The Wires
The Ledes

Monday, October 15, 2018.

CNBC: "Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen has died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Vulcan Inc. said Monday on behalf of his family. Allen passed away Monday afternoon in Seattle at 65 years old, Vulcan said." ...

     ... Allen's New York Times obituary is here.

Royal Watch:

 

... The Guardian has a story here.

Another British royal wedding at Windsor: Princess Eugenie & Jack Brooksbank. Pix here; story here.

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I can't tell you how many times I could have used this guy. But he/it really should have set the drywall a millimeter or two off the concrete floor to keep the drywall, well, dry:

... Jon Fingas of Engadget tells the story of Drywall Man.

A Toke Before They Croak. Guardian: "For decades, seafood lovers have struggled with a confounding ethical dilemma: how do you balance out the delight of a lobster dinner with the discomfort of boiling one alive, generally regarded as the proper way to prepare the crustacean delicacy?... Sedating lobsters by blowing marijuana smoke on to them sounds like the type of idea you might come up with while smoking a bit of grass yourself, but Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, is convinced it can help to ease the pain lobsters might feel while being boiled alive. An animal rights supporter who has owned the restaurant for seven years, Gill told the Mount Desert Island publication that she’s long struggled with the ethical implications of her line of work. After conducting an experiment in which she 'hot-boxed' a particularly aggressive lobster named Roscoe, she came away convinced the high significantly mellowed him out. 'The animal is already going to be killed,' she said in the interview. 'It is far more humane to make it a kinder passage.'”

 

Here's the Los Angeles Times' Emmy page. ...

... New York Times: "'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' won five [Emmys] on Monday night, including best comedy series, and “Game of Thrones” picked up the award for best drama. HBO and Netflix tied with 23 Emmys each. See a full list of winners here. Talk of #MeToo was largely absent from this year’s ceremony, with no one mentioning Leslie Moonves from the stage. Read our critic’s review of the show, which he said lacked diversity. See red carpet photos."

Guardian: "A pair of ruby red slippers, produced for Judy Garland to wear in the Wizard of Oz, have been discovered by police over a decade after they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minneapolis [sic, Minnesota]. The discovery ends years of intrigue and scandal surrounding the whereabouts of the shoes. The slippers were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis, the FBI revealed in a news conference today. Their lead came in summer 2017 when an individual approached the company that insured the slippers, claiming he had information about the shoes and how they could be returned. It quickly became clear he was attempting to extort the slippers’ owners and police were contacted.

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

... Matthew Dessem of Slate: "The only fly in the ointment is the knowledge that, demographically speaking, this video will make a lot of horrible people happy."

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
Oct152018

The Commentariat -- October 16, 2018

The Better to Coordinate a Cover-up. Ben Hubbard & Daniel Victor of the New York Times: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince and other top officials in Riyadh on Tuesday to discuss the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist who Turkish officials say was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul." ...

... Clarissa Ward & Tim Lister of CNN: "The Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources. One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible. One of the sources acknowledged that the report is still being prepared and cautioned that things could change." ...

     ... OR, as Eric Levitz puts it, "In other words: The Saudis’ official defense is, reportedly, 'We only wanted to torture and kidnap the dissident journalist, but the Crown Prince’s friend got a little too enthusiastic, and accidentally killed him. (In a bizarre coincidence, a doctor of forensic science and bone saw just happened to be on the scene at the consulate that day — and, well, one thing led to another.)' If the Trump administration, K Street, and D.C.’s foreign policy Establishment cares about the reality of the Saudis’ actions, this cover story won’t fly. But then, if they cared about such realities, the U.S. would have cut off support to the Saudi war in Yemen years ago.”

     ... Levitz also explains the media attention Jamal Khashoggi's murder has received: "... no one in Washington, D.C., has ever been at a cocktail party with a starving Yemeni child, and so Riyadh’s offenses against such children did not threaten the U.S.-Saudi alliance. Many in D.C. do, however, rub shoulders with Washington Post columnists — of which Khashoggi was one and thus, his apparent murder has forced many American lobbyists, corporate titans, and public officials to feign shock and concern at the revelation that the totalitarian, Islamist government of Saudi Arabia does not respect the human rights of its dissidents." ...

... BUT What about Trump's New Conspiracy Theory? "Rogue Killers." Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump said on Monday that he spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia and that the ruler denied any knowledge of what happened to a missing Saudi dissident journalist. After the call, Mr. Trump said it was possible that 'rogue killers' were behind the disappearance of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.... 'It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers — who knows,' Mr. Trump said. In introducing the possibility that another party could have been involved in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, the president opened a window for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to stand by their denials.... The president said the secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was traveling to Saudi Arabia later Monday morning to meet with King Salman.... Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in a Twitter post on Monday that he had heard the Saudis were pushing a 'rogue killers' theory and called it 'extraordinary' that the kingdom was able to get the president on board." Mrs. McC: A 400-pound man from New Jersey maybe? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... WELL. Josh Lederman of NBC News: "Saudi Arabia’s government is discussing a plan to admit that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, three people with knowledge of the situation tell NBC News.... One ... said he was told by those close to the Saudi leadership that the kingdom will claim that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi during an interrogation or a rendition attempt that went horribly awry." Emphasis added. Mrs. McC: As Chris Hayes of MSNBC said, it appears that Trump is colluding with the Saudis to engineer a coverup. That is, the coverup of the assassination of a journalist who is Washington Post contributor. I'm not saying U.S. leadership has never before aided & abetted a murderous criminal regime, but what we're witnessing now really is extraordinary. You know, it's not easy to murder a person in cold blood & get away with it, especially when evidence of your crime abounds AND you keep changing your alibi. But if you can garner a little help from a corrupt POTUS*, evading the consequences of your heinous crime becomes a bit easier, if even more outrageous. ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Two overlapping things of widely divergent importance happened Monday morning that bring into clear relief President Trump’s double standard on the proof he demands on political issues. The first was his response to a question about the missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.... 'I just spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia, and he denies any knowledge of what took place with regards to, as he said, to Saudi Arabia’s citizen,' Trump said while talking to reporters Monday morning. 'He firmly denies that.'... In each case — Saudi Arabia, Russia, [Roy] Moore, climate change, [Brett] Kavanaugh — there is reason to believe, if to varying degrees, that the allegations [that Trump finds inconvenient] have merit. Trump, though, seizes on any tiny argument to reject them.... [MEANWHILE.] Trump has increasingly disparaged [Elizabeth] Warren, a likely (if not probable) Democratic candidate. Among the assertions he had made is that Warren — who[m] he disparagingly calls 'Pocahontas' — should have to conduct a DNA test to prove her heritage. In July, he even offered to give $1 million to charity were she to do so. When he learned Monday morning that she had, his response was curt: 'Who cares?' He also denied having offered to give $1 million to charity, despite his saying it at a campaign rally.... For Trump’s opponents, any offered proof is flawed, incomplete or insufficient. For his allies, any offered evidence is robust and more than enough.” Bump invokes the imaginary 400-pound guy, too, as well as Obama's birth certificate. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Warren should be demanding her $1MM loudly & often. She could donate it to Snopes. Update: Madeleine Aggeler of New York: "After the Globe published the results of her test, Warren tweeted at the president asking him to make his donation to the National Indigenous Woman’s Resource Center." That's good, too. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ... 

... Update 1. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump on Monday denied that he offered Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) $1 million to take a test proving her Native American heritage, even though he did just that. Trump spoke after Warren responded to the president's challenge and released the results of a DNA test showing she has a distant Native ancestor. 'I didn't say that. You'd better read it again,' Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about his $1 million offer. During a campaign rally on July 5, Trump taunted Warren for her claims of Native American ancestry, a staple of his campaign stump speeches. 'I will give you a million dollars, to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,' Trump said at the time. 'I have a feeling she will say 'no.'"" Mrs. McC: How is it that a veteran TV personality is unaware that there are tapes to disprove his lies? ...

... Update 2. Toluse Olorunnipa of Bloomberg (via Time): "... Donald Trump said he won’t make good on a bet on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage unless he can personally test her DNA." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: What a sleazy, lying turd. Imagine having to work with this guy.

Jonathan Chait: "In his interview with 60 Minutes last night, President Trump made a number of self-incriminating comments about Russia. He downplayed Russia’s certain role in conducting assassinations to a mere 'probability,' defending his skepticism by saying, weirdly, 'I rely on them, it’s not in our country.'... The most revealing statement he made was when asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election.... The question [was] about Russian election interference in 2016. Trump turn[ed] it into a diatribe about China.... [An] official rollout of the new Cold War posture [highlighted by a mike pence speech & a Wall Street Journal feature story] was supposed to give Trump’s hard-line stance the patina of legitimacy. But the 60 Minutes interview gives the game away. Trump is bringing up China in response to questions about Russia. The whole point of the exercise is to supply his supporters with a talking point they can use to wave away the ever-growing pile of damning evidence. The answer is to the Russia story is now, 'What about China?'” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

This Blimp, videotaped yesterday, sure doesn't look like the svelte guy pictured in Andy Thomas's painting, posted in yesterday's Commentariat, a copy of which is now on display in the White House.

Someone Left the Wife Out in the Rain. Erika Harwood of Vanity Fair: "As the Trumps headed out for Georgia and Florida on Monday..., [Donald] was holding a large umbrella, which he never attempted to share with [Melanie]." ...

... On a somewhat more consequential note ...

A New York Times video op-ed by Jason Stanley:

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It's fair to look at most of TrumpNews -- and GOPNews -- as of a piece with fascism. Climate denial, the support for assassins, the silly contretemps with Elizabeth Warren, the devastating tax cut, whatever -- these are all predicated on obvious & audacious lies. That's what facists do; that's how they ram through their corrupt, counterproductive measures. What remains stunning to me is that millions of people, almost all with at least decent public school educations, are willing to let the facists lead them by their noses. Not long ago, I thought that education was the antidote to most of the world's political ills. Obviously, I was wrong about that. The triumph of facism -- and it is currently triumphant in the former Land of the Free & Home of the Brave -- is a vast cultural disorder. (Three weeks from now we'll find out just how triumphant.) The evils of the world are as close as your next-door neighbor and your crazy Uncle Fred.

Paul Krugman: "... the Trump administration and its allies — put on the defensive by yet another deadly climate change-enhanced hurricane and an ominous United Nations reporthave been making [various] bad arguments over the past few days.... It was a reminder that we’re now ruled by people who are willing to endanger civilization for the sake of political expediency, not to mention increased profits for their fossil-fuel friends.... The new strategy is to downplay what has happened.... Why, it’s as if Trump were to suggest that the Saudis had nothing to do with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished after entering a Saudi embassy — that he was killed by some mysterious third party. Oh, wait.... While the arguments of climate deniers were always weak, they’ve gotten much weaker.... One way to think about what’s happening here is that it’s the ultimate example of Trumpian corruption."

Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "The federal budget deficit swelled to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018, the Treasury Department said on Monday, driven in large part by a sharp decline in corporate tax revenues after the Trump tax cuts took effect. The deficit rose nearly 17 percent year over year, from $666 billion in 2017. It is now on pace to top $1 trillion a year before the next presidential election, according to forecasts from the Trump administration and outside analysts. The deficit for the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, was the largest since 2012, when the economy and federal revenues were still recovering from the depths of the recession. Administration officials attributed the deficit’s rise to greater federal spending, including the military and domestic budget increases that President Trump approved this year, not the $1.5 trillion tax cut.... But the numbers ... suggest falling revenues were a far larger contributor to the rising deficit than higher spending."

& of Bloomberg: "...  Donald Trump said that Sears Holdings Corp. had been mismanaged for years before it declared bankruptcy. Among those responsible for its management: his Treasury secretary. Steven Mnuchin was a member of Sears’s board from 2005 until December 2016, and before that was a director for K-Mart Corp., which was acquired by Sears in 2005." Mrs. McC: Mnuchin is using the same method to manage your money. See ballooning deficit story, linked above.


Emily Fox
of Vanity Fair: "Other than a few tweets and statements, [former Trump attorney Michael] Cohen has remained relatively quiet since pleading guilty, in August, to violating campaign laws by paying off women who claimed to have had affairs with Donald Trump at what he said, in open court, was the 'direction' of the then-candidate. Behind the scenes, however, Robert Mueller’s special investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice continues apace. So does the Southern District’s probe into campaign-finance violations. Despite having no formal cooperation agreement with the government, Cohen has willingly assisted and provided information critical to several ongoing investigations, according to two sources familiar with the situation, in a string of meetings that have exceeded more than 50 hours in sum.” Mrs. McC: This is a sloppy report; not only does Fox bury the lede, but when she gets to it, she writes, "have exceeded more than."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The adult-film actress Stormy Daniels’ libel suit against ... Donald Trump was thrown out Monday by a federal judge, who also ordered Daniels to pay Trump's legal fees in the case. U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles said Trump was engaged in 'rhetorical hyperbole' in April when he sent a tweet casting doubt on threats that Daniels claimed to have received in 2011 as she debated whether to go public with her claim of a sexual encounter with Trump. 'A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the fake news media for fools (but they know it),' Trump wrote on Twitter. In a 14-page order, Otero noted that the tweet was a one-time statement by Trump and said it failed to meet the standard of a clear factual claim that Daniels had lied.... Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, immediately appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals."


Sarah Okeson
of DCReport: "Trump health officials plan to rewrite guidelines for a federally funded family planning program to make it harder for low-income women to obtain birth control. The 32-page proposed regulation mentions contraception three times aside from the footnotes and proposes removing the requirement that family planning services be medically approved, saying it could cause confusion.... 'This policy is straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale,' said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America..." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is about powerful white men maintaining control over some of the most powerless women in the U.S. To put it as delicately as possible, the "health officials" who dreamed up this anti-contraception policy are sick fucks.

"White Power" Priorities. Frank Dale of ThinkProgress: "President Donald Trump’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has 'quietly' spent millions of dollars on private security for Confederate cemeteries since the violent 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.... [A]ccording to a new report from the Associated Press..., the VA has already spent almost $3 million on round-the-clock private security for at least eight Confederate cemeteries." --s

Election 2018

Florida. Mark Stern of Slate: "Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, will not be able to name three new justices to the Florida Supreme Court after his term has ended, that court ruled on Monday. Its decision denies Scott the ability to shift the court rightward for a generation, thwarting his plan to make 'midnight appointments.' Instead, it ensures that the next governor will be able to fill those seats. The stakes of the Florida gubernatorial race, in other words, just got even higher: Whoever wins the election will enter office with three vacancies to fill on the state’s highest court." --s

Minnesota. Meet Your Racist GOP. Danielle McLean of ThinkProgress: "Karin Housely, a Republican running for a U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota, once compared Michelle Obama to a chimp on Facebook in 2009, according to the Huffington Post.... White people comparing black people to monkeys, apes, or chimps has a long racist history, and one that has commonly been made by Republicans when discussing the Obama family or other African American Democrats. Most recently, in August, Ron DeSantis, a Republican running for governor in Florida, told voters not to 'monkey this up' by electing his African American challenger Andrew Gillum. And in May, ABC abruptly cancelled its successful reboot of the show 'Roseanne,' after actress Roseanne Barr compared former Obama administration senior adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter.... Housley is a state Senator" --s...


Jamelle Bouie
of Slate: No, it isn't true that the Founding Fathers favored "minority rule" & baked it into the Constitution for the good of future wingers. "... key voices [like James Madison & Benjamin Franklin] anticipated the problems the Senate might pose for governance and democratic representation. That future Americans, to whom the Framers entrusted the republic and its maintenance, might seek reform to solve those problems is not an attack on the intent of the Constitution. It is in keeping with the debates around its creation.... Calls to transform the Senate, or create new states, or even 'pack the court' aren’t attacks on norms; they are Americans doing the hard work of crafting a democracy that works for them, of taking seriously the idea that the Constitution exists for us, not us for the Constitution." Thanks to PD Pepe for the link. See also David Leonhardt's column, linked yesterday. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Michael Klarman in Take Care: "Even before the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court — which has always been a political institution — had become an adjunct of the Republican Party.... When progressives win back political power at the national level, which will happen one day, we will be confronted with the most conservative Supreme Court in nearly a century. It is easy to imagine that Court concocting constitutional arguments against virtually every measure a progressive administration might pursue.... [One] solution — expanding the size of the Court once Democrats regain control of Congress and the presidency — will inevitably appear partisan (though, rightly understood, it is not).... Figuring out how to behave in a world where one party no longer adheres to the basic norms of democracy is extremely challenging.... However, on this occasion, there is an obvious response to the concern that if Democrats pack the Court, Republicans will just pack in further in their favor at the next opportunity: Republicans are already packing the courts.... In that political context, for Democrats not to respond in kind is to commit political suicide." Read the whole post. --s ...

** "The Rigging of American Politics." Ezra Klein of Vox: "American politics is edging into an era of crisis. A constitutional system built to calm the tensions of America’s founding era is distorting the political competition between parties, making the country both less democratic and less Democratic.... It is not difficult to imagine an America where Republicans consistently win the presidency despite rarely winning the popular vote, where they control both the House and the Senate despite rarely winning more votes than the Democrats, where their dominance of the Supreme Court is unquestioned, and where all of this power is used to buttress a system of partisan gerrymandering and pro-corporate campaign finance laws and strict voter ID requirements and anti-union legislation that further weakens Democrats’ electoral performance.... If this seems outlandish, well, it simply describes the world we live in now, and assumes it continues forward.... How long will a Democratic coalition that has more numbers but less political power accept this system? And what will happen when they fight back?" safari: Very interesting article.

Donald Daters Doxes Doofuses. Zack Whittaker of Tech Crunch: "A new dating app for Trump supporters that wants to 'make America date again' has leaked its entire database of users — on the day of its launch. The app, called 'Donald Daters,' is aimed at 'American-based singles community connecting lovers, friends, and Trump supporters alike' and has already received rave reviews and coverage in Fox News, Daily Mail and The Hill. On its launch day alone, the app had a little over 1,600 users and counting.... Elliot Alderson, a French security researcher, shared the database with TechCrunch, which included users’ names, profile pictures, device type, their private messages — and access tokens, which can be used to take over accounts." Mrs. McC: My heart is not breaking.

Heather Murphy of the New York Times: "Curtis Rogers, 80, a retired businessman..., and John Olson, 67, a transportation engineer from Texas ... began [a genealogical database] as a side project, [which] has unintentionally upended how investigators across the country are trying to solve the coldest of cold cases. Within three years, the DNA of nearly every American of Northern European descent — the primary users of the site — will be identifiable through cousins in GEDmatch’s database, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Science.... [So far,] GEDmatch had provided essential clues leading to a suspect in a murder or sexual assault case [in 15 cold cases], starting with the arrest in April of Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer, for the rapes and murders committed across California in the 1970s and 1980s by the notorious Golden State Killer." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

Beyond the Beltway

Sunday
Oct142018

The Commentariat -- October 15, 2018

Afternoon Update:

"Rogue Killers." Trump Pushes New Conspiracy Theory. Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump said on Monday that he spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia and that the ruler denied any knowledge of what happened to a missing Saudi dissident journalist. After the call, Mr. Trump said it was possible that 'rogue killers' were behind the disappearance of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.... 'It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers — who knows,' Mr. Trump said. In introducing the possibility that another party could have been involved in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, the president opened a window for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to stand by their denials.... The president said the secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was traveling to Saudi Arabia later Monday morning to meet with King Salman.... Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in a Twitter post on Monday that he had heard the Saudis were pushing a 'rogue killers' theory and called it 'extraordinary' that the kingdom was able to get the president on board." Mrs. McC: A 400-pound man from New Jersey maybe? ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Two overlapping things of widely divergent importance happened Monday morning that bring into clear relief President Trump’s double standard on the proof he demands on political issues. The first was his response to a question about the missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.... 'I just spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia, and he denies any knowledge of what took place with regards to, as he said, to Saudi Arabia’s citizen,' Trump said while talking to reporters Monday morning. 'He firmly denies that.'... In each case — Saudi Arabia, Russia, [Roy] Moore, climate change, [Brett] Kavanaugh — there is reason to believe, if to varying degrees, that the allegations [that Trump finds inconvenient] have merit. Trump, though, seizes on any tiny argument to reject them.... [MEANWHILE.] Trump has increasingly disparaged [Elizabeth] Warren, a likely (if not probable) Democratic candidate. Among the assertions he had made is that Warren — who[m] he disparagingly calls 'Pocahontas' — should have to conduct a DNA test to prove her heritage. In July, he even offered to give $1 million to charity were she to do so. When he learned Monday morning that she had, his response was curt: 'Who cares?' He also denied having offered to give $1 million to charity, despite his saying it at a campaign rally.... For Trump’s opponents, any offered proof is flawed, incomplete or insufficient. For his allies, any offered evidence is robust and more than enough.” Bump invokes the imaginary 400-pound guy, too, as well as Obama's birth certificate. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Warren should be demanding her $1MM loudly & often. She could donate it to Snopes. Update: Madeleine Aggeler of New York: "After the Globe published the results of her test, Warren tweeted at the president asking him to make his donation to the National Indigenous Woman’s Resource Center." That's good, too. ...

 

 

Jonathan Chait: "In his interview with 60 Minutes last night, President Trump made a number of self-incriminating comments about Russia. He downplayed Russia’s certain role in conducting assassinations to a mere 'probability,' defending his skepticism by saying, weirdly, 'I rely on them, it’s not in our country.'... The most revealing statement he made was when asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election.... The question [was] about Russian election interference in 2016. Trump turn[ed] it into a diatribe about China.... [An] official rollout of the new Cold War posture [highlighted by a mike pence speech & a Wall Street Journal feature story] was supposed to give Trump’s hard-line stance the patina of legitimacy. But the 60 Minutes interview gives the game away. Trump is bringing up China in response to questions about Russia. The whole point of the exercise is to supply his supporters with a talking point they can use to wave away the ever-growing pile of damning evidence. The answer is to the Russia story is now, 'What about China?'”

A New York Times video op-ed by Jason Stanley:

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: No, it isn't true that the Founding Fathers favored "minority rule" & baked it into the Constitution for the good of future wingers. "... key voices [like James Madison & Benjamin Franklin] anticipated the problems the Senate might pose for governance and democratic representation. That future Americans, to whom the Framers entrusted the republic and its maintenance, might seek reform to solve those problems is not an attack on the intent of the Constitution. It is in keeping with the debates around its creation.... Calls to transform the Senate, or create new states, or even 'pack the court' aren’t attacks on norms; they are Americans doing the hard work of crafting a democracy that works for them, of taking seriously the idea that the Constitution exists for us, not us for the Constitution." Thanks to PD Pepe for the link. See also David Leonhardt's column, linked below.

Heather Murphy of the New York Times: "Curtis Rogers, 80, a retired businessman..., and John Olson, 67, a transportation engineer from Texas ... began [a genealogical database] as a side project, [which] has unintentionally upended how investigators across the country are trying to solve the coldest of cold cases. Within three years, the DNA of nearly every American of Northern European descent — the primary users of the site — will be identifiable through cousins in GEDmatch’s database, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Science.... [So far,] GEDmatch had provided essential clues leading to a suspect in a murder or sexual assault case [in 15 cold cases], starting with the arrest in April of Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer, for the rapes and murders committed across California in the 1970s and 1980s by the notorious Golden State Killer."

*****

Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump defied climate scientists, intelligence specialists and even his own defense secretary on Sunday evening, capping a week of freewheeling press engagements with a sprawling primetime network television interview in which he portrayed himself as an isolated but eminently empowered commander in chief.... The president ... dismissed the work of researchers studying increases in global temperature that could exacerbate natural disasters, purporting that 'they have a very big political agenda' and claiming that Earth’s climate 'could very well go back.'” ...

... Axios: "Trump was discursive — and often combative — while defending some of his administration's most controversial policies, including family separation at the border. He ended one particularly tense exchange with [Lesley] Stahl by reminding her, 'Lesley, it's okay. In the meantime, I'm president — and you're not.'" The report touches on some lowlights. ...  

     ... Mrs. McC: In case you haven't noticed, "I'm president -- and you're not" is a form of bullying, it's insulting, and it's a logical fallacy: an argument from authority (or, more correctly, from false authority, since Trump knows nothing AND lies). Of course it's no wonder Trump was rude to Stahl throughout the interview; she is, after all, an "impolite, arrogant woman." In Trump's view, an "interview" is a tête-à-tête wherein a male journalist asks him how he got to be so great. ...

... Sarah Burris of the Raw Story: "Stahl was baffled by the friendship [Trump & Kim Jong-Un] shared. 'He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation. Reports that he had his half-brother assassinated. Slave labor. Public executions. This is a guy you love?' she asked. 'I’m not a baby. I know these things,' Trump snapped." ...

... Trump's Dictator Buddies Can Assassinate Opponents as Long as They Don't Do It in the U.S. Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "President Trump said he believes that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin 'probably' has been involved in assassinations and poisonings, but he appeared to dismiss the gravity of those actions, noting that they have not taken place in the United States. 'Probably he is, yeah. Probably,' Trump told CBS’s Lesley Stahl when asked during an interview on '60 Minutes' whether he thinks Putin is involved 'in assassinations, in poisonings.' 'But I rely on them; it’s not in our country,' Trump added.” In the interview, Trump also credited himself for getting Brett Kavanaugh across the finish line, which he claims he did by mocking Christine Blasey Ford at a campaign rally. He also claimed he didn't really make fun of her. Mrs. McC: Yes, actually, he did. ...

... Michael Shear & Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the New York Times: "President Trump, who once called Defense Secretary Jim Mattis 'one of the most effective generals that we’ve had in many, many decades,' has now affixed a more ominous label to the retired four-star Marine general: 'Democrat.' In a '60 Minutes' interview broadcast on CBS on Sunday night, Mr. Trump grouped his own defense secretary in with the political party that the president now describes at every turn as 'an angry, left-wing mob' bent on destroying the country. 'I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,' Mr. Trump said. But the president added that he did not know whether Mr. Mattis would be the next major departure from his administration.... 'He may leave,' Mr. Trump said of Mr. Mattis, though he called him 'a good guy' and insisted that the two men still had 'a very good relationship.'” ...

... Video & a transcript of the interview is here. ...

Painting by Andy Thomas.... Maxwell Tani & Tracy Connor of the Daily Beast: "President Trump’s latest addition to White House decor is a kitschy fantasy painting that shows him relaxing with Republican presidents of the past — an update to a best-selling image commonly found in tourist gift shops and online galleries. The artwork, 'The Republican Club' by Andy Thomas, could be seen in the background of a photo tweeted by 60 Minutes, which aired an interview with Trump on Sunday night. It shows a slimmed-down Trump sandwiched between Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, directly across from Abraham Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes are also in the imaginary scene.... Some ... amateur art critics ... said it looked like the political version of the famous 'dogs playing poker' painting.... Thomas told The Daily Beast that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a fan of the artist’s work, gave the print to Trump. 'He had actually given a me real gracious call to tell me how much he liked it,' Thomas said of Trump. 'He was very complimentary. He made a comment that he’d seen a lot of paintings of himself and he rarely liked them.'” ...

    ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Could be because "a lot of portrait artists" paint their subjects somewhat as they are, not 75 pounds lighter & sans the fake tan & white goggles. Note that President Tacky hung not a painting, as the report states, but a print of the painting. Presidents Grant, Taft, Hoover, Harding & Coolidge (and maybe others) appear in the background.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man with orange hair.
I asked him please to let me pass,
But as I did he grabbed my ass.
I tried to slap him; this I swear,
Yet when I did, he wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away...

     -- With apologies to Hughes Mearns ...

... The Man Who Isn't There. Todd Purdum of The Atlantic: "It is a poignant paradox of Donald Trump’s ubiquitous presidency — all tweets, all the time — that a leader who prides himself as omnipresent in digital public discourse is so often absent from national life in the hundred human ways in which the country has come to expect its presidents to perform.... But think about it: Have we ever seen Trump play catch with his own 12-year-old son, Barron? Without question, the president dotes on his children, especially his daughter, Ivanka. But he's an absentee father to the nation, or at least a majority of the nation.... This reality is striking, and sad: When it comes to those personal rituals of the modern presidency that Americans have long since taken for granted, Donald J. Trump is the man who isn’t there.... Trump doesn’t offer ready consolation in moments of national tragedy.... Trump is just as challenged in celebrating happy occasions." --s

Victoria Fleisher & Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "Donald Trump does not like to be criticized. When he is attacked — or even when he thinks he might have been attacked — he tends to fire back in the same way each time: with smears and vague aspersions. On Thursday, his former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn was the latest recipient of his apparent defamation.... [When] told by his friends at Fox News during his latest Fox & Friends phone call that Cohn might have been a source of recent negative stories about his administration, Trump had nothing nice to say. 'It could have been. A lot of people have said that, you know, Gary Cohn. And I could tell stories about him like you wouldn’t believe.'... The tactic of suggesting — with no evidence — that Trump has embarrassing stories to tell about someone in his crosshairs is one Trump uses a lot." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Where's Pompeo? Mrs. McCrabbie: The foreign ministers of the UK, France & Germany issued a joint statement expressing "grave concern" about the disappearance of journalist & dissident Jamal Khashoggi, & calling for a "credible investigation." Khashoggi is/was a U.S. resident who worked for the Washington Post. One would think our own "foreign minister" would be just as concerned as are our close allies. But no. ...

... Loveday Morris of the Washington Post: "Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it rejects 'threats' and political pressure over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul, a day after President Trump said there would be 'severe punishment' if Saudi Arabia is found to have killed the Washington Post Global Opinions columnist. Threatening to impose economic sanctions and repeating 'false accusations' will not undermine the country’s standing, said the statement on Saudi Arabia’s official press agency, which quoted an 'official source.' The kingdom’s government and people are 'as glorious and steadfast as ever,' it said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post revisit the "carefully cultivated..., close partnership between [Jared Kushner and] Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Kushner has championed as a reformer poised to usher the ultraconservative, oil-rich monarchy into modernity." Mrs. McC: So far MBS's big reform has been allowing Saudi women to drive, but that's not much of a big deal when you consider that he has jailed the activist women who petitioned the government for this & other fundamental human rights. ...

... Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post: "The murders [of journalists] are the consequence of the clash between a 21st century technological revolution, which has made it possible to obtain and spread information in new ways, and a 21st century offshore banking revolution, which has made it possible to steal money in new ways, to hide it in new ways and to use it to maintain power.... Often, it is journalists, especially investigative journalists, who are caught in the fault lines between them.... [Before the advent of the Internet, governments] could effectively silence a critic through censorship or exile.... Precisely because we now live in a global information network, the death of a single journalist could usefully frighten the rest — not only in one country but around the world."

Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: "The top issue on every Sunday news show should have been — but wasn’t — climate change. The United Nations released last Monday a report arguing that world leaders’ pledge to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius is too modest, and that they have about a decade to get on track.... 'I’m not denying any climate change issues,' White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday’s 'This Week' with George Stephanopoulos. Then he denied one of the most uncontroversial findings in climate science.... 'How much of it is man-made, how much of it is solar, how much of it is oceanic, how much of it is rainforest and other issues? I think we’re still exploring all of that.' In fact, scientists have explored the question.... The answer continues to be an unequivocal 'no.'... Kudlow’s real objection ... is that listening to the experts would force leaders to make changes that are 'way, way too difficult.'... So burn away, and enjoy the climate while it lasts! This fatalism is deeply immoral.... In the long term, the 71-year-old Kudlow will be dead, and the rest of us will suffer the consequences of the hard facts he and the rest of this administration refused to acknowledge.” ...

... Feckless. Alex Ward of Vox: "The head of the US National Guard [Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel], one of the top military officers in charge of responding to hurricanes and other disasters affecting the United States, claims he does not know why the climate is changing. What’s more, he has yet to discuss the threat climate change poses to Americans with President Donald Trump.... One of Lengyel’s aides told me after the session that no one had prepared the general for questions about climate change beforehand." --safari (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)...

Watch a succession of some of the most spineless, irresponsible politicians to ever occupy office, and the takeover of sanity by the oil lobby and its paid minions. --s

... Mrs. McCrabbie: I never copy an entire story I link, even when the story is short, as that would violate copyright laws. But there's an exception to every rule. Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator & elegant writer, has written an essay for this week's edition titled, "What's Is Donald Trump's Response to the U.N.'s Dire Climate Report." Here's her column in full: "undefined

Phil Helsel of NBC News: "... Donald Trump suggested on Saturday that he believes the controversial policy of family separations could continue in the United States and that the practice could dissuade immigrants from entering the country illegally." Mrs. McC: As we've noted before, there is no evidence that harsh immigration policies deter immigrants. Moreover, most of those seeking asylum are not coming here "illegally." BTW, do see Sarah Stillman's New Yorker article, linked below, on how Trump's administration is coercing five-year-olds into signing away their legal rights. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Making America Mean Again. E.J. Dionne: "In the madness of the Trump era, terrible things happen with almost no notice.... A good example is the administration’s decision last month to slash the number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States next year to 30,000, down from the already shamefully low level of 45,000. The new figure is the lowest ceiling imposed on the refugee program since it was created in 1980.... In all circumstances, the move would be shortsighted, mean, politically opportunistic and embarrassingly out of line with what we have always claimed our values are. But it is even more cruel and wrongheaded now, as the world confronts what Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) called the 'worst refugee crisis since World War II.'... Trumpian Republicanism means turning away from basic decency in the name of politically motivated attacks on newcomers to our shores.... Can anyone honestly believe that this makes America great?”

White Power. Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones: "Under President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, white Americans are the big winners, and the existing wealth gap between them and minority households will continue to grow. That’s the conclusion of a new report released this week on the racial implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.... The report, from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and the nonprofit Prosperity Now, is the first quantitative analysis of its kind.... [T]he authors conclude the law will 'supercharge' existing racial disparities in wealth 'to an alarming extent.'... The authors found that nearly 80 percent of the $275 billion in tax cuts to individual households will go to white families — even though whites make up just two-thirds of taxpayers. In dollar terms, white families will get about $218 billion in tax cuts, while black households will see about $14 billion and Latinos about $18 billion." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

** White Power, Ctd. David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "The biggest racial preferences in this country ... have to do with political power. And they benefit white Americans, at the expense of black, Asian and Hispanic Americans. These racial preferences are the ones that dictate the makeup of the United States Senate.... The Senate gives considerably more representation to white citizens than to dark-skinned ones. It allows a minority of Americans — white Americans — to wield the power of a majority.... The states whose populations have grown the most over time ... are racially diverse. By contrast, the smallest states ... tend to be overwhelmingly white.... Right now, about four million American citizens have almost no congressional voting power.... Of these four million people — these citizens denied representative democracy — more than 90 percent are black or Hispanic. They are, of course, the residents of Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Almost half of Washington’s residents are black, and nearly all of Puerto Rico’s are Hispanic. It’s time fix this inequity and to make Washington and Puerto Rico the 51st and 52nd states, with full representation in the Senate and the House.... To do so, Congress would need to pass a bill, and the president would need to sign it."

of the Los Angeles Times: "A company owned by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s in-laws won more than $7 million in no-bid and other federal contracts at U.S. military installations and other government properties in California based on a dubious claim of Native American identity by McCarthy’s brother-in-law, a Times investigation has found.The prime contracts, awarded through a federal program designed to help disadvantaged minorities, were mostly for construction projects at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in McCarthy’s Bakersfield-based district, and the Naval Air Station Lemoore in nearby Kings County.... [McCarthy's brother-in-law William] Wages says he is one-eighth Cherokee. An examination of government and tribal records by The Times and a leading Cherokee genealogist casts doubt on that claim, however. He is a member of a group called the Northern Cherokee Nation, which has no federal or state recognition as a legitimate tribe. It is considered a fraud by leaders of tribes that have federal recognition...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

George Packer of the New Yorker reports on a newly-released study of tribalism in American politics. Mrs. McC: His analysis of the steps of Republican "progress" toward extreme tribalism, BTW, is exactly the progression I would have described, with the exception of the Helms-Cruz continuum, which hadn't occurred to me & which I'm not sure is warranted. Whether Helms or DeLay or Jim Jordan, one is as awful as the next.

Election 2018

North Dakota. Burgess Everett of Politico: "Republicans say they’re on the cusp of delivering a knockout blow to North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp — and virtually ending Democrats’ hopes of winning the Senate. Heitkamp is down in public polls by a significant margin, and most political handicappers think Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) is the favorite to beat her. If she goes down, Democrats would basically have to run the table in every other battleground race to take the chamber. Republicans have had Heitkamp losing by double digits in their private polling for weeks, according to a GOP strategist working on Senate races. Democrats argue the race is closer but acknowledge she is down even in their polling, after her vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you live in North Dakota, please vote for Heitkamp, even though she is a DINO. Besides, Cramer has no redeeming qualities. At all.

Viriginia. Nathalie Baptiste of Mother Jones: "The Republican Party of Virginia just released a new attack ad claiming that Leslie Cockburn, the Democrat running for Congress in Virginia’s 5th congressional district, 'hates America.'... It states that Cockburn 'hates' military veterans, Israel, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency tasked with deportation and other immigration matters.... Cockburn, a former investigative journalist and producer on CBS’ 60 Minutes, is running against Republican Denver Riggleman, a veteran of the US Air Force and a business owner." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

** Iowa. Des Moines Register Editors: "Some have argued that this election should be a referendum on President TrumpWe disagree. This is about Congress, which has abdicated much of its constitutional duty and has failed to provide a check and balance to the executive branch.  Not only has the party failed to act as a check on the president, key Republicans have been complicit in trying to obstruct and undermine the investigation of a foreign power’s interference in a U.S. election. And by their silence they have tacitly endorsed the president’s racism, misogyny, white nationalism, divisiveness and crudity ... the party needs to be voted out of power[.] --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** In the paper's endorsement for J.D. Scholten [D] over Steve King [R-acist], it notes, "This one’s a no-brainer for any Iowan who has cringed at eight-term incumbent King’s increasing obsession with being a cultural provocateur. In his almost 16 years in Congress, King has passed exactly one bill as primary sponsor, redesignating a post office. He won’t debate his opponent and rarely holds public town halls. Instead, he spends his time meeting with fascist leaders in Europe and retweeting neo-Nazis." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Arizona. Ronald Hansen of the Arizona Republic: "Republican U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko has agreed to take down campaign signs falsely asserting her Democratic opponent, Hiral Tipirneni, is a 'fake doctor' after a medical group that backed Lesko pressed her on the issue. The reversal comes days after Tipirneni, a licensed physician and cancer-research advocate, strongly pushed back on the signs, calling Lesko's tactics 'despicable' in a meeting Thursday with the editorial board of The Arizona Republic. Lesko relented after ARMPAC, the Arizona Medical Political Action Committee, which has endorsed her, told Lesko in a meeting they viewed the 'campaign signs as an insult to the medical profession, discounting the education and training required of physicians to become licensed and credentialed.' The group said Lesko agreed to take down the signs afterward. ARMPAC maintained its Lesko endorsement." Mrs. McC: Really? The organization should rename itself the Arizona Medical Political Idiots Team, or ARMPIT. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Georgia. Amy Wang of the Washington Post: "An attempted conversation between a Georgia Tech student and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) ended abruptly with the lawmaker snatching the student’s cellphone away while he was being asked about possible voter suppression in the state. The senator’s office has said the exchange ... was a misunderstanding. On Saturday, a student member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America at Georgia Tech approached Perdue, who was visiting the Atlanta campus to campaign for Brian Kemp. Kemp, a Republican and Georgia’s secretary of state, is locked in a tight gubernatorial race with Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state lawmaker. The race attracted additional scrutiny this week after the Associated Press reported that more than 53,000 voter registration applications were in limbo with Kemp’s office; the overwhelming majority of those applications are for African American and other minority voters, according to an AP analysis." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The First Amendment, among others, gets short shrift in Jim Crow's Georgia.


Election 2020. Matt Viser
of the Washington Post: "During the past six months, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has built a shadow war room designed to elect Democrats across the country in the midterm elections, overtaking some of the traditional duties of Democratic Party campaign committees and further positioning herself for an all-but-certain 2020 presidential bid. Her effort, which goes far beyond the fundraising and endorsement speeches in which prospective presidential candidates typically engage, has encompassed work in all 50 states and close coordination with more than 150 campaigns. The result is a wide-ranging network.... It is unmistakably aimed at some of the early-primary states that Warren would need to contest in a presidential campaign. She has deployed staffers to all four early primary states — two to New Hampshire and one each to Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada — as well as to traditional powerhouses such as Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Please, can we not have another preordained Democratic nominee for president? The last one was a disaster. ...

... CBS/AP: "Senator Elizabeth Warren has released the results  of a DNA test reportedly showing she does have Native American ancestry, increasing speculation she may run for president in 2020. The analysis was done by Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamante, who is an expert in the field. It shows most of Warren’s ancestry is European, but a Native American relative appears in her family tree 6 to 10 generations ago." Mrs. McC: This part of the report is inaccurate: "Warren’s has said that her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was at least partially Native American. That would make Warren 1/32nd Native American. But if her ancestor is 10 generations back, that could mean she’s just 1/512th Native American, according to the report." Actually, no, you lunkheads. If, as Warren has said, O.C. Sarah Smith was "at least partially Native American," then Warren would be up to 1/32nd Native American. But any dilution in Smith's Native American heritage would pass to Warren; that is, if Smith were, say, half-Native American, Warren would be 1/64th Native American. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: One of the most disgusting things about Republicans (and there are so many!) is the way in which they demand Democrats defend not just their policies past & present or their past behavior, but also who they are. So despite all the evidence that President Obama was born in Hawaii -- his own statements, his short-form birth certificate, a 1961 birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser, etc. -- he still had to provide an extraordinary long-form birth certificate, & even that didn't shut up the stupidest, most virulent birthers (like Trump). However, never before has a potential candidate had to produce a DNA test to prove who she was.


Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Michael Corkery
of the New York Times: "Sears, which more than a century ago pioneered the strategy of selling everything to everyone, filed for bankruptcy protection early on Monday. The company had long ago given up its mantle as a retail innovator. It was overtaken first by big box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot and then, by Amazon as the go-to shopping destinations for clothing, tools and appliances. In the last decade, Sears had been run by a hedge fund manager, Edward S. Lampert, who sold off many of the company’s valuable properties and brands but failed to develop a winning strategy to entice consumers who increasingly shopped online.The result has been a long painful decline. A decade ago, the company employed 302,000. Today, there are about 68,000 people working at Sears and Kmart, which Mr. Lampert also runs." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The sad part is that Sears pioneered all of the elements that work for Amazon & the big box stores. They have an online presence today, analogous to their famous catalogs. And, even better than Amazon (but like WalMart & Home Depot), customers can pick up their online purchases at Sears retail stores. I've done it. Recently.

Tracy Connor of The Daily Beast: "In her second day on the job, the new head of USA Gymnastics apologized for a month-old tweet that angered the sport’s biggest star, Simone Biles. 'I regret the post,' former congresswoman Mary Bono [R-Calif.] said late Saturday as the sports federation was plunged into yet another round of turmoil that pitted athletes against executives. The tweet in question showed Bono using a marker to cover up the swoosh on her golf shoes a few days after Nike launched an advertising campaign that featured ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.... Nike was a sponsor of the 2016 Summer Games, where Biles won four gold medals and earned her reputation as the greatest gymnast in history.... It did not escape notice that Bono’s September tweet was apparently taking a swipe at an athlete who chose to express his views — and that the gymnasts have complained they were silenced when they spoke up about abuse." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Ashley Southall & Tyler Pager of the New York Times: "A brawl outside a Republican club in Manhattan involving a far-right group and anti-fascist activists spurred calls over the weekend for an investigation into the violence and whether the police handled it properly. Some Democratic politicians, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, also criticized the club for inviting the founder of the far-right group, the Proud Boys. Mr. Cuomo said he has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the violence that accompanied Friday’s appearance at the Metropolitan Republican Club by Gavin McInnes, a right-wing provocateur. He also assigned a State Police hate crimes unit to assist with the New York Police Department’s investigation of the fighting, which he linked to President Trump." ...

... Nidhi Prakash & Tanya Chen of BuzzFeed News: "Leaders of a Manhattan political club that was once the archetype of moderate Republicanism say they stand behind the decision to invite the founder of a far-right men’s group as police investigate violence by and against his group after his speech at their clubhouse Friday night. The Metropolitan Republican Club advertised Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes’s appearance as an opportunity to see McInnes reenact the samurai sword assassination of Japanese socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma. In a Facebook post, the club called the Proud Boys founder the 'Godfather of the Hipster Movement [who] has taken on and exposed the Deep State Socialists and stood up for Western Values.'... Friday’s events offer a microcosm of the disorienting speed of change inside the Republican Party in the age of Trump, as emboldened extremist groups take traditional Republican and American political institutions by storm.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Excuse me? You invite the founder of a hate group to glorify the assassination of a politician & you find that defensible? "'... we are staunch supporters of the 1st Amendment,' club officials said in a statement on Sunday night. 'We want to foster civil discussion, but never endorse violence. Gavin’s talk on Friday night, while at times was politically incorrect and a bit edgy, was certainly not inciting violence.'” The First Amendment, you dimwits, guarantees that the government cannot abridge free speech (except in certain circumstances, um, like incitement to violence), not that private organizations -- such as political clubs -- must let every insane voice be heard. And to say that someone who was extolling the murder of a political figure was "not inciting violence" is absurd. You advertised his incitement to violence, for pete's sake. If McInnes had tried this same stunt in the public square, he would have been arrested. Your club protected McInnes from the consequences of his bad act, an act that exemplifies a First Amendment exception. Idiots!

Built for the Big One. Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times: The fury of Hurricane Michael spared only one house on a beachfront block of Mexico Beach, Florida: a house built last year to construction standards far higher than Florida's building code requires.

Way Beyond

Anna Jean Kaiser of the Guardian: "Over the course of a 30-year political career, [Jair] Bolsonaro has earned notoriety from his sexist remarks, once telling a fellow lawmaker she didn’t even 'deserve' being raped and more recently saying he wouldn’t pay women the same salary as men. In 2013, he called the secretary of women’s policy a 'big dyke'. During the impeachment of the country’s first female president, he dedicated his vote to the dictatorship colonel who had overseen her torture.... Many pollsters had presumed that Bolsonaro’s misogyny had created a natural limit to his share of the women’s vote, but in the final stages of the campaign, that expectation has shattered.... According to polls before the fragmented first round of 13 candidates, Bolsonaro was the most popular candidate among women, with 27% of the vote. The latest poll for the runoff election says he has roughly 42% of the female electorate." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Juan Cole: "An appeals court in the Netherlands has upheld a 2015 lower court ruling in a class action case that the Dutch government needs to do more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. So far the Netherlands has only reduced 13% from 1990 levels. The court appealed to the principle that the government must attend to the welfare of citizens, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Reuters: "City authorities in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, have renamed the street where the new US embassy is being built 'Malcolm X Avenue', after the civil rights leader, state media reported. The move coincides with a period of fraught relations between Turkey and the US and comes after other politically charged name changes to streets in Ankara.... Malcolm X remains a divisive figure in US history and Ankara’s move will likely be received negatively by critics who say he stirred racist and anti-American sentiment." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

Saturday
Oct132018

The Commentariat -- October 14, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Phil Helsel of NBC News: "... Donald Trump suggested on Saturday that he believes the controversial policy of family separations could continue in the United States and that the practice could dissuade immigrants from entering the country illegally." Mrs. McC: As we've noted before, there is no evidence that harsh immigration policies deter immigrants. Moreover, most of those seeking asylum are not coming here "illegally." BTW, do see Sarah Stillman's New Yorker article, linked below, on how Trump's administration is coercing five-year-olds into signing away their legal rights.

Victoria Fleisher & Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "When [Donald Trump] is attacked -- or even when he thinks he might have been attacked -- he tends to fire back in the same way each time: with smears and vague aspersions. On Thursday, his former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn was the latest recipient of his apparent defamation.... [When] told by his friends at Fox News during his latest Fox & Friends phone call that Cohn might have been a source of recent negative stories about his administration, Trump had nothing nice to say. 'It could have been. A lot of people have said that, you know, Gary Cohn. And I could tell stories about him like you wouldn't believe.'... The tactic of suggesting -- with no evidence -- that Trump has embarrassing stories to tell about someone in his crosshairs is one Trump uses a lot." --s

Where's Pompeo? Mrs. McCrabbie: The foreign ministers of the UK, France & Germany issued a joint statement expressing "grave concern" about the disappearance of journalist & dissident Jamal Khashoggi, & calling for a "credible investigation." Khashoggi is/was a U.S. resident who worked for the Washington Post. One would think our own "foreign minister" would be just as concerned as are our close allies. But no. ...

... Loveday Morris of the Washington Post: "Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it rejects 'threats' and political pressure over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul, a day after President Trump said there would be 'severe punishment' if Saudi Arabia is found to have killed the Washington Post Global Opinions columnist. Threatening to impose economic sanctions and repeating 'false accusations' will not undermine the country's standing, said the statement on Saudi Arabia's official press agency, which quoted an 'official source.' The kingdom's government and people are 'as glorious and steadfast as ever,' it said."

Feckless. Alex Ward of Vox: "The head of the US National Guard [Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel], one of the top military officers in charge of responding to hurricanes and other disasters affecting the United States, claims he does not know why the climate is changing. What's more, he has yet to discuss the threat climate change poses to Americans with President Donald Trump.... One of Lengyel's aides told me after the session that no one had prepared the general for questions about climate change beforehand." --safari

White Power. Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones: "Under President Donald Trump's tax cuts, white Americans are the big winners, and the existing wealth gap between them and minority households will continue to grow. That's the conclusion of a new report released this week on the racial implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.... The report, from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and the nonprofit Prosperity Now, is the first quantitative analysis of its kind.... [T]he authors conclude the law will 'supercharge' existing racial disparities in wealth 'to an alarming extent.'... The authors found that nearly 80 percent of the $275 billion in tax cuts to individual households will go to white families -- even though whites make up just two-thirds of taxpayers. In dollar terms, white families will get about $218 billion in tax cuts, while black households will see about $14 billion and Latinos about $18 billion." --s

Chief Crook-in-the-House. Paul Pringle & Adam Elmahrek of the Los Angeles Times: "A company owned by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's in-laws won more than $7 million in no-bid and other federal contracts at U.S. military installations and other government properties in California based on a dubious claim of Native American identity by McCarthy's brother-in-law, a Times investigation has found. The prime contracts, awarded through a federal program designed to help disadvantaged minorities, were mostly for construction projects at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in McCarthy's Bakersfield-based district, and the Naval Air Station Lemoore in nearby Kings County.... [McCarthy's brother-in-law William] Wages says he is one-eighth Cherokee. An examination of government and tribal records by The Times and a leading Cherokee genealogist casts doubt on that claim, however. He is a member of a group called the Northern Cherokee Nation, which has no federal or state recognition as a legitimate tribe. It is considered a fraud by leaders of tribes that have federal recognition...."

Election 2018. Viriginia. Nathalie Baptiste of Mother Jones: "The Republican Party of Virginia just released a new attack ad claiming that Leslie Cockburn, the Democrat running for Congress in Virginia's 5th congressional district, 'hates America.'... It states that Cockburn 'hates' military veterans, Israel, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency tasked with deportation and other immigration matters.... Cockburn, a former investigative journalist and producer on CBS' 60 Minutes, is running against Republican Denver Riggleman, a veteran of the US Air Force and a business owner." --s

** Election 2018. Iowa. Des Moines Register Editors: "Some have argued that this election should be a referendum on President Trump. We disagree. This is about Congress, which has abdicated much of its constitutional duty and has failed to provide a check and balance to the executive branch. Not only has the party failed to act as a check on the president, key Republicans have been complicit in trying to obstruct and undermine the investigation of a foreign power's interference in a U.S. election. And by their silence they have tacitly endorsed the president's racism, misogyny, white nationalism, divisiveness and crudity ... the party needs to be voted out of power[.] --s ...

... ** In the paper's endorsement for J.D. Scholten [D] over Steve King [R-acist], it notes, "This one's a no-brainer for any Iowan who has cringed at eight-term incumbent King's increasing obsession with being a cultural provocateur. In his almost 16 years in Congress, King has passed exactly one bill as primary sponsor, redesignating a post office. He won't debate his opponent and rarely holds public town halls. Instead, he spends his time meeting with fascist leaders in Europe and retweeting neo-Nazis." --s

Election 2018. Arizona. Ronald Hansen of the Arizona Republic: "Republican U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko has agreed to take down campaign signs falsely asserting her Democratic opponent, Hiral Tipirneni, is a 'fake doctor' after a medical group that backed Lesko pressed her on the issue. The reversal comes days after Tipirneni, a licensed physician and cancer-research advocate, strongly pushed back on the signs, calling Lesko's tactics 'despicable' in a meeting Thursday with the editorial board of The Arizona Republic. Lesko relented after ARMPAC, the Arizona Medical Political Action Committee, which has endorsed her, told Lesko in a meeting they viewed the 'campaign signs as an insult to the medical profession, discounting the education and training required of physicians to become licensed and credentialed.' The group said Lesko agreed to take down the signs afterward. ARMPAC maintained its Lesko endorsement." Mrs. McC: Really? The group should rename itself the Arizona Medical Political Idiots Team, or ARMPIT.

Tracy Connor of The Daily Beast: "In her second day on the job, the new head of USA Gymnastics apologized for a month-old tweet that angered the sport's biggest star, Simone Biles. 'I regret the post,' former congresswoman Mary Bono [R-Calif.] said late Saturday as the sports federation was plunged into yet another round of turmoil that pitted athletes against executives. The tweet in question showed Bono using a marker to cover up the swoosh on her golf shoes a few days after Nike launched an advertising campaign that featured ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.... Nike was a sponsor of the 2016 Summer Games, where Biles won four gold medals and earned her reputation as the greatest gymnast in history.... It did not escape notice that Bono's September tweet was apparently taking a swipe at an athlete who chose to express his views -- and that the gymnasts have complained they were silenced when they spoke up about abuse." --s

Anna Jean Kaiser of the Guardian: "Over the course of a 30-year political career, [Jair] Bolsonaro has earned notoriety from his sexist remarks, once telling a fellow lawmaker she didn't even 'deserve' being raped and more recently saying he wouldn't pay women the same salary as men. In 2013, he called the secretary of women's policy a 'big dyke'. During the impeachment of the country's first female president, he dedicated his vote to the dictatorship colonel who had overseen her torture.... Many pollsters had presumed that Bolsonaro's misogyny had created a natural limit to his share of the women's vote, but in the final stages of the campaign, that expectation has shattered.... According to polls before the fragmented first round of 13 candidates, Bolsonaro was the most popular candidate among women, with 27% of the vote. The latest poll for the runoff election says he has roughly 42% of the female electorate." --s

Juan Cole: "An appeals court in the Netherlands has upheld a 2015 lower court ruling in a class action case that the Dutch government needs to do more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. So far the Netherlands has only reduced 13% from 1990 levels. The court appealed to the principle that the government must attend to the welfare of citizens, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights." --s

Reuters: "City authorities in Turkey's capital, Ankara, have renamed the street where the new US embassy is being built 'Malcolm X Avenue', after the civil rights leader, state media reported. The move coincides with a period of fraught relations between Turkey and the US and comes after other politically charged name changes to streets in Ankara.... Malcolm X remains a divisive figure in US history and Ankara's move will likely be received negatively by critics who say he stirred racist and anti-American sentiment." --s

*****

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "In excerpts of a new interview released Saturday morning, Trump said that the [disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi] is being investigated and that the Saudis deny any involvement, despite the mounting evidence that the Saudi regime was implicated in Khashoggi's disappearance on Oct. 2. 'Well, nobody knows yet, but we'll probably be able to find out,' Trump said in the interview with Lesley Stahl of CBS';s '60 Minutes,' which will air in full Sunday night. 'It's being investigated, it's being looked at very, very strongly. And we would be very upset and angry if that were the case. As of this moment, they deny it, and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes.' Speaking with reporters at the White House later Saturday, Trump reiterated that there would be 'very powerful' repercussions for Saudi Arabia should the United States determine that the kingdom is responsible for the death of Khashoggi, who wrote for The Post's Global Opinions section. But the president all but ruled out canceling $110 billion in U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, arguing that doing so would be 'very foolish for our country' and only end up harming U.S. defense industries and others." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Trump's claim he would take "very powerful" action against the Saudis is quite a turnaround from his rhetoric of just a day before. Evidently he noticed even members of his own party -- at least for now -- oppose assassinating journalists who work for American newspapers. As for the supposed arms deal, one would almost think Trump actually believes the Saudis' $110BB check is in the mail. It isn't. Even if it were, arms deals with countries that misuse arms -- like, say, for killing journalists -- are no reason to treat those countries with kid gloves. So, there's some other reason Trump is insisting on not cancelling a deal that isn't. (Again, I have no idea how one looks at something "very strongly.")

Nicholas Kristof: "... it's a disgrace that Trump administration officials and American business tycoons enabled and applauded M.B.S. as he imprisoned business executives, kidnapped Lebanon's prime minister, rashly created a crisis with Qatar, and went to war in Yemen to create what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis there. Some eight million Yemenis on the edge of starvation there don't share this bizarre view that M.B.S. is a magnificent reformer. Trump has expressed 'great confidence' in M.B.S. and said that he and King Salman 'know exactly what they are doing.' Jared Kushner wooed M.B.S. and built a close relationship with him -- communicating privately without involving State Department experts -- in ways that certainly assisted M.B.S. in his bid to consolidate power for himself." Read on. ...

