The Wires
The Ledes

Monday, March 18, 2019.

NBC News: “Heavy rain and melting snow that overpowered the Missouri River forced hundreds of families out of their homes in the Midwest and forced the base that is home to U.S. Strategic Command to sharply scale back operations on Sunday. At least three people are confirmed to have died in what the National Weather Service called 'major and historical river flooding' along parts of the Missouri and Mississippi river basins.”

TPM: "Fox News has hired former interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile as a contributor, the network announced Monday. According to the press release, Brazile will offer political analysis on Fox News and Fox Business News. A source close to the situation told TPM that Brazile will not play any role related to the debate or town hall process."

New York Post's Page Six: "Brian Williams could come back from TV news exile, Page Six is told. The anchor was booted from the 'NBC Nightly News' in 2015 after it was revealed that he’d embellished some stories with fictional details — and sent to the relative Siberia of 11 p.m. on sister station MSNBC. But despite his tarnished reputation and graveyard-adjacent time slot, Williams has made his '11th Hour With Brian Williams' show a legit hit, beating CNN and Fox News for three months straight. Now 30 Rock insiders say Williams could move to a more prominent time slot, possibly replacing vet Chris Matthews at 7 p.m." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Despite his less-than-liberal views, Williams' 11 pm newscast is really pretty good. He's a pro. Another pro at MSNBC who impresses me is Richard Liu. The other night, a feed from Los Angeles went dark, and within 90 seconds, Liu got himself on the air & conducted a full segment (with Ken Dilanian as one of the last-second guests) with what I would guess was zero prep. Years ago, when I was not much younger than Liu appears to be now, I worked for a national news network, and I had actual nightmares that I might get stuck on-air with no copy. (I was not an on-air personality, but I could have got stuck with an on-air spot during a strike.) I could not have done then what Liu did this week.

Everybody liked this Oscar moment:

Cartoon by R.J. Matson. Thanks to forrest m. ... The Verge has the complete list of Oscar winners.

Ars Technia: "Excavations at two ancient quarry sites in western Wales suggest how ancient people probably quarried some of the stones now standing at Stonehenge. The 42 stones in question are some of the smaller parts at Stonehenge, relatively speaking: they still weigh two to four tons each. They're called the bluestones, and they came all the way from western Wales [about 180 miles from the Stonehenge site]. Chemical analysis has even matched some of them to two particular quarries on the northern slopes of the Preseli Hills. One, an outcrop called Carn Goedog, seems to have supplied most of the bluish-gray, white-speckled dolerite at Stonehenge. And another outcrop in the valley below, Craig Rhos-y-felin, supplied most of the rhyolite. University College London archaeologist Michael Parker Pearson and his colleagues have spent the last eight years excavating the ancient quarry sites, and that work has revealed some new information about the origins of Stonehenge.... The ancient quarry-workers left behind mudstone wedges and stone hammers, which they would have driven into the cracks between the pillars to carefully pry them apart.”

The dollhouse of Petronella Oortman, in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.Emily Landau in the New York Times: "The whole point of a dollhouse is that it’s not to be played with. It’s untarnished by the workaday furniture we get for our real homes, the Sears dining tables and cheap Ikea Billy bookcases. And for many people, it’s the only place where ludicrously opulent décor is attainable, where you can go all out on mother-of-pearl doorknobs or Versailles-worthy brocade chaises without losing your savings or your dignity." Mrs. McC: I think Laudau helps explain why I have so enjoyed moving from a mansion-sized house to one that is one-tenth the size of the "mansion."

The Los Angeles Times has the full list of Oscar nominees here.

NBC Sports: "Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the 2019 class. The results were just announced on MLB Network. Rivera received votes from every single writer who submitted a ballot, becoming the first player ever to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Halladay and Edgar Martínez each received 85.4 percent of the vote and Mussina appeared on 76.7 percent of ballots. Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his seasons in the majors with the Yankees. He was initially used as a starter, but quickly moved to the bullpen, becoming the greatest closer of all-time. He racked up 652 saves — the most in baseball history — during the regular season along with a 2.21 ERA anda 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings. He saved his best work for the postseason. Rivera appeared in 96 postseason games, saving 42 saves in 47 opportunities with a 0.70 ERA and a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 innings. Rivera won five championships, five Rolaids Relief Awards, as well as MVP awards in the World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Game. He made the AL All-Star team 13 times."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If you're a shut-out Trump Shutdown victim tooling around the Internets with nothing to do today, let's assume that some day some time, Trump will de-furlough you and you can get back to work enthusiastically serving the American people in your appointed capacity. In case Trump has rendered you a bit rusty in the area of job skills, Conan here provides some useful tools that may help you get to work on time, even on casual Friday:

ABC News: "Breathtaking drone video of a pod of friendly, playful dolphins joining a surfer as he took to the waves near the coast of Ventura, California, is making the rounds on social media and bringing smiles -- and wow's -- to viewers. ABC station KABC-TV's meteorologist Kimi Evans met the drone's owner Craig Badger, who shared the footage, and spoke to surfer Alden Blair.... The video has been seen more than 3 million times on social media." ...

NBC Suits Are Such Geniuses. New York Times: "After a drawn-out negotiation period, NBC and Megyn Kelly have formally agreed to part ways. The network and the onetime cable news star reached a final agreement on Friday, nearly three months after she wondered aloud on-air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. NBC and a representative for Ms. Kelly declined to reveal the details of the exit package. But according to two people familiar with the negotiations, Ms. Kelly was paid the outstanding balance on her contract, a figure that amounts to roughly $30 million. At the time of the separation, Ms. Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network."

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 5

While the Obamas were on Martha's Vineyard, the Oval Office got a redo, first revealed to the public during the President's address last week. Washington Post story here. Picture gallery here.

The Oval Office, redecorated by decorator to the stars Michael Smith. Washington Post photo. CLICK PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.

** More about the Rug. In a fascinating Washington Post op-ed about the quotations woven into the new Oval Office rug, Jamie Stiehm finds the true source of two of the quotations: the original authors were not Martin Luther King., Jr. & Abraham Lincoln, but Theodore Parker, an early-19th-century abolitionist, Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist thinker.

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. -- Theodore Parker (1853), cited by MLK

A democracy -- that is a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people. -- Theodore Parker (1850), borrowed by Lincoln for his Gettysburg Address

Jeff Zeleny & Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "In the next two weeks, Democratic leaders will review new polls and other data that show whether vulnerable incumbents have a path to victory. If not, the party is poised to redirect money to concentrate on trying to protect up to two dozen lawmakers who appear to be in the strongest position to fend off their challengers."

** Sharpen Your Pitchforks. Glenn Greenwald: Alan Simpson's "recent outbursts have unmasked this [Deficit] Commission and shed light on its true character.  Unlike his fellow Commission members, who imperiously dismiss public inquiries..., Simpson -- to his genuine credit -- has been aggressively engaging critics, making it impossible to ignore what the Commission is really up to." CW: this is a real must-read. Greenwald makes a nearly irrefutable case that Democrats have a stealth plan to enact the Commission's recommended Social Security cuts.

Eliot Spitzer, in Slate: President Obama's economic policies are not ambitious enough & the policies promoted by the right-wing nuts, policies that are gaining traction with the know-nothings, will only make a bad situation worse.

Dennis Cauchon of USA Today: "The worst summer on record for young people who wanted a job is staggering to an end this Labor Day weekend. Only 47.6% of people ages 16 to 24 had jobs in August, the lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948, the Labor Department said Friday. By comparison, 62.8% of that age group was employed in August 2000."

Dina ElBoghdady of the Washington Post: "... Around the country, the expectations of buyers and sellers are out of whack, thwarting deals that could potentially lift the U.S. housing sector from its long funk. The nascent rebirth of the market earlier this year proved to be a mirage."

Gretchen Morgenson & Geraldine Fabrikant of the New York Times: "Earlier this year, Florida earmarked $9.6 million to set up foreclosures-only courts across the state, staffed by retired judges. The goal of the program, which began in July, is to reduce the foreclosures backlog by 62 percent within a year.... But lawyers representing troubled borrowers contend that many of the retired judges ... to oversee these matters are so focused on cutting the caseload that they are unfairly favoring financial institutions at the expense of homeowners."

Dan Balz of the Washington Post: scholars agree -- Barack Obama, the "post-partisan" President, was always a polarizing figure.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: Secretary of State Hillary "Clinton will be in the thick of the negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, when they meet on Sept. 14 in Egypt. Her role, several officials say, will be to take over from the administration’s special envoy, George J. Mitchell, when the two sides run into serious obstacles. It may prove the greatest test yet for Mrs. Clinton, one that could cement her legacy as a diplomat if she solves the riddle that foiled even her husband, former President Bill Clinton."

John Cassidy of The New Yorker: testifying before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Ben Bernanke changes his story about the collapse of Lehman Brothers, shifting from "giving them a loan was illegal" to "they would have failed whether or not we gave them a loan." Cassidy is not convinced inasmuch as Barklays Bank was negotiating a takeover of Lehman, which could have occurred within days. A bridge loan might have saved Lehman & possibly averted the collapse.

Jad Mouawad of the New York Times: "Air fares have marched steadily upward in recent months and are now close to pre-recession levels — and that’s not even counting all the new fees that airlines have introduced lately."

Inventing an Enemies List. Dahlia Lithwick, in Slate: why Democrat-in-Name-Only Ben Nelson voted against Elena Kagan's confirmation, & why the NRA would not endorse gun-friendly Harry Reid. As  Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign put it, "It may be that the NRA simply could not endorse Senator Reid once he had attacked its core belief that the Second Amendment really is about armed revolt against our government."

Ruth Marcus: Sarah Palin caterwauls at every hint of a sexist comment about her, but she doesn't mind making overtly sexual & emasculating comments about men, as when she recently described a gay writer as "limp" & "impotent." CW: Marcus doesn't mention it, but Palin used similar language when she accused President Obama of "not having the cojones" to take on illegal immigration. (Weirdly, she said Jan Brewer did have cojones.)



The Headless Governor -- Arizona's Ichabod Crane

Gail Collins riffs on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. "The headless body debate goes back to Brewer’s longstanding contention that Arizona is plagued by 'drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings' related to illegal immigration." After the debate & its follow-up debacle ("Everyone knows you never want to finish a big campaign night on a headless-body note."), Brewer told a reporter, "I’ve done something. Terry hasn’t did anything."

Here's Brewer's debate meltdown: *

... And here she is, post-debate, refusing to answer reporters' questions about her false headless bodies claim:

The Constant Weader comments on Collins' column:

First, it appears Terry Goddard has "did something." As the state's attorney general, he's been working to stop drug smugglers, who are a much greater danger to Arizona & the rest of the country than are people sneaking across the border, as George Bush used to say, to "do the work Americans won't do."

As for the headless bodies in the desert, they seem to all be in Jan Brewer's head.

Second, let's be honest. The whole immigration brouhaha is a made-for-election-year extravaganza manufactured by Republicans to get white folks' xenophobic hormones flowing. Collins writes that, "violent crime is at the lowest level it’s been since 1983 and crime along the border is at least at a 10-year-low."

But there's even more to it than that. The Washington Post reports that illegal immigration to this country has actually GONE DOWN BY 67 PERCENT in the past decade. That is, there are one-third as many illegal immigrants coming into the U.S. today as there were in 2000.

