The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

"Giovanni della Robbia’s 'Resurrection of Christ,' made for an entrance gate to the villa of the Antinori family outside Florence." Brooklyn Museum photo. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "One of the most innovative art-as-advertising firms in late-15th- and early-16th-century Florence was the della Robbia workshop, a family concern that prospered for three long-lived generations. Its specialty was a brand of glazed terra-cotta sculpture that was physically durable, graphically strong and technologically inimitable. (The exact methods for producing it remain a mystery to this day.)... The Museum of Fine Arts [in Boston is mounting] “Della Robbia: Sculpting With Color in Renaissance Florence”..., a show of ideal size and scholarly weight that includes among 46 pieces one of the tenderest Renaissance sculptures in existence — 'The Visitation' by Luca della Robbia — on first-time American loan from its Tuscan church."

Michelle & Barack -- The Movie. Richard Brody of the New Yorker reviews “Southside with You,” "a drama about Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date." Brody calls the film "a fully realized, intricately imagined, warmhearted, sharp-witted, and perceptive drama, one that sticks close to its protagonists while resonating quietly but grandly with the sweep of a historical epic." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Requiring longer passwords, known as passphrases, usually 16 to 64 characters long, is increasingly seen as a potential escape route from our painful push toward logins that only a cryptographer could love."

The New York Times features photos of the exteriors of Bill & Hillary Clinton's residences over the years.

Brian Hickey of the Philly Voice: When Leroy Black died at age 55, he got two obituaries in the Press of Atlantic City: " In the first obit, his 'loving wife, Bearetta Harrison Black' gets top survivor billing. In the second, however, Bearetta is nowhere to be found, but 'his long-tome (sic) girlfriend, Princess Hall' appears in her place. A man answering the phone at Greenidge Funeral Homes told PhillyVoice that the obituaries were placed separately because 'the wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way.'" ...

... CW: Kinda reminds me of the headstone a widow placed on her husband's grave in the Key West cemetery: "Harry, I Know Where You're Sleeping Tonight."

New York Times: "A surprisingly specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things has been generated by scientists who say that the likeness sheds considerable light on the mystery of how life first emerged on Earth. This venerable ancestor was a single-cell, bacterium-like organism. But it has a grand name, or at least an acronym. It is known as Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old."

Ian Crouch of the New Yorker: "For a few days, at least, [Stephen] Colbert abandoned the political equanimity that he’d adopted when he started his 'Late Night' job." BTW, here's Laura Benanti's segment:

Washington Post: "Benny" (for Ben Franklin), the mystery philanthropist of Salem, Oregon, has given away more than $55,000 in $100 bills, which s/he hides in odd places like "pockets of clothing, in diapers, in baby wipes and in candy." -- CW 

Jumping Jupiter! New York Times: "Ducking through intense belts of violent radiation as it skimmed over the clouds of Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally clinched its spot on Monday in the orbit of the solar system’s largest planet. It took five years for Juno to travel this far on its $1.1 billion mission, and the moment was one that NASA scientists and space enthusiasts had eagerly — and anxiously — anticipated. At 11:53 p.m., Eastern time, a signal from the spacecraft announced the end of a 35-minute engine burn that left it in the grip of its desired orbit around Jupiter." -- CW ...

... Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post has more on the importance of the mission. CW: This, BTW, is another fine example of your government actually at work.

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Friday
Aug262016

The Commentariat -- August 27, 2016

Presidential Race

AP: "Seven months after a federal judge ordered the state department to begin releasing monthly batches of the detailed daily schedules showing meetings by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, the government told the Associated Press it won’t finish the job before election day. The department has so far released about half of the schedules. Its lawyers said in a phone conference with the Associated Press’s lawyers that the department now expects to release the last of the detailed schedules around 30 December...." -- CW 

Jonathan Chait: "Trump ... oddly lambasted Clinton’s speech [on his racist history] as 'short,' raising the tantalizing question of what further evidence of his racism he believes she should have included. (His racialized hysteria against the 'Central Park Five'? His assertions that black people are inherently lazy?) He lambasted Clinton’s use of the racism charge, 'the last refuge of the discredited politician,' a cheap trick to which only a scoundrel would resort. Then finally, that evening, forgetting his conviction that only a discredited politician would charge his opponent with racism, Trump appeared on CNN, where he called Clinton a 'bigot.'... Party leaders who can accept Trump as their nominee have made a public admission that racism in the Republican coalition is a fact of political life they are willing to live with.” -- CW ...

** ... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Ed Kilgore: "... Hillary Clinton offered a reasonably detailed indictment of Donald Trump’s racially offensive utterances and associations.... She made a decent prosecutor’s prima facie case. In response, Trump repeated his latest claim, offered with zero supporting evidence (unless you call assertions that she knows her policies will hurt African-Americans 'evidence'), that Clinton is herself 'a bigot.'” Chait then details how the Washington Post (in a story I purposely didn't link because I considered it professional malpractice) treated Clinton's point-by-point speech & Trump's throw-away insult as equivalent she-said/he-said back-and-forth. "... if major media organizations treat everything Trump says as equivalent in gravity and proximity to the truth as everything Clinton says, it could get even worse. After all, Trump throws out insults all the time, at nearly everybody. If insults equal fact-based attacks, the sheer volume of insults could win in the end." -- CW

Jenna Johnson & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Ten days after he appointed new campaign leadership, Donald Trump and many of his closest aides and allies remain divided on whether to adopt more mainstream stances or stick with the hard-line conservative positions at the core of his candidacy, according to people involved in the discussions. Trump has been flooded with conflicting advice about where to land, with the tensions vividly illustrated this week as the GOP nominee publicly wrestled with himself on the details of his signature issue: immigration.... Trump tends to echo the words of whomever last spoke to him...." See also Robert Schlesinger's column, linked below. CW: As always with Trump, this principle applies, because who cares what happens to a bunch of Mexicans:

For the most part, you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect. -- Donald Trump, at some time in the past ...

... Trump Campaign Chaos, Ctd. Yvonne Sanchez of the Arizona Republic: "Donald Trump's Arizona director said Friday afternoon the candidate had canceled a Wednesday event in downtown Phoenix. But less than two hours later, Trump himself tweeted that the event was on — and would be bigger than initially planned. 'Will be in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday,' Trump posted on Twitter. 'Changing venue to much larger one. Demand is unreal. Polls looking great!'... The latest confusion from the campaign reflects mixed messages surrounding the event and others the campaign has canceled in recent days.... Multiple Trump event planners initially said Trump was slated to unveil his policy agenda on illegal immigration [at the Wednesday event], but walked that back hours later." -- CW: Tiny right hand doesn't know what tiny left hand is doing.

