NYT Co-Endorses Warren, Klobuchar Like When Trump Wanted The Black Guy To Share Apprenticeship With The White Chick
If you're gonna run a reality show, you should probably decide who gets the rose.
The New York Times decided that for its big 2020 Democratic primary endorsement, two weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses, it would "[experiment] with a new level of openness." Instead of just pooping out an endorsement that wouldn't ultimately make a lot of difference to voters, the Grey Lady's editorial board would publish the full transcripts of interviews with candidates, and unveil the recipient of this major award on a special live edition of the paper's FX/Hulu TV show, "The Weekly." Then it would poop out the endorsement that wouldn't ultimately make a lot of difference to voters. Which may lead some cynics to suggest the whole exercise had as much to do with ginning up attention for the Times across multiple platforms as with making the endorsement process any more transparent.
And then, after all the buildup, the Times endorsed two ladies, neither of whom is grey: Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
PULL THE FIRE ALARM!
The Senate's impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is set to begin tomorrow afternoon, and oh boy, are Republicans losing their shit.
How scared are they? Well, they are gallivanting around right now making the case that the Senate rules on impeachment should include an emergency shutdown mechanism, a "kill switch," a fire alarm Trump's lawyers can pull if things are going really really really poorly for Donald Trump. (What could possibly go wrong? Surely nothing with the dream team of lawyers Trump has assembled!)
We chose this month's Wonkette Book Club book selection shortly after Donald Trump wished the world a Happy New War by assassinating Iranian general Qasem Soleimani via a drone attack in Baghdad. Since then, Trump and his war heads seem to have backed off somewhat from any immediate plans for a shooting war with Iran -- at least until there's another event in the region that might put everyone on edge again. But what are the odds of new tensions in the Middle East?
We figured it might be useful to examine the last time a bunch of hot-headed Republicans got us into a war, and that's why we're reading Michael Isikoff and David Corn's 2006 book Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, which as its title suggests isn't so much a military history as an account of the snow job George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and a raft of neocons did in convincing America to launch a war of choice in Iraq. There wasn't any need for them to convince themselves: again and again, Isikoff and Corn make clear Bush and company were already committed to ousting Saddam Hussein. Many had even wanted to before 9/11 provided a convenient national security crisis to exploit. And too many members of the media were perfectly willing to suspend their skepticism or even to aid and abet the liars.
As we read Hubris now, some parallels to the still unfolding Trump/Iran situation are obvious -- most notably the constant lies and spin around the motives for killing Soleimani (right down to a bullshit claim that he'd been involved with 9/11) and the facts about Iran's retaliatory missile strike. But the differences are striking, too. Bush et al lied us into a war that they'd wanted for a long time, for some very specific reasons. Trump, who acts based on a combination of longstanding bad ideas about the world plus whatever mood he happens to be in, doesn't seem to have any particular direction or consistent motives at all (beyond what he thinks will gain him money or votes). It remains to be seen whether that makes him even more dangerous than the Bush crew.
Women of Shutterstock arise!
Rebecca forwarded me a heck of an email from the "Independent Women's Forum," an anti-feminist rightwing astroturf group taking a break from yelling at women for emasculating men to push business-friendly policies with the very finest in faux feminist rhetoric. Here's a less detailed web version of the group's major announcement of a very important report on "Improving Women's Lives" through the magic of supply-side economics.
Gotta say, they spared no expense on licensing photos to prove they care about all the diverse women the group represents, from Active pregnant woman works with laptop and tablet works at outdoor to Young African woman sitting at a table at home using a laptop and writing addresses on packages for her home based online business.
Latina college student reading holding library books agrees: "Real women like me need the capital gains tax eliminated so we can make the most of our very real lives!"
We don't see why IWF didn't just copy in the faces of top staff from its "about us" webpage.
(Yes, we've removed names and headings and smooshed the pics together in a grid here.)
Or maybe we can guess.
Besides how that's just true.
Happy Friday, it's Book Time! No, we have not read a book, what do you think we are, some kind of Dok who reads books?
(We do read books. Sometimes. SHUT UP, WE READ THE INTERNET ALL FUCKING DAY FOR YOU.)
Anyway, lots of hollerin' and hullabaloo about a new book from the Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig called Dare You To Write A Book Like This, Maggie Haberman, Haha You Can't. Just fooling, it is called A Very Stable Genius, and it is about how Donald Trump is A Very Stable Genius, or the opposite of that.
In an adapted excerpt published by the Post today, we learn in painstaking detail what really led then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call Trump a "fucking moron," a cuss truth that started Tillerson on the path to getting fired while he was in Africa cleaning up some Trump mess or another. We've heard a lot of different reporting over the years about the meeting that fateful day in the Pentagon, but none of it was a complete picture like what Leonnig and Rucker report, largely because many of the participants in the meeting vowed never to speak of it, according to the authors.
Y'all, it was baaaad.
Here a CRIME, there a CRIME, everywhere a CRIME CRIME.
Here's a funny thing that happened on the way to the Senate impeachment trial, which officially got underway with much formality yesterday: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its finding that yes, Trump's hold on Ukraine aid was CRIME CRIME CRIME CRIME CRIME. Just like all those impeachment witnesses said people all over Defense and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) thought it was!
Trump is his very own Baghdad Bob.
When Donald Trump did his presser the morning following Iran's missile attack on American air bases in Iraq (we stole 'em fair and square and they belong to us) on January 8, he was very clear that both the Americans and the Iraqis at the bases were completely unscathed, HOORAY.
Here, we've cued the video up for you:
Since he was reading from a teleprompter, Trump delivered the news in a relatively straightforward declaration:
I'm pleased to inform you, the American people [sniffsnort] should be extremely [audible exhale] grateful and happy [sniff!] no Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime. [sniff] We suffered no casualties [snort], all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.
He went on to add that "No American or Iraqi lives were lost," which to our knowledge still appears to be true. But the stuff about no Americans being harmed is, we learned yesterday, pure uncut Trumpian bullshit. Turns out that in mere reality, 11 American troops were wounded in the attack, and were evacuated to American military hospitals in Kuwait and Germany. Defense One reports the injured US personnel will
be treated for traumatic brain injury and to undergo further evaluation, several U.S. defense and military officials have confirmed[.]
The news of 11 casualties is rather different not only from what Trump said, but also from what Pentagon and White House sources said immediately after the attack, when they insisted the Iranian missile strikes had resulted in "no casualties, no friendly casualties, whether they are U.S., coalition, contractor, et cetera."
And now the administration is spinning furiously to explain there's no contradiction at all between the initial "no casualties" declarations and the inconveniently brain-injured soldiers being treated at military hospitals.
Lev Explains It All, Episode Two: How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Talking To Rachel Maddow
All this needs to be investigated, but hoo boy.
Did you watch the first night of Lev Parnas on the Rachel show? And most importantly, did you read Wonkette's recap of it, because it took us a long time to write? If you have not done those things, you have five hours of homework, and then you can read this post, which is Wonkette's recap of NIGHT TWO of the Lev Parnas on the Rachel show!
Rachel Maddow started last night's episode of the new hit
CW MSNBC show Lev Splains It where we started our recap yesterday, with a discussion of why precisely exactly Lev Parnas, who was indicted by the SDNY, is doing what he's doing right now. The first night, Maddow said what came across in her discussions with him is that he feels that by spilling his guts about what he knows, he is rendered safer than if he were a man who could, we dunno, fall out of a window like a common Russian journalist (either they are particularly bad at knowing which one is "window" and which one is "door" or Vladimir Putin is a murderer), taking his secrets with him.
And yes, it sounds like he is scared of that. We want to emphasize at the outset, though, that we actually don't know Lev Parnas's true motivations in what he's sharing right now. (Marcy Wheeler is skeptical, but also acknowledges that a lot of what Parnas is saying is tracking with what we already know.)
But Parnas said last night that what he fears more than these "criminals" is
his shadow spiders the monster under his bed
BILL FUCKING BARR.
(We will replace this grody poop-smell picture of Barr as soon as MSNBC uploads the fucking video, please.)
A federal judge in Maryland ruled Wednesday that Donald Trump's executive order giving state and local officials the power to reject refugee resettlement is "unlawful" and doesn't "appear to serve the overall public interest." The executive order, issued in September when the Stephen Miller administration announced the US would slash refugee admissions to the lowest level in modern history, had required that before any refugees can be resettled, state governors or local officials would have to give their express written consent.
In his ruling, US District Judge Peter J. Messitte wrote that
Giving states and local governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees — which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midst — flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.
If you're a nerd who enjoys reading court decisions, check it out. It's very clearly argued, and you get the sense Judge Messitte found the government's arguments insultingly bad.
NO, NOT THAT ONE!
Wompity womp womp womp. Womp.
Well boy howdy, that Lev Parnas interview and alllllll those Lev Parnas texts sure are making some waves, all the way over to the nation of Ukraine! And wouldn't you know it, but Ukraine has announced a criminal investigation, just like Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been begging them to do for over a year now.
'Cept it is not an investigation into Joe Biden or Hunter Biden or how Hillary Clinton and Ukraine conspired to steal the election from herself and give it to Donald Trump so Nancy Pelosi could impeach him right in the balls, SAD TROMBONE.
It is instead a criminal investigation into whether former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was actually under surveillance, as batshit nutfart landscaper congressional candidate stinky Robert F. Hyde seemed to suggest in his WhatsApps with Lev.
And they want the FBI to help.
Honoring an American WWII soldier who saved Jewish troops, no less!
Here's a Nice Time break from all the ongoing madness: Congress is taking steps to honor a WWII hero, Roderick W. "Roddie" Edmonds, who after being captured during the Battle of the Bulge refused to tell a Nazi POW camp officer which of his fellow American soldiers were Jews. In 2015, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel recognized Edmonds, who died in 1985, as one of the "Righteous Among Nations," an honor given to non-Jews who helped Jews escape genocide.
Members of Tennessee's congressional delegation -- Republicans even! -- have introduced a bill to award Edmonds the Congressional Gold Medal, which is different from a Medal of Honor because that one's reserved for heroism in combat. But that doesn't take anything away from the courage Edmonds displayed in the face of very real danger.
And there's a second hour of it tonight!
WOW. We do not know what exactly we were expecting when we sat down to watch Rachel Maddow's interview with Rudy Giuliani's good old pal Lev Parnas last night, but it turned out to be not that. First of all, we might call him a chucklefuck around these parts, but he did not come across as chucklefuck! He was calm, well-spoken, thoughtful, and dare we say, he seemed credible, at least for a person currently indicted by the SDNY related to Trump and Giuliani's scheme to defraud the United States out of another free and fair election by trying to force Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden to help Donald Trump.
It was an hour-long interview (and there's a second hour tonight!) and it was just headline after headline after headline, and every single thing Parnas said needs to be investigated to determine its veracity. So take it with a grain of salt! That said, we can look at what we know -- and also the things Wonkette is pretty sure we've figured out along the way -- to see how much it lines up. Spoiler, it lines up a heck of a lot. In fact, Parnas didn't say anything that surprised us, at least not because it made us think of the situation in a new way. Our jaw was on the floor for a full hour more because we were sitting there going, "JUST LIKE WE FUCKING SAID!"
The interview paints Donald Trump as a person who knew exactly what was going on, because he was directing it all from the top. It also implicates Mike Pence, who, according to Parnas, was tasked to do Trump's dirty work pressuring Ukraine to announce fake investigations into Joe Biden starting a long time ago. And regarding that pressure, Parnas says that going all the way back before Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected in a landslide on an anti-corruption platform, getting that Biden investigation announcement was the only motivation for every single thing they did.
Oh yeah, and Attorney General Bill Barr needs to call his lawyer.
Before we jump into clips from the show, though, one of the most interesting parts to us happened at the end, as Maddow handed off to Lawrence O'Donnell for the 10 p.m. hour and he asked the question on so many people's minds, which is why the hell is Lev Parnas doing this? Why is he going on Maddow and spilling? How does this help him or his case? Maddow said the feeling she got from talking to Parnas is that by him coming clean and spilling everything he knows, it keeps him "safer" than if he didn't, because if his secrets were still his secrets, we guess it'd be a lot easier to dispose of him and them. It's kinda sick that we're talking about this in the United States of America, but this is a scandal partially financed by a Ukrainian billionaire the FBI has assessed to be BFFs with the Russian mob, so, we guess we understand what he is saying.
You want this disaster aid, don't you?
We were skeptical yesterday when we saw the Trump administration had finally ended its illegal delay of disaster relief to Puerto Rico. The $8.2 billion in aid was appropriated by Congress last year to pay for rebuilding after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and the funds should have been made available in September. But the Department of Housing and Urban Development refused to release it, citing worries about "corruption" in the Puerto Rican government. No, it probably wasn't legal to hold the aid, either.
Then, last Tuesday, the island was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed one person and has done at least $110 million in damage, though that amount is expected to rise as Puerto Rico continues to be hit with aftershocks. Yesterday, HUD officials announced they were very generously releasing the aid that should have been distributed months ago, and we wondered what new fuckery might follow.
Puerto Rico, if there's anything to magical thinking, we're sorry. There's new fuckery. For Puerto Rico to actually get the aid, it will have to jump through a whole bunch of new hoops imposed by the administration -- conditions that states on the mainland haven't had imposed on them following disasters. Gosh, why could it possibly be that Puerto Rico was singled out for special treatment? If only we could guess. It just might be because Trump's a goddamn racist and a petty asshole.
That's our working theory at least.
WE GOT US A NICE TIME!
Virginia has quickly demonstrated all the good you can do when you literally "throw the bums out." Democrats won majorities in both chambers of the legislature last year. Women now lead both the House of Delegates and the Senate, and they're completing some unfinished business. Wednesday, the General Assembly passed the Equal Rights Amendment, making Virginia the 38th and final state necessary to approve the amendment.
House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn set off cheers in the Capitol when she declared, "For the women of Virginia and the women of America, the resolution has finally passed." Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy was the resolution's chief sponsor in the House, and it's been a long-fought battle. How long? Del. Vivian Watts demonstrated for the ERA in Washington 44 years ago. She proudly showed a photo of herself with her daughter, who was then 14 years old. She voted for the resolution yesterday while wearing the same sash she wore in the photo.
WATTS: It should be ancient history. Forty-four years is a long time to wait.
Did Matt Gaetz make up a sex game in the Florida lege where he and Squi and Tobin would get points for boning lobbyists, staff and married legislators? That would be on-brand!
When we were covering the confirmation of accused boofing sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court, we realized one of the reasons we absolutely believed the women, part of why their stories were so absofuckinglutely believable, was because, as a person who also went to private schools, we know that guy.
Yes, this post is about GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, but give us a second.
At the time, we wrote about our realization about which guy Brett Kavanaugh was, at his private high school and in college:
You see, we think we have figured out which drunk rich asshole white guy Brett Kavanaugh was in high school. He wasn't one of the guys who was "popular" in the sense of all the girls had crushes on him (and some of the guys too!) and wanted to go necking with him at Boner Cove even on school nights. That was Trevor and Rob and Johnny, and they were #dreamy and Johnny had a Camaro and your mom said Johnny was a total Eddie Haskell but even your mom acknowledged that Johnny was pretty cute.
Kavanaugh, we are guessing, was "popular" in that he was a partier and he spent a lot of time with his "bros," and they probably jacked off in a big circle in their parents' basements only sometimes. They had access to drugs and Natty Light, but secretly, deep down, they were incredibly jealous of Trevor and Rob and Johnny and Johnny's Camaro, because what makes those guys so great anyway? GRANTED, Trevor's ass is perfect and Rob's eyes can make any human melt and Johnny has that Camaro (and is hung like a wild horse), but NO FAIR, WHY THEY GET ALL THE GIRLS? Anyway, we are just saying Brett Kavanaugh's friend group was probably the type that knew where to buy GHB before anybody else at school even knew what that was.
We don't know if Matt Gaetz ever had a claim to even that sort of popularity in school, but it's possible. Like Kavanaugh, his head is misshapen, and his face gives off a certain whiff of desperation. Consider:
Another example of that guy? Donald Trump Jr., who allegedly used to drunkenly piss himself silly during college, to the point that he earned the nickname "Diaper Don."
Also the badly shaped head thing.
Anyway, the Matt Gaetz story we are about to tell you reminded us of Brett Kavanaugh, and also Donald Trump Jr., and not just because, like Kavanaugh and Junior, Gaetz has been known for being LI'L BIT DRINKY DRINKY in his time, in a particularly douchey and unfuckable way.
For the 2017 disaster, not the earthquake this month.
A week after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico on January 7, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has decided it will finally release $8.2 billion in aid that Congress appropriated to help the island rebuild after Hurricane Maria in 2017. HUD officials readily admitted to Congress in October that they'd blown right past a September deadline to release the aid, because the department was worried about "corruption" in the territory's government. Since then, the department hasn't said anything at all about the continuing delays.
Fun trivia fact: When Congress appropriates money, federal agencies have to spend it. It's the law, as you may remember from other Trump administration abuses of power as one of the very things for which Donald Trump is being impeached. Agencies aren't allowed to withhold aid because the "president" has a racist rage-boner over Puerto Rican officials who fail to recognize his response to a hurricane was perfect.
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