Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Sunday, October 22, 2017

$32 Million...and Continued Abuse

I'm not a lawyer and I don't really have any kind of feel for what the going rate is on settling sexual harassment suits (although I will say that Fox News seems to be the greatest source of any familiarity I have with such things), but $32 million seems like an awful lot of money. I get that he was top-rated talent for the network, but when the NYT describes something quite like this:

Although the deal has not been previously made public, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledges that it was aware of the woman’s complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. They included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter.
It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.

you kind of wonder--how much did his shitty behavior towards women cost the network, all told? Also, didn't anyone think that maybe O'Reilly needed more than a sternly-worded clause in his contract to keep from being a total gross abusive sleaze? And also, didn't anyone give a damn what this kind of pattern of behavior meant to women who worked for the company?

Just to highlight one little piece of that excerpt, "a nonconsensual sexual relationship" really sounds like a discussion of rape. So leaving aside whatever O' Reilly's qualities were as a broadcaster--they were paying for the privilege of letting him quietly be, quite possibly, a rapist?

As with the Weinstein story, this shows the disgusting lengths to which some people will knowingly go to not expose monsters. We can speculate about the kind of details and proof that would be behind a $32 million settlement--but that O'Reilly's contract was extended that he was still talent in good standing with Fox speaks volumes about the regard held for O'Reilly's victims, past, present and future.

And make no mistake--O'Reilly was not the only cretin. From Roger Ailes to Eric Bolling, there's stories--but in O'Reilly's spokesperson's defense of him, a vicious picture emerges. From Mark Fabiani:

"Dozens of women accused scores of male employees."  Also a thing of wonder: the allegation that this story was cooked up by The New York Times to prevent O'Reilly from "competing in the marketplace". Because...?  O'Reilly is apparently not done hanging his face out for people to see, or anything else? Because he has to keep earning in case any other suits come up without the backing of a multi-billion dollar organization?

It really is obscene.

Friday, October 20, 2017

This is Getting to be a Disturbing Pattern

How is it possible that the ScaramucciPost does not yet understand this is not cool, not a game, and leading down a really anti-Semitic now?

I mean:

It feels like it's being done for attention.

The Pitch That Defiles

President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff spoke at length about the process in returning a US soldier home and the nature of how Gold Star families are informed of their loss. General Kelly has an intimate and experienced knowledge of that process, and I don't care to take away from that--except to call out that this was a very moving wrap, a sort of turgid tortilla, for a bullshit burrito. Because while he spoke movingly about the process, he also slammed into his address some actual indefensible nonsense. 

Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.

That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day. I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion — that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist; he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.

For one thing, this only corroborates the statement that was made by Congresswoman Wilson that Trump stated that her husband knew what he was getting into when he signed up for service. This particular bit only reinforces the statements of the people who heard the call. Also, talking about Rep. Wilson "listening in" was inaccurate, because it sounds like she was eavesdropping, and wasn't invited to share in that call by the widow because she, also, was a close friend of the deceased.

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well. 
Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.

The member of Congress, once again, listened in by invitation of the family of the deceased. That choice has its own sanctity. The dignity of life? Don't make me laugh! We're talking about the dignity of death, and whether the dead also serve the CIC. For whatever use he has for them, for a kind of order they have no ability to refuse. Whether the currently serving POTUS gets to use General Kelly's son as a human shield.

And what about "Women were sacred, looked on with great honor" and "Religion, that seems to be gone as well"?

Are women uppity tarts now that we get to serve in congress and are without honor or sacredness? Are people just entirely falling down on the routine offering of "Merry Christmases"? Do either of those things have any fucking thing whatsoever to do with whether Trump tried to use the fallen soldiers to shield himself from criticism regarding the Niger mission, whatever that was, as if their blood expiated him from the basic sin of incompetence? Was the Gold Star  Khan family really to blame for the debasing of their conversation?  Why not Trump, who started it by demeaning immigrants, many of whom serve this country, and then lashed out at the Khans when he didn't like what they had to say?

It was a kind of dutiful clean-up where Kelly tried to mop up Trump's mess regarding what he had to say about fallen servicemembers, that became Kelly's mess about how he served a lying, stupid, unacceptably unprepared man.

That is still who Trump is, by the way. Nothing Kelly said changed that, either. It only made him a little more responsible for it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Condolences to the Families of the Niger Four

There is an incredible back-and-forth regarding the four deceased service members who were on a mission in Niger and were killed by an ambush attack from as many as 50 ISIS-linked combatants. Somehow, the story has been diverted from the nature of their mission and the purpose and reasons for their sacrifice, and has become a strange debate on the nature of how we recognize the ultimate sacrifice of our military personnel and the appropriate observances that should be made.

These were, by all accounts, excellent people from differing backgrounds, but united in a desire to exercise their skills with a sense of purpose.  What we know of the expected White House response to their unfortunate end was that a good statement was made regarding their service and the importance of their mission (in Niger, both ISIS and Boko Haram have been known to operate, and Niger is also well-known for uranium). This well-crafted statement was never delivered

“Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

"We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident. We wish them a complete and swift recovery.

"The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger. Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism.”
What we had instead was a nearly two-week period of silence from the White House regarding the deaths of these service members, despite news reports, until a reporter questioned President Trump about these men in a Rose Garden press conference on Monday.  That was when Trump, apparently unguardedly, spoke offhand about the event.

QUESTION: Why haven't we heard anything from you so far about the soldiers that were killed in Niger? What do you have to say about (OFF-MIKE)? TRUMP: I've written them personal letters. They've been sent, or they're going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will, at some point during the period of time, call the parents and the families, because I have done that traditionally.
I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel badly. It's the toughest -- the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens. Soldiers are killed. It's a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day -- it's a very, very tough day. For me, that's by far the toughest.
So the traditional way -- if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I am able to do it.

The problem with this statement is that as far as we know, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did call, or send letters. Often. But it's complicated. Sometimes people could not always be reached, or someone was reached and someone was not, and they felt some way, or whatever other purely human distraction caused a disruption between the intent of the occupant of the White House and the bereaved. Human interactions are often fraught, and those who have suffered losses often do experience a need to understand blame or fault or the reason for the catastrophe that had come into their lives. It isn't always even rational, however necessary that process might be to finding an end to the grieving.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What Fresh Fuckery is This?

I can't even.

Trump's "Jokes" Aren't Funny When They Are Our Lives

It might get a little lost in the midst of Donald Trump Tweeting in favor of the Reagan Era's "One Weird Tax Trick" Pony, Arthur Laffer, or letting out a giant lie about preceding Presidential Administrations relating to how a POTUS communicates his respects to Gold Star families, but a sick "joke" was relayed that reflects how Trump views the point of view of his Vice President, Mike Pence, regarding LGBT people. He is reported to have said:

"Don't ask that guy--he wants to hang them all!"

regarding Mike Pence. The funny/weird thing is, the Vice President that Donald Trump selected actually is pretty seriously anti-gay and has been for a long time. Trump should have been well-aware of that much, and if he had any objection, that could have happened during the campaign--and he could have picked somebody else. The funny/ha-ha part is, there is no part of this that is actually funny/ha-ha. Nope. Even if Trump thinks Pence's anti-LGBT bigotry is really caveman and so last century, because Trump has nonetheless completely bought in.

The evidence?

Well, there is that military trans-ban. He's weakened protections against gay workers.  And he's signaled he is okay about businesses discriminating against LGBT customers--even enshrining bigotry into our Constitution.  His judicial picks have been anti-gay.

At this rate--who the hell is Donald Trump to go picking on Mike Pence for being a virulent homophobe? It's like the pot calling the kettle a thing very much designed for also being a vessel for warming up comestibles.

And take the Values Voters appearance this past weekend.  What an abominable disgrace that was! The attendees at this Christian Conservative shindig are pretty well-described as representing "hate groups".

To think Trump used the Orlando shooting to pretend he would defend LGBT people against the real enemy (Muslims, because hey! a minority he also hates!) then didn't know LGBT people at all except to also be a hated minority.  So he used LGBT people, because he just thinks people exist to be used. (And by the way, Pence and other Religious Right folks are also being used, they just haven't entirely figured out how yet.)

But it's actual people's lives, isn't it? Our jobs, our health care, our marriages, our children. Ha ha. He doesn't care.

Monday, October 16, 2017

My Thoughts are with Mogadishu

The appalling truck bomb attack by al-Shabaab on the capital of Somalia has claimed the lives of over 270 people and injured hundreds more, making it the deadliest terror attack in Somalia, a country that had been ravaged by a quarter century of war. Among the victims were old and young, people with bright futures, people who were greatly loved. They were beloved children, admired community members, doting spouses, greatest friends. And after some carefully deliberated, planned, calculated moments of terror, they were gone, amidst the disarray and rubble.

It is part of the landscape of terror that we are stunned by the senselessness of so many deaths and so much pain, the injuries visited on completely innocent people and families and the brutal disruption of lives. It is, in a darker way, part of that landscape that people exist who do deliberate, plan, and calculate terrorist acts to maximize exactly this kind of extraordinary damage--who see it as a message, and a political tool. 

I can't see anything in this act but a hatred of humanity, and no aim that could be in the hearts of people capable of such monstrosity, but emptiness and continued brutality. My thoughts are with the people of Somalia, and the loved ones and mourners and sufferers with the victims of this tragedy, however far-flung.  Those who have such a viciousness towards life to have contributed to this can not prosper in in any way. Those who maintain faith in humanity reap their own reward.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Trump Fumbles Iran

Trump has been a special kind of stupid regarding Iran--the kind of stupid a person would be if that person were to treat Fox News as gospel, or believe tabloid journos over intelligence experts. I've tried to plumb where Trump's mindset is with regards to Iran. I can tell you where my thinking has been--I think the nuclear deal was great and had some reverberating effects diplomatically, and that Trump is stupid because he doesn't understand why "Trust but verify, then renegotiate in ten years or so multilaterally" was a better cure for any alleged Iranian nuclear pretentions than "Let them do whatever without any promises with respects to inspections, while also piling on sanctions that made a conflict inevitable." 

Trump's understanding of the US relationship with Iran is basically poor.  He somehow, ludicrously, believes that Iran came out better in the deal, and that releasing to Iran their own long-withheld funds is a kind of gift. He thinks confiscated Iranian assets are a gift to Iran. They are gifted with their own money. 

So stated like a multiply-bankrupt con artist. How outstanding. 

But what does a weakening of the Iran deal do for Trump's hand elsewhere--like North Korea?
Oh, it is weakened, because now foreign deal makers realize the US word is not worth as much as it used to be. Because a faithless man is in charge. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

What a Long, Stupid Week It's Been!

There's President Donald Trump, signing an executive order to, despite his happy-talk about the circumstances, re-open the market to insurance companies to offer plans that are low-cost, but offer basically nothing of any utility whatsoever. He also decided the time was right for the federal government to stop paying subsidies to insurance companies to pay for plans to low-income people, even though those plans still, by law, need to be subsidized. His reasoning is that the insurance companies are benefitting from this incredible largesse from the government (as if no services were provided, such as managing payments for health care), but his rationale for health care deregulation is that health insurance companies were being squeezed by the vise placed on the market.

It's pretty incoherent, right? NV Gov. Sandoval makes a great point--Trump's ACA changes are sabotage and hurt everybody. What Trump is doing costs low income and working class families more because their premiums will go up, and even for people who get their plans through their employer, their contributions will surely go up. The insurance companies get less, but still and all, the government is still paying more.

But this is just Trump following through on his election promises to undo Obamacare. He didn't promise to make anything better, and he definitely isn't going to. But it's a promise fulfilled, right? And since Congress can't, won't, and don't know how? Hah! He is teaching the GOP leadership how it gets done--executive privilege. In your face, pretend Republican-leadership!

Now, you could counter that Trump is, in the photo-op he tried to make, almost walking out the door without signing. Problem? Nope. He wants that applause that he nearly exited to. He doesn't care how he gets it. But if he has to sign--also awesome. He doesn't realize that his name is now all over how Obamacare dies. This is Trumpcare now. Or "Trump Doesn't Care". Anyway--he doesn't. Surprise!

This is the week that Trump, in some kind of snit because he challenged Rex Tillerson to an IQ test and got dusted because Tillerson won't fight an unarmed man, got quoted as saying he "hates everyone" in the White House. That certainly sounds healthy.

We also were made aware this week that some of the national security "old hands" were trying out a plan in case Trump wanted to go for "the football"--that is to say, in case he wanted to start a nuclear war. Sure. Why wouldn't that be We cannot call this normal.

Trump also this week threatened the licenses of news organizations who might have spilled a story that he wanted to increase the nuclear arsenal tenfold. Which I can totally see him doing. Both the 10X nukes thing and the outlawing news thing. Because he does not get the Constitution and of course the First Amendment thereof, and also he sort of thinks that the president with the most toys, wins.

Trump also antagonized a little more about North Korea, in part because he might think we have a functioning "Star Wars" type missile interception thingy. Not so much.

Trump also made a claim this week on Hannity's show that the rise in the stock market had shit-all to do with the national debt. Wow. That is dumb.

No wonder Steve Bannon says there's only a 30% chance of Trump completing this term in office. He is really bad at all of this. And I didn't even get into Iran--which is my next post for sure.