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 

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "This week, President Obama called on Republicans in Congress to take action and vote to fund the Administration’s response to the Zika virus. In February, the President asked Congress to fund emergency resources, including mosquito control, fast-tracking diagnostics tests and vaccines, tracking the spread of the virus, and monitoring women and babies with Zika. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have failed to take action on this issue. So the President continues to direct his Administration do what it can without help from Congress, with the primary focus of protecting pregnant women and families planning to have children'":

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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The Commentariat -- August 29, 2016


Presidential Race

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.

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.)

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. ...

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 

Beyond the Beltway

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  

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.


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.

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. Trump reposted a tweet on Saturday morning that slammed Clinton as 'Crooked Hillary' and claimed she said 'a KKK member was her mentor.'" CW: Oh, really. ...

... 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” -- CW 


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 is Trump's own thoughts. ...

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 "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 


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!'”


The Commentariat -- August 26, 2016

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama will create the largest protected area on the planet Friday, by expanding a national marine monument off the coast of his native Hawaii to encompass 582,578 square miles of land and sea. The move, which more than quadruples the size of the Papahānaumokuākea (pronounced 'Papa-ha-now-mow-koo-ah-kay-ah') Marine National Monument that President George W. Bush established a decade ago, underscores the extent to which Obama has elevated the issues of conservation and climate change in his second term. Obama has now used his executive authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect more than 548 million acres of federal land and water, more than double what any of his predecessors have done." -- CW

Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met [in Geneva] Friday to try to rescue fading hopes for a truce in the Syrian civil war that would stop the bombing of civilian and rebel areas by Russian and Syrian government forces and initiate coordinated U.S.-Russian attacks on agreed terrorist groups. Asked about the possibility for success, as the two shook hands and sat down in a Geneva lakeside hotel, Lavrov said, 'I don't want to spoil the atmosphere for the negotiations.'" -- CW

Missy Ryan & Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: "Iranian naval vessels veered close to American warships this week in a series of incidents that American officials described as harassing maneuvers risking dangerous escalation, defense officials said Thursday. The first incident occurred Tuesday, when Iranian ships made provocative maneuvers around a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz, officials said. The following day, Iranian vessels came within several hundred meters of other American ships in the Persian Gulf, with one Iranian ship prompting the coastal patrol ship USS Squall to fire warning shots." -- CW

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times: "Responding to a growing furor from consumers and politicians, the pharmaceutical company Mylan said on Thursday that it would lower the out-of-pocket costs to some patients who need EpiPens, which are used to treat life-threatening allergy attacks.... But the moves did not mollify critics of Mylan because the company did not lower the list price of the EpiPen, which has risen to $600 for a pack of two from about $100 in 2007." -- CW

David Wasserman of 538: "On Monday, a Politico analysis concluded that 'at least one ray of hope for a turnaround' is that Republicans are 'winning [the] registration race' in the key states of Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Iowa.... But much like the Trump camp's claims of July fundraising success, there's far more to this story.... What's happening is more a mix of party switching, natural replacement and removal of inactive Democratic voters from the rolls than a feverish Trump effort to expand the electorate.... It's likely that most of these party switchers were already voting Republican." -- CW

Harry Boyte of, republished in Salon: "Trumpism represents a model of public life which replaces citizens as makers of democratic society with a transactional politics that asks only 'what's in it for me?' It is the mark of a society where market values spread without limit, in which we are branding and selling ourselves along with everything else.... Trump's posture -- his constant pivots, his protean notion of 'truth,' his bait-and-switch changes in policy -- embody the logic of a culture where differences between salesmanship and leadership disappear. If Trump is the outgrowth of an everything-is-for-sale culture, his flaws dramatize the need for revitalized citizenship." -- CW

Presidential Race

David Fahrenthold & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: Hillary "Clinton and her husband, Bill, the total [given to charity] is $23.2 million between 2001 and 2015. That figure comes from the Clintons' joint tax returns, which the Democratic nominee has released.... Clinton and her husband donated about 9.8 percent of their adjusted gross income. Trump says he is worth far more than the Clintons. He recently claimed his net worth as more than $10 billion. But it appears he has donated far less. The Washington Post has identified about $3.9 million in donations since 2001 from Trump's own pocket." CW: Trump's charitable giving, then, looks like about .0039 percent of his pretended wealth. Please feel free to correct my arithmetic. ...

     ... It doesn't take a tax expert to figure out the reasons for the disparity in giving. The Clintons report huge incomes & they reduce their tax liability with charitable deductions. The Trumps, as many have guessed, have little in the way of taxable income that could be offset by charitable deductions. Rather, they use a variety of real-estate deductions to reduce their taxable income to nothing or next-to-nothing. If you want to know what Donald Trump pays in taxes, look at his record of giving. He has made a life-long hobby of stiffing government at all levels (and he's boasted about it).

Ben Leubsdorf. et al., of the Wall Street Journal blog: "The Wall Street Journal reached out to 45 economists who have served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, to ask about this year's presidential election. Most Democratic appointees said they supported Hillary Clinton, while no Republican appointees openly supported Donald Trump. Here are some of their statements." -- CW

** Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton delivered a blistering denunciation Thursday of Donald J. Trump's personal and political history with race, arguing in her most forceful terms yet that a nationalist conservative fringe had engulfed the Republican Party. In a 31-minute address, building to a controlled simmer, Mrs. Clinton did everything but call Mr. Trump a racist outright -- saying he had promoted 'racist lie' after 'racist lie,' pushed conspiracy theories with 'racist undertones' and heartened racists across the country by submitting to an 'emerging racist ideology known as the alt-right.' 'He is taking hate groups mainstream,' Mrs. Clinton told supporters at a community college here, 'and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.'" -- CW ...

     ... CW: Clinton's speech is very much worth your time. Jeff Stein of Vox has the full transcript, as prepared. ...

... Jamelle Bouie of Slate: Clinton gave the speech GOP leaders should have given months ago. CW: Right. And the reason they didn't is that none of them wanted to alienate the white supremacist voters Trump embraces. Bouie: "As analysis, Clinton's argument about Trump's distance from the rest of the GOP is wrong. At various points in their campaigns, those Republicans gave their winks and nods to the most toxic elements in their party. And broadly, the Republican Party has long appealed to the white racial resentment and hostility that now fuels the Trump campaign in explicit form." ...

... Judd Legum of Think Progress: "You would expect the leaders and elected officials of the party to rally to [Trump's] side, blast Clinton's speech as a smear and demand an apology. Instead, there has been silence." Paul Ryan (two Twitter accounts), nada. Mitch McConnell (three Twitter accounts), zilch. Reince Priebus ("very active" Twitter account), zero. The Republican Party account, zip. "The most striking thing is not what Republicans are saying. It's how many of them are staying silent." -- CW ...

... Keegan Hankes of the Southern Poverty Law Center: "Hours before ... Hillary Clinton is scheduled to deliver a speech in Reno, Nev., slamming Donald Trump for his connections to the Alt-Right, the racist core leadership of the ideology is collectively tripping over itself trying to take credit for its unexpected success.... A Washington Post profile of the Alt-Right stated 'The goal is often offensiveness for the sake of offensiveness in the way that many young white men embrace.' Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer responded plainly in a post, 'No it isn't. The goal is to ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated.'" --CW ...

... BUT Donald Trump has no idea what these people represent. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Donald Trump on Thursday night claimed that he doesn't know what the alt-right is when asked about Hillary Clinton's charges in a Thursday speech that Trump has embraced those who push white nationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim beliefs. '"Nobody even knows what it is, and she didn't know what it was. This is a term that was just given,' Trump said when CNN's Anderson Cooper asked if he embraces the alt-right. "There is no alt-right or alt-left. All that I'm embracing is common sense.'" More on Cooper's interview below. CW: Apparently the Southern Poverty Law Center is not one of Donald's go-to sources of information.

Max Rosenthal of Mother Jones: "In another harsh attack on his opponent, Donald Trump at a New Hampshire rally on Thursday accused Hillary Clinton of running a 'vast criminal enterprise' that was worse than Watergate, alleging that the Clinton Foundation was part of some sort of pay-to-play scheme while Clinton was secretary of state. Trump did not cite any evidence as he repeated this hyperbolic charge and his supporters shouted 'lock her up.' Moreover, Trump did not mention that his own foundation donated at least $110,000 to the Clinton Foundation.... Throughout his rant against Clinton, though, Trump did not answer this obvious question: If the Clinton Foundation was an illegal pay-to-play enterprise, what did he get for his donation?" -- CW

** Maggie Haberman & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "For 15 months, even as Donald J. Trump vacillated on many other issues, he stuck to a simple, hard-line position on immigration: If elected president, he would form a 'deportation force,' round up people who are in the United States illegally and send them back where they came from. Yet even that promise, so central to his appeal to conservatives, now appears open to negotiation. Mr. Trump faced anger, confusion and disgust from across the political spectrum on Thursday after indicating that he was open to letting some undocumented immigrants remain in the country legally provided that they paid 'back taxes.'" -- CW ...

All the things that Donald Trump railed against, he seems to be morphing into. It's kind of disturbing. -- Jeb!, in an interview Thursday

... Sean Sullivan & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: Eleven "weeks before the election, Trump is suddenly sounding a lot like the opponents he repeatedly ridiculed.... The shift, if it sticks, marks a dramatic turnabout for a nominee who repeatedly attacked Bush, Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and other primary rivals as weak and spineless on immigration, and who repeatedly vowed that he would never waver in his push to deport everyone in the United States who is here illegally." -- CW ...

... Lisa Mascaro of the Los Angeles Times: "Donald Trump's surprising pivot on illegal immigration -- a policy shift that remains in flux -- could bring one of the greatest risks he's faced in an already turbulent campaign.... Trump appeared to be test-driving a new, more moderate approach during a Fox News town hall this week. The idea, which sounded strikingly similar to those of his Republican primary rivals former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, would allow some immigrants to remain in the country as long as they had no criminal records and agreed to pay back taxes.... For many of his ardent supporters, such a change may look like exactly the kind of bait-and-switch they'd come to loathe." -- CW ...

... Wait! Wait! Trump Changes "Words" Again. Theodore Schleifer of CNN: "Donald Trump ruled out Thursday a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants in the United States, walking back comments he made earlier this week in which he appeared open to the idea. But the Republican nominee declined in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper to clarify whether he would still forcibly deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US -- a major tenet of his immigration platform -- after he suggested this week he was 'softening' on the idea." -- CW ...

     ... Margaret Hartmann: "Trump Denies He's 'Softening' on Immigration, Though That's Literally What He Said Two Days Ago." CW: What we saw in the Anderson Cooper interview was Trump reverting to Trump, which always happens a few days after each extreme makeover. When Trump says something reasonable or even quasi-reasonable, it's because someone else convinced him, for a moment, that it was in his interest to do so. Nice try, Kellyanne, but Trump speaks mainly to himself. ...

... NEW. Based on Cooper's interview, Greg Sargent does quite a good job of decoding Trump's position on deportation. It isn't pretty. Bottom line: undocumented immigrants still "all have to go." ...

... Gene Robinson: "Donald Trump's supporters can pretend otherwise, but deep down they must know the truth: Trump has been playing them for fools all along. All that bluster about creating a 'deportation force' to round up 11 million undocumented immigrants and kick them out of the country? Forget about it. Trump is now 'softening' that ridiculous pledge, which he could never have carried out, into a new policy in which 'we work with them.'... Attempts by allies to explain the complete reversal have been comic. My favorite came from Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, who said this on CNN: 'He hasn't changed his position on immigration, he's changed the words that he is saying.'... In a sense, spokeswoman Pierson was right: Trump doesn't actually have positions. He only has words." -- CW ...

... CW: This is similar to what Jim Newell of Slate wrote the other day: "Trump is not familiar with immigration policy, because he's not familiar with any policy.... Few ideas exist in his head, either. He doesn't even have a whole lot of nouns at his disposal. His head is mostly descriptors, adverbs and adjectives, up to a second-grade level.... There are no 'shifts' in policy, because there is no policy...." ...

... Steve Benen says this in another way: "... the assessment from Trump's spokesperson is worth remembering: the candidate has only 'changed the words that he is saying.' His proposed policy may soon 'evolve,' too, but in the meantime, it's probably best not to take Trump's rhetoric at face value." In the meantime, Benen writes, "what Trump has proposed -- a border wall, mass deportations, ending birthright citizenship, etc. -- remains his 2016 platform." CW: Behind the "words he is saying," his spokeswoman confirmed, is the same old racist despot. But we knew that without guidance from the dimwitted Pierson. ...

... Poor Prince Reibus Cannot Keep Up. Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said on Thursday that there should be legalization for some undocumented immigrants. 'We never said a pathway to citizenship, and I tend to believe that legalization or some kind of legalization is the proper route, not necessarily citizenship,' Priebus said on Kilmeade and Friends." -- CW

Paul Krugman: "... when Mr. Trump portrays America's cities as hellholes of runaway crime and social collapse, what on earth is he talking about? Urban life is one of the things that has gone right with America. In fact, it has gone so right that those of us who remember the bad old days still find it hard to believe.... So what is all of this about? The same thing everything in the Trump campaign is about: race.... Even when he is trying to sound racially inclusive, his imagery is permeated by an 'alt-right' sensibility that fundamentally sees nonwhites as subhuman." -- CW

German Lopez of Vox: "Donald Trump wants to bring back the 'tough on crime' policies that helped cause mass incarceration.... Trump is an authoritarian strongman, so it makes sense that his approach to this issue, as with immigration and national security, would be to act as tough as possible.... Trump ... would very likely back tougher prison sentences and invasive policing practices, and would likely continue the more punitive aspects of the war on drugs," even though in recent years, Republicans & Democrats alike are now trying to reform the criminal justice system. -- CW ...

CW: All of Trump's draconian policies make sense in the context of his view of humankind:

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 ...

** Books Review. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times: "To read a stack of new and reissued books about Mr. Trump, as well as a bunch of his own works, is to be plunged into a kind of Bizarro World version of Dante's 'Inferno,' where arrogance, acquisitiveness and the sowing of discord are not sins, but attributes of leadership; a place where lies, contradictions and outrageous remarks spring up in such thickets that the sort of moral exhaustion associated with bad soap operas quickly threatens to ensue." -- CW

Luke Kawa of Bloomberg: "The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States could lead to chaos in markets and increased policy uncertainty that tip the world into recession, according to Citigroup Inc." -- CW

Timothy O'Brien of Bloomberg: "For most of the past year, in fact, the Trump campaign team has been, at best, weakly organized and, at worst, chaotic. But that's not surprising: In his long, carnivalesque business career, Donald Trump has usually put his own interests front and center, and he's never been particularly good at managing sizable operations.... Jack O'Donnell, who had a three-year run as the president of one of Trump's casinos before he quit[, said] "... He was a terrible communicator and didn't know how to sort out his thoughts on a daily basis, let alone provide long-term corporate direction.'... During a 16-month period stretching from late 1989 to early 1991, Trump churned through five different presidents he had hand-picked to run his flagship casino, the Taj Mahal -- a preview of how he's run his presidential campaign." -- CW

Megan Twohey, et al., of the New York Times: Stephen Bannon "was charged in February 1996 with domestic violence, battery and attempting to dissuade a victim from reporting a crime, but the case was dropped when [his wife Mary Louise] Piccard did not show up in court. In court records, Ms. Piccard later claimed that Mr. Bannon instructed her to leave town to avoid testifying. Mr. Bannon, she said, told her that 'if I went to court he and his attorney would make sure that I would be the one who was guilty.'" -- CW ...

     ... Hadas Gold & John Bresnahan of Politico broke the story. Their report is here. -- CW

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post, like some readers here, found Rachel Maddow's interview of Kellyanne Conway "fascinating." Blake has annotated the full transcript, which is here. CW: I found the interview easier to read (which I did) than to watch (which I didn't, after the first couple of minutes).

Tim Egan: "Most Americans, those born here..., cannot pass the simple test aced by 90 percent of new citizens.... Trump, who says he doesn't read much at all, is both a product of the epidemic of ignorance and a main producer of it.... The dumbing down of this democracy has been gradual, and then -- this year -- all at once.... But what you don't know really can hurt you. Last year was the hottest on record. And the July just passed was earth's warmest month in the modern era. Still, Gallup found that 45 percent of Republicans don't believe the temperature.... They don't accept the numbers, from all those lying meteorologists." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Jennifer Medina & Matt Richtel of the New York Times: "California will extend its landmark climate change legislation to 2030, a move that climate specialists say solidifies the state's role as a leader in the effort to curb heat-trapping emissions. Lawmakers have passed, and Gov. Jerry Brown has promised to sign, bills requiring the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels." -- CW

NEW. Scott Thistle of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Gov. Paul LePage (R-Insane) leaves phone message calling legislator a "cocksucker" (twice) and said, "I'm after you." Later, LePage told reporters, "When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I'd like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825. And we would have a duel, that's how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he's been in this Legislature to help move the state forward." Includes audio of the phone message. CW: Donald Trump has said he would find a job for LePage in his administration. Hey, how about Ambassador to Mexico?

Way Beyond

Des Bieler of the Washington Post: "Brazil police charged Ryan Lochte with [making] a false crime report Thursday, stemming from the incident that took place during the Rio Olympics when he claimed that he and three other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint. If convicted, the decorated athlete could be given a sentence of one to six months in jail, according to Brazil's O Globo newspaper, although it is unlikely that he will ever return to that country." -- CW