The Ledes

Friday, March 16, 2018.

New York Times: "An American military helicopter crashed Thursday near the city of Qaim in western Iraq, killing some of the seven service members aboard, United States officials said. It was unclear why the aircraft, an HH-60 Pave Hawk, went down, the officials added. They did not rule out ground fire, and they could not confirm how many people had been killed. One official said the helicopter was not on a combat operation but was ferrying troops."

The Wires
The Ledes

Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Miami Herald: "The [Florida International University] pedestrian bridge across Southwest Eighth Street [in Miami, Florida] collapsed Thursday afternoon, trapping an unknown number of people and cars underneath. The bridge was installed at Southwest 109th Avenue Saturday morning, intended eventually to provide pedestrian access across Tamiami Trail from FIU’s main campus to Sweetwater, where thousands of students live in off-campus housing or in FIU’s newer dorms. Before Saturday’s installation, FIU said the method of overall installation significantly reduced the risk to workers, walkers, drivers and minimized traffic disruptions for construction." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: This is a developing story. MSNBC tentatively reported that "mass casualties" had occurred. ...

... New York Times Update: "At least four people were killed, according to the Miami-Dade County fire chief, Dave Downey. Some reports put the number of dead at six to 10."


ObamaTV. New York Times: "Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions.Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service.... The Netflix deal, while not a direct answer to Fox News or, would give Mr. Obama an unfiltered method of communication with the public similar to the audiences he already reaches through social media...."

Chicago Tribune: "A new scientific study claims that bones found in 1940 on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro belong to [American aviator Amelia] Earhart, despite a forensic analysis of the remains conducted in 1941 that linked the bones to a male. The bones, revisited in the study 'Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones' by University of Tennessee professor Richard Jantz, were discarded. For decades they have remained an enigma, as some have speculated that Earhart died a castaway on the island after her plane crashed." Jantz's conclusion is based on measurements of the bones taken by a medical doctor in 1941.

... Michael Rosenwald of the Washington Post has the full story.

Here's the L.A. Times' main Academy Awards page. ...

... And the award for Best Acceptance Remarks goes to ...

     ... "Inclusion Rider," explained.

The Power of Art. Here's the story:

Must-Not-See TV. AP: "Columnist Michael Gerson and commentator Amy Holmes are teaming to start a conservative-oriented talk show on PBS that takes its cue from William F. Buckley’s 'Firing Line,' which aired from 1966 to 1999. The new show, 'In Principle,' will air Friday nights starting April 13. PBS will decide after an eight-week run whether to continue." Mrs. McC: I can give them some advice on that right now.

New York Times: "On Tuesday [Feb. 27], an Alabama court unsealed [novelist Harper] Lee’s will, but the mystery surrounding one of American literature’s most cherished authors only deepened. The will, signed on February 11, 2016, eight days before her death, directed that the bulk of her assets, including her literary properties, be transferred into a trust she formed in 2011. Trust documents are private, so all questions about what will become of her literary papers and who beyond her closest relatives might benefit from her assets, will remain unanswered for now."

Grub Street: "England is almost a full week into its 'chicken drought,' the result of KFC switching food distributors to save money, only to have that backfire tremendously when its new bargain-rate delivery partner, DHL, didn’t, uh, deliver.” Chicken supplies dried up, and as many as 700 of KFC’s 900 U.K. locations were forced to close by the start of this week. Initially, the marketing folks tried lightening the mood with a joke that amounted to 'Why did the chicken cross the road? We have no clue, but it wasn’t to get to a KFC restaurant.' That went over poorly. Rightfully shamed, they’ve tried again today with a full-page apology ad in the Sun and Metro papers that features an empty KFC bucket":

... Thanks to MAG for the link. Imagine the horror of the church ladies if KFC had tried this is Kentucky Fried Kentucky.

New York Times: "Margaret Brennan, the senior foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, will be the next moderator of 'Face the Nation,' the network’s prestige Sunday morning public affairs show and one of the most influential venues in American politics. Her new role, announced by CBS on Thursday, makes Ms. Brennan, 37, the only woman currently serving as a solo anchor of a major Sunday political affairs show. She succeeds John Dickerson, who left 'Face the Nation' in January after less than three years to replace Charlie Rose on 'CBS This Morning.'”



The Martin Luther King home in Atlanta. MLK, Jr. was born here. The house is a National Historic Site & you can visit it -- the National Park Service conducts tours.

More on the MLK house here.

Constant Comments


Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

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


The Commentariat -- Sept. 18, 2015

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The Federal Reserve announced on Thursday, after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee, that it would keep interest rates near zero as officials assess the impact of tighter financial conditions and slower global growth on the domestic economy. Janet L. Yellen, the Fed's chairwoman, described the decision as a close call." ...

... Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "What comes through in both the written materials the Fed released Thursday, and in Ms. Yellen's comments in a news conference, is the sense that they want just a little more assurance ... that their underlying assumptions are correct."

Danielle Ivory & Bill Vlasic of the New York Times: "General Motors went a long way on Thursday toward clearing the legal morass stemming from its decade-long failure to disclose a deadly safety defect in millions of older small cars. In simultaneous announcements, the automaker said it had resolved two substantial avenues of litigation: a criminal investigation by the Justice Department, and hundreds of private lawsuits filed by victims of a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to at least 124 deaths."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "By any measure, President Obama's effort to train a Syrian opposition army to fight the Islamic State on the ground has been an abysmal failure. The military acknowledged this week that just four or five American-trained fighters are actually fighting. But the White House says it is not to blame. The finger, it says, should be pointed not at Mr. Obama but at those who pressed him to attempt training Syrian rebels in the first place -- a group that, in addition to congressional Republicans, happened to include former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "White House officials announced the start of a nationwide campaign on Thursday to encourage legal immigrants to become American citizens, which could add millions of voters to the electorate in time for the presidential election next year. With about 8.8 million legal residents in the country who are eligible to become citizens, White House officials said they were trying to make it easier to complete the final steps to citizenship.... Federal figures [show] that about 60 percent of immigrants eligible to naturalize are Latino and about 20 percent are Asian, both groups that voted overwhelmingly for President Obama. Nearly a third of legal permanent residents eligible to naturalize are Mexican." CW: Hey, hand 'em voter registration cards & maps to their polling places with those citizenship certificates. Seriously, Democratic voter registrars should station themselves outside naturalization offices.

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Democrats blocked a resolution disapproving the Iran nuclear deal for a third time Thursday, sealing a major foreign policy victory for President Obama. Senators voted 56-42 against ending debate on the resolution of disapproval, falling short of the 60 votes needed on the procedural motion." ...

... Burgess Everett of Politico: "Mitch McConnell should have taken Harry Reid's deal on Iran, GOP Sen. Jeff Flake said in an interview Thursday. The Arizonan said that it 'does not make sense' to hold repeated procedural votes on Iran that are sure to fail, as the Senate is doing on Thursday with amendments that would require Iran to recognize Israel and release Americans held in Iran."

Jordain Carney: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday officially teed up an initial vote for next week on legislation to restrict abortions after 20 weeks. The Republican leader filed cloture on a motion to proceed to the House-passed legislation. Under Senate rules, the Senate will take a procedural vote on the proposal on Tuesday."

Rebecca Shabad & Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "House GOP leaders are trying to convince their rank and file it would be a bad move to risk a government shutdown over blocking funding for Planned Parenthood. At a closed-door conference meeting on Thursday morning, leadership presented their members with polling from the House GOP's campaign arm showing Republicans would be blamed for a government shutdown."

You People Are Even Crazier than I Am. Lauren French of Politico: Winger California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock announced Wednesday he was resigning from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, saying the group's hardball tactics had undermined conservative goals rather than advancing them. The departure comes as the group is locked in a heated battle with Republican leaders about the direction of the party and is threatening to attempt to strip Rep. John Boehner of his speakership."

Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled against ObamaCare's birth control mandate in a decision that could invite a Supreme Court review. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that four Christian nonprofits should not have to comply with the ObamaCare rule that all employer healthcare plans include contraception options or face a fee. While employers can seek exemptions to the law, the court argued that doing so poses a 'substantial burden; on that organization's religious rights. The decision is particularly important because it directly contradicts another federal court's ruling."

Mary Hudetz of the AP: "The Obama administration has agreed to pay hundreds of Native American tribes nearly $1 billion to settle a decades-old claim that the government failed to adequately compensate tribes while they managed education, law enforcement and other federal services. The Interior Department announced the proposed $940 million agreement in Albuquerque on Thursday along with leaders from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Zuni Pueblo and Ramah Chapter of the Navajo Nation."

Darren Sands of BuzzFeed: "Black Lives Matter activists, including select members of Campaign Zero, met with top White House officials on Wednesday, a senior administration official confirmed to BuzzFeed News. Activists met with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, as well as Roy Austin, the deputy assistant to the president for urban affairs, and a collection of White House officials. The meeting focused on law enforcement and community policing with an emphasis on how to increase public safety locally. ....

... Charles Pierce seems to think wingers will find this outrageous. ...

... CW: I'd say this is an example of what Pierce had in mind.

Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama hailed the courage and quick thinking of three high school friends who helped avert tragedy on a Paris-bound train last month as they came to the White House on Thursday, where he labeled them 'the very best of America'":

Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who faces a possible life sentence for endangering the troops who searched for him after he left his Afghanistan base in 2009, at the time had a 'severe mental disease or defect,' one of his lawyers said Thursday. The diagnosis was made later by an independent Army psychiatry board, said the defense lawyer, Lt. Col. Franklin D. Rosenblatt of the Army. Because of his psychological problems, Sergeant Bergdahl washed out of Coast Guard basic training three years earlier, Colonel Rosenblatt said, and had to obtain a waiver to join the Army."

Presidential Race

I would hope that the Republicans -- and particularly the Republicans in the House, led by Speaker Boehner -- would not put our country and our economy in peril pursuing some kind of emotionally, politically charged, partisan attack on Planned Parenthood to shut our government down.... If they want to shut down the legal provision of abortion services, then they've got a bigger problem, because obviously Planned Parenthood does not use federal dollars to do that. -- Hillary Clinton, to Wolf Blitzer yesterday

Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "The Republican National Committee is not ready to commit to having an undercard debate the next time around, spokesman Sean Spicer said on Thursday. RNC officials will be watching the race unfold over the next few weeks to see if any candidates drop out, and how many."

"The Hunger Games." Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "In addition to the fact that [Republicans] have no obvious candidate to consolidate behind, the fractured field is leaving each favored contender vulnerable to other dark horses who are happy to maul and obstruct them.... The biggest victim of this phenomenon is Jeb Bush, who not only has to fend off minor threats, but is also engaged in a clearly unwinnable rhetorical war with Trump.... Over and over again during the debate, Bush attempted to assert himself against Trump, as if to demonstrate by example that Trump has mischaracterized his lack of vigor. He failed every time."

Paul Krugman: "... all of the G.O.P. candidates are calling for policies that would be deeply destructive at home, abroad, or both. But even if you like the broad thrust of modern Republican policies, it should worry you that the men and woman on that stage are clearly living in a world of fantasies and fictions.... If the discussion of economics was alarming, the discussion of foreign policy was practically demented.... The only candidate who seemed remotely sensible on national security issues was Rand Paul, which is almost as disturbing as the spectacle of Mr. Trump being the only voice of economic reason." ...

... New York Times Editors: "It felt at times as if the speakers were no longer living in a fact-based world where actions have consequences, programs take money and money has to come from somewhere. Where basic laws -- like physics and the Constitution -- constrain wishes. Where Congress and the public, allies and enemies, markets and militaries don't just do what you want them to, just because you say they will."...

... Charles Pierce: "What we saw ... was the triumph of fiction over fact, of fantasy over reality. In other words, what we saw was the most fitting tribute to Ronald Reagan ever produced. Congratulations, one and all. The final fealty of the Republican Party to total and complete bullshit has been sworn.... If Carly Fiorina is adjudged to be the winner of a debate simply because of how 'crisply' she delivered lies about Planned Parenthood, or how 'forcefully' she responded to a cartoon like Donald Trump, or how 'sharply' she presented her nonsense about reining in Vladimir Putin with 'aggressive military maneuvers' on his borders, then there is a problem in the political process that is metastasizing by the hour. Ronald Reagan was the index patient for that problem." .../p>

... Tim Egan: Carly Fiorina "is the embodiment of the unfairness, the rigged game that hurts so many average working people.... [Jeb!] Bush did expose [Donald] Trump for what should be his greatest weakness, something that's been largely overlooked by the surface-obsessed press. The guy is a casino operator. He made a lot of money separating suckers from their money. And then, through his bankruptcies, he eventually failed at that -- one of the most rigged schemes in the world. He lost in his own game of loser's poker."

Adele Stan of the American Prospect: "While [debate moderator Jake] Tapper, with an occasional assist from his colleague Dana Bash and radio host Hugh Hewitt, did hit the hot buttons -- Planned Parenthood funding, immigration, Iran, same-sex marriage, Donald Trump's remarks about Carly Fiorina's face -- the questions read more like a greatest hits list of GOP bloviation points than prompts for serious discussions of issues.... And as is too often the case in such debates, blatant lies uttered by candidates were left unchallenged.... The evil genius of Fiorina ... is her uncanny ability to play the gender warrior within the GOP while promoting the party's misogyny."