Here's Your Laugh for the Day. Maggie Haberman & Kate Zernike of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump’s campaign has hired Bill Stepien, a former top aide to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose role in the Bridgegate scandal led to his firing and denied him the central role he was expected to play in the governor’s presidential run.... Mr. Stepien was not among the three people charged by federal prosecutors in the lane closings. But earlier this month, a lawyer for one of other defendants released texts from a conversation between two Christie staffers during the two-hour news conference in which the governor denied knowing about the lane closings. 'He just flat out lied about senior staff and Stepien not being involved,' one staffer wrote to the other." CW: As Akhilleus suggested yesterday, Trump might have hired Stepien sooner if he'd changed his name to Steve. ...

... This Is a Hoot, too. Anna Schecter, et al., of NBC News: "Donald Trump's personal physician said he wrote a letter declaring Trump would be the healthiest president in history in just five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his Manhattan office. Dr. Harold Bornstein, who has been the GOP nominee's doctor for 35 years, told NBC News on Friday that he stands by his glowing assessment of the 70-year-old's physical state.... 'If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,' Bornstein wrote. Asked how he could justify the hyperbole, Bornstein said, 'I like that sentence to be quite honest with you and all the rest of them are either sick or dead.'" ...

... CW: Donald Trump's doctor makes no more sense than Donald Trump. "... the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency" means "healthiest at the time he was elected." None of the former presidents was dead at the time he was elected. Bornstein is a gastroenterologist I wouldn't go to with a stomach ache. ...

... Also Funny. Andrew Kaczynski: "Eric Trump, listing off reasons his father is running for president, said in an interview this week that one of the motivations was the renaming of the White House Christmas tree to the 'holiday tree.' The tree placed on the White House lawn during the holiday season is still called the National Christmas Tree.... Chain emails that began when President Obama took office falsely claimed that tree had been renamed." CW: So now that this has been settled, Donald can quit the race. Not that the outrage of calling a conifer a "holiday tree" isn't a good reason to run for president. And nice to know that Eric, like Dad, gets his political news from crackpot chain mail. The pine nut doesn't fall far from the pine.

Not Funny at All. Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast: "Appearing on The Apprentice with Donald Trump required agreeing to a series of odd and invasive demands regarding sex, nudity, and food consumption. According to a copy of an NBC contract reviewed by The Daily Beast, contestants had to agree to be filmed, 'whether I am clothed, partially clothed or naked, whether I am aware or unaware of such videotaping, filming or recording.'... They were made to undergo sexually transmitted disease screenings, which tested for 'HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HPV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes,' according to the contract.... Contestants had to accept 'that Producer may impose one or more Series Rules regarding the type of sexual activity, if any, that participants will be permitted to engage in.'” --CW 

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: The GOP leadership, including mike pence, still has not defended Trump against Clinton's speech detailing the evidence of his racism, although they have been tweeting & writing about other things. "In a normal election cycle, that would prompt the party to line up leaders and surrogates in defense of their candidate." CW: These "leaders" aren't defending Trump because they agree with Clinton. She presented her case against Trump like a prosecutor delivering her closing arguments. She cited instance after instance that proved Trump was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The GOP "leadership" voted to convict. They just don't have the guts to deliver their verdict. Update: See also Jonathan Chait's post; he characterizes the "leaders"' silence as a tacit admission that they are willing to live with racism.

Robert Schlesinger of US News: "Maybe Donald Trump is incoherent on immigration because Donald Trump is incoherent. Maybe what he says doesn't make a lot of sense because he doesn't know what he's talking about.... Maybe Donald Trump ... speaks word salad because that's his level of substantive sophistication." Schlesinger goes on to point out that Trump doesn't seem to understand other basics, either: for instance, he appears not to know what a trade deficit is; he thinks it would be okay to crash the U.S. (and with it the world's) economy (because then he would make a deal); and on many issues, he's flip-flopped repeatedly.

Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: Recently Donald Trump "has 'mostly retreated to the relatively cozy confines of Fox News,' as the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone put it this week. Trump finally ventured out again Thursday night, appearing on CNN for the first time in more than two months. It didn't go very well.... A frustrated Trump lashed out at [Anderson] Cooper and CNN, which he has taken to calling the 'Clinton News Network.' 'I know you want to protect her as much as you possibly can,' Trump said, referring to ... Hillary Clinton. At the time, he and Cooper were debating the true poverty rate for African Americans. When Trump didn't want to engage on the merits anymore, his immediate tactic was to try to put Cooper on the defensive with an unrelated accusation." -- CW

Dana Milbank: "Moderates and reasonable Republicans who are considering voting for Trump portray it as a choice between two unpalatable options. But it isn’t. It’s a choice between one unpalatable option and one demagogue who operates outside of our democratic traditions, promoting racism, condoning violence and moving paranoia into the mainstream. This presidential election, unlike the six others I have covered, is not about party or ideology. It’s about Trump’s threat to our tradition of self-government." -- CW 

Michelle Lee of the Washington Post: Donald Trump "vowed not to eat Oreo cookies anymore after Nabisco moved some U.S. factory jobs to Mexico.... We know of at least 12 countries where Trump products were manufactured (China, the Netherlands, Mexico, India, Turkey, Slovenia, Honduras, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea).... Trump’s practice as a businessman is not consistent with his current rhetoric against trade as a presidential nominee.... If Trump brand customers took the same stance against his products as he did against Nabisco, it is clear they would be left with few Trump items to buy." But they could buy those "Make America Great Against" caps. -- CW: All the U.S. jobs Trump keeps promising to create will be for dockworkers.

Trump's Winning Strategy. Eric Levitz of New York: "Over the past two weeks, Donald Trump has named the CEO of an 'alt-right' website his campaign chief, 'softened' and then 'hardened' his immigration policy until he pissed off Latino activists and his nativist base, reached out to African-American voters by suggesting black people have nothing in their lives worth preserving, held a campaign rally in the crucial swing state of Mississippi, and released a campaign ad that suggested it doesn’t really matter whom you vote for this fall because the election will be rigged. But on Friday afternoon, Reuters dropped a bucket of cold water on such dumpster blazes: Donald Trump has, apparently, gained seven points on Hillary Clinton in just seven days." CW: Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times daily tracking poll had Trump up by two over Clinton. (The LA Times poll tracks eligible, not likely, voters.)

"All the Best People." Sean Sullivan & Alice Crites of the Washington Post: "Allegations of domestic violence and anti-Semitism from a former wife of Donald Trump’s new campaign chief executive [Steve Bannon] brought fresh scrutiny on Friday to how well Trump vets his most senior employees and advisers — another distraction from the themes the GOP nominee wants to emphasize less than 11 weeks from the election. Records show that Stephen K. Bannon changed his voter registration address in Florida ... from an address in Miami-Dade County to Sarasota County ... this week as reporters were preparing a story about how he was registered at an address where he did not live." -- CW ...

... Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Donald Trump’s campaign chief [Steve Bannon] has moved his voter registration to the home of one his website’s writers, after the Guardian disclosed that he was previously registered at an empty house in Florida where he did not live. Stephen Bannon is now registered to vote at the Florida house of Andy Badolato, who reports for Breitbart News and has worked with Bannon in the past on the production of political films. According to public records, Badolato, 52, and two of his adult sons are also registered to vote at the property, which he co-owns with his ex-wife.... Badolato states on his website that he is an 'entrepreneur, senior level executive, venture capitalist and seed stage investor' and claims to have founded companies that reached a total of $26bn in market capitalization. According to federal court records, he has filed for bankruptcy four times since 2008. (Emphasis added.) -- CW ...

... CW: The bankruptcies explain why Badolato lives in Florida. "Florida’s bankruptcy exemptions are quite favorable to its residents, and include unlimited exemptions for homestead, annuities, and the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy." Anyway, hope Badolato & his sons enjoy living with Bannon.

... Nancy Dillon of the New York Daily News: "Donald Trump's campaign CEO Stephen Bannon was branded an anti-Semite by the same ex-wife who claimed he choked her, court documents reveal. Mary Louise Piccard said in a 2007 court declaration that Bannon didn't want their twin daughters attending the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles because many Jewish students were enrolled at the elite institution.... 'The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend,' Piccard said in her statement signed on June 27, 2007. 'He said that he doesn't like the way they raise their kids to be "whiny brats" and that he didn't want the girls going to school with Jews,' Piccard wrote." According to Piccard, Bannon was troubled by the number of Jewish students in two other private schools in the area, too.

Other News & Views

Ariana Cha of the Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Friday took the radical step of recommending that blood donations in all 50 states and U.S. territories be screened for the Zika virus. Such costly and time-consuming testing is typically only done for the most dangerous infectious disease outbreaks and signals how seriously U.S. officials are taking the Zika threat. The announcement comes as the outbreak in Florida, the first state with local mosquito transmission of the virus, appears to be spreading." -- CW 

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Federal officials on Friday announced a $2.45 billion loan to Amtrak for the purchase of state-of-the-art trains to replace the aging Acela trains that use the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. Amtrak plans to put the first of 28 new trains into service in about five years. Once they are fully deployed, officials expect the Acela to depart every half-hour between Washington and New York and every hour between New York and Boston. That should increase passenger capacity by about 40 percent, they said. While the new trains will not approach the speeds of some Asian and European trains, officials said they hoped that the new Acela would travel at 160 miles per hour in some places, up from 135 m.p.h. now. The trains will theoretically be able to go faster than 160 m.p.h., though that would require a huge upgrade of the track system." -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post on "the crisis of morality at Fox News." Wemple's take is pretty damning, all around, not just of Roger Ailes. ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "The memo is dated January 5, 2012.... 'Re: Gabriel Sherman.' Two full years before Sherman published a book about Roger Ailes, this book-length memo ... 400 pages ... made the rounds inside Fox News. It has all the markings of 'opposition research' about a political enemy — which is precisely how Ailes viewed Sherman. The memo, obtained by CNNMoney from two anonymous sources, is a stunning display of Ailes' campaign-like strategies. It includes, among other things, property records, voter registration information, and a note that the researchers could find no criminal record for Sherman.... Some of the information contained in the memo subsequently showed up on Conservapedia, a right-wing version of Wikipedia. Anti-Sherman stories also appeared on Breitbart News in 2012 and 2013.... Sherman told CNNMoney he had heard about possible 'oppo research' against him and had ample reasons to believe it existed, but has never seen it." ...

... CW: Donald Trump could have used Fox "News"'s PR team to vet Steve Bannon (and on Ailes himself). Maybe he did, & didn't care that Bannon is an anti-Semite who allegedly roughed up his wife. Plus. Ailes is "informally" advising Trump, so you can bet intensive oppo-research is one tool a Trump administration would use against media adversaries. Not all reporters have as squeaky-clean a personal history as Sherman apparently does; an oppo research team could come up with some embarrassing incidents for reporters & their families & could use those personal events to try to silence the reporters.

Beyond the Beltway

Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "In a statement, [Gov. Paul] LePage [R-Insane-Maine] said his suggestion to duel [a Maine legislator] was not meant to incite any physical violence." See yesterday's Commentariat for context. CW BTW: LePage did threaten the legislator, Drew Gattine (D), in a profanity-laced voicemail. -- CW ...

... Here's some background, the content of which was linked within a story I linked yesterday, but which I did not specifically link myself. David Graham of the Atlantic: LePage told reporters Wednesday, "... I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state.... And I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn.... The publicly available evidence did not support LePage’s idea that minorities were behind the heroin epidemic. Several recent arrests of dealers at the time had involved predominantly or exclusively white people.... Naturally, reporters were interested to get their hands on LePage’s binder full of minorities. On Thursday, they asked the governor for it. He refused and stomped off. 'Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that!' he said. 'You make me so sick!'”

Thursday
Aug252016

The Commentariat -- August 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presidential Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the most part, you can't respect people because most people aren't worthy of respect. -- Donald Trump, at some time in the past ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the Beltway

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

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

Way Beyond

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

Wednesday
Aug242016

The Commentariat -- August 25, 2016

Tim Arango, et al., of the New York Times: "Turkey sent tanks, warplanes and special operations forces into northern Syria on Wednesday in its biggest plunge yet into the Syrian conflict, enabling Syrian rebels to capture an important Islamic State stronghold [-- the town of Jarabulus --] within hours. The operation, assisted by American warplanes, is a significant escalation of Turkey's role in the fight against the Islamic State, the militant extremist group ensconced in parts of Syria and Iraq that has increasingly been targeting Turkey." -- CW

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "President Obama turned a vast stretch of Maine woods into the nation's newest federal parkland on Wednesday, siding with conservationists who want the wild lands protected, over residents and officials who oppose intrusion from Washington and restrictions on use of the land. Mr. Obama designated more than 87,500 acres of rugged terrain, donated by a founder of the Burt's Bees product line, as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, administered by the National Park Service, a day before the service's 100th anniversary. It became by far the largest region of federal parkland in Maine, surpassing the 48,900-acre Acadia National Park on the coast." -- CW

