Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever.

(Previous thread)


  1. says

    Politico – “Obama’s team lines up to defend Andrew McCabe in court”:

    A cavalcade of Obama-era national security leaders have committed to testify on behalf of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should he face trial over allegations that he misled officials about leaks to the media.

    The lineup, detailed in a memo that McCabe’s legal team submitted to the Justice Department last month, includes past heads of the DOJ, CIA and the country’s entire intelligence apparatus. McCabe’s ex-boss, however — former FBI Director James Comey — has said he could be a witness against him, based on testimony Comey gave to an internal watchdog that appeared to contradict McCabe’s version of events.

    If McCabe ultimately does face charges, he’ll have some big names lined up as character witnesses. The high-ranking ex-officials who have committed to defending him include former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former national security adviser Susan Rice.

    Mary McCord, a career DOJ attorney who oversaw the government’s Russia probe as acting head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, and David Cohen, the No. 2 at the CIA from 2015 to 2017, are also lined up to speak on McCabe’s behalf.

    …McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich sent a letter last Thursday to U.S. Attorney Jesse Liu — whose Washington, D.C., office has been handling the case — asking about “rumors” that the jurors had declined to prosecute McCabe over the alleged media leak.

    Bromwich argued that if that were the case, “the justice manual compels you not to resubmit the case to the same or a different grand jury.”

    It’s also still unclear what specific charges prosecutors have recommended be brought against McCabe….

  2. says

    SecDef Mark Esper: “The United States military, with our interagency team, is working with our partners to address this unprecedented attack and defend the international rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran.”

    Yes, their commitment to the international rules-based order is legendary.

  3. says

    From today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog:

    Boris Johnson is guilty of “dealing in fiction”, not in facts, the SNP’s Westminster leader claims. Ian Blackford challenged the prime minister to publish any serious proposals he had put forward in the attempt to secure a new Brexit deal.

    In barely 24 hours, Boris Johnson has gone from being the Incredible Hulk to the Incredible Sulk. It is a humiliating indictment of Boris Johnson’s leadership that he turned on his heel and scurried away rather than face questions today.

    The empty podium beside Luxembourg’s PM was a damning symbol of this Tory government’s incompetence and lack of vision when it comes to Brexit, which is their only policy. This is a government in headlong retreat and on its last legs.

    The meeting between Boris Johnson and EU President Juncker has confirmed that the UK government has failed to bring forward a single proposal to end the Brexit mess. Boris Johnson must stop dealing in fiction and start addressing the facts.

    Last month, Angela Merkel gave Boris Johnson 30 days to bring forward meaningful and workable plans. We are 25 days in and, instead, not a single proposal has come forward and, instead, we have witnessed an unelected Tory leader shutting down parliament, purging his party and losing every single parliamentary vote.

    The prime minister cannot continue to bluff his way around Europe. If he has proposals he should publish them now.

    With a general election looming, the SNP will be putting Scotland’s opposition to Brexit and our right to choose our own future as an independent country at the heart of that contest.

    Scotland’s voice has been completely ignored throughout this Brexit process and it’s clear that the people of Scotland deserve the choice of a better future than the Brexit chaos being imposed on us by a broken and bleak Westminster system.

  4. says


    Leader of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh in final election appeal: “I turn now to Israel’s Jewish citizens: friends, our interests are shared. The interests of 90% of Jews, of 90% of Arabs is to live in peace; to live in democracy, with social justice and equality.

    “But it’s not just interests; it’s our values that we need to live by. This time, I want to talk to you about another direction. A direction of solidarity; of identification. Who better than the Jews can understand what it is to live as a minority–to be a persecuted minority?

    We — Arab citizens of Israel — are suffering from unrestrained incitement of the prime minister @netanyahu — and from a bold-faced lie: whether it’s Arabs ‘flocking to the polls in droves,’ or ‘Arabs are stealing our elections’ of last week;

    or ‘Arabs want to annihilate us’ of 3 days ago, we have gone from a persecuted minority in this country–to an endangered minority.”

    In short: it’s not Arabs against Jews. It’s Jews and Arabs together.

  5. blf says

    John Crace snarks in the Grauniad, Incredible Sulk morphs from green to yellow as he is bested by Bettel:

    Exit the Incredible Sulk. It was bad enough getting owned on Twitter by the actor who played the Incredible Hulk — comparing yourself to a comic book hero with anger management issues was always asking for trouble […]

    But Boris Johnson’s day just got a whole lot worse when he was completely owned by about 50 unthreatening protesters — this was Luxembourg, where crime waves are measured in the number of people not paying parking fines — and Xavier Bettel, the country’s prime minister.

    Faced with a handful of people shouting: “We don’t like you very much,” Johnson imploded under the weight of his own narcissism. The Incredible Bulk morphed from green to yellow and fled sobbing indoors. He’d been in some tricky situations before where the future of the world had been at risk from super-soldiers powered by gamma radiation. But nothing as dangerous as this.

    He begged Bettel to move their joint press conference somewhere less noisy. Preferably somewhere no one would ask him any difficult questions. Bettel demurred. The lecterns were set up, the journalists were in place and he’d go ahead without him. Johnson was about to be humiliated by the second smallest country in the EU. […]

    To be fair, the Luxembourg trip had already turned sour in the lunchtime showdown with his arch-enemy, Jean-Claude “Thanos” Juncker. Thanos had tried to trick him into revealing his top secret Brexit plan. He’d even asked him to put it down in writing. In writing! What kind of fool did Thanos take him for? He might be green, but he wasn’t that green. So instead, the Bulk had palmed him off with some pifflepafflewifflewaffle. If he didn’t know what he was talking about then there was no way Thanos would.

    It had been near mortal combat. The Bulk could tell he had landed some crushing blows by the disdain and irritation with which Thanos had described their meeting as almost entirely pointless because no new proposals had been put forward. And the killer blow had been the Bulk’s own statement saying he was aware time was running out and that the negotiators would soon be meeting on a daily basis.

    Soon — there was no rush. He might be on day 26 of the 30 in which he had promised his other nemesis, Angela “the Leader” Merkel, an alternative to the Northern Ireland backstop, but his superpowers meant he wasn’t constrained by the quantum physics of the space-time continuum.

    But even the Bulk had to admit he had been wrongfooted by Xavier “the Abomination” Bettel. No one could have expected a villain of the Abomination’s tiny stature to face down a few people — some even wearing sandals — waving placards that read: “Bog Off Boris” and shouting nasty things such as: “Go home liar.” Rather than cowering under a table — discretion was sometimes the better part of valour even for a superhero — the Abomination had taken his life in his hands and gone outside to talk to the media.

    The Abomination had begun in measured terms, sounding reasonable as he gestured to where Boris should have been. The Bulk had become the Sulk and been “empty-lecterned” on the world stage. He’d never live it down at the next Marvel Comics reunion. Then the Abomination began to turn really nasty as his exasperation channeled Brenda from Bristol. AKA Galactus. The Abomination had had enough. He was at his wits’ end. He was sick to death of the Sulk getting all worked up, going green and splitting his suits.

    Hell, no one had ever expected the Sulk to keep to his diet and if he lost his temper and spilled the odd glass of wine then that was his own business. But what the Abomination couldn’t stand any more was the Sulk’s bullshit. Boris was the superhero without any superpowers. […] Someone so delusional, he actually imagined that people believed he had a workable Brexit plan.

    So this was the Abomination’s moment to break the politician’s code. To quit the pretence and tell the truth. The Sulk was a charlatan. An imposter who had never really believed in Brexit anyway. The Joker whose music-hall act had long since stopped being funny. Brexit was an unmitigated disaster for everyone and the Sulk was wilfully playing with people’s futures to prolong his career. No one trusted him and when the shit hit the fan, the Sulk would have no one to blame but himself.

    The Abomination looked like he had plenty more to say, but one of his minders dragged him away. The world looked on in amazement. No one had ever seen the Sulk humiliated in this way before. And what had been seen could never be unseen. […]

    Also, Ben Jennings on Brexit and Boris Johnson’s claim of huge progress (cartoon).

  6. says

    Meanwhile in Russia… There was an explosion at a research center which stores one of the world’s largest collections of viruses including small pox & ebola. All glass in the building was shattered per RFE/RL, but Russian gov’t says no biohazards released.”

    So…biohazards released, then.

  7. says

    Republicans in action:

    This is incredible:

    1. North Carolina GOP Sen. Alexander walks into the redistricting room and discovers that his district has been made competitive.
    2. He quietly slices up the district to cut out Democratic voters.
    3. He gets caught.
    4. He announces his retirement.

  8. says

    Correction to #1 above: “UPDATE: McCabe’s spokesperson now says Brennan, Rice, Holder won’t be testifying as character witnesses for him after all, despite calling the full witness list (below) ‘accurate’ just a few hours ago.”

  9. says

    As the war drums beat, I can only hope and pray that the US media is able to not just uncritically report & relay, but also challenge, the claims coming from within this (serially dishonest) administration & (Iraq-war-tainted) US intel community. But I’m not holding my breath.”

    Oh, they’re not. Andrea Mitchell was almost hyperventilating talking about the “egregious” “attack on the world oil supply” in which no one was killed, when they’ve said barely a word about the human catastrophe that is the war in Yemen.

  10. says

    More re reports posted in the previous iteration – Guardian – “Canada: arrest of ex-head of intelligence shocks experts and alarms allies”:

    Canada and its allies are scrambling to assess the damage inflicted by what experts believe could be the largest security breach in the country’s history after a senior federal intelligence official was arrested on charges of stealing covert information.

    Following a lengthy investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted police, Cameron Ortis – the leader of the police force’s own intelligence unit – was charged on Friday with leaking or offering to share covert information.

    On Monday, the RCMP commissioner, Brenda Lucki, acknowledged that Ortis, 47, had access to intelligence from both domestic and international allies.

    Lucki did not say which foreign organizations may have been exposed by Ortis, but Canada – alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia – is part of an intelligence-sharing alliance known as the Five Eyes, in which certain investigations have a large degree of overlap between countries.

    “We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada,” Lucki said in a statement.

    Security experts said that case could have a profound impact on Canada’s relationship with its allies.

    Officials in other countries are probably “tremendously concerned” about the safety and integrity of their own investigations, said Stephanie Carvin, a professor of international affairs at Carleton University and former national security analyst for the federal government.

    “If [Ortis] has been successful [in sharing information], the damage could be unprecedented in Canadian history,” she said. “But we don’t know yet. And that’s the thing that’s keeping a lot of people on edge: we know it could be bad. But how bad is it?”…

  11. says

    NEW: President Trump has directed former top aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn not to appear to testify before Congress tomorrow. Here’s the letter from WH Counsel Pat Cipollone to Chairman Nadler…”

  12. says

    Give every woman in #unbelievablenetflix an Emmy.

    Every. single. one.”

    Endorse. I highly recommend Unbelievable, and the acting is phenomenal. [So strange – after recently reading Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution, which I loved, I finished his The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and had the same complaint about both: that women were featured rarely and from the perspective of men (characters or narrators). I noticed Chabon’s wife, Ayelet Waldman, is a novelist, and actually was thinking it would possibly be great if they collaborated. And they co-created this (along with screenwriter and director Susannah Grant)!] (Warning: the first episode especially is emotionally wrenching. I don’t think I’ve ever offered a trigger warning, but I will in this case.)

  13. says

    At Iraq parliament:
    Security guard: Sorry sir, those are the rules- no cowboy.
    Iraqi journalist: I can’t come in because of cowboy?
    Guard: No cowboy.
    Journalist gets on phone: I won’t be able to get in because no cowboy.
    Me: Cowboy?
    Guard: Jeans! No cowboy allowed here! #nocowboy”

  14. says

    From the G liveblog:

    Pannick quotes from this blog by Prof Mark Elliott, professor of public law the the University of Cambridge. He only quotes briefly from what it says – the judges have the whole thing in their bundle – but here is a passage summarising Elliott’s argument.

    Far from requiring the court to determine whether the duration is excessive, the issue in Cherry and Miller (No 2) requires the court only to determine whether, to begin with, prorogation was undertaken for a purpose that was legally impermissible because it lies outside the range of purposes for which the power can lawfully be deployed. This is a crisp question of constitutional law concerning the scope of the discretionary power to prorogue, as distinct from a question about whether discretion has been lawfully exercised. Such a question of law, about the scope of the executive’s legal powers, is manifestly one that lies within the field of matters with which courts can properly deal.

    The result is that to approach Cherry and Miller (No 2) in terms of whether the courts can stretch the bounds of justiciability in a way that facilitates judicial scrutiny of the exercise of the prorogation prerogative is misconceived. It is misconceived because the legal issue at stake is not one upon which the non-justiciability doctrine can properly bite. That doctrine is concerned with limiting judicial involvement in the evaluation of the exercise of governmental powers whose use is capable of giving rise to questions that are unsuited, under the separation of powers, to analysis by courts on legal grounds. The justiciability doctrine is, however, logically incapable of biting upon questions about whether a given power exists and, if so, what its legal boundaries are. Questions about the purposes for which legal powers can and cannot lawfully be used are legal questions about the scope of such powers. It is questions of precisely that nature which are raised by the Miller (No 2) and Cherry cases. Consequently, the non-justiciability doctrine has no relevant application — and the suggestion by the divisional court that the “political” nature of the issue shields it from judicial review is entirely wide of the mark. Whether the supreme court will be prepared to treat the matters before it as justiciable remains to be seen, but there is no good legal reason for treating them as non-justiciable.

    I love the phrase “crisp question of constitutional law.” (The whole thing is making me hungry, to be honest.)

  15. says

    Corey Lewandowski will give testimony, such as it is, in the House today.

    Barb McQuade: “Trump’s resistance to congressional oversight alone is impeachable, now refusing to permit Dearborn and Porter to testify and limiting the testimony of Lewandowski. The ability of Congress to check a president is being weakened before our eyes.”

    (As people have pointed out, they don’t have to have Trump’s permission to testify, and don’t have to abide by his unlawful dictates. They’re choosing to.)

    Lewandowski tweeted: “Excited about the opportunity to remind the American people today there was no collusion no obstruction. There were lots of angry Democrats who tried to take down a duly elected President. Tune in.”

    Renato Mariotti: “A reminder that Lewandowski will go out of his way to help Trump. You can expect him to softpedal and minimize the statements he gave Mueller.

    The most interesting part of the hearing will be to see if he gets himself in legal trouble by contradicting what he previously said.”

    So the theme of the day seems to be the abuse of power by arrogant, corrupt men. Three countries and counting.

  16. says

    A reminder what happened last time House Democrats questioned Lewandowski. He repeatedly cursed and aggressively pushed back, saying, I’m not going to answer your ‘fucking’ questions.”

    And the Republicans were fine with his (and Erik Prince’s) open contempt for their colleagues and the institution of congress.

    Lewandowski can be expected to be equally mendacious and obnoxious today, but they do have the Mueller Report to read from.

  17. says

    Manu Raju: “WH says Corey Lewandowski can’t talk about conversations with the president not contained in Mueller report. Lewandowski was never a WH employee.”

    Elie Honig: “Drag Lewandowski in anyway. Make him clam up and hide behind bogus WH privilege claims, in public and on camera, so the whole country can see just how ridiculous White House obstructionism really looks.”

  18. says

    #Breaking: @Facebook blocks Netanyahu’s message function for second time, for breaking law against electioneering on voting day, which he has done all day by giving interviews on right-wing radio stations. First FB blockage was for violating anti-hate-speech policy.”

    Facebook suspends Netanyahu’s chatbot for distributing forbidden poll statistics & he is giving illegal radio interviews despite judge orders. The Israeli Prime minister is simply violating the election laws on election day.”

    Second link has a link to Haaretz live election coverage.

  19. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 39

    I’m sorry, I have taste so I don’t follow Reality TV, but WHAT exactly is Spicy basing his accusation on? Do the judges burn Bibles and hold a Black Mass before recording?

  20. says

    NBC – “Trump in New Mexico: ‘Who do you like more — the country or Hispanics?'”:

    President Donald Trump, looking to put New Mexico in play in 2020, sought to win over Hispanic voters at a rally here Monday.

    The president’s pitch to Hispanic voters seemed to silo them off from the rest of the electorate, including the rally crowd (“We love our Hispanics”). It featured an assertion that they had a greater understanding of the source of the drug problem than other Americans. And it included a section in which Trump wondered how CNN contributor Steve Cortes could be Hispanic even though, the president said, he appeared to be of Northern European descent.

    “He happens to be Hispanic, but I never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do,” Trump said of Cortes, who was in the audience.

    From the stage, he asked Cortes: “Who do you like more, the country or Hispanics?” Cortes appeared to mouth “country,” to which Trump replied: “I don’t know. I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics.”

    Trump later said Hispanics should support him and his efforts to build a border wall because they understand the roots of the drug problem better than other voters.

    “And at the center of America’s drug crisis, this is where the Hispanics know it better than anybody, people said, ‘Oh, the Hispanics won’t like a wall.’ I said, ‘I think they are going to love it,'” Trump said. “You know why? Because you understand it better than other people, but at the whole center of this crisis is the drugs that are pouring in, and you understand that when other people don’t understand it.”

    “Nobody loves the Hispanics more,” Trump told the crowd. “We love our Hispanics, get out and vote.”

    “How do I lose New Mexico? Explain that one,” Trump asked the crowd, as he touted his support from Hispanics.

    Trump’s disapproval rating among Hispanics stood at 79 percent in a Pew Research Center poll last month.

    See also Daniel Dale’s thread @ #28 above. Note that Trump can’t resist the momentary sadistic pleasure he derives from getting Cortes to publicly debase himself and then immediately undercutting him. He does this constantly, including to the crowds at his rallies.

  21. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #45, as I understand it the judges gave his performance a 12 out of 30 and one said he looked like he was being attacked by wasps. You know, because they’re Hollywood people who hate Jesus.

  22. says

    Dearest MSNBC, I think I can speak for the majority of your viewers when I say that we’re tired of hearing Republicans endlessly opining on the Democratic candidates and their policy plans.

  23. says

    Adam Schiff:

    Brett Kavanaugh should never have been confirmed.

    Against highly credible allegations, he responded with a partisan diatribe that revealed a man lacking the character and judgement fit for the bench.

    The FBI was precluded from interviewing key witnesses. We should find out why.

  24. says

    To the extent that you can succeed when facing people who care nothing about congress, oversight, honesty, transparency, or the law, or just basic decency, I thought Sheila Jackson Lee did a good job. Lewandowski had to actively obstruct and be a hostile asshole cover-up stooge, and she still managed to get across that Trump called him to do his dirty work after both McGahn and Sessions had said no and McGahn had told him not to have contact with Sessions about the Special Counsel.

  25. says

    Lewandowski, under questioning from Rep. Deutsch, is looking like a very weak man. He looks weaker and more dishonest with each round of Democratic questioning. (I mute the Republican “questioning.”)

  26. says

    And I think he has a tell: he does a thing with his mouth where he opens his teeth but keeps his mouth closed several times in a row.

    He doesn’t have any answer for the questions about why he wanted to meet with Sessions outside the DoJ. He told Mueller that he didn’t want there to be an official log of the meeting and didn’t want to meet on Sessions’ “turf.”

  27. says

    Josh Dawsey:

    Trump says homeless people are living in “our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings” where people pay “tremendous taxes” and want “prestige.” Says he’s speaking to tenants who “want to leave the country.” He adds: “We’ll be doing something about it.”

    Populism! (A significant portion of homeless people are veterans, incidentally.)

  28. says

    Ken Dilanian, too. Thinks it’s “largely been a failure.” Will there ever be an event, ever, of any kind related to this criminal gang that the media won’t spin to help the Trumpublicans? Not Kavanaugh, not the Mueller Report, not any hearing, not any vote, nothing.

  29. says

    Cynthia Alksne joining in now. They still haven’t shown the segments of substantive questioning from Lee, Cohen, Deutsch, or Bass. It’s all about their take on what a terrible job Nadler did. And so they’re basically encouraging future witness to be as hostile, obstructive, and contemptuous as possible. Great job.

  30. Akira MacKenzie says

    A significant portion of homeless people are veterans, incidentally.

    Well, Trump prefers veterans who aren’t impoverished and don’t suffer from mental and physical trauma from their service.

  31. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC # 67-68

    I suspect that the Press keeps expecting some sort of high powered court room drama where the success or failure of the inquiry depends on whether or not the Democrats can reduce Lewandowski into a stuttering, stammering fool until, in frustration and anger, he stands up he screams “YES! TRUMP DID IT! HE DID IT ALL! I HELPED HIM AND I DO IT AGAIN TO!!!!”

    Yeah, it doesn’t work like that.

  32. says

    My god, journalists have to stop doing this. The Democrats didn’t think Lewandowski was going to come clean, open up, and tell the full truth. They thought they could get some more of the information out there to the public, put the obstruction on public display, show how weak he is, and maybe get a few questions answered and catch him lying under oath.

  33. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad snarks about today’s hearing in teh NKofE’s supine kangaroo, Lord Pannick stays calm and Keen lacks interest at supreme court:

    A bad day for nominative determinism at legal hearing over suspension of parliament

    Not all the 11 supreme court judges looked entirely pleased to be back in session. It was bad enough being dragged back to work in mid-September. After all, they hadn’t slogged their way to the top of the legal profession only to have their summer holidays cut short. But what made things even worse was they were effectively being asked to decide whether the Scottish or the English and Welsh courts had got it wrong. Whatever they did, they were going to end up not only seriously pissing off some colleagues but also starting an uncivil war.

    [… Lord Pannick argued the case why the English and Welsh courts had been wrong to rule proroguing parliament was lawful.] His delivery was smooth and unruffled. Never using two words where one would do. There were three strands to the argument, he explained, carefully and forensically. First the facts. It was by now an established truth that the Incredible Sulk was both an international embarrassment and completely untrustworthy and, in this case, he had clearly lied about his motives for prorogation. No one seemed in the mood to quibble about that.

    Second, there was the matter of public law. It was wrong for the government to prorogue parliament just because the prime minister was scared of what it might do. […] This provoked several interruptions from Lord Carnwath and Lord Reed. Pannick had their cards marked. He knew both judges […] had sided with the government [previously] and would probably do so again. But he only needed six to win. Six was the magic number. So he just settled for reminding Reed he had once presided over a case in which he had found in favour of parliamentary sovereignty and let things slide. He might not get Reed’s vote, but at least that might shut him up. It did.

    The reason no court had previously ruled on cases of prorogation was because there had been no call for them to do so. But we were now living in the world of the Incredible Sulk, the all-inaction superhero who had done more to abuse the processes of constitutional law than any other prime minister in living memory. And if the supreme court wasn’t prepared to act over a five-week prorogation then would it stand by and let him suspend parliament for longer at a later date? That observation definitely seemed to land with most of the judges.

    It was a poor day for nominative determinism. If Pannick had been the epitome of calm, then Lord Keen, who was leading for the government against the Scottish inner court of session, appeared almost comatose. Everyone surely made a mental note not to hire him if they ever found themselves in trouble with the law. Just plead guilty and get it over with. Even if you were innocent. You’d still get a lesser sentence.

    Keen mumbled. He shuffled his papers. Time and again, he paused. Not for effect, but because he appeared to have lost his place. He began by spending 20 minutes arguing there was no difference between Scottish and English law in this case. This left people scratching their heads as no one had previously said there was.

    That though was the highlight of his day. First he tried to argue the Incredible Sulk hadn’t lied, but even if he had then he was perfectly entitled to. Then he claimed parliament had secretly wanted to be prorogued, because if it had wanted to remain sitting it would have put on a demonstration of interpretive dance.

    By now, even Carnwath and Reed were beginning to have their doubts, but Keen was lost in a world of his own. […]

    Keen ended up as a puddle on the dancefloor. Pannick mopped him up and helped him into a taxi.

    Many readers are pointing out that if teh supine kangaroo rules in favor of teh incredible sulk, then there’s seemingly nothing to stop teh sulk, or any other PM, from proroguing parliament for five years after an election (parliaments last five years), or for teh sulk to prorogue parliament for the duration of any extension by teh EU. As Crace notes, Pannick made the same point in his presentation.

  34. says

    The hearing is over.

    Committee staff, as Nadler pointed out at the beginning, can now ask questions of witnesses (see also #54 above). I had some things to do during part of the hearing, so I might have missed it, but I didn’t see anyone other than representatives asking questions.

  35. says

    Rep. Amash retweeted an item from his long thread about Trump’s impeachable offenses: “5. Trump asked Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to tell AG Sessions to limit the special counsel’s investigation only to future election interference. Trump said Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired if he would not meet with him.”

    He notes: “At today’s Judiciary hearing, Corey Lewandowski confirmed this impeachable conduct from Mueller’s report. Thank you, Corey.”

  36. says

    Berke is pointing out that according to Lewandowski’s own book, Trump offered Corey a senior White House job, supposedly including running the response to Russia investigation, at the same time he asked Lewandowski to pressure Session to restrict Mueller’s probe.”

    Berke is done. Nadler is now telling the Republicans it’s their turn to designate a staff member of their own to question Lewandowski. Collins is insisting he wants to do it himself. I don’t know whether they have anyone to do it or not. Collins knows this isn’t going well for them.

  37. says

    Updated projections have the predominantly-Arab Joint List surging to 15 seats, making it the third-largest party in the Knesset.

    If Likud and Blue and White form a national unity govt, Ayman Odeh could well become the first Arab leader of Israel’s opposition.

    By comparison, the predominantly Arab parties garnered 10 seats in the April election.

    This apparent 50% increase—if borne out by the actual results—would represent a watershed moment in Arab representation in Israeli politics.”

  38. says

    Why the everloving fuck do TV reporters think it’s their role to offer a review of Democrats’ questioning rather than to report the substance? Why? Why do they think “will this give you pause about putting other witnesses in public?” is a question they should be asking?

  39. says

    MORE NEWS: Rep. SCHIFF says DNI Maguire has refused to turn over the contents of an “urgent” whistleblower complaint that could involve wrongdoing by the president or his advisers.

    He now says Maguire must testify by Thursday, possibly under subpoena. Story TK”

  40. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachel Maddow is interviewing Sen. Elizabeth Warren on her show at 8pm tonight. A space to watch.

  41. says

    The Guardian has liveblogs for the Israel election results and Brexit politics. Arguments continue in the Supreme Court today over the alleged unlawfulness of the prorogation of parliament.

    Lord Kerr asks Eadie if he accepts that it is up to the court to decide the limits of prerogative powers.

    Eadie says he does.

    Q: And do you accept that prerogative powers can be limited by fundamental rights?

    Eadie does accept that.

    He says it is for the court to decide all sorts of issues relating to the prerogative, including its limits.

    Q: Do you accept that the exercise of the prerogative to prorogue parliament can limit the ability of parliament to scrutinise the effective?

    Eadie says prorogation “has the effects that it has”.

    But he would argue this is a “well-established constitutional function”, exercised and to be exercised by the executive.

    He says he wants to analyse whether it is possible to apply standards to the way prorogation is used, and whether it is proper for the courts to intervene.

    Q: So you do not accept the argument that the prorogation in this case went beyond the proper use of this power.

    Eadie says he does not accept that. He says it was a political judgment.

  42. says

    HuffPo – “White House Fires Homeland Security General Counsel In Latest Agency Shake-Up: Report”:

    The Trump administration has fired John Mitnick, the general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, the latest high-profile departure as the White House continues to exert pressure on the agency’s immigration agenda.

    The New York Times reported Tuesday that Mitnick had been forced out and will be replaced by Joseph Maher, the department’s principal deputy general counsel. The general counsel position is the top legal job at DHS and oversees more than 2,500 attorneys who work at the agency.

    “We thank John for this service, and we wish him well,” a Homeland Security spokesperson told the Times in a statement. DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Mitnick was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017 and was confirmed in 2018. He had been the chief legal officer at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and had also worked at DHS in the early 2000s before transitioning to a role in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush….

  43. says

    Bloomberg – “Health Insurance That Doesn’t Cover the Bills Has Flooded the Market Under Trump”:

    Early one Friday morning two years ago, David Diaz woke up his wife, Marisia, and told her he didn’t feel right. He asked her to pray with him. Their son called 911, and within minutes, Marisia was tailing an ambulance down the dirt road away from the couple’s house on the outskirts of Phoenix to a hospital in the city. David had had a massive heart attack.

    Before being wheeled into surgery, he whispered the PIN for his bank card to Marisia, just in case. But the double-bypass operation was successful, and two weeks later he was discharged.

    On her way out, Marisia gave the billing clerk David’s health insurance card. It looked like any other, listing a copay of $30 for doctor visits and $50 for “wellness.” She’d bought the plan a year earlier from a company called Health Insurance Innovations Inc., with the understanding that it would be comprehensive. She hadn’t noticed a phrase near the top of the card, though: “Short-Term Medical Insurance.”

    The Diazes’ plan was nothing like the ones consumers have come to expect under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which bars insurers from capping coverage, canceling it retroactively, or turning away people with preexisting conditions. But the law includes an exemption for short-term plans that serve as a stopgap for people between jobs. The Trump administration, thwarted in its attempts to overturn the ACA, has widened that loophole by stretching the definition of “short-term” from three months to a year, with the option of renewing for as long as three years.

    Fewer than 100,000 people had such plans at the end of last year, according to state insurance regulators, but the Trump administration says that number will jump by 600,000 in 2019 as a result of the changes. Some brokers are taking advantage, selling plans so skimpy that they offer no meaningful coverage. And Health Insurance Innovations is at the center of the market. In interviews, lawsuits, and complaints to regulators, dozens of its customers say they were tricked into buying plans they didn’t realize were substandard until they were stuck with surprise bills. The company denies responsibility for any such incidents, saying it’s a technology platform that helps people find affordable policies through reputable agents.

    Six months after David’s surgery, the Diaz family got a particularly big surprise bill—an error, Marisia thought when she saw the invoice. But when she called her insurer, she was told she’d have to pay the full amount: $244,447.91.

    The ACA was designed around a fundamental economic bargain: Insurance companies would no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people who were already sick, and policies would have to cover a broad set of benefits, including prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization. In return insurers were guaranteed that consumers would buy coverage or face tax penalties, and that subsidies would be available for people who needed them. The approach spread the financial risk of getting sick and aimed to guarantee that no one with insurance would have to worry about being bankrupted by necessary care. Preserving the bargain was essential, though; too many exceptions, and the edifice would crumble.

    When the Republican-controlled Senate failed in 2017 to pass Trump-backed legislation that would have gutted the ACA, the administration instead seized on the loophole allowing consumers to buy certain noncompliant plans. Trump used an executive order to extend the time limit for temporary plans, which he and other Republicans talked up as a potential solution for cash-strapped consumers. Healthy people, they argued, could save money by buying policies that didn’t cover perceived nonessentials. “These plans aren’t for everyone, but they can provide a much more affordable option for millions of the forgotten men and women left out by the current system,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in August 2018.

    On June 14, Trump held a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to announce a new policy that lets employers steer as much as $1,800 in tax-exempt funds to their employees instead of offering them comprehensive health plans. The move will likely create many more customers for HIIQ’s industry. “We’re putting the people back in charge with more choice for better care at a far lower cost—and other people will not be paying for their health care,” Trump said.

    Brokers are already gearing up for November, when the open enrollment period for Obamacare plans will drive millions of potential customers online. Earlier this year, HIIQ paid roughly $70 million to buy TogetherHealth, a company that runs TV ads targeted at over-65 shoppers and directs those who call in toward insurance brokers. Southwell told Wall Street analysts that TogetherHealth brings in a million customers a year, and that HIIQ can redirect them to its network of brokers and products. “There is much low-hanging fruit in the over-65 space,” he said. “We expect significant growth.” HIIQ has since announced that it’s conducting a strategic review, essentially putting itself up for sale to private equity firms, which would get it off the stock market and solve its problem with short sellers once and for all.

    As for the Diazes, Surrano is looking to take depositions from Thiel and other HIIQ representatives, a process that could take months. It’s unlikely a trial would start before next summer. In the meantime, the couple is still struggling with the debt from David’s heart attack.

    After the initial wave of bills came in, Marisia started sending $10 to each of their creditors, attaching a signed note asking the recipient to accept the money as a “payment of good faith.” The debt is never far from her mind. “I wake up thinking about it,” she says. “I go to bed thinking about it. It doesn’t go away.” The family switched to a comprehensive, ACA-compliant insurance policy in December 2017. With government subsidies, it costs less than they were paying for junk insurance.

    Much, much more at the link. There were warnings about this at the time. It’s an outrage. From the article:

    When customers have made accusations to that effect in court, the company has defended itself aggressively. Charley Butler, a truck driver in Montana, filed suit in April 2017 after his insurance didn’t pay for his testicular cancer treatment, leaving him with $69,000 in unpaid bills. During a deposition the following year, Lee Henning, an attorney for HIIQ, tried to undermine Butler’s claim that the debt had left him anxious. If you need money so badly, Henning asked, why doesn’t your wife get a second job? He reminded Butler that the Bible says a wife should be a good “helpmate.”

    “I’m really sorry for everything you’ve gone through,” he said next. “But whether or not the insurance company had handled your case differently, you still would have had cancer, correct?” Henning didn’t respond to a request for comment; HIIQ says he no longer represents the company and that it doesn’t condone his comments to Butler.

  44. says

    Speaking to the AFL-CIO,

    Biden brings up health care unprompted: “Under (my plan), you can keep your health insurance you’ve bargained for if you like it… You’ve broken your neck to get it. You’ve given up wages to get it. You should be entitled to keep it and no plan should take it away from you.”

    Right, it’s a great system when people have to break their necks and give up wages to get health coverage which remains attached to their employment.

  45. says


    At last Justice Black asks the key question of how parliament can check misuse of prorogation if it is, well, prorogued

    How can a matter be . ultimately for parliament and not the courts, if the executive prorogues parliament so that parliament cannot do anything


  46. says

    Trump: “I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor….”

  47. says

    “A play in three acts.”

    (The coverage of yesterday’s hearing on CNN and MSNBC has been so unremittingly hostile to the Democrats – the law, legislative oversight, etc. – that Fox published a story with the headline “MSNBC, CNN rip House Dems over ‘failure’ Lewandowski hearing: ‘They don’t know what they’re doing’.”)

  48. says

    Josh Marshall: “O’Brien appt likely best seen as analog to Grisham as Comms/Spox. Finally worked his way to non-entity who will simply allow him to do the job himself.”

    (Of course, it’s not a job he could do himself even if he were capable and interested, which he isn’t, but O’Brien will be a non-entity for sure.)

  49. says

    #LiarLewandowski is now trending on Twitter. The public is forced to do the media’s work, including calling out CNN for bringing him on this morning. There was just a segment on MSNBC in which Stephanie Ruhle asked something like, “OK, but did we really learn anything from the hearing other than that he lies on cable news, which we already knew?” Just ridiculous.

  50. says

    Amazing the parallels with the US right now – from the G liveblog:

    O’Neill is now talking about the government’s failure to provide a witness statement.

    He cites the judgment in Das v home secretary. This is included in the Cherry team’s legal submission (pdf). The Das judgement said:

    Where a secretary of state fails to put before the court witness statements to explain the decision-making process and the reasoning underlying a decision they take a substantial risk. In general litigation where a party elects not to call available witnesses to give evidence on a relevant matter, the court may draw inferences of fact against that party … The basis for drawing adverse inferences of fact against the secretary of state in judicial review proceedings will be particularly strong, because in such proceedings the secretary of state is subject to the stringent and well-known obligation owed to the court by a public authority facing a challenge to its decision, [in the words of Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe in Belize Alliance of Conservation Non-Governmental Organisations v Department of the Environment [2004] Env LR 761 , para 86] ‘to cooperate and to make candid disclosure, by way of affidavit, of the relevant facts and (so far as they are not apparent from contemporaneous documents which have been disclosed) the reasoning behind the decision challenged in the judicial review proceedings’.

  51. says

    G liveblog:

    O’Neill is winding up now.

    I say to this court … stand up for the truth, stand up for reason, stand up for unity in diversity, stand up for parliament, stand up for democracy by dismissing this government’s appeal and uphold a constitution governed by laws and not the passing whims of men.

    We’ve got hear the mother of parliaments being shut down by the father of lies. Rather than allowing lies to triumph, listen to the angels of your better nature and rule that this prorogation is unlawful and an abuse of power which has been entrusted to the government.

    This government is showing itself unworthy of our trust as it uses the powers of its office in a manner that is corrosive of the constitution and destructive of the system of parliamentary representative democracy on which our union polity is founded.

    Enough is enough. Dismiss this appeal, and let them know that. That’s what truth speaking to power sounds like.

    The court adjourns until tomorrow.

  52. says

    Now running DHS:

    Acting Secretary
    Acting Deputy Secretary
    Acting Under Secretary for Management
    Acting CBP Commissioner
    Acting ICE Director
    Acting USCIS DIrector
    Acting FEMA Administrator

    We don’t even have a nominee for any of these except the last one.”

    On the bright side, it’s not an entrenched bureaucracy at this point.

  53. says

    Jake Tapper:

    1/ Anatomy of a smear: progressive activist
    @AdamGreen posts on Sept 13, at a reception for the Congressional Black Caucus annual legislative conference, video of @IlhanMN dancing:…

    [link to cute video at the link – SC]

    2/ The president of the United States RTs the lie to his 64.4 million followers that she was dancing on the anniversary of 9/11. It’s completely false, it’s a smear, and no doubt it raises security issues.

    3/ Is there really no one in the @WhiteHouse, no one in the
    @GOP, who sees that this is indecent and unacceptable behavior?

    UPDATE: The tweet has been removed — not sure if by twitter or by the user [the lie that Trump RTed – not his tweet – SC]

  54. says

    SC @101, I would delete “all but admits,” and just use “admits.”

    Yes, Corey Lewandowski admitted that he lied to various media interlocutors, including Fox News and MSNBC.

  55. blf says

    More on @137/@138 from the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    Omar accuses Trump of putting her life at risk

    Progressive congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, has spoken out after Donald Trump retweeted a post this morning from conservative commentator and comedian Terrence K Williams that falsely claimed Omar partied on the anniversary of 9/11.


    Omar pointed out that the event she attended was not on September 11, the anniversary last week of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

    “The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk” she wrote on Twitter, and asked the social media company what it was doing about such misinformation:

    This is from a CBC event we hosted this weekend to celebrate black women in Congress.
    The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk.
    What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation? […]


  56. blf says

    An amusing follow-up to @496(previous page), a reader’s letter in the Grauniad, The French still feel gloriously Gallic:

    In order to win back those who have cancelled their contributions to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (having discovered that 2% of the charity’s income is spent on life-saving projects abroad), might I suggest a new policy where the RNLI saves only UK citizens in British waters. A simply cry of “Are you a foreigner?” before boarding a distressed vessel might do wonders for their image.

    The title of this readers’s letters column refers to another amusing letter (my added emphasis):

    I am sorry that James Skelton, a former miner from Sedgefield, feels his Englishness has been eroded by EU membership […]. French-ness is obviously more robust. Here in southern France this summer, the locals have been as gloriously Gallic as ever despite 62 years in the community. Homogeneity has never been part of the EU plan, but many Britons still seem irrationally unnerved by contact with fellow Europeans.

    Indeed. And not just during the summer. Or, as far as I know, just here in S.France.

  57. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad snarking on today’s session in teh NKofE’s supine kangaroo, Legal defence of prorogation crashes, burns and then fades into silence:

    Boris Johnson’s counsel failed to explain why the Incredible Sulk had refused to explain his reasons

    James Eadie must be a fundamentally decent man. He had watched Lord Keen seemingly crash and burn in the supreme court the previous day [see @78] as he had fumbled and mumbled against the Scottish ruling that the government had acted unlawfully in proroguing parliament. He was anxious not to embarrass him further.

    So Eadie, representing the government, deliberately chose to make a virtue of his own mediocrity as he appeared to spend the morning doing everything other than explain why the English courts had been right to find the prorogation lawful. Quite how the government chooses its advocates is something of a mystery. […]

    Not that Eadie wasn’t a huge improvement on Keen. He spoke slowly, each sentence a dull monotone fading into silence. Much like a broken clockwork toy. Um, everything was basically in order, er, because it was. The judges should trust the government. Even when it was lying through its teeth. Because if we couldn’t trust the government then … Then something.

    As they had with Keen, the Lords Reed and Carnwath tried to come to Eadie’s rescue with some helpful interventions, but most of the other judges were far more hostile in their questioning than they had been on the first day. They weren’t in the mood to be pushed around by the government or its flunkeys. They were sentient beings in their own right and they would rule on what they liked. Something that came as a bit of a shock to Eadie, who had just argued it wasn’t for the court to decide what was relevant and rational. Presumably he imagines most legal decisions are made with the help of a Ouija board.

    Eadie struggled on, each argument weaker than the last. If parliament hadn’t wanted to be prorogued, why wasn’t it doing something to stop being prorogued? He still hadn’t quite grasped that parliament can’t do anything when it is prorogued. Fairly basic stuff, you’d have thought. The time-sensitive legislation could be dealt with when parliament returned. Apart from the bits that were time sensitive. He didn’t even seem entirely sure of the difference between recess and prorogation. This isn’t a supreme court episode that Eadie will want to watch on iPlayer.


    He couldn’t explain why the Incredible Sulk had not signed a witness statement giving the reasons for the prorogation. In fact, he didn’t even bother to pretend that the pretext for suspending parliament had been the Queen’s speech. No one believed a word Boris Johnson said. Not even him. Especially him. The longer he spoke the more it seemed everything in the government’s argument was probably false. It was all he could do to prevent himself making a full confession.

    The afternoon session was something else. Making the case for the Scottish ruling to be upheld, Aidan O’Neill had clearly decided Lord Pannick had already won the case on the facts — though to give them their due, Keen and Eadie appeared to have already lost it on the facts — and that enough judges had already made up their minds on the justiciability of the proceedings, so he was free to let rip with his own unique brand of oratory. This was the courtroom as proper primetime TV drama.

    He began by going full-on Braveheart for 30 minutes, making an impassioned plea for the importance of all things Scottish, daring the judges to insult them. Robbie Burns, John Buchan, Walter Scott, Macbeth. […]

    Having captured his audience — some against their will: Eadie looked as if he wanted to throw up — O’Neill then took aim at the government. You couldn’t trust the Incredible Sulk further than you could throw him. Boris lied and he lied and he lied. He couldn’t help himself. That very day he had even denied there were TV cameras there as he was filmed visiting a hospital. There’s definitely no press, the liar had lied.

    What that NHS / press snark is all about is ‘The NHS has been destroyed’: Boris Johnson confronted by father of sick child:

    Boris Johnson has been confronted by an angry father [Omar Salem] at a hospital who told him his baby daughter had nearly died because the ward on which she was treated was “not safe for children” after years of austerity.


    As embarrassed NHS bosses looked on, Johnson claimed there’s no press here but he was immediately called out by Salem, who pointed out a camera filming the scene. Labour MPs said Johnson’s denial the hospital visit was a press opportunity showed he was incapable of telling the truth.


    Afterwards, a hospital doctor working on the ward, who was present at Johnson’s visit, backed up Salem’s account, telling the Guardian: “Obviously this was a totally contrived press opportunity — he was shown by far the nicest ward in the hospital.

    “I am a medical doctor working at the hospital and the lack of resources, levels of underfunding and understaffing are beyond belief.”

    The doctor said they were “so glad” Salem spoke up. “I wish the prime minister could have seen some of the other wards, which are nothing like what he saw today,” the doctor added. “He should come on a night shift and see how everything doesn’t function at two in the morning.”


    The encounter was caught on-camera (video). Now back to Crace’s snarking of today’s supine kangaroo hearing:

    Lord Reed appeared vaguely upset that anyone might question the prime minister’s probity, but O’Neill just went for him. “Don’t be sceptical, be upset”, he said. Reed wisely kept quiet. No one else dared interrupt him. […]

    This wasn’t just some academic legal exercise, O’Neill continued. This was a prorogation with a purpose to hijack democracy. And the judges and the courts shouldn’t take it lying down. Though a good lie down was just what they needed come the close. It had been an exhausting two hours for everyone. A session that would resonate on both sides of the border.

    Some readers’s comments:

    ● “Bozo can’t even lie properly. There’s no press here, he said, in front of a TV camera and almost drowned out by the sound of shutters clicking.”

    ● “Comical Ali: There are no American tanks an Bagdad when everyone could see them.
    Hulk Johnson: There is no press here when everyone could see them.”

    ● “There was a glorious moment just before lunch when Eadie, QC for the Sulk, announced that it is unheard of for government ministers to have to give witness statements. Ten minutes later O’Neill stood up and pointed out that they do in Scotland.”

    ● “Well I believe Johnson was telling the truth. I’ve look hard at all the coverage of the hospital incident, including the film on the BBC site, and I can’t see any press there.”

    ● “Look out for a fire in Westminster before the end of October. Johnson knows a (little) bit about history, and I’ve no doubt he associates the burning of the Reichstag with Germany’s subsequent economic success, even if there was the small matter of a World war and tens of millions of deaths on the way. Britain will be great again, he thinks, and why should I be troubled with being a witness of any kind before bewigged people. […] Johnson is the most dangerous European politician since 1945. Keep him away from matches. Like Trump, he deserves no more than to be baked in a pie.”

    ● “The EU have sent around cardboard cutouts of Boo Booo Johnson with instruction that these be used when Boo Booo refuses to turn up for future planned press conferences.
      One has already been spotted in the river in Paris. They have dubbed this version the inSiene Booo Booo Johnson.”

  58. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s Unbelievable thread.)

    Millions of US women say first sexual experience was rape:

    New study finds one in 16 women says first sexual experience was forced or coerced in early teens

    The first sexual experience for one in 16 US women was forced or coerced intercourse in their early teens, encounters that for some may have had lasting health repercussions, a new study suggests.

    The experiences amount to rape, the authors say, although they relied on a national survey that didn’t use the word in asking women about forced sex.

    Almost seven percent of women surveyed said their first sexual intercourse experience was involuntary; it happened at age 15 on average and the man was often several years older.

    Nearly half of those women who said intercourse was involuntary said they were held down and slightly more than half of them said they were verbally pressured to have sex against their will.

    “Any sexual encounter (with penetration) that occurs against somebody’s will is rape. If somebody is verbally pressured into having sex, it’s just as much rape,” said lead author Dr Laura Hawks, an internist and Harvard Medical School researcher.


    The new study is an analysis of responses from 13,310 adult women who participated in nationally representative United States government health surveys from 2011–2017, before the popularisation of the “Me Too” movement, which demands governments, industries and communities address sexual abuse and harassment.


    According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetimes. For almost half of those women, it happened when they were younger than 18.


    Sex education specialist Dan Rice said inadequate sex education in US schools contributes to the problem.

    “Our culture teaches people not to be raped instead of teaching people not to rape,” he said.


    Sarah Emily Baum […] a staff writer for Sex, Etc, said the study results ring true.

    “Almost everyone has a story or a close call like this one or knows someone with a story or close call,” said Baum, a sophomore at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

    Baum recalls that a police officer invited to discuss sexual consent and assault at her high school focused only on girls, telling them, “‘You’ve got to make sure you say ‘no’ and say it loud enough for people to hear.'” There was little mention of boys’ responsibility, and no discussion of same-sex assaults or even girls being the aggressors, said Baum, who is gay.

    “If I go on a date with another girl, I also have to make sure there is clear consent and clear boundaries,” she said. “It goes both ways.”

  59. blf says

    Presumably yet another case of confusing anti-apartheid with antisemitism, Author Kamila Shamsie stripped of literary award over BDS support:

    German city rescinds Nelly Sachs Prize from British-Pakistani author, citing her support of the pro-Palestine movement.

    The German city of Dortmund has withdrawn its decision to award a British-Pakistani writer a literature prize, citing her support for the pro-Palestinian [sic] Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

    Acclaimed novelist Kamila Shamsie was announced as this year’s winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize — named after a Jewish poet — in honour of her literary work earlier this month.

    But the eight-member jury decided to cancel its original vote […]


    Shamsie’s political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott as part of the BDS (Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions) campaign against the Israeli government is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of the award and the spirit of the Nelly Sachs Prize, the statement added.

    Kudos to the committee for, at least in the quoted excerpt above, not confusing the anti-apartheid BDS with either antisemitism (the usual transparent lie) or anti-Israel / pro-Palestine (a mistake Al Jazeera made in this very article!). BDS is targeting the Israeli government’s policies

    Reacting to the jury’s decision, Shamsie said it was a “matter of outrage that the BDS movement that campaigns against the government of Israel for its acts of discrimination and brutality against Palestinians should be held up as something shameful and unjust”.


    The BDS movement was launched in 2005 by Palestinians to generate international pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights.

    Supporters say the effort draws from the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa in the 1980s and the earlier African American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.


    Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge doesn’t have much on the Nelly Sachs Preis, and claims “It honours authors for outstanding literary contributions to the promotion of understanding between peoples.” Presuming that is a correct summation of the prize, then I don’t see how supporting, participating in, or even writing in support of BDS, could be construed as contradicting the award’s objectives. Yes, her work wouldn’t be available in Israel, but that is not due to its content — it’s due to many people objecting to the Israeli government’s apartheid policies.

    There’s also, perhaps, a question of funding. I.e., follow the money… Does the Israeli government, or one of their proxies, help to fund the prize? (I have no idea.)

  60. blf says

    Something of a follow-up to there’s no press here @42, Press opportunity: Johnson’s most awkward moments with hecklers (so far) (minor changes to the formatting (not marked)):

    ● Rotherham: […] “Get back to parliament” shouted [charity worker] Ben Gilchrist. […]

    ● Doncaster: Earlier [the same day] a woman in Doncaster market berated Johnson about austerity and accused him of telling “fairy tales” about Brexit. She said: “Where’s the money coming from now then? All you’re going to do is put the same amount of police on the streets as what you’ve took off.” […]

    ● Wakefield: Johnson’s attempt to use police recruits as a backdrop for a political speech backfired […]

    ● Morley, Leeds: An older man was filmed shaking Johnson’s hand on a walkabout in the Morley area of Leeds on 5 September. Broadcast microphones picked him up politely saying “please leave my town”. […]
    Moments later another man told the PM: “you should be in Brussels negotiating”. Johnson said: We are negotiating. The man replied “You are not. You are in Morley, in Leeds. You are playing games.”

    ● Luxembourg: [see @5 & @8]

  61. says

    Pete Buttigieg: “I was in high school when Columbine happened. Years have passed, yet the only thing Washington politicians do consistently is fail to deliver. We owe it to our children to give them back their childhoods. We need leaders ready to deliver that change now.”

    Oh, knock it off with the “Washington politicians.” Say who you mean. “Washington politicians” should be Moscow Mitch McConnell. “Congress” should be Republicans. Democrats have been fighting this for years, and passed legislation in the house almost immediately after they took control of the House. These generic terms are misleading. Also, this is pretty rich coming from someone who attacked Beto O’Rourke’s principled stance on this very issue just a few days ago.

  62. says

    Maddow reporting (I’m on a short delay – making a channa, got a phone call – also explains “passed legislation in the house almost immediately after they took control of the House”) that the whistleblower scandal involves Trump’s communications with a “foreign leader” and an alleged promise Trump made to said leader by phone.

  63. says

    From a few huors ago: “JUST IN: The Acting Director of National Intelligence will testify publicly before the House Intel committee on Sept 26 in relation to the whistleblower complaint received by ODNI. The Intel community inspector general will testify in closed session tomorrow, per @RepAdamSchiff.”

  64. says

    Here’s the WaPo article – “Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress, former officials say”:

    The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

    Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.

    The White House declined to comment. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a lawyer representing the whistleblower declined to comment.

    Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold that ordinarily requires notification of congressional oversight committees.

    But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers, touching off a legal and political dispute that has spilled into public and prompted speculation that the spy chief is improperly protecting the president.

    The dispute is expected to escalate Thursday when Atkinson is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee in a classified session closed to the public [9 AM ET – SC]. The hearing is the latest move by committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to compel U.S. intelligence officials to disclose the full details of the whistleblower complaint to Congress.

    Maguire has agreed to testify before the committee next week, according to a statement by Schiff. He declined to comment for this story.

    The complaint was filed with Atkinson’s office on Aug. 12, a date on which Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey. White House records indicate that Trump had had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks.

    Among them was a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the White House initiated on July 31. Trump also received at least two letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the summer, describing them as “beautiful” messages. In June, Trump said publicly that he was opposed to certain CIA spying operations against North Korea. Referring to a Wall Street Journal report that the agency had recruited Kim’s half-brother, Trump said, “I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices.”

    Trump met with other foreign leaders at the White House in July, including the prime minister of Pakistan, the prime minister of the Netherlands, and the emir of Qatar.

    The dispute has put Maguire, thrust into the DNI job in an acting capacity with the resignation of Daniel Coats last month, at the center of a politically perilous conflict with constitutional implications.

    Defenders of Maguire disputed that he is subverting legal requirements to protect Trump, saying that he is trapped in a legitimate legal predicament and that he has made his displeasure clear to officials at the Justice Department and White House.

    It was unclear whether the whistleblower witnessed Trump’s communication with the foreign leader or learned of it through other means. Summaries of such conversations are often distributed among White House staff, although the administration imposed new limits on this practice after Trump’s disclosures to Russian officials were revealed.

  65. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog. Today is the last day of arguments about the prorogation of Parliament in the Supreme Court. From their quote from a Press Association document about the possible outcomes:

    The second possible outcome is that the court could find the suspension was unlawful and that the recall of parliament before October 14 is the “only option lawfully open to the prime minister”.

    In this scenario, the document states Johnson would comply with the terms of the ruling, but that it would also be “open to the court to consider whether to make a mandatory order”.

    However, Johnson’s lawyers urge the court to consider the “very serious practical consequences” as the recall of parliament would require a meeting of the privy council and a new Queen’s speech.

    The document continues: “A Queen’s speech, and the state opening of Parliament which accompanies it, is a significant political, constitutional and ceremonial occasion, which ordinarily involves the Sovereign attending in person.

    “As the court will be well aware, the proper preparations for a Queen’s speech are a matter of thoroughgoing importance, including in relation to the content of that speech.

    “Extensive arrangements would have to be made, including as to security, to enable this to occur.

    “These considerations lead to the need for any order that the court makes, if necessary, to allow for these steps relating to the earlier meeting of parliament to occur in an orderly fashion.”

    Really have to marvel at the cheek of people supposedly frantic about the “proper preparations” and “extensive arrangements” required for a Queen’s speech like they’re the staff at Downton Abbey at the same time they’re scheming for a no-deal fucking Brexit.

  66. says

    Dominic Casciani:

    Lord Pannick: “The remedy we seek is that the PM’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful. We respectfully ask the court to make such a declaration as soon as possible becuase time is of the essence.”

    He asks the court to ensure that its judgement ensures that Parliament can sit NEXT WEEK.

    Pannick: The appropriate way forward is to let Parliament sort out the problem – but it can only do so if the Court first grants a declaration that the advice was unlawful.

    Lord Pannick is trying to insulate the judges from a “poliical” decison. He argues that a simple LEGAL declaration of unlawfulness would be enough for the Speakers of the Commons and Lords to know what to do next POLITICALLY. It keeps the judges out of politics.

    Lord Kerr asks if the Prime MInister would actually have to do anything at all?

    Lord Pannick says he would not.

    More in the thread at the link.

  67. says

    From the G:

    Lady Hale, president of the court, thanks the court staff and everyone else involved in the case.

    She stresses what she said at the opening of the case – that this hearing will not decide whether or how the UK leaves the EU.

    She says the court hopes to be able to publish its decision “early next week”.

    And that’s it.

  68. says

    Trump tweeted: “Another Fake News story out there – It never ends! Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!

    ….Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

    I wouldn’t ordinarily quote it, but I am because these tweets illustrate how we’re dealing with a stupid criminal. “Does anyone think I’d be careless enough not to dispose of the evidence? And I wouldn’t kill my brother anyway.” (Trump used a similar argument when he claimed that he knew he was being watched when he went to Russia, despite the fact that he was recorded telling Howard Stern about his Russian escapades.) He’s also basically making an argument on behalf of congress getting the information.

  69. says

    Gantz still fumbles with some of the words in his statement but Likud’s campaign won’t be making videos laughing at him anymore. He’s looking prime ministerial and he swatted away Netanyahu’s ‘bloc of 55’ tactic quite effectively. Importantly, he made it clear he won’t be rushed.

    For the first time, Gantz is negotiating from a position of strength. He knows Netanyahu is under pressure and barely mentions him. He just says ‘we will stand by our well-known principles’ meaning no to a prime minister facing corruption charges. He’s growing in to the role.”

    Final results still not in.

  70. says

    McConnell has Biden wrapped around his finger. In 2013, Biden said he wanted to see McConnell re-elected. McConnell will play Biden like a fiddle. Dems will get nothing done and Republicans will surge right back to power, paving the way for a Trump 2.0 to win the White House.” – Adam Jentleson, former Dep. CoS to Harry Reid

    McConnell in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Biden in 2013: “Mitch, we want to see you come back [after the 2014 elections].”

  71. says

    NEW: The whistleblower is being represented by Andrew P. Bakaj, a former CIA officer.
    Others familiar with the whistleblower’s complaint have confirmed to @politico that it involves the president’s communications.”

  72. says

    Brian Beutler had the same thought I did @ #159 above: “…To drop the coy act, my irresponsible speculation is that Trump promised to hand over that spy we exfiltrated, the outing of the spy was an effort to protect the spy, and Trump’s muttering about his distaste for using spies was laying the predicate to order this one returned.”

    Thread with timeline at the link.

  73. says

    New: A DOJ official says it was the Office of Legal Counsel that advised DNI not to disclose the whistleblower complaint to Congress. No word yet whether Barr was directly involved.”

    Why is the OLC involved? Barr?! WTF?!

  74. says

    9/12: “Trump finalizes repeal of Obama-era clean water rule.” [CNBC]

    9/17: “Trump administration allows pork slaughterhouses to have fewer USDA inspectors”: “The new rule also allows plants to run their processing lines as fast as they like.” [NBC]

    9/18: “Trump moves to kill California’s clean car standards”: “Part of his larger attempt to roll back the current federal emissions rule.” [The Verge]

    9/18: “Trump says EPA to issue notice to San Francisco on homeless”: “U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue a notice in less than a week to the city of San Francisco over its homelessness problem and attendant pollution.” [Reuters]

  75. says

    Adam Schiff is doing a press conference right now. He just read from a sentence from the ICIG’s letter, about how the complaint relates to one of the “most serious” areas of the DNI’s responsibility to the American people” (paraphrasing from memory). The ICIG determined that the complaint was of “urgent concern.” The complaint was originally made more than a month ago.

  76. says

    SC @171, William “Trump Toadie” Barr.

    I heard Ken Dilanian say that the White House had been consulted, and that it was the White House that said to take the whistleblower complaint to Trump Toadie Barr. That was the White House asking, once again, for William Barr to protect Trump.

  77. says

    SC @163, “is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader.” Yes, almost everyone believes Trump is dumb enough to do that. He has done it before (to Russians, in the oval office, after firing Comey, for example).

    Andrea Mitchell played a clip of Trump doing something similar very recently, when Trump went to the border and put his signature on a border slat. Trump said something about electrifying the border slats and an official there told him it was better not to talk about that.

  78. says

    Followup to comment 177.

    Trump visited the border yesterday, taking a look at new barriers that replaced old barriers, and bragging about his administration’s efforts. As Politico noted, however, the president was so enthusiastic in his boasts that the Republican had to be “gently reprimanded by his hosts in charge of construction.”

    “One thing we haven’t mentioned is technology,” Trump said. “They’re wired so that we will know if somebody’s trying to break through.” He then offered the floor to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, acting head of the Army Corps, who quickly answered: “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that.”

    But Trump wasn’t done.

    Fortifying the wall even more, he said, was the fact that the steel wall’s beams are heat conductors. “It’s designed to absorb heat, so it’s extremely hot,” he said. “You won’t be able to touch it. You can fry an egg on that wall.”

    “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that” is one of those great phrases that’s emblematic of a larger truth. Trump, as president, is privy to the most sensitive information in the world, but he’s still a clumsy amateur lacking a filter. […]


    So, not “electrifying the fence” as I said earlier, but having technology that will alert border patrol when someone is trying to break through.

  79. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 144.

    […] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday recommended that everyone look at reality with their heads tilted:

    Pompeo defended this approach to reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, saying, “There is this theme that some suggest that the president’s strategy that we allowed isn’t working. I would argue just the converse of that. I would argue that what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA.”

    He was referring to the formal name of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

    This is an amazingly bad argument for two reasons. The first, obviously, is that the JCPOA wasn’t failing at all. In fact, Trump knew it wasn’t failing because his own team told him in 2017 that it was working exactly as intended — leading the president to have “a bit of a meltdown.”

    Trump didn’t want to be told the truth; he wanted to be told his false assumptions were correct. Pompeo may want to believe the JCPOA wasn’t working, but his bogus assertions don’t make it so.

    Second, as Business Insider’s report added, Pompeo’s comments gave away a bit more than the cabinet secretary probably intended. The Kansas Republican, who has accused Iran of being responsible for an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, specifically told reporters that we’re now seeing the “direct result” of the Trump administration’s policy on the Iran deal.

    Or put another way, had the Republican White House not “reversed” course on the JCPOA policy, we wouldn’t see Iran becoming increasingly dangerous.

    Pompeo clearly hasn’t thought this through.


  80. blf says

    In Ozland (from the Graudian’s most recent Ozland blog, quoted in full):

    Coalition MP to climate strike students: Everything you are told is a lie

    No one:

    Absolutely no one:

    Not a single soul:

    Craig Kelly: I understand how persuasive that peer group pressure can be for teenagers and their desire to conform and fit in with the crowd.

    However, I would say to any student considering joining the so-called climate protest, don’t be a sheep and think for yourself because you are being used and manipulated and everything you are told is a lie.

    The facts are, there is no link between climate change and drought. Polar bears are increasing in number. Today’s generation is safer from extreme weather at any time in human history.

    There is no 97% consensus. Such claims are a fraud. Crop yields have increased remarkably, wildfires have declined 25% over the past two decades, we are seeing less cyclones, not more.

    Cold weather kills many times more than hot weather, including here in Australia. The sea ice is not melting away.

    In fact, where the ill-fated Franklin expedition sailed in 1845, this year is blocked by thick sea ice.

    Renewables ain’t renewable and they certainly don’t make electricity cheaper. And if you are worried about sea level rise, I suggest that you get some old photos of Fort Denison, get the tide gauge data and go and have a look for yourself.

    Don’t take my word. I encourage all students in my electorate to study the science and learn for themselves.

    According to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, Kelly has form (and lots of it), including praising nazis (real ones from the WW ][ era); asserted the conviction of child rapist George Pell of the raping children cult was a grave miscarriage of justice, and the media a lynch mob; and much more, all(?) quite odious. I presume he gets numerous bags of cash frequently (follow the money…).

    And as a reminder — this is what caused Kelly to rant — tomorrow, Friday 20th September, is Global Climate Strike day.

  81. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] We don’t know they’re connected.

    July 28th: Trump announces Dan Coats will step down as Director of National Intelligence and leave government on August 15th.

    July 31st: Trump initiates phone call with Putin. The White House only acknowledged the call after the Kremlin announced it.

    August 8th: Trump announces that Sue Gordon, Coats’ deputy who would normally take over as acting DNI, is resigning and will leave her job on August 15th.

    August 12th: Whistleblower files complaint with intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

    August 15th: Coats and Gordon leave government.

    August 20th: Trump again calls for Russia to be allowed to rejoin the G7 group of industrialized nations.

    August 26th: Atkinson submits whistleblower complaint to acting DNI Maguire. Maguire consults with the Department of Justice which instructs him not to share the information with Congress.

    September 9th: Atkinson informed Congress of existence of whistleblower complaint which he had determined met the legal threshold of “urgent concern” without revealing its contents.

    September 10th: House Intelligence Committee under Chairman Schiff formally requests whistleblower complaint from acting Director of National Intelligence Maguire, threatens legal action.

    As you can see we have three separate progressions, which may or may not be connected: the forced resignations of Coats and Gordon, communications with Putin and the timeline of the whistleblower complaint. One point I will note is that Coats and Gordon remained in government for three days after the complaint was made. But it’s not clear that the complaint would have been shared beyond the IG’s office before they left on August 15th.


  82. says

    Related to comments 179 and 181.

    From readers comments:

    Well, he certainly is dumb enough to be completely unaware that he had said something inappropriate. The empirical evidence for this is overwhelming.
    We’ve moved from a lie-per-day to a scandal-per-day to a corrupt-act-per-day to a criminal-act-per-day to a full-blown Constitutional crisis per day.
    If this sits in the dark for too long Trump and the GOP WILL define the narrative of this ‘scandal’ just like they did with Muller report, kavanaugh and every other scandal the Dems slow walk. You have to beat them by surprise! You can not let the GOP get out ahead of a story, since the GOP can manipulate the narrative, the language press uses in it’s reporting and the people so much better than the Dems
    This is truly amazing stuff. Tweetapotomus is actually arguing that it’s utterly unfathomable that he’d say something dumb. I’m going to be flying around in my ROFLcopter all fucking day on this one.
    He’s already trotted out “presidential harassment” on his twitter feed.

  83. blf says

    johnson catman@184 (re @180), “does Kelly just say exactly the opposite of what reality shows?”

    YES, That’s certainly how I read it!
    Minor quibble, his first quoted sentence, “I understand how persuasive that peer group pressure can be for teenagers and their desire to conform and fit in with the crowd”, might actually be true-ish, as in not completely inverted reality. But on the more substantive points, it is perhaps the most denialist, evidence-free inverted reality absurdity I’ve ever seen. Also largely fact-free, with the few facts mentioned (e.g., 97% consensus (now about 99% consensus, ‘No doubt left’ about scientific consensus on global warming, say experts)) denied or(? and?) misunderstood or misstated.

  84. says

    AP – “UNC-Duke program too positive on Islam, Trump officials say”:

    The Trump administration is threatening to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, arguing that it’s misusing a federal grant to advance “ideological priorities” and unfairly promote “the positive aspects of Islam” but not Christianity or Judaism.

    An Aug. 29 letter from the U.S. Education Department orders the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies to revise its offerings by Sept. 22 or risk losing future funding from a federal grant that’s awarded to dozens of universities to support foreign language instruction. The consortium received $235,000 from the grant last year, according to Education Department data.

    Officials at Duke and at UNC-Chapel Hill, which houses the consortium, declined to comment. The Education Department declined to say if it’s examining similar programs at other schools.

    Academic freedom advocates say the government could be setting a dangerous precedent if it injects politics into funding decisions. Some said they had never heard of the Education Department asserting control over such minute details of a program’s offerings.

    More than a dozen universities receive National Resource Center grants for their Middle East programs, including Columbia, Georgetown, Yale and the University of Texas. The Duke-UNC consortium was founded in 2005 and first received the grant nearly a decade ago.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ordered an investigation into the program in June after North Carolina Rep. George Holding, a Republican, complained that it hosted a taxpayer-funded conference with “severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric.” In a response to Holding, DeVos said she was “troubled” by his letter and would take a closer look at the consortium.

    The department’s findings did not directly address any bias against Israel but instead evaluated whether the consortium’s proposed activities met the goals of the National Resource Center program, which was created in 1965 to support language and culture initiatives that prepare students for careers in diplomacy and national security.

    Investigators concluded that the consortium intended to use federal money on offerings that are “plainly unqualified for taxpayer support,” adding that foreign language and national security instruction have “taken a back seat to other priorities.” The department cited several courses, conferences and academic papers that it says have “little or no relevance” to the grant’s goals.

    “Although a conference focused on ‘Love and Desire in Modem Iran’ and one focused on Middle East film criticism may be relevant in academia, we do not see how these activities support the development of foreign language and international expertise for the benefit of U.S. national security and economic stability,” the letter said.

    Investigators also saw a disconnect between the grant’s mission and some academic papers by scholars at the consortium. They objected to one paper titled “Performance, Gender-Bending and Subversion in the Early Modern Ottoman Intellectual History,” and another titled “Radical Love: Teachings from Islamic Mystical Tradition.”

    The letter accused the consortium of failing to provide a “balance of perspectives” on religion. It said there is “a considerable emphasis” placed on “understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.”

    Jay Smith, a history professor at UNC and vice president of its chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said the letter amounts to “ideologically driven harassment.” He said the Education Department official who signed the letter, Robert King, “should stay in his lane and allow the experts to determine what constitutes a ‘full understanding’ of the Middle East.”…

    There were real area experts and institutions producing them in the US after World War II, but Hoover and McCarthy and their idiot friends made sure they were silenced, marginalized, or destroyed. Needless to say, this wasn’t beneficial to US education, diplomacy, or security.

  85. says

    Guardian – “Rambo: Last Blood review – Stallone storms Mexico in a laughable Trumpian fantasy”:

    This massively enlarged prostate of a film can only make you wince with its badly acted geronto-ultraviolence, its Trumpian fantasies of Mexican rapists and hilariously insecure US border, and its crass enthusiasm for rape-revenge attacks undertaken by a still-got-it senior dude, 73 years young, on behalf of a sweet teenager. The film, co-written by Sylvester Stallone, imagines this demure young woman having her face slashed by an assailant but the field is left clear for a stag payback showdown; there is no question of her taking her own retributive action.

    Stallone’s own impassive face, now like a sculpture created by Picasso out of a Firestone tyre, presides enigmatically over the proceedings and his indistinct line readings would not get him very far in rep. His announcement of “I want you to feel my rage and my hate; I want to rip out your heart!” comes out more like “Ug wuff yuh tahfarr m’range an mayayyht, ug wuff trip ertcha heurr!”

    In the likable Creed movies, Stallone had found a way for his legendary boxing champ Rocky Balboa to bow out with humour and humility: as a trainer. But there is no such style in this new Rambo film, the fifth in the franchise, which despite its name may not be the last:…

  86. says

    Susan Simpson:

    I know there’s a lot of plausible speculation that the whistleblower’s complaint relates to Trump’s July 31st call with Putin, but after reading the IG’s letter, I’m more concerned about Trump’s July 25th call with Ukraine’s President Zelensky.

    The White House’s readout of the July 25th call contained nothing of substance, but Ukraine’s readout noted that Trump was focused on Ukraine’s ability to “complete investigations into corruption cases that have hampered Ukraine-US cooperation.”

    There is only one way this reference can realistically be interpreted: during the call between Trump and Zelensky, Trump expressed his desire that Ukraine carry out a criminal investigation into his political opponent, former VP Joe Biden.

    The day following this call, US Special Rep Volker had his own meeting with President Zelensky. And, a few days after that, Trump’s personal attorney Giuliani flew to the Spanish countryside for a secret meeting with Zelensky’s right-hand man, Yermak.

    Per NYT, the whistleblower’s complaint is about a series of events that includes, but is not limited to, a statement made by Trump to a foreign leader. That could suggest that whatever Trump promised on the call was later followed up on by other agents. [link at the link – SC]

    Under this hypothetical scenario, Trump wouldn’t need to make inappropriate promises over a call. Instead, Trump would just need to say something that would confirm for Zelesky that, later, when Trump’s agents make promises to Ukraine in secret, they do so on his knowing behalf.

  87. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad snarks abiout the third day of hearings at teh NKofE’s supine kangaroo, Supreme court hears masterly prorogation defence: don’t sweat it:

    Lord Keen’s experience with honest criminals proves poor training for working with narcissists and sociopaths

    I’m sticking my neck out here: I’m guessing that telling the supreme court in advance that you might just ignore its decision if you lose and go ahead and prorogue parliament a second time isn’t necessarily the best way of endearing yourself to the 11 judges. Shove your verdict where the sun don’t shine. Whatevs. But I’m not the prime minister.

    Spare a thought then for Lord Keen, who was tasked with summing up for the government’s appeal against the Scottish court’s decision that it had acted unlawfully, when his client had gone rogue. These haven’t been a great three days for Keen. Ones he will be keen to erase from his memory. Admittedly Boris Johnson had dealt him a rubbish hand, but he still hasn’t played it that well.

    On the first day of the hearing he had appeared almost comatose as he mumbled and meandered through his opening speech. This time he was rather better prepared. At lunch, one of his juniors had injected a massive shot of adrenaline directly into his heart to at least render him awake. Total coherence was still tantalisingly out of reach. Perhaps it was beyond anyone in his position.

    Keen’s basic point was that the court should try not to worry its pretty little head about anything. The difference between dissolution and prorogation was more apparent than real and justiciability was not worthy of the judges’ consideration. Whether the suspension of parliament had been taken for legitimate or illegitimate reasons was also neither here nor there. In any case, who could doubt that the Incredible Sulk was a man of the highest integrity? Boris had always promised to lie and he had been as good as his word. So their lords and ladies should just take time out and put their feet up over the weekend rather than sweat the small stuff.

    Not surprisingly, the judges weren’t overly impressed by Keen’s assertion that the documents were both straightforward and could also be read in a variety of ways, and pressed him to reveal what remedies the government had in mind if the decision went against it. Here Keen rather fell apart. He was used to dealing with honest criminals. People who at least knew the difference between right and wrong.

    Now he was in a looking-glass world of narcissists and sociopaths. Politicians and advisers who could literally not be trusted to dress themselves in the morning. […]

    […] Keen was about to be shown up yet again by Lord Pannick, who delivered a closing speech that was even more devastating and forensic than his opening one. Piece by piece, he disassembled Keen’s argument. First on the facts. If the Sulk had really just intended to deliver a Queen’s speech on 14 October rather than stop parliament sitting, he could have prorogued on 7 October. […]

    Pannick even observed that one of the bills Keen — the poor, poor love — had been working so hard on in the Lords would now fall because of the prorogation. Keen looked as if he wanted to throw up. His own failures he could just about live with. Being patted on the head by his opposite number was an insult too far. Keen, though, was just collateral damage in Pannick’s drive-by shooting. Having left Keen to exsanguinate, Pannick took aim at James Eadie’s arguments on the law itself. The back of Eadie’s neck turned a bright crimson. He was so busted. Definitely a man you would want to play poker against.

    All of which rather overshadowed a morning that had been notable for Michael Fordham using his encyclopaedic knowledge of case law to argue against the government’s position on behalf of Wales. He was heard without a single interruption. Largely, one assumed, because the judges were worried he knew the law better than them.

    Next up had been Edward Garnier speaking for John Major. We’re beyond the world of satire when a former Tory prime minister can accuse the present one of being less trustworthy than a dodgy estate agent. An allegation that seemed rather harsh on dodgy estate agents. The constitution might be based on the assumption of a conscientious prime minister, Garnier said, but the judges should be aware they were dealing with a reckless one.


    Some readers’s comments:

    ● “I would pay a fortune, an enormous fortune to see Rees Mogg plonked in front of 11 SC judges and interrogated. And the resulting conflagration would be soundtracked by Ode to Joy.”

    ● “I don’t envy Keen. He has to sell a shit sandwich to the Court and ask them not to judge the taste of the sandwich itself but rather whether said shit was legally applied in said sandwich.
    Was the correct implement used? Did they butter the bread? All the while trying not to wince at the stench.”

    ● “Well, give Johnston his due. He is going to deliver Scottish independence, break up the UK, deliver some kind of Brexit, and in so doing reduce England to the status of Portugal, possibly split the tory party, introduce against his will a written constitution for England — basically, there is no end to the good things this clown will inadvertently produce. Good on him.” (Some pushback on the slur to Portugal…)

    ● “He didn’t have much to work with did Keen,
    Johnson and his statement were nowhere to be seen, and he’d just left it up to this chap Keen with a “yeah make it up – chin up old bean” and Keen, trying not to be obscene, said stuff about how you can say owt to the queen, to prorogue any time is just the machine. But O’Neill he was beautifully supreme. I hope this is not a just dream and on Monday we can all hear Cummings scream, as his plans unravel at the seam.”

    ● “Meanwhile, in the Brexit deal non-negotiations, the government is presenting non-papers, containing non-solutions to the backstop, as a prelude to non-action.”

    ● “As someone so aptly put it on Twitter today: ‘The voice of Lord Pannick is the sound of nails being swiftly hammered into the coffin of the governments case.'”

  88. johnson catman says

    re SC @191: UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University both reside in the more liberal Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle area of North Carolina. George Holding is a fucking asshole republican of the worst kind, and he hates the liberal areas of the state and anything liberal or democratic in general. Of course he would love to defund a program like this. The republicans in the state of NC will lie, cheat, subvert, gerrymander, and definitely suppress votes to get their way. The voting for the US House of Representatives in 2018 was nearly evenly split between D’s and R’s, but the R’s ended up with 11 of the 13 seats because of the partisan gerrymandering that SCOTUS would not address. At least the State Superior Court forced the redrawing of state districts for the NC Legislature, so hopefully the stranglehold will begin to be removed. We can only hope.

  89. says

    Lisa Goldman:

    This is the second ‘graf in a profile of Carole Cadwalladr. It was pub’d in The Atlantic. I am trying to imagine anyone writing a profile of a famous, prominent, award-winning *male* journalist that referred to him as “a hysterical middle-aged conspiracy theorist.”

    [screenshot at the lin – SC]

    How did this dismissive editorializing language about a woman get past the editors of a supposedly liberal publication? Quoting Andrew Neil calling her a “mad cat woman,” too. FFS.

    Whole paragraph should be used as an example in journalism schools.

  90. says

    Jason Catman @ #198, the NC Republicans are the worst. Occasionally, the Pennsylvania or Wisconsin or Florida Republicans will do something truly odious and I’ll briefly think there’s competition for the top spot, but no, the NC Republicans have got it. If I lived there, I’d be in a constant state of rage.

  91. blf says

    In the Onion, School Shooter Thankfully Stopped Before Doing Enough Damage To Restart National Gun Debate:

    Praising those who had leapt into action to prevent the incident from escalating, relieved authorities announced Wednesday that they had thankfully stopped a school shooter before he did enough damage to restart the national gun debate. “We’re all certainly glad that the shooter was only able to kill two students and injure a teacher before law enforcement arrived and prevented it from becoming a full-blown national dialogue,” said police chief Walter McMurray, adding that his department’s quick response ensured that tens of millions of Americans could sleep soundly knowing that they’d never have to discuss this particular shooting. […] At press time, authorities responding to an unrelated incident in Georgia expressed how thankful they were that the shooting that killed seven people and wounded nearly a dozen others at least didn’t occur in a school.

    And, Pompeo To Increase Bombing In Afghanistan After Figuring They’ll Miss And Hit Iran At Some Point:

    Explaining how human error or inaccuracy of the weaponry should eventually produce the desired result, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly ordered the military Thursday to increase bombing in Afghanistan after figuring that they’ll miss and hit Iran at some point. “I am ordering a sustained bombing offensive in Afghanistan since there’s a really good chance that if we launch enough missiles, one of them has to veer off course and eventually strike Iran,” said Pompeo, adding that they are going to make sure to put their most inept military commanders in charge of the air attacks and just wait until one ballistic missile deviates and destroys a residential neighborhood in the Islamic Republic. […]

    That second Onion excerpt is uncomfortably close to what has happened, US drone strike intended for Isis hideout kills 30 pine nut workers in Afghanistan:

    Forty were also injured in the Wednesday attack which struck farmers and labourers who just finished work, Afghan officials say


    “The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them,” tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told Reuters by telephone from Wazir Tangi.

    Afghanistan’s defence ministry and a senior US official in Kabul confirmed the drone strike […]

    Haidar Khan, who owns the pine nut fields, said about 150 workers were there for harvesting, with some still missing as well as the confirmed dead and injured.

    A survivor of the drone strike said about 200 labourers were sleeping in five tents pitched near the farm when the attack happened.


    Angry residents of Nangarhar province demanded an apology and monetary compensation from the US government.

    “Such mistakes cannot be justified. American forces must realise {they} will never win the war by killing innocent civilians,” said Javed Mansur, who lives in Jalalabad city.


    The United Nations says nearly 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of the year. That included a big increase in casualties inflicted by government and US-led foreign forces.

  92. blf says

    Outcry at Indonesia draft criminal code that could see unmarried couples jailed:

    Indonesia is set to pass a new criminal code that could outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president, among a raft of changes that rights groups have decried as disastrous.

    The Indonesian parliament has spent decades revising its colonial-era criminal code, creating a 628-article draft bill that could be passed in coming days.

    Containing a series of contentious new revisions, a coalition of Indonesian rights groups argue the new code violates the rights of women, religious minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as freedom of speech and association.

    “Indonesia’s draft criminal code is disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians,” said Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, “Lawmakers should remove all the abusive articles before passing the law.”


    A separate article states that couples living together outside marriage could be sentenced to six months in prison, an offence that can be reported by a village head, while another specifies that only health professionals and “competent volunteers” can discuss contraception and family planning.

    “The bill’s provisions censoring information about contraception could set back the progress Indonesia has made in recent years to dramatically reduce maternal deaths,” Harsono said.

    Subsequent articles state that only doctors have the right to decide on abortions. Under the draft law, a woman who has unlawfully terminated her pregnancy could face four years in prison.

    [… T]he new draft further recognises any living law, which could be interpreted to include local sharia or customary laws at the local level, of which there are hundreds across the country that discriminate against women, LGBT people and religious minorities.

    The new code also looks set to rollback Indonesia’s notable press freedoms by making it a criminal offence to insult the president and vice president.


    The new code will further expand the existing blasphemy law, and outlines a 10-year prison term for associating with organisations that follow a Marxist-Leninist ideology.

  93. says

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Whenever you report about them, and you say, ‘The Houthis said,’ you should say ‘The well known frequently lying Houthis have said the following.’ This is important because you ought not report them as if these truth-tellers, as if these are people who aren’t completely under the boot of the Iranians … […]

    “So there you go, whenever you say Houthis, you should begin with ‘the well-known, frequently known to lie Houthis,’ and then you can write whatever it is they say. And that’d be good reporting (laughter) and I know you care deeply about that good reporting.”

  94. says

    Michael McFaul just now on The Beat: “I don’t understand why the DNI is talking to the Attorney General about intelligence matters.” Exactly! What the hell? Why did Maguire bring them into this at all?

  95. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @205: I ONLY WISH that the US media would begin every reference to the Orange Toddler-Tyrant with “The well-known, frequently known to lie Trump said . . .”.

  96. blf says

    Starting basically now the Grauniad is live-blogging today’s (Friday 20th) Global Climate Stirke:

    For the next 24 hours, the Guardian will be reporting in real time on the wave of climate strikes as they ripple around the world, starting in the Asia-Pacific region and continuing through Europe and Africa before culminating in the Americas.

    Millions of young people are expected to turn out in more than 3,000 events worldwide, in this latest edition of the Fridays For Future strikes. On this occasion, adults have been invited to join in and companies, organisations, trade unions, even churches are expected to join the fray.


  97. blf says

    More climate catastrophe denialism nonsense in Ozland, Eric Abetz compares The Conversation to Nazis over stance on climate change denial:

    [… S]enator Eric Abetz has compared the Conversation website to Hitler, Stalin and Mao, after it announced a zero-tolerance approach to climate change deniers.

    The academic news and analysis website has said it will remove comments and lock accounts that put forward those views, outraging the Tasmanian senator.

    Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong couldn’t have put it better themselves. They’d be so proud, he told parliament.

    To so superciliously and arrogantly deny a voice to an alternative point of view is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.

    The editor of The Conversation, Misha Ketchell, said the academic website was committed to presenting peer-reviewed rigorous science no matter what perspectives they represent.

    “We are not silencing commenters altogether,” Ketchell told Guardian Australia. “They have had several years in which they have been able to post those comments on our website.

    “They’ve been doing it for a number of years and because the arguments haven’t changed and the evidence hasn’t changed we think they’ve had ample opportunity to have their say.

    “We’re really committed to presenting the evidence accurately in a way that keeps readers informed and we believe the evidence comes from accurate experts who know what they’re talking about and not people who are peddling individual opinions.

    “We don’t think it’s appropriate to give those opinions similar weight.”

    In a blog post, Ketchell said people peddling pseudoscience were perpetuating ideas that would ultimately destroy the planet.

    Abetz, who describes himself as a climate change agnostic, said environmental prophets of doom had been getting it wrong for half a century.

    This ugly, unscientific, totalitarian, arrogant approach taken by the Conversation is the exact opposite to the principles of scientific endeavour.

    He said the lesson of history was that truth would ultimately prevail.

    The Conversation can stop the conversation, but it cannot stop the march of inquiring minds that will ultimately determine this issue, Abetz said.

  98. blf says

    Perhaps we need to explain climate change to politicians as we would to very small children:

    [… I]gnorance, particularly wilful and entrenched ignorance, is a much harder rock to smash. A fundamental tenet of the scientific method is that there is never certainty in science, only observation, experimentation, hypothesis refinement and the empirical accumulation of evidence. Our past and present leaders exploit that fact, warning of the dangers of scientific consensus as if it reeks of climate conspiracists.

    Yes, there have been warmer periods and colder periods in the geologic record and while the effects may be similar, the various causes over time differ. Tony Abbott recently stated that despite there being no humans around in the Jurassic to burn stuff and produce carbon dioxide, incredibly, the climate was even warmer then — ergo manmade climate change is absolute crap. He failed to comprehend the other mitigating factors, like the volcanoes in the southern hemisphere spewing out gases, including, wait for it … carbon dioxide. Our Earth is immensely complex and scientists the world over are doing their best to understand it. So when they form a consensus, we should listen.

    Perhaps we need to explain climate change to sceptical politicians as we would to very small children. Here, let me try. The sun is very, very hot. Heat comes from the sun and enters the Earth’s atmosphere. But, some of that heat bounces off the Earth and heads back out to space. And before the heat escapes off into space, gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, capture and absorb it. Consequently, the atmosphere heats up — warms if you will. More heat-absorbing gases in the atmosphere, the greater the impact. It’s really not rocket science, simply Earth science.


    While politicians debate the cause, and incredibly, even the validity of climate change, scientists are measuring the effect. Because that’s what scientists do, they measure, they experiment, and they learn. It’s been stated that children will learn nothing from attending climate rallies except how to join the unemployment queue and that is fundamentally wrong. On Friday, children at my kid’s school will spend the morning discussing the protest, what it is about, why it is important and what it is hoped will be achieved. They’ll learn about the atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere and how they interact with the biosphere — namely us.

    [… O]n Friday, schoolchildren will show that the present is the key to the future. And as a scientist, academic and a parent, I cannot be prouder that my children are standing up for their future.

  99. blf says

    Also in Ozland, ‘We declare our support for Extinction Rebellion’: an open letter from Australia’s academics:

    Leading academics from around the country say it is their moral duty to rebel to ‘defend life itself’

    We the undersigned represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their universities. While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on one point: we can no longer tolerate the failure of the Australian government, or any other government, to take robust and urgent action to address the worsening ecological crisis.

    The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. This includes many species of insects, some of which are essential to our food systems. Many people around the world have already died or been displaced from the effects of a rapidly warming climate. July 2019 was the Earth’s hottest on record. Arctic peat is burning and ice is melting at rates far beyond even the most radical scientific predictions. The Amazon is burning at an alarming rate. All are creating devastating feedback loops, releasing more CO2 and reducing the Earth’s heat reflecting capacities.

    Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or ignore the basic science with impunity. […]


    Australia’s current climate policies and practices are dire. Rather than making the urgent structural changes necessary for a sustainable and just transition toward zero emissions, the Australian government is continuing to prop up and expand coal and other CO2-emitting industries. Australia is not even meeting its Paris agreement targets which, according to recent reports, are themselves far from adequate.

    It is unconscionable that we, our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of this unprecedented disaster. When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty, to rebel to defend life itself.

    We therefore declare our support for the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement and the global week of non-violent civil disobedience and disruption planned for October. […]

    Hundreds of Australian academics declare support for climate rebellion points out the letter was released with more than 250 signatures.

  100. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chris Hayes of “All In” on MSNBC is having town hall meetings on climate tonight and tomorrow. He just finish a long interview with VP Al Gore.

  101. blf says

    Ben Carson warned of hairy men in transphobic comments:

    Ben Carson, Donald Trump’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Hud), made a transphobic comment this week during a meeting with federal employees in San Francisco, the Washington Post reported.

    At least one person at the meeting walked out in protest, staffers told the Washington Post.

    Carson said he was concerned about big, hairy men trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters, a remark that multiple people at the meeting interpreted as an attack on trans women, according to the Post.

    Fearmongering over the effects of giving trans women access to homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters is a common trope among anti-trans activists. In May, Hud proposed a new rule that would gut protections for homeless trans people at federally funded homeless shelters.

    “Rescinding this rule is a shameful decision that will result in trans shelter-seekers being forced on the streets,” Julián Castro, who was the Hud secretary under Barack Obama and is now a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted at the time.


    Multiple academic studies have confirmed that trans inclusive policies do not endanger cis people. At the same time, there is substantial evidence that trans people, particularly women of color, are victimized at disproportionately high rates and face abusive treatment in public places.

    During his San Francisco visit, Carson also complained that society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women, staffers told the Washington Post.

    The secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false, a Hud spokesperson told the Washington Post.

    Carson has a history of making transphobic comments in public, and has “repeatedly mocked transgender people in internal meetings in Washington”, the Post reported, citing a government official.

  102. blf says

    As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump’s press conference:

    Despite being subjected to a daily diet of Trump headlines, I was unprepared for the president’s [sic] alarming incoherence

    As a regular news reader I thought I was across the eccentricities of the US president [sic]. Most mornings in Australia begin with news from America […]. Our headlines and news bulletins, like headlines and news bulletins everywhere, are full of Trump.

    As a political reporter for most of the last 30 years I have also endured many long and rambling political press conferences with Australian prime ministers and world leaders.

    But watching a full presidential [sic] Trump press conference while visiting the US this week I realised how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect.

    The press conference I tuned into by chance from my New York hotel room was held in Otay Mesa, California, and concerned a renovated section of the wall on the Mexican border.

    I joined as the president [sic] was explaining at length how powerful the concrete was. Very powerful, it turns out. It was unlike any wall ever built, incorporating the most advanced concrete technology. It was so exceptional that would-be wall-builders from three unnamed countries had visited to learn from it.


    The wall was amazing, world class, virtually impenetrable and also a good, strong rust colour that could later be painted. It was designed to absorb heat, so it was hot enough to fry an egg on. There were no eggs to hand, but the president [sic] did sign his name on it and spoke for so long the TV feed eventually cut away, promising to return if news was ever made.

    He did, at one point, concede that would-be immigrants, unable to scale, burrow, blow torch or risk being burned, could always walk around the incomplete structure, but that would require them walking a long way. This seemed to me to be an important point, but the monologue quickly returned to the concrete.

    In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day. I’ve edited skittering, half-finished sentences to present them in some kind of consequential order and repeated remarks that made little sense.

    In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president [sic] of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice.

    I’ve read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, I’ve listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president [sic] could sound. Here he was trying to land the message that he had delivered at least something towards one of his biggest campaign promises and sounding like a construction manager with some long-winded and badly improvised sales lines.

    I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies — the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president [sic] can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.

    It could be interesting to read this reporter’s analysis of other reporter’s reports (as published) on the same press conference.

  103. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, Global climate strikes: Don’t say you’re sorry. We need people who can take action to TAKE ACTUAL ACTION (cartoon): “Brenda the civil disobedience penguin gives some handy dos and don’ts for your civil disobedience “. First panel (my transcription) — “Climate Strike all over the world! Well done! It’s great to see young people exercising their democratic right to protest* especially since many of you can’t even vote for whichever political party is currently lining up to flush life on Earth down the toilet. (* Where they are allowed to.)”

  104. blf says

    From Signs of the times: the best Australian climate strike placards some of the ones I liked:

    ● Some referenced the prime minister’s earlier criticism that students should stay in school, returning sledges in style: “Why should we go to school if you won’t listen to the educated”.

    ● As many a sign said: “Denial is not a policy”.

    And from Australians stand up for climate change action (images):

    ● “Raise Your Voice Not The Sea Level”.

    In Ozland (from the Grauniad’s global climate strike live blog):

    Organisers claim 300,000 climate protesters in Australia

    The organisers of the School Strike For Climate have estimated more than 300,000 people took to the streets across Australia today.

    More than double the number of Australians who rallied at climate strikes in March came out today, with an estimated 100,000 in Melbourne, 80,000 in Sydney, 30,000 in Brisbane, 20,000 in Hobart, 15,000 in Canberra, 10,000 in Perth and 10,000 in Adelaide, not to mention the other more than 100 events in non-capital cities and towns.

    Organisations striking included 33 Australian unions, 2,500 businesses including Atlassian, Canva, Domain and Intrepid, and faith institutions including the Anglican Church & Uniting Church, they said.

  105. johnson catman says

    re blf @209:

    Abetz: To so superciliously and arrogantly deny a voice to an alternative point of view is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.

    It is totes okay if we in the government superciliously and arrogantly deny the voices of climate scientists because we are just trying to emulate those totalitarian regimes. But HOW DARE YOU not let us poop on your plate.

  106. says

    Marshall: “Seems like what a lot of us have been saying. Rudy and Trump tried to blackmail the Ukrainians into going after Joe Biden. It sounds like they got caught. Now all hell is breaking loose.”

    The media needs to be asking every Republican whether if this is accurate they’ll call on Trump to resign.

  107. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 221

    The media needs to be asking every Republican whether if this is accurate they’ll call on Trump to resign.

    Of course they won’t, because the American MSM turned in their spines long ago. Even if the press did miraculously grow a new set of vertebrae, the Rethugs would still make excuses for Trump, twist pretzel-logic arguments as to why this isn’t criminal behavior, or flat out deny it happened (e.g. FAKE NEWS!).

  108. blf says

    Follow-up to @204, Indonesian president postpones plans to outlaw extramarital sex:

    Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has ordered his government to postpone the ratification of a deeply controversial criminal code that would outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president.

    The apparent climbdown came in a surprise address at the state palace on Friday afternoon, and follows an outpouring of anger and criticism about the draconian draft laws.

    “I have ordered the law and human rights minister to convey this decision to parliament, to delay the confirmation of the criminal code bill,” the president, better known as Jokowi, told a televised news conference. He said he had decided the bill needed further review after taking into account input from various groups who objected to parts of it.


    More than 300,000 people had signed a petition calling for Jokowi to step in and stop the bill from being passed.

    The draft penal code applied to everyone in Indonesia, including foreigners, although it was not clear how it would be enforced in holiday hotspots such as Bali. Australia updated its travel advice to warn its citizens of the possible changes.


    Using the hashtag #semuabisakena, meaning “this effects everyone”, the petition highlights problematic articles, including those that would also criminalise buskers, beggars and sex workers.


    The proposals call for a wider interpretation of Indonesia’s blasphemy law, under which members of religious minority groups, including Christians and Buddhists, have been prosecuted in the past.

    Civil society groups said they submitted comprehensive recommendations and revisions to the draft code that were largely ignored.

    On Thursday, hundreds protested outside the parliament, rejecting not only the draft penal code, but also a controversial law passed this week on an anti-corruption commission, which is widely expected to weaken the body’s investigative powers.

    The parliament — the source of more than 20 corruption suspects in recent years — has been derided for passing that law in secrecy and in record time.

    Critics also pointed out that the draft penal code halves the sentence of those convicted of corruption or those “unlawfully enriching themselves” from four to two years.

  109. tomh says

    Detroit Free Press:
    Detroit’s female genital mutilation case takes a big legal hit

    Millions of little girls and young women have been subjected to a painful rite of passage that involves cutting their genitals — often without anesthesia — for centuries in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Detroit Free Press

    Activists fighting to end female genital mutilation worldwide are reeling at the latest decision involving Detroit’s FGM case, in which a doctor is charged with cutting the genitals of nine 7-year-old girls who cried and bled as another woman held them down.

    The historic case has had a series of setbacks.

    First, a federal judge in Detroit declared the nation’s FGM law unconstitutional.

    Then, the Department of Justice said it wouldn’t appeal, concluding the 1996 FGM statute was too weak to defend.

    Congress tried to intervene and fight for the law, but got shot down.

    On Friday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion by congressional leaders to defend the constitutionality of the FGM ban. It also granted the government’s and the defendant’s request to voluntarily dismiss the case.

    Shannon Smith, attorney for the lead defendant in the case, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, said the appeals court got it right.

    “We were not surprised by the decision. A quick look at the law makes it abundantly clear that Congress was way out of its lane in its efforts to intervene and take over a criminal prosecution,” said Smith, adding she will now focus on fighting the remaining charges in the case, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

    The 6th Circuit decision, however, devastated anti-FGM activists, who fear people who support genital cutting practices on religious grounds will still get away with it in the U.S. The defendants in the Michigan case are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, who practice female circumcision and view it as a religious rite of passage, alleging it involves only a minor “nick.”

    “We are deeply concerned that this decision puts girls at risk as the lack of a federal ban leaves an interstate loophole and creates confusion among law enforcement charged with protecting girls from this practice,” the US END FGM/C NETWORK said in a statement Wednesday. “The decision is also discouraging to anti-FGM/C advocates, including survivors, who have been bravely speaking out against this practice, and dismantles education and prevention efforts in the U.S. and across the globe.”

    In striking down the genital mutilation statute, the courts have held that the law is unconstitutional because it doesn’t affect interstate commerce.

    Anti-FGM activists disagree, noting the Michigan case involves girls from Illinois and Minnesota who traveled to Michigan to undergo genital cutting procedures in a Livonia clinic.

    “With evidence of girls being taken across state lines to have this procedure done, we believe that FGM/C is indeed a federal issue and that it is our government’s responsibility to defend against it,” the US End FGM/C Network said.

    More at the link.

  110. says

    blf @ 230, he is “postponing” those plans that would outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president? Sheesh. Those plans should have never existed in the first place.

    But of course, the new plans also make corruption more okay. (Slap on the wrist if you do it, but, you know, go ahead.) Anti-corruption laws weakened, bigotry against religious minority groups strengthened.

  111. says

    From text quoted by SC @220:

    Worth noting too that Rudy is also trying to force the government of Ukraine to manufacture evidence to exonerate Paul Manafort, which is likely to be used as the predicate for his eventual pardon.

    The fallout from all this several-layers-deep scandal will damage Trump. From the number of times he claimed today that he does not know who the whistleblower is, I assume Trump does know, and that he is deeply involved in discrediting or muzzling the whistleblower. At the same time that he claimed he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is, Trump claimed that “it’s a partisan,” and Giuliani already claimed the whistleblower is part of the “deep state.”

  112. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lyanna, OM

    The fallout from all this several-layers-deep scandal will damage Trump.

    Yeah, suuuuuuure it will.

  113. says

    Chris Hayes: “I am watching this somehow turn into a story about Biden and am going to pass out.”

    I can only conclude that some people have lost their fucking minds. If this isn’t impeachable, what is? If this isn’t abuse of power, what is? If this isn’t grounds for everyone to call for Trump and quite possibly Pence to resign, what is?

    The federal and state governments are working on election security, mass movements are underway to fight voter suppression, and Trump is flagrantly cheating. He’s not accepting help from a foreign government in an election – he’s using the power of the US government to extort a US ally fending off Russian attacks to smear a potential political adversary. He’s corrupted the Justice Department. He’s breathtakingly corrupt. He has the Acting DNI violating the law. He’s threatening a whistleblower. He’s endangering the security of the US and all of our allies. THIS HAS TO STOP NOW.

  114. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment. By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.

    A president is sitting in the Oval Office, right now, who continues to commit crimes. He continues because he knows his Justice Department won’t act and believes Congress won’t either. Today’s news confirmed he thinks he’s above the law. If we do nothing, he’ll be right.

    Mitch McConnell is also complicit. The Senate must vote on the bill, already passed by the House, to help states and localities protect themselves from the foreign attacks on our elections that the President has previously welcomed.

    In 1974, Democrats and Republicans united in support of impeachment not out of mutual contempt for Nixon but mutual respect for the rule of law. Congress refused to be complicit in future law-breaking by Nixon or other presidents. It’s time for this Congress to step up and act.

  115. says


    We need to be clear. It’s plainly, objectively inappropriate and wrong to use the official powers of the presidency that the public trusted you with to extort a foreign government to provide a thing of value to yourself and your campaign.

    (It’s also super illegal.)

    How is this even remotely a question?!

  116. says

    Walter Shaub: “It’s not complicated. If the executive really did abuse his power to push a foreign government to knock out his political rival before the next election, that’s either too much for you or nothing ever will be. Don’t need a statutory citation. We’re a free republic or we’re not.”

  117. says

    Guardian – “As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump’s press conference”:

    …I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.

    You need to read the whole piece.

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