The Wires

New York Times: "Margaret Brennan, the senior foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, will be the next moderator of 'Face the Nation,' the network’s prestige Sunday morning public affairs show and one of the most influential venues in American politics. Her new role, announced by CBS on Thursday, makes Ms. Brennan, 37, the only woman currently serving as a solo anchor of a major Sunday political affairs show. She succeeds John Dickerson, who left 'Face the Nation' in January after less than three years to replace Charlie Rose on 'CBS This Morning.'”

 

... No, Reality Chex has not turned into a Playboy wannabe. I just thought you'd like to see how Louise Linton, the wife of the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, thought she should pose for an Elle article about her various missteps as, you know, the wife of the Treasury Secretary. Maybe she should start asking herself, "What Would Karen Pence do?" -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

 

 

The Martin Luther King home in Atlanta. MLK, Jr. was born here. The house is a National Historic Site & you can visit it -- the National Park Service conducts tours.

More on the MLK house here.

Laura Holson of the New York Times profiles Joy Reid of MSNBC. Mrs. McC: If you've never seen Joy on the teevee, she is indeed a joy.

Cheddar Man! Serious Bad News for Donald Trump & All His White Supremacist Friends. New York Times: "He had dark skin, brown curly hair and blue eyes, DNA tests suggest, upending a common assumption that Britain’s indigenous populations were all pale skinned with fair features. He is 'Cheddar Man,' Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903 in Gough’s Cave near the village of Cheddar in Somerset, in southwest England. He lived about 10,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period, the middle part of the Stone Age. Scientists have now reconstructed his features, demonstrating that he was part of a population of ancient Western Europeans that, scientists have shown in recent years, had dark skin. Research has shown that fair skin pigmentation — long considered a defining feature of Europe — only goes back less than 6,000 years." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: We all come from African ancestry, but now it turns out that those of us who appear whitey-white likely have more recent dark-skinned ancestors. Yes, Donald, you are Cheddar Man! Could you all stop being racists now?

Chrisco Gets Part-time Gig at ABC News. NJ.com: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "has been hired as an occasional contributor to ABC News, according to sources familiar with the discussions."

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

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

Wednesday
Dec272017

The Commentariat -- December 27, 2017

Late Morning Update:

Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "Politicians, and others in positions of power, should stop corroding civil discourse and seek to unify society, the former US president Barack Obama said in a rare interview conducted by Prince Harry for BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Obama did not mention his successor, Donald Trump, by name, but said social media could lead to facts being discarded and prejudices being reinforced, making public conversation harder. 'All of us in leadership have to find ways to recreate a common space on the internet,' he said.... Trump has been fiercely critical of Obama personally and politically since he entered the Oval Office, but Obama in his first interview since leaving office did not take the chance to hit back, possibly reflecting his wife Michelle's famous dictum: 'When they go low, you go high'." ...

... Here is reputedly audio of the full interview. ...

... Mrs. McC: Don't if this is true, considering the source. News.au: "BRITISH government bureaucrats are urging Prince Harry not to invite the Obamas to his wedding for fear of infuriating Donald Trump. Harry and fiancee Meghan Markle have told aides they want the former US president and wife Michelle at their big day on May 19, according to The Sun." ...

... See also today's commentary on whether or not Harry & Meghan Markle can invite the Obamas to their wedding on accounta it might upset Trumpelthinskin. One possible solution: they can follow the tradition of having the bride's parents act as official hosts & send out the invitations. That way it's not Queen Elizabeth's or Theresa May's fault that the Trumps' invitation accidentally got lost in the mail.

*****

Michelle Lee of the Washington Post: "Trump began his day [Tuesday] criticizing the FBI and claiming that the now-famous dossier containing allegations about his connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election is a 'pile of garbage.' Trump, who is vacationing at his private estate in Mar-a-Lago, appeared to be watching and quoting from the morning cable-news show 'Fox & Friends' while tweeting. 'WOW, @foxandfrlends "Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED." And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!' he tweeted.... Earlier in the morning, Trump touted the tax cut bill he signed into law last week before leaving Washington for his holiday vacation. He took a jab at the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act and promised to 'develop a great new HealthCare plan' to replace it.... He headed out to Trump International Golf Club shortly after sending his morning tweets." ...

... Nicole Lafond of TPM tries to interpret what-all Trump thinks he's talking about in these tweets. ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: The idea that the FBI hasn't confirmed the entire Steele dossier is a red herring. There are elements of the dossier that would be of no interest to law enforcement. For instance, confirming the "golden rain" story could constitute an invasion of Trump's privacy; however, confirming that Russia has taped Trump in compromising sexual situations or has other Kompromat on Trump would be highly significant. I would assume the FBI has never had the intention of confirming all of the elements of the dossier, so the assertion that it hasn't been able to "VERIFY CLAIMS" will always be true. ...

     ... Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) on Tuesday called for a 'purge' of the FBI, warning of 'deep state' figures at work in the agency." Mrs. McC: This is my very own Representative, calling for a dictator-style cleansing of the country's top law enforcement agency. As with all purges, the "offense" is suspicion of supporting an opposition party. We are no longer in danger of going off the rails; we are now the dazed survivors of a massive train wreck. I am not an alarmist; this is happening. And it started at the top. ...

... Rebecca Savransky: "A Former Watergate prosecutor said Tuesday that President Trump's new attacks on the FBI could amount to obstruction of justice. 'It is also a possible obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, and it's obstructing justice by saying to agents you better not dig too deep, you better not find anything because I will attack you,' Jill Wine-Banks said during a segment on MSNBC. 'And this is the president of the United States, it is congressmen who have a national audience and can make people's lives miserable.... It's a serious threat to the investigation and to democracy,'she said." ...

... A Few Legal Problems for Team Trump

Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast: "In Washington legal circles, there's a broad expectation that [Robert] Mueller will file what's called a superseding indictment of [Paul] Manafort and Rick Gates, his erstwhile business partner -- and alleged partner in crime. Gates and Manafort both pleaded not guilty when Mueller's team filed their indictment on Oct. 30.... In that current indictment, Mueller's team hinted there was more to come. In particular, they hinted at potential tax charges for Manafort's foreign financial transactions.... Anytime federal prosecutors want to charge someone with breaking tax law, they must get approval from the Justice Department's Tax Division. That approval process can be time-consuming[, which would explain the delay & the need for a superseding indictment]. Woodruff reports on indicators of further tax-related indictments of other Trumpies, including Michael Flynn. ...

     ... Max Kutner of Newsweek: "... Donald Trump should pardon his former national security adviser and campaign aide Michael Flynn ... Flynn's brother said Tuesday. 'About time you pardoned General Flynn who has taken the biggest fall for all of you given the illegitimacy of this confessed crime in the wake of all this corruption,' Joseph Flynn tweeted, though the post was deleted after about 15 minutes. Flynn's tweet came after Trump posted his own miniscreed on Twitter complaining about [Robert] Mueller's probe, among other things.... Joseph Flynn told Newsweek that he found Trump's tweet interesting and so, 'I responded.'" ...

... It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Schneiderman! Danny Hakim & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, reached a milestone of sorts recently. By moving to sue the Federal Communications Commission over net neutrality this month, his office took its 100th legal or administrative action against the Trump administration and congressional Republicans. His lawyers have challenged Mr. Trump's first, second and third travel bans and sued over such diverse matters as a rollback in birth control coverage and a weakening of pollution standards. They have also unleashed a flurry of amicus briefs and formal letters, often with other Democratic attorneys general, assailing legislation they see as gutting consumer finance protections or civil rights." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Annie Karni of Politico: "The woman accusing ... Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, of unwanted touching at a Trump International Hotel party last month has filed a sexual assault report with the Metropolitan Police Department detailing the incident. Joy Villa, 31, a singer and Trump supporter who is exploring a congressional bid in Florida, says Lewandowski slapped her on the butt hard, twice -- even after she voiced an objection."


