The Ledes

Monday, November 19, 2018.

CBS/AP: "The death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California increased by one Sunday to 77, while the number of people unaccounted for has decreased to 993 people. The blaze was two-thirds contained as of Sunday night after consuming some 150,000 acres. In Southern California, just outside Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire was 91 percent contained after burning 96,949 acres and killing three people. Dense smoke from the fires has been smothering parts of the state with what has been described as 'the dirtiest air in the world.' Rain is forecast for mid-week, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains."

The Wires
Gubernatorial Results


It's hard to read, but as the Times tally indicates, Democrats have picked up seven gubernatorial seats as of the current projections. Georgia is still too close to call, according to the Times. Republicans are ahead in all three states. Georgia could go to a runoff, but that looks unlikely at this point.

The New York Times' gubernatorial results are here.

Here are state-by-state predictions:

Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is predicted to win the election.

Alaska: Mike Dunleavy (R) is projected to win the election. This is a pick-up for Republicans from an independent governor.

Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has retained his seat.

Arkansas: Asa Hutchinson (R) is predicted to win re-election.

California: NBC News predicts Gavin Newsom (D) will become governor.

Colorado: NBC News predicts Jared Polis (D) will win the governor's seat.

Connecticut: Neil Vigdor, et al., of the Hartford Courant: "Democrat Ned Lamont appeared poised to become Connecticut’s 89th governor Wednesday morning after running up significant margins overnight in some of the state’s largest cities to pull ahead of Republican Bob Stefanowski.

Florida: Andrew Gillum (D) has conceded to Ron DeSantis (R).

Hawaii: Gov. David Ige (D) is predicted to retain his seat.

Idaho: NBC News projects Brad Little (R) will win the governorship.

Illinois: J.B. Pritzker (D) is expected to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

Iowa: NBC projects Kim Reynolds (R) will retain the governorship.

Kansas: Laura Kelly (D) has defeated Kris Kobach (R-Voter Suppression) for the governorship, according to NBC News. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

     Jonathan Shorman & Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star: "Democrat Laura Kelly will become the next governor of Kansas after voters rejected Republican Kris Kobach’s hard-right campaign and embraced Kelly’s promises of moderation and stability. Kelly vowed to put former Gov. Sam Brownback, and the years of budget woes brought on by his signature tax cuts, in the past." ...

     BUT then the Star has two stories about Kobach linked on its front page (the Kelly win is sandwiched between them), including this one about how Kobach, where the headline reads that Kobach has "unlimited potential." Turns out that a quote from Steve Bannon. The Star's lede sez, "... his defeat may do little to curb his future political potential." Nice.

Read more here:

Maine: Janet Mills (D) is projected to win the governorship. This is a flip from the execrable Paul LePage, who says he is moving to Florida "and teach at a university there." After yesterday's showing, Florida deserves him.

     Kevin Miller & Noel Gallagher of the Portland Press Herald: "Democrat Janet Mills won the governor’s race early Wednesday, becoming Maine’s first woman to hold the office."

Maryland: Larry Hogan (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Massachusetts: Charlie Baker (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Michigan: Gretchen Whitmer (D) is predicted to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

Minnesota: Tim Walz (D) is predicted to take the governorship.

Nebraska: Pete Ricketts (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Nevada: Steve Sisolak (D) is expected to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican.

New Hampshire: Chris Sununu (R) will remain governor.

New Mexico: NBC News is predicting Michelle Grisham (D) is expected to win the election. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

New York: Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to win re-election.

Ohio: Mike DeWine (R) has won the race for governor.

Oklahoma: Kevin Stitt (R) is predicted to win the governorship.

Oregon: Kate Brown (D) will retain the governorship.

Pennsylvania: Tom Wolf (D) is expected to be re-elected.

Rhode Island: Gina Raimondo is expected to be re-elected.

South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is predicted to win the election.

South Dakota: Kristi Noem (R) is predicted to win the governor's race.

Tennessee: Bill Lee (R) is expected to win the election.

Texas: Greg Abbott (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Vermont: Phil Scott (R) will retain the governship.

Wisconsin: Tony Evers (D) is projected to defeat Gov. Scott Walker (R). Adios, Scotty.

     Patrick Marley & Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "After upending Wisconsin politics and infuriating liberals across the country, Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term Tuesday to Tony Evers, the leader of the education establishment Walker blew up eight years ago. The Associated Press called the race for Evers about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday based on unofficial returns. The race was so close that Walker's team said a detailed review of balloting and a recount were possible. But an unofficial tally had Evers winning by 1.1 percentage points — a margin that would be too large for a recount if it held."

Wyoming: Mark Gordon (R) is predicted to win the governship.

Kwitcherbitchin. Think things are bad now? They were way worse in 536 C.E. A report in Science explains.

Click on picture to see larger image.

... New York Times: "A celebrated and enigmatic painting of two men and a turquoise pool by David Hockney sold at Christie’s on Thursday night for $90.3 million with fees, shattering the auction record for a living artist and cementing a major broadening of tastes at the turbocharged top end of the market. The price for the 1972 painting, 'Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),' easily surpassed the previous high of $58.4 million, held by Jeff Koons for one of his 'Balloon Dog' sculptures."

Jennifer Szalai of the New York Times reviews Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming.

Laura Holson of the New York Times: "... a number of artists who have reimagined [Norman Rockwell's] 'Four Freedoms,' most of them spurred by racial and political tension that has divided the country.... Mr. Rockwell’s portraits of Americana in the 1940s and 1950s were quite popular, but largely limited to white, Anglo-Saxon subjects who were friends or acquaintances of the artist. His 'Four Freedoms' series helped boost patriotism in a country on the brink of war, a visual reminder of American ideals. During World War II, they were turned into posters to muster sales of U.S. war bonds. Laurie Norton Moffatt, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum, said, 'Rockwell worked for hire and had to address the norms' of The Saturday Evening Post. Later, in the 1960s, the artist joined Look magazine and depicted civil rights and poverty. 'We saw him progressively move toward more representation,' she said. 'But it was an evolution.'... The 'Four Freedoms' series is touring the United States in celebration of its 75th anniversary.... As part of the 'Four Freedoms' tour, the organizers are showing works by contemporary artists inspired by the artist.”

Pops Peterson. "Freedom from Fear." 2015.

In case you've forgotten Rockwell's Four Freedoms, here they are:

Click on picture to see larger image.In fairness to Rockwell, this has to be my favorite "political illustration":

Norman Rockwell. 1964.

Drones over New Hampshire (and apparently a bit of Michigan):

The Aliens Are Coming! The Aliens Are Coming! NBC News: "Scientists have been puzzling over Oumuamua ever since the mysterious space object was observed tumbling past the sun in late 2017. Given its high speed and its unusual trajectory, the reddish, stadium-sized whatever-it-is had clearly come from outside our solar system. But its flattened, elongated shape and the way it accelerated on its way through the solar system set it apart from conventional asteroids and comets. Now a pair of Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft. As they say in a paper to be published Nov. 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the object 'may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: No mention of it in the story, but here's hoping they will take away our leader. And his friends.

Melanie McFarland of Salon reviews "Shut Up & Dribble," a three-part Showtime documentary which examines "the impact professional athletes have played in civil rights and social justice movements even prior to the NBA’s official formation, as a three-hour rebuttal to one Fox News pundit’s smarmy, uninformed declaration." Here's the trailer:

Dear @real Donald Trump:

You are the only person I know of who has such "a natural instinct for science" that he doesn't have to take classes or run field studies and all to be an expert on any scientific subject. I don't know any @real Apicologists, & even the @real Bee Guy who came out to give these critters a new home said he'd never seen anything like it. That being one of your favorite sayings, and as someone who has a natural instinct for cliched hyberbole, I thought of you right away. Could you tell me what kind of bees make nests like this humungous construction at my house in Florida? Thanks in advance.

-- @fake Bea McCrabbie 

P.S. My house is right down the road from Mar-a-Lago. I hope the Bee Guy took the bees to your place.

Constant Comments


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


The Commentariat -- September 9

Glenn Greenwald comments on President Obama's "State Secrets" Victory. (You knew he would.) ...

     .... The New York Times report: "A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information. The sharply divided ruling was a major victory for the Obama administration’s efforts to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy powers." ...

... The Times' Editorial Board on the decision: "All too often in the past ... secrecy privileges have been used to avoid embarrassing the government, not to protect real secrets. In this case, the embarrassment and the shame to America’s reputation are already too well known." ...

... Andrew Sullivan: "The case yesterday is particularly egregious because it forbade a day in court for torture victims even if only non-classified evidence was used. Think of that for a minute. It shreds any argument that national security is in any way at stake here."

I'm less concerned about the radicals in American than I am concerned about the radicals in the Muslim world.... If we do move, it will strengthen the radicals' ability to recruit and their increasing aggression & violence against our country
-- Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf speaks to CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Larry King Live":

     ... Related CNN story here.

... Greg Sargent: "... there's a direct link between public anti-Islam sentiment and public opposition to the construction of Cordoba House.... The evidence can be found in the internals of the new Washington Post poll.... The numbers directly contradict the claim by opponents that public opposition to the project is not linked to broader anti-Islam sentiment, and is only rooted in a desire to be sensitive to 9/11 families or to respect Ground Zero as hallowed ground."

Hey, Hot Dog Guy!

Afghanistan -- Worse than We Thought. Mark Thompson of Time: "a high-powered band of foreign-policy thinkers" concludes that the NATO Afghanistan strategy is not working & is creating more enemies than friends. The report, geared for readers like us rather than for the inside-the-Beltway crowd, offers insights & suggestions on more effective ways to deal with the problems Afghanistan presents. Here's the report index; you can take it from there.

"Legislating to the Lowest Common Denominator." Ezra Klein of the Washington Post on why the filibuster matters. Were it not for the filibuster, the stimulus would have been larger, we would have had a public option to purchase healthcare insurance, & we might even have a climate bill. For starters. Many things don't get done at all because there's not enough appetite for a fight.

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "A new government study says President Obama’s health care law will have negligible effects on total national health spending in the next 10 years, neither slowing nor fueling the explosive growth of medical costs."

John Cassidy of The New Yorker on the President's speech in Cleveland: "Despite being billed as an economic address, his speech was ultimately as much about political strategy as economics." ...

... Here's President Obama speaking to George Stephanopoulos about the economy:

     ... Here's the transcript of the full interview.

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "... those who know [Rahm] Emanuel well ... believe he is seriously weighing leaving the White House in the wake of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s abrupt announcement on Tuesday that he intends to step down next year." ...

     ... President Obama: Rahm Emanuel "would be an excellent mayor."


It Ain't Swan Lake. First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a remarkable series of dance performances honoring Judith Jamison of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

... AP, related (sort of): "Women are most attracted to male dancers who have big, flamboyant moves... British scientists say in a new study." The article's lede centers on John Travolta's moves (tho to be fair, Uma Thurman is the real leader of this dancing couple):


Of War and Peace, Here and There

Maureen Dowd writes about a controversy concerning Fort Stevens, a Washington, D. C., site where Lincoln stood, at some peril, to watch a Civil War battle. A local church wants to build a community center next door, but the Civil War Preservation Trust claims the church's building will "cast a shadow" on the historic site. A friend of mine, a frequent commenter on Times op-ed columns, wrote that not much could be said about Dowd's column, which is partially a memorial to her youth, lived near to Fort Stevens. The Constant Weader, as ever, rose to the challenge:

As the Shadow Turns

Is sanctifying yet another memorial to the Civil War really more important than helping needy people of today? Since the church's planned building only casts a shadow on Fort Stevens & does not actually encroach upon the land, how terrible is that? Lord knows Mr. Lincoln's war cast a dark shadow on the nation. Which is worse -- for a church to cast a shadow on a war memorial or a war to cast a shadow on a nation?

If Civil War monuments were established to remind people of how terrible a war among brothers is, they might be of value. Unfortunately, they are more about glorifying war. They have inspired men with too much time on their hands to get into costumes, arm themselves with paint guns & re-enact the glory days of war.

I've been to Washington, D.C. many times & have never stood at Fort Stevens to wonder at the spot where a tall, distracted President made a target of himself while checking on the progress of his disastrous war. Now that I know about Fort Stevens, I might enjoy a brief visit, another chance to shake my head at man's inability to settle disputes in rational ways. I hope when I get there the Emory Methodist Church center is up & running. I'll drop in & make a small donation in tribute to people who are doing something positive for the country.

Perhaps some of those Civil War buffs will do the same. It's time for folks to put away their uniforms & cast their lot with progress. The Civil War has been over for 145 years. It's shadow is far too long. 

British baritone Benjamin Luxon sings the original "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya." The song, with altered lyrics published in 1863, became "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," a rousing hit for both sides in the Civil War:

Meanwhile, Tom Friedman casts his shadow on the longest war -- the one in the Middle East. Friedman repurposes a 2002 conversation he had with then Prince, now King, Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, in which Tom & the Prince agreed on a peace plan which required the Israeli leader to come to Riyadh to "accept" a Saudi peace proposal. Friedman sees the "emotional" benefit of such a scenario.

The Constant Weader comments:

Ah, Tom has been to Riyadh to see the King. Now that Mr. Friedman & King Abdullah have come to an agreement on just how the peace process should proceed, it does seem important for the Tom Friedman Peace Initiative to go forward. And such a good idea! Any plan that requires the slightly proud Bibi Netanyahu to go hat-in-hand to Riyadh is bound to be a winner.

Since you & Abdullah have shared such pleasantries over your initiative, Mr. Friedman, why not call of Mr. Netanyahu & suggest it? You could get several more columns out of your personal negotiations with the Prime Minister. As for your proposed theatrical review in Riyadh, I don't know how "emotional" such a song & dance would be, but for overblown theatrics I'd give it high marks.

Or here's another idea. Why not let the peace process, as conceived, continue? There are already plenty of players at the table. I'm sure they'd all be happy to read any faxes King Abdullah sent their way.

There won't be much glory for Tom Friedman if the current scheme succeeds, so I suppose that makes the peace process seem a bit dull & "unemotional." But in the end, what's more important? (1) Middle East peace for the first time in the history of the world, or (2) Tom Friedman?

Friedman & I may not agree on the answer to that question.