Monday, February 12, 2024

Sad man Donald Trump

Got a lot to cover tonight about a sad, sad man named Trump -- former U.S. President Donald Trump.  Richard Rosales (THE ARTISTREE) notes:

Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt are remembered for their powerful constitutional visions, urging unity and progress. Lincoln famously invoked “the better angels of our nature,” while Roosevelt rallied behind “the only thing to fear is fear itself” and the “New Deal.”

However, Donald Trump’s presidency diverged significantly. He asserted unprecedented authority, claiming immunity from legal processes and even incited violence, as seen in the events of Jan. 6. In his bid for re-election, Trump continues with a pattern of intimidation and vengeance against opponents.

His legal battles, including claims of immunity, have been consistently dismissed by the courts, highlighting the dangerous precedent of placing former presidents above the law.

Mr. Trump truly has entered a sad period.  Sad for the country, sad for himself.  Just sad.  A.P. reports:

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday questioned why Nikki Haley’s husband wasn't on the campaign trail, drawing sharp responses from both the former U.N. ambassador and her husband, who is currently abroad on a National Guard mission.

“What happened to her husband?" Trump told a crowd in Conway, South Carolina, as he and Haley held events across the state ahead of its Feb. 24 Republican primary. "Where is he? He’s gone. He knew. He knew.”

Responded Haley in a post on X: “Michael is deployed serving our country, something you know nothing about.”

It's the latest example of Trump disparaging his opponents based on their U.S. military service, going back to his questioning of whether the late Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was a hero because Trump liked “people who weren’t captured." Throughout his political career, Trump has been accused of disregarding longstanding norms on avoiding attacking current or past servicemembers or people in a politician's family.

Like I said, sad.  Lauren Sforza (THE HILL) reports:

former aide to former President George W. Bush blasted former President Trump over his mocking of GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s husband over the weekend for being away on a military deployment.
“Yeah, he’s an ass—-,” Scott Jennings said on CNN’s “State of the Union” in response to Trump’s remarks the day before.
POLITICO notes that the president also weighed in:

President Joe Biden on Sunday defended Nikki Haley’s husband, after former President Donald Trump dragged the former South Carolina governor’s spouse into the swirl of personal attacks he lobbed against her over the weekend.

During a rally in Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, Trump questioned the whereabouts of Haley’s husband, Maj. Michael Haley, who is serving an active duty deployment in the Horn of Africa for the South Carolina Army National Guard.

[. . .]

“The answer is that Major Haley is abroad, serving his country right now,” Biden posted on X on Sunday.

“We know [Trump] thinks our troops are ‘suckers,’ but this guy wouldn’t know service to his country if it slapped him in the face.”

Again, just sad.  And what is sadder?  That people want to rally around someone that disrespectful of those who have served.  Please remember that Mr. Trump was old enough to serve in Vietnam but did not.  Nor did his sons serve in the military.  And, as I have noted before, I do not think it is funny or cute for politicians to make remarks like this.  I was an adult during Vietnam.  It was very stressful on spouses when their spouses deployed.  I am sure Ms. Haley is strong enough to endure Mr. Trump's nonsense; however, no military spouse should have to.  Shame on that sad man.  

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt told Congress: “No man is above the law and no man is below, nor do we ask for any man’s permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.” 

Donald Trump is a different story. During his four years as President, he proclaimed that he had “total authority” to do whatever he wanted to do. That he was immune from any civil or criminal process for anything he did as President, that he was entitled to defy lawful congressional subpoenas without any sanction, that he could not obstruct the law since he was the law himself, and that he had the power to pardon himself. Perhaps most egregiously, he declared that he was exercising his official powers as President when he urged a mob “to take back their country” on Jan. 6, culminating in unprecedented violence and damage at the Capitol.
In his third campaign for the presidency, Trump continues to do what he does best—bullying, boasting, lying, and promising “retribution” against his political enemies. He has vowed, in a second term, to root out “the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” He has promised to prosecute President Joe Biden and has previously threatened the losing candidate in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton. Trump further argues that he is entitled to an immunity he never had as President—that he has impunity from criminal prosecution for misconduct for which he was not previously convicted and removed by Congress. In short, Trump is desperate to be above the law. 

It really is sad.  Go back into the archive and you will see that I did not pick on President Trump.  I did not obsess over his Tweets.  I tried to be fair.  And I feel like I was fair to him.  It is very sad that he cannot -- or will not -- be fair to America.  At THE HILL, Bruce Ackerman writes:

Do states have a constitutional responsibility to apply the 14th Amendment in the way it organizes presidential primaries?

Justice Samuel Alito explicitly asked this question to Johnathan Mitchell, Trump’s lawyer, who responded: “Not that I know of.”

I found this astonishing, since there is a fundamental precedent by the Supreme Court that explicitly resolves the issue: Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944). Lawyers generally call it the “white primary” case, since it involved a Texas statute, authorizing the state’s Democratic Party to allow only whites to vote in its political primaries.

When voting officials followed the party’s decision and refused to allow Blacks to vote in its primary, the Supreme Court repudiated their decision. The opinion explicitly states that the 14th Amendment restricts the authority of the states to determine candidate qualifications. For present purposes, it is enough to quote his closing paragraphs:

The United States is a constitutional democracy. Its organic law grants to all citizens a right to participate in the choice of elected officials without restriction by any state because of race. This grant to the people of the opportunity for choice is not to be nullified by a state through casting its electoral process in a form which permits a private organization to practice racial discrimination in the election. Constitutional rights would be of little value if they could be thus indirectly denied.

The privilege of membership in a party may be, as this Court said in Grovey v. Townsend, no concern of a state. But when, as here, that privilege is also the essential qualification for voting in a primary to select nominees for a general election, the state makes the action of the party the action of the state. 

321 US at 666. (my emphasis)

To be sure, Southern Democrats deployed other means of suppression to exclude Blacks from white primaries until the Civil Rights revolution enabled President Lyndon Johnson to gain decisive congressional support for the Voting Rights Act. Nonetheless, if the court fails to enforce the terms of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and uphold Colorado’s disqualification of Trump, it would be repudiating a decision by the Supreme Court that marked the very beginning of the struggle for equal voting rights in the 20th century.

At the very least, the justices should not be blinded by Mitchell’s profession of ignorance and fail to recognize the power of the Supreme Court’s Smith v. Allwright argument. It is true, of course, that the court in Allwright was dealing with Texas’s violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection” in Section one, and not the disqualification provisions of Section three.

I do not care what the Crooked Supreme Court says or pretends to determine, Donald Trump is not fit to run for president.  It was an insurrection, he ignited it and he has continued to provide aid and comfort to the enemies of this republic since Januardy 6, 2021.  Tom Boggioni notes:

During their "Amicus" podcast, Lithwick admitted that some of Alito's comments about a ruling against Trump would lead to "frivolous " lawsuits struck her as "mob-like" as in, "nice democracy you got, it’d be a shame if something happened to it."

Commenting on his "menacing tone," she explained, "Alito was saying: 'Well, if you allow Colorado to knock Trump off the ballot, there’ll be more lawsuits by people who are willing to weaponize the legal system.' And I guess there’s only one answer to that, the answer that Jason Murray gave, which was that courts actually do know what to do with frivolous, threatening lawsuits that have no point. But another answer could be: 'I’m sorry, Justice Alito, are you threatening me?'"

According to Stern, Alioto's questioning also seemed menacing to him.

"It’s a threat that if a majority of the court allows Colorado to remove Trump from the ballot, justices like Alito are going to come out swinging for the frivolous, ridiculous cases that follow—which really should not be compared to this one, since it’s very much rooted in the Constitution," he explained. "It’s a threat that red states will try to retaliate, that Ron DeSantis will remove Joe Biden from the ballot because he’s a traitor or a Chinese spy or whatever other reason, just fill in the blank. And Sam Alito will be ready to let it happen."

Now one more.  First, this is a judge whom U.S. President George H.W. Bush appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  WIKIPEDIA explains:

John Michael Luttig (/ˈludɪɡ/ LU-dig; born June 13, 1954) is an American lawyer and jurist who served as a U.S. circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1991 to 2006. Luttig resigned his judicial appointment in 2006 to become the general counsel of Boeing, a position he held until 2019.

An influential conservative legal figure, Luttig gained broader prominence after the presidency of Donald Trump, characterizing him as "a clear and present danger to American democracy," and advocated invoking the Fourteenth Amendment to render Trump ineligible to serve a second term as president.[1][2][3][4]

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski said, “A lot of people have said, ‘Oh, they will keep Trump on the ballot because they don’t want the public to lose confidence in the court. They don’t want the Supreme Court interfering in elections. It will make people uncomfortable.’”

“Is that what this is about, or is it about whether or not Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and then sort of gave safety and comfort to those who participated in the insurrection alongside with him?” he asked.

Luttig replied, “It’s the latter. Section 3 disqualifies any person who engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States, having previously taken an oath to support the Constitution.”

“There’s no question whatsoever that the former president engaged in an insurrection against the Constitution when he attempted to remain in power beyond his constitutional term of four years and denied President Joe Biden the powers of the presidency to which he was entitled, having won the election by a vote of the American people. All of this prevented the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in American history,” he continued.

“This is precisely the insurrection that disqualifies one under Section 3 of the 14th amendment. So you’re right, that is the only legal issue. But there are such massive political consequences, that although the Supreme Court ought not consider those undoubtedly they will consider them, but the Constitution requires the disqualification of the former president,” explained the retired judge.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Monday, February 12, 2024.  Hate merchants Selma Blair, Michael Rapaport and Debra Messing take the masks off to go full KKK, a missing six-year-old girl is discovered in Gaza days after the IDF killed her, despite Joe Biden's begging the assault on Rafah has begun, and much more.


The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, today condemned anti-Muslim remarks made by actress Selma Blair and encouraged her to apologize and dialogue with the Muslim American community.

CAIR also called on film studios and talent agencies to stop punishing artists who express support for Palestinian human rights while ignoring hateful remarks by artists who support the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

In a comment on Instagram, Blair reportedly wrote: “Deport all these terrorist supporting goons. Islam has destroyed Muslim countries and then they come here and destroy minds. 

They know they are liars. Twisted justifications. May they meet their fate.”

According to allegations posted online, Blair has also allegedly liked other posts on social media that expressed anti-Muslim and anti-migrant sentiment.

In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:

“No one is born a bigot, and we should never assume that someone is doomed to remain a bigot. 

“Based on the hateful and ignorant remarks that Ms. Blair made, we doubt that she has ever engaged in any meaningful interactions with her Muslim colleagues in Hollywood or other members of the American Muslim community. We encourage Ms. Blair to apologize, and we also invite her to dialogue with our community. 

“We also call on Hollywood studios and agencies to stop punishing artists who express support for Palestinian human rights while ignoring hateful comments by artists who support the ongoing genocide in Gaza.”

CAIR recently released new civil rights data showing that it has received 3,578 complaints during the last three months of 2023 amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate. Most recently, in Austin, Texas, a man screaming racist slurs attacked a group of Palestinian American Muslims who had just attend a pro-ceasefire protest.

On Monday, Feb. 12, (noon ET), CAIR plans to hold a news conference with the sons of Samaher Esmail, an American citizen and grandmother from New Orleans who was recently kidnapped, beaten, and denied access to medicine by Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Some may be saying "Who?" because, yes, she is a little nobody.  She's been wrongly billed, over the weekend, as a star of CRUEL INTENTIONS.  That film and the films before it and the novel have three main characters, she's not playing any of those three.  She's a supporting actress in that film.  She's a hacktress who got fired by Charlie Sheen (from the TV show ANGER MANAGEMENT).  She rode her illness to something akin to fame and did so while real disability activists were calling her into question.  She never had a career to speak of and now she probably never will because hate doesn't sell a lot of tickets.  In "The hateful people who destroy our world," Marcia gathered some of the responses on Twitter to Selma.  Speaking of Marcias, Marcia Cross of MELROSE PLACE and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES fame is in the news.  ALJAZEERA reports:

Marcia Cross, known for her role as Bree Van de Kamp on the popular TV series Desperate Housewives, has written on her Instagram page: “I’m struggling to comprehend how to live among people with eyes that don’t water, hearts that don’t flinch, and voices that remain silent.”

She ended her statement with emojis of a broken heart and the flag of Palestine.

“There are no words for the horror that has and is being unleashed. And the silence has me believing I am deaf,” she wrote in the post.

Back to the trash that is Selma Blair, THE NEW ARAB notes:

Blair was joined by controversial actors Michael Rapaport, who commented on Hamra's video "Love it", and Debra Messing, who posted: "THANK YOU".

Messing herself received backlash for ridiculing the exit of Palestinian Journalist Motaz Azaiza from Gaza on Instagram, going as far as to question Azaiza's journalistic credentials.

Michael Rapaport is human filth and the best that can be said about his "Love it" is that maybe typing that prevented him for a moment or two from again beating up a woman.  The most appalling thing is that hate merchant Debra Messing is making a 'documentary,' as Ava and I noted in "TV: The hate spreaders."  The mask is off, she's shown her true self -- she actually showed her true self on the set of the WILL & GRACE reboot so grasp what Megan Mullally had to work with and why Megan said, "No more."  But now she wants to be a documentary director and thinks she can show her hate online but still trick people into believing she's worth listening to.  She is not.  And anyone who participates in her garbage documentary -- I'm looking at you, Kirsten Gillibrand, especially --  should be ashamed of themselves.  And if you participate in it, you are signing off on the hate hate Debra herself has applauded.  You will own that look.

US President Joe Biden doesn't have a good look currently.   Yes, there have been multiple things in the last day.  I'm just focusing on the attack in southern Gaza, in Rafah.  Joe warned the world that Israel better have a plan for evacuation before the attack.  They didn't.  They don't.

The government of Israel just blew him off.  Just ignored him.  Just treated him like a powerless, doddering fool.  Is that the look he was going for?

Sunday?  ALJAZEERA notes, "Our Al Jazeera Arabic colleagues are reporting that at least 63 people were killed in strikes on two mosques in Rafah earlier tonight."  Yes, Israel is attacking Rafah -- home of an estimated 1.3 million people --  by ground and air. AP notes, "On Sunday, the White House said President Joe Biden had warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should not conduct a military operation against Hamas in Rafah without a 'credible and executable' plan to protect civilians."  They also point out that they witnessed a strike on a hospital.  They don't point out that that is a War Crime.  Chantal da Silva (NBC NEWS) reports, "In photos captured by NBC News’ crew, multiple children could be seen among with the injured, including a young boy with a bandaged head and blood on his face and sweater."

They just blew him off and ignored him.

Other governments haven't been as weak as Joe.  CNN’s Catherine Nicholls reports today:

The Netherlands must stop the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel within seven days, a Dutch court ruled on Monday, citing concerns that they could be used to violate international law as part of the Israeli campaign in Gaza.

“The court finds that there is a clear risk that Israel’s F-35 fighter jets might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law,” The Hague Court of Appeal said in a statement.

“This means that the export of F-35 parts from the Netherlands to Israel has to be stopped.”

Three non-governmental organizations — Oxfam Novib, Pax for Peace, and The Rights Forum — appealed a previous Dutch court decision that allowed the continued export of F-35 parts to Israel.

On Monday, The Hague Court of Appeal said that under several international regulations that the Netherlands is a party to, the country must prevent the export of military equipment if there is a “clear risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

The court said that Israel does not take “take sufficient account of the consequences of its attacks for the civilian population,” adding that its attacks on Gaza have resulted in a “disproportionate number of civilian casualties.”

Lisa O'Carroll (THE GUARDIAN) reports, "The EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, has said he is 'extraordinarily concerned' about Benjamin Netanyahu’s threats to launch attacks on Rafah with no evacuation plan and no prospect of refugee camps in Egypt." 

Doctors Without Borders is also objecting:

Doctors Without Borders, a medical charity also known by its French initials MSF, has said that “Israel’s declared ground offensive on Rafah would be catastrophic and must not proceed”.

“As aerial bombardment of the area continues, more than a million people, many living in tents and makeshift shelters, now face a dramatic escalation in this ongoing massacre,” it said on X.

“Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and repeated forced displacements have pushed people to Rafah, where they are trapped in a tiny patch of land and have no options,” it added.

MSF also said that, since the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza, the organisation’s medical teams and patients have been forced to evacuate nine different healthcare facilities in the Gaza Strip.

It said the MSF facilities have come “under fire from tanks, artillery, fighter jets, snipers and ground troops, or being subject to an evacuation order”.

A top Biden administration aide privately admitted failures and "missteps" in the communication of US policy regarding Israel's ongoing war in Gaza in a closed-door meeting with Arab American and Muslim leaders in Michigan last week. 

"We have left a very damaging impression, based on what has been a wholly inadequate public accounting for how much the President, the administration, the country, values the lives of Palestinians," Deputy National Security adviser Jon Finer was heard telling community leaders in a recording obtained by CBS News. "We are very well aware that we have misstepped in the course of responding to this crisis." 

Finer also acknowledged that many in the Arab American community believe Mr. Biden doesn't empathize with Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

The audio recording was verified by a National Security Council official. 

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy responded to Finer's remarks Sunday during an interview on "Face the Nation With Margaret Brennan" and said the administration plans to make changes. He pointed to President Biden's Thursday statement that Israel has "gone too far" in Gaza, and a recent call by Secretary of State Antony Blinken for Israel not to dehumanize others as Israelis themselves had been dehumanized by Hamas during the brutal attacks on Oct. 7 that began the current conflict.

How do you respond to that?

Gaza remains under assault. Day 129 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  NBC NEWS notes, "The war in Gaza has killed 28,340 people and injured 67,984, health officials in the enclave said today."  Months ago,  AP has noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."   

The decomposing body of a missing young Palestinian girl was found Saturday in Gaza surrounded by her dead relatives in a bullet-ridden, tank-crushed car near a blasted ambulance and the bodies of two paramedics killed by Israeli troops while trying to save the child.

The plight of 6-year-old Hind Rajab drew worldwide attention after the Palestine Red Crescent Society published a recording of a desperate phone call made by her 15-year-old cousin Layan Hamadeh to the PRCS as her family came under Israeli tank attack while trying to flee to safety in their car in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of southern Gaza City at dusk on January 29. 

"They are shooting at us. The tank is right next to me. We're in the car, the tank is right next to us," Hamadeh said before screaming as gunfire erupts and the call goes silent. 

Along with Hamadeh, Rajab's aunt, uncle, and two other cousins were killed. But Rajab—who was wounded in the back and hand—initially survived.

"Come take me. Will you come and take me?" she begged PRCS dispatcher Rana al-Faqeh over the phone, telling her that she was afraid of the dark. "I'm so scared, please come!"

An ambulance was dispatched to rescue Rajab. But it, too, came under Israeli attack, and crew members Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun were killed.


The following sites updated: