The Ledes

"For safety's sake, don't humiliate him."

Just this past week, Akhilleus linked (now I can't find his link) to this clip from "Young Frankenstein":

... and I found myself missing Wilder. I wondered what had happened to him. Now I know. As Gilda would say, one time in the same fatal context, "It's always something."

Monday, August 29, 2016.

New York Times: "Gene Wilder, who established himself as one of America’s foremost comic actors with his delightfully neurotic performances in three films directed by Mel Brooks; his eccentric star turn in the family classic 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'; and his winning chemistry with Richard Pryor in the box-office smash 'Stir Crazy,' died early Monday morning at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 83."

New York Times: "An Australian aid worker who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and held for four months has been released and is doing well, Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said on Monday. The aid worker, Kerry Jane Wilson, who is in her 60s and is also known as Katherine Jane, had been working in Afghanistan for about 20 years and had most recently run Zardozi, an organization that promoted the work of Afghan artisans, particularly women.... Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, said in a brief statement that its special forces had carried out a raid to free Ms. Wilson." -- CW 

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 28, 2016.

Washington Post: "James W. Cronin, who shared the Nobel prize in physics for discovering a startling breakdown in what was assumed to be the immutable symmetry of physical law, thereby helping to explain the behavior and evolution of the universe as a whole, died Aug. 25 in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84." -- 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

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- 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.

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Monday
Aug292016

The Commentariat -- August 30, 2016

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The FBI is investigating a series of suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems and websites, and has warned states to be on the alert for potential intrusions. The Aug. 18 warning, issued after two states suffered intrusions into their systems, comes amid heightened concern over Russian hacks of Democratic party organizations and possible meddling in the presidential election." CW: Looks as if the election could indeed be rigged -- in Trump's favor -- but they are giving Trump an excuse for losing if the rigging is ineffective. So, best of both worlds for Donaldovich. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Trump and his people keep saying the election is rigged. Why is he saying that? Because people are telling him the election can be messed with. -- Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Monday

... David Sanger of the New York Times: "The Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, asked the F.B.I. on Monday to investigate evidence suggesting that Russia may try to manipulate voting results in November. In a letter to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., Mr. Reid wrote that the threat of Russian interference 'is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.' Recent classified briefings from senior intelligence officials, Mr. Reid said in an interview, have left him fearful that President Vladimir V. Putin’s 'goal is tampering with this election.'... Mr. Reid argued that the connections between some of Donald J. Trump’s former and current advisers and the Russian leadership should, by itself, prompt an investigation.... He noted that hackers could keep people from voting by tampering with the rolls of eligible voters.... [Michael Isikoff of] Yahoo News, [who] first reported the confidential F.B.I. warning, said [the states attacked by Russian hackers] were Arizona and Illinois.” -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: "The Russians aren’t just hackers — they’re also hacks. Turns out that before leaking their stolen information, they are in some cases doctoring the documents.... Foreign Policy’s Elias Groll reported last week that the hackers goofed: They posted both the original versions of at least three documents and their edited versions. These documents, stolen from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, were altered by the hackers to create the false impression that Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny was funded by Soros.... On Sunday, Neil MacFarquhar wrote in the New York Times about Russian attempts to undermine a Swedish military partnership with NATO.... Putin has meddled in domestic politics in France, the Netherlands, Britain and elsewhere, helping extreme political parties to destabilize those countries. He appears to be doing much the same now in the United States.... We don’t know what, if anything, Putin’s hackers have planned for this fall. But the doctored Soros documents could be a clue." -- CW 

Ed Kilgore: "Now that there are renewed doubts about the workability of the private-insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act, the president must again take the blame if things don’t work out as intended, right? Well, at most, that is half-right or maybe one-third right. The U.S. Supreme Court bears some responsibility for thwarting the original design of the ACA by insisting on a state opt-in for the Medicaid expansion that was so integral to the overall effort. And that enhanced the residual power of the states — many under hostile management — to frustrate the implementation of Obamacare by active or passive resistance. It is not a coincidence that nearly all the states suffering from a lack of competition of private plans under Obamacare are states that did not bother to create their own exchanges or undertake the kind of public-education measures that might have encouraged broader enrollment and that have made the ACA successful in places like California." ...

     ... CW: I would assign equal blame to Republicans in Congress for refusing to participate in the drafting of the law, refusing to a person to vote for it, then exacerbating problems by refusing to make fixes along the way, as every big piece of legislation requires. Despite the Refusenik Rule that "everything is Obama's fault," well, no, it's not.

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Tax cheating is about to rise in the United States.... Thanks to [Congress's] budget cuts, audit rates have plummeted, especially for the biggest corporations, with armies of sophisticated tax preparers. Criminal tax prosecutions have nose-dived, too." Read on for the other reasons Americans and U.S. corporations are less likely to pay their fair share. -- CW 

Eric Levitz of New York: "There’s considerable evidence that the global capital flows ... the Investor-State Dispute Settlement Process (ISDS) ... helped foster have brought real benefits to the global poor. But ISDS has delivered even greater benefits to corporate law firms — especially once they figured out how to transform a system designed to protect companies from autocratic thievery [in developing nations that might nationalize or otherwise expropriate corporate assets] into one that protects them from democratic regulation.... Buzzfeed News’s exposé focuses on cases in which corporate bigwigs used ISDS not merely to win restitution for regulation, but rather exoneration from criminal convictions." -- CW ...

... The BuzzFeed story, by Chris Hamby, is titled "The Court that Rules the World." Part 1, which is itself very long, is here. Hamby won a Pulitzer in 2014; looks like he's going for a second one. ...

Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times: "A woman was killed in her home and four other people were injured when a truck carrying Takata airbag parts and explosives crashed and detonated on a Texas road last week, the company and local authorities confirmed on Monday. The immense blast — the victim’s remains were not located for two days — highlighted the potency of the explosives used by Takata in its airbags as a propellent to activate its bags in a car crash. It also pointed to the risks associated with Takata’s transport of the explosives across the country from a propellant factory in Washington State to Mexico." -- CW 

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times: "In its latest move to quell outrage over its price increases, the maker of the EpiPen has resorted to an unusual tactic — introducing a generic version of its own product. The company, Mylan, said on Monday that the generic EpiPen would be identical to the existing product, which is used to treat severe allergic reactions. But it will have a wholesale list price of $300 for a pack of two, half the price of the brand-name EpiPen." -- CW ...

... Catherine Ho of the Washington Post: "The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has launched an investigation into drugmaker Mylan, which is facing increasing scrutiny for raising the price of the lifesaving EpiPen allergy injection. The committee’s Republican chairman, Jason Chaffetz (Utah), and its ranking Democrat, Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), on Monday sent a letter to Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch requesting detailed information and communications regarding the company’s pricing of the EpiPen." -- CW 

Presidential Race

Patrick Healy & Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton’s advisers are talking to Donald J. Trump’s ghostwriter of 'The Art of the Deal,' seeking insights about Mr. Trump’s deepest insecurities as they devise strategies to needle and undermine him ... at the first presidential debate, the most anticipated in a generation. Her team is also getting advice from psychology experts to help create a personality profile of Mr. Trump.... They are undertaking a forensic-style analysis of Mr. Trump’s performances in the Republican primary debates.... Mr. Trump is taking the opposite tack. Though he spent hours with his debate team the last two Sundays, the sessions were more freewheeling than focused, and he can barely conceal his disdain for laborious and theatrical practice sessions." -- CW ...

... CW: Trump's "deepest insecurities"? "Strategies to needle ... him"? Oh, I think we all know how to do that:

     ... The reading of "Tiny Kingdom" begins at about 3:30 min. in. ...

... Catherine Lucey of the AP: "Hillary Clinton is telling supporters that she doesn't know 'which Donald Trump' will show up at the presidential debates. At a private fundraiser in East Hampton Monday, Clinton told supporters that she is 'running against someone who will say or do anything.' The Democratic presidential candidate said her Republican opponent may try and convey 'gravity' or he could seek to 'score points.'... In the midst of a multi-day fundraising swing through the wealthy Hamptons, Clinton stressed her commitment to boosting the minimum wage, improving access to education and improving mental health care. She also argued that Republican efforts were underway in many states to make it harder for minority voters to participate." -- CW 

Amy Chozick & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, said Monday that she intended to separate from her husband, Anthony D. Weiner, the former congressman and New York City mayoral candidate, after it was reported that Mr. Weiner had exchanged suggestive images and messages with a woman while the couple’s young child was beside him." CW: So glad to see that Huma took my advice. (Is that Trumpy enough for you? -- It's all about Me, Marie Burns, unprofessional marriage counsellor.) (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... CW: The Times story has been expanded to include stuff like this: "Mr. Weiner’s extramarital behavior also threatens to remind voters about the troubles in the Clintons’ own marriage over the decades, including Mrs. Clinton’s much-debated decision to remain with then-President Bill Clinton after revelations of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Abedin’s choice to separate from her husband evokes the debates that erupted over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the Lewinsky affair, a scandal her campaign wants left in the past." ...

By Driftglass.I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this. -- Donald Trump, in a statement Monday

... Jim Newell of Slate: "... even though there doesn’t seem to be any meaningful connection between Anthony Weiner’s sexts and the merits or actions of Hillary Clinton..., members of several news organizations have already found themselves unable to resist the urge to find such a connection and pat themselves on the back for their rigorous neutrality in covering the election." -- CW: Newell is talking to you, New York Times. ...

... George Zornick of the Nation: "Donald Trump alluded for the first time on Monday to a theory that Huma Abedin ... might have nefarious ties to radical Islam. Speaking with KIRO Radio in Seattle on Monday afternoon, Trump was asked about the news that Abedin had left her husband Anthony Weiner. Trump called Weiner 'a pervert and just a very sick guy,' and then said: 'By the way — check, take a look at where [Abedin] worked, by the way, and take a look at where her mother worked, and works. You take a look at the whole event.... And you know she has access to classified information. Huma Abedin has access to classified information. How Hillary got away with that one, nobody will ever know.'” -- CW

... Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast: "Donald Trump is blaming Hillary Clinton for the actions of her aide’s husband, bringing into focus his fraught relationship with the female sex and his history of marital infidelity — not to mention his own adviser with a 'perv' problem, to adopt the language of the New York tabloids. Trump’s argument is a good peek into his psyche, where a man can be absolved of wrongdoing so long as there’s a woman around to carry the blame." -- CW ...

... Steve Lemiuex in LG&$: "Yes, we cannot have a president who has an adviser whose husband virtually cheats on her — what does that say about her judgment? Rather, we need a president who openly boasted about his affairs while married to his first two wives. I am looking forward to the first pundit who spent years arguing that it was highly disturbing that Abedin didn’t leave Weiner who finds it highly disturbing that she left him, and either way it says something very bad about Hillary Clinton because something." -- CW 

Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "For Donald Trump, appealing to minority groups and women often amounts to an 'us vs. them' proposition — warning one group that it is being threatened or victimized by another, using exaggerated contrasts and a very broad brush.... Women’s groups and activists also have blasted Trump for suggesting that immigrants are a disproportionate threat to women...." -- CW 

Fake Candidate Airs Fake Ad. Benjy Sarlin of NBC News: "Donald Trump's new $10 million TV ad cites [as his own plan] two contradictory tax plans -- one that Trump has explicitly ruled out and another that he has yet to endorse -- raising more questions about what policies the GOP presidential nominee supports." CW: "Crooked Hillary" is an opinion; "This is my tax plan" is a lie. The Clinton campaign should ask stations not to run the ad. (Yeah, I know, good luck with that.)

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "On Friday, Donald Trump's doctor basically said that his letter stating that Trump was 'astonishingly' healthy was written under pressure and should not be taken at face value. Trump's response? A call for Hillary Clinton to release more of her health information.... [Trump's tweet, spelled out below] is a bit like calling on your opponent to release a detailed, five-point plan for dealing with immigration when you haven't even said where you stand on deportation." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Hillary Clinton's campaign annotates the letter that Trump produced attesting to his "astonishingly excellent" health. For some reason, the Clinton camp thinks Trump wrote the letter. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Andrew Kaczynski & Nathaniel Meyersohn of BuzzFeed: "Donald Trump’s campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, said during a 2011 radio interview that progressives vilify prominent women in the conservative movement because they are not 'a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools.'” -- CW 

Trump Surrogate Tweets Hillary in Blackface Speaking Ebonics or Something. Rebecca Sinderbrand of the Washington Post: "Mark Burns, a black pastor and a prominent Donald Trump surrogate, tweeted a picture of ... Hillary Clinton in blackface Monday, before taking it down and apologizing for it. In the drawing, Clinton is shown holding an anti-police sign and saying 'I ain’t no ways tired of pandering to African-Americans.' She also sports a shirt that reads 'No hot sauce no peace!'... Burns ... said it was 'not at all my intention to offend anyone.'” CW: Because only a super-sensitive crybaby could possibly be offended. Anyhow, I'm all thru sniffling, so thanks for that nice apology, Cousin Mark.

Mother Jones photo.... Get to Know Your Trump Voter. CW: I missed this story when LT linked it some time Sunday. It's compelling reading. Arlie Russell Hothschild of Mother Jones: An adaption of the Berkeley sociologist's book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, that examines "how Donald Trump took a narrative of unfairness and twisted it to his advantage." The book is based on five years of field study of disaffected white voters in Louisiana. -- LT

Senate Race

Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "After 30 years in the Senate..., John McCain now finds himself in more jeopardy than at any time during his political career. And for much of that, he can blame Donald Trump. This reelection campaign, his fifth, is forcing the Arizona Republican to do battle on multiple fronts.... First he must clear his primary Tuesday ... against an arch-conservative whose campaign received a late six-figure boost from a Trump donor. Then, assuming he wins the nomination, he must move into a general election ... against a well-funded Democrat, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, whose campaign is wrapping McCain’s support for Trump around the veteran Republican’s neck in a bid to drive up Latino turnout." CW: "Blame Donald Trump?" Why not blame himself for supporting that dangerous, malicious, unstable jackass for president?

Sunday
Aug282016

The Commentariat -- August 29, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The FBI is investigating a series of suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems and websites, and has warned states to be on the alert for potential intrusions. The Aug. 18 warning, issued after two states suffered intrusions into their systems, comes amid heightened concern over Russian hacks of Democratic party organizations and possible meddling in the presidential election." CW: Looks as if the election could indeed be rigged -- in Trump's favor -- but they are giving Trump an excuse for losing if the rigging is ineffective. So, best of both worlds for Donaldovich.

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "On Friday, Donald Trump's doctor basically said that his letter stating that Trump was 'astonishingly' healthy was written under pressure and should not be taken at face value. Trump's response? A call for Hillary Clinton to release more of her health information.... [Trump's tweet, spelled out below] is a bit like calling on your opponent to release a detailed, five-point plan for dealing with immigration when you haven't even said where you stand on deportation." -- CW ...

... Hillary Clinton's campaign annotates the letter that Trump produced attesting to his "astonishingly excellent" health. For some reason, the Clinton camp thinks Trump wrote the letter. -- CW 

Amy Chozick & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, said Monday that she intended to separate from her husband, Anthony D. Weiner, the former congressman and New York City mayoral candidate, after it was reported that Mr. Weiner had exchanged suggestive images and messages with a woman while the couple’s young child was beside him." CW: So glad to see that Huma took my advice. (Is that Trumpy enough for you? -- It's all about Me, Marie Burns, unprofessional marriage counsellor.)

*****

I used to be a Republican. -- CW Neighbor

That's a sentence we're likely to hear more and more often, at least outside confederate strongholds. -- Constant Weader

Presidential Race

"A Pox on Both Their Jetliners." Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump allows the press to travel on their planes. Rutenberg devotes most of his column to complaints about Clinton's lack of accessability. (CW Translation: Both Sides Do It, but Clinton is worse because Trump writes stupid tweets & says idiotic things every day so we always have a story to file.) "An important to-be-fair paragraph: In addition to keeping reporters off his five-star resort of an airplane, Mr. Trump maintains a blacklist of reporters who are banished from the media plane that follows him; has refused to match Mrs. Clinton in sharing his tax returns; and has proposed loosening libel laws to make it easier for public figures to sue journalists, which is about as troubling as it gets.... But a candidate who doesn’t want journalists around is a would-be president who presumably doesn’t want to be transparent with his or her many millions of viewers and readers — with you. You don’t have to go too far back in history to find the rotten fruit that secrecy has seeded." ...

     ... CW: Get real, Rutenberg. Hillary doesn't want you to know she spends all her downtime snoozing, except when she's consulting with the doctors who keep her on life-support (okay, not true), and Donaldo doesn't want to get anywhere near your disgusting cooties (true). 

Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "The trick out of Brooklyn isn't just to make Hillary Clinton win but to make her win as something other than a brain-damaged crook who stole the election and will spend the next four years selling out the government from her deathbed. The Clinton de-legitimization project is now central to Donald Trump’s campaign and ... a prime component of right-wing media.... 'We are already seeing an effort by the Trumpsters to undermine Hillary's presidency before it has even begun,' said longtime Clinton confidant Paul Begala.... 'When you see Trump and his forces at best trying to delegitimize her, at worst trying to delegitimize the entire democratic process, we’re heading down a very dangerous path,' [Mo] Elleithee [who has bee a top aide to both Clinton & Kaine --] said." -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Judd Legum of Think Progress: "... the Associated Press obtained two years of Hillary Clinton’s schedules from her tenure as Secretary of State. It culminated with this tweet on their findings: 'BREAKING: AP analysis: More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation.'... This tweet is completely inaccurate. Asked directly by [Brian] Stelter [of CNN] if she would agree that the tweet is 'inaccurate,' [Kathleen] Carroll[, the AP's exeuctive editor,] said ... the tweet needed 'more precision.' Pressed by Stelter, Carroll said she did not 'regret' the tweet because, if she did, the AP would have deleted it. She then acknowledged that the tweet was 'sloppy.'... The AP’s decision to stand by the tweet ... appears to violate their publicly stated 'news values' which apply to “all media.'” -- CW 

... CW: The Los Angeles Times has a similar Hillary Clinton guilt-by-association story. Maybe you can find something in it that Hillary did wrong, but as far as I can see, the only heavy in the story is Doug Band, Bill Clinton's long-time body man.

Trump to Make "You (Miserable) People" Speech. Kevin Cirilli of Bloomberg: "Donald Trump is planning to visit Detroit next weekend to make his first appearance before a predominantly African-American audience as his campaign makes a bid for support from black voters. Trump will visit the Great Faith Ministries on Saturday in Detroit, a predominantly black church located in the heart of the city, said Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump supporter...." -- CW 

Cyra Master of the Hill: "Amid swirling and unfounded rumors about Hillary Clinton’s health, Donald Trump tweeted Sunday night 'I think that both candidates, Crooked Hillary and myself, should release detailed medical records. I have no problem in doing so! Hillary?'” CW: Yeah, you show me yours, Donald (and not a fake this time), and I'll show you mine.

By Driftglass.

Paulina Firozi of the Hill: "... Donald Trump shared a tweet that tied his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, to the Ku Klux Klan.... The tweet was a reference to the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd (D), who was a former KKK member. In 2010, Clinton mourned his death and said Byrd was 'a true American original, my friend and mentor,' CNN reported." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Dan Evon of Snopes: "Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s and helped establish the hate group's chapter in Sophia, West Virginia. However, in 1952 Byrd avowed that 'After about a year, I became disinterested [in the KKK], quit paying my dues, and dropped my membership in the organization,' and throughout his long political career (he served for 57 years in the United States Congress) he repeatedly apologized for his involvement with the KKK.... In 2010, even the NAACP released a statement honoring Senator Byrd and mourning his passing: 'Senator Byrd reflects the transformative power of this nation,' stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. 'Senator Byrd went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)  

Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "'We have a psychopath running for president,' David Plouffe said in an interview on NBC News' 'Meet the Press'.... 'I mean, he meets the clinical definition, OK?' After [host Chuck] Todd pushed back that Plouffe isn't a psychologist and that such claims frustrate voters, Plouffe elaborated, 'The grandiose notion of self-worth, pathological lying, lack of empathy and remorse. So I think he does; right, I don't have a degree in psychology.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "... when [ABC's 'This Week" host Martha Raddatz asked ... New Jersey governor [Chris Christie] whether he agrees with Trump that Clinton is a 'bigot,' Christie launched into a kind of non sequitur that politicians and elementary schoolchildren are particularly good at: He said Clinton 'started' it.... Except..., Clinton didn't start this. Trump actually did.... Trump has been referring to the 'bigotry' of Clinton for several weeks. And he outright called Clinton a 'bigot' a day before she launched a full-scale attack on the racist overtones in the Trump campaign. (Though she stopped short of directly labeling Trump a 'racist' or 'bigot.) Phillips provides a timeline. -- CW 

Isaac Arnsdorf: Donald Trump's new campaign manager on Sunday moved to clarify his new immigration policy, focusing on 'being fair and humane' instead of deporting all undocumented immigrants. The new plan is, 'if you want to be here legally, you have to apply to be here legally,' Kellyanne Conway told John Dickerson on CBS News' 'Face the Nation.'... That's a clear break from Trump's earlier position, which emphasized removing everyone who was in the country illegally, regardless of their individual circumstances. Conway said Trump's new stance wouldn't cost him voters who were drawn to that hard line because 'this isn’t just a referendum on Donald Trump’s immigration policy, you have to contrast him to Hillary Clinton’s.'" CW: Wait for Trump to contradict her in a tweet. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus announced Sunday that Donald Trump ... will deliver prepared remarks clarifying his views on immigration. 'You’re going to find out from Donald Trump very shortly. He’s going to be giving prepared remarks on this issue, I think very soon,' Priebus told Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s 'Meet the Press.' 'His position is going to be tough. His position is going to be fair. His position is going to be humane,' he said." CW: Wait for Trump to contradict him in an ad lib. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alex Zielinski of Think Progress: "The Only Thing Trump’s Campaign Knows About His Immigration Plan Is That It Will Be ‘Humane.'" ...

... Trip Gabriel of the New York Times makes a stab at deciphering what-all Trump's team said Sunday (as if it matters): "A parade of surrogates for Donald J. Trump backed away on Sunday from a primary element of his immigration policy, further muddying an issue on which Mr. Trump himself sowed confusion in recent days. Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana ... would not affirm that their administration would expel the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, a campaign-defining stance that helped Mr. Trump vanquish opponents in the primary race. Asked if Mr. Trump still sought a 'deportation force,' which he called for last year, Mr. Pence said Mr. Trump was speaking of 'a mechanism, not a policy.' He also backed away from Mr. Trump’s opposition to automatic citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.... On Sunday evening, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that he will make a 'major speech' about the issue in Arizona on Wednesday." CW: I'm sure he'll straighten out everything. ...

Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings. -- Donald Trump, read from a teleprompter August 24

Dwayne Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago, Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP! -- Donald Trump, tweet August 27

[Trump] is, in a rather literal sense, doing exactly what he accused Clinton of doing a few days earlier. -- Steve Benen

CW: This is how things were where I spent my childhood.David Edwards of the Raw Story: "CNN contributor and Trump campaign surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes accused Hillary Clinton of the meeting the 'definition of bigotry' for speaking out against racists and white supremacy.... 'Bigotry, if you look at the definition, it’s about someone who’s small-minded and sits there and directs hate towards a certain group,' she explained. 'Hillary Clinton’s speech [attacking alt-right conservatives] was all about hate towards a group that, while my fellow counterpart might consider them to be very racist, it’s the exact opposite.'” CW: Yep, they're "the exact opposite" of "very racist"; why, they want black people to have their very own "coloreds only" restrooms & drinking fountains and specially-designated seats at the back of the bus, the way they used to have in the good ole days when America was great.

A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. -- Pope Francis, February 2016

For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. -- Donald Trump, responding to Francis's remarks ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Much has been made of Donald Trump’s problems with a few voting groups — female voters, blacks and Hispanics, and young voters, in particular. And, to be sure, they are all problems. But relatively speaking, his biggest problem actually appears to be with a different group: Catholics. Yes, the man who once feuded with the pope (how soon we forget that actually happened) is cratering among Catholics.... Catholics have long been a swing vote in presidential elections, and right now they’re swinging hard for Clinton." -- CW 

All the Best Words. "Trump and the Dark History of Straight Talk." Mark Thompson of the New York Times takes the long view of Trump's "anti-rhetorical" style of speaking. And by long view, I mean back to Julius Caesar: "Veni, vidi, vici." -- CW ...

... digby: "... Trump is not just a garden variety racist demagogue in the mode of George Wallace. His nationalism isn't isolationist --- it's aggressive militarism. He doesn't care about continuing the post-war security consensus to be sure. Alliances are fine as long as they pay protection and he feels like they 'deserve' it.  He's got some other ideas. He will make America great again by making the world 'respect' us again. Trump is all ab[o]ut dominance." -- CW 

Joe Scarborough, in a Washington Post op-ed has a sad because today's Republican presidential nominee is so unlike George H.W. Bush. CW: Ever so surprisingly, Scarborough takes no credit for his role in the devolution of the GOP into a House of Crackpots, nor for his early eagerness to cater to candidate Trump. Read Scarborough's Wikipage to find out just how confederate that ole boy is. ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "The time has come for a mental health professional to take a look at Donald Trump on the air, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said Monday during a frank discussion of the Republican nominee's well-being.... 'Morning Joe' devoted a significant portion of its opening block to discussing Trump's mental health, a day after President Barack Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe described him as a 'psychopath.'... Plouffe misspoke, [Joe] Scarborough added, suggesting that he should have said 'sociopath.'" -- CW

Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker: Gossip columnist Liz Smith, now 93, remembers Donald Trump back in the day: "I never took him seriously. I didn’t even think he would last in New York, because people hated him once they got to know him. He was a horse’s ass. Still is.” -- CW 

Other News & Views

Paul Krugman: The doubling of the mortality rate of pregnant women in Texas "should be seen against the general background of Texas policy, which is extremely hostile toward anything that helps low-income residents.... The economic case for being cruel to the unfortunate has lost whatever slight credibility it may once have had. Yet the cruelty goes on. Why?... It’s about race.... In the specific case of Planned Parenthood, this usual answer is overlaid with ... a substantial infusion of misogyny.... America would become a better place if more of us started paying attention to politics beyond the presidential race." -- CW

Rebecca Rosenberg & Bruce Golding of the New York Post: Anthony Weiner is still sharing dickpix & sexting with young women. CW: Get out, Huma

Beyond the Beltway

Charley Lanyon of New York: "Chicago police are reporting that two suspects have been charged in the shooting death of Nykea Aldridge, a 32-year-old mother of four and cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade. The suspects are two brothers — Darwin Sorrells Jr., 26, and Derren Sorrells, 22 — both convicted felons and 'documented gang members' who were out on parole when the shooting took place. They are being charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder. Police say the pair were trying to shoot an Uber driver dropping off passengers from a nearby car Friday afternoon when they accidentally shot Aldridge. She was killed while pushing her baby in a stroller on the way to register her other children for elementary school." -- CW 

Kale Williams of the Oregonian: "The widow of Lavoy Finicum, the 54-year-old Arizona rancher and key figure in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation earlier this year, plans to sue the Oregon State Police and FBI for civil rights violations relating to his death, her lawyer told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Saturday." -- CW  

Dennis Hoey of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald: "The political pressure on Gov. Paul LePage over his recent controversial comments and threats grew over the weekend as Democratic legislative leaders suggested that Republican leadership persuade him to resign, a Senate Republican said a censure of him by the Legislature seemed appropriate, and an online petition signed by thousands of people urged him to step down." -- CW ...

... Missed this. German Lopez of Vox: "In defending himself from accusations of racism and homophobia on Friday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage made yet another explicitly racist comment — arguing that people of color or of Hispanic origin are 'the enemy' and suggesting that they should be shot." CW: Yeah, and the legislature should impeach & convict him for the remark. ...

Way Beyond

AP: "A ceasefire has been declared in Colombia after the commander of the country’s Farc guerrillas said its fighters would permanently cease hostilities with the government from the first minute of Monday local time. Timoleón Jimenez, head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, made the announcement on Sunday in Havana, Cuba, where the two sides negotiated for four years before announcing a peace accord for ending five decades of war." -- CW 

Saturday
Aug272016

The Commentariat -- August 28, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "'We have a psychopath running for president,' David Plouffe said in an interview on NBC News' 'Meet the Press'.... 'I mean, he meets the clinical definition, OK?' After [host Chuck] Todd pushed back that Plouffe isn't a psychologist and that such claims frustrate voters, Plouffe elaborated, 'The grandiose notion of self-worth, pathological lying, lack of empathy and remorse. So I think he does; right, I don't have a degree in psychology.'" -- CW

MAG says Driftglass has all the BEST words. Yes he does:

Here's Today's Entry. Paulina Firozi of the Hill: "... Donald Trump shared a tweet that tied his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, to the Ku Klux Klan.... The tweet was a reference to the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd (D), who was a former KKK member. In 2010, Clinton mourned his death and said Byrd was 'a true American original, my friend and mentor,' CNN reported." -- CW ...

... Dan Evon of Snopes: "Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s and helped establish the hate group's chapter in Sophia, West Virginia. However, in 1952 Byrd avowed that 'After about a year, I became disinterested [in the KKK], quit paying my dues, and dropped my membership in the organization,' and throughout his long political career (he served for 57 years in the United States Congress) he repeatedly apologized for his involvement with the KKK.... In 2010, even the NAACP released a statement honoring Senator Byrd and mourning his passing: 'Senator Byrd reflects the transformative power of this nation,' stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. 'Senator Byrd went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country.'" -- CW

Isaac Arnsdorf: Donald Trump's new campaign manager on Sunday moved to clarify his new immigration policy, focusing on 'being fair and humane' instead of deporting all undocumented immigrants. The new plan is, 'if you want to be here legally, you have to apply to be here legally,' Kellyanne Conway told John Dickerson on CBS News' 'Face the Nation.'... That's a clear break from Trump's earlier position, which emphasized removing everyone who was in the country illegally, regardless of their individual circumstances. Conway said Trump's new stance wouldn't cost him voters who were drawn to that hard line because 'this isn't just a referendum on Donald Trump's immigration policy, you have to contrast him to Hillary Clinton's.'" CW: Wait for Trump to contradict her in a tweet. ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus announced Sunday that Donald Trump ... will deliver prepared remarks clarifying his views on immigration. 'You're going to find out from Donald Trump very shortly. He's going to be giving prepared remarks on this issue, I think very soon,' Priebus told Chuck Todd, host of NBC's 'Meet the Press.' 'His position is going to be tough. His position is going to be fair. His position is going to be humane,' he said." CW: Wait for Trump to contradict him in an ad lib.

*****

Presidential Race

Debate Prep. Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton is methodically preparing for the presidential debates.... She pores over briefing books thick with policy arcana and opposition research. She internalizes tips from the most seasoned debate coaches in her party. And she rehearses, over and over again, to perfect the pacing and substance of her presentation. Donald Trump ... summons his informal band of counselors -- including ... Rudy Giuliani, talk-radio host Laura Ingraham and ... Roger Ailes -- to his New Jersey golf course for Sunday chats. Over bacon cheeseburgers, hot dogs and glasses of Coca-Cola, they test out zingers and chew over ways to refine the Republican nominee's pitch.... Trump is not holding any mock debates, proudly boasting that a performer with his talents does not need that sort of prepping." -- CW

It's Sunday, so it must be MoDo complaining about Hillary Clinton. This week, she uses as preamble Trump's bad week (a lot like his other bad weeks), only to pivot to "But Hillary does not have a normal opponent. She has one who manages to self-destruct in every news cycle. So instead she was soaring above her own paranoia and mocking Trump's paranoia, soaring above her egregious messes and gamboling through Trump's egregious messes." -- CW

David Folkenflik of NPR: Hillary Clinton has not exactly been dodging the press, as both members of the media and the usual suspects allege: she has done 350 interviews in the first seven months of the year, though a good percentage were not with "professional journalists," and quite a number were with local media. "Clinton [also] has entertained questions a dozen times in so-called gaggles with the reporters who travel with her. Only in rare moments does she grant them individual interviews. Clinton also participated in nine town-hall sessions..., at which she took questions from journalists and members of the public." CW: But, but she hasn't let Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity harangue her!

We are going to get rid of the criminals and it's going to happen within one hour after I take office, we start, okay? -- Donald Trump, in Iowa, Saturday

I guess that means there would be no time for an inaugural speech or a parade. -- Constant Weader ...

... Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: In a speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Saturday, Donald Trump added some detail to his immigration plan Saturday. "But Mr. Trump largely avoided the question that has caused him trouble this week: what to do about the undocumented immigrants already in the country." CW: Why say more? It turns out the whole immigration controversy is all the media's fault: "'All the media wants to talk about is the 11 million people, or more, or less -- they have no idea what the number is because we have no control over our country, have no idea what it is, that are here illegally,' Mr. Trump said." That SOB feels completely at ease brushing aside the lives of millions of people as some sort of media obsession when he has spent a year using and abusing most of those same people as the raison d'être for his sorry campaign (well, that and the national Christmas tree). ...

... CW: It's worth reading to the end of Corasaniti's story, where Trump "softens" his language on the murder of Nykea Aldridge. And do check out his "solutions.": prayer and "a much better tomorrow." Corasaniti doesn't say if Trump read this bit of wisdom from a teleprompter. Following is yesterday's bit of wisdom on Aldridge's murder, the first tweet of which Trump wrote. ...

John Santucci of ABC News: Donald Trump returned to Iowa [Saturday], yet continued his push for African-American votes. 'Nothing means more to me than working to make our party the home of the African-American vote once again,' Trump said, speaking to Iowans attending the 2nd annual Joni's Roast and Ride, hosted by Sen. Joni Ernst." CW: Iowa's population is about three percent black. And of course Trump frames his so-called "push for African-American votes" in self-referential terms; it's all about what "it means to me."

... Trump Uses Woman's Murder for Self-Promotion. Nick Corasaniti: "Donald J. Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to comment on the news that a cousin of Dwyane Wade, the N.B.A. star, had been shot and killed in Chicago.... 'Dwayne Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago,' Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling Mr. Wade's given name, which was later corrected. 'Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!' Mr. Trump, who initially did not express sympathy for the family of the slain woman, Nykea Aldridge, later in the day posted a Twitter message offering his condolences.... Mr. Trump has had a penchant for using tragedies to illustrate his campaign's message." -- CW ...

... ** Philip Bump of the Washington Post: Dwyane "Wade tweeted about his cousin's death, in a call to address the gun violence that has plagued [Chicago].... Trump [in his tweet] blitzes past the normal considerations of propriety and rhetoric to squeeze a chain of thought into 140 characters: Someone is dead, which is tangentially related to part of his scattershot arguments on race and crime, and therefore this bolsters one of the quivering poles supporting his wobbly pitch to black voters. That's the utility of the life of Nykea Aldridge as far as Donald Trump can see it.... [His tweet] comes off not as a thoughtful statement of concern for a tragedy that needs to be fixed but more as an attempt to leverage a slaying into a campaign slogan." CW: Another irony: Trump opposes Wade's efforts to reduce gun violence. The NRA is his most ardent corporate backer. ...

... ** Chas Danner of New York: "At Business Insider, Allan Smith and Harrison Jacobs have compiled Trump's tweets following the recent terrorist attacks in Orlando, Brussels, San Bernardino, and Paris, and in each case, as with the Chicago shooting, Trump has immediately sought to leverage the tragedies to prove himself right about something, as well as steal at least some of the story's news coverage for himself." -- CW ...

... Ross Lincoln of Deadline: "It's a day ending in 'y', and so it is that Donald Trump has sparked another firestorm of criticism this morning, and in doing so landed himself the honor of being called 'a POS' (piece of sh**) by House of Lies star Don Cheadle." -- CW ...

... Jim Fallows speculates, with evidence, that the second tweet coming from "Trump," which corrected the spelling of Wade's name, & the third, which expressed condolences (in response to social media outrage) were written by campaign staff.

CW: Remember that speech way last week where Donald Trump said he had "regrets" for ... something? You'll be so surprised to learn that his "regrets" were a throwaway line delivered in exchange for $100 million. I'm not kidding. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump met privately last week with Sheldon G. Adelson ... who this spring pledged to contribute as much as $100 million to support Mr. Trump's campaign but has not yet followed through on that commitment.... Mr. Adelson ... told Mr. Trump that he was committed to his campaign, but urged the brash candidate to demonstrate a measure of humility. The conversation took place last Wednesday, the day before Mr. Trump used a rally in Charlotte, N.C., to say, without offering any specific examples, that he had regrets over 'saying the wrong thing.'" Somebody tell me why a pro-Israel zealot would give a dime to a candidate who embraces alt-right anti-Semites.

Washington Post Editors: "Republicans supporting Mr. Trump, explicitly or tacitly, cannot reasonably claim that they do not know who he is and what he has been doing.... Ms. Clinton ended her Thursday speech by praising Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain, all of whom, in critical moments, stood up to bigoted elements on the right. Unfortunately, Republican leaders are not showing as much mettle this year. Even two of the men Ms. Clinton praised, Mr. Dole and Mr. McCain, have endorsed Mr. Trump. They should reconsider the cost to their reputations and the nation's well-being." -- CW

Brent Johnson of NJ.com: "Gov. Chris Christie on Friday refused to say whether he agrees with Donald Trump when the the Republican presidential nominee calls Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a 'bigot.' 'Next question,' Christie, a top adviser to Trump, said when asked during a news conference at the East Dover Fire Company about Trump's comments.... NJ Advance Media reported Friday that Christie's advice was instrumental in having Trump soften his stance on immigration, according to another Trump adviser, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani." (CW: That would be Giuliani fingering Christie for causing what many, apparently including Trump, considered a misstep.... The entire Trump campaign is a comic version of "The Sopranos," though none of the cast is as likeable as the murdering thugs in the HBO series.) ...

... Here's Anderson Cooper trying to explain to Donald Trump what "bigot" means. Cooper is not successful:

... "'No Vacancies' for Blacks." Jonathan Mahler & Steve Eder of the New York Times on Donald Trump's inglorious debut. For a decade, beginning in 1963, "as Donald Trump assumed an increasingly prominent role in the {family] business, the company's practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented by activists.... The Justice Department undertook its own investigation and, in 1973, sued Trump Management for discriminating against blacks. Both Fred Trump, the company's chairman, and Donald Trump, its president, were named as defendants. It was front-page news, and for Donald, amounted to his debut in the public eye.... Looking back, Mr. Trump's response to the lawsuit can be seen as presaging his handling of subsequent challenges, in business and in politics. Rather than quietly trying to settle ... he turned it into a protracted battle, complete with angry denials, character assassination..., and a $100 million countersuit accusing the Justice Department of defamation.... An investigation by The New York Times ... uncovered a long history of racial bias at his family's properties...." Read on. -- CW

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: Dr. Harold Bornstein's interview by NBC News about the letter he supposedly wrote attesting to Donald Trump's "astonishingly excellent" health, raises more questions than it answers. CW: Pardon my conspiratorial bent, but I'm not convinced Bornstein wrote the letter; at best, I suspect a Trump goon -- a guy who got out of the waiting limo to pick up the letter -- dictated it to him.

Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Michael Grynbaum & John Hermann of the New York Times: "Breitbart News..., once a curiosity of the fringe right wing, is now an increasingly powerful voice, and virtual rallying spot, for millions of disaffected conservatives who propelled Donald J. Trump to the Republican nomination for president.... Its longtime chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, was named campaign chief by Mr. Trump, whose nationalist, conspiracy-minded message routinely mirrors the Breitbart worldview.... For those who track hate groups, Breitbart's success is particularly alarming." -- CW

Arlie Russell Hothschild of Mother Jones: An adaption of the Berkeley sociologist's book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, that examines "how Donald Trump took a narrative of unfairness and twisted it to his advantage." The book is based on five years of field study of disaffected white voters in Louisiana. -- LT

"Fever Dreams." Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Anti-Trump Republicans are preparing to launch a broadcast TV ad in a handful of swing-state suburbs urging Donald Trump to quit the presidential race so the party can replace him with a more electable nominee.... The 30-second spot is marked for a limited run on broadcast networks in suburban Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Michigan...." -- CW

CW: Robert Frank of the New York Times doesn't say so, but he inadvertently adds another point on the web of Trump's connections to Russian oligarchs: "In 2008, Donald Trump sold a Palm Beach, Fla., estate for $95 million, making it the most expensive single residential property ever sold in town. Now the property is about to set another record -- as Palm Beach's most expensive tear-down.... Bought by Mr. Trump in 2004 for $41 million and sold in 2008 to a Russian billionaire for $95 million, the residence has since sat empty, a monument to the housing bubble and to Trump's outsize salesmanship." -- CW

Other News & Views

Carolyn Johnson of the Washington Post: "Enrollment in the insurance exchanges for President Obama's signature health-care law is at less than half the initial forecast, pushing several major insurance companies to stop offering health plans in certain markets because of significant financial losses. As a result, the administration's promise of a menu of health-plan choices has been replaced by a grim, though preliminary, forecast: Next year, more than 1 in 4 counties are at risk of having a single insurer on its exchange, said Cynthia Cox [of] ... the Kaiser Family Foundation.... The success of the law depends fundamentally on the exchanges being profitable for insurers -- and that requires more people to sign up." -- CW

Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "... the Colombian peace deal announced last week offers the possibility of a rare victory for American diplomacy. It would be a validation of Plan Colombia, the U.S. counternarcotics and security-aid package that has sent roughly $10 billion to Bogota since 2000, tipping the government's fight against the Marxist FARC insurgents. The accord finalized Wednesday would convert the rebels from one of the world's most powerful drug-trafficking groups to a legal political party with a sworn commitment to ending both the 52-year war and its narcotics trade.... The fate of the deal rests with Colombian voters, who will go to the polls Oct. 2 to approve or reject it. The accords are unquestionably more popular abroad -- backed by Pope Francis, President Obama and seemingly every leader in Latin America -- than they are in Colombia" -- CW

"A Literary Guide to Hating Barack Obama." Carlos Lozado of the Washington Post: "Throughout the presidency of Barack Obama, and even before it, a chorus of writers has stood stage right, reinterpreting the era but mainly eviscerating the man. Obama, initially little known, became a literary subgenre and publishing obsession, with countless volumes attacking the president, promising to unmask [him].... Donald Trump's rise in GOP presidential politics has drawn sustenance and inspiration from the anti-Obama literature.... Indeed, the arc of Trump's criticisms of the president, from his birtherism in 2011 to his more recent charge that Obama is 'the founder of ISIS,' traces, in a distorted and exaggerated way, these portrayals of the president, from unknown outsider to recidivist lawbreaker." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Police in Muskogee, Oklahoma have released body cam footage of the moment when police officers were apparently so threatened by the actions of 84-year-old Geneva Smith that they felt the need to blast her with pepper spray." Police also "used an electrical stun gun on [her son] while he had his hands up." The son, who allegedly ran a red light & refused to stop during an ensuing police chase, drove to his mother's home & refused to come out when police ordered him to do so. -- CW

News Lede

Washington Post: "James W. Cronin, who shared the Nobel prize in physics for discovering a startling breakdown in what was assumed to be the immutable symmetry of physical law, thereby helping to explain the behavior and evolution of the universe as a whole, died Aug. 25 in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84." -- CW

Friday
Aug262016

The Commentariat -- August 27, 2016

Presidential Race

AP: "Seven months after a federal judge ordered the state department to begin releasing monthly batches of the detailed daily schedules showing meetings by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, the government told the Associated Press it won’t finish the job before election day. The department has so far released about half of the schedules. Its lawyers said in a phone conference with the Associated Press’s lawyers that the department now expects to release the last of the detailed schedules around 30 December...." -- CW 

Jonathan Chait: "Trump ... oddly lambasted Clinton’s speech [on his racist history] as 'short,' raising the tantalizing question of what further evidence of his racism he believes she should have included. (His racialized hysteria against the 'Central Park Five'? His assertions that black people are inherently lazy?) He lambasted Clinton’s use of the racism charge, 'the last refuge of the discredited politician,' a cheap trick to which only a scoundrel would resort. Then finally, that evening, forgetting his conviction that only a discredited politician would charge his opponent with racism, Trump appeared on CNN, where he called Clinton a 'bigot.'... Party leaders who can accept Trump as their nominee have made a public admission that racism in the Republican coalition is a fact of political life they are willing to live with.” -- CW ...

** ... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Ed Kilgore: "... Hillary Clinton offered a reasonably detailed indictment of Donald Trump’s racially offensive utterances and associations.... She made a decent prosecutor’s prima facie case. In response, Trump repeated his latest claim, offered with zero supporting evidence (unless you call assertions that she knows her policies will hurt African-Americans 'evidence'), that Clinton is herself 'a bigot.'” Chait then details how the Washington Post (in a story I purposely didn't link because I considered it professional malpractice) treated Clinton's point-by-point speech & Trump's throw-away insult as equivalent she-said/he-said back-and-forth. "... if major media organizations treat everything Trump says as equivalent in gravity and proximity to the truth as everything Clinton says, it could get even worse. After all, Trump throws out insults all the time, at nearly everybody. If insults equal fact-based attacks, the sheer volume of insults could win in the end." -- CW

Jenna Johnson & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Ten days after he appointed new campaign leadership, Donald Trump and many of his closest aides and allies remain divided on whether to adopt more mainstream stances or stick with the hard-line conservative positions at the core of his candidacy, according to people involved in the discussions. Trump has been flooded with conflicting advice about where to land, with the tensions vividly illustrated this week as the GOP nominee publicly wrestled with himself on the details of his signature issue: immigration.... Trump tends to echo the words of whomever last spoke to him...." See also Robert Schlesinger's column, linked below. CW: As always with Trump, this principle applies, because who cares what happens to a bunch of Mexicans:

For the most part, you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect. -- Donald Trump, at some time in the past ...

... Trump Campaign Chaos, Ctd. Yvonne Sanchez of the Arizona Republic: "Donald Trump's Arizona director said Friday afternoon the candidate had canceled a Wednesday event in downtown Phoenix. But less than two hours later, Trump himself tweeted that the event was on — and would be bigger than initially planned. 'Will be in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday,' Trump posted on Twitter. 'Changing venue to much larger one. Demand is unreal. Polls looking great!'... The latest confusion from the campaign reflects mixed messages surrounding the event and others the campaign has canceled in recent days.... Multiple Trump event planners initially said Trump was slated to unveil his policy agenda on illegal immigration [at the Wednesday event], but walked that back hours later." -- CW: Tiny right hand doesn't know what tiny left hand is doing.

Here's Your Laugh for the Day. Maggie Haberman & Kate Zernike of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump’s campaign has hired Bill Stepien, a former top aide to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose role in the Bridgegate scandal led to his firing and denied him the central role he was expected to play in the governor’s presidential run.... Mr. Stepien was not among the three people charged by federal prosecutors in the lane closings. But earlier this month, a lawyer for one of other defendants released texts from a conversation between two Christie staffers during the two-hour news conference in which the governor denied knowing about the lane closings. 'He just flat out lied about senior staff and Stepien not being involved,' one staffer wrote to the other." CW: As Akhilleus suggested yesterday, Trump might have hired Stepien sooner if he'd changed his name to Steve. ...

... This Is a Hoot, too. Anna Schecter, et al., of NBC News: "Donald Trump's personal physician said he wrote a letter declaring Trump would be the healthiest president in history in just five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his Manhattan office. Dr. Harold Bornstein, who has been the GOP nominee's doctor for 35 years, told NBC News on Friday that he stands by his glowing assessment of the 70-year-old's physical state.... 'If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,' Bornstein wrote. Asked how he could justify the hyperbole, Bornstein said, 'I like that sentence to be quite honest with you and all the rest of them are either sick or dead.'" ...

... CW: Donald Trump's doctor makes no more sense than Donald Trump. "... the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency" means "healthiest at the time he was elected." None of the former presidents was dead at the time he was elected. Bornstein is a gastroenterologist I wouldn't go to with a stomach ache. ...

... Also Funny. Andrew Kaczynski: "Eric Trump, listing off reasons his father is running for president, said in an interview this week that one of the motivations was the renaming of the White House Christmas tree to the 'holiday tree.' The tree placed on the White House lawn during the holiday season is still called the National Christmas Tree.... Chain emails that began when President Obama took office falsely claimed that tree had been renamed." CW: So now that this has been settled, Donald can quit the race. Not that the outrage of calling a conifer a "holiday tree" isn't a good reason to run for president. And nice to know that Eric, like Dad, gets his political news from crackpot chain mail. The pine nut doesn't fall far from the pine.

Not Funny at All. Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast: "Appearing on The Apprentice with Donald Trump required agreeing to a series of odd and invasive demands regarding sex, nudity, and food consumption. According to a copy of an NBC contract reviewed by The Daily Beast, contestants had to agree to be filmed, 'whether I am clothed, partially clothed or naked, whether I am aware or unaware of such videotaping, filming or recording.'... They were made to undergo sexually transmitted disease screenings, which tested for 'HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HPV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes,' according to the contract.... Contestants had to accept 'that Producer may impose one or more Series Rules regarding the type of sexual activity, if any, that participants will be permitted to engage in.'” --CW 

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: The GOP leadership, including mike pence, still has not defended Trump against Clinton's speech detailing the evidence of his racism, although they have been tweeting & writing about other things. "In a normal election cycle, that would prompt the party to line up leaders and surrogates in defense of their candidate." CW: These "leaders" aren't defending Trump because they agree with Clinton. She presented her case against Trump like a prosecutor delivering her closing arguments. She cited instance after instance that proved Trump was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The GOP "leadership" voted to convict. They just don't have the guts to deliver their verdict. Update: See also Jonathan Chait's post; he characterizes the "leaders"' silence as a tacit admission that they are willing to live with racism.

Robert Schlesinger of US News: "Maybe Donald Trump is incoherent on immigration because Donald Trump is incoherent. Maybe what he says doesn't make a lot of sense because he doesn't know what he's talking about.... Maybe Donald Trump ... speaks word salad because that's his level of substantive sophistication." Schlesinger goes on to point out that Trump doesn't seem to understand other basics, either: for instance, he appears not to know what a trade deficit is; he thinks it would be okay to crash the U.S. (and with it the world's) economy (because then he would make a deal); and on many issues, he's flip-flopped repeatedly.

Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: Recently Donald Trump "has 'mostly retreated to the relatively cozy confines of Fox News,' as the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone put it this week. Trump finally ventured out again Thursday night, appearing on CNN for the first time in more than two months. It didn't go very well.... A frustrated Trump lashed out at [Anderson] Cooper and CNN, which he has taken to calling the 'Clinton News Network.' 'I know you want to protect her as much as you possibly can,' Trump said, referring to ... Hillary Clinton. At the time, he and Cooper were debating the true poverty rate for African Americans. When Trump didn't want to engage on the merits anymore, his immediate tactic was to try to put Cooper on the defensive with an unrelated accusation." -- CW

Dana Milbank: "Moderates and reasonable Republicans who are considering voting for Trump portray it as a choice between two unpalatable options. But it isn’t. It’s a choice between one unpalatable option and one demagogue who operates outside of our democratic traditions, promoting racism, condoning violence and moving paranoia into the mainstream. This presidential election, unlike the six others I have covered, is not about party or ideology. It’s about Trump’s threat to our tradition of self-government." -- CW 

Michelle Lee of the Washington Post: Donald Trump "vowed not to eat Oreo cookies anymore after Nabisco moved some U.S. factory jobs to Mexico.... We know of at least 12 countries where Trump products were manufactured (China, the Netherlands, Mexico, India, Turkey, Slovenia, Honduras, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea).... Trump’s practice as a businessman is not consistent with his current rhetoric against trade as a presidential nominee.... If Trump brand customers took the same stance against his products as he did against Nabisco, it is clear they would be left with few Trump items to buy." But they could buy those "Make America Great Against" caps. -- CW: All the U.S. jobs Trump keeps promising to create will be for dockworkers.

Trump's Winning Strategy. Eric Levitz of New York: "Over the past two weeks, Donald Trump has named the CEO of an 'alt-right' website his campaign chief, 'softened' and then 'hardened' his immigration policy until he pissed off Latino activists and his nativist base, reached out to African-American voters by suggesting black people have nothing in their lives worth preserving, held a campaign rally in the crucial swing state of Mississippi, and released a campaign ad that suggested it doesn’t really matter whom you vote for this fall because the election will be rigged. But on Friday afternoon, Reuters dropped a bucket of cold water on such dumpster blazes: Donald Trump has, apparently, gained seven points on Hillary Clinton in just seven days." CW: Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times daily tracking poll had Trump up by two over Clinton. (The LA Times poll tracks eligible, not likely, voters.)

"All the Best People." Sean Sullivan & Alice Crites of the Washington Post: "Allegations of domestic violence and anti-Semitism from a former wife of Donald Trump’s new campaign chief executive [Steve Bannon] brought fresh scrutiny on Friday to how well Trump vets his most senior employees and advisers — another distraction from the themes the GOP nominee wants to emphasize less than 11 weeks from the election. Records show that Stephen K. Bannon changed his voter registration address in Florida ... from an address in Miami-Dade County to Sarasota County ... this week as reporters were preparing a story about how he was registered at an address where he did not live." -- CW ...

... Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Donald Trump’s campaign chief [Steve Bannon] has moved his voter registration to the home of one his website’s writers, after the Guardian disclosed that he was previously registered at an empty house in Florida where he did not live. Stephen Bannon is now registered to vote at the Florida house of Andy Badolato, who reports for Breitbart News and has worked with Bannon in the past on the production of political films. According to public records, Badolato, 52, and two of his adult sons are also registered to vote at the property, which he co-owns with his ex-wife.... Badolato states on his website that he is an 'entrepreneur, senior level executive, venture capitalist and seed stage investor' and claims to have founded companies that reached a total of $26bn in market capitalization. According to federal court records, he has filed for bankruptcy four times since 2008. (Emphasis added.) -- CW ...

... CW: The bankruptcies explain why Badolato lives in Florida. "Florida’s bankruptcy exemptions are quite favorable to its residents, and include unlimited exemptions for homestead, annuities, and the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy." Anyway, hope Badolato & his sons enjoy living with Bannon.

... Nancy Dillon of the New York Daily News: "Donald Trump's campaign CEO Stephen Bannon was branded an anti-Semite by the same ex-wife who claimed he choked her, court documents reveal. Mary Louise Piccard said in a 2007 court declaration that Bannon didn't want their twin daughters attending the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles because many Jewish students were enrolled at the elite institution.... 'The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend,' Piccard said in her statement signed on June 27, 2007. 'He said that he doesn't like the way they raise their kids to be "whiny brats" and that he didn't want the girls going to school with Jews,' Piccard wrote." According to Piccard, Bannon was troubled by the number of Jewish students in two other private schools in the area, too.

Other News & Views

Ariana Cha of the Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Friday took the radical step of recommending that blood donations in all 50 states and U.S. territories be screened for the Zika virus. Such costly and time-consuming testing is typically only done for the most dangerous infectious disease outbreaks and signals how seriously U.S. officials are taking the Zika threat. The announcement comes as the outbreak in Florida, the first state with local mosquito transmission of the virus, appears to be spreading." -- CW 

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Federal officials on Friday announced a $2.45 billion loan to Amtrak for the purchase of state-of-the-art trains to replace the aging Acela trains that use the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. Amtrak plans to put the first of 28 new trains into service in about five years. Once they are fully deployed, officials expect the Acela to depart every half-hour between Washington and New York and every hour between New York and Boston. That should increase passenger capacity by about 40 percent, they said. While the new trains will not approach the speeds of some Asian and European trains, officials said they hoped that the new Acela would travel at 160 miles per hour in some places, up from 135 m.p.h. now. The trains will theoretically be able to go faster than 160 m.p.h., though that would require a huge upgrade of the track system." -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post on "the crisis of morality at Fox News." Wemple's take is pretty damning, all around, not just of Roger Ailes. ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "The memo is dated January 5, 2012.... 'Re: Gabriel Sherman.' Two full years before Sherman published a book about Roger Ailes, this book-length memo ... 400 pages ... made the rounds inside Fox News. It has all the markings of 'opposition research' about a political enemy — which is precisely how Ailes viewed Sherman. The memo, obtained by CNNMoney from two anonymous sources, is a stunning display of Ailes' campaign-like strategies. It includes, among other things, property records, voter registration information, and a note that the researchers could find no criminal record for Sherman.... Some of the information contained in the memo subsequently showed up on Conservapedia, a right-wing version of Wikipedia. Anti-Sherman stories also appeared on Breitbart News in 2012 and 2013.... Sherman told CNNMoney he had heard about possible 'oppo research' against him and had ample reasons to believe it existed, but has never seen it." ...

... CW: Donald Trump could have used Fox "News"'s PR team to vet Steve Bannon (and on Ailes himself). Maybe he did, & didn't care that Bannon is an anti-Semite who allegedly roughed up his wife. Plus. Ailes is "informally" advising Trump, so you can bet intensive oppo-research is one tool a Trump administration would use against media adversaries. Not all reporters have as squeaky-clean a personal history as Sherman apparently does; an oppo research team could come up with some embarrassing incidents for reporters & their families & could use those personal events to try to silence the reporters.

Beyond the Beltway

Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "In a statement, [Gov. Paul] LePage [R-Insane-Maine] said his suggestion to duel [a Maine legislator] was not meant to incite any physical violence." See yesterday's Commentariat for context. CW BTW: LePage did threaten the legislator, Drew Gattine (D), in a profanity-laced voicemail. -- CW ...

... Here's some background, the content of which was linked within a story I linked yesterday, but which I did not specifically link myself. David Graham of the Atlantic: LePage told reporters Wednesday, "... I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state.... And I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn.... The publicly available evidence did not support LePage’s idea that minorities were behind the heroin epidemic. Several recent arrests of dealers at the time had involved predominantly or exclusively white people.... Naturally, reporters were interested to get their hands on LePage’s binder full of minorities. On Thursday, they asked the governor for it. He refused and stomped off. 'Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that!' he said. 'You make me so sick!'”