Mark Hosenball & Jonathan Landay
of Reuters: "A Georgian-American businessman who met then-Miss Universe pageant owner Donald Trump in 2013, has been questioned by congressional investigators about whether he helped organize a meeting between Russians and Trump's eldest son during the 2016 election campaign...."

Nicholas Burns, in a USA Today op-ed: "The Trump administration's newly unveiled national security strategy lists reinforcing America's alliances as a major objective. Yet in the first year of his embattled presidency, Donald Trump has so undermined our ties to Europe that we could be on the verge of a break in the seven-decade trans-Atlantic alliance. Trump is the first U.S. president since World War II who does not seem to consider himself the leader of the democratic West. His populist America First platform has opened deep fissures in his relations with European leaders.... He has changed the way the U.S. government talks about our oldest allies, describing the European Union more as an economic competitor than a leading strategic partner." Mrs. McC: Burns was a long-time State Department diplomat who worked under administrations of both parties. He does not toss off alarming, unfounded accusations.

Jonathan Lemire & Zeke Miller of the AP look back at "13 days in July that transformed the White House. Even for an administration that spent most of 2017 throwing off headlines at a dizzying pace, events in the second half of July unfolded at breakneck speed. They encapsulated both the promise and peril of President Donald Trump's first year in office -- and yielded aftershocks that reverberate within the White House even as the calendar turns to 2018. The two-week span laid bare the splintering of Trump's relationships with two influential Cabinet members, foreshadowed the reach of the Russia probe into the interior of his orbit; saw the dramatic, last-minute defeat of one of the president's signature campaign promises; and featured a senior staff shakeup that reset the rhythms of this presidency." Mrs. McC: A good read. You might think the article is a treatment Lemire & Miller are shopping around Hollywood. ...

     ... Here's a timeline for the 13 days.

Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "... the most idiotic program on all of televised news was interviewing Paula White, President Trump's longtime spiritual adviser.... And as it turns out, White does a great job of spewing pro-Trump spiritual talking points without any opposition from her interviewers. The segment, broadcast on Christmas morning on 'Fox & Friends,' sat at the crux of an obsession -- and a lie -- that both Fox News and President Trump hold dear: The idea that under President Barack Obama, Christmas was somehow under siege. And thus, that it somehow needed to be revived. Todd Piro..., [a Fox & Friends' sub], teed up the segment with this claim: 'President Trump, delivering on his promise to put Christ back in Christmas.'" Mrs. McC: Yes, because I remember when President Obummer & his Radical Wife would always sign off on their annual "holiday" videos with, "May the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster drop down your chimney tonight." (Also linked yesterday.)

Benjamin Hart of New York: "In its latest flurry of anti-regulatory activity, the Trump administration is seeking to rescind rules put in place by President Obama after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reports: 'The proposed rule would relax requirements to stream real-time data on oil-production operations to facilities onshore, where they currently are available to be reviewed by government regulators. It also would strike a provision requiring third-party inspectors of critical equipment -- like the blowout preventer that failed in the Deepwater Horizon case -- be certified by BSEE.' The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says the changes would save the oil industry about $900 million over the next decade.... The bureau is leaving in place a rule involving how much pressure drillers can maintain as they build a well. But in a quintessentially Trumpian flourish, it's removing the word safe from that regulation, because it found that the word 'creates ambiguity....'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Maybe Trump hopes everything will die by the time he does.

David Dayen in the New Republic: "Imagine a car dealer sold you a lemon. You sue to get your money back. But the judge discovers that you managed to get yourself around most of the time.... You only missed 10 percent of your appointments, so the judge orders that you are entitled to 10 percent of the price of the car. That's essentially what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last week for students defrauded by for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges. Victims of the corrupt diploma mill will not have their student loans discharged; instead, they will get a portion of relief based on their current income. The more professional ingenuity they showed despite being defrauded by Corinthian, the less money they will get in restitution. It's yet another way in which DeVos has acted in favor of the for-profit college industry, which was left for dead after several major companies' deceptive schemes finally caught up with them. Not only is DeVos shielding the industry from the consequences of those misdeeds, she's rewriting the rules to legalize those practices." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: A good chunk of Corinthian's defrauded students were military veterans, whom Corinthian targeted. If they got good jobs after obtaining a Corinthian degree or certificate or whatever, it was probably because of their military experience, not their "college" gig. So Betsy's decision is just another way to stick it to veterans. Also to single mothers, another demographic group Corinthian targeted. Yep. Young people who started life needy should pay extra for any success they might enjoy.

Homeland Away from Homeland. Ron Nixon of the New York Times: "The Department of Homeland Security is increasingly going global. An estimated 2,000 Homeland Security employees -- from Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents to Transportation Security Administration officials -- now are deployed to more than 70 countries around the world. Hundreds more are either at sea for weeks at a time aboard Coast Guard ships, or patrolling the skies in surveillance planes above the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The expansion has created tensions with some European countries who say that the United States is trying to export its immigration laws to their territory. But other allies agree with the United States' argument that its longer reach strengthens international security while preventing a terrorist attack, drug shipment, or human smuggling ring from reaching American soil."

Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "Three major cities [-- New York, Philadelphia & San Francisco --] have filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department for its failure to report many criminal convictions in the military justice system to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its national gun background-check database. The Pentagon has for years run afoul of federal laws intended to keep guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers by not transmitting to the F.B.I. the names of service members convicted of crimes that disqualify gun ownership. This is what allowed Devin P. Kelley, who was convicted of domestic assault in the Air Force, to buy at a store the rifle he used to kill 25 people, including a pregnant woman whose fetus also died, at a Texas church in November."

We're talking about presidential appointees, political appointees, FBI special agents in charge, U.S. attorneys, wardens, a chief deputy U.S. marshal, a U.S. marshal assistant director, a deputy assistant attorney general. -- Michael Horowitz, DOJ Inspector General ...

... The Department of Injustice, Ctd. Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department has 'systemic' problems in how it handles sexual harassment complaints, with those found to have acted improperly often not receiving appropriate punishment, and the issue requires 'high level action,' according to the department's inspector general. Justice supervisors have mishandled complaints, the IG said, and some perpetrators were given little discipline or even later rewarded with bonuses or performance awards. At the same time, the number of allegations of sexual misconduct has been increasing over the past five years and the complaints have involved senior Justice Department officials across the country. The cases examined by the IG's office include a U.S. attorney who had a sexual relationship with a subordinate and sent harassing texts and emails when it ended; a Civil Division lawyer who groped the breasts and buttocks of two female trial attorneys; and a chief deputy U.S. marshal who had sex with 'approximately' nine women on multiple occasions in his U.S. Marshals Service office...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I wonder if Clarence Thomas insisted his clerks watch porn flicks with him. Or something.

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "... Republican attacks [on ObamaCare], culminating this month in the death of a mandate that most Americans have insurance, are shifting the balance [of private v. public funding], giving the government a larger role than Democrats ever anticipated. And while President Trump insisted again on Tuesday that the health law was 'essentially' being repealed, what remains of it appears relatively stable and increasingly government-funded. I short, President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement is becoming more like what conservatives despise -- government-run health care -- thanks in part to Republican efforts that are raising premiums for people without government assistance and allowing them to skirt coverage.... Congress's decision to eliminate the individual mandate means that healthier people with less need for insurance are less likely to buy it. The remaining pool of insurance buyers will have higher costs, on average, so insurers will increase premiums even more. And when premiums rise, consumers are entitled to larger subsidies from the federal government to help defray the higher costs." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As soon as Republican legislators threatened to put the mandate on the chopping block as part of the tax heist, health insurance experts in the industry & in the media pointed out that removing the mandate would raise premium prices, thus making more people eligible for subsidies & raising the cost of subsidies of those already eligible. But one of the symptoms of Obama Derangement Syndrome is an inability to hear, read or understand logical consequences. If you thought Republicans were incapable of governing before they passed the tax heist, that one legislative "achievement" is the proof in the pudding.

Eli Rosenberg of the Washington Post: "Sen. Orrin G. Hatch said it was an honor to be 'Utahn of the Year.' It wasn't.... Along with a news article and the photo, the newspaper published a scathing editorial that took aim at the senator's recent record, most notably his part in the Trump administration's decision to shrink two national monuments in the state, and said that the designation was meant to anoint the Utahn who had had the most impact, 'for good or for ill.' Hatch had earned the title because of his part in the 'dramatic dismantling' of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, his role in helping to pass the recent tax code overhaul, and his 'utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power,' the editorial board wrote.... Hatch's retweet of the Tribune's front page -- which did not capture any part of the editorial's text -- set off a cascade of ridicule on social media from people who accused the senator of not reading it.... Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for Hatch, said that the senator's tweet was made in jest.... He followed up with a statement that lambasted the newspaper's 'unquenchable thirst for clicks.'"

Natasha Singer of the New York Times: Tech "companies are accelerating their efforts to remake health care by developing or collaborating on new tools for consumers, patients, doctors, insurers and medical researchers. And they are increasingly investing in health start-ups.... Physicians and researchers caution that it is too soon to tell whether novel continuous-monitoring tools, like apps for watches and smartphones, will help reduce disease and prolong lives -- or just send more people to doctors for unnecessary tests."

Beyond the Beltway

Graham Moomaw of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch: "Virginia's State Board of Elections has postponed a scheduled tiebreaker in a Newport News-area House of Delegates race after Democrat Shelly Simonds announced an eleventh-hour legal challenge asking the judges that oversaw last week's recount to reverse themselves and declare her the winner. Simonds is expected to file legal paperwork in Newport News Circuit Court on Wednesday asking the three-judge recount panel in the 94th House District to reconsider its 'erroneous' decision to count one additional ballot for Republican Del. David E. Yancey late in the recount process."

Way Beyond

Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times: "Four defectors from the area near North Korea's nuclear testing site showed symptoms that could be attributed to radiation exposure, but scientists said they could not conclude that the health problems had been caused by a nuclear test, the South Korean government said on Wednesday. The four arrived in South Korea from Kilju, a county in northeastern North Korea that includes Punggye-ri, where the North has conducted all six of its nuclear tests in tunnels dug deep beneath the mountains. South Korea began conducting medical exams of defectors from that region in October, a month after the North conducted its biggest test explosion yet."

Monday
Dec252017

The Commentariat -- December 26, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Michelle Lee of the Washington Post: "Trump began his day criticizing the FBI and claiming that the now-famous dossier containing allegations about his connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election is a 'pile of garbage.' Trump, who is vacationing at his private estate in Mar-a-Lago, appeared to be watching and quoting from the morning cable-news show 'Fox & Friends' while tweeting. 'WOW, @foxandfrlends "Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED." And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!' he tweeted.... Earlier in the morning, Trump touted the tax cut bill he signed into law last week before leaving Washington for his holiday vacation. He took a jab at the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act and promised to 'develop a great new HealthCare plan' to replace it.... He headed out to Trump International Golf Club shortly after sending his morning tweets." ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "... the most idiotic program on all of televised news was interviewing Paula White, President Trump's longtime spiritual adviser.... And as it turns out, White does a great job of spewing pro-Trump spiritual talking points without any opposition from her interviewers. The segment, broadcast on Christmas morning on 'Fox & Friends,' sat at the crux of an obsession -- and a lie -- that both Fox News and President Trump hold dear: The idea that under President Barack Obama, Christmas was somehow under siege. And thus, that it somehow needed to be revived. Todd Piro..., [a Fox & Friends' sub], teed up the segment with this claim: 'President Trump, delivering on his promise to put Christ back in Christmas.'" Mrs. McC: Yes, because I remember when President Obummer & his Radical Wife would always sign off on their annual "holiday" videos with, "May the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster drop down your chimney tonight."

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Schneiderman! Danny Hakim & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, reached a milestone of sorts recently. By moving to sue the Federal Communications Commission over net neutrality this month, his office took its 100th legal or administrative action against the Trump administration and congressional Republicans. His lawyers have challenged Mr. Trump's first, second and third travel bans and sued over such diverse matters as a rollback in birth control coverage and a weakening of pollution standards. They have also unleashed a flurry of amicus briefs and formal letters, often with other Democratic attorneys general, assailing legislation they see as gutting consumer finance protections or civil rights."

*****

 

How the Trump Stole Christmas. Avi Selk of the Washington Post remembers Trump's Christmases past. Here's the best one: "Christmas 1981.... In the 1980s..., Trump bought an old apartment building across the street from Central Park in New York that he hoped to tear down and rebuild as a high-rent tower. When the longtime residents wouldn't move out voluntarily, the New York Times wrote, Trump hired a management company that essentially ran the building into the ground. And while Trump threatened to house homeless people in the building, the management company used creative tactics that included covering windows in tin and forbidding Christmas decorations in the lobby. It was probably the least of residents' concerns, but Trump allowed no Christmas tree in 1981, the Times wrote, nor in the next year." We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Racist Trump Christmas 2011. ...

... Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker: "... the secular or the merely skeptical should not refuse Trump's call to say 'Merry Christmas.' They should embrace it. Christmas has always been a happily mixed-up holiday for mixed-up people and confused cultures. It is, at its roots, the very model of a pagan-secular-synthetic festival as much as it is a religious one -- just the kind, in fact, that the imaginary anti-Christmas forces are supposed to favor." ...

... AND a warm Christmas gift for a very deserving Steve Mnuchin:

Okay now, News:

There IS a Real Donald Trump. Benjamin Hart of New York: "Hours after signing the massive GOP tax cuts into law on Friday, President Trump told ultra-wealthy members of Mar-a-Lago that 'you all just got a lot richer,' CBS News reported Sunday morning.... In the past few months, Trump has made halfhearted efforts to assure Americans that the richest Americans -- and he in particular -- would not be rewarded by the Republican tax bill.... While it's true that most Americans will see a small tax cut next year, the richest of the rich will see the vast bulk of the bill's benefits over the course of the next decade. And between changes to the estate tax, rules that disproportionately benefit commercial real-estate companies like Trump's, and other provisions, the president stands to enrich himself to the tune of millions of dollars per year. Precisely how much is impossible to know, since the president continues to refuse to release his tax returns. Between his proudly plutocratic comments at Mar-a-Lago and reports that he'd made multiple outwardly racist remarks in the Oval Office, it's a good weekend to remember that despite his mendacious reputation, President Trump has the capacity to be completely candid about his true beliefs." ...

... Susan Glasser of Politico Magazine: Two confederate NeverTrumpers -- Eliot Cohen & Max Boot -- assess Trump's first year as president (includes audio & transcript):

In many ways, the damage he's doing at home is even worse, where he's undermining the rule of law. He's obstructing justice. He's lending the support of the presidency to monsters like Roy Moore. He is exacerbating race relations. He is engaging in the most blatant xenophobia, racism and general bigotry that we have seen from the White House.... I think that Trump, as a personality type, is probably not that different from a Mussolini, a Peron, a Chavez. And if you were operating in Argentina or Italy, he would probably be a dictator by now. -- Max Boot

He is both ignorant of the military and intoxicated by it.... He has an adolescent male fascination with the military. So that's one problem. The other thing is, because he is a narcissist, he really lacks empathy. I mean, I think you can -- there's something about, you know, if he sees a picture of a kid who's been gassed in Syria, that somehow strikes a chord with him. But overall, if you tell him Seoul is going to be devastated, I don't think he's going to be horror-struck by that because I don't think he can really sort of place himself in that position. -- Eliot Cohen

... Gene Robinson: "Just a few more days and this awful, rotten, no-good, ridiculous, rancorous, sordid, disgraceful year in the civic life of our nation will be over. Here's hoping that we all -- particularly special counsel Robert S. Mueller III -- have a better 2018.... The rest of us -- Democrats, independents, patriotic Republicans -- should work toward the November election. Our duty is to elect a Congress that will bring this runaway train under control.... Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn't possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse." Robinson runs down a list of horribles. ...

... Paul Krugman: "Donald Trump has been every bit as horrible as one might have expected; he continues, day after day, to prove himself utterly unfit for office, morally and intellectually. And the Republican Party -- including so-called moderates -- turns out, if anything, to be even worse than one might have expected. At this point it's evidently composed entirely of cynical apparatchiks, willing to sell out every principle -- and every shred of their own dignity -- as long as their donors get big tax cuts. Meanwhile, conservative media have given up even the pretense of doing real reporting, and become blatant organs of ruling-party propaganda. Yet I'm ending this year with a feeling of hope, because tens of millions of Americans have risen to the occasion.... [But] even if voters rise up effectively against the awful people currently in power, we'll be a long way from restoring basic American values. Our democracy needs two decent parties, and at this point the G.O.P. seems to be irretrievably corrupt."

The President of Mar-a-Lago. Daniel Politi of Slate: "... Donald Trump is enjoying a 10-day Christmas break in a familiar location: a place that he owns and where other people can pay to stay. Overall, the commander in chief has spent more than 100 days at one of his company's properties, meaning 'nearly one-third of the days he has been in office,' according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Trump's travels. His time has been pretty evenly split between his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., where he spent a total of 40 days, according to a CNN count, and Mar-a-Lago, his luxury Florida resort where he is spending Christmas.... Although all presidents take vacations, Trump's case is unique because of the ethical questions surrounding his trips." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: This is yet another way the Trump presidency* is like a teevee show -- one-third of the airtime is commercials.

Nicole Goodkind of Newsweek: "Pope Francis called for Israel and Palestine to be separate, independent countries, and for the world to take better care of millions of migrants 'driven from their land' -- two subtle hits at ... Donald Trump in the pope's annual Christmas address. Speaking in St. Peter's Square in Rome, the Pope indirectly addressed Trump's decision last week to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a controversial move that many -- including the more than 120 nations that backed a United Nations resolution on Thursday -- believe will undermine the so-called 'two-state solution.'... Pope Francis ... also brought his attention to the migrant crisis occurring throughout the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The pope compared the plight of more than 22 million refugees worldwide to that of Joseph and Mary, who traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem but found no lodging, a timeless parable of unwelcome travelers. President Trump has tried to keep refugees out of the U.S...."

AP: "The U.S. government says it has negotiated a significant cut in the United Nations budget. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said on Sunday that the U.N.'s 2018-2019 budget would be slashed by over $285 million. The mission said reductions would also be made to the U.N.'s management and support functions. The announcement didn't make clear the entire amount of the budget or specify what effect the cut would have on the U.S. contribution. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that the 'inefficiency and overspending' of the organization is well-known, and she would not let 'the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.'"

Amanda Gomez of ThinkProgress: "The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) needs to implement an Obama-era rule on January 1, 2018 that enables low-income people to afford housing in high-opportunity areas with better schools, a federal judge ordered Saturday. Under the leadership of Secretary Ben Carson, HUD announced in August it was delaying the rule for two years, saying the agency needed to further evaluate it. Several civil rights organizations -- including the Legal Defense Fund -- immediately filed a lawsuit against the agency's decision. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled against HUD Saturday evening, saying it did not provide 'notice and comment or particularized evidentiary findings' to substantiate delaying the rule." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Not the first time people the Trumpies love to hate have benefited from Trumpian slapdashery.

How Russia Got Its Groove on the U.S. Adam Entous, et al., of the Washington Post: "The miscalculations and bureaucratic inertia that left the United States vulnerable to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election trace back to decisions made at the end of the Cold War, when senior policymakers assumed Moscow would be a partner and largely pulled the United States out of information warfare. When relations soured, officials dismissed Russia as a 'third-rate regional power' that would limit its meddling to the fledgling democracies on its periphery. Senior U.S. officials didn't think Russia would dare shift its focus to the United States. 'I thought our ground was not as fertile,' said Antony J. Blinken, President Barack Obama's deputy secretary of state. 'We believed that the truth shall set you free, that the truth would prevail. That proved a bit naive.'" Read on. ...

... ** Michael Morrell & Mike Rogers in a Washington Post op-ed: "... the United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.... This should alarm everyone -- Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. Foreign governments, overtly or covertly, should not be allowed to play with our democracy." The writers go on to cite a short list of ways in which Russians very recently have used social media to prop up Trump & attack his political dectractors. ...

     ... Mrs. McC: Did I mention Mike Rogers is a staunch Republican? It is hardly coincidental that Trump refuses to lift a finger to deter Russian intrusion & Russia is bolstering Trump. Adam Entous, et al., make the point that Russia's goal is not to help Trump but to destabilize the U.S. political system. The two are one & the same. This is collusion in plain sight, & Congressional Republicans -- despite their near universal support of the sanctions bill (which Trump signed into law but has slo-o-o-ow-walked) -- are borrowing arguments, word-for-word, from the Russian propaganda mill. Trump & his band of merry men & women are all collaborators.

Coal Industry Taxed at One Percent Rate. Emily Atkin of the New Republic: "... cutting the corporate income tax rate alone will likely add $1 billion to the profits of U.S. oil and gas exploration and production firms. Oil refining companies stand to do even better, according to one analyst who estimated that those companies' earnings per share will increase by an average of 23 percent. The tax bill also opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the largest wildlife refuge in America, to drilling. But there's also something to be said about what the tax bill didn't change: the billions of dollars in permanent, century-old tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. According to Oil Change International, the U.S. federal government provides a combined $14.7 billion in various annual subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, the vast majority of which remained untouched in the tax bill. And while the majority of those subsidies favor the oil and gas industry, 20 percent go toward incentivizing coal consumption and production. What's more, the effective tax rate for coal -- which is less than 1 percent -- stays the same. In other words, the government still sacrifices billions in revenue every year to prop up coal, an industry that most energy analysts agree is dying."

... The Salt Lake Tribune names Orrin Hatch Utahn of the Year, then tells him to get out.

Rachel Shorey & Lilia Chang of the New York Times: "Nearly a year out from the election, Democratic candidates have filed in all but 20 House districts held by Republicans. By comparison, Democrats in 80 districts do not have a Republican opponent for their seat.The Democrats are not just filing to run in districts where Mrs. Clinton performed well. They are also running for conservative seats that were uncontested in 2016 and where Republicans remain heavy favorites, in states like Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Caroline Davies of the Guardian: "The Queen [of Great Britain] chose the theme of 'home' for a highly personal Christmas broadcast in which she paid tribute to victims and young survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing and those of the Grenfell Tower fire. She highlighted how the 'powerful identities' of London and Manchester 'shone through over the past 12 months in the face of appalling attacks'. Her message was broadcast across Britain and the Commonwealth as the royal family welcomed the American actor <Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's fiancee, who became the first unmarried partner to be invited to Sandringham for Christmas, and was making her first public appearance with the royal family." Mrs. McC: a touching message:

Sunday
Dec242017

December 25, 2017, CE

Medlar & I are so pleased to finally be able to say

                                                          -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Thanks to Patrick for reminding us earlier this year of this seasonal classic:

We owe it to the film "Home Alone" (1990) for reviving this version of Irving Berlin's 1940 classic:

In memory of My Damned Cat:

Speaking of animals, Bob Rivers' "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire" is too offensive to embed here, but it is pretty tasty.

Hellellujah Chorus with lyrics:

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town: