The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, December 11, 2017.

Washington Post: Simeon "Booker, the Washington bureau chief of Jet and Ebony magazines for five decades, died Dec. 10 at an assisted-living community in Solomons, Md. He was 99 and had recently been hospitalized for pneumonia, said his wife, Carol Booker. Few reporters risked more to chronicle the civil rights movement than Mr. Booker. He was the first full-time black reporter for The Washington Post, serving on the newspaper’s staff for two years before joining Johnson Publishing Co. to write for Jet, a weekly, and Ebony, a monthly modeled on Life magazine, in 1954."

New York Times: "... the prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, is the mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting 'Salvator Mundi,' which fetched a record $450.3 million at auction last month, documents show. The revelation that Prince Bader is the purchaser, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, links one of the most captivating mysteries of the art world with palace intrigues in Saudi Arabia that are shaking the region. Prince Bader splurged on this controversial and decidedly un-Islamic portrait of Christ at a time when most of the Saudi Arabian elite, including members of the royal family, are cowering under a sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment."

Politico: "PBS announced on Monday that CNN International correspondent Christiane Amanpour would be the interim replacement for Charlie Rose after he was fired and his long-running interview show was canceled over multiple allegations of sexual harassment.... 'Amanpour on PBS' will begin airing on New York’s PBS station on Monday and will roll out to other stations beginning Dec. 11."

Variety: "Netflix has reached an agreement to resume production on 'House of Cards' season 6 — the show’s final season — in early 2018, according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Production of 'House of Cards' season 6 was suspended in October, following sexual assault allegations against star Kevin Spacey. Season 6 of the political thriller will be eight episodes, starring Robin Wright, Sarandos said. The final season will not include Spacey, as previously announced. Each of the previous season have comprised 13 episodes."

In reaction to the horrors of what happened in Charlottesville, which is named after this queen, her ancestry is very relevant. -- historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom, on Queen Charlotte of Britain's biracial heritage ...

... Washington Post: "When Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement Monday (Nov. 27), Twitter erupted with the news that the newest princess in the royal family would be bi-racial. 'We got us a Black princess ya’ll,” GirlTyler exulted. “Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl.'... But Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white, may not be the first mixed-race royal. Some historians suspect that Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III who bore the king 15 children, was of African descent. Historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom argues that Queen Charlotte was directly descended from a black branch of the Portuguese royal family: Alfonso III and his concubine, Ouruana, a black Moor.” The report on Charlotte's heritage is fascinating.

... Mrs. McCrabbie: One of the best things about Southern white bigots is that, slavery being what it was, they're very likely to be less than 99 & 44/100ths percent pure white. For instance, these two young fellas have facial features that are remarkably similar:

But, um, one of them is David Duke & the other is Jesse Jackson. Separated at birth? Give Duke a 'fro, & he'd easily pass for African-American. Maybe a hood kinda relaxes curls.

Guardian: Britain's "Prince Harry is to marry his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle in spring next year, Clarence House has announced. 'His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,' it said in a statement on Monday."

 

The full Neiman's Christmas book is here, with some items costing less than $35K.

New Yorker: Thomas Hargrove, a retired journalist, is developing an algorithm to solve serial murders. Interesting & not a bit nutty. Hargrove's research suggests that the number of serial killers still out their doing their jobs is much greater than police departments realize (or will admit -- serial killers are bad for local tourism). Also too, the percentage of murders that get solved has dropped precipitously in the last half-century.

Donaldo da Trumpo. Guardian: "On Wednesday, a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting sold for $450.3m, rocking the art world.... On Thursday, that same art world was given a reality check, when a sketch by the less celebrated Donald Trump sold for just $6,875 at an auction in Los Angeles. Trump’s untitled piece, which depicts the Manhattan skyline, barely cleared its minimum price of $5,000.... The president took on his project in 2009 for a charity event. Trump seems to have used either pencil or ballpoint pen for the piece, which measures 8in x 5in. The sketch shows what appear to be skyscrapers, alongside something representing the Empire State Building. Nate D Sanders, the auction house handling the sale, presented the sketch in a 15in x 18in frame, along with a signed photo of Trump."

New York Times: "After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s 'Salvator Mundi' sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s 'Women of Algiers,' which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed." ...

... New York Times critic Jason Farago calls the painting "a proficient but not especially distinguished religious picture from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations.... The painting, when purchased at an estate sale in 2005 for less than $10,000, was initially considered a copy of a lost Leonardo, completed around 1500 and once in the collection of Charles I of England. [Some experts still think it's a copy.] Over time, its wood surface became cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely overpainted.... Cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the painting now appears in some limbo state between its original form and an exacting, though partially imagined, rehabilitation."

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. Des MacHale (often misattributed to H. L. Mencken)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Monday
Aug102015

The Commentariat -- August 11, 2015

Beginning at 1:00 am today, I'm upgrading my cheap computer to Windows 10. I have no idea how long this operation will take or if I'll ever be able to get online again. So if the pickings are slim today (and tomorrow!) & the news is passing by unremarked, it's just because I'm busy yelling at an inanimate object. -- Marie

     ... Update: Looks as if it worked, with minimal disruption. I may get some surprises later. I'd recommend backing up your files before you convert, just in case, disabling Windows Firewall (& re-enabling it after you've installed Windows 10), shutting down all your apps & doing the conversion at a time you definitely won't need to use your computer.

Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare. Dylan Scott of the National Journal: "House Republicans will start working next year on drafting a Medicare 'premium-support' bill [to partially privatize Medicare], according to Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady." CW: Following well-established Republican tradition of slapping positive labels on bad deals, Brady calls his privatization plan "premium support" &/or the "personalized Medicare option." Wow! I can hardly wait to get my personalized! optional! premium! support! Thanks, GOP.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), in a New York Times op-ed: "... Republican control of Congress means constant crisis.... While Republicans have kept virtually none of their promises about how they would run Congress, one promise they have kept is their vow to use essential appropriations bills to manufacture even more crises.... Must-pass appropriations bills must not be hijacked for ideological or special-interest riders.... Senate Democrats have been calling on Republicans for months ... to sit down with us and work out a bipartisan path so that we can avoid another shutdown. So far, we've been met with nothing but silence."

Democrats, Too, Lose Fondness for Racist Icons. Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "For nearly a century, Democrats have honored two men as the founders of their party: Thomas Jefferson, for his visionary expression of the concept of equality, and Andrew Jackson, for his populist spirit and elevation of the common man.... But these time-honored rituals are colliding with a modern Democratic Party more energized by a desire for racial and gender inclusion than reverence for history. And state by state, Democratic activists are removing the names of Jefferson and Jackson from party gatherings.... The Iowa Democratic Party became the latest to do so last weekend, joining Georgia, Connecticut and Missouri. At least five other states are considering the same change since the massacre in June at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C.... [These moves] underscore one of the most consequential trends of American politics: Democrats' shift from a union-powered party organized primarily around economic solidarity to one shaped by racial and sexual identity."

Jonathan Chait: Some conservative opponents of the Iran nuclear deal -- Elliott Abrams, Eli Lake & others -- are now accusing President Obama of anti-Semitism."

** Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "Over the past decade, the foreign-policy debate in [among] Washington [Republicans] has turned upside down.... Today, hawkishness is the hottest thing on the American right. With the exception of Rand Paul, the GOP presidential contenders are vying to take the most aggressive stance against Iran and the Islamic State, or ISIS." Beinart explains Republicans' creation of the "legend of the surge," a "story line [which] has squelched the doubts about the Iraq invasion that a decade ago threatened to transform conservative foreign policy [into something realistic].... According to the legend of the surge, Iraq's collapse stems from [President Obama's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops at the end of 2011.... The problem with the legend of the surge is that it reproduces the very hubris that led America into Iraq in the first place."

Shutting Down Is Hard to Do. Kristina Wong of the Hill: "The Pentagon said Monday it will submit a plan to lawmakers on closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility 'sometime' after Congress comes back from its August recess. 'We would expect it to go up sometime after recess," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis. "It's still in progress, it's very close to completion.... On Monday, the Pentagon said [Defense Secretary Ash] Carter and the Pentagon "continue to support" the president's goal of closing the facility. " (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Earlier Monday. Tim Mak & Nancy Youssef of the Daily Beast: "The White House wants to quickly cut the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. One man is standing in the way: President Obama's Defense Secretary, Ash Carter. Carter and the White House are increasingly at odds about how to whittle down the number of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay, hampering the administration's push to close the detention center by the end of its term." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Adam Goldman & Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "As part of the plan [for shutting down the Guantanamo prison], the administration had considered sending some of the 116 detainees remaining at the prison to either a top-security prison in Illinois or a naval facility in Charleston, S.C. But during a recent video teleconference among top administration officials, Scott Ferber, senior counsel to the deputy attorney general, said the Justice Department could not support the use of the federal prison in Thomson, Ill., according to the officials according to [anonymous] officials.... Ferber said the Justice Department had made a public commitment in 2012 when it purchased the facility from the state of Illinois that it would not relocate detainees to Thomson.... [Former AG Eric] Holder's commitment, made during sworn testimony [before the Senate Judiciary Committee], was apparently overlooked by officials when the most recent plan was drawn up. Thomson is no longer being considered, and the White House is again looking at other federal facilities, officials said."

Jon Swaine, et al., of the Guardian: "The city of Ferguson, Missouri, is being forced by the Obama administration to return two military vehicles that it obtained from the Pentagon, amid widespread concern and criticism over the deployment on American streets of equipment intended for war zones. The US Department of Defense will reclaim a pair of Humvees that were given to the beleaguered St Louis suburb under a controversial program to distribute surplus weapons, vehicles and other gear, according to several government officials.... Such vehicles returned on Sunday night to West Florissant Avenue ... after a black 18-year-old was shot by officers when he allegedly opened fire on their unmarked SUV following a gunfight with several other men." ...

... Molly Redden of Mother Jones: "Documents Reveal the Fearmongering Local Cops Use to Score Military Gear From the Pentagon. Confronting school shooters and terrorists? More like patrolling Packers games, pot-heads, and the local beach."

Eliza Collins of Politico: "After an argument that ended in gunfire, a White House staffer and her boyfriend, who works for the Capitol Police, have been put on leave from their jobs.... The domestic dispute reportedly took place on the evening of Aug. 6. Barvetta Singletary, a member of the White House legislative affairs team, sent her boyfriend, who works on the dignitary protection detail, a text that invited him over, according to Roll Call. The two then got into a dispute and Singletary allegedly reached into her boyfriend's bag. According to reports, she pulled out two cellphones and his gun -- then she allegedly fired one round. It's not clear whether she had intended to shoot at her boyfriend. Neither was injured."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Ed Kilgore on how a both-sides-do-it mindset "manipulates the narrative." Kilgore cites a New York Times headline, via Jim Fallows, & an NBC blog post, whose lead writer was Chuck Todd. Both implied or accused President Obama of picking a fight with opponents of the Iran nuclear deal. CW: In the particular NYT headline Kilgore cites, via Jim Fallows, it manipulated me away from the story. I decided, based on the headline alone, that I didn't want to read another story based on the premise that Everything Is Obama's Fault. Misleading headlines work in more than one way. As for the Tuck Chodd post, I never read it.

Bill of Portland, Maine, in Daily Kos tells us today is Presidential Joke Day. He recounts some past presidents' quips.

Presidential Race

New York Times: "On Tuesday morning, [Harvard Prof. Lawrence] Lessig will announce that he will explore a protest bid for the Democratic nomination. If he can raise $1 million in small donations by Labor Day, Mr. Lessig said, he will run.... In an interview, Mr. Lessig said that after years of unfulfilled promises by Democratic candidates on the issue of money in politics, he was driven to mount a candidacy built around it."

Charles Pierce: "Shouting down Bernie Sanders does nothing to solve any problem worth fighting against.... What happened in Seattle was an embarrassment to the tradition of public protest. It was a hysterical piece of performance art that accomplished absolutely nothing toward whatever goals its performers sought to achieve. Rage is not an excuse. Frustration is not an excuse. This was a simple act of public vandalism, aimed (again) at the wrong target." CW: While I agree with Pierce, his characterization of women protesters as "hysterical" (albeit the women protesters in particular behaved horribly), is sexist. Pierce would not know this, or if he does, would defend it, because he is comfortable repeating sexist stereotypes, a point I have made before to protests among the Commentariat. ...

... Michael Kruse & Manu Raju of Politico Magazine: Bernie Sanders is "seeking the nomination of a party he caucuses with in the Senate but is not a part of, isn't a registered member of and has never been a registered member of -- a party he's spent his 40-year career beating at the polls and battering in the press.... 'I am not a Democrat,' he told the Progressive [less than two years ago], 'because the Democratic Party does not represent, and has not for many years, the interests of my constituency, which is primarily working families, middle-class people and low-income people.'"

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "... Hillary Rodham Clinton ... signed a statement over the weekend declaring 'under penalty of perjury' that she has turned over to the government all of the e-mails that were federal records. The statement, submitted Monday by the State Department to a federal court, matches what she and her campaign have been saying for months about her exclusive use of a private e-mail account and server to conduct public business." ...

Jess Bidgood of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton had planned to spend her campaign stop at a high school [in Manchester, N.H.,] on Monday focusing mainly on her plan to make college more affordable. But, like most candidates for president, she also had to take questions about the latest headline-grabbing comments from Donald J. Trump." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "If people still associate 'Clintonism' with small, narrow, incremental proposals that offer more bark than bite, then the college affordability initiative [Hillary Clinton] unveiled today in New Hampshire isn't very 'Clontonian.'"

I thought what [Donald Trump] said was offensive.... But I think if we focus on that, we’re making a mistake. What a lot of the men on that stage in that debate said was offensive.... When one of their major candidates, a much younger man, the senator from Florida, says there should be no exception for rape and incest, that is as offensive and as troubling a comment as you can hear from a major candidate running for the presidency. So the language may be more colorful and more offensive, but the thinking, the attitude toward women, is very much the same. -- Hillary Clinton, Monday, in Exeter, New Hampshire

... Here's Clinton's presser following her presentation of her college affordability plan. Unfortunately, you can't hear the questions:

... Joan Walsh of Salon adds, "... Marco Rubio, repeatedly refused to denounce Trump on 'Meet the Press' Sunday. 'I've made a decision here with Donald Trump,' he told Chuck Todd. 'If I comment on everything he says, my whole campaign will be consumed by it. That's all I'll do all day.' Of course Rubio criticized Trump for calling undocumented Mexican immigrants 'rapists and criminals' and said his comments about Sen. John McCain 'disqualified him as commander in chief.' But he won't attack Trump's misogyny. Makes sense: Rubio's apparently decided to surrender the women's vote by coming out against exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother in abortion bans." ...

... Jessica Valenti of the Guardian details some of the sexist moves & remarks the other GOP candidates have made, even as they have "between them ... enacted legislation curbing women's rights, voted against equal pay, and shamed women for having sex." CW: Mind you, this is a partial list. ...

... Laurence Lewis of Daily Kos: As Walsh reminds us, "Jeb Bush couldn't manage to criticize Trump for the ugliness of his comments, rather he focused on how Trump might hurt the party. Priorities.... The reality is that Donald Trump isn't a fringe sideshow, and while Bush is right that Trump is a threat to the Republican brand, it's not in the way he wants people to think. Trump's popularity among Republican voters reveals Republican ideology for what it is, and Republican insiders have for years played to and fueled it. What Republican insiders fear about Donald Trump isn't his own ugly misogyny, it's that he is revealing their own." ...

Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "Donald Trump is riding several strong post-debate polls into a full schedule of campaign stops this week as he seeks to solidify his lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump will campaign this week in Michigan, New Hampshire and Iowa, where a new poll found him leading the GOP race with 19 percent, compared to 12 percent for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. The survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling [conducted August 7-9] was one of several that suggested Trump has been boosted further by his performance at Thursday's first GOP debate, bolstering confidence in an already bullish-sounding campaign." ...

... Paul Waldman: Trump supporters "have a pretty good idea of who he is, and they're behind him precisely because he doesn't talk like other politicians and he doesn't care who he insults. They aren't troubled by the prospect of him running as an independent, because they don't think too highly of their own party. And when party bigshots criticize him, they take it as evidence that he's doing something right. Trump [will] ... fall behind only when somebody else pulls ahead. That probably won't happen until a few candidates drop out and voters begin to coalesce around a small number of main contenders. As long as 16 other candidates are splitting the vote, Trump can remain on top, even if his support is finite. In other words, it's going to be a while." ...

... Alex Griswold of Mediaite: "Donald Trump finally laid out his plan for dealing with Iran (or ISIS?) on Fox & Friends Tuesday, recommending that the United States 'knock the hell out of them' and then 'take the oil.'" ...

... Making the Party of War More Bellicose. Steve M. "Then ... [Trump] pivots to Saudi Arabia, and implies that he might wage war on the Saudis.... And this from the guy who still says -- in the [same interview], in fact -- that he opposed the Iraq War. He's going to be the guy who makes multiple full-scale wars in the Middle East the minimal acceptable position for Jeb Bush, or whoever the eventual nominee is.... Though I should add that, given the American public's habitual amnesia with regard to the failures of the War Party..., and given Democrats' habitual incompetence at selling policies of moderation..., I'm not sure that a 'total war everywhere' policy would even be a political liability in November 2016." ...

... Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly said on Monday night that she would not apologize to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump for questioning him at last week's presidential debate on past comments he had made concerning women. 'I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism,' she said on her program." ...

     ... The New York Times story, by Jeremy Peters & Daniel Victor, is here. ...

... Two SOBs Make Peace. Gabriel Sherman of New York: Donald Trump & Roger Ailes of Fox "News" have mended their differences. Monday "morning, Trump tweeted that Ailes called to assure him that Fox will cover him 'fairly' going forward. According to two high-level Fox sources, Ailes's diplomacy was the result of increasing concern inside Fox News that Trump could damage the network.... In recent days, Ailes got a glimpse of what a Trump-less Fox News would look like...." Fox received a boatload of pro-Trump mail, & Twitter users mostly favored Trump. "In a phone conversation, Trump told Sean Hannity that 'he was never doing Fox again.'... Trump has agreed to interviews on Fox & Friends and Hannity [Tuesday]." ...

... Jonathan Easley : "Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes says all is well between himself and Donald Trump after the real estate mogul spent days lambasting the network and anchor Megyn Kelly for the questions he received at the first Republican debate. Ailes said in a memo obtained by CNN that he had a 'blunt but cordial' conversation with Trump on Monday. 'Donald Trump and I spoke today,' Ailes said in the statement. "We discussed our concerns, and I again expressed my confidence in Megyn Kelly. She is a brilliant journalist and I support her 100 percent.'" ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "Donald Trump and the Fox News Channel are about to televise their dispute. Trump has been booked for a 7 a.m. Tuesday interview on 'Fox & Friends,' co-host Steve Doocy said on Twitter on Monday afternoon.... Fox has dramatically ratcheted down its coverage of Trump. It has barely covered Trump's criticisms of [Megyn] Kelly and the two other debate moderators, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jon Karl of ABC News: "Donald Trump may soon do what Republican leaders have been asking the billionaire candidate to do -- pledge not to run as an independent candidate for president, a senior Trump adviser told ABC News." CW: Uh-oh, Donald is about to tell another "senior adviser," "You're fired." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "... Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky ... laid into [Donald] Trump in an afternoon conference call [Monday], calling him 'a bully' and an 'empty suit,' and comparing him to the 'emperor with no clothes.'... He started the Republican presidential debate on Thursday evening with a verbal assault on Mr. Trump's integrity, accusing him of pretending to be conservative and cozying up to the Clintons. He followed that with an op-ed in IJReview listing Mr. Trump's history of liberal positions and calling on Republican voters to fire Mr. Trump and pick a serious candidate. On Monday evening, Mr. Trump responded on Twitter, comparing Mr. Paul to a 'spoiled brat' and saying he 'was terrible at DEBATE!' [Paul's] debate performance was panned and recent polls have shown him slipping into the bottom tier of candidates."

Paul Waldman: "Jeb Bush will be making a speech on foreign policy today, and if the excerpts that his campaign released to reporters beforehand are any indication, it will embody all the thoughtfulness, nuance and sophistication that have characterized Republican foreign policy thinking in recent years.... It's looking a lot like the return of the Bush Doctrine, just with a different Bush.... [All of the GOP candidates' foreign policy prescriptions are lame.] For instance, if you read this recent manifesto from Marco Rubio, you'll learn that he plans to lead with strength, so America can be strong and full of leadership. And also strength, because that's what America needs to lead."

I think in general if anyone focuses on racial discord we're going to get more. If we focus on unity we're going to get more of that. The families of the massacre in Charleston showed us the way. -- Scott Walker, in South Carolina on the anniversary of the police killing of black teen Michael Brown

... Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) says the proper way to address racial issues in America is by concentrating on what brings people together rather than focusing on "racial discord." Doing the latter, the presidential candidate argued Sunday, could risk generating even more unrest.... Other presidential candidates -- Republican and Democrat -- have called for a broader conversation about systemic racism in the nation's justice system in the wake of high-profile shootings of unarmed black men across the country. Bipartisan calls for criminal justice reform have also grown in and out of Washington...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... CW: You're so right, Scottie. If you don't talk about black people, they will go back to their quiet places, singing hymns at the church by the old plantation. Of course, they might get stopped, booked or shot by the cops on their way to church, but well, let's not mention that. ...

... Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The idea that politicians such as Rubio and Walker should be granted the authority to tell tens of thousands of other couples how they must proceed ... if confronted with a life-threatening pregnancy..., without knowing anything about their individual medical situation, family life or religious belief, is horrendous.... Let's not overlook the fact that in the world that Rubio, Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and others want to create, abortion would be outlawed in cases of rape and incest as well.... The increasingly lonely 'moderate' position is represented largely by Jeb Bush, who would still grudgingly allow abortion in cases of rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother, but who showed no compunction about enlisting the full power of government to impose his own personal 'pro-life' belief system on the tragic Terri Schiavo and her family."

Adios, MoFo. Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal: "Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign team in South Carolina is no longer being paid by his presidential campaign...." ...

... "If At First You Don't Secede." Jonathan Chait: "... politics are not always fair.... [Rick Perry's] new persona of reasonably thoughtful mainstream conservative has gone over no better than his old persona of overmedicated secessionist." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "At the same time, Super PACs associated with Perry reportedly still have plenty of money (they together raised $17 million), and will try to compensate for what the official campaign cannot do. So we are seeing an early test of two questions many have been asking: (1) Will failing to make the Fox News debate cut last week doom the candidates left behind (Perry just barely missed the cut)? and (2) Can a broke campaign be saved by a flush Super PAC without illegal coordination?"

Wendell Potter of the Center for Public Integrity, in Newsweek: "When It Comes to Health Care, the GOP Wannabes Know Nothing."

Congressional Race

Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press: "Actress Melissa Gilbert, best known for her portrayal of Laura Ingalls Wilder on NBC's 'Little House on the Prairie' in the 1970s and '80s, said Monday she will run for Congress in Michigan's 8th District -- though her campaign will have to tamp down questions about a tax bill. Gilbert, who lives in Livingston County with her husband, actor Timothy Busfield, is running as a Democrat in a district that has been a Republican stronghold in recent elections...."

Beyond the Beltway

Jon Eligon & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "St. Louis County declared a state of emergency Monday, and braced for possible unrest, as prosecutors filed charges against an 18-year-old who was shot and critically wounded by the police overnight on the periphery of demonstrations commemorating the killing a year ago of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white officer. The declaration, by the St. Louis County executive, Steve Stenger, allows the county police chief, Jon Belmar, to take control of police emergency management in and around Ferguson." ...

     ... Update: "Although nightfall brought intermittent clashes between protesters and the police -- the St. Louis County police said the authorities had made 23 arrests along West Florissant Avenue -- there were few signs of widening turmoil that might draw a sterner response by local officials or Gov. Jay Nixon, who last year deployed the National Guard here." ...

     ... Update 2. Jon Swaine & Oliver Laughland of the Guardian: "Police clashed with hundreds of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, for a second night on Monday after a day of intense protests over the use of deadly force by American law enforcement that saw 144 people arrested." ...

... Inah Oh of Mother Jones: "As demonstrators gathered in Ferguson to continue commemorating the one year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Monday, five heavily-armed men belonging to a vigilante group called the Oath Keepers were spotted patrolling the streets. According to reports, the Oath Keepers said they were on the scene to provide voluntary protection to a journalist working for the site InfoWars, the conspiracy mill run by noted lunatic Alex Jones.... St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the group's presence on Monday both 'unnecessary and inflammatory.'"

... Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A Washington Post reporter who was arrested at a restaurant last year while reporting on protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been charged in St. Louis County with trespassing and interfering with a police officer and ordered to appear in court. Wesley Lowery, a reporter on The Post's national desk, was detained in a McDonald's while he was in Missouri covering demonstrations.... 'Charging a reporter with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he was just doing his job is outrageous,' Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post, said in a statement Monday. '... Wes Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place. That was an abuse of police authority.'" ...

... Scott Lemieux: "I'm not one to place a great deal of confidence in our judicial system, but there's no way this survives a First Amendment challenge. But the kind of authoritarians we're dealing with just don't care." ...

... Update. Ravi Somaiya & Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "Two reporters who were arrested while covering the protests in Ferguson, Mo., last August, were charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer, their outlets said on Monday. The reporters, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of the Huffington Post, were arrested at a McDonald's restaurant while covering nightly demonstrations that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown....

     ... Ryan Grim & Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "The Huffington Post condemns the charges filed by St. Louis County against our Justice reporter, Ryan J. Reilly, while covering the protests in Ferguson last year. Ryan has the full support of The Huffington Post in fighting these charges.... If Wesley Lowery and Ryan J. Reilly can be charged like this with the whole country watching, just imagine what happens when nobody is." ...

... Charles Pierce: "In other words, Wesley Lowery is going to court for sitting around with intent to report something, while a platoon of armed vigilante yahoos walk the streets as though they're in Anbar Province and nobody can do anything about it except wring their hands and mumble about freedom. (Chief Belmar sounds like a pillar of Jell-O.)" ...

... Daniel Victor of the New York Times: "A police officers' group in Columbia, Mo., proclaimed 'Darren Wilson Day' on Sunday, the one-year anniversary of the officer's fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.... The effort to recognize Mr. Wilson attracted condemnation from local officials, including the chief of Columbia's police department. Robert McDavid, the mayor of Columbia, called the post 'insensitive and divisive.'" CW: What could possibly wrong with recognizing the anniversary of a young man's death by celebrating his killer? -- a killer who also has pretty well proved, in his own words, that he was a racist cop who killed his victim because of his racial bias?

Shawn Cohen & Bruce Golding of the New York Post: "NYPD cops fed up with vagrants making life miserable in the city are ... snapping photos of quality-of-life scofflaws and posting them online. The Sergeants Benevolent Association is spearheading the effort, emailing a letter to members Monday urging them and their families and friends to take pictures to document the decline of the city. 'As you travel about the city of New York, please utilize your smartphones to photograph the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type,' says the letter from SBA President Ed Mullins, a major critic of Mayor Bill deBlasio.... Noting that more cops are being recorded on the job, Mullins wrote, 'Shouldn't accountability go both ways?'" ...

... Robert Gebelhoff of the Washington Post: "The police union's campaign has come under fire on social media, with some criticizing the police for shaming homeless people. Others have said it might help raise awareness about the issue. Homelessness has been on the rise in New York City, rising sharply under the administration of former mayor Michael Bloomberg."

David Eggert of the AP: Rep. Todd Courser (RTP)] said he won't resign after sending an email to supporters falsely claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute and said in a statement released Monday "he was the target of a blackmail attempt.... 'My actions in and around these events in the email that was sent to misdirect attention were my doing both in planning and execution,' Courser said in a nearly 30-minute audio file posted on his campaign website.... He blames former staffers for conspiring with others to bring him down and vowed to learn the identity of the alleged blackmailer." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... CW: Doncha just love the way these micreants always see themselves as the victims? ...

... Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press: Michigan Gov. Rick "Snyder [R] said House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, is handling the situation appropriately and proactively by ordering an investigation by the House business office, which began Friday. 'This is something that does need to be investigated, very clearly,' Snyder told reporters. A possible affair between [state Rep. Cindy] Gamrat [RTP] and [state Rep. Todd] Courser [RTP], though 'not something that should happen,' is an issue for voters, not the state, to decide, Snyder said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Julie Turkewitz of the New York Times: Colorado's Animas River "has been grievously polluted with toxic water spilled from one of the many abandoned mines that pockmark the region -- a spill for which the Environmental Protection Agency has claimed responsibility, saying it accidentally breached a store of chemical-laced water. On Sunday, anger over the spill boiled over after the agency announced that the amount of toxic water released was three times what was previously stated - more than three million gallons rather than one million -- and that officials were still unsure if there was a health threat to humans or animals.... Testing by the E.P.A. -- an agency typically in the position of responding to toxic disasters, not causing them -- found that the wastewater spill caused levels of arsenic, lead and other metals to spike in the Animas River."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Greek government said on Tuesday that it had reached a deal with its international creditors for a third bailout, though a number of European officials expressed caution. The rescue plan, outlined in a 20-hour negotiating session in an Athens hotel, would provide aid worth up to 86 billion euros, or about $94.4 billion, to Greece in exchange for harsh austerity terms."

New York Times: "As China contends with an economic slowdown and a stock market slump, the authorities on Tuesday sharply devalued the country's currency, the renminbi, a move that could raise geopolitical tensions and weigh on growth elsewhere."

Missed this. New York Times (August 9): "Tyler S. Drumheller, a former senior American intelligence official who publicly asserted that President George W. Bush's administration had knowingly hyped fabricated evidence of Iraq's arsenal of biological weapons to justify the 2003 invasion, died on Aug. 2 in Falls Church, Va. He was 63.... Three years after the invasion and after his retirement from the Central Intelligence Agency, where he had been chief of the European division, Mr. Drumheller took the unusual step of publicly saying that he had warned his superiors that an Iraqi defector who claimed Iraq was equipped with mobile, lethal germ factories was mentally unstable."

Sunday
Aug092015

The Commentariat -- August 10, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Kristina Wong of the Hill: "The Pentagon said Monday it will submit a plan to lawmakers on closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility 'sometime' after Congress comes back from its August recess. 'We would expect it to go up sometime after recess," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis. "It's still in progress, it's very close to completion.... On Monday, the Pentagon said [Defense Secretary Ash] Carter and the Pentagon "continue to support" the president's goal of closing the facility. " ...

... Earlier Today. Tim Mak & Nancy Youssef of the Daily Beast: "The White House wants to quickly cut the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. One man is standing in the way: President Obama's Defense Secretary, Ash Carter. Carter and the White House are increasingly at odds about how to whittle down the number of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay, hampering the administration's push to close the detention center by the end of its term."

Ooh! Must-See TV! Brian Stelter of CNN: "Donald Trump and the Fox News Channel are about to televise their dispute. Trump has been booked for a 7 a.m. Tuesday interview on 'Fox & Friends,' co-host Steve Doocy said on Twitter on Monday afternoon.... Fox has dramatically ratcheted down its coverage of Trump. It has barely covered Trump's criticisms of [Megyn] Kelly and the two other debate moderators, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier." ...

Jon Karl of ABC News: "Donald Trump may soon do what Republican leaders have been asking the billionaire candidate to do -- pledge not to run as an independent candidate for president, a senior Trump adviser told ABC News." CW: Uh-oh, Donald is about to tell another "senior adviser," "You're fired."

I think in general if anyone focuses on racial discord we're going to get more. If we focus on unity we're going to get more of that. The families of the massacre in Charleston showed us the way. -- Scott Walker, in South Carolina on the anniversary of the police killing of black teen Michael Brown

... Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) says the proper way to address racial issues in America is by concentrating on what brings people together rather than focusing on "racial discord." Doing the latter, the presidential candidate argued Sunday, could risk generating even more unrest.... Other presidential candidates -- Republican and Democrat -- have called for a broader conversation about systemic racism in the nation's justice system in the wake of high-profile shootings of unarmed black men across the country. Bipartisan calls for criminal justice reform have also grown in and out of Washington...." ...

     ... CW: You're so right, Scottie. If you don't talk about black people, they will go back to their quiet places, singing hymns at the church by the old plantation. Of course, they might get stopped, booked or shot by the cops on their way to church, but well, let's not mention that.

AP: "A Michigan lawmaker [state Rep. Todd Courser (RTP)] said he won't resign after sending an email to Republican supporters falsely claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute and said in a statement released Monday he was the target of a blackmail attempt.... 'My actions in and around these events in the email that was sent to misdirect attention were my doing both in planning and execution,' Courser said in a nearly 30-minute audio file posted on his campaign website.... He blames former staffers for conspiring with others to bring him down and vowed to learn the identity of the alleged blackmailer." ...

     ... CW: Doncha just love the way these micreants always see themselves as the victims? ...

... Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press: Michigan Gov. Rick "Snyder [R] said House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, is handling the situation appropriately and proactively by ordering an investigation by the House business office, which began Friday. 'This is something that does need to be investigated, very clearly,' Snyder told reporters. A possible affair between [state Rep. Cindy] Gamrat [RTP] and [state Rep. Todd] Courser [RTP], though 'not something that should happen,' is an issue for voters, not the state, to decide, Snyder said."

*****

American "Justice," Ctd. Sandhya Somashekhar, et al., of the Washington Post: "So far this year, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police - one every nine days.... Those 24 cases constitute a surprisingly small fraction of the 585 people shot and killed by police through Friday evening.... Most of those killed were white or Hispanic, and the vast majority of victims of all races were armed. However, black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population. The Post's analysis shows that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed." ...

... Andrew Kahn & Chris Kirk of Slate: "Thousands more [black Americans] have suffered subtler forms of discrimination in the criminal justice system, where social science research shows striking racial disparities at nearly every level -- from arrest rates, to bail amounts, to sentence lengths, to probation hearing outcomes.... Black Americans are more likely to have their cars searched.... are more likely to be arrested for drug use.... are more likely to be jailed while awaiting trial.... are more likely to be offered a plea deal that includes prison time.... may be excluded from juries because of their race.... are more likely to serve longer sentences than white Americans for the same offense.... are more likely to be disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.... are more likely to have their probation revoked." With charts.

CW: Twenty-six-year-old David Daleiden, the "mastermind" behind the Planned Parenthood videos (hmm, he must have been 23 years old when his mind mastered this three-year-old plot), thinks he knows more about abortion & women's reproductive needs than does "57-year-old Cecile Richards, who has given birth to three children and publicly discussed her own abortion, really understands what abortion is." Rebecca Traister, in a moving essay, sets the boy straight." Like Sen. Barbara Boxer, "I just don't like lectures by men about what it's like." Much less, lectures by arrogant boys.

E. J. Dionne: "If you wondered why President Obama gave such a passionate and, yes, partisan speech on behalf of the Iran nuclear deal Wednesday, all you had to do was tune in to the Republican presidential debate the next night.... The candidates gathered together by Fox News in Cleveland suggested that the hardest decision the next president will face is whether killing Obamacare or voiding the Iran deal ought to be the first order of business.... In the short run, Obama simply has to win enough votes for his Iran deal. For the long run, he has to convince Americans that his measured approach to the world is the safest path for the country. Defending this view aggressively is no vice."

Larry Summers, in a Washington Post op-ed, says something about corporate policy that other people think is interesting. As far as I can tell, he says corporations should -- on their own -- take a longer view & "more generously share the fruits of corporate success with their workers, customers and other stakeholders." CW: I think this is pretty much what Jeb! or Scottie or Li'l Randy would say if they could handle long sentences with fancy words; i.e., let corporations figure out for themselves what is good for America & we will all prosper & live happily ever after. The End. ...

... Because Capitalism Is Awesome. Anahad O'Connor in the New York Times: "Coca-Cola, the world's largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new 'science-based' solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories.... The beverage giant has teamed up with influential scientists who are advancing this message in medical journals, at conferences and through social media.... Coke has provided financial and logistical support to a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network.... Health experts say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. They contend that the company is using the new group to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume." CW: Coke's effort seems to be just the sort of long-term thinking that Larry Summers is promoting.

Michael Meeropol & Robert Meeropol, in a New York Times op-ed: "OUR parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed on June 19, 1953, after being convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.... In the public's mind they were executed for providing our archenemy, the Soviet Union, with the ability to destroy our country with atomic bombs..... The newly released 46-page transcript [of the grand jury testimony of our uncle David Greenglass] -- along with previously released testimony and other records -- demonstrates conclusively that our mother was prosecuted primarily for refusing to turn on our father. We now call on President Obama to acknowledge that Ethel Rosenberg was wrongly convicted and executed."

Annals of Joke Journalism. McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "As Donald Trump faces a growing backlash from conservative media over his recent attacks on a Fox News host, one prominent right-wing outlet remains firmly in his corner: Breitbart News, which has set itself apart by plastering its homepage with fawning headlines about the candidate, and all-caps assaults on his critics. But ... many inside the company believe Trump has provided undisclosed financial backing to the outlet in exchange for glowing coverage.... According to four sources with knowledge of the situation, editors and writers at the outlet have privately complained since at least last year that the company's top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website -- using it to hype his political prospects and attack his enemies.... Breitbart executive chair Steve Bannon responded to questions with a statement denying that the company has ever had a 'financial relationship' with the candidate." ...

... Rick Hasen: " If this is true (and I have no idea if it is), it would raise some serious campaign finance issues. The media exemption to the ban on corporate contributions/coordinated spending with candidates does not apply to media owned or controlled by a candidate." ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Who Needs Breitbart? Driftglass points out that Trump has pretty much taken over the mainstream teevee media, too, phoning in his "interviews," where he ran roughshod over the interviewers, at the five-major-networks-minus-one. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Now comes Sunday morning, and we discover that it continues to be impossible for our elite political press to admit what is plainly before its eyes -- that one of the two political parties that we have allowed ourselves through inertia and custom to have has become demented, and that the political health of the nation in general is in peril unless that dementia can be overcome. Because of this inability to attach itself to obvious reality, the elite political press has rendered itself incapable of performing the necessary function of calling out con-men and identifying nutty ideas before they reach the mainstream political life of the country and turn it into a SuperFund site."

Presidential Race

CW: Who would win in a three-way race among Hillary, Jeb! & Trump? The conventional wisdom is that Clinton would win, because Trump would cut almost exclusively into Jeb!'s territory. I'm not so sure. Since Trump has no discernible political ideology, he is free to develop (& defend) any agenda he wants for the general election; you can bet he would focus-test his platform for maximum popularity. Also, he's the antithesis of Obama -- crude vs. classy, thoughtless vs. cerebral, careless vs. careful, etc. etc., & American voters tend to like "regime change" every eight years. Trump could easily peel off working-class men who might have voted for Clinton in a two-way. Minority turnout is bound to be lower in 2016 than it was in the last two presidential elections; besides, Jeb! would pick off some of Hillary's Latino voters. Or what about a Bernie-Scottie-Trump race? Again, I could envision a Trump win. Democrats, too, should be careful what we wish for.

Ber-nie! Ber-nie! Ber-nie! Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian: "Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' insurgent campaign for president received a big boost Sunday when as many as 28,000 showed up for a high-decibel rally at the Moda Center [in Portland, Oregon]. The crowd packed the basketball arena -- with a capacity of up to 19,000 -- as thousands more couldn't get inside and listened in on loudspeakers.... The senator received waves of thunderous applause as he vowed to fight for universal health benefits, paid family leave, paid sick leave, free public college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, expanded Social Security benefits and a major public works program to rebuild crumbling infrastructure." Thanks to Kate M. for the lead. ...

... Jamil Smith of the New Republic defends BlackLivesMatter attacks on Bernie Sanders. Smith writes, "Sanders, rather than letting the protesters have their say and responding, left the stage." CW: News reports (like this one by CNN) indicate that it was that the event's organizers, not Sanders, who made the decision to end the rally without allowing Sanders to speak. Based on these reports, Smith's characterization is misleading. ...

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said on Sunday that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a life-long defender of minorities.... 'Bernie has become somebody I have tremendous respect for and is an ally of mine in addressing issues in the United States Senate that affect minority communities,' he ... told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC's 'This Week.'"

Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "After months of remaining largely above the partisan fray -- and often appearing cautious to a fault -- Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun taking more risks and landing some punches against Republicans.... The more aggressive posture comes as Clinton has suffered an erosion in her public image, with more potential voters saying they view her unfavorably than at any point since she entered the 2016 race and fewer people saying they find her trustworthy.... Clinton's stepped-up tempo has included almost daily attacks on the better-known contenders among the wide Republican field, particularly billionaire front-runner Donald Trump and former Florida governor Jeb Bush." ...

... Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "With Americans shouldering $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and about eight million of them in default, Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday will propose major new spending by the federal government that would help undergraduates pay tuition at public colleges without needing loans. Mrs. Clinton does not go as far as her Democratic presidential opponents in promising to end tuition debt altogether, since her plan would still require a family contribution that could involve parents taking out loans to cover some tuition.... Colleges would have to hold down costs and show improvements on graduation rates...." ...

... CW: By contrast, Jeb! opposes President Obama's proposal to make community colleges tuition-free, calling it "poll-driven ... free stuff." According to PolitiFact, in-state tuition in state-run universities under his administration went up 56 percent, though that's less than the national average of about 75 percent." That's funny; his father & brother both wanted to be known as "the education president," & they at least partially succeeded. Meanwhile, as Healy points out, "Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, signed a two-year budget last month that cuts spending for the University of Wisconsin system by $250 million," & as Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post put it, "savage[d] public education in the state." As Strauss notes, Walker also removed tenure protection for UW professors, expanded the voucher system, "and create[d] a new 'special needs' voucher law that cuts into protections for special needs students." Strauss elsewhere assessed "the public education mess that has developed in [Ohio] under [John Kasich's] leadership." In the Huffington Post, James Moore demonstrated that Rick Perry's education cuts were a "civic disaster." Laura Camera of Politics K-12: "During his tenure [as governor of New York state], [George Pataki] often proposed funding freezes and cuts to the state university system as part of his strategy to eliminate a $4 billion budget shortfall. Chris Chrisie also slashed New Jersey's state funding of education, & he'd like to punch teachers in the face. With all this, Diane Ravitch gives Bobby Jindal the prize: "All in all, the Jindal legislation is the most far-reaching attempt in the nation to de-fund, dismantle, and obliterate public education."

Paul Krugman: "The shared premise of everyone on the Republican side is that the Obama years have been a time of policy disaster on every front. Yet the candidates on that [Cleveland debate] stage had almost nothing to say about any of the supposed disaster areas. And there was a good reason they seemed so tongue-tied: Out there in the real world, none of the disasters their party predicted have actually come to pass. President Obama just keeps failing to fail. And that's a big problem for the G.O.P. -- even bigger than Donald Trump."

Rebecca Leber of the New Republic: "The GOP's all-of-the-above energy policy is nothing like [President] Obama's.... Bush and Walker endorsed his energy policy only to the extent that it supports the continued development of fossil fuels."

She should really be apologizing to me, you want to know the truth.... This wasn't meant to be much of an insult. She asked me a question. It was an inappropriate question. It was a ridiculous question. Even the other candidates came up to me and said that that was absolutely out of line. She asked me a question that was nasty, and I gave her a pretty tough answer. -- Donald Trump, on Megyn Kelly, today on "Morning Joe"

Robert Costa & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post on the Trump campaign's efforts to turn Donald's vanity candidacy into an actual presidential campaign with policy positions & stuff. Trump isn't helping. He seems to think saying, "I will be the greatest jobs president this country has ever seen," is an economics policy platform. CW: Maybe Trump suffers from attention-deficit disorder &/or perhaps lacks reading skills. At any rate, he does not appear to have the ability to focus on anything that is not himself. Bullying behavior almost always points to some other deficiency the bully is trying to obscure.

I will be phenomenal to the women. I want to help women. -- Donald Trump, Sunday, on CBS's "Face the Nation"

Shawna Thomas & John Lapinski of NBC News: "If Donald Trump's comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly are hurting his standing in the Republican primary, it's not showing in the numbers. According to the latest NBC News Online Poll conducted by SurveyMonkey, Trump is at the top of the list of GOP candidates that Republican primary voters would cast a ballot for if the primary were being held right now. The overnight poll was conducted for 24 hours from Friday evening into Saturday.... None of that stopped Trump from coming in at the top of the poll with 23 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz was next on the list with 13 percent.... [Ben Carson got 11%] In overall support, [Carly Fiorina] came in fourth with 8%...." Marco Rubio also received 8%, beating Jeb Bush & Scott Walker, who both came in at 7%. CW: These results should give you a good idea at how transitory early polling is.

... "The GOP's Carly Conspiracy." digby, in a Salon essay, delves into the reasons for Fiorina's sudden surge "shocked the beltway Villagers all the way down to the soles of their Sperry Top-Siders." CW: In an aside, digby reminds us that Fiorina -- who repeatedly gave Donald Trump what-for for his remarks about Megyn Kelly -- is herself not above making sexist remarks.

The thing is, income inequality is due to some people working harder and selling more things. -- Rand Paul, to Chris Wallace of "Fox 'News' Sunday"

... The Most Interesting Man in Politics Is a Nitwit. Dave Jamieson of the Huffington Post: "Asked if his flat tax plan would further separate the haves from the have-nots, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) said Sunday that income inequality is the result of some Americans working harder than others, rather than economic policies.... An analysis by the Tax Foundation found that under the plan, households earning more than $1 million per year would see their after-tax incomes rise by 13 percent. Households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 per year, meanwhile, would see their after-tax income rise only by 3 percent." Li'l Randy thinks that's "a good thing." ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "... giving the ludicrously wealthy more money does not, in fact, put that money back in the economy. They do not lead to economic growth, but they do contribute to increasing inequality. That's because the very rich tend to hoard their wealth.... We also know that the majority of the very rich don't actually produce real goods, but work in the financial sector goosing the short-term shareholder value of corporations.... This makes them wealthy, but actually worsens the health of the economy as a whole....We also know well by now that supply-side economics is a complete failure and that wealth does not, in fact, trickle down.... The entire Republican field is filled with candidates making provably false claims with horrific policy consequences...."

The Cutest Kid in Politics Is a Nitwit.

We need to repeal Dodd-Frank. It is eviscerating small businesses and small banks. Over 40 percent of small and mid-size banks that loan money to small businesses have been wiped out since Dodd-Frank has passed. -- Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), speaking in Thursday's GOP presidential nomination debate

The actual figure is 14 percent. There's certainly a big difference between 14 and 40 percent.... But it's not entirely clear this is all the fault of the law. The number of banks has plunged in the last two decades, so the best case that Rubio could make is that the law has possibly increased the pace of closures. But he cannot so sweepingly blame the law -- and he needs to get his numbers straight. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Beyond the Beltway

Jim Salter & Jim Suhr of the AP: "One year after the shooting that cast greater scrutiny on how police interact with black communities, the father of slain 18-year-old Michael Brown led a march in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday after a crowd of hundreds observed 4½ minutes of silence." ...

... John Eligon & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "St. Louis County police officers shot and critically injured a man who fired at them [In Ferguson, Mo.,] late Sunday night.... The shooting came after rival groups began shooting at each other on the west side of West Florissant Avenue, the center of the Ferguson protests.... 'They were criminals; they weren't protesters,' [Chief Jon] Belmar said of the groups exchanging gunfire."

Faith Karimi & Faith Almasy of CNN: "An unarmed college football player who was fatally shot by an officer in Texas did not comply with initial calls to surrender, authorities said. The officer involved was in the last stages of his field training when he shot Christian Taylor, 19, multiple times at a car dealership in Arlington, Police Chief Will Johnson said. Footage released by a security company after the incident shows a man described as Taylor wandering around the dealership lot. In the video, which has been edited, he kicks out the windshield of a car on the lot. Officers are shown walking onto the dealership's parking lot a few moments later."

Tim Carpenter of the Topeka Capital-Journal: Neighbors of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's brother Jim have accused the Linn County farmer of terrorizing the community. "Adversaries say he has woven a liquor-infused tapestry of fear colored by intimidation, abuse and lies. The saga features stalking, death threats, trespassing, drive-by gunfire, massive explosions, cattle theft, loan defaults, hit-and-run driving and marital strife. Linn County Sheriff's Department files bulge with complaints about him." Jim reportedly invokes his brother's name when threatened with arrest & cites the connection to the governor as his source of "invincibility." CW: Meanwhile of course Sam is terrorizing the whole state in a less violent way.

Way Beyond

Omar Al-Jawoshy & Tim Arango of the New York Times: "Facing widespread protests against government corruption and poor services as well as a crucial call for change from the country's top Shiite cleric, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday proposed to radically reshape the dysfunctional political system of Iraq that has been entrenched since the American invasion in 2003. The proposals ... were wide ranging and included a new corruption inquiry and eliminating what has been a hallmark of the American-imposed system: sectarian and party quotas in the appointment of top officials. Dramatically, Mr. Abadi also vowed to eliminate the three vice presidency positions, largely ceremonial jobs that come with expensive perks."

News Lede

Washington Post: "An Iranian court held its final hearing Monday in the trial of a Washington Post journalist [Jason Razaian] facing charges including espionage, and a decision could come within the week, his laywer said."

Saturday
Aug082015

The Commentariat -- August 9, 2015

William Broad of the New York Times: "Twenty-nine of the nation's top scientists -- including Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms and former White House science advisers -- wrote to President Obama on Saturday to praise the Iran deal, calling it innovative and stringent. The letter, from some of the world's most knowledgeable experts in the fields of nuclear weapons and arms control, arrives as Mr. Obama is lobbying Congress, the American public and the nation's allies to support the agreement. The two-page letter may give the White House arguments a boost...." CW: Really? Why heed he words of people who know what they're talking about when you could listen to Ted Cruz & Mike Huckabee?

Jason Kolnos of the Cape Cod Times: President Obama went golfing Saturday afternoon with Larry David at a Martha's Vineyard club in Oak Bluffs. Looks like David didn't curb Obama's enthusiasm:

Getty photo via Politico.

Presidential Race

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "A planned speech in Seattle by presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders celebrating the anniversary of Social Security and Medicare was scuttled Saturday after protesters from Black Lives Matter took the stage and demanded that the crowd hold Sanders 'accountable' for apparently not doing enough, in their view, to address police brutality and other issues on the group's agenda.... Local reports put the size of the Saturday afternoon crowd in Seattle in the thousands. Sanders was scheduled to appear later Saturday at a large-scale rally organized by his campaign."

... The Seattle Times report, by Jim Brunner, is here. "'If you do not listen to us, your event will be shut down,' one of the protesters told organizers, who relented and said they could speak before Sanders.... The ... protesters refused to let Sanders take the microphone, prompting rally organizer Robby Stern to say the event was over...." (With video.) ...

     ... Updated story: "An estimated 15,000 supporters packed Hec Edmundson Pavilion and an overflow area as Sanders took the stage to thunderous applause and delivered an hourlong populist stemwinder about his plans to wrest the country from the control of billionaires." ...

... CW: These brats really annoy me. Were this my event, I'd have asked the cops to cuff these screamers & carry them away. Bad optics? Fuck optics. They can buy their own damned soapboxes. ...

... ** David Atkins, in the Washington Monthly, come at this from a philosophical analysis that sure beats my visceral reaction (tho the result would be the same): "... if these actions have done more damage than good, the fault lies not with the protesters so much as the event coordinators who have handed the disruptive agents the microphone at these events." ...

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of BuzzFeed: "Hours after Black Lives Matter protesters shut down a Bernie Sanders rally here, the Vermont senator's populist Democratic presidential campaign once again attempted to cast Sanders as the candidate of a modern civil rights movement. Before a crowd of more than 12,000 at the Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University Of Washington, a new public face for the Sanders campaign appeared. Symone Sanders, a volunteer organizer with the D.C.-based Coalition for Juvenile Justice, was announced as the new national press secretary of Sanders' campaign and was tasked with introducing the 73-year-old senator."

Paul Rosenberg in Salon: "... GOP candidates share a dependence on two broad-spectrum lies: First, that they're better at producing overall growth -- for example: Trump boasting, 'I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,' or Bush promising '4 percent growth as far as the eye can see' -- and, second, that growth by itself will benefit everyone." Rosenberg identifies six factors that would actually raise the pay &/or benefits of ordinary workers and documents Republican opposition to measures to implement or legislate each of those factors. CW: Condensed & pumped up a bit, this would be a good stump speech; in fact, I believe it is Bernie's stump speech.

Jill Colvin & Bill Barrow of the AP: "Donald Trump on Sunday professed his love for women and said he would be their best advocate if elected president, dismissing the firestorm of his own making that has consumed the Republican presidential campaign. 'I apologize when I'm wrong, but I haven't been wrong. I said nothing wrong,' said Trump, who called in to four Sunday news shows, skipping only Fox News, the network with which he is feuding.... Trump contended on CBS' 'Face the Nation' that it's Bush who has the problem with women, thanks to a comment the former Florida governor made last week when discussing cutting off federal money for Planned Parenthood." ...

She had blood coming out of her eyes. Or blood coming out of her wherever. -- Donald Trump, speaking on CNN Friday night about Fox "News" host Megyn Kelly ...

Trump's base is more the people who used to have season tickets to the Roman Colosseum. Not sure that they vote in great numbers, but they like blood sport. -- John McQuaid, publisher of the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader

... Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Even before Friday night, prominent Republican women said they were worried about how female voters would respond to Mr. Trump's prominence on the debate stage, where he defended imprecations like 'fat pigs' and 'bimbo' to describe women -- and his rivals did not chide him. But Mr. Trump's comment Friday night about Ms. Kelly caused a new bout of consternation among senior Republican leaders, who saw it as the latest evidence that they would not be able to fully conduct a primary campaign as long as he was overwhelming the race." ...

... Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Unlike undocumented immigrants, John McCain or Rosie O'Donnell, the Fox News anchor enjoys a huge following among the network's viewers, who happen to make up the core of the Republican primary electorate. So picking a fight with Kelly -- as Trump did when he chided her during a tough debate question about insults he's lobbed at women, dissed her in the spin room, and tweeted his complaints about her -- carries risks that Trump's other feuds do not." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "For decades, Donald Trump has made flippant misogyny as much a part of his trademark as his ostentatious lifestyle.... In a 2006 book, he wrote of women as objectified collectibles: 'Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art is not just superficial or something pretty to see.' He once sent New York Times columnist Gail Collins a copy of something she had written about him with her picture circled and 'The face of a dog!' written over it."

... Maureen Dowd on Donald Trump's remarks about Megyn Kelly (& other women). ...

Zeke Miller of Time: "On Saturday morning, Trump released a statement criticizing [Erick] Erickson [see yesterday's Commentariat], adding anyone suggesting Trump was referring to menstruation was 'a deviant.'... Not yielding any ground, Trump noted that Erickson has a history of making controversial statements about he's had to apologize for. 'Not only is Erick a total loser, he has a history of supporting establishment losers in failed campaigns so it is an honor to be uninvited from his event,' he said. 'Mr. Trump is an outsider and does not fit his agenda.'"

... CW: I'm not at all sure Trump was suggesting that Kelly posed tough questions because she was menstruating, as most reporters & pundits -- including Erick Erikson -- have assumed. Maybe he was, & if so, his remark is not only boorish (it was boorish & petty whatever he meant), it's nonsensical. Kelly's hormonal balance had nothing to do with the nature of her questions. The debate was a teevee show, like "Celebrity Apprentice." It's scripted. Whoever wrote the questions -- the moderators and/or others -- you can bet a panel of Fox "News" suits vetted them before air time. I'm sure Roger Ailes is loving this. ...

... ** Max Fisher of Vox: "... it's hard to believe that this is actually what's going on here, that this is really about sexism or 'decency' at all, given that Erickson himself has a long history of overt sexism that is every bit as bad as Trump's, if not worse.... It's pretty clear that, when Erickson says he is uninviting Trump for sexism, this is a lie. It's obvious from Erickson's own statement that he himself loves sexism and thinks that hating and disparaging women is not only great fun, but that anyone who tells him not to hate and disparage women is themselves a 'feminazi' or, worse, a fun-hating 'male feminist.'... Fox News has employed Erickson and given him a platform to espouse his hatred of women for years. That Fox News then tried to challenge Trump for advocating these same ideas shows the network's role in creating this problem, and its hypocrisy is now pretending to oppose it." Fisher cites numerous examples of Erickson's commentary on feminazis & specific women like Michelle Obama & Hillary Clinton. ...

... Greg Cwik of New York: "... top [Trump campaign] adviser Roger Stone has either been fired (Trump's version) or quit (Stone's). 'Top adviser' is a relative term on the Trump campaign: As Gabriel Sherman reported earlier this week, the staff consists of only 3-4 people at any one time - the number fluctuates as people leave/ are fired -- and this latest development is a continuation of infighting that's been going on for some time." ...

... OR, as the headline to Ben Schreckinger & Katie Glueck's Politico story screams, "Trump camp in crisis." ...

Charles Pierce: " The party has bigger problems than Donald Trump...." ...

CW: After the kiddie debate, Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics & Charles Pierce both asked Bobby Jindal if, as president, he really meant to sic the IRS on Planned Parenthood, as Jindal had just volunteered that he would. Even though it's against the law for the president to mess with the IRS, Jindal reconfirmed, twice, that he would. Jindal doesn't have a law degree but he has an advanced degree in political science from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar. After the big boys' debate, Pierce asked neurosurgeon Ben Carson how he would pay for the coming Alzheimer's epidemic:

What the hell, I thought. This guy is uniquely qualified to discuss this particular problem. He gave me some boilerplate about his tax plan, and he explained that Health Savings Accounts, started at birth, will cover the costs of the illness. This, of course, is completely bazats. Alzheimer's is going to cost the country approximately $20 trillion over the next 40 years. The estimated cost of unpaid Alzheimer's care -- usually supplied by aging spouses -- was $217 billion in 2014. HSAs are not going to cut it.

... There's the problem, exemplified in the answers to two Pierce questions. He could have asked the other 15 candidates policy questions, & he would have got similarly ridiculous answers. Not one of these jamokes makes sense. Even where they might be experts on a topic, or at least well-versed, their ideologies or misplaced bravado or something has rendered them incapable of devising & articulating rational policies -- on anything. We complain about the media concentrating on style instead of substance, but the truth is that on the GOP side, there is no substance. There is no there there. The public has now become accustomed to these empty suits. No wonder Donald Trump is enjoying such popularity right now: some Republicans like his style. And style has become everything. ...

David Atkins: "Scott Walker ... bizarrely continues to insist that there's some magical alternative solution to abortion in the rare cases where pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.... Scott Walker is provably wrong. There is no alternative to abortion in these cases to save women's lives. Walker lives in a magic fantasyland.... Just as with supply-side economics and deficit reduction, Scott Walker thinks he can ban all abortions without consequently enacting the state-sanctioned murder of every woman with an extreme ectopic pregnancy.... It would be nice if more journalists exposed that fact, rather than simply repeating the fantasies that they assert in their prepared remarks." Atkins suggests reporters, in this case those at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, could just Google the real story of ectopic pregnancies....

Greg Bluestein & Daniel Malloy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Scott Walker says he's a "visionary." CW: Beam me up, Scottie.

Greg Bluestein: "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz brought his no-compromise message to the RedState Gathering on Saturday, thrilling hundreds of hardened conservatives who flocked to Atlanta with a pledge to reject 'mealy-mouthed statements about acceptance and surrender.' Cruz received one ovation after another...."

... MEANWHILE, Dan Balz of the Washington Post was very impressed with the other candidates' performances: "... this wee's debate was a reminder that the party has able rivals who eventually could take [Trump] down -- and who also could mount a stiff challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election."

Beyond the Beltway

Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "A police officer in Arlington, Tex., shot and killed a 19-year-old Angelo State University student Friday after responding to a report of a burglary in progress at a car dealership. Christian J. Taylor, 19, was shot after an 'altercation' with an Arlington officer. Taylor was unarmed at the time, police said. He was one of 585 people shot and killed by police so far this year, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings." Taylor was black. ...

... AP: "Police said on Saturday the suburban Dallas officer who shot and killed a college football player during a burglary call at a car dealership had never fired his weapon before Friday's shooting.... Police said [Officer Brad] Miller was a 49-year-old who had been with the department since September and who had been working under the supervision of a training officer since his graduation from the police academy in March. The police statement said Miller had no police experience before joining the Arlington police force." ...

... Nomann Merchant of the AP: "A Texas police chief promised transparency as the FBI joined the investigation into the death of a Texas college football player who was fatally shot by an officer during a burglary call at a car dealership."

AP: "A toxic and orange-brown sludge spilling from a shuttered gold mine into a south-western Colorado river has reached northern New Mexico.... About a million gallons of wastewater from Colorado's Gold King Mine began spilling on Wednesday when a clean-up crew supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally breached a debris dam that had formed inside the mine. No health hazard has been detected, but tests were being analysed. Federal officials said the spill contains heavy metals including lead and arsenic."

Missed this one. AP (August 6): "Three of the 16 Planned Parenthood facilities inspected in Florida last week were performing procedures beyond their licensing authority, and one facility was not keeping proper logs relating to fetal remains, officials [of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration] announced Wednesday.... Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Executive Director Laura Goodhue said in a prepared statement Wednesday night that the licensing violations resulted from the AHCA changing its definitions of gestational periods and that the centers were operating in compliance with Florida law.... Gov. Rick Scott ordered the inspections last week. He said he was troubled by recent videos describing the organization's procedures for providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research."

News Lede

New York Times: "Frank Gifford, a Hall of Fame running back and receiver ... and then became the low-key play-by-play voice of ABC's 'Monday Night Football,' died at his home in Connecticut on Sunday. He was 84."