The Republicans' "family values" issues have been getting stale for a while. They didn't work well at all in 2008. Republicans have totally given up on their decades of opposing civil rights: when Haley Barbour & Glenn Beck try to rewrite the history of the South & embrace civil rights for blacks, when prominent Republicans are coming out of the closet & in favor of gay marriage (unlike our "liberal" President, alas), you know they are ready to roll out some new phony issues. So, let's get stoked about illegal immigrants! They're leaving headless bodies in their wake! Let's get "sensitive" about mosques! They might be harboring terrorists & terrorist sympathizers!

Third, Democrats & a few Republicans, like the former John McCain, would have passed a comprehensive immigration bill were it not such a great election-year "issue." It isn't that Republicans don't want to deal with illegal immigration. Rather they want to deal with it loudly. They want drama! Demonstrations! Outrage! All that's way more fun & vote-producing than is slogging out the details of a 2,000-age Congressional act. Never mind that it's their job to slog out the details.

Legislation, unfortunately, is the further thing from the minds of our Republican legislators.

More on Governor Headless

* Oh, the debate debacle was all Andy Cobb's fault:

Here's Gov. Headless making her beheading claims on Fox "News":

So first, she said, repeatedly, there were headless bodies in the desert, then she wouldn't say, the she said there were, then she said there weren't:

Gail Collins reports, "In her postdebate repair effort, Brewer told a radio interviewer that 'the bottom line is that there have been beheadings in the border region in Mexico.'” But later on Friday, the AP reports that Brewer did an about-face: "That was an error, if I said that."

No More Debates. The Arizona Star: "Incumbent Republican Jan Brewer said Thursday she has no intention of participating in any more events with Democrat Terry Goddard. She said the only reason she debated him on Wednesday is she had to to qualify for more than $1.7 million in public funds for her campaign." ...

... David Dayan of Firedoglake:, "In other words, Arizona, Jan Brewer will only deign to debate issues if it means there’s a pot of taxpayer gold at the end of the debate rainbow."

Running on Fear. Rachel Maddow reports on Queen Jan's fake campaign, her cozy relationship with a private prison company that benefits from the anti-immigration law, & her retribution againt a local CBS affiliate that has investigated that connection:

KPHO Phoenix has more on the devastating effect Brewer's anti-immigration noise has had on Arizona tourism. It seems a number of people aren't all that interested in visiting a place where they may be decapitated.

And now for a word from our sponsor:



The Commentariat -- September 4

Jan, I call upon you today to say there are no beheadings. -- challenger Terry Goddard to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, uttering the sentence least likely to be heard in a gubernatorial debate

If she doesn’t change her ways, then Palinism will be equated with other forms of McCarthyism that fomented division among the populace and acts of hatred among the populace. -- Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, on Sarah Palin

Campaigns are built to fool us into thinking that we're voting for individuals. We learn about the candidate's family, her job, her background -- even her dog. But we're primarily voting for parties. The parties have just learned we're more likely to vote for them if they disguise themselves as individuals. -- Ezra Klein

Newt is more to the right of Mussolini on this. -- scholar Victoria de Graziathe, on Gingrich's opposition to the Downtown Islamic cultural center

He's the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president. -- Republican Sen. Tom Coburn on Newt Gingrich, via Tulsa World

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "... the responsiveness of senators to the views of the poor and working class is ... zero. Or maybe even negative. And that's true for both parties. The middle class does better — again, with both parties — and high earners do better still. In fact, they do spectacularly better among Republican senators." ...

... See What Drum Means? Michael O'Brien of The Hill: "There's 'plenty of the room' in the federal budget to cut $700 billion in spending to pay for extending high-end tax cuts, [Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.)] said Friday." ...

... More from Ryan: TheCBO is right only when I say so. Alex Seitz-Wald of Think Progress. "Ryan quoted the Congressional Budget Office approvingly when their numbers supported his argument, but questioned their estimates moments earlier when they did not fit his narrative." With incriminating video.

Henry Payne of the Detroit News: "... Detroit’s Channel 7 reports that the Reverend [Jesse Jackson]’s Caddy Escalade SUV was stolen and stripped of its wheels while he was in town last weekend ... leading the 'Jobs, Justice, and Peace' march promoting government-funded green jobs.... Add Jesse to the Al Gore-Tom Friedman-Barack Obama School of Environmental Hypocrisy. While preaching to Americans that they need to cram their families into hybrid Priuses to go shopping for compact fluorescent light bulbs to save the planet, they themselves continue to live large."

CW: if you were to read only one article on what ails the American economy, Robert Reich's op-ed in the New York Times would tell you pretty much all you needed to know.

The Great Depression and its aftermath demonstrate that there is only one way back to full recovery: through more widely shared prosperity. -- Robert Reich

J Street launches a new site & produces an ad on the radical right:

David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "We don’t seem to be in a double-dip recession. We do seem to be in a long slog."

Rachel Maddow & Gene Robinson on the new fake history of the South. Do not believe anything a Republican tells you. Ever:

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: Obama & Dubya have a chilly relationship.

CW: Harold Meyerson, who writes for the Washington Post, is a self-avowed socialist & a great patriot. His column on the organization Working America, which was created by the AFL-CIO, is illuminating.

If Obama and the Democrats are to have a fighting chance against Beck, O'Reilly and the Republicans, they need to acknowledge how our power elites have betrayed Main Street America, and how Main Street America is right to be enraged. -- Harold Meyerson

Dana Milbank: at her "valedictory" dinner at the National Press Club, Christiana Romer, outgoing chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, served up bitter soup & a sickening entree. And she has no idea what the dessert will be -- but don't get your hopes up. ...

... Michael Scherer of Time: the shift in Americans' perception of Barack Obama -- from "political savior to ... creature of Washington" -- is evident nation-wide." ...

... Glenn Greenwald ticks off a few more reaons for the "enthusiasm gap"; you can't read Greenwald & come out even slightly enthusiastic about Obama.

Smoking Gun. Ben Smith of Politico finds evidence that Glenn Beck is really into exploting racial politics, protestations from the right notwithstanding. CW: see what you think.

Jeanna Bryner of LiveScience: "Perhaps the belief that President Obama is a Muslim has nothing to do with him and everything to do with us, a new study suggests.... 'Careless or biased media outlets are largely responsible for the propagation of these falsehoods, which catch on like wildfire,' [psychology professor Spee] Kosloff said. 'And then social differences can motivate acceptance of these lies.'"

Kathleen Parker is the best conservative writer around because she's not afraid to lampoon the loonies on the right:

Glenn Beck's tent-less revival last weekend ... was right out of the Alcoholics Anonymous playbook. It was a 12-step program distilled to a few key words, all lifted from a prayer delivered from the Lincoln Memorial: healing, recovery and restoration.... He may as well have greeted the crowd of his fellow disaffected with: 'Hi. My name is Glenn, and I'm messed up.'"

On the One Hand..., on the Other Hand." Fred Kaplan of Slate, widely considered an objective expert on the Iraq War, complains that President Obama's speech was unfocused & offered no "consistent theme" or "clear road to the future." ...

... Joe Conason of Slate on what President Obama could not say. CW: Conason ticks off a list of the U.S.'s essential blunders in Iraq, & their effects. What I wonder is, why couldn't the President allude to the fiasco that underlay his address?

Blissful Ignorance. Glenn Greenwald smacks down the "nobody could have known" MSM school of journalism, concentrating this time on New York Times war correspondent John Burns, who had no idea there might be lots of violence in Iraq after our invasion. ...

... CW: Greenwald points to Simon Owens' post on the clash between The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg & Greenwald. I haven't linked to many of Greenwald's posts on Goldberg's so-called reporting because they were kind of in-the-weeds & repetitive, but Owens' post is quite a good summary. Also, it will tell you why I never link to Goldberg's Atlantic posts.

** Joan Walsh nicely summarizes the Truth about Obama, based on Brian Williams' telling interview of the President: "... he sounds unprepared for the fight he's in." CW: my sentiments exactly. See what you think: