Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, President Obama commemorated the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture":

... Henry Louis Gates in a New York Times op-ed: "With the ringing of a bell and a speech from President Obama, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington is to officially open its extraordinary collection to the public on Saturday." -- CW 

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

You'll want to supersize this one:

 

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

"Giovanni della Robbia’s 'Resurrection of Christ,' made for an entrance gate to the villa of the Antinori family outside Florence." Brooklyn Museum photo. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "One of the most innovative art-as-advertising firms in late-15th- and early-16th-century Florence was the della Robbia workshop, a family concern that prospered for three long-lived generations. Its specialty was a brand of glazed terra-cotta sculpture that was physically durable, graphically strong and technologically inimitable. (The exact methods for producing it remain a mystery to this day.)... The Museum of Fine Arts [in Boston is mounting] “Della Robbia: Sculpting With Color in Renaissance Florence”..., a show of ideal size and scholarly weight that includes among 46 pieces one of the tenderest Renaissance sculptures in existence — 'The Visitation' by Luca della Robbia — on first-time American loan from its Tuscan church."

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Friday
Sep092016

The Commentariat -- Sept. 10, 2016

David Sanger of the New York Times: "Russia and the United States reached agreement early Saturday on a new plan to reduce violence in the Syria conflict that, if successful, could lead for the first time to joint military targeting by the two big powers against Islamic jihadists in Syria. The agreement was reached after 10 months of failed cease-fires and suspended efforts for a political settlement in the Syria war, which began more than five years ago, has left nearly a half-million people dead and created the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, announced the agreement in Geneva after weeks of negotiations that were marred, in President Obama's words, by deep 'mistrust' between the Russians and Americans." CW: Please, Nobel committee, give Kerry the peace prize.

David Sanger, et al.: "North Korea's latest test of an atomic weapon leaves the United States with an uncomfortable choice: Stick with a policy of incremental sanctions that has clearly failed to stop the country's nuclear advances, or pick among alternatives that range from the highly risky to the repugnant. A hard embargo, in which Washington and its allies block all shipping into and out of North Korea and seek to paralyze its finances, risks confrontations that allies in Asia fear could quickly escalate into war. But restarting talks on the North's terms would reward the defiance of its young leader, Kim Jong-un, with no guarantee that he will dismantle the nuclear program irrevocably." -- CW

Good News for Democracy. Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "A U.S. elections agency must remove a proof-of-citizenship requirement from a federal form used by people in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia to register to vote for November's election, a federal appeals court panel in Washington ordered late Friday, reversing a lower court. The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit came one day after civil rights groups in oral arguments said that the requirement could disenfranchise tens of thousands of U.S. citizens applying to vote in Kansas without required papers. Kansas is the only state enforcing the requirement to show documentation such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers instead of accepting signed and sworn affirmation of citizenship." CW: The two judges who decided the case: Judith W. Rogers, is a Clinton appointee, and Stephen F. Williams, a Reagan appointee. Judge Raymond Randolph, the dissenter, is a Bush I appointee. ...

... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Friday refused to allow Michigan to ban voters from casting straight-ticket ballots in the coming election after lower courts found the prohibition was likely to discriminate against African Americans and result in long lines at the polls.... Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have granted the state's request." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press: "Minnesota Democrats have sued to get ... Donald Trump's name removed from the state's general election ballots. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's Thursday lawsuit claims the Minnesota Republican Party failed to nominate its presidential electors ... in accordance with state law. Keith Downey, the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, said last month that the party called a special meeting to approve alternative electors because it had previously neglected to do so. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AP: "A judge is ordering the state of Utah not to stop funding its Planned Parenthood branch over advocacy for legal abortion or unproven allegations against the national organization. The move comes after an appeals court decided a defunding order from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was likely an unconstitutional political move designed to punish the group because it provides abortions. The prohibition signed Sunday by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City will be in effect as a court battle over the governor's order plays out." -- CW: Benson, who now has senior status, was a Bush I appointee. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Joe Heim & Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A federal judge ruled Friday against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request for a preliminary injunction to halt construction on the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline that the tribe says endangers sacred burial grounds and could threaten its water supply from Lake Oahe, a dammed section of the Missouri river. But in a development that stunned even the tribe's lawyers, the decision by District Judge James E. Boasberg was effectively put on hold by a federal order to stop construction near the tribe's reservation until the Army Corps of Engineers can revisit its previous decisions in the disputed portion." CW: Boasberg is an Obama appointee.

Capitalism is Awesome, Ctd. Charles Pierce on the massive Wells Fargo fleece-the-customers scam which the CFPB outted. "... this says something truly awful about the company's upper management and the culture that has developed at all levels of the institution. A den of thieves, with elevators and Christmas bonuses. The truest thing that Bernie Sanders said in his stump speech always was that the basic business plan of this industry is fraud. It also was one of the few examples of understatement he allowed himself.... The Republican Party considers the CFPB to be an example of 'onerous regulation' and has vowed to kill it dead so that Americans can be free to get swindled by these sharpers.... Hey, I've got an idea. Let's let folks take the money that Social Security takes out of their paychecks and invest it in the big ol' casino in lower Manhattan [which is the GOP's excellent plan]. -- CW

How Ignorant of History Are Facebook's Censors? Abby Ohlheiser of the Washington Post: "If you were to pick a handful of images that changed how people think about war, Nick Ut's most famous photograph would surely be among them. The image of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running from napalm -- her skin burning, her clothes burned away -- defined the horrors of the Vietnam War. Norwegian author Tom Egeland ... shared the photo to Facebook weeks ago. But Facebook's moderators saw the Pulitzer Prize-winning image [as] a violation of the site's nudity policy.... [They] removed the photograph from Egeland's page, along with its accompanying text. His account was suspended for 24 hours after he shared an interview with Phuc criticizing Facebook's decision to censor this image.... Incredible outrage ... swept across Norway..., becoming the subject of an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Norway's largest newspaper, and rising all the way up to the country's prime minister." When PM Erna Solberg reposted the photo on her own Facebook page, Facebook deleted that, too. Facebook also threatened to remove the photo from the newspaper's Facebook page. "After initially defending its decision to remove the photograph, Facebook decided to 'reinstate' the image [on Egeland's page] on Friday afternoon." --CW

Presidential Race

... you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic -- you name it. And, unfortunately, there are people like that. -- Hillary Clinton, at a Manhattan fundraiser, Friday

Anne Gearan, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Democrats are increasingly worried that Hillary Clinton has not built a formidable lead against Donald Trump despite his historic weaknesses as a national party candidate. Even [Clinton]'s advisers acknowledge that she must make changes, and quickly. Clinton leads Trump by a mere three percentage points, having fallen from her high of nine points in August, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average.... Among Democrats' concerns is the fact that Clinton spent a great deal of time over the summer raising millions of dollars in private fundraisers while Trump was devoting much of his schedule to rallies, speeches and TV appearances...." -- CW

John Wagner of the Washington Post: In Birmingham, Alabama, Tim "Kaine said he found it 'shocking,' 'horrible' and highly disrespectful that ... Mike Pence had on Thursday characterized [Vladimir] Putin as a stronger leader than President Obama, an assessment that echoed that of ... Donald Trump, a day before. 'When Mike Pence said that, I just had to reflect that if you don't know the difference between leadership and dictatorship, then where do I start with you?' said Kaine.... Kaine said ... Pence's comments showed a 'shocking level of disrespect for the president.'... At a rally later Friday in Norfolk, [Virginia,] Kaine took his argument one step further. 'That irrational hostility toward President Obama ... is unpatriotic, and we got to call it out,' Kaine told a crowd at Old Dominion University." CW: We've all had enough of that shit. See also conservative Philip Klein's analysis, linked below.

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "... after more than a year of uncharacteristic restraint — a notable shift from eight years ago, when his simmering instincts often burdened Hillary Clinton's first presidential run — [former President Bill] Clinton seems to have had enough. 'Did I solve every problem? No,' he told a crowd on Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. 'Did I get caught trying? You bet.'... 'I got tickled the other day when Mr. Trump called my foundation a criminal enterprise,' he said on Tuesday in Durham, N.C., noting that Mr. Trump had paid a fine for making a political donation using funds from his own foundation.... 'So when someone who doesn't know the first thing about philanthropy tries to bring the Clinton Foundation into his political sideshow, [Clinton spokesman Angel] Urena said of Mr. Trump, 'President Clinton is going to stand up for it.'" -- CW ...

... Tim Hains of Real Clear Politics (Sept. 7): "Former President Bill Clinton ... says that Donald Trump's promise to 'Make America Great Again' is a racist codeword. 'If you're a white southerner, you know exactly what it means,' Clinton said." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The Clinton Presidential Library has released nearly two dozen photos of Donald Trump socializing with President Bill Clinton -- including one that shows the two men with their arms around Trump's then-girlfriend, Melania, and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kylie Bax -- images from a collection that underscores just how chummy Trump once was with the president and his wife Hillary." CW: According to Bax, "Bill was in another box [at the U.S. Open tennis park at Flushing Meadows] and he came by to say hello to Donald."

NYT, Republicans Can't Control Themselves. Adam Goldman & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "A computer specialist who deleted Hillary Clinton's emails despite orders from Congress to preserve them was given immunity by the Justice Department during its investigation into her personal email account.... Republicans have called for the department to investigate the deletions, but the immunity deal with the specialist, Paul Combetta, makes it unlikely that the request will go far.... 'As the F.B.I.'s report notes, [Clinton campaign spokesman Brian] Fallon said, 'neither Hillary Clinton nor her attorneys had knowledge of the Platte River Network employee's actions. It appears he acted on his own and against guidance given by both Clinton's and Platte River's attorneys to retain all data in compliance with a congressional preservation request.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Matthew Teague
of the Guardian: "Donald Trump made a half-hearted attempt to distance himself from ... Vladimir Putin, on Friday night at a rally in [Pensacola,] Florida, but aimed inflammatory comments at Iran and his political opponent Hillary Clinton.... It appears to make little political sense for Trump to campaign in his most devoted quarter, at this point in the race.... But Trump's methods continue to defy political gravity. His poll numbers have steadily risen, and they now show him nearly even with Clinton. One group of supporters did not make a return to Friday's rally: the singing, dancing girl group called Freedom Kids.... The group's manager and one girl's father, Jeff Popick, allege Trump 'played' the girls and didn't pay them." -- CW ...

By Driftglass.She is being so protected, she could walk into this arena right now and shoot somebody with 20,000 people watching, right smack in the middle of the heart, and she wouldn't be prosecuted. O.K.? That's what's happening. -- Donald Trump, speaking of Hillary Clinton, at the Pensacola rally, Friday ...

... Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump's comments followed an extended, and at times vicious and unscripted, criticism of Mrs. Clinton..., whom he called 'an unstable person.' He repeatedly criticized the decision not to prosecute her over her email scandal, and also her record as secretary of state." ...

... CW: Here again, we see Trump projecting his own faults onto an opponent. It's uncanny. If there's anyone who is not unstable, it's Hillary Clinton, yet Trump, who is crazy, who demonstrated that lunacy even in his criticism of Clinton, turns his own condition on Clinton. I'm only half-kidding when I say that if Trump is elected, members of the public should band together to bring suit to have him committed to a mental institution for the duration of his term. If unhappy people everywhere can be committed because they "pose a danger to themselves or others," committing Trump is a no-brainer. mike pence is horrible, but he's capable of carrying out the duties of the presidency, no matter how abysmally. I wouldn't be surprised if he agreed to be Trump's running mate on the assumption Trump would have a breakdown "on Day One." ...

... Here's some evidence: pence is running an anti-Trump campaign. Why, just yesterday ...

... Matthew Nussbaum of Politico: "Mike Pence on Friday said he couldn't spill the beans on his first confidential national security briefing of the campaign, citing 'great respect' for the classified nature of the information shared. The comments from Donald Trump's running mate came after the Republican nominee got heat from the intelligence community for offering a politicized readout of his own briefings." -- CW ...

... AND Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, on Friday released 10 years' worth of tax returns to the media -- revealing a modest family income, relative to the top of the Republican ticket, and reliable contributions to charity. The document release draws an uncomfortable contrast for the campaign: Trump himself has not released his tax returns...." -- CW

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and Rudy Giuliani, one of his main campaign surrogates, have both claimed that Trump believes President Obama was born in the U.S. Giuliani, bizarrely, has even claimed that Trump came out and said he believes that Obama was born in the U.S. 'two years ago, three years ago.' That would be remarkable since as recently as earlier this year Trump vowed to write a 'very successful' book outlining his birther conspiracy theory. Indeed, Trump calls himself a 'proud' birther and has regularly promoted the birther conspiracy theory on his Twitter feed, even implying that Obama had a government official killed as part of a cover-up of his supposedly fake birth certificate." Tashman provides the TrumpTweets to make his case. -- CW ...

... Upside-Down World. In case you were viewing Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway as "the sane one," Greg Sargent details how this morning Conway turned a remark by Trump -- "I guess so." -- when asked in 2002 if he favored the Iraq War -- into meaning he was against it. She went on to complain that, "Senator Obama said he would have done that [-- voted against authorization of the war --] in 2008, and everybody just took him at his word. As Sargent points out, & Conway certainly knew, "Obama did give a big speech in 2002 against the war just before the Senate vote giving George W. Bush authority to invade.... It has been widely discussed for years as one of the reasons he went on to defeat Clinton in the 2008 primaries (which Conway referenced).... So we aren't taking Obama's opposition to the war at the time 'at his word.' There is a record of it." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Conway: "We on the Trump Campaign Have No Fucking Idea What We're Doing." (paraphrase) Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Donald Trump's campaign manager on Friday denied that [Trump] ... willingly appeared on a Russian government-sponsored television network. 'As you know, former CNN superstar Larry King has a podcast and Mr. Trump went on his podcast. Nobody said it was going to be on Russian TV,' Kellyanne Conway said on CNN's 'New Day.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

** Philip Klein of the (right-wing) Washington Examiner excerpts the exchange between Matt Lauer & Donald Trump in which Trump compares Vladimir Putin to President Obama: "Donald Trump's decision to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin's leadership skills relative to President Obama's is getting a lot of attention, but what Trump actually said is much worse.... Trump not only said Obama was a weaker leader, but he implied that Obama was just as morally bad as Putin, if not worse.... Trump is dismissing actions Putin took threatening neighbors and working against U.S. interests by essentially saying, well, Obama has done a lot of things that were just as bad.... Trump is ... saying that none of the evil actions [Putin is] taking have been any worse than Obama. And that is reprehensible and indefensible." Via Greg Sargent. -- CW

Gail Collins was wondering if Donald Trump & his surrogates were sexists who used gender-specific attacks against Hillary Clinton. So she studied up on it. You won't be surprised to learn what she found. But then again, she's a girl, so her finding is so unfaaair. ...

She doesn't shave her arms and legs, and she's sick. She's going to die. She's having seizures on TV. -- Dom Howard, at Trump's rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Hillary Clinton's health & grooming

First I wondering how Dom there happened to catch a glimpse of Hillary's hairy armpits and legs. Then I was wondering if Donald Trump shaves his (under)arms & legs. This could be the first time in history an imagined failure to shave one's pits was cited as a disqualifier for the presidency. Did George Washington shave his legs? What about Ronald Reagan? Why, Abe Lincoln quit shaving his face when an 11-year-old girl suggested he would look more presidential with a beard. -- Constant Weader

Thursday
Sep082016

The Commentariat -- Sept. 9, 2016

Afternoon Update:

NYT, Republicans Can't Control Themselves. Adam Goldman & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "A computer specialist who deleted Hillary Clinton's emails despite orders from Congress to preserve them was given immunity by the Justice Department during its investigation into her personal email account.... Republicans have called for the department to investigate the deletions, but the immunity deal with the specialist, Paul Combetta, makes it unlikely that the request will go far.... 'As the F.B.I.'s report notes, [Clinton campaign spokesman Brian] Fallon said, 'neither Hillary Clinton nor her attorneys had knowledge of the Platte River Network employee's actions. It appears he acted on his own and against guidance given by both Clinton's and Platte River's attorneys to retain all data in compliance with a congressional preservation request.'" -- CW

Upside-Down World. In case you were viewing Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway as "the sane one," Greg Sargent details how this morning Conway turned a remark by Trump -- "I guess so." -- when asked in 2002 if he favored the Iraq War -- into meaning he was against it. She went on to complain that, "Senator Obama said he would have done that [-- voted against authorization of the war --] in 2008, and everybody just took him at his word. As Sargent points out, & as Conway certainly knew, "Obama did give a big speech in 2002 against the war just before the Senate vote giving George W. Bush authority to invade.... It has been widely discussed for years as one of the reasons he went on to defeat Clinton in the 2008 primaries (which Conway referenced).... So we aren't taking Obama's opposition to the war at the time 'at his word.' There is a record of it." -- CW ...

... Conway: "We on the Trump Campaign Have No Fucking Idea What We're Doing." (paraphrase) Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Donald Trump's campaign manager on Friday denied that [Trump] ... willingly appeared on a Russian government-sponsored television network. 'As you know, former CNN superstar Larry King has a podcast and Mr. Trump went on his podcast. Nobody said it was going to be on Russian TV,' Kellyanne Conway said on CNN's 'New Day.'" -- CW

Tim Hains of Real Clear Politics (Sept. 7): "Former President Bill Clinton ... says that Donald Trump's promise to 'Make America Great Again' is a racist codeword. "If you're a white southerner, you know exactly what it means,' Clinton said." -- CW

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Friday refused to allow Michigan to ban voters from casting straight-ticket ballots in the coming election after lower courts found the prohibition was likely to discriminate against African Americans and result in long lines at the polls.... Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have granted the state's request." -- CW

Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press: "Minnesota Democrats have sued to get ... Donald Trump's name removed from the state's general election ballots. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's Thursday lawsuit claims the Minnesota Republican Party failed to nominate its presidential electors ... in accordance with state law. Keith Downey, the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, said last month that the party called a special meeting to approve alternative electors because it had previously neglected to do so. -- CW

AP: "A judge is ordering the state of Utah not to stop funding its Planned Parenthood branch over advocacy for legal abortion or unproven allegations against the national organization. The move comes after an appeals court decided a defunding order from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was likely an unconstitutional political move designed to punish the group because it provides abortions. The prohibition signed Sunday by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City will be in effect as a court battle over the governor's order plays out." -- CW: Benson, who now has senior status, was a Bush I appointee.

*****

Presidential Race

Jose DelReal, et al., of the Washington Post: "On Thursday, the full force of the Democratic Party, including President Obama, rallied around Hillary Clinton, saying that rival Donald Trump is unfit for office. On the Republican side, there was no such unity as lawmakers struggled with how to respond to the GOP nominee's claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a stronger leader than Obama." -- CW

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump employs a "big liar" technique. "The lies are constant, coming in a steady torrent, and are never acknowledged, simply repeated. He evidently believes that this strategy will keep the news media flummoxed, unable to believe, or at least say openly, that the candidate of a major party lies that much.... Over all, [Hillary Clinton's] record on truthfulness, as compiled by PolitiFact, looks pretty good for a politician -- much better than that of any of the contenders for the Republican nomination, and for that matter much better than that of Mitt Romney in the last presidential election.... Oh, and it barely got covered in the media, but her claim that Colin Powell advised her to set up a private email account was ... completely true, validated by an email that Mr. Powell sent three days after she took office, which contradicts some of his own claims." ...

... CW: Not to beat a dead horse, but in light of the actual truth, Powell's petulant response to Hillary Clinton's claim he had advised her on e-mail practices is classic bull and hugely defamatory, especially given the media's propensity to assume Clinton lies and Powell is a gentleman above reproach, except maybe in his infamous performance before the U.N:

Her people have been trying to pin it on me. The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.... Why do you think [she said I advised her]? It doesn't bother me. But it's okay; I'm free. -- Colin Powell, to People magazine, August 2016

...NEW. BTW, if you think Powell apologized to Clinton for that comment once he'd been caught in a misstatement that impugned her character and implied she lied to DOJ investigators, think again. Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Colin Powell is defending his use of a personal email account during his time as secretary of state, as Democrats stepped up complaints that the intense focus on Hillary Clinton's email practices reflects a double standard.... 'I have tremendous respect for Secretary Powell and his decades of service to our nation, despite the poor judgment shown in this email,' said [Rep. Elijah] Cummings [D-Md.], who secured the Clinton-Powell exchange from State this week and released it Wednesday night. 'I think everyone in this room knows what is really going on here: this hearing is not about an effort to improve FOIA [the Freeom of Information Act] or federal recordkeeping. This is an attack -- an attack on Hillary Clinton's candidacy ... and just the latest in a series of attacks,' Cummings said. 'Secretary Clinton has produced some 55,000 pages of emails while Secretary Powell has produced none.'" -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Brian Stelter of CNN: "NBC News knows the 'Commander-in-Chief Forum' was not Matt Lauer's finest hour. One executive, speaking anonymously, was blunt about it: 'Disaster.'... By mid-morning on Thursday, the hashtag 'Lauering the Bar' ... was trending on Twitter." -- CW ...

