The Wires

The Gossip Page

Page Six of the New York Post: "Disgraced anchor Matt Lauer has been kicked out of his home by his furious wife [Annette Roque]  after multiple women came forward with allegations of his 'inappropriate sexual behavior.' And while Lauer’s reclusive wife has not yet filed for divorce, we’re told it is likely to happen soon.... Roque had previously filed for divorce from Lauer in 2006, citing 'mental abuse, extreme mental and emotional distress, humiliation, torment and anxiety,' but withdrew the filing weeks later after he offered her a postnuptial agreement and millions more dollars, a source told Page Six.”

Hollywood Reporter: "Michael Wolff's controversial Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is coming to television. Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — has purchased film and television rights to the No. 1 best-selling book. The massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range. Endeavor Content plans to adapt the book as a TV series. A network is not yet attached, as Endeavor will now begin shopping the project."

New York Times: "CBS said on Tuesday that it had chosen [John] Dickerson, 49, to replace Charlie Rose as the third co-host of “CBS This Morning,” a spot left empty since Mr. Rose was fired in November after allegations of sexual harassment. Mr. Dickerson is to join the lineup of Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who have carved a niche as a relatively serious, news-driven morning team. Mr. Dickerson — whose mother, Nancy Dickerson, became in 1960 the first female correspondent at CBS News — plans to move to New York and leave 'Face the Nation,' which he joined in 2015. CBS has not yet chosen his successor, effectively setting off a horse race at the network for one of television’s most influential political roles."

Oprah Gives Moving Speech, Celebrities Nominate Her for President. For full coverage of the Golden Globe awards, the Los Angeles Times has a pageful of blurbs & links.

Medlar's Amazing Sports Report (Is about Sports!):

New York Times: "Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota [executed] ... what would prove to be the critical play of the Titans’ shocking 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an N.F.L. wild-card playoff game on Saturday.... [The Titans were] trailing by 18 points in the third quarter..., i and as Mariota scrambled toward the line of scrimmage, he appeared to throw the ball away.... But when Darrelle Revis of the Chiefs batted the pass back toward Mariota, the quarterback snagged it out of the air. And ... Mariota sprinted forward for a touchdown that went into the books as a 6-yard pass from Mariota to Mariota."

New York Times: "Hoda Kotb, a longtime NBC News correspondent, will permanently replace Matt Lauer as co-anchor of NBC’s flagship morning program, 'Today,' the network said on Tuesday. Ms. Kotb (pronounced COT-bee) had replaced Mr. Lauer on an interim basis since he was fired in November over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a subordinate. The appointment is the first time that two women will be the program’s official main hosts; 'Today' has an overwhelmingly female audience and is the network’s most profitable franchise. The decision signals a turning point of sorts for NBC: In addition to the Lauer scandal, the network also reviewed 2005 footage from an NBC-owned show in which President Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitalia but was beaten to publication by The Washington Post, and passed on an exposé of [Harvey] Weinstein by an MSNBC contributor." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: I forgot this part of the tape saga: that NBC suits sat on it until someone at the "Today" show leaked it to David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post.

 

Here's one of the film's trailers:

So finally they called me up because it got so late, and the argument got so tense, and said you're going to have to decide this. And I said, well, why do we have to do it right away? The Times took three months. And they - the editors all got on the phone. And the businesspeople were on the other phone saying wait a day. The editors were saying we mustn't wait a day. Everybody knows we have these papers. And we have to maintain the momentum that was stopped when the Times was enjoined. And it's very important. People have their eyes on us. And we have to publish.... And finally after talking to both sides, I asked my colleague Fritz Beebe what he would do. And he was a lawyer. And he said, I guess I would not. And that made it hard but not impossible. He said it in such a way that I thought he's leaving it up to me. And I can do this. And so I said let's go. Let's publish. And I hung up because I was so freaked out by having had to make that decision so fast. -- Katherine Graham, on her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, in an interview, 1997 ...

... Terry Gross of NPR interviewed Katherine Graham in 1997 about her 1971 decision to publish the Pentagon papers -- and other things. Graham died in 2001. Audio & transcript. Via David Von Drehle of the Washington Post.

Guardian: Britain's "Prince Harry is to marry his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle in spring next year, Clarence House has announced. 'His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,' it said in a statement on Monday."

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. Des MacHale (often misattributed to H. L. Mencken)

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

Sunday
Jan212018

The Commentariat -- January 22, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Robert Costa, et al., of the Washington Post: "The Senate appeared poised to break its budget impasse on Monday as Democrats planned to join Republicans in voting for a short-term spending bill that would reopen the government and provide funding through Feb. 8. The upper chamber was expected to quickly approve the bill, and House members were told to await a possible vote Monday afternoon, raising the possibility that the shutdown would end after just three days. 'We will vote today to reopen the government,' Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a speech on the Senate floor." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Let's see how Trump -- who has had nothing to do with the most recent negotiations. other than muddying them & insulting Democrats -- takes credit for ending the government shutdown. ...

... One Night I Saw upon the Throne, a Little Man Who Soon was Gone. David Graham of the Atlantic: "With leaders in Congress at an impasse, the most logical person to step in and broker an arrangement was the president.... That’s usually the case, but it’s especially true now, with a president whose name, thanks to his first book, is practically synonymous with deals. And yet, Donald Trump remained strangely absent.... The deal [to end the shutdown] was struck between Schumer and ... McConnell. 'The great dealmaking president sat on the sidelines,' Schumer said on Monday, as he announced the arrangement, accusing Trump of being unwilling to 'take yes for an answer.'... Often fixated on appearing active and virile, Trump has come off as passive and distant in the current crisis. Even worse, this is exactly the approach he accused Barack Obama of using in 2013....” ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic argues that the past few weeks have showed that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is "the real president." Heer lays out the evidence. Mrs. McC: This is a conclusion I reached last week as I watched Kelly bat back all of President* Dimwit's forays into negotiating with Democrats. Turns out quite a few closer & wiser observers came to the same conclusion. For instance: Dick Durbin: “As soon as the guest leaves the office, Gen. Kelly calls in the right wingers and they bat it down and say you can’t do it. We’ll never reach an agreement unless there’s a more open approach at the White House and the president is more constructive.” Heer adds this, tho: "Trump has a proven history of pushing aside staffers who get too powerful, or who are perceived as such.... The open question is whether Trump will continue just grousing privately [at Kelly], or if he has the will to take back the reins of his presidency." So it would be helpful if more mainstream media outlets wrote articles marvelling at Kelly's power. ...

... Along these lines, Steve M. has some useful observations about Trump's ambivalence about DACA. And Maggie Haberman's, too! ...

... ** The Sins of the Father, Visited upon the Sons. Digby, in Salon, also has a great piece on how Trump's right-wing advisors have repeatedly repressed any gossamer angels of his better nature: "His racist id and his desire to get a 'win' are being pulled in opposite directions, depending on whom he listens to at any given time. His lack of understanding of the issue or how laws are actually made makes him a hindrance to deal making. But we know what Trump wants."

Ben Hubbard of the New York Times: "Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday that a new United States Embassy to Israel would open in Jerusalem before the end of 2019."

*****

Nicholas Fandos & Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "Senators failed on Sunday to reach an agreement to end the government shutdown, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed Monday morning even as the outlines of a potential compromise came into focus. For much of the day, feverish work by a bipartisan group of senators offered a reason for cautious optimism that a deal could be reached soon. By Sunday night, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, moved to delay until noon Monday a procedural vote on a temporary spending bill — a signal that talks were progressing. In a gesture to lawmakers seeking assurances that the Senate will address the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, Mr. McConnell said he intended to move ahead with immigration legislation next month if the issue had not been resolved by then." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: This was the state of the story at 6 am ET. It's been updated several times. ...

... Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "At the heart of the confrontation that led to a government shutdown lie two weeks of mixed messaging by the president — and two decades of deep-seated acrimony and suspicion between Democrats and Republicans on immigration. 'The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked,' President Trump tweeted Sunday. Senator Mitch McConnell ... said his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, was 'playing with all of those lives over the issue of illegal immigration.' A Trump campaign official, Michael Glassner, lauded the president for keeping Americans safe from 'evil, illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes against lawful U.S. citizens.' After several fruitless efforts at overhauling the nation’s immigration laws, Democrats simply do not trust Republicans ... to follow through on pledges to protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation unless forced to do so.” ...

... Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump and Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) pressed the Senate Sunday to end a government shutdown that reached its second day, with Trump lashing out at Democrats and urging Republicans to change the rules if the standoff there isn’t resolved.... Trump wrote on Twitter, 'If stalemate continues,' then Republicans should use the 'Nuclear Option' to rewrite Senate rules and try to pass a long-term spending bill with a simple majority." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jacqueline Klimas of Politico: "The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat [Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)] said Sunday that ... Donald Trump's suggestion to change Senate rules to reopen the government 'would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised.' The president tweeted Sunday morning that if the 'stalemate' that closed the government continues, Republicans should invoke the 'nuclear option,' which would allow the Senate to move forward with 51 votes instead of the 60 normally required to break a filibuster. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) slammed the suggestion, saying part of being in the Senate is respecting the party that’s in the minority.” ...

... Elana Schor of Politico: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday renewed his criticism of White House aides' handling of immigration, portraying them as having undercut ... Donald Trump's ability to cut a deal as the government shutdown entered its second day. Graham singled out White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a pugnacious conservative who has a keen focus on restrictive immigration policy. 'As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He's been an outlier for years,' Graham told reporters...."

... I'm Rubber, You're Glue.... White House Can't Think up Original Insults. Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "The White House hit back at Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) comments calling White House aide Stephen Miller an 'outlier' on immigration, using the same phrase to describe Graham’s stance on the topic. 'As long as Sen. Graham chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully instead of our own American citizens, we're going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years,' White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement Sunday night, according to several reports. Graham had used nearly identical terms to describe Miller on immigration earlier in the day." ...

... Another White House Dimwit Can't Even Get Past Chuck Todd. Ryan Koronowski of ThinkProgress: "On Saturday, Donald Trump’s re-election campaign aired an incendiary, unhinged new ad claiming that Democrats who oppose his demand for a border wall 'will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.' It was particularly strange timing given the fact that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered to fund the wall in exchange for a real solution for ... DREAMers.... NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Marc Short, the Trump White House’s director of Legislative Affairs, if airing an ad like that was helpful in the effort to reach the compromise needed to reopen the government. 'Well, you know that ad was produced by an outside group…' Short started to respond, before Todd interjected, “‘Donald J. Trump for President" is an outside group?' repeating it again in incredulity. The ad concludes with Trump saying 'I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message' and a photo of Trump with two thumbs up."

Defending the Indefensible. Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "... American diplomats across Africa have been made to explain President Trump’s vulgar description of their nations. These are disorienting — and some say depressing — times for the country’s diplomatic corps, which was already wilting after a year of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s leadership style and a lackluster department reorganization. Then Mr. Trump derided 'shithole' African countries during an immigration debate last week and questioned whether Haitians should be allowed to move to the United States. The blowback was fierce. On Wednesday, more than 80 former ambassadors to African nations over the last several decades sent a letter of protest to Mr. Trump. They said his description undermined American interests across the continent that has the world’s fastest growing population and five of the 10 fastest growing economies.... Nearly a third of the ambassadors in 168 American embassies worldwide are political appointees — many of whom were big political donors before they were given plush assignments to wealthy countries where they are rarely expected to conduct high-stakes diplomacy. No longer."

It seems to me that Republicans might pause to consider what the optics will be if the Dreamers begin to be deported. If no solution is found it will be horrific. They will fully own it. What am I missing? -- Donna S., in yesterday's Comments thread

Well, three things. Some of our Republican representatives are too stupid to think ahead. Others assume it will please their voter "base" to see innocent young people, many (but not all) of whom aren't quite as white as said representatives, being herded into buses & deported to places they can't remember & won't fit in. And a whole swath of said officials, oddly enough, think anyone whose genes are not 99.44 percent pure white Christian European cannot be Americans, never mind that many a Central American has a much longer American heritage than any of us of mostly European background, including of course Donald Trump, whose mother & grandfather were immigrants. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie ...

... As Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker writes, Trump insists "that America is less an idea than a specific heritage, that a judge of 'Mexican' heritage is less than equal, that Haitian-Americans and African-Americans came from 'shithole nations,' and that more Norwegian-Americans would be preferable."

They Danced with Trump. Craig Timburg, et al., of the Washington Post: At Trump's inaugural events a year ago, "... prominent business leaders and activists from [Russia] attended inaugural festivities, mingling at balls and receptions — at times in proximity to key U.S. political officials.... FBI officials were concerned at the time because some of the figures had surfaced in the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, the officials said.... Some Russian guests at Trump’s inauguration said they got tickets through U.S. political contacts. One venue for credentials was the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which provided a slew of perks ... to donors who gave at least $25,000. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are legally permitted to contribute to an inaugural committee. Several U.S. business executives with ties to Russia together donated $2.4 million to the inaugural committee, campaign finance records show." Mrs. McC: Meant to link this earlier. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AND in more important news, Amanda Arnold of New York reveals that at Mar-a-Lago's restaurant, you get caviar -- "served ... with plastic spoons." Classy. A guest was "traumatized."

The Best Presidency Ever. Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "... on the anniversary of the inauguration; with a government shutdown consuming the capital; with cities across the country, including this one, hosting women’s rallies condemning President Trump as an emblem of misogyny" — former Trump squeeze Stormy Daniels debuted her "Make America Horny Again" striptease tour at an airport strip club in Greenville, South Carolina. Mrs. McC: I wonder why Donald didn't ask Stormy to stand in for him when he couldn't attend his Mar-a-Lago party. 

Ashley Parker of the Washington Post: "The White House — and the politerati diaspora — has just barely stopped reeling from author Michael Wolff’s account of life in Trump’s West Wing..., and now another life-in-the-White-House book is about to drop, this one from [Howard] Kurtz [of Fox 'News']. Like the books that came before it, and almost certainly like the ones still to come, Kurtz’s book, 'Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press, And The War Over The Truth,' offers a portrait of a White House riven by chaos, with aides scrambling to respond to the president’s impulses and writing policy to fit his tweets, according to excerpts obtained by The Washington Post. Kurtz ... writes that Trump’s aides even privately coined a term for Trump’s behavior — 'Defiance Disorder.' The phrase refers to Trump’s seeming compulsion to do whatever it is his advisers are most strongly urging against, leaving his team to handle the fallout."

It's Other World Economies, Stupid. Larry Summers, in a Washington Post op-ed, explains why Trump doesn't deserve credit for an improving U.S. economy.


Rana Sweis
of the New York Times: "Vice President Mike Pence met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Sunday, telling reporters afterward that they had 'agreed to disagree' on the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The meeting in Amman, on the second day of Mr. Pence’s visit to the Middle East, came as tension has increased between the two allies over President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem last month and his decision last week to withhold aid to the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees.... Mr. Pence had delayed his trip to the region amid the furor over Mr. Trump’s decisions, which were seen here as pro-Israel and a slap in the face to Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, canceled a meeting with Mr. Pence planned for this trip. The Trump administration said the delay was unrelated to the rising anti-American sentiment in the Middle East."

All the Best People, Ctd.

Jonathan Swan of Axios: "... Donald Trump has put Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross out to pasture.... Ross’s efforts to wheel and deal with the Chinese have left the president unimpressed. Another problem: He keeps falling asleep in meetings. Early in Trump’s presidency, Ross was his go-to negotiator, helming the administration’s trade talks with the Chinese. After a few months, though, Trump concluded he was doing a terrible job. In a series of Oval Office meetings about six months into his presidency, Trump eviscerated Ross, telling him he’d screwed up, and badly.... The recent Forbes article — revealing that Ross vastly exaggerated his net worth — did not help his internal standing."

Adam Entous & Evan Osnos of the New Yorker have a long report on Jared Kushner's dealings with China. Mrs. McC: I've been trying to read it since Friday. For an abridged version, Benjamin Hart of New York obliges.

Robert O'Harrow of the Washington Post: "A former Trump campaign worker appointed at age 23 to a top position in the White House’s drug policy office had been let go from a job at a law firm because he repeatedly missed work, a partner at the firm said. While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien. He was 'discharged' in August 2015, partner Brian O’Dwyer said in an interview. 'We were very disappointed in what happened,' O’Dwyer said. He said that he hired Weyeneth in part because both men were involved in the same fraternity, and that the firm invested time training him for what was expected to be a longer relationship. Instead, he said, Weyeneth 'just didn’t show.' In a résumé initially submitted to the government, Weyeneth said he worked at the firm until April 2016.” Mrs. McC: What's the big deal? Trump "just doesn't show" for the better part of every day. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

Way Beyond the Beltway

Carlotta Gall of the New York Times: "Turkish troops crossed the Syrian border into the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Sunday morning, beginning a ground assault against American-allied militias there, as the first accounts of casualties emerged amid rising international criticism of Turkey’s military action.Turkish fighter jets were again in the skies Sunday bombing Kurdish militia targets in the border region."

The Taliban’s bloody, 14-hour siege on a major hotel in Kabul finally ended on Sunday, after six assailants terrorized much of the city with explosions and gunfire. The exact number of casualties remained unclear, and the authorities said it might take days to determine the extent of the material damage. Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that 14 foreigners and four Afghans had been killed in the attack, and that 10 others, including six members of the security forces, had been wounded. Local news outlets put the number of dead at 43. The siege capped a violent 24 hours across Afghanistan, where about 50 people were killed in four provinces as the 16-year war continues to spiral more violently, with no tangible signs of a resolution. The attack was the second in eight years at the 200-room Intercontinental Hotel, located on top of a hill. The Afghan carrier Kam Air said that six of its employees from Ukraine were killed, along with two from Venezuela."

Saturday
Jan202018

The Commentariat -- January 21, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump and Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) pressed the Senate Sunday to end a government shutdown that reached its second day, with Trump lashing out at Democrats and urging Republicans to change the rules if the standoff there isn’t resolved.... Trump wrote on Twitter, 'If stalemate continues,' then Republicans should use the 'Nuclear Option' to rewrite Senate rules and try to pass a long-term spending bill with a simple majority."

They Danced with Trump. Craig Timburg, et al., of the Washington Post: At Trump's inaugural events a year ago, "... prominent business leaders and activists from [Russia] attended inaugural festivities, mingling at balls and receptions — at times in proximity to key U.S. political officials.... FBI officials were concerned at the time because some of the figures had surfaced in the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, the officials said.... Some Russian guests at Trump’s inauguration said they got tickets through U.S. political contacts. One venue for credentials was the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which provided a slew of perks ... to donors who gave at least $25,000. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are legally permitted to contribute to an inaugural committee. Several U.S. business executives with ties to Russia together donated $2.4 million to the inaugural committee, campaign finance records show." Mrs. McC: Meant to link this earlier.

All the Best People, Ctd. Robert O'Harrow of the Washington Post: "A former Trump campaign worker appointed at age 23 to a top position in the White House’s drug policy office had been let go from a job at a law firm because he repeatedly missed work, a partner at the firm said. While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien. He was 'discharged' in August 2015, partner Brian O’Dwyer said in an interview. 'We were very disappointed in what happened,' O’Dwyer said. He said that he hired Weyeneth in part because both men were involved in the same fraternity, and that the firm invested time training him for what was expected to be a longer relationship. Instead, he said, Weyeneth 'just didn’t show.' In a résumé initially submitted to the government, Weyeneth said he worked at the firm until April 2016.” Mrs. McC: What's the big deal? Trump "just doesn't show" for the better part of every day.

*****

The Comments function appears to be working. Those who signed up may continue to use their exalted "membership" status, or not, as they prefer. I don't intend to sign up anyone else as it's no longer necessary. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

*****

Vera Haller, et al., of the Washington Post: "From Beijing to Buenos Aires, from Denver to Dallas, from California to the Carolinas, hundreds of thousands of activists once again took to the streets to protest the policies and presidency of Donald Trump. The number of participants might not have eclipsed the millions who marched in cities a year ago, but the 'resistance' still brought out swarms of people from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Saturday’s march made clear how a movement that began as a protest has evolved. A year of the Trump presidency, coupled with the galvanizing experience of the #MeToo moment, has made activists eager to leave a mark on the country’s political system. As a result, a key component of Saturday’s demonstrations was an effort to harness the enthusiasm behind the Women’s March and translate that into political sway at the polls this fall." ...

... Sarah Larson of the New Yorker describes the scene in Washington, D.C. ...

... New York Times: "A year after millions of people turned out for the Women’s March and took to the streets en masse to protest President Trump’s inauguration, demonstrators gathered on Saturday in cities across the United States, galvanized by their disdain for Mr. Trump and his administration’s policies. A deluge of revelations about powerful men abusing women, leading to the #MeToo moment, has pushed activists to demand deeper social and political change. Progressive women are eager to build on the movement and translate their enthusiasm into electoral victories in this year’s midterm elections." ...

... Amanda Maile & Morgan Winsor of ABC News: "As Women's March participants filled the streets in dozens of cities, many carrying anti-Trump signs, the president took to Twitter to comment on the protests Saturday. With apparent sarcasm, Trump tweeted, 'Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all women to march. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!'... From New York City to Los Angeles and many cities in between, thousands of women and their allies took to the streets Saturday, vowing to show up at the polls this year for midterm elections amid outrage over President Donald Trump's agenda. The president's tweet came after thousands of women and their allies poured out for the Women's March, marking one year since Trump took office. The main event for the 2018 Women's March, entitled 'Power to the Polls,' will take place Sunday in Las Vegas, where organizers will launch a national voter registration and mobilization initiative. Hundreds of other anniversary marches and events will be held elsewhere in the nation -- and around the world -- on both Saturday and Sunday." ...

... Diane Pathieu & Evelyn Holmes of ABC-7-Chicago: "Women's March Chicago organizers said more than 300,000 people packed Grant Park and surrounding streets Saturday, marching for change and women's rights.... Saturday's second annual march was titled 'March to the Polls' and aimed to mobilize women to not only vote, but also run for office and support female candidates. It was one of dozens of marches held around the country Saturday.... Nearly 400 similar marches were held in solidarity in D.C. and across the country.... Last year, about 250,000 women -- and men -- attended the Chicago event, which was held a day after ... Donald Trump was inaugurated." ...

... Andrea Castillo & Michael Livingston of the Los Angeles Times: "Calling for equal rights for women and waving 'Dump Trump' signs, tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to take part in the second Women’s March in L.A., one of dozens of similar protests held around the country.... Delivering the most impassioned speech of the day, [actor Viola] Davis reminded the women in the crowd that they must fight for their liberties and their rights, saying that 'it is through human dedication and effort that we move forward.'”


Once more, SNL reports all the news that's unfit to contemplate:

Thomas Kaplan & Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "With the federal government one day into a shutdown, the House and Senate reconvened on Saturday for a new round of bitter partisan bickering and public posturing that seemed to cloud the path to a resolution despite initial talk of a compromise.... The Senate met for a rare weekend session at noon — less than 11 hours after it went into recess..., [and Mitch McConnell & Chuck Schumer sniped at each other on the Senate floor].... The White House is taking a firm stance against entertaining immigration demands while the government is closed.... A bipartisan group of about 18 lawmakers, calling themselves the Common Sense Coalition, met Saturday afternoon in the office of Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, in an effort to find a way forward. Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said the group hoped to present a proposal to Senate leaders either later Saturday or Sunday." ...

... Wait, Maybe This Will Help. Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "The Trump campaign on Saturday released a new campaign ad calling congressional Democrats 'complicit' in all murders committed by undocumented immigrants. The spot seems unlikely to ease tensions on Capitol Hill as the Senate tries to negotiate a compromise on the fate of the 700,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children in order to reopen the shuttered federal government. 'Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants,' a narrator says, as images of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) appear on the screen. The 30-second ad blames Democrats for endorsing these acts of 'pure evil' by refusing to allow ... Donald Trump to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border." Mrs. McC: Which, um, won't stop illegal immigration from Central America & which, um, Schumer seemed to agree to Friday. But great ad! ...

... Robert Costa, et al., of the Washington Post: "So far, Trump, McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) have struck a defiant tone, refusing to consider any of the Democratic demands on immigration or other issues until there is a bipartisan agreement to reopen the federal government." ...

... Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Republicans are unified behind the belief that, until the government opens, there will be no more negotiations over the fate of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought here as children." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Obviously, what this tells you is that Republicans, as a whole, have every intention to send Dreamers back to the country from which they came as infants or children. If not, then "conceding" to Democrats on DACA would be a Big Whup Nothing Burger that would demonstrate how Republicans cared about the kids, after all. They don't. And let's remember that the GOP policy is not just cruel, racist & xenophobic, it's stupid. Who could be better for an economy with an aging population than a large group of young, well-educated, English-speaking, non-criminals? Oooh, ooh, Mr. Kotter, I know. Norwegian ones. ...

** Annals of "Journalism", Ctd. Judd Legum of ThinkProgress: "As the nation inched closer to the first government shutdown since 2013, the New York Times figured out who to blame: Democrats.... Under Senate rules [the funding bill] would require 60 votes for passage. Theoretically, a majority of Republicans could have gotten behind the plan and Democrats could have 'blocked' it. But that’s not what happened. Only 45 Republican Senators supported the Republican plan.... Unmentioned is that more than 60 Senators supported a bipartisan deal that would have provided permanent protection for DREAMers, enhanced border security and kept the government running." --safari ...

... MEANWHILE, Trump is having "his party" at Mar-a-Lago, where lucky partygoers can spend as much as $250K/couple, & Trump can cash in personally for use of the space. ...

    ... Update. As MAG writes in today's Comments, it looks as if Donnie had created to so much havoc in Washington, his babysitters wouldn't let him go to his own party. A small price to pay for a lifetime of douchebaggery. BUT don't worry. The party went on without him, & he sent a short video message telling how great he was & how horrible Democrats were. ...

... David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post on Trump's Celebration of Me event tonight: "By holding the event at his own club, Trump will be able to collect tens of thousands of dollars in fees for food, ballroom rental and other costs. In effect, he will have transformed his supporters’ political donations into revenue for his business. Again." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Next Trip: Davos! where Trump can schmooze with the world's high & mighty. What a populist! ...

... ** Ashley Parker & others at the Washington Post have a great report on Trump's ignorance of "his own" supposed policies, his constant vascillation & his opposing signals on DACA & other matters related to the shutdown.... 'Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,' Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) complained on the Senate floor Saturday, some 12 hours into the shutdown. 'It’s next to impossible.'” ...

... Julie Davis & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: “One year to the day after taking office with vows to bring the dysfunction of Washington to heel, President Trump on Saturday found himself thrust into the most perennial of political crises, bitterly casting blame on Democrats for a government shutdown he said they had orchestrated to mar the anniversary.... Inside the White House, Mr. Trump, the neophyte president who has styled himself the ultimate dealmaker, remained remarkably disengaged from the complex process of hammering out a politically palatable deal that could provide a way out of the morass.... On Saturday, the president was left alternately defiant and angry, self-pitying and frustrated. He argued to aides that he did not deserve the blame he was taking, but without a credible deal on the table, there was little for him to do. Irritated to have missed his big event in Florida, Mr. Trump spent much of his day watching old TV clips of him berating President Barack Obama for a lack of leadership during the 2013 government shutdown, a White House aide said, seeming content to sit back and watch the show.” ...

 

... Matthew Yglesias of Vox: "Trump’s intervening behavior [for the funding bill] wound up salting the earth by leaving everyone feeling that he might screw them over at any moment. Consequently, nobody is quite sure exactly who is shutting down the government or what it is the White House is trying to achieve by rejecting a bipartisan proposal that would avert a shutdown.... [C]ongressional Republicans are less unified on immigration than on most issues, and Trump is more invested in immigration than on most issues. Consequently, his actual personal leadership as president of the United States is critical to moving the system forward. But the mere fact that the circumstances require Trump to act like a real president doesn’t change the fact that he’s a lazy, ill-informed conspiracy theorist prone to tweeting cryptic pronouncements about delicate policy issues based on Fox & Friends segments. Welcome to 2018." --safari ...

... Tarini Parti of BuzzFeed: "Trump, who was supposed to be celebrating this weekend at a high-dollar fundraiser at his exclusive Florida resort, is now stuck in Washington. But while the White House says Trump is working the phones, other than an ultimately unsuccessful meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday, the president has been largely sidelined from deal-making, with congressional leadership and a few of his top aides taking the lead. And some senators from both parties say negotiating with Trump himself to find a way out of the shutdown is essentially impossible." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This whole shutdown fiasco can largely be attributed to Trump's suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect, that is, "people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is." In Trump, this effect extends to all aspects of his life. Not only did someone else -- Tony Schwartz -- write "Trump"'s best-selling book The Art of the Deal, I expect that his subordinates & lawyers were the actual people responsible for any major deals "he" made. They made good money for engineering those deals & no doubt flattered him for his essential input or whatever, and now the whole country is suffering under their ruses. I'd guess Dr. Jackson didn't test for Dunning-Kruger. ...

 

... AND MEANWHILE, mike pence is in the Middle East, managing to keep himself far from the madding crowd once again. Matthew Nussbaum of Politico reports. ...

... Wherein a thoughtful Eric Trump -- the smart one -- explains why the shutdown "is good for us." Julia Manchester of the Hill reports.


Nunes Keystone Kops, Ctd. Charlie Savage & Sharon LaFraniere
of the New York Times: "Republican aides on the House Intelligence Committee have prepared a memorandum that is said to accuse law enforcement officials of improperly obtaining a ... warrant ... targeting a former Trump campaign adviser [Carter Page].... House Republicans are calling for the declassification and release of the report, while Democrats say that it is full of misinformation and is a political stunt. People familiar with the report said that its main allegation was that law enforcement officials failed to adequately explain to the intelligence court judge that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. That, the report is said to claim, suggests that the judge was misled." Mrs. McC BTW: You can probably discredit what "expert" Stephen Vladeck tells the Times about Steele; according to Guardian reporter Luke Harding, Steele didn't know who Fusion GPS's clients were. Vladeck assumes Steele did know. ...

... Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast: "House Republicans are moving in the direction of releasing a controversial memo produced by Rep. Devin Nunes and the majority staff of the House intelligence committee.... [T]he memo’s release is far from guaranteed. But a House Republican leadership aide told The Daily Beast that its release is very likely...Nunes’ staff wrote the memo based on top secret intelligence that the FBI showed to a tiny number representatives and staff ... Democrats ... said that because members cannot see the underlying intelligence, they cannot fairly assess whether or not the memo characterizes it correctly. Any efforts for [Adam] Schiff [D-Calif. ] and his staff to release a counter-memo would almost certainly be stymied; such a release would require a vote of by House intelligence committee, which is deeply divided along partisan lines." --safari


Sean Wilentz
in a New York Times op-ed: "Donald Trump ... [in his first year in office] has been a colossal failure. The truest measure of his performance comes from comparing his first year not with those of the best ... — but with those of the worst.... Yet the first years of these failed presidencies were not always so bad, and in nearly every case not as bad as Mr. Trump’s.... Mr. Trump’s first year has been an unremitting parade of disgraces that have demeaned him as well as the dignity of his office, and he has shown that this is exactly how he believes he should govern. Most important, he is the first president to fail to defend the nation from an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power — and to resist the investigation of that attack. He is the first to enrich his private interests, and those of his family, directly and openly. He is the first president to denounce the press not simply as unfair but as 'the enemy of the American people.' He is the first to threaten his defeated political opponent with imprisonment. He is the first to have denigrated friendly countries and allies as well as a whole continent with racist vulgarities.... Mr. Trump’s first year portends a very unhappy ending."

Gail Collins argues that the future is Hillary's -- and Hillarys.


"This Land Is His Land." Kathleen McLaughlin
of the Guardian: "It’s become the new class war of the West ... a creeping, pervasive and underreported threat to public lands in the West: a widening class battle between private landowners – oftentimes newcomers with little knowledge of the region’s history or law – and the general public expecting to use public lands.... While public lands advocates battle the Trump administration over its plans to scale back national monuments, some private landowners – whether by tying up land access cases in courts or by putting up physical gates – present a rising threat to the millions of acres set aside for public use...According to a study from the Center for Western Priorities, 4 million acres of public lands in the Rocky Mountain West (Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico) are considered 'landlocked,' blocked off by private landowners who control adjacent properties or roadways. Two million of those landlocked acres are in Montana." --safari

Christina Caron of the New York Times: "Carl Higbie, who resigned on Thursday from the federal agency that funds AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps, said on Saturday that he regretted making disparaging remarks in the past about black people, Muslims, gays and lesbians. 'There are certain comments that I made that are inexcusable,' Mr. Higbie said in a phone interview on Saturday, adding that many of them stemmed from 'my own ignorance.' Mr. Higbie, who also apologized on Twitter on Friday, was appointed by President Trump in August as chief of external affairs for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which encourages Americans to support their communities through volunteer service.”

Time Warp: June 25, 2013: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote...'Our country has changed,' Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority."

Katie Rogers & Ken Vogel of the New York Times: "Representative Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making unwanted romantic overtures to her, according to several people familiar with the settlement. A married father of three, Mr. Meehan, 62, had long expressed interest in the personal life of the aide, who was decades younger and had regarded the congressman as a father figure, according to three people who worked with the office and four others with whom she discussed her tenure there. But after the woman became involved in a serious relationship with someone outside the office last year, Mr. Meehan professed his romantic desires for her ... and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate.... She initiated the complaint process, started working from home and ultimately left the job. She later reached a confidential agreement with Mr. Meehan’s office that included a settlement for an undisclosed amount to be paid from Mr. Meehan’s congressional office fund." ...

... Ha Ha. Good Move, Pauly. Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post: "A Republican congressman was removed from the House Ethics Committee on Saturday after it was reported that he used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle a misconduct complaint by a former staffer. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), who denies wrongdoing, reached a settlement with the aide after she claimed last year that he made unwanted romantic overtures toward her, according to a report published in the New York Times. The fourth-term lawmaker now faces an investigation by the ethics panel, according to a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)."

Zoya Tierstein of Mother Jones: "Conservation Hawks, is part of a coalition of grassroots organizations trying to pull conservatives into the conversation about rising temperatures.... There’s a small but growing alliance of concerned conservatives who want to reclaim climate change as a nonpartisan issue. This motley crew of lobbyists, Evangelical Christians, and far-right radicals call themselves the 'eco-right.'” --safari

Capitalism is Awesome, Ctd. Jay Weaver, et al. of McClatchy DC: "Gold has become the secret ingredient in the criminal alchemy of Latin American narco-traffickers who make billions turning cocaine into clean cash by exporting the metal to Miami.... NTR Metals, a South Florida precious-metals trading company, had bought nearly $1 billion worth of Peruvian gold supplied by narcos.... The United States depends on Latin American gold to feed ravenous demand from its jewelry, bullion and electronics industries.... But much of that gold comes from outlaw mines deep in the jungle where dangerous chemicals are poisoning rainforests and laborers who toil for scraps of metal, according to human rights watchdogs and industry executives. The environmental damage and human misery mirror the scale of Africa’s 'blood diamonds,' experts say." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

American "Justice," Ctd.

Like Really Way, Way Beyond. Ryan Autullo of the Austin-American Statesman: "A state district judge in Comal County[, Texas,] said God told him to intervene in jury deliberations to sway jurors to return a not guilty verdict in the trial of a Buda woman accused of trafficking a teen girl for sex.Judge Jack Robison apologized to jurors for the interruption, but defended his actions by telling them 'when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,' according to the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels. The jury went against the judge’s wishes, finding Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of continuous trafficking of a person and later sentenced her to 25 years in prison. They found her not guilty of a separate charge of sale or purchase of a child. ... The Herald-Zeitung reported that Robison recused himself before the trial’s sentencing phase and was replaced by Judge Gary Steele. The defendant’s attorney asked for a mistrial, but was denied." ...

... Addy Baird of ThinkProgress: "A former assistant police chief [Todd Shaw] in Kentucky told a recruit who asked what he should do if he catches teenagers smoking marijuana, 'If black shoot them,' according to new documents released Friday.... Shaw continued, saying, '[C]all their rents … if mom is hot then fuck her … if dad is hot then handcuff him and make him suck my dick. Unless daddy is black. … Then shoot him.'... Shaw resigned from the Prospect Police Department in suburban Louisville late last year.... Since then, Shaw has reportedly fought to keep his messages from being released to the media after local outlets requested them under public records laws, but they were released Friday." -- safari

Way Beyond

Juan Cole: "[O]n Friday, Turkey began cross-border shelling of the Kurdish-majority Afrin canton in northern Syria. There are also reports of busloads of Sunni Arab guerrillas of the rebel Free Syrian Army, who had been sheltered in Turkey, being sent into Afrin.... The Turkish attack comes after an announcement early this week by the Trump administration that it would arm and train a 30,000-man strong Kurdish force to police Syria’s borders and make sure ISIL did not reemerge.... Ankara sees the Syrian Kurds as allies of the PKK, but its members and the US government both deny that allegation.... It is not clear whether the erratic Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan is grandstanding with these artillery strikes into Afrin or whether this is the beginning of an attempt by Turkey to occupy and/or ethnically cleanse the Afrin Kurdish enclave." --safari

Finally a Bit of (Temporary) Good News. Amy Held of NPR: "Thai police toppled an accused kingpin in the global multi-million-dollar wildlife black market, with the arrest on Friday of Boonchai Bach in Nakhon Phanom, near the Laos border along the Mekong river. For more than a decade, Boonchai is believed to have overseen a syndicate responsible for the illegal trade of wildlife poached in Asia and Africa, according to the anti-trafficking group Freeland, which describes him as a 'kingpin' who has evaded capture for years." --safari

Saturday
Jan202018

The Commentariat -- January 20, 2018

The Comments function appears to be working again. Those who signed up may continue to use their exalted "membership" status, or not, as they prefer. I don't intend to sign up anyone else as it's no longer necessary. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

*****

Afternoon Update:

David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post on Trump's Celebration of Me event tonight: "By holding the event at his own club, Trump will be able to collect tens of thousands of dollars in fees for food, ballroom rental and other costs. In effect, he will have transformed his supporters’ political donations into revenue for his business. Again."

*****

Sheryl Stolberg & Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "Much of the federal government officially shut down early Saturday morning after Senate Democrats, showing remarkable solidarity in the face of a clear political danger, blocked consideration of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating. The shutdown, coming one year to the day after President Trump took office, set off a new round of partisan recriminations and posed risks for both parties. It came after a fruitless last-minute negotiating session at the White House between Mr. Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. With just 50 senators voting in favor, Senate Republican leaders fell well short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed on the spending measure, which had passed the House on Thursday. Five conservative state Democrats voted for the spending measure. Five Republicans voted against it, although one of those, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, did so for procedural reasons.” (This is an update of a story linked yesterday.) ...

... Here's how every senator voted, via the New York Times. ...

... Trump & the Football, Déjà vu. Michael Shear & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York ... came close to an agreement to avert a government shutdown over lunch on Friday. But their consensus broke down later in the day when the president and his chief of staff demanded more concessions on immigration.... As the meal progressed, an outline of an agreement was struck...: Mr. Schumer said yes to higher levels for military spending and discussed the possibility of fully funding the president’s wall on the southern border with Mexico. In exchange, the president agreed to support legalizing young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Mr. Schumer left the White House believing he had persuaded the president to support a short, three to four-day spending extension to finalize an agreement, which would also include disaster funding and health care measures.... As the evening wore on, Mr. Schumer got a call from Mr. Kelly that dashed all hopes for a Trump-Schumer deal before the shutdown deadline.... Mr. Kelly, a hard-liner on immigration..., outlined a long list of White House objections to the deal." You'll have to read all of the first half of the report to see how the "agreement" "evolved," or rather, devolved. ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Let's hope we read a lot of stories headlined "Kelly Is New Unelected President," with a subhead that conveys the self-evident truth that a racist general engineered a coup over an unpopular, doddering president, bringing down the federal government. ...

... "Trump Whines: Shutdown Fight Could Make Me Miss ‘My Party.’" Lacklan Markay & Asawin Suebsaeng of the Daily Beast: "On the eve of a ... government shutdown..., Donald Trump privately vented frustrations that the political impasse could possibly keep him from attending a glitzy inauguration anniversary bash and fundraiser set for Saturday at his Florida getaway Mar-a-Lago.Two sources close to the president ... told The Daily Beast how excited he was for the event and relayed his growing concern that the potential failure to strike a deal to keep the federal government open could keep him from 'my party,' as the president has said." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: For all of the Reality Chex readers who had forked over $100K or more & bought new outfits to wear to "his party," I read someplace that President* Whiney Face is off to Mar-a-Lago today to celebrate himself at a fête à Donaldo. I could find a link to verify this, but I don't care enough. ...

     ... Also, never mind what your outdated calendar says. It's really 01/01/01, Anno Trvmpvs. The Trumpian calendar is a little different from the old-fashioned Gregorian one. The Trumpian calendar has 13 months of 28 days each, & each month has four 7-day weeks. This adds up to 364 days a year, which is a little short. But hey, like all science, astronomy is fake, so this should work. The names of the days of the week have changed: SunKingDay, MoneyDay,  AmericaFirstDay, BusinessDay, DonaldsDay, WhiteMansDay & TrumpsDay. ...

 

... Politico: "Some six hours after the federal government shut down..., Donald Trump tweeted, 'This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown.'...” ...

... Dana Milbank: "What on Earth does President Trump want? On Wednesday, the White House issued an official statement saying it supported a 30-day spending bill to avert a shutdown that included a six-year extension of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. But Thursday dawned to see Trump declaring the opposite.... Exactly a week earlier, Trump ... rejected, in colorful fashion, a bipartisan immigration compromise he had said just two days earlier he would embrace. And this last week..., Trump was contradicting ... John F. Kelly, who said Trump had 'changed his attitude' and 'evolved' on the nature of a border wall. Trump replied that the wall “has never changed or evolved.... The president’s mixed messages, more than anything, are what brought the government to the brink of a shutdown.”

... Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "... President Trump ... shares a sizable chunk of the blame [for the shutdown].... My colleagues reported in November he told confidants a shutdown could be good for him politically; a chance to flex his hard-line muscles on immigration. He's also tweeted stuff like this: 'either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good "shutdown" in September to fix mess!' ... May 2, 2017.... This week, Trump cast doubt on whether he would sign a short-term spending bill ... hours after his spokeswoman said he would. Hours before a precarious vote in the House of Representatives to avoid such a scenario, Trump pulled the rug out from under GOP leaders by seeming to take away their only leverage to get Democrats on board: funding the Children's Health Insurance Program.... Trump also pushed back on his chief of staff's statements by suggesting he had not backed off the notion of a border wall.... Trump has also been extraordinarily inconsistent on what he wants on an issue that is impossible to separate from this shutdown: preventing the deportation of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.... With two words ['shithole countries,'] Trump caused an international stir and made it much more difficult for Democrats to negotiate with the president....” ...

... The Party of Xenophobes & Racists. Sean Sullivan & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Amid the chaos and confusion of Capitol Hill this week, one prevailing trend emerged: Republican leaders are embracing the party’s hard-line position on illegal immigration. While the battle over spending continues, GOP lawmakers have chosen to align with the conservative posture that took root in the party with President Trump, a development that is causing consternation among some Republican dissenters. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other GOP lawmakers repeatedly cast the spending fight as Democrats displaying more loyalty to undocumented immigrants than Americans — a wager that the nativist leanings that propelled Trump to power will energize their political base in this year’s midterm elections.... In McConnell’s orbit, there is a sense that much of the Senate Republican Conference is closer to [Sen. Tom] Cotton [whom Sen. Lindsey Graham called 'the Steve King of the Senate'] and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) on immigration than it is to Graham, even if they are not as vocal about it."

Glenn Kessler & Meg Kelly of the Washington Post: "One year after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made 2,140 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. That’s an average of nearly 5.9 claims a day.... While the president is known to make outrageous claims on Twitter — and that was certainly a major source of his falsehoods — he made most of his false statements in unscripted remarks before reporters. Prepared speeches and interviews were other key sources of false claims. That’s because the president relies on talking points or assertions that he had made in the past — and continued to make, even though they had been fact-checked as wrong.... There were only 56 days — or about 15 percent of the time — on which we recorded no claims. These were often days when the president golfed. But there were also 12 days in which Trump made more than 30 claims. These were often days when he held campaign-style rallies, riffing without much of a script." Mrs. McC: Look for Trump to easily break 6.0/day during this election year.

Tamara Keith of NPR: "Turnover among top-level staff in the Trump White House was off the charts, according to a new Brookings Institution report. Turnover in Trump's first year was more than triple that in former President Barack Obama's first year, and double the rate in President Ronald Reagan's White House. A full 34 percent of high-level White House aides either resigned, were fired or moved into different positions in this first year of the Trump presidency. 'While some turnover is expected and possibly beneficial, excessive turnover portends problems,' writes Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a nonresident senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. '[President Trump] has valued loyalty over qualifications and suffered from a White House that has functioned in a chaotic manner. Both features have made it difficult to retain staff and have contributed to the governance difficulties he has encountered.'" (Also linked yesterday.)


Cap'n. Nunes Keystone Kops to the Rescue. Ryan Reilly
of the Huffington Post: "House Republicans spent the end of the workweek telling everyone who would listen that the American people must be allowed to see a top-secret four-page document that could bring an end to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.... The document, which alleges abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act during the FBI’s quiet counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in the final months of the 2016 election, was actually compiled by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee. That committee voted along partisan lines this week to allow any member of Congress to take a peek at the document themselves. Republican members soon flocked to a secure room to read the memo written by their allies — and then ran to tell the press about it.... Overnight, #ReleaseTheMemo ― a hashtag reportedly given an additional boost by Russian-connected bots ― started trending on Twitter. In less than 24 hours, Donald Trump Jr. ... sent off more than 30 tweets and retweets about the memo to his nearly 2.5 million followers.... Democrats say the Republican-drafted classified memo is full of omissions and distortions intended to fuel efforts to run cover for President Trump." Emphasis added. ...

... Nunes & the RussiaBots. Natasha Bertrand in Business Insider: "Republican lawmakers are pushing for the House Intelligence Committee to release a memo written by the panel's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, that outlines purported surveillance during the transition period against ... Donald Trump by former President Barack Obama's administration. And Russia-linked Twitter bots have jumped on the bandwagon.... The frequency with which the [Russia-linked] accounts have been promoting the hashtag [#ReleaseTheMemo] has spiked by 233,000% over the past 48 hours.... The accounts' references to the "memo," meanwhile, have increased by 68,000%. The most-shared domain among the accounts has been WikiLeaks, and the most-shared URL has been a link to WikiLeaks' 'submit' page.... Several Republican congressmen — many of whom have been highly critical of the special counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI, and the investigation into Trump's ties to Russia — have released statements calling on the House Intelligence Committee to declassify and release Nunes' four-page memo.... A source with knowledge of the memo told Business Insider that it was 'a level of irresponsible stupidity that I cannot fathom,' adding that it 'purposefully misconstrues facts and leaves out important details.' [Rep. Adam] Schiff [D-Calif.] said the document 'may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals.'" ...

... One Reason Nunes & the RussiaBots Are Collaborating to Shut Down Mueller & the FBI. David Graham of the Atlantic: "Perhaps the most interesting thread [in Glenn Simpson's testimony before Congress] is Simpson’s suggestion that the Trump Organization could have been used by Russians to launder money — an arrangement that would have both allowed Kremlin-linked figures to scrub cash and would have created possible blackmail material over the now-president, since the Russian government would be aware that a crime had been committed.... But while Simpson saw disturbing patterns, he was unable to nail anything down, because he couldn’t get the relevant records from banks and other financial institutions.... [Rep. Adam] Schiff told me Friday that the committee had been unable to follow [the] roadmap [to nail down the facts which Simpson suggested], because Republican members are not interested." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Of course Mueller does have the subpoena power -- and apparently he's using it -- to investigate Simpson's supposition. Holding evidence that Trump was money-laundering -- which is a crime -- is a far more potent form of blackmail than their outting anything like the supposed "golden shower" episode. Trump's consensual sexcapades are amusing & ew!-cringeworthy but they're not illegal. ...

... Here's the full In Touch interview of Stormy Daniels on her affair with Trump. We keep it classy here at Reality Chex. Just reporting on the President. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jake Pearson of the AP: "A tabloid magazine held back from publishing an adult film star’s 2011 account of an alleged affair with Donald Trump after the future president’s personal lawyer threatened to sue, four former employees of the tabloid’s publisher told The Associated Press. In Touch magazine published its 5,000-word interview with the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels on Friday — more than six years after Trump’s long-time attorney, Michael Cohen, sent an email to In Touch’s general counsel saying Trump would aggressively pursue legal action if the story was printed, according to emails described to the AP by the former employees. At the time, Trump was a reality TV star on the NBC show 'The Apprentice.'” Mrs. McC: I toldja Cohen had a lot of practice bleaching Trump's dirty laundry. ...

... First Mistress? Matt Wilstein of the Daily Beast: In an interview with Bill Maher on last night's "Real Time," Fire & Fury author Michael "Wolff slyly teased a White House anecdote that he apparently didn’t feel comfortable including. There was one story about Trump that he kept hearing, but couldn’t confirm, even by his questionable standards. 'I didn’t have the blue dress,' Wolff said.... 'It’s about somebody’s he’s fucking right now?' Maher asked, excitedly. 'Yes,' Wolff replied, but he refused to elaborate. 'You just have to read between the lines,' he said, adding, 'Now that I’ve told you, when you hit that paragraph, you’ll say bingo.'”

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Guess finding the name of the First Mistress will require some detective-reading. Assuming Wolff was referring to a woman (which Maher does not) & unable to scour his book, I'll go blindly with Omarosa. But since Kelly unceremoniously kicked her out of the White House, maybe Trump has moved on to Mrs. Huckleberry. She & Trump really are perfect for each other.

Russ Choma of Mother Jones: "A German business magazine is reporting that Deutsche Bank, the German financial giant which is a major lender to both Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, identified 'suspicious transactions' related to Kushner family accounts, and has reported them to German banking regulators. The bank is reportedly willing to provide the information to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team of investigators. Manager Magazin, a respected German business magazine, reported in its latest print edition, which hit German newsstands on Friday, that Paul Achleitner, chairman of Deutsche Bank’s board, had the bank conduct an internal investigation and the results were troubling. Those results have been turned over to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority — Germany’s bank regulatory agency...." ...

Madison Kircher of New York: During the 2016 election cycle, "... some 677,775 American people retweeted content from [Twitter] 'accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).; Twitter has since emailed that group to say hi, just FYI that tweet you retweeted was from Russia and engineered to thwart our democracy. It has also suspended the accounts behind the tweets." ...

... Madison Kircher: "Facebook recently announced that it would be tweaking its News Feed algorithmnow, you should be seeing more posts from friends, rather than from publishers.... [Friday], Mark Zuckerberg announced that this means your feed should now be just 4 percent news, rather than the previous 5 percent. Oh … and he also announced that Facebook is going to let its users decide which news sources they trust the most. 'This update will not change the amount of news you see on Facebook. It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.' Zuckerberg calls this being 'objective.' You might call it 'asking for it.'... But, hey, now if you see some fake news floating around your News Feeds, the onus is off [Facebook]. Blame 'the community.'”


Time to Go, Bob. Nick Corasaniti
of the New York Times: "The Justice Department announced on Friday that it intended to retry Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, two months after a jury deadlocked on federal corruption charges against him. The move means Mr. Menendez will have to defend himself again in a year when he is up for re-election. A new trial for Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, who has been in the Senate for 12 years, adds a wrinkle to the political map in this year’s 2018 midterm elections. While the senator has not officially announced that he is running, he has given no indication he intends to retire.... So far, however, no strong Republican challenger has emerged."

Christopher Mele of the New York Times: "A neighbor of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky intends to plead guilty to a federal felony charge after he tackled the senator in November in an assault set off by the placement of a pile of brush, the man’s lawyer said on Friday. The neighbor, Rene A. Boucher, 58, of Bowling Green, Ky., was charged on Friday with assaulting a member of Congress resulting in personal injury, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Josh J. Minkler, said in a news release.... Mr. Boucher saw Mr. Paul stack brush in a pile near their property line, and Mr. Boucher 'had enough,' according to the release. He ran onto Mr. Paul’s property and tackled him.... Federal prosecutors will seek a prison sentence of up to 21 months, [Matthew Baker, Boucher's attorney] said, adding that he would seek probation for his client.... The attack against Mr. Paul, a Republican, was not politically motivated, Mr. Baker said...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Good. Li'l Randy is an asshole & among other assholery, is apparently a sloppy neighbor, but that's no excuse for beating him to a pulp & likely causing permanent physical damage.

Evan Perez, et al., of CNN: "The FBI recently opened an inquiry into Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens [R], two US officials told CNN, as he fights an allegation of blackmail and faces calls to resign just a year into his job. While the FBI has not commented on the existence of any inquiry or formal investigation into Greitens, the St. Louis circuit attorney's office announced last week that it is investigating Greitens' conduct following an explosive story that forced the Republican governor to acknowledge having had an extramarital affair and confront an allegation of blackmail.... Greitens has acknowledged having had an extramarital affair before he became governor, but has vehemently denied blackmail."


Adam Liptak
of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would consider a challenge to President Trump’s latest effort to limit travel from countries said to pose a threat to the nation’s security, adding a major test of presidential power to a docket already crowded with blockbusters. The case concerns Mr. Trump’s third and most considered bid to make good on a campaign promise to secure the nation’s borders. But challengers to the latest ban, issued as a presidential proclamation in September, said it was tainted by religious animus and not adequately justified by national security concerns." (Also linked yesterday.)

Sydney Ember of the New York Times: "Journalists at The Los Angeles Times voted overwhelmingly to form a union despite aggressive opposition from the paper’s management team, reversing more than a century of anti-union sentiment at one of the biggest newspapers in the country. Shortly after the final vote count was announced on Friday, The Times’s parent company said that the newspaper’s publisher, Ross Levinsohn, was taking an unpaid leave of absence while a law firm investigated allegations of coarse workplace behavior while he was employed by other companies.... Out of the 292 employees who cast ballots, 248 voted in favor of joining the NewsGuild, which represents 25,000 workers at news organizations across the United States."

Joe Coscarelli of the New York Times: "Tom Petty, the chart-topping singer and songwriter, died in October from an accidental drug overdose as a result of mixing medications that included opioids, the medical examiner-coroner for the county of Los Angeles announced on Friday, ending the mystery surrounding his sudden death last year. The coroner, Jonathan Lucas, said that Mr. Petty’s system showed traces of the drugs fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetyl fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl."