Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, President Obama highlighted the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill in Congress that could help us find a cure for Alzheimer's, end cancer as we know it, and help those who are seeking treatment for opioid addiction":

The Ledes

Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Washington Post: "Irving Fradkin, an optometrist who in 1958 began collecting $1 donations to help send local high-schoolers to college and whose efforts grew into a charity that has distributed $3.5 billion to more than 2.2 million students in the United States, died Nov. 19 at his home in Fall River, Mass. He was 95." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Los Angeles Times: "Authorities said they were preparing to deal with dozens of fatalities after a fire raced through a converted warehouse crowded with people attending a Friday night concert, officials said. Nine bodies have been recovered, but Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said officials were prepared for up to 40 fatalities. He said many of those inside the warehouse were young, some from foreign countries. Firefighters were beginning to move through the burned-out remains of the building looking for victims. The building’s roof caved in, and debris will make the search effort difficult, Kelly said. Firefighters plan to use drones with thermal-imaging equipment to search the building. There is no known cause of the fire. While arson is not suspected, Kelly said investigators are on scene and nothing has been ruled out. Officials said the warehouse isn’t currently considered a crime scene." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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Thursday
Sep152016

The Commentariat -- Sept. 16, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Honest to Pete, the New York Times thinks this is top-o'-the-page breaking news: "Donald J. Trump publicly retreated from his 'birther' campaign on Friday, acknowledging that President Obama was born in the United States and saying that he wanted to move on from the conspiracy theory that he has been clinging to for years.... Mr. Trump also falsely accused Hillary Clinton of having first raised questions about Mr. Obama's birthplace during the 2008 Democratic primary." At the end of the story, we read, "In a speech in Washington on Friday before Mr. Trump made his statement, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Trump owes Mr. Obama and the country an apology and that it is too late for him to walk back what he has done. 'For five years he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president,' Mrs. Clinton said. 'His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie.' She added, 'There is no erasing it in history.'" -- CW ...

... The Washington Post makes Clinton's critique of Trump's birtherism a stand-alone story. -- CW ...

... Eli Stokols of Politico: "Donald Trump did not apologize Friday for driving one of the uglier, most blatantly racist narratives in American political culture during the Obama presidency. The most prominent proponent of the birther movement..., [Trump] instead lied about his role in conspiracy theory's popularity and, without any evidence, attempted to pin the blame on Hillary Clinton. With the first general election debate 10 days away, Trump attempted to neutralize a likely Clinton attack line ' that he spent five years questioning the American citizenship of the country's first African-American president. Trump's concession to reality came only after he leveraged the spectacle of his walk-back into 30 minutes of live cable coverage that served as a branding opportunity for his new Trump Hotel in Washington -- where the event was held -- and for himself.... After the event, Trump led a small pool of still photographers and television crews on a tour of his hotel. But when the print pooler was excluded from the tour, the networks voted to pull their camera and erase the footage." -- CW ...

... CW: This is the second time in two days that members of the press have revolted against Trump's manipulations. See the story linked below by Eli Stokols & Hadas Gold of Politico. ...

... ** Libby Nelson of Vox: "Donald Trump promised a major statement about his embrace of conspiracy theories about President Obama’s birthplace. Instead, he fooled the three major cable news networks into airing a 20-minute infomercial about his hotel and his candidacy. With the 'breaking news' chyron on, MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN played footage of veterans praising Trump and Trump praising his own hotel. And then Trump showed up on stage for less than two minutes to say that Obama was born in the United States. This is what people mean when they complain about how 'the media' has covered the Trump campaign." -- CW ...

... Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Mr. Obama's citizenship was never in question. No credible evidence ever suggested otherwise.... Yet it took Mr. Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender, finally on Friday, to reality after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation's first black president.... Surrounded by, and in many ways shielded by, decorated veterans in his new Washington, D.C., hotel, he could not resist indulging in another falsehood -- that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, had started the so-called birther movement. She did not.... [The birther lie] this lie was different from [his other lies from] the start, an insidious, calculated calumny that sought to undo the embrace of an African-American president by the 69 million voters who elected him in 2008." -- CW ...

... Andrew Prokop of Vox: "Finally, on Friday, Trump himself begrudgingly gave an extremely brief statement that "President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,' and again dishonestly blamed [Hillary] Clinton for supposedly starting the controversy. But he shouldn't be allowed to worm out of this so easily, because birtherism is in many ways the urtext of Trump's presidential campaign. It demonstrates his willingness to mainstream fringe racism, his desire to flout the norms of political discourse, his ability to play the media, and his imperviousness to facts. And Trump has never truly been held to account for it during this campaign." -- CW

Robert O'Harrow, Jr., of the Washington Post: "During his run for the White House, Trump has maintained he always operated aboveboard as a real estate developer and casino operator, at a time when corruption and organized crime were rampant in New York and Atlantic City. But the details of Trump's relationships with [FBI informant Daniel] Sullivan and [FBI agent Walt] Stowe show that he worked with men with underworld connections to further and protect his business interests. In doing so, Trump risked his reputation and his dream of becoming a tycoon. He entered into a land deal with Sullivan and an organized crime figure who was later targeted for a hit. He agreed to finance Sullivan's purchase of a company under FBI investigation for racketeering. And he collaborated on a plan with Stowe and other FBI agents to allow an undercover operation at his first casino." -- CW

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Food poisoning will make America great again! Or, at least, that's what Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to be banking on with a new proposal released on Thursday. Trump's campaign distributed a fact sheet outlining 'specific regulations to be eliminated.' Among other things, this fact sheet took aim at '"the FDA Food Police.'... America has already tested the idea that we can have safe foods without adequate regulation." Millhiser relates a short history of the American ketchup market. "As it turns out, the invisible hand of the market delivered moldy, rancid ketchup that used vinegar and spice to cover up the flavor of decay. It took regulation, the very kind of regulation that Trump now seems to be out to get, to enable Americans to trust their food." -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

CW: Here's a hard, depressing analysis of the electorate, with which I am inclined to agree: Charles Pierce: "Had the Republican Party nominated someone more dedicated to the hard work of demagoguery, someone more committed to the craft of being a dictator, instead of the scatterbrained dilettante currently campaigning as a performance piece, that candidate would be even money to defeat anyone the Democrats put up in opposition. A substantial portion of this country wants someone not to govern, but to rule, to defeat the imaginary enemies they have concocted so as not to bestir themselves to resist the forces that actually are working against their interest.... Largely due to the presence in it of this ridiculous man and his ridiculous campaign, the American people have proven themselves profoundly unworthy of being called citizens." ...

     ... CW: That is, with perhaps exceptions in a few isolated Zip codes, half (or more) of your neighbors -- people you like, people you'd invite over for a Sunday barbecue -- are pathetic, ignorant jerks.

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "A rested Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail [in Greensboro, N.C.,] on Thursday after three days of recovering at home from pneumonia, and vowed a different approach on the final stretch of the campaign, one more focused on her own positive vision for the country, rather than eviscerating her rival.... 'People like me, we're lucky,' she [said.] 'When I'm under the weather, I can afford to take a few days off. Millions of Americans can't.'" --CW ...

... Abby Phillip & Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail on Thursday..., giving an address on improving the welfare of children and families that is part of an effort by the Democratic candidate to refocus the presidential race on her credentials.... Clinton said that being off the trail gave her time to reflect on the core issues that brought her into public service in the first place. She noted that many families aren't able to take paid time off in the event of sickness.... 'I have met so many people living on a razor's edge -- one illness away from losing their job; one paycheck away from losing their home.'... 'I want to give Americans something to vote for, not just against,' Clinton later told reporters traveling with her. 'We are offering ideas, not insults,' she said. 'Plans that will make a difference in people's lives.'" -- CW

Abby Phillip: "Hillary Clinton denounced Donald Trump for his continued refusal to acknowledge that President Obama was born in the United States. 'He was asked one more time: "Where was President Obama born?" And he still wouldn't say Hawaii. He still wouldn't say America,' Clinton said at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala dinner in Washington. 'This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?'" CW: See Robert Costa's report below.

Jonathan Martin & Amy Chozick: "Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies, unnerved by the tightening presidential race, are making a major push to dissuade disaffected voters from backing third-party candidates, and pouring more energy into Rust Belt states, where Donald J. Trump is gaining ground.... Her campaign and affiliated Democratic groups are shifting their focus to those voters, many of them millennials, who recoil at Mr. Trump ... but now favor the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson, or the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein." -- CW ...

... Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "Hillary Clinton, the 68-year-old Democratic nominee for president, has a problem with young voters, and she's turning to the big guns for help: 75-year-old Bernie Sanders and 67-year-old Elizabeth Warren. The Clinton campaign is sending those two liberal senior citizens on a college tour of Ohio this weekend in a bid to whip up enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket among millennials." CW: Couldn't the campaign have added Sherrod Brown to the team, who at 63, is only 43 years older than the average college student? Also, too, his librul creds are unimpeachable. He was my first pick for president this year. Instead, they're sending Chelsea Clinton into Ohio, whose vapidity would be unmatched among candidates' offspring in most races where Donald Trump is not running. ...

... Jim Newell of Slate outlines the many, many reasons, both practical & ideological, the kids should not vote for Gary Johnson. CW: I'm guessing all they know about him is that he's pro-weed. They should see the rest of his platform.

** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Paul Waldman: "If you dropped into our presidential campaign last weekend knowing nothing about it, you probably would have been puzzled at why everyone was making such a big deal out of the fact that one of our major party nominees got light-headed one day -- the result, we later learned, of pneumonia and probably dehydration, conditions that are easy to treat. What exactly was so momentous about this event, that it should have the news media so worked up? The answer is just about everything that's wrong with the way the 2016 campaign has been covered." CW: Please read on.

I don't care. My facts are good. My facts are good. I don't get enough credit for having my facts right. They'll say I'm wrong even when I'm right. -- Donald Trump, on the possibility debate moderators will fact-check the candidates ...

... Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump said in an interview [in Canton, Ohio,] that he remains unwilling to say that President Obama was born in the United States, that he is more bullish than ever on his chances to win and that he is not exploring the launch of a new media company in case he loses the race.... 'I'll answer that question [about Obama's birthplace] at the right time,' Trump said. 'I just don't want to answer it yet.'... In the interview, Trump defended his wife's immigration history; attacked targets including CNN host Anderson Cooper and Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.); and said he had been 'respectful' since Clinton fell ill but 'that doesn't mean that I'm going to stay there.'... Since Clinton fell ill Sunday..., Trump has been mixed in his responses. He has sounded taunting in some of his recent remarks.... 'The alt-right. You know they came up with the term "alt-right,"' Trump said, blaming Clinton and her allies, although the term has been used within the movement for years.... Trump said [Dr. Harold] Bornstein's letter will be the final document that he will release on his health before the election.'" CW: It's nice to see that Costa, who is a right-wing guy, is fact-checking Trump. ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: Meanwhile, "... Trump's campaign said that [Trump] acknowledged [that President Obama was born in the U.S.], in a statement that was itself riddled with falsehoods." First, the statement repeatedly blamed Hillary Clinton for putting the issue out there, which is false. Then it claimed Trump was an heroic "closer" for forcing Obama to release his long-form birth certificate. BTW, in a December 2013 tweet, Trump suggested the president had had Hawaii's health director killed in a plane crash to cover up the fact that the birth certificate was a fake. And as recently as December 2014, Trump was still claiming the birth certificates Obama produced were fakes. CW: So, um, if Obama's birth certificates are fakes, how is that a win for our heroic closer?

Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times: "Donald Trump released a new doctor’s letter Thursday saying he is 'in excellent physical health,' but offered limited details about his medical history apart from his use of a drug that lowers cholesterol.... Trump's campaign released a statement claiming incorrectly that Trump was 'setting records for number of events, size of crowds, and breadth of travel on the campaign trail.' Presidential candidates routinely travel more than Trump does, and President Obama's crowds in 2008 were far larger than Trump's. For months, Trump has said Clinton lacks the strength and stamina to lead the nation. 'We are pleased to disclose all of the test results which show that Mr. Trump is in excellent health, and has the stamina to endure -- uninterrupted -- the rigors of a punishing and unprecedented presidential campaign and, more importantly, the singularly demanding job of president,' his statement said." -- CW ...

... Max Rosenthal of Mother Jones: "The letter Donald Trump released on Thursday from his longtime physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, featured one strange-but-Trumpian detail: his testosterone level. That unusual data point got big applause when Trump appeared on the Dr. Oz Show on Tuesday, seemingly fueling his self-proclaimed case that he's in excellent health and feels like Tom Brady. According to Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a urologist who's the current president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, testosterone would not normally be ordered as part of a routine physical or health checkup." Imbasciani said there were two reasons that a person would get a testosterone test: if there was a concern about (1) his bone density or (2) infertility. He said Trump's testosterone level, as reported in Dr. Bornstein's letter, "perfectly, absolutely, boringly average and normal." "Imbasciani does say the public should take Bornstein's word with a grain of salt given Bornstein's apparent exaggerations about his credentials. 'He's not telling the truth about his credentials,' Imbasciani says. 'Therefore anybody, doctor or not, would have to question what he says.'" ...

... CW: The obvious point is that Hillary Clinton likely has a much lower testosterone level, making her unfit to be president. I suspect that Trump sought the presidency as a reaction to his horror at his waning virility. There are photos of Trump -- like the one above & in the Heil Trump pic to the right -- where he appears to have a "widow's stoop," or "dowager's hump," which is indicative of osteoporosis. Just saying. Too bad these photos aren't producing left-wing conspiracy rants -- "Trump is Falling Apart!", "Likely to Crack Any Minute!" "Dense Head; Undense Body".

Nothing Is Sacred. Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: Speaking on Fox "News," "Donald J. Trump said on Thursday that the pastor who interrupted his remarks at an African-American church in Flint, Mich., was 'a nervous mess' when she introduced him and that he thought 'something was up' with her.... 'Everyone plays their games, it doesn't bother me,' Mr. Trump said, claiming Pastor [Faith Green] Timmons was shaking when she came up to him.... 'The audience was saying "let him speak, let him speak,"' Mr. Trump said. 'The audience was so great.' But a pool reporter who was traveling Mr. Trump disputed his account, describing a scene where several members of the audience actually heckled Mr. Trump and questioned him about reports that he had discriminated against black people as a landlord." ...

     ... CW: In the Realm of the Mad Trump, the Worst Person in the World is someone who even mildly rebukes him for pulling some stunt. As contributor Diane wrote yesterday, "Trump was nearly speechless and went all wobbly when Pastor Timmons redirected him. Others should take note. Trump is a coward." Among the others gleefully taking note will be anti-American heads-of-state who can hardly wait to steamroll the Chickenshit Blowhard of the Free World. ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "Donald Trump's newfound commitment to message discipline and restraint showed some cracks on Thursday, with [Trump ... attacking an African-American pastor who cut off his political speech in a Flint, Michigan, church.... Trump's slam on [the Rev. Faith Green] Timmons was a return to form, after the brash billionaire scorched through the Republican primary field with a steady delivery of incendiary comments about minorities, women and his GOP rivals.... [Trump] initially refrained from delivering an 'I told you so' when [Hillary] Clinton nearly collapsed after appearing at a 9/11 memorial service [during a bout of pneumonia]... But on Wednesday night, Trump apparently couldn't resist, and he again questioned Clinton's stamina during a rally in Canton, Ohio.... Trump's children also offered up some unhelpful headlines." CW: Read on. I like the parts where Trumpelthinskin Junior more-or-less walked out on a Pittsburgh WTAE reporter when the questions got tougher than "How great is the old man?", and, as we learned yesterday, Ivanka Trump did walk out on a Cosmo interviewer who wouldn't stick to questions about how pretty Ivanka's line of dresses were. See also stories about Junior's gaffes below.

Eli Stokols & Hadas Gold of Politico: "DonaldTrump on Thursday mocked his traveling press corps for being late to his rally, even though his campaign is responsible for arranging the pool's travel. 'I have really good news for you,' [he] ... told supporters [in Laconia, N.H.], according to a livestream of the rally.... 'I just heard the press is stuck on their airplane. They can't get here. I love it. So they're trying to get here now. They're going to be about 30 minutes late. They called us and said could you wait? I said absolutely not. Let's get going, New Hampshire.' While television cameras continued to roll live on the rally, still photographers already at the venue opted not to shoot any images of the event out of solidarity with their pool colleagues." Reporters were furious. "The reporters said they had yet to receive an explanation or response as to why they were left behind." -- CW

Lydia Wheeler of the Hill: "Donald Trump floated rolling back food safety regulations if he wins the White House in November.... The fact sheet [containing the proposals] was later removed from the website and a new fact sheet detailing Trump's economic agenda did not include mention of the FDA." CW: Luckily for me, I have enough land to become a subsistence farmer. Guess I'll have to lobby the town to allow chickens.

Trumpus, Aspiring War Criminal. Tim Egan: Donald Trump has "already called for war crimes -- killing family members of terrorists, torturing suspects. He would further violate the Geneva Conventions by making thieves out of a first-class military.... Under Trump's plan, American men and women would die for oil, victims of endless rounds of lethal sabotage and terror strikes.... For this kind of plunder, there is in fact a precedent for Trump's plan: Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.... Of course, the Mideast would be aflame with violent anti-Americanism if Trump's troops sat on the oil wells in the desert.... But, by then, Trump would already be at war with Iran, as he suggested in another of his overlooked recent statements.... Trump would become a war criminal, a role he seems to relish -- typical for a man who has never served a day in the military.... But Trump would have an ally in kleptocracy with his favorite world leader, the former K.G.B. operative Vladimir Putin." -- CW

Courtney Weaver of Financial Times: "Putin finds a fan base in Trump country." "Right now there are a lot of people who are very frustrated and very angry that have been cast aside. They're looking for someone to come around and be forceful ... and have someone at the helm." This is not unlike why women seem to prefer "bad boys." ~LT

Because he's got a 12,000-page tax return that would create .. financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from (his father's) main message. -- Donald Trump, Jr., on why Trump won't release his tax reports ...

... Matt Yglesias of Vox: "Donald Trump has thus far declined to follow the precedent set by the past 40 or so years' worth of presidential campaigns and release copies of his recent tax returns. He says the reason for this is that his returns are under audit by the IRS, an explanation that lawyers and accountants find baffling -- there's no reason audited returns can't be released to the public. Speaking to the Pittsburgh Tribune, Trump;s son cleared things up admirably. Donald Trump Jr. said the real reason Trump won't release his returns is that if he released them, then the public would get a chance to see what they say, and Trump doesn't want the public to see what they say and ask questions about it." CW: Read on: Yglesias speculates on a number of reasons Trump doesn't want the public to know what an anti-American tax cheat he is. Here's one point: "... what seems ... probable to me is that he'd like to avoid scrutiny of how much he's abused the charitable deduction to claim breaks for giveaways of little social value."

The media has been [Clinton's] No. 1 surrogate in this. Without the media, this wouldn't even be a contest, but the media has built her up. They've let her slide on every indiscrepancy, on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing. If Republicans were doing that, they'd be warming up the gas chamber right now. -- Donald Trump, Jr., suggesting that the American media were the new Nazis

Junior's gift for Stormfront metaphors proves (again) that the one great uncovered story of this campaign is what truly horrible people these are. -- Charles Pierce ...

... Louis Nelson of Politico: "Donald Trump's campaign lashed out at the media on Thursday after some construed a comment from Donald Trump Jr. as a Holocaust joke.... Conservative independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin [wrote ] ... on Twitter that it was 'an unsurprising Nazi reference from the 'alt-right' movement's presidential campaign. This is the real Trump.' [Hillary] Clinton then ... retweet[ed] McMullin's message.... The National Jewish Democratic Council also weighed in with a statement, arguing that Trump's comments were unsurprising given his campaign's track record.... 'Donald Trump Jr.'s reference to gas chambers is outrageous....'... But Trump spokesman Jason Miller said..., 'The liberal dishonest media is so quick to attack one of the Trumps that they never let the truth get in the way of a good smear....'" ...

     ... CW: So McMullin, Clinton & the NJDC are part of the "liberal dishonest media"? As for Pierce's commentary, guess what the chances are we'll see a front-page headline "Donald Trump and Family Are Horrible People, Analysis Indicates."

Other News & Views

Paul Krugman: Middle-class incomes rise, thanks to "socialist, redistributionist" Obama. -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "Officials in Columbus, Ohio, appealed for calm, patience and investigative help Thursday, hours after a white police officer fatally shot a 13-year-old African-American boy who had apparently brandished a firearm that was later determined to be a BB gun. Speaking at a news conference, the mayor, the police chief and other officials offered few details about what led to the death Wednesday night of the teenager, Tyree King. They cautioned that the investigation, which will be presented to a grand jury, will not be quick. So far, they said, they do not know of any video recording of the shooting." -- CW ...

... The Columbus Dispatch story is here.

News Lede

New York Times: "Edward Albee, widely considered the foremost American playwright of his generation, whose psychologically astute and piercing dramas explored the contentiousness of intimacy, the gap between self-delusion and truth and the roiling desperation beneath the facade of contemporary life, died Friday at his home in Montauk, N.Y. He was 88." -- CW

Wednesday
Sep142016

The Commentariat -- Sept. 15, 2016

Presidential Race

Giovanni Russonello of the New York Times: "With less than eight weeks before Election Day, Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton are locked in a tight contest, with both candidates still struggling to win the confidence of their respective bases, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds." -- CW

Nahal Toosi of Politico: "Hillary Clinton says she's planning to meet with several foreign leaders during the U.N. General Assembly next week. Your move, Donald Trump.... Trump's campaign did not immediately say whether he is scheduling any meetings during the General Assembly. But [Trump] ... is widely disliked overseas and has little foreign policy experience...." CW: How about a two-shot of Trump & Putin kissing?

Nick Gass of Politico: "Hillary Clinton is keeping quiet about the contents of newly leaked messages from the personal email account of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had harsh criticisms of the Democratic nominee, the former Bush administration, and Donald Trump. 'I'm not going to comment on anything that is said in a private email,' Clinton told the The Tom Joyner Radio Show in an interview taped Wednesday and aired Thursday morning. Clinton ... said she has 'a great deal of respect for Colin Powell, and I have a lot of sympathy for anyone whose emails become public.'" More on the, um, highlights of Powell's hacked e-mail under News & Views below. -- CW

Greg Sargent: "Hillary Clinton's campaign just admitted she has a real problem.... A statement released late last night by Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri [read in part,] 'Our campaign readily admits that running against a candidate as controversial as Donald Trump means it is harder to be heard on what you aspire for the country's future and it is incumbent on us to work harder to make sure voters hear that vision.'" -- CW

Amy Chozick & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump acknowledged on Wednesday that he was overweight and taking a cholesterol-fighting drug, and Hillary Clinton elaborated on the circumstances that led to her contracting pneumonia and the medicine she was taking to recover. Mrs. Clinton's doctor said she 'continues to improve' after contracting a 'mild, noncontagious' form of pneumonia diagnosed on Friday.... In a letter released by the Clinton campaign..., Dr. Lisa R. Bardack, said she had evaluated Mrs. Clinton several times since Sunday, including on Wednesday.... 'She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States.'... Despite fanning conspiracy theories about Mrs. Clinton's health, Mr. Trump provided scant information about his own.... At about 6-foot-2, Mr. Trump would have a body mass index of 30.3. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines obesity as a B.M.I. of 30 or more.... Mr. Trump has yet to make public as much personal medical information as Mrs. Clinton has." -- CW ...

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed doubt about Hillary Clinton's ability to campaign for an extended period of time in a hot, crowded room, making his remark at a time when the health of both presidential candidates is under intense scrutiny.... During a rally at a civic center [in Canton, Ohio,] Wednesday evening..., Trump said..., 'In this beautiful room that's 122 degrees. It is hot, and it's always hot when I perform because the crowds are so big.... I don't know folks -- you think Hillary would be able to stand up here for an hour and do this? I don't know. I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think so.' The temperature inside the venue was cool...." -- CW ...

By Driftglass.... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "After a whiplash-inducing morning of mixed messages, Donald J. Trump on Wednesday gave a small window into some of the results from his most recent physical examination in a taped appearance with the television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz. The quick run-through of results, which Mr. Trump is said to have given to the doctor to read from a piece of paper, came after the Republican presidential nominee's aides had said he would, and then that he wouldn't, broach the topic with the doctor on the 'Dr. Oz Show.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... This is a version of a story that has been updated -- and ruined. In the original version, Haberman gave a brief account of Oz's brilliant career. She couched the nutty stuff in the familiar "critics say" copout, but among the "critics" was the FDA. If you didn't read the original story, Akhilleus, in yesterday's Comments section provides some background, though narrower in scope -- and of course more opinionated -- than Haberman's rundown. ...

     ... Update. Nancy Cook of Politico has a rundown of Oz's greatest hits: "Mehmet Oz -- Ivy League-trained surgeon and daytime TV star -- has been called a charlatan by fellow physicians for promoting 'quack' medical cures. He's been investigated by Congress for fraudulently promoting 'magic' weight loss pills. And more than half of his medical advice is unsubstantiated -- or flat out wrong -- according to the top British medical journal. But for Donald Trump, Oz's show is a safe space, a haven shielded from tough questions that offers a platform to say, in effect, whatever he wants.... Oz is hardly an impartial figure to evaluate the health and fitness of the next potential resident of the White House. He's been pilloried for years for making dubious medical claims on-air and for placing greater importance on the financial or business opportunities of his TV show than on solid, scientific medical research." -- CW ...

... Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post has a somewhat more detailed report on the Trumpy & Oz Magical Medical Mystery Show, on Oz's quackery & on the hijinks leading up to the show, the content of which has been teased but not released. It seems obvious that one way Trump controls the media is by changing his story hourly, forcing reporters to report on his latest flip-flop multiple times a day. ...

... CW P.S.: The expert medico who wrote the extensive two-page report Trump showed to the Wizard of Oz is Dr. Harold Bornstein, who has previously declared, in an ever-so-professional "report," that Donald Trump "will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." And, as a gastroenterologist, he can attest that "His [Trump's] mental health is excellent. He thinks he's the best."

Sean Sullivan & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump encountered resistance Wednesday during his first campaign trip to [Flint, Michigan, a] majority African American city that suffered a water-contamination crisis, as a pastor who invited him to appear at her church asked him to stop politicking.... Some of the [church] attendees were unhappy with the political tone of parts of his speech and called out their displeasure as he spoke.... Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (D) was not happy about the GOP nominee's trip. She issued a statement on her Facebook page saying that neither Trump nor his staff have reached out since the crisis was declared an emergency." -- CW

Jenna Johnson & Mary Jordan of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump made what his campaign billed as two major disclosures on Wednesday. First, an attorney provided a timeline of [Trump's] Slovenia-born wife's immigration status [without documentation]. Then, amid questions about his health during a television interview, Trump pulled some medical test results out of his blazer pocket. Yet despite these high-profile gestures, Trump remains the least transparent major presidential nominee in modern history.... At the same time, Trump and his aides are criticizing rival Hillary Clinton as secretive and demanding more information from her about her emails and health." CW: I recommend reading the full article to appreciate the extent of Trump's secretiveness, fakery & hypocrisy.

Eric Levitz of New York: "On Monday, Trump named former CIA director James Woolsey as his campaign's senior national-security adviser. Woolsey is a hawk, even among neoconservatives.... Trump may have a neo-isolationist streak. But evidence strongly suggests that, before anything else, the GOP nominee is a narcissist with little interest in the workaday requirements of executing policy. As a Republican president, Trump's path of least resistance will be to outsource foreign affairs to his party's neoconservative Establishment. Woolsey's hiring strongly suggests he'll take that path." --safari

Kevin Sack & Steve Eder of the New York Times: "... documents obtained this week by The New York Times, including a copy of Mr. Trump's check [to Florida AG Pam Bondi's campaign, show that ] it was actually dated and signed by Mr. Trump four days before [an Orlando Sentinel] article [about Bondi's potential investigation of Trump University] appeared.... His $25,000 gift to ... the committee supporting Ms. Bondi, is among his largest.... Ms. Bondi, meanwhile, has failed to explain why she accepted Mr. Trump's check even after learning that her office was examining the New York case against Trump University." -- CW ...

Tax Cheat, Ctd. David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "In 2007, Donald Trump spent $20,000 that belonged to his charity -- the Donald J. Trump Foundation -- to buy a six-foot-tall portrait of himself during a fundraiser auction at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.... the portrait has been the center of a mystery: What did Trump do with the painting after he bought it?... On Wednesday, a new clue emerged. A former production manager for the portrait's painter told The Post that he had shipped the painting -- at the request of Trump's wife, Melania -- to Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. tax experts say that [such] an arrangement ... could violate Internal Revenue Service rules.... The Post ... tried to view the portrait at Trump National but was turned away at the club's entrance." -- CW ...

... Washington Post Editors: "THE TRUMP campaign believes this editorial is not journalism. It is 'badgering.' That is how campaign manager Kellyanne Conway described on Tuesday some simple questions The Post and others have asked Mr. Trump and his circle over the past several months about his supposed philanthropic activities. If anyone has an authenticity problem, it is Mr. Trump. The facts on the table suggest he is not a great philanthropist -- he is a scam artist.... The [Trump Foundation's] potential violations of the law seem to be less significant than what Mr. Trump appears to have done legally: duped people into believing in another one of his self-aggrandizing shams." ...

... CW: Yeah, and nearly half of U.S. voters appear to be ready to vote for that scam artist because thanks to the "neutral" mainstream media, including the Post, Hillary Clinton has "clouds" and "shadows" hanging over her. ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "The breadth of Trump's controversies is truly yuge, ranging from allegations of mafia ties to unscrupulous business dealings, and from racial discrimination to alleged marital rape.... To catalogue the full sweep of allegations would require thousands of words and lump together the trivial with the truly scandalous. Including business deals that have simply failed, without any hint of impropriety, would require thousands more.... [Graham provides] a snapshot of some of the most interesting and largest of those scandals." -- CW

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "Trump, simply put, doesn't know anything, and we don't know anything about him. He is a political cipher who exists outside traditional performance standards for presidential candidates, and as a result he has dictated the terms on which the political press judges him. Think of this as Trump's first public works project: He has built the curve on which he is being graded.... Given the tenor of coverage in this election, it is fair to say that there is a double standard at work. Clinton is covered like a presidential nominee, while Trump is still treated like a sideshow, as if he'll never be president." --safari

Conservative Reihan Salam of Slate: "Donald Trump has just unveiled a new set of proposals designed to help working parents meet their child care needs.... [W]hether he's sincere or not, Trump's championing of these proposals is a significant moment in the history of the modern Republican Party.... Over the course of his presidential campaign, Trump has repudiated many aspects of Republican economic orthodoxy.... The difference between the pre-Trump GOP and today's Republican Party, however, is that small-government conservatives have lost their intellectual monopoly.... Trump's child care speech may well be remembered as the first shot in an ideological civil war that will define GOP politics for years to come." --safari

Ed Kilgore: "It is possible ... that Trump is opening up multiple paths to victory.... Those who have laughed off Donald Trump's chances while believing his election would represent a turn for the worse in their own lives should be nervous right now." --safari

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: On Tuesday, "Newsweek published a much-discussed story by [Kurt Eichenwald] about the Trump Organization.... Eichenwald teased the story by tweeting on Tuesday afternoon, 'My big cover story in @Newsweek that could change the dialogue about this election season will be published online tomorrow.'... "A few minutes later," Eichenwald tweeted, 'I believe Trump was institutionalized in a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown in 1990, which is why he won't release medical records.'... He later ... deleted the tweet about Trump's mental health 'because people were confusing it' with his forthcoming Newsweek story. But Eichenwald never said he did so because it was wrong." Eichenwald provided no evidence of Trump's hospitalization, and Farhi calls the tweet "bizarre and apparently erroneous." ...

... CW: There are several things wrong with the mental health tweet. First, of course, is Eichenwald's failure to cite any evidence, beyond his "belief," which of course is good enough for Republicans when it's their beliefs. Second, it's ridiculous to assume that a person is unqualified to be president because decades ago s/he had received treatment for a psychological problem. Third, assuming Trump hasn't been treated continuously for psychological problems (and it would be way better if he had!), a 1990 diagnosis & treatment would not factor into his refusal to release his medical records, as Eichenwald theorizes. If Trump released, say, ten years of medical history that demonstrated more-or-less normal health, he would be more transparent than most candidates (except for John McCain, who in 2008 released almost 1,200 pages of his records). Absent evidence, Eichenwald's tweet is an irresponsible conspiracy theory.

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "For perhaps the first time in the campaign, the full spotlight is on Pence, a man who likes to portray himself as an aw-shucks Midwesterner, and who among some Republicans is regarded as the acceptable face of the Trump campaign.... It is easy to imagine that the Trump campaign wants to keep the 'basket of deplorables' story going, even if reporters and the Clinton campaign want to keep bringing up [David] Duke. On Tuesday, Pence tried to turn Clinton's tweet on its sender, saying the original 'deplorables' remark should disqualify her from the Presidency. [I]t would surely have been easier for Pence to say that Duke and the K.K.K. were deplorable, despicable anything stronger than 'bad' -- and move on. But, for whatever reason, that is a step he is still refusing to take -- which is itself deplorable." --safari

David Corn of Mother Jones: "Immediately after the news broke that Hillary Clinton had said that half of Donald Trump's supporters were racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or Islamophobic and belonged in a "basket of deplorables," [Trump campaign manager] Kellyanne Conway ... tweeted: 'One day after promising to be aspirational & uplifting, Hillary insults millions of Americans.' And then she went on the warpath" against Clinton. CW: That's way surprising, because in 2008, Corn reports, Conway likened Americans who rely on credit cards & took out huge mortgages to "a bunch of pigs," and another time said Americans "live like a pig off my credit cards (which most people won't admit in this country)...." Corn concludes, "Using her own standards of this week, you might even call these statements deplorable." -- CW

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "Cosmo rips the halo off Ivanka Trump." Her interview with Prachi Gupta for the magazine did not go well. First, she evaded answering several questions. When asked about a comment Donald Trump made in 2004 about pregnancy being "inconvenient" for business, Ivanka Trump complained, "So I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions.... So I don't know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you're going to make a comment like that." Then she cut & ran.

Other News & Views

Timothy Cama of the Hill: "President Obama will create a new national monument Thursday off the coast of Massachusetts, protecting a nearly 5,000-square-mile area. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, in the Atlantic Ocean 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod, will conserve deep-sea canyons and undersea mountains that host unique ecosystems that the Obama administration says are significantly impacted by climate change." CW: Based on Cama's report of the national monument location, I'd guess (and it's only a guess) that this would not nix locating windfarms off the Cape.

Matt Egan of CNN: "Get ready for fireworks next week when Elizabeth Warren grills Wells Fargo's CEO over the bank's mind-boggling creation of millions of fake accounts. The powerful Senate banking committee plans to hold a Wells Fargo ... hearing on September 20 at 10 a.m. ET, according to the office of Senator Richard Shelby, the committee's Republican chairman. Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has accepted an invitation to testify, a spokesperson for the bank told CNNMoney.... After meeting Tuesday with Wells Fargo President Tim Sloan, Rep. Elijah Cummings [D-Md.], the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, requested a batch of documents on the bank's sales practices and the salaries and positions of those fired for improper sales tactics. Cummings also asked Wells Fargo to justify the huge $124 million in stocks and options that community banking head Carrie Tolstedt is set to walk away with when she retires at the end of the year. Tolstedt led the division that created millions of fake accounts...." -- CW

Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg: "We're about to see ... if the small group of [House] radicals can bully mainstream conservatives into casting irresponsible and counterproductive votes on two measures. First, the House Freedom Caucus zealots are intent on forcing a vote this week on impeaching the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, John Koskinen. Even if they had a case against him -- and they don't -- it's an abuse of their power to go through with an impeachment procedure with no chance for a conviction in the Senate.... Then sometime before the end of the month, the House will need to bring up a bill to keep the government running after the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.... Though there is nothing substantive to be gained by voting with the radicals, it requires standing up to them and risking being called a 'moderate' or 'RINO.'" --CW ...

Governing by "Moral Outrage." Paul Waldman on how Planned Parenthood has replaced ObummerCare as the reason to shut down the government. "... earlier this year, Congress passed a bill that would have both repealed the ACA and defunded Planned Parenthood, in a kind of passing of the baton from the former to the latter. The final vote, to override President Obama's veto, came in February; it was the 63rd time Republicans had voted to repeal the ACA, and it fittingly occurred on Groundhog Day.... If Hillary Clinton gets elected, we could well see a rotating menu of legislative outrage.... It's Planned Parenthood now, but if they decide that it's lost its punch as a way to show their constituents how strong and noble they are, something else will take its place. But it will always be something." -- CW

CW: Hey, Kids! Now's your chance to weigh in on women's rights. If you sound sensible -- and in favor of insurance coverage of contraception care -- you have a chance to get cited in a government brief that John Roberts might feel compelled to read. Also, if you went to Catholic school & want a chance to whack Sister Mary Elephant, et al., with a virtual ruler, this is it. Linda Greenhouse has the contest details. The government is inviting public comment on the case of Zubik v. Burwell, a/k/a "the Little Sisters case," even tho Zubik is not a nun. Enter here. But hurry. The contest -- I mean "comment period" -- "closes at 11:59 p.m. next Tuesday, Sept. 20." And so far the comments, which have been encouraged by Misogynists, Inc., run to "expert advice" -- which really is what the government is seeking -- on health care for women like, providing coverage is "the most egregious violation of religious liberty in the history of our nation."

**Scott Walker and Democracy's Cancer. Ed Pilkington of th Guardian: "The pervasive influence of corporate cash in the democratic process, and the extraordinary lengths to which politicians, lobbyists and evenjudges go to solicit money, are laid bare in sealed court documents leaked to the Guardian.... Last year the Wisconsin supreme court ordered that all the documents should be destroyed, though a set survived that has now been obtained by the news organisation. The files open a window on a world that is very rarely glimpsed by the public, in which millions of dollars are secretly donated by major corporations and super-wealthy individuals to third-party groups in an attempt to sway elections." --safari

Dirty Laundry. Christopher Massie & Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Condoleezza Rice privately criticized Bush administration Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to Colin Powell last year in an exchange about the handling of the Iraq War, according to Powell's personal emails seen by BuzzFeed News...The website DCLeaks.com -- which has reported, but not confirmed, ties to Russian intelligence services -- obtained Powell's emails." --safari ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... a hack of Mr. Powell's email this week has ripped away the diplomatic jargon and political niceties to reveal his unvarnished disdain of Donald J. Trump as a 'national disgrace,' his personal peeves with Hillary Clinton and his lingering, but still very raw, anger with the Republican colleagues with whom he so often clashed a decade ago." -- CW ...

... Also, Powell wrote he believed that Bill Clinton, post-presidency, was still "dicking bimbos" and that Hillary Clinton was "greedy" and possessed by "unbridled ambition." CW: Powell himself of course did not lack for ambition: you don't get to be a general & chairman of the joint chiefs on effectiveness alone; rising in the ranks requires a lot of toadying.

... Powell also had an exchange with Democratic donor Jeffrey Leeds, in which Powell wrote that "On HD tv she [Hillary Clinton] doesn't look good. She is working herself to death,' Powell said, adding: 'She will turn 70 her first year in office.' Leeds then recounted something Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told him about a joint event at which, according to Leeds's recounting of Whitehouse's comments, Clinton 'could barely climb the podium steps.'" CW: I read about this exchange yesterday, first reported on insane conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' Website, so I didn't know if there was any veracity to it. However, the e-mail quotes here, along with quite a few other juicy ones, are now being reported by Aaron Blake of the Washington Post, so I'm presuming, not necessarily correctly, that they're accurate. ...

... Kathrine Gregg of the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal: "Asked about this account on Wednesday, Whitehouse's spokeswoman Meaghan McCabe said: "Mr. Leeds is a friend of the Senator's, but he doesn't recall that specific conversation." CW: That's a standard-form non-denial denial.

Nick Gass of Politico: "The Atlantic Coast Conference is following the NCAA's lead in announcing Wednesday that it has decided to relocate its neutral-site championship events from North Carolina because of the state's recently enacted legislation regarding gender and bathrooms." -- CW

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Rupert Neate of the Guardian: "German chemical giant Bayer has agreed to a $66bn (£50bn) deal to buy controversial US agrochemical giant Monsanto and create the world's largest seeds and pesticides company. The proposed deal, the biggest corporate takeover deal so far this year, follows a wave of consolidation in the seeds and agriculture industry and has raised concerns among scientists, regulators, farmers and activists who called the deal a 'marriage made in hell.'... The proposed takeover is likely to face intense regulatory scrutiny in the US and Europe, particularly as it quickly follows two other mega-deals in the agriculture industry and would leave control of almost two-thirds of the world's seeds and pesticides in the hands of three firms." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "A 77-year-old man shot three people at a [Cheyenne, Wyoming,] senior citizens' apartment complex where he lived, killing one before taking his own life as officers closed in, police said. Larry Rosenberg fled after the shootings on Wednesday armed with a handgun and rifle. He killed himself as officers approached him in a neighborhood about a mile away...." -- CW

Way Beyond

Emily Rauhala of the Washington Post: "In an extraordinary hearing in the Philippine Senate, a witness claimed Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte paid him to carry out executions that involved feeding a body to a crocodile, chopping up corpses and dumping slashed bodies into the sea. The witness, Edgar Matobato, 57, spoke to Filipino lawmakers at Senate hearings investigating a recent wave of extra-judicial killings that has claimed more than 3,000 lives as part of the president's anti-drug campaign." -- CW

Tuesday
Sep132016

The Commentariat -- Sept. 14, 2016

Afternoon Update:

By Driftglass.Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "After a whiplash-inducing morning of mixed messages, Donald J. Trump on Wednesday gave a small window into some of the results from his most recent physical examination in a taped appearance with the television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz. The quick run-through of results, which Mr. Trump is said to have given to the doctor to read from a piece of paper, came after ... [Trump's] aides had said he would, and then that he wouldn't, broach the topic with the doctor on the 'Dr. Oz Show.'" ...

     ... This is a version of a story that has been updated -- and ruined. In the original version, Haberman gave a brief account of Oz's brilliant career. She couched the nutty stuff in the familiar "critics say" copout, but among the "critics" was the FDA. If you didn't read the original story, Akhilleus, in today's Comments section provides some background, though narrower in scope -- and of course more opinionated -- than Haberman's rundown.

*****

** Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "Americans last year reaped the largest economic gains in nearly a generation as poverty fell, health insurance coverage spread and incomes rose sharply for households on every rung of the economic ladder, ending years of stagnation.The median household's income in 2015 was $56,500, up 5.2 percent from the previous year -- the largest single-year increase since record-keeping began in 1967, the Census Bureau said on Tuesday. The share of Americans living in poverty also posted the sharpest decline in decades." -- CW ...

... Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: "Middle-class Americans and the poor enjoyed their best year of economic improvement in decades in 2015, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, a spike that broke a years-long streak of disappointment for American workers but did not fully repair the damage inflicted by the Great Recession." -- CW ...

... Washington Post Editors: "Candidates' dour talk about the economy is undermined by the economy." -- CW

Carol Morello & Ruth Eglash of the Washington Post: "Israel and the United States have reached an agreement that will provide Israel an unprecedented amount of military aid over a decade. The State Department said the agreement, known as a memo of understanding, will be signed Wednesday afternoon. Jacob Nagel, Israel's acting national security adviser, arrived in Washington on Tuesday morning to sign on behalf of his country. The agreement is expected to give Israel as much as $3.8 billion a year over 10 years, more aid than the United States has ever provided to any country." Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu wanted more. CW: Let's see if he says thank you to us U.S. taxpayers.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a plea from Ohio Democrats to stay a lower court decision and add more early voting days in the presidential battleground state. Without noted dissent, the justices left intact a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that said the state already provided more early voting than the majority of states. As a result, Ohio will not have a period in which residents may register and vote at the same time.... It is not the end of litigation in the battleground state. Still to be resolved are purges of inactive voters and what to do about eligible voters who cast their ballots at the wrong precinct." -- CW

Capitalism is Awesome, Ctd. Bank Execs Handsomely Rewarded for Bad Behavior. Renae Merle of the Washington Post: The $185MM fine federal regulators levied against Wells Fargo for a massive scheme to bilk customers is "less than the more than $200 million that the stock in the company held by company's chief executive, John G. Stumpf is worth. The fines also are not that much more than the $125 million one of its top executives, Carrie Tolstedt, will walk away with when she retires this year.... Tolstedt ran the community banking division where regulators said aggressive sales goals fueled illegal behavior by bank employees...." See also related comments under the previous post, IOKIYAR. -- CW

Rebecca Ruiz of the New York Times: Russian "hackers penetrated the World Anti-Doping Agency's athlete database and publicly revealed private medical information about three of the United States' most famous athletes: Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Simone Biles. The hackers published documents this week showing that the Williams sisters and Ms. Biles, who won four gold medals in gymnastics at the Rio Olympics last month, received medical exemptions to use banned drugs.... [The hacking group] is believed to be associated with GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency suspected of involvement in the recent theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee.... Revenge, apparently, motivated the WADA hacks. In May, The New York Times reported the account of Russia's longtime antidoping lab chief, who said the country had run a doping program and staged an elaborate cheating scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. A subsequent report commissioned by WADA confirmed that account." -- CW

Presidential Race

Andrew Kaczynski, et al., of BuzzFeed: "Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a retired four-star general who served under three Republican presidents, slammed GOP nominee Donald Trump as a 'a national disgrace' and an 'international pariah,' according to his personal emails seen by BuzzFeed News. The remarks came in a June 17, 2016, email to Emily Miller, a journalist who was once Powell's aide. In that same email Powell also said Trump 'is in the process of destroying himself, no need for Dems to attack him. [Speaker of the House] Paul Ryan is calibrating his position again.' The website DCLeaks.com -- which has reported, but not confirmed, ties to Russian intelligence services -- obtained Powell's emails.... In an Aug. 21 email from Powell to Miller, he blasted Trump for embarking on a 'racist' movement that believes President Obama was not born in the US. 'Yup, the whole birther movement was racist,' Powell wrote." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski & Talal Ansari of the Daily Beast: "'Benghazi is a stupid witch hunt. Basic fault falls on a courageous ambassador who thoughts Libyans now love me and I am ok in this very vulnerable place,' Powell wrote in a December 2015 email exchange with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who died in the 2012 incident.... 'But blame also rests on his leaders and supports back here. Pat Kennedy, Intel community, DS and yes HRC,' Powell wrote." -- CW ...

... Lee Fang & Naomi LaChance of the Intercept: "Former Secretary of State Colin Powell attempted to discourage Hillary Clinton and her team from using him as a scapegoat for her private email server problems, according to newly leaked emails from Powell's Gmail account. Sad thing,' Powell wrote to one confidant, 'HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me to it.... I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton's party to get their attention. She keeps tripping into these "character" minefields,' Powell lamented. He noted that he had tried to settle the matter by meeting with Clinton aide Cheryl Mills in August.... The emails show Powell regularly corresponding with reporters and friends about the Clinton email server scandal, explaining that his situation was different." -- CW ...

... CW: I doubt it is a coincidence that these hacks were publicized after news broke that Powell, while serving as Secretary of State, ignored advice from cybersecurity experts who warned him his private e-mail devices could be hacked.

... Conservative WashPo columnist Kathleen Parker: Hillary Clinton's "silence about the pneumonia wasn't so much a lack of transparency, as news-gazers have extrapolated, as it was a valiant attempt to stay the course and preclude exactly what happened. People began to wonder about her health. Critics found it easy to conclude: She's weak; she's frail; she's a woman, after all." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. The Whiney Press. Brian Beutler has a theory about the media's coverage of the candidates: "The press is not a pro-democracy trade, it is a pro-media trade. By and large, it doesn't act as a guardian of civic norms and liberal institutions -- except when press freedoms and access itself are at stake.... Reporters and media organizations are far more concerned with things like transparency, the treatment of reporters, and first-in-line access to information..., than they are with other forms of democratic accountability.... The result is the evident skewing of editorial judgment we see in favor of stories where media interests are most at stake: where Clinton gets ceaseless scrutiny for conducting public business on a private email server; Trump gets sustained negative coverage for several weeks when his campaign manager allegedly batters a reporter; where Clinton appears to faint, but the story becomes about when it was appropriate for her to disclose her pneumonia diagnosis.... But where bombshell stories about the ways Trump used other people's charity dollars for personal enrichment have a hard time breaking through." -- CW

This Is Alarming. John McCormick & Mark Niquette of Bloomberg: "Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points in a Bloomberg Politics poll of Ohio, a gap that underscores the Democrat's challenges in critical Rust Belt states after one of the roughest stretches of her campaign.... The poll was taken Friday through Monday, as Clinton faced backlash for saying half of Trump supporters were a 'basket of deplorables' and amid renewed concerns about her health after a video showed her stumbling as she left a Sept. 11 ceremony with what her campaign later said was a bout of pneumonia." CW: Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling against Democrats (story linked above) Ohio's early voting has been pushed back a week till October 12 from October 5. Ironically, if Clinton can recover her lead there, the Supremes could help her.

Jeff Zeleny of CNN: "Hillary Clinton will return to public view in North Carolina on Thursday, aides said, appearing in Greensboro after an unexpected three-day interruption from the campaign trail." -- CW

[Trump] took money other people gave to his charity and then bought a 6-foot-tall painting of himself. He had the taste not to go for the 10-foot version. -- President Obama, in Philadelphia Tuesday ...

... Anne Gearan & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Obama implored Americans on Tuesday to consider the gravity of the presidential election eight weeks away, calling Republican Donald Trump a dangerous fraud who has no real idea of what it means to be president. Turning serious at the close of a rollicking campaign rally for Democrat Hillary Clinton, Obama allowed himself to 'vent' about a Republican nominee who he said 'isn't fit in any way, shape or form to represent this country'": -- CW ...

... CW: I recommend listening to the whole speech, but here are a couple of clips:

Obama on Trump's shortcomings:

Obama on the media's coverage of Trump:

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Teresa Welsh of McClatchy News: "'Good evening,' said WABC weekend anchor Joe Torres. 'We begin with Hillary Clinton's death.' Torres didn't correct himself, but the broadcast continued on to report Clinton's health troubles at Sunday's 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York.... The station told TVSpy that the mistake was accidental." -- CW

Eric Beech & Mark Hosenball of Reuters: "The head of the Democratic National Committee said on Tuesday the organization had been hacked by Russian state-sponsored agents who were trying to influence the U.S. presidential election, after a similar leak in July roiled the party. A link to the documents was posted on WikiLeaks' Twitter account and attributed to alleged hacker Guccifer 2.0. The release came during a presentation on Tuesday from a person speaking on behalf of Guccifer 2.0 at a London cyber security conference, Politico reported. Reuters could not immediately access the documents. 'There's one person who stands to benefit from these criminal acts, and that's (Republican presidential nominee) Donald Trump,' DNC interim Chair Donna Brazile said in a statement. 'Not only has Trump embraced (Russian President Vladimir)Putin, he publicly encouraged further Russian espionage to help his campaign,' she said." -- CW ...

... Charley Lanyon of New York: "WikiLeaks tweeted out a link to a cache of leaked documents just after the announcement. The documents contain detailed Democratic donor lists, as well as donors' personal information, documents discussing the party's fundraising strategies, and allegedly even the personal cell-phone numbers of high ranking White House staff, including vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine." -- CW

Steve Eder of the New York Times: "Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called on Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch on Tuesday to investigate Donald J. Trump's $25,000 contribution in support of Florida's attorney general, saying it 'may have influenced' her decision not to pursue a complaint against Trump University.... 'We also note that this allegation '' that Mr. Trump bribed a Florida state official to protect his business interests -- is consistent with Mr. Trump's own statements about using money to influence politics,' Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, wrote to Ms. Lynch in a letter also signed by the 15 other Democrats on the committee." -- CW ...

     ... New Lede (which significantly adds to the story): "New York's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman [D], announced Tuesday that his office was looking into Donald J. Trump's nonprofit foundation, which is facing intense criticism in light of a political donation it made in support of the Florida attorney general. Mr. Schneiderman said his office was seeking to determine whether the charity had been in compliance with state laws. Mr. Trump's campaign disclosed this month that he had paid a $2,500 penalty to the Internal Revenue Service because the 2013 contribution in Florida was sent from his nonprofit foundation, in violation of tax regulations.... Jason Miller, a senior aide in the Trump campaign, dismissed the inquiry. 'Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president,' he said.... Mr. Schneiderman ... regulates nonprofit groups.... For Mr. Trump, he is a familiar opponent. Three years ago, Mr. Schneiderman sued Mr. Trump and Trump University..., saying that students had been defrauded.... That case is pending.... Mr. Trump, who contributed $12,500 to Mr. Schneiderman's campaign in 2010, filed an ethics complaint against him after the Trump University suit was filed, calling the fraud case a 'shakedown.' The state ethics panel declined to pursue the case." -- CW ...

... Other People's Money. David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was asked on CNN this morning to provide evidence to prove Trump's claim that he has given generously to charity. She didn't. In the process, Conway also seemed to be unaware ... [that] the Trump Foundation's money doesn't actually come from Trump's own pocket.... Conway did not offer any evidence of new donations. Instead, when [CNN host Alisyn] Camerota challenged her -- "No, the foundation's money is 'other people giving to the foundation' -- Conway seemed to concede. 'Other people, but he -- okay," she said. 'But he's been incredibly generous.'" -- CW

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump on Wednesday scrapped his previously announced plan to go over results from his most recent physical examination in a taped appearance with the television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, aides to the Republican presidential nominee said." CW: What a surprise. It's worth reading Haberman's whole story.

Nick Corasaniti & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump unveiled a menu of proposals on Tuesday to help working parents, calling for six weeks of mandatory paid maternity leave and expanded tax credits for child care. The proposals, which Mr. Trump outlined in the politically critical Philadelphia suburbs along with his daughter Ivanka, represent a new attempt to court female voters who polls show have been alienated by his bombast and history of provocative remarks about women.... But in selling his case, Mr. Trump stretched the truth, saying that ... Hillary Clinton has no such plan of her own and 'never will.' Mrs. Clinton issued her plan more than a year ago, and it guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for a newborn or a sick relative, financed by an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans.... Vivien Labaton, a director of the nonpartisan group Make It Work Action, called Mr. Trump's plan 'woefully inadequate.'... Mr. Trump's embrace of paid leave would apply only to mothers, as opposed to Mrs. Clinton's plan, which would cover both parents. Some economists say that when leave is offered only to women, it can backfire by lowering women's chances of being hired and promoted and getting raises." ...

... CW: Well, the new fake plan is better than the old fake plan, in which he suggested the best way to manage childcare was through corporations: "You know, it's not expensive for a company to do it. You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks, and you need some swings and some toys. (Emphasis added.) It's not an expensive thing, and I do it all over. And I get great people because of it. Because it's a problem with a lot of other companies." As ridiculously inadequate as this "plan" is, it's also a lie. Jill Colvin & Catherine Lucey of the AP (August 2016): "But the two programs Trump cited -- "Trump Kids" and "Trumpeteers" -- are programs catering to patrons of Trump's hotels and golf club. They are not for Trump's employees, according to staff at Trump's hotels and clubs across the country." Speaking of lies, Corasaniti & Haberman write that Trump "stretched the truth" when he said Clinton didn't have a plan. "Stretched the truth"? There's no stretching involved; it's a flat-out lie.

** Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek: "A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization ... reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals, although there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities. It also reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires. The Trump Organization is not like the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.... No member of the Clinton family received any cash from the foundation, nor did it finance any political campaigns.... The Trump family rakes in untold millions of dollars from the Trump Organization every year. Much of that comes from deals with international financiers and developers.... None of Trump's overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign's financial filings...." Read on. -- CW ...

... John Harwood of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump has departed from Republican orthodoxy in multiple ways, but his consistently kind words for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia stand as the most striking.... So when Mr. Trump praises Mr. Putin, as he did last week, for his 'very strong control over a country,' Republican political and policy experts explain it in purely personal terms: Mr. Trump admires the Russian leader's ruthless use of power, even if it conflicts with American democratic principles." -- CW

Charley Lanyon: "There were multiple reports of violence between protestors and Trump supporters on Tuesday [CW: actually Monday] night at a Trump rally in Asheville, North Carolina. Outside the rally, a 69-year-old protestor, Shirley Teter, was punched in the face and knocked to the ground, falling over her oxygen tank before being taken to the hospital.... When she told one Trump supporter that he had better learn Russian, he punched her in the face: 'He stopped in his tracks, and he turned around and just cold-cocked me.'... In a video taken at the rally, a man can be seen getting physical with protestors in a balcony while Trump is giving his speech. He slaps a man in the face and a woman in the chest, and lashes out at other protestors before a security guard gets between them. While the guard does not confront the violent man, he does escort the protestors out." ...

     ... CW: Nothing "deplorable" about the Trump supporter who cold-cocked an old lady attached to an oxygen tank; just another "amazing" "hardworking American patriot" to cite Donaldo's assessment of his followers. Also, yesterday I linked to a WashPo story that included info on the Ashville protesters, but it didn't include the detail Lanyon provides.

Jonathan Martin & Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Gov. Mike Pence came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday on a mission to promote Republican unity, attacking Hillary Clinton for describing many supporters of the G.O.P. ticket as bigoted 'deplorables' and urging Republicans to rally behind their nominee.... But Mr. Pence struggled to press the attack: In separate news conferences, House and Senate Republican leaders declined to join Mr. Pence ... in rebuking Mrs. Clinton over her remark. Mr. Pence wound up raising the subject only when pressed by a reporter -- and then gave a halting answer in which he would not call David Duke, a white supremacist and onetime Ku Klux Klan leader, 'deplorable.'" -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: "I've always thought [mike pence] an honorable and amiable man, and I accept his friends' assessment that he took the job in hopes of changing Trump. Instead, it seems that Trump has changed him. There was Pence, once a hawkish conservative, joining Trump last week in praise of Vladimir Putin.... There was Pence last month joining Trump in spreading conspiracy theories, declaring on talk radio that 'we've got to get to the bottom' of whether an Iranian scientist was killed because of 'the revelations in Hillary Clinton's email.'... There was Pence in July, retreating from his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal ... and saying Mexico will 'absolutely' pay for [Trump's border wall]. That same month, Pence, who once called Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the country 'offensive and unconstitutional,' declared himself 'very supportive' of suspending immigration from countries with terrorist influences." -- CW

He's Ba-a-a-ack! Ben Schreckinger & Ken Vogel of Politico: Ousted Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is back in the Trump inner circle, thanks to the goon-friendly new management. -- CW ...

And, Yeah, Lewandowski Is Still a Paid CNN Contributor. Nick Gass of Politico: "Corey Lewandowski on Wednesday slammed a Newsweek article [linked above] detailing how the Trump Organization's ties to foreign entities could harm the United States' national security if he is president. Lewandowski, who still regularly speaks with Trump and has returned to the Republican nominee's inner orbit in recent weeks, laced into the article and its author, Kurt Eichenwald, during a panel on CNN's 'New Day,' referring to Eichenwald as previously reporting that 'George W. Bush was directly related to 9/11.' (Eichenwald, in fact, reported that Bush had been warned about an Al Qaeda determination to strike the U.S., not that he was 'directly involved.')... CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota ask[ed] Lewandowski ... whether Trump and his family would step away from the company if he becomes president 'because of those entanglements.' 'Absolutely not,' Lewandowski replied." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Susan Svrluga of the Washington Post: "The Kappa Alpha ... fraternity at the University of Richmond has been suspended after an email with what university officials termed 'grossly offensive language' was sent to about 100 students on campus.... The email reminds recipients of the theme for the night -- 'ameriKA' -- suggests dressing in red, white and blue '(or be naked for all I care.... This is gonna be one for the books,' the Collegian [-- the campus newspaper] quotes the email as saying. '... we're looking forward to watching that lodge virginity be gobbled up for all ya'll. See you boys tonight. If you haven't started drinking already, catch up. Tonight's the type of night that makes fathers afraid to send their daughters away to school. Let's get it.'" -- CW

Tuesday
Sep132016

IOKIYAR

By Akhilleus:

We laugh, ruefully, it's true, at the acronym IOKIYAR, because it's almost always lamentably accurate. Things that could destroy a Democrat are often blithely ignored as long as Republicans do them.

One of the most egregious, given the never-ending, sweaty pursuit of Hillary Clinton's emails, a case that has been fine-tooth combed until reduction to component molecules has been achieved, without finding anything but bad judgement, is the strange "loss" of 22 million--that's right, twenty.two.million emails by the Bush 43 administration. Well, you might say, these were probably emails covering things like interstate commerce policy and attendance of a statue unveiling, or what's on the menu for a state dinner to honor the Grand Poobah of Kirabati, or what to eat when watching the Super Bowl so as not to choke and pass out, or perhaps a simple reminder of the importance of subject-verb agreement.

Nope.

The "lost" emails happened to have been sent right around the time The Decider and his chief leg breaker, Darth Cheney, were lying about WMD so they could invade a country that had zippo to do with 9/11. That, and the emails from four years later when Bush and his AG were staging a nation-wide putsch against Democratic attorneys general who dared to stand up to their made up bullshit about election fraud.

A lengthy article in Newsweek finds that...

"Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House 'lost' 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails. 'It’s about as amazing a double standard as you can get,' says Eric Boehlert, who works with the pro-Clinton group Media Matters. 'If you look at the Bush emails, he was a sitting president, and 95 percent of his chief advisers’ emails were on a private email system set up by the RNC. Imagine if for the last year and a half we had been talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails set up on a private DNC server?'"

Think Jason Chaffetz (described by one wag as sitting on "...the top of the GOP shitpile in Congress despite the fact that he is dumber than a sack of Louis Gohmerts." Ouch!) will be sending out subpoenas to get to the bottom of this? So a private email server, owned and operated by the RNC was okay for George Bush, a president during a time of "war", but for a Secretary of State, it's permission for Confederates to suggest that she be imprisoned for life and/or murdered?

At the time, if you recall, anyone who dared to look crosseyed at the crosseyed Decider (which, if he ever made eye contact, might have fixed that problem, although he'd still be an asshole...) was charged, by Confederates, with treason.

So, to review, if you're a Democrat and wish to investigate serious criminality on the part of a Republican president, you're a traitor. If you're a Republican and you want to make shit up about a Democratic president and presidential candidate, you're a patriot. Well sure, that seems fair.

With a Democrat in the White House and likely another one on the way, all manner of scurrilous, untrue, and invented charges are allowed to stand and given the power of media sanctioning.

Sometimes IOKIYAR is an embarrassing head-shaker. Other times, it's criminal.