... ** James Poniewozik of the New York Times: "Seemingly unprepared on military and foreign policy specifics, [host Matt Lauer] performed like a soldier sent on a mission without ammunition.... Roughly a third of his questioning [of Hillary Clinton] dealt with the emails.... It suggested, as the rest of the forum confirmed, that Mr. Lauer was steadiest handling issues familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of the morning politics headlines.... [Lauer's] interview [of Donald Trump] was the apotheosis of this presidential campaign's forced marriage of entertainment and news. The host of NBC's morning show interviewed the former star of its reality show 'The Apprentice,' and the whole thing played out as farce." CW: Do read the whole critique. It's a hoot, and it's true. ...

... Charles Pierce: "I was exhausted by the sheer magnitude of the mendacity and ignorance, by Lauer's somewhat understandable inability to check the deluge of lies and inanity, and by the postgame commentary that tried to explain why the event had been something more than a clinical manifestation of sociopathic megalomania. Then Brian Williams threw it over to his colleague Hugh Hewitt, who thought Donald Trump had had a great night.... We're all so fcking doomed." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Frank Rich: "... the problem here wasn't just that Clinton was grilled and Trump was not. There was a rudeness to Clinton on [Matt] Lauer's part reminiscent of Rick Lazio's paper-waving performance in his debate with Clinton during the 2000 Senate race in New York. Repeatedly, Lauer nagged Clinton to speed up and keep her answers short -- a demand he never made of Trump.... [Lauer's] incompetence and double standard have handed Trump a big post Labor Day gift just as the polls are tightening." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... New York Times Editors: "If the moderators of the coming debates do not figure out a better way to get the candidates to speak accurately about their records and policies -- especially Mr. Trump, who seems to feel he can skate by unchallenged with his own version of reality while Mrs. Clinton is grilled and entangled in the fine points of domestic and foreign policy -- then they will have done the country a grave disservice." ...

... CW: One possible positive outcome of Lauer's predictably idiotic performance is that the presidential debate moderators -- even Fox "News"'s Chris Wallace -- may decide they should do their jobs lest they be subjected to the trouncing Lauer has gotten. Then again, the teevee journos may be incapable of asking probing questions, following up & calling out bull. ...


Gabrielle Levy
of US News: "Hillary Clinton held her first formal press conference in months Thursday morning, taking questions on the tarmac of the White Plains, New York, airport.... Clinton announced she would be meeting to discuss her plan to defeat the Islamic State group on Friday with a bipartisan group of former generals and national security officials.... Clinton ... said Trump's answers proved once again he was 'temperamentally unfit' and 'totally unqualified' to be commander-in-chief, and slammed him for insulting the military by saying U.S. generals had been 'reduced to rubble.'... And while Clinton has faced relentless questions about her handling of sensitive information, it was Trump, she said, who crossed a line in commenting Wednesday night on the nature of the classified briefings he is receiving.... Trump said he could tell from his briefers' 'body language' that they were unhappy with Obama's leadership..., a statement Clinton said was 'totally inappropriate and undisciplined.' 'I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I received,' she said." -- CW ...

... Ken Dilanian of NBC News: "But as a candidate for president in 2008, Clinton herself commented on a secret briefing, citing it twice in her criticism of the George W. Bush administration. In a Feb. 25 speech..., she said she had pushed the administration to provide information about their Iraq withdrawal plans.... 'We finally were able to secure a briefing which although classified, I can tell you was cursory. It did not inspire confidence in our readiness to do this important task of withdrawing our troops and equipment.'" She made a similar comment on "Meet the Press." "'There's a difference between a security briefing done by intel community, and an Iraq policy briefing by Bush's DoD,' [Clinton] press secretary Brian Fallon tweeted. 'Members of Congress routinely exit policy briefings held by admin officials & express general dissatisfaction w/policy choices being made.'" -- CW

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton suggested in a television interview in Israel, broadcast on Thursday, that the Islamic State is 'rooting for Donald Trump's victory' and that terrorists are praying, 'Please, Allah, make Trump president of America.' Speaking with Israel's Channel 2, Mrs. Clinton said that by singling out Muslims during his campaign, Mr. Trump had played into the hands of extremists and helped their recruitment efforts, in effect 'giving aid and comfort to their evil ambitions.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Washington Post Editors: "The Hillary Clinton email story is out of control. Judging by BY the amount of time NBC's Matt Lauer spent pressing Hillary Clinton on her emails during Wednesday's national security presidential forum, one would think that her homebrew server was one of the most important issues facing the country this election. It is not.... Imagine how history would judge today's Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of ... a minor email scandal. There is no equivalence between Ms. Clinton's wrongs and Mr. Trump's manifest unfitness for office." -- CW

** Jonathan Chait: "The harrowing reality is that the only thing standing between handing control of the Executive branch to a wildly ignorant, racist demagogue with a fondness for the authoritarian world is the second-most-unpopular presidential nominee in the history of modern polling. (The most-unpopular candidate is Donald Trump, though the gap between the two is narrowing.) That Clinton is viewed as the near-equivalent of Trump, a grotesque buffoon who has committed what would normally be considered a campaign-defining gaffe at a rate of approximately once a day for 15 months, required the convergence of several factors." Read on. -- CW

... Ed Pilkington of the Guardian & Andrea Bernstein of WNYC in the Guardian: "Of all the varied chapters of Clinton's tumultuous 30 years in public life, the story of her response to the attacks on the twin towers is one of the richest in terms of the clues it provides as to what to expect from a Clinton presidency. It reveals elements of her character, of her domestic policy strengths, as well as her tendency to lean towards the hawkish side in international affairs." -- CW

... This is all way too serious. Let's hear what the crazy people are saying today. ...

Alex Griswold of Mediaite: "The latest anti-Hillary Clinton conspiracy is that the Democratic presidential candidate was wearing a hidden earpiece to feed her answers during an NBC forum Thursday night. The conspiracy was apparently started by a tweet from actor James Wood that purported to show a device in Clinton's ear.... That apparently was enough for The Drudge Report to run with, linking to a story from notorious conspiracy site InfoWars.com. The Alex Jones-run site cited as evidence the Woods tweet and an unsourced story on a blog called TruePundit claiming Clinton's earpiece was 'invisible.'... Conveniently, if the earpiece was 'invisible,' the allegation cannot be rebutted by sharing images showing that Clinton was very obviously not wearing an earpiece." CW: I didn't watch the show, but I thought Clinton was getting radio signals through her teeth.

Sorry, but the invisible earpiece is no longer the latest conspiracy theory: Andrew Stiles of Heat Street: "Hillary Clinton, 68, finally held a press conference on Thursday.... Notice anything? Clinton wore a pantsuit and a necklace that, upon further analytical examination, appears to resemble a 'Life Alert' style device for the elderly." ...

... CW: For anyone of any age who lives alone, a Life Alert or similar device is a good idea. I'm planning to get one myself soon. But Clinton does not live alone. Ever. She has 24-hour security personnel wherever she goes, and she is surrounded by other people during most of the day. If she's "fallen and can't get up," those people will help her. Besides, she can afford an "invisible" Life Alert like the earpiece. But thanks for the "analytical examination," Andrew.


This Is Astounding. Jose DelReal: "Donald Trump
criticized U.S. foreign policy and the American political press corps Thursday during an interview on RT America, a state-owned Russian television network.... Asked during the RT America interview [by Larry King] what has surprised him most about the political process, Trump unloaded on the American press. 'Well, I think the dishonesty of the media. The media has been unbelievably dishonest,' Trump responded. 'I mean they'll take a statement that you make which is perfect and they'll cut it up and chop it up and shorten it or lengthen it or do something with it.' When King asked Trump if he believed reports that Russian hackers may have targeted Democratic Party databases..., Trump said..., 'I think it's probably unlikely. I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out....'... King also asked Trump about Russian President Vladimir Putin's assertion that the hack was a 'public service,' even as he claimed the Russian government was not involved. 'I don't have any opinion on it. I don't know anything about it.'" -- CW ...

... Jonathan Martin & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump's campaign on Thursday reaffirmed its extraordinary embrace of Russia's president, Vladimir V. Putin, signaling a preference for the leadership of an authoritarian adversary over that of America's own president, despite a cascade of criticism from Democrats and expressions of discomfort among Republicans.... Democrats and even some Republicans said the fury would have been unceasing on the right had a Democratic presidential candidate held up the leader of a hostile power to deride a Republican president.... Hillary Clinton excoriated Mr. Trump for asserting that Mr. Putin is a better leader than President Obama, saying it was 'not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country, as well as to our commander in chief, it is scary.'... It is all rather confounding -- unless Mr. Trump is simply eyeing postelection business interests...." -- CW ...

... The Onion Media Matters: Appearing on Russian-backed teevee, Donald Trump applauds Chris Wallace's promise not to fact-check him. -- CW

By Driftglass.Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star: "Over the course of 13 minutes of a Thursday speech at a Cleveland school, Trump offered nine explanations and justifications for his position on the war in 2002 and 2003. Most of them were false, contradictory or both. Even by the standards of presidential-campaign spin, this was a highly abnormal level of dishonesty, especially for a scripted speech." -- CW

** William Saletan of Slate: "Wednesday night's 'Commander-in-Chief Forum' ... was a debacle.... But Trump still managed, through boastful indifference, to reveal the most important thing about his presidency: He would make the United States an authoritarian country." CW: Read on, because Saletan compiles quite a case against Trump, based only on this one brief interview.

Jennifer Steinhauer & Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times: "Speaking at a candidates' forum, Mr. Trump defended one of his Twitter posts from 2013..., and said that he had been 'absolutely correct' in posting a message that said, 'What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?'... Lawmakers and military experts ... said Mr. Trump had displayed ignorance of the Pentagon's decades-long struggle to curb such assaults and the military justice system that is in place to prosecute them. 'That's more than victim blaming, and it misunderstands the historical role of women in the military,' said retired Col. Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor of the Air Force.... Mr. Trump's proposed solution of creating a military justice system to deal with sexual assault also puzzled national security experts. A military justice system has been in place in some form since the 1774 British Articles of War." -- CW

Ken Dilanian, et al., of NBC News: "As U.S. officials cast doubt on Donald Trump's claim he read the 'body language' of intelligence officials at a recent briefing, NBC News has learned exclusive details of ... reported tension between one of Trump's advisers ... retired Gen. Michael Flynn ... and the briefers.... Current and former U.S. intelligence officials ... told NBC News that many members of the current intelligence community -- leadership rank and file -- were angered by Trump's comments Wednesday night, and the possibility that he may have disclosed details of his intelligence briefing or attempted to politicize it.... 'A political candidate has used professional intelligence officers briefing him in a totally non-political setting as props to buttress an argument for his political campaign,' said [former CIA & NSA Director Gen. Michael] Hayden.... 'The"I can read body language" line was quite remarkable.... I am confident Director Clapper sent senior professionals to this meeting and so I am equally confident that no such body language ever existed.'... Michael Morell, a former acting CIA director who was President George W. Bush's briefer and is now a Hillary Clinton supporter, said..., 'This is the first time that I can remember a candidate for president doing a readout from an intelligence briefing, and it's the first time a candidate has politicized their intelligence briefing. Both of those are highly inappropriate and crossed a long standing red line respected by both parties.'..." -- CW ...

... Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "Did U.S. intelligence analysts betray disdain for President Obama and Hillary Clinton during recent classified briefings with Donald Trump, as the GOP candidate claimed Wednesday? Doing so would represent an almost inconceivable violation of training and tradition, former U.S. intelligence officials said.... Among U.S. intelligence officials, Trump's claim amounts to an accusation of a serious breach of professional ethics.... Their roles require spy services to steer clear of seeking to influence policy. Analysts trained to remain impartial are particularly allergic to domestic politics.... 'This is unprecedented,' said David Priess, a former CIA officer who delivered daily briefings to senior members of the George W. Bush administration." ...

... CW: It's worth noting that Trump made the body-language remark in answer to a question by Matt Lauer: "Did you learn anything in that briefing -- again, not going into specifics -- that makes you reconsider some of the things you say you can accomplish, like defeating ISIS quickly?" So all it takes is a question from a fake journalist to get Trump to breach national security protocols. Trump's remark shows, on several levels, what an unfit blowhard he is. (1) It's a lie perpetrated for political gain; (2) it's a violation of the ground rules for the briefings; (3) he's such a blabbermouth obviously he's a yuuuge national security risk; (4) it's an insult to career officials; (5) he thinks he discerns "body language" that is a figment of his imagination; (6) thus, he would base policy decisions of "feelings" or imaginary "senses" he had of what was really going on; and (7) he doesn't have the "judgment" he claims is his main qualification to be POTUS. But at least the comment answered a question I asked a short while ago: "How long will it take Trump to spill the beans on his intel briefings?" (paraphrase) Answer: about a week.

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Despite what you may learn watching 'The Apprentice,' you can't just fire your way to success. Still, Trump seems to think there is no problem that can't be solved through layoffs." On Wednesday, Trump said he would fire the generals who served under President Obama. "Just a few weeks earlier, Trump suggested he might soon be cleaning house in the country's intelligence agencies, too.... As president, he would also cleanse the entire executive branch of career civil servants appointed during President Obama's tenure. 'As you know from his other career, Donald likes to fire people,' Trump adviser and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said..., which would require changing federal civil service law.... At least Trump practices what he preaches. Within his own campaign, he fired and replaced two campaign managers over two months.... As proof of Trump's claim that he hires only 'the best people,' the latest all-star lineup includes an accused sexual predator and the man who presided over the leading forum of the racist alt-right." -- CW

So Ronald Reagan is going to go into negotiations with Putin from a position of strength. -- Rudy Giuliani, Thursday, confusing Reagan with Trump, in a Chris Matthews interview in which Giuliani ticked off a bunch of evidence that Hillary Clinton had health issues, including mental health issues

Where's Melania? Mary Jordan & Stephanie McCrummen of the Washington Post: "Melania Trump ... has not spoken publicly [since the Republican convention] and has largely vanished from view, leaving a trail of questions and voids in her personal biography. Her long silence followed the fiasco over her convention speech, parts of which turned out to have been plagiarized.... Then she took her website down after revelations that there was no record she had obtained a college degree, as her site had claimed.... [Despite evidence to the contrary,] Donald Trump has said his wife is 'so documented.'... Even as the campaign declines to fill in details of her life story, Melania Trump has deployed an attorney to beat back news reports probing her past. Last week, the former fashion model filed a libel suit against a blogger and a British newspaper for reports, since retracted, suggesting that she once worked as an escort.... Recently, Melania Trump's absence has become conspicuous enough to spawn such Twitter hashtags as #WhereisMelania and #FreeMelania...." -- CW

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party presidential nominee, revealed a surprising lack of foreign policy knowledge on Thursday that could rock his insurgent candidacy when he could not answer a basic question about the crisis in Aleppo, Syria. 'What is Aleppo?' Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the war-torn Syrian city. When pressed as to whether he was serious, Mr. Johnson indicated that he really was not aware of the city, which has been widely covered during the years that Syria has been engulfed in civil war." Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Philip Bump: "A writer for Fusion points out that [Johnson] has done this before, at one point asking an interviewer, 'Who's Harriet Tubman?'" CW: The date of the gaffe was a couple of months after "Who's Jack Lew?" named Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Tim Egan on the stupidity & danger of voting for a stoner or a woman who plans to put Ed Snowden in her cabinet. -- CW

Other News & Views

Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian: Daniel Jones, "the man at the center of the US Senate's landmark investigation of the CIA torture program, has gone public for the first time about an experience that led to the CIA spying on him as part of what he calls a 'failed coverup'. For six years..., Jones was the chief investigator for the Senate intelligence committee's inquiry into CIA detentions and interrogations carried out in the post-9/11 Bush era. Jones and his team turned 6.3m pages of internal CIA documents into a scathing study which concluded that torture was ineffective and that the CIA had lied about it to two presidents, Congress and the US public." -- CW ...

... Here's the first part of Ackerman's three-part series on "the Senate investigation into torture, the crisis with the CIA it spurred and" Jones.

Capitalism is Awesome, Ctd. Matt Egan of CNN: "On Thursday, federal regulators said Wells Fargo (WFC) employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts -- without their customers knowing it -- since 2011. The phony accounts earned the bank unwarranted fees and allowed Wells Fargo employees to boost their sales figures and make more money. 'Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,' Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a statement. Wells Fargo confirmed to CNNMoney that it had fired 5,300 employees over the last few years related to the shady behavior. Employees went so far as to create phony PIN numbers and fake email addresses to enroll customers in online banking services, the CFPB said.... The CFPB said Wells Fargo will pay 'full restitutions to all victims.'... Wells Fargo is being slapped with the largest penalty since the CFPB was founded in 2011. The bank agreed to pay $185 million in fines, along with $5 million to refund customers." -- CW ...

... Here's the New York Times story, by Michael Corkery. -- CW

Rachel Weiner & Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "U.S. authorities have arrested two North Carolina men accused of hacking into the private email accounts of high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials. Andrew Otto Boggs, aka 'INCURSIO,' 22, of North Wilkesboro, N.C. and Justin Gray Liverman, aka 'D3F4ULT,' 24, of Morehead City, N.C. were both arrested Thursday morning and will be extradited next week to the Eastern District of Virginia, where federal prosecutors have spent months building a case against a group that calls itself Crackas With Attitude. The hacking collective has claimed to have gained access to the private email accounts of CIA ­Director John O. Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Beyond the Beltway

Matt Zapotosky, et al., of the Washington Post: "Federal prosecutors will not attempt to retry former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on corruption charges, ending a years-long saga.... The conclusion came unceremoniously, as prosecutors filed one-paragraph documents telling a federal appeals court they would move to dismiss the indictments. It means that the McDonnells -- who have always maintained they did nothing illegal -- will avoid criminal convictions and prison time. But the images produced at their trial -- the troubled marriage, the lavish vacations, a Ferrari ride, the Rolex watch -- can hardly be undone." -- CW

Way Beyond

Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times: "South Korean officials said that they had detected an 'artificial' tremor emanating from North Korea on Friday morning, indicating that the country has conducted its fifth nuclear test despite threats of more sanctions from Washington and the United Nations. The Korea Meteorological Administration detected the tremor and was analyzing data to see if it was caused by an earthquake or by an underground nuclear detonation, a spokeswoman said." -- CW ...

     ... The story has been updated, with Jane Perlez added to the byline. New Lede: "North Korea conducted its fifth underground nuclear test on Friday, its government said, despite threats of more sanctions from the United States and the United Nations. The latest test, according to South Korean officials, produced a more powerful explosive yield than the North's previous detonations, indicating that the country was making progress in its efforts to build a functional nuclear warhead."

Wednesday
Sep072016

The Commentariat -- Sept. 8, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Charles Pierce: "I was exhausted by the sheer magnitude of the mendacity and ignorance, by Lauer's somewhat understandable inability to check the deluge of lies and inanity, and by the postgame commentary that tried to explain why the event had been something more than a clinical manifestation of sociopathic megalomania. Then Brian Williams threw it over to his colleague Hugh Hewitt, who thought Donald Trump had had a great night.... We're all so fcking doomed." -- CW ...

... Frank Rich: "... the problem here wasn't just that Clinton was grilled and Trump was not. There was a rudeness to Clinton on [Matt] Lauer's part reminiscent of Rick Lazio's paper-waving performance in his debate with Clinton during the 2000 Senate race in New York. Repeatedly, Lauer nagged Clinton to speed up and keep her answers short -- a demand he never made of Trump.... [Lauer's] incompetence and double standard have handed Trump a big post -- Labor Day gift just as the polls are tightening." -- CW

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton suggested in a television interview in Israel, broadcast on Thursday, that the Islamic State is 'rooting for Donald Trump's victory' and that terrorists are praying, 'Please, Allah, make Trump president of America.' Speaking with Israel's Channel 2, Mrs. Clinton said that by singling out Muslims during his campaign, Mr. Trump had played into the hands of extremists and helped their recruitment efforts, in effect 'giving aid and comfort to their evil ambitions.'" -- CW

Rachel Weiner & Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "U.S. authorities have arrested two North Carolina men accused of hacking into the private email accounts of high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials. Andrew Otto Boggs, aka 'INCURSIO,' 22, of North Wilkesboro, N.C. and Justin Gray Liverman, aka 'D3F4ULT,' 24, of Morehead City, N.C. were both arrested Thursday morning and will be extradited next week to the Eastern District of Virginia, where federal prosecutors have spent months building a case against a group that calls itself Crackas With Attitude. The hacking collective has claimed to have gained access to the private email accounts of CIA Director John O. Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper." -- CW

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party presidential nominee, revealed a surprising lack of foreign policy knowledge on Thursday that could rock his insurgent candidacy when he could not answer a basic question about the crisis in Aleppo, Syria. 'What is Aleppo?' Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the war-torn Syrian city. When pressed as to whether he was serious, Mr. Johnson indicated that he really was not aware of the city, which has been widely covered during the years that Syria has been engulfed in civil war." Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead. CW: How I wish Trump had been asked the same question. ...

... Philip Bump: "A writer for Fusion points out that [Johnson] has done this before, at one point asking an interviewer, 'Who's Harriet Tubman?'" CW: The date of the gaffe was a couple of months after "Who's Jack Lew?" named Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20. Maybe Gary Johnson hasn't read a newspaper in the last several years & never studied American history, much less world history.

