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Harvey Weinstein is escorted in handcuffs into State Supreme Court in July for arraignment on sex crime charges.
Harvey Weinstein is escorted in handcuffs into State Supreme Court in July for arraignment on sex crime charges. (Spencer Platt/ Getty Images)

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s contention that he had a “bargain” with actress Ashley Judd that he could touch her after she won an Academy Award should be laughed out of court.

The ridiculous argument was part of a motion by Weinstein to dismiss the defamation suit Judd brought against the Hollywood power broker. Judd claims in her lawsuit that Weinstein “torpedoed” her acting career after she turned down his sexual advances.

In court documents, Weinstein contends not only that he struck an agreement with Judd, but that he “attempted to live up to his part of the bargain by trying to cast Plaintiff in as many roles as possible that could earn her an Academy Award.”

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  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images)

What a month it’s been for America’s billionaires!

First Elon Musk went off the rails and called one of the heroes of the Thai cave rescue operation a “pedo” — ostensibly for living in Thailand (and for speaking ill of Musk’s special rescue submarine). Then Amazon’s Jeff Bezos became the richest human being in history, just as ill-treated Amazon workers went on strike over poor pay.

You’ve probably read a thing or two about this little fiasco.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) criticizes leading Republicans on June 14 for their attacks on Obamacare.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) criticizes leading Republicans on June 14 for their attacks on Obamacare. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

We’ve heard this critique so often that it’s become a cliche: Republican attacks on Obamacare would inflict more damage on their own states than on those represented by Democrats.

Yet here they go again. Nineteen states with GOP leaders and the Republican governor of a 20th state filed suit against the federal government this year, trying (again) to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional. If they succeed, they will dismantle not only the state insurance-buying exchanges and the premium subsidies the ACA created, but also the law’s insurance reforms.

The most popular of those reforms may be the ban on insurers charging higher premiums or denying policies to people with preexisting conditions. And according to statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation, most of the states that brought the lawsuit have a higher than average percentage of residents with preexisting conditions. In fact, of the 11 states with the highest percentages of preexisting conditions, nine are suing.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
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President Trump questioned whether Montenegro was worth the sacrifice of Tucker Carlson's son.
President Trump questioned whether Montenegro was worth the sacrifice of Tucker Carlson's son. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press)

The advisors who prevailed on President Trump to “clarify” his statement in Helsinki that he couldn’t see why it “would” be Russia that interfered in the U.S. election may have to stage another intervention.

In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson aired on Tuesday night,  Trump called into question, not for the first time, his commitment to a central proposition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The context was a question from Carlson about Montenegro, the former Yugoslav republic that is the most recent country to join NATO.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
President Trump, speaking during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Wednesday, appeared to walk back his latest walk-back.
President Trump, speaking during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Wednesday, appeared to walk back his latest walk-back. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

My colleague Michael McGough wrote the obvious on this blog yesterday: that President Trump was believable when he defended Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki and entirely unbelievable in his one-day-later “do-over” effort to walk back his outrageous original comments.

The walk-back defied credulity. Were we really supposed to believe that Trump has come around and now believes the Russians meddled in the 2016 U.S. election on his behalf? Is it even remotely likely that he was in fact contradicting Putin in Helsinki — but that he accidentally said “would” when he meant “wouldn’t”?

Of course not. McGough concluded that Trump’s carefully scripted remarks Tuesday were merely a reaction to “a bipartisan chorus of condemnation over his calamitous comments in Helsinki.”

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Avocado toast plays a starring role in a privileged New Yorker's spending diary.
Avocado toast plays a starring role in a privileged New Yorker's spending diary. (Mel Melcon)

The hate-read is a time-honored internet tradition. The latest entry in the genre comes from Refinery29, a young women's lifestyle site. A series called "Money Diaries" purports to be "tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money." Anonymous writers submit their annual salary and a week's worth of expenses to show what it's like to, say, live in Los Angeles on a joint seven-figure salary, or in New Orleans on a $37,000 salary.

Like most first-person tales of personal finance, they mostly exist so the rest of us can judge their choices in the comments. Who drops $175 for weeknight sushi? Are you really doing a monthly clothing subscription when you have student loans to pay? Etc.

This week, a particularly galling Money Diary is so ludicrous it might just be a covert ad campaign for socialism. In a piece that has whipped social media into a frenzy of righteous outrage, a 21-year-old marketing intern in New York City writes guilelessly about the difficult financial decisions anyone would face if their parents paid their rent, health insurance, phone bill, Netflix and tuition — and gave them an $800 monthly allowance, plus an additional $300 from their grandfather ("#blessed").

Must be nice.
Must be nice. (Refinery29)
  • Opinion
  • Living While Black

Y’all here is another Permit Patty trying to kick me off my own property because she’s having a hard time getting her...

Posted by Alyson Laliberte on Saturday, July 14, 2018

OK, this isn’t exactly a case of #playingwhileblack or #beingakidwhileblack even though a biracial child was involved.  But something wrong went down when a woman walked out of her apartment building in Cambridge, Mass., and asked an apparently white woman with a biracial child to move from where they were playing on the sidewalk because the child was noisy. 

Alyson Laliberte, the mother of the child, wrote on her Facebook page about the encounter, “Y’all here is another Permit Patty trying to kick me off my own property because she’s having a hard time getting her kids to take a nap at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday.”

After a testy exchange during which Laliberte continues to say she won’t leave, the woman stares at her in exasperation, then asks: “Are you in one of the affordable units? Or are you in one of the Harvard units?”

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
President Trump speaks at a White House meeting with members of Congress on Tuesday.
President Trump speaks at a White House meeting with members of Congress on Tuesday. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Reacting to a bipartisan chorus of condemnation over his calamitous comments in Helsinki about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, President Trump on Tuesday claimed that he misspoke.

On Monday, at a news conference with Vladimir Putin, Trump said: “My people came to me, [director of national intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others and they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

But on Tuesday, in remarks before a meeting with congressional Republicans, Trump offered “some clarification.”

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William F. Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, speaks in the House of Representatives in The Hague on May 23.
William F. Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, speaks in the House of Representatives in The Hague on May 23. (Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/ EPA/Shutterstock)

On Monday, Vladimir Putin offered — more rhetorically than seriously, I suspect — to assist Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation of 12 Russian military intelligence officials if Russia was allowed, in turn, to interrogate people  “who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia.” In particular, Putin said, he would like to interview U.S. intelligence officials about one man: William F. Browder.

(Trump’s response? “I think that’s an incredible offer.”)

Browder is an American-born financier, the billionaire CEO of Hermitage Capital who made much of his money in Russia after the fall of the Soviet regime. After his friend and colleague, Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested and imprisoned — and subsequently died at age 37  — Browder led the campaign in the U.S. to pass the so-called Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions and froze assets of people deemed to have been involved in Magnitsky’s imprisonment. Since then, Browder has been an outspoken critic of Kremlin corruption.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Russian President Vladimir Putin hands a World Cup ball to President Trump during their news conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hands a World Cup ball to President Trump during their news conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16. (Yuri Kadobnov / AFP/Getty Images)

The drama surrounding President Trump’s meeting Monday with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin centered, understandably, on whether Trump would confront Putin about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. I think Trump’s comment Monday that “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today” qualifies as a “no.”

But Putin’s focus was no doubt on other things. For example, how to fend off Trump’s challenge to the new Gazprom natural gas pipeline dubbed Nord Stream 2 that will connect Russian gas producers with European buyers in Germany. 

You may recall Trump blasting the pipeline deal at last week’s NATO summit in Brussels. There, Trump said the pipeline would supply so much of Germany’s energy, the country would become “a captive of the Russians.”