The Ledes

Monday, November 19, 2018.

CBS/AP: "The death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California increased by one Sunday to 77, while the number of people unaccounted for has decreased to 993 people. The blaze was two-thirds contained as of Sunday night after consuming some 150,000 acres. In Southern California, just outside Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire was 91 percent contained after burning 96,949 acres and killing three people. Dense smoke from the fires has been smothering parts of the state with what has been described as 'the dirtiest air in the world.' Rain is forecast for mid-week, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains."

The Wires
Gubernatorial Results

 

It's hard to read, but as the Times tally indicates, Democrats have picked up seven gubernatorial seats as of the current projections. Georgia is still too close to call, according to the Times. Republicans are ahead in all three states. Georgia could go to a runoff, but that looks unlikely at this point.

The New York Times' gubernatorial results are here.

Here are state-by-state predictions:

Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is predicted to win the election.

Alaska: Mike Dunleavy (R) is projected to win the election. This is a pick-up for Republicans from an independent governor.

Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has retained his seat.

Arkansas: Asa Hutchinson (R) is predicted to win re-election.

California: NBC News predicts Gavin Newsom (D) will become governor.

Colorado: NBC News predicts Jared Polis (D) will win the governor's seat.

Connecticut: Neil Vigdor, et al., of the Hartford Courant: "Democrat Ned Lamont appeared poised to become Connecticut’s 89th governor Wednesday morning after running up significant margins overnight in some of the state’s largest cities to pull ahead of Republican Bob Stefanowski.

Florida: Andrew Gillum (D) has conceded to Ron DeSantis (R).

Hawaii: Gov. David Ige (D) is predicted to retain his seat.

Idaho: NBC News projects Brad Little (R) will win the governorship.

Illinois: J.B. Pritzker (D) is expected to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

Iowa: NBC projects Kim Reynolds (R) will retain the governorship.

Kansas: Laura Kelly (D) has defeated Kris Kobach (R-Voter Suppression) for the governorship, according to NBC News. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

     Jonathan Shorman & Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star: "Democrat Laura Kelly will become the next governor of Kansas after voters rejected Republican Kris Kobach’s hard-right campaign and embraced Kelly’s promises of moderation and stability. Kelly vowed to put former Gov. Sam Brownback, and the years of budget woes brought on by his signature tax cuts, in the past." ...

     BUT then the Star has two stories about Kobach linked on its front page (the Kelly win is sandwiched between them), including this one about how Kobach, where the headline reads that Kobach has "unlimited potential." Turns out that a quote from Steve Bannon. The Star's lede sez, "... his defeat may do little to curb his future political potential." Nice.


Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/election/article221168580.html#storylink=cpy

Maine: Janet Mills (D) is projected to win the governorship. This is a flip from the execrable Paul LePage, who says he is moving to Florida "and teach at a university there." After yesterday's showing, Florida deserves him.

     Kevin Miller & Noel Gallagher of the Portland Press Herald: "Democrat Janet Mills won the governor’s race early Wednesday, becoming Maine’s first woman to hold the office."

Maryland: Larry Hogan (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Massachusetts: Charlie Baker (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Michigan: Gretchen Whitmer (D) is predicted to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

Minnesota: Tim Walz (D) is predicted to take the governorship.

Nebraska: Pete Ricketts (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Nevada: Steve Sisolak (D) is expected to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican.

New Hampshire: Chris Sununu (R) will remain governor.

New Mexico: NBC News is predicting Michelle Grisham (D) is expected to win the election. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

New York: Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to win re-election.

Ohio: Mike DeWine (R) has won the race for governor.

Oklahoma: Kevin Stitt (R) is predicted to win the governorship.

Oregon: Kate Brown (D) will retain the governorship.

Pennsylvania: Tom Wolf (D) is expected to be re-elected.

Rhode Island: Gina Raimondo is expected to be re-elected.

South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is predicted to win the election.

South Dakota: Kristi Noem (R) is predicted to win the governor's race.

Tennessee: Bill Lee (R) is expected to win the election.

Texas: Greg Abbott (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Vermont: Phil Scott (R) will retain the governship.

Wisconsin: Tony Evers (D) is projected to defeat Gov. Scott Walker (R). Adios, Scotty.

     Patrick Marley & Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "After upending Wisconsin politics and infuriating liberals across the country, Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term Tuesday to Tony Evers, the leader of the education establishment Walker blew up eight years ago. The Associated Press called the race for Evers about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday based on unofficial returns. The race was so close that Walker's team said a detailed review of balloting and a recount were possible. But an unofficial tally had Evers winning by 1.1 percentage points — a margin that would be too large for a recount if it held."

Wyoming: Mark Gordon (R) is predicted to win the governship.

Kwitcherbitchin. Think things are bad now? They were way worse in 536 C.E. A report in Science explains.

Click on picture to see larger image.

... New York Times: "A celebrated and enigmatic painting of two men and a turquoise pool by David Hockney sold at Christie’s on Thursday night for $90.3 million with fees, shattering the auction record for a living artist and cementing a major broadening of tastes at the turbocharged top end of the market. The price for the 1972 painting, 'Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),' easily surpassed the previous high of $58.4 million, held by Jeff Koons for one of his 'Balloon Dog' sculptures."

Jennifer Szalai of the New York Times reviews Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming.

Laura Holson of the New York Times: "... a number of artists who have reimagined [Norman Rockwell's] 'Four Freedoms,' most of them spurred by racial and political tension that has divided the country.... Mr. Rockwell’s portraits of Americana in the 1940s and 1950s were quite popular, but largely limited to white, Anglo-Saxon subjects who were friends or acquaintances of the artist. His 'Four Freedoms' series helped boost patriotism in a country on the brink of war, a visual reminder of American ideals. During World War II, they were turned into posters to muster sales of U.S. war bonds. Laurie Norton Moffatt, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum, said, 'Rockwell worked for hire and had to address the norms' of The Saturday Evening Post. Later, in the 1960s, the artist joined Look magazine and depicted civil rights and poverty. 'We saw him progressively move toward more representation,' she said. 'But it was an evolution.'... The 'Four Freedoms' series is touring the United States in celebration of its 75th anniversary.... As part of the 'Four Freedoms' tour, the organizers are showing works by contemporary artists inspired by the artist.”

Pops Peterson. "Freedom from Fear." 2015.

In case you've forgotten Rockwell's Four Freedoms, here they are:

Click on picture to see larger image.In fairness to Rockwell, this has to be my favorite "political illustration":

Norman Rockwell. 1964.

Drones over New Hampshire (and apparently a bit of Michigan):


The Aliens Are Coming! The Aliens Are Coming! NBC News: "Scientists have been puzzling over Oumuamua ever since the mysterious space object was observed tumbling past the sun in late 2017. Given its high speed and its unusual trajectory, the reddish, stadium-sized whatever-it-is had clearly come from outside our solar system. But its flattened, elongated shape and the way it accelerated on its way through the solar system set it apart from conventional asteroids and comets. Now a pair of Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft. As they say in a paper to be published Nov. 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the object 'may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: No mention of it in the story, but here's hoping they will take away our leader. And his friends.

Melanie McFarland of Salon reviews "Shut Up & Dribble," a three-part Showtime documentary which examines "the impact professional athletes have played in civil rights and social justice movements even prior to the NBA’s official formation, as a three-hour rebuttal to one Fox News pundit’s smarmy, uninformed declaration." Here's the trailer:

Dear @real Donald Trump:

You are the only person I know of who has such "a natural instinct for science" that he doesn't have to take classes or run field studies and all to be an expert on any scientific subject. I don't know any @real Apicologists, & even the @real Bee Guy who came out to give these critters a new home said he'd never seen anything like it. That being one of your favorite sayings, and as someone who has a natural instinct for cliched hyberbole, I thought of you right away. Could you tell me what kind of bees make nests like this humungous construction at my house in Florida? Thanks in advance.

-- @fake Bea McCrabbie 

P.S. My house is right down the road from Mar-a-Lago. I hope the Bee Guy took the bees to your place.