Why aren't we talking about Huma [Abedin] and her ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? Why aren't we talking about the fact that she was an editor for a Sharia newspaper?" -- Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), interview on CNN, Aug. 23

Roger Stone, a top adviser to GOP nominee Donald Trump, described Abedin on Aug. 23 as a 'Saudi asset.'... Duffy asked why the alleged Muslim Brotherhood connections to Huma Abedin are not being talked about. Perhaps it's because they are bogus.... Vague suggestions of suspicious-sounding connections to her parents don't pass the laugh test, even at the flimsiest standard of guilt by association. The journal edited by her mother, meanwhile, is not 'sharia newspaper' but a sober academic journal with a range of viewpoints on Muslim life around the world. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: "The unfolding embarrassment at the [Fox 'News"] network poses a host of questions -- not the least of which is how the network's executives justified their Javert-like pursuit of [Bill] Clinton's extramarital affairs, given their boss's own repeated sexual misconduct. If you go back and look carefully at the chronology, some of [Roger] Ailes's most egregious alleged harassment of women was taking place at the same time that Fox News was suggesting that Clinton deserved to be impeached." CW: Read on.

Presidential Race

Adam Pearce of the New York Times: "Republicans have narrowed the Democrats' lead in registered voters in several swing states, especially in North Carolina and Florida. Although there are still more registered Democrats than Republicans in these key states [which include Nevada & Colorado], the margin is much smaller than it was in 2012." -- CW

Annie Karni of Politico: "With 75 days until Election Day and new emails once again casting a pall over her campaign, Hillary Clinton aims to 'run out the clock,' confidants say, on the latest chapters of the overlapping controversies that have dogged her campaign since the start." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Matt Yglesias of Vox has another excellent takedown of the AP's "Secretary Clinton Met with Clinton Foundation Donors!" story. "The AP put a lot of work into this project. And it couldn't come up with anything that looks worse than helping a Nobel Prize winner, raising money to finance AIDS education, and doing an introduction for the chair of the Kennedy Center. It's kind of surprising." -- CW ...

... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "The Associated Press blasted out a 114-character breaking news alert on Tuesday afternoon with a hot scoop: an analysis of publicly available data showed that while Secretary of State, more than half of Hillary Clinton's meetings were with individuals who also donated to the Clinton Foundation. One problem: that statistic is false.... The Clinton campaign ... asked them to remove the false tweet. According to her campaign, they refused, arguing that even if the tweet is inaccurate, they stood by their reporting...." -- CW ...

     ... Matt Yglesias Update: "The initial article was bad..., and while the defense of the article usefully clarifies a key point, it is also bad.... There has been a lot of discussion around potential conflicts of interest related to the Clinton Foundation, so the absence of any clear evidence of actual misconduct is a useful contribution to our understanding. The story the AP wrote -- full of arbitrary math, sensationalistic tweets, and strange insinuations -- is not." ...

... CW: Hey, let's see if Donald Trump & Co. dealt with the news that Clinton came out squeaky-clean ...

... Theodore Schleifer of CNN: "Donald Trump and Republicans are pouncing on a report that more than half of the private individuals with whom Hillary Clinton met as secretary of state donated to her family's foundation.... 'It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history,' Trump said in a statement.... At a rally in Austin, Texas, Tuesday night, [he said,] '... The specific crimes committed to carry out that enterprise are too numerous to cover in this speech.'... The Republican National Committee also cited the report to hit Clinton. 'This is among the strongest and most unmistakable pieces of evidence of what we've long suspected: at Hillary Clinton's State Department, access to the most sensitive policy makers in U.S. diplomacy was for sale to the highest bidder,' RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement." -- CW ...

... CW: In fairness to TrumPriebus, Ed Rendell (D) is still an idiot. Christopher Massie of BuzzFeed: "Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell said in a radio interview on Tuesday that the firewall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state was 'ineffective.'.... Rendell ... was asked about [the] AP analysis.... 'No, I agree,' Rendell said, when the host argued that newly released emails between Clinton Foundation and State Department employees show there was no firewall. 'I don't know if it was a lie..., but it was pretty ineffective. But look, the bottom line is, what they did, I wouldn't have done, it creates a bad perception. But will it hurt her? It's obviously not gonna help.'" -- CW

The Great Wall of Trump. Eli Stokols of Politico: "Donald Trump, after several straight days delivering a more scripted message, loosened the rhetorical shackles tightened by his new campaign manager and went off-script several times Wednesday afternoon [at a Tampa, Florida, rally], offering a more passionate but at times self-contradicting case for his candidacy.... As he was appealing to Hispanic voters, he twice referred to the 'drugs coming in' from Mexico.... 'Bad, bad things are going to be happening with these people pouring into our country,' Trump said.... 'We're going to build a wall, don't worry about it,' Trump said. 'We're going to build the wall and Mexico is going to pay for it, 100 percent. And it's going to be a big wall. It's going to be a real wall. It's going to be as beautiful as a wall can be, but it's going to be a real wall.'" -- CW ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "Speaking in Tampa..., [Donald Trump] said, 'The only people enthusiastic about [Hillary Clinton's] campaign are Hollywood celebrities -- in many cases celebrities that aren't very hot anymore.'... Trump's remarks also remind us of his habit of projection. After all, at the Republican National Convention he brought out celebrity endorsers like Willie 'Duck Dynasty' Robertson, Scott 'Joanie Loves Chachi' Baio, and Antonio 'Miscellaneous Soap Operas' Sabato Jr.... They hardly stack up to the Clinton supporters who seem to have set Trump off.... Trump's outburst supports the general rule that most of his insults are reflections of his own insecurity." -- CW ...

     ... CW: I suspect Trump was referring to Cher, who at one of several fundraisers for Clinton called Trump a "fucking idiot." Cher is 70 years old, and as we know, Trump has no use for older women. They're not, you know, "hot." ...

... Patrick Healy & Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "After months of flailing attempts, Donald J. Trump has begun to recast his political message in more structured terms and wrestle with his temptation to go off script, as his campaign seeks to revive his fading candidacy.... Working off a script from his reshuffled team of advisers, Mr. Trump is also drastically tempering his language about the signature issue of his campaign: immigration.... Still, if aides have helped bring new focus to Mr. Trump's stump speech, they have been unable to tame him on social media, where he continues to deliver outlandish attacks on all manner of adversaries, especially in the news media." -- CW

Sean Sullivan & Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: In Jackson, Mississippi, "as Donald Trump listed the ways that he would make life better for African Americans living in poverty, he suddenly shouted, "Hillary Clinton is a bigot!" The line was included in prepared remarks distributed to reporters...." -- CW

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "... during an immigration-focused town hall in Austin, Tex., that was hosted by Fox News and broadcast on Wednesday night," Donald Trump polled the crowd on immigration policy. -- CW ...

... Trump Proposes Amnesty Policy He Calls "Not Amnesty." Scott Bixby & Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "... Donald Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that although undocumented immigrants living in the United States will get 'no citizenship', they will pay back taxes in exchange for possible legal status. 'They'll pay back taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them,' Trump said, in remarks set to air [Wednesday] on Hannity's show." -- CW: The "New Donald"'s proposal sounds a lot like what his GOP rivals were advocating during the primary. ...

... Nick Corasaniti & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Republican pollsters and strategists speculate that Mr. Trump's newfound attention to blacks and inner-city conditions is aimed less at actually vying for African-American support than at softening his image among suburban whites.... Even as he tries to talk about black voters in his speeches, he openly talks about the potential for voter fraud in areas of Pennsylvania that are heavily African-American. And some African-Americans who have been listening say the picture Mr. Trump has been painting of black America -- a nightmare of poverty, death and danger, brought about by failed Democratic policies and leadership -- is unrecognizable." -- CW ...

... Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: "I think we know the real Donald Trump. He's the one whose campaign is enrolling 'monitors' to station at polls this November, supposedly to turn away fraudulent voters -- a problem that exists only in Republicans' imaginations. The real point is intimidation, and not of middle-class suburban white voters. Reading slightly less offensive speeches from teleprompters, however long that lasts, doesn't change anything." -- CW ...

... Paul Waldman: "We've now seen this on multiple occasions: Trump will give a speech in some all-white suburb and go on a rant about how terrible African-Americans or Latinos are doing, then suggest that the people he has just belittled ought to vote for him.... This is, to say the least, not the way politicians ordinarily reach out to groups of voters.... Trump can't bring himself to reach out to [Latinos, either,] with anything beyond a condescending message that says if they knew what was good for them, they'd be voting for him.... Perhaps this is little more than an extension of Trump's larger 'America: What a Rathole' strategy...." -- CW ...

... Digby in Salon: "... Trump has held racist views for a very long time and has not shown the slightest ability to evolve or change in even the slightest ways for over 40 years. He hasn't even changed his hairstyle since 1975. Donald Trump today is exactly the same man who wrote that full page ad in which he declared, 'civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!' Racial, ethnic and religious minorities know exactly what that means.... Rick Perlstein memorably wrote about this a few months back, in which he noted that Trump's appeal stemmed from a very specific conservative archetype that came from America's urban dark side: the avenging angel. He discusses Trump's father's apparent affiliation with the Klan and Trump's own run-ins with the Department of Justice over the family business's refusal to rent to welfare recipients...." -- CW ...

... The Surrogates' Dilemma. Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate: "... the only thing Trump is actually promising when it comes to immigration -- or pretty much any issue for that matter -- is that he isn't promising anything at all. That, though, is obviously not something his surrogates are going to say. And so instead they speak a bunch of words and say nothing at all." CW: Just like Trump.

Contributor Diane says Rachel Maddow takes down Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway in classic style. I won't have time to listen (nor am I inclined to -- Maddow talking fast, which she does when she's nervous -- is nerve-wracking), but here's a pirated video. If MSNBC takes it down, the full interview, divided into segments, is on Maddow's site. ...

     ... Update: The pirated copy got disappeared; there are others up right now (6:30 am ET), but I assume they'll go, too, so you'll have to go to Maddow's Website. You can watch the full episode if you sign in with your cable/dish provider.

Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "Taking a page out of last week's 'says who' denial playbook, Donald Trump's newly appointed campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is dismissing near-universal polls that show the Republican presidential candidate is lagging far behind his rival Hillary Clinton. Conway's logic, which she explained in an interview with the United Kingdom's Channel 4 on Tuesday, relies heavily on supporters she described as 'undercover voters' who will inevitably break their silence and vote for Trump this November.... When asked if she could provide numbers for this invisible population, Conway quickly deflected. 'I can't discuss it,' she said. 'It's a project we're doing internally. I call it the undercover Trump voter, but it's real.'" -- CW ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "Donald Trump's campaign manager [Kellyanne Conway] says he's actually winning, thanks to 'undercover' supporters. Plenty of past presidential hopefuls have mistakenly believed the same.... Mitt "Romney felt so good [on election day 2012] he didn't even write a concession speech until that evening, when the writing was on the wall. Just as for McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis, the crowd [of supporters at last-minute rallies] was a mirage.... A campaign adviser told CBS that running mate Paul Ryan was 'genuinely shocked.' In his case, it turned out there had been a hidden vote -- but it was for Obama. The Romney campaign underestimated the number of minority voters who would turn out." -- CW ...

... CW: There may be an "undercover" vote for Trump. It's not because voters are ashamed to admit they'd vote for a racist, but because they're ashamed to admit they would not vote for a woman. Like Trump, they think Clinton "doesn't look presidential." I've heard older men who are life-long Democrats say they just "can't imagine" Hillary Clinton as president. Same difference.

Dana Milbank: "In choosing Stephen Bannon to be the CEO of his campaign, Donald Trump has accomplished the extraordinary: He has found somebody as outrageous as he is.... Trump found in Bannon a character like himself: a bully who targets racial and religious minorities, immigrants and women." Milbank catalogs a long list of outrageously wacko things Bannon has said or written or published in Breitbart. "There is more, but you don't need to read it here. Just wait for Trump to say it." CW ...

... ** Zack Beauchamp of Vox: "Understanding Breitbart ... helps us understand the rot eating away at the foundations of American conservatism.... One of Breitbart's key distinguishing features today is lurid, fearmongering coverage of minority groups, particularly African Americans and Muslims.... [Steve] Bannon frequently uses the word 'populist' to describe his worldview, and that's how he saw Breitbart's coverage. The goal was to stand up for 'lower- and middle-class' people against the big-government conservatives in Washington.... Breitbart's errors [in its 'scoops'] were repeated and endemic.... Bannon and the rest of the Breitbart hierarchy [welcomed] the mainstreaming of sexism and racism on their site.... 'We're the platform for the alt-right,' Bannon enthused to Mother Jones's Sarah Posner in a July interview." ...

     ... CW: Breitbart is just another vehicle of elitism, where the "elites" are educated or semi-educated white guys who lecture to the "lower- and middle-class" peeps. I'm just waiting for Bannon to punch out Kellyanne Conway, the girl campaign manager who is reportedly the "brains" behind Trump's "new" Bush-Rubio-Cruz-style immigration policy. I hope there's video.

Katie Kim of NBC News Chicago: "The Chicago Police Department denied ... Donald Trump's claim this week that he met with a 'top' Chicago officer and argued the city's violence would not be solved with 'tough police tactics.' 'We've discredited this claim months ago,' CPD spokesperson Frank Giancamilli said Tuesday in a statement. 'No one in the senior command at CPD has ever met with Donald Trump or a member of his campaign.' Trump ... [told] Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he met a 'top' Chicago officer who reportedly said he could 'stop much of this horror show that's going on' within a single week. Trump added that he knows officers in Chicago who would put an end to violent crime 'if they were given the authority to do it,' a claim that Giancamilli refuted." -- CW

Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post: That time "Trump wanted to keep Americans critically ill with Ebola out of the U.S." CW: Read the whole article. If you wonder what kind of a president Trump would be, the answer lies within. When circumstances call for tough decisions, Trump will always make the wrong one.

Ha Ha. The Washington Post Editors are all concerned about Rudy Giuliani's health. They catalog symptoms he has shown of "nerve damage, stroke..., Alzheimer's disease ... [and] heart disease.... Mr. Trump, 70, has taken the same nondisclosure stance on his health records as he has on his taxes, asserting there is nothing to hide while hiding everything. Ms. Clinton, by contrast, has released some test results, which, as far as they go, indicate good health. That hasn't stopped Mr. Giuliani from trading in scurrilous and debunked theories about the Democratic candidate. Come to think of it, he should see a doctor." -- CW

Very Unfaaair. Donald Trump's losing his hard-on re: immigration reform wrecks Ann Coulter's book party for In Trump We Trust, no doubt a treatise as fine as Thomas Paine's Common Sense & John Stewart Mill's On Liberty. -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Paul Farhi on teevee "pundits" as "propaganda pass-throughs": "Savvy viewers might be able to tell when commentators are merely parroting partisan talking points spoon-fed to them by campaign operatives, or even by the candidates themselves, during conference calls or email blasts to surrogates.... But often there's little or no disclosure about how much coaching came from the campaign before the televised discussion begins.... CNN [employs four commentators] to speak for, or in defense of, Trump.... CNN, however, also employs a number of identifiable advocates for Democrat Hillary Clinton, including Paul Begala...." -- CW

Oliver Willis, et al., of Media Matters: "...Sean Hannity, who has been informally advising Donald Trump's presidential campaign while serving as its primary media cheerleader, has effectively turned his nightly prime-time show into Trump's second campaign headquarters. According to a Media Matters analysis, Hannity's program has given Trump what amounts to more than $31 million in free advertising in the form of dozens of fawning interviews with the candidate since Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015." -- CW

It's a bitter pill (more like pilloried) / So shall we now be Trumped or Hillary-ed? -- from the poem "Dual Airbags," posted on the Website Hello Poetry ...

... Trump as Muse. Charles Bethea of the New Yorker: "Avoiding strict metre..., [Donald Trump] leans on simple poetic devices. Epistrophe could be heard at the end of his R.N.C. acceptance speech: 'We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again.' ... But Trump's greatest contribution to the poetic arts is undoubtedly as muse. Since last summer, some two thousand user-generated poems about Trump have appeared on the seven-year-old Web site Hello Poetry." -- CW

Way Beyond the Beltway

Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "After 52 years of fighting and nearly four years of grinding negotiations, the Colombian government and the country's FARC rebel group have reached an agreement to end the last major armed conflict in the Americas, officials said Wednesday. 'They have a definitive accord to end the war,' said Bernard Aronson, the U.S. envoy to the peace talks, in an interview several hours before the formal announcement was made." -- CW

Rick Gladstone of the New York Times: "Syrian military helicopters dropped bombs containing chlorine on civilians in at least two attacks over the past two years, a special joint investigation of the United Nations and an international chemical weapons monitor said on Wednesday in a confidential report. The report also found that militants of the Islamic State in Syria had been responsible for an attack last year using poisonous sulfur mustard, which, like chlorine, is banned as a weapon under an international treaty." -- CW

AP: "Four Iranian small boats harassed a U.S. Navy warship near the Persian Gulf, but no missiles were fired, the chief of naval operations said Wednesday. Adm. John Richardson said the incident involving the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze reflects the greater competition the U.S. is facing at sea. He added it underscores the naval tensions with Tehran, which include other similar incidents as well as the brief detention in January of 10 U.S. Navy sailors who mistakenly steered into Iranian waters." -- CW

News Lede

New York Times: The town of "Amatrice[, Italy,] was the worst hit by [a 6.2 earth]quake [Wednesday], which also damaged surrounding towns. As of Thursday morning, the deaths totaled at least 247, officials said. The story describes the heartbreaking search for victims." -- CW

Tuesday
Aug232016

The Commentariat -- August 24, 2016

No Play-Doh, but Tens of Millions of Dollars in Federal Assistance. Campbell Robertson & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Nearly 11 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, [President] Obama came to meet with flood victims in a visit that required him to navigate a delicate mix of compassion and politics.... The president praised W. Craig Fugate, the FEMA administrator, for overhauling the agency to make it work better, and he announced that the federal government had already distributed $127 million in aid to the flooded communities..... Local and state officials from both political parties have praised the federal response in Baton Rouge, drawing a sharp contrast with the much-criticized delays by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Katrina. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican who frequently criticizes Mr. Obama, said in an interview that federal officials had done 'an excellent job' responding to the floods. 'They actually do care,' he said." -- CW ...

... CW: Maybe these short clips give an unfair picture, but it seems to me there's a telling difference in Obama & Trump's body language. Obama stops to talk to people, shake their hands, hug them, give them pats on the shoulder, etc. Trump walked around looking at piles of rubbish, & in a clip we ran last week, left it to pence to hand the Play-Doh boxes to flood victims. My guess is that this is more about substance than style.

Julian Hattem of the Hill: "The House Oversight Committee is increasing the pressure on the FBI to hand over additional details related to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. In a letter on Monday, committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asked FBI Director James Comey for additional information about the presence of classified information on the system of personal machines Clinton used. He also pushed for the FBI to create an unclassified version of the files it sent to Capitol Hill last week detailing its yearlong investigation, which could then be made public." -- CW

Alan Rappeport & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "... the majority of its staff [of Bernie Sanders' new organization Our Revolution] resigned after the appointment last Monday of Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders's former campaign manager, to lead the organization.... At the heart of the issue, according to several people who left, was deep distrust of and frustration with Mr. Weaver.... Claire Sandberg, who was the organizing director at Our Revolution and had worked on Mr. Sanders's campaign, said she and others were also concerned about the group's tax status -- as a 501(c)(4) organization it can collect large donations from anonymous sources -- and that a focus by Mr. Weaver on television advertising meant that it would fail to reach many of the young voters who powered Mr. Sanders's campaign and are best reached online." ...

     ... CW: I didn't think this was a newsworthy story yesterday when Politico & other outlets covered it, & I don't think it's newsworthy today except for the 501(c) angle. But since the NYT gives it real estate, there you are.

Noam Scheiber of the New York Times: "Punctuating a string of Obama-era moves to shore up labor rights and expand protections for workers, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday that students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities have a federally backed right to unionize.... The decision reverses a 2004 ruling by the board involving graduate student assistants at Brown University.... The three Democratic members of the board made up the majority; the lone Republican member dissented." Elections matter.

Catherine Ho of the Washington Post: "The growing congressional scrutiny of pharmaceutical giant Mylan over the high cost of EpiPens could prove awkward for Sen. Joe Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat's daughter, Heather Bresch, is chief executive of the company, which appears to have hiked the price of the epinephrine auto-injector by 400 percent since 2007. The device, which is used to treat severe allergic reactions, now costs more than $600 per dose." -- CW

... Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post interviews Heather McGhee about the call & her response. The video has "been viewed more than 1 million times on Demos’s Facebook page." -- CW

Presidential Race

Stephen Braun & Eileen Sullivan of the AP: "More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money -- either personally or through companies or groups -- to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president. At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million." -- CW ...

... Heidi Przybyla of USA Today: "Although a conservative group investigating Hillary Clinton's relationship with donors to the Clinton Foundation maintains that newly released emails prove she granted special 'access' and 'favors' during her State Department tenure, nonpartisan experts say that Judicial Watch is right about the former but has not yet proven the latter.... According to experts, the emails confirm donors were gaining access to Clinton, yet there is no evidence she granted them special favors, an important distinction that may determine how damaging the controversy is to Clinton's campaign." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The Clinton Foundation is hardly a large or unique source of corruption in American politics. It is, however, a source of grubby, low-level access headaches. That is the takeaway from the latest batch of State Department emails. The emails do not show that Clinton Foundation donors received any policy favors from Hillary Clinton or other elected officials. What they show is that people who donated to the foundation believed they were owed favors by Clinton's staffers, and at least one of those staffers -- the odious Doug Band -- shared this belief." -- CW ...

CW: This might be a good time to play Compare & Contrast.

Hillary Clinton, according to the AP story linked above, went out of her way to help a man whose organization had contributed to the Clinton Foundation. That man was "Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest 'microcredit' for poor business owners." The Obama administration already supported Yunas's work, & President Obama awarded Yunas the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, Obama's first year in office.

Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort made millions working to promote former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych & his pro-Russian party. Yanukovych "won" the presidential election of 2004, but the election was overturn during the ensuing Orange Revolution. Also, too, he is widely believed to have poisoned his pro-Western opponent Viktor Yushchenko. With help from a Manafort "makeover," Yanukovych finally won the presidency in 2010, but was forced to flee to Russia amidst another Ukrainian revoluiton in 2014. The U.S. government & human rights advocates opposed Yanukovych's administration, & the European Parliament accused his government of imprisoning political opponents, including former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Manafort reportedly is still working for the remnants of Yanukovych's party.

So Both Sides Do It. AmIrite?

** ... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly does an excellent job of unpacking the AP story. "One has to wonder why the AP chose this story of Clinton's 30+ year relationship with a Nobel Peace Prize recipient committed to combating global poverty as the one to highlight in their efforts to suggest that the Secretary of State met with people because of their donations to the Clinton Foundation. I can't imagine a more flawed example." -- CW

Matea Gold & John Wagner of the Washington Post: Hillary "Clinton spent most of August raising huge sums for the national part.... The Democratic ticket's relentless fundraising this month -- which included 50 private events through Monday, split roughly in half between the running mates -- is helping to drive what is expected to be a record monthly haul for the campaign and the Democratic National Committee. But the intense pursuit of big money spotlights what has long been one of Clinton's biggest vulnerabilities: her immersion in a wealthy elite circle that has supported her family's political and philanthropic causes over the past four decades." CW: I think we're supposed to be shocked to learn that politicians -- and Hillary Clinton in particular -- spend so much time fundraising, a fact of political life that has been amply reported for at least a couple of decades.

Trump to Quit Saying "Mexican Rapists," Also Will Observe Black People in Their Habitats. Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "Guided by his new campaign leadership, [Donald Trump] has ordered a full-fledged strategy to court black and Latino voters and is mobilizing scores of minority figures to advocate publicly for his candidacy. Trump is planning trips to urban areas.... Trump's new posture is being influenced by his new campaign captains, chief executive Steve Bannon and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.... Asked Tuesday whether he might change his hard-line deportation policy to accommodate immigrants who contribute positively to society, Trump told Fox News Channel anchor Sean Hannity, 'There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people.'... So far, Trump has declined appearances before minority audiences that many past Republican nominees have made, such as the NAACP convention." CW: I can't think of a better person to direct a minority outreach program than the publisher of an online rag popular with white supremacists. Maybe Bannon could partner with David Duke on this. ...

Look at how much African American communities are suffering from Democratic control.... Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed, what the hell do you have to lose? — Donald Trump, rally in Dimondale, Mich., Aug. 19

We previously awarded Four Pinocchios to Trump's absurd calculation that the 'real unemployment rate' is 42 percent -- about eight times higher than the official BLS rate. He applies the same junk analysis for the black youth unemployment rate, which defies internationally accepted measures of unemployment while ignoring an actual measure of disengaged youth that could prove his point. --Michelle Lee of the Washington Post

CW P.S. Take a look at the chart Lee provides, which compares Trumpometrics to Bureau of Labor Statistics measurements. It's no wonder Trump thinks he's a ten-billion-dollar man, a claim he seems to base, according to some of his deposition testimony, on his "feelings." I have a "feeling" that if Trump were running for re-election in 2020 (& let's hope that turns out to be an impossibility), Trumpometrics would recalculate the black youth unemployment rate to less than zero.

... Jill Lawrence of USA Today: "Trump may be asking 'what do you have to lose?' as a rhetorical question, but there's an answer to it, and that answer is 'an enormous amount.'... Black Americans, like all Americans, would stand to lose plenty under President Trump. They'd have to put up with his inaccurate stereotyping of African Americans and hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement. From a pocketbook standpoint, his protectionist views could trigger trade wars and higher consumer prices. And he'd revive trickle-down economics, a major contrast to Obama policies that have directed resources to low-income rather than high-income Americans. Do we really want to trade what gains we've made for a guy whose new tax plan is a boon for wealthy Americans, the national debt and lenders like China?" -- CW ...

... ** David Graham of the Atlantic outlines the many reasons Trump's new outreach to black voters might not work. For instance, "Trump's caricatures of black communities as dens of crime, poverty, and shiftlessness are not likely to win him many fans.... Meanwhile, he's delivering his appeals to black voters in overwhelmingly white places.... Trump is redoubling his focus on racial dogwhistle politics just as he attempts to court black voters. He's begun talking repeatedly about how vote fraud is the 'only way' he could lose the election." -- CW ...

You could go to war zones in countries that we're fighting and it's safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats.... I'll get rid of the crime, so you'll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.-- Donald Trump, Akron, Ohio, Monday ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: Corey Lewandowski explains to dopes like Graham that the reason Trump has to lecture blacks from the confines of white communities is that it's not safe for Trump to speak in "predominantly African-American" neighborhoods. -- CW ...

... Steve M. explains why Trump's "minority outreach" might not hurt him much with his angry white base: many Trump supporters believe they're not racists, that Republicans have long helped minorities, only to have their earnest appeals to minority groups "unfairly" maligned. So, yay! Add another grievance to the list. ...

... AND Greg Sargent points out that Trump's "minority outreach" is really about attracting white suburban voters, anyway: "... all of this is very much tailored towards persuading suburban and exurban swing voters that Trump isn't really the hater that they've seen shouting from their television screens for the last year." CW: This makes sense on another level: since Trump lives in the moment, routinely denying he ever said the outrageous things he said way last week, he expects voters to have the same memory lapses he does. He might be right.

Who Bought the Play-Doh? David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "During [Donald Trump's] visit [to Louisiana], news outlets reported that he had made at least two donations to flood-relief efforts there.... Trump promised a $100,000 donation to Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, which lies to the northeast of Baton Rouge, in a zone affected by floods.... That church's interim pastor is Anthony Perkins, who is also president of the Family Research Council -- a powerful and politically active Christian conservative group that condemns abortion, homosexuality and what it calls 'transgenderism.'... Perkins said Tuesday that Trump's gift had not yet been paid.... Trump has also been credited -- by CNN, and by his campaign's Louisiana state director -- with donating a truckload of supplies that arrived in the flood-ravaged town of St. Amant, La. But so far The Post has been unable to confirm the details of that account." -- CW ...

... The Big Grift, Ctd. Olivia Nuzzi & Ben Collins of the Daily Beast: "Donald Trump used his campaign funds to buy thousands of copies of his own book at retail cost, simultaneously diverting donor money back into his pockets while artificially boosting his sales figures. It's a tactic that may be illegal, campaign finance experts say.... Paul Ryan (not that one), of the nonpartisan nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, said that Trump would have to forgo accepting royalties for sales on the book in order for the transaction to be legal, under Federal Election Committee rules." ...

     ... CW: This is Chapter 2 of the new Trump e-book "How to Milk Donors for Fun & Profit." (Yesterday we learned that Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower..., when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign....") It probably won't be long before new chapters are released.

Friends of Donald. Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump insists he has 'nothing to do with Russia' -- but Russia's recent moves sure make it look as if it is trying to do something for him. CNN reported Tuesday afternoon that hackers whom U.S. officials believe to be working for the Russian government have launched cyberattacks against the New York Times and other news outlets.... [Trump] often rails against the 'failing' New York Times and the '>scum' in the media. He has vowed to 'open up' libel laws, if elected, to make it easier to sue news organizations over negative coverage. In short, Trump treats journalists as political opponents, much like Clinton [whose e-mails he urged Russia to hack] and the Democrats [whose files Russia allegedly did hack].... Journalists unsettled by his blacklisting of certain outlets, including The Post, and Trump's recent hiring of the lawyer who helped drive Gawker into bankruptcy certainly won't feel any more at ease now."-- CW

Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday that [Donald Trump] has been clear about his intentions to restore strong borders and enforce immigration laws. 'We're going to build a wall. We're going to enforce the laws that are on the books today,' Pence ... said in an interview with CBS News' Major Garrett. 'And the mechanism for how we do that -- he's also been very clear that we'll do it in a humane way.' The process will be 'tough but fair,' Pence said, but when asked further to explain what it means when it comes to deportations, Pence declined to give more details. 'I think those are issues that will continue to be worked out in the days ahead,' Pence said." -- CW

Louis Nelson of Politico: "Hammering Hillary Clinton once again over allegations she used her former position in the State Department to dole out favors to friends, Mike Pence said revelations that the former secretary of state met often with Clinton Foundation donors 'is further evidence of the pay-to-play politics at her State Department.'... 'The Clinton Foundation must be immediately shut down and an independent special prosecutor be appointed to determine if access to Hillary Clinton was for sale. It would be a dereliction of duty by President Obama and his Justice Department if they fail to act on these startling new facts right now.'" -- CW

Way Beyond

Ceylan Yeginsu of the New York Times: "Turkey mounted on Wednesday its largest military effort yet in the Syrian conflict, sending tanks, warplanes and special operations forces over the border in a United States-backed drive to capture an Islamic State stronghold in Syria. The offensive on the city of Jarabulus began hours before Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was set to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to discuss tensions raised by the failed coup in Turkey last month. The joint operation in Syria seemed intended to send a message that the countries are still cooperating in the fight against the militant group." CW: I hope the "message" is directed at Russia & Syria, not at me. I'm never going to be all that impressed with an administration that kicks criminals out of jail to make room for teachers, journalists & civil servants.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Rescue workers scrambled to reach survivors buried under rubble in isolated towns and villages across central Italy on Wednesday after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks struck the region overnight, collapsing homes, rattling buildings as far away as Rome and Venice and leaving an escalating toll of dead and injured." -- CW ...

... Washington Post Update: "At least 159 people died in the quake, a death toll that could jump as search crews rake through the rubble in cities, towns and villages across the regions of Lazio, Umbria and the Marches. Hundreds were injured and missing. Thousands were left homeless." -- CW