The Wires
The Ledes

Monday, March 18, 2019.

NBC News: “Heavy rain and melting snow that overpowered the Missouri River forced hundreds of families out of their homes in the Midwest and forced the base that is home to U.S. Strategic Command to sharply scale back operations on Sunday. At least three people are confirmed to have died in what the National Weather Service called 'major and historical river flooding' along parts of the Missouri and Mississippi river basins.”

TPM: "Fox News has hired former interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile as a contributor, the network announced Monday. According to the press release, Brazile will offer political analysis on Fox News and Fox Business News. A source close to the situation told TPM that Brazile will not play any role related to the debate or town hall process."

New York Post's Page Six: "Brian Williams could come back from TV news exile, Page Six is told. The anchor was booted from the 'NBC Nightly News' in 2015 after it was revealed that he’d embellished some stories with fictional details — and sent to the relative Siberia of 11 p.m. on sister station MSNBC. But despite his tarnished reputation and graveyard-adjacent time slot, Williams has made his '11th Hour With Brian Williams' show a legit hit, beating CNN and Fox News for three months straight. Now 30 Rock insiders say Williams could move to a more prominent time slot, possibly replacing vet Chris Matthews at 7 p.m." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Despite his less-than-liberal views, Williams' 11 pm newscast is really pretty good. He's a pro. Another pro at MSNBC who impresses me is Richard Liu. The other night, a feed from Los Angeles went dark, and within 90 seconds, Liu got himself on the air & conducted a full segment (with Ken Dilanian as one of the last-second guests) with what I would guess was zero prep. Years ago, when I was not much younger than Liu appears to be now, I worked for a national news network, and I had actual nightmares that I might get stuck on-air with no copy. (I was not an on-air personality, but I could have got stuck with an on-air spot during a strike.) I could not have done then what Liu did this week.

Everybody liked this Oscar moment:


Cartoon by R.J. Matson. Thanks to forrest m. ... The Verge has the complete list of Oscar winners.

Ars Technia: "Excavations at two ancient quarry sites in western Wales suggest how ancient people probably quarried some of the stones now standing at Stonehenge. The 42 stones in question are some of the smaller parts at Stonehenge, relatively speaking: they still weigh two to four tons each. They're called the bluestones, and they came all the way from western Wales [about 180 miles from the Stonehenge site]. Chemical analysis has even matched some of them to two particular quarries on the northern slopes of the Preseli Hills. One, an outcrop called Carn Goedog, seems to have supplied most of the bluish-gray, white-speckled dolerite at Stonehenge. And another outcrop in the valley below, Craig Rhos-y-felin, supplied most of the rhyolite. University College London archaeologist Michael Parker Pearson and his colleagues have spent the last eight years excavating the ancient quarry sites, and that work has revealed some new information about the origins of Stonehenge.... The ancient quarry-workers left behind mudstone wedges and stone hammers, which they would have driven into the cracks between the pillars to carefully pry them apart.”

The dollhouse of Petronella Oortman, in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.Emily Landau in the New York Times: "The whole point of a dollhouse is that it’s not to be played with. It’s untarnished by the workaday furniture we get for our real homes, the Sears dining tables and cheap Ikea Billy bookcases. And for many people, it’s the only place where ludicrously opulent décor is attainable, where you can go all out on mother-of-pearl doorknobs or Versailles-worthy brocade chaises without losing your savings or your dignity." Mrs. McC: I think Laudau helps explain why I have so enjoyed moving from a mansion-sized house to one that is one-tenth the size of the "mansion."

The Los Angeles Times has the full list of Oscar nominees here.

NBC Sports: "Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the 2019 class. The results were just announced on MLB Network. Rivera received votes from every single writer who submitted a ballot, becoming the first player ever to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Halladay and Edgar Martínez each received 85.4 percent of the vote and Mussina appeared on 76.7 percent of ballots. Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his seasons in the majors with the Yankees. He was initially used as a starter, but quickly moved to the bullpen, becoming the greatest closer of all-time. He racked up 652 saves — the most in baseball history — during the regular season along with a 2.21 ERA anda 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings. He saved his best work for the postseason. Rivera appeared in 96 postseason games, saving 42 saves in 47 opportunities with a 0.70 ERA and a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 innings. Rivera won five championships, five Rolaids Relief Awards, as well as MVP awards in the World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Game. He made the AL All-Star team 13 times."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If you're a shut-out Trump Shutdown victim tooling around the Internets with nothing to do today, let's assume that some day some time, Trump will de-furlough you and you can get back to work enthusiastically serving the American people in your appointed capacity. In case Trump has rendered you a bit rusty in the area of job skills, Conan here provides some useful tools that may help you get to work on time, even on casual Friday:

ABC News: "Breathtaking drone video of a pod of friendly, playful dolphins joining a surfer as he took to the waves near the coast of Ventura, California, is making the rounds on social media and bringing smiles -- and wow's -- to viewers. ABC station KABC-TV's meteorologist Kimi Evans met the drone's owner Craig Badger, who shared the footage, and spoke to surfer Alden Blair.... The video has been seen more than 3 million times on social media." ...

NBC Suits Are Such Geniuses. New York Times: "After a drawn-out negotiation period, NBC and Megyn Kelly have formally agreed to part ways. The network and the onetime cable news star reached a final agreement on Friday, nearly three months after she wondered aloud on-air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. NBC and a representative for Ms. Kelly declined to reveal the details of the exit package. But according to two people familiar with the negotiations, Ms. Kelly was paid the outstanding balance on her contract, a figure that amounts to roughly $30 million. At the time of the separation, Ms. Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network."

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

Monday
Mar182019

The Commentariat -- March 19, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Ben Schreckinger of Politico: “Meeting with [Brazil’s President Jair] Bolsonaro at the White House Tuesday, Trump said he was 'honored' by comparisons between the two men’s winning presidential campaigns. Trump praised Bolsonaro for running 'a very incredible campaign, some said a little bit reminded people of our campaign,' noting he believed the Brazilian leader 'has done a very outstanding job.'... 'I call it fake news,' Trump said during a joint press conference with Bolsonaro. 'I'm very proud to hear the president use the term fake news.'... Unofficially, the visit marks a milestone for what some see as an emerging new world order of strongmen backed by right-wing insurgencies.... Bolsonaro, nicknamed the 'Trump of the Tropics,' has drawn widespread condemnation in the U.S. for [anti-gay] remarks as well as racist comments, his defense of Brazil's former military dictatorship and his family's ties to violent paramilitary groups. But the Trump administration has embraced him wholeheartedly.”

Adam Edelman of NBC News: “... Donald Trump doubled down on his criticism of the late Sen. John McCain on Tuesday, telling reporters that he 'was never a fan' of the Arizona lawmaker 'and never will be.' Trump, during an appearance at the White House alongside Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, continued his posthumous broadside against his former foe, saying that he still found it 'disgraceful' that McCain voted against repealing key parts of Obamacare in 2017.”

Josh Dawsey & John Wagner of the Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday ratcheted up a remarkable public spat with the husband of one of his top advisers, attacking Kellyanne Conway’s husband as a 'total loser' on Twitter in response to the lawyer’s persistent questions about his mental health and competence.... The president’s tweet also included a dubious assertion from Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, that the president 'doesn’t even know' his senior adviser’s husband. But George Conway said in an interview Tuesday that he has had a number of notable interactions with Trump over the past decade, often concerning legal representation and sensitive legal matters since Trump became president. He described the president as 'mendacious' and 'incompetent' and predicted he would not win reelection.”

Benjamin Weiser & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "Federal authorities investigating Russian interference in the presidential election obtained search warrants for emails of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, beginning in July 2017, according to documents released Tuesday that provide a glimpse into the earliest stages of the inquiry into the president. The documents show that Mr. Cohen’s business dealings had already been the subject of an extensive investigation by the time F.B.I. agents conducted a highly public raid on his home and office nine months later, in April of last year. They also show how little the public knew about the Russian investigation in real time as prosecutors zeroed in on Mr. Cohen.... The documents give a rough timeline of how the Cohen investigation unfolded."

The Biggest Losers. Fred Barbash & Deanna Paul of the Washington Post: “Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration at least 63 times over the past two years, an extraordinary record of legal defeat that has stymied large parts of the president’s agenda on the environment, immigration and other matters. In case after case, judges have rebuked Trump officials for failing to follow the most basic rules of governance, including providing legitimate explanations for shifts in policy, supported by facts and, where required, public input. Many of the cases are in early stages and subject to reversal.... Two-thirds of the cases accuse the Trump administration of violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a 73-year-old law that forms the primary bulwark against arbitrary rule. The normal 'win rate' for the government in such cases is about 70 percent, according to analysts and studies. But as of mid-January, a database maintained by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law shows Trump’s win rate at about 6 percent.... Contributing to the losing record has been Trump himself. His reported comments about 'shithole countries,' for example, helped convince U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco that the administration’s decision to end 'temporary protected status' for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Central America, Haiti and Sudan was motivated by racial and ethnic bias. At least a dozen decisions have involved Trump’s tweets or comments.” Thanks to MAG for the link. See also MAG's commentary below. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yeah, it turns out racial animus is not that sturdy a basis for policy decisions. ...

... Trump Won This One. Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: “A narrowly divided Supreme Court said Tuesday that federal authorities have broad authority to detain — without a bond hearing — legal immigrants who have committed certain crimes that make them eligible for deportation. It does not matter whether authorities pick up such noncitizens years after they have been released from criminal custody, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision. Federal law mandates detention for certain aliens while awaiting deportation proceedings, he said. 'As we have held time and again, an official’s crucial duties are better carried out late than never,' wrote Alito, joined in the outcome by his fellow conservatives.”

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: “There is a Twitter account called 'Devin Nunes’ cow that has tweeted nasty things about Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Evidently, the account is not actually run by a cow belonging to Nunes. Nunes is now suing his purported cow.... What better way to draw attention to something than to sue what is obviously a parody account claiming to be a creature without the opposable thumbs necessary to fire off a tweet?... What might be most notable about Nunes’s suit is that this is the first battle he chose. Nunes said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Monday night that this is 'the first of many' lawsuits to come. Does he really think his most obvious and airtight case involved ... @DevinCow and @DevinNunesMom?... The legal merits of the case appear highly questionable at best. The standard for defamation of a public figure such as Nunes is much higher than for an average person.... [BUT] Nunes is telegraphing an expansive effort to go after people who hurt Republicans with their public discourse. Its potential impact, not so much legally as from personal behavioral standpoint, shouldn’t be so casually dismissed.” See related posts below.

Josh Kovensky of TPM: "Florida prosecutors offered a deal to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft whereby charges that he solicited prostitution would be dropped in exchange for Kraft admitting that he would be found guilty at trial, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Under the terms of the reported deferred prosecution agreement, Kraft would be screened for sexually transmitted diseased, complete a class on prostitution, finish 100 hours of community service, and pay some court costs from the case. Kraft denies the charges. The WSJ also reported that legal experts had raised questions over Florida prosecutors’ conduct in the case.... Read the Wall Street Journal’s full story here."

Brian Stelter of CNN: "Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is joining the board of the newly slimmed-down Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News. Ryan and three other board of directors were appointed on Tuesday. Appointing these directors was a necessary step as the Murdoch family wraps up the Disney-Fox deal.... The parts of Fox that aren't being acquired by Disney are forming a new company, simply called Fox, that will be run by Rupert Murdoch's son Lachlan Murdoch." Mrs. McC: It heartens me to anticipate just how much more "sincere" Fox personalities will be when they tout the benefits of shivving the poor & middle class.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ask a Dumb Question, Get a Useless Answer. Kevin Breuninger of CNBC: "... Donald Trump on Monday touted poll results that appeared to show more Americans than ever siding with his oft-repeated accusation that special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe is nothing more than a 'witch hunt.' But some polling experts took issue with the phrasing of the survey question, saying it may have skewed the results. 'President Trump has called the Special Counsel´s investigation a "witch hunt" and said he´s been subjected to more investigations than previous presidents because of politics. Do you agree?' the new USA Today/Suffolk University poll asked 1,000 registered voters in live telephone interviews between March 13 and 17. The survey found that 50 percent of respondents said they agreed.... Multiple polling experts took exception to the structure of the question ... because it asks three things within a single question."

David Enrich of the New York Times: Donald "Trump’s financial ties with Deutsche Bank are the subject of investigations by two congressional committees and the New York attorney general. Investigators hope to use Deutsche Bank as a window into Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances.... Over nearly two decades, Deutsche Bank’s leaders repeatedly saw red flags surrounding Mr. Trump.... But Deutsche Bank had a ravenous appetite for risk and limited concern about its clients’ reputations. Time after time, with the support of two different chief executives, the bank handed money — a total of well over $2 billion — to a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable." Read on for details of just what a risky bet Deutsche Bank made, again & again. It's a long article. Trump didn't learn to lie & cheat & renege on debts & commitments the day he announced his run for the presidency.

Cheating After the Last Dog Dies. Nico Hines of the Daily Beast: Cambridge Analytica "filed for the British equivalent of chapter 11 bankruptcy last year after secret recordings of its boss, Alexander Nix, emerged in which he claimed that Trump’s data gurus had carried out illicit election campaigns all over the world. The company was also accused of using up to 87 million clandestinely harvested Facebook profiles to create a state of the art voter database that helped Trump win election in 2016. A lawyer representing a New York professor, who believes his private data was misused..., claims Cambridge Analytica’s data secrets are being shielded from justice and exposure by [bankruptcy] administrators in the pay of a shadow company set up by a band of executives linked to the Trump campaign veterans. The [British] High Court heard that administrators had deliberately misled a judge during a previous hearing by obfuscating their financial links to Emerdata, a company which was set up by Nix, Rebekah Mercer, and other senior figures who were previously involved with Cambridge Analytica." ...

      ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Like Trump, these people are crooks, and like Trump, they come up with scams for every occasion. ...

... AND Speaking of the Mercers... Caroline Orr in Byline Times: “Trump’s top donor, Robert Mercer, is at the centre of a multimillion-dollar anti-Muslim propaganda industry responsible for creating and spreading the same Islamophobic rhetoric found in the New Zealand shooter’s manifesto.... Between 2014 and 2016, the Mercer Family Foundation donated a quarter of a million dollars to the New York-based Gatestone Institute, an anti-Muslim think tank that warns of a looming Muslim takeover of Europe leading to a 'Great White Death.'... Not coincidentally, many of the videos [produced by Gatestone & a Canadian partner] also feature clips of news articles from Breitbart, the far-right platform financed by Robert Mercer — just one of many examples of how this network of Mercer-affiliated anti-Muslim organizations and individuals uses its own propaganda across platforms to make it appear more credible and to expand its reach.... Prominent tech companies like YouTube, Google, and Facebook play a major role in this cycle by disseminating extremist content to specific audiences through features like micro-targeting and algorithmically-produced recommendations and suggestions. This was the case with Secure America Now, a secretive right-wing organization bankrolled by Robert Mercer. In 2016, the dark money group produced a series of Islamophobic propaganda videos and aired them during the final weeks of the presidential election.”

Ken Vogel & Katie Benner of the New York Times: "A long-running federal investigation into a former White House counsel in the Obama administration is reaching a critical stage, presenting the Justice Department with a decision about whether to charge a prominent Democrat as part of a more aggressive crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying. The case involving the lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, was transferred in January from federal prosecutors in New York to those in Washington. The previously undisclosed move was driven by Justice Department officials in Washington, and reflects an eagerness within the department to prosecute violations of lobbying laws.... The investigation centers on whether Mr. Craig should have disclosed work he did in 2012 — while he was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — on behalf of the Russia-aligned government of Viktor F. Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine.The work was steered to Mr. Craig by Paul Manafort...."

Lupe Luppen of Yahoo! News: “A high-profile counterterrorism prosecutor who handled the guilty plea of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has departed Robert Mueller’s team, according to a spokesman for the special counsel’s office. 'Zainab Ahmad has concluded her detail with the Special Counsel’s Office but will continue to represent the office on specific pending matters that were assigned to her during her detail,' Peter Carr said in a statement. The announcement of Ahmad’s departure comes on the heels of press reports that her colleague Andrew Weissman, the lead prosecutor on Paul Manafort’s case, would leave the office in coming days. The end of Ahmad’s detail is sure to be seen as another indication that the special counsel’s investigation is winding down.”

Amanda Hoover of NJ.com: “Anthony Comello, the 24-year-old arrested in New Jersey Saturday for allegedly gunning down a mob boss in Staten Island last week, will return to New York to face the murder charge against him. Comello waived his extradition rights Monday during a hearing in Ocean County Superior Court before Judge Wendel Daniels. He is expected to appear in court in Staten Island next Monday, March 25.... In the courtroom, Comello held his open handcuffed palm up to reporters, showing a symbol and several words scrawled in pen. 'MAGA forever' and 'united we stand' were some of the phrases he had printed, while others were not entirely legible.” Mrs. McC: Somehow, Donald Trump is featured in every American crime story. You might think criminals see him as a role model. ...

 

... Matt Stieb of New York: “Comello’s other sketches – a large 'Q' in the middle of his hand, and the phrases 'United We Stand' and 'Patriots in Charge' – suggest the influence of the bizarre and wholly uncredited QAnon theory.... It’s unclear how much weight should be placed onto Comello’s conspiracist proclivities: online theories such as QAnon are laced with irony and misdirection, and to take their presence at face value in the courtroom is probably shortsighted. Still, the fact that the story – a young man kills a Sicilian crime boss and shows up in court with conspiracist hand-drawings – was a minor moment on an otherwise normal Monday suggests the irreversible damage that the Trump era has wrought on our understanding of the definition of a 'normal' news cycle.”


Mrs. McCrabbie: Donald Trump
tweeted or retweeted a total of 50 times over the weekend, according to MSNBC. (Maybe this is another sign he'll get the Mueller report this week [not that we will].)  He isn't finished:

... He Takes No Responsibility for Encouraging White Supremacists. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: “President Trump on Monday accused the news media of blaming him for last week’s deadly shootings on a pair of mosques in New Zealand. 'The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!'” (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Monday called Joe Biden a 'low I.Q. individual' after the former vice president had a slip of the tongue and nearly announced he was running for president in 2020. 'Joe Biden got tongue tied over the weekend when he was unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for President,' Trump tweeted. 'Get used to it, another low I.Q. individual!'" Mrs. McC: I guess we'll have to consider Trump a low-IQ individual -- okay, we do, we do -- since "slips of the tongue" and word salad are his specialties. Bigly. (Also linked yesterday.)

Can This Marriage Be Saved? Tina Nguyen of Vanity Fair: “The uneasy rift between White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and her husband, the indefatigable Trump critic George Conway, appeared to widen this weekend, when Kellyanne was forced to address their difference of opinion on the record. 'No, I don’t share those concerns,' she told reporters Monday morning, referring to a series of tweets in which her husband suggested that her boss has a diagnosable mental disorder and that his 'condition is getting worse.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I have a sneaking suspicion that Kellyanne agrees with George 100 percent, & he is expressing her true opinions of Trump.

This Is Hilarious. Paul Bedard of the (right-wing) Washington Examiner: "Facebook abruptly censored the account of President Trump’s chief social media guru, blocking him for simply responding to a question from a reader. Dan Scavino Jr. said on Facebook that his page was blocked without notice."

CBP Targets Americans at Border. Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "At least one journalist and four American immigration attorneys have been stopped and questioned at border stations in Arizona and Texas in recent months, according to their interviews with NBC News. These are in addition to 59 others whose names were on a list to be pulled aside by border agents in San Diego.... A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection told NBC News that the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general was investigating the practice, which he said was specific to San Diego. But Taylor Levy and Hector Ruiz, whose names were not included on the San Diego list, were stopped 700 miles to the east in El Paso, Texas. Levy and Ruiz both provide legal assistance to asylum-seekers on the U.S. and Mexican sides of the border." (Also linked yesterday.) 

Noah Lanard of Mother Jones: "Twenty-five years ago, Democrats and Republicans felt the same way about immigrants: The Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of both parties agreed they were a burden.... By the time Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, the share of Democrats and independents who said immigrants strengthen America had nearly doubled, while Republican opinion on the question had barely budged.... And under Trump, anti-immigrant sentiment has fallen even further as the president’s rhetoric about immigrants alienates large swaths of the public.... The United States is in the midst of a two-decade-long shift in favor of immigration, and it is only accelerating under Trump. For all the nativist movement’s efforts over the decades to rein in immigration, the chances of preserving a white majority are effectively gone." --s

Paul Sonne & Erica Werner of the Washington Post: "Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan identified all of the projects that could possibly be affected by President Trump’s decision to use emergency authorities to take up to $3.6 billion in military construction funds for his border wall.  Shanahan had promised to deliver the list to lawmakers by the end of the day last Thursday during a tense hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Pentagon didn’t send the file to Capitol Hill until midday Monday, prompting anger from lawmakers who had been requesting it for weeks.  The $12.9 billion pool of initiatives includes military construction projects approved and appropriated by Congress but not yet contracted out by the Pentagon.... Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee..., urged fellow senators to take into consideration the projects in their home states when voting on whether to override Trump’s veto of a congressional resolution rejecting his national emergency."

Clive Irving of The Daily Beast: “[T]he next version of the [Boeing] MAX series, the MAX-10, is also at the center of safety concerns. And those concerns again involve how Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration work together to certify the safety of new airplanes.... Concerns about the MAX-10 ... focus on its ability to meet the strict standards set for evacuation in the event of an emergency: flight attendants have just 90 seconds in which a cabin must be evacuated.... The MAX-10, due to go into airline service next year, is the largest of the 737 series, designed to carry 230 passengers in coach class seating.... Having that number of seats in a single-aisle jet reflects the pressure from budget airlines for 'densification,' a euphemism for cabins in which seat width and the space between rows of seats is reduced to new minimums. The MAX-10 will take the art of densification to its limits.../ FAA and Boeing were on the same page in believing that although the MAX-10’s cabin would be carrying 30 more passengers than the MAX-8 there was no need for new safety rules to be applied to it.” --s

Steve King Is Still Crazier than Donald Trump. Reis Thebault of the Washington Post: “Rep. Steve King has civil war on his mind. The Iowa Republican broached the subject in a Saturday evening Facebook post — a bizarre meme of two fighting Frankenstein figures, one red and one blue, each an amalgamation of states based on their political leanings. 'Folks keep talking about another civil war,' the meme read. 'One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.' King, who Congress recently stripped of committee assignments over his comments about white supremacy, annotated the image with a smirking emoji and mused, 'Wonder who would win....' The implication was incendiary: King was openly pondering violent, armed conflict, apparently joking about Republican-leaning states fighting their Democratic-leaning neighbors in a second American civil war.... King deleted the post, which he shared on an official campaign page, on Monday.”

Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "Missouri Republican Josh Hawley presented himself as a 'constitutional conservative' committed to 'fighting for the people’s liberties' in his 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate. But on Monday, he endorsed Donald Trump Jr.’s call for action to force private tech companies to protect and privilege conservative hate speech on their platforms.... It is particularly noteworthy that Hawley and Trump Jr. are claiming online censorship days after an alleged white nationalist killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.... A report from the social media tracking company NewsWhip also noted last week that recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm have actually led to increased engagement on posts by conservative outlets like Fox News and, among the less mainstream sites, LifeZette and Breitbart." --s

Revenge of the Trumpbots. Bryan Lowry & Lindsay Wise of the Kansas City Star: "U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt has been disinvited from a local GOP gathering in Christian County, Missouri, next month amid a backlash over his vote to block ... Donald Trump’s use of emergency powers to build a border wall. The senior GOP senator from Missouri was one of 12 Republicans who joined Democrats in voting against Trump’s national emergency declaration, a move that has sparked anger within the president’s base. As a Republican sharing the ballot with Trump in 2016, Blunt squeaked out a narrow 3-point win on Trump’s coattails. His vote on Thursday angered ardent Trump supporters across Missouri, who saw it as a betrayal."


Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article228088259.html#storylink=cpy

Daily Beast: “Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) sued Twitter, two anonymous Twitter accounts, and political consultant Liz Mair for more than $250 million, alleging that the defendants engaged in 'negligence, defamation per se, insulting words, and civil conspiracy.' In the suit, Nunes accuses Twitter of having a 'political agenda' by allowing two anonymous accounts — 'Devin Nunes’ Mom' (@DevinNunesMom) and 'Devin Nunes’ Cow' (@DevinCow) — and Mair to attack, defame, and demean him.” ...

... Jonathan Chait: “I have spent innumerable hours excavating the loopy theories emanating from Nunes. And yet none of that prepared me for the full barking mad preposterousness of his lawsuit. It might by the most staggeringly juvenile and inadvertently hilarious document I have ever read. Nunes’s legal case hinges on the argument that Twitter is not merely a platform for users, but a media company with a distinct point of view.... His lawsuit asserts that the existence of very mean tweets 'runs contrary to every tenet of American Democracy, including the guarantees of both the First Amendment and Article I, § 12 of the Virginia Constitution....' ... Building atop his foundation of a completely false factual understanding of how Twitter operates and what the First Amendment means, Nunes builds the rest of his suit around detailed recounting of the mean tweets he has suffered and the pain they have caused him." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Nunes' "interpretation" of an Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. citation boggles the mind. The lawsuit reads like a parody of frivolous lawsuits. He'll probably sue Chait, too. And maybe me.

E. A. Crunden of ThinkProgress: "Deadly and historic flooding is plaguing states across the Midwest, isolating entire towns and upending the region in what experts worry is an ominous preview of future climate change impacts. National media has been slow to cover the tragedy, which has left several states, including Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa, all reeling from turbulent weather conditions. As of Sunday, nine million people across 14 states were under a flood advisory." --s

Mark Olalde of Mother Jones: "The remnants of an abandoned gold and silver mine scar the Little Rocky Mountains just south of the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana, bleeding polluted orange water into streams that meander through the reservation.... Pegasus Gold Corp., a Canadian company that owned that mine and several others in the state, went bankrupt and folded 20 years ago. That left a legacy of water pollution and a cleanup bill nearing $100 million — with no end in sight.... Pegasus isn’t an isolated case. Especially in the drought-prone West, the outdated and opaque regulatory system meant to ensure money is available to restore water and land at gold, copper and other hardrock mines often falls short.... Pollution seeping from these mines regularly contaminates waterways. There’s often no end date to treatment costs, billions of dollars of which have been shouldered by taxpayers." --s

Chavie Lieber of Vox: "You might not know where all your recycled goods go, but they’re a part of a vast ecosystem that spans the globe and contributes to a $200 billion industry. One country that used to be the biggest importer of recycled materials, especially for the US, is China. But last year, it stopped accepting most foreign recyclables as part of an effort to crack down on the country’s pollution. As a result of this ban, the global recycling system has been crumbling, and plenty of cities in the US are now struggling to figure out what to do with their recycled goods." --s

Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post illustrates how Fox "News" tries to find a balance between airing the hate speech Donald Trump enjoys hearing & retaining mainstream advertisers.

Catherine Garcia of the Week: "The private texts between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, published in January were supplied to the National Enquirer by her brother, Michael Sanchez, who was paid $200,000 for the messages, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.... Michael Sanchez, a talent agent for reality show judges and pundits and a fervent supporter of President Trump, frequently passed along stories to top Enquirer editor Dylan Howard, the Journal reports." Mrs. McC: Technically, I suppose this belongs under the "Annals of 'Journalism'" heading because the Enquirer is technically a "news magazine." In the same way I'm technically a candidate for Miss America.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Netherlands. Jon Henley of the Guardian: “Armed police were searching multiple buildings in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday after a possible terrorist shooting on a tram left at least three people dead and nine injured, some seriously.... [The attack] happened at about 10.45am at a tram stop on the city’s central 24 Oktoberplein junction, a police spokesman, Bernhard Jens, told reporters at the scene. The mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen, said in a video statement at least three people had died in the attack and nine more were wounded, three of them seriously. Van Zanen said police 'are not ruling out – in fact, we are assuming' a terrorist motive.” (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... New York Times Update: "After a nearly eight-hour manhunt, the police said they had arrested a Turkish-born man who had been identified as a suspect in the shooting. It was not clear how many people were involved." (Also linked yesterday.)

U.K. Jessica Elgot of the Guardian: "The House of Commons Speaker has thwarted any attempt by Theresa May to bring a third meaningful vote to parliament, unless there has been substantial change to the Brexit deal. With Theresa May’s plans thrown into chaos by the move, one of her chief law officers warned the government could be forced to cut short the parliamentary session and restart in order to bring back the Brexit deal." (Also linked yesterday.)

Sunday
Mar172019

The Commentariat -- March 18, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Jessica Elgot of the Guardian: "The House of Commons Speaker has thwarted any attempt by Theresa May to bring a third meaningful vote to parliament, unless there has been substantial change to the Brexit deal. With Theresa May’s plans thrown into chaos by the move, one of her chief law officers warned the government could be forced to cut short the parliamentary session and restart in order to bring back the Brexit deal."

Jon Henley of the Guardian: “Armed police were searching multiple buildings in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday after a possible terrorist shooting on a tram left at least three people dead and nine injured, some seriously.... [The attack] happened at about 10.45am at a tram stop on the city’s central 24 Oktoberplein junction, a police spokesman, Bernhard Jens, told reporters at the scene. The mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen, said in a video statement at least three people had died in the attack and nine more were wounded, three of them seriously. Van Zanen said police 'are not ruling out – in fact, we are assuming' a terrorist motive.” ...

     ... New York Times Update: "After a nearly eight-hour manhunt, the police said they had arrested a Turkish-born man who had been identified as a suspect in the shooting. It was not clear how many people were involved."

Mrs. McCrabbie: Donald Trump tweeted or retweeted a total of 50 times over the weekend, according to MSNBC. (Maybe this is another sign he'll get the Mueller report this week [not that we will].)  He isn't finished:

... He Takes No Responsibility for Encouraging White Supremacists. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: “President Trump on Monday accused the news media of blaming him for last week’s deadly shootings on a pair of mosques in New Zealand. 'The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!'” ...

... Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Monday called Joe Biden a 'low I.Q. individual' after the former vice president had a slip of the tongue and nearly announced he was running for president in 2020. 'Joe Biden got tongue tied over the weekend when he was unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for President,' Trump tweeted. 'Get used to it, another low I.Q. individual!'" Mrs. McC: I guess we'll have to consider Trump a low-IQ individual -- okay, we do, we do -- since "slips of the tongue" and word salad are his specialties. Bigly.

CBP Targets Americans at Border. Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "At least one journalist and four American immigration attorneys have been stopped and questioned at border stations in Arizona and Texas in recent months, according to their interviews with NBC News. These are in addition to 59 others whose names were on a list to be pulled aside by border agents in San Diego.... A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection told NBC News that the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general was investigating the practice, which he said was specific to San Diego. But Taylor Levy and Hector Ruiz, whose names were not included on the San Diego list, were stopped 700 miles to the east in El Paso, Texas. Levy and Ruiz both provide legal assistance to asylum-seekers on the U.S. and Mexican sides of the border."

~~~~~~~~~~

** David Leonhardt of the New York Times: “The president of the United States suggested last week that his political supporters might resort to violence if they didn’t get their way.... This wasn’t the first time Trump had mused about violence, of course. He has talked about 'Second Amendment people' preventing the appointment of liberal judges. He’s encouraged police officers to bang suspects’ heads against car roofs. He has suggested his supporters 'knock the hell' out of hecklers. At a rally shortly before 2018 Election Day, he went on a similar riff about Bikers for Trump and the military.... Trump combine[s] lies about his political opponents — Democrats who need to be investigated (for made-up scandals) — with allusions to a patriotic, violent response by ordinary citizens.... It isn’t very complicated: The man with the world’s largest bully pulpit keeps encouraging violence and white nationalism. Lo and behold, white-nationalist violence is on the rise. You have to work pretty hard to persuade yourself that’s just a big coincidence.”

Trump Madder at McCain than at Mass Murderer. Stephen Collinson of CNN: "... Donald Trump spent the weekend venting venom at a bewildering list of targets -- even as much of the rest of the world was still trying to come to terms with a true outrage -- the carnage wrought against Muslims in New Zealand. In a stunning display of personal grievances aired on Twitter, Trump demanded the return of a supportive Fox News host who was missing from her usual spot on Saturday after verbally attacking an American Muslim lawmaker. He escalated his beyond-the-grave feud with late Sen. John McCain. [Mrs. McC: twice!] He complained at being lampooned by NBC's 'Saturday Night Live.'  [Mrs. McC: SNL was a rerun!] Trump also fulminated against the Russia investigation and 'Radical Left Democrats' andtook shots at an Ohio union boss. It isn't that it is unusual for this most unconventional of Presidents to hit out at his foes on Twitter. But this weekend's tirade came across as even more jarring given his tepid tone on Friday when he said that he didn't think white supremacy was a growing global problem after the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Clearly, Trump thinks you'll forget about a mass murder committed by one of his fans as soon as he reminds you that a deceased Senator was a lousy student in the 1950s. ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: “On Saturday, Trump launched an attack on McCain — who has been dead for seven months — tweeting, 'Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier "is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain." Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel. He had far worse "stains" than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!' Upping the attack on Sunday, he accused McCain of colluding with the Democrats to undermine him while mocking the Vietnam war veteran’s academic status during his time at the U.S. Naval College as 'last in his class.'” [Mrs. McC: McCain placed 894 of 899 at the Naval Academy, so not technically "last in his class." Not sure where Trump placed at Penn since it's a state secret, but it was apparently nowhere near the top. The point of Boggioni's post, BTW, is that lame Lindsey, supposedly McCain's BFF, didn't come to McCain's defense until he finally succumbed to hours of Twitterworld criticism, and even then he didn't have the guts to call out Trump.

Bigot-in-Chief Doubles Down. Brian Stelter of CNN: "Jeanine Pirro, whose show did not air on Saturday night, was suspended by Fox News after her widely criticized commentary doubting Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's patriotism, according a source familiar with the matter....On Sunday morning the president ... tweet[ed], 'Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well.'... Fox did not announce the suspension publicly. The network declined to confirm or deny that Pirro has been suspended. There is no word on whether Pirro's show will return next week. At the same time, there is no indication that she has been fired from Fox. The source said she has not been fired. Pirro is one of the network's highest-rated weekend hosts, well known for her vehement defenses of ... Donald Trump and attacks against his perceived enemies." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

      ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Trump knows what he is doing. This is another appeal to Islamophobes & white supremacists in general. And once again he's coy enough about it to enjoy barely-plausible deniability. Here's the sequence: (1) Pirro questions the "constitutionality" of wearing a hijab; (2) Fox "News" condemns her remark & quietly suspends her; (3) a white supremacist kills 50 Muslims; (4) Trump demands Fox reinstate the person who questioned the constitutionality of Muslim clothing. P.S. If I get it, you can bet the dimmest ethno-nationalist does, too. ...

... Matt Shuham of TPM: “As his chief of staff defended him against charges of Islamophobia on Sunday..., Donald Trump defended a Fox News anchor who was reportedly suspended for Islamophobic remarks.... Mick Mulvaney argued on 'Fox News Sunday' that he was not a white supremacist, and two days after a white nationalist terrorist attack killed 50 Mosque-goers in Christchurch, New Zealand. In a separate interview Sunday, Mulvaney told CBS’s Margaret Brennan that 'I don’t think anybody can say that the President is anti-Muslim.' 'Well, the President’s tweeting now about a TV host who was suspended for anti-Muslim rhetoric,' Brennan responded. 'So I think it’s a fair question to ask you about this.'” Mrs. McC: Mick, now you have blood on your hands, too, you sniveling, lying toady. And, yeah, everyone can say the President* is anti-Muslim. And everyone would be right. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Marisa Fernandez of Axios: "The string of [Trump] tweets comes one day after authorities said 'an immigrant-hating white supremacist'killed at least 50 people at a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Trump issued a single tweet on the day of the attack extending his sympathies to the people of New Zealand, but he did not condemn the shooter's racial motives or acknowledge the targeting of Muslims." Both Shuham & Fernandez cite Trump's full Twitter defense of Pirro & Tucker Carlson." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Juan Cole: "World-straddling press lord Rupert Murdoch’s media is under pressure in the wake of the massacre of 50 worshipers by a white supremacist terrorist at a a Christchurch mosque. Murdoch’s Fox News is known for pushing white nationalist themes and for demonizing Muslims, and his Sky News Australia is not very different.... Over in the US, far right propagandist Jeanine Pirro did not do her show on Saturday ... [after] ... she launched a virulent hate campaign against congresswoman Ilhan Omar.... But the shooting to death of 50 innocent Muslims over exactly the same issues on which Pirro had gone after Omar cast Pirro’s comments in a new and dangerous light.... Murdoch’s channel can pull Pirro, but that is just a personnel shift. The real problem is the editorial line, which is just hate." --s

... Kelly Cohen of Vox: "Data released earlier this month by the Anti-Defamation League shows white supremacists’ propaganda efforts increased 182 percent last year, with 1,187 distributions across the US in 2018, up from 421 total incidents reported in 2017. The number of racist rallies and demonstrations also rose last year: The ADL data released in February shows at least 91 white supremacist rallies or other public events attended by white supremacists were held in 2018, up from 76 the previous year.... Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 murders last year, a 35 percent increase over 2017, ADL revealed in January.... It’s not only an issue in the US. According to CBS, far-right attacks in Europe jumped 43 percent between 2016 and 2017.... The FBI maintains it has approximately 900 open domestic terror investigations." --s ...

... Christopher Dickey of the Daily Beast: “Now is the time for a global war on white nationalist terrorism.... Networks of white nationalist apologists, sympathizers, supporters and facilitators — vital to any terrorist movement — are deeply embedded in the political and social fabric. They are literally the enemy within. As an apologist, it should be said..., Donald Trump is in a class by himself. Trump is 'a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,' as [the New Zealand mosque murderer] wrote in his manifesto.... And when it comes to feeding the basic instincts of the base in order to hold on to power, it is not at all clear how far Trump will go.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Sean Illing of Vox: "What’s the best way to fight racism and extremism? The impulse to dismiss extremists as unreachable fanatics is strong and at times justifiable. But perhaps it’s not always the most effective means of combating them. Deeyah Khan, a journalist and filmmaker, has decided to engage them directly as human beings.... In two documentary films, White Right: Meeting the Enemy and Jihad: A Story of the Others (both of which are currently streaming on Netflix), Khan sits down with white supremacists and jihadists (respectively) and tries to understand what’s really motivating them.... I spoke with Khan about her experience making these films, what she discovered about the nature of extremism, and how her thinking has evolved[.]" With interview. --s

Amanda Hoover of NJ.com: “Anthony Comello, the 24-year-old arrested in New Jersey Saturday for allegedly gunning down a mob boss in Staten Island last week, will return to New York to face the murder charge against him. Comello waived his extradition rights Monday during a hearing in Ocean County Superior Court before Judge Wendel Daniels. He is expected to appear in court in Staten Island next Monday, March 25.... In the courtroom, Comello held his open handcuffed palm up to reporters, showing a symbol and several words scrawled in pen. 'MAGA forever' and 'united we stand' were some of the phrases he had printed, while others were not entirely legible.” Mrs. McC: Somehow, Donald Trump is featured in nearly every American crime story. You might think criminals see him as a role model.

Michael Laris, et al., of the Washington Post: “In public and in private, Trump presented himself as a key arbiter in deciding whether the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes would be able to keep flying, according to White House and administration officials....  Rather than simply being briefed on the FAA’s findings in the days after the crash, Trump played an active role, participating in phone calls with Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg and other stakeholders, and offering his thoughts about the aviation industry. Asked by reporters about the decision to ground the plane, Trump left the impression that he had taken the lead, saying it was a 'very tough decision.' But in the days that followed, as Trump faced criticism about whether his administration acted too slowly and whether he should have been so involved, the White House sought to direct attention back to the aviation agency.” ...

... Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times: "As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.... The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes. Early on in certification of the 737 MAX, the FAA safety engineering team divided up the technical assessments that would be delegated to Boeing versus those they considered more critical and would be retained within the FAA. But several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing.... Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX last Sunday." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yo, Congress. Do you really think it's a good idea to underfund the FAA?

The Continued Collapse of American Global "Leadership"

Sandra Laville of Mother Jones: "Environmental groups involved in talks at a United Nations conference in Kenya have accused the US of blocking an ambitious global response to plastic pollution.... Norway, Japan and Sri Lanka had put forward proposals for a legally binding agreement for nations to coordinate action against plastic litter in the oceans and microplastics. India also suggested strong action with a resolution to phase out single-use plastic across the world.... On Friday, a series of non-binding proposals were agreed.... Large oil firms in the US are investing billions of dollars in petrochemical production over the next decade, particularly shale gas. The new facilities ... will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade, according to industry experts." --s ...

... ** Liz Ford of the Guardian: “US officials in New York are attempting to water down language and remove the word 'gender' from documents being negotiated at the UN, in what is being seen as a threat to international agreements on women’s rights. In negotiations at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which resume at UN headquarters this week, the US wants to replace 'gender' in the forum’s outcome document with references only to women and girls.... In draft documents, seen by the Guardian, the US is taking a step further at CSW by refusing to reaffirm the country’s commitment to the landmark Beijing declaration and platform for action [regarded as the blueprint for global women’s rights], agreed at the fourth world conference of women held in 1995.... The Guardian understands the US also wants references to migration and climate change completely removed from the CSW document. Under the Trump administration, US negotiators have found themselves more aligned with countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia than European nations.... Last week, the US state department came under fire for excluding women’s rights from its annual country reports.” --s ...

... Jonathan Watts of the Guardian: "The United States and Saudi Arabia have hamstrung global efforts to scrutinise climate geoengineering in order to benefit their fossil fuel industries, according to multiple sources at the United Nations environment assembly, taking place this week in Nairobi. The world’s two biggest oil producers reportedly led opposition against plans to examine the risks of climate-manipulating technology.... [G]eoengineering has risen up the political agenda of some nations as the climate crisis has become more apparent. The petrochemical industry sees it as a way to justify further expansion of fossil fuel industries. ChevronBHP and other high-emitting companies have invested in companies that are pushing ahead with experiments to pull CO2 out of the air.... This was not the only agenda item in Nairobi that Trump administration diplomats were accused of watering down; they were also accused of undermining efforts to ensure strong environmental governance. 'They are trying to remove all targets and timelines,' said one senior delegate." --s


Kevin Poulsen
of The Daily Beast: "A Russian tech entrepreneur [Aleksej Gubarev] accused in the Trump-Russia scandal two years ago may end up regretting the defamation lawsuit he filed against a U.S. media outlet. Thousands of pages about his company’s operations and finances were released to the public last week by the federal judge overseeing the case — effectively turning the suit into a WikiLeaks-sized data dump that’s raising new questions about his dealings with computer criminals.... When BuzzFeed published a leaked copy of the [Michael Steele] dossier in January 2017, Gubarev vehemently denied any role on the Kremlin’s hack and filed a defamation lawsuit against the media company.... [T]he dossier’s tale of Gubarev using porn to hack Democrats had been banished to the fringes of the Russiagate narratives.... Now, [as] the Times notes, 'the report’s suggestions of a link between Mr. Gubarev and Russian hacking is likely to spur new demands for renewed investigations.'" --s

Robert Faturechi & Justin Elliott of ProPublica: "Federal authorities raided the office of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates, according to a sealed search warrant obtained by ProPublica.... The Washington Post reported in August that the Justice Department was investigating Broidy. The sealed warrant offers new details of federal authorities’ investigation of allegations that Broidy had attempted to cash in on his Trump White House connections in dealings with foreign officials. It also shows that the government took a more aggressive approach with the Trump ally than was previously known, entering his office and removing records — just as it did with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Broidy served as a major Trump campaign fundraiser and was the national deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee until he resigned in April 2018, when it was revealed he had agreed to secretly pay off a former Playboy model in exchange for her silence about their affair." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: You might think the feds regard Broidy, Cohen, Manafort & Stone as untrustworthy bastards capable of destroying incriminating evidence.

"Annals of Idiocracy," Ctd. Will Sommer of The Daily Beast: "Michael Flynn’s family members appear to be at war with each other over the QAnon conspiracy theory and whether Flynn himself is playing a role in it." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It's truly amazing that in this family feud, Michael Flynn, Jr., -- best known for his espousal of the insane Pizzagate conspiracy theory -- is the sane one. Meanwhile, Michael Flynn, Sr.'s sister & brother have busily emitted QAnon signals from their built-in radio antennae (and Twitter).

Presidential Race 2020

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Beto O’Rourke raised more than $6 million online in the first 24 hours after announcing his presidential campaign last week, according to his campaign, outpacing his rivals for the Democratic nomination and making an emphatic statement about his grass-roots financial strength. Mr. O’Rourke brought in $6,136,736 after declaring his long-anticipated bid with a web video and trip to Iowa on Thursday morning, raising the sum entirely online and from all 50 states, the campaign said. He narrowly beat the first-day haul of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who raised $5.9 million after announcing his bid last month and who would go on to raise $10 million before his first week was over."

... "No Irish Need Apply" -- RNC. Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: “The Republican National Committee on Sunday sent out a tweet linking Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s Irish heritage to his 1998 drunken-driving arrest, in an attack that Democrats and some Republicans criticized as being based on stereotypes. Republicans have previously sought to focus attention on O’Rourke’s DWI arrest, but the tweet by the RNC — which came on St. Patrick’s Day and described O’Rourke as a 'noted Irishman' — appeared to be the first time they have raised the topic of his ancestry. 'On this St. Paddy’s Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O’Rourke,' the tweet states. It includes O’Rourke’s 1998 mug shot with a leprechaun hat on top, along with the message 'Please drink responsibly.'” Emphasis added. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Ten-and-a-half percent of the U.S. population self-identifies as Irish-American; I think I read somewhere that 25 percent have some Irish ancestry. So pretty smart of the RNC to insult Irish-Americans as drunks & drunk-drivers.


"Capitalism is Awesome," Ctd. Addy Baird
of ThinkProgress: "Insulin pricing may seem like a niche issue, but it’s one that affects millions of people across the country.... More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and as of last year, an estimated 7.4 million people ... used insulin daily, according to the American Diabetes Association.... In recent years, insulin prices have skyrocketed, according to figures compiled by the Senate Finance Committee.... Between 2001 and 2005, Eli Lilly’s Humalog increased from $35 to $234, a 585% increase, the Senate panel found. Novo Nordisk’s Novolog rose from $289 in 2013 to to $540 in 2019, an 87 % increase. Sanofi’s Lantus, meanwhile, increased in price from $244 to $431 between 2013 and 2019, an approximately 77 % increase." --s

Beyond the Beltway

Iowa. The GOP Fears Democracy. Lindsay Gibbs of ThinkProgress: "[W]ith Senate File 575, Iowa is once again making headlines, this time for its attempts at voter suppression.... Under SF 575...students at Iowa’s public universities — University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa — would be unable to vote early on campus.... Additionally, this bill would require the approximately 70,000 students at Iowa’s public universities to fill out a form when they graduate indicating if they plan to stay in Iowa, or move out of state. If they indicate that they plan on moving, the state will automatically purge them from the voting rolls. If their plans change, and they remain in Iowa, they would have to start the voter registration process from scratch..Voters between the ages of 18 and 29turned out in record numbers for the 2018 midterm elections...and voted for Democrats by a margin of 35 points.... But SF 575 does more than just target college students. It will make it harder for all Iowans to vote..." --s

Way Beyond

** Mark Mazzetti & Ben Hubbard of the New York Times: "Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — more than a year before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign. At least some of the clandestine missions were carried out by members of the same team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul in October, suggesting that his killing was a particularly egregious part of a wider campaign to silence Saudi dissidents, according to the officials and associates of some of the Saudi victims. Members of the team that killed Mr. Khashoggi, which American officials called the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group, were involved in at least a dozen operations starting in 2017, the officials said." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Bear in mind that Donald Trump would have known about this for quite a while. Yet he has chosen to "believe" MBS's claims of innocence because ignoring MBS's gross suppression of human rights -- to the point of torture & murder -- suits Trump's & his family's financial interests. BTW, if you want to know why federal officials leaked this intelligence to the U.S., it's almost certainly because those officials are appalled by Trump's refusal to act against Saudi Arabia. ...

Stephanie Kirchgaessner & Nick Hopkins of the Guardian: "The heir to the Saudi throne [Crown Prince Mohammed 'bone saw' bin Salman] has not attended a series of high-profile ministerial and diplomatic meetings in Saudi Arabia over the last fortnight and is alleged to have been stripped of some of his financial and economic authority, the Guardian has been told. The move to restrict ... [the Crown Prince's] responsibilities ... is understood to have been revealed to a group of senior ministers earlier last week by his father, King Salman.... Tensions are said to have flared up after Prince Mohammed announced two important personnel decisions hours after the king left Saudi Arabia for an official visit to Egypt ... allegedly announced without the king’s approval or knowledge." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Huh. The NYT no doubt has worked on its story linked above for some time, & they would have contacted Saudi Arabian officials about it. I wonder if the NYT story has anything to do with the apparent restrictions on MBS.

Lily Kuo of the Guardian: "Chinese primary school textbooks may soon include definitions for terms like 'price-to-earnings ratio' or 'buy and hold' as the country embarks on a campaign to improve investor awareness.... Officials said the campaign to improve understanding of the country’s securities and futures markets would begin with textbooks for primary and middle schools." --s

Hannah Ellis-Peterson of the Guardian: "A young whale that washed up in the Philippines died from 'gastric shock' after ingesting ... 40 kilos of plastic bags, including 16 rice sacks, 4 banana plantation style bags and multiple shopping bags.... The use of single-use plastic is rampant in south-east Asia. A 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy stated that China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam have been dumping more plastic into the ocean than the rest of the world combined." --s

Saturday
Mar162019

The Commentariat -- March 17, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Bigot-in-Chief Doubles Down. Brian Stelter of CNN: "Jeanine Pirro, whose show did not air on Saturday night, was suspended by Fox News after her widely criticized commentary doubting Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's patriotism, according a source familiar with the matter.... On Sunday morning the president ... tweet[ed], 'Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well.'... Fox did not announce the suspension publicly. The network declined to confirm or deny that Pirro has been suspended. There is no word on whether Pirro's show will return next week. At the same time, there is no indication that she has been fired from Fox. The source said she has not been fired. Pirro is one of the network's highest-rated weekend hosts, well known for her vehement defenses of ... Donald Trump and attacks against his perceived enemies." ...

      ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump knows what he is doing. This is another appeal to Islamophobes & white supremacists in general. And once again he's coy enough about it to enjoy barely-plausible deniability. Here's the sequence: (1) Pirro questions the "constitutionality" of wearing a hijab; (2) Fox "News" condemns her remark & quietly suspends her; (3) a white supremacist kills 50 Muslims; (4) Trump demands Fox reinstate the person who questioned the constitutionality of Muslim clothing. P.S. If I get it, you can bet the dimmest ethno-nationalist does, too. ...

... Matt Shuham of TPM: "As his chief of staff defended him against charges of Islamophobia on Sunday..., Donald Trump defended a Fox News anchor who was reportedly suspended for Islamophobic remarks.... Mick Mulvaney argued on 'Fox News Sunday' that he was not a white supremacist, and two days after a white nationalist terrorist attack killed 50 Mosque-goers in Christchurch, New Zealand. In a separate interview Sunday, Mulvaney told CBS’s Margaret Brennan that 'I don't think anybody can say that the President is anti-Muslim.' 'Well, the President's tweeting now about a TV host who was suspended for anti-Muslim rhetoric,' Brennan responded. 'So I think it's a fair question to ask you about this.'" Mrs. McC: Mick, now you have blood on your hands, too, you sniveling, lying toady. And everyone can say the President* is anti-Muslim. And everyone would be right. ...

... Marisa Fernandez of Axios: "The string of [Trump] tweets comes one day after authorities said 'an immigrant-hating white supremacist'killed at least 50 people at a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Trump issued a single tweet on the day of the attack extending his sympathies to the people of New Zealand, but he did not condemn the shooter's racial motives or acknowledge the targeting of Muslims." Both Shuham & Fernandez cite Trump's full Twitter defense of Pirro & Tucker Carlson."

Christopher Dickey of the Daily Beast: "Now is the time for a global war on white nationalist terrorism.... Networks of white nationalist apologists, sympathizers, supporters and facilitators -- vital to any terrorist movement -- are deeply embedded in the political and social fabric. They are literally the enemy within. As an apologist, it should be said..., Donald Trump is in a class by himself. Trump is 'a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,' as [the New Zealand mosque murderer] wrote in his manifesto.... And when it comes to feeding the basic instincts of the base in order to hold on to power, it is not at all clear how far Trump will go."

~~~~~~~~~~

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Saturday said he encouraged House Republicans to vote in favor of a resolution calling on the Justice Department to make Robert Mueller's final report public -- despite tweeting a day earlier that the special counsel 'should never have been appointed' and that 'there should be no Mueller Report.'... 'On the recent non-binding vote (420-0) in Congress about releasing the Mueller Report, I told leadership to let all Republicans vote for transparency,' Trump wrote on Twitter. 'Makes us all look good and doesn't matter. Play along with the game!'" Mrs. McC: Anyone inclined to "play along" with that assertion, Donald, will have to suspend disbelief.

Daniel Politi of Slate: "... Donald Trump made it clear Saturday that just because someone is dead, doesn't mean that they get a reprieve from his petty squabbles.... The president's criticism of [John McCain] began with a quote of a comment by former independent counsel Ken Starr who was referring to reports that it was McCain's office that passed along the unverified dossier of Trump's ties to Russia to the media. Starr had said that while McCain was an 'American hero,' the reports, if true, amount to a 'very dark stain' on the late senator. Trump, however, seized this opportunity to bring up his long-held criticism of McCain, saying the Arizona Republican 'had far worse "stains" than this,' going on to cite his vote against efforts to repeal Obamacare in 2017."

Laurence Tribe & Joshua Matz in the Daily Beast argue that Trump is more impeachable than ever: "When we released To End A Presidency: The Power of Impeachment in May 2018, we ... concluded that four alleged impeachable offenses merited further investigation: (1) improper dealings with Russia surrounding the 2016 presidential election; (2) obstruction of justice in Russia-related investigations; (3) abuse of the pardon power; and (4) implementing kleptocracy. We stand by our original conclusions. Indeed, in many respects the facts bearing on these four issues have grown worse for Trump. The evidence of sketchy interactions with Russia during the election is now much stronger; his assaults on the Russia investigation have continued apace; and Trump's financial entanglements with hostile powers have cast a pall of corruption over key foreign policy judgments.... In light of events since May 2018, we now believe that two more potential 'high Crimes and Misdemeanors' warrant investigation.... The first such offense is corrupt failure to defend the United States -- and its electoral system -- against domestic operations launched by a hostile foreign power.... The same is true of allegations that Trump broke the law during the 2016 presidential election." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: So in case you're afraid you might be slightly wacky to be singing the impeachment song, take heart in knowing that Larry Tribe is in the chorus.

Frances Robles, et al., of the New York Times explore Li "Cindy" Yang's endeavors in her pay-for-play shenanigans at Mar-a-Lago. It certainly appears she has engineered illegal contributions to Trump's re-election committee. "Over the weeks leading up to the event, at least nine people in Ms. Yang's orbit, some of them with modest incomes, made donations at exactly $5,400. She ended up at the dinner.... One of the $5,400 political donations came from a 25-year old woman who gives facials at a beauty school, in a strip mall in nearby Palm Beach Gardens that is owned by Ms. Yang's family. Another $5,400 came from a woman who says she worked as a receptionist at a massage parlor owned by Ms. Yang's husband. A third gift of $5,400 came from an associate of Ms. Yang's who had been charged in 2014 after a prostitution sting with practicing health care without a license, police records show." (Also linked yesterday.)


Dance of the Dinosaurs. Darryl Fears & Juliet Eilperin
of the Washington Post: "The Trump administration is aggressively pressing ahead in expanding federal oil and gas industry leases that could lead to more drilling on land and at sea, defying an assessment by government scientists that the production and use of fossil fuels is accelerating climate change. On Friday, the administration announced a final decision to lift protections for a uniquely American bird, called the greater sage grouse, on nearly 9 million acres to provide more leasing opportunities to oil, gas and mining industries. A day earlier, an Interior Department assistant secretary confirmed that he told leaders of the fossil fuel industry last month that the Atlantic coast will almost certainly be included in the administration's plan to expand federal leasing to nearly the entire outer continental shelf. Offshore leases haven't been granted in the Atlantic for decades, and drilling hasn't been allowed for a half-century.... n his remarks, [assistant secretary for land and minerals management Joe] Balash said he found it 'absolutely thrilling' that President Trump's 'knack for keeping the attention of the media and the public focused somewhere else' has allowed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management employees to process the permits without much scrutiny."

Aaron Davis & Marina Lopes of the Washington Post: "The FAA's publication of pilot training requirements for the Max 8 in the fall of 2017 [--which did not mention the new anti-stall software --] was among the final steps in a multiyear approval process carried out under the agency's now 10-year-old policy of entrusting Boeing and other aviation manufacturers to certify that their own systems comply with U.S. air safety regulations. In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative, signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said.... The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient. In the years between the time Boeing launched the Max 8 design in 2011 and the first plane rolled out of production in 2016, the inspector general criticized the FAA's handling of the 'self-certification' system in three successive reports." (Also linked yesterday.)

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "... even though it was encouraging to see some individual Republicans [vote against Trump], there is still no reason to suppose that the G.O.P. as a whole is getting ready to rein in Trump, or to start distancing itself from him. To the contrary, the [Senate] vote [on his fake national emergency] demonstrated that the vast majority of elected Republicans are still too cowed by the President and his supporters to oppose him, even when they know what he has done is wrong, a majority of the public agrees with them, and the outcome of the vote is largely symbolic."

Presidential Race 2020 -- Feet of Clay Edition

Christopher Hooks in the American Prospect: "While representing a gerrymandered city council district that contained some of [El Paso]'s richest residents at one end and some of the country's poorest at the other, [Beto] O'Rourke championed a plan by the well-heeled to appropriate large parts of the city's historic barrios for redevelopment. It was bitterly opposed by many of his constituents in the affected areas, but supported fervently by his father-in-law Bill Sanders, one of the richest and most powerful men in town. This is the paradox of Beto O'Rourke.... He can be a loud and distinctive progressive voice on national issues and an avatar for the wealthy and powerful, sometimes simultaneously. He's the House primary challenger who took on Silvestre Reyes in 2012, running to Reyes's left on legalizing marijuana, and to his right on increasing the Social Security retirement age. He's the rock-star Democrat who wouldn't support a fellow House candidate over a Republican he considered his friend. And he's the city councilmember who tried to be everything to everyone in El Paso -- except for the people of south El Paso." ...

... A Precocious Hacker. Joseph Menn of Reuters: "While a teenager, [Beto] O'Rourke acknowledged in an exclusive interview, he belonged to the oldest group of computer hackers in U.S. history. The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft's Windows. It's also known for inventing the word 'hacktivism' to describe human-rights-driven security work. Members of the group have protected O'Rourke's secret for decades, reluctant to compromise his political viability."

Say What? Sarah Jones of New York: "Senator Amy Klobuchar, alleged staff-abuser and Democratic candidate for president, has decided to cast her 'tough' treatment of aides as a positive quality. The Minnesota Democrat told CNN's Poppy Harlow that while she 'can always do better,' being a boss means 'you have to have high standards.' She went on to claim that her behavior would make her a good president: 'One can always do better, and that means you want to be sure that you are listening to people if they felt that something was unfair, or they felt bad about something. But I still think that you have to demand good product. When you're out there on the world stage and dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, yeah, you want someone who's tough. You want someone that demands the answers and that's going to get things done, and that's what I've done my whole life.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Let's see: "I throw binders at my incompetent staff, so I would stand up to Vladimir Putin, too." Okay then.

Avery Anapol of the Hill: "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Sunday officially announced she is running for president in 2020. The Democratic senator, who announced an exploratory committee for a potential run last month, takes aim at President Trump and highlights a number of progressive causes in a launch video that asks: 'Will brave win?'"

Mike Memoli of NBC News: "Joe Biden nearly declared his candidacy several weeks ahead of schedule as he previewed the message he'd take to the campaign, telling his home state Democrats that he had 'the most progressive record of anybody running' even as he appealed for a return to bridge-building politics of consensus. Biden's keynote address to the Delaware Democratic Party's largest annual fundraising dinner was not supposed to be an announcement speech. But for the second time in less than a week he walked close to the line as he addressed a very friendly audience."


Carole Cadwalladr
of the Guardian: "Facebook is facing explosive new questions about when senior executives knew of Cambridge Analytica's abuse of users' data, one year on from when the scandal first broke, as federal prosecutors investigate claims that the social media giant has covered up the extent of its relationship with the firm. The Observer has also learned of claims that a meeting was hosted at the office of Facebook board member and confidant of its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, in the summer 2016 just as the data firm started working for the Trump campaign.... Individuals who attended the meeting with Wylie and [Facebook board member Marc] Andreessen claim it was set up to learn what Cambridge Analytica was doing with Facebook's data and how technologists could work to 'fix' it."

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. "Fox News Channel replaced [Saturday] night's broadcast of Jeanine Pirro's weekly program with a repeat episode of its documentary series 'Scandalous,' just days after the ... cable-news network said it condemned remarks the outspoken host made about Minnesota Democrat Ihan Omar.... A Fox News spokesperson ... declined to elaborate." Mrs. McC: Looks as if even Fox "News" thinks it's a bad idea to be airing the views of an Islamophobic wacko in the wake of the New Zealand mass murder.

A History Lesson for White Supremacists. Gillian Brockell of the Washington Post: White supremacists, including the New Zealand mass murderer, sport medieval signs which they think symbolize the good old days when Europe was all-white. "'White supremacists imagine the Middle Ages as a time when Europe was all white, separated from its neighbors and in constant conflict with those that it deemed to be outsiders,' [medievalist Paul] Sturtevant said. 'Nothing could be further from the truth.' In medieval Sicily, Christians, Muslims and Jews were 'living and working together side by side,' Sturtevant said. In 7th-century England, the well-respected archbishop of Canterbury was from Turkey, and his favorite abbot was from North Africa. There were Ethiopian embassies across southern Europe, including Rome. Pilgrimage books listed travelers as hailing from 'India' -- though this was probably just a fill-in for anywhere in the Middle East." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Historically, the only all-white continent is Antarctica, where the whiteness is snow. Any place outside Europe that is predominantly white today is so because Europeans invaded it, not the other way around. That certainly includes Australia, which whites first invaded as recently as the late 18th century, and New Zealand, which whites began to settle only in the mid-19th century. The "intellectual" basis for white supremacy is white territorial aggression.

Beyond the Beltway

Missouri. People Voted for This Idiot. John Bowden of the Hill: "A Republican lawmaker in Missouri wants to require adults in his state to purchase handguns and AR-15 rifles. Two bills introduced by state Rep. Andrew McDaniel would require residents to purchase firearms while providing $1 million in tax credits on a first-come, first-served basis to residents who fall under the law."

New York. Ali Winston & William K. Rashbaum of the New York Times: "A 24-year-old Staten Island man who was taken into police custody on Saturday in connection with the fatal shooting of the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family faces murder charges, according to court records and officials. The brazen shooting of the boss, Francesco Cali, in front of his home in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island on Wednesday ... fueled speculation that New York City was seeing the return of open mob conflict that last erupted decades ago. Several officials, however, said on Saturday that preliminary information suggested that the killing of Mr. Cali, 53, was not related to organized crime. One official cautioned that the inquiry was still in its early stages."

Way Beyond

... Australia. Palko Karasz of the New York Times: "An anti-immigration lawmaker in Australia who has been criticized for blaming Muslim immigration for Friday's New Zealand shootings struck a teenager who smashed an egg on his head in Melbourne on Saturday.... After dozens of people were shot and killed at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, [Sen. Fraser] Anning said in a statement widely shared on Twitter, 'The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.'"

... Calla Wahlquist of the Guardian: "The Australian government has cancelled the visa of far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos just a week after it was personally approved by the immigration minister. Immigration minister David Coleman said on Saturday that comments about Islam made by Yiannopoulos in the wake of the Christchurch massacre were 'appalling and foment hatred and division' and he would not be allowed in the country. It comes a week after Coleman approved Yiannopoulos' visa against the advice of the home affairs department, which said the commentator may fail the character test to enter Australia." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Yiannopoulos is a former editor of the US-based far-right website Breitbart news site who has regularly railed against ;Muslims, immigrants and the press. On Friday, he said on Facebook that attacks like Christchurch happen because 'the establishment panders to and mollycoddles extremist leftism and barbaric, alien religious cultures.'" ...

... New Zealand. Melissa Davey of the Guardian: "The death toll from the mosque terror attacks in Christchurch has risen to 50, New Zealand police commissioner confirmed on Sunday morning." ...

... Emanuel Stoakes & Gerry Shih of the Washington Post: "The primary suspect in Friday's deadly shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, appeared in court on Saturday. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, did not enter a plea on one count of murder and made a white power gesture from the dock. Authorities have two more suspects in custody. New Zealand's [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern] vowed its 'gun laws will change.' Suspect had license to carry the types of guns used in deadly attacks.... Ardern said Tarrant had modified guns used in the killing that left at least 49 dead, and Attorney General David Parker says the government will ban semiautomatic rifles." (Also linked yesterday.)