Presidential parade

An ex-presidential line-up.

That was taken at ex-First Lady Barbara Bush’s funeral.

President Trump didn’t attend the funeral, which was not out of the ordinary. USA Today: President Trump was not at Barbara Bush’s funeral – here’s why

President Trump did not attend former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral on Saturday in Houston.

Instead, first lady Melania Trump was there representing the Trumps, continuing a tradition of first ladies attending the funerals of their predecessors.

The White House told the BBC Trump wouldn’t attend “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family.”

Trump’s absence isn’t unusual for a sitting president. The last president to attend a first lady’s funeral was John F. Kennedy, who went to Eleanor Roosevelt’s service in 1962.

Former president Barack Obama did not attend Nancy Reagan’s funeral in 2016 or Betty Ford’s in 2011, and Bill Clinton did not attend the funeral of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Clinton did speak at a graveside service for her at Arlington National Cemetery in 1994.

A president in attendance would be potentially quite disruptive with all the security involved.

CNN: President Trump won’t attend Barbara Bush funeral, to ‘avoid disruptions’

Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter will not attend, as Jimmy Carter will be on a trip overseas and Rosalynn Carter is recovering from recent intestinal surgery, a spokesperson for the Carter Center said in a statement Thursday.

Bush, the matriarch of a Republican political dynasty and a first lady who elevated the cause of literacy, died Tuesday. She was 92.

There could have been unnecessary controversy if Trump had attended, as Barbara Bush had strongly criticised him during the presidential campaign. Snopes has a summary:

During the 2016 campaign, Barbara Bush didn’t hold back in her critiques of then-candidate Donald Trump. In the course of a CNN interview, for example, she proclaimed that “[Trump] doesn’t give many answers to how he would solve problems. He sort of makes faces and says insulting things … He’s said terrible things about women, terrible things about the military. I don’t understand why people are for him, for that reason. I’m a woman … I’m not crazy about what he says about women.”

In another interview with CBS, Bush again lambasted Trump for his comments about women and called him a “comedian” or a “showman”:

Trump beat off a challenge from her son Jeb Bush in the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton to speak in New Zealand

For those who are interested and have a few hundred dollars to spare Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak in Auckland in May.

AN EVENING WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Free from the constraints of running, Secretary Clinton will share the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules.

Secretary Clinton will take audiences on a journey; What Happened and what’s next. A story of resilience, Secretary Clinton explains how she got back up after a loss, and how we can all look ahead.

An illuminating insight into Secretary Clinton’s experience as a woman in politics — she lets loose on this topic, and others, in a way she never has before.

Official media release:

Leading Australian business events provider, The Growth Faculty, has announced today, An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton, a series of three exclusive and intimate events with Secretary Clinton to take place in in Auckland (Monday 7 May 2018), Melbourne (Thursday 10 May 2018) and Sydney (Friday 11 May 2018).

First-access tickets are on sale and only available via www.thegrowthfaculty.com for a limited time, ahead of general release. Ticketing information is attached within the media release.

An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton will see Secretary Clinton provide her personal insights into the 2016 US presidential election, its aftermath and what the future holds, sharing stories from her New York Times bestseller, What Happened.

“From lawyer and activist, to first lady, senator, secretary of state and first female presidential candidate of a major American political party, Secretary Clinton’s extraordinary career and story of resilience is one that business leaders and the wider community will find both fascinating and inspiring,” says The Growth Faculty Managing Director, Karen Beattie.

It’s certainly not something I would be interested in going to if she was speaking at the local hall, let alone in Auckland.

No evidence that the Russians have influenced this event.

Clinton harassment excuses too little, too late, too self serving

Hillary Clinton has now admitted she was wrong not to dismiss an adviser accused of sexual harassment during her 2008 presidential campaign. She had been strongly criticised since a New York Times claim: Hillary Clinton Chose to Shield a Top Adviser Accused of Harassment in 2008

A senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request, according to four people familiar with what took place.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job.

It is sadly typical that the person who was harassed was moved away from the problem rather than dealing properly with the problem.

It has been reported that Strider did not do the counseling.

Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, was a founder of the American Values Network and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.

He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management.

Those familiar with the accounts said that, over the years, a number of advisers urged Mrs. Clinton to sever ties with Mr. Strider, and people familiar with what took place did not want to see Mrs. Clinton blamed for the misconduct of men she was close to.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton provided a statement from Utrecht, Kleinfeld, Fiori, Partners, the law firm that had represented the campaign in 2008 and which her advisers said has been involved on sexual harassment issues.

“To ensure a safe working environment, the campaign had a process to address complaints of misconduct or harassment. When matters arose, they were reviewed in accordance with these policies, and appropriate action was taken,” the statement said. “This complaint was no exception.”

Late Friday night, more than a day after The New York Times reached out to her aides for comment, Mrs. Clinton posted on Twitter that she was “dismayed when it occurred.”

Not dismayed enough to take appropriate action. Perhaps more dismayed that it has now been revealed.

She added that she called the woman on Friday “to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard.”

A strange thing to do given her failure to give the woman’s complaints a suitable response at the time.

Clinton has also been awkwardly connected to Harvey Weinstein.

After several Hollywood actresses told The Times and The New Yorker that Harvey Weinstein, a longtime friend and donor to the Clintons, had harassed or assaulted them, Mrs. Clinton spoke out against his behavior, saying in a statement that she was “shocked and appalled by the revelations.”

Weeks later the actress Lena Dunham, one of Mrs. Clinton’s most visible celebrity supporters in her 2016 presidential bid, told The Times that she warned two Clinton campaign aides against associating with Mr. Weinstein. “I just want you to know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,” Ms. Dunham said she told the campaign.

Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy has been cited as an inspiration for the #MeToo movement, but she has not played a visible role in it.

Now Clinton has tried to explain her lack of appropriate action, and says that “If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.”

The most important work of my life has been to support and empower women. I’ve tried to do so here at home, around the world, and in the organizations I’ve run. I started in my twenties, and four decades later I’m nowhere near being done. I’m proud that it’s the work I’m most associated with, and it remains what I’m most dedicated to.

So she starts with a promotion of herself.

So I very much understand the question I’m being asked as to why I let an employee on my 2008 campaign keep his job despite his inappropriate workplace behavior.

The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.

In 2007, a woman working on my campaign came forward with a complaint about her supervisor behaving inappropriately toward her. She and her complaint were taken seriously. Senior campaign staff and legal counsel spoke to both her and the offender. They determined that he had in fact engaged in inappropriate behavior. My then-campaign manager presented me with her findings. She recommended that he be fired. I asked for steps that could be taken short of termination. In the end, I decided to demote him, docking his pay; separate him from the woman; assign her to work directly for my then-deputy-campaign manager; put in place technical barriers to his emailing her; and require that he seek counseling. He would also be warned that any subsequent harassment of any kind toward anyone would result in immediate termination.

I did this because I didn’t think firing him was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job. I believed the punishment was severe and the message to him unambiguous.

The woman lost her job instead – she was moved on – while the offender remained in his position.

I also believe in second chances. I’ve been given second chances and I have given them to others.

Like to her husband for his sexual misconduct. Probably not just second chances.

She put a ‘second chance’ for the offender – and her campaign – ahead of the victim.

I want to continue to believe in them. But sometimes they’re squandered. In this case, while there were no further complaints against him for the duration of the campaign, several years after working for me he was terminated from another job for inappropriate behavior. That reoccurrence troubles me greatly, and it alone makes clear that the lesson I hoped he had learned while working for me went unheeded.

The reoccurrence should trouble Clinton – it is a far too typical case of the offender being smacked on the hand and effectively left to reoffend.

When The New York Times reported on this incident last week, my first thought was for the young woman involved. So I reached out to her – most importantly, to see how she was doing, but also to help me reflect on my decision and its consequences. It’s never easy when something painful or personal like this surfaces, much less when it appears all over the news. I called her not knowing what I’d hear. Whatever she had to say, I wanted her to be able to say it, and say it to me.

She expressed appreciation that she worked on a campaign where she knew she could come forward without fear. She was glad that her accusations were taken seriously, that there was a clear process in place for dealing with harassment, and that it was followed. Most importantly, she told me that for the remainder of the campaign, she flourished in her new role.

This in Clinton’s words, not the victims. Clinton is trying to make excuses for not dealing with an insidious problem.

It was reassuring to hear that she felt supported back then – and that all these years later, those feelings haven’t changed. That again left me glad that my campaign had in place a comprehensive process for dealing with complaints.

It wasn’t comprehensive, it was a crappy failure.

At the time, I believed the punishment I imposed was severe and fit the offense.

A decade from now, that decision may not look as tough as it feels today. The norms around sexual harassment will likely have continued to change as swiftly and significantly in the years to come as they have over the years until now.

Sounds very confused.

Over the past year, a seismic shift has occurred in the way we approach and respond to sexual harassment, both as a society and as individuals. This shift was long overdue. It occurred thanks to women across industries who stood up and spoke out, from Hollywood to sports to farm workers – to the very woman who worked for me.

And no thanks to people like Clinton who tried to sweep it under a dirty rug, effectively allowing offenders to continue.

Clinton put her political ambitions first, and helped enable ongoing sleaze.

No woman should have to endure harassment or assault – at work, at school, or anywhere. And men are now on notice that they will truly be held accountable for their actions. Especially now, we all need to be thinking about the complexities of sexual harassment, and be willing to challenge ourselves to reassess and question our own views.

In other words, everyone’s now on their second chance, both the offenders and the decision-makers. Let’s do our best to make the most of it.

Clinton has just squanderer her ‘second chance’ to make a strong statement about the wrongs of the past, including her own. She has tried to justify what she did and didn’t do. This is more excuse than apology.

I recognize that the situation on my 2008 campaign was unusual in that a woman complained to a woman who brought the issue to a woman who was the ultimate decision maker. There was no man in the chain of command. The boss was a woman. Does a woman have a responsibility to come down even harder on the perpetrator? I don’t know. But I do believe that a woman boss has an extra responsibility to look out for the women who work for her, and to better understand how issues like these can affect them.

She failed in that responsibility badly. The problem wasn’t her failure to “to come down even harder on the perpetrator”, it was her failure to come down hard enough on him. And she is still failing with this statement to come down hard enough, she is putting more weight onto trying to save her reputation than condemning the offender and her own lack of action.

You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts.

I presume she means ‘grappling’ with it since the NY Times revelation. Grappling with her PR advisers by the sound of it, trying to paper over the cracks in her reputation. Grappling with a cynical decision to make her statement under cover of Trump’s state of the nation speech.

At least she has not called the NY Times article fake news, and she has admitted she enabled a recidivist sexual harasser. Sort of.

This is a poor, excuse making, diversionary statement from Clinton. That she has belatedly admitted some things and is slightly better than Trump on this doesn’t do her much credit.

There was nothing heartfelt or spontaneous about this from Clinton, it is carefully constructed arse covering.

The BBC reports: What’s the reaction?

Not good for Mrs Clinton.

Vox, a liberal leaning media outlet, was not impressed by her latest bid to tamp down the controversy. It wrote:

“Her statement falls short as an apology, attempting to deflect attention onto others and failing to address some of the key issues in the case. Hillary Clinton is not directly responsible for Strider’s conduct during her campaign. But she is responsible for how she reacted to it – a reaction that affected a woman’s career and that may have left others vulnerable to harassment. Her statement on that reaction leaves a lot to be desired.”

Houston Chronicle opinion columnist Alyssa Rosenberg wrote:

“It’s been the longest relationship of my life as a voter, and as a writer on culture and politics. But after last week, and the revelation that she failed to take her campaign manager’s advice and fire an aide accused of sexual harassment in 2008, Hillary Clinton and I are done. And to be honest, it’s probably overdue.”

Clinton dealt with the offending poorly in 2008, and now in 2018 she has responded poorly.

She was already done, but she has just whacked another nail or two in her political coffin.

 

Obama and Clinton revisited

For those who complain about the attention Trump keeps getting from media, he is not the only one under ongoing scrutiny:

That is looking back ten years.

And…

One should expect the current President of the United States of America to attract the most attention compared to past presidents and failed candidates.

Most admired US man and woman

Gallup has done a poll on the most admired man and woman since 1946, and not surprisingly gain for 2017 they mostly admire US leaders.

But preferences are spread, and a quarter of respondents don’t indicate any person they most admire – I’m not surprised by this, especially when the top choices are not particularly admirable, and being politicians receive partisan support.

Gallup: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton Retain Most Admired Titles

  • Barack Obama edges out Donald Trump as most admired man
  • Hillary Clinton wins narrow victory over Michelle Obama
  • Clinton has won the past 16 years; Obama the past 10

Obama and Clinton topping the polls suggests a lack of admirable options.

Most Admired Man and Woman — Recent Trend for Top Finishers in 2017
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
% % % % %
Most Admired Man
Barack Obama 16 19 17 22 17
Donald Trump * * 5 15 14
Pope Francis 4 6 5 4 3
Rev. Billy Graham 2 2 1 1 2
John McCain * * * * 2
Elon Musk * * * * 2
Bernie Sanders * * 3 2 1
Bill Gates 1 1 2 1 1
Benjamin Netanyahu * 1 * 1 1
Jeff Bezos * * * * 1
The Dalai Lama * * 1 1 1
Mike Pence * * * 1 1
Most Admired Woman
Hillary Clinton 15 12 13 12 9
Michelle Obama 5 3 4 8 7
Oprah Winfrey 6 8 4 3 4
Elizabeth Warren * 1 1 1 3
Angela Merkel 1 1 2 3 2
Queen Elizabeth II 1 1 2 2 2
Condoleezza Rice 2 4 1 2 1
Melania Trump * * * * 1
Nikki Haley * * * * 1
Duchess Kate Middleton 1 2 * 1 1
Beyonce Knowles * 1 * * 1
Note: Combined first and second mentions; Rankings are based on total number of responses; *Less than 0.5%
GALLUP, DEC. 4-11, 2017

This is very US -centric. I don’t particularly admire any of those on either list, except perhaps John McCain and Angela Merkel, and Bernie Sanders deserves some admiration but for his efforts in 2016.

The 2017 survey marks the 16th consecutive year Clinton has been the most admired woman. She has held the title 22 times in total, more than anyone else. Eleanor Roosevelt is second with 13 wins.

The 9% who name Clinton is the lowest percentage she has received since 2002, when 7% named her in another close first-place finish. Clinton won the title this year in the same poll she registered a personal low favorable rating.

Obama has now been named the most admired man 10 times, trailing only Dwight Eisenhower, who earned the distinction 12 times. Obama won all eight years he was president, plus 2008 — the year he was first elected — and this year, his first as a former president.

The percentage of adults naming Obama as the most admired man is down from 22% last year, but he has been at or near 17% in several other years.

 

The Queen (of England) has been in the list but never top for a long time.

Hillary Clinton has finished in the top 10 26 times, the fifth most among women. She trails two of this year’s other top 10 finishers — Queen Elizabeth II (who holds the record for women, with 49 appearances) and Oprah Winfrey (named for the 30th time, third behind former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s 34 appearances and ahead of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ 28 during their lifetimes).

Despite their frequent appearances on the list, neither the queen nor Winfrey has ever finished first.

Not surprisingly preferences are highly partisan.

Obama leads among Democrats, with 39% mentioning him and 3% Trump.

Trump wins handily among Republicans — 35% name him as the man they admire most, with only 1% naming Obama.

Independents are slightly more likely to name Obama (12%) than Trump (9%).

Incumbency usually but not always ensures prominence.

The incumbent president is the usual winner, since he is arguably the most prominent figure in the country — but when the president is unpopular, other well-known and well-liked men have been able to finish first.

Former presidents commonly make the top 10 list but rarely win, with Obama only the second to do so, along with Eisenhower in 1967 and 1968.

Trump might have to do some more tweeting.

US Russian saga continues

The drip feed of information about possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign continues, but more is emerging about unsatisfactory FBI handling of issues over Hillary Clinton as well.

CNN  Exclusive: Email shows effort to give Trump campaign WikiLeaks documents

Candidate Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and others in the Trump Organization received an email in September 2016 offering a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents, according to an email provided to congressional investigators.

The September 4 email was sent during the final stretch of the 2016 presidential race — on the same day that Trump Jr. first tweeted about WikiLeaks and Clinton.>

“WIKILEAKS: Hillary Clinton Sent THOUSANDS of Classified Cables Marked “(C)” for Confidential,” he tweeted, sharing a story from the Gateway Pundit, a conservative, pro-Trump website.

The email came two months after the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee were made public and one month before WikiLeaks began leaking the contents of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails. It arrived less than three weeks before WikiLeaks itself messaged Trump Jr. and began an exchange of direct messages on Twitter.

Trump Jr. told investigators he had no recollection of the September email.

Meanwhile from Washington Examiner: Dossier author was in contact with Obama Justice Department:

It’s been 10 months since Washington learned that former British spy Christopher Steele, author of the so-called “Trump dossier,” took the Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research document to the FBI, which considered sponsoring the anti-Trump work at the height of the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, congressional investigators have made what is perhaps an even more consequential discovery: Knowledge of the dossier project, during the campaign, extended into the highest levels of the Obama Justice Department.

The department’s Bruce Ohr, a career official, served as associate deputy attorney general at the time of the campaign. That placed him just below the deputy attorney general, Sally Yates, who ran the day-to-day operations of the department. In 2016, Ohr’s office was just steps away from Yates, who was later fired for defying President Trump’s initial travel ban executive order and still later became a prominent anti-Trump voice upon leaving the Justice Department.

Unbeknownst to investigators until recently, Ohr knew Steele and had repeated contacts with Steele when Steele was working on the dossier. Ohr also met after the election with Glenn Simpson, head of Fusion GPS, the opposition research company that was paid by the Clinton campaign to compile the dossier.

Word that Ohr met with Steele and Simpson, first reported by Fox News’ James Rosen and Jake Gibson, was news to some current officials in the Justice Department. Shortly after learning it, they demoted Ohr, taking away his associate deputy attorney general title and moving him full time to another position running the department’s organized crime drug enforcement task forces.

The news also stunned some of those who had been investigating the matter. Yes, they knew that knowledge of the dossier extended to some officials in the FBI. That was bad enough; how could the FBI endorse and consider underwriting one campaign’s dirt-digging operation in the middle of a hotly contested election? But now investigators know that nearly the highest levels of the Obama Justice Department were also aware of the dossier.

Investors Business Daily: Did A Corrupt FBI Give Hillary Clinton A Free Pass? Sure Looks Like It

Until August 31, 2016, with the presidential election in full swing, former FBI director James Comey gave the impression that he hadn’t arrived at his decision to let Clinton off the hook until after he had all the facts.

But in late August we learned that, in fact, Comey and his team began drafting his get-out-of-jail-free statement for Clinton in April — right around the time President Obama publicly declared Clinton innocent of any crimes, and well before the FBI had interviewed dozens of key witnesses, including Clinton herself.

Then, in early November, we learned that an early draft of that memo had accused Clinton of being “grossly negligent” in handling classified material because she used an unsecured private email server while Secretary of State.

At some point during the editing process of that memo, “grossly negligent” became “extremely careless,” which is how Comey put it in the final version.

The change was monumental. The criminal statute regarding mishandling classified material specifically cites “gross negligence” as a violation of the law, even if there is no intent involved. Had that language remained, Comey’s claim that “no reasonable prosecutor” would take the Clinton email case would have been laughable.

So changing the language was obviously meant to clear the path for letting Clinton off the hook, whatever the facts might be.

This week, the other shoe in the memo story dropped, when it was reported that Peter Strzok had made that particular edit.

Strzok, for those who don’t know, had been kicked off the Trump/Russia investigation this summer — a fact we also only learned about in the past few days — after it turned out that he’d been sending anti-Trump, pro-Hillary texts to an FBI colleague.

So the key person who made a material change in a memo exonerating Clinton was a big Clinton supporter and a Trump hater.

The US looks badly broken, with no sign of a fix.

Trump pot mocks Franken kettle

President Donald Trump has mocked Senator Al Franken after revelations of sexual harassment.

Trump wading into this has raised a few eyebrows given revelations and accusations involving him and harassment. And Franken has at least admitted bad behaviour, Trump attacked rather than acknowledged wrongdoing.

the exposure of Trump’s misconduct during last year’s presidential election campaign was a significant step towards the flood of revelations and accusations over the last month, started with the crash and burning of Harvey Weinstein.

NY Times: In Mocking Franken Over Claims of Sexual Misconduct, Trump Joins a Debate He Started

Last fall, Donald J. Trump inadvertently touched off a national conversation about sexual harassment when a recording of him boasting about groping women was made public at the same time a succession of women came forward to assert that groping was something he did more than talk about.

A year later, after a wave of harassment claims against powerful men in entertainment, politics, the arts and the news media, the discussion has come full circle with President Trump criticizing the latest politician exposed for sexual misconduct even as he continues to deny any of the accusations against him.

In this case, Mr. Trump focused his Twitter-fueled mockery on a Democratic senator while largely avoiding a similar condemnation of a Republican Senate candidate facing far more allegations. The turn in the political dialogue threatened to transform a moment of cleansing debate about sexual harassment into another weapon in the war between the political parties, led by the president himself.

Indeed, Republicans on Friday were more than happy to talk about Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who apologized this week after a radio newscaster said he forcibly kissed her and posed for a photograph a decade ago appearing to fondle her breasts while she was sleeping.

Democrats, for their part, sought to keep the focus on Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate in Alabama who has been accused of unwanted sexual conduct by multiple women going back even further, including one who was 14 at the time.

It has embarrassed both Democrats and Republicans, with both being guilty of partisan attacks while turning a blind eye to their own transgressors.

But the notion that Mr. Trump himself would weigh in given his own history of crude talk about women and the multiple allegations against him surprised many in Washington who thought he could not surprise them anymore. A typical politician with Mr. Trump’s history would stay far away from discussing someone else’s behavior lest it dredge his own back into the spotlight.

But as Mr. Trump has shown repeatedly during his 10-month presidency, he is rarely deterred by conventional political wisdom even as he leaves it to his staff to fend off the cries of hypocrisy.

White House aides labored on Friday to distinguish Mr. Trump’s case from those of others, arguing that the president’s conduct was not at issue because he won the election last year after voters had a chance to evaluate both the claims against him and his denials.

That’s typical of the excuse making for their own, something that has more than tacitly approved of and enabled ongoing sexual harassment going back at least fifty five years to the abuses of President Kennedy.

“This was covered pretty extensively during the campaign,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.”

She added that Mr. Trump still maintained that the more than a dozen women who have said that he kissed or groped them against their will were all lying. And she acknowledged no double standard in the president chastising others for sexual misconduct.

“Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn’t,” she said. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.”

Yes, it is a clear distinction. Franken has admitted what he did was wrong, happening in an area that allowed it.

Of course Hillary Clinton has waded in to this.

But Democrats saw the distinction differently. Hillary Clinton said Mr. Franken’s apology and call for an ethics committee investigation “is the kind of accountability I’m talking about — I don’t hear that from Roy Moore or Donald Trump.”

Speaking with Rita Cosby on WABC Radio, Mrs. Clinton added, “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who have done neither.”

There’s a high degree of irony there given that tacl of apology and accountability of her husband, Bill.

For her own part, the sexual harassment conversation has been uncomfortable for Mrs. Clinton as well. Conservatives defending Mr. Moore point to various allegations made against Bill Clinton when he was president, including sexual assault, and even some liberals said they should rethink their defense of the 42nd president.

On Franken versus Ttrump she has a valid point.

But the condemning of opponents alongside defending of their own politicians by both Democrats and Republicans is evidence of a morally corrupt political system in the United States.

Trump’s denials, now alongside his mocking of Franken, looks distinctly like a socially corrupt president. The worst rot, whether it be Kennedy, Clinton (Bill) or Trump, is clearly at the top.

Accusations and trials in public by media are far from ideal, and will be manifestly unfair to some.

But this rot has been allowed to continue for a long time, and actions outside the old way of doing things (blind eyes and under-carpet sweeping) needed something drastic and unconventional to break the cycle of harassment and abuse.

And apart from the nonsense of “the president’s conduct was not at issue because he won the election last year after voters had a chance to evaluate both the claims against him and his denials”:

RCP average Trump approval:

  • Disapprove 56.9%
  • Approve 38.4%

The US voters did choose a president with a highly suspect past, but that was over an opponent with her own suspect past plus the known poor sexual behaviour of her husband. That’s not a strong position from which one can claim the moral high ground.

There is evidence at least of Trump having an appalling attitude to women in the past. The pot should start by addressing that adequately.

Trump frustrated he can’t order the Justice Department around

President Trump he is frustrated but sort of acknowledges that he shouldn’t get involved in what the US Justice Department and FBI do, but he still seems unable to resist. He has been particularly prominent in commenting about the investigation of his own campaign.

It’s sad that the President even thinks of being able to demand and dictate to justice organisations.

@BengaminWittes:

I’ve been thinking about these comments Trump made. What a fabulous tribute they are to the men and women of the DOJ and the FBI!

The tribute is, of course, inadvertent: Trump doesn’t understand the statement he is making about independent law enforcement. But let’s unpack it for a moment.

The President is saying that he would like to interfere in ongoing investigations. He is saying that he would like to order up investigations of his political opponents. He is announcing that he is a corrupt actor who does not believe in the rule of law.

He is a man who is capable of firing his FBI Director because he will not aid him in these endeavours and to threaten his Attorney General and his Deputy Attorney General and the special counsel over the inconveniences they pose him.

Even as I type this, he is tweeting about how DOJ should be investigating Clinton. (For example: )

In these comments, he is announcing frankly how badly he wants to corrupt the Department of Justice.

And yet, he is “frustrated.” Why? It’s not because of Jim Comey. He got rid of Jim Comey. It’s not because of Sessions or Rosenstein. Lordy knows they have not shrouded themselves in glory.

It’s because the norm of independent law enforcement—which he is menacing—is actually strong enough to constrain him—at least right now.

It’s strong enough that he can fulminate all he wants about investigating Clinton and still Mueller does his job, and the FBI does its job, and the men and women of the DOJ do their jobs, and none of their jobs, as our democratic polity has determined them, is to fulfill his undemocratic ambitions to loose investigators on people he doesn’t like and to have the Justice Department protect him.

It’s a stunning statement of presidential constraint: A president actually saying that he aspires to corrupt interference with law enforcement and can’t pull it off. Let it warm your heart. It sure warms mine.

But the attempts at interference continue.

 

Just now:

More than eight years after Bergdahl walked off his base in Afghanistan — and unwittingly into the clutches of the Taliban — Bergdahl walked out of a North Carolina courtroom a free man Friday. Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty to endangering his comrades, was fined, reduced in rank to E1 and dishonorably discharged — but he received no prison time.

Prosecutors had requested a 14-year prison term following a week of emotional testimony from the survivors who were wounded during missions to find Bergdahl after he left the base in June 2009. Bergdahl’s defense team has asked for no prison time.

In closing arguments, defense attorneys argued that Bergdahl already had suffered enough confinement during five years of brutal captivity by Taliban allies. They asked the judge for a dishonorable discharge and no prison time.

Their argument for leniency also cited harsh campaign-trail criticism by Donald Trump and Bergdahl’s mental disorders.

The 31-year-old soldier from Hailey, Idaho, was brought home by President Barack Obama in 2014 in a swap for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Obama said at the time that the U.S. does not leave its service members on the battlefield.

Republicans roundly criticized Obama, and Trump went further while campaigning for president, repeatedly calling Bergdahl a traitor who deserved death.

So Trump has been trying to interfere in this case since before he was president. He is still doing it as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.

Because US justice officials appear to refuse to be influenced by Trump it is just futile posturing, but it’s a piss poor look for a President.

Bernie Sanders gets it. First he gets a swipe from Trump.

But he responded:

Bernie gets it. I don’t know whether it is deliberate attempts at distraction by trump, or that he is easily distracted from his job, but one could legitimately question who the crazy one is.

World’s most powerful female politicians

Forbes Magazine has named Jacinda Ardern as the 13th most powerful female politician in the world. I think this is a bit premature, but it will increase Ardern’s international profile.

Most Powerful Women In Politics (Forbes):

  1. Angela Merkel, Chancellor Germany
  2. Theresa May, Prime Minister, U.K.
  3. Tsa Ing-Wen, President, Taiwan
  4. Michelle Bachelet, President, Chile
  5. Federica Mogherini, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union
  6. Ivanka Trump, Senior Advisor, The White House
  7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg/Elena Kagan/Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justices
  8. Queen Elizabeth II
  9. Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Prime Minister, Bangladesh
  10. Beata Maria Szydlo, Prime Minister, Poland
  11. Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor, Myanmar
  12. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation & Development, U.A.E.
  13. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, New Zealand
  14. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President, Croatia
  15. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, U.K.
  16. Nikki Haley, Ambassador to United Nations, U.S.
  17. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister, Norway
  18. Elvira Nabiullina, Governor, Bank of Russia
  19. Liyuan Peng, First Lady, China
  20. Hillary Clinton, Former Presidential Candidate, U.S.
  21. Dalia Grybauskaite, President, Lithuania
  22. Kersti Kaljulaid, President, Estonia

Not surprising to see Merkel at the top, and Theresa May is probably up there as well but it’s debatable how powerful she is in the UK let alone the world.

Surprising to see Queen Elizabeth II there. She is a figurehead, not a power in politics.

Hillary Clinton well down the list is no surprise, she has no political position.

Not sure that Ivanka Trump is particularly powerful either.

RNZ: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/top/342900/ardern-makes-list-of-most-powerful-women-in-global-politics

Dirty democracy: Clinton, Trump, Russia

Investigations and revelations continue on dirty democracy involving the US and Russia.

The use of Facebook by Russians continues – CNBC: House panel plans to release Russian ads that ran on Facebook, committee leaders say

The House Intelligence Committee plans to release Russia-linked ads that ran on Facebook during the 2016 election, the panel’s leaders said Wednesday, according to NBC News.

The House committee is investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Reps. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., are leading the probe.

Facebook has already shared about 3,000 ads bought by Russia-linked groups with the congressional committees investigating the Russian influence campaign.

Google also has discovered that Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on its platforms, according to reports.

Recode:  Facebook admits Russia agents used Messenger to disrupt U.S. presidential election

A top Facebook executive admitted Wednesday that Russian agents had used the social network’s popular Messenger platform to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook Messenger boss David Marcus disclosed that a “very small” number of the 470 accounts active in the Russian interference campaign were using Messenger to communicate with their users.

Messenger was reportedly used by some pages with ties to Russian operatives. Marcus, like other Facebook executives, argued that the work done by Facebook around the world was being wrongly “overshadowed” by the Russia “narrative.”

Investigations continue into possible links between the trump campaign and Russians.

Newsweek: DID TRUMP FAMILY, ASSOCIATES BREAK LAW WITH RUSSIA? A GUIDE TO POTENTIAL SUSPECTS IN MUELLER’S PROBE

It has been a big few days in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and possibly collude with Donald Trump’s campaign. The president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has appeared before multiple congressional committees…

Paul Manafort: At the same time, the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is delving deeper into Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager.

This week, it was reported that the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, in conjunction with Mueller, is investigating Manafort for money laundering. It is widely believed that Mueller aims to use the money laundering charges to flip Manafort and turn him into a witness against Trump.

Roger Stone: A longtime adviser to Trump, Stone boasted during the campaign that he was in communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before that outfit released emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Stone has also confirmed that he exchanged messages with a hacker believed to be responsible for attacking the Democratic National Committee.

NBC:  Kushner Under Scrutiny By FBI as Part of Russia Investigation

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple US officials tell NBC Nightly News.

And the Clinton campaign is also reported to be close to Russia in it’s dirty campaigning too – Washington Post: Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

So both the Republicans and then the Clinton campaign have had Russian connections in what appears to have been a particularly dirty campaign.

The US and Russia have interfered in other democracies for a long time, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that Russia has tried to interfere in the US election, and both sides have had connections to Russia in conducting their campaigns.

Vanity Fair: THE DIRTY TRUTH ABOUT THE STEELE DOSSIER

On many levels, the Post story merely confirms earlier reports about Steele’s backers. The same day that BuzzFeed published the dossier in its entirety, CNN confirmed much of Corn’s earlier reporting. “The memos originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats,” Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein wrote. (As Howard Blum recently reported for Vanity Fair, the funding for the research originally came from a “Never Trump” Republican but not specifically from the war chest of one of Trump’s rivals in the G.O.P. primary, according to a friend of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.)

The involvement of Clinton and the D.N.C. in funding the Steele dossier is not surprising, but it does add fuel to the partisan fire. “I have to say, the whole Russian thing is what it’s turned out to be,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday morning. “This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election.” Conservative pundits and commentators celebrated on Twitter, seeing in the Post story validation of their arguments that the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia were overblown, if not fabricated.

Complicating matters is the fact that Fusion GPS has also worked with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who attended the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, in which Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging information on Clinton as part of what was described to him as a Russian government effort to help elect his father.

It is all extremely messy.

It has become a very dirty democracy in the US, with mud covered credibility. I don’t know if it is repairable.

The end result so far is the Trump presidency that risks becoming an increasingly disastrous train wreck.