks about. You never know.

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QOTD: The Prez

by digby
















When asked at the G7 about whether world leaders have said anything about the upcoming election:

“I think it’s fair to say that they are surprised by the Republican nominee. They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements, but they’re rattled by him, and for good reason. Because a lot of the proposals that he’s made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude or an interest in getting tweets and headlines instead of actually thinking through what it is that is required to keep America safe and secure and prosperous and what is required to keep the world on an even keel.”
“The United States, as I said before, is at the heart of the international order,” he said.
Even countries that didn’t like the U.S., he explained, knew that the world was in trouble if Americans were not providing stability in the world. 
“The world pays attention to U.S. elections. They pay more attention to our elections sometimes than we pay to theirs,” he said.
Trump's response?
"He's a president who has allowed many of these countries to totally take advantage of him --- and us."
And people keep assuring me that Trump is some kind of an isolationist or a peacenik because he lied and said he didn't support the Iraq war and has been on both sides of the Libya question. This macho moron is supposedly more likely to keep America out of wars even though he says every single day "I will ISIS so hard and so fast that they won't know what happened". And then he'll "take the oil" because they deserve it.

I have said it before, but the day after the election of Donald Trump to the most powerful job in the world, everything will change. This is not business as usual. The US will be seen by much of the planet as a rogue superpower with a madman at the helm.

But be my guest and chatter on about emails. It's not as if there's much at stake.

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Domination for Dummies

by digby

















I wrote about Trump's attacks on GOP Governor Susana Martinez for Salon this morning:

After the 2012 GOP "autopsy" which strongly recommended that the Republican party take immediate action to try to mend its bad reputation with Latinos and women lest it be shut out of the White House for decades,  one of the people mentioned most often by GOP strategists as a natural choice for the national ticket was New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. She was considered a rising star in Republican circles, a Latina who had been able to win in a blue state that went for Barack Obama twice. She had given a barn-burner of a speech at the 2012 convention and was widely assumed to be one of the new faces of the Republican party in an era of changing demographics.

That was then. Today, the GOP is the party of Donald Trump and we know he doesn't listen to political experts and believes that whatever thoughts pass through his head are nuggets of sheer genius not to be questioned by mere mortals. He could not care less about that "autopsy" result because he thinks Mitt Romney lost because he's a "choker" who could have won easily if he just had bigger cojones. (We all know Trump's must be yuuuuge.) He is sure that he will win the Hispanic community over to his side despite portraying them as criminals and promising a mass deportation of their relatives. There's no need to even discuss what he thinks of women. The fact that 70% of them are repulsed by him speaks for itself.

If we didn't know him better we might have assumed that he would be looking at a Latina Republican Governor like Martinez as someone who could help him unify the party. He might even have tried to seduce her into joining him on the ticket to help him with women and Hispanics, the two demographics who are most hostile to him. It would take quite a demonstration of that Trump charm people keep insisting he has underneath his otherwise loathsome personality because Martinez is a Trump skeptic. This is unsurprising since she represents a border state full of Latinos and has logically questioned his daft proposal for a wall. When he came to Albuquerque this week for one of his rallies she said she was too busy to attend.

The Donald was not amused. In front of the ecstatic Republican New Mexico crowd he said this about Martinez:
We have to get your governor to get going. She's got to do a better job, ok? Your Governor has got to do a better job. She's not doing the job.  Hey, maybe I'll run for Governor of New Mexico, I'll get this place going. She's not doing the job. We've got to get her moving. Come on, let's go Governor. 
He's obviously very annoyed that she failed to join him at the rally and he's lashing out as is his wont. It may be that the white members of that Trump rally (which would be 99% of them) heard that nasty criticism as being a natural way of describing a Latino politician. But you can bet any Latinos who heard that didn't miss the implicit slur.   He's basically calling her lazy which carries with it some very ugly racial stereotypes.

Trump also criticized Martinez for being weak and accepting Syrian refugees saying they are being "relocated in large numbers to New Mexico" and fatuously insisting "if I was governor, that wouldn’t be happening. They say the governors have no choice, but if I’m governor, I have a choice, believe me.” (There's that tyrannical streak again.)

And he compounded the insults to the Latino community when he tweeted about the protests outside the rally making quite sure that his followers knew the ethnic identities of the protesters and once again alluded to his belief that Mexicans are criminal:




But it would be a mistake to see this  as a simple expression of his bigotry, although it is that. Susana Martinez is not just another Trump critic. She's the head of the Republican Governor's association, a group that is very important for campaign organizing and fundraising. Normally, one would assume that the presumptive nominee would be very conscious of this and go out of his way to at least be cordial. Instead he attacked her professionally, which is unusual for him. He normally gets very personal and crude.  (For instance he's taken to calling Hillary Clinton "that lowlife".)

This seems to be yet another case of Trump asserting his dominance.  Insiders have said that he expected the party to fall in line immediately, much as the executives of a company would fall in line after a merger.  He does not believe he should have to cajole or persuade Republican office holders to endorse him and believes it's weak to try. He believes the only way to get what he wants it to do it by force.

Trump is even more cocksure and egotistical now that he's won the nomination. He regales his crowds with the glorious legend of the 2016 Primary every day on the stump.  He reminds everyone of the ups and downs of the campaign, reminiscing about each victory and how he vanquished all 17 rivals single-handedly taking them on one after the other. He believes that the key to his political success is that he purposefully destroys everyone who gets in his way. When he talks about "respect" this is what he means by it.

This insult to Susana Martinez was not just a matter of pique. It was also a shot across the bow at people like John Kasich whose support and organization he needs if he wants to compete in Ohio. And it was definitely a strong hint to Paul Ryan that he's losing patience with him for refusing to bless his candidacy (despite reports to the contrary)  until Trump meets his demands. The Donald doesn't hold with that sort of behavior. In fact, he'd undoubtedly like to tell Ryan "you're fired" and get on with it but he's been informed that he doesn't have the authority. So instead he's going around the country stomping his feet, beating his chest and making loud noises in an attempt to show his dominance to get him and the rest of the party establishment holdouts in line.  Sadly, there's an excellent chance he'll succeed.

It's too bad for the Republicans that they ended up with Trump at the top of the ticket instead of Susana Martinez. Her message might have given the party a foundation on which to build for the future.  This is from her 2012 convention speech:
Growing up, I never imagined a girl from a border town could one day become a governor. 
But this is America 
Y, en America todo es posible. 
My parents taught me to never give up and to always believe that my future could be whatever I dreamt it to be. 
Success, they taught me, is built on the foundation of courage, hard-work and individual responsibility. 
Despite what some would have us believe, success is not built on resentment and fears.
Donald Trump disagrees. As far as he's concerned success is built on resentment and fear. Of him.
 
Trumpie the clown

by digby














This is a very nice piece of Trump analysis by Lance Mannion.  An excerpt:

Trump is a clown by design and with purpose. He clowns to show he’s in on the joke and to make a joke of the whole process. He clowns to bait his opponents into making fools of themselves in response. He clowns to distract the media from what he’s really up to, knowing they’ll report on the success of the act and not what he’s actually saying. He clowns to show he’s not taking himself or the election or politics seriously, which is, of course, just what the media want to hear because it’s what they believe, that it’s not a serious business, that nothing important’s at stake, that all politicians who aren’t knaves are fools and most of them are both so there’s no need to waste time on the work necessary to understand policy, they can sit back and enjoy writing about how they’re enjoying the show.  He clowns to let his fans know that none of it matters, that it’s all fun and games, that he’s letting them in on the joke, that they’re right to be cynical and distrusting of the supposedly smart and successful people who run the show and make them feel like fools and suckers in the process, that’s he’s making those supposedly smart and successful people look like the real fools and suckers.

He clowns because he’s good at it and it works.

The history of American politics is rife with examples of successful politicians who clowned their way into and through office. Huey Long being a prime example. Prohibition-era Chicago mayor Big Bill Thompson being another. Thompson, about as corrupt as a corrupt pol can be, once staged a “debate” with a pair of caged rats he named after two of his political rivals. Even some good guys have been clowns or had a touch of the clown about them. Fiorello LaGuardia, for example. For that matter, FDR wasn’t above a bit of clowning when the mischief got in him and he felt the situation called for it. Bill Clinton could do it too. Politics is a performance art. Good leaders have to entertain and amuse as well as engage and inspire. Trump entertains and amuses as a means of engaging and inspiring by clowning. Of course, what he inspires is anger, resentment, envy, and hate. But that doesn’t change the fact that his clowning has been a key to his success.

His weakness isn’t that he’s a clown.

His weakness is he’s a self-infatuated clown.

He loves his own act. He can’t get enough of himself.  And he loves that other people love the act too. He loves the laughter and applause because they confirm him in his own high self-regard. So he can’t resist playing to his audience, repeating the same jokes and patter over and over in order to elicit the same laughter and applause. The only way he can bring himself to vary the act is by trying to top himself. He has to take things further and farther, piling up the laughs, getting the crowd roaring, bringing down the house.  But in the end all he’s doing is repeating the same tried and true shtick to an audience who’s already proved they can’t get enough of the same old same old.. And he’s happy with that. He’s glad to stop there. He doesn’t take the risks necessary to winning over new fans. All he dares do is try to make his current fans laugh longer and clap louder.

This means he’s limiting his appeal to people who are already committed to voting for him and to other Republicans who are coming around because, after all, that’s all he is in political reality---just another Republican.

Many people getting a kick out of how Elizabeth Warren’s been needling him on Twitter think she’s doing a good job of getting under his skin. I’m not so sure. And I’m not sure getting under his skin is the object. From what I’ve seen of their exchanges, I think what she’s been doing is goading him into repeating himself. He thinks he’s getting the better of her. His fans agree. They’re laughing and clapping and cheering and crying for more. And he’s giving it to them. He can’t help himself.

This means he can’t make the presidential pivot.

I agree about Warren. She's drawing fire. And other Democrats are starting to do the same thing.  It's risky but it just might work.

And I also agree that Trump cannot make the presidential pivot.The question is whether it really matters. Lance makes some excellent points about how the media prism affects this and I think he's right.

And he notes that voters, being human beings, will retreat to their partisan corners and the Republicans will learn to love the clown. They already are, as I noted in my piece below. If that's true it means he can win. And even if he doesn't it means that the Republican Party will never be the same. Trump is them and they are Trump --- clowns, lacking in all integrity, not to be take seriously on any ideological basis. And whether he wins or not we know for sure that they are willing to endorse open bigotry, torture, summary execution, mass deportation, banning religion, surveillance of minorities, greater police power and an unleashing of the military with no restraint whenever the nation is "disrespected."

This is good to know.

Be sure to read Lance's whole piece.  Excellent as usual.
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He may be a loathsome cretin but he's their loathsome cretin

by digby

This is an actual meme going around in wingnut circles





















Do you have any Trump voting friends? They know what he is. And apparently they don't care. What does that say about them?

Most of these hard fought elections really do come down to tribalism. I had a relative tell me once that asking her to vote for a Democrat would be like rubbing the cat's fur backwards. And I get that. It's uncomfortable to even consider voting for a member of the other team.

But this is Trump. He's not normal. There's never been anyone like him and he's simply unfit for the presidency in every way and most of them know it.  As a citizen you have a responsibility to look beyond this tribalism when Hitler's on the ballot and recognize that something more important is at stake. And these Republican voters aren't doing it. It's telling.

.
 

This might actually be fun

by Tom Sullivan

“Donald Trump cares about exactly one thing: Donald Trump," Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, opening up with both barrels in a speech on Tuesday:

“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap,” Warren said at a Washington, D.C. gala for the Center for Popular Democracy Tuesday night.

“What kind of a man does that?” an incredulous Warren asked. “Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions? Root for two little girls in Clark County, Nevada, to end up living in a van?”

“What kind of a man does that?”

“I’ll tell you exactly what kind,” Warren continued. “A man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure money-grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will never be president of the United States.”
After taking Trump to the woodshed for being who he is, Warren took him to task for what he doesn't do: pay taxes. Trump last revealed his taxes in 1981. He told George Stephanopolis:
I try very hard to pay as little tax as possible and have said that for the last two years. I fight very hard because this country wastes our money. They take our tax money and throw it down the drain.... So I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible.
Trump has yet to release his taxes this year, the first presidential candidate in 40 years not to, Warren said. As the Washington Post, reported:
The last time information from Donald Trump’s income-tax returns was made public, the bottom line was striking: He had paid the federal government $0 in income taxes.
Warren continued,
But we know one thing: the last time his taxes were made public, Donald Trump paid nothing. Zero. Zero taxes before, and for all we know, he’s paying zero taxes today. And he’s proud of it. Two weeks ago he said he’s more than happy to dodge taxes....
Like so many other Republican politicians, this man who fights hard not to support this country wants Americans to put him in charge of governing it. Chutzpah is too small a word to describe this Man without a Conscience.




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

 
Trump's GOP

by digby


















No need for civility anywhere:

As a junior ranking senator, [Arkansas senator Tom] Cotton spends lots of his time presiding over the Senate. And, as a result, a lot of time listening to Reid. And on Wednesday, Cotton had enough of it, leaping to the defense of Sen. John McCain after Reid bashed the GOP for rushing through a massive defense bill.


"I'm forced to listen to the bitter, vulgar, incoherent ramblings of the minority leader. Normally like other Americans I ignore them, I can't ignore them today," Cotton said of Reid's complaints. "When was the last time the minority leader read a bill? It was probably an electricity bill."

Then responding to Reid's protestations over the Senate GOP's schedule, which appears headed toward working the least days in session in 60 years, Cotton said there is a silver lining.

"Whatever you think about that, the happy by-product of fewer days in session in the Senate is that this institution will be cursed less with his cancerous leadership," Cotton said.

Reid then came on the floor, mostly to engage with McCain on a back-and-forth over the proper procedure of handling the big defense policy bill. But he did fire a shot at Cotton, the youngest senator who has served for a year and a half in the chamber.

"I think it would distract from what we're doing here today to go into the statements by the very junior senator from Arkansas," Reid said.

There is obviously no love lost between these two.

I still think Tom Cotton looks eerily like this guy:





 
Back to the future, Whitewater edition

by digby



Picture removed. My apologies for using it.




















So, one of Trumps press people screwed the pooch and sent a request to the RNC for some juicy dirt on Whitewater to a member of the press. Apparently, Trump was too busy trying to curry favor at the time to follow the details. Anyway, as it happens, the Whitewater Javert, Ken Star is also in the news this week, having been revealed to have covered up a sex scandal and to have seemingly changed his mind about the person whose presidency he relentless tried to destroy. Get out you Alanis CDs and find yourself some Seinfeld re-runs because we're gonna do the 90s Time Warp.

Michael Tomasky has helpfully written a primer on Starr and Whitewater with all the good stuff you need to know in case you were in diapers during the period or have made the intelligent decision to  erase the idiotic details from your mind. An excerpt:
Ken Starr isn’t exactly in Bill Cosby territory, but with the revelation that he’s apparently being canned from the presidency of Baylor University for ignoring charges of sexual misconduct by football players, he has made himself into one of the most exquisite hypocrites of our age. (I should note that the university, responding to reports Tuesday of Starr’s impending dismissal, refused to confirm the news, although it didn’t deny it either.)

Here is morality according to Starr, who by the way is (of course) a great Christian. It’s appropriate to expose sexual misconduct (wrong, but consensual) when it gives you a shot at bringing down a president you loathe and creating a constitutional crisis over a few blow jobs. But when sexual misconduct risks messing with the football team, well by God, you brush it under the rug! You’re in Texas, boy.

A lot of you reading this may be too young to remember what I’m even talking about, and many of you who were around forget the appalling details. You may have seen the other day that Starr had some kind words for Bill Clinton, to which we’ll return. But don’t be deceived, and whatever you do, don’t go soft on Starr. He’s one of the monumental sleazeballs of our era.

Some innuendo-rich reporting in the Times and elsewhere during the 1992 campaign suggested that both Clintons may have behaved inappropriately with regard to a land investment known as Whitewater. They did not, as time would prove, but the right pushed the story hard, and the mainstream press sensed that surely something happened, because this was how things had to have worked in a hayseed state. By 1994, President Clinton, succumbing to external and some internal pressure, agreed to appoint a special prosecutor to delve into the facts.

Attorney General Janet Reno appointed a Republican named Robert Fiske. Fiske was finding no evidence of wrongdoing and was about to say so. Then, a twist of fate: It so happened that the special prosecutor law was coming up for renewal. Clinton considered it bad law (as did Antonin Scalia) and didn’t want to sign, but he knew it would look suspicious, so he signed. His renewal of the law had a crucial consequence: It transferred oversight of the special prosecutor from the Justice Department to the D.C. Court of Appeals, and specifically to a three-judge panel thereof. This panel consisted of two arch conservatives. Immediately, the panel fired Fiske on flimsy, trumped-up conflict-of-interest grounds, and appointed Starr.

Starr at that point enjoyed a grand reputation in Washington. He’d been a judge and Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, and he and his wife glided through the social circuit with apparent grace. But he had well concealed the partisan knife that he now began to unsheathe.

To make a really long story really short, he turned up nothing on Whitewater. He spent three years subpoenaing everyone he could think of, squeezing witnesses; he jailed a woman, Susan McDougal, for nearly two years, trying to get her to lie about Clinton, keeping her for a time in solitary confinement, even in a PlexiGlas cell, on display like an animal. The ACLU of Southern California called her treatment “barbaric.” But he had nothing. He even quit the gig in 1997, because he knew he had nothing, but The Wall Street Journal editorial page and Times columnist and GOP propagandist Bill Safire hounded him back into the job.

Meanwhile in 1997, Monica Lewinsky met Linda Tripp, who, at the suggestion of conservative provocateur Lucianne Goldberg, started secretly taping Lewinsky’s discussions of her and Bill’s liaisons. Also, Paula Jones, who had a sexual harassment suit going against Clinton, fired her regular lawyers and hired very political, right-wing counsel. Goldberg got word to these lawyers that she had information that might be useful to them, so they connected, and in short order, in late 1997, a connection was made to Starr’s office.

Jackpot! He had nothing on Whitewater, but now here was evidence of a presidential affair. And, in his fevered dreams, maybe obstruction of justice to boot, he hinted to the Justice Department (with no hard evidence). And so the Lewinsky story broke in January 1998, and Starr possessed the power to bring down a president. 
Clinton’s behavior, both the act and the lying about it, was of course indefensible. But funny thing—the public was far more repulsed by Javert than Valjean. In March 1998, just two months after the scandal broke, Clinton’s approval ratings were pushing 70, while Starr was at 11 percent. That September, Starr released his famous report, a 445-page doorstopper that went into completely unnecessary detail—the word “sex” or a variant thereof was used 581 times, the word “Whitewater” just four times.

His conduct was reprehensible. He put dozens of totally innocent aides through legal hell. His office illegally leaked grand jury material left and right to friendly reporters. He lied repeatedly and publicly about Madison Guaranty, Susan McDougal and her ex-husband’s bank. And he wrapped himself in a cloak of self-righteousness the entire time, and the media, which had turned into a mob, was almost wholly on his side.

And now he comes to praise Clinton? Please. No thanks, says longtime Clinton aide Betsey Wright ...

That's the character assassination machine that tarred both Bill and Hillary Clinton as "dishonest" and "untrustworthy." Great work by the wingnuts. They are justifiably proud. The only problem is that they keep stepping on their own feet and the Clintons survive and go on because a majority of the American people see through this nonsense.  This drives them crazy. 

Read on, there's lots more. Starr is one of America's most notorious villains whose name should forever be synonymous with out-of-control political witch hunts right up there with Joseph McCarthy.

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Portland Police Chief Shoots Friend In Back, Calls It 'Self Inflicted.' Is Placed On Leave

by Spocko

On a hunting trip April 21, Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea shot his friend in the back, then suggested that the wounded man accidentally shot himself.
Portland police chief misled investigator about hunting accident, sheriff says
Larry O'Dea, pictured at the Police Bureau 
in October when Mayor Charlie Hales announced
he had selected O'Dea to succeed retiring 
Chief Mike Reese. Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea On Leave Amid Probe He Covered Up Shooting NBC News May 25 2016, 10:15 AM ET

Wow. That's some serious hubris. O'Dea thought that the police would back him up when he said the gun shot wound in the guy's back was "self inflicted." Who did he think he was, Dick Cheney?

Too bad O'Dea didn't have a friend like Harry Whittington. After Cheney shot him in the face Whittington apologized. I still remember thinking what an amazing display of power that was.
"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than we have had to deal with this week. We hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves."
   -- Whittington apologizing for getting in the way of Cheney's        shotgun pellets. YouTube 
Not everyone can get away with this level of blame acceptance. At least Whittington had knowingly put himself in that situation, but what of tens of thousands of people who were injured by gun accidents who don't?

What if they were just minding their business in a store when an incompetent guy with a gun accidently shot them?

When there is a gun accident the gun lovers want people to say,
"Well, he was carrying the gun legally. He must have training in gun safety before the state would have allowed him to carry a gun, right? Plus, the store gave them permission to bring the gun in the business. If they didn't want to have "good guys with guns" in the store they would have said something, right? Put up a sign, right? 
I mean nobody would let incompetent people with guns into their business, unless they trusted them, or the state certified their worthiness to carry a gun, right? He didn't intend to shoot anyone, so he's not a bad guy. I guess there is no one to blame for an honest gun accident."
This is the logic customers are using now if they go into stores that allow guns. This is illogical and dangerous.

The first mistake people make is believing the gun lovers when they lie about how much safer people are with guns as "protection."

You know what will protect you from a gun shot? A bullet proof vest, a ballistic helmet and body armor. The guns everywhere crowd want the gun for its retaliatory features.  You don't hear guys bragging about their COOLMAX® Bullet & Stab Proof Vest.

At $210 you could buy two for the price
of one Glock.  

When long time professionals trained in guns and gun safety have accidents, what does that mean for the people who aren't trained? This week West Virginia removed any requirements for people carrying concealed weapons to get a permit or training. I'm sure that they will take this responsibility seriously...yeah right.
When people without training have an "accident" that is really negligence, that incident needs to be pushed in the faces of the people who got rid of training and certification. Each toddler death, each dropped gun in a store needs to be tweeted at the legislators. 

Some of the, "I gotta have my gun with me everywhere" people are going to screw up. If we are lucky they will only hurt themselves, but we aren't always lucky. So far this year 951 haven't been

I wouldn't choose to go hunting with these people, so I sure as hell wouldn't choose to go shopping with them. It's not the "bad guys with guns" I'm afraid of, it's the incompetent guys with a guns.

No businesses should take their word for their competence either. Hell, the one thing these businesses could point to was the line, "Well, they had a permit." They were hoping that it meant some level of competence. Now even that is gone.

Why should I trust untrained, uncertified people roaming the aisles with deadly weapons? We get understandably pissed off over mass shootings. They make the national news. We should also get pissed off over multiple gun accidents every single day.

I see 3-5 every day and those are just the ones that make the news. Link to Gun Violence Archive West Virginia incidents the last two years.

 I'm tired of people, especially police, making excuses for negligent behavior when it comes to storing, handling and transporting weapons. Maybe they are thinking "There but for the grace of God go I." since they know more stories like Chief O'Dea's.

 No, police chief Tyler Brewer, it's not a “knucklehead situation” when a 37 year old man playing with the gun in his sock shoots someone during graduation ceremonies at Augusta High School in Kansas. (BTW, Kansas is another state where no concealed carry permit is required.)

If states are changing laws to make what was illegal, legal so there is no criminal case following someone's gun negligence, then we need to make it a civil case.
Of course the NRA is already preparing for this. They just convinced the Tennessee legislation to make the public universities immune from any liability now that teachers can carry guns on campus. And they didn't require the teachers to have any training or extra insurance. The Tennessee NRA people aren't stupid, but the legislators who believed there wouldn't be any problem with guns on campus are.
What is also astonishing to me is that these "no permit, no training" changes were passed against the wishes of the majority of the people in the state. More guns in the hands of more people with no training and no certification is a bad idea. 

Laws can be changed that make negligence an "accident" so no criminal charges are filed. But criminal law isn't the only area to look at. When all those untrained, unlicensed "responsible" gun owners screw up it's time to make them pay up.

 Maybe start with the Oregon police chief. Do you know how much the helicopter ride from the remote town of Fields, Oregon to Boise Idaho's hospital to help his injured buddy was? Between $35,000 and $55,000. Do you think that is going to come out of his $153,605 yearly salary?




 
About the hair

by digby
















Normally I wouldn't stoop to writing about someone's hair, but in the case of Donald Trump it seems worth doing simply because he's so cruel about everyone else's looks and thinks he's some kind of adonis.  This piece of investigative journalism about Trump's weave is very impressive. In fact, if I had to guess, the man who appears to keep it up for him --- a con artist --- may very well be the "Muslim friend" he's always talking about who allegedly tells him how right-on all his Muslim bashing is.

Anyway, it will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Trump's weird hair but there is some relevance to bringing it up in that one of the most disturbing, violent stories about Trump came out during his divorce from his first wife Ivana. And it had to do with his hair:
After a painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot, Donald Trump confronted his then-wife, who had previously used the same plastic surgeon.

“Your fucking doctor has ruined me!” Trump cried.

What followed was a “violent assault,” according to Lost Tycoon. Donald held back Ivana’s arms and began to pull out fistfuls of hair from her scalp, as if to mirror the pain he felt from his own operation. He tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants.

“Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months. Ivana is terrified… It is a violent assault,” Hurt writes. “According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, ‘he raped me.’”

Following the incident, Ivana ran upstairs, hid behind a locked door, and remained there “crying for the rest of night.” When she returned to the master bedroom in the morning, he was there. 
“As she looks in horror at the ripped-out hair scattered all over the bed, he glares at her and asks with menacing casualness: ‘Does it hurt?’” Hurt writes.

Donald Trump has previously denied the allegation. In the book, he denies having had the scalp reduction surgery.

“It’s obviously false,” Donald Trump said of the accusation in 1993, according to Newsday. “It’s incorrect and done by a guy without much talent… He is a guy that is an unattractive guy who is a vindictive and jealous person.”
She later said it was just a marital spat and that she never really considered it to be rape, but she never said the incident didn't happen or that Trump wasn't enraged over his baldness.

The man has so many issues it's hard to keep track of them.


Also, this:




 
She needs to answer for his pants

by digby
















John Amato helpfully caught this doozy from yesterday:





Most of the media hasn't indulged Donald Trump's use of Bill Clinton's behavior, but it only takes one, and yesterday on MTP Daily, Chuck Todd took the bait when he asked HRC's spokesman Brian Fallon this lame question:

"Do you feel as if Hillary Clinton needs to respond to at least explain why she forgave her husband?"

Like me, many people were dumbfounded by this question, because it validates Trump's use of lies, nonsense and conspiracy theories, in his attempt to discredit his opponents.

Fallon's response was correct, but Todd didn't let go of Trump's line of questioning.

"Chuck, I think that the country remembers these issues from two decades ago. They recognize these issues as having been litigated and fully aired then."

TODD: So, she doesn't believe (INAUDIBLE)...

FALLON: ... She's written two autobiographies in the years since then. She's given numerous sit-down interviews where she's talked about that, dating back to 2003. She was asked about it by -- in 2000 Senate debates. She's answered that question multi...

TODD: ... Do you feel as if she owes no more explanation, period?

FALLON: Again, I don't think that the public is clamoring for this issue to be re-litigated, that's why I think it's a failed strategy on Donald Trump's part.

But as you can see from Chuck's insistence, Cokie's Law had been activated by the Meet The Press host, and Trump has been rewarded for his despicable behavior.

I saw that exchange yesterday and tweeted it. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

But it's par for the course. Clinton has been asked to answer for her husband's personal behavior for years, as if it says something about her.

I'm sure they'll keep asking though. They can't quit the sex stuff. It hasn't benefited Republicans in the past but who knows, maybe voters today will be shocked by Bill Clinton's sex life --- and will be moved to vote for the pious, morally upright Donald Trump instead.

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Trump's intimidation strategy

by digby


















I wrote about why he's partying like it's 1999 right now for Salon this morning:

Throughout the GOP primary people have been shocked at the cretinous behavior of Donald Trump. From the very beginning when he claimed Mexico was sending rapists over the border to saying Megyn Kelly was bleeding "from wherever" to talking about the size of his penis on national television to calling Ted Cruz a pussy and accusing his father of being in on the JFK assassination it's been clear that he has no limits. And yet, for some reason, the media is shocked each time he proves it again.  This week was no exception. Yesterday all anyone could talk about was the audacity of his latest atrocious comments to the Washington Post's Robert Costa:

One issue on Trump’s radar is the 1993 death of [former Clinton administration official Vince] Foster, which has been ruled a suicide by law enforcement officials and a subsequent federal investigation. But some voices on the far right have long argued that the Clintons may have been involved in a conspiracy that led to Foster’s death.


When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail.He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.”

“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.” He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

He doesn't think it's fair. And he's only repeating that he's heard the former president and his wife, the probable presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, are murderers. He's just sayin'.

For the record, this case was investigated by the police, several congressional committees one of which famously staged a shooting of a watermelon in the backyard of the committee chairman as some sort of homemade forensic experiment. It was investigated by two independent prosecutors with unlimited funds and mandates and they were all forced to admit the obvious --- that Vince Foster had committed suicide. And he committed suicide because he was depressed about being hounded night and day by the Republicans who acted like rabid dogs from the moment Clinton was inaugurated. The endless disgusting airing of the issue was extremely painful for the Foster family as one might imagine.

None of that ever quelled the gossip in the dank waters of the fetid right wing fever swamps where it mixed with a toxic brew of purported drug running, numerous murders and assasinations, sexual perversity, love children and anything else that emerged from the gothic imaginations of small town Arkansas and found its way to the nation's gullible press corps.  Many rightwingers still believe it was all true, every last bit of it and they're never going to admit otherwise. To the media it was a tabloid bonanza and ratings gold --- just like Donald Trump.

It's been clear that Trump was going to dredge up all this stuff for months so nobody should have been surprised. His close associate, the professional character assassin Roger Stone has said so openly, frequently appearing on Alex Jones's conspiracy program announcing that Trump himself was paying some of the women from the old days to hit the circuit once again and tell the stories that have also been thoroughly investigated and ultimately discredited. And he's written a fictional scandal primer, especially for the campaign, called "The Clintons' War on Women" which is serving as Trump's main source of dirt and slime.

But it's fair to ask why he would decide so early in the general election campaign to lob something as incendiary as a murder charge. One might have assumed that he would start more slowly and build up to it. I think there are a couple of reasons for his doing it now. Trump is a gut player but when it comes to the tactics of mud-slinging there is good reason to believe that he thinks it through.

Right now his most important task is to consolidate the Republicans, and in particular bring the conservative movement types into his camp. The polls show that the voters are falling in line but he needs talk radio and Fox and the movement groups like the Tea Party to be enthusiastic and the best way to do that is to viciously attack their common enemy. He's also now in the fundraising business and he has a good feel for what will work to get the folks all riled up. They love the Mexican and Muslim hate, but there's nothing like a good old fashioned Clinton bashing to get their blood up.

Needless to say, this is also an effort to nullify his own myriad weaknesses.  He likes to say that he's a counter-puncher but it's not precisely correct.  He hits his rival not only when they take a shot at him but when the press takes a shot at him. It's his way of deflecting the attention away from his vulnerabilities to what he sees as his strength --- his willingness to bludgeon his enemies.

But these are not the main reason he's hitting now and hitting hard with on of the ugliest accusations from back in the day. It's about intimidation. And we know this because the has telegraphed his intentions for some time, going all the way back to December when he tweeted at Clinton to "BE CAREFUL" and shortly thereafter went after Bill Clinton for being an "abuser" and Hillary Clinton for being an "enabler".  He has bragged on the stump ever since that this one-two punch "gave them a very bad week-end" and seems to think it scared Bill Clinton off the campaign trail.

Now that he's vanquished all of his Republican rivals after having used similarly degrading comments, he is convinced that this is the key to his success and believes he wins through sheer dominance, looming over his rivals with his big hair and his big hands and his big brass ego. (And don't kid yourself, that's exactly how he plans to "make America great again" around the world as well --- through belligerence and bullying.)

This is primitive stuff. And Trump isn't the first one to use this cheap ploy. Read any Maureen Dowd column for the last 20 years to see how simple stereotypes have been used to portray Democratic men as effete and feminine leaders compared to the macho swashbucklers on the right. From poor Mike Dukakis in a tank to John Kerry's flaccid flip-flopping to Barack "Obambi" these tired tropes have been deployed in election after election.

But doing this with an actual woman as the nominee is tricky requiring something a little bit more complicated than the typical bully behavior.  He first has to justify his attacks by portraying her as an archetypal evil woman -- a conniving, manipulative harpy who stood by her husband for professional reasons but brutally punished the women he pursued. (There is zero evidence for this but it makes dramatic story.) But once he establishes that narrative he then has to subjugate her with ruthless efficiency by attacking her for her husband's failings and rendering her mute with audaciously inappropriate gendered insults. The point is to make her look powerless and weak. He wants to attack her repeatedly and with such force that we feel ill and just want it to end.  That's how he wins.

It's going to be an ugly six months, uglier than anything we've seen in politics for a long time --- perhaps ever. One cannot help but marvel that our country is about to nominate the first woman on a major party ticket in its long history and it has produced the most boorish, retrograde openly misogynist man it could find to oppose her. What does that say about our our culture and our country? Nothing very edifying that's for sure.

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