I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.' -- Carly Fiorina, making up stuff during the debate

... ** digby, in Salon: "... much of what Fiorina says is either untrue or incoherent, which her polished style of rapid-fire answers containing long lists of memorized specifics obscures.... Considering her very loose relationship with the truth, her failed record as a businesswoman which left thousands of people's lives in ruins and her cavalier attitude about paying her debts, it's awfully ironic that the lines she delivers with the most righteous passion are harsh criticisms of Hillary Clinton's honesty and trustworthiness. That's something else she has in common with Trump -- chutzpah." ...

... Steve Benen: "... as a substantive matter, Fiorina, who's running for president despite never having held public office, spoke with great confidence and poise, but generally seemed clueless. Her rhetoric about Planned Parenthood was plainly at odds with reality. She said it takes 'two-thirds of the states' to ratify a constitutional amendment, but it actually takes three-fourths. Her comments about the criminal justice system were simply untrue. She insisted that Democrats, who've been pleading with Republicans for years to pass immigration reform, 'don't want' to pass immigration reform. Her defense of her failed tenure at HP was hard to take seriously. Her rhetoric about foreign policy was 'bizarre.'... By some measures, a candidate who gets caught making so many bogus claims over the course of just one debate should wake up to brutal headlines about a disqualifying performance. But by contemporary rules, presidential hopefuls are judged less like candidates for the White House and more like performers...." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "Fiorina, appearing on ABC's 'Good Morning America' earlier Thursday, responded to numerous media fact-checks (including from Politico) by saying that 'rest assured,' she had seen what she described during the debate. [CW: Because everybody except Carly is delusional.]...Planned Parenthood Action Fund shot back with a memo and a letter to Fiorina on Thursday. 'The images show nothing like what Carly Fiorina said they do, and they have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. The video footage that she claims exists -- and that she 'dared' people to watch -- does not exist,' Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero said in a memo released via email Thursday. 'We have a word for that: It's a lie. And it's not the first time Carly Fiorina has lied.'" ...

... Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post: Carly "Fiorina's past political history suggests that her struggles at HP could be a campaign killer. In 2010, Fiorina was running surprisingly close to California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), who was struggling in a strong election cycle for Republicans nationally. Then, Boxer ran this ad focused on Fiorina's time at the helm of HP.... The ad functioned as a sort of knock-out punch for Boxer even in a year where Republicans claimed victories all across the country:

Words Fail Me (Amended Below):

     ... The Ethnic-Cleansing Candidate. Juan Cole: "The corporate media focused more on the statements about Obama and Trump's unwillingness to challenge them than on the demand for ethnic cleansing of millions of US citizens. They even twisted themselves in pretzels with their headlines about Trump 'failing to challenge' the man. That allegation is an abject lie, since Trump very clearly reacted to the charge with approval by saying that 'we need' this question.... More important than the birther allegations is that Trump accepted the premise of the man that Muslim-Americans might be conducting terrorist training camps on US soil for the purpose of training to kill Americans, and that a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Americans of Muslim faith is required ('get rid of'). He promised to look into the issue." ...

     ... The P. T. Barnum Candidate. CW: There is an alternate reading here, & it relies on the way Trump says, "We need this question." He laughs when he says it. Let's stipulate that Trump is a racist. He's a real-life Archie Bunker (like Donald, a Queens character), albeit a richer one. But I think what you see in that laugh (13 seconds in) is a fleeting failure to stay in character. Almost immediately, Trump catches himself & pretends the jerk has made intelligent remarks & asked a worthy question. Trump says his people will be looking into the guy's insane charges & (maybe) into how to "get rid of" Muslims. One could argue that Trump no more endorses the guy's remarks than you endorse your Uncle Fred's Thanksgiving dinner harangue when you just roll your eyes instead of wasting your time telling Fred he's a jackass. Trump does not, as Cole suggests, endorse a Muslim Holocaust the way he has promised a Central American Trail of Tears. What we've been witnessing lo these many months is performance completely devoid of conviction. Why doesn't Trump go into detail about how he's going to deport 11 million people? Because he has no intention of doing so. When he originally made the statement, his only plan was to garner more publicity. But since he is preternaturally unable to back down from any of his ludicrous remarks, as his poll numbers rose & a Trump presidency began to seem vaguely possible, he's had to stick with statements he knows are ridiculous. That horrifying little jerk who is willing to say in public that we need to "get rid of" Muslims is, in a way, a lot more scary than Donald Trump. Trump is a joker. He is laughing at all of us. That guy is real, & he (figuratively) lives next door to me. The problem, of course, is that Trump's Big Joke encourages him.

Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "Ben Carson holds the top spot in the Michigan GOP primary, according to a poll released by Marketing Resource Group (MRG) on Wednesday. Carson, who was born in Detroit, draws 24 percent in the Great Lake State, followed by Donald Trump at 22 percent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 8 percent and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at 6 percent. The retired neurosurgeon polls particularly well with women voters in the state...." CW: Toljaso. That soothing bedside manner is a hit with the ladies.

Burgess Everett: "Many of the Republican candidates on the debate stage Wednesday night joined in a full-throated endorsement of Ted Cruz's damn-the-torpedoes strategy to defund Planned Parenthood, even if it means shutting down the federal government. But two candidates who'll soon be casting votes on the matter were noticeably silent: Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul."

... Jonathan Chait: "... the most frightening and consequential fallout from the debate was the near-consensus that George W. Bush had, in fact, handled his duties as commander-in-chief splendidly. Jeb Bush's most passionate and crowd-pleasing moment came when he insisted, in the face of Trump's criticism of the Iraq War, that his brother had 'kept us safe.' Bush's campaign considered this rallying moment of the party faithful so successful that, [Thursday], it leaned into that moment and made it the centerpiece of Bush's post-debate message.... It is bizarre to center your defense of Bush having 'kept us safe' with a photograph of him standing on the rubble from the worst domestic mass-casualty attack in American history, one that took place under his watch." ...

... CW: As someone else pointed out (sorry, I can't recall who), in the photo, Dubya is standing atop the dead bodies of some of the people he "kept safe." I have never understood why pundits right & left considered his bullhorn moment a brilliant, moving expression of the American character, our modern-day equivalent to Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech.

The Doofus Sawbuck.... Peter Alexander & Carrie Dann of NBC News: "Jeb Bush might be changing his mind about his statement that he'd like to see former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the $10 bill.... Bush instead said that he'd like to see the American people decide which woman deserves to be on U.S. currency, suggesting that a question about the bill during the second GOP presidential debate Wednesday night was not 'the most relevant thing in the world.'" CW: Because women, especially American women, are not very "relevant." I mean, who cares? This is the same Doofus who said in August, "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars -- for women's health issues." ...

... "Wallets Full of Women." Ann Friedman of New York on all the candidates' choices. Funny, as long as you forget one of these anti-feminists (& that definitely includes Carly) could become president.

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "A friend of the alleged Charleston church shooter was arrested Thursday, more than a month after authorities told him he was under federal investigation for lying to them and failing to report a crime, an official close to the probe said. Joey Meek, 21, was arrested Thursday, the official told the Associated Press, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly talk about the case." ...

... Avery Wilks of the (South Carolina) State reports here.

Dan Barry of the New York Times: "More than six years after their rescue from virtual servitude, in which they worked for little pay in a turkey processing plant while living in a decrepit Iowa schoolhouse, more than two dozen men with intellectual disabilities will share nearly $600,000 owed to them, after a federal court order issued Thursday in Dallas. The ruling, by Chief Judge Jorge A. Solis of United States District Court, overrode a confidential arrangement that would have redirected hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to the men, in unpaid court judgments, to the heirs of their former employers, the owners of a Texas-based company called Henry's Turkey Service." ...

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant [R] and Attorney General Jim Hood [D] believe the state's ban on adoptions by same-sex couples remains constitutional -- even in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's recent marriage rulings -- the two men asserted in federal court late last week." CW: Apparently every single discriminatory statute, ordinance & administrative regulation will have to get a Supreme Court reading before it becomes unconstitooshunal.

Cristian Farias of the Huffington Post: "A federal appeals court on Thursday turned away a request filed by lawyers for Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, and chastised Davis' attorneys for not adhering to the rules of the court.

... Nicole Hensley of the New York Daily News: "What appears to be a viral Tide commercial spoofing religious freedom advocates such as Kentucky's Kim Davis is only an advertising company's pitch to Procter & Gamble.... The 30-second spot directed by TinyGiant's Mark Nickelsburg appears to be a hat tip to a whirlwind of legal sparring in Rowan County as Davis repeatedly refused to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses, but it's only a coincidence. The idea behind the commercial, however, was conceived in January and wasn't taped until weeks before the Supreme Court’s ruling in June, Nickelsburg told the Daily News. 'Kim Davis did not inspire it at all,' Nickelsburg said, but 'there's truth to comedy,' he added."

Dave Blanton of the Kings Mountain (North Carolina) Herald: "Eugene Holmes, who is running for mayor of Kings Mountain, bluntly states that he doesn't want the job. 'I don't want to be mayor no more than I want to fly,' said Holmes, who on the ballot lists his first name as 'Sherlock.'... 'In my administration I would do just like Mrs. Davis did in Kentucky,' said Holmes, referring to Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk.... (The City of Kings Mountain does not issue marriage licenses.)... ''I would get the D.A. to swear out a warrant on any man who says he's gay. Sodomy is a crime, a felony in the state of North Carolina. What's wrong with eradicating homosexuals? We should jail them, throw them all in jail!' said Holmes.... 'I don't know about my chances in this thing,' said Holmes...." CW: No shit, Sherlock. Via the Raw Story.

Way Beyond

Amer Cohadzic & Danica Kirka of the AP: "Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said Friday his nation is overwhelmed by a huge influx of migrants and will redirect people toward Hungary and Slovenia as they move north in hopes of reaching more prosperous European countries. It wasn't immediately clear how Croatia's move would solve the situation since both Hungary and Slovenia are taking steps to keep migrants out, deepening a crisis as people seek a route to refuge."

William Booth, et al., of the Washington Post: "European nations once friendly to refugees abruptly yanked their welcome mats Thursday, as Germany considered slashing its benefits and Croatia announced it was closing most of its road links with Serbia 'until further notice.'... In a 128-page draft law produced by the German Interior Ministry..., the government would speed asylum procedures, cut cash benefits, hasten deportations and punish those with false claims and phony paperwork.... Croatia's decision to close roads across its border with Serbia raised the risk of pushing asylum seekers into the area's fields and forests, which are littered with land mines left over the 1990s Balkan War."


The Commentariat -- Sept. 17, 2015

Presidential Race

Tom McCarthy of the Guardian: "Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump spent hours Wednesday night fending off attacks from rival candidates on a California debate stage as moderators struggled to enforce order among a clamorous group of 11 White House hopefuls. With the mood swinging from a rollicking family argument to uncomfortably personal confrontation to shared disdain for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, the debate showcased a race with an unusual number of candidates from unusually diverse backgrounds making creative plays for the Republican base."

New York Times reporters ID what they think were the highlights. They also did some fact-checking, which is important, because most of the candidates told at least one whopper. ...

... Politico staffers fact-check some whoppers, too:

I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. -- Carly Fiorina

Gee, I didn't know that. Maybe because Fiorina made it up out of whole cloth. -- Constant Weader

... More fact-checking from Glenn Kessler & Michelle Lee of the Washington Post. CW: These guys can't handle the truth. You wonder which ones know they're liars, which are ignorant followers of Right Wing News & which are just sociopaths.  ...

... Marc Caputo of Politico, long a Miami Herald political reporter, tells "the real story behind Trump's Florida gaming fixation." CW: So last night, Trump flat-out lied on stage about that. If you can't beat lazy Jeb!, how are you going to take on Putin & the Ayatollah, Donald? ...

... CW: I wish one of the moderators had had the guts to ask Trump about his supposed business acumen, which he touts as his primary qualification for the top job: National Journal: "Had the celebrity businessman and Republican presidential candidate invested his eventual share of his father's real-estate company into a mutual fund of S&P 500 stocks in 1974, it would be worth nearly $3 billion today, thanks to the market's performance over the past four decades. If he'd invested the $200 million that Forbes magazine determined he was worth in 1982 into that index fund, it would have grown to more than $8 billion today. ...

(... Speaking of Donald Trump's inheritance, it looks as if he came by his racism honestly -- he inherited that, too. Matt Blum of Boing Boing (Sept. 9): "According to a New York Times article published in June 1927, a man with the name and address of Donald Trump's father was arraigned after Klan members attacked cops in Queens, N.Y." Better known: "A 1979 article, published by Village Voice, reported on a civil rights suit that alleged that the Trumps refused to rent to black home-seekers.")

... There's one thing I'll tell you about my brother. He kept us safe. -- Jeb!, telling the Biggest Lie of the Night ...

... Charles Pierce: "I ran out of patience long ago with The Great Mulligan. C-Plus Augustus ignored the terrorist threat for nine months. He told his Attorney General to shift focus from counterterrorism to weed and porn. He told his National Security Advisor to worry about the Russians. He blew off a Presidential Daily Briefing and a CIA briefer. Then, on September 11, 2001, there were 3000 Americans who were not kept safe on his watch. He then stonewalled any real investigation of his negligence. He then launched a war of choice after allowing the architect of the attacks to go free. There were more than 4000 American soldiers who were not kept safe. And now his blithering brother suggests that time began on September 12, 2001. Scott Walker then chimed in about how it was all Barack Obama's fault."

Here are some take-aways from Noah Bierman of the Los Angeles Times.

Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone picks the "top ten zingers of the ... debate."

Jonathan Chait: "The debate revealed a party wedded to the tenets of Bushism -- rabid, debt-financed, regressive tax-cutting, reflexive hostility to regulation, and a pervasive anti-intellectualism. Trump at one point implicitly defended his lack of foreign-policy knowledge on the grounds that the current administration had many knowledgable people (true) and the world was on fire (questionable). This open attack on brainpower would have been astonishing, except that Marco Rubio repeated it himself, declaring, 'Radical terrorism cannot be solved by intellect.'"

CW: If I had to go on a date with any of these guys, I would definitely pick Ben Carson. He's sort of the Candide of Candidates: well-meaning, soft-spoken & completely naive. Also, Best-Looking. ...

... Then again I liked the part where Lord Cornfields-of-Cornwall Bush (see yesterday's Commentariat) could not think of a single American woman who might merit a spot on the $10 bill & chose, instead, former Britsh PM Margaret Thatcher. Why not Queen Elizabeth? She's used to appearing on currency. O to be in England now. Confederate flag, my ass. How about the Union Jack? It is hardly surprising that Bush the Youngest is so fond of a country that retains a hereditary aristocracy & monarchy.

Gail Collins rues five hours of Republicans & Three Stages of Trump: "And then there was the completely, unbelievably irresponsible Trump of the finale who claimed he knew people whose daughter got autism from a vaccine shot. (This happened, he said, to 'people that work for me just the other day.') Remember when the vaccination issue destroyed Michele Bachmann;s political career? One can only hope."

Bernie Sanders live-tweets the debate.

Matt Grunwald of Politico: "Last night's Republican debate in the Reagan Library was not about Morning in America. It was more like Darkness at Noon. Jeb Bush did call for the party to embrace a Reaganesque sense of optimism, which he contrasted with 'the Donald Trump approach of "Everything is bad, everything is coming to an end."' But with occasional exceptions, usually involving the softer-edged John Kasich, the Trump approach dominated. For five hours, the candidates stood in front of Reagan's plane and described America as a declining nation in a dystopic world, as they pledged, to borrow a phrase, to Make America Great Again."

Margaret Hartmann runs down what some pundits had to say about each candidate's performance.

Steve M.: "Everyone from The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren to The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart to Politico's panel of 'early-state insiders' believes that Carly Fiorina won last night's debate. I think she's going to get the biggest media bounce from the debate -- if you watch political TV or read pundits, you won't be able to avoid her for a week or two -- and I assume she'll get a poll bump as well. But I predict that a month from now she'll be back in the 3%-5% range, because she's just not the kind of woman Republican voters want." ...

... Yastreblyansky, commenting on Steve's post: "Hey, Fiorina may be 'well informed' -- I'd say well prepped -- but watching her trembling with emotion about a scene in a video that doesn't exist..., and advising everybody else to watch it too with the suggestion that we'd all get just as emotional as she is, suggests she's as detached from reality as Ronald Reagan ever was. That would explain why she thinks she was a successful CEO, too."

Trip Gabriel & Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times cover the kiddie table. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Well, if there's one thing we learned from the prelim bout on Wednesday night from the Bob MacFarlane Gift Shoppe And Notions Department, it's that if any of the four of these guys gets elected, we're going to be at war somewhere, or in a couple of somewheres, very soon.... Not that any of them need that much pushing, but [Lindsey] Graham is setting the allowable parameters of the Republican party on foreign policy. And those parameters are bristling with guns."

Looks as if CNN is liveblogging the GOP debates here. CW: Because I had some gruntwork to do, I listened to most of the debates. I see now what Republican voters are so ignorant: it's because they believe these baldfaced liars. Also, Ted Cruz makes Donald Trump seem downright personable. What a horse's ass.

Ahead of the debate, some guy helps Li'l Randy take shots at the tax code. Because this is the responsible, adult thing to do:

... Then This Moment in Responsible Rhetoric. Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says he will not hold back in attacking Donald Trump as a false conservative during the second GOP presidential debate Wednesday night. 'I think he deserves both barrels,' he said on Tuesday, according to The Daily Caller."

Goodfellas, Village Edition. digby in Salon: Donald "Trump sounds more like a cheap gangster than a politician most of the time.... The political media seems to be adopting his rhetorical style. Trumpism must be catching.... [Mark] Halperin has caught a bad case of it. Scalping and assaulting and stomping and pulverizing -- it almost makes Trump's little references to 'counter-punching' sound, dare I say it, a little weak...." digby then delves into "the desperate GOP establishment plots to take Trump down."

Ted vs. the Scorpion. Whatever horror the scorpion is supposed to represent in Ted Cruz's weird ad, Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post finds the ad -- and its dark implications -- "revolting." CW: That's because Stromberg assumes that Ted is the revolting character is the ad. Stromberg is right.

Simon Rosenberg, in Time, makes a strong case for more Democratic debates.

Real News

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama accused congressional Republicans of 'playing chicken' with the economy over Planned Parenthood on Wednesday. Speaking before about 100 members of the Business Roundtable, just blocks from the Capitol, Obama said Republicans would be jeopardizing not just the United States but global markets if their insistence on eliminating funding to Planned Parenthood leads to a government shutdown." ...

There's nothing particularly patriotic or American about talking down America. -- Barack Obama ...

... Kevin Liptak of CNN: "As Republican presidential candidates lay into his record, President Barack Obama on Wednesday chalked up the attacks to expected election-year politics but said there was 'nothing particularly patriotic' about their rhetoric. 'Despite the perennial doom and gloom that I guess is inevitably part of a presidential campaign, America is winning right now,' Obama said at a meeting of the Business Roundtable in Washington. 'America is great right now. We can do even better.'" ...

... Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama warned Wednesday that his administration was ready to take action against China for cyberattacks carried out by Beijing or its proxies, publicly raising the specter of sanctions a week before President Xi Jinping arrives in the United States for a state visit." ...

... The President took quite a few deserved potshots against Republicans during his remarks& during the Q&A that followed. Very refreshing:

... Text of the President's full remarks is here.

President Obama meets with King Felipe of Spain:

** David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "The political circus surrounding the Iran nuclear deal shouldn't obscure the fact that President Obama won an enormous victory in negotiating the agreement and mustering the necessary congressional votes to sustain it. It's the most determined, strategic success of his presidency.... The outliers are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S Republican leadership, who reject an agreement most nations endorse. The political reality is that Obama outfoxed them at nearly every turn." ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to force Democrats to walk the line on the Iran nuclear agreement, teeing up a vote on a contentious amendment on the deal. The Republican leader scheduled a procedural vote on an amendment that would block President Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran under the nuclear deal until Iran publicly supports Israel and releases Americans currently held in Iranian prisons. Under Senate rules, the vote would occur Thursday, which is also the deadline for Congress to pass legislation on the Iran nuclear agreement." ...

... Seung Min Kim & Burgess Everett of Politico: "For the second time in less than a week Tuesday, the Senate blocked an attempt by the majority leader [Mitch McConnell] to push a measure to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal through the chamber. The try-and-try-again strategy -- amounting to a repeated public shaming -- has become something of a go-to move for McConnell. Problem is, it's not working, at least if the metric of success is producing a different outcome.... McConnell further raised the stakes minutes ahead of the vote by threatening to force Democrats to vote on proposals that would require Iran recognize Israel as a state and release Americans held in Iran, [the votes to be held] likely on Thursday. Aside from Iran, the majority leader has forced multiple votes on funding for the Department of Homeland Security and human-trafficking legislation." ...

... Julian Hattem of the Hill: "A small but growing number of GOP lawmakers say that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should invoke the 'nuclear option' to change Senate rules and prevent a filibuster on a resolution to kill the deal.... Less than two years after Republicans railed against Democrats for changing the rules to prevent filibusters on most presidential nominees, McConnell has ruled out using the nuclear strategy. But the call puts more pressure on the majority leader and illustrates Republicans' growing frustration with their inability to score significant victories in Congress, even while controlling both chambers." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... we have to assume the people whining at ol' Mitch about this are aware there's this thing called a presidential veto that will absolutely with zero uncertainty be used to thwart their will on both the Iran deal and Planned Parenthood. I mean, they may not know the difference between Sunnis and Shi'a or that snowfall doesn't refute global climate change. But they probably know about vetoes. So they're asking McConnell to make a pretty big strategic change of course over a gesture.... [Or] Maybe they think the Senate should become like the House and the 'rule' for consideration of legislation is determined on a case-by-case basis. Or maybe they're just incapable of making a coherent argument."

Benjamin Mueller of the New York Times: "Jon Stewart, the recently retired host of 'The Daily Show,' exhorted Congress on Wednesday to permanently extend a law providing treatment and compensation to rescue workers who were injured or sickened by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The bill, which is set to start expiring next month, has long been a favored cause of the comedian, whose shows in 2010 criticizing the law's Republican opponents and showcasing emergency medical workers with health problems helped prompt its passage. The law, called the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, pledged federal money for the health care of rescue workers who had for years been forced to depend on mix of short-term federal, city and private money."

Rachel Bade of Politico: "Two senior Senate Democrats dismissed Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn's call for a special counsel to probe the Hillary Clinton emails controversy, calling it a political ploy. Judiciary and Intelligence committee ranking Democrats Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the No. 2 Senate Republican's demand that Attorney General Loretta Lynch appoint an outside investigator would just be a waste of taxpayer money." CW: Good for Feinstein & Leahy.

Linda Greenhouse: "What's placed now in high relief by many of the current disputes is the tension inherent in religion clauses of the First Amendment. The amendment prohibits the 'establishment' of religion while also protecting 'the free exercise thereof.... The relative weight the court has accorded each of the religion clauses shifts over time, reflecting in broad strokes the concerns of the general culture as the tension between the two principles comes to the fore in different ways. The Roberts court has tilted quite far in the direction of free exercise, to the detriment of the values of pluralism inherent in the establishment clause. Inevitably, if history is any guide, a tipping point will come.... That process may have begun in the clerk's office in Rowan County, Ky. If so, we may have Kim Davis and her zealous lawyer to thank."

Neil MacFarquhar & Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "This week, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin unleashed a diplomatic offensive, pushing to meet with President Obama, offering to hold military-to-military talks on Syria, and planning a big rollout for a Syrian peace plan when he speaks at the United Nations later this month. The stakes for Mr. Putin are high.... The Kremlin has been on the defensive, diplomatically isolated after its adventures in Ukraine and battered economically by sanctions, low oil prices and a weak ruble that is cutting into living standards. Rapidly depleting the rainy day funds that have staved off financial disaster so far, Mr. Putin knows he needs to get back in the West's good graces in a hurry, or at least change the conversation. Syria provides an ideal vehicle for that, while also giving Moscow a significant role in the Middle East and promoting Mr. Putin's long-term ambitions of re-establishing Russia as a player on the world stage." ...

... CW: To all the saber-rattlers (name any Republican) who said President Obama didn't know how to handle Putin: the joke's on you.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "After decades of stiff resistance, the CIA on Wednesday released about 2,500 President's Daily Briefs and similar reports delivered to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson during a nearly eight-year span in the 1960s. The briefings detail the evolution of the war in Vietnam and responses to such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Six-Day War in the Middle East." Gerstein embeds 13 of them.

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "The number of people without health insurance dropped last year by 8.8 million, to a total of 33 million, but there was no statistically significant change in income for the typical American household, the Obama administration said Wednesday." Because ObamaCare really sucks.

Ben Protess & Danielle Ivory of the New York Times: "Federal prosecutors are poised to settle a criminal investigation into General Motors, according to people briefed on the matter, accusing the automaker of failing to disclose a safety defect tied to at least 124 deaths. The case, which the prosecutors plan to unveil on Thursday, would cap a wide-ranging investigation that tainted the automaker's reputation for quality and safety and damaged its bottom line. The prosecutors will impose a penalty of nearly $1 billion on G.M., according to people briefed on the matter..., but they are not expected to include charges against individual G.M. employees."

Beyond the Beltway

Guardian: "An appeals court agreed to halt the execution of an Oklahoma man with just hours to spare Wednesday after his attorneys asked for time to review new evidence, including a fellow inmate's claim that he overheard the other man convicted in the case admit he acted alone.... [Richard] Glossip, 52, was scheduled to be executed at 3pm [Wednesday]. But the Oklahoma court of criminal appeals agreed to delay the lethal injection after Glossip's attorneys said they had new evidence. Among the material is a signed affidavit from another inmate, Michael Scott, who claims he heard [Justin] Sneed say 'he set Richard Glossip up, and that Richard Glossip didn't do anything'."

David Ferguson of the Raw Story: "The police chief of Surf City, North Carolina was abruptly forced into retirement on Tuesday after an emergency meeting with city commissioners regarding an angry Facebook rant the chief posted about the Black Lives Matter movement." You can read the full rant here.

CW: Say you're a high-school English teacher & a 14-year-old student shows you this gizmo to the left, which he says he made at home. What do you do? Ahmed Mohamed's English teacher thought the gizmo looked like a bomb & took it to the school principal, who alerted the Irving, Texas, cops. As we all know, cops are chosen for their inability to tell the difference between beef & mackerels, so we should not be surprised that five Irving, Texas, cops -- in their combined wisdom -- cannot tell the difference between a bomb-detonating device & a crude digital clock, nor can they tell the difference between an enthusiastic science-y kid (wearing a NASA T-shirt) & a mad goth bomber. They cuffed the kid, interrogated him, carted him off to the Irving police station (without allowing him to contact his parents) & accused him of bringing a "hoax bomb" to school. The school suspended him. Ahmed's parents & the Internets (also a well-known font of wisdom & reason) accused the cops & the school of racism & Islamophobia. Frankly, I'm not so sure Islamophobia has anything to do with it. Anyway, President Obama & Mark Zuckerberg liked the clock. It seems a bit clunky to me.

Way Beyond

Rick Lyman & Dan Bilefsky of the New York Times: "Hungarian police officers moved against hundreds of migrants on Wednesday, attacking them with batons, water cannons and tear gas after they tried to surge through a border crossing that had been blocked for a second day. The migrants tore down a razor-wire gate on the Serbian side of the border crossing, and were pushing through to a second gate on the Hungarian side when the riot police drove them back. Twenty people were injured, including two children who had been thrown across the fence into Hungary, and taken to a hospital, the authorities said."

AP: "A major earthquake just offshore rattled Chileans, killing five people and shaking the Earth so strongly the tremor was felt in places across South America. Authorities worked into the early hours Thursday assessing damage in several coastal towns that saw flooding from small tsunami waves set off by the quake."


The Commentariat -- Sept. 16, 2015

CW: I am happy to report that here in the U.S. of A., Tuesday was a day without any serious political news. Ergo, most of today's Commentariat borders on -- or crosses over into -- the silly. Most of the "news" is speculation about how the candidates will fare in tonight's debates.

David Herszenhorn & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown on Tuesday, with Republicans threatening to block a budget deal if it includes financing for Planned Parenthood, as President Obama prepared to join the fight by pushing Republicans to scrap a multibillion-dollar tax advantage for private equity managers.... The so-called carried interest provision ... [is] a tax break ... that the president has repeatedly proposed eliminating, and it is a favorite bête noire of Democrats condemning income inequality. Its repeal has little chance of passing a divided Congress, but it has gained new political potency in recent days, with two Republican presidential candidates, Donald J. Trump and Jeb Bush, endorsing it."

Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "President Obama is weighing in on the discussion over political dialogue on college campuses, saying students shouldn't be "coddled" from opposing views:

It's not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues who sometimes aren't listening to the other side. And that's a problem, too. I've heard of some college campuses where they don't want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative. Or they don't want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans, or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I've got to tell you, I don't agree with that either. I don't agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views.

     ... President Obama's full speech is here. ...

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "After decades of stiff resistance, the CIA is preparing to pull back the curtain -- to an extent -- on one of the most vaunted rituals in the intelligence world: the daily briefing delivered to American presidents on world events and global threats. At a conference in Austin, Texas Wednesday, the spy agency is set to release about 2,500 President's Daily Briefs and similar reports delivered to President John F. Kennedy and then to President Lyndon Johnson during a nearly-eight-year span in the 1960s. The briefings detail the evolution of the war in Vietnam and responses to events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Six-Day War in the Middle East."

... Jonathan Chait: "One of the problems with p.c. culture is that it allows the likes of Donald Trump to pass off their bigotry as opposition to political correctness (just as communists used McCarthyism to discredit all anti-communism).... Political correctness is most closely associated with campus life, because the academy is one of the few institutions in the United States where the left has the ability to impose its hegemony.... The right's inability to conduct rational internal debate is on daily display and has had disastrous consequences for the country and the world. The impingement of this illiberal political culture on mainstream left-of-center debate is a problem of nontrivial scale." ...

... Libby Nelson of Vox: What engendered President Obama's remarks on political correctness was a student's asking him "to respond to Republican presidential contender Ben Carson's proposal to cut off funding to colleges that demonstrate political bias.... 'I have no idea what that means, and I suspect he doesn't either.... The idea that you'd have somebody in government making a decision about what you should think ahead of time or what you should be taught, and if it's not the right thought, or idea, or perspective or philosophy, that person would be -- they wouldn't get funding, runs contrary to everything we believe about education,' he said. 'That might work in the Soviet Union, but that doesn't work here. That's not who we are.'"

Rachel Bade of Politico: "Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn [R], a former Texas attorney general and Texas supreme court justice, asked [Attorney General Loretta] Lynch in a Tuesday morning letter to appoint a special counsel" to investigate Hillary Clinton's e-mail usage. CW: Thanks for your concern, Senator. Now go away.

** James Carroll of the New Yorker: "Rather than seeing [Pope Francis] as a cult-worthy personality who represents something wholly new in Catholicism, it is better to understand Francis, even in his stylistic deviations, as the culmination of a slow, if jerky, recovery on the part of the Church from its self-defeating rejection of modernity." CW: Sorry to interrupt the nonsense with something worth reading.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Special Halperin Edition. Ed Kilgore: "I guess this is Trump Panic Day..., and the best sign of that is not so much the reports of angst on Wall Street as the reaction of everybody's favorite Insider Journalist, Bloomberg Politics' Mark Halperin, who has written a piece mainly remarkable for its analysis of the GOP race as a death match where Donald Trump gets 'killed' or everybody dies! Right from the get-go, Halperin gets his thug on.... You get a mental image of Halperin sitting in a half-lit Italian restaurant with the members of Murder, Inc., planning their next hit. It's pretty hilarious, but that's how tense it's getting in the Republican side of the Village.... If it weren't for the real-life consequences, it would be tempting to cheer Trump on, if only for the comedic value of what he does to people like Halperin and his sources." ...

... Steve M.: "We've now entered the stage of this presidential race in which gullible reporters not only retransmit Donald Trump's nonsense but actually believe it themselves." Enter right, Mark Halperin. "Halperin has a narrative and he's sticking to it.... I guess the only people dumb enough to believe Trump's BS are Republican voters and mainstream political journalists." ...

... Charles Pierce: "America's cable-news executives ... lap up [Donald Trump's] every word these days like hogs going for the last corn husk on doomsday. You know the sucking up has reached critical mass among the elite political press when the inexcusably employed Mark Halperin begins slurping so loudly you can hear him from space.... This is a completely and self-evidently ridiculous man and the idea that cable news executives feel compelled to televise every waking minute of his campaign requires that they be flogged out of the business." ...

... Wait, Wait! We need to hear from Bill Kristol on this! Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "The Weekly Standard Editor told CNN on Monday that he would be unable to back the real estate mogul. 'I doubt I'd support Donald. I doubt I'd support the Democrat,' Kristol said. 'I think I'd support getting someone good on the ballot as a third-party candidate.' Kristol told CNN that he would like to see former Vice President Dick Cheney or Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) run as independents in 2016." CW: You see, it is possible to be even more ridiculous than Halperin.

Presidential Race

Paul Waldman: "The big policy headline [Tuesday] comes from the Wall Street Journal, which delivers this alarming message: Price Tag of Bernie Sanders' Proposals: $18 Trillion.... Holy cow! He must be advocating for some crazy stuff that will bankrupt America!... While Sanders does want to spend significant amounts of money, almost all of it is on things we're already paying for; he just wants to change how we pay for them. In some ways it's by spreading out a cost currently borne by a limited number of people to all taxpayers.... And ... fully $15 trillion of it comes not from an analysis of anything Sanders has proposed, but from the fact that Sanders has said he'd like to see a single-payer health insurance system.... Since Sanders hasn't released a health care plan yet, we can't make any assessment of the true cost of his plan.... Given the experience of the rest of the world, there's a strong likelihood that over the long run, a single-payer plan would save America money." ...

... CW: Waldman closes with a truism too often lost on a lazy-minded electorate: "The question when it comes to government should always be not what we're spending, but what we're getting for what we spend."

Greg Sargent makes a strong case that Hillary Clinton should push for more Democratic presidential debates.

Dana Milbank turns to for advice on how to deal with Donald Trump. By substituting's advice for how to deal with a bullying "child" to "candidate," Milbank discovers that the advice on the site could be quite effective against the Donald.

Maggie Haberman & Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times announce that over recent weeks Donald Trump has become a "better candidate"; i.e., he is beginning to follow some of the established campaign rituals like relying on prepared notes for his speeches & doing rope lines. CW: Could explain why his latest poll numbers are stagnant.

Kevin Liptak of CNN: "Donald Trump's campaign remarks about Mexican immigrants represent a play to the worst parts of society, Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday. Speaking at a reception marking Hispanic Heritage Month, Biden laid into the businessman turned GOP front-runner -- naming him twice -- as reverting to 'xenophobia' in a play for votes.":

Daniel Strauss: "The conservative group the Club for Growth unveiled its upcoming barrage against Donald Trump set to air later this week: a pair of 30-second ads that will air in Iowa and peg the real estate mogul as just another politician who supports liberal policies.... 'We have an amazing tax plan,' Trump said Sunday. 'We're going to be reducing taxes for the middle class, but for the hedge fund guys, they're going to be paying up.'" ...

... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "When we last checked in on one of many of Donald Trump's feuds, the Club for Growth was having a hard time finding takers for an ad campaign it was proposing against The Donald. It seems that 'some top GOP financiers' were worried that such an effort could 'backfire' since every person or thing that got sucked into a Trump fight loses. That's still a concern for many Republicans, but not all, apparently. CfG has managed to scrape together $1 million to run two ads in Iowa attacking Trump for being a closet liberal: "Which presidential candidate supports higher taxes, national health care and the Wall Street Bailout? It's Donald Trump," one of the ads intones.

Would Don Draper Ever Make a Mistake Like This? Can't We Get Better Ad Agencies? Eliza Collins & Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Jeb Bush's super PAC Right to Rise used stock video images from England and Asia for its new video, which seeks to contrast the former Florida governor's optimism about America's future with Donald Trump's pessimism about its present.... 'If we get a few big things right, we can make lives better for millions of people in this nation where every life matters and everyone has the right to rise,' he says. The only problem: The sun is rising over a field in Cornwall, England -- a clip available for between $19 and $79 on Shutterstock." CW: O, to be in England now that September's there. ...

... It's Morning in America Someplace All Over Again:

... AND Jeb! himself, according to Jonathan Chait, "has made a huge mistake": "When Marco Rubio proposed his massive tax-cut plan a few months ago, he left the details so vague it could not be analyzed.... The incoherence has been a boon to Rubio, who has been able to portray his plan as a departure from Republican orthodoxy, without any hard numbers that could (and surely would) disprove his spin.... But Bush has filled in enough details that his plan's impact could actually be measured. Citizens for Tax Justice has run the numbers, and it turns out a whopping 53 percent of the benefit of Bush's plan would accrue to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers.... 'Most of your tax cut goes to the richest 1 percent' is a really damaging attack line, especially when you're personally a very rich person named Bush." ...

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "The death-row inmate Richard Glossip maintained his innocence on the eve of his execution in Oklahoma on Tuesday, while his attorneys went to court with what they said was new evidence supporting claims that he was framed. Glossip, 52, is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was convicted of ordering the 1997 beating death of Barry Van Treese, who owned the motel where Glossip worked."

AP: "A university instructor told police he killed his girlfriend at the home they shared in Mississippi, where investigators found a note that said 'I am so sorry' and gave no hints that he was already headed a few hundred miles north to kill a colleague, police said Tuesday."

CW: Excellent news for writers. Under the protection of the U.S. Constitution, you can write "FUCK YOUR SHITTY TOWN BITCHES" on your speeding tickets.

Way Beyond

William Booth & Robert Samuels of the Washington Post: "Blocked by Hungary's new border fence, the river of migrants and refugees began to change course Wednesday and move west toward Croatia in a desperate gambit to forge a new route to Western Europe. 'Barbed wire in Europe in the 21st century is not an answer, it's a threat,' complained Croatia's prime minister, Zoran Milanovic, in a direct jab at the blockades by neighboring Hungary. He told lawmakers in Zagreb that Croatia would 'accept and direct' the migrants to transit the country -- comments that are likely to ripple through the social media networks used by the refugees and increase the march toward Croatia."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A Cuomo administration lawyer who was shot in the head during a predawn celebration before the West Indian American Day Parade last week died on Wednesday evening, according to a family friend. The lawyer, Carey W. Gabay, 43, was a bystander caught in a shootout in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, that the police believe to have been between gangs."

Washington Post: "Flash flooding in Utah has claimed the lives of 18 people, including 12 who died after two vehicles packed with families that had gone to watch torrential waters ran into a 'wall of water' filled with debris on Monday. Six Zion National Park visitors also died in the flooding, and one person who was at the park is still missing, ...."