TOWOIT #149

June 14, 2017… Day 146

A random picture of Maxine Waters, who looks really pretty in that color:

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Mueller (and therefore Rosenstein) live to see another day:

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This is on the White House splash page, and I for one plan to comply:

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This is splashed on the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.:

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The transcript of yesterday’s off-camera press gaggle surfaced today. Here are the questions reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

  • Is the President considering whether or not he will fire or seek to have Robert Mueller fired as the Special Counsel?
  • Did the President watch any of the Jeff Sessions testimony? And what did he think?
  • Sarah, did the President call the GOP healthcare bill “mean” during his lunch with senators today?
  • Has the President authorized Secretary of Defense Mattis to set troop levels in Afghanistan?
  • Sarah, the North Koreans sent back a university student who’s in a coma. What does the President think about the fact that this young man is in a coma?
  • Can you give us a little bit more detail on that? What do you mean when you say he worked hard with Tillerson? I know this all sort of came to a head, I guess, on June 6th when the United States was informed about his condition.  But can you give us some detail about meetings or discussions or what the President had?
  • Sarah, the President has said he wants the Republican healthcare plan to be more generous. What does he mean by that?
  • Sarah, he said that in public.
  • That was in a pool report.
  • There has also been talk that a senate bill could even be coming out tonight. Is the President — so far, when he heard from all these senators today, is he happy with the direction that the Senate Republicans seem to be going in? Is he pushing them to be more generous on preexisting conditions? Or — you know, where does he stand in relation to the Senate bill?
  • Sarah, do you have any more details on the announcement that’s expected on Friday about changes to Cuba policy? What parts of the Obamacare administration’s policy is the President planning to roll back? And what is he planning to announce in Miami?
  • Just to follow up on that, you mean there’s no final decisions? Or you just don’t have them to provide for us?
  • But he is going down there despite the fact that no final decision —
  • Has the President decided when he’s going to announce whether he has tapes of the Comey conversations?
  • What are the President’s feelings on Mueller at this point? Did he interview him for FBI director? And does he have confidence in him in his current role?
  • Do you have any more details on the workforce development stuff — whether the apprenticeship program is only in high schools or whether it would be corporations? Any more details on how that would work or how it would be encouraged?
  • The President said something today about wanting to have every high school in the country have an apprenticeship program, and I hadn’t heard that in any of the background information. Is that something that’s going to be part of these announcements too? Or was he just kind of speaking a little off-the-cuff on that?
  • Do you know how much money was raised?

In related news, I’ve started re-watching West Wing just for Allison Janney as press secretary C.J. Cregg. 

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TOWOIT #148

June 13, 2017… Day 145

Fell asleep last night after obsessing about the possibility of Trump firing Mueller. Woke up with my face in a fist. Not in a “ready for battle” way, but more just in a clenched up and exhausted way. Chasing buses naked through all my anxiety dreams way.

Then Rod Rosenstein’s testimony in front of Congress reassured me a little. He said he didn’t see any cause to fire Mueller, he had no desire to fire Mueller, and he wouldn’t let anyone order him to fire Mueller.

Then Jeff Sessions was such an obfuscatory little racist liar all afternoon, it was a real drag. Kamala Harris got interrupted, shushed and disrespected *again* but her greatness is not to be denied.

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TOWOIT #147

June 12, 2017… Day 144

Today I was thinking about Alexei Navalny and the young people protesting Putin and corruption in Russia. Now that’s bravery.

And I think about DeRay, Brittany, and Sam on Pod Save the People, talking calmly about Jeff Sessions and the justice department — when it’s so awful for black people, it’s been so awful. And now Sessions as AG feels like a five-alarm fire, but these three podcast hosts sound so calm. It makes you realize how brave and seasoned black people have had to be in the face of terrible things long before Trump became President.

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And I think about the voters in the UK who pulled Labour and the voters in France who pulled centrist. I don’t think all those voters were FOR Corbyn or FOR Macron. Not by a long, long shot. But they pulled together and they voted for the person who had the best shot to intervene against the forces pulling Europe rightward. And that was pragmatic and beautiful and good.

Yeah, I didn’t get any of those feelings, none of the above, for what I heard coming out of Bernie’s People’s Summit. Not feeling it, guys. Not. Feeling. It. Get Keith Ellison in here, stat. He’s the person who can bridge this divide if Bernie can stand to stop taking up all the air in the room.

Ok, so other news today. Trump-allies in the media are laying the groundwork for the idea that Trump could fire Mueller and end the Russian probe. If the Republicans let that slide, and it feels like they would — then sayonara, democracy. It was good to know you. We didn’t deserve you.

In other signs of wear and tear, at Trump’s cabinet meeting, the cabinet secretaries went around the room in front of the press and said how wonderful Trump was and how blessed they are to be working for him. He started off by saying he had signed more legislation and done more things than almost any other president. Reporters in the room described the whole interlude as “awkward” and “humiliating.”

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Jeff Sessions will testify in public tomorrow after all, although Chris Cilizza seems to think he’s gaming the system somehow with this decision. I just got that from the headline. I don’t always read Cilizza. Or rather, I reach my personal quota and can’t go on until I have a break from him.

So we’ll see what that’s like tomorrow. Sessions has already lied under oath, so why expect him to tell the truth?

The Republicans in the Senate seem to be secretively hurtling a healthcare bill through it’s various stages, and will be passing it with 50 votes and a tiebreaker from Mike Pence. Indivisible and other organizations are doing what they can to rally the troops, but it feels like a losing proposition. I really want the option of changing jobs. I don’t want to cling like a monkey to my job forever. I don’t want to marry for health insurance like my mom and my sister both did in the early 2000s. Don’t get me wrong — they married wonderful men. But they made that leap for the health insurance.

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The 9th circuit court of appeals upheld the freeze on Trump’s travel ban. I’ve lost track of the whole thread on that travel ban, except that it keeps losing in court. In other court news, Maryland D.C. are suing Trump for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

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Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly for statehood and everyone seems to be downplaying it. Also downplayed: the Cosby trial. I think we’re just all too sad and worn down for that sad mess.

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Sean Spicer took questions for eleven minutes. And then in those eleven minutes, he managed to be combative, snitty, an obfuscating liar, a bully, a dodger, an evader… it was a sorry display. It was so far beneath the dignity of the journalists in the room. Those people really know their shit. They could swap places with the other people in the White House and do a better job running things. I’m sure of it for this White House.

The questions reporters asked today:

  • Thank you. Following up on your India announcement, the President, in his speech in New Jersey had said if he’s elected he would be the best friend of India ever in the White House. What steps does the President want to take in his next four years, or eight years, to implement his promise he made to the community here?
  • Sean, thank you. Two questions on trade. Number one, you talked about the beef arrangement. Is that beginning today? And can you flesh out a little bit more about what it looks like? I understood there was going to be an announcement from USDA. Are we waiting for that to actually make this is a fact? Or where are we in the process?
  • And secondly, my other quick question is on steel and aluminum, and the review that the administration is doing. The President said — and was quoted in one of the pool reports as saying that there is legislation being drafted on antidumping. The 232 process goes to Congress anyway.  Was he referring to additional legislation, or this 232 review that you had already initiated as reported by Secretary Ross?
  • Thanks, Sean. A couple questions for you. First, does President Trump have audio recordings of his conversations and meetings with the former FBI Director, James Comey?
  • Do you have any sort of timeline on when that announcement will be?
  • And a quick follow-up on the Attorney General. From the perspective of President Trump, what role did Attorney General Jeff Sessions play in the firing of James Comey?
  • Sean, to that end, when Jeff Sessions testifies tomorrow, do you believe that he should invoke executive privilege on conversations between himself and the President as it relates to Jim Comey?
  • In any way, did Jeff Sessions, folks at the DOJ ask for the White House’s permission, in essence, for him to testify publicly tomorrow?
  • Is the President okay with him testifying in this open setting tomorrow?
  • But just to follow on that, the President seemed to indicate that he thought that it was a mistake for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself in the Russia investigation. He said that his preference would have been to the contrary, off-camera.  What does the President think about the fact that Sessions will be testifying tomorrow and, according to the Department of Justice, wanted to testify in an open session rather than closed classified session?
  • If I could ask you about the other headline of the day — the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia filing a lawsuit against the President, seeking rulings on two points in the emoluments clause in the Constitution. The RNC thinks that this is a bogus lawsuit. What is the President and what is the White House’s perspective on that?
  • Thanks, Sean. I wanted to just — two questions. But first, why leave open this question of whether there are tapes? Don’t the American people — do they deserve to know whether Comey was lying to the Senate? Why leave this question open?
  • But is — I mean, it’s an open question that —
  • Okay, but to follow up on — speaking of lawsuits, for the Ninth Circuit — they just came out and they upheld the block of the travel ban. Any response to that?
  • Hey, Sean. So two questions for you then. I want to follow up on the tapes issue. If the President does have evidence that the FBI Director lied under oath, what is he waiting for?
  • Right, but so what is he waiting for? What’s the delay?
  • On the travel ban, Sean — this is the second question — you just mentioned you obviously responded to the Ninth Circuit ruling today. That ruling also cites the President’s tweets from June 5th on the travel ban. And it cites your statements — this administration’s statement that the President’s tweets are official statements. So given that measure, given that the travel ban is obviously a priority for the President, how is it that the President is not putting his own agenda in danger when it comes to his Twitter habits?
  • The Twitter question, Sean — it’s a different question, though.
  • It comes to the Twitter issue.  So I just want to —
  • Sean, what is the President’s reaction to the Russian government’s crackdown on anti-corruption protests today?
  • Well, Mr. Navalny in particular, but I assume that would be part of your overall —
  • Thank you. One more. The President mentioned a press conference in a couple weeks on the ISIS review. Can you say where and when? And has he made a decision about changing the policy?
  • Thank you, Sean. You said that the President wants to see this Russia investigation and all these investigations wrapped up as soon as possible. He said on Friday that he would be willing to testify under oath. Can you say when he would be willing to do that? Would he be willing to do that before Congress goes into recess to get this done as soon as possible?
  • So he would — sorry, just wanted to be very clear about this.  So he’s not saying that he would go before Congress —
  • Does he have confidence in Director Mueller, Sean? <<This question was ignored>>
  • Thank you, Sean. Two questions. Does the President have a reaction to the vote in Puerto Rico yesterday — the nonbinding measure calling for statehood as the first choice of the people for their future?
  • My other question was, there are widespread stories and speculation that when the President goes to Miami this Friday he will undo the executive orders from the Obama administration that eased relations with Cuba. Can you confirm whether he will undo all of them or some of them?
  •  Thanks.  Following on some of the stories over the weekend in England, when the President signs off on a foreign trip, how much does he factor in his personal popularity in that country?

 

 

 

 

TOWOIT #141

June 6, 2017… Day 138

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Is everything accelerating or is my head just flying apart? The White House Press Briefing lived to see another day and the reporters’ questions are after my round-up of headlines and tweets. First, here’s some of the other stuff that happened today:

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(Oh good, I’m sure this will work out well for everyone.)

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Continue reading TOWOIT #141

TOWOIT #136

June 1, 2017… Day 133

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Palate cleanser for this steaming shit pile of a day: Hillary Clinton was lovely this afternoon, in a warm, hour-long conversation at the Book Expo in NYC. Among many other things, she talked about her love for Nancy Drew books when she was a girl.

The disgustingly hyped and teased announcement in the Rose Garden was today. There was a band playing. I didn’t watch that garbage. 

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Meanwhile, the country continues to be racist as hell:

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A black friend of mine was working her job in a shop in downtown Seattle yesterday and a white man saw her through the window, opened the door and yelled “F___ YOU, N____ !!” Just out of the blue. Just to yell at her.

In my sister’s primarily Mexican & Filipino neighborhood in California, white supremacists from somewhere else drive through looking for Black Lives Matter signs in yards and windows. They come back again and again once a house is identified, shouting at and threatening anyone they see in the yard or driveway or porch. The people she knows who have been targeted are white like she is. She’s afraid to put up a Black Lives Matter sign because she’s the only white person in her household — and if they’ll harass and intimidate white people with BLM signs, what would they do when a dark-skinned Mexican-Filipino man is the one associated with the sign?

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And then there’s Russia, other bullshit, and a Twitter dig from none other than sweet, square Ken Jennings. 

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TOWOIT #45

March 2, 2017… Day 42

KUOW: A black Muslim teen is found hanging in some woods near Seattle.

Elsewhere: A 22-year old woman who was brought here from Argentina when she was 7 was arrested right after a press conference. She spoke at the press conference about her father and brother who have been detained since mid-February. She was arrested right afterward by ICE. I believe ICE employs people who relish throwing their weight around and hurting other people.

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Session recuses himself from the investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia. The White House discloses that Kushner and Flynn met with the Russian ambassador at the Trump tower in December.

Basically it was a hell of a day for all these zany white guys on C-Span:

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Two of my co-workers take their kids to play basketball at a Jewish Community Center that recently had a bomb threat. One of them thinks Trump’s speech was pretty good and he has some good points when it comes to the economy. The other one stood out in October by saying firmly during an equivocating semi-Trumpy comfy white guy convo, “Trump disqualified himself months ago because of his racism.”

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TOWOIT #36

February 21, 2017… Day 33

Radio alarm: Praise for General McMaster from all directions. NPR is on the chopping block, so I’ll enjoy my Morning Edition while I can.

Tuesday morning. NBC says Trump has a perfect chance, right now, for a reset. Asks, “Can Trump enjoy a no-drama week?”

Trump visits the Smithsonian Museum of African American History this morning. While there, he tells the press that the recent anti-Semitism has been “horrible” and “painful” and is “going to stop.”

The Anne Frank Center was not amused. They called it a bandaid on the cancer of rising anti-Semitism. Proving they are as good with words as their namesake, they also said “Do not make us Jews settle for crumbs of condescension.” Sean Spicer said in his White House press briefing, that Trump has constantly condemned anti-Semitism, and that he, Spicer, wished that the Anne Frank Center had praised Trump for his leadership on this issue.

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Muslims and Jews in the U.S. are continuing their public overtures of kinship. Muslims quickly raised some money to help with the Jewish cemetery in St. Lousi that was vandalized.

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President Trump tweets that the angry people at Republican town halls are just “liberal protesters.” Republican congressman Justin Amash tweets back “They are our fellow Americans with legitimate concerns. We need to stop acting so fragile.”

On the radio, local former EPA employees tell KUOW they don’t have high hopes for Scott Pruitt’s reign at the agency.A couple hours later, Scott Pruitt greets EPA employees for the first time. I haven’t heard whether the 3,000 pages of emails between him and the oil & gas industry came out today as expected. In his address to the EPA he comes across as super friendly, folksy, and decent. Like other of Trump’s cabinet picks, he has none of the bombast of Trump. He knows how to dial it down, seem like a normal person, and seem humble. He starts off by quoting Paul Harvey.Then he says that we are living in a “toxic environment” (pun not intended?) and that everyone puts on their “political jerseys.” So apparently, he’s going to address how hated he is coming into the job. He says “general principles of civility, finding answers, listening to each other… I think these are things we should keep in mind.” Then he says, “regulations should keep things regular,” and “process matters.” It is now clear that he is centering everything on “those who are regulated” (a phrase he uses multiple times), and not what is being protected (a word he does not use). He says “We should avoid abuses that occur sometimes,” and he’s talking about regulations, not pollution. He says “federalism matters.” Then he drives it home that his guiding principles are “federalism, process, and rule of law.” Yikes, buddy. Then he  goes out with a John Muir quote (“people need beauty as well as bread” — still missing the point that the environment is worth protecting for its own sake). his final words are “I look forward to serving you in the future,” and now his niceness just seems sinister.

People are widely spooked by new DHS rules about rounding up immigrants and deporting them.ICE force will triple, Local police will be deputized, and people can be sent back to Mexico right away, and then later be formally deported by videoconference. When asked about it, Sean Spicer makes a shackle sandwich. He talks about ICE having formerly had “their hands cuffed behind their back” when it came to dealing with illegal immigrants. Then he talks about Trump visiting the slavery part of the African-American museum. Then quite soon after that, he talks about ICE being “in shackles” before this latest executive order.

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Vox article today

At one of my community organizing meetings, I brought up the topic of Seattle as a sanctuary city–and that maybe Seattle’s sense of itself as a sanctuary needed to be actively strengthened and reinforced. As a bulwark to whatever shifting political and fiscal winds are ahead. An older woman who retired from the King County sheriff’s office pooh-poohed me. She said I had no idea the levels of bureaucracy involved. She said there was no way, logistically or culturally, the local law enforcement would cooperate. She said there was no way the feds could make that happen. I just said “Thanks! I’m glad there’s something I can move lower on my list of things to freak out about!” And I meant it. A little bit later, she moved away from where I was sitting. As soon as she left, an elderly Japanese-American woman turned to me and said “Do you think neighbors will turn on neighbors?” That white woman hadn’t reassured her.

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This happened today.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think Glenn Thrush of the New York Times got a question at the briefing. Spicer shut him down pretty hard, choosing to take another follow-up from the tough Haley Jackson instead of letting Glenn speak. He passed it off as chivalry to Haley, but everyone in the room probably had flashbacks of Melissa McCarthy grabbing a super soaker.

“One of the beauties of history is that we don’t repeat itself” 

— Sean Spicer, February 21, 2017

On NBC: As a reporter asked Pence yesterday at a NATO news conference, “You’ve given your assurances today here in Brussels to European leaders that the U.S. is committed to working with Europe. President Trump says very different things. He has said that the EU is a vehicle for Germany, that the UK was smart to get out of the expected other countries to follow. Who should European leaders listen to, you or President Trump?” Pence’s answer: “The United States is expressing strong support for NATO even as we challenge NATO and challenge our allies to evolve to the new and widening challenges. And further meet their responsibilities.” But can you express strong support when an administration is saying different things?

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Another snarky C-Span user clip today, but this one is just accurately quoting a Member of Parliament

On Saturday, the New York Times had a story about Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, meeting with a foreign Putin-friendly politician and then delivering a sealed envelope to Michael Flynn personally. The Washington Post had a follow up story the next day. Both papers talked to Michael Cohen but he changed his story between the two articles. Rachel Maddow asked last night whether Jeff Sessions would follow through with the U.S. DOJ efforts to extradite a Ukrainian oligarch who is Paul Manafort’s business partner. Today a court in Vienna ruled that he could be extradited from Austria to the U.S. Now all eyes are on Jeff Sessions, who will not recuse himself from investigations into the Trump campaign and/or administration.

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This new Washington Post banner freaks me out a little.

Sweet, civil moment between strangers in the middle of a conservative vs. liberal argument on a Trump Facebook comment thread:

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White House press briefing without Sean Spicer:

Continue reading TOWOIT #36