The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

The Netherlands Welcomes Trump, in his own words. Thanks to Haley S. for the link:

... CW: We're the laughingstock of the world. But, like us, others have to laugh so they don't cry or scream or hunker down in a suvivalist's crouch.

Los Angeles Times: "The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were revealed this morning in Los Angeles. 'La La Land' did what 800-lb gorillas are supposed to do: dominate the Oscar nominations tally, pulling down 14, including actor, actress, director and picture. Ava Duvernay’s '13th' joins 'O.J.: Made in America' among best documentary feature nominees, continuing our ongoing conversation about race in the United States. Speaking of which, with Viola Davis, Dev Patel, Octavia Spencer, Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Ruth Negga getting acting nominations, the 89th Academy Awards will definitely not be so white." This article includes a complete list of the nominees.

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Wednesday
Feb222017

The Commentariat -- February 22, 2016

Michael Shear & Ron Nixon of the New York Times: "President Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively, unleashing the full force of the federal government to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes. Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations. The new enforcement policies put into practice language that Mr. Trump used on the campaign trail, vastly expanding the definition of 'criminal aliens' and warning that such unauthorized immigrants 'routinely victimize Americans,' disregard the 'rule of law and pose a threat' to people in communities across the United States." -- CW ...

... Nicholas Kulish, et al., of the New York Times outline the key elements of the new draconian immigration policies. -- CW ...

...** New York Times Editors: "The homeland security secretary, John Kelly, issued a remarkable pair of memos on Tuesday. They are the battle plan for the 'deportation force' President Trump promised in the campaign. They are remarkable for how completely they turn sensible immigration policies upside down and backward. For how they seek to make the deportation machinery more extreme and frightening (and expensive), to the detriment of deeply held American values.... The targets now don’t even have to be criminals.... Mr. Kelly promised before his confirmation to be a reasonable enforcer of defensible policies. But immigrants have reason to be frightened by his sudden alignment with Mr. Trump’s nativism." -- CW ...

... "A Streak of Cruelty." Washington Post Editors: "IN THE fiscal year that ended last fall, the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended on the southwestern border was just a quarter the number in 2000 and less than half the annual count during most of George W. Bush’s administration. Although last year’s apprehensions in the Southwest rose from the previous year — largely because of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America seeking refugee status — the overall number was among the lowest since the turn of the century. Nonetheless, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has somehow conjured what he called a 'surge of illegal immigration at the southern border [that] has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States.' Mr. Kelly’s unfounded rhetoric is contained in a memorandum, released Tuesday, that provides an inventive rationale to justify the Trump administration’s overbroad expansion of deportation efforts.... Deterrence is a fair goal if achieved by humane means. In this case, the administration’s policies will break up families and harm people leading peaceable lives." -- CW ...

... Nahal Toosi of Politico: "President Donald Trump's blunt diplomatic touch is creating new headaches for the deeply troubled U.S.-Mexico relationship. The Trump administration riled Mexican officials by choosing Tuesday — on the eve of visits by the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to Mexico City — to release sweeping guidelines on deportations and a border wall." ...

... Madison Pauly of Mother Jones: "Immigration agents sparked panic across the country last week, when a series of high-profile operations made it clear that a new era of crackdowns on undocumented immigrants had begun...But given that America's detention system for immigrants has been running at full capacity for some time now, where is the president going to put all of these people before deporting them? In new jails, for starters. In the same executive order that called for the construction of a southern border wall, Trump instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build out its sprawling network of immigration detention centers. Starting 'immediately,' his order said, ICE should construct new facilities, lease space for immigrants alongside inmates in existing local jails, and sign new contracts—likely with private prison companies. The scale of that expansion became clearer on February 5, when the Los Angeles Times reported on a memo... [that] called for raising the number of immigrants ICE incarcerates daily, nationwide, to 80,000 people. Last year, ICE detained more than 352,000 people. The number of detainees held each day, typically between 31,000 and 34,000." --safari ...

... Paulina Firozi of the Hill: "Activists unfurled a 'Refugees Welcome' banner on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty on Tuesday afternoon. The National Park Service said the banner was placed just before 1 p.m., and rangers took it down after determining they could remove it without damaging the pedestal, according to reports. It is illegal to attach banners to national monuments and the United States. Park Police are reportedly looking to identify the suspects who affixed the banner, which measured approximately 20 feet by 3 feet." CW: Yeah, it's a pretty good idea to hunt down & jail people for expressing the exact same message the Statue of Liberty embodies.

Ed Mazza of the Huffington Post: "White House adviser Stephen Miller said ... Donald Trump’s new travel ban will accomplish much the same thing as the old one.... Miller said the White House will issue a new order soon, but it will include only 'minor technical differences.' 'Fundamentally, you’re still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country,' Miller said on Tuesday’s broadcast of 'The First 100 Days' on Fox News. 'But you’re going to be responsive to a lot of very technical issues that were brought up by the court.' Miller insisted that 'nothing was wrong with the first executive order' and dismissed the rulings against it as 'flawed' and 'erroneous.'” CW: Yes, the Constitution does pose a "minor technical" difficulty.

The America Me First Presidency. Danny Hakim & Sui-Lee Wee of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump has cast himself as the anti-globalist president. But Donald Trump, the businessman, is a different story. During the campaign, Mr. Trump’s organization continued to file dozens of new trademarks, in China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Indonesia, and one of his companies applied for trademark protection in the Philippines more than a month after the election.... His trademarks in recent years have covered all manner of potential products.... Even last week, the government in China, where his companies have filed for at least 126 trademarks since 2005, announced it was granting Mr. Trump rights to protect his name brand for construction projects, affirming a decision made in November. The contrast with his hard-line anti-globalism since taking office is stark. During his first weeks as president, Mr. Trump denounced China and Mexico for unfair trade practices and derided the European Union as 'basically a vehicle for Germany.' He ended American involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership .., and said he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. 'Trump seems to be the archetypal businessman with mercantilist instincts,' Dani Rodrik, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said in an email. “‘Open your market for me to do business in it, but you can have access to mine only on my terms."’” -- CW ...

of CNN: "Donald Trump has a vast online portfolio of domain names -- digital addresses that foreshadowed his political career, business projects and accusations of unethical behavior. Before he reached the White House, Trump's company had laid claim to at least 3,643 website domains, according to internet records gathered by CNNMoney. The buying spree continued as he ran for president. Trump bought 93 of them after he launched his presidential campaign.... Trump has also grabbed names that could be used against him, including TrumpFraud.org and TrumpScam.com." -- CW 

Jonathan Chait of New York: "Donald Trump is an authoritarian by instinct. He displays the classic traits of an authoritarian personality — a man obsessed with domination and humiliation, and unable to tolerate cognitive dissonance...The prospect that President Trump will degrade or destroy American democracy is the most important question of the new political era. It has received important scholarly attention from two basic sources, which have approached it in importantly different fashions...If Trump has a plan to crush his adversaries, he has not yet revealed it. His authoritarian rage thus far is mostly impotent, the president as angry Fox-News-watching grandfather screaming threats at his television that he never carries out. The danger to the republic may come later, or never. In the first month of Trump’s presidency, the resistance has the upper hand." --safari

Uri Friedman of The Atlantic: "President Donald Trump has made national security a centerpiece of his agenda, justifying policies ranging from a travel ban to close relations with Russia. But the United States is now more vulnerable to attack than it was before Trump took office, according to the man who served as George W. Bush’s crisis manager on 9/11. 'In terms of a major terrorist attack in the United States or on U.S. facilities, I think we’re significantly less ready than we were on January 19,' said Richard Clarke, who served on the National Security Council in the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations...'I’ve never seen anything quite like it,' said Clarke, who spent 30 years in government, of the current turbulence at the National Security Council.... Clarke’s assessment is also based on the background of the council’s leaders...'I don’t know that there’s a single person [on Trump’s National Security Council] who’s ever had a senior position managing a national-security crisis out of Washington,' Clarke said." --safari

Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post demonstrates, by using Trump's much ballyhooed but fake infrastucture plan as an example, of why Trump can't govern & Barack Obama could and did. -- CW 

Josh Dawsey of Politico: "Donald Trump regularly assailed President Barack Obama for playing golf, then spent the first weekends of his own presidency doing just that. He attacked Obama for using Air Force One to campaign, and did it over the weekend just a month into the job. He mocked Obama for heading out of Washington at taxpayer expense, but appears to have no qualms about doing so himself. One month in, Trump is using the presidency to boost his political and personal goals — not breaking laws or ethics rules, experts say, but ignoring his past criticisms and vows. 'Donald Trump has zero worry about contradicting himself, because he does it all day long,' said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has met with Trump." -- CW ...

I'm going to be working for you, I'm not going to have time to go play golf. -- Donald Trump, at an event in Virginia, August 2016 ...

... Mark Landler of the New York Times: "Of the 31 days he has been in office, President Trump has spent six of them on a golf course. That amounts to one-fifth of his tenure, including three of his five weekends, as commander in chief.... The White House goes to considerable lengths to keep Mr. Trump’s golf game away from scrutiny.... The rub, of course, is that Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized his predecessor, Barack Obama, for playing too much golf." -- CW ...

... Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "The three Mar-a-Lago getaways, combined with the hundreds of thousands of public dollars spent on Secret Service protection during two international trips Trump’s adult sons have taken to promote their father’s business, cost taxpayers about $11.3 million over the first month’s of Trump’s presidency, according to the UK-based Independent. President Obama, by contrast, spent an average of $12.1 million on travel each year." --safari

Dana Milbank: "Trump’s Stalinist labeling of the media [as the 'enemy of the American people'] is his latest attempt to delegitimize the structures of civil society, following similar attacks on the courts and the intelligence community. We in the press are an easy mark because we’re already held in low esteem. In this case, the charge, using the universal language of autocrats, probably shouldn’t be dignified with a refutation.... So let’s pause to remember: We [journalists] are all the American people. And we all love our country." -- CW 

Philip Bump of the Washington Post demonstrates how Press Secretary Sean Spicer mimics Trump's nationalistic, racist worldview by making up stuff & deflecting pointed questions. ...

... Cool New Way to Defend the Indefensible. Callum Borchers of the Washington Post. "White House press secretary Sean Spicer seemed to find his groove Tuesday. What's his new secret? When President [Donald] Trump says something indefensible, just pretend he said something else...Here is the first question Spicer received at Tuesday's news briefing, from LifeZette's Jim Stinson: 'I was curious if the president regrets or wants to clarify his characterization … of the media as an enemy of the American people.'...And here is how Spicer responded: 'I think the president has been very clear that certain outlets have gone out of their way to not represent his record accurately, and it is a concern to him.' Cool. But Trump didn't actually say what Spicer said he said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

    ... Akhilleus. Oops. When facts make the boss look bad (like, all the time), just lie and make up some other bullshit. It's gonna be a loooong four years.

Reuters: "In the week before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Brussels and pledged America’s 'steadfast and enduring' commitment to the European Union, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met with a German diplomat and delivered a different message, according to people familiar with the talks. Bannon, these people said, signalled to Germany’s ambassador to Washington that he viewed the EU as a flawed construct and favoured conducting relations with Europe on a bilateral basis.... The encounter unsettled people in the German government, in part because some officials had been holding out hope that Bannon might temper his views once in government and offer a more nuanced message on Europe in private. One source briefed on the meeting said it had confirmed the view that Germany and its European partners must prepare for a policy of “hostility towards the EU”. --safari

Jeremy Herb of Politico: "... Donald Trump's new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, needs Senate confirmation to remain a three-star general in his new post. His job, like virtually all those in the West Wing of the White House, doesn't need Senate approval. But his decision to remain on active duty as a three-star Army general will require Senate approval. Under the military’s arcane system for ranking three- and four-star generals and admirals, the ranks are considered temporary and tied to the position, so when officers move jobs they have to be reconfirmed by the Senate at that rank. Federal law allows for the president to appoint generals and admirals to “positions of importance,” but also requires Senate confirmation within 60 days." -- CW 

Elizabeth Preza of Raw Story: "Melania Trump revised her defamation lawsuit against Mail Online after she was widely criticized for describing her role as the First Lady as a 'unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' to launch 'multi-million dollar business relationships' as 'one of the most photographed women in the world,' the New York Post reports. Trump’s lawyers filed an amended complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, the Post reports...In the amended lawsuit, Trump’s lawyers removed the 'product categories' that were allegedly damaged by the Mail Online article, which included 'apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance.... A spokeswoman for Trump denied the First Lady hoped to make money off her role in the government." --safari

Trip Gabriel, et al., of the New York Times: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (RTP-Tenn.), "who represents a safe Republican seat west of Nashville, was among the latest wave of Washington lawmakers to face angry constituents in what, inevitably but perhaps prematurely, has been called a progressive echo of the Tea Party anger that boiled over in town halls eight years ago. During the first weeklong recess of the new Congress, many Republicans have chosen not to hold events at all, wary of protests that might greet them.... Others gamely faced the music, including Representative Dennis A. Ross of Florida and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who faced largely hostile audiences on Tuesday in districts that, like Ms. Blackburn’s, had strongly endorsed Mr. Trump at the polls.... Mr. Trump added his own voice to the criticism on Tuesday. 'The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!' — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Feb. 21, 2017." -- CW ...

... Jenna Portnoy of the Washington Post: "Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who drew national notice after complaining that women were 'in my grill' because he was reluctant to hold a town hall meeting, finally relented and came face to face with those women — and plenty others — at a raucous public event Tuesday night. Brat held the meeting in a tiny town in Nottoway County, a rural community carried by Trump in November.... For a little more than an hour, Brat was heckled nonstop as he fielded questions on health care, President Trump’s policies and the border wall. His answers seemed to antagonize most in the crowd of 150, who yelled back at him, at points drowning him out and prompting a few of his supporters to leave early in disgust." -- CW ...

... Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday pushed back on protesters at a speech in Kentucky, declaring that 'winners make policy and losers go home.' Speaking in Lawrenceburg, Ky., McConnell was met by nearly 1,000 protesters, some of whom chanted 'No ban, no wall, Mitch McConnell take our call,' the Associated Press reported." -- CW 

Ed Kilgore of New York: "The Senate landscape in 2018 is insanely pro-Republican. GOP control of the upper chamber could very well survive even a Democratic electoral tsunami. Since all House seats are up in 2018, GOP control there is significantly more vulnerable, but thanks to gerrymandering and superior “efficiency” in the distribution of voters, Democrats will have an uphill battle to win the net 24 seats necessary for a flip in control — and with it the ability to thwart the Trump/GOP agenda. Nate Cohn appears to think it’s too much of a reach even if Trump’s approval ratings stay roughly where they are today...So while it is hard to deny that Trump is amazingly unpopular for a new president, unless his approval ratings trend farther down the way even those of popular presidents typically do, his party may not suffer the kind of humiliation Democrats experienced in 2010." --safari

Mark Stern of Slate: "On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to review the constitutionality of Thomas Arthur’s impending death by lethal injection, effectively clearing the way for Alabama to execute him. Only two justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, would’ve considered Arthur’s constitutional claims. To emphasize her disgust with the court’s nondecision, Sotomayor penned a dissent, joined by Breyer, explaining why Alabama’s treatment of Arthur likely violates the Constitution. Her mordant opinion reaffirms her deep skepticism of lethal injection’s legality—and cements her position as the court’s chief critic of state efforts to wriggle around the Constitution and inflict punishments that are almost certainly 'cruel and unusual.'” -- CW 

... Mark Stern: "On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect assault weapons an extraordinary decision keenly attuned to the brutal havoc these firearms can wreak. Issued by the court sitting en banc, Tuesday’s decision reversed a previous ruling in which a panel of judges had struck down Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and detachable large capacity magazines. Today’s ruling is a remarkable victory for gun safety advocates and a serious setback for gun proponents who believe the Second Amendment exempts weapons of war from regulation." Thanks to cakers for the link. -- CW 

Elliot Hannon of Slate: "A federal judge, on Tuesday, put a halt on Texas’ effort to cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood services in the state. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks’ preliminary injunction temporarily stopped the state’s effort to defund the reproductive health non-profit, which gained momentum after anti-abortion activists released secretly recorded, highly edited videos in 2015 that were contrived to make the organization look like it was profiting off the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood was cleared of any wrongdoing by a Texas grand jury; that has not fazed Republican lawmakers however." -- CW 

Matt Shuham of TPM: "An FEC commissioner repeated her demand Tuesday that the White House provide proof for its claims that thousands of people were bused from Massachusetts into New Hampshire to vote illegally in the 2016 election. She also defied a letter from a Koch brothers-funded group that asked that she be investigated for her actions. The commissioner made a similar demand for proof last week. The statement cites a group funded by the Koch brothers, Cause of Action, which sent a letter Tuesday to the inspector general of the FEC, requesting an investigation into what it claimed was Weintraub overstepping her authority as a commissioner." --safari

Besty Woodruff of The Daily Beast: "A pillar of famously liberal Silicon Valley is underwriting Washington’s biggest gathering of conservatives. Sources with direct knowledge of the matter tell The Daily Beast that Facebook made a six-figure contribution to CPAC, the yearly conference for conservative activists which will feature President Donald Trump, White House advisor Steve Bannon, NRA president Wayne LaPierre, and other right-wing favorites. Facebook’s contribution is worth more than $120,000, according to our sources. Half of that is cash, and the other half is in-kind support for CPAC’s operations. Facebook will have a space at the conference for attendees to film Facebook Live videos, and will also train people on best practices for using the social network and Instagram." --safari...

... Jessica Valenti of the Guardian: "It’s odd to watch conservatives distance themselves from the writer Milo Yiannopoulos because he condoned child sex abuse. After all, they just elected a president who has a history of making inappropriate sexual comments about children – including his own daughter – and was accused of walking into the dressing rooms of changing teenagers.... The truth, though, is that this is an issue not so much about one hateful writer, but about conservatives’ tolerance and support of hateful ideology more generally...The only thing this latest controversy proves is that supporting Yiannopoulos was never about “free speech”. Those who canceled his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and pulled his book because they found what he said about children abhorrent are essentially conceding that everything he said previously was tolerable. That the racism, misogyny, xenophobia were just fine." --safari ...

... Dave Weigel & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "The conservative movement in America now belongs to President Trump. Thousands of activists will arrive in Washington this week for an annual gathering that will vividly display how Trump has pushed the Republican Party and the conservative movement toward an 'America first' nationalism that has long existed on the fringes.... This year’s CPAC schedule represents a marked shift toward Trump’s politics and penchant for showmanship.... Meanwhile, the libertarian flavor of the conference during the Obama years has faded." -- CW ...

... Steve Peoples of the AP: "... the conservative movement is in flux as thousands of adherents prepare to gather in suburban Washington for its largest annual gathering. Not long ago, the conference showcased the far-right fringe and the Republican Party's rigid devotion to conservative ideology. Yet in the age of unfiltered Trump, CPAC may be outflanked by the likes of [Milo] Yiannopoulos and the president's chief counselor, Steve Bannon, whose confrontational brand of Republican politics ignores decades of conservative orthodoxy on key issues. Conservative leaders interviewed by The Associated Press this week described a clash between their sincere optimism over the Republican Party's extraordinary success last fall and pangs of anxiety over its uncertain direction." -- CW ...

...Too Horrible for Breitbart. Adios, Milo. Edward Helmore of the Guardian: "Rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has resigned from Breitbart News, a day after he was dropped by his publisher and lost a speaking engagement at a conservative conference, over comments he made that appeared to endorse sex between 'younger boys' and older men." -- CW ...

... Sophie Gilbert of the Atlantic: "In only now canceling [Milo Yiannopoulos]’s book deal, [Simon & Schuster] is left with no goodwill, no payday, and no valid reason for working with him in the first place." -- CW

Dana Liebelson of the Huffington Post: "School administrators in a 93 percent white  Maryland county recently asked high school teachers to take down pro-diversity posters  from classrooms because they perceived them as 'political' and 'anti-Trump,' a school spokesperson told The Huffington Post." Some students are fighting back. -- CW  

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Michelle Celarier of Slate: "The Trump era could ignite a golden age for politically connected multilevel marketing companies — or what critics (and John Oliver) say are often merely disguised pyramid schemes, illegal enterprises in which people primarily earn money by recruiting others instead of by selling products to the public.... Regulating these companies, with their legions of independent salespeople, is difficult for the toughest regulatory regimes. And the Trump era will be anything but that.... Even though the FTC continues to say such claims are deceptive, MLM companies are notorious for making ludicrous promises of wealth that can still be found all over the internet. It’s not dissimilar to what Trump has promised his followers." -- CW 

Emma Graham-Harrison of the Guardian: "Toxic political rhetoric with echoes of 1930s hate speech is stirring up violence worldwide – including in the UK and US, Amnesty International has warned. Kerry Moscoguiri, Amnesty UK’s director of campaigns, said that campaigning for the Brexit referendum 'was a particular low point, with all too real consequences' – pointing to a 57% spike in reported hate crime the week after the vote...But the UK was not alone in seeing vicious rhetoric targeting the most vulnerable, as 2016 saw leaders worldwide peddling 'the dangerous idea that some people are less human than others', according to Amnesty’s director of crisis research Tirana Hassan.... The attacks threaten not just human lives but the value system enshrined in international law after the second world war, warned the NGO." --safari

Madison Park of CNN: "A total of 214 people have been indicted so far on felony rioting charges in connection with the Inauguration Day protests in downtown Washington." -- CW  

Beyond the Beltway

Sandy Tolan of The Daily Beast: "'We are using public and military employees to do the private work of a pipeline company,' said North Dakota Democratic state Sen. Tim Mathern. Mathern said the state has borrowed tens of millions of dollars from the Bank of North Dakota to fuel the police presence. Hundreds of state police, county sheriff’s deputies from seven states, and the North Dakota National Guard have essentially served as a private security force for the Fortune 500 company, Energy Transfer Partners...North Dakota’s taxpayer-funded aggression, with enthusiastic backing from the Trump administration, is now at the center of a federal class-action civil rights lawsuit and a United Nations fact-finding tour to Standing Rock...Six decades after tear gas, dogs, police batons, and hoses were turned on nonviolent civil rights marchers in the Deep South, those same tactics are deployed on overwhelmingly peaceful protesters in the Northern Plains. By all appearances, North Dakota has become the Selma of the North. And in a nod to Jim Crow, North Dakota lawmakers recently passed a package of new bills that would make it a crime to wear a mask during demonstrations, and a felony if you cause $1000 or more in damages while protesting. Another proposed bill would make it legal for motorists to “unintentionally” run over and kill protestors in the road." --safari

Alice Ollstein of TPM: "North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who narrowly unseated Republican Pat McCrory in November, announced Tuesday that he is reversing course in a major voting rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The state will no longer defend a series of voting restrictions passed in 2013 by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by McCrory that a federal appeals court has ruled constitute unconstitutional 'race-based vote suppression.'" -- CW 

Way Beyond

Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times: "Prosecutors in Ukraine are investigating whether a member of Parliament committed treason by working with two associates of President Trump’s to promote a plan for settling Ukraine’s conflicts with Russia. In a court filing on Tuesday, prosecutors accused the lawmaker, Andrii V. Artemenko, of conspiring with Russia to commit 'subversive acts against Ukraine,' in particular by advancing a proposal that could 'legitimize the temporary occupation' of the Crimean peninsula. Russia forcibly annexed the peninsula in 2014, a step that Ukraine, the United States and other governments have refused to recognize; Mr. Artemenko said his proposal would allow Ukraine to formally cede control of the territory to Russia, at least temporarily." -- CW 

Reuters via the Guardian: "The former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang has been sentenced to 20 months in jail for misconduct in public office, making him the most senior city official to be imprisoned in a ruling some said reaffirmed the territory’s vaunted rule of law. The sentencing on Wednesday brings an ignominious end to what had been a long and stellar career for Tsang before and after the 1997 handover to Chinese control, service that saw him knighted by the outgoing British colonial rulers. 'Never in my judicial career have I seen a man falling from such a height,' said high court justice Andrew Chan in passing sentence." --safari

Milena Veselinovic and Darran Simon of CNN: "Montenegro's chief special prosecutor has told a local TV station authorities believe Russian security services were involved in a plot to kill the country's then-prime minister and overthrow the government last October. Milivoje Katnic said Montenegro officials have evidence that Russia's Federal Security Service was involved in the failed coup, according to his statements Sunday on Atlas TV. The allegation drew an immediate rebuke and denial from Russian officials. Katnic said the plot was an attempt to stop Montenegro from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO." --safari

Tuesday
Feb212017

The Commentariat -- February 21, 2017

Late Afternoon Update:

Cool New Way to Defend the Indefensible. Callum Borchers of the Washington Post. "White House press secretary Sean Spicer seemed to find his groove Tuesday. What's his new secret? When President [Donald]Trump says something indefensible, just pretend he said something else...Here is the first question Spicer received at Tuesday's news briefing, from LifeZette's Jim Stinson: 'I was curious if the president regrets or wants to clarify his characterization … of the media as an enemy of the American people.'...And here is how Spicer responded: 'I think the president has been very clear that certain outlets have gone out of their way to not represent his record accurately, and it is a concern to him.' Cool. But Trump didn't actually say what Spicer said he said." ...

    ... Akhilleus. Oops. When facts make the boss look bad (like, all the time), just lie and make up some other bullshit. It's gonna be a loooong four years.

*****

Mass Deportations Coming. Ron Nixon & Michael D. Shear of the New York Times. "The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday released a set of documents translating President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and border security into policy, bringing a major shift in the way the agency enforces the nation’s immigration laws. Under the Obama administration, undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes were the priority for removal. Now, immigration agents, customs officers and border patrol agents have been directed to remove anyone convicted of any criminal offense. That includes people convicted of fraud in any official matter before a governmental agency and people who 'have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.'... The policy also calls for an expansion of expedited removals, allowing Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to deport more people immediately.... In the so-called guidance documents released on Tuesday, the department is directed to begin the process of hiring 10,000 new immigration and customs agents, expanding the number of detention facilities and creating an office within Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help families of those killed by undocumented immigrants." ,,,

...Akhilleus: That last part is using taxpayer money to bolster the disproven Trump lie that a vast number of honest, real 'mericans are being murdered by brown people here illegally. Once deportations are militarized, we will be well on the road to a fascist state. Any word from Confederate leaders? Is thatcheering I hear?

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser on Monday, calling him 'a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.' Mr. Trump made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago getaway in Palm Beach, Fla., where he has been interviewing candidates to replace Michael T. Flynn.... The choice continued Mr. Trump’s reliance on high-ranking military officers to advise him on national security." CW: This remains odd because we learned during the campaign that Trump knows more than "the generals." ...

... Standing up to Trump? Isaac Chotiner of Slate: "On Monday, Donald Trump chose Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, less than a week after Michael Flynn was forced out of the position. McMaster isknown as oneof the Army's top strategists and intellectuals and has become as famous for critiquing military strategy and bureaucratic thinking as for leading troops in battle. In short, he may not appear to be a very Trumpian choice, which makes him an especially intriguing one."

     ... Akhilleus: An unusual choice for someone who hates to be contradicted. It should also be interesting to see how McMaster fares with the sharp elbows in the White House inner circle owned by bona fide wingnuts who all think they know best, Bannon, Miller, and  Kushner. Let's see how this all plays out the first time Gen. McMaster tells Trump to back off on something he wants desperately to wrap his tiny fingers around. One plus is the excellent review McMaster has been given by former Russian Ambassador for the Obama administration, Michael McFaul, a serious and thoughtful professional, the exact opposite of a knee-jerk ideologue.

Craig Melvin and Erik Ortiz of NBC News: "... Donald Trump denounced the recent rise in bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the country, saying the anti-Semitism and racism that is troubling America must be addressed. 'Anti-Semitism is horrible. And it's gonna stop and it has to stop,' Trump told NBC News in an exclusive interview Tuesday morning, after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Federal authorities have been investigating a wave of phoned-in bomb threats at at least 10 Jewish community centers, including in Alabama, Ohio, Illinois, Texas and New York. No one was injured, and the threats appeared to be hoaxes, the Jewish Community Center Association of North America told NBC News on Monday." ...

   ... Akhilleus: "It's gonna stop." Okay. How? Maybe a good first step would be for Trump to tell his myriad anti-Semitic supporters to knock it off, or at the very least, to disavow them and their words and actions. As Bradley Burston of Haaretz declares, Trump IS an anti-Semite. "After this week, there are only two kinds of American Jews left. There's the denomination called Trump Jews, and there's the rest of us."

Meanwhile on the Back Nine... Dan Merica of CNN. "... Donald Trump has made visiting his Florida golf courses a near every-weekend habit in the first month of his administration, and his aides are trying to obscure whether Trump is actually golfing during the visits. One possible reason: Trump was a frequent and vocal critic of President Barack Obama's golf habit, regularly slamming the former president for playing golf with many pressing issues before the country. Trump even suggested during a 2016 event in Virginia, in a knock on Obama, that if elected [Trump said] 'I'm going to be working for you, I'm not going to have time to go play golf'...Trump has visited his two golf courses near his Mar-a-Lago estate -- Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter -- six times in his first month in office.

     ... Akhilleus: Glad to know he's working for us and not off playing golf like that horrible nee-groe used to do. By the way, according to the article, "Obama played his first round of golf as President on April 26, 2009, at Andrews Air Force Base", a full four months after his inauguration. Trump was packing his clubs four days after inauguration. I know the job is incredibly stressful (if you really are doing the job) and I don't begrudge any president a little time off to relax. But how about actually doing some work first?

The Lying Never Stops. Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times. "For months, President [Donald] Trump and his aides have insisted that they had no contact with Russian officials during the presidential campaign, a denial Mr. Trump repeated last week. 'I have nothing to do with Russia,' he told reporters on Thursday. 'To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.' The denial stands at odds with statements by Russian officials, who have at least twice acknowledged contacts with aides to Mr. Trump before the election.... Any contacts would have taken place during a period when American intelligence agencies believe the Russian government was trying to disrupt the election with a campaign of computer hacking...Sergei A. Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, said his government had maintained contacts with members of Mr. Trump’s “immediate entourage” during the campaign...More recently, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey I. Kislyak, told The Washington Post that he had communicated frequently during the campaign with Michael T. Flynn, a close campaign adviser to Mr. Trump who became the president’s national security adviser before resigning from the position last week. -- Akhilleus

But There are Good Reasons for the Lies. Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek: "... the growing cancer from [the Michael Flynn] case is not going away ... even if Trump tries to sweep the Flynn affair aside with his now-cliché proclamation that everything he dislikes is 'fake news,' enough evidence already exists to demonstrate that this scandal could consume the administration for months to come. Little doubt, Trump’s words at his press conference about Flynn’s Russia contacts — 'I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it' — will likely join the ranks of ill-advised presidential scandal comments along the lines of 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman Lewinsky,’ and 'I am not a crook.'" ...

    ... Akhilleus: Eichenwald's reporting has become increasingly indispensible. His story on the undeniable Trump/Russia connection digs into the tall grass and provides details vital to the conclusion that Trump could be in for some very big trouble. If, that is, Republicans care to follow the bread crumbs. My guess is that Confederates will be scattering those bread crumbs in a desperate attempt to continue to mislead the public and protect their DJT winning lottery ticket. It's likely that they will conclude that it was all Flynn's doing and nothing more to see. But that is a woefully insufficient answer to what the hell was/is going on, especially given the dots that Trump himself (an incompetent and stupid schemer if there ever was one) seems to have connected.

Everything is Running Smoothly! Until It Isn't. Steve Benen of MSNBC: "The Republican president, who’s repeatedly questioned intelligence professionals’ integrity and professionalism, told the CIA on his first full day in office that the media 'sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community.' The truth, he added, is 'exactly the opposite.' A few days later, reflecting on his reception at the agency, Trump added, 'I got a standing ovation'.... But while the president was clearly delighted with himself, some intelligence professionals had a very different reaction. The Washington Post published a piece overnight from Edward Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesperson for the National Security Council, who intended to spend the rest of his career at the CIA, where he’s worked for over a decade. But his plans changed last week after Price, who worked for presidents from both parties, 'reluctantly concluded' that he simply couldn’t be part of Donald Trump’s team." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Price's op-ed is here. Price mentions that Trump's CIA visit was all about him looking good, and nothing to do with connecting with the intelligence community. Big surprise. But he goes on to say that "The final straw came late last month, when the White House issued a directive reorganizing the National Security Council, on whose staff I served from 2014 until earlier this year. Missing from the NSC’s principals committee were the CIA director and the director of national intelligence. Added to the roster: the president’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who cut his teeth as a media champion of white nationalist."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "An eye-opening sentence has appeared in several important news stories about the Trump administration in recent days: The White House did not respond to requests for comment. Not 'the White House declined to comment' or 'We’ll get right back to you.' But no response at all when reporters have asked for the White House’s take on developments. At a time when President Trump has declared the news media the 'enemy of the American people,' the official silence from the White House has left some journalists wondering whether the non-responses are mere indifference or a strategy to discredit journalists by pointing to flaws after publication instead of beforehand." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Supreme Court Preview of Travel Ban? Greg Stohr of Bloomberg. "U.S. Supreme Court justices may offer a preview of how they would approach President Donald Trump’s travel ban when they take up a case involving a shooting across the Mexican border. The high court on Tuesday will hear an appeal from the parents of Sergio Hernandez, a Mexican teenager who was shot to death by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2010. At issue is whether constitutional protections apply to Hernandez even though he wasn’t in the U.S. when he was shot. The question is a variation of one of the central issues in the legal fight over the stalled travel ban, which Trump has promised to revise by issuing a new order this week. -- Akhilleus 

Jennifer Calfas of the Hill: "Michael Moore, the liberal filmmaker and vocal opponent of President Trump, has launched an online calendar to track anti-Trump events around the world. The 'Resistance Calendar' allows anyone to add an event happening at any location to the calendar." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jennifer Calfas: "Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to attend demonstrations across the country to rally against President Trump on President’s Day. Protesters have used the federal holiday to organize 'Not my Presidents Day' rallies in major cities, following several weekends of organized protests against the new president. Rallies are scheduled to take place in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, among other cities." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Breaking News! Conservative Group Opposes Pedophilia. Adam Raymond of New York: "Milo Yiannopoulos, the internet’s favorite right-wing troll, is no longer welcome to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference 'due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia,' the American Conservative Union said in a statement Wednesday." -- CW 

Driftglass reviews the Sunday showz to remind us why we don't watch them. On "Meet the Press": "And David Brooks -- life-long Republican establishmentarian testicle cozy who has never met a Republican atrocity he would not instantly try to disperse with his mighty Both Siderist Hammer -- is now the Respectable Teevee Face of the Opposition.... Also on Meet the Press, John McCain did what he always does: fling himself at the nearest available microphone to Talk Big about Murrica and Patriotism, before shambling back to the Congress to obediently toe the party line. His doddering 'Maverick' show is an embarrassment which should have closed out of town 20 years ago.   Meanwhile, on ABC, Right-Wing Mole Jonathan Karl had the duty and invited CNN-quality-hire and Trump enforcement-droid Corey Lewandowski to use our public airwaves to lie to the American people." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sunday
Feb192017

The Commentariat -- February 20, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser on Monday, calling him 'a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.' Mr. Trump made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago getaway in Palm Beach, Fla., where he has been interviewing candidates to replace Michael T. Flynn.... The choice continued Mr. Trump’s reliance on high-ranking military officers to advise him on national security." CW: This remains odd because we learned during the campaign that Trump knows more than "the generals."

Breaking News! Conservative Group Opposes Pedophilia. Adam Raymond of New York: "Milo Yiannopoulos, the internet’s favorite right-wing troll, is no longer welcome to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference 'due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia,' the American Conservative Union said in a statement Wednesday." -- CW 

The British Parliament is debating whether or not to rescind what is technically the Queen's invitation to a state visit by Donald Trump. The WashPo is running video on its front page.

Jennifer Calfas of the Hill: "Michael Moore, the liberal filmmaker and vocal opponent of President Trump, has launched an online calendar to track anti-Trump events around the world. The 'Resistance Calendar' allows anyone to add an event happening at any location to the calendar." -- CW ...

... Jennifer Calfas: "Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to attend demonstrations across the country to rally against President Trump on President’s Day. Protesters have used the federal holiday to organize 'Not my Presidents Day' rallies in major cities, following several weekends of organized protests against the new president. Rallies are scheduled to take place in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, among other cities." -- CW 

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "An eye-opening sentence has appeared in several important news stories about the Trump administration in recent days: The White House did not respond to requests for comment. Not 'the White House declined to comment' or 'We’ll get right back to you.' But no response at all when reporters have asked for the White House’s take on developments. At a time when President Trump has declared the news media the 'enemy of the American people,' the official silence from the White House has left some journalists wondering whether the non-responses are mere indifference or a strategy to discredit journalists by pointing to flaws after publication instead of beforehand." -- CW

Driftglass reviews the Sunday showz to remind us why we don't watch them. On "Meet the Press": "And David Brooks -- life-long Republican establishmentarian testicle cozy who has never met a Republican atrocity he would not instantly try to disperse with his mighty Both Siderist Hammer -- is now the Respectable Teevee Face of the Opposition.... Also on Meet the Press, John McCain did what he always does: fling himself at the nearest available microphone to Talk Big about Murrica and Patriotism, before shambling back to the Congress to obediently toe the party line. His doddering 'Maverick' show is an embarrassment which should have closed out of town 20 years ago.   Meanwhile, on ABC, Right-Wing Mole Jonathan Karl had the duty and invited CNN-quality-hire and Trump enforcement-droid Corey Lewandowski to use our public airwaves to lie to the American people." -- CW 

*****

AND Happy Presidents' Day to You.

... Guess I'll have to go with this old morphed presidents video because newer ones have added a president*:

The Russia Connection, Ctd. "Amateur Diplomats." Megan Twohey & Scott Shane of the New York Times: "A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia. Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul D. Manafort.... Mr. Cohen is one of several Trump associates under scrutiny in an F.B.I. counterintelligence examination of links with Russia.... While there is nothing illegal about such unofficial efforts, a proposal that seems to tip toward Russian interests may set off alarms. The amateur diplomats say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives.... Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — 'names of companies, wire transfers' — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.... The diplomatic freelancing has infuriated Ukrainian officials." ...

     ... CW: Waiting to read the "New York Times fake news" outrage tweets from the SCROTUS and see Sean Spicer do his Melissa McCarthy imitation. ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: "Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) leveled serious charges against the Trump White House on Sunday, saying U.S. policies toward Russia are being driven by what she called the 'Kremlin clan' [CW: make that "Kremlin Klan"] more interested in oil and personal business than U.S. needs. Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, the California congresswoman said Trump’s recent attacks on the media are a way to delegitimize their reporting on his Russian connections. Waters’ claims came just before the New York Times released a bombshell report stating that Trump insiders and associates were working on a plan to blackmail Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko in an effort to make the Obama-era sanctions disappear." -- CW ...

... Josh Marshall: "... the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop on the Trump story in some time.... The backstory to all this is amazingly byzantine and murky.... Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump.... Were Cohen not involved, one might speculate that Sater is just up to yet another hustle.... There's always been the complicated and messy business ties then and the suppliant, fawning attitude and relationship with Putin now. Are they connected? I have yet to see anything more tightly tying them together than Sater's reappearance in the story." -- CW 

... Laura King of the Los Angeles Times: "As questions deepened about ties between President Trump’s administration and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus flatly denied Sunday that the two camps colluded during the 2016 presidential campaign. Priebus, in a series of news-show interviews, also insisted that ousted national security advisor Mike Flynn had done nothing illegal in discussing sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador to Washington prior to Trump’s inauguration, and batted aside questions about disorder and disarray in the White House. Priebus, who was not on Trump’s campaign, has previously said he could not speak to any involvement with Russia by campaign staff. But asked on 'Fox News Sunday' whether there was collusion “between anybody involved with Trump and anybody involved with Russia” during the campaign, he replied: 'No.'” CW: Okay, I'm convinced. ...

... Susan Glasser, in a New York Times op-ed: We should worry less about Trump's ties to Putin and more about how much Trump's methods & aims are like Putin's. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alienating More of Our (Former) European Allies, Ctd.

Steven Erlanger of the New York Times: "As the Munich Security Conference, the world’s pre-eminent foreign policy gathering, ended on Sunday..., an audience anxious for signals about the Trump administration’s stances on NATO, the European Union, Germany and the Russia of President Vladimir V. Putin, whom Mr. Trump so openly admires, was only minimally soothed. It mostly heard boilerplate assurances about United States commitments of the kind that previous American administrations had rarely felt the need to give. Even Mr. Pence, who could say that he carried a direct message of reassurance from Mr. Trump, did not manage to comfort many of the experts.... Keen observers of Washington, they were deeply disturbed by Mr. Trump’s difficulty finding a pliant national security adviser to replace Michael T. Flynn, and by Mr. Trump’s long and rambling news conference on Thursday, which was followed on Saturday by a campaign-style rally where he suggested, wrongly, that something terrible had happened in Sweden." -- CW ...

... Sewell Chan of the New York Times: "Swedes reacted with confusion, anger and ridicule on Sunday to a vague remark by President Trump that suggested that something terrible had occurred in their country.... Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Kyle Balluck of the Hill: "Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt early Sunday mocked President Trump after Trump pointed to an incident 'last night' in Sweden to defend his travel ban. 'Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,' Bildt tweeted.... Bildt later retweeted a post showing a photo of the 'Swedish Chef' Muppet, who is purportedly 'sought for the terror attack.'” -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Update: Rick Noack of the Washington Post: "Trump himself later attempted to clarify the remarks, tweeting: 'My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.' He was probably referring to a Tucker Carlson interview with Ami Horowitz. The filmmaker has blamed refugees for a purported crime wave in Sweden and alleged that authorities are trying to cover up the incidents.” CW: Sorry, Donaldo, a TV show discussing past acts is not a terrorist incident that occurred "last night." Also, too, your "source" is a nut-job whose "report," according to Swedish authorities, is garbage. (See Sewall Chan's report.) ...

... digby has a good explanation: "Trump was probably in an intelligence briefing and they wouldn't let him concentrate on his shows so he got the story wrong. This happens frequently. Remember the weird one about seeing the planeloads full of money being unloaded in Iran? The thousands of Muslims cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11? He's a very typical old, white, Fox News obsessed wingnut in that regard. They get mixed up a lot." -- CW ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "President Trump’s speech at a campaign-style rally in Melbourne, Fla., was filled with a number of dubious claims. Here’s a quick round-up of his rhetoric — and the facts." -- CW ...

... MEANWHILE. Bill Neely of NBC News: "A dossier on Donald Trump's psychological makeup is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.... It is normal for any president or leader to be fully briefed before entering negotiations for the first time with a rival leader, but preparing a detailed dossier on the mind and instincts of a U.S. leader is unusual. Putin's government is growing increasingly concerned about Trump's battles in Washington, according to Fedorov and former lawmaker Sergei Markov, who remains well-connected at the Kremlin. It is worried the president will not have the political power to improve relations with Russia, as he has indicated he might try to do, and even, perhaps, lift some U.S. sanctions." -- CW 

Karla Adam of the Washington Post: "British lawmakers on Monday will debate whether to withdraw an invitation to President Trump for a state visit — ­an offer extended with un­precedented speed. The debate, to be held in Parliament’s Westminster Hall, was triggered after a petition calling on the British government to cancel the state visit amassed more than 1.8 million signatures. A counter-petition urging the government to support the visit, signed by 300,000, will also be debated." -- CW ...

... Jessica Elgot of the Guardian: "Activists, MPs and trade unions have vowed to hold the biggest demonstrations in UK history, outstripping the Iraq war protests, when Donald Trump makes his state visit later this year, and will kick off a programme of opposition to the US president with a migrant solidarity rally on Monday. The Stop Trump coalition has hired a permanent staff member to coordinate protest efforts, with £16,000 raised via crowdfunding and £10,000 donated by the trade union Unison. The demonstration on Monday is expected to draw more than 10,000 people. It will coincide with a parliamentary debate on a petition signed by 1.8 million people calling for the state visit to be cancelled in order to avoid embarrassment for the Queen." -- CW 


** George Packer
of the New Yorker: "After a month in office, Donald Trump has already proved himself unable to discharge his duties. The disability isn’t laziness or inattention. It expresses itself in paranoid rants, non-stop feuds carried out in public, and impulsive acts that can only damage his government and himself.... It won’t get better. The notion that, at some point, Trump would start behaving 'Presidential' was always a fantasy that has the truth backward: the pressure of the Presidency is making him worse.... Republican leaders have opted ... for unconstrained power.... An authoritarian and erratic leader, a chaotic Presidency, a supine legislature, a resistant permanent bureaucracy, street demonstrations, fear abroad: this is what illiberal regimes look like." ...

... CW: Congressional Republicans have nothing to fear from President pence. He can & will sign whatever they put in front of him. While I'm inclined to think Republicans should give Trump a little more rope to hang himself (as he will do), I see no reason for them not to eventually invoke Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which "allows for the removal of a President who can no longer discharge his duties but is unable or unwilling to say so." My guess is that McConnell, Ryan, et al., are waiting for the right moment: the idea would be to ensure that President pence is in a good position to win re-election in 2020. ...

... Jacob Bacharach in the New Republic on "The Madness of King Donald." Trump's "press conference last week read like an Ionesco play, an absurdist dialogue composed of elementary phrases from a textbook designed to teach foreigners a second language.... Meanwhile, quietly, we also keep a sidelong eye on the frozen, cruelly genial face of the attending Mike Pence, hovering at the edge of every shot, perhaps thinking to himself, like the Prince of Wales in the movie ['THe Madness of King George']: 'To be the Prince of Wales is not a position! It is a predicament!'” -- CW  


Peter Baker & Ron Nixon
of the New York Times: "Federal authorities would be empowered to immediately deport vastly more undocumented immigrants as part of a broad crackdown being developed by the Trump administration that would significantly change the way federal agencies enforce immigration laws. Two draft memos signed on Friday by John F. Kelly, the ... secretary of homeland security, outline an aggressive mission for the immigration authorities that would rescind policies put in place by President Barack Obama that focused mainly on removing serious criminals. The directives appear to spare many younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, known as Dreamers. But some parents of children who enter unaccompanied could face prosecution under the guidelines." -- CW 

Jan Ranson & Cristela Guerra of the Boston Globe: "... nearly a dozen speakers at the Stand Up for Science rally in Copley Square on Sunday, joining hundreds of scientists in white lab coats and supporters to protest President Trump’s efforts to discredit science and climate research and dismantle scientific institutions in the government.... It didn’t escape the notice of many attendees that on a February afternoon the weather was springlike, with temperatures in the high 50s. Many signs said, 'Climate Change is Real.'... The rally coincided with a gathering of thousands of scientists in Boston for the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, at the Hynes Convention Center. Some of them ... walked over from the conference to the rally.... Activists are also planning a national rally in Washington D.C. this spring. The March for Science campaign is mobilizing for a march on the National Mall on Earth Day, April 22. The campaign has attracted 1.3 million supporters on social media so far.” -- CW 

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "A Democrat on the Federal Election Commission is quitting her term early because of the gridlock that has gripped the panel, offering President Trump an unexpected chance to shape political spending rules. The commissioner, Ann M. Ravel, said during an interview that she would send Mr. Trump her letter of resignation this week. She pointed to a series of deadlocked votes between the panel’s three Democrats and three Republicans that she said left her little hope the group would ever be able to rein in campaign finance abuses.... Her departure will probably set off an intense political fight over how a new commissioner should be picked. By tradition, Senate Democrats would be allowed to select the replacement, but, by law, the choice belongs to the president, and Mr. Trump has shown little interest in Washington customs. The outcome could have a major impact on a commission long derided for inaction, even as record amounts of money have poured into campaigns." CW: Bad luck for Sheldon Adelson & the Koch boys; if they had been nicer to Drumpf, one of them would be his top pick.  

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Chris Wallace Explains the Fourth Estate to Dummies. Amy Wang of the Washington Post: "Fox News anchor Chris Wallace cautioned his colleagues and the network's viewers Sunday that President Trump's latest attack on the media had gone too far. 'Look, we're big boys. We criticize presidents. They want to criticize us back, that's fine,' Wallace said Sunday morning on 'Fox & Friends.' 'But when he said that the fake news media is not my enemy, it's the enemy of the American people, I believe that crosses an important line.'” The 'Fox & Friends' anchors had shown a clip of Trump recounting that past presidents, including Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, had fought with the press. They then asked Wallace whether Trump's fraught relationship with the media was a big deal. In response, Wallace told his colleagues that Jefferson had also once written the following: 'And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.'... 'What Jefferson [was saying] is, despite all of our disputes, that to the functioning of a free and fair democracy, you must have an independent press.'” -- CW ...

... Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "Fox’s Chris Wallace put White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in the hot seat [Sunday] morning over President Trump‘s tweet calling the press the 'enemy' of the American people.... Wallace ... said there’s nothing wrong with criticizing media bias, but Trump’s tweet went well beyond that. 'We don’t have a state-run media in this country,' Wallace said. 'That’s what they have in dictatorships.... You don’t get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time, but I gotta say, he never said we were an enemy of the people.'” -- CW ...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. A "News" Source Trump Likes. Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Alex Jones ... is the conspiracy-theorizing, flame-throwing nationalistic radio and internet star who’s best known for suggesting that Sept. 11 was an inside job, that the Sandy Hook school shooting was “completely fake” and that the phony Clinton child-sex trafficking scandal known as Pizzagate warranted serious investigation (which one Facebook fan took upon himself to do, armed with an AR-15)....  He is apparently taking on a new role as occasional information source and validator for the president of the United States, with whom, Mr. Jones says, he sometimes speaks on the phone.... As Mr. Trump pushes full steam ahead on his effort to delegitimize American journalism, he is lending credence to a number of out-there Jonesisms, adding yet another 'pinch yourself, this is happening' element to our national journey into the upside-down.... One ally in [Jones'] corner is Roger Stone...." CW: Apply digby's commentary on the Swedish Incident here.  

Pence -- A Star in the Hypocrites' Parade. Brianna Ehley of Politico: "When then-Gov. Mike Pence faced the worst public health crisis to hit Indiana in decades, he turned to Obamacare — a program he vilified and voted against. In 2015, as a rash of HIV infections spread through rural southern Indiana, state health officials parachuted into Scott County and enrolled scores of people into Obamacare's expanded Medicaid program so they could get medical care and substance abuse treatment. Many were addicted to opioids and had contracted HIV by sharing dirty needles. Two years later, Pence is helping to lead the Republican effort to dismantle the program that helped him halt the deadly outbreak in an impoverished swathe of Indiana." -- CW ...

... Eric Bradner of CNN: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he won't 'sit silent' and watch the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion get 'ripped out' as Republicans work to repeal the law." -- CW  

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made his first trip to Iraq as Pentagon chief on Monday to determine what is needed to accelerate the campaign against the Islamic State, hours after rejecting a suggestion by President Trump that the United States might take Iraq’s oil.... Mattis said during a meeting with reporters Sunday night, 'We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.'” -- CW 

Paul Krugman: "According to press reports, the Trump administration is basing its budget projections on the assumption that the U.S. economy will grow ... almost twice as fast as independent institutions like the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve expect.... I guess this was only to be expected from a man who [thinks] ... numbers are what you want them to be, and anything else is fake news. But the truth is that unwarranted arrogance about economics isn’t Trump-specific. On the contrary, it’s the modern Republican norm.... The evidence ... is totally at odds with claims that tax-cutting and deregulation are economic wonder drugs.... Never mind whether slashing taxes on billionaires while giving scammers and polluters the freedom to scam and pollute is good for the economy as a whole; it’s clearly good for billionaires, scammers, and polluters. Campaign finance being what it is, this creates a clear incentive for politicians to keep espousing a failed doctrine.... On such matters Donald Trump is really no worse than the rest of his party." -- CW 

Margaret Hartmann: "Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart senior editor and right-wing provocateur, has been profiting from a feedback loop of predictable outrage for some time now, and the alt-right’s takeover of the Republican Party has helped him take his trolling to an even bigger audience. The recent protests against Yiannopoulos’s Simon & Schuster book deal, the violent demonstration over his planned University of California, Berkeley speech, and the controversy surrounding his appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher have reinforced Yiannopoulos’s dubious claims that he’s 'dangerous' and a martyr for free-speech. On Saturday, Yiannopoulos scored his biggest prize yet (aside from, perhaps, this Trump tweet): an invitation to speak at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference." Unfortunately for Yiannopoulos, his growing notoriety has prompted some outlets to look into his past remarks: "The Reagan Battalion, a conservative blog, tweeted out a video of Yiannopoulos making anti-Semitic remarks and railing against the 'arbitrary and oppressive idea of [sexual] consent.'” Hartmann has the details. -- CW 

Beyond the Beltway

Um, Actually It Was a Mexican Firing Squad. Ed Mazza of the Huffington Post: "Two men who were shot in Texas last month and had blamed immigrants crossing the border with Mexico were actually shot by members of their own hunting party, according to an indictment issued last week. Walker Daugherty and Edwin Roberts were wounded in the incident on January 6, The Associated Press reported. Daugherty and his fiancee told police they were shot by undocumented immigrants from Mexico, per CBS 7 in Odessa, Texas. However, the station said police now believe Daugherty actually shot Roberts and another member of the party, Michael Bryant, shot Daugherty." -- CW   

 

Saturday
Feb182017

The Commentariat -- February 19, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Sewell Chan of the New York Times: "Swedes reacted with confusion, anger and ridicule on Sunday to a vague remark by President Trump that suggested that something terrible had occurred in their country.... Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled." -- CW ...

... Kyle Balluck of the Hill: "Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt early Sunday mocked President Trump after Trump pointed to an incident 'last night' in Sweden to defend his travel ban. 'Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,' Bildt tweeted.... Bildt later retweeted a post showing a photo of the 'Swedish Chef' Muppet, who is purportedly 'sought for the terror attack.'” -- CW 

Susan Glasser, in a New York Times op-ed: We should worry less about Trump's ties to Putin and more about how much Trump's methods & aims are like Putin's.

*****

A Fascist Speech, Replete with Lies and Attacks. Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Speaking in an airplane hangar [in Melbourne, Florida,] in front of a crowd of roughly 9,000 people, Trump returned time and time again to the speech lines of his campaign.... '... To make America great again is absolutely a campaign. It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press....,' he said.... With his speech, Trump continued driving on his attack of reporters, newspapers and news networks, generalizing them as 'the dishonest media'.... As in his campaign speeches, Trump bemoaned the state of domestic and foreign affairs claiming, 'I and we inherited one big mess'.... As in the campaign, he boasted about the size of the crowd and his victory over the Democratic party, which he said had suffered 'the greatest defeat in the history of the country'. The president was especially eager to deny a steady stream of reports of chaos, infighting and disarray in his first month in the White House.... 'I promise you that the White House is running so smoothly,' Trump said. 'So smoothly.' Trump also once again continued his attacks on the ninth circuit court of appeals.... He claimed constitutional authority to make the ban – the courts have not ruled on its lawfulness – and said the judges were 'picked by Obama', though two of three were appointed by Jimmy Carter and George W Bush. The president added, falsely, that the US knows 'nothing' about refugees and visa-holders it has admitted into the country.... Trump’s speech frequently echoed the nationalist rhetoric of his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who has railed against globalization, wealthy “elites” and transnational trade deals.” -- CW ...

Trump's rhetoric was frighteningly fascist and intended to inflame the white supremacist emotions of the crowd. It was meant to further the divide between stupidity and reason. -- Diane, in yesterday's Comments ...

... David Ferguson of the Raw Story: "At his rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday..., Donald Trump listed a terror attack that never happened as part of the rationale for his controversial anti-Muslim travel ban. In defending his executive order banning Islamic refugees and travelers from 7 Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., Trump said, 'When you look at what’s happening in Germany, when you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden! Who would believe this?'... However, there was no terror attack in Sweden on Friday. Perhaps, as some Twitter users suggested, the attack in Sweden happened in the same parallel universe as Kellyanne Conway’s fictitious 'Bowling Green massacre.'" -- CW ...

    ...  Daniel Marans of the Huffington Post posits that Trump confused a show he watched on Fox "News" Friday & related it as something that actually happened Friday. CW: Since Trump thinks reality is what he sees on the teevee, you have to wonder what would happen if somebody slipped in a video of "War of the Worlds." Just a crazy old man poised to fumble the nuclear football.

Stephen Wertheim, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Under President Trump, American foreign policy is returning, many commentators say, to the isolationism that preceded World War II.... Trump isn’t an isolationist. He is a militarist, something far worse.... Rather than seeking to withdraw from the world [as the 1930s isolationists did], he vows to exploit it. Far from limiting the area of war, he threatens ruthless violence against globe-spanning adversaries and glorifies martial victory.... Trump rose to power by presenting a horror show of enemies, from Mexico to Iran to China to radical Islamic terrorism (and sometimes Islam itself). Not even the European Union escapes Trump’s zero-sum squint.... Trump is unique [among U.S. presidents] in seeing America as a victim nation, a net global loser that must now fight back. His single most consistent political conviction is that other countries have exploited the United States.... Facing a vicious world, Trump promises to turn the tables, not turn his back.... He constantly invokes the 'old days of General MacArthur and General Patton,' the most extreme generals of the mid-20th century." -- CW 

Get Out! David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has signed sweeping new guidelines that empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the United States and at the border. In a pair of memos, Kelly offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests. The new directives would supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations, Kelly said, including measures from President Barack Obama aimed at focusing deportations exclusively on hardened criminals and those with terrorist ties.... He cited a surge of 10,000 to 15,000 additional apprehensions per month at the southern U.S. border between 2015 and 2016.... A White House official said the memos were drafts and that they are under review by the White House Counsel’s Office, which is seeking some changes." -- CW 

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump plans to speak Sunday with at least four candidates to be his next national security adviser.... White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Saturday that the candidates include John Bolton, a former United Nations ambassador; Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; and retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who is now serving in an acting capacity." CW: I know nothing about the military men Trump is interviewing, but his inclusion of John Bolton on the list is a good indication the SCROTUS is set on having another crazy guy run national security. ...

... Making America Unsafe Again. Bryan Logan of Business Insider: "The top pick to be ... Donald Trump's national security adviser, retired Adm. Robert Harward, reportedly declined the offer after seeing Trump air his grievances in a 77-minute press conference on Thursday. MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Friday cited a former national security official familiar with Harward's decision.... 'Harward wanted to undo the fairly large changes the president had made to the NSC that had inserted Bannon into the process,' Hayes reported. Citing his source, Hayes said 'The White House did not offer Harward sufficient assurances that he would have such autonomy.' Harward wrote a letter declining the offer. The White House reportedly sought to negotiate with Harward on the matter, which Harward was initially open to, Hayes said, but that changed a short time later ... '"after watching the president's press conference....'... The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday night that Gen. David Petraeus, another one of Trump's candidates for the role, also withdrew himself from consideration over concerns about staffing within the National Security Council." -- CW ...

"A Very Smoothe Rollout." -- SCROTUS. David Smith & Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: The White House is a festering mess, and Trump can't distinguish chaos from order. -- CW ...

... Peter Baker & Julie Davis of the New York Times: The Trump administration can't fill even key positions because Trump rejects candidates who have said or written anything against him. AND "The trouble assembling an administration reflects the deeper rift between Mr. Trump and the Washington establishment of both parties.... The ill will between Mr. Trump and much of the Republican establishment works both ways. Many Republicans who might have agreed to work for the president have been turned off by what they consider his sometimes erratic behavior and the competing power centers inside his White House.... [CW: "sometimes"?] His team has been slow to vet candidates, and in some cases his choices have had troubles with their business backgrounds or other matters. And Democrats have mounted a wall of resistance to his nominations, slowing the process down." -- CW ...

... Elania Johnson of Politico: "The White House abruptly dismissed a senior National Security Council aide on Friday after receiving reports that he had publicly laced into the president and his senior aides, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump.... The aide, Craig Deare, was serving as the NSC's senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs.... At a private, off-the-record roundtable hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center for a group of about two dozen scholars, Deare harshly criticized the president and ... Steve Bannon and railed against the dysfunction paralyzing the Trump White House.... He complained in particular that senior national security aides do not have access to the president -- and gave a detailed and embarrassing readout of Trump's call with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto.... Deare was a political appointee who came to the NSC after Trump's inauguration from National Defense University, where he had served as the dean of administration." -- CW 

Trump USA, Inc. Robert Schlesinger of US News: "One of Trump's supposed attractive qualities as a candidate was the prospect that he would run the federal government more like a business; and four weeks into his term he seems to be doing so, but with a twist. He's running the government like it's a subsidiary of a very specific business, the Trump Organization – the family business from which he has refused to divest. Here are four ways Trump and his family stand to gain financially from his term in office and the blossoming cluster of scandals surrounding them." -- CW 

 

She Sees Only What Fits Her Agenda. Emma Brown of the Washington Post: Washington, D.C.'s Jefferson Middle School Academy teachers fought back in a tweetstorm after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, "who has no professional experience in public education," criticized them to a right-wing Townhall columnist as being complacent, non-innovative & "constantly ... on the receiving end of government dictates." -- CW

Reena Flores of CBS News: "Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, advised Americans to take President Trump’s attacks on the media 'seriously,' following the president’s denunciations of the press as the 'enemy.'... 'We’re talking about stupidity and intelligence reporting that is based on facts that’s not coming out of the actual heads of these intelligence agencies,' Priebus said of recent media reports. 'And we’re sitting here talking about it. And it’s a shame. And it needs to end.'” -- CW ...

... Rebecca Morin of Politico: "... President Donald Trump's statement that the media are the 'enemy of the people' is 'something that you hear tin-pot dictators say when they want to control all of the information,' Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said. Schiff, who sits on the House intelligence committee, said the comment Trump made about the media in a tweet this week was 'the most devastating and the most alarming' yet, in an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl for 'This Week' to be broadcast Sunday." -- CW ...

... David Remnick of the New Yorker: "What Trump resembled at the lectern [Thursday] was an old-fashioned autocrat wielding a very familiar rhetorical strategy.... On Saturday evening, he held a rally in Melbourne, Florida, and doubled down on the familiar theme: putting himself in the same league as Lincoln and Jefferson, he told the crowd, 'Many of our greatest Presidents fought with the media and called them out.' The agenda is always to divide. 'They have their own agenda, and their agenda is not your agenda,' he said.... For all the chaos and resulting gloom these past weeks, it has been heartening to see so many 'enemies of the American people' — protesters, judges, journalists, citizens of all kinds, even some members of Congress — do their work despite Presidential denunciation, not necessarily as partisans of one party or another but as adherents to a Constitution." CW: Remnick seems very cheered by the fact that -- unlike Robespierre, Lenin & Stalin, who had the same rhetorical M.O. -- Trump hasn't murdered any journalists yet. 

Brian Beutler: "as surreal as the spectacle [of Donald Trump's Thursday news conference] was, it wasn’t disturbing enough to shake Republicans out of their determined obliviousness to the chaos of the Trump administration. We’ve seen the pattern repeat itself so many times, it’s grown tiresome: Trump becomes unhinged; Republicans pretend they didn’t see it, or say they won’t comment on every offhanded Trump comment, or just chuckle about his 'unconventional' presidency; and everyone moves on.... A great deal of reporting indicates Republicans awoke to the frightening implications of letting an unstable man have free reign over the government, yet remained committed to the course they’ve chosen nevertheless.... [Mitch] McConnell will allow, as he did at a Friday briefing at the Capitol, that he’s 'not a fan of [Trump’s] daily tweets,' but that he is a fan of what Trump’s 'actually been doing.'... Less than a month into his first term, Trump resembles Nixon at his most besieged — angry, flailing, driven to distraction. But unlike Nixon, Trump enjoys the complicity of nearly his entire party. Unless that relationship breaks down, it will be impossible to contain the fallout of Trump’s presidency until January 2019 at the earliest. By then, the damage might be irreparable.” -- CW 

Matt Flegenheimer & Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "As members of Congress return home during a legislative recess many Republicans are dreading, a hearty few on Saturday charged headlong into the resistance. At events across the country, lawmakers have strained to quell the boiling anger at Mr. Trump — and often, the Republican Party — after four extraordinary weeks.... In South Carolina, the twin billing of Rep. [Mark] Sanford and [Sen. Tim] Scott allowed for a live comparison in how to handle Trump queries. The town hall-style event was organized by Mr. Sanford’s office in conjunction with Indivisible Charleston, the local chapter of a national organization founded on the stated goal of 'resisting the Trump agenda.' The result, predictably, was a tough room, particularly for Mr. Scott, a late addition to the gathering and a Republican less willing than Mr. Sanford to criticize Mr. Trump." -- CW ...

... Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News: "Huge crowds of raucous progressives and quieter conservatives overwhelmed Rep. Tom Reed's [R-N.Y.] town hall meetings in Ashville and Cherry Creek Saturday morning, with the progressives repeatedly interrupting and shouting down the congressman's comments as he tried to defend Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The crowd in Ashville, in Chautauqua County, was so large that it was moved out of the senior center where it was scheduled and into the parking lot outside. There, Reed  patiently worked - but failed - to maintain order.... Meantime, others in the crowd -- men wearing NRA and Infowars baseball caps, women in parkas who refused to speak to reporters -- stood silently by in the chilly sunshine, frowning." -- CW 

Robert McFadden of the New York Times: "Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, reshaping the nation’s social and political landscapes and inflaming one of the most divisive controversies of the past half-century, died on Saturday in Katy, Tex. She was 69." -- CW