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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.

 

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Sunday
Jul212019

The Commentariat -- July 22, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Trump May Show off His Corruption to World Leaders. Jonathan Swan of Axios: "The Trump administration, which next year will host the leaders of the world's most powerful economies for the G7 summit, is down to its final few choices after completing site surveys of possible locations — and Trump National Doral, President Trump's 800-acre golf club in Miami, is among the finalists." Mrs. McC: Maybe the ther memebers will kick the U.S. out of the G-7 because we now so resemble a third-world nation.

Priscilla Alvarez of CNN: "The Trump administration is planning to expand a procedure to speed up deportations to include undocumented immigrants anywhere in the US who cannot prove they've lived in the US continuously for two years or more. The change casts a wider net of undocumented immigrants subject to the fast-track deportation procedure known as 'expedited removal,' which allows immigration authorities to remove an individual without a hearing before an immigration judge."

Frances Robles & Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times are liveblogging the protests in San Juan, Puerto Rico. "Thousands of Puerto Ricans shut down traffic on a major highway in San Juan early on Monday, assembling for what is expected to be one of the largest protests the island has ever seen against Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló, who has resisted persistent calls for his resignation. People arrived by the busload hours before the demonstration was scheduled to begin, carrying Puerto Rican flags, protest signs and whistles. They broke into chants demanding the ouster of Mr. Rosselló, who said on Sunday that he will not seek re-election in 2020 but will remain in office — and face possible impeachment."

Austin Ramzy of the New York Times: "A brazen overnight attack by a mob of men with sticks and metal bars who were apparently targeting antigovernment protesters raised tensions in Hong Kong to new levels on Monday after weeks of demonstrations, prompting fears of violence spiraling beyond the authorities’ control. Dozens of people, including journalists and a pro-democracy lawmaker, were injured in the assault in and around a train station in Yuen Long, a satellite town in northwestern Hong Kong near the border with mainland China."

Owen Daugherty of the Hill: “The Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association (IRCCA) shared and later apparently deleted a movie poster-style meme labeling four Democratic minority congresswomen the 'Jihad Squad.' The post was shared on the group’s Facebook page early Saturday morning and featured images of Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.).... Mark Shaw, president of the IRCCA, issued a statement Sunday night after the post was deleted. 'I condemn this unauthorized posting and it has been deleted,' Shaw wrote in a post on the group's Facebook page. 'I am sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents.'” Mrs. McC: "I'm sorry if you're offended that we're racists." ...

... Neil Vigdor of the New York Times: “A Facebook post by a Louisiana police officer suggesting that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 'needs a round' drew criticism on Sunday from officials in the city where he works. The officer, Charlie Rispoli, a 14-year veteran of the police department in Gretna, La., referred to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, in a post on Thursday as 'this vile idiot.' The post continued, saying she 'needs a round — and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,' a reference to her past work as a bartender, according to a screenshot of his comment obtained by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.”

Déjà vu All Over Again. Michael Sallah, et al., of BuzzFeed News: "Two unofficial envoys reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer have waged a remarkable back-channel campaign to discredit the president’s rivals and undermine the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian meddling in US elections. In a whirlwind of private meetings, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — who pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns and dined with the president — gathered repeatedly with top officials in Ukraine and set up meetings for Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani as they turned up information that could be weaponized in the 2020 presidential race. The two men urged prosecutors to investigate allegations against Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. And they pushed for a probe into accusations that Ukrainian officials plotted to rig the 2016 election in Hillary Clinton’s favor by leaking evidence against Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, in what became a cornerstone of the special counsel’s inquiry. They also waged an aggressive campaign in the United States, staying at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and meeting with key members of Congress as they joined in a successful push that led to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine after she angered their allies in Kiev."

Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News: "Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, announced Monday that he will mount a primary challenge against Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee who has been criticized by progressives for not pushing harder for the release of ... Donald Trump's tax returns."

** Jane Mayer of the New Yorker does an autopsy on Al Franken's resignation from the Senate. It was a hit job, & a number senators who called for his resignation admit now they made a big mistake. "A big part of Franken’s political problem was the way the story broke. KABC-AM released [Leeann] Tweeden’s material on its Web site, giving it the look of a proper news story. In reality, the station, which is owned by Cumulus Media, was a struggling conservative talk-radio station whose survival plan was to become the most pro-Trump station in Los Angeles."

~~~~~~~~~~

Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: “On Sunday, the chairman of the judiciary committee indicated the stakes when he said the 448-page [Mueller] report contained 'very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours' – the benchmark for impeachment. 'It’s important that we not have a lawless administration and a lawless president,' the New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler told Fox News Sunday. 'And it’s important that people see what we’re doing and what we’re dealing with.'... Trump, who has repeatedly and inaccurately claimed exoneration, said this week he would not watch Mueller’s testimony [this week] and accused Democrats of 'just playing games'.” ...

... Zachary Basu of Axios: “House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on Fox News Sunday that Donald Trump has 'violated the law 6 ways from Sunday' and that he would be indicted if he were not president.' With video. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump, desperate, sent Stephen Miller out to cover for him on "Fox 'News' Sunday." I can't stand to listen to 8 minutes of Stephen Miller, but I did read this summary by Josh Israel of ThinkProgress. According to Israel, the interview did not go well. However, contributor Hattie didn't think Chris Wallace put up much of a fight. Israel's post include video of the interview. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

Chas Danner of New York: The “Send her back” chant “confirmed that [Trump's] divisive and xenophobic rhetoric had reached and inspired its intended audience, and reaffirmed Trump’s special relationship with that audience and the base grievances which bind them.... The next day, pressured to disavow the chant by concerned GOP lawmakers and Vice-President Mike Pence, Trump didn’t even bother coming up with remotely believable lies to explain why he had seemed to savor the moment. Instead, he claimed that everyone’s eyes were the real liars, insisting he tried to 'quickly' speak over and cut off the chanting as he was 'not happy' and 'disagreed with' it, and even 'felt a little bit bad' that it had happened. The day after that, Trump decided he was done pretending to distance himself from the racist spectacle he had incited.... Then ... Trump argued that the chant wasn’t even racist.... By Saturday, Trump had gone from inspiring his supporters’ racism to celebrating it.”

... Robert Reich in the Guardian: “The relevant question is not whether Trump is a racist. Of course he is. Or whether he’s going to continue bashing these members of Congress, who fill all his demonization boxes: Democrats, females, people of color, a Muslim. Of course he will. The real question is whether the people bankrolling Trump and the Republican party are going to stop this rot before it consumes the politics of 2020, and perhaps more.... Much of the money that’s flowing into Republican coffers is coming from the same place it’s always come from: Wall Street.... [Wall Street] is delighted with what Trump and Senate Republicans are giving it: tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks. The putative leaders of the American economy owe it to the nation: they must help douse this fire.”

... Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "The president stirs up racial fury in his followers. He blames it on the targets themselves, the media, and the Democrats, but he is the one doing it. Now, whipping up racist crowds to chant racist things isn’t a crime (though threatening to send people 'home' does, in fact, appear to violate federal anti-discrimination laws). But the point is that millions of people admire Trump when he says explicitly racist things. His polling numbers rise, as they did this week. Which is why, even though he wants to (occasionally) claim he didn’t mean to, Trump is dead set on egging them on. His supporters’ intentions have never been more clear. They want to engage in a war over race, immigration, and intolerance. And Donald Trump is not stumbling. He’s taking deliberate shots." --s (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Miami Herald Editors: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “has transformed from Trump critic to a sycophantic cheerleader — derided by former adviser and Washington Post columnist Max Boot as a 'Trump fan-boy' — to the point that he’s willing to kill Obamacare even though his own state leads the nation in enrollment. The Miami native who some, including us, thought could lead the Republican Party in finding a reasonable path on comprehensive immigration reform and help it broaden its appeal to minorities in America could not find the spine to do more than mildly criticize Trump after his blatantly racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen. Rubio, far from the Republicans’ savior, seems just another slick politician with his finger in the wind — pushing the party deeper into Trump’s swamp.” --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Renuka Rayasam of Politico: "Federal inspectors visiting a California migrant detention center made a shocking discovery last year: Detainees had made nooses from bedsheets in 15 of 20 cells in the facility they visited. The inspection revealed the extent of a largely unseen mental health crisis within the growing population of migrants who are being held in detention centers in border states. President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to reverse a policy that encouraged releasing vulnerable individuals while they await deportation hearings has left U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unequipped to deal with conditions ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. One estimate puts the number of detainees with mental illnesses between 3,000 and 6,000. Some advocates and lawyers who work with migrants in the facilities say it’s probably more. Many of the migrants with mental illness are not stable enough to participate in their own legal proceedings, so they languish in detention. While treatment of immigrants has become an explosive national issue, the plight of mentally ill migrants has scarcely registered." (Also linked yesterday.)

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times: "Iran said on Monday that it had arrested 17 Iranian citizens on charges of spying for the United States and had already executed some of them, Iranian and Western news media reported. At a news conference in Tehran, an official who identified himself as a director of counterespionage in the Intelligence Ministry described the arrests of people he said had been trained by the C.I.A., but he did not name them and gave few details of their alleged spying.... Iran has previously claimed, without elaboration or supporting evidence, to have broken up American spy rings. It made similar announcements in April and again in June this year."

Daniel Lippman of Politico: “The Commerce Department has reached its apex of dysfunction under Wilbur Ross, according to four people with knowledge of the inner workings of the department. The 81-year-old Commerce secretary, who has for months endured whispers that he is on the outs, spends much of his time at the White House to try to retain ... Donald Trump’s favor, the sources said, leaving his department adrift.... 'He’s sort of seen as kind of irrelevant. The morale is very low there because there’s not a lot of confidence in the secretary,' said a former outside adviser to Commerce who is still in touch with many employees inside the department. 'He’s not respected in the building.' Ross doesn’t hold routine meetings with senior staffers, according to a person familiar with the department’s inner workings and a former outside adviser -- a departure from past practice that one source attributed to the secretary’s lack of stamina. 'Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen...,' said the former outside adviser.”

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Growing distrust between the United States and China has slowed the once steady flow of Chinese cash into America, with Chinese investment plummeting by nearly 90 percent since President Trump took office.... Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States fell to $5.4 billion in 2018 from a peak of $46.5 billion in 2016, a drop of 88 percent, according to data from Rhodium Group, an economic research firm. Preliminary figures through April of this year, which account for investments by mainland Chinese companies, suggested only a modest uptick from last year, with transactions valued at $2.8 billion.…  A confluence of forces appear to be at play. A slowing economy and stricter capital controls in China have made it more difficult for Chinese investors to buy American, according to trade and mergers and acquisitions advisers. Mr. Trump’s penchant for imposing punishing tariffs on Chinese goods and an increasingly powerful regulatory group that is heavily scrutinizing foreign investment, particularly involving Chinese investors, have also spooked businesses in both countries."

Presidential Race 2020. Hayley Miller of the Huffington Post: “Cumulus Media, one of the largest broadcasting companies in the country, blocked [Blair Garner,] one of its country radio station hosts, from airing his interview with 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.... 'The decision was made by local programming management based solely on concerns related to the application of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule,' the spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday....” Mrs. McC: Call me skeptical. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think the Equal Time Rule applies. Garner's show is partly a talk show & he regularly does interviews' the ETR exempts talk shows. It also exempts news events, & the fact that Buttigieg was in Nashville on a campaign stop could be characterized as a news event. When CNN runs a clip of Buttigieg saying something on the campaign trail, I don't think 20 other candidates call up demanding equal time. So maybe there's some other reason.

Congressional Race 2020. Chris Sommerfeldt of the New York Daily News: “An insurgent progressive candidate trying to unseat Jerry Nadler in 2020 is making the House Judiciary chairman’s dithering stance on impeachment a major pushing point for her long-shot campaign. Lindsey Boylan, who previously worked as a senior adviser to Gov. Cuomo, has been hammering Nadler on social media over his refusal to pull the trigger on impeachment proceedings.... Her latest Nadler-bashing effort is an “Impeach Trump Now” petition that has spread across social media like wildfire. 'By refusing to impeach Trump, Democratic leaders are violating their oath to defend our Constitution,' Boylan posted along with the petition on Facebook. 'Join me in calling on my NY-10 opponent, Rep. Jerry Nadler, to exercise his authority and stop hiding behind Speaker Pelosi.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Especially after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's surprise upset of the Democrats' No. 4 person in the House, Joseph Crowley, Nadler should be worried. Reports are that he's itching to begin impeachment proceedings, so -- if nothing else -- Boylan's challenge gives Nadler an excuse to hit the "go" button. (At least Crowley was a remarkably good sport. Here he is on election night, after AOC trounced him):

     ... Trump, BTW, tweeted on election night, "... That is a big one that nobody saw happening. Perhaps he [Crowley] should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!" How's that working out for you, Donnie Boy?

Osita Nwanevu of the New Yorker went to the National Conservatism Conference & found out these so-called conservatives could find a lot of high-falutin "justifications" for excluding immigrants from "shithole countries." Also, David Brooks was there. I knew David Brooks would be there. And to show you what counts for a "conservative intellectual," Tucker Carlson & Sen. Josh Hawley, both of whom need their ears boxed, were featured speakers. ...

... Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times went, too.

The New York Times has an interactive feature that allows you to see "how your hometown has changed so far and how much hotter it may get." The database goes back to 1960, so if you were born before then, as I was, it will use 1960 as your base. The city where I was born experienced 54 days of 90-degree-plus weather in 1960; today (2017) it was 93 days, so it reached 90 degrees 39 more days in 2017 than in 1960. What global warming?

AP: "Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle with the Federal Trade Commission and others over a 2017 data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly 150 million people. The proposed settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, if approved by the federal district court Northern District of Georgia, will provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty, and other relief."

Holly Aguirre of Vanity Fair: Residents of St. Thomas Island “say [Jeffrey] Epstein continued to bring underage girls to the [nearby Little St. James] island as recently as this year — a decade after he was forced to register as a convicted sex offender — and that authorities did nothing to stop him.Two employees who worked at the local airstrip on St. Thomas tell Vanity Fair that they witnessed Epstein boarding his private plane on multiple occasions in the company of girls who appeared to be under the age of consent. According to the employees, the girls arrived with Epstein aboard one of his two Gulfstream jets.... 'On multiple occasions I saw Epstein exit his helicopter, stand on the tarmac in full view of my tower, and board his private jet with children — female children,' says a former air traffic controller at the airstrip.... 'One incident in particular really stands out in my mind, because the girls were just so young....'” Mrs. McC: Both St. Thomas & Little St. James Islands are U.S. territories. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Annals of “Journalism,” Ctd. Tiffany Hsu of the New York Times: “After Jeffrey Epstein got out of the Palm Beach County jail in 2009..., he began a media campaign to remake his public image. The effort led to the publication of articles describing him as a selfless and forward-thinking philanthropist with an interest in science on websites like Forbes, National Review and HuffPost. The Forbes.com article, posted in 2013, praised him as 'one of the largest backers of cutting-edge science around the world” while making no mention of his criminal past. The National Review piece, from the same year, called him 'a smart businessman' with a 'passion for cutting-edge science.' The HuffPost article, from 2017, credited Mr. Epstein for 'taking action to help a number of scientists thrive during the “Trump Era”,' a time of 'anti-science policies and budget cuts.' All three articles have been removed from their sites in recent days, after inquiries from The New York Times.... The articles in praise of Mr. Epstein came about partly because of an online publishing model adopted by some news organizations that relied on outside contributors who often wrote for little or no pay, with little or no input from editors.”


Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article232932157.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article232932157.html#storylink=cpy”

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article232932157.html#storylink=cpy

Beyond the Beltway

Michigan. Joshua Eaton of ThinkProgress: "Kathy Zhu was stripped of her title as Miss Michigan on Thursday after the organization found Twitter posts that were racist and Islamaphobic.... Zhu, 20, is vice president of the University of Michigan chapter of the College Republicans and communications director for the Chinese Americans for Trump Movement." --s (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Definitely a candidate to have her ass grabbed by one Donald J. Trump.

New York: Robert McFadden of the New York Times: "Robert M. Morgenthau, a courtly Knickerbocker patrician who waged war on crime for more than four decades as the chief federal prosecutor for Southern New York State and as Manhattan’s longest-serving district attorney, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 99." ...

The crap you think of is unbelievable. -- Donald Trump, to participants in a White House meeting of far-right agitators & conspiracy theorists including at least one who promotes Q-Anon, July 11

Yes, it's all very funny, & let's have them over to the White House for a fun chat about the First Amendment & how they can help the Trump re-election campaign. Ha ha ha. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie ...

... Ali Watkins of the New York Times: Anthony Comello, who killed Francesco (Franky Boy) Cali, a leader in the Gambino crime family, on Staten Island in March, “was so deluded by internet conspiracy theories [according to his lawyer,] that he was determined to conduct a citizen’s arrest of Mr. Cali and turn the Mafia leader over to the military.... Mr. Comello had become convinced that Mr. Cali was part of the so-called deep state, a cabal of criminals that conspiracy theorists claim controls the United States government. Mr. Comello also believed he was a chosen vigilante of President Trump.... QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory that originated on internet message boards, played a key role in Mr. Comello’s descent into mental instability, his lawyer said.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Okay, maybe your heart isn't breaking because some lunatic pumped 10 rounds into a mob boss, but is this what "due process" now resembles in TrumpsAmerica?

Puerto Rico: "Facing an angry public uprising against his administration, Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced on Sunday evening that he would not seek re-election in 2020, and would step down as president of his political party. But Mr. Rosselló did not resign the governorship, as tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have demanded.... Far from quelling the furor that has led to more than a week of mass protests in San Juan, the governor’s announcement seemed to have the opposite effect: People quickly gathered on the street outside the governor’s official residence in the Old San Juan neighborhood and said they were even more determined than ever to oust him."

Texas. Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs of the New York Times: "Texas lawmakers thought they were clear: The bill they overwhelmingly passed allowing the growth and sale of hemp had nothing to do with legalizing pot. But since Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure into law in June, county prosecutors around Texas have been dropping some marijuana possession charges and declining to file new ones, saying they do not have the time or the laboratory equipment needed to distinguish between legal hemp and illegal pot. Collectively, the prosecutors’ jurisdictions cover more than nine million people — about a third of Texas’ population — including in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.... The police and prosecutors in Florida are facing the same problem as their Texan colleagues after the Sunshine State legalized hemp in July."

Way Beyond

Brazil. Dom Phillips of the Guardian: "Indigenous leaders and specialists working with Brazil’s nearly one million tribal people have been stunned and disconcerted by the appointment of a federal police officer [Marcelo Xavier da Silva] with strong connections to agribusiness as the new head of the country’s indigenous agency.... In June, the outgoing Funai president, Gen Franklimberg de Freitas, said Garcia 'froths hate' for indigenous people and sees Funai as 'an obstacle to national development'." --s (Also linked yesterday.) 

Hong Kong. Lily Kuo & Verna Yu of the Guardian: "Police and demonstrators have clashed after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in the city’s largest demonstration in recent weeks. Riot police armed with batons and shields fired teargas to disperse the crowd as protesters ran toward officers who tried to push them back from a main road in the western district near Beijing’s liaison office with the city. One demonstrator threw a bottle at police. Officers advanced on the crowd, setting off smoke bombs. Smoke filled the air after several rounds of teargas were fired. Hundreds of protesters ran away in panic. The clashes came after demonstrators defied police orders to restrict the boundaries of their rally, in a new and bold display of support for a political movement that shows few signs of slowing."

Saturday
Jul202019

The Commentariat-- July 21, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Zachary Basu of Axios: "House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on Fox News Sunday that Donald Trump has 'violated the law 6 ways from Sunday' and that he would be indicted if he were not president." With video.

Trump, desperate, sent Stephen Miller out to cover for him on "Fox 'News' Sunday":

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I can't stand to listen to 8 minutes of Stephen Miller, but I did read this summary by Josh Israel of ThinkProgress. Apparently, the interview did not go well.

Miami Herald Editors: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “has transformed from Trump critic to a sycophantic cheerleader — derided by former adviser and Washington Post columnist Max Boot as a 'Trump fan-boy' — to the point that he’s willing to kill Obamacare even though his own state leads the nation in enrollment. The Miami native who some, including us, thought could lead the Republican Party in finding a reasonable path on comprehensive immigration reform and help it broaden its appeal to minorities in America could not find the spine to do more than mildly criticize Trump after his blatantly racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen. Rubio, far from the Republicans’ savior, seems just another slick politician with his finger in the wind — pushing the party deeper into Trump’s swamp.” --s

Renuka Rayasam of Politico: "Federal inspectors visiting a California migrant detention center made a shocking discovery last year: Detainees had made nooses from bedsheets in 15 of 20 cells in the facility they visited. The inspection revealed the extent of a largely unseen mental health crisis within the growing population of migrants who are being held in detention centers in border states. President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to reverse a policy that encouraged releasing vulnerable individuals while they await deportation hearings has left U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unequipped to deal with conditions ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. One estimate puts the number of detainees with mental illnesses between 3,000 and 6,000. Some advocates and lawyers who work with migrants in the facilities say it’s probably more. Many of the migrants with mental illness are not stable enough to participate in their own legal proceedings, so they languish in detention. While treatment of immigrants has become an explosive national issue, the plight of mentally ill migrants has scarcely registered."

Holly Aguirre of Vanity Fair: Residents of St. Thomas Island “say [Jeffrey] Epstein continued to bring underage girls to the [nearby Little St. James] island as recently as this year — a decade after he was forced to register as a convicted sex offender — and that authorities did nothing to stop him.Two employees who worked at the local airstrip on St. Thomas tell Vanity Fair that they witnessed Epstein boarding his private plane on multiple occasions in the company of girls who appeared to be under the age of consent. According to the employees, the girls arrived with Epstein aboard one of his two Gulfstream jets.... 'On multiple occasions I saw Epstein exit his helicopter, stand on the tarmac in full view of my tower, and board his private jet with children — female children,' says a former air traffic controller at the airstrip.... 'One incident in particular really stands out in my mind, because the girls were just so young....'” Mrs. McC: Both St. Thomas & Little St. James Islands are U.S. territories.


Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article232932157.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article232932157.html#storylink=cpy”

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article232932157.html#storylink=cpy

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "The president stirs up racial fury in his followers. He blames it on the targets themselves, the media, and the Democrats, but he is the one doing it. Now, whipping up racist crowds to chant racist things isn’t a crime (though threatening to send people 'home' does, in fact, appear to violate federal anti-discrimination laws). But the point is that millions of people admire Trump when he says explicitly racist things. His polling numbers rise, as they did this week. Which is why, even though he wants to (occasionally) claim he didn’t mean to, Trump is dead set on egging them on. His supporters’ intentions have never been more clear. They want to engage in a war over race, immigration, and intolerance. And Donald Trump is not stumbling. He’s taking deliberate shots." --s

Joshua Eaton of ThinkProgress: "Kathy Zhu was stripped of her title as Miss Michigan on Thursday after the organization found Twitter posts that were racist and Islamaphobic.... Zhu, 20, is vice president of the University of Michigan chapter of the College Republicans and communications director for the Chinese Americans for Trump Movement." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Definitely a candidate to have her ass grabbed by one Donald J. Trump.

Dom Phillips of the Guardian: "Indigenous leaders and specialists working with Brazil’s nearly one million tribal people have been stunned and disconcerted by the appointment of a federal police officer [Marcelo Xavier da Silva] with strong connections to agribusiness as the new head of the country’s indigenous agency.... In June, the outgoing Funai president, Gen Franklimberg de Freitas, said Garcia 'froths hate' for indigenous people and sees Funai as 'an obstacle to national development'." --s

~~~~~~~~~~~

Swedish PM Explains Equality under the Law to Trump. Mihir Zaveri of the New York Times: “The Swedish prime minister, Stefan Lofven, told President Trump in a phone call on Saturday that the rapper ASAP Rocky, who has been detained in Sweden on an assault charge, will not get any special treatment, according to a statement from the Swedish government.Mr. Trump had sought Rocky’s release after being pressed by American celebrities, including the rapper Kanye West. Toni Eriksson, Mr. Lofven’s press secretary, told The Associated Press that the phone call lasted about 20 minutes and was 'friendly and respectful.' Mr. Lofven was said to have 'underlined that in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings,' The A.P. reported.”

Devan Cole of CNN: "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday slammed ... Donald Trump's policies on immigration in her latest argument against the President's handling of the situation at the southern border, saying that his signature agenda is really about 'ethnicity and racism.' 'All you need to do is hear what the President did this week to know this is not about immigration at all. Because once you start telling American citizens to quote "go back to your own countries," this tells you that this President's policies are not about immigration, it's about ethnicity and racism,' Ocasio-Cortez said during a town hall on immigration held in her district in Queens, New York, in reference to Trump's tweeted racist attacks at her and three other minority congresswomen known as 'The Squad.'" ...

... BTW, here was Ocasio-Cortez last week grilling acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan on the Border Patrol's secret Facebook page:

     ... Mrs. McC: Remember when the righty-rights did a remake of "Footloose" by acting all shocked & upset to discover that AOC danced with her friends when they were in college? Well, I'll bet they were even more upset to see her very politely dance that concentration camp overseer into a corner.

Justin Wise of the Hill: "President Trump on Sunday doubled down on his attacks against a group of minority congresswomen....  'I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country,' Trump said in an early-morning tweet. 'They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!'" ...

... Michael Crowley of the New York Times: “President Trump on Saturday extended the debate over a chant of 'send her back!' at his campaign rally in North Carolina this week when he retweeted a right-wing British commentator who has drawn repeated condemnation over a long history of anti-Muslim remarks and for casting blame on a Jewish leader for provoking a synagogue shooting. Sending fresh mixed signals about his view of the chant directed at a Democratic lawmaker, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Mr. Trump shared video of the episode posted by the commentator, Katie Hopkins, who has said 'Islam disgusts me' and who last year appeared to link a rabbi’s pro-migrant work to the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.” Mrs. McC: Trump is throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks; eventually paranoid, aggrieved racist will prove to have the most staying power. ...

... The Company He Keeps. Tim Murphy of Mother Jones: “Per Todd Schulte, the president of the immigration advocacy group FWD.US, [Katie Hopkins is] an anti-Muslim pundit who called for a 'final solution' for Muslims in her country following a 2017 terrorist attack[.... According to the Guardian,] Hopkins also 'wrote a column for the Sun in which she compared migrants to cockroaches and suggested Europe should use gunboats to stop them crossing the Mediterranean.'... Amplifying Hopkins’ voice is significant because Trump’s criticism of Omar is ostensibly that he believes she’s anti-semitic (because of her criticism of the Israeli government). But it was Hopkins who blamed last year’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Jewish leaders’ support for migrants. So where does Trump even find these people? Per the BBC, 'Katie Hopkins first came under the public gaze when she was a contestant on the BBC TV series The Apprentice in 2007.' Of course.”

Peter Baker, et al., of the New York Times: Long before he ignited a firestorm by telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to 'go back' to their home countries..., Mr. Trump sought to pit Americans against one another along racial lines.... Over decades in business, entertainment and now politics, Mr. Trump has approached America’s racial, ethnic and religious divisions opportunistically, not as the nation’s wounds to be healed but as openings to achieve his goals, whether they be ratings, fame, money or power, without regard for adverse consequences.... But the longer Mr. Trump spends on the stage, the more friends and former employees, like Michael D. Cohen, Omarosa Manigault Newman and Anthony Scaramucci, have concluded that he is more racist than they had admitted.” ...

... Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker: "For the past two years, observers have been divided about whether Trump’s tweets are calculated trolling, designed to keep his opponents off balance, or the sincere expressions of an unbalanced psyche. The current outburst indicates that the answer is both." ...

... Maureen Dowd: “It is a travesty that Donald Trump, 154 years after Lincoln tried to bind the wounds of the nation on race to keep the dream of America viable, is pouring salt into those wounds to keep himself viable.... [Trump] doesn’t rely on division only for elections, like his predecessors; he uses it to govern. And while that is a tad embarrassing for Republicans, they know from half a century of experience that it works to stir up racial animus and label foes wild-eyed socialists and commies. Mitch McConnell admitted this on Thursday when he told Fox Business that 'the president is on to something' with his fragging, though he denied Trump was a racist. While it is awful to contemplate, this trade-off of our national ideals for strong stock returns and more millions for billionaires could be working.” ...

... Trump: Melania & Ivanka Are Just as Racist as I Am. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: “... Donald Trump contradicted reports that First Lady Melania Trump and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump objected privately to rally chants urging that U.S. citizen Rep. Ilhan Omar be sent back to Africa. Rep. Omar was born in Somalia.... During an impromptu gaggle on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump was asked 'What did the First Lady and Ivanka advise you about the chant? I know you guys talked about it…' 'False information,' Trump interrupted. 'It was fake news.... We — I talked about it, but they didn’t advise me. They told me, but I didn’t….'” Mrs. McC: That "they told me" sentence fragment is suspicious. "They told me" what? It sounds to me as if Trump caught himself just in time to avoid a gaffe. (Also linked yesterday.)

Billings Gazette Editors: "Responding to a Tweet in which Donald Trump told Democrats to go back to the country they came from, [Montana Sen. Steve] Daines said, 'Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals. We’re the greatest country in the world. I stand with @realdonaldtrump.'... But Montanans are more sickened by the never-ending torrent of childish, bigoted views that are shoveled from the White House that make the country look like bigots and idiots.... To make matters worse, Daines' chief of staff decided to applaud his boss by commenting, 'America: Love It Or Leave It.'... Sen. Daines, please stop defending the indefensible. You don't represent Donald Trump, you represent us.... If Daines really believes that people should go back to where they came from, then that means Daines should start packing for California where he was born.” Mrs. McC: Daines is not up for re-election till 2022.

Presidential Race 2020

Tim Reid of Reuters: Joe “Biden, in California for a two-day swing to campaign and fundraise, told a gathering that Trump is 'more George Wallace than George Washington.'”

Dream Small.” Alex Shephard of the New Republic: Joe “Biden has spent much of the week targeting [Bernie] Sanders, making the case that Medicare for All is both a pipe dream and, apparently, an affront to Barack Obama’s legacy. 'I knew the Republicans would do everything in their power to repeal Obamacare,' he said in a promotional video timed to the release of his health care plan. 'They still are. But I’m surprised that so many Democrats are running on getting rid of it.' Sanders himself has fired back a number of times, pointing out factual inaccuracies in Biden’s critique — including his delusory claim that a transition to Medicare for All would create a 'hiatus' in health coverage.... Biden’s health care plan is yet another example of the kind of thinking that has plagued Democrats over the past several decades. Rather than presenting a bold vision for the country, Biden is promising a steady hand guiding a slightly improved version of what people already have.”

Eric Levitz of New York on a few ways confederates are trying to corral the American identity & remake it to fit their limited -- and limiting -- worldview.

The New York Times has a neat interactive page in which they superimpose the words of the Apollo 11 crew & Houston control upon photos that reflect what's going on in the dialog.

Saturday
Jul202019

The Commentariat -- July 20, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Trump: Melania & Ivanka Are Just as Racist as I Am. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: “... Donald Trump contradicted reports that First Lady Melania Trump and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump objected privately to rally chants urging that U.S. citizen Rep. Ilhan Omar be sent back to Africa. Rep. Omar was born in Somalia.... During an impromptu gaggle on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump was asked 'What did the First Lady and Ivanka advise you about the chant? I know you guys talked about it…' 'False information,' Trump interrupted. 'It was fake news.... We — I talked about it, but they didn’t advise me. They told me, but I didn’t….'” Mrs. McC: That "they told me" sentence fragment is suspicious. "They told me" what? It sounds to me as if Trump caught himself just in time to avoid a gaffe.

~~~~~~~~~~

In case you missed it:

 

... The moon landing is not the only 50-year anniversary we're recognizing this weekend. As Josh Sanburn writes for Vanity Fair, "The weekend of the Apollo 11 moon landing should have cemented the Kennedy family’s legacy of public service." But the Kennedys had another preoccupation: the drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne in a Chappaquiddick pond. The truth of what happened when Teddy Kennedy drove off Dike Bridge with Kopechne "still feels just out of reach."

How to Muck up a Photo-op, Starring Donald J. Trump. Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: “... Donald Trump has spent days feuding with progressive House Democrats, but on Friday he stoked another conflict, pitting his NASA chief against the first men to travel to the moon as they debated traveling directly to Mars. During a gathering in the Oval Office to commemorate Saturday's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Trump grilled NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and former astronauts Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin over the logistics of putting a man on Mars as well as the recent progress of NASA.” An argument ensued.

Trump Can't Imagine Anyone as Profane as Himself. Quint Forgey of Politico: “... Donald Trump on Friday extolled the debt ceiling as 'a sacred element of our country' that should never be wielded as a bargaining chip in budget talks.... 'That’s a very, very sacred thing in our country, debt ceiling. We can never play with it...,' Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. The president’s remarks come as White House officials, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, home in on a two-year budget agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would raise the national debt limit.... 'I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,' Trump said Friday.... But as a private citizen in December 2012, Trump tweeted that 'the Republicans must use the debt ceiling as leverage to make a good deal!'”

What truly makes our country great is its diversity. I’ve seen that beauty in so many ways over the years. Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there’s a place for us all. We must remember it’s not my America or your America. It’s our America. -- Michelle Obama, in a tweet, Friday

They called our country 'garbage.' -- Donald Trump, Friday, among the lies he told about Democratic Congresswomen Friday

I can tell you this: You can't talk that way about our country. Not when I'm the president. -- Donald Trump, Friday, suspending First Amendment rights of Democratic Congresswomen ...

Also too, Democratic representatives don't have the right to say what they didn't say, but it's okay for Trump to falsely attribute inflamatory statements to them. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

... Never Mind. Annie Karni of the New York Times: “President Trump on Friday demonstrated the limited influence of allies or advisers who try to steer him away from pre-election racial and cultural fights. He walked back his disavowal of a racially loaded chant at a campaign rally less than 24 hours after making it. Acquiescing to behind-the-scenes pressure from nervous Republican lawmakers and from his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, the president distanced himself on Thursday from the chant of 'Send her back!' that the crowd at his rally on Wednesday in Greenville, N.C., directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia. Mr. Trump said he was 'not happy' with the chant’s language and claimed, falsely, that he had tried to cut it off. But on Friday, the president appeared to disavow his disavowal — following the same three-stage crisis playbook he used after setting off a wave of criticism when he defended neo-Nazi protesters in 2017 Charlottesville, Va.... Mr. Trump defended the crowd as 'incredible patriots' and said that Ms. Omar, who was elected last November, was 'lucky to be where she is.' When asked about the chant again later in the day as he left Washington to spend the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump refused to condemn them. Instead, he seemed to be repeating his criticism of Ms. Omar and her allies in Congress without mentioning any names. 'You know what’s racist to me, when someone goes out and says the horrible things about our country,' he said. 'The people of our country that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate — that to me is really a dangerous thing.'” ...

... Quint Forgey of Politico: “... Donald Trump on Friday accused the media of siding with Rep. Ilhan Omar and the other freshman progressive congresswomen with whom he has feuded this week, criticizing reporters’ coverage of the 'send her back' chant that broke out at his most recent campaign rally. 'It is amazing how the Fake News Media became "crazed" over the chant "send her back" by a packed Arena (a record) crowd in the Great State of North Carolina, but is totally calm & accepting of the most vile and disgusting statements made by the three Radical Left Congresswomen,' the president tweeted.” Mrs. McC: Three?? Trump seems to lost one of his nemeses; he named four during his Wednesday campaign rant. Also too, he's very upset with the media for covering the crowd who enthusiastically greeted Omar when she returned to Minnesota: “They even covered a tiny staged crowd as they greeted Foul Mouthed Omar in Minnesota,” Trump tweeted. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Lara Takenaga & Aidan Gardiner of the New York Times: “When we asked readers if they had been told to 'go back,' some 16,000 responses flooded in on our website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Readers recounted the insults they’ve heard as African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and Jewish Americans. Many recalled first becoming aware of their 'otherness' as young children and said that slurs have followed them into adulthood. Their stories span decades, with notable upticks after 9/11 and Mr. Trump’s election. And several readers expressed regret after telling others to 'go back.' We chose 67 of the most representative stories to feature here, lightly edited and condensed.” ...

... Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times: “... what I noticed most about the president’s rally in Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday night was the pleasure of the crowd. His voters and supporters were having fun. The 'Send her back' chant directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was hateful but also exuberant, an expression of racist contempt and a celebration of shared values.... To watch raucous crowds of (mostly) white Americans unite in frenzied hatred of a black woman — to watch them cast her as a cancer on the body politic and a threat to a racialized social order — is to see the worst of our past play out in modern form.” Bouie compares Trump's crowd to “an 1893 lynching in Paris, Tex., where Henry Smith, a mentally disabled black teenager, was burned alive.” “'It must be remembered that the white group of laborers, while they received a low wage, were compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage,” [W.E.B. Dubois] wrote [in 1935], outlining the ways in which this 'public and psychological' wage strengthened ordinary white Americans’ attachment to a system that ultimately exploited them too[.]”

... Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times: “As Trump’s racist invective against [Rep. Ilhan] Omar and three other freshman Democratic congresswomen has dominated the news, the president’s defenders have used Jews as human shields, pretending that hatred of the quartet is rooted in abhorrence of anti-Semitism.... 'When they start asking people to go back where they came from, that’s the first line of attack on the Jewish people over centuries,' said [Jeremy] Ben-Ami [of J Street]. It’s terrifying enough to have a president who says such things. It’s an almost incalculable insult for Trump and his enablers to act as if he’s helping the Jews when he adopts the language of the pogrom.” (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Trump's So Low Even David Brooks Gets Him Right: “In Trump’s version, 'American' is defined by three propositions. First, to be American is to be xenophobic. The basic narrative he tells is that the good people of the heartland are under assault from aliens, elitists and outsiders. Second, to be American is to be nostalgic. America’s values were better during some golden past. Third, a true American is white. White Protestants created this country; everybody else is here on their sufferance. When you look at Trump’s American idea you realize that it contradicts the traditional American idea in every particular. In fact, Trump’s national story is much closer to the Russian national story than it is toward our own. It’s an alien ideology he’s trying to plant on our soil. Trump’s vision is radically anti-American.” (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Priscilla Alvarez & Geneva Sands of CNN: "The Trump administration is making revisions to the naturalization test for the first time in a decade, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Friday. The agency is focusing on changes to the civics portion of the test, though there could also be updates to the English section, according to a USCIS official. The announcement comes amid a heated debate over who should be allowed in the country after ... Donald Trump targeted progressive congresswomen, telling them to 'go back' to where they came from. Three of the four women were born in the US. The other is a naturalized citizen." Thanks to Ken W. for the link. Mrs. McC: Ken sees the move as "Another Pretender initiative bursting with satiric possibility." I have no idea what he means, but I have it on good authority that one of the new questions is "The President of the United States is elected for a term of (a) Four years; (b) Eight years; (c) As long as he wants." Correct answer: (c).

David D. Kirkpatrick & Megan Specia of the New York Times: "Iran seized at least one British oil tanker in a vital Persian Gulf waterway on Friday, a sharp escalation of tensions with the West that revived fears of a military clash, even as voices on both sides appeared to be seeking room for negotiations. The impoundment of the tanker by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps naval patrols came a day after the United States said it had downed an Iranian drone menacing an American warship in the region. But Iran’s standoff with Britain, in particular, carries its own complications. Britain occupies a pivotal place in a bloc of European states that have tried to broker some resolution to a broader conflict between Tehran and Washington over the fate of a 2015 deal with the world powers designed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain convened an emergency meeting of advisers late Friday night to respond."

Erin Banco of the Daily Beast: "George Nader, who was a key witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, was hit with new federal charges of sex trafficking for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old boy he transported from Europe. An indictment unsealed Friday morning in Eastern District of Virginia also charges Nader with counts of child pornography and obscenity. The charges come on top of separate child-porn charges leveled by the same prosecutors last month. Nader pleaded not guilty to all charges during a court appearance Friday.... Nader met several times with individuals associated with the Trump campaign throughout the election and into the early days of the administration." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: There must be a reason that sexual predators are attracted to Trump & he to them. There's Jeffrey Epstein, of course, who likes women "on the younger side," as Trump once put it; there's Roger Ailes, who abused & harassed female employees for decades, during which time he & Trump were good friends; there's Steve Wynn, who was vice chair of Trump's inaugural committee & finance chair of the RNC -- by Trump's choice -- until Wynn resigned among dozens of accusations of sexual harassment & assault; there's Jason Miller, whom Trump chose as White House communications director till Miller resigned over an extramarital affair with another staffer whom he impregnated among various other allegations of unsavory sexual behaviors; etc., etc. ...

... AND This Guy, Fox "News"'s Answer to a "Liberal" Trump Backer. Andrew Rice of New York: “Of all of the many men on the long list of socialites, billionaires, and politicians associated with [Jeffrey] Epstein..., perhaps no name had been tarnished as seriously as [Alan] Dershowitz’s. As Epstein’s lawyer, he had helped him to thwart prosecutors; as his houseguest, he was accused of enthusiastically joining in Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse.... He has been perhaps inadvisably willing to talk, and talk, and talk, answering every request for comment (including mine).... [Thursday] night, on Fox News, he accused his nemesis [attorney David Boies] of having 'an enormous amount of chutzpah to attack me and challenge my perfect, perfect sex life.'” Mrs. McC: This is a longish piece which I chose to very lightly skim on account of the "eww!" factor.

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "House Democrats want to know whether a decades-old Justice Department prohibition on indicting a sitting president played a role in federal prosecutors’ decision not to criminally charge ... Donald Trump over hush money payments that he directed his fixer to pay to women. The prohibition, laid out in a 2000 memo by the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, was also a key factor in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to refrain from considering whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice for his repeated attempts to thwart the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now Democrats on the House Oversight Committee say the federal prosecutors based in the Southern District of New York should disclose whether they made a similar analysis. The president’s longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was jailed earlier this year, in part for his role in hush payments to women accusing Trump of extramarital affairs, and he implicated the president in the scheme. Documents made public Thursday showed contacts between Cohen and Trump surrounding the hush money payments and were part of prosecutors’ evidence that Trump directed Cohen to make the payoffs.... [Committee Chairman Elijah] Cummings noted that he wrote directly to the SDNY prosecutors because of concerns about the accuracy of information provided to Congress by Attorney General William Barr in characterizing Mueller’s findings in March...."

Your Taxpayer Dollars, Going to Enrich Trump & Aid His Re-election Campaign. S. V. Date of the Huffington Post: "... Donald Trump is leaving Friday for another million-dollar golf weekend at his New Jersey course, where he will also host a fundraiser that will convert Republican Party money into his own personal money. The trip will be Trump’s 17th visit to his resort 45 miles west of New York City since taking office, with each costing taxpayers at least $1.1 million in travel and security costs. The trip will bring his taxpayer-paid golf tab to $109.2 million. With a planned return on Sunday, Trump will add another three days to the time he has spent at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, bringing his tally there to 64 days and his total time at golf courses that he owns to 194 days.... The fundraiser at Bedminster, meanwhile, is set for Friday evening and is expected to bring in some $3 million to Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee.... Because Trump still owns his business – despite campaign promises that he would separate himself from it – a portion of that revenue will wind up in Trump’s personal bank account."

Presidential Race 2020

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: Donald Trump's "advantage in the Electoral College, relative to the national popular vote, may be even larger than it was in 2016, according to an Upshot analysis of election results and polling data. That persistent edge leaves him closer to re-election than one would think based on national polls, and it might blunt any electoral cost of actions like his recent tweets attacking four minority congresswomen." (Also linked yesterday.)


Matthew Brown
of the AP: “A U.S. appeals court panel sided with the Trump administration Friday in a mining pollution dispute, ruling that state and federal programs already in place ensure that companies take financial responsibility for future cleanups. The ruling came after the administration was sued by environmental groups for dropping an Obama-era proposal that would have forced companies to put up money to show they have resources to clean up pollution. The mining industry has a legacy of bankrupt companies abandoning polluted sites and leaving taxpayers to cover cleanup costs. But the three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it was 'unpersuaded' by the environmentalists’ arguments that the Trump administration relied on a faulty economic analysis in making its decision.... The Associated Press has reported that every day, millions of gallons of water loaded with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals flow from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding streams and ponds without being treated."

Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald: "The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has opened an internal affairs investigation into whether it properly handled the case of multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, the part-time Palm Beach resident accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls. Specifically, it will look at the decision more than a decade ago to allow Epstein to be free 12 hours a day on work release while serving a short sentence in the county stockade on prostitution-related charges. On Friday, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw — the same sheriff who oversaw the controversial work release arrangement — ordered that the investigation be done."


Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article232879877.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article232879877.html#storylink=cpy