... Meredith McGraw of ABC News: "... Donald Trump welcomed American Pastor Andrew Brunson to the White House on Saturday afternoon after he returned home from nearly two years of detention in Turkey." Mrs. McC: This was pretty much a campaign event posed as a miracle of international diplomacy. ...

... Stavros Agorakis of Vox: "After Pastor Andrew Brunson ... finished a prayer in the Oval Office for the president whose administration had brought him home..., Trump ... asked...,] 'Who did you vote for?' Amid the awkward, forced laughter that ensued, Trump turned to his Cabinet and added in a faux whisper, 'I knew the answer.' It's not clear whether the president was addressing Brunson, who had just returned safely to the United States after his release from Turkish detention, his wife who attended the Oval Office meeting by his side, or both."

Time for a Paper Towel Toss. Rebecca Morin of Politico: "... Donald Trump next week will visit Florida and Georgia, two states facing massive recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael." (Also linked yesterday.)

In an essay that should make you shudder, Spencer Ackerman of the Daily Beast points out how Donald Trump has echoed the anti-Semitic conspiracy tales promoted by those like the the Russian hackers behind DCLeaks, with financier & philanthropist George Soros as the bogeyman. "... the attack on Soros follows classic anti-Semitic templates, grimly recurrent throughout western history, and some of the most powerful geopolitical figures in the world are pushing it. But of course, Trump is not alone: "Nowhere has the attack on Soros been more geopolitically potent, or as clarifying, as in his native Hungary. The Hungarian strongman prime minister Viktor Orban, for months ahead of his April reelection, united anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to portray Soros as the string-puller behind a transformational Islamic invasion of Syrian migrants." AND, unbelievable though it may sound, Benjamin Natanyahu's goverment "wilfully averted its eyes from Orban's anti-Semitism."

Jesse Drucker & Emily Flitter of the New York Times: "Over the past decade, Jared Kushner's family company has spent billions of dollars buying real estate. His personal stock investments have soared. His net worth has quintupled to almost $324 million. And yet, for several years running, Mr. Kushner ... appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes, according to confidential financial documents reviewed by The New York Times. His low tax bills are the result of a common tax-minimizing maneuver that, year after year, generated millions of dollars in losses for Mr. Kushner, according to the documents. But the losses were only on paper -- Mr. Kushner and his company did not appear to actually lose any money. The losses were driven by depreciation, a tax benefit that lets real estate investors deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income every year. In 2015, for example, Mr. Kushner took home $1.7 million in salary and investment gains. But those earnings were swamped by $8.3 million of losses, largely because of 'significant depreciation' that Mr. Kushner and his company took on their real estate...." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jesse Drucker & Emily Flitter: "Jared Kushner has a net worth of almost $324 million, and his company has been profitable. But Mr. Kushner ... appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes for several years running, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times." Here's a step-by-step instruction sheet on how you too can avoid paying a fair share of (or perhaps any) federal taxes. (Also linked yesterday.)

Ewww! Vice Is Nice But Incest Is Best. Devon Ivie of New York: "Omarosa Manigault Newman ... used a chunk of her Real Time [with Bill Maher] appearance to recall some of the weird moments she witnessed between the President and his First Daughter. 'He would kiss her on the lips. He would rub her for a very long period of time,' she said. 'It was awkward.' He would also 'pat her on the behind' frequently, while Ivanka loved being referred to as 'Daddy's Little Girl.' (Her preferred way to introduce Trump to people? 'My daddy.')"

Carol Leonnig & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: ": "President Trump has chosen conservative Catholic activist and longtime Washington commercial lawyer Pat Cipollone as his next White House counsel to replace Donald McGahn, according to two people familiar with Trump's decision. Trump told Cipollone of his selection last week. Cipollone, who practices commercial litigation at Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner, is a well liked and respected among Trump's personal lawyers and had been informally advising them on the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections since at least June." (This is an update of a story linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sarah Stillman of the New Yorker: "The federal government detained Helen, a five-year-old from Honduras, "after the Trump administration announced it would halt the separation of immigrant families." Yes, but everything was okay, because the government got Helen to sign over her right to a bond hearing. "... the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters." Emphasis added. Mrs. McC: Insane monsters are running our country. Every time a Republican politician sanctimoniously utters the phrase "rule of law," he should be forced to sign over his right not to be immediately removed from office & jailed.

Mrs. McCrabbie: I didn't care for SNL's cold open featuring Trump & Kanye West, but this segment makes up for it. Really:

Election 2018

Jim Crow Rising. Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "In a few weeks, the citizens of Georgia won't just be casting ballots for their governor; they will be deciding the fate of their democracy.... The Associated Press reports that [Georgia Secretary of State & GOP goobernatorial nominee Brian] Kemp's office has stalled more than 53,000 applications for voter registration.... A total of 80 percent belong to blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans. These voters ran afoul of his office's 'exact match' system, which allows the state to put applications on hold for minor discrepancies between registration forms and official state records.... The discrepancies in question can amount to missing punctuation or small variations in spelling.... In 2016, civil rights groups filed suit against Kemp's office for the 'exact match' system, but in 2017, the Georgia Legislature passed a law codifying parts of that system.... [Kemp's] office has canceled more than 1.4 million voter registrations. In August, Kemp was pressured to back down from a proposal by a political ally to eliminate three-fourths of voting locations in a rural county made up of predominantly black voters, but he has still been able to close polling locations in a number of majority-black areas.... Soon after declaring that minority-voter registration threatened Republican chances, his office launched a criminal investigation into [Democratic opponent Stacey] Abrams' New Georgia Project for alleged registration fraud. She, and the organization, were cleared of all charges. Kemp, in other words..., has attempted to rig in his own favor." ...

... Rachel Maddow had a good segment Friday on Kemp's excellent job of screwing up the state's election system. Mrs. McC: Sorry, Georgia, but your secretary of state is openly corrupt, & there's a good chance you will elect him your corrupt governor. He is so Trumpy in so many ways.

Beyond the Beltway

Meet Some of Trump's "Very Fine People." Christopher Mathias of the Huffington Post: "Minutes after an event at a Manhattan Republican club meant to celebrate violence against leftists, attendees belonging to a proto-fascist, pro-Trump street gang reportedly pummeled three people on the sidewalk in Manhattan's Upper East Side while shouting homophobic slurs. Footage posted online by video journalist Sandi Bachom shows a group of men who appear to be Proud Boys -- a misogynistic and anti-Muslim fraternity known for committing acts of political violence across the country -- kicking and punching three apparent anti-fascist protesters as they lay prone on the sidewalk.... The violence occurred just minutes after roughly 30 apparent Proud Boys exited the Metropolitan Republican Club, the GOP's headquarters in New York City, where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes had been invited to give a speech. McInnes billed the event as an anniversary celebration to lionize a Japanese ultranationalist who assassinated the head of the Japanese Socialist Party with a sword on Oct. 12, 1960." ...

     ... Julia Reinstein & Stephanie Baer of BuzzFeed News: "Although New York Police Department officers being [were!] present at the time of the attack, none of the Proud Boys were [was!] arrested for the beatdown. [Verb form, people!] However, separately, three other protesters were arrested for attacking a person leaving the event. Police have not yet explained why there were no arrests made in the assault on the protesters, despite multiple inquiries by BuzzFeed News Saturday. The NYPD later released a statement saying that it was reviewing video and evidence to determine if additional crimes were committed."

... David Mack of BuzzFeed News: "Authorities in Savannah, Georgia, have their eyes out for whoever put, well, a pair of eyes on a historic statue in the city's downtown. 'Who did this?!' asked the city's official Facebook page after someone affixed the googly eyes on the monument to Revolutionary War commander Nathanael Greene, which stands in the city's Johnson Square. 'It may look funny but harming our historic monuments and public property is no laughing matter,' the city wrote. 'In fact, it's a crime.'" ...

... Some responses from horrified Americans:

I always wanted to visit Savannah, but now that I see how unsafe it is, no thanks. I'll consider it once they catch this psychopath. Is the FBI involved yet?

Turns out that I'm nowhere near white enough to be outraged by this.

Who is Nathaniel Greene? Never mind. I'll Googly him.

Don't vandal-eyes.

As for me, I wish the terrible criminals who did this had chosen a statue of one of the South's many that glorify traitors. Greene was an actual American hero who was, if Wikipedia is an accurate source, quite a good guy. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie