The Ledes

Monday, December 11, 2017.

Washington Post: Simeon "Booker, the Washington bureau chief of Jet and Ebony magazines for five decades, died Dec. 10 at an assisted-living community in Solomons, Md. He was 99 and had recently been hospitalized for pneumonia, said his wife, Carol Booker. Few reporters risked more to chronicle the civil rights movement than Mr. Booker. He was the first full-time black reporter for The Washington Post, serving on the newspaper’s staff for two years before joining Johnson Publishing Co. to write for Jet, a weekly, and Ebony, a monthly modeled on Life magazine, in 1954."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, December 8, 2017.

New York Times: "The economy’s vital signs are stronger than they have been in years. Companies are posting jobs faster than they can find workers to fill them. Incomes are rising. The stock market sets records seemingly every month. The latest evidence of the revival came Friday, when the Labor Department reported that American employers added 228,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent, the lowest since 2000. Job growth has slowed since its peak in 2014 but remains remarkably steady: For the first time on record, employers have added jobs every month for more than seven years — 86 months, to be precise."

Los Angeles Times: "Gusty Santa Ana winds and bone-dry conditions continued to stoke major wildfires in Southern California on Thursday as Ventura County fire officials said the battle there could last well over a week. By Thursday evening, the Thomas fire had consumed 115,000 acres, destroyed 427 structures in Ventura and damaged at least 85 more, authorities said. An additional 12 structures were destroyed in unincorporated areas of Ventura County. As the blaze intruded on Santa Barbara County, residents living in Carpinteria, Summerland and other coastal communities nearby were told to prepare to evacuate, even in areas under voluntary evacuation orders." ...

     ... Related stories are linked on the LA Times' homepage.

New York Times: "... the prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, is the mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting 'Salvator Mundi,' which fetched a record $450.3 million at auction last month, documents show. The revelation that Prince Bader is the purchaser, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, links one of the most captivating mysteries of the art world with palace intrigues in Saudi Arabia that are shaking the region. Prince Bader splurged on this controversial and decidedly un-Islamic portrait of Christ at a time when most of the Saudi Arabian elite, including members of the royal family, are cowering under a sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment."

Politico: "PBS announced on Monday that CNN International correspondent Christiane Amanpour would be the interim replacement for Charlie Rose after he was fired and his long-running interview show was canceled over multiple allegations of sexual harassment.... 'Amanpour on PBS' will begin airing on New York’s PBS station on Monday and will roll out to other stations beginning Dec. 11."

Variety: "Netflix has reached an agreement to resume production on 'House of Cards' season 6 — the show’s final season — in early 2018, according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Production of 'House of Cards' season 6 was suspended in October, following sexual assault allegations against star Kevin Spacey. Season 6 of the political thriller will be eight episodes, starring Robin Wright, Sarandos said. The final season will not include Spacey, as previously announced. Each of the previous season have comprised 13 episodes."

In reaction to the horrors of what happened in Charlottesville, which is named after this queen, her ancestry is very relevant. -- historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom, on Queen Charlotte of Britain's biracial heritage ...

... Washington Post: "When Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement Monday (Nov. 27), Twitter erupted with the news that the newest princess in the royal family would be bi-racial. 'We got us a Black princess ya’ll,” GirlTyler exulted. “Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl.'... But Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white, may not be the first mixed-race royal. Some historians suspect that Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III who bore the king 15 children, was of African descent. Historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom argues that Queen Charlotte was directly descended from a black branch of the Portuguese royal family: Alfonso III and his concubine, Ouruana, a black Moor.” The report on Charlotte's heritage is fascinating.

... Mrs. McCrabbie: One of the best things about Southern white bigots is that, slavery being what it was, they're very likely to be less than 99 & 44/100ths percent pure white. For instance, these two young fellas have facial features that are remarkably similar:

But, um, one of them is David Duke & the other is Jesse Jackson. Separated at birth? Give Duke a 'fro, & he'd easily pass for African-American. Maybe a hood kinda relaxes curls.

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

 

The full Neiman's Christmas book is here, with some items costing less than $35K.

New Yorker: Thomas Hargrove, a retired journalist, is developing an algorithm to solve serial murders. Interesting & not a bit nutty. Hargrove's research suggests that the number of serial killers still out their doing their jobs is much greater than police departments realize (or will admit -- serial killers are bad for local tourism). Also too, the percentage of murders that get solved has dropped precipitously in the last half-century.

Donaldo da Trumpo. Guardian: "On Wednesday, a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting sold for $450.3m, rocking the art world.... On Thursday, that same art world was given a reality check, when a sketch by the less celebrated Donald Trump sold for just $6,875 at an auction in Los Angeles. Trump’s untitled piece, which depicts the Manhattan skyline, barely cleared its minimum price of $5,000.... The president took on his project in 2009 for a charity event. Trump seems to have used either pencil or ballpoint pen for the piece, which measures 8in x 5in. The sketch shows what appear to be skyscrapers, alongside something representing the Empire State Building. Nate D Sanders, the auction house handling the sale, presented the sketch in a 15in x 18in frame, along with a signed photo of Trump."

New York Times: "After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s 'Salvator Mundi' sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s 'Women of Algiers,' which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed." ...

... New York Times critic Jason Farago calls the painting "a proficient but not especially distinguished religious picture from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations.... The painting, when purchased at an estate sale in 2005 for less than $10,000, was initially considered a copy of a lost Leonardo, completed around 1500 and once in the collection of Charles I of England. [Some experts still think it's a copy.] Over time, its wood surface became cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely overpainted.... Cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the painting now appears in some limbo state between its original form and an exacting, though partially imagined, rehabilitation."

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

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

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

Monday
Dec112017

The Commentariat -- December 12, 2017

Old Geezer Sitting at Home Shouting at TV Tweets He Isn't Sitting at Home Shouting at TV. Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump pushed back against a recent New York Times article on Monday, saying in a Twitter post that he does not watch four to eight hours of television each day.... 'Another false story, this time in the Failing @nytimes, that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day - Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the “dumbest man on television!” Bad Reporting.'... A spokeswoman for The Times ... rejected the idea that the article was false." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Maggie Haberman knows more about you than you know about yourself. Sad!

Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker elaborates on why Donald Trump was so unfit to appear at the opening of Mississippi's Civil Rights Museum. "In Trump’s case, 'We, the People' has been replaced by 'I, the Person.' The problem, then, is not only that, as Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, of Jackson, said last week, Trump advocates policies that run counter to the objectives of the civil-rights movement. It is that the ethic of seeking commonality rather than division, of enduring insults rather than retaliating for them, of withstanding punishment in service of a civic idea l— in short, anything that might have sustained Annelle Ponder, Fannie Lou Hamer, and the countless other heroes of the civil-rights movement — is apparently alien to the President of the United States."


Eighteen Days in Winter. Carole Lee & Julia Ainsley
of NBC News: "Special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to piece together what happened inside the White House over a critical 18-day period that began when senior officials were told that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by Russia, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The questions about what happened between Jan. 26 and Flynn's firing on Feb. 13 appear to relate to possible obstruction of justice by ... Donald Trump, say two people familiar with Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jonathan Chait: "... in the 24th paragraph of [the] NBC News report ... is a sentence that indicates Robert Mueller’s cleanest shot — so far — at proving illegality by the president. Mueller, NBC reports, 'appears to be interested in whether Trump directed [Michael Flynn] to lie to senior officials, including Pence, or the FBI, and if so why, the sources said.'... There are many questions around this episode, but the most pertinent ones concern why Flynn would behave so recklessly.... News reports have focused on the possibility that Trump ordered Flynn’s outreach to Russia.... But NBC is raising a different, and more serious, possibility: that Trump also instructed Flynn to lie to the FBI about his conversation. That scenario would explain a lot.... If this is what happened, the legal violation [by Trump] would not be ambiguous at all.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In view of Flynn's agreement to cooperate with the Mueller team, it's quite possible they already know -- or at least Flynn has asserted -- that Trump instructed him to (1) promise Russia the administration would remove the sanctions, (2) lie to pence, et al., & (3) lie to FBI investigators.

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Several women who came forward during the 2016 campaign to accuse Donald J. Trump of sexual misconduct renewed their allegations publicly on Monday, betting that recently aggressive attitudes against harassment will give their stories new life and demanding that Congress investigate the president’s actions. The women said that they were frustrated that their stories about what they described as Mr. Trump’s actions did not have a greater effect on his campaign. But they also expressed hope that they would be taken more seriously after a torrent of similar accusations had toppled the careers of powerful men in the news media, business and politics." ...

... Jonathan Lemire of the AP: "Donald Trump sailed past a raft of allegations of sexual misconduct in last year’s presidential election. Now the national #MeToo spotlight is turning back to Trump and his past conduct. Several of his accusers are urging Congress to investigate his behavior, and a number of Democratic lawmakers are demanding his resignation.... Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, [said Sunday that Trump's accusers 'should be heard.'] Haley’s comments infuriated the president, according to two people who are familiar with his views.... Trump has grown increasingly angry in recent days that the accusations against him have resurfaced, telling associates that the charges are false and drawing parallels to the accusations facing Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Contributor Marvin S. was wondering yesterday who would replace Haley at the U.N. For some reason Marvin anticipated that Trump would be "furious" at Haley.

** Paul Krugman: "On Monday the Treasury Department released a one-page report claiming that tax cuts would pay for themselves. The document was a shameless attempt to fool the public — carefully worded to imply that economic experts at Treasury (they’re still in there somewhere, maybe locked in a closet) had actually done an analysis to that effect, without explicitly saying so. In fact, there was no economic analysis; Trump officials just made up numbers that would give them the result they wanted.... The department’s inspector general is investigating what actually happened, because Mnuchin repeatedly claimed to have ... [a real Treasury] analysis in hand.... [Mnuchin] he may be inspired by the example of Paul Ryan, who pulled off similar scams a few years back, fooling much of the news media...." Read it all. This is an indictment of the Republican party in one act. ...

... The Magical Munchkin. New York Times Editors: "In past administrations, the Tax Policy Office [of the Treasury department] performed detailed work in analyzing proposed tax legislation, and its findings didn’t always agree with the president’s agenda.... While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was publicly claiming that more than 100 people in the office were 'working around the clock on running scenarios for us' on the economic impact of the tax cuts, career tax experts inside the office said that they had been largely shut out of the process and that such an analysis didn’t exist.... After months of promises we now see that the analytical support for a $1.5 trillion, nearly 500-page piece of legislation is a 400-word note that boils down to 'trust us.'” ...

... ** Bess Levin of Vanity Fair: "With the clock running down and the Inspector General digging into the mysterious case of the missing Treasury analysis, [Steve Mnuchin,] the former Goldman partner turned foreclosure mogul pulled through on Monday with a report clocking in at a single page and fewer than 500 words that says the Senate plan will totally pay for itself — assuming a set of circumstances that are about as likely as Jared Kushner bringing peace to the Middle East. For real-live economists and tax experts, Mnuchin’s “analysis” is an infuriating disgrace.... 'It’s a pathetic excuse for a study,' former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers told me. 'I suspect the current staff are not happy that the relevant data has been suppressed in the administration’s attempts to obscure the truth.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McC: Levin explains, in layman's terms, everything that is wrong with Munchkin's fake "analysis." What she only hints at is that this one piece of paper is symptomatic & symbolic of the entire Fake Presidency. It would not surprise me in the slightest if it turned out that Trump ordered Munchkin to create a fake "analysis" to support his Tax Heist, just as it would not surprise me if Trump ordered Flynn to promise the Russians the sanctions would disappear, then lie about it to everybody. Convenient fantasies lie at the heart of dictatorships. To laugh at these people the way Charlie Chaplin did at Hitler is to make the same grave mistake Chaplin later admitted. It isn't funny. ...

... Why, here's an example. Watch Sanders refuse to answer questions like one from Matthew Nussbaum of Politico who asked if Trump understood the difference between honest mistakes journalists make & quickly correct vs. Russia's disinformation campaign during the 2016 election. then she completely shuts down Jim Acosta of CNN even a chance.

Senate Race

Charles Pierce, on what Doug Jones did. Mrs. McC: You really don't have to look at Roy Moore at all, or Luther Strange or whatever GOP reprobate Sen. Richard Shelby wants Republicans to write in on today's ballot.

Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts Monday to woo voters in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that has attracted more than $41 million in spending. Former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden recorded robo-calls for Democrat Doug Jones, while President Trump recorded an appeal for Republican Roy Moore.... Moore brought in a raft of out-of-state conservative activists, including former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), and former Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke.... Jones, who is focused on turning out African American voters, held a final campaign rally in Birmingham on Monday night, where he was joined on stage by basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, actress Alyssa Milano and the city’s newly elected mayor, Randall Woodfin, among others."

Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews.... I’ve seen it all, so I just want to set the record straight.... One of our attorneys is a Jew.... -- Kayla Moore, Monday night

Wow! I'll bet one of their maids is black or Hispanic, too. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

Scott Douglas, in a New York Times op-ed: "In 2011, Alabama lawmakers passed a photo ID law, ostensibly to combat voter fraud.... [But] Alabama’s law is nothing but a naked attempt to suppress the voting rights of people of color.... A state senator who had tried for over a decade to get the bill into law, told The Huntsville Times that a photo ID law would undermine Alabama’s 'black power structure.' In The Montgomery Advertiser, he said that the absence of an ID law 'benefits black elected leaders.' The bill’s sponsors were even caught on tape devising a plan to depress the turnout of black voters — whom they called 'aborigines' and 'illiterates' who would ride 'H.U.D.-financed buses” to the polls....” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you find yourself thinking that "Southern tradition" is fried chicken & sweet tea -- naw, it's more like extreme racism & any advantage a white boy might get from applying it with ferocity.

Jeff Zeleny of CNN: "Former President Barack Obama is adding his voice to the Alabama Senate race, imploring voters to go to the polls Tuesday to reject the candidacy of Roy Moore as part of an aggressive effort by Democrats to try and counter ... Donald Trump's full-throated endorsement of the controversial Republican candidate. 'This one's serious,' Obama says in the call. 'You can't sit it out.' Two Democratic officials familiar with the Alabama race tell CNN that Obama recorded the phone message in recent days, at the very time Trump stepped up his own involvement in the campaign with a recorded message. Obama does not mention Moore by name. 'Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress,' Obama says. 'Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Eliana Jackson & Alex Isenstadt of Politico write on how Trump & the RNC came to publicly support Roy Moore. One tidbit: the two guys who talked Ronna Romney McDaniel into backing Moore: John Kelly & Bill Stepien. Stepien is such a jackass Chris Christie fired him; (oh, & he had an affair with Bridget Anne Kelly, the woman convicted in the Bridgegate scandal). Kelly, as we found in his refusal to acknowledge or apologize for his untrue attacks on Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), is a horrible human being. (Also linked yesterday.)

Manu Raju & Todd Barrett of CNN: "In an interview with CNN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not say if the GOP conference would welcome [Roy Moore] into its weekly policy lunches or give him committee assignments. 'That's a good conversation for sometime after tomorrow,' McConnell said in the Capitol."


Pajama Boy at Work Just Like Pajama Boy at Play. Sheryl Stolberg
of the New York Times: "A peek into the inner workings of [Rep. Blake Farenthold's (RTP-Texas)] office reveals the kind of hostile work environment, rife with sexual innuendo, that prompted Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, to call Congress 'the worst' place for women to work.... Legal documents and interviews with former aides suggest an atmosphere in which the congressman set the tone for off-color jokes and inappropriate banter, which flourished among his underlings. Former employees also said that Mr. Farenthold had an explosive temper and often bullied his aides, prompting a high turnover."


Liam Stack
of the New York Times: "The New Yorker said Monday that it had fired Ryan Lizza, the magazine’s Washington correspondent, after it said he had engaged in what it called 'improper sexual conduct,' a charge that Mr. Lizza denied.... In a statement, Mr. Lizza said the company’s decision to fire him 'was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts' and 'was a terrible mistake.'... The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated.'” Thanks to P.D. Pepe for the lead. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The Mooch -- whom Trump fired because of an interview Scaramucci gave to Lizza -- must be having a good laugh over Lizza's firing. I have a hard time believing Lizza is a sexist pig, but we'll see.  According to Stack's report, CNN -- where Lizza is an on-air contributor -- has suspended Lizza & will be investigating the allegations against him, which Stack does not reveal. We'll see what the network decides. ...

     ... On the Other Hand: Michael Calderone of Politico: "Lizza’s name was included [in] the 'Shitty Media Men' list which circulated in response to the Harvey Weinstein allegations. So maybe.  The list was surpposedly compiled by women, but one of its distributors was "extreme right-wing blogger Mike Cernovich..., [a] vocal anti-feminist activist who was charged with rape in 2003...." ...

     ... BTW, Glenn Thrush shared a byline on the Times' big story on Trump's teevee obsession, so either he's back on the job or he worked on the story before the Times suspended him for conduct unbefitting a gentleman.

Jill Disis of CNN: "Celebrity chef Mario Batali is stepping away from his restaurant business and ABC television show amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Batali said in a statement to CNNMoney that he is 'deeply sorry' for any pain or humiliation he has caused." (Also linked yesterday.)

** Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Transgender people will be allowed to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, Defense Department officials said on Monday, a move that pauses President Trump’s effort to bar transgender troops. A federal judge allowed an October order pausing the ban to remain in effect, pending further legal review. The judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court in Washington, said in a ruling on Monday that the ban most likely violates constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. She rejected the Trump administration’s argument that it needs more time to prepare to process new transgender recruits for military service.... Sarah Huckabee Sanders ... suggested that Mr. Trump would continue to seek ways to carry out his ban. 'The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the legal options to ensure the president’s directive is implemented,' she told reporters." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It ain't over till it's over, but this is a good sign for those of us who think the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment is essential to a democracy.

** Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Gene Robinson: "The great Simeon Booker, one of the bravest journalists of our time, faced dangers far worse than a petulant president’s social media feed. Booker refused to be cowed — and ultimately helped change the nation. His life’s work should be a lesson to us all about the power of truth to vanquish evil.... More than once, Simeon Booker had to escape from Southern towns where white vigilante mobs were on the prowl to 'get that man from Jet.' We should be able to withstand a few nasty tweets."

"Journalism for Rent." Jack Gillum & Shawn Boburg of the Washington Post turn the tables on Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the Steele Dossier. "Fusion GPS bills itself as a corporate research firm, but in many ways it operates with the secrecy of a spy agency.... hundreds of internal company documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal how Fusion, a firm led by former journalists, has used investigative reporting techniques and media connections to advance the interests of an eclectic range of clients on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and in the nation’s capital."

Beyond the Beltway

William Rashbaum, et al., of the New York Times: "An explosion Monday morning caused the authorities to evacuate one of the busiest transit hubs in New York City.... The Police Department said in a tweet that it was responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, where two subway stations, Times Square and Port Authority, are connected by a tunnel. The Port Authority bus station was also evacuated.... One person was in custody, the Police Department said. A senior city official ... said that the suspect had been wearing an explosive device strapped to his person and that the police had stripped him naked to remove it. The suspect was alone and the device was reported to have gone off prematurely in the passageway between the two subway stations. The explosion was recorded on surveillance video.... The man who was in custody was in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... This story has been Updated, with Sarah Nir now lead reporter. New Lede: "A would-be suicide bomber detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his body in the heart of Manhattan’s busiest subway corridor, rending the early Monday commute with a blast that reverberated up through the city’s sidewalks, caused transit chaos and terrified thousands of travelers who fled headlong through tunnels choked with smoke. He chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, recalling strikes in Europe against Christmas markets, he told investigators, and set off his bomb in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere, several law enforcement officials said. But his makeshift weapon sputtered. The attacker himself was the only one seriously injured."

... Tom Winter, et al., of NBC News: "The suspect in a terror-related attack in New York City has been identified as Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant who lives in Brooklyn." (Also linked yesterday.)

Way Beyond

AP: "Eighteen climate scientists from the US and elsewhere have hit the jackpot as France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, awarded them millions of euros in grants to relocate to France for the rest of Donald Trump’s presidential term. The 'Make Our Planet Great Again' grants – a nod to Trump’s 'Make America Great Again' campaign slogan – are part of Macron’s efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord. More than 5,000 people from about 100 countries expressed interest in the grants. Most of the applicants – and 13 of the 18 winners – were US-based researchers." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yesterday, we learned that Macron was trying to pull financial businesses from London as a result of Brexit; today we find he's pulling climate scientists from the U.S. He has rather exhilarating ways of getting in the faces of jerks doing stupid things.

Monday
Dec112017

The Commentariat -- December 11, 2017

Late Morning Update:

Dan Merica of CNN: "A group of women who have publicly accused ... Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault will detail their accounts of being groped, fondled and forcibly kissed by the businessman-turned-politician at a news conference on Monday. The women, according to the group organizing the event, will call on Congress to investigate accusations of sexual misconduct against the President." ...

     ... The Washington Post is carrying the press conference on its front page @ 11 am ET.

Jeff Zeleny of CNN: "Former President Barack Obama is adding his voice to the Alabama Senate race, imploring voters to go to the polls Tuesday to reject the candidacy of Roy Moore as part of an aggressive effort by Democrats to try and counter ... Donald Trump's full-throated endorsement of the controversial Republican candidate. 'This one's serious,' Obama says in the call. 'You can't sit it out.' Two Democratic officials familiar with the Alabama race tell CNN that Obama recorded the phone message in recent days, at the very time Trump stepped up his own involvement in the campaign with a recorded message. Obama does not mention Moore by name. 'Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress,' Obama says. 'Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama.'" ...

... Eliana Jackson & Alex Isenstadt of Politico write on how Trump & the RNC came to publicly support Roy Moore. One tidbit: the two guys who talked Ronna Romney McDaniel into backing Moore: John Kelly & Bill Stepien. Stepien is such a jackass Chris Christie fired him; (oh, & he had an affair with Bridget Anne Kelly, the woman convicted in the Bridgegate scandal). Kelly, as we found in his refusal to acknowledge or apologize for his untrue attacks on Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), is a horrible human being.

William Rashbaum, et al., of the New York Times: "An explosion Monday morning caused the authorities to evacuate one of the busiest transit hubs in New York City.... The Police Department said in a tweet that it was responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, where two subway stations, Times Square and Port Authority, are connected by a tunnel. The Port Authority bus station was also evacuated.... One person was in custody, the Police Department said. A senior city official ... said that the suspect had been wearing an explosive device strapped to his person and that the police had stripped him naked to remove it. The suspect was alone and the device was reported to have gone off prematurely in the passageway between the two subway stations. The explosion was recorded on surveillance video.... The man who was in custody was in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital." This is a developing story. The Washington Post had a very preliminary story up a few hours ago, with no details. ...

... Tom Winter, et al., of NBC News: "The suspect in a terror-related attack in New York City has been identified as Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant who lives in Brooklyn."

Jill Disis of CNN: "Celebrity chef Mario Batali is stepping away from his restaurant business and ABC television show amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Batali said in a statement to CNNMoney that he is 'deeply sorry' for any pain or humiliation he has caused."

*****

NEW. Eighteen Days in Winter. Carole Lee & Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "Special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to piece together what happened inside the White House over a critical 18-day period that began when senior officials were told that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by Russia, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The questions about what happened between Jan. 26 and Flynn's firing on Feb. 13 appear to relate to possible obstruction of justice by ... Donald Trump, say two people familiar with Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign." ...

... Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday the evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia is 'pretty damning.' 'The Russians offered help. The campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help. And the president made full use of that help,' Schiff said during an interview on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'And that's pretty damning, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not,' he continued. Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a probe into possible Russian election hacking, said people need to look at the 'pattern of chronology.'" ...

There are powerful forces in Washington trying to sabotage our movement. These are bad people, these are very, very bad and evil people. . . . But you know what, we’re stopping them. You’re seeing that right now. -- Donald Trump, at a campaign rally for Roy Moore, Friday ...

... E.J. Dionne: "Our democratic republic is in far more danger than it was even a few weeks ago. Until this point, there was an underlying faith in much of the political world that if Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian collusion in the election turned up unmistakably damning material about Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress would feel obligated by their commitment to the country’s well-being to accept Mueller’s findings and challenge the president.... But we learned last week that Republicans are deepening their complicity in derailing Mueller’s investigation and burying the facts. The more Mueller imperils Trump, the more McCarthyite the GOP becomes. The apotheosis of Republican congressional collusion with Trump’s efforts to hang on at all costs came at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee." ...

... OR, There's This. Daniel Politi of Slate: "The winners of the Nobel Peace Prize warned that a nuclear war that could devastate the planet was closer to being a reality than most realized. Beatrice Fihn, who is the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), accepted the award in the group’s name and warned that the total destruction of humanity could be one 'impulsive tantrum away.' Speaking at the awards ceremony in Oslo, Fihn left little doubt about who she was referring to when she noted that 'a moment of panic or carelessness, a misconstrued comment or bruised ego could easily lead us unavoidably to the destruction of entire cities.' That is why, Fihn noted, the only way to assure that it won’t happen is to get rid of nuclear weapons entirely.”

The Pollution Presidency. Eric Lipton & Danielle Ivory of the New York Times: "An analysis of [EPA] enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the [Trump-Pruitt] administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters.... The Times built a database of civil cases filed at the E.P.A. during the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations. During the first nine months under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership, the E.P.A. started about 1,900 cases, about one-third fewer than the number under President Barack Obama’s first E.P.A. director and about one-quarter fewer than under President George W. Bush’s over the same time period. In addition, the agency sought civil penalties of about $50.4 million from polluters for cases initiated under Mr. Trump. Adjusted for inflation, that is about 39 percent of what the Obama administration sought and about 70 percent of what the Bush administration sought over the same time period." ...

... Chas Danner of New York: "Since Donald Trump became president, the Environmental Protection Agency has been doing a lot less to target polluters than the previous two administrations, according to a new analysis of EPA enforcement data and confidential internal documents by the New York Times...[Scott] Pruitt says he is no ally to polluters and that they will not be allowed to run amok as the Trump administration rolls back regulations across the government. The data in the Times analysis seems to indicate otherwise." --safari: More bald-faced lies from Trump's henchmen. Par for the course.

Nick Turse of The Intercept: "What did officials at U.S. Africa Command know about the fate of Sgt. La David Johnson, and when did they know it?... Despite an enormous amount of attention on the killings ... the Pentagon has refused to officially say what happened to Johnson.... Reporting by The Intercept reveals, however, that the day after Johnson was separated from his Special Forces Unit, officials at the headquarters of Africa Command apparently said he was alive.... The U.S. military’s statements about the attack have changed over time, and even the nature of the mission remains unclear." --safari

#YouTooDonald. Michael Shear & Emily Cochrane of the New York Times: "Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said on Sunday that women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct 'should be heard,' a surprising break from the administration’s longstanding assertion that the allegations are false and that voters rightly dismissed them when they elected Mr. Trump.... Her remarks are the latest indication that the president’s behavior toward women — more than a dozen have accused him of unwanted touching, forcible kissing or groping — may not escape renewed scrutiny at a time when an array of powerful men have had their careers derailed because of their improper treatment of women, some of which took place decades ago." ...

... "Merry Christmas, Everybody." David of Crooks & Liars: "One of the Trump administration's top diplomats, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, wished CNN host Jake Tapper a 'Merry Christmas' on Sunday -- even though he is Jewish. ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: This is the biggest downside to saying "Merry Christmas" to people you don't know or don't know well. It forces you to make snap decisions about a stranger's faith, & I find that thought process itself discriminatory. Like Haley, I've never given an iota of thought to Tapper's religious heritage, & why should we? In the context in which we "know" him, he's a secular figure. Since most working people get a day off on Christmas or thereabouts, "Happy Holidays," or other generic greetings & well-wishes are appropriate in most cases. Very often, "Merry Christmas" is not. If I know someone is a practicing Christian -- a priest, for instance -- I do say, "Merry Christmas" or something like it. But not to anyone else.

... Amy Sorkin of the New Yorker: Last week, during a White House briefing, a reporter asked Sarah Sanders, 'Does Donald Trump ... agree with Roy Moore that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress?' 'I haven’t asked him about a past statement from Roy Moore,' Sanders said. Her answer just about summarizes the nihilism of Trump’s Washington, where, when questioned whether the President would ban a religious group from Capitol Hill, his spokeswoman won’t say for sure without checking.... Each day dawns with a possibility that Trump will disgrace the Presidency more than he already has, whether he is insulting Native Americans or mangling relationships with our most trusted allies.... [But Trump has acted with his party's cooperation.] If the [Republican] Party is willing to give its money and its credibility to protect a candidate accused of molesting teen-agers, what might it talk itself into doing to protect the President?" ...

... ** Charles Blow: "If Alabama voters on Tuesday elect Roy Moore to the Senate, the Donald Trump-diseased party once known as the Republicans may as well call themselves Roypublicans.... Trump was the gateway to the Roypublicans.... Republicans have surrendered the moral high ground they thought they held, and have dived face-first into the sewer. The Trump agenda is the Republican agenda: hostility to women and minorities, white supremacy and white nationalism, xenophobia, protectionist trade policies, tax policies that punish the poor and working class and people living in blue states. Trump is a white man on a white stallion fighting to preserve white culture and white power. People who support this point of view and cheer the Trump charade forgave his failings because they believed so deeply in his mission." ...

... Senate Race

** Andrew Kaczynski of CNN: "Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore appeared on a conspiracy-driven radio show twice in 2011, where he told the hosts in an interview that getting rid of constitutional amendments after the Tenth Amendment would 'eliminate many problems' in the way the US government is structured." At the prodding of the host, Moore criticized the 14th Amendment, which addresses the rights of citizens, including due process & equal protection. "The danger in the 14th Amendment, which was to restrict, it has been a restriction on the states using the first Ten Amendments by and through the 14th Amendment. To restrict the states from doing something that the federal government was restricted from doing and allowing the federal government to do something which the first Ten Amendments prevented them from doing," he said. Read on....

...David Ferguson of RawStory: "In a 2011 radio interview, ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore revealed that he fervently wants to move the U.S. back to the 40s — the 1840s...There are 27 Amendments to the Constitution, the last of which passed in 1992. Among the Amendments Moore would happily do away with are the 13th and 14th Amendments, which abolished slavery and established equal representation. The 19th Amendment gave U.S. women the right to vote." --safari...

... Cameron Joseph of TPM: "A national Democratic group is putting out a 'predator alert' on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to try and convince Republican women to vote against the accused child molester on Tuesday. American Bridge is launching a last-minute digital ad that begins with the sound of an emergency alert — and only gets darker from there." --safari...

Alex Isenstadt & Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "In the last weekend of Alabama’s wild special Senate election, Doug Jones barnstormed the state with A-list Democrats in a bid to turn out black voters he desperately needs to win in the deep-red state. Republican Roy Moore disappeared." It appears he went to Philadelphia to watch the Army-Navy football game, but his campaign would not say.

Rosalind Helderman & Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Sen. Richard C. Shelby, who serves as Alabama's senior senator, said repeatedly Sunday that the state's fellow Republicans can 'do better' than Roy Moore.... Shelby has previously said he was not supporting Moore, but his words on CNN's 'State of the Union' on Sunday offered a fresh denunciation of his party's nominee.... 'I didn't vote for Roy Moore,' Shelby said. 'I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Sorry, Donald. Looks as if the WashPo refused to take your advice to fire Dave Weigel.

Charles Bethea of the New Yorker interviews Doug Jones -- you know, the guy running for the vacated Alabama Senate seat who is actually qualified for the job.


** Dominic Rushe
 of the Guardian: "IDonald Trump about to turn America into Kansas? It’s a question some worried people who live in the state are asking as the Republican party pushes through the biggest tax overhaul in a generation – an overhaul that, they claim, bears an uncanny resemblance to a tax plan that left their midwestern home in disarray.... The plan would provide a 'shot of adrenaline' to the Kansas economy, [Governor SamBrownback claimed. Instead, the state’s revenues collapsed. Rich people who had been paying high taxes became “pass-through entities”. The state’s coffers emptied and the promised economic miracle failed to materialize." --safari ...

... Dominic Rushe (May 15): "The plan’s similarity to the one that has left Kansas in crisis is 'unbelievable', according to Duane Goossen, the former Kansas secretary of administration.... Campaigning for re-election in 2014, Brownback pledged his tax plans would add 100,000 new jobs over four years. By March this year, the state had added just 12,400 private-sector jobs.... The prop of the Brownback plan, as with Trump’s, was a huge cut to taxes paid by limited liability companies (LLCs) – and so-called 'pass-through' businesses – which meant independent business owners would pay no state tax on the bulk, if not all, of their income...At the time, Kansas had about 190,000 LLCs. Now it has about 300,000, but so far they have not spurred a new hiring drive in the state." --safari...

... Oliver Gilman in Mother Jones: "For tribal people in northern Alaska, a Republican tax overhaul that was hastily cobbled together in congressional backrooms 3,000 miles away has raised fears that their entire way of life could be erased from this frigid corner of the US. The Senate’s tax bill may land a decisive blow in a 30-year environmental battle over the Arctic national wildlife refuge, a vast untrammeled area hailed as America’s Serengeti by conservationists, by finally prising open the wilderness to oil and gas drilling. The region’s Gwich’in people fret that their primary food source, caribou, may be lost, and with it the future of the tribe itself." --safari: More reason for bigoted assholes to pass the plan. ...

... Killing Them Softly with Their Tax Bill. Heather Long of the Washington Post: "The House tax bill would eliminate the [medical] deduction, while the Senate bill would keep it (and even make it a bit more generous). It’s a key difference that must be reconciled before the final legislation goes to President Trump.... In 2015, 8.8 million Americans used the deduction. Over half were older than 65, according to AARP.... Trump promised that the middle class would be better off under his plan, but scrapping this deduction hits some in that group. Nearly 70 percent of the people claiming the deduction made $75,000 or less, according to AARP. 'This isn’t a high-income deduction,' says Cristina Martin Firvida, director of financial security and consumer affairs at AARP...."


Josh Marshall 
of TPM: "Sen. Lindsey Graham has oscillated between being a fierce Trump critic to being increasingly supportive of the President. But he now seems to have moved firmly into the Trump loyalist camp.... [Graham] is asking for a Special Counsel to reinvestigate Clinton’s private server, the Uranium One story, which is completely ludicrous, and anti-GOP bias at the FBI, which is not only factually nonsensical but seems intended to lay the groundwork for ideological purges of the primary national law enforcement agency which already has a very Republican-leaning political culture.... Why he would now swing so hard and so totally in a Trumpite direction is, frankly, not clear to me. He’s up for reelection again in 2020, which is a ways off.... There’s some story here." --safari

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Judd Legum of ThinkProgress: "Lindsey Vonn, the most successful American ski racer in history, suffered a back injury while competing at the World Cup in Switzerland, threatening her participation in the Olympic games next year. Fox News could barely contain its glee. In an article posted without a byline, the network quickly connected Vonn’s injury to her criticism of President Trump days earlier. The clear implication is that, as a result of her comments, Vonn deserved to get hurt.... Vonn commented that when she participates in the Olympics, she views it as representing the United States, not the president. She offered mild criticism of Trump without mentioning him by name." --safari

Way Beyond the Beltway

Ta Ta, London; Bienvenue à Paris? David Segal of the New York Times: "France has long been known for its open hostility to corporations and its suspicion of personal wealth. Taxes were high, regulations were baffling.... Now, the country is in the midst of a sweeping attempt at national rebranding. Labor laws are being changed to make hiring and firing easier. New legislation has slashed a 'wealth tax' that was said to drive millionaires out of the country. Courts with English-speaking judges are in the works, and a new international school is under construction to cater to the children of foreign executives.... Paris is vying against Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg.... What is prized most in boardrooms is an array of business-friendly laws, regulations and culture — the sort of warm welcome that Paris once defiantly refused to offer.... And since [Emmanuel Macron's] election, the government has started a highly aggressive campaign to poach jobs from London."

Peter Beaumont Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has warned US recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital was a 'threat to peace' as he hosted the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on his first foreign trip since Donald Trump provoked widespread condemnation with the decision. The joint appearance by the two men, following talks in Paris, came after tear gas was used to disperse protesters outside the US embassy in Beirut and a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli security guard at Jerusalem’s central bus station in the first attack in the city since Trump’s announcement.... In uncompromising remarks unlikely to calm the ongoing crisis, Netanyahu replied by saying that the sooner Palestinians recognised the reality that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital, the sooner there would be peace." --safari

Saturday
Dec092017

The Commentariat -- December 10, 2017

** John Hudson of BuzzFeed: "The Trump administration has rejected a sweeping Russian proposal seeking a mutual ban on foreign political interference, three senior US administration officials tell BuzzFeed News. Russia first broached the subject in July, when one of Vladimir Putin’s top diplomats arrived in Washington with a sheet of proposals aimed at addressing a top concern of the US government: A resurgence of Russian meddling in the 2018 elections.... Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov ... [proposed] a sweeping noninterference agreement between Moscow and Washington that would prohibit both governments from meddling in the other’s domestic politics. After examining the proposal, which has not previously been reported, US officials told Moscow there would be no deal.... When asked if the president weighed in on the proposal, a spokesman for the National Security Council said only that the White House and State Department 'coordinated closely on the United States’ response.'” ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: While it's reasonable to be skeptical that Russia would honor an agreement, my guess is that the real motivation for rejecting an accord is that Trump & his team of miscreants welcome Russian interference, just as they did in 2016.

Maggie Haberman, et al., of the New York Times: "Despite all his bluster, [Donald Trump] views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously, according to interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress.... For Mr. Trump, every day is an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation.... Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals. People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.... To an extent that would stun outsiders, Mr. Trump, the most talked-about human on the planet, is still delighted when he sees his name in the headlines.... [An advisor said] Mr. Trump expected being president would be ... ruling by fiat, exacting tribute and cutting back room deals.... Advisers said they saw a novice who was gradually learning that the presidency does not work that way." Mrs. McC: This is a long piece. ...

... Even if Trump were a more normal human being, he wouldn't have time to be president. When he isn't watching the teevee eight hours a day or playing golf nearly every weekend, he's tuned in to Twitter. ...

... Emily Yahr of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Saturday evening issued a call for a reporter with The Washington Post to be fired because of a quickly deleted tweet that presented a misleading impression of Trump’s rally crowd in Florida. The Post reporter, David Weigel, had earlier tweeted a photo of the crowd gathered at Pensacola Bay Center for Trump’s speech there Friday evening, showing numerous empty seats. He removed the tweet after being told by others that the photo was taken before the venue filled up and apologized in a later Twitter exchange with the president. Trump’s public response: '.@daveweigel of the Washington Post just admitted that his picture was a FAKE (fraud?) showing an almost empty arena last night for my speech in Pensacola when, in fact, he knew the arena was packed (as shown also on T.V.). FAKE NEWS, he should be fired.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Lets' bear in mind this is the same Donald Trump who tweets out somewhere around a lie a day and never apologizes. Reporters, like all of us, especially in the Twitter era, are going to make mistakes. Since Trump constantly denigrates President Obama & regularly compares himself favorably to Obama, we probably should ask ourselves in many situations, What Would Obama Do? WWOD? It's pretty damned clear that Obama would not make any public response to an inaccurate tweet, tho since this tweet came from a WashPo reporter, he might reasonably ask an aide to privately correct Weigel. I don't think even Nixon was as petty, cruel & vindictive as the Sick Joke who lives in the White House now.

Josh Dawsey & Ashley Cusick of the Washington Post: "President Trump spent about 30 minutes inside Mississippi’s glimmering civil rights museum Saturday, strolling through exhibits honoring jailed and assassinated leaders before delivering a brief speech at a private ceremony. The president’s visit to commemorate the opening — the capstone of Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration — brought protests and boycotts, and evoked raw emotions in the center of the Deep South, the core of the generations-long civil rights movement. Trump delivered his speech to a largely white audience, and his motorcade left before the main opening ceremony — for which hordes of people had gathered in freezing temperatures and a rare snowfall. Tickets had been sold out for months."

AP: "Former President Barack Obama says Americans must be vigilant in their defense of democracy or risk following the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.... During [a] speech Tuesday, Obama pointed to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany as he implored the audience to 'pay attention ... and vote.' Obama also defended the media. He said the press 'often drove me nuts' but that he understood that a free press was vital to democracy.”

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "A uranium company launched a concerted lobbying campaign to scale back Bears Ears National Monument, saying such action would give it easier access to the area’s uranium deposits and help it operate a nearby processing mill, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and top Utah Republicans have said repeatedly that questions of mining or drilling played no role in President Trump’s announcement Monday that he was cutting the site by more than 1.1 million acres, or 85 percent. Trump also signed a proclamation nearly halving the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is also in southern Utah and has significant coal deposits.... More than 500 uranium mines have been left near or on [Navajo Nation] lands, and most of these designated Superfund sites have not been cleaned up. Contamination still affects drinking-water wells, springs and storage tanks." ...

... Julia Manchester of the Hill: "California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) says President Trump's stance on climate change demonstrates that he does not appear to fear the 'wrath of God' or have any regard for the 'existential consequences' of his environmental policies. 'I don’t think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility ... this is such a reckless disregard for the truth and for the existential consequences that can be unleashed,' Brown said in an interview on CBS's '60 Minutes,' which is set to air on Sunday. Brown, who studied to become a Jesuit priest prior to entering politics, has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration."

Sarah Jones of the New Republic: "... the Donald Trump era has been clarifying in so many respects, not least in showing that the Republican Party, in league with the upper classes, is engaged in an all-out class war against the working and middle classes. In every area of policy—tax, environment, health, energy, even the management of the nation’s national parks — we have seen a sustained disdain for common people and an allegiance to the rich. It is class war, and they’re winning.... There will be other bills, other policies; there will be more deaths, just to satisfy the wealthy. All wars have body counts, and class war is the same." Mrs. McC: This is a longish piece & well-worth reading as a reminder of the scope of the GOP's sustained, multi-pronged attack on ordinary Americans. ...

... Damian Paletta of the Washington Post: "The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive brand of economic populism as it moved through Washington. The bill was supposed to deliver benefits predominantly to average working families, not corporations, with a 35 percent tax cut Trump proposed on the campaign trail as part of the 'Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act.' 'The largest tax reductions are for the middle class, who have been forgotten,' Trump said in Gettysburg, Pa., on Oct. 22, 2016... [But] Trump and his top advisers have continuously prioritized corporate cuts — even though they have promised that middle-class cuts would be their focus.... The final product is ... the result of a partisan policymaking process that largely took place behind closed doors, faced intense pressure from corporate lobbyists and ultimately fell in line with GOP wish lists.... The tax plan ... amounts to a massive corporate tax cut, with uneven — and temporary — benefits for the middle class that could end up increasing taxes for many working families in future years.”

** The Enemy Within. Dana Milbank: "This year some of us marked Pearl Harbor Day by attacking America from within. For five hours on Thursday, President Trump’s partisans delivered a reckless and sustained attack on the FBI and the special counsel. They amplified Trump’s claim that the FBI’s 'reputation is in Tatters — worst in History' and that Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe, which has already secured guilty pleas from two Trump campaign officials and the indictments of two more, is part of a system that is 'rigged,' 'phony,' 'dishonest' and using a 'double standard.'... Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee launched an all-out assault on the special counsel and the FBI — choosing to protect Trump at the cost of Americans’ faith in the justice system and the rule of law.” See also Jonathan Chait's commentary, linked yesterday.

Senate Race 

 

... Kristine Phillips of the Washington Post: "A digital billboard was roaming around Pensacola, Fla., as President Trump held a rally there and urged residents in nearby Alabama to vote for embattled Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Senate race. The billboard, displayed on the side of a moving truck Friday, reminded people of what Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House adviser, had previously said about Moore amid accusations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls.... The billboard appears to be the work of the liberal group American Bridge.... The group seemed to double down on the trolling by blasting the comments over a loud speaker outside the rally." ...

... Brian Lyman of the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser: "In the last few days before the Dec. 12 election for Alabama’s junior U.S. Senate seat, the Republican candidate [Roy Moore] has all but vanished from the public, continuing a pattern of absence that took hold after allegations of abuse, assault, harassment and misconduct with nine women surfaced against Moore in early November.... Although Friday’s winter weather scrambled both campaigns’ plans, Moore’s absence from the trail is a notable contrast to Democratic nominee Doug Jones, whose campaign said Saturday he had done 217 public events over two months, and who has done almost daily appearances in the campaign's last weeks." ...

... Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Donald Trump has agreed to record a robocall for Alabama Republican Roy Moore ahead of next week's special election, the president's most direct involvement in Alabama on behalf of the embattled candidate to date.... Trump's involvement in the race has infuriated senior Republicans, many of whom have withdrawn their support for Moore in light of the accusations against him." ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Caroline Orr of Shareblue: "Fox News host and Trump cheerleader Laura Ingraham is concerned about the growing number of women who are coming forward to report incidents of sexual assault and harassment.... She’s worried that they might ruin office Christmas parties this year. 'Is the #MeToo movement becoming a spoiler for this season’s Christmas parties?' Ingraham asked Friday evening during a segment on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. Speaking with comedian Jimmy Failla, Ingraham said she was worried that women who feel empowered to report sexual misconduct might ruin the holiday season by making office Christmas parties less festive. 'I can see this year it might be — a little less festive, let’s say that. No alcohol and no fun and no lampshades and, I don’t know, maybe that’s better,' she said. 'Is this just killing all the fun of Christmas?' she wondered absurdly." ...

(If there were a "real Jesus," he would have looked kinda like this. White? Well, darkish white.)     ... Mrs McCrabbie: What's the fun of finally being able to say "Merry Christmas" again if the boss is afraid to boff the help in the broom closet? "Joy to the world, the Lord has come" -- Ruined! I miss the good old days when Megyn Kelly was a Fox "News" "reporting" that Jesus & Santa Claus were definitely white guys.

Beyond the Beltway

Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "After the officer involved was acquitted of second-degree murder charges, officials in Arizona publicly released graphic video showing Daniel Shaver crawling on his hands and knees and begging for his life in the moments before he was shot and killed by police in January 2016. Shaver died in one of at least 963 fatal police shootings in 2016, according to a Washington Post database. And his death was one of an increasing number of such shootings to prompt criminal charges in the years since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo. following the death of Michael Brown. Yet charges remain rare, and convictions even more so. The shooting, by Philip 'Mitch' Brailsford, then an officer with the Mesa Police Department, occurred after officers responded to a call about a man allegedly pointing a rifle out of a fifth-floor window at a La Quinta Inn. Inside the room, Shaver, 26, had been doing rum shots with a woman he had met earlier that day and showing off a pellet gun he used in his job in pest control." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)