The Ledes

Thursday, August 25, 2016.

New York Times: The town of "Amatrice[, Italy,] was the worst hit by [a 6.2 earth]quake [Wednesday], which also damaged surrounding towns. As of Thursday morning, the deaths totaled at least 247, officials said. The story discribes the heartbreaking search for victims." -- CW  

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/weather/hurricane/article82198287.html#storylink=cpy" -- CW 
The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, August 24, 2016.

Washington Post: "Rescue workers scrambled to reach survivors buried under rubble in isolated towns and villages across central Italy on Wednesday after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks struck the region overnight, collapsing homes, rattling buildings as far away as Rome and Venice and leaving an escalating toll of dead and injured." -- CW ...

... Washington Post Update: "At least 159 people died in the quake, a death toll that could jump as search crews rake through the rubble in cities, towns and villages­ across the regions of Lazio, Umbria and the Marches. Hundreds were injured and missing. Thousands were left homeless." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

"Giovanni della Robbia’s 'Resurrection of Christ,' made for an entrance gate to the villa of the Antinori family outside Florence." Brooklyn Museum photo. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "One of the most innovative art-as-advertising firms in late-15th- and early-16th-century Florence was the della Robbia workshop, a family concern that prospered for three long-lived generations. Its specialty was a brand of glazed terra-cotta sculpture that was physically durable, graphically strong and technologically inimitable. (The exact methods for producing it remain a mystery to this day.)... The Museum of Fine Arts [in Boston is mounting] “Della Robbia: Sculpting With Color in Renaissance Florence”..., a show of ideal size and scholarly weight that includes among 46 pieces one of the tenderest Renaissance sculptures in existence — 'The Visitation' by Luca della Robbia — on first-time American loan from its Tuscan church."

Michelle & Barack -- The Movie. Richard Brody of the New Yorker reviews “Southside with You,” "a drama about Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date." Brody calls the film "a fully realized, intricately imagined, warmhearted, sharp-witted, and perceptive drama, one that sticks close to its protagonists while resonating quietly but grandly with the sweep of a historical epic." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Requiring longer passwords, known as passphrases, usually 16 to 64 characters long, is increasingly seen as a potential escape route from our painful push toward logins that only a cryptographer could love."

The New York Times features photos of the exteriors of Bill & Hillary Clinton's residences over the years.

Brian Hickey of the Philly Voice: When Leroy Black died at age 55, he got two obituaries in the Press of Atlantic City: " In the first obit, his 'loving wife, Bearetta Harrison Black' gets top survivor billing. In the second, however, Bearetta is nowhere to be found, but 'his long-tome (sic) girlfriend, Princess Hall' appears in her place. A man answering the phone at Greenidge Funeral Homes told PhillyVoice that the obituaries were placed separately because 'the wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way.'" ...

... CW: Kinda reminds me of the headstone a widow placed on her husband's grave in the Key West cemetery: "Harry, I Know Where You're Sleeping Tonight."

New York Times: "A surprisingly specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things has been generated by scientists who say that the likeness sheds considerable light on the mystery of how life first emerged on Earth. This venerable ancestor was a single-cell, bacterium-like organism. But it has a grand name, or at least an acronym. It is known as Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old."

Ian Crouch of the New Yorker: "For a few days, at least, [Stephen] Colbert abandoned the political equanimity that he’d adopted when he started his 'Late Night' job." BTW, here's Laura Benanti's segment:

Washington Post: "Benny" (for Ben Franklin), the mystery philanthropist of Salem, Oregon, has given away more than $55,000 in $100 bills, which s/he hides in odd places like "pockets of clothing, in diapers, in baby wipes and in candy." -- CW 

Jumping Jupiter! New York Times: "Ducking through intense belts of violent radiation as it skimmed over the clouds of Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally clinched its spot on Monday in the orbit of the solar system’s largest planet. It took five years for Juno to travel this far on its $1.1 billion mission, and the moment was one that NASA scientists and space enthusiasts had eagerly — and anxiously — anticipated. At 11:53 p.m., Eastern time, a signal from the spacecraft announced the end of a 35-minute engine burn that left it in the grip of its desired orbit around Jupiter." -- CW ...

... Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post has more on the importance of the mission. CW: This, BTW, is another fine example of your government actually at work.

New York Times: "Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” signed off the air for good on Saturday evening [July 2], after 42 seasons, as millions of listeners, many in their cars on a holiday weekend, tuned in via public radio. With the exception of a telephone call from President Obama, the show, which was recorded Friday at the Hollywood Bowl in front of 18,000 people, ambled along the way it always has. There were pretty country-folk songs; an ad for Powdermilk Biscuits; a clippety-clop 'Lives of the Cowboys' skit; a heartfelt version of 'Every Time We Say Goodbye.'”

Washington Post: Gay Talese disowns his forthcoming book, 'The Voyeur’s Motel,' after he learns some of the incidents in the supposed true story are certainly fictional. The narrative “chronicles the bizarre story of Gerald Foos, who allegedly spied on guests at his Colorado motel from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s.... 'I should not have believed a word he said,' the 84-year-old author said after The Washington Post informed him of property records that showed Foos did not own the motel from 1980 to 1988.... The book, which will be published July 12, was excerpted in the New Yorker magazine in April. The story attracted widespread media attention and led producer-director Steven Spielberg to buy the movie rights to the book. Spielberg has lined up Sam Mendes...." ...

     ... Update. CW: For a day, I thought maybe Talese had developed a smidgen of ethics in his old age. Guess not. Here's the story now, from the WashPo: "Upon reflection, author Gay Talese says he’s disavowing his earlier disavowal of his own work."

Dan Shaw of New York writes a lovely remembrance of New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham.

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Wednesday
Aug242016

The Commentariat -- August 25, 2016

Tim Arango, et al., of the New York Times: "Turkey sent tanks, warplanes and special operations forces into northern Syria on Wednesday in its biggest plunge yet into the Syrian conflict, enabling Syrian rebels to capture an important Islamic State stronghold [-- the town of Jarabulus --] within hours. The operation, assisted by American warplanes, is a significant escalation of Turkey’s role in the fight against the Islamic State, the militant extremist group ensconced in parts of Syria and Iraq that has increasingly been targeting Turkey." -- CW

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "President Obama turned a vast stretch of Maine woods into the nation’s newest federal parkland on Wednesday, siding with conservationists who want the wild lands protected, over residents and officials who oppose intrusion from Washington and restrictions on use of the land. Mr. Obama designated more than 87,500 acres of rugged terrain, donated by a founder of the Burt's Bees product line, as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, administered by the National Park Service, a day before the service’s 100th anniversary. It became by far the largest region of federal parkland in Maine, surpassing the 48,900-acre Acadia National Park on the coast." -- CW 

Why aren’t we talking about Huma [Abedin] and her ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? Why aren’t we talking about the fact that she was an editor for a Sharia newspaper?” Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), interview on CNN, Aug. 23

Roger Stone, a top adviser to GOP nominee Donald Trump, described Abedin on Aug. 23 as a 'Saudi asset.'... Duffy asked why the alleged Muslim Brotherhood connections to Huma Abedin are not being talked about. Perhaps it’s because they are bogus.... Vague suggestions of suspicious-sounding connections to her parents don’t pass the laugh test, even at the flimsiest standard of guilt by association. The journal edited by her mother, meanwhile, is not 'sharia newspaper' but a sober academic journal with a range of viewpoints on Muslim life around the world. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: "The unfolding embarrassment at the [Fox 'News"] network poses a host of questions — not the least of which is how the network’s executives justified their Javert-like pursuit of [Bill] Clinton’s extramarital affairs, given their boss’s own repeated sexual misconduct. If you go back and look carefully at the chronology, some of [Roger] Ailes’s most egregious alleged harassment of women was taking place at the same time that Fox News was suggesting that Clinton deserved to be impeached." CW: Read on.

Presidential Race

Adam Pearce of the New York Times: "Republicans have narrowed the Democrats’ lead in registered voters in several swing states, especially in North Carolina and Florida. Although there are still more registered Democrats than Republicans in these key states [which include Nevada & Colorado], the margin is much smaller than it was in 2012." -- CW 

Annie Karni of Politico: "With 75 days until Election Day and new emails once again casting a pall over her campaign, Hillary Clinton aims to 'run out the clock,' confidants say, on the latest chapters of the overlapping controversies that have dogged her campaign since the start." -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Matt Yglesias of Vox has another excellent takedown of the AP's "Secretary Clinton Met with Clinton Foundation Donors!" story. "The AP put a lot of work into this project. And it couldn’t come up with anything that looks worse than helping a Nobel Prize winner, raising money to finance AIDS education, and doing an introduction for the chair of the Kennedy Center. It’s kind of surprising." -- CW ...

... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "The Associated Press blasted out a 114-character breaking news alert on Tuesday afternoon with a hot scoop: an analysis of publicly available data showed that while Secretary of State, more than half of Hillary Clinton’s meetings were with individuals who also donated to the Clinton Foundation. One problem: that statistic is false.... The Clinton campaign ... asked them to remove the false tweet. According to her campaign, they refused, arguing that even if the tweet is inaccurate, they stood by their reporting...." -- CW ...

     ... Matt Yglesias Update: "The initial article was bad..., and while the defense of the article usefully clarifies a key point, it is also bad.... There has been a lot of discussion around potential conflicts of interest related to the Clinton Foundation, so the absence of any clear evidence of actual misconduct is a useful contribution to our understanding. The story the AP wrote — full of arbitrary math, sensationalistic tweets, and strange insinuations — is not." ...

... CW: Hey, let's see if Donald Trump & Co. dealt with the news that Clinton came out squeaky-clean ...

... Theodore Schleifer of CNN: "Donald Trump and Republicans are pouncing on a report that more than half of the private individuals with whom Hillary Clinton met as secretary of state donated to her family's foundation.... 'It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history,' Trump said in a statement.... At a rally in Austin, Texas, Tuesday night, [he said,] '... The specific crimes committed to carry out that enterprise are too numerous to cover in this speech.'... The Republican National Committee also cited the report to hit Clinton. 'This is among the strongest and most unmistakable pieces of evidence of what we've long suspected: at Hillary Clinton's State Department, access to the most sensitive policy makers in U.S. diplomacy was for sale to the highest bidder,' RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement." -- CW ...

... CW: In fairness to TrumPriebus, Ed Rendell (D) is still an idiot. Christopher Massie of BuzzFeed: "Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell said in a radio interview on Tuesday that the firewall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state was 'ineffective.'.... Rendell ... was asked about [the] AP analysis.... 'No, I agree,' Rendell said, when the host argued that newly released emails between Clinton Foundation and State Department employees show there was no firewall. 'I don’t know if it was a lie..., but it was pretty ineffective. But look, the bottom line is, what they did, I wouldn’t have done, it creates a bad perception. But will it hurt her? It’s obviously not gonna help.'" -- CW 

The Great Wall of Trump. Eli Stokols of Politico: "Donald Trump, after several straight days delivering a more scripted message, loosened the rhetorical shackles tightened by his new campaign manager and went off-script several times Wednesday afternoon [at a Tampa, Florida, rally], offering a more passionate but at times self-contradicting case for his candidacy.... As he was appealing to Hispanic voters, he twice referred to the 'drugs coming in' from Mexico.... 'Bad, bad things are going to be happening with these people pouring into our country,' Trump said.... 'We’re going to build a wall, don’t worry about it,' Trump said. 'We’re going to build the wall and Mexico is going to pay for it, 100 percent. And it’s going to be a big wall. It’s going to be a real wall. It’s going to be as beautiful as a wall can be, but it’s going to be a real wall.'” -- CW ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "Speaking in Tampa..., [Donald Trump] said, 'The only people enthusiastic about [Hillary Clinton’s] campaign are Hollywood celebrities — in many cases celebrities that aren’t very hot anymore.'... Trump’s remarks also remind us of his habit of projection. After all, at the Republican National Convention he brought out celebrity endorsers like Willie 'Duck Dynasty' Robertson, Scott 'Joanie Loves Chachi' Baio, and Antonio 'Miscellaneous Soap Operas' Sabato Jr.... They hardly stack up to the Clinton supporters who seem to have set Trump off.... Trump’s outburst supports the general rule that most of his insults are reflections of his own insecurity.” -- CW ...

     ... CW: I suspect Trump was referring to Cher, who at one of several fundraisers for Clinton called Trump a "fucking idiot." Cher is 70 years old, and as we know, Trump has no use for older women. They're not, you know, "hot." ...

... Patrick Healy & Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "After months of flailing attempts, Donald J. Trump has begun to recast his political message in more structured terms and wrestle with his temptation to go off script, as his campaign seeks to revive his fading candidacy.... Working off a script from his reshuffled team of advisers, Mr. Trump is also drastically tempering his language about the signature issue of his campaign: immigration.... Still, if aides have helped bring new focus to Mr. Trump’s stump speech, they have been unable to tame him on social media, where he continues to deliver outlandish attacks on all manner of adversaries, especially in the news media." -- CW 

Sean Sullivan & Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: In Jackson, Mississippi, "as Donald Trump listed the ways that he would make life better for African Americans living in poverty, he suddenly shouted, "Hillary Clinton is a bigot!" The line was included in prepared remarks distributed to reporters...." -- CW 

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "... during an immigration-focused town hall in Austin, Tex., that was hosted by Fox News and broadcast on Wednesday night," Donald Trump polled the crowd on immigration policy. -- CW ...

... Trump Proposes Amnesty Policy He Calls "Not Amnesty." Scott Bixby & Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "... Donald Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that although undocumented immigrants living in the United States will get 'no citizenship', they will pay back taxes in exchange for possible legal status. 'They’ll pay back taxes, they have to pay taxes, there’s no amnesty, as such, there’s no amnesty, but we work with them,' Trump said, in remarks set to air [Wednesday] on Hannity’s show." -- CW: The "New Donald"'s proposal sounds a lot like what his GOP rivals were advocating during the primary. ...

... Nick Corasaniti & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Republican pollsters and strategists speculate that Mr. Trump’s newfound attention to blacks and inner-city conditions is aimed less at actually vying for African-American support than at softening his image among suburban whites.... Even as he tries to talk about black voters in his speeches, he openly talks about the potential for voter fraud in areas of Pennsylvania that are heavily African-American. And some African-Americans who have been listening say the picture Mr. Trump has been painting of black America — a nightmare of poverty, death and danger, brought about by failed Democratic policies and leadership — is unrecognizable." -- CW ...

... Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: "I think we know the real Donald Trump. He’s the one whose campaign is enrolling 'monitors' to station at polls this November, supposedly to turn away fraudulent voters — a problem that exists only in Republicans’ imaginations. The real point is intimidation, and not of middle-class suburban white voters. Reading slightly less offensive speeches from teleprompters, however long that lasts, doesn’t change anything." -- CW ...

... Paul Waldman: "We've now seen this on multiple occasions: Trump will give a speech in some all-white suburb and go on a rant about how terrible African-Americans or Latinos are doing, then suggest that the people he has just belittled ought to vote for him.... This is, to say the least, not the way politicians ordinarily reach out to groups of voters.... Trump can't bring himself to reach out to [Latinos, either,] with anything beyond a condescending message that says if they knew what was good for them, they'd be voting for him.... Perhaps this is little more than an extension of Trump's larger 'America: What a Rathole' strategy...." -- CW ...

... Digby in Salon: "... Trump has held racist views for a very long time and has not shown the slightest ability to evolve or change in even the slightest ways for over 40 years. He hasn’t even changed his hairstyle since 1975. Donald Trump today is exactly the same man who wrote that full page ad in which he declared, 'civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!' Racial, ethnic and religious minorities know exactly what that means.... Rick Perlstein memorably wrote about this a few months back, in which he noted that Trump’s appeal stemmed from a very specific conservative archetype that came from America’s urban dark side: the avenging angel.  He discusses Trump’s father’s apparent affiliation with the Klan and Trump’s own run-ins with the Department of Justice over the family business’s refusal to rent to welfare recipients...." -- CW ...

... The Surrogates' Dilemma. Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate: "... the only thing Trump is actually promising when it comes to immigration — or pretty much any issue for that matter — is that he isn’t promising anything at all. That, though, is obviously not something his surrogates are going to say. And so instead they speak a bunch of words and say nothing at all." CW: Just like Trump.

Contributor Diane says Rachel Maddow takes down Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway in classic style. I won't have time to listen (nor am I inclined to -- Maddow talking fast, which she does when she's nervous -- is nerve-wracking), but here's a pirated video. If MSNBC takes it down, the full interview, divided into segments, is on Maddow's site. ...

     ... Update: The pirated copy got disappeared; there are others up right now (6:30 am ET), but I assume they'll go, too, so you'll have to go to Maddow's Website. You can watch the full episode if you sign in with your cable/dish provider.

Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "Taking a page out of last week's 'says who' denial playbook, Donald Trump's newly appointed campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is dismissing near-universal polls that show the Republican presidential candidate is lagging far behind his rival Hillary Clinton. Conway's logic, which she explained in an interview with the United Kingdom's Channel 4 on Tuesday, relies heavily on supporters she described as 'undercover voters' who will inevitably break their silence and vote for Trump this November.... When asked if she could provide numbers for this invisible population, Conway quickly deflected. 'I can't discuss it,' she said. 'It's a project we're doing internally. I call it the undercover Trump voter, but it's real.'" -- CW ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "Donald Trump’s campaign manager [Kellyanne Conway] says he’s actually winning, thanks to 'undercover' supporters. Plenty of past presidential hopefuls have mistakenly believed the same.... Mitt "Romney felt so good [on election day 2012] he didn’t even write a concession speech until that evening, when the writing was on the wall. Just as for McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis, the crowd [of supporters at last-minute rallies] was a mirage.... A campaign adviser told CBS that running mate Paul Ryan was 'genuinely shocked.' In his case, it turned out there had been a hidden vote — but it was for Obama. The Romney campaign underestimated the number of minority voters who would turn out." -- CW ...

... CW: I do think there may be an "undercover" vote for Trump. It's not because voters are ashamed to admit they'd vote for a racist, but because they're ashamed to admit they would not vote for a woman. Like Trump, they think Clinton "doesn't look presidential." I've heard older men who are life-long Democrats say they just "can't imagine" Hillary Clinton as president. Same difference.

Dana Milbank: "In choosing Stephen Bannon to be the CEO of his campaign, Donald Trump has accomplished the extraordinary: He has found somebody as outrageous as he is.... Trump found in Bannon a character like himself: a bully who targets racial and religious minorities, immigrants and women." Milbank catalogs a long list of outrageously wacko things Bannon has said or written or published in Breitbart. "There is more, but you don’t need to read it here. Just wait for Trump to say it." CW ...

... ** Zack Beauchamp of Vox: "Understanding Breitbart ... helps us understand the rot eating away at the foundations of American conservatism.... One of Breitbart’s key distinguishing features today is lurid, fearmongering coverage of minority groups, particularly African Americans and Muslims.... [Steve] Bannon frequently uses the word 'populist' to describe his worldview, and that’s how he saw Breitbart’s coverage. The goal was to stand up for 'lower- and middle-class' people against the big-government conservatives in Washington.... Breitbart’s errors [in its 'scoops'] were repeated and endemic.... Bannon and the rest of the Breitbart hierarchy [welcomed] the mainstreaming of sexism and racism on their site.... 'We're the platform for the alt-right,' Bannon enthused to Mother Jones’s Sarah Posner in a July interview." Read the whole post. ...

     ... CW: Breitbart is just another vehicle of elitism, where the "elites" are educated or semi-educated white guys who lecture to the "lower- and middle-class" peeps. I'm just waiting for Bannon to punch out Kellyanne Conway, the girl campaign manager who is reportedly the "brains" behind Trump's "new" Bush-Rubio-Cruz-style immigration policy. I hope there's video.

Katie Kim of NBC News Chicago: "The Chicago Police Department denied ... Donald Trump's claim this week that he met with a 'top' Chicago officer and argued the city's violence would not be solved with 'tough police tactics.' 'We've discredited this claim months ago,' CPD spokesperson Frank Giancamilli said Tuesday in a statement. 'No one in the senior command at CPD has ever met with Donald Trump or a member of his campaign.' Trump ... [told] Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he met a 'top' Chicago officer who reportedly said he could 'stop much of this horror show that’s going on' within a single week. Trump added that he knows officers in Chicago who would put an end to violent crime 'if they were given the authority to do it,' a claim that Giancamilli refuted." -- CW 

Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post: That time "Trump wanted to keep Americans critically ill with Ebola out of the U.S." CW: Read the whole article. Don't miss a tweet. If you wonder what kind of a president Trump would be, the answer lies within. When circumstances call for tough decisions, Trump will always make the wrong one.

Ha Ha. The Washington Post Editors are all concerned about Rudy Giuliani's health. They catalog symptoms he has shown of "nerve damage, stroke..., Alzheimer’s disease ... [and] heart disease.... Mr. Trump, 70, has taken the same nondisclosure stance on his health records as he has on his taxes, asserting there is nothing to hide while hiding everything. Ms. Clinton, by contrast, has released some test results, which, as far as they go, indicate good health. That hasn’t stopped Mr. Giuliani from trading in scurrilous and debunked theories about the Democratic candidate. Come to think of it, he should see a doctor." -- CW 

Very Unfaaair. Donald Trump's losing his hard-on re: immigration reform wrecks Ann Coulter's book party for In Trump We Trust, no doubt a manifesto as fine as Thomas Paine's Common Sense & John Stewart Mill's On Liberty. Boo-fucking-hoo. -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Paul Farhi on teevee "pundits" as "propaganda pass-throughs": "Savvy viewers might be able to tell when commentators are merely parroting partisan talking points spoon-fed to them by campaign operatives, or even by the candidates themselves, during conference calls or email blasts to surrogates.... But often there’s little or no disclosure about how much coaching came from the campaign before the televised discussion begins.... CNN [employs four commentators] to speak for, or in defense of, Trump.... CNN, however, also employs a number of identifiable advocates for Democrat Hillary Clinton, including Paul Begala...." -- CW

Oliver Willis, et al., of Media Matters: "Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has been informally advising Donald Trump’s presidential campaign while serving as its primary media cheerleader, has effectively turned his nightly prime-time show into Trump’s second campaign headquarters. According to a Media Matters analysis, Hannity’s program has given Trump what amounts to more than $31 million in free advertising in the form of dozens of fawning interviews with the candidate since Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015." -- CW

It’s a bitter pill (more like pilloried) / So shall we now be Trumped or Hillary-ed? -- from the poem “Dual Airbags,” posted on the Website Hello Poetry ...

... Trump as Muse. Charles Bethea of the New Yorker: "Avoiding strict metre..., [Donald Trump] leans on simple poetic devices. Epistrophe could be heard at the end of his R.N.C. acceptance speech: 'We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again.' ... But Trump’s greatest contribution to the poetic arts is undoubtedly as muse. Since last summer, some two thousand user-generated poems about Trump have appeared on the seven-year-old Web site Hello Poetry." -- CW 

Way Beyond the Beltway

Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "After 52 years of fighting and nearly four years of grinding negotiations, the Colombian government and the country’s FARC rebel group have reached an agreement to end the last major armed conflict in the Americas, officials said Wednesday. 'They have a definitive accord to end the war,' said Bernard Aronson, the U.S. envoy to the peace talks, in an interview several hours before the formal announcement was made.” -- CW 

Rick Gladstone of the New York Times: "Syrian military helicopters dropped bombs containing chlorine on civilians in at least two attacks over the past two years, a special joint investigation of the United Nations and an international chemical weapons monitor said on Wednesday in a confidential report. The report also found that militants of the Islamic State in Syria had been responsible for an attack last year using poisonous sulfur mustard, which, like chlorine, is banned as a weapon under an international treaty." -- CW 

AP: "Four Iranian small boats harassed a U.S. Navy warship near the Persian Gulf, but no missiles were fired, the chief of naval operations said Wednesday. Adm. John Richardson said the incident involving the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze reflects the greater competition the U.S. is facing at sea. He added it underscores the naval tensions with Tehran, which include other similar incidents as well as the brief detention in January of 10 U.S. Navy sailors who mistakenly steered into Iranian waters." -- CW 

Tuesday
Aug232016

The Commentariat -- August 24, 2016

No Play-Doh, but Tens of Millions of Dollars in Federal Assistance. Campbell Robertson & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Nearly 11 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, [President] Obama came to meet with flood victims in a visit that required him to navigate a delicate mix of compassion and politics.... The president praised W. Craig Fugate, the FEMA administrator, for overhauling the agency to make it work better, and he announced that the federal government had already distributed $127 million in aid to the flooded communities..... Local and state officials from both political parties have praised the federal response in Baton Rouge, drawing a sharp contrast with the much-criticized delays by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Katrina. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican who frequently criticizes Mr. Obama, said in an interview that federal officials had done 'an excellent job' responding to the floods. 'They actually do care,' he said.... For those most intensely affected, the political debate is a luxury they can hardly afford." -- CW ...

... CW: Maybe these short clips give an unfair picture, but it seems to me there's a telling difference in Obama & Trump's body language. Obama stops to talk to people, shake their hands, hug them, give them pats on the shoulder, etc. Trump walked around looking at piles of rubbish, & in a clip we ran last week, left it to pence to hand the Play-Doh boxes to flood victims. My guess is that this is more about substance than style.

Julian Hattem of the Hill: "The House Oversight Committee is increasing the pressure on the FBI to hand over additional details related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. In a letter on Monday, committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asked FBI Director James Comey for additional information about the presence of classified information on the system of personal machines Clinton used. He also pushed for the FBI to create an unclassified version of the files it sent to Capitol Hill last week detailing its yearlong investigation, which could then be made public." -- CW 

Alan Rappeport & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "... the majority of its staff [of Bernie Sanders' new organization Our Revolution] resigned after the appointment last Monday of Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders’s former campaign manager, to lead the organization.... At the heart of the issue, according to several people who left, was deep distrust of and frustration with Mr. Weaver.... Claire Sandberg, who was the organizing director at Our Revolution and had worked on Mr. Sanders’s campaign, said she and others were also concerned about the group’s tax status — as a 501(c)(4) organization it can collect large donations from anonymous sources — and that a focus by Mr. Weaver on television advertising meant that it would fail to reach many of the young voters who powered Mr. Sanders’s campaign and are best reached online." ...

     ... CW: I didn't think this was a newsworthy story yesterday when Politico & other outlets covered it, & I don't think it's newsworthy today except for the 501(c) angle. But since the NYT gives it real estate, there you are.

Noam Scheiber of the New York Times: "Punctuating a string of Obama-era moves to shore up labor rights and expand protections for workers, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday that students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities have a federally backed right to unionize.... The decision reverses a 2004 ruling by the board involving graduate student assistants at Brown University.... The three Democratic members of the board made up the majority; the lone Republican member dissented." Elections matter.

Catherine Ho of the Washington Post: "The growing congressional scrutiny of pharmaceutical giant Mylan over the high cost of EpiPens could prove awkward for Sen. Joe Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is chief executive of the company, which appears to have hiked the price of the epinephrine auto-injector by 400 percent since 2007. The device, which is used to treat severe allergic reactions, now costs more than $600 per dose." -- CW 

... Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post interviews Heather McGhee about the call & her response. The video has "been viewed more than 1 million times on Demos’s Facebook page." -- CW 

Presidential Race

Stephen Braun & Eileen Sullivan of the AP: "More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president. At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million." -- CW ...

... Heidi Przybyla of USA Today: "Although a conservative group investigating Hillary Clinton’s relationship with donors to the Clinton Foundation maintains that newly released emails prove she granted special 'access' and 'favors' during her State Department tenure, nonpartisan experts say that Judicial Watch is right about the former but has not yet proven the latter.... According to experts, the emails confirm donors were gaining access to Clinton, yet there is no evidence she granted them special favors, an important distinction that may determine how damaging the controversy is to Clinton’s campaign." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The Clinton Foundation is hardly a large or unique source of corruption in American politics. It is, however, a source of grubby, low-level access headaches. That is the takeaway from the latest batch of State Department emails. The emails do not show that Clinton Foundation donors received any policy favors from Hillary Clinton or other elected officials. What they show is that people who donated to the foundation believed they were owed favors by Clinton’s staffers, and at least one of those staffers — the odious Doug Band — shared this belief." -- CW ...

CW: This might be a good time to play Compare & Contrast.  

Hillary Clinton, according to the AP story linked above, went out of her way to help a man whose organization had contributed to the Clinton Foundation. That man was "Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest 'microcredit' for poor business owners." The Obama administration already supported Yunas's work, & President Obama awarded Yunas the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, Obama's first year in office.

Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort made millions working to promote former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych & his pro-Russian party. Yanukovych "won" the presidential election of 2004, but the election was overturn during the ensuing Orange Revolution. Also, too, he is widely believed to have poisoned his pro-Western opponent Viktor Yushchenko. With help from a Manafort "makeover," Yanukovych finally won the presidency in 2010, but was forced to flee to Russia amidst another Ukrainian revoluiton in 2014. The U.S. government & human rights advocates opposed Yanukovych's administration, & the European Parliament accused his government of emprisoning political opponents, including former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Manafort reportedly is still working for the remnants of Yanukovych's party.

So Both Sides Do It. AmIrite?

** ... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly does an excellent job of unpacking the AP story. "One has to wonder why the AP chose this story of Clinton’s 30+ year relationship with a Nobel Peace Prize recipient committed to combating global poverty as the one to highlight in their efforts to suggest that the Secretary of State met with people because of their donations to the Clinton Foundation. I can’t imagine a more flawed example." -- CW 

Matea Gold & John Wagner of the Washington Post: Hillary "Clinton spent most of August raising huge sums for the national part.... The Democratic ticket’s relentless fundraising this month — which included 50 private events through Monday, split roughly in half between the running mates — is helping to drive what is expected to be a record monthly haul for the campaign and the Democratic National Committee. But the intense pursuit of big money spotlights what has long been one of Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities: her immersion in a wealthy elite circle that has supported her family’s political and philanthropic causes over the past four decades." CW: I think we're supposed to be shocked to learn that politicians -- and Hillary Clinton in particular -- spend so much time fundraising, a fact of political life that has been amply reported for at least a couple of decades.

Trump to Quit Saying "Mexican Rapists," Also Will Observe Black People in Their Habitats. Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "Guided by his new campaign leadership, [Donald Trump] has ordered a full-fledged strategy to court black and Latino voters and is mobilizing scores of minority figures to advocate publicly for his candidacy. Trump is planning trips to urban areas.... Trump’s new posture is being influenced by his new campaign captains, chief executive Steve Bannon and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.... Asked Tuesday whether he might change his hard-line deportation policy to accommodate immigrants who contribute positively to society, Trump told Fox News Channel anchor Sean Hannity, 'There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people.'... So far, Trump has declined appearances before minority audiences that many past Republican nominees have made, such as the NAACP convention.” CW: I can't think of a better person to direct a minority outreach program than the publisher of an online rag popular with white supremacists. Maybe Bannon could partner with David Duke on this. ...

Look at how much African American communities are suffering from Democratic control. … Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed, what the hell do you have to lose? — Donald Trump, rally in Dimondale, Mich., Aug. 19

We previously awarded Four Pinocchios to Trump’s absurd calculation that the 'real unemployment rate' is 42 percent — about eight times higher than the official BLS rate. He applies the same junk analysis for the black youth unemployment rate, which defies internationally accepted measures of unemployment while ignoring an actual measure of disengaged youth that could prove his point. --Michelle Lee of the Washington Post

CW P.S. Take a look at the chart Lee provides, which compares Trumpometrics to Bureau of Labor Statistics measurements. It's no wonder Trump thinks he's a ten-billion-dollar man, a claim he seems to base, according to some of his deposition testimony, on his "feelings." I have a "feeling" that if Trump were running for re-election in 2020 (& let's hope that turns out to be an impossibility), Trumpometrics would recalculate the black youth unemployment rate to less than zero.

... Jill Lawrence of USA Today: "Trump may be asking 'what do you have to lose?' as a rhetorical question, but there’s an answer to it, and that answer is 'an enormous amount.'... Black Americans, like all Americans, would stand to lose plenty under President Trump. They'd have to put up with his inaccurate stereotyping of African Americans and hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement. From a pocketbook standpoint, his protectionist views could trigger trade wars and higher consumer prices. And he’d revive trickle-down economics, a major contrast to Obama policies that have directed resources to low-income rather than high-income Americans. Do we really want to trade what gains we’ve made for a guy whose new tax plan is a boon for wealthy Americans, the national debt and lenders like China?” -- CW ...

... ** David Graham of the Atlantic outlines the many reasons Trump's new outreach to black voters might not work. For instance, "Trump’s caricatures of black communities as dens of crime, poverty, and shiftlessness are not likely to win him many fans.... Meanwhile, he’s delivering his appeals to black voters in overwhelmingly white places.... Trump is redoubling his focus on racial dogwhistle politics just as he attempts to court black voters. He’s begun talking repeatedly about how vote fraud is the “only way” he could lose the election." -- CW ...

You could go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats.... I’ll get rid of the crime, so you’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.-- Donald Trump, Akron, Ohio, Monday ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: Corey Lewandowski explains to dopes like Graham that the reason Trump has to lecture blacks from the confines of white communities is that it's not safe for Trump to speak in "predominantly African-American" neighborhoods. -- CW ...

... Steve M. explains why Trump's "minority outreach" might not hurt him much with his angry white base: many Trump supporters believe they're not racists, that Republicans have long helped minorities, only to have their earnest appeals to minority groups "unfairly" maligned. So, yay! Add another grievance to the list. ...

... AND Greg Sargent points out that Trump's "minority outreach" is really about attracting white suburban voters, anyway: "... all of this is very much tailored towards persuading suburban and exurban swing voters that Trump isn’t really the hater that they’ve seen shouting from their television screens for the last year." CW: This makes sense on another level: since Trump lives in the moment, routinely denying he ever said the outrageous things he said way last week, he expects voters to have the same memory lapses he does. He might be right. 

Who Bought the Play-Doh? David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "During [Donald Trump's] visit [to Louisiana], news outlets reported that he had made at least two donations to flood-relief efforts there.... Trump promised a $100,000 donation to Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, which lies to the northeast of Baton Rouge, in a zone affected by floods.... That church's interim pastor is Anthony Perkins, who is also president of the Family Research Council — a powerful and politically active Christian conservative group that condemns abortion, homosexuality and what it calls 'transgenderism.'... Perkins said Tuesday that Trump's gift had not yet been paid.... Trump has also been credited — by CNN, and by his campaign's Louisiana state director — with donating a truckload of supplies that arrived in the flood-ravaged town of St. Amant, La. But so far The Post has been unable to confirm the details of that account." (Emphasis added.) -- CW ...

... The Big Grift, Ctd. Olivia Nuzzi & Ben Collins of the Daily Beast: "Donald Trump used his campaign funds to buy thousands of copies of his own book at retail cost, simultaneously diverting donor money back into his pockets while artificially boosting his sales figures. It’s a tactic that may be illegal, campaign finance experts say.... Paul Ryan (not that one), of the nonpartisan nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, said that Trump would have to forgo accepting royalties for sales on the book in order for the transaction to be legal, under Federal Election Committee rules." ...

     ... CW: This is Chapter 2 of the new Trump e-book "How to Milk Donors for Fun & Profit." (Yesterday we learned that Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower..., when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign....") It probably won't be long before new chapters are released.  

Friends of Donald. Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump insists he has 'nothing to do with Russia' — but Russia's recent moves sure make it look as if it is trying to do something for him. CNN reported Tuesday afternoon that hackers whom U.S. officials believe to be working for the Russian government have launched cyberattacks against the New York Times and other news outlets.... [Trump] often rails against the 'failing' New York Times and the 'scum' in the media. He has vowed to 'open up' libel laws, if elected, to make it easier to sue news organizations over negative coverage. In short, Trump treats journalists as political opponents, much like Clinton [whose e-mails he urged Russia to hack] and the Democrats [whose files Russia allegedly did hack].... Journalists unsettled by his blacklisting of certain outlets, including The Post, and Trump's recent hiring of the lawyer who helped drive Gawker into bankruptcy certainly won't feel any more at ease now."-- CW

Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday that [Donald Trump] has been clear about his intentions to restore strong borders and enforce immigration laws. 'We’re going to build a wall. We’re going to enforce the laws that are on the books today,' Pence ... said in an interview with CBS News' Major Garrett. 'And the mechanism for how we do that — he’s also been very clear that we’ll do it in a humane way.' The process will be 'tough but fair,' Pence said, but when asked further to explain what it means when it comes to deportations, Pence declined to give more details. 'I think those are issues that will continue to be worked out in the days ahead,' Pence said." -- CW 

Louis Nelson of Politico: "Hammering Hillary Clinton once again over allegations she used her former position in the State Department to dole out favors to friends, Mike Pence said revelations that the former secretary of state met often with Clinton Foundation donors 'is further evidence of the pay-to-play politics at her State Department.'... 'The Clinton Foundation must be immediately shut down and an independent special prosecutor be appointed to determine if access to Hillary Clinton was for sale. It would be a dereliction of duty by President Obama and his Justice Department if they fail to act on these startling new facts right now.'” -- CW 

Way Beyond

Ceylan Yeginsu of the New York Times: "Turkey mounted on Wednesday its largest military effort yet in the Syrian conflict, sending tanks, warplanes and special operations forces over the border in a United States-backed drive to capture an Islamic State stronghold in Syria. The offensive on the city of Jarabulus began hours before Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was set to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to discuss tensions raised by the failed coup in Turkey last month. The joint operation in Syria seemed intended to send a message that the countries are still cooperating in the fight against the militant group." CW: I hope the "message" is directed at Russia & Syria, not at me. I'm never going to be all that impressed with an administration that kicks criminals out of jail to make room for teachers, journalists & civil servants.  

Monday
Aug222016

The Commentariat -- August 23, 2016

Afternoon Update:

The latest on pipe smoking, ascot wearing former head of Faux News: Kalli Holloway of Alternet: "...former network host Andrea Tantaros has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against top executives from the network. In her complaint, Tantaros alleges that Fox higher-ups punished her for complaints about [Roger] Ailes’ behavior by demoting, and then removing, her from the air. The suit describes persistent sexual harassment by Ailes and others — including Bill O’Reilly, who has been previously accused of similar behavior by others — and states that 'Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.'" -- Akhilleus

If it's good enough for a Kenyan born, Muslim usurper, it's good enough for Trump: Sahil Kapur & Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg: "Donald Trump is backing away from his call for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, and even some of his rally-going supporters say they’re fine with it." -- Akhilleus

Chapter 456 of Rich, Privileged White Guys Have it Tough. Romy Varghese of Bloomberg: "Rhode Island struck a settlement with Wells Fargo & Co. and Barclays Plc, agreeing to accept about $26 million to drop litigation over a municipal-bond sale that benefited the video-game startup led by former baseball pitcher Curt Schilling that later failed. The deal with the banks, who deny wrongdoing, must be approved by Rhode Island Superior Court.... The economic development agency is still pursuing lawsuits with other defendants over the $75 million bond offering.... In 2010, Schilling’s company was developing a multi-player online game that it estimated it would need at least $75 million to complete, according to an SEC statement in March. When 38 Studios couldn’t obtain additional financing following the bond sale, it failed to produce the game and defaulted on the loan." ...

Akhilleus: And why is this important? Curt Schilling is the Next Donald Trump. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "If you think the white-guy grievance movement will die after Donald Trump's likely landslide defeat this November, think again. There will be plenty of filterless, self-pitying dunces to carry the torch in Trump's place. [Curt] Schilling is a leading candidate.... Soon after his playing career ended, he blew his $50 million fortune on a failed video game venture, a fiasco that cost Rhode Island taxpayers $75 million.... A hardcore religious conservative, Schilling can't stop posting crazy stuff online. Like Trump, he is a meme fanatic, learning much of what he knows about the world from bite-size informational crap-dumplings shared on Facebook. He's railed against everything from evolution ('Hey clown, why don't apes still evolve into humans if that is the path?') to Hillary Clinton ('She should be buried under a jail somewhere') to Black Lives Matter (a 'terrorist' group)...." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Now this asshole is bragging that he will run against, and beat, Elizabeth Warren in next go 'round. Schilling, who routinely bellows about undeserving brown skinned types who get stuff for nothing, went to the state of Rhode Island,  demanded money to fund his ego video game project, was handed $75 million of taxpayers money, then failed to hold up his end of the bargain. Result? Rhode Island on the hook for his money, leaving him free to rail against poors who get stuff for nothing. But, as Taibbi makes clear, "Don't bet against him winning a Senate seat in my home state of Massachusetts, either. His would be a victory for the cause of ignorance and tone-deafness perhaps even exceeding Trump's capture of the Republican nomination."

*****

President Obama is scheduled to speak to the press in Baton Rouge at 1:55 pm ET today. -- CW 

Presidential Race

Nick Gass of Politico: "Campaigning in Reno, Nevada, on Thursday, Hillary Clinton will address Donald Trump's recent campaign hires and what her campaign termed in an announcement as 'his advisors' embrace of the disturbing "alt-right" political philosophy.' 'This "alt-right" brand is embracing extremism and presenting a divisive and dystopian view of America which should concern all Americans, regardless of party,' the campaign said in a statement." -- CW 

October Surprise? Mark Landler & Steven Myers of the New York Times: "... thousands of emails that [Hillary] Clinton did not voluntarily turn over to the State Department last year could be released just weeks before the election in November. The order, by Judge James E. Boasberg of Federal District Court, came the same day a conservative watchdog group separately released hundreds of emails from one of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides, Huma Abedin, which put a new focus on the sometimes awkward ties between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department." -- CW ...

... Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge on Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned. Justice Department lawyers said last week that the State Department would review and turn over Clinton’s work-related emails to a conservative legal group.... On Aug. 5, the FBI completed transferring what Comey said were several thousand previously undisclosed work-related Clinton emails that the FBI found in its investigation for the State Department to review and make public.... It is unclear how many documents might be attachments, duplicates or exempt from release for privacy or legal reasons." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Rosalind Helderman, et al., of the Washington Post: A cache of e-mail "exchanges, among 725 pages of correspondence from [Hillary Clinton aide Huma] Abedin disclosed as part of a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, illustrate[s] the way the Clintons’ international network of friends and donors was able to get access to Hillary Clinton and her inner circle during her tenure running the State Department.... The disclosures also cast new doubts on Clinton’s past claim that she turned over all her work-related email from her private server to the State Department for eventual release to the public." -- CW

Lisa Lerer of the AP: Appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel show, Hillary Clinton said conspiracy theories about her precarious health 'are part of a 'wacky strategy' by GOP rival Donald Trump and an 'alternative reality' that’s not focused on the kinds of issues that are most important to voters." -- CW ...

David Smith of the Guardian: "Bill Clinton will quit the board of his charitable foundation but not disband it if Hillary Clinton wins the US presidency, he said on Monday, as Republicans pressed allegations of a conflict of interest. The announcement came as newly disclosed emails revealed how Huma Abedin coordinated a meeting for a Bahraini prince with officials at the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state." -- See related stories by Rosalind Helderman above & Jenna Johnson below.) -- CW 

Amy Chozick & Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "... with [Donald] Trump’s appointment of Stephen K. Bannon ... as his new campaign chief, [Hillary] Clinton and her extended orbit have sensed an unfamiliar opportunity: The so-called vast right-wing conspiracy might actually be lending her a hand.... Yet after more than two decades of attacks from conservatives — some seizing on Mrs. Clinton’s own missteps..., but most generally groundless — others worry that an even darker turn is possible, given the advisers now guiding Mr. Trump’s campaign.... In addition to Mr. Bannon, Mr. Trump is relying on the advice of Roger Ailes, the founder and recently ousted chairman of Fox News, and Roger J. Stone Jr., whose 2015 book ... accused Mrs. Clinton of being a lesbian, shaming her husband’s sexual accusers and playing a role in the death of Vincent W. Foster Jr...." -- CW 


Jenna Johnson
of the Washington Post: "After spending a few days reflecting on his immigration stances and consulting with Hispanic supporters, Donald Trump on Monday detailed how he would deal with the millions of immigrants illegally living in the United States: Enforce laws that are already on the books and continue to do what President Obama is doing, although 'perhaps with a lot more energy.' This strategy marks a sudden change for the Republican nominee, who has presented himself as a politically incorrect outsider who is not afraid to take extreme measures to combat illegal immigration, such as deporting 11 million people or constructing a massive wall along the Southern border. For more than a year, Trump insisted that all illegal immigrants 'have got to go' and that he would create a 'deportation force' to carry out the task." CW: So Trump is borrowing his new immigration "plan" from President Obama?? That should do over well with his alt-right racist base. ...

... But Then. Cristiano Lima of Politico: "Speaking to O'Reilly, Trump insisted that his calls for mass deportation could in fact be carried out under existing U.S. law, comparing his plans to that of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Trump added that if laws are executed properly, immigrants that 'go around killing people and hurting people' are 'gonna be out of this country so fast your head will spin.'" CW: My head isn't spinning exactly; it's turning back-and-forth, tennis-game style, watching Trump speak out of both sides of his mouth. ...

... The Great Deportation Scam. Greg Sargent: "Donald Trump is currently running an ad in four swing states that graphically depicts the southern border as being overrun by dark hordes. It flatly states that in Hillary Clinton’s America, the borders will be 'open.'... But in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, in which he responded to reports that he’s backing off of his vow of mass deportations — a promise he’s made many times — Trump basically admitted the whole story he’s been telling about immigration for the last year is a big scam." -- CW 

... Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump, tempering the tone of his hard-line approach to tackling immigration reform, said on Monday that he wants to come up with a plan that is 'really fair' to address the millions of undocumented immigrants now in the country" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: I gather from this Politico piece by Nick Gass that the immigrants Trump wants to be "fair" to are those who come to the country legally: “We have a lot of people that want to come in through the legal process and it's not fair for them." Trump told Fox "News" he isn't flip-flopping. It sounds as if that's true. ...

... John Frank of the Denver Post: "Donald Trump is attending a fundraiser in Colorado on Thursday but will not make a speech on immigration, his campaign now says, despite national media reports announcing the event.... The campaign told supporters in an email 'the speech (Trump) was planning on giving is still being modified.'” Via Greg Sargent, who sez, so unfairly, "It’s almost as if Trump has no idea what he really stands for." -- CW

Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Donald Trump veered off the teleprompter on Monday night to claim that 'inner cities run by the Democrats' were more dangerous than countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.... The intended focus of the Republican nominee’s message on Monday was his call for a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s leadership of the state department. Trump claimed that the FBI and Department of Justice could not be trusted to investigate 'Hillary Clinton’s crimes'.” -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: “'Help me stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election!' says the application form on [Donald Trump's] campaign website. There are so many lies and delusions flowing daily from the Trump campaign that it’s easy to miss the times when the Republican nominee is being not just ludicrous, but dangerous. This is one. Mr. Trump has seized on the charge that Hillary Clinton plans to win by cheating. He has said it before, but he keeps on saying it. This looks like pre-emptive face-saving.... But it’s worse than that.... He is setting the stage for an upwelling of right-wing outrage, cuing up a crisis of electoral legitimacy....A more immediate concern is what happens on Nov. 8, when squads of Trump volunteers fan out to defend their candidate’s presumed victory." -- CW

People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics. Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that’s gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election’s outcome by the losers. Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it’s ‘rigged’ or stolen — in a media culture where people increasingly don’t buy into generally accepted facts and turn to places to have their opinions validated where there’s no wall between extreme and mainstream positions. That’s an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. -- Steve Schmidt, John McCain's 2008 presidential strategist, to Politico, August 22, 2016

We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy. -- John McCain, during a debate with Barack Obama, 2008

Other People's Money. S.V. Date of the Huffington Post: "After bragging for a year about how cheaply he was running his campaign, Donald Trump is spending more freely now that other people are contributing ― particularly when the beneficiary is himself. Trump nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign, according to a Huffington Post review of Federal Election Commission filings. The rent jumped even though he was paying fewer staff in July than he did in March." -- CW ...

     ... Akhilleus: Not only that, but the Orange Headed Scam Man is also squeezing donors to foot the bill at Trump owned golf courses and restaurants. A cheap con man doesn't become legitimate because he's running for president. Also, have to wonder about these RNC people who want answers about Trump's financial shenanigans but still support him. If you have to ask for anonymity but still sing in the choir, there's something wrong with you.

Jenna Johnson: "Donald Trump called on Monday for the Clinton Foundation to shut down 'immediately' and return money that was donated by countries 'they shouldn't be taking money from. [Blah blah Crooked Hillary blah blah.]'... Trump’s own charity — the much smaller Donald J. Trump Foundation — has also taken money from corporations... Trump’s campaign has yet to say if the businessman will immediately shut down his own foundation." -- CW ...

The foundation … will restructure itself completely if Hillary Clinton is elected president. That’s a pledge. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has told us nothing about how he’ll deal with the conflicts posed by his business dealings, like the money his company owes to the Bank of China. And I have this to say to Donald Trump … Before you go about attacking a charity, why don’t you come clean about your own business dealings and tell the American people who you are in debt to? -- Sen. Tim Kaine, in Las Vegas, Monday

Jill Colvin of the AP: "Donald Trump and his Republican allies say Hillary Clinton is weak, lacks stamina and doesn't look presidential. Intent on undermining his Democratic rival, Trump and GOP backers are increasingly relying on rhetoric that academics and even some Republican strategists say has an undeniable edge focused on gender.... Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at ... Rutgers University..., said that, even during the primary season when Trump was competing against a field of largely men, he took on the role of strong man, demeaning his rivals with put-downs. 'His message has been: I'm the manliest candidate, I'm the strongest, I know how to protect women — which is a pretty paternalistic take on it — ...  to the point where he's talking about the size of his own manhood... If you're trying to prove you're the manliest, then you're trying to emasculate your opponent.'... His rallies are filled with blatant misogyny. Supporters wear 'Trump vs. Tramp' political buttons, and have even harsher slogans and signs." -- CW 

Anna Nemtsova of Newsweek, in Politico Magazine: Donald "Trump is already helping [Vladimir] Putin consolidate control of Ukraine.... The rhetoric in the U.S. election campaign — especially Trump’s — is already altering policy in the region, hardening Moscow’s attitude toward Ukraine and at the same time frustrating and confusing the Ukrainians who want to stand up to Putin. This is partly because the U.S. campaign is happening against the backdrop of rising tensions between Kiev and Moscow." -- CW    

Trump as "Presidential" as Ever. Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump escalated his feud with the hosts of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Monday, repeating a rumor straight off Page Six that Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are romantically involved." Trump posted another derogatory tweet about Scarborough & Brzezinski; a nasty Twitterspat ensued between Scarborough & him.... [Trump's] laissez-faire attitude toward Ukraine’s future is a particular contrast to the two previous Republican standard-bearers, Mitt Romney and John McCain, both of whom made strident statements in support of Ukraine’s independence and opposed Putin’s aggression.... In Russia, meanwhile, everything is reported through a pro-Trump lens." -- CW ...

... Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "Donald Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, defended the GOP nominee Monday night, saying he doesn’t lob insults unless he’s prompted. This comes one day after an interview on ABC’s 'This Week' in which Conway said flat-out that Trump doesn’t hurl personal insults. Conway, a former supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), criticized Trump earlier this year for doing just that and using 'vulgar' language." -- CW ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: Donald Trump's "new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who has been getting some credit for the New Trump..., appeared on the Sunday shows and assured viewers that Trump wasn't into name-calling. 'He doesn't hurl personal insults,' said Conway... Before 9 a.m. on Monday, Trump was picking fights with cable news hosts and a top Hillary Clinton aide [Huma Abedin].... Trump, as he often does, reacted to what he was seeing on cable news with a mix of personal insults and rumor-mongering.... Trump can't help but be bogged down in petty feuds...." -- CW ...

... John Stoehr in US News on why Donald Trump can't "pivot": "To pivot is to recognize, at least rhetorically, the legitimacy of various and contrary views long enough to forge a coalition large enough for a majority. Like all narcissists, Trump does not recognize various or contrary views. Observable reality is determined by how he's feeling." Stoehr identifies strong parallels between the views of Trump & Hiram W. Evans, the Imperial Wizard (i.e., the CEO) of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s & '30s. -- CW 

Ben Jacobs: "Lawyers for Melania Trump are pursuing legal action against the Daily Mail for reporting '100% false' rumors that she worked as an escort in the 1990s as well as raising questions about her immigration status at the time. While Donald Trump has a reputation for threatening and pursuing litigation, it is unusual for a major party nominee or their spouse to mount legal action against a publication only months before an election." -- CW 

Jeff Horwitz of the AP: "Donald Trump’s paid campaign staffers have declared on their personal social media accounts that Muslims are unfit to be U.S. citizens, ridiculed Mexican accents, called for Secretary of State John Kerry to be hanged and stated their readiness for a possible civil war, according to a review by The Associated Press.... The AP examined the [public] social media feeds of more than 50 current and former campaign employees.... At least seven expressed views that were overtly racially charged, supportive of violent actions or broadly hostile to Muslims.... Their judgment matters beyond the campaign because the paid staff of winning presidential candidates often receives jobs in the next administration..... The AP also reviewed the public social media accounts of more than three dozen employees of Hillary Clinton's far larger campaign staff and found nothing as inflammatory." -- CW ...

... Maybe They're All 12-Year-Olds. Katherine Krueger of TPM: Twelve-year-old Weston Imer is running "the Trump campaign’s field office in Jefferson County, [Colorado,] which includes the greater Denver area.... Guardian US reporter Ben Jacobs confirmed he was the same 12-year-old who reportedly made threatening calls to try to convince anti-Trump delegates to the RNC to back" Trump. Thanks to contributor Nancy for the link. -- CW 

Other News & Views

New York Times Editors: "The first thing to know about the latest controversy over the Iran nuclear deal is that the Obama administration did not pay $400 million in 'ransom' to secure the release of three American detainees. Yet that’s the story critics are peddling in another attempt to discredit an agreement that has done something remarkable — halted a program that had put Iran within striking distance of producing a nuclear weapon.... The administration withheld the payment to ensure Iran didn’t renege on its promise to free three detainees.... That’s pragmatic diplomacy not capitulation.... If the administration had handed over the funds and not brought the detainees home, what would the critics be saying now?"   ...

... CW: Back in the old days, most Republicans would have encouraged a Democratic administration's international negotiations for peaceful outcomes in the best interest of the U.S. & the world. Sure, Republicans would have offered their two-cents, some of it critical, on what-all the administration should do, but only far-right nutjobs -- mostly non-elected &/or obscure -- would have predicted the end of civilization when the administration made significant progress on U.S. objectives. Now, however, we have even the most "liberal" GOP senator, and one from the President's home state, accusing the POTUS of "acting like the drug dealer in chief" for bringing home American hostages & negotiated an end to a long-simmering obligation. We are living in an age of perpetual confederate outrage.

Emily Bazalon in the New York Times Magazine: "A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just 2 percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row.... A deep examination of the counties where the death penalty is concentrated, several [death-penalty critics] argue, reveals that in many, the justice systems are riddled with flaws, influencing the fates of countless defendants...." In his dissent in Glossip v. Gross, decided in 2015, Justice Stephen Breyer "was laying the groundwork for abolition, by making an argument, anchored in the Constitution’s 'cruel and unusual' language, that the retreat of the death penalty county by county could one day persuade the court to end it everywhere." -- CW 

Erik Eckholm & Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "A federal judge on Sunday blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country. Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in a 38-page ruling, which he said should apply nationwide, that the government had not complied with federal law when it issued 'directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.'” O'Connor is a Bush II appointee. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Justin Gillis of the New York Times: "By global standards, the Block Island Wind Farm [off the coast of Rhode Island] is a tiny project, just five turbines capable of powering about 17,000 homes. Yet many people are hoping its completion, with the final blade bolted into place at the end of last week, will mark the start of a new American industry, one that could eventually make a huge contribution to reducing the nation’s climate-changing pollution." -- CW 

Tara Parker-Pope & Rachel Peachman of the New York Times: "A steep increase in the price of the EpiPen, a lifesaving injection device for people with severe allergies, has sparked outrage among consumers and lawmakers who worry that parents won’t be able to afford the pens for children heading back to school." -- CW   

Raphael Satter & Maggie Michael of the AP: "WikiLeaks' global crusade to expose government secrets is causing collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill, The Associated Press has found. In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web.... The AP found that WikiLeaks also routinely publishes identity records, phone numbers and other information easily exploited by criminals." -- CW 

Social Security to Pay Homeless Woman $100K+. Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post: Eighty-year-old Wanda Witter, a homeless woman who lived for years on the streets of D.C., claimed Social Security owed her a bundle. During that time, Witter tried to get them to pay out what she thought they owed her, but Social Security & others viewed her as crazy. Finally, social worker Julie Turner, who works for the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, went over the paperwork Witter had been dragging around, thought it looked credible, & got her a lawyer, Daniela de la Piedra, who specializes in Social Security disputes. de la Piedra & Social Security agreed Witter was owed more than $100,000. Social Security will be sending her a check for $99,999 in the next few days (the largest the agency can cut on short notice), & she will be getting monthly benefits of $1,464. Turner also found Witter an apartment. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sunday
Aug212016

The Commentariat -- August 22, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Erik Eckholm & Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "A federal judge on Sunday blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country. Judge Reed O'Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in a 38-page ruling, which he said should apply nationwide, that the government had not complied with federal law when it issued 'directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.'" O'Connor is a Bush II appointee. -- CW

October Surprise? Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "The FBI's year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge on Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned. Justice Department lawyers said last week that the State Department would review and turn over Clinton's work-related emails to a conservative legal group.... On Aug. 5, the FBI completed transferring what Comey said were several thousand previously undisclosed work-related Clinton emails that the FBI found in its investigation for the State Department to review and make public.... It is unclear how many documents might be attachments, duplicates or exempt from release for privacy or legal reasons." -- CW

People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics. Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that's gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election's outcome by the losers. Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it's 'rigged' or stolen -- in a media culture where people increasingly don't buy into generally accepted facts and turn to places to have their opinions validated where there's no wall between extreme and mainstream positions. That's an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. -- Steve Schmidt, John McCain's 2008 presidential strategist, to Politico, August 22, 2016

We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy. -- John McCain, during a debate with Barack Obama, 2008

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump, tempering the tone of his hard-line approach to tackling immigration reform, said on Monday that he wants to come up with a plan that is 'really fair' to address the millions of undocumented immigrants now in the country" -- CW ...

... CW: I gather from this Politico piece by Nick Gass that the immigrants Trump wants to be "fair" to are those who come to the country legally: "We have a lot of people that want to come in through the legal process and it's not fair for them." Trump told Fox "News" he isn't flip-flopping. It sounds as if that's true.

Social Security to Pay Homeless Woman $100K+. Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post: Eighty-year-old Wanda Witter, a homeless woman who lived for years on the streets of D.C., claimed Social Security owed her a bundle. During that time, Witter tried to get them to pay out what she though they owed her, but Social Security & others viewed her as crazy. Finally, social worker Julie Turner, who works for the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, went over the paperwork Witter had been dragging around, thought it looked credible, & got her a lawyer, Daniela de la Piedra, who specializes in Social Security disputes. de la Piedra & Social Security agreed Witter was owed more than $100,000. Social Security will be sending her a check for $99,999 in the next few days (the largest the agency can cut on short notice), & she will be getting monthly benefits of $1,464. Turner also found Witter an apartment. -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Trump's poll numbers remain dire, but he can point to at least one ray of hope for a turnaround: Republicans have continued gaining ground in recent months in voter registration in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Iowa, while the late surge in Democratic registrations relative to Republican registrations that occurred in battleground states the final months of the 2012 election had not materialized in numbers released in early August." -- CW

Cyra Master of the Hill: "Colin Powell says Hillary Clinton's campaign has been trying to use him to help justify her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.... [Clinton] reportedly told FBI investigators that Powell ... recommended she use a private email account.... On Sunday, Powell told the New York Post's Page Six..., 'The truth is she was using it for a year before I sent her a memo telling er what I did [during my term as Secretary of State],' he said. 'Her people have been trying to pin it on me.' But, the Post reported that 'despite appearing angered by the situation,' Powell added, 'It doesn't bother me. It's OK, I'm free.'" -- CW ...

... Margaret Hartmann: "Clinton has never publicly tried to 'pin' Emailgate on Powell.... It's actually strange that while cycling through a number of bad explanations for her private email server, Clinton never told the press that Powell suggested it. If she were more adept at scandal management, she would have blamed it on him a long time ago." -- CW

Daniel Politi of Slate: "In what looked to be at least partly a way to dodge questions about the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook essentially accused Donald Trump of being a Kremlin puppet." -- CW ...

... Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, said they still haven't found a person to play Donald Trump in mock presidential debates. 'It's very hard to find someone to mimic the reckless temperament and the hateful instincts and divisive instincts of Donald Trump,' Mook said Sunday on CNN's 'State of the Union.'" CW: Any suggestions?

** Greg Sargent collects evidence that Trump's "plan all along ... [was] to establish a media empire with him at the helm -- one that caters, at least to some degree, to a white nationalist or 'alt-right' audience.... It's hard to predict what sort of longer term civic impact that might have, but it's hard to imagine it would be a good one." -- CW

Maggie Haberman & Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump has seized on a new argument...: that Democrats are preparing to exploit weak voter identification laws to win a 'stolen election' through fraudulent voting.... Mr. Trump's language has moved beyond his party's call for rigid identification requirements and the unfounded claims that polls are 'skewed'.... And his warnings have been cast in increasingly urgent and racially suggestive language, hinting that the only legitimate outcome in certain states would be his victory.... Last week, Mr. Trump hired as his campaign chief Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart, a conservative news website that has frequently given voice to ... perceived voter fraud and 'propaganda polls' showing Mrs. Clinton ahead. And on Friday, Mr. Trump released his first campaign ad ..., featuring an image of a polling site with the word 'rigged' flashing onscreen less than two seconds after the spot begins." -- CW

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's campaign wavered Sunday on whether he would continue to call for the mass deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants from the United States, the latest in a series of sometimes clumsy attempts to win over moderate GOP voters without alienating millions who have flocked to his hard-line views. After insisting for more than a year that all illegal immigrants 'have to go,' Trump met with a newly created panel of Hispanic advisers on Saturday and asked for other ideas -- making clear that his position is not finalized, according to two attendees. Any shift would represent a remarkable retreat on one of the Republican nominee's signature issues." -- CW ...

... TBD. Jenna Johnson & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "On Sunday morning, [Donald Trump's] newly installed campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was asked during an interview on CNN's 'State of the Union' whether Trump still wants 'a deportation force removing the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants.' 'To be determined,' said Conway, who in the past has supported creating a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants illegally living in the United States." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jenna Johnson: "Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Sunday morning that she does not want the Republican presidential nominee to release his tax returns until an audit by the Internal Revenue Service is completed, abandoning a position that she took five months ago, when she didn't work for the campaign and urged Trump to "be transparent" and release the filings.... Trump is the first major presidential nominee from either party since 1976 to not release tax returns." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

The Scampaign, Ctd. Nicholas Confessore & Rachel Storey of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump is leaning heavily on Republican Party organizations to provide crucial campaign functions like getting out the vote, digital outreach and fund-raising, at a time when some leading Republicans have called for party officials to cut off Mr. Trump and focus instead on maintaining control of Congress.... In July, when Mrs. Clinton spent almost $3 million to field a staff of 700 people at her Brooklyn headquarters and in swing states around the country..., Mr. Trump spent more money on renting arenas for his speeches than he did on payroll." CW: This is what a vanity campaign looks like, except few vanity candidates try to undermine the republic. ...

... Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "The Donald Trump campaign's boasts of a formidable fundraising month in July spooked Democrats.... But a closer inspection of the campaign finance report filed just before Saturday's midnight deadline indicates the haul came at a steep price.... Though the campaign touted an $80 million figure for its July fundraising, just $36.7 million of that total went directly to the campaign. The rest came in through joint fundraising vehicles with the Republican National Committee and state parties. At least $9.5 million of that money is off limits for spending on the election because it's designated for the RNC's convention, headquarters and legal accounts. Plus, the RNC is considering spending its money down-ballot instead of supporting Trump as tensions boil over between the party's apparatus and its defiant nominee. The money the Trump campaign raised also didn't come cheap. The campaign more than doubled its spending from the previous month to $18.5 million in July.... Most of that money went toward expanding the campaign's online fundraising operation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: Those of you who thought the Trump campaign was lying about its big haul were on the right track; not a lie, but deceptive.

But in the same speech [in Fredericksburg, Va.], he again slammed an order by the state's Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, to restore voting rights to some convicted felons who have completed their sentences, a move McAuliffe says could help African-Americans who were disproportionally affected by laws that put lifetime bans on felons." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Maybe he [Trump] can sharpen his appeal by imploring African American voters to 'get off the Democrat plantation.'-- Mike in DC, Balloon Juice commenter ...

... E.J. Dionne: Particularly because of his rudeness & crudeness Donald Trump is turning Virginia blue. North Carolina and even Georgia might follow. -- CW

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump hands out Play-Doh while the world burns. Republicans' vehement "hostility to climate science seems disproportionate [to the campaign contributions they get from the fossil fuel industry]; bear in mind that, for example, at this point there are fewer than 60,000 coal miners, that is, less than 0.05 percent of the work force. What's happening, I suspect, is that climate denial has become a sort of badge of right-wing identity, above and beyond the still-operative motive of rewarding donors." -- CW ...

... ** Hairspray. Lawrence Krauss, in the New Yorker, details how Donald Trump & mike pence are the anti-science candidates.

Rebecca Morin of Politico: "Continuing with the narrative that Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president, Rudy Giuliani, an adviser with Donald Trump's campaign, claimed Sunday there are videos online that show Clinton has an illness.... The media 'fails to point out several signs of illness by her; all you gotta do is go online,' Giuliani said.... Clinton's campaign has since called those claims 'deranged conspiracy theories' and has recirculated a 2015 letter from internist Lisa Bardack that said Clinton was in good health." CW: Notice how Giuliani's claims play into the "rigged election" theme; the media are co-conspirators in a cover-up that anyone can discover "online"; i.e., on some "deranged conspiracy" Websites.

Caitlin Yilek of the Hill: "Tea Party firebrand Michele Bachmann says she is advising ... Donald Trump on foreign policy." Something, something, radical Islam. CW: This is very reassuring. She can't tell New Hampshire from Massachusetts even when she's in New Hampshire, so let's just assume her expertise lies beyond our borders.

I never claimed to be a journalist. -- Sean Hannity

... Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: Sean "Hannity uses his show on the nation's most-watched cable news network to blare Mr. Trump's message relentlessly -- giving Mr. Trump the kind of promotional television exposure even a billionaire can't afford for long. But Mr. Hannity is not only Mr. Trump's biggest media booster; he also veers into the role of adviser.... Mr. Hannity's show has all the trappings of traditional television news -- the anchor desk, the graphics and the patina of authority that comes with being part of a news organization...." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Matea Gold & Anu Narayanswamy of the Washington Post: "... ousted [Trump] campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received his regular $20,000 monthly fee on July 6 -- two weeks after he was jettisoned and had been hired by CNN as a political commentator. Trump has continued to call on Lewandowski for advice since his departure...." CW: Nice work, CNN. Fair & balanced & all.

Senate Race

Classy. Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "Republican senator Mark Kirk said on Sunday that Barack Obama was 'acting like the drug dealer-in-chief' when his administration used the delivery of a $400m payment to Iran as what it called 'leverage'. Kirk made the statement during an interview with the editorial board of the State Journal-Register, a local newspaper in his home state of Illinois." CW: Yeah, and his street name is 2 Terms, which is something you ain't gonna get, Marky. Knocking a popular president -- and in a way many white people will assume is racist -- in his home state is not a winning strategy.

Other News & Views

** The Meme Must Fit the Crime. Brian Beutler: "As a genre of political spin and analysis, 'Obama's Katrina' has been with us since the beginning of the president's administration. Anytime something tragic and abrupt happens in the country is an occasion for Republicans and media figures to compare it to President George W. Bush's famously terrible response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By the Washington Post's count, there have been 23 Obama's Katrinas since 2009, and that only brings us through to July 2014.... There's a reason the Obama's Katrina genre endures in futility: The unwholesome mixture of a press corps obsessed with optics and a conservative establishment reeling from its own failures." -- CW

Fernanda Santos of the New York Times: "Every week in immigration courts around the country, thousands of children act as their own lawyers, pleading for asylum or other type of relief in a legal system they do not understand.... Children accused of violating immigration laws, a civil offense, do not have the ... right [to an attorney].... A class-action lawsuit, filed by the A.C.L.U. and other civil rights organizations, is trying to change that.... Yet the government has also spent millions of dollars paying for lawyers to represent unaccompanied children in immigration courts...." Some private legal groups also represent some of the children for free. -- CW (See also Ken W.'s comment on the ACLU in yesterday's thread.)

Beyond the Beltway

Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Gov. Terry McAuliffe will announce Monday that he has restored voting rights to 13,000 felons on a case-by-case basis after Republicans and state Supreme Court justices last month stopped his more sweeping clemency effort.... McAuliffe's planned action ... comes about a month after the Supreme Court of Virginia invalidated an executive order the Democratic governor issued in April. With that order, McAuliffe restored voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who had completed their sentences.... McAuliffe also will lay out his plans for restoring rights to the remainder of the 200,000." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Phillip Ericksen of the Waco Tribune-Herald (Aug. 19): "Ken Starr has decided to leave his last remaining post at Baylor University, saying university officials wanted him out.... He remained at Baylor as a law professor after being fired as president May 26 and resigning as chancellor days later. His firing came after an independent investigation found 'a lack of institutional support and engagement by senior leadership' [CW: in relation to mishandling sexual assault allegations, especially against the school's football team] to implement Title IX, according to Baylor's board of regents." CW: I plumb forgot to link this last week; I think Akhilleus mentioned it in the Comments section. Anyhow, nice to know Starr is now available to investigate Hillary Clinton.

CW: If Team USA's post-Olympics presser is any indication, Ryan Lochte & his posse wrecked the games for the team. This "distracton," as Lochte & others like to call it, is grossly unfair to the American kids who trained for years to join the ranks of the world's best athletes.

News Lede

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Pills marked as hydrocodone that were seized from Paisley Park after Prince's overdose death actually contained fentanyl, the powerful opioid that killed him, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.... Investigators ... are leaning toward the theory that he took the pills not knowing they contained the drug." -- CW