*****

Presidential Race

Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton vowed not to send American ground troops to Iraq 'ever again' and Donald J. Trump suggested that he had learned shocking new national security information as the two made back-to-back appearances Wednesday night at a forum that became a preview of their highly anticipated debate later this month.... Mrs. Clinton was far more likely to look audience members in the eye, nod along as they expressed concern or curiosity, and give relatively direct if sometimes uncomfortable answers. Mr. Trump came off as more relaxed but also far lighter on details, and was seldom pressed by [moderator Matt] Lauer or the veterans in the audience.

One of the most surprising moments of the night came when Mr. Trump chose to answer a question about the confidential national security briefings ... -- a topic that presidents and presidential candidates rarely discuss with any openness. Mr. Trump, asked if he learned anything alarming, said, 'There was one thing that shocked me' and suggested that it involved a decision by President Obama and Mrs. Clinton that amounted to 'a total disaster.' He then went further, asserting that Mr. Obama 'did not follow what our experts said to do,' and even claimed that the government officials who provided the briefing were 'not happy' with Mr. Obama. Explaining the basis of that assessment, Mr. Trump said, 'I was pretty good with the body language.' It was a classic Trump moment -- a dark insinuation without evidence...." ...

... CW: We all knew Trump couldn't keep his mouth shut about the intelligence briefings he's receive, & we all knew he'd make up shit about them. ...

The man [Putin] has very strong control over a country. Now It's a very different system and I don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he's been a leader. Far more than our president has been a leader. -- Donald Trump, in last night's forum

... John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "While Clinton appeared serious and even stilted as she sometimes awkwardly navigated tough questions about her use of a private email server while secretary of state and her vote for the Iraq war in the Senate, Trump offered no such restraint with a series of controversial statements. He reaffirmed his view that having men and women serve alongside one another is the root of sexual assaults in the military.... And he defended his mutual admiration with Russian president Vladimir Putin, even suggesting he is more worthy of his praise than President Obama." -- CW ...

... Jeremy Herb of Politico: "Donald Trump trod into uncharted territory Wednesday night when he suggested that if elected he might fire some of the top generals now running the military.... He ... targeted the top officers who have served under [Obama & Clinton], who are not political appointees and have defined terms of appointment. Individual generals and admirals have traditionally been removed from their posts for misconduct or a failure to perform their duties. Cashiering a group of them en masse would be unheard of -- and could irrevocably tarnish the perception that the military is an institution divorced from politics." CW Note to Matt Lauer: You just heard a politician say he was going to sack the top brass, in a move typical of tyrants, and you let it pass, you ignorant ass. ...

By Driftglass.... Josh Marshall of TPM: "One of the many amazing passages is this one where Trump is sparring with Lauer about whether he'll defeat ISIS with his secret plan or the plan from the new generals he installs after firing the current ones or whether he'll create some hybrid combo plan if the generals' plan strikes his fancy.... Trump keeps spooling it out in different directions. But reading the words it's clear, just as it was watching it live, that this whole exchange is, in the deepest sense of the word, bullshit.... I think this exchange is pretty obvious for people in a way that transcends politics and ideology. Trump is the kid telling the teacher the dog ate his homework. Then the teacher points out he has no dog. But he's not going to apologize or come clean. He's just going to keep talking." -- CW ...

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Trump ... can't simply clean house or bring in people from the outside. It's not clear that Trump recognizes such nuances, though.... Buried in all of this are competing instincts: Trump's disinterest in being wrong and his great interest in being the boss. He threatens to oust top leaders of the military for little other reason than they were in positions of authority under Obama. While his prepared comments from Tuesday suggested that he would seek the counsel of service members who'd committed decades to protecting America's interests, he tossed that to the side in favor of not being embarrassed by Matt Lauer, insisting that he still did have his own secret plan. Probably one that involves oil." -- CW ...

Trump Claims His Mexican Vacation Was a Huge Success. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump made the case Wednesday night that he would be a studied and steady commander-in-chief.... While making that case, though, Trump offered this pretty odd argument about his visit to Mexico.... First, Trump says he let Mexico know 'where the United States stands.' This despite his not having raised one of his signature foreign policy promises -- to have Mexico pay for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.... Trump insinuates very clearly that his goal was to shake up the Mexican government. 'And if you look at what happened, look at the aftermath today where the people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That's how well we did,' he said. The United States's ally ... will probably be surprised to hear that Trump's aim in visiting their country was to undercut its leaders and force them to resign...." -- CW ...

... Gail Collins: "Trump and international affairs is an end-of-the-summer horror thriller. At the big presidential candidates' forum in New York, he bragged about the two high points in his diplomatic history -- the firing of the official whose idea it was to invite him to Mexico and his bromance with Vladimir Putin. ('Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters....')... Then a veteran in the audience asked him about sexual assault in the military, and Lauer reminded Trump that he had once twittered, 'What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?' 'Well,' Trump answered, 'it is.... It is a correct tweet. There are many people that think that that's absolutely correct.' He babbled on, trying to save himself, but it was really way too late." -- CW ...

... ** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times: "Charged with overseeing a live prime-time forum with Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton -- widely seen as a dry run of sorts for the coming presidential debates -- [teevee personality Matt] Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event." Lauer kept talking over Clinton, but let Trump talk over him. AND "'How in the hell does Lauer not factcheck Trump lying about Iraq? This is embarrassingly bad,' wrote Tommy Vietor, a former aide to President Obama. Glenn Kessler ... wrote: '@MLauer should have been prepared to do this.'" -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major party candidates. Lauer's performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking.... The average undecided voter is getting snippets of news from television personalities like Lauer, who are failing to convey the fact that the election pits a normal politician with normal political failings against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian." ...

... CW: One of the major problems in teevee coverage of elections is that teevee executives think people like Matt Lauer & Chuck Todd are actually journalists. Apparently the NBC suits thought it would be a good fit to have Lauer moderate a so-called national security forum because he used to do an occasional segment called "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" where Lauer went to various places around the globe. Bear in mind that the presidential debate commission chose all teevee personalities to moderate the debates. What a shame that Luke Russert is no longer available, because they would have picked him. ...

... Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post: "Matt Lauer, the 'Today' show host, flunked in primetime. And his failure was even more remarkable because he had the very information he needed to succeed.... If Trump is going to tout his supposed positions as evidence of foreign policy judgment, a moderator should be steeped in the candidate's well-worn [false] claims.... But on Libya, like Iraq, Lauer didn't correct the Republican nominee. Lauer neglected to challenge Trump on a number of controversial statements and past actions that would have had obvious relevance to the audience of veterans. They included [Trump's] four Vietnam draft deferments, mocking Sen. John McCain's tortuous years as an American P.O.W., smearing a Gold Star family, likening his prep school experience to actually serving in the military, and talking about how he always wanted a Purple Heart. By the end of the night, Lauer himself had become the story, which is often not the way a moderator wants his debate to be remembered." -- CW ...

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "In failing to set Trump straight [oh his repeated claim of opposing the Iraq War], Lauer missed an entire fact-checking oeuvre.... The whole I-was-opposed-to-the-Iraq-War claim by Trump is a core example of the candidate's propensity to tell lies, or at least to brandish a reckless disregard for the truth. One needn't have been paying terribly close attention to campaign coverage to be aware of this persistent revisionism. Fact-checks are designed in part to assist anchors who sit before presidential candidates." -- CW

The New York Times is liveblogging NBC's national security forum with Hillary Clinton, followed by Donald Trump.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Brian Beutler: "... last week ... major outlets saturated the news environment with innuendo-heavy reports, creating an aroma of malfeasance around Clinton unsupported by their actual findings.... Over the same stretch, Trump benefitted from comparable indifference to his more fully documented ethical failures, and from what members of this self-same press corps describe as 'rock-bottom expectations.' Viewed as a snapshot, it reminded [Paul] Krugman and others of the blinkered reportage that helped George W. Bush become president 15 years ago.... This is not unlike leading a newscast with a weather report, or a story about firefighters pulling a kitten out of a tree, in the midst of an ongoing national emergency.... Last week, a casual news consumer wouldn't have come away thinking Clinton's and Trump's sins were equivalent; they would have instead learned that Clinton's sins were real and Trumps trivial or non-existent." -- CW ...

... Paul Waldman: "There's a repeated pattern to many [New York Times] stories [about Hillary Clinton]: Some perfectly legitimate question emerges, like 'Did Clinton Foundation donors get undeserved access to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state?'... Then when the answer turns out to be, 'Actually, no,' the story is still presented in the Times as a revelation of possible malfeasance.... the Times has not only been particularly aggressive in pursuing and highlighting these stories, it's also prone to presenting even exculpatory material as indicative of some deeper ethical problem.... The Times' pursuit of Hillary and Bill Clinton goes way back, back to the founding document of the problem the Clintons have with the press.... What is strange is that so much later, even though most of the reporters and editors from the 1990s are no longer at the paper, its eagerness to find Clinton scandals seems undimmed." -- CW

Bad News for Witch Hunters. Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "FBI Director James B. Comey said in a memo to the bureau's employees that the decision not to charge Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server ... was 'not a cliff-hanger' and, 'despite all the chest beating by people no longer in government, there really wasn't a prosecutable case.' The director's assessment was notable for its bluntness...." -- CW ...

... Matt Zapotosky: "Former secretary of state Colin Powell told Hillary Clinton in 2009 that he used a personal computer attached to a private phone line to do business with foreign leaders and State Department officials and was generally scornful of the notion that his mobile devices might be accessed by spies, according to an email exchange released by U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) on Wednesday.... According to a report by the State Department's inspector general, Powell had already acknowledged using a laptop on a private line and sending notes to ambassadors and foreign ministers via personal email, and a representative said he did not retain or print those emails." CW: Read the whole story, especially Rep. Cummings' statement. ...

     ... Instead of heeding advice from CIA & NSA security experts, Powell pulled rank & scoffed at their concerns in the "numerous meetings" in which they advised him not to use his personal devices. If Clinton had behaved as Gen. Powell did, she would be on trial for espionage right now. I don't think I'm exaggerating. Yet I haven't heard one Republican express concern about Powell's refusing to follow security protocols.

Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post looks to past presidents to help Hillary Clinton get that "presidential look." CW: Since Donald Trump claims he does look presidential, I do think Petri should have included his example: puffy face of a reverse-raccoon color palette & oftentimes contorted into crazed expressions; blow-dried orange hair also reminiscent of various creatures from the animal kingdom; expensive but ill-fitted suits.

Ashley Parker & Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump on Wednesday called for a vast expansion of the military, including 90,000 new soldiers for the Army and nearly 75 new ships for the Navy, requiring up to $90 billion a year in additional spending.... Mr. Trump, in a speech at the Union League of Philadelphia, also vowed to order the military to devise a new plan to defeat the Islamic State 'immediately upon taking office.' The plan would come within 30 days from 'my generals,' he added, without mentioning that those generals are the same ones who came up with the current strategy, which they believe is working. The new spending, Mr. Trump said, would not cost taxpayers an additional penny. He said he would eliminate wasteful government spending, increase energy production and trim the federal work force, including the military bureaucracy. He also suggested that he would collect unpaid taxes, which he said amounted to $385 billion." ...

     ... CW: "My generals"??? Is that like "my African-American"? "Eliminating waste, fraud & abuse"? Ha ha ha. ...

     ... Update: We found out Wednesday night what Trump meant by "my generals." Benjy Sarlin & Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News: "Asked [by Matt Lauer] about his past claim that he knew more about ISIS than American generals, Trump said he would replace high-ranking military officers in response to their performance in recent years before consulting them on a final course of action. 'Well, they'll probably be different generals, to be honest with you,' Trump said. 'I mean, I'm looking at the generals.'"

Philip Bump: "'Hillary and her top aides told the FBI and others related in the lawsuits that they couldn't recall or remember -- can't remember anything!' Trump said [at a rally in Greenville, N.C. Tuesday]. 'By the way, if she really can't remember, she can't be president! She doesn't remember anything! She doesn't even remember whether or not she was instructed on how to use emails....'" [CW: Stop. You know where this is going.] ... Asserting that Clinton can't be president if she doesn't remember details in an interview would mean that Trump, too, is ineligible for the nation's highest office. Big league." In the depositions the WashPo has collected, there are "Constant assertions by Trump that he couldn't recall or didn't know the answers to questions offered him.... People who literally live in big glass towers should be careful where they throw stones." CW: Worth reading the whole post.

International Man of Misery. Joshua Partlow & Gabriela Martinez of the Washington Post: "Mexico's finance minister, who helped arrange ... Donald Trump's visit to Mexico, has resigned, further roiling a political crisis that has been swirling here in Trump's wake. In formally announcing the resignation Wednesday, President Enrique Peña Nieto offered no explanation for the departure of Luis Videgaray, one of his closest aides.... But it came a week after Trump appeared with Peña Nieto in a meeting that was widely viewed across Mexico as an embarrassment for the country's leader. Videgaray had served as a behind-the-scenes liaison to the Trump campaign and advocated for the visit over the opposition of other ministers. The departure of one of his closest allies showed the huge political cost the Trump visit has exacted for Peña Nieto." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

E.J. Dionne: "Trump’s best example of political corruption is himself.... It's remarkable that Republican primary voters seemed to reward Trump for saying that he bought off politicians right and left, as if admitting to soft bribery was a sign of what a great reformer he would be.... It is hugely misleading to take every new Trump scandal and match it up with a replay of one of the standby Clinton scandals -- and then pretend there is rough equality between the candidates on some scandal-o-meter." -- CW

Michael Kruse of Politico talks to a number of people who have worked with Donald Trump in the past, & they all say something to the effect of he "has the attention span of a 9-year-old with ADHD." In fact, Tony Scwartz, who wrote The Art of the Deal, said exactly that. -- CW

Dummkopf Drumpf Exposes His Own IRS Audit Lie. Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post: "... Donald Trump on Tuesday offered Hillary Clinton a deal. If the Democratic nominee somehow recovered and publicly released the 33,000 deleted emails she sent while serving as secretary of state, the real estate businessman would release his tax returns 'immediately.'... Pressed ... about releasing his tax returns despite them being under audit, Trump attempted to turn the tables on Clinton ― and ended up unwittingly admitting there was nothing prohibiting him from doing so." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: Stupid AND transparent are not the best qualities in combination. Of course tomorrow, Trumpado will dismiss this as "sarcasm".

Matthew Nussbaum of Politico: "Mike Pence on Wednesday declined to say whether Donald Trump should apologize for suggesting Barack Obama was born outside the U.S., but he did say Trump's stance wouldn't hurt him with minority voters.... 'Well I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, I accept his birthplace," Pence told reporters during a brief gaggle aboard his campaign plane...." -- CW ...

... Steve M.: "In an astonishing coincidence [sarcasm], Ben Carson, a Trump surrogate, also addressed the issue of Trump's birtherism this week, and he called for an apology.... Trump, of course, will not disavow birtherism or apologize, as we saw when the subject came up on Bill O'Reilly's show last night:... 'I don't even talk about it anymore Bill because I don't bother talking about it.'... Republicans get away with these surrogate head-fakes."

... CW: "I don't even talk about it anymore ... because I don't bother talking about it." This is the kind of "answer" Trump gives all the time: "What do you mean 'Hillary Clinton doesn't have a presidential look?" "I mean she doesn't look presidential." I have assumed that this is merely Trump's means of deflecting questions, but I'm beginning to think he really doesn't understand cause & effect or that the answer isn't the question: one more loose screw rattling around the dangerously dysfunctional brain of Trump.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Charles Blow: Donald Trump is a Big Fat Liar, and the media have let him get away with it. While holding Clinton accountable, they apply an "entertainment standard" to Trump. -- CW

Other News & Views

Elizabeth Warren in a New York Times op-ed: "Now that they are feeling the sting from foreign tax crackdowns, giant corporations and their Washington lobbyists are pressing Congress to cut them a new sweetheart deal here at home. But instead of bailing out the tax dodgers under the guise of tax reform, Congress should seize this moment to take three crucial steps to repair our broken corporate tax code.... For years, corporate tax dodgers have taken full advantage of all the benefits of being American companies, while searching out every possible way to avoid paying American taxes. Now that other leading countries are starting to get tough on tax enforcement, these tax dodgers suddenly want to move their money back to the United States. When they do, they should pay their fair share, just as working families and small businesses have been all along." -- CW

Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post: "President Obama nominated a Washington lawyer Tuesday to a prestigious federal judgeship, making Abid Riaz Qureshi the first Muslim American tapped for the federal judiciary.... Qureshi has defended the civil rights of Muslim clients in cases against the New York City subway system and the Transportation Security Administration. The White House announced Tuesday that Obama had chosen Qureshi, a partner at the District law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, to fill a spot on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: "Defended the civil rights of Muslims"?? You mean Muslims have rights? Get ready for an epidemic of Excorcist-like head spinning by the wingnuts. By the way, that US District is the same one from which the president chose Merrick Garland if that's any indication of the likely success, or not, of this nomination. I'm guessing just the word "Muslim" is enough for a blanket "NO" from Confederates.

Seung Min Kim of Politico: "Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is making his way back up to Capitol Hill. Months after his one-on-one charm offensive with senators largely ended, Garland is returning to the Senate on Thursday to meet privately with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy as Senate Democrats continue a broader public relations push to pressure Republicans on confirming the veteran jurist this year." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Bundy Trial Begins. Maxine Bearstein of Oregon Live: Ammon Bundy wants to show up in court dressed like Hopalong Cassidy. "Before prospective jurors file into Courtroom 9A in the federal courthouse in downtown Portland Wednesday morning, the judge is expected to rule on whether the defendants in the Oregon standoff case who are in custody can wear neckties, belts and boots at trial as requested. Ammon Bundy's lawyer J. Morgan Philpot argued that his client is innocent until proven guilty, and should be allowed to wear the civilian clothes that he chooses." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: A suit and dress shirt is Bundy's definition of looking like a "disheveled slacker". He wants to look like a real rootin' tootin' cowboy, just like in the movies. Gotta love those wingers. Only the important stuff. His reason? He IS a real cowboy. Also, something, something, something, Bible. Yee-haw, y'all.

TMZ: "USOC-connected sources tell TMZ Sports ... [that champion swimmer Ryan] Lochte has been suspended for 10 months. There are additional sanctions.... The punishment was handed down not just by the USOC but by the IOC and USA Swimming as well. The punishment is harsher than Michael Phelps' 6 month suspension for his 2 DUIs. The punishment was debated within the USOC, because Phelps put people's lives at risk and Lochte arguably didn't lie about a material fact." -- CW

The pictures below refer to an aside in the Comments section (which is pretty funny):

Tuesday
Sep062016

The Commentariat -- Sept. 7, 2016

Afternoonish Update:

Carrie Dann of NBC News: "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face questions on military issues, national security and veterans affairs at NBC News' Commander-in-Chief Forum Wednesday, hosted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America." CW: The so-called forum, in which the candidates will answer questions separately (Clinton first), begins at 8 pm ET tonight.

International Man of Misery. Joshua Partlow & Gabriela Martinez of the Washington Post: "Mexico's finance minister, who helped arrange U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's visit to Mexico, has resigned, further roiling a political crisis that has been swirling here in Trump's wake. In formally announcing the resignation Wednesday, President Enrique Peña Nieto offered no explanation for the departure of Luis Videgaray, one of his closest aides.... But it came a week after Trump appeared with Peña Nieto in a meeting that was widely viewed across Mexico as an embarrassment for the country's leader. Videgaray had served as a behind-the-scenes liaison to the Trump campaign and advocated for the visit over the opposition of other ministers. The departure of one of his closest allies showed the huge political cost the Trump visit has exacted for Peña Nieto.... The Trump meeting has now dropped him to the lowest point of his presidency, with a new movement even calling for his resignation." -- CW

Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post reports that President Obama has selected a Muslim judge as a nominee for the federal bench, a first. "President Obama nominated a Washington lawyer Tuesday to a prestigious federal judgeship, making Abid Riaz Qureshi the first Muslim American tapped for the federal judiciary, according to advocacy organizations. Qureshi has defended the civil rights of Muslim clients in cases against the New York City subway system and the Transportation Security Administration. The White House announced Tuesday that Obama had chosen Qureshi, a partner at the District law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, to fill a spot on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia." ...

... Akhilleus: "Defended the civil rights of Muslims"?? You mean Muslims have rights? Get ready for an epidemic of Excorcist-like head spinning by the wingnuts. By the way, that US District is the same one from which the president chose Merrick Garland if that's any indication of the likely success, or not, of this nomination. I'm guessing just the word "Muslim" is enough for a blanket "NO" from Confederates.

Bundy Trial Begins. Maxine Bearstein of Oregon Live: Ammon Bundy wants to show up in court dressed like Hopalong Cassidy. "Before prospective jurors file into Courtroom 9A in the federal courthouse in downtown Portland Wednesday morning, the judge is expected to rule on whether the defendants in the Oregon standoff case who are in custody can wear neckties, belts and boots at trial as requested. Ammon Bundy's lawyer J. Morgan Philpot argued that his client is innocent until proven guilty, and should be allowed to wear the civilian clothes that he chooses. ..."

... Akhilleus: A suit and dress shirt is Bundy's definition of looking like a "disheveled slacker". He wants to look like a real rootin' tootin' cowboy, just like in the movies. Gotta love those wingers. Only the important stuff. His reason? He IS a real cowboy. Also, something, something, something, Bible. Yee-haw, y'all.

Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post: Dummkopf Drumpf Exposes His Own IRS Audit Lie. "... Donald Trump on Tuesday offered Hillary Clinton a deal. If the Democratic nominee somehow recovered and publicly released the 33,000 deleted emails she sent while serving as secretary of state, the real estate businessman would release his tax returns 'immediately.' ... Pressed ... about releasing his tax returns despite them being under audit, Trump attempted to turn the tables on Clinton ― and ended up unwittingly admitting there was nothing prohibiting him from doing so. 'When is she going to release her emails? She probably knows how to find it,' he said. 'Let her release her emails and I will release my tax returns immediately.'" ,,,

... Akhilleus: Stupid AND transparent are not the best qualities in combination. Of course tomorrow, Trumpado will dismiss this as "sarcasm".

*****

Esther Yu Hsi Lee of Think Progress: "During his visit to Laos on Tuesday, President Barack Obama promised to spend $90 million over the next three years to clear millions of unexploded bombs left behind during the Vietnam War, citing a 'moral obligation' to help Laos recover.... Laos became the most heavily bombed country in the world after it was carpet bombed between 1964 and 1973 when the United States funded The Secret War, a CIA-led war that rained down two million tons of bombs on Laos to cut off critical North Vietnamese supply routes.... Unexploded bombs have led to the deaths or maimings of more than 20,000 people since the war ended." --safari ...

... Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama has grown accustomed to having his foreign travels overshadowed by terrorist attacks or police shootings. This might be the first time one of his trips has been marred by bad manners.... The trip has in fact yielded progress on several fronts, most notably climate change. But the miscues illustrate how poor planning, or even plain bad luck, can undermine a president's performance abroad. Worse, the dispute with [Philippines President Rodrigo] Duterte carries genuine risks for the United States, given the sensitive role of the Philippines as an American treaty ally that is engaged in an increasingly dangerous standoff with Beijing over maritime claims in the South China Sea." -- CW ...

Presidential Race

John Wagner & Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton escalated her attacks on Donald Trump's character and qualifications for the presidency Tuesday, seizing on renewed scrutiny of an improper political donation that Trump made to Florida's attorney general as she accused him of concealing 'scams.'... 'The list goes on and on: the scams, the frauds, the questionable relationships, the business activities that have stiffed workers,' Clinton said.... In an interview with ABC that aired Tuesday, Trump scrutinized Clinton's appearance. 'Well, I just don't think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look,' he told ABC's David Muir." -- CW ...

... CW: You may want to watch Trump evade Muir's questions about what it means to "look presidential." Of course, we all know what he means: only men can be POTUS. Women should stay home and cater to their husbands' needs. This is just like his "jobs plan." What Trump will do to create more jobs is to create more jobs/Hillary Clinton doesn't look presidential because she doesn't have that presidential look. See more on the Muir interview in Dana Milbank's column, linked below. ...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. I think the stakes are much higher in this debate and all the debates for Hillary Clinton because the expectations are higher for her because she's a seasoned politician. She's a seasoned debater. You know, yes we saw Donald Trump in the primaries debate for the first time, but he is a first-time politician. So um, for lots of reasons. Maybe it's not fair, but that's the way it is. The onus is on her. -- Dana Bash of CNN, Tuesday

Thanks, Dana, for explaining when it's fair for "journalists" to "Bash" a candidate while going easy on her opponent. If a person has never held public office, does he still have to be a good president? Or can he just fuck up the world and get a pass from CNN "journalists" because, hey, maybe he'll do better next term where he has some experience under his belt? Bash's defense of playing favorites would be more comical if it wasn't such a reprehensible example of journalistic malpractice. -- Constant Weader

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jim Fallows updates previous comparisons on how the press report "'doubts,' 'questions,' 'clouds,' and the 'atmosphere of entitlement' that surrounded Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, with the actual offenses, lawsuits, bankruptcies, unpaid contractors, anti-trust settlements, bogus-visa issues, and other legal problems surrounding Donald Trump and his enterprises." -- CW

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "... Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged Donald Trump to 'come clean' about his finances and said she would continue to press the Republican to release his tax returns until Election Day, declaring that 'he clearly has something to hide.' Speaking to reporters aboard her campaign plane, Clinton said she was responding to a statement Trump made to ABC News that people aren't interested in his returns.... She ticked off a list of what she characterized as questionable aspects about Trump's finances, including the multiple times his companies have declared bankruptcy, repeated accusations of 'fraudulent behavior,' hundreds of millions of dollars in business debt and continuing controversy over Trump University. 'Clearly his tax returns tell a story that the American people deserve and need to know,' Clinton said." -- CW

Dallas Morning News Editors: "There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton. We don't come to this decision easily. This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II -- if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections.... Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest." CW: As Joe Biden would say, this is a big fucking deal.

** Danielle Allen, in a Washington Post op-ed: "The 58-page FBI memo on Hillary Clinton's email usage as secretary of state is a gripping must-read.... Clinton's mistake was, as she has said, to have decided to use a private server. There's not much duplicity, deceit or intention to evade to be found in this memo. What the document does reveal is Clinton's colossal failure to understand the monumental responsibility she took on with her choice; namely, the direct duty to archive public records.... This is what jumps out of the memo. The story of stuff that is missing, or turned in late, or not initially acknowledged to exist, or accidentally saved in inappropriate places only to be deleted later by low-level staff, appears to be mainly a tale of a bumbling group not remotely close to being equipped to handle, at a public-records standard, the material for which they were responsible. My favorite example is the laptop that either went missing in the U.S. mail or got lost in an office move." -- CW ...

... The FBI memo is here (pdf). ...

... Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Chair of the House Committee on Harassing Democrats, has announced plans to harass Hillary Clinton as long as he lives and breathes. (CW paraphrase) "On Tuesday, Mr. Chaffetz asked the Justice Department for the second time in two months to investigate Mrs. Clinton. Citing newly released F.B.I. documents, he requested the department look into whether emails had been illegally deleted from her email server. Mr. Chaffetz has scheduled two hearings for the next week related to Mrs. Clinton, and he said in an interview on Tuesday that his inquiries may extend past November.... 'I would be derelict in my duties to drop it now or after the election and let it go," he said. Hillary Clinton took Chaffetz's fake investigation in stride: 'I believe I have created so many jobs in the sort of conspiracy theory machine factory because honestly, they never quit. They keep coming back, and here's another one." -- CW ...

... ** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Digby in Salon: "The fact that [Hillary Clinton has] been dogged by political enemies and investigated by special prosecutors, the media and Congress with unlimited budgets and every possible means of getting to the truth and has been exonerated doesn't seem to register [with people]. Indeed, the fact-checkers all find her to be more honest than virtually anyone in politics while Donald Trump, by contrast, lies more than he tells the truth. To understand how this came to be, go back to a column from 1996 in The New York Times by vicious right-wing columnist William Safire who first dubbed her a 'congenital liar.'... For many reasons, not the least of which was simple sexism, it was set in stone that this feminist, lawyer first lady was devious, calculating and power mad -- Madame Defarge and Evita rolled into one.... The political press has filtered its coverage of her through that lens ever since." -- CW ...

... Glenn Greenwald: "But this emerging narrative that Clinton should not only enjoy the support of a virtually united elite class but also a scrutiny-free march into the White House is itself quite dangerous. Clinton partisans in the media -- including those who regard themselves as journalists -- will continue to reflexively attack all reporting that reflects negatively on her, but that reporting should nonetheless continue with unrestrained aggression." -- CW

Harper Neidig of the Hill: "Donald Trump blasted Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night over recently released FBI documents from an investigation into the former secretary of State's private email server.... 'The new revelations about Hillary Clinton from the just-released FBI documents make more clear than ever that she fails to meet the minimum standard for running for public office,' Trump said during a speech in Greenville, N.C. 'If she applied for a low-level job at the State Department today ... she couldn't even get a security clearance based on what she's done. ... People who have nothing to hide don't smash phones with hammers,' Trump said. 'People who have nothing to hide don't bleach their emails, or destroy evidence to keep it from being publicly archived as required under federal law.'" ...

By Driftglass.... CW: Up till there, Trump was on mostly solid ground, though, as usual, hyperbolic. But still he couldn't stop: "'No one takes all the risks Hillary Clinton took unless they are trying to cover up massive crimes,' he added."

Man with No Plan. Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "On his first day in office, Donald Trump would order the military to formulate a plan within one month for defeating ISIL, he said on Tuesday. Previously, Trump has maintained he has a plan to defeat ISIL (also referred to as ISIS) that he did not want to discuss to avoid tipping his hand to America's enemies.... In June, Trump rebuffed Fox News host Greta Van Susteren's attempts to extract the details of his 'foolproof' plan, explaining, 'If I run, and If I win, I don't want the enemy to know what I;m doing. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to tell at some point, but there is a method of defeating them quickly and effectively and having total victory.'" -- CW

I contribute to everybody. I've given to Democrats. I've given to Hillary.... I've got to give to them. because when I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass. It's true. They kiss my ass. It's true. -- Donald Trump, in Iowa, January 2016 ...

... Steve Eder & Meghan Twohey of the Washington Post: "Donald "Trump's history of political giving stretches back decades -- and has repeatedly drawn regulatory scrutiny [CW: and findings against Trump].... In the 1980s, Mr. Trump was compelled to testify under oath before New York State officials after he directed tens of thousands of dollars to the president of the New York City Council through myriad subsidiary companies to evade contribution limits. In the 1990s, the Federal Election Commission fined Mr. Trump for exceeding the annual limit on campaign contributions by $47,050, the largest violation in a single year. And in 2000, the New York State lobbying commission imposed a $250,000 fine for Mr. Trump's failing to disclose the full extent of his lobbying of state legislators.... In recent years, Mr. Trump has made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to at least four state attorneys general -- [Pam] Bondi of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, both Republicans, and the Democrats Eric Schneiderman of New York and Kamala Harris of California -- whose offices have looked into complaints about Trump University." ...

     ... CW: This is currently (5 am ET) the top story on the Times' online main page. Looks as if some editor has reacted to recent commentary on the media's failure to vet Trump's actual misdeeds while going full-tilt on Clinton's "shadows" and "clouds." ...

... Jeff Horwitz, et al., of the AP add details that finger both Trump & Bondi as liars and opportunists. ...

... A Favor among Friends. Arturo Garcia of RawStory: "Donald Trump hosted a fundraiser for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's (R) re-election campaign less than a year after she decided not to investigate Trump University, the Huffington Post reported. The March 2014 event at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach cost the state Republican Party $4,855.65 -- a far cry from the $140,000 Trump later charged his own presidential campaign for use of the facility. Tickets to the event cost $3,000 per person." --safari ...

... Here's the HuffPost story, by Christina Wilkie & others. ...

... Scott Maxwell of The Orlando Sentinel: "I understand the global interest in Trump. But when a prosecutor has been asked to investigate someone -- and instead takes $25,000 in campaign cash from him -- it's the prosecutor who most needs probing. That's why I began digging into this way back in 2013 -- long before Trump was even a candidate for the White House.... This has gone on long enough. Bondi's actions need to be probed by an independent body.... Besides, the Trump media circus will soon move on to the next outrage, gaffe or accusation du jour. Floridians, meanwhile, will still be stuck with an attorney general who thinks it's OK to take fat campaign checks from would-be subjects of her office's investigations." --safari ...

... ** Scammer-in-Chief. S.V. Date of the Huffington Post: "... Trump's campaign..., set to receive tens of millions of dollars of other people's money [beginning in May 2016], finally sent five- and six-figure checks to Trump's properties for events that had happened months earlier. In all, just shy of $1 million went out the door on May 18. More than $600,000 of that went to Trump-owned businesses, with $423,000 of it going to Mar-a-Lago alone, which hosted that March 15 party, an earlier one on March 1 and a news conference on March 11.... Paul S. Ryan from the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group ... called Trump's heavy spending on his own properties 'unprecedented' and said the timing of the payments is curious.... 'It looks like a candidate who is pocketing donors' money.'... Even as Trump has skimped on traditional expenses like campaign staff or advertising, he has spent campaign money lavishly on his own businesses." -- CW ...

... BUT He Stiffed the Kids. Kelly Weill of the Daily Beast: "The pre-teen dance troupe that briefly became a national sensation after they performed for Donald Trump are suing the self-proclaimed billionaire's presidential campaign for stiffing them.... The USA Freedom Kids said in a newly filed lawsuit the Trump campaign broke verbal agreements for performances at two events and refused to pay even a $2,500 stipend for the group's travel expenses." -- CW

** "Blind Trust." Dana Milbank: "Asked by ABC News's David Muir on Monday afternoon whether he'd be releasing his income-tax returns, as every other major-party presidential nominee has done for 40 years, Trump [said]..., 'I think people don't care.'... No? A Quinnipiac University poll two weeks ago found that 74 percent of likely voters, including 62 percent of Republicans, think Trump should release his tax returns.... Trump's excuse, that he's waiting for audits to end, has no legal justification. His own accountants have said his audits from 2002 to 2008 have been 'closed,' yet his returns from those years remain unreleased. Do the unreleased returns illustrate shady connections? The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump's real estate investments 'brought the GOP nominee into regular contact with people who had ties to organized crime.' Do they show (as earlier returns did) that he paid little or nothing in taxes? Do they confirm reporting by The Post's David A. Fahrenthold that Trump has been stingy with charities?"

** Washington Post Editors: "Melania Trump, like many an immigrant, may be reluctant to delve too publicly into the details of her earliest days in the United States. Yet it is [Donald] Trump's own double standards, on immigration and other issues, that invited questions -- questions he himself said publicly would be addressed. The country is still waiting." CW: Read the whole editorial; the writer succinctly lays out Trump's hypocrisy on this & other matters.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Trump Immigration Policy = "Mass Deportation." Dara Lind of Vox: "The media really loves the idea that Donald Trump is changing his position on immigration. In particular, they really love the theory that Trump secretly has a plan to legalize unauthorized immigrants.... There's just one problem: There is no secret plan. Period. Donald Trump's immigration policy has been fairly consistent -- and much clearer than the media presumes.... More unauthorized immigrants would be deported, all unauthorized immigrants would be at risk of deportation, and it would be much harder for any immigrant -- legal or otherwise -- to enter the US. That's it. That's all." -- CW

Jamil Smith of MTV: "Speaking before the first predominantly black audience of his 15-month presidential campaign, Trump's pleasantries and platitudes were white noise -- no pun intended.... Trump's campaign ... organized the Detroit visit to give him a safe space, protecting him from any substantive interactions with the people he was supposed to be addressing.... In politics, white candidates get a lot of praise for just standing alongside a certain kind of black people -- the 'good ones.'... Seeing Trump dip his toe into black America should have inspired universal ridicule, but instead, we saw absurd narratives and headlines like 'Trump Brings Message of Unity to Black Church in Detroit.'" Via Paul Waldman. -- CW ...

... CW: As Smith points out, Trump didn't offer one policy proposal aimed at helping minorities. Okay, we know almost no Republicans want to give minorities better prospects. Given that hard, cold fact, there is one Trump card Donaldo could have played that might have gained him some (albeit undeserved) creds, even though it isn't exactly substantive. Trump could have used the occasion of his visit with the "good ones" to admit that President Obama was a U.S. citizen. Alas, Trump is still a birther:

Put It in Perspective. David Corn of Mother Jones: "On Monday, [Trump] released a list of 88 former generals and admirals who back his presidential bid.... But here's the real story: Mitt Romney, during the 2012 campaign, had 500 retired generals and admirals on his side." --safari ...

... Nancy Youseff of The Daily Beast: "Trump's top brass is kind of tarnished...[M]any of the general and flag officers who announced their support for Trump on Tuesday are considered in military circles to be anything but the best and brightest. Many ... have had brushes with scandals." --safari

Only the Best People. Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate: "Marco Gutierrez, the co-founder of a group called Latinos for Trump [who] warned ominously that there would be 'taco trucks on every corner' in the United States if Hillary Clinton wins this November...has done some weird stuff in his past. The Bay Area Mercury News notes that his real estate license has been suspended over sketchy transactions involving client funds.... Meanwhile, the conservative blog Quinton Report has found a court filing in which it's revealed thatGutierrez and his wife have filed for bankruptcy a combined 14 times." --safari

Trump Compares His Supporters to Members of ISIS. Eric Levitz of New York Mag: "Donald Trump answers questions about policy like a tenth-grade stoner amped up on Red Bull ... masking his ignorance in layers of confident blabber, before becoming too bored with his own bullshit to maintain any semblance of coherence. [This] produce[s] some of the most delightfully Dada sentences that mankind has ever heard.... Trump begins by informing us that the word cyber did not derive from the theory of cybernetics, popularized in the mid-20th century, but rather from the events of the last few years. He proceeds to conflate cybersecurity ... with combating ISIS's digital recruitment efforts. And then he posits that the terror group has more success attracting new members when they spread the perception that they are winning -- a 'psychology' that he likens to that of his own supporters, who have been energized by a recent poll that shows him leading nationally." --safari

Senate Race

Lost in Translation. Las Dos Caras de McCain. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: Following his primary win, Sen. John McCain [R-Az.] has launched a Spanish-language Website, and it's way different from his English-language site. "The Spanish language site, for instance, lauds him as a member of the Gang of Eight that sought comprehensive immigration reform, and a supporter of a pathway to citizenship for the children of immigrants who came to the country illegally -- a group known as the 'Dreamers.' The English-language site makes no mention of either and portrays the senator as a champion of tougher border security.... McCain's English-language site highlights his stance on 'Homeland Security and Immigration Reform,' while the Spanish-language site features McCain's position on 'Inmigracion.'” -- CW

Other News & Views

Follow the Money. Richard Valmanis & Grant Smith of Reuters: "U.S. companies that have expressed the most fervent public support for President Barack Obama's environmental agenda are also funding its biggest enemies - the scores of U.S. lawmakers who are climate change skeptics and oppose regulation to combat it, according to a Reuters review of public records." With charts and stats. Via Think Progress -- safari

Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "Congressional Republicans want to censure the Obama administration for sending $400 million in 'ransom' to Iran on the same day as American prisoners were released -- an issue they bet will play big on the campaign trail two months before election day." ...

... CW: Whaddaya mean it's a "do-nothing" Congress. They're censuring President Obama. They're investigating Secretary Clinton. No wonder these anti-abortion fanatics don't have time to fund Zika-virus abatement. I'm talkin' to you, Marco Rubio. (Rubio opposes allowing Zika-infected women to have abortions; Demirjian reports that Rubio "introduced ... legislation to stop all future payments to Iran from a fund to pay judgments and settlements against the federal government until Tehran returns the 'ransom money' and instead settles claims from American victims of Iranian terrorism."

Patrick Boehler of the New York Times: "... at least four residents of Hong Kong ... took in [Edward] Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, when he fled the United States in June 2013. Only now have they decided to speak about the experience, revealing a new chapter in the odyssey that riveted the world after Mr. Snowden disclosed that the N.S.A. had been monitoring the calls, emails and web activity of millions of Americans and others.... They were all clients of one of Mr. Snowden's Hong Kong lawyers, Robert Tibbo, who arranged for him to stay with them." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. John Koblin & Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times, in a story on Gretchen Carlson's settlement with Fox, add some news: "Additionally, Fox News abruptly announced -- just minutes after 21st Century Fox confirmed the settlement with Ms. Carlson -- the departure of Greta Van Susteren. Ms. Van Susteren had been with Fox News for 14 years, and her departure was effective immediately: Brit Hume will take over her 7 p.m. time slot, beginning on Tuesday night. A financial disagreement with the network led to Ms. Van Susteren's exit, according to a person familiar with the situation. Ms. Van Susteren was only informed in writing on Tuesday of her departure ... and had expected to go on the air Tuesday night.... In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Ms. Van Susteren wrote that she decided to leave the network late last week... She said that she 'could not wait' because of a time-limited exit clause in her contract. Ms. Van Susteren's husband, John P. Coale, said in a phone interview on Tuesday..., 'There's so much chaos, it’s very hard to work there.'... He said, 'There's more than meets the eye' and that there 'might be litigation in the future' so he did not want to talk further." Also, there's this on Carlson's settlement:

The evidence that Ms. Carlson had in her sexual harassment case was damning, according to another person with knowledge of the settlement. For a year and a half, she had been recording her meetings with Mr. Ailes on her cellphone.... The vast majority of the remarks quoted directly in her lawsuit against Mr. Ailes -- including lines like: 'I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better' -- were taken straight from the recordings, the person said. -- CW

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post to Van Susteren: Buh-bye, Madame Trumpista. Maybe you can get a job in the soon-TBA Trump Network or, if worse comes to worst, as Trump's press secretary. Also, too, you still own Gretchen Carlson an apology for your fact-averse support for Ailes while accusing Carlson of being nothing but an "angry ... disgruntled employee." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Trumpbot Update: Goes down in flames, deflects responsibility in true wingnut form. AP via TPM: "A New Jersey Republican ended his campaign for local office Tuesday following reports that he called online for the rape of a ... Daily Beast reporter.Mike Krawitz, who was running for the township council in West Deptford, sent a handwritten resignation note to the party Tuesday saying he was dropping out. On Monday, Krawitz told The Philadelphia Inquirer that his account was hacked and that he didn't make the comment on journalist Olivia Nuzzi's Facebook account." --safari

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