The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

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

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- CW 

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Tuesday
Feb072017

The Commentariat -- February 8, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Mitch Is in Turtle Nirvana. Carl Hulse of the New York Times: Mitch McConnell "says he and his Senate Republican colleagues are quite satisfied with the Trump team so far. In fact, he said, they are reassured by signs that President Trump is going to hew to a conservative agenda after early fears that the president — a relatively unknown quantity to most elected Republicans — might not really be one of them. 'The country doesn’t need saving,' Mr. McConnell said when asked during an interview in his Capitol office if there was any cause for a senior-level congressional intervention given early chaos in the evolving West Wing." -- CW 

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump on Wednesday went after a panel of federal judges weighing whether a court order blocking his travel ban should be lifted. Speaking to a gathering of law enforcement officials, Trump argued the judges should immediately reinstate the executive order in the name of national security. 'I don’t want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,' the president said at a gathering of the Major Cities Chiefs Association in Washington. 'Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right.'... It’s highly unusual for presidents to publicly comment on court cases dealing with their policy proposals — particularly as a court is weighing a case.” -- CW ...

... Louis Nelson of Politico: Speaking to a group of law enforcement officers & "unable to personally defend his controversial executive order on immigration in court, President Donald Trump offered his own oral argument in its defense Wednesday morning.... 'It’s sad, I think it’s a sad day. I think our security is at risk today. And it will be at risk until such time as we are entitled and get what we are entitled to as citizens of this country,' Trump said. 'It was done for the security of our nation. The security of our citizens. So that people come in who aren’t going to do us harm. And that’s why it was done. And it couldn’t have been written any more precisely. It’s not like, "Oh gee, we wish it were written better.’"It’s written beautifully.... If you were a good student in high school or a bad student in high school, you can understand this, and it’s really incredible to me that we have a court case that’s going on so long,'” CW: That's pretty funny because even among the top dogs of his own administration, there was strong disagreement about what the beautifully-written Muslim ban meant. I guess they not as smart as high school students who do poorly.

Paul Blumenthal and JM Rieger of Huffington Post: Will the paranoia pals or delusional duo, Trump and Bannon, lead us to doomsday? Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse Is Coming And War Is Inevitable. "Generational theorists William Strauss and Neil Howe...argued that American history operates in four-stage cycles, that move from major crisis to awakening to major crisis, ...called 'Fourth Turnings'." Bannon is convinced the US is in its fourth turning, the "final, apocalyptic part of the cycle....[in which] new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention.” Bannon blames the crisis on "expansionist Islam and...expansionist China" who are a threat to the Judeo-Christian West." -- LT

Greg Sargent on the Senate shutting down Elizabeth Warren's reading of Coretta Scott King's letter against Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III: "... the point is, Republicans don’t care what message this sends. And herein lies the way in which this whole episode captures the unsettling broader reality that Democrats face right now. Warren was shut down from speaking by Republicans who employed an arcane Senate rule; Democrats are shut out of power, and Republicans will use any and all procedural means at their disposal to render them as powerless and irrelevant as possible. And Republicans see no reason to fear any political repercussions from whatever message any of it sends.... Republicans are totally abdicating any meaningful oversight role toward Trump, despite his unprecedented conflicts of interest and possible corruption...." -- CW ...

... Sargent also reports Trump's Tweet o'the Day & remarks that it is "only the latest of many tweets that appear designed to lay the groundwork to blame the judiciary for any terrorist attack that might occur":

If the U.S. does not win this case as it so obviously should, we can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled. Politics! -- Donald Trump

Rule silencing Warren is hardly ever invoked. Amber Phillips of the Washington Post. "On Tuesday night, Republicans handed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) the equivalent of a red card when they voted along party lines that she violated Rule 19, a century-old rule prohibiting senators from insulting each other on the hallowed Senate floor. The offending moment came when Warren read a letter from Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow calling Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), President [Donald] Trump's pick for attorney general, a 'disgrace.' Warren is the rare senator to be caught up in this rule. Since its inception after an actual fist fight on the Senate floor a century ago, Rule 19 has been used more as a threat to keep senators in line than a practice. Historians and Senate aides have an easier time coming up with moments when it perhaps should have been invoked but wasn't, than when it actually was invoked."

Times it could have been invoked:

May 2016: "Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) decries Harry Reid's 'cancerous leadership'"

Summer 2015: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called [Mitch] McConnell a liar"

2007: "[Sen. Harry] Reid calls GOP senators 'puppets'"

1979: Senator [Lowell Weicker (R-Conn)] calls a colleague 'an idiot' and 'devious'"

     ...Akhilleus: Funny to read about how so many pundits, believing Mitch McConnell to be some kind of strategic genius, feel like there's no way he would have done this without a plan for the long game he likes to play. How 'bout hubris? Oh, and by the way, Cruz, a congential liar himself, made one of his very few true statements when he called McConnell a liar.

Ivanka: Poor Little Rich Girl! Sarah Halzack of the Washington Post: "In January, days before President [Donald] Trump’s inauguration, his daughter Ivanka Trump declared that she’d be stepping away from her management role at the clothing and shoe brand that bears her name. And yet, on Wednesday, the president lashed out on Twitter at department store Nordstrom over its decision to stop carrying Ivanka Trump products, saying his daughter 'has been treated so unfairly' by the retailing giant...Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, defended Trump’s tweet to reporters during a briefing on Wednesday, saying 'He has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success.' Spicer also said, 'This is a direct attack on his policies and her name.'"

     ... Akhilleus: What policies? That he and his family get to monetize the presidency to the tune of millions of dollars? How has this unconstitutional piracy been allowed to go on for so long? When will action be taken to disallow the Trump family from enriching themselves, against the law of the land? Trump is making money hand over fist, Junior and Little Dracula are taking junkets on our dime, and with Secret Service protection, to pile up the filthy lucre, Melania is suing people because she feels like her chance at enriching herself beyond the imagination has been lowered from hundreds of millions to tens of millions, and now Poor Ivanka. What a family of grifters and con artists. When will Mitch McConnell ask these greedy pigs to shut up?

Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Mark Joseph Stern in Slate. "If [U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit] judges are limited to analyzing the text of the order and nothing else, they may have a hard time inferring that it disfavors Muslims. If they can look to [ President Donald] Trump’s comments about the order, however, they can easily conclude that its purpose was to discriminate against Muslims on the basis of their religion. All three judges on Tuesday’s panel appeared willing to consider Trump’s comments about the order in addition to the text itself. That is a heartening sign for [the state of] Washington—and it should make the government very, very nervous." -- Akhilleus

*****

CW: I have temporary severe vision loss, so not sure how much I'll be able to do, as I can't really read what I'm writing. I'd appreciate some help. Update: Thank you to the "super-contributors" who have pitched in.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "A three-judge federal appeals panel voiced skepticism on Tuesday at the Justice Department’s broad defense of President Trump’s targeted travel ban during arguments over how much power the president has to impose immigration restrictions based on national security concerns.... No matter how the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rules ... an appeal to the United States Supreme Court is likely.... That court ... could deadlock. A 4-to-4 tie in the Supreme Court would leave the appeals court’s ruling in place.... The argument, which lasted about an hour, was conducted over the telephone and was streamed live on the website of the court. In a media advisory issued before the argument, the court said that 'a ruling was not expected to come down today, but probably this week.'” -- CW ...

... The Washington Post ran a liveblog of the Appeals court hearing on Trump's Muslim ban. ...

... Dahlia Lithwick & Mark Stern of Slate try to explain the Constitution & Marbury v. Madison to Trump & his DOJ hacks: "... underneath the crass rhetoric, [Donald Trump's Twitter] attack on [Judge] Robart shares a thesis with his DOJ’s most recent brief: These judges have no right to question our decrees­ — and if they do, they might even be responsible for future terrorist attacks. The executive branch, in other words, is on the cusp of declaring its travel ban above the law. And now the courts must decide whether they’ll be complicit in the erosion of their own power." -- CW ...

... Ron Nixon & Nicholas Kulish of the New York Times: "The secretary of homeland security, John F. Kelly, acknowledged to lawmakers on Tuesday that President Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries had been rushed and would have benefited from better coordination. But Mr. Kelly defended the ban, saying he expected the administration to win a court challenge. 'I should have delayed it just a bit so that I could talk to members of Congress, particularly to the leadership of committees like this, to prepare them for what was coming,' Mr. Kelly told the House Committee on Homeland Security." -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York is skeptical of Kelly's testimony: "John F. Kelly would like you to know that the clumsy rollout of President Trump’s travel ban was definitely not President Trump’s fault. 'In retrospect, I should have, and this is all on me, by the way, I should have delayed it just a bit,' Trump’s head of DHS told the House Homeland Security Committee. 'So I could talk to members of Congress … to prepare them for what was coming.' As a general rule, with executive orders, the buck stops with the president (who is, after all, the executive). And, in this particular case, it’s rather difficult to see how the hasty implementation of Trump’s travel ban is 'all on' Kelly — according to the New York Times, he was in no position to delay the order." CW: The only honest way to cover what these clowns say is with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Levitz gets it just right.

... Hina Shamsi, an ACLU lawyer, was returning to the U.S., when a Customs & Border Protection agent pulled her aside and questioned her in a way that was "unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in over 25 years of travel into and out of this country.... The CBP questioning ... focused on my work for the ACLU and my citizenship — Pakistani — although I’ve been a legal permanent resident of the United States for more than a decade." The agent finally let her go -- after extensive questioning -- when she told him she was scheduled to become an American citizen the next day." -- CW 

... Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "... since 9/11 there have been [396] people involved in American terrorism cases.... Eighty-three per cent of these individuals were American citizens or permanent residents. (Seventeen per cent were non-residents or had an unknown status.) And yet, for more than two weeks..., Donald Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist: jihadist refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.... [Monday], Trump’s campaign to highlight this threat took a bizarre turn when he accused the media of burying coverage of terror attacks.... This is the second time in a week that Trump has accused others of not understanding the threat posed by terrorism.... Trump’s efforts to hype the threat from terrorism during a period of domestic calm should be regarded with extreme skepticism. As [Evan] McMullin [-- the former C.I.A. officer & presidential candidate --] noted, 'Trump’s strange focus on the terrorist threat' was 'out of step with reality at the moment' and was 'a telltale sign of a leader contemplating policies that would otherwise be unacceptable.'” --CW ...

... Caroline Mortimer of the (U.K.) Independent: "Defence Secretary, General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, reportedly convinced Mr Trump to go ahead with the raid [in Yemen] by suggesting Mr Obama would never have been so bold as to actually go through with it.... The raid, which had been planned for two months before Mr Trump’s arrival in the Oval Office, killed 30 civilians and one US Navy SEAL but failed to kill its alleged target, al Qaeda leader Qassim al Rimi." -- CW ...

...Emma Loop of Buzzfeed: "Sen. John McCain, chair of the Armed Services Committee, called the recent US raid in Yemen a “failure” following a classified briefing Tuesday morning on the operation, which ended in the death of a Navy SEAL and an unconfirmed number of civilians. McCain’s characterization of the raid...stands in stark contrast to that of the White House, which is calling the operation a success." --safari

Max Fisher & Kitty Bennett of the New York Times: "The White House has issued a list of 78 terrorist attacks, saying most were underreported. The Trump administration ... has portrayed the news media and other institutions as playing down the threat [of terrorism]. But the list, which was released on Monday night and details episodes from September 2014 to December 2016, includes dozens of attacks that were covered heavily in the news media, including by The New York Times. (Examples are included in [a list attached to this article].) Just as striking was what the list excluded: attacks targeting Muslims, who make up the overwhelming majority of victims of Islamist terrorism. The list does not mention, for instance, two suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed dozens in November 2015, or the wave of Boko Haram attacks across northern Nigeria, which have been among the world’s deadliest terrorist assaults." -- CW ...

... Kate Mettler & Derek Thompson of the Washington Post (via the Hartford Courant): "... what’s [most] telling [about the administration's list of terrorist ataks (or attaks or whatever], perhaps, is not what Trump’s list included — but what it didn’t. Some of the countries most devastated by terrorism from Islamic extremists were left out entirely. Whether that suggests that the administration thinks they received adequate coverage is anyone’s guess. But it was a glaring omission either way. In 2015, nearly three quarters of all deaths from terrorist attacks occurred in five countries - Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, according to the State Department. The White House chose not to include any attacks from Iraq, Nigeria and Syria on its list." -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: "The Trump White House on Monday night, attempting to demonstrate that the media had ignored terrorism, released a list of 78 'underreported' attacks. The list didn’t expose anything new about terrorist attacks, but it did reveal a previously underreported assault by the Trump administration on the conventions of written English. Twenty-seven times, the White House memo misspelled 'attacker' or 'attackers' as 'attaker' or 'attakers.' San Bernardino lost its second 'r.' 'Denmark' became 'Denmakr.' I wish I could say this attack was unprecedented — or, as President Trump spells it, unpresidented. But I cannot say that. Nothing has distinguished Trump, his aides and his loyal supporters more than their shared struggle with spelling.” Read on. Milbank recounts a number of Trump misspellings, funniest when Trump is ataking another person's inteligince. -- CW 

Tom Jackman of the Washington Post: "President Trump met Tuesday morning with a group of sheriffs from the National Sheriffs Association.... And to this sworn group of  law enforcement veterans, with reporters taking notes, he again repeated a falsehood about the murder rate in America. Trump told the sheriffs, 'the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.' He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development.... The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI....” CW: In the photo accompanying the story, all the sheriffs pictured are beaming as if they were the luckiest ducks on earth because they had the rare privilege of being in the presence of a big fat lying jackass.

Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "The Department of Defense is seeking to rent space in President Trump’s New York skyscraper, Trump Tower, a move that could directly funnel government money into the president’s business interests.... The space will be separate from the Secret Service detail that is routinely based in Trump’s signature midtown tower, where his private company, the Trump Organization, is headquartered and where he owns a lavish triplex penthouse." -- CW 

This Won't Happen. George Yin, in a Washington Post op-ed: "... Congress has the power to obtain [Donald Trump's] tax returns and reveal them to the public without his consent, including returns under audit. As just urged by Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), legislators seeking information on President Trump’s possible conflicts of interest should immediately exercise this authority rather than wait for the passage of new veto-proof legislation — a highly uncertain prospect — that would have the same effect. The ability of Congress to disclose confidential tax information was added to the law almost 100 years ago." -- CW 

Julie Turkewitz of the New York Times: "The Army approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Tuesday, paving the way for an infrastructure project that has been surrounded by protest and controversy. Robert Speer, the acting secretary of the Army, announced the decision to Congress, saying he was ready to offer the pipeline’s owner a 30-year easement on a disputed patch of land. The move drew outrage from opponents, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation in North Dakota sits less than a mile from the proposed pipeline route." -- CW 

Christina Cauterucci of Slate: Melissa McCarthy's send-up of Sean Spicer "was a powerful, accurate depiction of a man whose aggressive outbursts spring from a deep well of insecurity [which reportedly irked the Dear Leader]. Perhaps Trump was shaken by an image too close to his own reflection. The antagonistic ravings of both Trump and Spicer seem motivated by a similar urge to defend a fragile, threatened sense of their own masculinity. Trump’s fragile masculinity gets a temporary boost when he brags about dominating women or sees his name printed in gold. Spicer gets his by yelling and casting blame. That Trump has taken Alec Baldwin’s impression so personally and has whined repeatedly that SNL sucks when it makes fun of him is evidence that the president takes every minor slight as a direct threat to his manhood. In other words, his masculinity is so fragile, it can barely withstand a lukewarm comedy sketch." ...  

    ... CW: Could be the finasteride. (The FDA now requires Merck to include on its labels a warning "that the medication may be associated with 'libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that continued after discontinuation of the drug.'... Whether this medication is safe for individuals holding political office has not been studied.” What you may be witnessing is the psychological breakdown of a long-time sexual predator who has lost his ability to literally stick it to women, so must employ other means of dominance. ...

... Jim Acosta of CNN: "The White House is ramping up its search for a new communications director in an effort to lighten the load of embattled White House press secretary Sean Spicer, multiple sources told CNN. A source familiar with internal communications said ... Donald Trump is disappointed in Spicer's performance during the first two weeks of the administration.... Spicer has served as both White House press secretary and communications director for the new administration. Those roles are typically filled by two staffers." -- CW ...

... Dan Zak of the Washington Post: "Rosie O’Donnell, perhaps President Trump’s ultimate nemesis, answered the call within one minute. Twitter had decided that she should play White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon on 'Saturday Night Live,' and O’Donnell understood the idea almost instantly. ['available - if called i will serve !!!', O'Donnell tweeted.]... O’Donnell and Trump have feuded since 2006, when the former co-host of 'The View' ribbed him for his response to a situation involving an underage Miss USA winner.... Trump has never been able to let go of this public slight." -- CW ...

The Staff of Der Speigel ask, "Is Donald Trump in the process of transforming the United States into an autocracy? His first weeks in office make it look as though that is his aim. The president is hewing closely to the ideas of his chief strategist, making Stephen Bannon the most dangerous man in America." -- unwashed: The SNL portrayal of him isn't far off at all.

... Markos Moulitsas: "If you want to get to the popular vote loser in the White House, you certainly don’t do it by talking policy. He doesn’t care! But unlike past presidents who kept their weaknesses close to their vests, Donald Trump is nothing but lizard brain, and his staff is all too happy to blab about his craziness.... Satirists now know exactly how to drive Trump crazy, and it's so. damn. easy." -- CW ...

... Case in Point. We Are Not Amused, Ctd. Josh Dawsey, et al., of Politico: Kellyanne Conway & her entourage Monday abruptly walked out on a meeting with Capitol Hill communications staffers when one of them asked if she had laughed at Melissa McCarthy's lampoon of Sean Spicer. -- CW ...

... S.V. Date & Christina Wilkie of the Huffington Post: "Unsurprisingly, Trump’s volatile behavior has created an environment ripe for leaks from his executive agencies and even within his White House. And while leaks typically involve staffers sabotaging each other to improve their own standing or trying to scuttle policy ideas they find genuinely problematic, Trump’s 2-week-old administration has a third category: leaks from White House and agency officials alarmed by the president’s conduct." -- CW 

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "A lawsuit filed by Melania Trump depicts her heightened profile as a 'unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' to make millions of dollars in business, once again raising questions about the relationship between President Trump’s official role and his family’s business interests. Mrs. Trump’s suit, filed on Monday in a New York State court, accuses The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, of libel for reporting last year on claims that a modeling agency she worked for in the 1990s was also an escort service." See also yesterday's Commentariat. -- CW ...

... Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "A day after Melania Trump filed a lawsuit accusing a British news company of hurting her ability to build a profitable brand, her representatives issued statements saying that the first lady 'has no intention' of using her public position for personal gain.... The language in the suit drew criticism immediately. Richard Painter, a White House ethics counsel under former president George W. Bush..., said he was troubled by the clear suggestion in the suit that Melania Trump intended to make money from her public role. Painter said that as drafted, the suit 'would appear to be an abuse of public office for private gain' by the Trumps. On Tuesday, Painter said the new statements from Trump’s team ;directly contradict the claims made in the complaint' and make the initial complaint misleading. 'It should be immediately amended,' he said." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "... any veneer of plausible deniability about the Trump family’s greed and their transactional view of the most powerful job in the world was shattered this week by a defamation lawsuit the first lady, Melania Trump, filed.... According to the lawsuit..., Mrs. Trump 'had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model and brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multimillion-dollar business relationships for a multiyear term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.' There is no benign way to look at that claim. Mrs. Trump evidently believes her new title affords her a chance to rake in millions of dollars." -- CW ...

... Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "First lady Melania Trump settled her defamation lawsuit against a Maryland blogger, who agreed to apologize to the Trump and pay her a 'substantial sum,' her attorneys said Tuesday." CW: If I ever slip up & say something nice about Wife #3, please call me out on it....

...Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: "On November 3, Melania Trump gave a rare speech on the campaign trail for her husband, Donald. At the end of the speech, she made an announcement: If her husband were elected, she would focus on combating cyberbullying from the White House...Three months later, Melania Trump is indeed first lady. But what of her pledge to take up cyberbullying? Mother Jones contacted a wide range of organizations and individuals who work on cyberbullying, and not a single one of them reported being contacted by Trump or anyone in the Donald Trump administration." --safari

Samantha Page of ThinkProgress: "Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) is on the verge of being confirmed by the Senate to head the Environmental Protection Agency — but there are lingering questions about his close relationship with the oil and gas industry. A watchdog group sued Pruitt’s office on Tuesday, hoping to force details about that relationship into the open...The suit seeks to unveil the more than 3,000 emails and other pieces of correspondence between Pruitt or his staff and oil and gas companies that the attorney general’s office says it has. The Center for Media and Democracy initially made the request more than two years ago — and they still hasn’t received a response." --safari

Eli Watkins of CNN: "Top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN's 'The Lead' Tuesday in a 25-minute interview with Jake Tapper where they discussed President Donald Trump's falsehoods and the administration's treatment of the press." CW: I can't listen to 25 minutes of Conway's dissembling, but maybe you can:

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Conway got through the interview without another 'Bowling Green massacre'-type gaffe, but she also resumed the Trump team's long-standing media game plan: Ignore what the boss actually said about the topic, obfuscate, and then hope the media moves on." -- CW ...

...Patricia Murphy of The Daily Beast: "Kellyanne Conway’s “Bowling Green massacre” isn’t the only case of a White House aide pointing to a terror attack that didn’t happen...White House press secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly pointed to Atlanta, along with San Bernardino and Boston, as one of three U.S. cities that have been attacked by Islamist terrorists...There has never been an Islamist terror attack in Atlanta." --safari...

... Chris Massie of CNN: "Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to ... Donald Trump, said Monday that the administration will continue using the term 'fake news' until the media understands that their 'monumental desire' to attack the President is wrong. 'There is a monumental desire on behalf of the majority of the media, not just the pollsters, the majority of the media to attack a duly elected President in the second week of his term,; Gorka, a former Breitbart editor who also holds a PhD in political science, told syndicated conservative radio host Michael Medved. Trump and his staff have repeatedly used the term "fake news" to discredit reporting on the presidential administration from mainstream outlets such as CNN and The New York Times, often offering no evidence to back up their disputes with those outlets' stories." -- CW 

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Andrew F. Puzder, who as President Trump’s pick to head the Labor Department has come under fire for criticizing worker protections, acknowledged on Monday that he had employed an undocumented immigrant to clean his house. The revelation potentially could derail a nomination that has elicited controversy because of Mr. Puzder’s views on overtime pay, sick leave and automation." CW: Bull. Nothing can "derail" a Trump nominee. He has 50 lapdogs in the Senate & a veep who's biding his time before he makes his move to take over the top job.  

Michael Moritz in a New York Times op-ed: Stephen Schwarzman, whom Donald Trump appointed to head his business council, is the chief executive of the private equity firm Blackstone Group. "Since its founding in 1985, Blackstone has accumulated more than $361 billion in assets and made Mr. Schwartzman a fortune estimated at $11 billion — a figure that no doubt dwarfs whatever it is that Mr. Trump is worth. In 2015, Mr. Schwarzman was paid $799 million.... Mr. Schwarzman and his brethren have become symbols for the economic inequality that Mr. Trump deplored during his campaign.... Just like Mr. Trump’s real-estate business, groups like Blackstone rely on enormous debt to prop up their business.... The lower- and middle-income Americans who voted for Mr. Trump in droves would do well to listen hard to what Mr. Schwarzman is advising. They’ll hear the sound of dollars being sucked out of their pockets and slipped into the wallets of the 1 percent." ...

     ... CW: Schwartzman, obviously, is one of Donald's friends "who have nice businesses who can’t borrow money. They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow, because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank." Moritz likens Schwartzman and Trump to gangsters.

"World's Greatest Deliberative Body," Ha Ha. Senate Republicans Can't Handle the Truth. Seung Min Kim of Politico: "The Senate voted late Tuesday to tell Sen. Elizabeth Warren to sit down — and shut up. The Republican-controlled chamber voted 49-43 to uphold a ruling that the Massachusetts Democrat violated Senate rules that prohibit impugning another senator as she delivered a lengthy speech against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as the nation’s attorney general. The issue: During her remarks, Warren referred to a letter written by Coretta Scott King and sent to the Senate in 1986, when the chamber was debating whether to confirm Sessions to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.... 'The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,' McConnell said, referring to Warren’s recitation of the part of King’s letter that warned Sessions would 'chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.'” -- CW ...

    ... CW: I hope you see what's happened here. The Senate cannot debate the qualifications of a Senator if that Senator is nominated for another job in the administration or in the courts. Senators can say nice things about him or her, but any negative remarks, even if they are part of the historical record, are taboo. This is another ominous sign of how the legislative branch of government is not just appeasing but abetting an executive branch that already is attempting to delegitimize the courts, the press & the people. ...

... Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "Democrats argued that Mr. McConnell was enforcing the rule selectively, citing examples of Republicans appearing to test the boundaries of Rule XIX. In one instance from 2015, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas accused Mr. McConnell of lying 'over and over and over again.' In another, last year, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas described the 'cancerous leadership' of Senator Harry Reid, the former Democratic leader." -- CW ...

... Evelyn Rupert of the Hill: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), blocked from reading a letter from a civil rights leader on the Senate floor, took to live video to finish her remarks.... Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also read the letter from the Senate floor Tuesday night." -- CW ...

... Paulina Firozi of the Hill: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke out after being reprimanded on the Senate floor, saying she was ”red carded” by Senate Republicans over her comments on fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general.... In an interview with the Boston Globe, Warren said she had 'no idea' why McConnell chose to take such rare action “except to make clear that the Republicans do not what the public talking about Jeff Sessions’s record. That’s the only possible reason. Just shut up don’t talk about him.'... In the interview later on Tuesday evening, Warren explained that she would not be allowed to speak 'so long as the topic is Sen. Jeff Sessions.' 'I’ve been red carded on Sen. Sessions. I’m out of the game on the Senate floor. I don’t get to speak at all.' Warren said." ...

     ... CW: The topic on which Republicans "red-carded" Warren also is notable: civil rights. Republicans didn't just shut down Warren; they also shut down Coretta Scott King. Apparently, they're no longer even going to give lip service to their supposed support for black civil rights & icons of the movement. So, also ominous. This was a shameful moment in Senate & U.S. history. ...

... King's letter is reproduced here. Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post "obtained" it. It's notable that Senate Republicans are continuing the extraordinary effort of Strom Thurmond to keep King's letter secret. John Stanton & Nathaniel Meyersohn of BuzzFeed: "At the time of the hearing, Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond [R/Dixiecrat-S.C.] never put the letter into the congressional record, and its contents remained largely unknown. In the only line that was made public at the time — published in June 1986 by Knight Ridder reporter Aaron Epstein — King made clear her opposition to Sessions’ nomination.... It’s unclear why Thurmond didn’t include the letter in the record. Chairman Chuck Grassley’s office did not respond to requests for the letter, and sources told BuzzFeed News that Democratic members’ hands are tied by committee rules that give Grassley the sole authority to release it." -- CW  

Kenneth Vogel et al., of Politico: "Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is strongly leaning toward picking the state’s attorney general [Luther Strangeto replace U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions after his expected confirmation Wednesday to become United States Attorney General, according to three Republican operatives with direct knowledge of the plans.... One possible advantage of appointing Strange ... is that Bentley — who has been implicated in a tawdry sex scandal and was under an impeachment investigation by the state legislature — gets to appoint a new attorney general who might be less inclined to prosecute him. Strange’s office in November had asked the state legislature to suspend its investigation until his office finished a pending investigation." --safari

GOP to U.S. Parents: "To Hell with Your Kids." Emma Brown of the Washington Post: "Senate narrowly confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary on Tuesday, with Vice President Pence casting a historic tiebreaking vote after senators deadlocked over her fitness for the job. The entire Democratic caucus of 48 senators voted against DeVos, as did two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who said they did not think that DeVos was qualified for the job. The remaining 50 Republicans voted for DeVos, setting up a 50-50 tie that Pence broke with his vote at about 12:30 p.m. It marked the first time that a vice president’s tiebreaking vote was needed to confirm a Cabinet secretary, according to Daniel Holt, an assistant historian in the Senate Historical Office." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... CW: I  shouldn't be so negative. The kids may all be uneducated ignoramuses, but at least they'll have guns to shoot grizzlies. Also too, they probably will be trainable to the point of being able to sign songs in praise of our Dear Leader while marching in goose-step formation. ...

... New York Times Editors: "The tens of thousands of parents and students who called, emailed and signed petitions opposing Ms. DeVos’s confirmation refused to surrender to Mr. Trump. They couldn’t afford to have a billionaire hostile to government run public schools that already underperform the rest of the developed world. Did anyone who backed this shameful appointment think about them?" -- CW ... 

...The Resistance, Ctd. Kimberly Hefling et al., of Politico: "All indications are the same groups galvanized by DeVos’ nomination are mobilizing for new battles on issues ranging from tuition vouchers and protections for LGBT students in schools, to free speech and sexual assault disciplinary policies on college campuses...The fight to derail DeVos, while unsuccessful, has united a wide variety of advocates who care about education, said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union. The union now has a 'contact list to die for,' she said...'There will be no relationship with BetsyDeVos,'". --safari...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress points out that the senators who opposed DeVos, in this 50-50 tie, represent 36 million more people than those who supported her do.

Ari Berman of the Nation: "I n a little-noticed 6-3 vote [Tuesday], the House Administration Committee voted along party lines to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states run elections and is the only federal agency charged with making sure voting machines can’t be hacked.... T hirty-eight pro-democracy groups, including the NAACP and Common Cause, denounced the vote.... This move is particularly worrisome given reports that suspected Russian hackers attempted to access voter-registration systems in more than 20 states during the 2016 election.... Given the threats to American democracy at this moment, the EAC needs to be strengthened, not replaced. It’s particularly ironic that the Trump administration is preparing to launch a massive investigation into nonexistent voter fraud based on the lie that millions voted illegally while House Republicans are shutting down the agency that is supposed to make sure America’s elections are secure." -- CW 

Rachel Bade of Politico: "House Republicans during a closed-door meeting Tuesday discussed how to protect themselves and their staffs from protesters storming town halls and offices in opposition to repealing Obamacare, sources in the room told Politico. House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers invited Rep. David Reichert, a former county sheriff, to present lawmakers with protective measures they should have in place.... Democrats, meanwhile, dismissed Republicans’ security ramp-up as an attempt to shield themselves from criticism." -- CW  

Seung Min Kim: "Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met privately with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch for about 45 minutes on Tuesday. In Schumer’s retelling, it did not go well.... 'Simply put: the bar for a Supreme Court nominee to prove they can be independent has never, ever, been higher,' Schumer said. 'I spent a great deal of time in our meeting asking Judge Gorsuch straightforward and direct questions that would demonstrate whether he could clear that bar.' But Gorsuch 'avoided answers like the plague,' Schumer added.... ;When someone doesn’t answer the most obvious of questions, and questions that demand answers, you wonder. You really wonder,' Schumer said. 'And that’s why I have such severe doubts about him.'” -- CW 

Jonathan Chait: "The mania for destroying [the ACA] is faltering because the Republican crusade to kill Obamacare was always based on delusions that are no longer possible to conceal.... The long, tortured negotiations required to pass the law did not prove the process was corrupt or failed, but that health-care reform is intrinsically difficult. People will fight much harder to avoid losing a benefit they have — even if that benefit is not actually at risk — than to create a new one they don’t. Proponents of health-care reform always believed that bringing health care into reality would make it much easier to defend. That has turned out to be correct." --safari

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Since Election Day, [Paul Ryanhas been very careful in his responses to Trump’s controversial statements, sometimes ignoring them, sometimes downplaying them, and often adopting the mantra that he doesn’t comment on the tweet of the moment.... He refuses to criticize the President’s statements, no matter how outrageous they are, and pushes ahead with conservative policies that have been part of the G.O.P.’s agenda for years. Could the terms of the pact that Ryan has made withTrump be any clearer?" --safari ...

... Case in Point. The Weasel Speaks. Max Shuham of TPM: "Asked on Tuesday about ... Donald Trump’s attacks on the 'so-called judge' who blocked his immigration executive order nationwide, House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the President. Despite the insults, Trump was respecting the appeals process, Ryan said at his weekly press conference." CW: Yes, suggesting that a federal judge is not really a judge, calling his ruling ridiculous & blaming him and other judges for any potential terrorist attacks is pretty damned respectful.

Daniel Lippman and Anna Palmer of Politico: "MSNBC and Fox News are capitalizing on President Donald Trump’s TV watching habits, dramatically increasing issue-advocacy advertising rates in recent weeks as companies and outside groups try to influence Trump and his top lieutenants....'Instead of lobbying through the usual channels, it’s like speaking directly into the president’s ear.'" -- LT (see the VoteVets ad in the comments)

Marie's Sports Report

Jen Kirby of New York: "As is tradition..., Donald Trump will honor the Super Bowl LI champions, the New England Patriots, at the White House. Trump’s friendships with the team’s 'total winners' — owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady — inserted more than a few political undertones into America’s game this year. That still stands post-victory, now that at least two New England players have said publicly they will skip any presidential visit. After the Patriots’ stunning 34-28 comeback victory, tight end Martellus Bennett told reporters that he would not go to the White House.... On Monday, another Patriots player, defensive end Devin McCourty said he would turn down a future meeting with Trump. 'I’m not going to the White House,' McCourty texted to Time. 'Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.'” -- CW 

Way Beyond the Beltway

Donald's Idol. Shaun Walker of the Guardian: "Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial amendment that decriminalises domestic violence. The amendment, which sailed through both houses of Russian parliament before Tuesday’s presidential signing, has elicited anger from critics who say that it sends the wrong message in a country where, according to some estimates, one woman dies every 40 minutes from domestic abuse. From now on, beatings of spouses or children that result in bruising or bleeding but not broken bones are punishable by 15 days in prison or a fine, if they do not happen more than once a year. Previously, they carried a maximum jail sentence of two years." --safari

Katie Allen & Graeme Wearden of the Guardian: "Fresh worries over Greece’s debts have pushed the country’s borrowing costs sharply higher amid renewed insistence from Athens it will not swallow further austerity demands from international lenders...The renewed focus on Greece’s debts came as theInternational Monetary Fund revealed its board was split over how far spending cuts in the country should go, raising fresh doubts over its participation in rescue plans for the struggling Greek economy...News of a split on the IMF board raised new questions over whether Germany will see its wish granted for the fund joining the next rescue. In its latest annual review of the Greek economy, the IMF revealed that its board members were in disagreement over whether Athens should enforce even more austerity to satisfy its lenders." --safari

Monday
Feb062017

The Commentariat -- February 7, 2017

GOP to U.S. Parents: "To Hell with the Kids." Emma Brown of the Washington Post: "Senate narrowly confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary on Tuesday, with Vice President Pence casting a historic tiebreaking vote after senators deadlocked over her fitness for the job. The entire Democratic caucus of 48 senators voted against DeVos, as did two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who said they did not think that DeVos was qualified for the job. The remaining 50 Republicans voted for DeVos, setting up a 50-50 tie that Pence broke with his vote at about 12:30 p.m. It marked the first time that a vice president’s tiebreaking vote was needed to confirm a Cabinet secretary, according to Daniel Holt, an assistant historian in the Senate Historical Office." -- CW 

*****

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Justice Department on Monday evening urged a federal appeals court to reinstate President Trump’s targeted travel ban, saying that a judge’s order blocking it endangered national security and violated the separation of powers. The court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has scheduled an hourlong oral argument in the case for 3 p.m. Tuesday." CW: I guess that's Pacific Time, but I don't know that. Update: Yup, that's 6 pm ET. ...

ISIS is on a campaign of genocide, committing atrocities across the world. You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that. -- Donald Trump, in a speech to commanders at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida

... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Trump appears to be laying the groundwork to preemptively shift blame for any future terrorist attack on U.S. soil from his administration to the federal judiciary, as well as to the media. In recent tweets, Trump personally attacked James L. Robart, a U.S. district judge in Washington state, for putting 'our country in such peril' with his ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of the administration’s [Muslim] ban.... 'If something happens blame him and the court system. People pouring in. Bad!' Trump wrote in a tweet Sunday. Then on Monday, Trump seemed to spread that blame to include news organizations. In a speech to the U.S. Central Command, the president accused the media of failing to report on some terrorist attacks for what he implied were nefarious reasons.... Trump did not offer a single example of an attack that had gone unreported to support his accusation. [CW: Well, there was the Bowling Green Massacre.]... Trump’s terrorism blame-game is in keeping with how he ran his campaign, looking for scapegoats at nearly every turn." ...

     ... CW: The whole idea here is to undermine two of the checks on executive power: the courts & the press. He has already vilified the people in a tweet -- "professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters" and the Congress during his inaugural address and of course repeatedly during his "outsider" campaign. Trump is really "laying the groundwork for" a dictatorship, one in which "he alone can fix" the world's ills. ...

... Margaret Hartmann suggests yet another possible ulterior motive: "Most [news] outlets were trying to illustrate that the so-called evidence released by the White House does not back up Trump’s attack on the press. However, their discussion might have bolstered his larger point that Americans should be very alarmed about terrorism, even if there’s no new incident currently dominating media coverage. It’s hard not to be more worried about threats to national security when headlines remind you of the dozens of attacks committed by Islamic extremists, and terrorism is all anyone is talking about." -- CW ...

... Words Matter. Fred Barbash & Derek Hawkins of the Washington Post: "Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign and now into the first weeks of his presidency, critics suggested that he cool his incendiary rhetoric, that his words matter. His defenders responded that, as Corey Lewandowski said, he was being taken too 'literally.' Some, like Vice President Pence, wrote it off to his 'colorful style.' Trump himself recently explained that his rhetoric about Muslims is popular, winning him [standing ovations.' No one apparently gave him anything like a Miranda warning: Anything he says can and will be used against him in a court of law. And that’s exactly what’s happening now in the epic court battle over his travel ban, currently blocked by a temporary order set for argument Tuesday before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The states of Washington and Minnesota, which sued to block Trump’s order, are citing the president’s inflammatory rhetoric as evidence that the government’s claims — it’s not a ban and not aimed at Muslims — are shams." ...

    ... CW: Words will matter, too, if Congressional Republicans ever get the gumption to impeach Trump. ...

... Rebecca Morin & David Cohen of Politico: "The White House released on Monday a list of 78 terrorist attacks that the Trump administration claim were not sufficiently covered by the nation's press. The list, however, included some mass killings that were covered well enough to make their locales into symbols of anger and grief: Orlando, San Bernardino, the Boston Marathon, Nice and Paris in France, and Brussels in Belgium.... A number of the incidents on the list are said to have had no casualties.... Some of the events listed may or may not have specific connections to terrorism.... Others don't meet customary definitions of terrorism.... Oddly, the list includes no attacks in Israel, despite a spate of knife attacks in 2015-16 that were meant to terrorize the population. It also doesn’t include the mass shooting of African American churchgoers by Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist, at a Charleston church in June 2015. [CW: What a surprise!] Of the 78 attacks, 11 occurred in the United States." -- CW ...

... Anderson Cooper & Jim Acosta take on Trump's Big Lie o'the Day. Thanks to PD Pepe for the link:

... New York Times Editors: "In the same week that he announced his nominee for the Supreme Court, the president of the United States pre-emptively accused not only a judge, but the whole judicial branch — the most dependable check on his power — of abetting the murder of Americans by terrorists.... Mr. Trump’s repeated attacks on the judiciary are all the more ominous given his efforts to intimidate and undermine the news media and Congress’s willingness to neutralize itself, rather than hold him to account." -- CW ...

... The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror." -- Trump. BUT "The seven countries were largely chosen by the Republican-led Congress." (2) “My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” BUT "Obama never barred Iraqi refugees." (3) “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe.” BUT "After he signed the order, Mr. Trump said that Christians would be given priority oncethe United States resumed taking in refugees." CW: So Lie, Lie & Lie. ...

... "It's All Going Very Nicely." The Resistance, Ctd. Matt Zapotosky & Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "Ten former high-ranking diplomatic and national security officials, nearly 100 Silicon Valley tech companies, more than 280 law professors, and a host of civil liberties and other organizations have formally lent their support to the legal bid to block President Trump’s immigration order. The new voices demonstrate the broad opposition to Trump’s now-frozen order.... The Justice Department, which is defending Trump’s order, has been asked to respond by 6 p.m. After that, the appeals court could rule on the matter, or ask for a hearing.... In the meantime, people who had been stranded in legal limbo rushed to fly back to the United States. Some successfully reunited with family members, while others — particularly those whose visas were physically taken or marked as invalid — ran into roadblocks trying to board planes overseas." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Resistance, Ctd. David Streitfeld of the New York Times: "After President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order restricting immigration, high-tech has gone full-tilt political. Companies are being pushed by their employees, by their customers and sometimes by their ideals.... The companies are among the richest and most popular of American brands, which means they have a good deal of leverage. Yet they are also uniquely vulnerable — not only to presidential postings on Twitter and executive orders, but to the sentiments of their customers and employees, some of whom have more radical ideas in mind." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)...

... The Resistance, Ctd. Leighton Aiko Woodhouse of The Intercept: "Donald Trump's executive order banning travel to the United States by the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and by refugees worldwide has been broadly rejected by the judiciary, with over a dozen federal court orders restricting or staying the travel ban. Now, more than 150 former federal prosecutors have expressed their disapproval of Trump’s overreach as well... The three letters hold no legal force but they reflect a strong current of mainstream opinion within the legal profession that is in vocal opposition to Trump’s abortive travel ban. Also on Monday, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution urging the President to withdraw the executive order." --safari ...

... "Cotton & Trump Plot Crackdown on Legal Immigration." Seung Min Kim of Politico: "Overlooked in Donald Trump’s campaign crusade against illegal immigration was his vow to crack down on legal immigration, too. Now, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a reliable Trump ally, is taking steps to execute that part of the president’s immigration vision — and it could provoke a showdown between two competing ends of the GOP: the working-class populists led by Trump and the establishment Chamber of Commerce wing.... The Arkansas senator has already spoken with Trump and key White House officials about his immigration proposals, and says the administration has been receptive. And Cotton dismisses research that shows the economic boon of immigrants, including low-skilled workers, by paraphrasing George Orwell: 'Only an intellectual could believe something so stupid.'” CW: Now read George Prochnik's piece that describes Hitler's methodology, linked below.

Trump Wanders around Empty Residence in Bathrobe, Thinks up Another False Equivalency. Louis Nelson of Politico: "... Donald Trump said Tuesday morning that his presidency is being evaluated by an unfair double standard that has allowed critics to attack him over his promises of a warmer relationship with Russia while his predecessor cut deals with Iran, a longtime U.S. foe. 'I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy - yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1in terror, no problem!' Trump wrote on Twitter." -- CW 

Daily Beast: "A raid on an al Qaeda compound in Yemen on Jan. 29 failed its primary objective of capturing or killing Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, military officials told NBC.... But al-Rimi is reportedly still alive and releasing audio messages mocking Trump. 'The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,' al-Rimi said in a message that military officials said was authentic.... The Trump administration has declared the raid 'a successful operation by all standards'.... Military officials also told NBC that the White House had agreed to the raid because they decided al-Rimi's capture would be worth the operation's risk." --safari

Amanda Holpuch of the Guardian: "Donald Trump’s comments on Sunday suggesting that a replacement for Obamacare may not arrive until 2018 coincides with crowds turning out to pressure Republicans not to scrap the system too hastily. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised one of his first actions as president would be to simultaneously repeal and replace the landmark healthcare legislation – a plan that was heartily endorsed by Republican lawmakers. And as recently as mid-January he told the Washington Post he was near completing a plan which would provide 'insurance for everybody', without revealing details. But in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday night, Trump said of replacing Obamacare: 'In the process and maybe it will take till sometime into next year, but we are certainly going to be in the process. It’s very complicated.'... Trump signed an executive order to begin the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ... hours after taking office. But as the government works to tear down the law, polls have shown it is becoming more popular the closer it gets to being repealed.” ...

    ... CW: On January 10, Trump told the NYT that there would be "a repeal vote 'probably some time next week' and a replacement 'very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.'” Apparently "now" = "maybe some time next year." He has never, ever has any idea of what he's talking about, & what's more, he doesn't care. It's all flimflam. I liked the way gemli characterized the Trump Carnival in a comment on Paul Krugman's column yesterday:

Republicans have been criticized for not having a big enough tent to include all Americans. So welcome to the Big Top. The president is bringing the rigged-carnival-game business model to America. Everyone is free to get ripped off by people whose sole skill is separating them from their money. They're being lured in to play financial games that are rigged in favor of the house. The way he’s running the place you’d think the president was a casino owner. Oh, right....

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Before Trump was inaugurated, it was sometimes said, based upon his old starring role on 'The Apprentice,' that he would be a 'reality-TV President.' In actuality, he’s turned out to be a 'TV-reality President' — an Oval Office occupant trapped in the world of cable news, where every minute brings 'breaking news,' every issue is momentous, every hiccup is a crisis, and every criticism of the President is, in his own mind, a calumny. Rather than settling on a few policy themes and methodically going about the tricky business of advancing them through a political system in which the President’s power is often limited, he has engaged in the TV pundit’s game of instant response and instant outrage. To try to shape the next day’s coverage, he also engages in instant policymaking. The result is chaos — chaos that every day diminishes the aura of his Presidency and further enrages him." -- CW 

Grifters, Inc. Judd Legum of Think Progress: "In a lawsuit filed today, First Lady Melania Trump revealed her intention to leverage the presidency to ink new 'licensing, branding, and endorsement' deals worth many millions of dollars. In the filing, Melania Trump’s lawyer described the position of First Lady as a “once-in-a-lifetime” money making opportunity. She told the court she intended to pursue deals in 'apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and fragrance.' These kind of endorsement deals would be especially lucrative while Melania Trump is First Lady and thus 'one of the most photographed women in the world.'...The strategy Melania Trump lays out in her lawsuit is similar to the one already being executed by President Trump." --safari ...

     ... Sarah Burris of the Raw Story: "The Emoluments Clause is a U.S. government law that specifically prohibits any leader from using government services to 'enrich' the president, his family and the Trump brand. Trump’s son Eric was called out for possible breach of this clause when he spent nearly $100,000 in security and embassy costs while on a business trip to promote the Trump Organization." Thanks to Gloria for the link. ...

     ... CW: Are we still feeling sorry for "poor Melania"?

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "White House press secretary Sean Spicer demanded an apology from The New York Times for publishing an article containing eye-opening details about President Trump’s earliest days in office, even disputing whether the president owns a bathrobe. 'That report was so riddled with inaccuracies and lies that they owe the president an apology,' Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One Monday. 'There were just literally blatant factual errors and it’s unacceptable to see that kind of reporting or so-called reporting.' The article describes Trump’s routine after normal business hours, when he reportedly watches television in a bathrobe or marks up negative news articles with a Sharpie." CW: Then Spicer threw the podium at Glenn Thrush. ...

... "We Are Not Amused." Annie Karni, et al., of Politico: "... the devastating 'Saturday Night Live' caricature of Spicer that aired over the weekend — in which a belligerent Spicer was spoofed by a gum-chomping, super soaker-wielding Melissa McCarthy in drag — did not go over well internally at a White House in which looks matter. More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him.... 'Trump doesn't like his people to look weak,' added a top Trump donor.... The 'SNL' clip was seen by some in Trump’s orbit as devastating because it was accurate." You can watch the segment in Sunday's Commetariat. -- CW ...

...Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Spicer is said to be in trouble for being hilariously spoofed by Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live – and not because he was portrayed as an unhinged, furious purveyor of “alternative facts.” Politico reports, 'More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him.'...If true, the report adds another bizarre layer to how the president views gender roles. While he may have wanted a woman to fill Spicer’s role, multiple reports suggest that he’s particularly irked by women who stand up to him, or generally behave in a manner he disapproves of....In light of Politico’s report, people are clamoring for classic Trump nemesis Rosie O’Donnell to replace the Grim Reaper as SNL’s Steve BannonO’Donnell said she’s game." --safari

The Notorious Bowling Green Massacre, Ctd. Kristen Mascia of Cosmopolitan: "Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter on Friday to walk back her comments on MSNBC's Hardball about a nonexistent terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky. However, this wasn't the first time she used the words 'Bowling Green massacre' in an on-the-record conversation with a reporter. In an earlier interview with Cosmopolitan.com, she not only used this same phrase but also went a step further in describing the actions of the two Iraqi men involved in the case to which she was referring.... [Conway claimed President Obama called for a temporary ban on Iraqi refuges] 'because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills, and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers' lives away." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: "Kellyanne Conway referred to a fictitious 'Bowling Green attack' to defend ... Donald Trump’s ban on travel and immigration days before she said she misspoke on MSNBC’s Hardball. During a brief video interview with TMZ on January 29, Conway referenced the event that did not happen. " -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "... the 'Bowling Green Massacre' may go down in the record of the Trump presidency as the first break in the 'fake news' clouds that have cast such gloom over our fair and once (relatively) true republic. The same internet that enabled false stories to run unchecked through news feeds during the election year dispatched new white blood cells that attacked Ms. Conway’s 'alternate facts' with 'true facts' (a redundant term that I guess we’re stuck with for now). Their most effective attack was traditional reporting, in many cases from news organizations that have doubled down on fact-checking, joined by newfangled memes that accentuate the truth.... In the end, social media and journalistic scrutiny aligned with comedy to right a wrong pretty definitively." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: Conway's Bowling Green Massacre must now be seen in the context of Trump's Insane Claim o' the Day -- that "the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report" acts of terrorism. As you recall, Conway's complaint was that the BGM was a major event but "Most people didn’t know that because it didn’t get covered [by the media]." The fake Bowling Green Massacre wasn' a slip of the tongue in a live broadcast, as Conway claimed. It was the calculated (she proffered it in at least three separater interviews) foreshadowing of Trump's false claim today that the media are covering up (apparently fictional) terrorist attacks. These fictional accounts of terrorists lurking in every corner -- even in the heartland/Bowling Green! -- are conspiracy hoohah designed to scare the bejeezus out of Trumpbots & other Americans who must see that Trumpus Forever is their only salvation. Every other institution -- the judiciary, the Congress, the media & vast hordes of paid thugs, including "those people" (a/k/a responsible citizens) -- are the enemies...

...Liar gets barred for lying. Lies about it. Brad Reed of RawStory: "After CNN declined an administration offer to have Conway appear on its State of the Union show on Sunday, the New York Times reported that executives at CNN have “serious questions” about Conway’s credibility, which may lead them to refuse future offers to have her on their shows. Reacting to this report, Conway said on Twitter that family issues prevented her from appearing on Sunday shows this week, while also slamming the “false” reporting about CNN executives doubting her credibility. CNN’s official public relations Twitter handle quickly called outConway’s claim, and said that she 'was offered to SOTU by the White House' this week. 'We passed,' CNN emphasized. 'Those are the facts.' Shortly after CNN’s message, MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski sent out a cryptic message telling CNN that it was “not the first” show to decline an offer to have Conway on air." --safari...

...safari: Bravo CNN, but this still doesn't make up for shamelessly hiring Corey Lowandowski who pushed Trump "Facts" everyday on your network during the most crucial moments of the campaign. 

The White Supremacy Government. Jamelle Bouie: "... now that most Americans share a nominal commitment to racial equality ... explicitly racist ideology has cloaked itself in a kind of 'nationalism,' outside the mainstream, but not far from its borders.... It was essentially the ideology behind Trump's campaign, defined by its hostility toward Muslims, marked by its reliance on racist stereotypes of Hispanic immigrants, and not so subtly contemptuous of black Americans. Now, it all but drives Trump’s administration, voiced by key figures and expressed through policy. The ideological leader of the Trump movement is [Jeff] Sessions, hailed by Steve Bannon for 'developing populist nation-state policies' from his somewhat isolated perch in the Senate.... As a student at Duke University, the now–30-year-old [Stephen] Miller worked closely with Richard Spencer, then a graduate student who would leave the academy and become an intellectual leader for the 'alt-right,' an online movement of white nationalists.... Now we’re faced with the extraordinary: A White House whose chief thinkers and architects are white nationalists, keepers of a dangerous tradition in our history, with an unprecedented opportunity to pull the United States back a century to an era of unvarnished nativism and prejudice." -- CW ...

... CW: Bouie doesn't say so, but just so you know, if you are a woman, no matter how whitey-white-white your skin, you cannot gain full membership in the White Supremacists' Club. Your only prerogative is to be, should you be so fortunate, "a beautiful piece of ass" on the arm of a Club member. ...

George Prochnik, in the New Yorker, makes the connection between Trump's methods & Hitler's in a piece titled, "When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig." CW: Prochnik's piece suggests to me that our window of opportunity is closing.  

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Virtually all Democratic senators are expected to vote against President Trump’s picks to lead the departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury and his top budget nominee — a historic rebuke of a first-term president’s Cabinet selections.... Only Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has announced plans to support [Jeff] Sessions. As of Monday, no Democrat has announced support for [Betsy] DeVos, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), nominated to lead Health and Human Services, or Steven T. Mnuchin, nominated as treasury secretary. They all are scheduled for up-or-down votes in the coming days." -- CW ...

... Emma Brown of the Washington Post: "Democrats plan to spend the next 24 hours speaking on the Senate floor in a last-ditch effort to derail the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for education secretary.... DeVos’s confirmation vote is scheduled for noon Tuesday. All 48 members of the Senate Democratic caucus are expected to oppose her, along with two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Democrats need just one more Republican to flip to defeat the nomination, and they are hoping their 24-hour speech-a-thon will ratchet up the pressure.... Activists have targeted those Republicans who they believe have reservations about DeVos...." CW: Or, they could kidnap mike pence & closet him in an undisclosed location, the familiar place for GOP veeps. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Resistance, Ctd. Brady Dennis & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "Nearly 450 former Environmental Protection Agency employees Monday urged Congress to reject President Trump’s nominee to run the agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, even as current employees in Chicago sent the same message during a noon rally.... Opposition to Pruitt from environmental groups and congressional Democrats has only grown more vehement since his confirmation hearing last month, in which he declined to say whether he would recuse himself from his ongoing cases against the EPA if confirmed as the agency’s new leader.... In an unusual move, EPA employees in the agency’s Region 5 office, headquartered in Chicago, participated in a downtown rally during their lunch hour on Monday and called on the Senate to reject the nomination and any efforts to roll back the agency’s authorities." -- CW 

The Resistance, Ctd. Amy Harmon & Henry Fountain of the New York Times: Scientists "are now undergoing a political awakening, contemplating what their role should be for at least the next few years. A political action committee that seeks to get more scientists and engineers to run for elective office, 314 Action, has seen a surge of interest in its programs, with more than 2,000 people registering at its website.... Other scientists have organized demonstrations — including a march now set for Washington on Earth Day, April 22 — submitted letters or opinion articles to news organizations or joined efforts to preserve government data that they fear may otherwise disappear. Individuals and groups have also spoken out against Mr. Trump’s executive order restricting travel.... Much of the concern among scientists has been centered on the E.P.A., which was a favorite target of Mr. Trump during the campaign." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "The United States isn’t the only country that’s a complete basket case right now. Basically the entire world has reached record levels of political chaos and uncertainty.  That’s according to the relatively little-publicized Global Economic Policy Uncertainty Index, which just hit a two-decade high.... Uncertainty about the policy environment leads to a lot of business decisions being put on pause. Moreover, research has found that big shocks in policy uncertainty — such as what we’re seeing now around the world — foreshadowed declines in investment, output and hiring.... Trump’s caprices are likely battering other, smaller economies, and thereby driving up uncertainty in other countries in ways that may not be reflected in just the U.S. numbers. But other countries have also been sowing plenty of their own homegrown turmoil.... There is less room than ever for incompetent governance, hissy-fit phone calls with foreign leaders, magic math and laughable press-room lies." -- CW 

Tom Phillips of the Guardian: "A highly combustible cocktail of Donald Trump’s volatility and Xi Jinping’s increasingly aggressive and autocratic rule threatens to plunge already precarious US-China relations into a dangerous new era, some of the world’s leading China specialists say in a new report...The group’s report, which was handed to the White House on Sunday and will be published in Washington DC on Tuesday, says ties between the two nuclear-armed countries could rapidly deteriorate into an economic or even military confrontation if compromise on issues including trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea cannot be found." --safari

Jana Winter of The Daily Beast: "Donald Trump keeps talking about the threat from the U.S.-Mexico border. But he may be looking in the wrong direction. FBI reports reviewed by The Daily Beast reveal that far more suspected terrorists try to enter the country from the northern border with Canada than from the south...In all seven reports, the numbers of encounters at land border crossings were higher in northern states than southern. 'We are looking the wrong direction,' said a senior DHS official familiar with the data. 'Not to say that Mexico isn’t a problem, but the real bad guys aren’t coming from there—at least not yet.'" --safari

Not in Our House. Charlie Cooper of Politico: "Donald Trump should not be allowed to address the U.K. parliament during his state visit later this year, the Speaker of the House of Commons said Monday. In a rare intervention, John Bercow said MPs’ 'opposition to racism and to sexism' and 'support for equality and an independent judiciary' were 'hugely important considerations.'... Bercow’s statement will come as an embarrassment to Prime Minister Theresa May, who has faced criticism for inviting Trump to make a state visit to the U.K. so early in his presidency.” -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Kremlin Demands Apology from Trump BFF Bill-O. Reuters: "The Kremlin said on Monday it wanted an apology from Fox News over what it said were 'unacceptable' comments one of the channel's presenters made about Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly described Putin as 'a killer' in the interview with Trump as he tried to press the U.S. president to explain more fully why he respected his Russian counterpart. O'Reilly did not say who he thought Putin had killed." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Fred Hiatt Polishes His Legacy of Employing Right-Wing Hacks. Washington Post: "The Washington Post Opinion section today named Hugh Hewitt to its roster of contributing columnists. The conservative radio host will write commentary on the Trump administration, Congress, politics and more." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Dave Gilson of Mother Jones: "During an alternative-fact-filled [LIES!, call it by its name, please] interview with Bill O'Reilly on Sunday, President Donald Trump launched into a diatribe about California pushing back against his immigration policies, suggesting that he would try to cut off the Golden State's federal funding....An accumulation of data from various sources shows that California routinely pays more in federal taxes than it receives in federal spending...California pays about 13 percent of all federal taxes and receives about 11 percent of federal expenditures. It's one of 11 states with a deficit between what it pays the feds and what it gets back. New Jersey has the biggest annual gap between spending and taxes, at more than $2,600 per person. New Mexico enjoys the biggest surplus, at more than $7,700 per person." Emphasis added --safari

Way Beyond the Beltway

William Booth of the Washington Post: "Israel’s parliament passed a contentious law late Monday that allows the state to seize land privately owned by Palestinians in the West Bank and grant the properties to Jewish settlements for their exclusive use. The measure is designed to protect homes in Jewish settlements, built on private Palestinian property 'in good faith or at the state’s instruction,' from possible court-ordered evacuation and demolition.... The bill is likely headed for a high court challenge. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the legislation and ... said he had informed the Trump White House that a vote on the legislation was imminent." CW: Your move, Donaldo.

Martin Chulov of the Guardian: "As many as 13,000 opponents of Bashar al-Assad were secretly hanged in one of Syria’s most infamous prisons in the first five years of the country’s civil war as part of anextermination policy ordered by the highest levels of the Syrian government, according to Amnesty International. Many thousands more people held in Saydnaya prison died through torture and starvation, Amnesty said, and the bodies were dumped in two mass graves on the outskirts of Damascus between midnight and dawn most Tuesday mornings for at least five years. The report, Human Slaughterhouse, details allegations of state-sanctioned abuse that are unprecedented in Syria’s civil war, a conflict that has consistently broken new ground in depravity." --safari

Nina Lakhani of the Guardian: "[In El Salvador], State security forces have laid virtual siege to gang-controlled communities where being a young male is enough to get you arrested, tortured or killed. The government’s promise to apply a mano dura (“iron fist”) policy against gangs seems to have become a shoot-to-kill policy under which anyone living in a gang-controlled neighbourhood risks falling victim to extrajudicial violence...El Salvador’s 12-year war between leftwing guerrillas and US-supported military dictatorships left 80,000 dead, 8,000 missing and a million displaced in 12 years. The conflict ended in 1992, but peace never came to this small Central American country: although the murder rate dropped 20% last year, El Salvador remains the most deadly country in the world after Syria." --safari

Sunday
Feb052017

The Commentariat -- February 6, 2017

Afternoon Update:

"It's All Going Very Nicely." The Resistance, Ctd. Matt Zapotosky & Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "Ten former high-ranking diplomatic and national security officials, nearly 100 Silicon Valley tech companies, more than 280 law professors, and a host of civil liberties and other organizations have formally lent their support to the legal bid to block President Trump’s immigration order. The new voices demonstrate the broad opposition to Trump’s now-frozen order.... The Justice Department, which is defending Trump’s order, has been asked to respond by 6 p.m. After that, the appeals court could rule on the matter, or ask for a hearing.... In the meantime, people who had been stranded in legal limbo rushed to fly back to the United States. Some successfully reunited with family members, while others — particularly those whose visas were physically taken or marked as invalid — ran into roadblocks trying to board planes overseas." -- CW 

The Resistance, Ctd. David Streitfeld of the New York Times: "After President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order restricting immigration, high-tech has gone full-tilt political. Companies are being pushed by their employees, by their customers and sometimes by their ideals.... The companies are among the richest and most popular of American brands, which means they have a good deal of leverage. Yet they are also uniquely vulnerable — not only to presidential postings on Twitter and executive orders, but to the sentiments of their customers and employees, some of whom have more radical ideas in mind." -- CW 

The Resistance, Ctd. Amy Harmon & Henry Fountain of the New York Times: Scientists "are now undergoing a political awakening, contemplating what their role should be for at least the next few years. A political action committee that seeks to get more scientists and engineers to run for elective office, 314 Action, has seen a surge of interest in its programs, with more than 2,000 people registering at its website.... Other scientists have organized demonstrations — including a march now set for Washington on Earth Day, April 22 — submitted letters or opinion articles to news organizations or joined efforts to preserve government data that they fear may otherwise disappear. Individuals and groups have also spoken out against Mr. Trump’s executive order restricting travel.... Much of the concern among scientists has been centered on the E.P.A., which was a favorite target of Mr. Trump during the campaign." -- CW 

Emma Brown of the Washington Post: "Democrats plan to spend the next 24 hours speaking on the Senate floor in a last-ditch effort to derail the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for education secretary.... DeVos’s confirmation vote is scheduled for noon Tuesday. All 48 members of the Senate Democratic caucus are expected to oppose her, along with two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Democrats need just one more Republican to flip to defeat the nomination, and they are hoping their 24-hour speech-a-thon will ratchet up the pressure.... Activists have targeted those Republicans who they believe have reservations about DeVos...." CW: Or, they could kidnap mike pence & closet him in an undisclosed location, the familiar place for GOP veeps.

The Notorious Bowling Green Massacre, Ctd. Kristen Mascia of Cosmopolitan: "Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter on Friday to walk back her comments on MSNBC's Hardball about a nonexistent terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky. However, this wasn't the first time she used the words 'Bowling Green massacre' in an on-the-record conversation with a reporter. In an earlier interview with Cosmopolitan.com, she not only used this same phrase but also went a step further in describing the actions of the two Iraqi men involved in the case to which she was referring.... [Conway claimed President Obama called for a temporary ban on Iraqi refuges] 'because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills, and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers' lives away." -- CW ...

... Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: "Kellyanne Conway referred to a fictitious 'Bowling Green attack' to defend ... Donald Trump’s ban on travel and immigration days before she said she misspoke on MSNBC’s Hardball. During a brief video interview with TMZ on January 29, Conway referenced the event that did not happen. " -- CW ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "... the 'Bowling Green Massacre' may go down in the record of the Trump presidency as the first break in the 'fake news' clouds that have cast such gloom over our fair and once (relatively) true republic. The same internet that enabled false stories to run unchecked through news feeds during the election year dispatched new white blood cells that attacked Ms. Conway’s 'alternate facts' with 'true facts' (a redundant term that I guess we’re stuck with for now). Their most effective attack was traditional reporting, in many cases from news organizations that have doubled down on fact-checking, joined by newfangled memes that accentuate the truth.... In the end, social media and journalistic scrutiny aligned with comedy to right a wrong pretty definitively." -- CW 

Not in Our House. Charlie Cooper of Politico: "Donald Trump should not be allowed to address the U.K. parliament during his state visit later this year, the Speaker of the House of Commons said Monday. In a rare intervention, John Bercow said MPs’ 'opposition to racism and to sexism' and 'support for equality and an independent judiciary' were 'hugely important considerations.'... Bercow’s statement will come as an embarrassment to Prime Minister Theresa May, who has faced criticism for inviting Trump to make a state visit to the U.K. so early in his presidency.” -- CW 

Kremlin Demands Apology from Trump BFF Bill-O. Reuters: "The Kremlin said on Monday it wanted an apology from Fox News over what it said were 'unacceptable' comments one of the channel's presenters made about Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly described Putin as 'a killer' in the interview with Trump as he tried to press the U.S. president to explain more fully why he respected his Russian counterpart. O'Reilly did not say who he thought Putin had killed." -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Fred Hiatt Polishes His Legacy of Employing Right-Wing Hacks. Washington Post: "The Washington Post Opinion section today named Hugh Hewitt to its roster of contributing columnists. The conservative radio host will write commentary on the Trump administration, Congress, politics and more." -- CW 

*****

Trump, Going to Court Early & (No Doubt) Often. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "... rarely, if ever, has a president this early in his tenure, and with such personal invective, battled the courts.... Mr. Trump has shown in his administration’s opening days that he favors an action-oriented approach with little regard for the two other branches of government.... While Congress, controlled by Republicans, has deferred, the judiciary may emerge as the major obstacle for Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, [said former Reagan solicitor General Charles] Fried..., is turning everything into 'a soap opera' with overheated attacks on the judge. 'There are no lines for him,' said Mr. Fried, who teaches at Harvard Law School and voted against Mr. Trump. 'There is no notion of, this is inappropriate, this is indecent, this is unpresidential.'” ...  

     ... CW: In case you didn't notice, a New York Times straight news report says Trump is operating as if he were a tinpot dictator. The Grey Lady is just too circumspect to use the term "tinpot dictator." Rather, the polite phrase is "with little regard for the two other branches of government. ...

... Democratic Resistance Grows. Gerry Mullany of the New York Times: "A group of prominent Democrats who served in recent administrations, including [former Secretaries of State] John Kerry and Madeleine K. Albright, have called on the courts to extend a ruling blocking crucial parts of President Trump’s travel ban, saying the White House executive order would 'endanger U.S. troops' and disrupt antiterrorism efforts. The former officials expressed their concerns on Monday to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, which is considering the matter.... The former officials behind the filing included Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, and Leon E. Panetta, who served as secretary of defense and head of the C.I.A.... Noting that the 10 signatories to the filing “have all held the highest security clearances,” the letter asserts that Mr. Trump’s order 'ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer.'” CW: Very impressive, Donaldo. It's likely a first for a so-called president effectively to be sued by his predecessor two weeks after taking office. And, yeah, this is Obama speaking. Not to mention, the Clintons. ...

... The Resistance, Ctd. Greg Sargent: "In an interview with me, Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington, argued that this victory has broad significance, suggesting that this effort by the states could provide a model or a template for Democratic governors, states and others to mount further resistance to other aspects of Trump’s agenda on multiple fronts." -- CW ...

... The Resistance, Ctd. Jethro Mullen of CNN: "America's biggest tech firms have stepped into the legal fight against ... Donald Trump's travel ban. A total of 97 companies -- including Apple..., Facebook..., Google... , Intel..., Microsoft..., Netflix ... and Twitter ... -- filed a court motion Sunday night declaring that Trump's executive order on immigration 'violates the immigration laws and the Constitution.' Almost all the companies that signed on in support are tech companies. The few exceptions include yogurt producer Chobani, snack maker Kind and fashion brand Levi Strauss. All three companies were founded by immigrants. The ban represents 'a sudden shift in the rules governing entry into the United States, and is inflicting substantial harm on U.S. companies,' says the court document." CW: See also Marie's Sports Report, below.

... "1984," Ctd. Maya Rhodan of Time: "... Donald Trump said in an early-morning tweet that any polls that showed Americans were not in favor of his travel ban for seven majority-Muslim countries were 'fake news.' 'Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting,' the president tweeted." CW: He's lying tp bend your mind & to delegitimize not just the media but millions of Americans' views. It's what dictators do.

... Crazy Old Coot Still Sure He Is an Anointed King. Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "After nearly 20 hours of silence on Twitter, Mr. Trump returned on Sunday afternoon, accusing the judge [who blocked the Muslim ban] of imperiling the country. 'Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!'... 'I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!' [Trump wrote in two tweets.]... Mike Pence on Sunday defended President Trump’s personal attack on the federal judge who blocked his travel ban on seven predominately Muslim countries.... But some Republicans said Mr. Trump’s attacks were inappropriate. The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said on CNN’s 'State of the Union' that it was 'best not to single out judges.'... It is the role of the courts, he said, to decide 'whether or not the executive order of the president that is issued is valid.' He said Congress was unlikely to act on the matter.” Critics in both parties said the president had demonstrated a lack of understanding of or a disregard for the nation’s three equal branches of government." -- CW ...

We are a democracy, not a one-man show. We are not another Trump enterprise.... We have a president I fear is moving us in a very authoritarian direction, a president who apparently has contempt for the entire judiciary. --Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sunday, on "State of the Union"

... Thomas Fuller of the New York Times: James Robart, "the federal judge who blocked President Trump’s immigration order is described by former colleagues and acquaintances as a 'mainstream' Republican who went from a career as a highly respected corporate lawyer in Seattle to an appointment by President George W. Bush to the federal bench. The order ... stirred the ire of Mr. Trump, who in a Twitter post on Saturday denigrated Judge Robart as a 'so-called judge' and described the judge’s order as 'ridiculous.' Lawyers in Seattle describe Judge Robart, 69, as a disciplined 'judge’s judge' who is unafraid of passing down unpopular rulings." -- CW ...

... Mark Stern of Slate: "Most other judges to consider the ban so far have found that it violates the due-process rights of immigrants already in the United States and those who were on their way into the country when the order was signed. Robart went far beyond that rather narrow question of law, finding that the entire order is likely unconstitutional, presumably because it is irrational and motivated by unlawful anti-Muslim animus.... Robart recognized that it is not just the ban’s immediate application to immigrants in transit that violates the Constitution; it is the ban as a whole. Even if the administration were to somehow execute the ban in a way that respects its targets’ due-process rights, it would still run afoul of basic equal protection and First Amendment principles. Simply put, there is no constitutional way to implement an unconstitutional order." -- CW ...

... Adam Liptak of the New York Times runs down the leading arguments in the case. ...

... Trump Puts Our Middle East Agents & Sources at Risk. Former NSA & CIA director Michael Hayden, in a Washington Post op-ed: "President Trump’s executive order on immigration was ill-conceived, poorly implemented and ill-explained. To be fair, it would have been hard to explain since it was not the product of intelligence and security professionals demanding change, but rather policy, political and ideological personalities close to the president fulfilling a campaign promise to deal with a threat they had overhyped.... [U.S.] intelligence professionals [working in the banned countries] ... pointed out how the executive order breached faith with [their] sources, many of whom they had promised to always protect with the full might of our government and our people. Sources who had risked much, if not all, to keep Americans safe.... The case officers believed that they were also empowered to offer the full faith and credit of the American nation.... Now, they told me, that promise was eroding.... In the Middle East, with its honor-based cultures, it’s easier to recruit someone we have been shooting at than it is to recruit someone whose society has been insulted." -- CW

Starting About Now, Trump Plans to Read Exec Orders Before He Signs Them. Glenn Thrush & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments and an approval rating lower than any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said.... Until the past few days, Mr. Trump was telling his friends and advisers that he believed the opening stages of his presidency were going well.... [There] will be a new set of checks on the previously unfettered power enjoyed by Mr. Bannon and the White House policy director, Stephen Miller.... But for the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.... Visitors to the Oval Office say Mr. Trump is obsessed with the décor.... For a man who sometimes has trouble concentrating on policy memos, Mr. Trump was delighted to page through a book that offered him 17 window covering options." But no pictures of the wife & kiddies -- just one of his father. ...  

     ... CW: Given Trump's repeated attacks on a Republican judge over the weekend, the Times' claim that the White House is ready to get its act together is unbelievable. Even if administration staffers ran a lean, clean governing machine -- which they won't -- the guy with the top job is a mean-spirited, ignorant lunatic, and his subordinates can't do anything about that. And, no, gold swaggy drapes don't help at all. ...

... Say, how did the Times get all that insider info, anyway? ...

... Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Every presidential administration leaks. So far, the Trump White House has gushed. Unauthorized transcripts of phone conversations between President Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Australia went public last week. So did details about the administration’s stage-managing of Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Drafts of executive orders ... also slipped out before they were ready for prime time. The leaks have been a bonanza for news organizations, particularly mainstream outlets.... The pattern of leaks to these organizations suggests the leakers are seeking not just wide distribution of confidential information but are hoping to gain the credibility conveyed by establishment news organizations — the very news outlets that Trump has frequently derided as purveyors of 'fake news.'... Neither Trump nor his top officials have challenged the veracity of any of the major leaks.” -- CW 

E.J. Dionne: "... we must resist a bad habit infecting political commentary that sees Trump’s irresponsibility, bigotry and casual cruelty as a heroic form of 'disruption' aimed at bringing down 'the establishment.' No. The people in the streets rallying against Trump are not the establishment. Those political and business leaders who are, for now, playing along with and enabling Trump very much are the establishment. Americans who tell pollsters they oppose Trump — including outsiders from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the left to independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin on the right — are not defending some status quo. They are standing up for humane principles that Trump is threatening: democracy over authoritarian nationalism; religious pluralism over bigotry; clarity of thought, speech and action over a self-involved indiscipline; civil rights and civil liberties over their unchecked abuse; and a basic decency toward each other over a political approach devoted to disparaging and bullying adversaries." -- CW 

It is hard not to laugh, to see President Trump alongside these Wall Street guys. I have to say this, Jake, and I don't mean to be disrespectful, this guy is a fraud.... You have a president who, I think, in a totally fraudulent campaign said, 'I'm going to stand up for the working people.' Look at his Cabinet, we never had more billionaires in a Cabinet in the history of this country. Look at his appointees. These are people who are going to go after the needs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. That is called hypocrisy. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sunday, on "State of the Union"

If Trump won't give CNN access to pence, Jake will go with Sanders. A nice rejoinder, Jake. -- Constant Weader  ...

... "Springtime for Scammers." Paul Krugman: The economic policies of are so-called president "are all about empowering ethically challenged businesses to cheat and exploit the little guy. In particular, he and his allies in Congress are making it a priority to unravel financial reform — and specifically the parts of financial reform that protect consumers against predators.... There’s a lot of money at stake — money that the financial industry has been extracting from unwitting, unprotected consumers. Financial reform was starting to roll back these abuses, but we clearly now have a political leadership determined to roll back the rollback." CW: Plus you've got to give Krugman or his headline writer kudos for slipping in a Trump-Hitler comparison

White Men Rule. David Nakamura & Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "... if the images from the White House aim to show a man of action, they also have delivered another, unspoken message in the early days of the new administration: Most of the aides Trump relies on for counsel as he moves to dramatically reshape the country are men — and nearly all of them are white. It is a sharp change from the past eight years of the barrier-breaking Obama administration, and one that has reinforced the feeling among Trump’s critics that a narrow, anachronistic worldview is driving an agenda that they consider to be hostile to women and minorities.... A primary assignment for [the few] women in the Trump White House [is] as public-relations liaisons to defend the president and, at times, soften his rough edges." CW: Yeah, we noticed that here at Reality Chex a couple of weeks ago. ...

... Also, They Are Tremendously Ignorant about the Rest of Us.

I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I notice. -- Donald Trump, Feb. 1, at a "listening session" on black history

I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made. And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more. -- Sean Spicer, shortly thereafter

It's great to know that our so-called president & his press secretary think Douglass is going to be doing "more and more." Maybe that's black magic: where a person who's been dead for more than 100 years keeps on doing more & more stuff. -- Constant Weader ...

... Alan Pyke of Think Progress: "On Thursday, internet racists celebrated another perceived victory: Reports that President Trump will soon remove white nationalist groups from a federal effort to study and neutralize extremist radicalization, and rebrand the program to focus solely on groups associating themselves with Islam.... Since 9/11, attacks from right-wing organizations have killed far more Americans than groups claiming to be Islamic, according to data from the Southern Poverty Law Center." -- CW 

I have no intention of sharing my authority. -- Louis XVI of France, shortly before his head was removed from the rest of him ...

CW: Those "Hapsburg" dresses look suspiciously like the wallpaper in my study. ...... Let Them Eat Cake. CW: Taking a little break from his Henry VIII impersonation, Saturday night Trump dressed up his wait staff in Louis XVI powdered wigs, satin knee breeches or Marie Antoinette dresses. "Hapzburg-costumed musicians" played classical music for the Red Cross Ball -- a charity event. The theme was "From Vienna to Versailles." Note to Trump: You do know what happened to Louis & the Hapsburgs, don't you? Did I mention that 3,000 pitchfork-waving protesters rallied across the Intercoastal as the band played on?

Anyway, thanks, Donald, for making America First the laughingstock of the world. After a Dutch news satire show parody show mocked Donald Trump's nationalist America First inauguration speech, lobbying for the Netherlands to become second (see the video under Infotainment), comedy shows in other countries challenged the Dutch. Hilarity ensued. Vanity Fair has a number of the videos here. (Thanks to safari for the link.) The Germans even set up a Website & hashtag #everysecondcounts, inviting other countries to make their best bids. So more video parodies here. -- CW ...

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he doesn’t want to spend federal funds to investigate what President Trump claimed was massive voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. While McConnell says there is voter fraud, he doesn’t believe it’s as widespread as Trump claims or requires federal intervention. He says that cleaning up voter rolls is best left to the states." CW: Don't worry, Mitch. Trump is going to launch the voter-fraud investigation right about the time he reveals what he knows about hacking that other people don't know (which he promised to reveal on Jan. 3 or 4) & right after he tells us the "interesting things" his investigators found out about Barack Obama's birth certificate. 

Marie's Sports Report (Is Seldom about Sports):

CW: The Fox network wouldn't let 84 Lumber run the ad below during the Super Bowl, so the family-owned company produced another one that the Fox censors approved. The ad that aired on Fox directed viewers to the "conpletion of the journey" on 84 Lumber's Website (which crashed during the Super Bowl):

Fox Continuity did let Bud's immigration ad through. No doubt Drumpf told them IOKIYAGerman:

AND Audi ran this one:

Gerry Smith of Bloomberg: "At times, it seemed like Super Bowl advertisers were speaking directly to ... Donald Trump. Several brands chose messages of inclusion in their commercials during Sunday’s 34-28 overtime victory of the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons, where broadcaster Fox was charging more than $5 million for each 30-second spot.... In an especially tense moment in American politics, it was hard not to see some ads as responses to the new president’s controversial policies on immigration.... Read on. CW: Quite amazing, especially when you consider the sources. This is also what the resistance looks like.

Beyond the Beltway

 

Nazi symbolism. On a public train. In New York City. In 2017. 'I guess this is Trump's America,' said one passenger. No sir, it's not. Not tonight and not ever. Not as long as stubborn New Yorkers have anything to say about it. -- Gregory Locke, on his Facebook page (You have to log into Facebook to read his post.) ...

... "Being Decent Human Beings." Jonah Bromwich of the New York Times: New York City subway riders erased anti-Semitic graffiti from their car before the train got to the next stop. One rider, Gregory Locke, took pictures & wrote on Facebook about his experience. By late Sunday afternoon, more than 518,000 people had reacted to the post on Facebook, and the post had been shared more than 354,000 times." CW: Sorry, Donaldo, I know you don't get it, but these are a few of the many millions of "decent human beings" who have it all over you & your Nazi friends.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Patrick Kingsley of the New York Times: "Several hundred people suspected of being Islamic State operatives were arrested in a series of coordinated raids by the Turkish police on Sunday, in what constitutes one of Turkey’s largest operations against the jihadist group on the country’s soil. Nearly 450 suspects were rounded up in the early hours of Sunday, according to the Anadolu Agency, a state-run news wire. Independent television reports later said 690 suspects had been held by the end of the day. At least one attack was said to have been thwarted in the process, according to Anadolu." -- CW 

AND Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "In perhaps the most unusual outcome of the 2016 presidential election, an election that boggled the minds of political strategists and pundits for many reasons, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has emerged as a Paris fashion icon. The French fashion house Balenciaga has unveiled Bernie-themed haute couture such as a bomber jacket with an oversized Sanders logo on the back and a Bernie T-shirt pulled over a designer flannel and hoodie.... 'Did you ever think that you would become a fashion icon?” [Jake] Tapper asked Sanders during an appearance on CNN’s 'State of the Union.'... 'Haha. No, not quite Jake. I think that of my many attributes, being a great dresser or fashion maven is not one of them,' he said.'” -- CW 

Saturday
Feb042017

The Commentariat -- February 5, 2017

 

Elderly, raving madman who believes he is an anointed monarch.** Mark Landler of the New York Times: "A day after a federal judge temporarily blocked the White House’s immigration order, the government on Saturday began opening the nation’s doors again to refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations even as President Trump unleashed a fusillade of criticism against the court ruling and the Justice Department moved to have it overturned. On another day of chaotic developments over the week-old order, the State Department reversed its cancellation of visas for people from the seven affected countries and restarted efforts to admit refugees. Aid groups scrambled to take advantage of what they acknowledged might be a brief opportunity for refugees to enter the United States, and small numbers of travelers from the previously banned countries began their journeys, knowing that the judge’s ruling could be reversed at any time. The developments led Mr. Trump to lash out throughout the day on Saturday.... Mr. Trump let loose [in the morning -- see Politico report linked below], and in the afternoon he unleashed another volley of attacks on the ruling. In one Twitter message, he questioned why a judge could 'halt a Homeland Security travel ban,' which would allow 'anyone, even with bad intentions,' to enter the country. An hour later, he complained about the 'terrible decision,' saying it would let 'many very bad and dangerous people' pour into the country. Earlier, Mr. Trump had asserted, without evidence, that some Middle Eastern countries supported the immigration order. 'Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban,' he wrote. 'They know that if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!'... The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, moved quickly to comply....  Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that Mr. Trump seemed 'intent on precipitating a constitutional crisis.' Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, whose state filed the suit that led to the injunction, said the attack was 'beneath the dignity' of the presidency and could 'lead America to calamity.'” -- CW ...

     ... ** NEW LEDE: Ridiculous, So-called Appellate Judges Refuse to Overturn Ban Ruling: "A federal appeals court early Sunday rejected a request by the Justice Department to immediately restore President Trump’s targeted travel ban, deepening a legal showdown over his authority to tighten the nation’s borders in the name of protecting Americans from terrorism. In the legal back and forth over the travel ban, the United States District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco said a reply from the Trump administration was now due on Monday."

... When Is a Muslim Ban Not a Muslim Ban? Never. Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "For a time this week, the White House pushed back strenuously on the idea that President Trump's executive order constituted a 'ban' on immigration from seven mostly Muslim nations, despite the president's own use of the term. On Saturday, as he reacted again to a judge ordering a halt to the enforcement of the controversial order, the president himself used the term again. 'What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?'" Emphasis added. -- CW ...

... Robert Barnes, et al., of the Washington Post: Judge Robart's order “will go to a panel of judges who consider such emergency requests, and that decision could be crucial.... The issue could reach the high court in days — or weeks.... 'The president’s hostility toward the rule of law is not just embarrassing, it is dangerous,' Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement." -- CW ...

The President's attack on Judge James Robart, a Bush appointee who passed with 99 votes, shows a disdain for an independent judiciary that doesn't always bend to his wishes and a continued lack of respect for the Constitution, making it more important that the Supreme Court serve as an independent check on the administration. With each action testing the Constitution, and each personal attack on a judge, President Trump raises the bar even higher for Judge Gorsuch's nomination to serve on the Supreme Court. His ability to be an independent check will be front and center throughout the confirmation process. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer, Saturday ...

... Josh Gerstein & Eli Stokols of Politico: "Confronting the most serious setback of his young administration, Trump took to Twitter to complain about at the Seattle judge who halted his controversial executive order before heading to Trump International Golf Resort in West Palm Beach to hit the links. 'The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!' Trump tweeted, after writing several other tweets defending his immigration stance." CW: As I wrote earlier, this is another instance of an authoritarian president undermining a Constitutional body charged with checking his actions. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Mallory Shelbourne of the Hill: "... Mike Pence said a federal judge in Seattle 'certainly' has the authority to halt ... Donald Trump’s travel ban, but insisted the administration would seek a stay of the order. 'He certainly does, and that's why the administration is complying with that order as we speak,' Pence told ABC’s 'This Week' in a pre-taped interview that aired Sunday." -- CW ...

... Rebecca Morin of Politico: "The White House says chief strategist Stephen Bannon did not travel to meet Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on the night the Washington Post reported that Bannon personally attempted to stop Kelly from issuing a waiver for green-card holders, following the implementation of President Donald Trump's immigration order. The Post on Saturday published a widely read reported opinion piece by columnist Josh Rogin chronicling the divisions among White House aides and departments following Trump's Jan. 27 signing of [the Muslim travel ban]. CW: Sorry, I don't believe anything that comes out of this White House. There's a price to pay for reflexively lying.

Welcome to the USA:

** Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times: "When President Trump ordered a vast overhaul of immigration law enforcement during his first week in office, he stripped away most restrictions on who should be deported, opening the door for roundups and detentions on a scale not seen in nearly a decade. Up to 8 million people in the country illegally could be considered priorities for deportation, according to calculations by the Los Angeles Times. They were based on interviews with experts who studied the order and two internal documents that signal immigration officials are taking an expansive view of Trump’s directive. Far from targeting only 'bad hombres,' as Trump has said repeatedly, his new order allows immigration agents to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. People could be booked into custody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunches. The deportation targets are a much larger group than those swept up in the travel bans that sowed chaos at airports and seized public attention over the past week." -- CW 

White House Leaker Reins in Trump the Torturer. For Now. Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "The Trump White House appears to have backed off for now on its consideration of reopening overseas 'black site' prisons, where the C.I.A. once tortured terrorism suspects, after a leaked draft executive order prompted bipartisan pushback from Congress and cabinet officials. On Thursday, the White House circulated among National Security Council staff members a revised version of the draft order on detainees that deleted language contemplating a revival of the C.I.A. prisons, according to several officials familiar with its contents. The draft order retains other parts of the original that focus on making greater use of the military’s Guantánamo Bay prison, which the Obama administration had tried to close. Those sections, reflecting repeated vows from President Trump, include a call to bring newly captured terrorism detainees there and to freeze plans for any more transfers. After news outlets reported details of the original draft on Jan. 25, lawmakers erupted in outrage, and both the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, disavowed any prior knowledge of the contemplated order." --CW 

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. David Yanofsky of Quartz: "The latest crop of covers from major news magazines have taken a noticeably dim view of US president Donald Trump’s first days in office. In the coming weeks, expect newsstands to be stocked with some grim and melancholy covers." Here's one; Yanofsky has more. Thanks to MAG for the lead:

... Here are some sillier views of Trump showing off his executive orders. You can write Trump's executive orders for him here. Click on the text, enter your own text & take a screenshot. I have a feeling this is the app Bannon & Miller used for the Muslim ban.

Trump: Okay for Putin to Murder Opponents Because U.S. Has Killers, Too. Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "In an interview with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, which will air ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday, Trump doubled down on his 'respect' for Putin.... 'I do respect him. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get along with them,' Trump told O'Reilly. O'Reilly pressed on, declaring to the president that 'Putin is a killer.' Unfazed, Trump ... compared Putin's reputation for extrajudicial killings with the United States'. 'There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers,' Trump said. 'Well, you think our country is so innocent?'” CW: It is no longer reasonable to believe Trump is incapable of having his opponents murdered. He has hit on a justification for it: other people do it. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan twiddles his thumbs & Mitch McConnell hides in his turtle shell. ...

... Update. The Turtle Speaks! Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he doesn’t view Russian President Vladimir Putin the same way as President Trump does. McConnell called Putin 'a thug' during an interview on CNN's 'State of the Union.' The Kentucky Republican noted Putin is a former KGB agent and rejected Trump’s attempt to downplay Putin’s human rights abuses. When asked about allegations that Putin is 'a killer,' Trump told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly on Saturday that the United States has its own record of extrajudicial killings. 'You think our country’s so innocent?' he asked. McConnell pushed back against that on Sunday. 'I don’t think there’s any equivalency,' McConnell said of the human rights records of the United States and Russia. 'America is exceptional,' he added. 'There’s a clear distinction here.' 'I obviously don’t see this issue the same way as he does.'” -- CW 

CBS/AP: "About 3,000 demonstrators have marched near President Donald Trump’s Florida estate to protest his now-blocked executive order temporarily limiting immigration. The Saturday protest began with a rally outside Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach. The march headed two miles to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort...." CW: I thank & admire every one of them, even if they are "thugs" who belong to Marvin S.'s secret American Association of Paid Protesters. (See yesterday's Commentariat & Comments.)

Neil Johnson of the Janesville (Wisconsin) Gazette: "Of the hundreds of demonstrators who rallied in Jefferson Park on Courthouse Hill on Saturday afternoon, many carried signs protesting ... Donald Trump's plans on immigration control and U.S. border security. One of the signs read: 'Will swap 1 Donald Trump and 1 Paul Ryan for 20,000 refugees.' Another sign, carried by a teenage girl, read: 'You can build a wall, but my generation will tear it down.' Those were the thoughts of the protestors — 500 to 700 of them, according to police and the protest organizers' estimates — who gathered in the cold wind and falling snow in a city park a few blocks from Paul Ryan's Janesville home." CW: Thank you, AAPP, for marching in the cold for democracy. Hope you got a bad-weather bonus. 

Bozorgmehr Sharafedin of Reuters: "A Revolutionary Guards commander said Iran would use its missiles if its security is under threat, as the elite force defied new U.S. sanctions on its missile programme by holding a military exercise on Saturday.... Iran's Revolutionary Guards is holding the military exercise in Semnan province on Saturday to test missile and radar systems and to "showcase the power of Iran's revolution and to dismiss the sanctions," according to the force's website. Dismissing Trump's comments that 'nothing is off the table' in dealing with Tehran, the commander of Iran's ground forces said on Saturday that the Islamic Republic has been hearing such threats since its 1979 revolution." -- CW ... 

... Nikita Vladimirov of the Hill: "Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration is likely to remain in place. 'A lot of that toothpaste is already out of the tube. I never supported the deal in the first place. I thought it was a huge mistake, but the multilateral sanctions are done,' Ryan said in an interview with NBC's 'Meet the Press' airing Sunday." -- CW 

New York Times Editors: "In the span of a couple of weeks, Mr. Trump has rattled the world by needlessly insulting allies and continuing to peddle the dumbfounding narrative that the United States has long been exploited by allies and foes alike.... Mr. Trump’s pugnacious approach to foreign relations and his first executive orders — the most misguided of which was the sweeping travel ban targeting people from seven predominantly Muslim nations — have already undermined America’s standing.... Far from being embarrassed by the leaked accounts of his calls, Mr. Trump referred to them gloatingly on Thursday.... Other administration officials have been no less abrasive. Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations, made her debut in New York warning that the United States was 'taking names' of allies who 'don’t have our backs.'”

Melissa McCarthy does Sean Spicer:

John Dawsey, et al., of Politico (Feb. 2): "The State Department drafted its own statement last month marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly included a mention of Jewish victims, according to people familiar with the matter, but ... Donald Trump’s White House blocked its release. The existence of the draft statement adds another dimension to the controversy around the White House’s own statement that was released on Friday and set off a furor because it excluded any mention of Jews." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Rachel Abrams of the New York Times: "Major companies appear to be re-evaluating their relationships with the Trump brand, which, in some instances, does not appear to have benefited from Mr. Trump’s presidency. Hinting at lackluster sales, Neiman Marcus confirmed on Friday that it had dropped Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line from its website. A day earlier, her brand had disappeared from Nordstrom.com, a move reported by the fashion news site Racked.... Companies have also faced pressure to back away from 'The Apprentice' franchise, of which Mr. Trump is an executive producer. Kawasaki said last month that it would pull its sponsorship, though the Japanese company seemed to backtrack somewhat within hours." -- CW 

Shawn Boburg & Robert O'Harrow of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump Jr. "and Jeremy Blackburn got to know each other nearly two decades ago while touring the West in a helicopter in search of ranchland that the elder Trump might buy his son as a college graduation gift. In 2009, Don Jr. and Blackburn started a company that they claimed would revolutionize low-cost housing around the world, using concrete panels to form prefab homes. They arranged millions in financing and bought a warehouse in an industrial neighborhood in North Charleston, S.C. Over the next five years, the warehouse became a base of operations for multiple start-up firms launched by Blackburn and supported by Don Jr. But each of the businesses tumbled, leaving behind a trail of lawsuits, unpaid taxes, and angry investors and lenders." -- CW 

Marc Tracy of the New York Times: Steve Bannon is a fan of David Halberstam's 1972 book The Best and the Brightest on the failures of JFK's brain trust. Bannon agrees with the problem, but he doesn't get Halberstan's solution. "Mr. Bannon seems less a repudiation than a reincarnation of the tragic protagonists of 'The Best and the Brightest.'” -- CW 

Avi Selk of the Washington Post: "Kellyanne Conway wishes her critics would let the 'Bowling Green massacre' thing go.... 'I misspoke one word,'... [she] told Fox News's Howard Kurtz, according to a preview of a yet-to-air interview. 'The corrections in the newspapers that are attacking me are three paragraphs long every day.'... The gaffe might seem ironic for Conway, who — like other White House aides and Trump himself — have attacked reporters at length over mistakes. A Time reporter's erroneous claim that Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office — a tweet that he quickly deleted and apologized for — became a focus of Trump's first speech after Inauguration Day and his press secretary's first briefing. The White House was still hammering the mistake days later, when Conway interjected Time's 'falsehood' into an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC. 'It was corrected immediately,' Todd noted. 'But why, Chuck? Why was it said?' Conway replied — then brought the mistake up four more times before she let Todd complete a sentence.” -- CW ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. CNN "declined" the White House's offer of Kellyanne Conway to appear on "State of the Union" instead of mike pence, who will appear on all the other major network Sunday showz. Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post: "The Trump White House has notoriously bad relations with CNN already. And the decision to make Pence available to CNN’s Sunday show rivals, but not CNN itself, is likely an extension of what Politico recently reported as a 'freezing out' of the network. The White House hasn’t provided any administration officials for 'State of the Union' since Jan. 8, an absence the show’s host, Jake Tapper, has noted on the air." CW: Here is another instance where the media should have stood together to protest Trump's boycott of CNN, but the suits are too shortsighed & small-minded to do that. ...

... Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post: "... calls are beginning to emerge for an outright boycott of the [White House Correspondents'] dinner, which ostensibly highlights the work of journalists but is traditionally headlined by the man in the Oval Office. In a recent editorial for U.S. News and World Report, opinion editor Robert Schlesinger questioned whether Donald Trump would show up, saying that, regardless of whether he does, journalists should not. Instead, Schlesinger suggested, reporters should 'make other plans that night and if [Trump] does attend, let the ratings- and crowd-obsessed narcissist freak address an empty ballroom.' He also suggested that, 'news organizations should buy tickets as usual (it’s for a good cause).'” Other journalists are making similar suggestions. Trump hasn't said if he'll appear, & his decision probably depends upon whom the organization chooses to headline the dinner. -- CW 

Roadmap to Perdition. Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "... in a flurry of activity this past week, Congress did what Charles G. and David H. Koch ... and other industry leaders had been asking for. Using a rarely invoked law, the Republican-controlled Congress nullified a measure intended to curb the venting of gas wells on federal lands, and began the process of rolling back other regulations, including one enacted to limit damage that coal mines cause to streams — each items on the 'Roadmap to Repeal.' On Friday, with his own executive orders, Mr. Trump took up two more items on the list, including a call to rewrite major provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act.... At a private meeting on Thursday hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group, a senior White House adviser provided a plan on how the administration would handle efforts to curtail environmental regulations beyond the initial rush now underway....” -- CW 

Victoria Colliver of Politico: "Two Republican lawmakers representing reliably conservative districts on opposite ends of the country on Saturday faced down heated questions from Obamacare supporters who flooded town hall events demanding that Congress not dismantle a health care law that has provided insurance for millions of people." -- CW 

Jeremy Roebuck & Jonathan Tamari of Philly.com: "Federal authorities have identified a Philadelphia journalist as the woman who infiltrated and might have secretly recorded a closed-door discussion of congressional Republicans at their Center City retreat last week, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the matter. After a probe involving multiple agencies, they said Emily Guendelsberger is unlikely to face federal charges in Philadelphia, despite getting past security and into a room in the Loews hotel where Vice President Pence met privately with senators and representatives. But it is unclear whether she could face local prosecution for covertly recording the conversations, a possible violation of state law.... Guendelsberger, 33, is a freelance journalist who formerly worked as a copy editor at the Daily News, at Philadelphia City Paper, and as an editor for the Onion, the satirical newspaper and website.... Investigators believe she made the recordings but have not yet confirmed it, the sources said." -- CW 

AND Mitt Romney Continues to Prove He's a World-Class Doofus. Lisa Roche of the Deseret News: "Mitt Romney said Friday he has no regrets about criticizing then candidate Donald Trump in a stinging speech last year but now sees the new president as having 'obviously gotten off to a very strong start.'" -- CW 

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