The Wires

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August 8: About to give birth? About to get a new job? Beware the poppy-seed bagel. Seriously. Washington Post: "... poppy seeds really can make you fail a drug test, both peer-reviewed scientific studies and unofficial experiments conducted by journalists have found. Because they’re derived from opium poppies, they sometimes contain traces of morphine ― not enough to get you high, obviously, but potentially enough to register on a highly sensitive drug test." The report cites several instances in which mothers lost custody of their newborns because the mothers failed routine (but outdated) drug tests.

July 13: Washington Post: "A salmonella outbreak linked to a popular Kellogg's cereal has infected 100 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The agency is urging consumers to avoid Honey Smacks, a sugary puffed wheat cereal which has been the subject of a recall by the company since mid-June. At least 30 of the 100 have been hospitalized, while no deaths have been reported, the CDC said. 'Do not eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal of any size package or with any "best if used by" date,' it wrote."

A Toke Before They Croak. Guardian: "For decades, seafood lovers have struggled with a confounding ethical dilemma: how do you balance out the delight of a lobster dinner with the discomfort of boiling one alive, generally regarded as the proper way to prepare the crustacean delicacy?... Sedating lobsters by blowing marijuana smoke on to them sounds like the type of idea you might come up with while smoking a bit of grass yourself, but Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, is convinced it can help to ease the pain lobsters might feel while being boiled alive. An animal rights supporter who has owned the restaurant for seven years, Gill told the Mount Desert Island publication that she’s long struggled with the ethical implications of her line of work. After conducting an experiment in which she 'hot-boxed' a particularly aggressive lobster named Roscoe, she came away convinced the high significantly mellowed him out. 'The animal is already going to be killed,' she said in the interview. 'It is far more humane to make it a kinder passage.'”

 

Here's the Los Angeles Times' Emmy page. ...

... New York Times: "'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' won five [Emmys] on Monday night, including best comedy series, and “Game of Thrones” picked up the award for best drama. HBO and Netflix tied with 23 Emmys each. See a full list of winners here. Talk of #MeToo was largely absent from this year’s ceremony, with no one mentioning Leslie Moonves from the stage. Read our critic’s review of the show, which he said lacked diversity. See red carpet photos."

Guardian: "A pair of ruby red slippers, produced for Judy Garland to wear in the Wizard of Oz, have been discovered by police over a decade after they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minneapolis [sic, Minnesota]. The discovery ends years of intrigue and scandal surrounding the whereabouts of the shoes. The slippers were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis, the FBI revealed in a news conference today. Their lead came in summer 2017 when an individual approached the company that insured the slippers, claiming he had information about the shoes and how they could be returned. It quickly became clear he was attempting to extort the slippers’ owners and police were contacted.

You can see why Trump is insanely jealous of this guy:

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

... Matthew Dessem of Slate: "The only fly in the ointment is the knowledge that, demographically speaking, this video will make a lot of horrible people happy."

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
Sep172018

The Commentariat -- September 18, 2018

Afternoon Update:

John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "The No. 2 Republican in the Senate on Tuesday sharply questioned the credibility of the woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, as GOP leaders indicated they will limit witnesses at next week's hearing to just the Supreme Court nominee and his accuser. Speaking to reporters, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said..., 'The problem is, Dr. Ford can't remember when it was, where it was, or how it came to be,' Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol late Tuesday morning. When asked whether he was questioning the accuser's account -- which Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied -- Cornyn said, 'There are some gaps there that need to be filled.' His comments came shortly after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) outlined a plan to limit testimony at Monday's planned hearing to that provided by Kavanaugh and Ford -- which brought cries of protest from Democrats. They insisted that other witnesses also be called, including Mark Judge, a Kavanaugh friend who Ford said witnessed the assault." ...

... Elana Schor, et al., of Politico: "The woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago has not yet confirmed her appearance at a public hearing the GOP is planning next week as of midday Tuesday, according to top Republican senators. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that his staff has reached out to Christine Blasey Ford's camp several times since the California-based professor came forward with her story of a high-school-era assault by ... Donald Trump's high court pick. Although Ford's lawyer said that her client would be open to 'a fair proceeding,' it remains unclear whether she would agree to a planned hearing on Sept. 24 that Republicans have set up to help save Kavanaugh's nomination." ...

... Blasey Ford Told Her Story to a Friend in 2017. Julia Sulek of the Mercury News: "In an interview Monday with this news organization, [Rebecca] White..., one of Blasey Ford's neighbors and a good friend..., said that Blasey Ford had told her about the alleged assault -- without naming Kavanaugh -- in late 2017 during the height of the #MeToo movement and long before Kavanaugh was a Supreme Court nominee. Last year, White had added her own #MeToo story about being raped as a teenager to a Facebook post. 'She reached out to me afterward, supporting me and my story and that she had something happen to her when she was really young and that the guy was a federal judge,' White said. 'She said she had been assaulted. She said hers had been violent as well, physically scary, fighting for her life.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Since Sen. Upchuck Grossly won't allow other witnesses to come forward, I sure hope Democrats bring up White's attestation during the hearing Monday -- if there is a hearing Monday. ...

... No, It's Not a "He Said/She Said." Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "... Georgetown University law professor David Super notes, federal law explicitly says these previous statements are not regarded as hearsay, or unreliable, when they are used 'to rebut an express or implied charge that the declarant recently fabricated it or acted from a recent improper influence or motive in so testifying.' That's exactly what Republicans are implying -- often gently and without expressly calling Ford a liar. 'Calling it "he said, she said" implies that both accounts are uncorroborated,' Super said. 'But these prior consistent statements are corroboration. And with so many complaining about the lateness of the charges, they are at least implying recent fabrication. That makes her prior consistent statements not hearsay. Even a court would consider them.'" ...

... Brian Beutler of Crooked: "Facing the real prospect that their long-sought fifth anti-abortion Supreme Court justice might go unseated, and President Trump's growing legal exposure, the Republican Party is charging into election season with a two-fronted disinformation campaign, in a desperate effort to salvage conservative control not just of the Court, but of Congress and the White House as well. Specifically, they are maximizing confusion about whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a 15 year old girl when he and she were both high school students, and about the legitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. And they are advancing both goals with naked abuses of power. In the Senate, Republicans believe the path to confirming Kavanaugh now runs through preventing the public from reaching consensus about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school.... Trump has ordered the Justice Department and the Director of National Intelligence to breach Mueller's investigation by declassifying and disclosing sensitive counterintelligence information...."

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "While President Trump declassifying documents 'at the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency,' may sound like routine presidential behavior, the directive announced by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday afternoon was actually a dramatic escalation of his attempts to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller.... This is the first time a president has released information about an ongoing investigation into members of his campaign and administration over the objections of intelligence officials.... The materials won't immediately be made public. In a classic Trumpian move, the administration made the announcement before giving the Justice Department specific instructions about what it's supposed to release, according to the Washington Post. The department responded with a statement saying it will review the information to ensure it doesn't release anything that would put 'national security interests' at risk."

Maggie Haberman & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Nearly a dozen lawyers now assist President Trump in contending with two federal investigations, one in Washington and one in New York, that could pose serious threats to his presidency and his businesses. But the expanding legal team is struggling to understand where the investigations could be headed and the extent of Mr. Trump's legal exposure. The lawyers have only a limited sense of what many witnesses -- including senior administration officials and the president's business associates -- have told investigators and what the Justice Department plans to do with any incriminating information it has about Mr. Trump, according to interviews with more than a dozen people close to the president. What is more, it is not clear if Mr. Trump has given his lawyers a full account of some key events in which he has been involved as president or during his decades running the Trump Organization."

Tom McCarthy of the Guardian: "In a tell-all memoir, the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels details salacious descriptions of her time with Donald Trump, wonders if he is fit to be president and claims he offered to cheat for her in his reality TV show.... [Mrs. McCrabbie: Sorry, I'm going there:] She describes Trump's penis as 'smaller than average' but 'not freakishly small'. 'He knows he has an unusual penis,' Daniels writes. 'It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool.... I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart.... It may have been the least impressive sex I'd ever had, but clearly, he didn.t share that opinion.'"

*****

Anita Hill in a New York Times op-ed on how to get the Kavanaugh hearing right. ...

... Sheryl Stolberg & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under mounting pressure from senators of his own party, will call ... Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault before the committee on Monday for extraordinary public hearings just weeks before the midterm elections. Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, told reporters Monday afternoon that the chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, told senators there would be an 'opportunity' for senators to hear from Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, in a public setting where senators would be able to ask questions. Both have said they are willing to testify.... [The move] effectively delay[ed] a planned committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination, which had been scheduled for this Thursday.... Mr. Trump on Monday vigorously defended his nominee, calling him an 'outstanding' judge with an unblemished record, and dismissing as 'ridiculous' the prospect that Judge Kavanaugh might withdraw his nomination. Nevertheless, he told reporters that he was willing to accept a delay in the judge's path to confirmation in order to air the new information.... Senator Susan Collins of Maine ... told reporters that if Judge Kavanaugh lied, it would disqualify him." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Sen. Orrin Hatch (Troglodyte-Utah) told reporters he does not believe Ford. He said, "this woman, whoever she is, is mixed up." ...

... Babysitting Donald. Robert Costa, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump’s routine reaction to allegations of sexual assault is to deny, retaliate and repeat. He has dismissed accusations against himself as 'phony' and 'false,' and when presented with claims against other men, the #MeToo-era president tends to side instinctually with the accused. But in the case of federal judge Brett M. Kavanaugh -- whose Supreme Court nomination is suddenly endangered after a woman accused him of sexual assault when they were in high school -- Trump on Monday was uncharacteristically muted. White House aides said they persuaded the president to refrain from tweeting a defense of Kavanaugh in the accusation's immediate aftermath and deliberately worked to keep him from meeting personally with the nominee, even though the two men spent most of the day in proximity. Kavanaugh was hunkered down in the West Wing office of White House Counsel Donald McGahn, strategizing to save his nomination and calling senators to deny the claim against him.... Trump's advisers calmed him by giving him space to vent privately about Senate Democrats...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The best part of the story is how Mitch McConnell was all upset that no one in the White House had briefed Fox "News" on the messaging the Trump network should push. I'd say the message is "I'll dump Brett in a New York minute if that's what works best for me." ...

... Chris Strohm & Shannon Pettypiece of Bloomberg: "The White House hasn't asked the FBI to investigate the allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they were in high school, a request required for the bureau to take further action, according to two people familiar with the matter.... Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have said they want the FBI to investigate the allegation. But FBI background investigations are conducted under specific procedures and through requests from government agencies -- which in Kavanaugh's case would come from the White House, said the two people...." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Although neither the conservative federal judge nor the White House has given any indication that Kavanaugh intends to drop out, the path to his confirmation now looks much more challenging, and it is one that contains great peril for the Republican Party.... The real question is: Will the White House and Republican leaders actually allow a potentially sensational set of hearings, with all the political risks that would entail, just weeks before the midterm elections in which they are already struggling mightily to attract women's votes in key suburban districts? Or will they decide to cut their losses and withdraw the Kavanaugh nomination? We'll find out soon." --safari ...

... ** There's More. Ryan Grim of The Intercept: "The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee were both approached in July by an attorney claiming to have information relevant to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The attorney claimed in his letter that multiple employees of the federal judiciary would be willing to speak to investigators, but received no reply to multiple attempts to make contact, he told The Intercept. Cyrus Sanai made his first attempt to reach out to Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in a letter dated July 24.... Sanai said that he did not hold Kavanaugh responsible for Kozinski's behavior, but rather that his claim of ignorance was not credible and could be contradicted by witnesses." Read on. --safari...

... ** Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress: "This will be a story about Alex Kozinski, the disgraced former federal judge that Supreme Court nominee for whom Brett Kavanaugh clerked. Yet it is also a story about Kavanaugh himself. It is a story about Kavanuagh's repeated denials that he ever witnessed Kozinski 'engaging in inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature.' It's a story about why these denials are almost certainly lies.... Kavanaugh's repeated claims that he has no recollection of Kozinski making sexually inappropriate comments to a law clerk -- or that he never even heard anyone raise concerns about such behavior by Kozinski -- are quite literally unbelievable." --safari ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: To read Grim & Millhiser is to know that the Liar-in-Chief has nominated another practiced liar to the Supreme Court. There cannot be any question about it. Brett Kavanaugh has no moral compass, and his false sworn testimony is all the evidence necessary to disqualify him from the job he holds now & the one he aspires to hold. ...

... Mark Stern of Slate: "It is entirely reasonable to feel uncomfortable holding 17-year-olds strictly liable for their misdeeds for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, that is not what's happening here, which makes this argument around age a red herring. Kavanaugh is not asking for absolution; he is denying Ford's allegations outright. The real question, then, is ... whether he is telling the truth about those actions all these years later.... It is perfectly consistent to believe that nobody's life should be ruined for committing a crime at age 17 -- and that any adult who lies about that crime should not be elevated to the Supreme Court. Rejecting Kavanaugh's confirmation on this basis wouldn't be dolling it punishment, but rather withholding a privilege." ...

... Charles Pierce: "The Categorical Denial is a two-edged sword, which is why politicians and those nominated for seats on the Supreme Court avoid the Categorical Denial.... Throughout his hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh ... managed to dodge the Categorical Denial. He was not as slick at it as was Neil Gorsuch. He stammered and blathered and came off like someone who hadn't learned his lines very well.... Here's the thing about Categorical Denials.... If you're mistaken, or you've forgotten, or you did it but you were too sockless hammered to recall the events, you're just as done as if you were flat-out lying about the whole matter.... Brett Kavanaugh is standing by his Categorical Denial because that's another thing about Categorical Denials. You can't walk them back." ...

... What Mazie Knew. Mrs. McCrabbie: Pierce -- not to mention Grim & Millhiser -- reminds me that this is more out there on Kavanaugh: "The strange questions from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about gambling. And a line of inquiry from Senator Maizie Hirono...: 'Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?'... All of these curious questions were a direct result of those documents that the committee members have seen that are nonetheless kept secret from the rest of us. They know what's in there, and Kavanaugh knows that they know, but they can only vaguely hint at the material in open session.... Kavanaugh took full advantage of the protection this policy offered him." Maybe this week's delay will give reporters a chance to ferret out some of the stories behind the "curious questions." ...

... I'll See Your 65 & Raise You 200. Amanda Terkel & Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post: "A group of women who went to Christine Blasey Ford's high school are circulating a letter to show support for the woman who has alleged that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her while they were in high school. 'We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,' says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland.... The women also say that what Ford is alleging 'is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.'... More than 200 women had signed the letter as of late Monday morning, said Sarah Burgess, a member of the class of 2005. Burgess said she and some of her schoolmates wrote the letter because hearing Ford's story felt 'personal.'... Susanna Jones, the Holton-Arms head of school, put out a statement Sunday night in support of Ford. 'In these cases, it is imperative that all voices are heard,' Jones said. 'As a school that empowers women to use their voices, we are proud of this alumna for using hers.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ariane de Vogue & Eli Watkins of CNN: "... Brett Kavanaugh said Monday that he would be willing to speak with lawmakers to refute an allegation of physical and sexual assault.... Kavanaugh's statement came shortly after his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said through her attorney that she would be willing to speak with Congress to tell her side of the story.... According to multiple sources, Kavanaugh has hired Beth Wilkinson, of the law firm Wilkinson Walsh and Eskovitz, to be his attorney.... Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins, one of the chamber's most closely watched votes, said on Twitter that she wanted both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement early Monday afternoon that Ford 'deserves to be heard' but stopped short of committing to a public airing that would likely force a delay of a planned committee vote on Thursday.... Democrats are insisting that the FBI handle the matter by reopening Kavanaugh's background investigation rather having committee staff make calls.... Underscoring the uncertainty Kavanaugh faces, four senators considered swing votes on the nomination issued statements Monday calling for a thorough review of the allegations by Ford, a professor in California": Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) & Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Megan Garber of The Atlantic: "What [Christine Blasey] Ford is talking about -- what she has been talking about, for years -- is not the behavior of kids simply being kids, boys simply being boys. What she is alleging, instead, is cruelty; it is entitlement; it is violence; it is assault.... Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court was already, in the profoundest of ways, a matter of norms: It will determine, almost inevitably, whether the women of America maintain autonomy over their bodies. Here, though, in Christine Blasey Ford's claim that a young Brett Kavanaugh compromised her autonomy in another way, another norm is being litigated: the way we talk about sexual violence. Whether such violence will be considered an outrage, or simply a sad inevitability. Whether it will be treated as morally intolerable ... or as something that, boys being boys and men being men, just happens." ...

... Paul Krugman: "The very process that brought Kavanaugh to the brink of a lifetime Supreme Court appointment was saturated in bad faith.... Republicans wouldn't even give President Barack Obama's nominee a hearing, claiming that because Obama was late in his second term the process should wait, leaving a court seat vacant for more than a year, to let voters weigh in.... Why the rush [now]? Because there's a chance the G.O.P. will lose the Senate soon. That whole thing about letting the voters have their say was dishonest from the beginning.... Bad faith takes a moral toll on Republican politicians, too. We keep seeing people who once appeared to have some sense of decency turn into abject apparatchiks.... Instead of attacking those activists back in Maine, [Susan Collins] should be thanking them, for giving her one last chance to save her political soul." ...

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "Over the years, Republicans have reminded women over and over again that they don't take sexual assault seriously. Regardless of what you think about Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford's allegations, we're getting a good reminder of the fact that they still don't.... What we are about to witness when it comes to Kavanaugh is a lot of pearl-clutching that is not only dismissive of the trauma of sexual assault, it is about how boys make 'mistakes' when they're young and grow up to be men of fine character. The problem is that all too often that kind of compassion is only extended to white boys who went to fancy prep schools." ...

... What Republicans Mean by "Law & Order." Eric Levitz: "In the United States, juvenile drug offenders are routinely tried as adults, 13-year-old murderers can be (and have been) sentenced to life without parole, and teenagers who text naked pictures of themselves regularly get arrested for child pornography, and forced to spend the rest of their lives as registered sex offenders.... The American right played a central role in bringing [these laws] into being.... The president regularly refers to teenage gang members as 'animals,' and has, in the past, called for imposing the death penalty on alleged teen rapists. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, has actively made the criminal justice system more punitive toward juvenile offenders.... But in the past 24 hours, the right's thinking on juvenile justice appears to have radically changed: Where conservatives once believed that people who commit violent crimes as teenagers do not necessarily deserve the opportunity to ever reenter free society, many now contend that such people should not (necessarily) be denied the chance to serve on the nation's highest court.... One 'outside Trump adviser,'... suggested that Kavanaugh's behavior was such a relatable example of boys beings boys, Democrats could suffer politically for stigmatizing it.... [But it seems likely] that conservatives are merely clarifying, yet again, that 'law and order' means 'using the law to reinforce a social order that protects those at the top of class, race, and gender hierarchies, while suppressing those at the bottom.'" ...

... Michelle Goldberg: "If the Kavanaugh nomination goes forward, it's because Trump and his allies believe that a certain class of men accused of sexual assault deserve impunity. The question now is whether any Republican senators believe otherwise." ...

... Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel: "I'm all in favor of having [Christine Blasey] Ford testify. After all, Brett Kavanaugh thinks a 17-year old must jump through extraordinary hoops before she can terminate an unwanted pregnancy; surely he thinks young men should similarly bear the consequences of their actions? But she shouldn't testify alone. Mark Judge should testify along with her. After all, according to her letter and the WaPo account, he was a witness to the event.... And while he currently claims he doesn't recall the event, she says that the one time they crossed paths afterwards, he exhibited discomfort upon seeing her.... Virtually all the people attacking Ford's story are utterly silent on Judge's presence as a witness. I suspect that's because both his own descriptions of his social life at the time, and his professed inability to recall the event, might suggest that Kavanaugh, too, was simply too drunk to remember this attempted rape." --safari

... Here's what "Kavanaugh character witness" Mark Judge wrote in the Washingtonian about his family's reaction to his 1997 memoir, and what his brother Michael Judge wrote in response. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Were You Wondering What Donnie Jr. Thinks about All This? Tasneem Nashrulla of BuzzFeed News: "Donald Trump Jr. posted an image on his Instagram account that appeared to mock the woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by the president's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.... The image — titled 'Judge Kavanaughs sexual assault letter found by Dems...' -- was that of a note scrawled in childish handwriting which read, 'Hi Cindy will you be my girlfreind [sic]?" The note had two checkboxes marked 'yes' and 'no' and was signed 'Love Bret [sic].' In his Instagram caption, Trump Jr. wrote: 'Oh boy... the Dems and their usual nonsense games really have him on the ropes now. Finestein [sic] had the letter in July and saved it for the eve of his vote... honorable as always. I believe this is a copy for full transparency.'" Mrs. McC: Besides three misspellings in this short but grate wirk of litterchur, Donnie calls the recipient of the letter "Cindy," which is not a common nickname for "Christine." The nut doesn't fall far from the tree. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... MEANWHILE. Brad Reed of the Raw Story: "Right-wing media personality Matt Drudge on Monday completely crashed and burned in his latest attempt to smear Christine Blasey Ford.... Specifically, Drudge promoted an article at Grabien News claiming to show that Ford got poor ratings from her students, some of whom purportedly described her as having a 'dark personality' on the Rate My Professors website.... In fact, the RateMyProfessors page refers to a Christine A. Ford, who taught at the social work department at California State University Fullerton, and who actually received only five reviews -- two of which rated her as 'awesome,' two of which rated her as 'average,' and only one of which rated her as 'awful.' Christine Blasey Ford, meanwhile, is a professor of clinical psychology at Palo Alto University who has never worked at Fullerton. In addition to Drudge, Trump-loving conservative pundits Mark Levin and Kurt Schlichter also shared the false claim that Ford's students gave her extremely negative ratings on RateMyProfessors." Mrs. McC: Grabien has since retracted its fake story.

** Warning. Ian Millhiser: "'People don't have to believe in the judiciary,' Justice Elena Kagan warned at an event styled as a conversation between her and Slate's Dahlia Lithwick. 'You can lose that belief,' the justice warned. And then she made what may be her most important point -- that it is up to Supreme Court itself to prevent this outcome. 'I think that, on the Court, it's incumbent upon us to be aware of that,' Kagan said. 'And to not do the things that where people will reject the Court and say, you know, we don't view it as legitimate anymore.'.... Such a public and explicit warning that the Court may be an imminent threat to its own legitimacy is unusual from any justice, but it is especially alarming from Justice Kagan. As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan earned praise from conservatives for brokering a compromise between liberal and conservative factions within her faculty that led to three prominent conservatives being hired. She is widely viewed as one of the Court's deal-makers. --safari ...

... Matt Ford of the New Republic: "The Supreme Court's only real power is its legitimacy in the eyes of the American public, and forcing through another justice who's been accused of sexual misconduct is a surefire way to damage it. The Senate, meanwhile, could claim that voters gave them a mandate in 2016 to confirm judges like Kavanaugh, but the message it would send to many Americans is that women's traumatic stories still don't matter to them."


Matt Zapotosky
, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Monday ordered the Justice Department to declassify significant materials from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, threatening to spur a high-stakes showdown with federal law enforcement officials resistant to publicizing information from an ongoing probe. In a statement, the White House said Trump was ordering the department to immediately declassify portions of the secret court order to monitor former campaign adviser Carter Page, along with all interviews they conducted as officials applied for the order. Trump also instructed the department to publicly released the unredacted text messages of several former high-level Justice Department and FBI officials, including former FBI director James B. Comey and deputy director Andrew McCabe. For months, conservative lawmakers have been calling on the department to release Russia-related and other materials, many of them believing law enforcement was hiding information that might discredit the investigation now led by ... Robert S. Mueller III." ...

... Sonam Sheth of Business Insider: "Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, slammed ... Donald Trump's decision Monday to order the release of a slew of sensitive documents related to the Russia investigation.... Schiff called the president's move a 'clear abuse of power' meant to 'intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.' Schiff also revealed that the FBI and DOJ had previously told him that they would consider the release of some of the materials Trump wants declassified a 'red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods.'" Schiff said on MSNBC that top officials should resign if Trump releases the sensitive documents.

Useful Idiots. Spencer Ackerman of The Daily Beast: "[B]efore Manafort enters a new phase of his criminal career, Mueller filed a new superseding criminal information document in federal court listing new details of the man in the ostrich skin jacket's infamous political resume.... [O]ne of his tactics ... was to get what Manafort described 'in a contemporaneous communication [as] "[O]bama jews"' to pressure the Obama administration in October 2012. The scheme was to tie [Yulia] Tymoshenko to antisemitism through association. Manafort got 'a senior Israeli government official to issue a written statement publicizing this story.' That's a reference to a statement from then-Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, a hardliner who is now defense minister.... The story was published by Ben Shapiro at Breitbart[.]" --safari ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Special counsel Robert Mueller's Friday plea agreement with Paul Manafort took unusual and possibly unprecedented steps to undercut President Donald Trump's ability to pardon his former campaign chairman. The plea deal Mueller struck with the former Trump campaign chairman contains several provisions that appear intended to discourage the former Trump aide both from seeking a pardon and to rein in the impact of any pardon Trump might grant. Legal experts with sweeping views of executive power and attorneys who advocate for broad use of clemency criticized what they call an effort by Mueller's team to tie the president's hands." --safari

Tom Winter & Adiel Kaplan of NBC News: "Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to set a late November sentencing date for ... Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, according to a court document filed Monday by federal prosecutors. In a joint filing to the court, special counsel Robert Mueller's team and Flynn's attorneys requested that sentencing be set for November 28, or any of the following seven business days after that date. Flynn pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian officials and agreed to cooperate in the special counsel's investigation."


David Lynch & Damian Paletta
of the Washington Post: "President Trump threw his biggest punch yet at China, imposing tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and gambling that American consumers are willing to pay more for popular products to wring trade concessions from Beijing. With Monday's announcement, roughly half of the $505 billion in goods that Americans buy annually from Chinese firms will face new import levies. Unlike the $50 billion in Chinese products that Trump hit in the first tariff wave in July -- which fell mainly on industrial goods -- Monday's action will affect consumer products such as air conditioners, spark plugs, furniture and lamps. Starting Sept. 24, American importers will pay an extra 10 percent tariff for the affected items, rising to 25 percent at the end of the year, according to senior administration officials, who briefed reporters on the condition that they not be identified by name. China has vowed to retaliate for the latest U.S. tariffs with new import taxes on $60 billion in American products. If that happens, the president said he would immediately begin the process of approving tariffs on a further $267 billion in Chinese imports — effectively taxing everything Americans buy from China." ...

... Stuart Leavenworth of McClatchy DC: "The tariffs President Trump has slapped on imports from foreign countries -- including duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods announced Monday -- are almost certain to raise costs on homeowners in the Carolinas hoping to rebuild and refurnish after Hurricane Florence. While prices naturally rise after a natural disaster, given the spike in demand for building materials, Trump's trade war has already boosted costs for imported plywood and lumber, which jumped 30 percent in the six months after the Trump administration announced tariffs on Canadian softwood timber in December." --safari

Julie Davis: "President Trump plans to cap the number of refugees that can be resettled in the United States next year at 30,000, his administration announced on Monday, further cutting an already drastically scaled-back program that offers protection to foreigners fleeing violence and persecution.... The number represents the lowest ceiling a president has placed on the refugee program since its creation in 1980, and a reduction of a third from the 45,000-person limit that Mr. Trump set for 2018.... It is ... the culmination of a quiet but successful effort by Stephen Miller, the president's senior policy adviser, to severely restrict the number of refugees offered protection inside the country."

Rebekah Entralago of ThinkProgress: "Some undocumented immigrants living in the United States have received fake documents, ordering them to arrive at the courthouse at midnight, on weekends, or on dates that don't exist, such as September 31, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.... According to the Morning News, reports of fake court dates have sprung up in Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami. Neither the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, nor the Justice Department have offered a clear explanation for why undocumented immigrants are being handed fake court dates." --safari

Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: "In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the Senate overwhelmingly passed on Monday evening a sweeping package of bills aimed at addressing the nation's deadly opioid epidemic. The vote was 99 to 1 with only Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) dissenting.... The House passed a similar measure in June, and the two chambers will need to negotiate a few differences before sending the package to Trump's desk."

Election 2018

New York. Shane Goldmacher & Lisa W. Foderaro of the New York Times: "Representative Chris Collins, the New York Republican indicted on insider trading charges last month, reversed course on Monday and planned to announce he would seek another term, according to two Republicans familiar with his plans. Mr. Collins opted to stay on the ballot on the advice of lawyers who said his removal -- a Byzantine procedure governed by New York's complex election laws -- would most likely face a Democratic lawsuit, and would muddle the election for his replacement, ultimately leaving the Western New York seat vulnerable to Democrats, according to one of the Republicans." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)"


E.A. Crunden
of ThinkProgress: "A second breach was reported at a coal ash landfill site in North Carolina on Monday according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the latest impact from Hurricane Florence's heavy rains. That update comes amid a state of emergency declared at a nuclear power plant overseen by the landfill's operator, Duke Energy, as the extent of the damage from Florence — now a tropical depression — slowly becomes apparent.... Coal ash ... landfill sites can contain toxic mercury, arsenic and lead, among others, and pose a danger to human health as well as the environment. The initial breach over the weekend spilled roughly 2,000 cubic yards of coal ash...." --safari

Way Beyond the Beltway

AFP: "Germany has rolled out the world's first hydrogen-powered train, signalling the start of a push to challenge the might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology. Two bright blue Coradia iLint trains, built by French TGV-maker Alstom, on Monday began running a 62 mile (100km) route...in northern Germany -- a stretch normally plied by diesel trains.... Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, a process that leaves steam and water as the only emissions. Excess energy is stored in ion lithium batteries on board the train. The Coradia iLint trains can run for about 600 miles (1,000km) on a single tank of hydrogen, similar to the range of diesel trains." --safari

New Lede

Weather Channel: "Hurricane Florence, now a post-tropical cyclone, began its second week of impacts Monday with much of the same -- flooding that cut off entire towns, water rescues in parts of the Carolinas that have been inundated, and more death. The storm is responsible for at least 32 deaths -- 25 in North Carolina, six in South Carolina, and one in Virginia when a building collapsed during a tornado near Richmond on Monday afternoon." ...

... The Weather Channel has numerous Florence-related stories linked on its front page.

Sunday
Sep162018

The Commentariat -- September 17, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Senate Judiciary will hold a hearing with both Professor Ford and Kavanaugh on Monday. This Thursday's committee vote has been postponed, according to a Republican briefed on the plans. Story TK -- Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times, in a tweet Monday evening ...

... I'll See Your 65 & Raise You 200. Amanda Terkel & Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post: "A group of women who went to Christine Blasey Ford's high school are circulating a letter to show support for the woman who has alleged that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her while they were in high school. 'We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,' says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland.... The women also say that what Ford is alleging 'is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.'... More than 200 women had signed the letter as of late Monday morning, said Sarah Burgess, a member of the class of 2005. Burgess said she and some of her schoolmates wrote the letter because hearing Ford's story felt 'personal.'... Susanna Jones, the Holton-Arms head of school, put out a statement Sunday night in support of Ford. 'In these cases, it is imperative that all voices are heard,' Jones said. 'As a school that empowers women to use their voices, we are proud of this alumna for using hers.'" ...

... Ariane de Vogue & Eli Watkins of CNN: "... Brett Kavanaugh said Monday that he would be willing to speak with lawmakers to refute an allegation of physical and sexual assault by a woman who has come forward publicly with the accusation.... Kavanaugh's statement came shortly after his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said through her attorney that she would be willing to speak with Congress to tell her side of the story.... According to multiple sources, Kavanaugh has hired Beth Wilkinson, of the law firm Wilkinson Walsh and Eskovitz, to be his attorney.... Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins, one of the chamber's most closely watched votes, said on Twitter that she wanted both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee." ...

... John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement early Monday afternoon that Ford 'deserves to be heard' but stopped short of committing to a public airing that would likely force a delay of a planned committee vote on Thursday.... Democrats are insisting that the FBI handle the matter by reopening Kavanaugh’s background investigation rather having committee staff make calls.... Underscoring the uncertainty Kavanaugh faces, four senators considered swing votes on the nomination issued statements Monday calling for a thorough review of the allegations by Ford, a professor in California": Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) & Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). ...

... Were You Wondering What Donnie Jr. Thinks about All This? Tasneem Nashrulla of BuzzFeed News: "Donald Trump Jr. posted an image on his Instagram account that appeared to mock the woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by the president's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.... The image -- titled 'Judge Kavanaughs sexual assault letter found by Dems...' — was that of a note scrawled in childish handwriting which read, 'Hi Cindy will you be my girlfreind [sic]?" The note had two checkboxes marked 'yes' and 'no' and was signed 'Love Bret [sic].' In his Instagram caption, Trump Jr. wrote: 'Oh boy... the Dems and their usual nonsense games really have him on the ropes now. Finestein [sic] had the letter in July and saved it for the eve of his vote... honorable as always. I believe this is a copy for full transparency.'" Mrs. McC: Besides three misspellings in this short but grate wirk of litterchur, Donnie calls the recipient of the letter "Cindy," which is not a common nickname for "Christine." The nut doesn't fall far from the tree. ...

... Here's what "Kavanaugh character witness" Mark Judge wrote in the Washingtonian about his family's reaction to his 1997 memoir, and what his brother Michael Judge wrote in response.

Shane Goldmacher & Lisa W. Foderaro of the New York Times: "Representative Chris Collins, the New York Republican indicted on insider trading charges last month, reversed course on Monday and planned to announce he would seek another term, according to two Republicans familiar with his plans. Mr. Collins opted to stay on the ballot on the advice of lawyers who said his removal -- a Byzantine procedure governed by New York's complex election laws -- would most likely face a Democratic lawsuit, and would muddle the election for his replacement, ultimately leaving the Western New York seat vulnerable to Democrats, according to one of the Republicans."

*****

John Wagner of the Washinton Post: "A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who said Judge Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when the two were in high school, said Monday that Ford is willing to testify about the allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 'She is. She's willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth,' lawyer Debra Katz said on NBC's 'Today' show when asked if her client would speak publicly about President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court.... The White House indicated Monday that it is continuing to stand by Kavanaugh but expects Ford will offer testimony to the Judiciary Committee. 'This woman should not be insulted and should not be ignored,' White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said during an interview on Fox News's 'Fox & Friends.'" ...

... ** Emma Brown of the Washington Post interviews Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist affiliated with Stanford University, who says Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were in high school. She told no one the story in any detail until she discussed it with two therapists, beginning in 2012. Mrs. McC: Either Ford, whose professional name is Christine Blasey, is a loon or a drunken Brett Kavanaugh attacked her while laughing "maniacally" and would not release her. He's either lying about it now or he decided to "forget" the incident. You be the judge, because evidently the Judiciary Committee won't bother. New Rule? -- Attempted rape IOKIYAR? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. Evidently So. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "However, Republicans on the committee planned on Sunday afternoon to move forward with a scheduled Thursday vote on the nomination, barring additional corroboration of Ms. Ford's account or the emergence of a new allegation." Mrs. McC: Excuse me? There's already plenty of corroboration: two therapists, the victim's husband & a lie-detector test. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... CNN has published "the text of the letter Christine Blasey Ford wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein detailing an event in which she accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. CNN was not provided a copy of the letter sent to Feinstein, but a source who had the letter read the contents of a redacted version to CNN." The letter has been redacted. ...

... Some Cracks in the GOP Wall. Julia Lurie of Mother Jones: "On Sunday afternoon, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would be open to hearing directly from Christine Blasey Ford, the alleged sexual assault victim of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.... Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reportedly told The Washington Post's Sean Sullivan that the Senate Judiciary Committee should not move ahead with the vote on Kavanaugh, scheduled for Thursday, until hearing from Ford." ...

.... UPDATE. One Ringy-Dingy. Two Ringy-Dingies. Chuck Grassley thinks he can fix all this by separately phoning Christine Blasey Ford & Brett Kavanaugh & letting some "aides to top members" listen in. His spokesman is characterizing the phone calls as routine "bipartisan staff calls" that often take place for the purpose of "updating a nominee's background file." Mrs. McC: Good luck, Chuck. How come Chuck hasn't suffocated by now what with his head being in the sand all this time? On the other hand, I suppose Congressional Republicans have become so accustomed to accepting sexual predation that they consider violence, false imprisonment & attempted rape to be "routine." ...

... MEANWHILE. Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "The White House on Sunday stood by Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh after a woman publicly accused him of committing sexual misconduct decades ago, while a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee joined Democrats in urging for a delay in the confirmation process.... 'I've made it clear that I'm not comfortable moving ahead with the vote on Thursday if we have not heard her side of the story or explored this further,' said [Sen. Jeff] Flake [R-Az.], who is one of the committee's 21 members. Republicans hold a 11-to-10 majority on the panel.... The spokesman for committee Republicans, Taylor Foy, issued a lengthy statement vouching for Kavanaugh's integrity and saying it was 'disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote after Democrats sat on them since July.'... 'To railroad a vote now would be an insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court,' Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement." ...

... Slime the Victim. Asawin Suebsaeng, et al., of the Daily Beast: "... the President's team and his allies on and off the Hill began to mount a vigorous defense against the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, questioning why she had identified herself only now, and framing Kavanaugh's alleged antics as almost commonplace in nature." Mrs. McC: Wait, wait. He didn't do it, but he did do it because boys will be boys? That answers my question: IOKIYAR. Just to be clear, extreme violence against a young woman is not an "antic," and it is not "commonplace in nature." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Best part of the report: "Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition told The Daily Beast, that the allegations were 'spurious' and 'false' and 'transparently a desperate, last-minute attempt by Senate Democrats to delay the confirmation of one of the most eminently qualified Supreme Court nominees in modern history.' He did not specify how he determined they were false...." Reed is an unctuous character who made millions off his ties to infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff & tried to hide his ill-gotten gains via pass-throughs.

... Burgess Everett of Politico: "And four people close to the White House said they expected Republicans to question the accuser's vague memories and why Feinstein, up for reelection in November with Democratic base hungry for anti-Trump fodder, sat on the accusation for months. Three of those people also said they expect the president to go after Kavanaugh's accuser rather than to turn on the judge. They noted that Trump has done so before, not just denouncing his own accusers but also attacking those of others, notably, failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. A lawyer close to the White House said the nomination will not be withdrawn. 'No way, not even a hint of it,' the lawyer said. 'If anything, it's the opposite. If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Nothing like having the self-described sexual-predatory POTUS* attacking a victim of an (alleged) attempted rape right before an election. GOTV. As Sean Sullivan pointed out in the story linked above, "In 1992, outrage over the Senate confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas despite allegations of sexual misconduct from his former colleague Anita Hill, led to the election of dozens of female candidates." ...

     ... Everett's story has been updated to reflect Sen. Jeff Flake's opposition to a Thursday vote. AND "Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is not a member of the committee but whose vote is critical to Kavanaugh's confirmation, similarly said late Sunday that the committee should pause." Mrs. McC: These two senators, both of whom are retiring, would seem to have thwarted Chuck Grassley's plan to ram Kavanaugh through. ...

... Juan Cole: "If the GOP shoehorns Kavanaugh in (even though we are on the cusp of an election and they sidelined Merrick Garland on exactly these grounds) then all Americans will be raped by the elitist political philosophy of Kavanaugh, and half of Americans will lose autonomy over their own bodies to a Federal government in thrall to a religious minority (Evangelicals are now only about 17% of Americans, and anti-abortion Catholics are maybe 12%). Workers will lose the few rights they have left. The US will revert completely to the Robber Baron age of the late nineteenth century, and America will be about as favorable to women's rights as Mauritania, the Philippines and Honduras." --safari ...

... Mark Stern of Slate: "The Senate must pause the confirmation process and hold hearings -- fair hearings that heed the lessons of the Anita Hill disaster, during which senators downplayed Hill's alleged harassment and refused to hear from expert witnesses who could contextualize her experience.... The Senate Judiciary Committee's Republicans issued a statement on Sunday complaining about 'Democrats' tactics and motives,' implicitly questioning Ford's veracity. They appear predictably resistant to delaying the committee vote. It may thus fall on Collins and Murkowski to force their party to treat Ford with respect." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

So, to summarize, a confessed serial sexual predator nominated a man who is credibly accused of attempted rape to be the key vote to strip women of reproductive freedom. -- Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress, in a tweet

... David Atkins of the Washington Monthly: "... a Supreme Court nomination isn't a criminal trial, and an explosive allegation of this nature should instantly derail the confirmation process of a being chosen to preside over the highest court in the country, one that will have enormous power over women's bodies and their fundamental rights. It seems like outrageous hyperbole, but we must confront the dystopian reality. A president credibly accused multiple sexually assaults and who bragged forcibly grabbing women by the genitals without their consent, who was helped into office by a large number of men in powerful media positions who have also been forced out their jobs due to allegations of sexual harassment and assault as well as by the clandestine government services of a nation famous for its misogynistic exploitation of women, is nominating an accused rapist to the Supreme Court with the express intent of eliminating women's right to an abortion and other reproductive health services." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Conservatives continue to treat [Clarence] Thomas as the innocent victim of a smear campaign, despite the voluminous evidence of his guilt that emerged after his confirmation. The most likely outcome is that Republicans would confirm a second probable perpetrator of sexual assault to the high court. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine other possibilities.... It's perfectly obvious why Donald Trump would be eager to defend the principle that men must not have their careers derailed by accusations of sexual assault. It's less clear that 50 Republican senators will be eager to join him.... Republicans may not want spend the run-up to an election litigating an allegation that further defines their Trump-era identity as the party of unbridled male sexual entitlement. But at the moment, a question that appeared closed is suddenly very much open." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... "A Moral Abomination." digby: "I would just remind people who are thinking that Kavanaugh shouldn't be denied a place on the Supreme Court because of things he did in high school, that his professional life hasn't been exactly staid and upright either[.]... He isn't a learned jurist, he's a slash and burn right-wing activist. Drunken, privileged, rich boys are exactly the types they recruited for their dirty work during [the Clinton] period. And he's exactly the type the wingnut cabal that's propping up Trump to get the courts packed would put forth to ensure that their agenda is protected by any means necessary. He's a partisan hitman, not a judge.... He is a professional character assassin who is deeply morally compromised. His cruel and indecent behavior toward Vince Foster's family alone, despite knowing that it was wrong, disqualified him. This latest revelation just reinforces what we already know. He is a moral abomination who has no place on the court." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Saturday fired his first salvo against special counsel Robert Mueller since former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered a plea deal with the Russia probe's federal prosecutors. 'While my (our) poll numbers are good, with the Economy being the best ever, if it weren't for the Rigged Russian Witch Hunt, they would be 25 points higher!' Trump tweeted. 'Highly conflicted Bob Mueller & the 17 Angry Democrats are using this Phony issue to hurt us in the Midterms. No Collusion!' Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani also broke his silence on Manafort's intended guilty plea earlier Saturday, alleging in a tweet that 'sources close to' Manafort's defense team told the former New York mayor that the cooperation agreement 'does not involve the Trump campaign' and that there was 'no collusion with Russia' from within the Trump campaign. Giuliani added: 'Another road travelled by Mueller. Same conclusion: no evidence of collusion President did nothing wrong.'" Mrs. McC: Nothing new here. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Here's a similar tweet Trump sent yesterday, but with a few twists: "The illegal Mueller Witch Hunt continues in search of a crime. There was never Collusion with Russia, except by the Clinton campaign, so the 17 Angry Democrats are looking at anything they can find. Very unfair and BAD for the country. ALSO, not allowed under the LAW!" Over & above the It's-All-Hillary's-Fault aside, Trump is declaring the Mueller probe "illegal." This sure seems like a prelude to disbanding it. ...

... Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel: The prosecution's exhibits in Paul Manafort's plea deal are "there to show what Paul Manafort does when he's running a campaign. Because they show that for the decade leading up to running Trump's campaign, Manafort was using the very same sleazy strategy to support Viktor Yanukovych that he used to get Trump elected. In other words, these exhibits are a preview of coming attractions.... The criminal information provided far more detail about something we had only seen snippets of in the Alex Van der Zwaan plea: Manafort's use of Skadden Arps to whitewash Yanukovych's prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko. It describes how Manafort used cut-outs to place stories claiming his client's female opponent had murdered someone.... And it shows Manafort seeding lies that his client's female opponent had criminal intent when he knew there was no proof to back the claim.... This propaganda effort against Manafort's client's female opponent included placing stories in Breitbart." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Daily Beast: "The amount of cash that has flowed back to the U.S. after Donald Trump's massive tax law overhaul is just 3.5 percent of what the president predicted.... [A]n analysis by The Wall Street Journal shows just $143 billion has been repatriated -- 3.58 percent of Trump's $4 trillion prediction. " --safari

Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "Sen. Lindsey Graham confirmed on Sunday 'there was a point in time' when he and ... Donald Trump seriously discussed pulling U.S. military dependents out of South Korea -- a move that would have been widely seen as a precursor to military action on the peninsula. The South Carolina Republican said that at the time, 'it looked like nothing was going to happen, there was no dialogue going' with North Korea about its nuclear program, adding that 'once you start moving dependents out of South Korea, that is a signal to everybody that we're running out of time.' Graham cautioned on CBS' 'Face the Nation' that 'we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to North Korea,' but he said the Trump administration's renewed diplomatic talks have de-escalated the situation and bought time for denuclearization to be achieved peacefully." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: What could be more comforting than to know Senator War Hawk has the ear of President* Impulsive-Ignoramus?

Hillary Clinton writes a powerful essay, published in the Atlantic, against Trump & what he has wrought. It "was adapted from the afterword of the paperback edition of What Happened, which will be published on September 18."

Ben Kamisar of NBC News: "FEMA Administrator Brock Long Sunday questioned the relevance of independent studies tying thousands of deaths to the aftermath of last September's hurricane in Puerto Rico, echoing ... Donald Trump's criticism of those findings as Florence continues to batter the Carolinas. Appearing on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Long defended the president for his response to Hurricane Maria last year and argued that findings from multiple academic studies were 'all over the place.' 'I think the president is being taken out of context there,' Long said. 'I mean, I talked to the president every day this week, and the secretary of homeland security, and we discuss what we're trying to do as a result of last year.' 'I don't know why the studies were done,' Long said when asked about Trump's claims that the study was 'done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: You might want to view Long's interview as part of his attempt to keep his job. ...

... "A Smooth Running Machine." William Wan & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "As the Federal Emergency Management Agency heads into peak hurricane season, an internal investigation has imperiled its top official, sparking a growing backlash within the agency where career officials and even some political appointees are worried there is no proven disaster manager on hand to replace him. FEMA Administrator William 'Brock' Long is said to be resisting an effort by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to replace him over his alleged misuse of government vehicles. The feud among senior Trump administration officials surfaced publicly in recent days as FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security raced to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. The prospect of Long's dismissal has alarmed current and former staff at FEMA and DHS, and it has captured the attention of officials on Capitol Hill, who note that the agency's No. 2 position has been vacant for nearly two years and that Trump's current nominee, Peter Gaynor, still awaits Senate confirmation. Trump's original nominee for the post, Daniel Craig, withdrew from consideration a year ago after reports surfaced that the DHS inspector general found he had falsified work and travel records while working for the George W. Bush administration." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AND in other news about how to persuade Trump:

... Erin Banco of The Daily Beast: "In a series of conversations in July, officials from the U.S., Britain, Italy, and other countries devised plans to overhaul the way they sold the public on staying in the 17-year-long war in Afghanistan.... Several of the meetings focused on what those involved in the discussions viewed as a major hurdle: convincing President Trump to change course in Afghanistan and allow U.S. troops to stay in the country for the foreseeable future. And there was only one real way to do that, sources said. They would need to bring in Fox News.... Officials at the Pentagon and Fox News said the media outlet's correspondents did not embed with U.S. forces in Afghanistan and it's unclear if the military made a formal request with its executives." --safari

Kate Williams of the Oregonian: "A deportation officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was arrested this week on multiple counts of sodomy, Oregon State Police said Saturday. Blake V. Northway, a 55-year-old Medford[, Oregon,] resident, was taken into custody Thursday, officials said, as the result of a joint investigation between the immigration agency and state police. He has been 'relieved of all authority,' state police said in a statement and will be put on leave until the investigation is complete. According to court documents, Northway is accused of sexually abusing an underage female relative between 2009 and 2013." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alex Horton of the Washington Post on how a Texas sex worker escaped from serial killer Juan David Ortiz, a supervisory Border Patrol agent, and led police to him. Ortiz has confessed to murdering four women & said he probably would have killed more if the woman had not turned him in to law enforcement. ...

... "All the Best People," Ctd. Opheli Lawler of New York: "Alongside the suspected serial killer who worked for Border Patrol, agents at both government organizations [ICE & the Border Patrol] have been accused of beating and sexually assaulting detained migrants." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Carol Rosenberg of McClatchy D.C.: "The military judge who got headlines for convicting a Marine general of contempt and confining him to his Guantánamo quarters has apparently found a new bench -- as an immigration judge, prompting defense lawyers to demand that all his rulings since 2014 be thrown out. Air Force Col. Vance Spath, the former judge in Guantánamo's USS Cole case, had filed to retire on Nov. 1 from 26 years military service.... It's a two-fold issue: Department of Justice lawyers are part of the Cole case prosecution team. Moreover, defense lawyers argue that given the long lead time to get a so-called administrative judge's job, Spath no doubt applied for the position while still on the USS Cole trial. So they argued that all of Spath's rulings should be overturned as compromised by his after-Air Force job pursuit." --safari

Election 2018

Georgia. Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "Georgia, the first state in the country to adopt the 'direct-recording electronic,' or DRE, touch-screen machine in 2002, is now one of only five states in which electronic voting is entirely paperless. But a federal judge ... is poised to rule by Monday whether the state must scrap its current system that utilizes 28,000 DREs and adopt paper ballots and paper audits instead. Her ruling could affect the other four states and send a rare signal from the bench about the urgency of reducing the risk of election interference from foreign adversaries.... Secretary of State Brian Kemp ... has declared the electronic system secure.... Kemp, a Republican endorsed by President Trump -- and an outspoken critic of federal election security assistance in 2016 -- is running for governor in a competitive, nationally watched race...." The system is so "secure" that in 2016 Logan Lamb, a "cybersecurity sleuth," pulled up "a file with a list of voters and the alarmed when a subsequent simple data pull retrieved the birth dates, drivers' license numbers and partial Social Security numbers of more than 6 million voters, as well as county election supervisors' passwords for use on Election Day." Although Lamb warned the company that maintains the server, six months later he could still access the files -- not by using his expert "sleuthing" skills but through a Google search. "He also discovered the server had a software flaw that an attacker could exploit to take control of the machine." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you are suspicious that Kemp, as secretary of state, might be planning to alter vote totals if it suited him, you have not gone off the deep end. As Carol Anderson wrote in a New York Times op-ed in August, Kemp "has a skill set that Mr. Trump desperately needed but was curiously silent about in his endorsement: He is a master of voter suppression. Hackable polling machines, voter roll purges, refusing to register voters until after an election, the use of investigations to intimidate groups registering minorities to vote -- Mr. Kemp knows it all.... A Kemp victory in November is, therefore, transactional but essential for Mr. Trump. It means that there will be a governor, in a state that demographically should be blue, who is practiced and steeped in the nuances of disfranchisement. Mr. Kemp can rubber-stamp the Legislature's voter-suppression bills that privilege the Republican Party, artificially increase the Republican representation in Congress and in the end protect a president facing mounting evidence of graft, corruption, conspiracy and the threat of impeachment."

Texas Senate Race. Nicole Goodkind of Newsweek: "Ted Cruz's Texas Senatorial campaign has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers seeking donations that are meant to look like official county summons, a high-ranking campaign official confirmed to Newsweek. The brown envelopes read 'SUMMONS ENCLOSED- OPEN IMMEDIATELY' in large black letters, and have a return address of 'official county summons.' While the letter inside the envelope is a donation form for the Cruz campaign, there is some fear that certain voters may be confused by the mailer and think that they are required by law to pay a fee. 'Received this for my 88-year-old grandma,' wrote Sean Owen of Austin on Twitter 'Says it's a summons from Travis County, but is actually asking for money for Ted Cruz. Did your campaign authorize this? Is this even legal? Shame on you.'"


Aron Heller
of TPM: "An Israeli opposition lawmaker on Sunday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to dismiss his ambassador to the United States for failing to report sexual assault allegations against a top Netanyahu aide, ballooning an already embarrassing scandal for the Israeli leader. Karin Elharrar of the centrist Yesh Atid party said Ron Dermer should be recalled from Washington for not reporting the warnings he received about David Keyes, Netanyahu's spokesman to foreign media.... Dermer, who was perhaps Netanyahu's closest associate before taking office in Washington, confirmed he was warned in late 2016 by New York Times columnist Bret Stephens ... about Keyes' aggressive behavior toward women.... Stephens ... warned Dermer that 'Keyes posed a risk to women in Israeli government offices.'" --safari


Casey Michel
of ThinkProgress: "The World Congress of Families (WCF) conference represents the most prominent collaboration between sanctioned Russian officials and the U.S. Religious Right.... [S]anctioned Russian oligarch Vladimir Yakunin is allegedly one of WCF's primary financiers. Opening rhetoric was peppered with allegations of the 'aggressive invasion of radical liberalism' and claims that modern society is akin to 'totalitarianism.'... The harsh rhetoric was only tempered by moments as ludicrous as they were entertaining.... One speaker rambled about Nietzsche and metaphors about trees.... One speaker, Australian lobbyist Lyle Shelton, compared modern liberalism to Soviet-era totalitarianism, saying, 'Thank God [liberals] are not shipping us off to Kazakhstan.'" --safari

Stephen Cunningham of Bloomberg: "North Dakota's oil production surged to a new record in July, putting the mid-western state on par with OPEC member Venezuela. Home to the Bakken shale play, North Dakota pumped 1.27 million barrels a day in July, according to state figures released Friday. That's roughly the same output as Venezuela during the month.... Soaring output from shale formations, including the Bakken, helped the U.S. overtake Russia and Saudi Arabia to likely become the world's biggest oil producer earlier this year, according to preliminary estimates from the Energy Information Administration." [Open in private window] --safari

Brian Stelter & Laurie Segall of CNN: Billionaire "... Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff ... are buying Time Magazine for $190 million from Meredith Corp."

Julia Kollewe of the Guardian: "Amazon is investigating claims that employees have taken bribes for leaking confidential sales information, particularly in China, as it battles to stamp out fake reviews and other seller scams. Employees are offering internal data, via intermediaries, to independent merchants selling their products on the site to help them increase their sales in return for payments, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sellers, brokers and people familiar with internal investigations. The practice violates company policy and is common in China, where the number of sellers is soaring and Amazon employees are paid relatively small salaries." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

Sarah Burris of RawStory: "Former Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey will be sentence Monday for a case in which he pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking and the records in the case have now been unsealed. According to News9, the documents reveal Shortey placed Craiglist sex ads, took obscene motel photos and used fake names to traffick underage boys.... Shortey was an avid Trump supporter during the 2016 campaign and served as the campaign's state chairman in the Oklahoma GOP primaries, which Trump won."

Kelly Weill of The Daily Beast: "Bart Alsbrook resigned as interim police chief of an Oklahoma town late last August, after he was revealed as the former leader of a neo-Nazi group. One year later, he has a job at a different police department 15 miles away [in Colbert, OK].... Alsbrook was named Colbert's interim police chief on August 22, 2017.... Just 10 days earlier, white supremacists had held a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompting the hate-tracking group the Southern Poverty Law Center to release a map of known hate groups in America. Colbert's local TV KXII found one local hate group: a neo-Nazi record label registered to the area. Calling itself the voice of the skinhead hate group Blood & Honor USA, the site sells openly neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan music, as well as Nazi and Confederate paraphernalia. The company was registered to Alsbrook, KXII found." --safari

Way Beyond

AP: "A Palestinian assailant on Sunday fatally stabbed an Israeli settler outside a busy mall in the West Bank. The victim was identified as Ari Fuld, a U.S.-born activist who was well-known in the local settler community and an outspoken Israel advocate on social media platforms." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Kate Lyons of the Guardian: "Shocking footage showing a South Korean pastor beating her followers and ordering them to beat one another has emerged as Korean police investigate claims that she ran a cult in Fiji, forcing people to work without pay and endure violent rituals. The footage appears to show violent assaults on members of the South Korean Grace Road Church. Pastor Shin Ok-ju was arrested last month along with three other church leaders when they landed at Incheon airport just outside of Seoul." --safari

News Ledes

Weather Channel: "Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical depression, began its second week of impacts Monday with much of the same -- flooding that cut off entire towns and water rescues in parts of the Carolinas that have been inundated. The storm's death toll climbed to 18 when authorities said a 3-month-old child was killed when a tree fell on a mobile home in North Carolina."

The New York Times is providing free access to its Hurricane Florence coverage. The Times front page is here. "The [Washington] Post has removed article limits on coverage of Hurricane Florence to make these stories available without a subscription." The Post has links to several Florence-related stories on its front page. the (South Carolina) State home page is here. The State is granting free access to its site during the storm. The Raleigh News & Observer home page is here.

New York Times: "Emergency workers in the Philippines recovered more than 40 bodies from the muddied wreckage of a gold miners' bunkhouse after Typhoon Mangkhut set off a landslide, burying the remote northern town of Itogon in a river of debris, officials said on Monday. Mangkhut, a super typhoon that slammed into the northern Philippine province of Luzon on Saturday, continued a path of destruction across southern China on Sunday and into Monday."

Washington Post: "Freddie Oversteegen, the last remaining member of the Netherlands' most famous female resistance cell, died Sept. 5, one day before her 93rd birthday.... Oversteegen and her sister Truus, two years her senior, were ... a pair of teenage women who took up arms against Nazi occupiers and Dutch 'traitors' on the outskirts of Amsterdam. With Hannie Schaft, a onetime law student with fiery red hair, they sabotaged bridges and rail lines with dynamite, shot Nazis while riding their bikes, and donned disguises to smuggle Jewish children across the country and sometimes out of concentration camps."

Saturday
Sep152018

The Commentariat -- September 16, 2018

Afternoon Update:

** Emma Brown of the Washington Post interviews Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist affiliated with Stanford University, who says Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were in high school. She told no one the story in any detail until she discussed it with two therapists, beginning in 2012. Mrs. McC: Either Ford, whose professional name is Christine Blasey, is a loon or a drunken Brett Kavanaugh attacked her and would not release her. He's either lying about it now or he decided to "forget" the incident. You be the judge, because evidently the Judiciary Committee won't bother. New Rule? -- Attempted rape IOKIYAR? ...

     ... Update. Evidently So. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "However, Republicans on the committee planned on Sunday afternoon to move forward with a scheduled Thursday vote on the nomination, barring additional corroboration of Ms. Ford's account or the emergence of a new allegation." Mrs. McC: Excuse me? There's already plenty of corroboration: two therapists, the victim's husband & a lie-detector test.

... Mark Stern of Slate: "The Senate must pause the confirmation process and hold hearings -- fair hearings that heed the lessons of the Anita Hill disaster, during which senators downplayed Hill's alleged harassment and refused to hear from expert witnesses who could contextualize her experience.... The Senate Judiciary Committee's Republicans issued a statement on Sunday complaining about 'Democrats' tactics and motives,' implicitly questioning Ford's veracity. They appear predictably resistant to delaying the committee vote. It may thus fall on Collins and Murkowski to force their party to treat Ford with respect." ...

So, to summarize, a confessed serial sexual predator nominated a man who is credibly accused of attempted rape to be the key vote to strip women of reproductive freedom. -- Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress, in a tweet

... David Atkins of the Washington Monthly: "... a Supreme Court nomination isn't a criminal trial, and an explosive allegation of this nature should instantly derail the confirmation process of a being chosen to preside over the highest court in the country, one that will have enormous power over women's bodies and their fundamental rights. It seems like outrageous hyperbole, but we must confront the dystopian reality. A president credibly accused multiple sexually assaults and who bragged forcibly grabbing women by the genitals without their consent, who was helped into office by a large number of men in powerful media positions who have also been forced out their jobs due to allegations of sexual harassment and assault as well as by the clandestine government services of a nation famous for its misogynistic exploitation of women, is nominating an accused rapist to the Supreme Court with the express intent of eliminating women's right to an abortion and other reproductive health services." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Conservatives continue to treat [Clarence] Thomas as the innocent victim of a smear campaign, despite the voluminous evidence of his guilt that emerged after his confirmation. The most likely outcome is that Republicans would confirm a second probable perpetrator of sexual assault to the high court. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine other possibilities.... It's perfectly obvious why Donald Trump would be eager to defend the principle that men must not have their careers derailed by accusations of sexual assault. It's less clear that 50 Republican senators will be eager to join him.... Republicans may not want spend the run-up to an election litigating an allegation that further defines their Trump-era identity as the party of unbridled male sexual entitlement. But at the moment, a question that appeared closed is suddenly very much open." ...

... "A Moral Abomination." digby: "I would just remind people who are thinking that Kavanaugh shouldn't be denied a place on the Supreme Court because of things he did in high school, that his professional life hasn't been exactly staid and upright either[.]... He isn't a learned jurist, he's a slash and burn right-wing activist. Drunken, privileged, rich boys are exactly the types they recruited for their dirty work during [the Clinton] period. And he's exactly the type the wingnut cabal that's propping up Trump to get the courts packed would put forth to ensure that their agenda is protected by any means necessary. He's a partisan hitman, not a judge.... He is a professional character assassin who is deeply morally compromised. His cruel and indecent behavior toward Vince Foster's family alone, despite knowing that it was wrong, disqualified him. This latest revelation just reinforces what we already know. He is a moral abomination who has no place on the court."

Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Saturday fired his first salvo against special counsel Robert Mueller since former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered a plea deal with the Russia probe's federal prosecutors. 'While my (our) poll numbers are good, with the Economy being the best ever, if it weren't for the Rigged Russian Witch Hunt, they would be 25 points higher!' Trump tweeted. 'Highly conflicted Bob Mueller & the 17 Angry Democrats are using this Phony issue to hurt us in the Midterms. No Collusion!' Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani also broke his silence on Manafort's intended guilty plea earlier Saturday, alleging in a tweet that 'sources close to' Manafort's defense team told the former New York mayor that the cooperation agreement 'does not involve the Trump campaign' and that there was 'no collusion with Russia' from within the Trump campaign. Giuliani added: 'Another road travelled by Mueller. Same conclusion: no evidence of collusion President did nothing wrong.'" Mrs. McC: Nothing new here. ...

... Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel: The prosecution's exhibits in Paul Manafort's plea deal are "there to show what Paul Manafort does when he's running a campaign. Because they show that for the decade leading up to running Trump's campaign, Manafort was using the very same sleazy strategy to support Viktor Yanukovych that he used to get Trump elected. In other words, these exhibits are a preview of coming attractions.... The criminal information provided far more detail about something we had only seen snippets of in the Alex Van der Zwaan plea: Manafort's use of Skadden Arps to whitewash Yanukovych's prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko. It describes how Manafort used cut-outs to place stories claiming his client's female opponent had murdered someone.... And it shows Manafort seeding lies that his client's female opponent had criminal intent when he knew there was no proof to back the claim.... This propaganda effort against Manafort's client's female opponent included placing stories in Breitbart."

Ben Kamisar of NBC News: "FEMA Administrator Brock Long Sunday questioned the relevance of independent studies tying thousands of deaths to the aftermath of last September's hurricane in Puerto Rico, echoing ... Donald Trump's criticism of those findings as Florence continues to batter the Carolinas. Appearing on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Long defended the president for his response to Hurricane Maria last year and argued that findings from multiple academic studies were 'all over the place.' 'I think the president is being taken out of context there,' Long said. 'I mean, I talked to the president every day this week, and the secretary of homeland security, and we discuss what we're trying to do as a result of last year.' 'I don't know why the studies were done,' Long said when asked about Trump's claims that the study was 'done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.'" ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: You might want to view Long's interview as part of his attempt to keep his job. ...

... "A Smooth Running Machine." William Wan & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "As the Federal Emergency Management Agency heads into peak hurricane season, an internal investigation has imperiled its top official, sparking a growing backlash within the agency where career officials and even some political appointees are worried there is no proven disaster manager on hand to replace him. FEMA Administrator William 'Brock' Long is said to be resisting an effort by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to replace him over his alleged misuse of government vehicles. The feud among senior Trump administration officials surfaced publicly in recent days as FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security raced to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. The prospect of Long's dismissal has alarmed current and former staff at FEMA and DHS, and it has captured the attention of officials on Capitol Hill, who note that the agency's No. 2 position has been vacant for nearly two years and that Trump's current nominee, Peter Gaynor, still awaits Senate confirmation. Trump's original nominee for the post, Daniel Craig, withdrew from consideration a year ago after reports surfaced that the DHS inspector general found he had falsified work and travel records while working for the George W. Bush administration."

Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "Sen. Lindsey Graham confirmed on Sunday 'there was a point in time' when he and ... Donald Trump seriously discussed pulling U.S. military dependents out of South Korea -- a move that would have been widely seen as a precursor to military action on the peninsula. The South Carolina Republican said that at the time, 'it looked like nothing was going to happen, there was no dialogue going' with North Korea about its nuclear program, adding that 'once you start moving dependents out of South Korea, that is a signal to everybody that we're running out of time.' Graham cautioned on CBS' 'Face the Nation' that 'we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to North Korea,' but he said the Trump administration's renewed diplomatic talks have de-escalated the situation and bought time for denuclearization to be achieved peacefully." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: What could be more comforting than to know Senator War Hawk has the ear of President* Impulsive-Ignoramus?

Kate Williams of the Oregonian: "A deportation officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was arrested this week on multiple counts of sodomy, Oregon State Police said Saturday. Blake V. Northway, a 55-year-old Medford[, Oregon,] resident, was taken into custody Thursday, officials said, as the result of a joint investigation between the immigration agency and state police. He has been 'relieved of all authority,' state police said in a statement and will be put on leave until the investigation is complete. According to court documents, Northway is accused of sexually abusing an underage female relative between 2009 and 2013." ...

... "All the Best People," Ctd. Opheli Lawler of New York: "Alongside the suspected serial killer who worked for Border Patrol, agents at both government organizations [ICE & the Border Patrol] have been accused of beating and sexually assaulting detained migrants."

AP: "A Palestinian assailant on Sunday fatally stabbed an Israeli settler outside a busy mall in the West Bank. The victim was identified as Ari Fuld, a U.S.-born activist who was well-known in the local settler community and an outspoken Israel advocate on social media platforms."

*****

Damian Paletta of the Washington Post: "President Trump has decided to impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, two people briefed on the decision said, one of the most severe economic restrictions ever imposed by a U.S. president. An announcement is expected to come within days, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss internal plans. The new tariffs would apply to more than 1,000 products, including refrigerators, air conditioners, furniture, televisions and toys. These penalties could drive up the cost of a range of products ahead of the holiday shopping season, though it's unclear how much."

Dennis Romero of NBC News: "... Donald Trump may soon be communicating with you directly.... Next Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will do its first test of a system that allows the president to send a message to most U.S. cellphones.... The test message will have a header that reads 'Presidential Alert,' according to the agency.... The wireless emergency alerts (WEA) system was authorized by Congress in 2015 under a law that states the 'system shall not be used to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety.' Experts didn't appear to be too concerned that Trump, known to use his smartphone to blast opponents, berate subordinates and take shots at the news media on Twitter, could abuse WEA.... The test is supposed to take place at 2:18 p.m. EDT on Sept. 20. Under the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006, cellphone users cannot opt out of the presidential alerts."

When President Obama said that he has been to '57 States,' very little mention in Fake News Media. Can you imagine if I said that...story of the year! -- Donald Trump, in a tweet Friday ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'd like to point out that this is one of Trump's stupidest whines ever & shows the extent of his obsessive jealousy of President Obama. This was a one-time slip-of-the-tongue Obama made during a campaign stop in 2008. As Obama noted later, he meant to say 47, which was accurate. If Trump had made it, he would have insisted thereafter that there were 57 states. Suddenly Puerto Rico & Guam & the Virgin Island & whatever would become states. And he'd been to all of them.... It isn't a mistake Obama repeated, and it wasn't a lie. It's the sort of mistake we all make occasionally. Yet Trump is comparing his thousands of lies -- averaging more than eight a day recently - to one extemporaneous goof Obama made 10 years ago. Pathetic. (BTW, the responses to Trump's tweet are great.) ...

... Christopher Cadelago of Politico has a nice summary of Trump's week that was: "... Donald Trump spent Friday confronting the deadly landfall of Hurricane Florence -- only to have that disaster eclipsed by the revelation that his former campaign manager cut a cooperation deal with special counsel Robert Mueller and that a growing #MeToo crisis is surrounding his Supreme Court nominee. The trifecta culminated a week of the president careening from one fiasco to another, before he had fully recovered from the publication of damning excerpts from Bob Woodward's new White House account 'Fear' and an op-ed published anonymously by The New York Times claiming that senior staff are working to undermine him."

"No Collusion." Ian Schwartz in Real Clear Politics: "In an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Friday, Bob Woodward said that in his two years of investigating for his new book, 'Fear,' he found no evidence of collusion or espionage between Trump and Russia. Woodward said he looked for it 'hard" and yet turned up nothing." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I could be wrong, but I suspect we'll find out there was a lot more "collusion" between the Trump campaign & foreign entities (not necessarily all Russian) than what occurred in a 30-minute meeting "about adoption." ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker reviews Woodward's book. "At Trump's core lies a need always to look strong, which, of course, makes him look weak. In several scenes, one adviser or another struggles to find the right, flattering words that will keep the President from starting a nuclear war." ...

... Jonathan Chait draws parallels between 1930s German politicians & today's Republicans. "What makes the history pertinent ... are the eerie similarities in the behavior of the right-wing politicians who facilitated both men's rise to power." German political leaders thought they could "contain" Hitler, too. BTW, if you think Gary Cohn might be some kind of hero for "containing" Trump, Packer & Chait will disabuse of that notion. He stayed for his tax break.

Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: To collect his millions, Paul Manafort set up shell companies with fake "directors": people whose identities had been stolen. One such person is Yevgeny G. Kaseyev, a Ukrainian hairdresser whose passport was stolen. "Mr. Kaseyev said he first became aware of his unwitting role in the creation of at least three Ukrainian front companies a decade ago, when the tax police contacted him in 2007 about his purported $30 million tax liability...."

Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Interviews with more than a dozen White House, congressional and current and former Defense Department officials over the past six weeks paint a portrait of a president who has soured on his defense secretary, weary of unfavorable comparisons to [Jim] Mattis as the adult in the room, and increasingly concerned that he is a Democrat at heart.... Over the last four months alone, the president and the defense chief have found themselves at odds over NATO policy, whether to resume large-scale military exercises with South Korea and, privately, whether Mr. Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal has proved effective.... Mr. Mattis himself is becoming weary, some aides said, of the amount of time spent pushing back against what Defense Department officials think are capricious whims of an erratic president." ...

     ... OR, as Benjamin Hart (or his headline writer) of New York puts it, "Mattis not enough of a suck-up for Trump; may be on the way out."

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Here's something I didn't know: "Using his folksy manner, Mr. Mattis talked the president out of ordering torture against terrorism detainees...."

Nahal Toosi, et al., of Politico: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his predecessor John Kerry clashed Friday over the latter's private meetings with Iranian officials, a remarkable war of words that had both sides accusing the other of dishonesty. Pompeo alleged that, by holding 'beyond inappropriate' meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Kerry was undermining U.S. foreign policy in an 'unprecedented' manner. The secretary's comments came after ... Donald Trump asserted in a tweet that Kerry's meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were 'illegal.' Kerry and his aides dismissed such allegations as utter bunk, pointing out that Kerry had briefed Pompeo and the State Department about his discussions with Zarif. Kerry twisted the knife even more on Twitter by raising Trump's legal woes, saying the president should 'be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran's [foreign minister].'"

** That guy Mark Judge who vouched for Brett Kavanaugh? His credibility is great! And an all-around perfect character witness. Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: Judge is a "conservative" writer who wrote an "addiction memoir" titled Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk. "That book chronicles Judge's time as a teenage alcoholic. Like many works of the genre, it devotes a lot of ink to the kinds of debauchery that leads to AA and recovery. While there's nothing in the book that resembles the incident reportedly described in the private letter given to the FBI, Judge says his own black-out drinking while he and Kavanaugh were Georgetown Prep students 'reached the point where once I had the first beer, I found it impossible to stop until I was completely annihilated.'... The amount of drinking Judge describes himself undertaking might suggest that his memory of those days may not be entirely reliable." Mencimer copies a compelling excerpt about Bart O'Kavanaugh. Name totally changed to protect the guilty. ...

... Heidi Bond, who clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski, in Slate: "For years, Kozinski maintained an email list known as the 'Easy Rider Gag List,' to which he would send sexually explicit and otherwise raunchy jokes; the existence of the list was first publicized in 2008.... Kozinski exposed us to this sort of material almost every day.... In his hearings, Kavanaugh was asked by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mazie Hirono if he was aware of the email list, and if he had received emails from Kozinski with sexually explicit content.... [Kavanagh] said he couldn't recall anything like that. And, in response to a written question for the record -- 'Has Judge Kozinski ever made comments about sexual matters to you, either in jest or otherwise?' -- Kavanaugh responded, 'I do not remember any such comments.'... I do not know how it would be possible to forget something as pervasive as Kozinski's famously sexual sense of humor or his gag list, as Kavanaugh has professed to in his hearings...." Kavanaugh remained close to Kozinski for years after his clerkship ended.

Juan Lozano of the AP: "A U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected of killing four women was arrested early Saturday after a fifth woman who had been abducted managed to escape from him and notify authorities, law enforcement officials said, describing the agent as a 'serial killer.' Juan David Ortiz, 35, an intel supervisor for the Border Patrol, fled from state troopers and was found hiding in a truck in a hotel parking lot in Laredo at around 2 a.m. Saturday, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a news conference in the border city about 145 miles (235 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio."

Dennis Romero and Dystany Muse of NBC News: "A member of a U.S. Coast Guard team responding to Tropical Storm Florence in South Carolina appeared to flash a white power hand gesture in the background as a captain was being interviewed Friday by MSNBC. The man has since been removed from the Florence response operations and the incident is under investigation, said Coast Guard Lt. J.B. Zorn. The decision from the federal agency came after heavy backlash online to the apparent gesture captured on 'Live with Ali Velshi.'"

Election 2018

Obama Converts Wealthy Ohio Republican. Justin Wise of the Hill: "The wealthiest supporter of the GOP in Ohio said Thursday that he is no longer a member of the Republican Party. 'I just decided I'm no longer a Republican,' L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner said during a panel discussion at a leadership summit, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Wexner, who said he's been a Republican since college, added that he is now an independent, before saying that he 'won't support this nonsense in the Republican Party' anymore.... The development came just a day after former President Obama slammed GOP lawmakers during a rally in Ohio for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray.... Wexner called Obama's visit to Ohio this week a 'great moment for the community,' according to the Dispatch. 'I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others,' Wexner said. The newspaper noted that the comments stand in stark contrast to what the GOP supporter has said about President Trump. The billionaire CEO reportedly said in a speech last year that he was 'ashamed' by Trump's response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.... The Ohio businessman has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and groups over the years...." (To read the original story in the Columbus Dispatch, you have to sign up.)

Beyond the Beltway

Texas Board Determined to Prove Value of Pointy-Headed Experts. Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News: "As part of an effort to 'streamline' the social studies curriculum in public schools, the State Board of Education voted Friday to adjust what students in every grade are required to learn in the classroom. Among the changes, board members approved the removal of several historical figures, including [Hillary] Clinton and [Helen] Keller, from the curriculum. The board also voted to keep in the curriculum a reference to the 'heroism' of the defenders of the Alamo, which had been recommended for elimination, as well as Moses' influence on the writing of the nation's founding documents, multiple references to 'Judeo-Christian' values and a requirement that students explain how the 'Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict' in the Middle East. The vote Friday was preliminary. The board can amend the curriculum changes further before taking a final vote in November." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Though you may think I make up this stuff to drive you nuts, the only fictional thing in the report, as far as I know, is the Biblical character Moses.

News Ledes

Raleigh News & Observer: "At least 14 people have died in North and South Carolina as a result of Florence, now a slow-moving tropical depression that continues to pound the states with heavy rains and catastrophic flooding. The storm has increased its speed and is now moving at 8 mph across eastern South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center reported in its 5 a.m. update. The center of the storm is about 20 miles southeast of Columbia, S.C. It weakened from a tropical storm to a tropical depression early Sunday morning after the NHC reported maximum sustained speeds of 35 mph. The storm is expected to move across western North and South Carolina on Sunday and then 'recurve over the Ohio Valley and Northeast U.S. Monday and Tuesday,' according to the Hurricane Center." Nearly a million customers are without power. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Even as the storm both lost some of its power and sped up, leaving less time for its steady rains to saturate the places in its path, the death toll increased to at least 14, and rivers were rising fast. Forecasters warned that flooding, already \ frighteningly common this weekend, was virtually certain to worsen within hours."

... The New York Times is providing free access to its Hurricane Florence coverage. The Times front page is here. "The [Washington] Post has removed article limits on coverage of Hurricane Florence to make these stories available without a subscription." The Post has links to several Florence-related stories on its front page. the (South Carolina) State home page is here. The State is granting free access to its site during the storm. The Raleigh News & Observer home page is here.

New York Times: "As Typhoon Mangkhut moved past Hong Kong and struck mainland China, the authorities in the Philippines said that landslides had buried at least two buildings where people were sheltering, sharply raising the death toll there as the extent of the damage was only beginning to become clear. The storm had weakened overnight but was still a severe typhoon, with gusts of up to 100 miles an hour, the Hong Kong authorities said. Buildings in that city swayed, trees were downed, windows shattered and hundreds of flights were canceled. On the Chinese mainland, the storm made landfall in densely populated areas in the late afternoon, including a major center of heavy industry. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated in Guangdong Province."