Friday, January 12, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

You Were Saying?

Trump wants to strengthen libel laws.

“On a separate front, we are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws, so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts.”

This from someone who rode down the golden escalator on the lie about Barack Obama’s birthplace and now has scored his 2,000 demonstrable lie in less than a year.

By the way, as upyernoz points out, libel laws are a matter for the states so the president can’t do anything about them anyway.

What’s A Little “Light Bondage” Between Friends?

Apparently it’s enough to lead to blackmail and the possible change in the governorship in Missouri.

Missouri politics was rocked late Wednesday night when Gov. Eric Greitens (R) admitted to an extramarital affair amidst allegations that he blackmailed a woman with a naked photo he took during one of their sexual encounters. The news broke just hours after the Governor delivered his second annual State of the State address. Greitens admitted to the affair in response to a report by KMOV News 4 in St. Louis. He also released a joint statement with his wife Sheena in which the two say they have moved on from the affair. The affair reportedly occurred in 2015, more than a year before he was elected Governor in November 2016.

Politicians are frequently able to weather scandals based on extra-marital affairs. But the allegation of blackmail makes the story considerably more serious and politically perilous.

According to the KMOV report, the story emerged from the now ex-husband of the woman Greitens was involved with. The husband confronted his wife with his suspicions of infidelity days after the encounter in question and then surreptitiously recorded her confession. Almost three years later he shared that recording a reporter from KMOV.

According to the wife, who remains unnamed in the story, she was originally Greitens hair stylist. A flirtation escalated until Greitens persuaded the woman to come to his house where they had a consensual sexual encounter involving light bondage. At least some of the encounter frightened her, according to what she later told her then-husband. “I knew he was being sexual and I still let him. And he used some sort of tape, I don’t what it was, and taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me … I didn’t even know. I feel like I don’t even know. I was just numb. I just stood there and didn’t (expletive) know.”

It was while she was blindfolded and bound to a piece of exercise equipment that Greitens allegedly he took a photograph of her and threatened that he would make it public if she ever revealed their encounter. “He stepped back, I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said: “You’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of [you] everywhere.”

That puts a whole new kink in the idea of the “Show-Me” state, doesn’t it?

Coastal Disturbances

Via the Washington Post:

The Trump administration’s decision to exempt Florida from expanded offshore drilling kicked off a frenzy Wednesday in other coastal states, with governors from both political parties asking: Why not us?

“We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), who backed President Trump in his state’s competitive 2016 primary, said in a statement.

“Not Off Our Coast,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) wrote in a tweet. “We’ve been clear: this would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities.”

The Florida carve-out, announced Tuesday by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, created new doubts about the fate of the entire offshore drilling decision — and immediately became another challenge for Republicans as they work to hold off Democrats in the midterm elections. Nine of the 11 states that opposed the drilling order have gubernatorial races this year, and many of the most competitive contests for the House of Representatives will unfold in districts that touch coastline.

By Wednesday afternoon, state attorneys general, joined by environmental groups, were suggesting that Zinke had undermined the entire drilling rule with his high-profile visit to Tallahassee, where he heaped praise on “straightforward, easy to work for” Gov. Rick Scott (R) — a political ally whom Trump has repeatedly urged to run for the U.S. Senate.

“The Administrative Procedure Act requires there to be a reasonable rationale behind agency decisions, and that they can’t be arbitrary and capricious,” said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, referring to a 1946 law governing major regulatory changes. “So, saying Florida is exempt because Rick Scott is straightforward and trustworthy? That Florida’s coastlines are unique? That seems to be the definition of arbitrary and capricious.”

This may actually accomplish two good things: keep oil drilling off the coast of the rest of America and completely blow up Scott’s attempt to run for the Senate by depicting him as less a guardian of the environment and more a tool of Trump so that Mar-a-lago doesn’t end up with tarballs on the beach.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What Passes For Presidential Now

Trump had a bunch of senators, representatives, and other people over to the White House to discuss immigration and it was all on TV.  After it was all over, the chattering heads were swooning about how “presidential” he was even though he didn’t seem to understand what the hell they were talking about.

For example, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked for a “clean DACA bill,” which would prevent some 800,000 people from being in jeopardy of being deported.  Trump said, “Sure, that’s fine.”  That brought a swift response from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who wanted something completely different, to which Trump said, “Sure, that’s fine,” and then Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) chimes in with something else on a different tangent, and Trump said, “Sure, that’s fine.”  At the end of the televised portion he declared, “I want whatever you all come up with,” or words to that effect.

That resulted in this from CNN’s Dana Bash:

This is the presidency that a year ago we all thought Donald Trump was capable of… Just the notion of him being in command .. This is what people who had high hopes for the Trump presidency thought it would be, meeting after meeting like this.

Oh, for Dog’s sake.  Just because he didn’t stand up and throw paper towels doesn’t make him presidential.  This wasn’t leadership.  This was some old fart nodding and smiling through something he doesn’t understand at all because he’s more concerned about when he’s going to get his pudding.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Family Values

Via the Washington Post:

The Trump administration announced Monday that it will terminate the provisional residency permits of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them to face deportation.

The administration said it will give the Salvadorans until Sept. 9, 2019, to leave the United States or find a way to obtain a green card, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. After earthquakes hit the country in 2001, Salvadorans were granted what is known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, and their permits have been renewed on an 18-month basis since then.

This means that they will be deporting American citizens — a lot of the Salvadoreans had children born here — and sending them back to a country they’ve never been to.

There are shameful examples in our history of turning on immigrants, usually by those who were one generation removed from being immigrants themselves, and in the last 100 years we saw the consequences of turning away people and sending them back, many to their death.

Even if there is a legal hold put on this, and I can’t imagine that there won’t be, it is still an attack on the basic American value and tradition of providing a safe haven for those seeking refuge from disaster, either natural or political.  It is a large part of the reason this country exists in the first place.  At least it used to be.

Hardly Working

According to Axios, Trump has a quiet day every day.

Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings, according to copies of his private schedule shown to Axios. This is largely to meet Trump’s demands for more “Executive Time,” which almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence, officials tell us.

[…]

On Tuesday, Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11am. He then has “Executive Time” for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it’s another 1 hour 15 minutes of “Executive Time” followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of “Executive Time” before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45pm meeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15pm.

I did more work last week when I was on vacation.

On the other hand, can you imagine what chaos he’d cause if he was actually working?  Thank Dog for laziness.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Spare Us The Diagnosis

Is Trump mentally ill?  Aside from the fact that I’m not qualified to make that determination and no one who hasn’t examined him is, Josh Marshall makes a good point.

It’s really only the behavior that matters to us as citizens. A diagnosis would only be helpful to learn about behavior we don’t know about or predict future endangering behavior. Since we know about the behavior we’re talking about, none of that matters or applies. In common sense, every day rather than clinical language Trump is clearly unstable, erratic, impulsive. In a word, he’s nuts and not well. As citizens, we are entirely able and entitled to make these determinations. They are ordinary English language descriptors that the psychiatric profession doesn’t control and shouldn’t want to control. The entire debate over whether Trump is “mentally ill” is simply a diversion, premised on the idea that we need either permission or dictation to say he is not able to safely or competently fulfill the job of President. We don’t. The observed behavior is really all that is necessary and all that matters. It’s very clear.

To put it in terms that I can relate to, it’s like driving your car down the highway and suddenly seeing clouds of white smoke trailing out the back.  At that point you don’t spend a lot of time wondering about what caused it; you pull over, find the source, and put out the fire before anything worse happens.

And The Winner Is

Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes is making news.

You can read the transcript here.

This is what leadership looks like, and while there’s all sorts of chatter about running her for president — I mean, come on; who ever said a TV star could do that? — there are those who lead by inspiration, who call forth our better nature, and who can make us look to ourselves to do good and improve the lives of others without running for office.

There are going to be those who will dismiss Ms. Winfrey as just another Hollywood celebrity who is out of touch with “real America,” who have so much that they’re hardly in a position to tell us or show us the right way or any way to solve our problems and heal the abyss between various factions.  Or there will be those who say that we’ve already tried having a dynamic and inspirational leader, and all we got from that was backlash from a base that never accepted the idea that a black man could be president.  They will say, “Do we really want to go through all of that again?”

It doesn’t matter if Oprah Winfrey runs for president.  She’s reaching out to those who might or who will run and is trying to turn us away from anger and venting.

In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave. To say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome. And I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.

I hear you.  As I’ve said many times myself, hope is my greatest weakness.

Back To Work

Well, that was fun while it lasted.

I got some things accomplished, including clearing out closets and the guest room in order to make room for a housemate who will arrive next week, getting some writing done, catching up with friends, and generally finding out what it’s like to sleep until it’s (almost) light outside.

It seems like I was storing up energy for all the things I’ll be doing this year.  Next weekend (January 13 and 14th is the 6th annual South Florida One-Minute Play Festival and the Art Deco Weekend on Miami Beach.  I will be at both.  In February there’s the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance on the weekend of February 23-25, which will be my annual infiltration among the rich and famous.  Then on March 2, the world premiere of All Together Now at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton.  By then I’ll be ready for spring break.

So regular blogging resumes.  What did I miss?