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
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

Monday
Nov122018

The Commentariat -- Nov. 13, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

John Wagner & James McAuley of the Washington Post: "President Trump unleashed verbal attacks Tuesday on French President Emmanuel Macron, taking aim at his approval rating, his country's employment rate, its trade policies on wine and his vision for the military.... In the first of several barbs Tuesday on Twitter, Trump again misrepresented what Macron had said during last week's radio interview and reminded him of the U.S. military's role in aiding France in World War I and II.... In his tweet on Tuesday, Trump again referenced France's spending, writing: 'Pay for NATO or not!'... Trump's burst of tweets came on the anniversary of coordinated terrorist attacks on Nov. 13, 2015, in France -- a very solemn occasion in the country. The French government declined to comment on Trump's tweets.... Following Trump's Tuesday attack, German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to Macron's defense, echoing his initial call for a 'real European army.'"

Elena Schneider of Politico: "GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin has sued Maine's secretary of state over ranked-choice voting, calling the system unconstitutional as the state elections authority tabulates ballots in Poliquin's too-close-to-call race with Democrat Jared Golden. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, seeks a preliminary injunction against the ongoing ranked-choice count until a judge can weigh in on the system. Poliquin has 46.2 percent of the vote to Golden's 45.5 percent with 96 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press, with the remainder scattered among third-party candidates.... Exit polling found that voters who supported an independent candidate as their first choice leaned Golden's way on the second-choice ranking, according to the Bangor Daily News."

Kevin Breuninger of NBC News: "... John Kelly may be out of his job soon as a result of a conflict with first lady Melania Trump and other people in the White House, seven sources have told NBC News.... Two White House officials told NBC that Melania Trump had told the president earlier in 2018 that Kelly had repeatedly turned down requests to promote some of her aides, even as Kelly's staff received promotions. Trump reportedly directed Kelly to approve the first lady's requests after learning of the disputes. Melania Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told CNBC in a text message that 'Chief Kelly and the First Lady have never "clashed.'"" ...

... Maggie Haberman & Ron Nixon of the New York Times have more on the palace intrigue smooth-running machine."

Brian Stelter of CNN: "CNN has filed a lawsuit against President Trump and several of his aides, seeking the immediate restoration of chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's access to the White House. The lawsuit is a response to the White House's suspension of Acosta's press pass, known as a Secret Service 'hard pass,' last week. The suit alleges that Acosta and CNN's First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated by the ban.The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning. Both CNN and Acosta are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. There are six defendants: Trump, chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, Secret Service director Randolph Alles, and the Secret Service officer who took Acosta's hard pass away last Wednesday. The officer is identified as John Doe in the suit, pending his identification. The six defendants are all named because of their roles in enforcing and announcing Acosta's suspension."

Katherine Faulders, et al., of ABC News: "... Donald Trump is considering yet another shakeup of his administration, preparing to remove Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and looking at possible replacements for Chief of Staff John Kelly, including Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter." Mrs. McC: Since Trump goes to his hidey-hole while Kelly tells staff they're fired, who is going to fire Kelly? mike pence?

The prospect of Presidential Harassment by the Dems is causing the Stock Market big headaches! -- Donald Trump, in a tweet yesterday ...

... Stephen Collinson of CNN: "Donald Trump just co-opted a new buzz phrase he hopes will define the next two years in politics: 'Presidential harassment.' His jab at the tactics of the incoming Democratic House represents an early effort to spin a new era of investigations and oversight that is about to shake the White House as a power grab by his opposition. Trump's appropriation on Twitter of a concept first coined by ... Mitch McConnell last week, points to the critical nature of the fight the President must wage to safeguard his hold on power, one that will surely start to feel pressure as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill with newly-elected members in tow."

*****

The actual news stories today, no matter how disturbing or destabilizing, are secondary to some of the analyses I've linked, particularly Kaplan, Roth & Hasen. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Nick Miroff, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump has told advisers he has decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and her departure from the administration is likely to occur in the coming weeks, if not sooner, according to five current and former White House officials. Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen's lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.... Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is fighting Nielsen's pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it, aides say. But Kelly's future in the administration also is shaky, according to three White House officials."

Eileen Sullivan & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump, fresh off an international display of unity among global leaders to mark the end of World War I, renewed his attacks on America's longtime allies on Monday, and demanded fair treatment for the United States. In a trio of Twitter posts, Mr. Trump said that the United States pays 'for LARGE portions' of other countries' military protection and loses money on trade with the same countries.... As for the trade deficits, most economists do not see any gap as money 'lost' to other countries and do not agree with the president's view that the trade imbalance shows America's weakness on trade policy." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... ** Fred Kaplan of Slate: "The most disturbing thing about President Trump's disgraceful performance in France this past weekend is the clear signal it sent that, under his thumb, the United States has left the West. He came to the continent to join with other world leaders to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. But the significance of the armistice is not so much to commemorate the fallen in an absurd and ghastly war as it is to celebrate the special peace -- grounded in a democratic European Union and a trans-Atlantic alliance -- that grew in its wake and the greater war that followed.... Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, George Santayana once wrote. The problem with Trump is he never knew history -- and doesn't think he needs to learn it. His election marked Year Zero, as far as he is concerned.... At [the] occasion [of the armistice commemoration] so rife with moment and symbolism, any other American president would have felt compelled to repair and strengthen this union. If there were any doubts that President Trump understands little about his mission, and cares even less, this trip dispelled them once and for all." ...

... Ex-Republican Max Boot of the Washington Post: "It seems that soldiers who were captured aren't the only ones that President Trump doesn't like. He also apparently doesn't care much for the ones who died for their country.... The White House explained that bad weather grounded the helicopters that Trump and his entourage were planning to take [to honor fallen soldiers at the Aisne-Marne American cemetery].... [T]he low-energy president remained behind at the U.S. ambassador's residence.... Odds are that his room didn't have Fox News. So he was probably reduced to watching CNN all afternoon. If the New York dating scene was Trump's personal Vietnam, this was his personal Verdun.... Trump shows what he really thinks of the troops by using them as political props.... [A]s the New York Times reports, the troops [he sent to the border pre-election] are still in the field, without electricity or hot meals -- or a mission. They will likely spend Thanksgiving away from their families. Naturally, Trump will not bother to visit them.... He still has not visited U.S. troops deployed to a war zone.... To add insult to injury, consider Trump's reaction after Ian David Long, a Marine veteran of Afghanistan, killed 12 people in a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar this past week. Trump called him a 'very sick puppy' and blamed his rampage on post-traumatic stress disorder without any actual evidence.... This is precisely the kind of pernicious stereotype -- that veterans are ticking time bombs -- that veterans groups have worked so hard to refute.... Through his words and deeds, the commander in chief shows his contempt for the men and women in uniform." --s (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jim Fallows of the Atlantic: "Helicopters can fly just fine in the rain, and in conditions way worse than prevailed in Paris on November 10.... Why didn't an American president go to a once-in-a-lifetime ceremony? Might it have been a still-undisclosed security threat? Something else that Donald Trump had to do? I don't know. I do know that whatever the obstacle was, it wasn't that 'helicopters can't fly in the clouds and rain.'"

** Understanding Trump. David Roth of Deadspin: Trump's "politics, to the extent that they've ever been legible, have always been off-the-rack big city tabloid bullshit -- crudely racist exterminate the brutes/back the blue authoritarianism in the background and ruthless petty rich person squabbling in the front. His actions since becoming president have been those of a dim, cruel child playacting at being a powerful -- giving orders without quite knowing what they mean or how they might be carried out, taunting enemies, beating up the people he can afford to beat up without having to be called to account for it, lying as needed or just for yuks.... It's been clear for decades that Trump was both an asshole and a dummy; this is now a problem not just for the odd unlucky cocktail waitress and his staff of cheesy apparatchiks but literally every person on earth." Read on. Roth isn't writing much you don't already know, but he writes it well.

David Sanger & William Broad of the New York Times: "North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North's nuclear threat. The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site -- a step it began, then halted -- while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads. The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump's assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States." Includes a couple of satellite images. (Also linked yesterday.)

Election 2018

Florida, Florida, Florida. Frances Robles of the New York Times: "The chief state judge in Broward County, Fla., urged the lawyers involved in the battle over the state vote recount on Monday to 'ramp down the rhetoric' and take any accusations of electoral fraud where they belong: to the police. Chief Circuit Judge Jack Tuter refused a request by Gov. Rick Scott to order the county police to impound voting machines and ballots when they are not in use, but both parties accepted his recommendation to add security in one of Florida's most hotly contested vote counts in years.... The judge was critical of comments made by Mr. Scott's lawyers on television and social media, in which they suggested, with no substantiation, that they had seen evidence of fraud in the continuing vote count. The judge said that anyone with proof of any irregularities should report it to local law enforcement, or to get the person who had witnessed irregularities to swear out an affidavit." ...

... AND that goes for this despicable yahoo, too:

The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night! -- Donald Trump, November 12

On Veterans Day, Trump is saying he doesn't want ballots from overseas military voters to count. They have until Nov 16 to be counted according to state law. -- Ari Berman of the Nation, in a tweet ...

This also is the POTUS* saying election officials should break the law & violate their oaths of office to give him the results he wants. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

... Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Monday called for stopping the recounts in Florida's votes for Senate and governor, alleging without evidence that many ballots are missing and forged and that a valid tally is not possible. In a morning tweet, Trump suggested that the results from the night of the Nov. 6 election should stand, handing victories to fellow Republicans Rick Scott, the governor, in the Senate race and Ron DeSantis, a former congressman, in the gubernatorial contest.... The recounts are happening in accordance with Florida law because of the tight margins in the votes. On Sunday, Scott went on national television to accuse Sen. Bill Nelson (D), whom he is hoping to unseat, of trying to 'commit fraud to try to win this election.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jeremy Peters & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "The concerted effort by Republicans in Washington and Florida to discredit the state's recount as illegitimate and potentially rife with fraud reflects a cold political calculation: Treat the recount as the next phase of a campaign to secure the party's majority and agenda in the Senate. That imperative -- described by Republican lawyers, strategists and advisers involved in the effort -- reflects the G.O.P.'s determination to tighten its hold on power in the narrowly divided Senate.... With the Democrats capturing a Republican-held Senate seat in Arizona on Monday night, the recount fight in Florida becomes even more consequential.... The effort that [Rick] Scott and Republican allies are waging today is strikingly similar to that multifront war in 2000 led by the George W. Bush campaign and an army of party consultants.... Republican officials said more than 100 staff members from the Republican National Committee are in Florida, and thousands of trained volunteers. The party, along with Mr. Scott's campaign, has also undertaken a new fund-raising effort to cover the mounting costs...." ...

... Jane Lytvynenko & Kevin Collier of BuzzFeed News: "After circulating online both ahead of the midterm elections and after them, bogus claims of voter fraud spread to the president's Twitter feed, despite having no basis in reality. Hashtags like #StopTheSteal and #VoterFraud2018 were part of what seems to be a coordinated push by conspiracy-oriented Twitter accounts to spread bad information and amplify certain conversations. They were also themes on Instagram and Facebook as officials rushed to recount votes in races in Florida and are still counting ballots in Arizona and Georgia. The president repeated baseless claims pushed by those accounts." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Trump's call to stop counting and, somehow, t revert to election night totals is bizarre and impractical for a slew of reasons. But it also means disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters deliberately.... Trump wants to go back to the vote counts at the end of election night for the simple and obvious reason that he wants Scott to win. The president is raising unfounded accusations of fraud to shift a result to his favor. We've seen this before: Two years ago, he leveled a nonsensical allegation of rampant fraud in California that he used to explain how badly he lost the popular vote.... Scott will likely win anyway, just as Trump did. To bolster that result, Trump is undercutting confidence in the electoral system. Just as he did in 2016." ...

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott's apparent victory over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) was one of Democrats' bigger disappointments on Election Day. But the margin was close enough to trigger an automatic recount, and since Tuesday, Scott's lead has narrowed from 56,000 votes to just more than 12,000 votes. So, in a preview of the toxicity Scott (if he wins) will bring to Washington, he deployed a standard GOP response when Democrats gain votes: accuse them of voter fraud.... One irony here is that Scott has been governor for eight years, which means he's had the ability to fix Florida's election system that he now implies is broken.... Rather than reject conspiracy theories that undermine faith in the electoral system, Scott has opted for slime." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

It is now the official White House position that constitutionally-mandated recounts are illegitimate.... This development is ... almost incalculably bad for American democracy. I now assume that a substantial minority of Americans believe that the results of the elections in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and California are democratically illegitimate unless the Republican candidate wins.... When electoral procedures lose popular legitimacy, it is nearly impossible to get that legitimacy back. -- Tom Pepinsky of Cornell U. ...

... Ian Bassin of Protect Democracy in a New York Times op-ed: "On Sunday, the Republican secretary of state of Arizona, Michele Reagan..., explained ... why it was taking so long to count the ballots in Arizona's unresolved Senate race.... Arizona's Republican governor, Doug Ducey, tweeted over the weekend: 'Let's get this right. All legally cast votes must be counted.' These actions shouldn't be surprising, but they're in stark contrast to what we're seeing from those overseeing the close statewide races in Georgia and Florida. In Georgia, Brian Kemp, as secretary of state, used his office to accuse his opponents, without evidence, of hacking into the state election database; he posted this unfounded allegation on the same secretary of state website where voters go to check their polling location. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott made similarly evidence-free allegations of electoral fraud and then ordered state law enforcement to investigate the county officials who oversee the vote count in two counties where his opponent performed well.... Mr. Kemp and Mr. Scott are also the candidates in those close races; Ms. Reagan and Mr. Ducey are not.... Today, Protect Democracy filed a lawsuit ... against Mr. Scott to bar him from having any further official role in overseeing the Florida election in which he is a candidate. Our organization filed a similar lawsuit last week against Mr. Kemp.... Over the weekend [President Trump] tweeted about the Arizona race: 'Electoral corruption -- call for a new election?' We should all find this chilling. How might ... he use the levers of the federal government... as votes are tallied in 2020?" ...

... Steve M.: "I'm not terribly concerned that President Trump is delegitimizing American elections now because he and other Republicans and right-wing media propagandists have been hard at work delegitimizing our elections for years.... I think that explains why right-wingers will tolerate just about anything Donald Trump does: They don't believe any Democrats, or at least any Democrats outside coastal California, New York, Chicago, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, are legitimately elected. They believe all the others reached office via fraud. Under those circumstances, of course they don't worry about the norm-shattering [Mrs. McC: Ugh!] things are done by Trump or Mitch McConnell. It's all necessary, you see, because any government with more than a handful of Democrats is by definition illegitimate." ...

... ** Rick Hasen in Slate: "... the way [the Florida] election fight has played out so far has been an absolute nightmare. Perhaps most terrifyingly of all, the 2018 Florida elections have demonstrated the real possibility that ... Donald Trump might attempt to ignore an unfavorable 2020 election outcome if the result is a slim loss by the president, a possibility that should give us all chills.... We are entering into a dangerous new phase in the voting wars. Last week, various election calamities were fueled by incendiary and unsupported claims by Trump and others of fraud, by pockets of incompetence of election administration, by partisanship in election administration, and by continued fundamental defects in how our elections are conducted.... I'm not holding my breath, because I and others have been sounding this alarm since 2000, and not nearly enough has changed." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you thought Trump couldn't really become dictator-for-life because our federal government has all these great checks & balances, the American people would never permit it, & blah blah blah, these two posts by Steve M. & Rick Hasen, read in tandem, should rattle your cage, as they have mine. Until now, I have thought Trump would do it if he could, but I couldn't figure out how Trump could do it. Now I know how. This is not a crazy chicken-little hypothesis. It's a real possibility. And Trump thought of it before I did. P.S. David Roth's assessment, also linked today, helps explain why Trump would do such a thing.

** Arizona. Simon Romero of the New York Times: "Representative Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat and former social worker, scored a groundbreaking victory in the race for a Senate seat in Arizona, defeating her Republican opponent after waging a campaign in which she embraced solidly centrist positions, according to The Associated Press.Ms. Sinema's victory over Martha McSally, a Republican congresswoman and former Air Force pilot, marks the first Democratic triumph since 1976 in a battle for an open Senate seat in Arizona. Ms. Sinema takes the seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, a Republican is leaving the Senate after repeated clashes with President Trump.... Some prominent Republicans, including Mr. Trump, claimed without offering proof that voting officials were engaged in fraudulent strategies to bolster Ms. Sinema as the authorities struggled to count ballots in the days since the Nov. 6 election following a surge in turnout. Michele Reagan, a Republican and Arizona's Secretary of state, refuted those claims." Mrs. McC: Sinema can thank That Lying SOS for her win. Trump's trashing Flake so lowered Flake's status among Republicans that he decided he didn't have a chance to win re-election.

Georgia. Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "A federal judge on Monday ordered a delay in the certification of Georgia’s election results, citing concerns about the state's voter registration system and the handling of provisional ballots.... Although the ruling by Judge Amy Totenberg of Federal District Court in Atlanta formally affected every election in Georgia for state and federal office, it reverberated most immediately and powerfully through the governor's race, in which the Democratic candidate, Stacey Abrams, was within 21,000 votes of forcing a runoff election against Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee."

Adam Peck of ThinkProgress: "Naturally, Republicans are once again distraught at the idea of having every legitimate ballot counted.... But although Republicans are demonizing efforts to count every vote in Florida, a handful of GOP congressional candidates around the country are themselves insisting every vote be counted in their own races, hoping to make up deficits against their Democratic opponents." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Paul Krugman: "What with the midterm elections -- and the baseless Republican cries of voting fraud -- I don't know how many people heard about Trump's decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Miriam Adelson, wife of casino owner and Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson. The medal is normally an acknowledgment of extraordinary achievement or public service.... Now, this may seem like a trivial story. But it's a reminder that the Trumpian attitude toward truth -- which is that it's defined by what benefits Trump and his friends, not by verifiable facts -- also applies to virtue. There is no heroism, there are no good works, except those that serve Trump.... In Trumpworld, which is now indistinguishable from G.O.P.world, good and bad are defined solely by whether the interests of The Leader are served. Thus, Trump attacks and insults our closest allies while praising brutal dictators who flatter him (and declares neo-Nazis 'very fine people').... You have to be truly delusional to see the Republicans' response to their party's midterm setback as anything but an attempted power grab by a would-be authoritarian movement, which rejects any opposition or even criticism as illegitimate. Our democracy is still very much in danger."


Master Class: How to Turn an Indictment into a Conspiracy Theory. Rosalind Helderman
, et al., of the Washington Post: "Conservative author Jerome Corsi said Monday that he expects to be indicted by prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on a charge of lying to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. Corsi, a writer who has promoted political conspiracy theories, provided research during the White House race to longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, who Mueller has been scrutinizing for possible ties to WikiLeaks. On Monday, Corsi told listeners of his daily live-stream web program that he turned over two computers, emails and other communications to Mueller and sat for six interviews totaling more than 40 hours since receiving a subpoena two months ago. But he said that his cooperation had 'exploded' in recent weeks and that Mueller's team has said he will be criminally charged.... 'The Department of Justice is run by criminals,' Corsi said, adding: 'I think my crime really was that I supported Donald Trump. Now I guess I'll go to prison for the rest of my life, because I dared to oppose the "deep state."'"

Michael Cohen Sings -- Enough to Cut an Album. Dan Mangan of CNBC: "Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, took a train Monday to Washington from New York to talk to investigators from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.... Cohen's meeting with Mueller's team was only the latest in a series of sit-downs the attorney has had with the special counsel's office since pleading guilty in August to federal criminal charges. Those included campaign contribution violations related to payments to two women, purportedly at the behest of Trump. That case was brought by federal investigators in the Southern District of New York, not Mueller's team."


** Thank You for Your Service. Phil McCausland
of CNN: "The Department of Veterans Affairs is suffering from a series of information technology glitches that has caused GI Bill benefit payments covering education and housing to be delayed or ... never be delivered.... Hundreds of thousands are believed to have been affected.... Donald Trump signed the Forever GI Bill in 2017 ... [which] greatly expanded benefits for veterans and their families, but it did not upgrade the VA's technical capabilities to account for those changes.... The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs is holding a hearing on Wednesday to investigate the matter.... More than 45,000 jobs sit vacant at VA, according to the agency's own numbers, and the department has not had a permanent chief information officer since LaVerne Council departed the office after Trump';s election." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

    ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Pardon my wackadoo conspiracy theory, but I have a feeling the problem has something to do with those three rich Mar-a-Lago friends of Trump who were "advising" the VA on IT matters.

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "The State of Maryland is expected to ask a federal judge on Tuesday for an injunction declaring that [Matthew] Whitaker is not the legitimate acting attorney general as a matter of law, and that the position -- and all its powers -- instead rightfully belongs to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein. Mr. Trump may not 'bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office,' the plaintiffs said in a draft filing obtained by The New York Times. The legal action escalates the uproar surrounding Mr. Trump's installation of Mr. Whitaker as the nation's top law-enforcement officer, from criticism of his basic credentials and his views on the Russia investigation to challenges to the legality of his appointment."

The Great Public Sellout. Jimmy Tobias of the Guardian: "[Ryan] Zinke rapidly installed a slew of conservative operatives and industry sympathizers in key positions throughout the [Interior Department]. Because these senior advisers, counselors, and other appointees are rarely subject to Senate approval, few people know their names. They nevertheless wield immense power and are responsible for much of the day-to-day work at the interior department. Hundreds of pages of correspondence and calendars reviewed by the Guardian and Pacific Standard show how Zinke and his top aides have favored corporate and conservative calls to prioritize resource extraction at the expense of conservation, while consistently delivering on industry desires -- despite sometimes running afoul of conflict of interest rules.... Zinke is now facing a swirl of misconduct allegations.... But whatever Zinke's fate, he has stocked the department with a slate of committed conservative appointees who will continue to remake the agency in the image of the Trump administration.... 'I have been here a pretty long time and seen different administrations from both sides of the aisle,' [one anonymous] civil servant added, 'but this is the worst I have ever seen.'" --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Julian Barnes, et al., of the New York Times: "Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last month at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a member of the kill team instructed a superior over the phone to 'tell your boss,' believed to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that the operatives had carried out their mission, according to three people familiar with a recording of Mr. Khashoggi's killing collected by Turkish intelligence. The recording, shared last month with the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist whose death prompted an international outcry. While the prince was not mentioned by name, American intelligence officials believe 'your boss' was a reference to Prince Mohammed." ...

     ... Update. Shibani Mahtani & Louisa Loveluck of the Washington Post: "U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Tuesday that an audio recording of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death inside an Istanbul consulate did not appear to provide any link between the killers and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Bolton, speaking on the sidelines of a regional summit in Singapore, said that he had not listened to the tape himself, but that it was the assessment of 'those who have listened to it' that Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler is not implicated."


Yo, Trump. Those Asses Watching You Will Soon Have Subpoena Power. ...

... Zachary Basu of Axios: "Now that they're set to assume control of the House, there are at least 85 topics that Democrats have said they'd target -- or are expected to target -- in the forthcoming torrent of investigations and subpoenas to be directed at the Trump White House, according to Axios' reporting and analysis of members' public comments." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Rep. Adam Schiff, in a Washington Post op-ed: "The president and [acting AG Matthew] Whitaker should heed this warning: The new Democratic majority will protect the special counsel and the integrity of the Justice Department. Should Whitaker fail to recuse himself -- all indications are that he plans not to -- and seek to obstruct the investigation, serve as a back channel to the president or his legal team or interfere in the investigations in any way, he will be called to answer. His actions will be exposed. It is no mystery why the president chose Whitaker, an obscure and ill-qualified official never confirmed by the Senate,* which many legal experts believe makes the appointment itself unconstitutional. Trump chose him to protect himself, his family and his close associates from the special counsel's investigation and other investigations within the Justice Department.... After his firing by President Richard M. Nixon, former Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox said the question of 'whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people.' With this latest, unprecedented action, Trump has put Cox's question once more squarely before the people's representatives." ...

     ... * Mrs. McCrabbie: Whitaker "was confirmed by the Senate to be a federal prosecutor in Iowa, but that was 14 years ago."


Laurie Goodstein
of the New York Times: "Facing a reignited crisis of credibility over child sexual abuse, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States came to a meeting in Baltimore on Monday prepared to show that they could hold themselves accountable. But in a last-minute surprise, the Vatican instructed the bishops to delay voting on a package of corrective measures until next year, when Pope Francis plans to hold a summit in Rome on the sexual abuse crisis for bishops from around the world.... The order from Rome is the latest twist in a long power struggle between the American bishops and the Vatican over how to respond to the abuse crisis."

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I wonder what percentage of American boys have not been sexually abused or at least approached by some supposedly "wholesome" authority figure: priest, coach, teacher, Scout leader, etc. Quite a few men have told me they had to fend off unwelcome overtures when they were kids.

Beyond the Beltway

Erik Runge & Gaynor Hall of WGN TV Chicago: "Witnesses said a Midlothian police officer responding to a shooting inside a south suburban bar shot at the wrong person early Sunday morning. [Mrs. McC: Midlothian is a suburb southwest of Chicago.] After security asked a group of drunken men to leave Manny's Blue Room Bar around 4 a.m. Sunday, witnesses said someone came back with a gun and opened fire. Security returned fire, and according to witnesses, 26-year-old armed security guard Jemel Roberson apprehended one of the men involved outside. 'He had somebody on the ground with his knee in back, with his gun in his back like, "Don't move,'" witness Adam Harris said. Soon after, witnesses said, an officer responding to the scene fired at Roberson -- killing him. 'Everybody was screaming out, "Security!"...,' Harris said. 'And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.'... In a statement, Midlothian police confirmed two officers from the department responded to the scene of the shooting and that one of them opened fire." Roberson was black. ...

... Lindsay Gibbs of ThinkProgress: "Many anti-gun control politicians and advocates, including ... Donald Trump, frequently say that armed security guards are the only way to stop mass shootings. Last month, after eight people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Trump suggested that there should be armed guards at churches and synagogues. This is an offshoot of a frequent National Rifle Association talking point, that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Roberson was both an armed security guard and a good guy with a gun. He risked his life to apprehend a shooter. And police killed him anyway. Like many NRA-based talking points, this one doesn’t seem to apply to black people."

At Baraboo (Wisconsin) High School, the boys think Nazism is hilarious & the administrators think thought yelling "White Power!" in the halls was a First Amendment right. Now that this behavior has received national & even international attention, the administration -- and the local police -- are "looking into it" or something. Opheli Lawler of New York reports.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Search teams were scouring the devastated town of Paradise on Tuesday with the grim expectation of finding more bodies in the charred remnants of the Sierra Nevada retirement community. With a toll of 42 dead, the blaze is already the deadliest wildfire in California history, and more than 200 people remain missing. Adding to the 13 coroner teams from across the state who were already working to locate the dead in and around Paradise, the Butte County sheriff announced a sharp increase in experts who specialize in finding human remains: 150 additional search-and-rescue personnel, cadaver dogs, and two portable temporary morgue units from the military. The sheriff is also seeking a machine to 'expedite the analysis of DNA' to speed up the identification of remains."

Los Angeles Times: "The death toll from the Camp fire climbed to 42 on Monday, making it the deadliest wildfire in California history, as search teams sifted through rubble and ash in and around Paradise for additional victims."

New York Times: "... Stan Lee... [who ran Marvel Comics], died in Los Angeles on Monday at 95. From a cluttered office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in the 1960s, he helped conjure a lineup of pulp-fiction heroes that has come to define much of popular culture in the early 21st century."

Sunday
Nov112018

The Commentariat -- Nov. 12, 2018

Late Morning Update:

The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night! -- Donald Trump, November 12

On Veterans Day, Trump is saying he doesn't want ballots from overseas military voters to count. They have until Nov 16 to be counted according to state law. -- Ari Berman of the Nation, in a tweet ...

... Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Monday called for stopping the recounts in Florida's votes for Senate and governor, alleging without evidence that many ballots are missing and forged and that a valid tally is not possible. In a morning tweet, Trump suggested that the results from the night of the Nov. 6 election should stand, handing victories to fellow Republicans Rick Scott, the governor, in the Senate race and Ron DeSantis ... in the gubernatorial contest.... The recounts are happening in accordance with Florida law because of the tight margins in the votes. On Sunday, Scott went on national television to accuse Sen. Bill Nelson (D), whom he is hoping to unseat, of trying to 'commit fraud to try to win this election.'" ...

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott's apparent victory over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) was one of Democrats' bigger disappointments on Election Day. But the margin was close enough to trigger an automatic recount, and since Tuesday, Scott's lead has narrowed from 56,000 votes to just more than 12,000 votes. So, in a preview of the toxicity Scott (if he wins) will bring to Washington, he deployed a standard GOP response when Democrats gain votes: accuse them of voter fraud.... One irony here is that Scott has been governor for eight years, which means he's had the ability to fix Florida's election system that he now implies is broken.... Rather than reject conspiracy theories that undermine faith in the electoral system, Scott has opted for slime."

... Adam Peck of ThinkProgress: "Naturally, Republicans are once again distraught at the idea of having every legitimate ballot counted.... But although Republicans are demonizing efforts to count every vote in Florida, a handful of GOP congressional candidates around the country are themselves insisting every vote be counted in their own races, hoping to make up deficits against their Democratic opponents." --s

Eileen Sullivan & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump, fresh off an international display of unity among global leaders to mark the end of World War I, renewed his attacks on America's longtime allies on Monday, and demanded fair treatment for the United States. In a trio of Twitter posts, Mr. Trump said that the United States pays 'for LARGE portions' of other countries' military protection and loses money on trade with the same countries.... As for the trade deficits, most economists do not see any gap as money 'lost' to other countries and do not agree with the president's view that the trade imbalance shows America's weakness on trade policy."

Zachary Basu of Axios: "Now that they're set to assume control of the House, there are at least 85 topics that Democrats have said they'd target -- or are expected to target -- in the forthcoming torrent of investigations and subpoenas to be directed at the Trump White House, according to Axios' reporting and analysis of members' public comments."

David Sanger & William Broad of the New York Times: "North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North's nuclear threat. The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site -- a step it began, then halted -- while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads. The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump's assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States." Includes a couple of satellite images.

Ex-Republican Max Boot of the Washington Post: "It seems that soldiers who were captured aren't the only ones that President Trump doesn't like. He also apparently doesn't care much for the ones who died for their country.... The White House explained that bad weather grounded the helicopters that Trump and his entourage were planning to take [to honor fallen soldiers at the Aisne-Marne American cemetery].... [T]he low-energy president remained behind at the U.S. ambassador's residence.... Odds are that his room didn't have Fox News. So he was probably reduced to watching CNN all afternoon. If the New York dating scene was Trump's personal Vietnam, this was his personal Verdun.... Trump shows what he really thinks of the troops by using them as political props.... [A]s the New York Times reports, the troops [he sent to the border pre-election] are still in the field, without electricity or hot meals -- or a mission. They will likely spend Thanksgiving away from their families. Naturally, Trump will not bother to visit them.... He still has not visited U.S. troops deployed to a war zone.... To add insult to injury, consider Trump's reaction after Ian David Long, a Marine veteran of Afghanistan, killed 12 people in a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar this past week. Trump called him a 'very sick puppy' and blamed his rampage on post-traumatic stress disorder without any actual evidence.... This is precisely the kind of pernicious stereotype -- that veterans are ticking time bombs -- that veterans groups have worked so hard to refute.... Through his words and deeds, the commander in chief shows his contempt for the men and women in uniform." --s

** Thank You for Your Service. Phil McCausland of CNN: "The Department of Veterans Affairs is suffering from a series of information technology glitches that has caused GI Bill benefit payments covering education and housing to be delayed or ... never be delivered.... Hundreds of thousands are believed to have been affected.... Donald Trump signed the Forever GI Bill in 2017 ... [which] greatly expanded benefits for veterans and their families, but it did not upgrade the VA's technical capabilities to account for those changes.... The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs is holding a hearing on Wednesday to investigate the matter.... More than 45,000 jobs sit vacant at VA, according to the agency's own numbers, and the department has not had a permanent chief information officer since LaVerne Council departed ... after Trump's election." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Pardon my wackadoo conspiracy theory, but I have a feeling the problem has something to do with those three rich Mar-a-Lago friends of Trump who were "advising" the VA on IT matters.

The Great Public Sellout. Jimmy Tobias of the Guardian: "[Ryan] Zinke rapidly installed a slew of conservative operatives and industry sympathizers in key positions throughout the [Interior Department]. Because these senior advisers, counselors, and other appointees are rarely subject to Senate approval, few people know their names. They nevertheless wield immense power and are responsible for much of the day-to-day work at the interior department. Hundreds of pages of correspondence and calendars ... show how Zinke and his top aides have favored corporate and conservative calls to prioritize resource extraction at the expense of conservation, while consistently delivering on industry desires -- despite sometimes running afoul of conflict of interest rules.... Zinke is now facing a swirl of misconduct allegations.... [Zinke] has stocked the department with a slate of committed conservative appointees who will continue to remake the agency in the image of the Trump administration.... 'I have been here a pretty long time and seen different administrations from both sides of the aisle,' [one anonymous] civil servant added, 'but this is the worst I have ever seen.'" --s

*****

David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "The United States finally has the pro-democracy movement that it needs. Last week, ballot initiatives to improve the functioning of democracy fared very well. In Florida -- a state divided nearly equally between right and left -- more than 64 percent of voters approved restoring the franchise to 1.4 million people with felony convictions. In Colorado, Michigan and Missouri, measures to reduce gerrymandering passed. In Maryland, Michigan and Nevada, measures to simplify voter registration passed.... Of course, there is still an enormous amount of work to do. Voting remains more difficult here than in almost any other affluent country.... And this country also suffers, unfortunately, from an anti-democracy movement: Leaders of the Republican Party -- out of a fear of the popular will -- keep trying to make voting harder. They have closed polling places, reduced voting hours and introduced bureaucratic hurdles."

Peter Baker & Alissa Rubin of the New York Times: "President Trump’s brand of 'America First' nationalism was repudiated on Sunday as leaders from around the globe gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I and reaffirm the international bonds that have once again come under strain. Stone-faced and unmoved, the American leader listened as President Emmanuel Macron of France used the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe to denounce self-interested nationalism and extol the sort of globalism and international institutions that Mr. Trump has spent the last two years pulling the United States away from. 'Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,' Mr. Macron said in a speech on a dreary, rain-soaked day. 'Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying, "our interest first, who cares about the others?"'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Here's the photo that accompanies the Baker-Rubin story:

"Led by President Emmanuel Macron of France, world leaders marched down the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday as part of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I." Where's Waldo? You can supersize the picture by clicking on it, if you think it will help you find Waldo Donald, but it won't.... "Mr. Trump arrived in his own motorcade, traveling separately, aides said, because of security, and joined the world leaders under a transparent enclosure at the arch." ...

... Okay, here he is under the transparent enclosure. Also transparent: Grumpy Trumpy:

... "Well," you say, "Trump is just beaming in this shot:"

... Mrs. McCrabbie: And so he is. That's because that guy at the bottom of the frame -- that guy Trump is beaming at -- is Vladimir Putin (who arrived even later than Trump). Thanks to forrest m. for reminding me I didn't present the full picture, as it were. ...

... Rachel Donadio of the Atlantic: "French television commentators called it 'symbolic' that the U.S. president shunned the group, and also noted, as Trump stiffly took his place next to Merkel, that 'he didn't look very smiley.' He was more smiley when Putin arrived. The Russian president gave Trump a thumbs up and a brief friendly pat on the arm. In a somber speech beneath the Arc de Triomphe, Macron recalled how with World War I, Europe almost committed suicide. He said 'old demons' were resurfacing and history was threatening to repeat itself, and threatening Europe's history of peace. He decried 'the selfishness of countries that regard only their own interests,' which sounded like a remark clearly aimed at the United States.... It was impossible not to hear Macron's words, before so many other world leaders, as aimed at Trump, a sign of how the rest of the world is contending with the repercussions of 'America First.'... On Saturday, while Trump stayed in Paris doing whatever he was doing, Macron and Merkel went to Compèigne, a site outside Paris freighted with 20th-century history. It is the site where Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the supreme commander of the western front, signed the ceasefire agreement with Germany, ending World War I, and where Adolph Hitler forced France to sign a capitulation agreement in 1940.... The vanishing act [Saturday] was classic Trump -- dominating the news cycle, insulting and upstaging his hosts, to say nothing of U.S. soldiers and veterans." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Odd Man Out. David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "... on a trip to Europe, the president hardly said a word -- and he still managed to outrage at almost every turn. Aside from a critical tweet aimed at French President Emmanuel Macron when Trump landed in Paris late Friday -- one based on an inaccurate newspaper summary of an interview Macron gave suggesting that he had called the United States a threat -- Trump didn't throw any sharp elbows at his peers here. It was still all about him. In this case, it was because of the images. He looked uncomfortable and listless in a bilateral meeting with Macron, whose sinewy energy stood in stark contrast to Trump's downbeat expression.... He was a no-show at a scheduled tour of a military cemetery for Americans, while other world leaders publicly paid homage to those who died on the battlefield.... And on Sunday, Trump arrived separately from the 60 other leaders at a World War I remembrance at the Arc de Triomphe. He had no speaking role, sitting stone-faced as Macron railed against the rise of nationalism -- a rebuke of Trump's professed worldview. The overall takeaway to many was a president turning away from the world, a man occupying the office of the leader of the free world who appeared withdrawn and unenthusiastic on the global stage."

... Christopher Dickey of The Daily Beast: "[I]t should not be at all surprising that the history of World War I, commemorated this weekend in France 100 years after its end, would hold little attraction for the American president.... Trump, of course, has declared himself a proud nationalist, and has a long list of those he wants Americans to hate and fear. As for love of country, and indeed of those who loved it enough to die for it, he's not so interested. On Saturday, using a little rain (very little) as an excuse, Trump blew off a long-planned visit to the graves of more than 1,000 U.S. Marines.... No other heads of state failed to make their appointed rounds at battlefield cemeteries. But ironically it seems that Marine One, the presidential helicopter, was deterred by drizzle.... The truth is, Trump never wanted to be here in the first place, and his performance on Saturday reflected his trademark truculent petulance.... Sunday's event was, as long planned, an assembly of more than 60 heads of state and government.... But Trump tweeted that attendance was up because he decided to come. Maybe Trump's die-hard American supporters believe this stuff. But the rest of the world sees it as ludicrous and contemptible." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Climate Change Denier & Racist-in-Chief Wants to Cut off Puerto Rico Aid. Jonathan Swan of Axios: "President Trump doesn't want to give Puerto Rico any more federal money for its recovery from Hurricane Maria, White House officials have told congressional appropriators and leadership. This is because he claims, without evidence, that the island's government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt.... Trump has told aides he believes too much federal money has already gone to Puerto Rico -- more than $6 billion for Hurricane Maria so far, according to FEMA. (The government projects more than $55 billion from FEMA's disaster relief fund will ultimately be spent on Maria's recovery.) In comparison, per the NYT, 'when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress approved $10 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency four days later, and another $50 billion six days later. The federal government is still spending money on Katrina assistance, more than 12 years after the storm's landfall.'"

** William Saletan of Slate: "... a year and a half [after the Mueller investigation began], Mueller is still investigating Trump's crimes. It's because Trump is still committing them." Saletan lays out a devastating timetable of Trump's continuing obstruction, coverups, etc. ...

... Bob Bauer in the Atlantic: "It is a strange turn of events when a president famous for denouncing 'fake news' is discovered to have entered into an agreement with a media organization to finance the concealment of very real, but politically unfavorable, newsworthy information.... The deal that Trump reached and executed with AMI [-- the tabloid publisher --] violates federal campaign-finance laws. AMI made an illegal corporate in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign, and the campaign and Trump share in the liability by accepting this illegal support. As open-and-shut cases go, this one is high on the list. But this is only a part of what makes this a remarkable episode in the history of presidential campaign lawbreaking." Bauer goes on to illuminate the cases against both Trump & AMI, & he further asserts, "A similar issue arises for the Trump campaign in asserting a First Amendment defense in relation to its relationship to WikiLeaks in the strategic publication and dissemination of stolen emails.... The Journal reporting on Trump's active, detailed engagement in the [Karen] McDougal and [Stormy] Daniels pay-offs confirms that this is not how he operates. It gives powerful additional reason to disbelieve his outright denial of participation in the Russian contacts. (Also linked yesterday.)

... Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "President Trump knows Matthew G. Whitaker, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday, two days after the president sought to distance himself from his handpicked acting attorney general. 'The president does know Matt Whitaker, has gotten to know him over the course of the last year, since he has been the chief of staff to the attorney general,' Conway said on 'Fox News Sunday.'... In the days since [Trump chose Whitaker as acting attorney general], Whitaker's background and previous critical statements about the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III have come under intense scrutiny, with Democrats and some Republicans calling for him to recuse himself from oversight of the probe. Trump on Friday repeatedly claimed that he did not personally know Whitaker, telling reporters, 'I don't know Whitaker.' That contradicted Trump's statement last month in a Fox News interview, during which the president said, 'I know Matt Whitaker.' Conway said Sunday that Trump was trying to make the point Friday that in selecting Whitaker for the acting attorney general job, he wasn't appointing 'a friend there who he's known his entire life.' She added that it wasn't clear whether Whitaker had been briefed on the Mueller probe." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Right. Because when you say you don't know someone, you mean the person was not present at your birth.

Lock 'em Up. Spencer Ackerman of the Daily Beast: "The number of people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has hit an all-time high, according to recent statistics.... That massive increase in detentions by the highly controversial agency has prompted questions from rights groups about how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) obtained the money to place into its custody 4,000 more people than Congress has funded.... ICE recently reported to Congress that, as of October 20, its average daily population in detention had reached 44,631 people. The figure is not classified, but it has not been made available to the public."

Two Photo Ops with Black Children Is One Too Many. Maggie Haberman & Katie Rogers of the New York Times: Melania & Ivanka Trump compete for attention, and John Kelly, "who has privately described the Trump children as 'playing government' and who was supposed to help manage the relationship between the two women's offices," apparently had words with Ivanka when she posted an Instagram video of herself with an American black child two days after Melanie was picked in Africa cradling a black child. Mrs. McC: As we know, Kelly is a racist AND a misogynist, so naturally he had to butt in on this.

Felicia Sonmez & Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: "Fresh off a resounding midterm elections victory, House Democrats on Sunday began detailing plans to wield their newfound oversight power in the next Congress, setting their sights on acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker while rebuffing calls from some liberals to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump.... And Democrats on the House Oversight Committee plan to expand their efforts to investigate Trump's involvement in payments to women who alleged affairs with him before the 2016 election, a committee aide said Sunday night, potentially opening up the president's finances to further scrutiny." ...

... Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "Top congressional Democrats demanded on Sunday that President Trump's acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel investigation, and vowed to use their newfound powers as the incoming House majority to block him from interfering with it. The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, vowed to make Mr. Whitaker the panel's first witness when the new Congress convenes in January -- and subpoena him if necessary. The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said Democrats would investigate Mr. Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has repeatedly and explicitly criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race." ...

... Mike Allen & Jim VandeHei of Axios: "House Democrats plan to investigate whether President Trump abused White House power by targeting -- and trying to punish with "instruments of state power" -- The Washington Post and CNN, incoming House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff said in an interview for 'Axios on HBO.'... Schiff brought up two avenues of inquiry with a press-freedom theme, aimed at investigating possible administration actions to target two of the nation's highest profile corporations. 1) Schiff said Trump 'was secretly meeting with the postmaster [general] in an effort to browbeat the postmaster [general] into raising postal rates on Amazon. This appears to be an effort by the president to use the instruments of state power to punish Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post,' Schiff said. Jeff Bezos is founder, chairman and CEO of Amazon, and owns the Washington Post. 2) Schiff said Congress also need to examine whether Trump attempted to block AT&T's merger with Time Warner as payback to CNN." (Also linked yesterday.)

Jackie Wattles of CNN: "A veteran First Amendment lawyer says that CNN should sue the White House for revoking press access from reporter Jim Acosta. Floyd Abrams, a constitutional law expert who has appeared frequently before the Supreme Court, told CNN's Brian Stelter on 'Reliable Sources' Sunday that CNN has a case. 'I think it's a really strong lawsuit,' Abrams said. 'I can understand CNN being reluctant to sue because the president keeps saying CNN is the enemy of me, and CNN might have reluctance to have a lawsuit titled "CNN vs. Donald Trump." That said, yes, I think they should sue.' Abrams said."

Election 2018

Amy Sorkin of the New Yorker: "One of the more dangerous outcomes of the midterms is the belief, in some quarters of the G.O.P., that putting the Party in Trump's hands was worth it.... The midterms were a party-building exercise, if all one was trying to build is the Party of Trump. The G.O.P. is acclimating itself to accepting divisiveness and unconstitutional travesties -- including, perhaps, efforts to end birthright citizenship -- in return for a few Senate seats.... The same appears true of [Matthew] Whitaker.... Whitaker is, in many ways, a walking distillation of Trumpism.... The firing of Sessions is an illustration of how the President's demand for loyalty brings the country ever closer to a constitutional crisis. Whitaker has said that the list of Supreme Court decisions that he thinks are wrong begins with Marbury v. Madison &-- the landmark 1803 case that delineated the Court's power to interpret the Constitution, and which is woven into almost every aspect of American jurisprudence. If the Court doesn't decide what's constitutional, who does? Trump?" --s (Also linked yesterday.)

James Kitfield in The Daily Beast: "Little mentioned in the 'horse race' coverage of the mid-terms, [a] parallel election resulted in a 'reform wave' that may very well have the more lasting impact on our democracy. There were campaign and election reform initiatives on the ballot Tuesday in more than two dozen states and localities, and with a few notable exceptions, they won, sweeping aside defenders of a status quo system that consistently produces incivility, political extremism and government gridlock.... Michigan, Colorado, and Missouri all passed major anti-gerrymandering initiatives, for instance.... Anti-corruption reforms that limit or ban lobbyist gifts to politicians, tighten campaign finance rules and increase government transparency passed in Missouri, New Mexico and North Dakota. A host of voting and anti-corruption reforms passed last week at the city level in Denver, Baltimore, Memphis, Phoenix, and New York." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Sarah Jones of New York: "Democrats made real gains in state government on Tuesday. The party nearly doubled its number of trifecta governments, where one party controls the executive branch in addition to each chamber of the state legislature. They now have total control in 13 states versus 21 Republican trifectas.... The Democratic Party's weaknesses in state government are legendary and have probably contributed to its weaknesses at the federal level. State government is an important pipeline to higher office, and as Stateline reported this week, Democrats lost 900 legislative seats during the Obama administration.... But now in states with Democratic trifectas -- or at least a significant number of lawmakers willing to work across the aisle -- Democrats will have opportunities to implement their policies, and demonstrate their effectiveness to voters. Here are some issues they're likely to focus on." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Arizona. Yvonne Sanchez & Ronald Hansen of the Arizona Republic: "Democrat Kyrsten Sinema widened her lead again over Republican Martha McSally on Sunday, a pivotal day in the U.S. Senate race as the number of uncounted ballots dwindled. Sinema expanded her lead to 32,292 votes -- a 1.5 percentage-point lead -- as of 6:20 p.m. Sunday, according to updated counts posted by the Arizona Secretary of State. Her campaign manager predicted her victory was inevitable. The lengthy vote-count process, which has continued long after the polls closed Nov. 6, is mostly due to the need to verify signatures for voters who vote by mail. The Arizona Republic estimates about 215,000 ballots remain to be counted statewide."

Florida, Florida, Florida. Let Every Vote We Can Get to Be Counted. Gergory Krieg of CNN: "The election overseer for a critical county in Florida confirmed to CNN on Sunday ... [that] there is no way Palm Beach County's machine recount will be finished by the Thursday deadline. 'It's impossible,' said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher in response to CNN asking if officials would be able to finish the full recount on time.... Sarah Revell, the communications director for the Florida Department of State, told CNN's Ana Cabrera that if a county does not submit its results by deadline, 'then the results on file at that time take their place.'..." ...

... Ryan Nobles & Eli Watkins of CNN: "Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott is filing three lawsuits against county election officials as a recount has gotten underway in the Senate contest between himself and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson."

... Lindsey Joins the Loons. Adrienne Varkiani of ThinkProgress: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seems to believe that Democrats' insistence that all votes be counted is a sign of them trying to 'steal' the election in Florida. 'They are trying to steal this election,' Graham said on Fox News' Hannity Friday evening. 'It's not going to work.'" --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Mississippi. Can You Hear My Dogwhistle Now? Chas Danner of New York: "Republican senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is facing a November 27 runoff election in Mississippi against Democrat Mike Espy, joked with supporters earlier this month about attending a 'public hanging.' A video of the remark, which she made at a campaign stop in Tupelo on November 2, was shared on social media Sunday morning by Bayou Brief journalist Lamar White Jr. In the video, after hearing praise from a supporter, Hyde-Smith jokes that 'if he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be in the first row.'... Hyde-Smith and Espy -- who in 1987 became the first black Mississippian to be elected to Congress since Reconstruction, and later became the first black secretary of agriculture under President Clinton -- were the two candidates who received the most votes in a four-person special election on Tuesday.... The result triggered a runoff election between the top two. Hyde-Smith was appointed by Mississippi governor Phil Bryant to replace ailing senator Thad Cochrane back in April, but still had to win the special election to serve out the remaining two years of Cochrane's term. Mississippi, as the Jackson Free-Press explains in its report on Hyde-Smith's comments, has a singularly terrible history when it comes to lynchings, racism, and the oppression of black Americans[.]" ...

     ... Update. Adam Ganucheau >& Larrison Campbell of Mississippi Today: "A video featuring Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is spreading rapidly across social media as critics say her comments invoke Mississippi's violent history of lynching.... Often, whites lynched African Americans for attempting to vote or register.... 'Cindy Hyde-Smith's comments are reprehensible,' said Danny Blanton, a spokesperson for the Espy campaign.... 'They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country....'... The president of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, who is a native Mississippian, drew a parallel between Hyde-Smith's remarks and the state's violent history."


John Bowden
of the Hill: "Conservative policy magazine The Weekly Standard on Saturday posted audio of Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) using derogatory language to apparently refer to Mexican immigrants at a campaign event after King and his campaign denied the comments were made. In the audio, the Iowa congressman can be heard joking with a constituent about importing 'dirt' from Mexico, which appears to be a derogatory reference to immigrants coming from Mexico and other Central American countries through the U.S.'s southern border.... After making the remarks, the Standard notes that King reportedly became nervous upon realizing that a reporter may have heard the remarks, and changed the subject.... King and his campaign ... dar[ed] the magazine to post it in a series of Twitter posts.... 'Just release the full tape. Leftists lies exist without original sources because they are false and manufactured accusations. Weekly Standard is transitioning into "Antifa News,"' King [wrote]...." (Also linked yesterday.)

Patch 'em Up and Shut Up, Doc. Frances Sellers of the Washington Post: "... a National Rifle Association tweet last week [told] doctors who dared enter the gun debate 'to stay in their lane.'... Countless medical professionals who have taken to Twitter in the past few days to fire back at the NRA -- creating a viral response that has ricocheted around the Internet under the hashtags #thisisourlane and #thisismylane. They have taken a debate that has churned for decades among powerful political gun lobbies and in academic journals and relaunched it in the unfiltered Twittersphere. And they have accompanied their indignant messages with photographs of feet sliding on red-splattered floors, of swabs and scrubs drenched in blood, and occasionally of unidentifiable and misshapen torsos heaped on gurneys.... The NRA tweet was spurred by a position paper from the American College of Physicians posted on Oct. 30 ... and titled 'Reducing Firearm Injuries and Deaths in the United States.' The ACP recommended 'a public health approach to firearms-related violence and the prevention of firearm injuries and deaths,' saying the medical profession has a 'special responsibility' to speak out on the prevention of such injuries and supporting 'appropriate regulation of the purchase of legal firearms,' among other measures."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Mark Mazzetti, et al., of the New York Times: "Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom, according to three people familiar with the discussions. The Saudis inquired at a time when Prince Mohammed, then the deputy crown prince and defense minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the kingdom. Their discussions, more than a year before the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, indicate that top Saudi officials have considered assassinations since the beginning of Prince Mohammed's ascent."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "The death toll from the Camp fire raging in Butte County rose to 29 on Sunday as authorities continued their search for victims amid the ruins of the Sierra foothills town of Paradise. Five additional victims were found in their homes, said Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea. Another was found in a vehicle. The number could continue to grow. On Sunday, authorities said, there were 228 people whose whereabouts were unknown." ...

Los Angeles Times: "Firefighters battling the Woolsey fire made significant headway over the weekend boosting the fire's containment to 20%, but strong Santa Ana winds that are expected to kick up Monday could stall progress. The inferno has charred 91,572 acres and destroyed several hundred homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties since Thursday afternoon, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials."

Sunday
Nov112018

Armistice Day 2018

Adam Hochschild of the New Yorker reviews three books on the armistice. "The war ended as senselessly as it had begun."

Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. -- from the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”

Richard Lough of Reuters: "French President Emmanuel Macron will be joined by some 70 world leaders on Sunday to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice that brought World War One to an end, and to honor the millions of soldiers who died in the conflict. One hundred years later, Macron will pay tribute to those soldiers and their families in an address delivered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, built by Emperor Napoleon in 1806, where an unknown soldier killed in the Great War is buried.... In a rare public display of emotion by the leaders of two world powers, Macron and [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel held hands on Saturday during a poignant ceremony in the Compiegne Forest, north of Paris, where French and German delegations signed the Armistice that ended the war."

Ishaan Tharoor of the Washington Post: "In hosting the ceremonies, French President Emmanuel Macron hopes to score a political point. World War I was a clash of violent nationalist passions, fueled by a coterie of power-hungry elites. Now there’s a rising tide of nationalism in Europe, with far-right leaders in Western Europe and illiberal statesmen in countries such as Hungary challenging the liberal ideals of the European Union and the cooperation and multilateralism that once guaranteed its prosperity.... Macron wants that story of unilateralism and conflict to be a cautionary tale for his contemporaries. 'A survival-of-the-fittest approach does not protect any group of people against any kind of threat,' he said recently.... That message is unlikely to get through to Trump. His treaty busting and ally bullying have strained trans-Atlantic ties and encouraged Europe’s anti-establishment forces. His overt nationalism and embrace of protectionism, critics say, have undermined American leadership and called into question the future of the international order constructed by the United States after World War II."

Mickie Lynn of the Albany Times Union: "This Sunday will mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, a celebration of the peace treaty signed at the end of World War I.  A bloody war that killed tens of millions of people, and was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Clearly as we look back over the century that isn’t how things turned out. In fact, since then the United States has been involved in many wars. Most of them wars of choice rather than self defense. For many years the United States celebrated Armistice Day or Remembrance Day but then in October of 1954, after WW II and the Korean War, which never did end in a peace treaty, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a proclamation changing the name of the commemoration to Veteran’s Day.  From his farewell speech later where he warned about the Military Industrial Complex It seems that he was trying to bring US public awareness to the dreadful costs of war by making people think about the suffering and loss of life and limb.... So it’s time to change the narrative from honoring and celebrating war and violence to that of celebrating peace through treaties, alliances and negotiations with all parties.... Although he didn’t get his expensive military parade, President Trump will be joining about 60 world leaders to celebrate Armistice Day this weekend in an event hosted by President Emmanuel Macron. There will be a Peace Forum held later but our President has no plans to attend that.... Trump’s Nationalism is in contrast with the spirit of the celebration but that he’s not alone since there are a growing number of Nationalist leaders in Europe and the rest of the world."