Bunny Boy Monday


Sean Spicer served as White House press secretary for only 182 days. On day one, Spicer spun the turnout at Donald Trump’s inauguration into a public relations disaster. Then he morphed into a Saturday Night Live caricature. As Spicer writes: “I had made a bad first impression, and looking back, that was the beginning of the end.”

His memoir is a highly readable and often informative effort to defend Trump, restore some of the author’s own lost luster, and settle a few scores. At times, it rings like an audition for a talkshow. At others, it sounds like a family member seeking to whitewash an abusive relationship. Spicer goes so far as to call Trump “a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow”.

Regardless, it is an essential narrative by a non-family member who once possessed Oval Office walk-in privileges.

Inexplicably, Spicer does his best to undercut his own and his ex-boss’s credibility. When it comes to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, Spicer’s story appears to have evolved.

For three consecutive pages, The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President graphically details how Manafort beat back the efforts of Never Trump Republicans to steal the presidential nomination. Spicer gushes: “How Manafort and company did this was a scene out of 1950s politics – alternating between carrot and stick and sometimes bat.”


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Green Flash Sunday

GREEN FLASH ON THE SUN: For seaside photographers, nothing beats a green flash–that sudden pulse of verdant light at sunset as the sun vanishes beneath the ocean waves. James Young was on a beach in Oregon on July 11th when captured a green flash. But it didn’t come from the ocean waves. It came from the top of a cloud:

This is a rare cloud-top green flash, sometimes seen as the sun’s rays graze a distant cloud bank. They are not well understood. Ordinary green flashes require a temperature inversion layer near the sea surface. Similar inversions may sometimes occur at the top of marine stratus clouds, giving rise to the type of ragged cloudy flash Young witnessed.

“It was very bright–a beautiful mystery to end the day,” he says.


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Shanghaied Saturday


I got some hot hookers in my room.

In 1938, Winston Churchill published a collection of his speeches warning that his homeland was not adequately contending with the threat posed by Nazi Germany. The title: “While England Slept.” Eighty years later, a similar observation can be rendered concerning the United States. Much of the political and media elite and the citizenry seem to be sleepwalking past a horrific and fundamental fact: The current president of the United States has helped to cover up a serious attack on the nation. This profound act of betrayal has gone unpunished and, in many quarters, unnoticed, even as it continues. With Donald Trump about to meet Vladimir Putin on Monday—rewarding the thuggish authoritarian Russian leader with a grand summit in Helsinki—this is an appropriate moment to remember that their dark bromance involves a mutual stonewalling of wrongdoing.

Though the US intelligence community, most of Trump’s top national security aides, and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders have all agreed with the assessment that Putin’s regime mounted information warfare against the United States in 2016 to cause discord during the election and help Trump win the White House, Trump has continued to assist Putin’s brazen campaign of denial. Two weeks ago, Trump, in a tweet, gave credence to Putin’s claim that Moscow did not intervene in the election. “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump maintained. Instead, Trump insisted, the real scandal was that the Democratic National Committee in 2016 did not hand over to the FBI its servers, which were hacked by Russian intelligence. This server business is a phony Fox News-fueled scandal; the DNC provided copies of its servers to the bureau. And even if there were anything untoward about the server matter, it still would pale in comparison to a foreign adversary assaulting an American election with hacks and the dissemination of stolen material.


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Trumpism Thursday


Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

She could long-since have stopped working. At 81 years old, she can look back at a successful career in diplomacy, numerous books and a flourishing consulting firm. But Madeleine Albright is not the kind of person who can just disappear into retirement. She remains the Grande Dame of U.S. foreign policy, a career she began as UN ambassador in New York from 1997 to 2001 before becoming President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state.

She focused on the Middle East conflict, the development of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and North Korea’s nuclear program — all issues that have not disappeared. Even today, she remains a keen observer of world events and takes a global view of trends and developments. The most important issue that is currently driving Albright is U.S. President Donald Trump, who has inflicted grave damaged to the trans-Atlantic relationship and has taken aim at the Western political order, an order that Albright helped create. In mid-July, her most recent book is appearing in German, the English title of which is “Fascism: A Warning.”

She receives visitors in her office in Washington, D.C. In the corner is a stuffed tiger toy with a huge package of Toblerone chocolate on it, a gift from her students at Georgetown University. Albright points to a framed photo on the wall of an extract from the passenger list of the SS America, the ship on which she traveled to America from Europe following World War II.


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Roundabout Wednesday


Michael Flynn is getting back into the lobbying business.

Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty last year to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Flynn also admitted to making false statements to the Justice Department regarding work his company, the Flynn Intel Group, did for the Turkish government.

Even as he awaits sentencing, Flynn announced on Tuesday that he is joining a new consulting firm, Stonington Global LLC, launched by two lobbyists known for their work for Qatar: Nick Muzin, a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who also worked for Trump’s campaign, and Joey Allaham, the ex-owner of several kosher steakhouses in New York who recently took up foreign lobbying.

“I am excited to begin this new phase of my career as Stonington’s Director of Global Strategy,” Flynn said in a statement. “Joey and Nick have a dynamic vision and have demonstrated the ability to deliver transformative positive results in global affairs. The world is changing rapidly, and now is America’s moment to lead.” Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., is also joining the firm.


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Thugland USA Tuesday


Another Detention Center coming to a Business Park near you?

An investigation sparked by reports from concerned neighbors who suspected that immigrant children were being housed in a vacant office building in Phoenix, illustrated the secrecy surrounding the care of children by the U.S. government and defense contractors that have been hired to help enforce the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

I can’t tweet everything I know. Some of it is off-the-record. Some of it is uncorroborated. Some of it is embargoed until we publish.

But I can tweet this: this thing where the government took children from their parents atthe border? It’s more horrific than we have imagined.

— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) July 6, 2018

Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting reported this weekend on an empty commercial space in Arizona’s capital, where neighbors had seen groups of Spanish-speaking children being taken in recent weeks.

One neighbor secretly filmed several children being led into the building in early June.


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