At its core, what is the Stormy Daniels story about?
I ask this because the Daniels topic, just entering its seventh week in the news spotlight, has become so choked with details, nuance and avenues of entry that it’s easy to get confused. What we need is one of those mnemonic devices where you imagine a physical location—like a palace—and fill its rooms, closets, vestibules and floors with the scandal’s factual detritus to maintain perspective.
As we enter the memory palace, let’s make the first of our many deposits: Is the Daniels story primarily about the original allegation, sourced to Daniels, of a sexual affair spanning the years 2006 and 2007 with Donald Trump? If so, do we now all agreed that despite Trump’s adamant denial through his attorney, Michael Cohen, that such affair really happened? So the story is about sex, right?
Or is it about money? Everybody concedes that Cohen paid Daniels the sum of $130,000 in October 2016, just before the election, to button her lip. How likely is it that Trump would deny having sex with a woman but would pay her through a cutout to make sure she never claimed that they did have sex? Is the deeper story here one about Daniels being a gold digger who exploited their consensual relationship for financial gain?
Or is the story really about sex? Thanks to the various reports, we now know that around the time Trump allegedly trysted with Daniels, he is believed to have gotten it on with a Playboy model. So the story just isn’t about philandering but serial philandering? The philandering came four months after Melania Trump give birth to Trump’s son Barron, which makes it post-partum sex with a woman not his wife.
Or is the Daniels story primarily a legal one? Lord knows we have a half-dozen bullet items to support this contention. Take your pick: Daniels has filed a lawsuit against Trump, demanding release from a 2016 nondisclosure agreement that she signed but he did not. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says the president “won” the case in arbitration. NBC News now reports that Cohen has obtained a new “secret” restraining order to silence her. The do-gooder group Common Cause has filed a campaign finance complaint saying the $130,000 payoff amounts to an undeclared in-kind donation to Trump’s presidential campaign. Elsewhere, legal beagles are alleging legal misconduct by Cohen that might lead to his disbarment. If Daniels took the $130,000 omerta check, does she deserve our criticism for using a technicality—that Trump didn’t sign the agreement—for going back on her promise to stay silent?
For those who put morality first, the Daniels story is probably about the adulterous, lying ways of politicians—and about the hypocrisy of Trump voters. As Kirsten Powers put it last night on CNN, the people who voted for Donald Trump do care when Democrats tomcat around but don’t care when Republicans do it. And vice versa.
With a nod to Watergate, maybe the real story is about Trump’s alleged cover-up. That is, we shouldn’t care so much about what he did as to the measures he took—including lying—to conceal it.
For those who put morality last, the story isn’t a story at all. They’re quick to point at Bill Clinton and cite the whatabout principle. For them, Trump’s affair with Daniels didn’t happen, but if it did it happened it happened a long, long time ago before Trump was a candidate so it doesn’t matter and the payoff and the coverup and the legal complications don’t matter, either. (If you’re especially pressed for time and don’t want to read about the Daniels affair, I suggest you endorse this interpretation.)
The takeaway that probably fits everybody, from pro-Trumpers to anti-Trumpers, is that the 45th president has successfully demolished a norm so outrageous that nobody ever thought to spell out as a norm: Presidential Candidates Should Never Get Caught Having Sex With Adult Film Actors.
Or is Stormy Daniels a press story? You recall that in October 2016, just before the election, Fox News spiked its story about a Daniels and Trump liaison. Send your Daniels musing to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com. My email alerts supported the president even after he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue shot that guy and didn’t lose any voters. My Twitter feed blushes at the mention of adult films. My RSS feed failed its audition to star in an adult film.
Cities across California have sought to shield undocumented immigrants from the Trump administration’s crackdown
|Fire and Fury author and Tony Blair accuse each other of lying The GuardianBlair ‘complete liar’, says Fire and Fury author Wolff BBC NewsTrump and Kushner will throw each other under ‘under the bus’ Irish TimesFull coverage|
The nation’s health department is taking steps to dismantle LGBT health initiatives, as political appointees have halted or rolled back regulations intended to protect LGBT workers and patients, removed LGBT-friendly language from documents and reassigned the senior adviser dedicated to LGBT health.
The sharp reversal from Obama-era policies carries implications for a population that’s been historically vulnerable to discrimination in health care settings, say LGBT health advocates. A Health Affairs study last year found that many LGBT individuals have less access to care than heterosexuals; in a Harvard-Robert Wood Johnson-NPR survey one in six LGBT individuals reported experiencing discrimination from doctors or at a clinic.
The Trump administration soon after taking office also moved to change the agency’s LGBT-related health data collection, a window into health status and discrimination. Last month it established a new religious liberty division to defend health workers who have religious objections to treating LGBT patients.
The changes at the Department of Health and Human Services represent “rapid destruction of so much of the progress on LGBT health,” said Kellan Baker, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health who worked with HHS on LGBT issues for nearly a decade. “It’s only a matter of time before all the gains made under the Obama administration are reversed under the Trump administration, for purposes that have nothing to do with public health and have everything to do with politics.”
The policy reversals also come after President Donald Trump repeatedly pledged during his campaign that he would support LGBT causes. “Thank you to the LGBT community!” Trump tweeted in June 2016. “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”
The Trump administration defended its approach to LGBT health as part of its broader health care strategy.
“The policies of the Trump administration are intended to improve the lives of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement. “Through actions aimed at making health care more affordable, rolling back burdensome regulations, and combating the opioid crisis, the administration is working to ensure a healthier America.”
The new leader of HHS — Alex Azar, who was sworn in as secretary last month — is thought to be more pragmatic than his predecessor Tom Price. Azar previously led U.S. operations for Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company that has been hailed by the Human Rights Campaign, among others, for its pro-LGBT policies. Lilly opposed Indiana’s religious liberty law, advanced by then-Gov. Mike Pence, that LGBT groups said was discriminatory.
However, staff inside the health department have raised concerns about several other Trump appointees now in senior roles who had a history of anti-LGBT comments before joining the agency, Among them is Roger Severino, a former Heritage Foundation official who has said that the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision on same-sex marriage was “wrong” and repeatedly warned of its consequences.
“[S]ame-sex marriage was merely the start, not end, of the left’s LGBT agenda,” Severino wrote in May 2016, about 10 months before he was tapped by Trump to be the health department’s top civil rights official. “The radical left is using government power to coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology over and above their right to privacy, safety, and religious freedom.”
Asked in an interview this month if he stood by those comments, Severino pointed out that since joining the health department he had reached out to LGBT advocates. He also said his responsibility as civil rights chief is to uphold constitutional protections for all Americans.
“Statements I’ve made in the past are not binding on what I do in my role as a public servant,” Severino said. “What I’m guided by, and what I’m required to follow, is the law… I’m dedicated to treating everybody fairly and in accordance with the law.”
HHS officials also pointed to a listening session that Severino convened in April 2017 with more than a dozen LGBT advocates as well as several follow-up conversations with medical experts. “The outreach has been significant,” an agency spokesperson said.
But nearly all of those LGBT advocates said they’ve essentially been ignored since sitting down with Severino nearly a year ago.
“There’s been no communication since then through all the channels that he and his staff know how to reach us,” said Mara Youdelman of the National Health Law Program, who attended last year’s listening session and submitted subsequent requests for information that haven’t been returned. “It was a one-shot deal — and all of their actions speak much louder than words and one listening session.”
New direction under Trump
Though Barack Obama as a candidate for president opposed same-sex marriage, his administration immediately took steps to advance LGBT health issues, like loosening the rules on hospital visitation rights after some same-sex couples had been barred from seeing each other.
“[A]ll across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides… [and] uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans,” Obama wrote in a 2010 memorandum, instructing HHS to expand visitation rights, a policy that still stands.
The Obama administration in 2016 also finalized a regulation, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, that banned discrimination in health care based on sexual orientation and extended those protections to transgender individuals for the first time.
While some conservative groups said that the Obama administration moved too quickly on LGBT health priorities, its leaders argue their efforts were necessary, even overdue. “The purpose of the agency is to serve all Americans, not just straight people. Our job was helping everyone,” said Kathy Greenlee, who was appointed as an assistant HHS secretary in 2009 and is openly lesbian. “There was pent-up support for these issues.”
But upon taking office last year, the Trump administration swiftly froze a series of LGBT-friendly rules, including proposed new regulations to further ban discrimination in Medicare and Medicaid. A regulation that would have allowed transgender HHS staff more protections when using the department’s bathrooms and other facilities also was ignored.
“It was signed and technically finished on Jan. 19, 2017, but not posted online,” said one staffer. “And the new administration considered it unpublished and pulled it back.”
The Trump administration also reinterpreted the ACA’s Section 1557 anti-discrimination mandate, with the White House declining to fight a court battle to enforce it and signaling that it would roll back the rule. The health agency’s new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, which POLITICO first reported last month, is expected to offer greater protections for health care workers who do not wish to treat LGBT patients.
Meanwhile, the agency’s senior adviser for LGBT health — a lawyer named Elliot Kennedy — was reassigned from the HHS secretary’s office to an HHS office in Rockville, Md., to work on disease prevention. Kennedy’s previous portfolio, including leading a committee to review and advance LGBT policy issues across HHS, also has lost influence, after openly LGBT leaders left the agency and current LGBT staffers say they’ve been dissuaded from attending. The committee’s annual report has not been publicly posted since 2016.
“Elliot Kennedy currently serves in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as liaison for Healthy People 2020’s LGBT Health Topic and Objectives,” an HHS spokesperson said, in response to questions about the reassignment. “He continues to serve on the HHS LGBT Policy Coordinating Committee.”
Another quiet battle has been over a pair of HHS surveys, with the Trump administration moving to strike questions about sexual orientation that had been added by the Obama administration in order to understand health disparities and LGBT specific health issues. The two surveys are used to shape policy for older and disabled Americans, respectively. The Trump administration subsequently reinstated some of the questions after an outcry.
“A lot of people think data are really boring. But data are fundamental, especially to public health,” said Baker, the Johns Hopkins researcher. “The only way to have the evidence you need to prioritize and spend wisely to address disparities is to have data about those disparities.”
A listening session followed by silence
The Trump administration says that it’s worked hard to engage LGBT health advocates, pointing to the listening session convened by Severino in April 2017 and attended by 17 representatives from groups that specifically deal with LGBT health.
“We’ve done a lot of outreach to the LGBT community to hear people’s concerns to be open, to listen and to learn,” Severino said. “And we will continue to do that because it’s important. I see my role as serving everybody.”
But all of the LGBT advocacy organizations represented at the April 2017 listening session said that they had concerns about HHS’ approach to LGBT health. Nearly every attendee said they hadn’t had meaningful interactions with Severino or the civil rights division in 10 months and they were underwhelmed by last year’s meeting.
“There’s a difference between hearing and listening,” said Robin Maril of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the attendees. “For a listening session to actually be successful, we would’ve had to see actual, meaningful engagement. And we’ve seen nothing but disappointing and harmful policies come out of HHS and [the civil rights office] since the meeting.”
“A number of us struggled with whether we would participate in something that would be used for exactly this purpose … a charade to be used by folks to suggest they are open-minded,” added Sharon McGowan of Lambda Legal, who also attended. “That was the lost cause that we suspected that it was.”
The Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal were among more than a dozen advocacy organizations that sent follow-up letters to Severino in April 2017 and July 2017 that warned HHS to halt rolling back LGBT protections and better engage the patient community. The advocates say they were ignored.
Only one attendee of last year’s listening session who responded to POLITICO — Ezra Young, a lawyer who has since left the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and is now in private practice — said that he’s been reassured by Severino and HHS’ actions.
“I’m trying to be fair to them. There was a lot of fear based on what Roger wrote in the past,” said Young, a transgender, Latino man. “I don’t know at this point if all that fear is rational based on what has and hasn’t been done.” Young added that he’s been in dialogue with Severino, saying that the two men discussed lunch plans as recently as December.
However, Young’s former employer holds a different view. “This administration continues taking actions that harm our community, which already faces immense bias,” the organization said in a statement to POLITICO.
Christian conservatives hail HHS
Since Trump took office, multiple agencies have pursued policy reversals related to LGBT priorities. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department suggested that federal law doesn’t ban sex discrimination in the workplace for transgender employees, a turnaround from the Obama administration. The Department of Education this month said that it would no longer investigate transgender students’ complaints about access to bathrooms.
But Christian conservatives are noticing, and specifically praising, the reversals at the health department. “Few departments have [historically] given Christians more grief than HHS,” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council wrote last month. But “from about-faces on radical sex ed to abortion policy, the White House is turning the Health and Human Services into a virtual promise-keeping factory.”
The Trump administration also has put its mark on the language it has — and hasn’t — included in formal HHS documents.
One recent flashpoint was the department’s four-year strategic plan, a document that’s required by federal law, prepared by career staff and used as an agency roadmap. The latest draft plan, which was released in October, did not make a single reference to LGBT health issues — a notable break from the two previous strategic plans, dating back to 2010. The agency removed the draft plan, which also contained strong anti-abortion language, from its web site late last year.
However, the plan originally contained references to LGBT health, two HHS staffers told POLITICO, until political appointees ordered that the language be stripped from the document. The effort was spearheaded by Shannon Royce, the agency’s liaison with religious groups, who staff say also took steps to include other language favorable to Christian conservatives.
“In our strategic plan, we actually affirmed life from conception to natural death,” Royce said, touting the new language at the Evangelicals for Life conference last month.
HHS did not respond to a question about why references to LGBT health were removed.
Past comments cited by LGBT staff
Beyond policy, staff say there have been clear signals about the personnel chosen to steer the department. For instance, the Obama administration tapped multiple LGBT officials for senior roles, including Richard Sorian to run the agency’s public affairs.
In contrast, the current public affairs chief is Charmaine Yoest, a prominent anti-abortion leader who for years advocated against same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues. For instance, Yoest a decade ago said that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children and that transgender individuals suffered from mental disorders; she declined to comment on whether she still holds those positions now. (POLITICO first reported on Friday that Yoest will soon be leaving HHS.) Royce, the head of the faith-based office, previously worked as a senior leader for organizations that fought same-sex marriage and promoted “conversion therapy,” a controversial practice to change the sexual orientation of LGBT individuals.
Several other top officials also criticized LGBT priorities just months before joining the administration. “Vote LGBT if you want to be forced to have your baby delivered at an abortion clinic by an abortionist,” Matthew Bowman tweeted in April 2016, about nine months before being tapped by Trump to join the health department, where he is currently deputy general counsel. After the Obama administration in June 2016 expanded protections for transgender military members, Severino wrote that the “decision has nothing to do with the Constitution and everything to do with politics and a gender ideology run amok.”
HHS did not respond to specific questions about Yoest, Bowman, Severino and Royce’s past public comments, and made only Severino available for comment. But a spokesperson said that LGBT staff should not be concerned.
“All the HHS staff you refer to in your story have sworn to uphold the law and believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect because of their inherent human dignity,” HHS spokesperson Matt Lloyd said in a statement. “The belief that marriage is between one man and one woman is a mainstream view held by millions of Americans, a belief the Supreme Court has said is based on ‘decent and honorable premises.'”
Severino, the son of Colombian immigrants, added that he’s spent his life working to combat bigotry after experiencing it growing up in California.
“I faced actual discrimination and mistreatment,” Severino said, who said he heard slurs while learning to swim at a public pool and was wrongly steered to remedial classes in high school. “Those sort of inflection points drives me and my passion for civil rights,” he added, pointing to his education at Harvard Law School and subsequent work in the Department of Justice, where he served as an attorney for seven years under the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
Career staff say that, regardless of what agency leaders believe or maintain now, their past comments on LGBT priorities have been widely passed around the 80,000-person department. “I photocopied them and left them in the cafeteria,” said one staffer. “It’s important for people to know these are the leaders they work for.”
It’s also fostered a climate where six staffers who are LGBT described removing their wedding rings before coming to work in the morning, taking down photos of their partners and families or ultimately finding new jobs further away from certain political appointees. They did not want to be identified; two said they feared being reassigned for being gay.
“When you have to hide a major part of who you are … it’s really debilitating,” said one staffer. “I wish I had more courage to be out with these people.”
Some LGBT staffers told POLITICO they hesitated to raise their concerns while the agency was run by then-Secretary Tom Price, who as a congressman voted against LGBT priorities and as secretary was backed by the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group that holds an official position that “homosexual conduct is harmful.”
Long-serving staff who worked with new HHS Secretary Azar, when he served as a senior agency leader in the George W. Bush administration, or observed his work in the private sector say they’re hoping he’ll take a different approach. Under Azar’s watch, Eli Lilly was hailed by the Human Rights Campaign as a company committed to inclusion and LGBT protections. The Indiana-based company also opposed a state law that critics feared could be discriminatory against LGBT people.
“Alex always struck me as a very pragmatic person. Not an ideologue. Very business-like. Very smart,” said one LGBT staffer. “I’m hoping he’ll put some brakes on the ideological stuff.”
Staff also suggested that HHS has bigger priorities than rolling back LGBT health gains. “To the vast majority of Americans, this isn’t that big a deal anymore,” said an employee. “It’s perplexing why they spend so much time on it.”
Survivors of last week’s Florida school shooting chastise the president and other politicians on NBC’s Meet the Press for their failure to act to end gun violence in America. David Hogg, 17, ended the broadcast by calling for Trump to pass bills on gun control and ‘save some lives’.
By Karen Gomez
Plus: a new Alan Ball series, the latest Netflix original romantic drama, and a Patty Hearst documentary series.
This week, emotions and drama run high: Netflix debuts a coming of age story full of ’90s nostalgia, along with a romantic drama featuring Christopher Walken. Sundance Now premieres an endearing series about two deaf best friends, while Six Feet Under and True Blood creator Alan Ball returns to HBO with a new show filled with cultural tensions. To mix things up, CNN looks back at the bizarre saga of Patty Hearst, as Stephen Colbert’s cartoon parody of the Commander-in-Chief brings on the laughs.
To help you keep track of the most important programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for February 11th –17th (all times Eastern):
Our Cartoon President (Showtime, Sunday 8pm)
After making it through the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, there are two options: you can either cry about it or you can make a satirical cartoon show about it. At least that’s what late night host Stephen Colbert did. Created by Colbert alongside Chris Licht, Matt Lapin, Tim Luecke, and R.J. Fried, the recurring segment of The Late Show is expanded to its own 10-episode series set in a parallel animated universe where the White House opens its doors for an “all access” look at the daily life of the Commander-in-Chief (voiced by Jeff Bergman) and his cabinet. Our Cartoon President offers a healthy coping mechanism for the daily news.
Here and Now (HBO, Sunday 9pm)
Writer and producer Alan Ball is back, breaking a six-year dry spell with a daring gamble. His latest HBO series is a drama that follows two different families in Portland: one is headed by a philosophy professor (Tim Robbins) and his attorney wife (Holly Hunter), with three adopted children from Vietnam, Liberia, and Colombia and a biological daughter; the other is centered around an Iranian-American psychiatrist (Peter Macdissi). Naturally, the show explores their bonds and experiences in modern-day, culturally tense America, but there is also a supernatural twist. Sosie Bacon, Jerrika Hinton, Raymond Lee, and Daniel Zovatto also star.
The Radical Story of Patty Hearst (CNN, Sunday 9pm)
Almost 40 years later, the story of Patty Hearst remains one of the most bizarre and mystifying chapters of American history. Her transformation from kidnapped heiress to bank-robbing member of the same group that took her hostage still puzzles many of us. This six-part documentary series traces the case, from the kidnapping to Hearst’s trial and combines archival footage with interviews with news reporters, former LAPD and FBI officers, friends, Hearst’s ex-fiancé, and her lawyers, and even a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army itself — all in an attempt to answer the ultimate question: was Hearst a victim or a villain?
This Close (Sundance Now, Wednesday)
In a time when stories about disability abound, but opportunities for disabled actors are scarce, This Close feels like a breath of fresh air. Written by and starring deaf actors Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman, this six-episode half-hour series explores the relationship between two best friends: the newly engaged Kate (Stern) and recently-broken-up Michael (Feldman), as they navigate life and love together. Zach Gilford, Cheryl Hines, Marlee Matlin, and Colt Prattes join the duo in their heart-warming shenanigans. A good pick to binge-watch with your soul sister/brother on Valentine’s Day.
Everything Sucks! (Netflix, Friday)
Nostalgia is the emotional currency of modern TV and film, and Netflix knows it. Following the trail blazed by Stranger Things, the streaming service brings a new original series featuring a group of young misfits living in a beloved past decade. Set in 1996, Everything Sucks! follows the members of Boring High School’s drama and A/V clubs as they band together to create their own movie and brave the ups and downs of teenage life. This 10-episode, coming-of-age dramedy comes from writer Ben York Jones (Like Crazy) and stars up-and-comers Peyton Kennedy, Jahi Winston, Patch Darragh, Claudine Nako, Sydney Sweeney, and Elijah Stevenson.
Irreplaceable You (Netflix, Friday)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: boy meets girl in elementary school; boy and girl grow up and get engaged; girl thinks she’s pregnant; turns out it’s not a baby, it’s terminal cancer; girl is determined to find a worthy girlfriend for boy before her time’s up. Veep producer and director Stephanie Laing makes her feature film debut with this heart-string-tugging story starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Christopher Walken, Kate McKinnon, Steve Coogan, and Tami Sagher. If you’re still feeling the tenderness of Valentine’s Day, Irreplaceable You is the drama fix you were looking for.
Counterpart S1E4 “Both Sides Now” (Starz, 8pm)
Our Cartoon President S1E1&E2 “State of the Union” & “Disaster Response” (Showtime, 8pm) – series premiere
Star Trek: Discovery S1E15 “Will You Take My Hand?” (CBSAA, 8:30pm) – season finale
Here and Now S1E1 “Eleven Eleven” (HBO, 9pm) – series premiere
Homeland S7E1 “Enemy of the State” (Showtime, 9pm) – season premiere
The Radical Story of Patty Hearst S1E1 (CNN, 9pm) – documentary miniseries premiere
Victoria S2E5 “Entente Cordiale” (PBS, 9pm)
Divorce S2E5 “Breaking the Ice” (HBO, 10pm)
The Chi S1E5 “Today Was a Good Day” (Showtime, 10pm)
Atomic Homefront (HBO, 8pm) – documentary premiere
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow S3E10 “Daddy Darhkest” (The CW, 8pm)
The Alienist S1E4 “These Bloody Thoughts” (TNT, 9pm)
Black Lightning S1E5 “And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light” (The CW, 9pm)
This Close S1(Sundance Now) – series premiere
Alone Together S1E6 “Dinner Party” (Freeform, 8:30pm)
The Top 14 Greatest Valentine’s Day Movies of All Time (The CW, 9pm) – Valentine’s special
Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block S3E2 “Father Time” (Syfy, 10pm)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace S2E5 “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (FX, 10pm)
Waco S1E4 “Of Milk and Men” (Paramount, 10pm)
Stargate: Origins S1 (Stargate Command) – web miniseries premiere
RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars S3E4 (VH1, 8pm)
Portlandia S8E5 “Open Relationship” (IFC, 10pm)
Everything Sucks! S1 (Netflix) – series premiere
Irreplaceable You (Netflix) – movie premiere
Mozart in the Jungle S4 (Amazon) – season premiere
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S3E13 “Nathaniel is Irrelevant” (The CW, 8pm) – season finale
2 Dope Queens S1E3 “Hot Peen” (HBO, 11:30pm)
Planet Earth: Blue Planet II S1E5 “Green Seas” (BBC America, 8pm)
The article ‘Everything Sucks!,’ ‘Our Cartoon President,’ and More TV You Must See This Week appeared first on Film School Rejects.
It is the latest assault on Mr Pruitt’s role at the EPA
Several Philadelphia Eagles players will skip out on any White House celebration this year following their first-ever Super Bowl win Sunday.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, defensive end Chris Long and safety Malcolm Jenkins have all said they will not attend if the traditional presidential invitation is extended.
“I permanently do not anticipate attending that,” Jenkins told CNN on Monday. He said he didn’t have any message for the president.
Last year, several Patriots players skipped the White House celebration after that team won the Super Bowl, including Tom Brady; he had also missed a White House visit under former President Barack Obama.
“We read the news just like everyone else. You see Donald Trump tweet something,” Smith said in January. “We have those conversations in the locker room, just like everyone else does in the workplace. We’re very informed about what goes on, and we’re trying to continue to educate ourselves.”
Trump has blasted players who have taken a knee during the national anthem as a sign of protest and to call attention to racial injustice in America. Prior to the Super Bowl, the president released a statement to honor service members and to remind players to stand for the national anthem.
“Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on a great Super Bowl victory!” the president wrote in a tweet after Sunday’s game.
Long, who played last year for the Patriots and skipped the trip then, also said before the game that he would not make the visit if his new team won this year.
“No, I’m not going to the White House. Are you kidding me?” Long said on the “Pardon My Take” podcast in January.
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount, who played for the Patriots last year, also skipped the trip at the time.
David Byrne weighs in on Donald Trump, being sampled by Selena Gomez, why he’s not interested in a Talking Heads reunion and more. Jody Rogac
“My booking agent said, ‘I think you’re having a Leonard Cohen moment,’ ” says David Byrne – before hastening to clarify, with a laugh, that the reference was to renewed relevance and popularity, not his impending demise. In March, he’s releasing a strong new album, American Utopia (written over tracks created by his longtime collaborator Brian Eno), before heading out on the most elaborate tour he’s attempted since the Talking Heads shows captured in 1984’s Stop Making Sense – with a career-spanning set list that will include updated versions of his Eighties work. “We have six drummers and percussionists,” says Byrne, 65, who envisions a stage full of musicians in constant, choreographed motion, expanding a concept he and St. Vincent used for the horn section on their joint 2012 tour. “The human beings become the set.”
Your album, like a lot of your recent work, is pretty tight and poppy. How deliberate was that direction?
I’m comfortable with that partly because the lyrics are so very, very far away from what you would hear in a normal pop song. I mean, with a lot of artists I just go, “You’ve gotta write about something other than your boyfriend and your girlfriend! The world is a big place. You’re not 18 anymore – you can do this!” [Laughs]
You just did a Reasons to Be Cheerful multimedia project, where you found reasons to be optimistic about the world. But what makes you pessimistic?
The fact that the Republican Party hasn’t broken rank with Donald Trump. He’s a fucking racist, and they’re going along with it ’cause it gets them where they wanna go. If they don’t break rank, they’re as racist as he is. And let’s not forget that.
Do your side projects – designing bike racks, writing books – feed into the music?
You can only slog away at writing a song for so long and then you’ve kind of gotten the water out of that well – and you need to let the well fill up again. I also compartmentalize a lot. I focus on one thing for a few hours and then break for lunch and work on something else. You take a little break from recording or whatever and go, “OK, let’s breathe in something else and see if it brings a little bit of an inspiration somewhere.”
You once said you’ve avoided a Talking Heads reunion because it would overshadow the other things you’ve done. Is it really that simple?
There’s a lot to that. I see what happens with other people when they do their reunions – and then it turns into a second reunion and a third reunion. With someone like the Pixies, it’s different – they’re getting the audience now that they deserved ages ago. But with a lot of them, it just seems like you don’t have anything new to say, and you go, “OK, this is just some kind of nostalgia exercise.” And I’m not interested in that.
“What would be the challenge is if I can take the ideas floating all around us and put them into an awkward white-man attitude and body.”
You have a classic David Byrne–ism on this album: “We’re only tourists in this life/Only tourists, but the view is nice.” Where did that come from?
It was one of those where you worry, “Has someone used this before?” Clearly, I’m not the first one to say this, but maybe I’m the first one to say it in my particular way. The tone is kind of a little bit of melancholy, with a lot of goofy wonder and amazement all at the same time.
You were an early target of cultural-appropriation debates, particularly with 1981’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which sampled Lebanese and Egyptian singers. How do you see all that now?
As a performer, even early on, I thought, “It’s a rock & roll thing,” but I’m not gonna go out and pretend to be a black man – you’re aware of people where the appropriation seems a little too close, so it seems more like imitation. What would be the challenge is if I can take the ideas floating all around us and put them into an awkward white-man attitude and body. But The Bush of Ghosts is particularly thorny. It’s not even somebody learning another culture’s guitar style or whatever, which to me is totally legitimate – I mean, a lot of African guitar bands are imitating Cuban music. But on that album, you actually hear the voices of people from other cultures. When it’s somebody’s voice, some part of a soul has been appropriated. I’m not talking shit about my own album, but I totally understand why it might feel that way.
You’re a fan of Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar,” which samples “Psycho Killer.” Doesn’t it bum you out to hear your music so decontextualized, though?
No, no, not at all. I mean, I would have an issue if somebody took, say, “This Must Be the Place,” which is a very personal love song – if somebody repurposed that and made it into some kind of horrible violent thing, I would probably say, “No, you do not have permission to do this.” Other than that, yeah, repurpose the stuff. That’s totally fine. And, you know, we get paid for it too. So thank you, Selena Gomez! [laughs]
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