The Wires

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report cites several instances in which mothers lost custody of their newborns because the mothers failed routine (but outdated) drug tests.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

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

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

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

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

Tuesday
Sep112018

The Commentariat -- September 12, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Annie Gearan & Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "President Trump issued a new order Wednesday authorizing additional sanctions against countries or individuals for interfering in upcoming U.S. elections, but lawmakers of both parties immediately said the effort does not go far enough. The order would allow Trump to sanction foreigners who interfere in the midterm elections to be held in less than two months. It covers overt efforts to meddle in election infrastructure, such as vote counts, as well as 'propaganda' and other attempts to influence voting from abroad, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told reporters. The harshest sanctions outlined in the order would be up to the president's discretion. 'This is intended to be a very broad effort to prevent foreign manipulation of the political process,' national security adviser John Bolton said during a briefing Wednesday." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In other words, "Russia, if you're listening, come on back." What I predict Trump will do is sanction countries or individuals who appear to help Democrats & accidentally forget to notice any who help Republicans. Fox "News" will be guarding the henhouse.

Lisa Friedman, et al., of the New York Times: "Scott Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is in discussions to work as a consultant to the Kentucky coal mining tycoon Joseph W. Craft III, according to two industry executives familiar with the plans.... Mr. Craft, the chief executive of Alliance Resource Partners and a major Republican donor, enjoyed a close relationship with the E.P.A. during Mr. Pruitt's tenure. Mr. Craft met with Mr. Pruitt at least seven times in Mr. Pruitt's first 14 months at the agency and in December provided him with courtside seats at a University of Kentucky basketball game, a school where Mr. Craft is a prominent supporter." ...

... Juliet Eilperin, et al., of the Washington Post: "Scott Pruitt ... faced mounting financial pressures as he sought to balance his personal obligations in Oklahoma with his new role as a member of President Trump's Cabinet in Washington, new documents show. Pruitt, who made $189,600 a year as EPA administrator, incurred between $115,000 and $300,000 in legal fees last year, according to financial disclosure forms released Wednesday. He sold off tens of thousands in investments during that same period. The documents highlight the financial pressures facing the former administrator, who enlisted the help of staff to help his wife find work and to perform personal tasks for him. The form does not specify what the legal work was for: as Pruitt's spending and management practices came under increasing scrutiny starting last fall he eventually hired private attorneys to represent him and established a legal-defense fund."

Jackson McHenry of New York: "Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes who was accused of promoting a culture of sexual harassment alongside Les Moonves within CBS's news division, is leaving the company.... CBS News [president] David Rhodes ... claims that Fager's departure is 'not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports' though he 'violated company policy.' The investigations into CBS and CBS News, one of which started after allegations against Charlie Rose surfaced and another after reports on Moonves, will continue. Fager initially denied the allegations against him, which included claims that he touched women inappropriately at parties and shielded men beneath him who were accused of misconduct. In The New Yorker's later report, on which Fager declined to comment, Sarah Johansen, a former intern, said Fager groped her at a work party." ...

     ... Update. The New York Times story is here.

Alexandre Tanzi & Rich Miller of Bloomberg: "... Donald Trump's unpopularity is unprecedented given the strength of the economy. That&s according to a Bloomberg analysis of polling data. It shows that Trump is the first U.S. leader dating back to at least Ronald Reagan whose approval rating is consistently low and lagging consumers' favorable assessment of the economy."

Follow the Money. Anthony Cormier & Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News: "... secret documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal a previously undisclosed aspect of the [infamous June 2016 Trump Tower] meeting: a complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants who moved money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok, and a small office park in New Jersey. The documents show Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at the center of this vast network and how he used accounts overseas to filter money to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the Trump Tower meeting.... Now, four federal law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News, investigators are focused on two bursts of transactions that bank examiners deemed suspicious: one a short time after the meeting [on the same day Paul Manafort became Trump's campaign manager] and another immediately after the November 2016 presidential election."

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Former President George W. Bush is hitting the fundraising circuit for a handful of Republican House and Senate candidates, joining the party's push to maintain its congressional majorities. Bush has maintained a low profile since leaving office in 2009. Yet as the midterm campaign season enters its final weeks and the party braces for the prospect of a Trump-fueled wave, Bush -- who has been critical of the president -- is putting his muscle behind Republicans in heated races." ...

... OR, as Jonathan Chait puts it, "George W. Bush, who declined to endorse Donald Trump (or anybody) in 2016, and made muttered elliptical criticisms of the 45th president, has thrown himself into the task of covering up Trump's many crimes. Bush, reports Politico, is raising money for candidates who are committed to maintaining the cover-ups.... For the most part, the entire party has closed ranks around the no-oversight agenda.... This very much includes the parts of the party that see themselves as quietly resisting Trump."

Sheila Kaplan & Jan Hoffman of the New York Times: "Warning that teenage use of electronic cigarettes has reached 'an epidemic proportion,' the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday gave Juul Labs and four other makers of popular vaping devices 60 days to prove they can keep them away from minors. If they fail, the agency said, it may take the flavored products off the market. The order was part of a sweeping action that targeted both makers and sellers of e-cigarettes. The agency said it was sending warning letters to 1,100 retailers -- including 7-Eleven stores, Walgreens, Circle K convenience shops and Shell gas stations -- and issued another 131 fines, for selling e-cigarettes to minors. In addition, the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a briefing that the agency would look closely at the manufacturers' own internet storefronts. He flagged what he called 'straw purchases' -- bulk orders of the devices, which buyers in turn used to sell to minors." Mrs. McC: Yeah, and they could give gun manufacturers 60 days to prove they can keep guns away from minors.

Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "... the scars of the financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession are still with us, just below the surface. The most profound of these is that the uneven nature of the recovery compounded a long-term imbalance in the accumulation of wealth. As a consequence, what it means to be secure has changed. Wealth, real wealth, now comes from investment portfolios, not salaries. Fortunes are made through an initial public offering, a grant of stock options, a buyout or another form of what high-net-worth individuals call a liquidity event.... The proportion of family income from wages has dropped from nearly 70 percent to just under 61 percent. It's an extraordinary shift, driven largely by the investment profits of the very wealthy.... The financial crisis ... also put an end to a fundamental belief of the middle class: that owning a home was always a good idea because prices moved in only one direction -- up.... Bankers, shareholders and investors were ... bailed out [of their financial crisis losses]. For homeowners, there wasn't much of a rescue package from Washington, and eight million succumbed to foreclosure." ...

     ... See also, linked below, David Dayen's post on that weasel Tim Geithner. Mrs. McC: Among the things he slow-walked was the homeowners' mortgage recovery program. I thought the Obama administration was going to help my friends with underwater mortgages. It didn't, because Geithner.

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "Facing an uproar over revelations that he mismanaged past cases of clerical sexual abuse, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, sent a letter informing his priests on Tuesday that he plans to discuss his resignation with Pope Francis in Rome. Cardinal Wuerl has faced calls for his resignation by some of his priests and parishioners since the release of a bombshell grand jury report last month in Pennsylvania. Cardinal Wuerl previously served as the archbishop of Pittsburgh, and the report included accounts of his allowing several priests accused of sexually abusing children to remain in ministry, after relying on the advice of psychologists who had assessed the priests."

Tennis Umps Get Their Fee-Fees Hurt. Des Bieler of the Washington Post: "Stung by what they perceive as a lack of institutional support for the chair umpire who gave Serena Williams a game penalty late in the U.S. Open women's final, which set off a firestorm of criticism, other umpires are reportedly discussing the possibility of boycotting her matches. Top umpires are also considering the formation of a union, according to a report Tuesday, in part because they are not allowed to discuss specific matches. Williams was free to speak her mind after losing, 6-2, 6-4, Saturday to Japan's Naomi Osaka, and she accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism. He had given her a warning for coaching, then a point penalty for smashing her racket and, after she repeatedly expressed frustration, including calling him a 'thief,' Ramos levied the game penalty for verbal abuse." Mrs. McC: See what happens when you question the authority of authority figures? They really can't take it.

Michael Birnbaum & Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "European lawmakers voted Wednesday to initiate sanctions proceedings against the Hungarian government for what they said was backsliding on democracy, an extraordinary censure for a nation that was once a beacon of post-Communist transformation. The vote, which required a two-thirds supermajority of the European Parliament to pass, declared that there was a 'clear risk of serious breach' of European values by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. It was the first step in a process that could ultimately strip Hungary of its voice in decision-making in the European Union. Orban has lost many of his protectors in his ambitious quest to remake the continent in his model of 'illiberal democracy' -- a bloc that would be closer to Russia, less open to migration, and less concerned about independent judiciaries, a free press and minority rights." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yes, but Trumpy likes him. Of course.

*****

New Hampshire Primary Results. Sydney Ember of the New York Times: "Democratic voters in New Hampshire selected Molly Kelly, a former state senator, as their nominee for governor on Tuesday, as female candidates for governorships continue to show their strength in primary elections this year.... She will face the Republican incumbent, Chris Sununu, who is one of the most popular governors in the country.... Ms. Kelly's victory brings to 15 the number of women who have won governor's nominations in this primary season, a record.... But Democrats rejected the bid of another female candidate, Maura Sullivan, a military veteran who had only moved to the state last year. She fell to Chris Pappas, a local party favorite, the A.P. reported, in a key House district that Republicans hope to target in November.... Should Mr. Pappas win in November, he would be the state’s first openly gay representative in Congress. He will face Eddie Edwards, a Navy veteran and former police chief, who won the Republican primary Tuesday in a close race over Andy Sanborn. Mr. Edwards would become the state's first African-American member of Congress." ...

     ... Full New Hampshire results are here.

*****

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Wednesday leveled a fresh attack on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as he continued to defend his administration's response to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year and asserted readiness for the one now barreling toward the Carolinas. In a morning tweet, Trump called Cruz 'totally incompetent.' She was the local official most vocal about the need for a more robust federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where researchers have estimated there were nearly 3,000 excess deaths after the storm. In the tweet, Trump also touted his administration's response to other hurricanes last year and doubled down on his insistence Tuesday that his administration's response to Hurricane Maria was 'an incredible, unsung success.'" ...

... "An Incredible, Unsung Success." Eric Levitz of New York: President Trump "did almost nothing in the lead-up to [Hurricane Maria last year] -- and went on a four-day golf vacation in its immediate aftermath. Weeks later -- after his administration's inaction contributed to a humanitarian crisis that condemned millions of U.S. citizens to a preindustrial existence, and cost thousands of them their lives -- Trump paid Puerto Rico a visit. And in between feuding with the island's elected leadership, Trump told Puerto Ricans that they should be very proud of the government's response -- because it had spared them from suffering a 'real catastrophe like Katrina.'... The president never apologized for his comments, or expressed anguish at the revelation that Puerto Rico had suffered a tragedy far greater than he had realized. The president proceeded to deny the catastrophically indebted island any significant relief funds (even while pushing through a $1.5 trillion tax-cut package, which included provisions that directly undermine Puerto Rico's manufacturing sector), warned the island that FEMA could not keep relief workers 'in P.R. forever!' less than a month after the storm had landed, and privileged Texas over Puerto Rico in the distribution of emergency resources, despite the island's far graver conditions. On Tuesday, the president ... said that his administration's response to Hurricane Maria was 'the best job we did,' and that the federal government's relief effort was an 'incredible, unsung success.'" ...

... As you can hear in the video, Trump's remarks Tuesday came in response to a reporter's asking, "How do we apply the lessons of what happened in Puerto Rico?" Cold comfort for the fleeing victims in the Carolinas.

... The lesson Trump learned was the same lesson he learns from every experience: he did a great job, & he didn't get enough credit for it. ...

Trump gets a tremendously big laugh before Colbert even cracks a joke:

... Ashley Parker of the Washington Post: "Flanked in the Oval Office by charts showing the path of Hurricane Florence, President Trump on Tuesday issued a warning about the potentially catastrophic storm that at times felt strangely exuberant. 'Tremendously big and tremendously wet -- tremendous amounts of water,' Trump said, expressing something close to admiration at the expected precipitation.... In a range of situations -- from deadly shootings and natural disasters to Tuesday's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- Trump has responded in ways that, at best, seem ill-suited to the somberness of the events." Mrs. McC: Trump explains the weather the way I would if I were trying to express myself in another language: "Big rain make much big water." The "experts" Parker consults find various explanations for Trump's strange enthusiasm for sad or disastrous events, but I'll go with Omarosa's diagnosis: diminished capacity. ...

... Christal Hayes of USA Today: "The Trump administration took nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's budget this summer to help boost U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to budget documents shared with USA Today. The revelation, just ahead of Hurricane Florence's expected landfall in North and South Carolina, was found by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who first shared the documents live on MSNBC late Tuesday." Mrs. McC: By federal standards $10MM ain't much.

Sharon Otterman of the New York Times: "The family members and loved ones of the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks gathered under misty skies at the World Trade Center site on Tuesday to honor and remember the legacies of those lost by reading their names aloud in a somber ritual repeated each year in New York on the anniversary of the attacks." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Trump paid tribute on Tuesday to the airline passengers and crew members who stormed the cockpit of a hijacked plane and thwarted terrorists in the skies over Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, vowing to follow their example by standing up to evil in the world. In his first trip to Shanksville, Pa., as president, Mr. Trump led a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks by honoring the heroes who brought down United Airlines Flight 93 into an unpopulated field rather than allow it to be used as a weapon against the nation's capital." ...

... WTF is wrong with this man?

Donald & Melania Trump arriving in Pennsylvania for ceremony to honor the Shanksville heroes of 9/11.... Tierney McAfee of People: "Donald Trump is facing widespread social media backlash after he was pictured greeting supporters with a triumphant double fist pump as he arrived to a 9/11 memorial service on Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the terror attacks.... 'We have found nothing to show collusion between President Trump & Russia, absolutely zero, but every day we get more documentation showing collusion between the FBI & DOJ, the Hillary campaign, foreign spies & Russians, incredible,' [Trump tweeted this morning.]... As more than one Twitter critic noted, Trump first marked Tuesday's 9/11 anniversary 'with an angry morning tweet about Russia and Hillary Clinton.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update: See Akhilleus's commentary yesterday on how Trump behaved in the days following September 11, 2001.

Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "As politicians and others went on Twitter on Tuesday morning to mark the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Trump used the platform to launch a fresh round of assaults on the FBI and Justice Department. Trump -- apparently seizing on allegations leveled the night before by one of his conservative allies in Congress -- referred in particular two former FBI officials who have become infamous for trading anti-Trump texts: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The president repeated a claim from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that the pair employed a 'media leak strategy' to undermine his administration.... The claim from Meadows is debatable; Strzok's attorney said his client's reference to a 'media leak strategy' was an effort to stem unauthorized disclosures of information. Both Strzok and Page have left the FBI, Strzok because he was fired over his anti-Trump texts. 'New Strzok-Page texts reveal "Media Leak Strategy." @FoxNews So terrible, and NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI - but the world is watching, and they get it completely,' Trump wrote." (Also linked yesterday.)"

** Greg Sargent: Today Bob Woodward's book gets released, and much coverage of it is framed around revelations of President Trump's raging, volatile temperament, his erratic mind-changing, and his startling lack of knowledge or curiosity about complex domestic and global policy problems. But there are other key revelations in 'Fear' that illuminate a different set of traits -- Trump's nonstop lying, his utter contempt for legal and governing process, and his bottomless bad faith in developing rationales for extremely consequential decisions. These sorts of traits -- unlike Trump's temperament and incuriosity -- are not usually looked at as evidence of his unfitness for this office. But they should be. Woodward's book adds texture and context to two glaring examples of misconduct during the Trump presidency: his firing of then-FBI Director James B. Comey, and his rage at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to protect him from the Russia investigation." Read on. ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Sargent is right. A person with a bad temper can govern, but one who can neither accept facts nor apply logic & reason to them cannot govern. ...

... Fiat Unlimited Is Not a Car; It's Professor Plump's Balanced Budget "Plan." John Schoen of CNBC: "As a candidate, Donald Trump pledged to balance the federal budget and lower the national debt.... Once he won..., according to ... Bob Woodward..., [Trump's solution was,] 'Just run the presses -- print money.'... Cohn was 'astounded at Trump's lack of basic understanding,' Woodward writes." Mrs. McC: This sounds like a joke, but it probably isn't. ...

Oops, misprint.     ... Stef Kight of Axios: "The CBO now says the deficit will approach $1 trillion by the end of this fiscal year, but in April the agency didn't expect the deficit to reach $1 trillion until 2020." Mrs. Mcc: Yeah, so? Just tell Steve Mnuchin & his lovely wife to print 1,000,000.000,00 dollar bills. They could put Trump's picture on them for fun. But legal tender and all.

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Bob Woodward's book is now officially out, and so is a growing series of statements from White House officials taking issue with how they are portrayed and quoted in it. But ... not all denials are created equal. And some might as well be admissions. Two denials, in particular -- from former top White House aides Gary Cohn and Rob Porter -- are conspicuously incomplete. Both men are accused in the book of effectively removing things from Trump's desk to prevent him from taking certain actions. And both have now issued statements that are rather similar, both for what they say and what they don't say.... Cohn says Woodward's book 'does not accurately portray my experience.' Porter cites the 'selective and often misleading portrait it paints.'... Neither of them says specific details or quotes offered by Woodward are wrong, mind you; they say only that the overall picture is flawed."

Jonathan Stempel of Reuters: "... Donald Trump on Tuesday won dismissal of a lawsuit in which three protesters accused him of 'inciting to riot,' after they were roughed up at a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky during Trump's White House run. By a 3-0 vote, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said ... Trump's speech was protected by the First Amendment because he did not specifically advocate violence.... [The planintffs] claimed they were assaulted, pushed and shoved, with Brousseau punched in the stomach, and unceremoniously removed after Trump repeatedly exhorted supporters to 'get 'em out of here.' But in ordering the dismissal of the incitement-to-riot claim, a misdemeanor, Circuit Judge David McKeague noted that Trump said 'don't hurt 'em.' McKeague said this amounted to an 'express disavowal and discouragement' of violence...."

Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Washington Post: "Days before in-person jury ­selection is set to begin in his second trial, President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in talks with the special counsel’s office about a possible plea deal, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to ­describe the conversations, cautioned that the negotiations may not result in a deal.... The specifics of Manafort's current negotiations with prosecutors were unclear, including whether he would provide any information about the president.... Jury selection for Manafort's second trial is set to begin Monday, with opening statements scheduled for Sept. 24."

Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times: "Members of an American-backed coalition said Tuesday that they had begun a final push to oust the militants from Hajin, the remaining sliver of territory under the group's control in the region where it was born. The assault is the final chapter of a war that began more than four years ago after the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, seized enormous tracts of land in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate. The Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led militia that has been fighting the Islamic State in Syria with the United States and its allies, said in a statement that its forces had launched an offensive on the area from four sides on Monday evening.... Even if it is defeated in Hajin, however, the Islamic State is likely to remain a powerful terrorist force."

Above the Law. Philip Gourevitch of the New Yorker: John Bolton's policy speech against the International Criminal Court was another instance -- like Trump's attempts to weaken the special counsel -- of disempowering the prosecutor."

Tim Geithner Was Obama's Gary Cohn. David Dayen in the New Republic: "... early in [President] Obama's first term, as he struggled to prevent further [economic] collapse, he faced similar insubordination from a key official: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. According to credible accounts, Geithner slow-walked a direct presidential order to prepare the breakup of Citigroup, instead undertaking other measures to nurse the insolvent bank back to health.... Any objective look at Geithner's actions in response to the financial crisis confirms that he would maximize his power on behalf of big banks, even if it meant going around his colleagues and his president.... Failing to hold anyone accountable for causing the Great Recession as the economy struggled to regain its footing generated significant public resentment, from the Tea Party on the right to Occupy Wall Street on the left.... Geithner's actions to protect banks from the president he served, and the anger it bred at a 'rigged' system, diminished the public's faith in government intervention and helped install Trump in the White House."

Paul Blumenthal of the Huffington Post: "Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) wants to know if Judge Brett Kavanaugh ... has a gambling problem. 'Have you ever sought treatment for a gambling addiction?' Whitehouse asks pointedly as part of a series of questions submitted this week about Kavanaugh's unexplained personal debts. In 2016, Kavanaugh reported credit card and personal loan debts of between $60,000 and $200,000. The Trump White House said these debts were the result of Kavanaugh buying baseball tickets for friends who later paid him back, as well as some spending on home improvements. The 2016 debts did not appear on Kavanaugh's 2017 disclosure form because they were either entirely paid off or fell below the reporting threshold. Kavanaugh also reported between $60,000 and $200,000 in debt in 2006. The fact that Kavanaugh accrued such high debts through baseball tickets attracted notice, but surprisingly, not a single senator asked him about the issue during his televised judiciary committee hearings last week. 'Senators have limited time for questioning,' Rich Davidson, Whitehouse's spokesman, said in an email. 'Senator Whitehouse would have touched on many of these issues if he had additional time.'"

Ballooning Deficit? Let's Have Another Round of Tax Cuts for the Rich. Jeff Stein of the Washington Post: "House Republicans bracing for November's midterm elections unveiled a second round of tax cuts on Monday that could add more than $2 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade, aiming to cement the steep cuts they passed last fall despite criticisms of fiscal profligacy and tailoring their policies to help the rich. The GOP's 'tax reform 2.0' aims to make permanent the tax cuts for individuals that President Trump signed into law in December 2017, including the law's temporary reductions in individual filers' rates, a doubling of the Child Tax Credit, and cuts to the estate tax paid by a small fraction of the wealthiest families."

McConnell to Deprive Democrats of Campaign Time. Burgess Everett of Politico: "Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to keep the [Senate] in session for a significant portion of October if not four entire weeks, costing Democrats key campaign trail days and allowing the Senate to continue its work into the fall, according to five Republican officials. The Kentucky Republican wants to keep cranking through as many lifetime judicial nominations and executive nominations as he can with his majority in the balance and the GOP still with the unilateral ability to confirm ... Donald Trump's picks. Moreover, the Senate GOP has only two members who are considered vulnerable in the election: Ted Cruz of Texas and Dean Heller of Nevada. Democrats, meanwhile, are defending 10 seats total in states that Trump won in 2016, with at least four considered extremely competitive."

Lindsey's New Amigo. Ed Kilgore: "With [Joe] Lieberman's retirement from the Senate in 2013, and [John] McCain's recent death, [Lindsey] Graham is now the last of the 'Amigos.' And given the atmosphere of partisan and ideological polarization, and the enormous pressure on Republicans to bend the knee to Donald Trump, it's probably inevitable that the South Carolinian's main mission is to encourage Donald Trump to listen to his inner War Hawk.... Graham appears to have worked hard to counteract the advice of conflict-shy civilian aides and cautious military advisors to encourage Trump to indulge his blood lust and fear of looking weak[.]"

Gubernatorial Races

New York. Anna Sanders & Bruce Golding of the New York Post: "Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was blindsided by an 'inappropriate' political mailer tying Cynthia Nixon to anti-Semitism -- but just a day before the inflammatory literature surfaced, one of his top campaign aides pitched a story about the primary challenger's opposition to Israeli settlements. The attempt to tar the former 'Sex and the City' star over the divisive issue was made in an email to a Post reporter that casts doubt about Cuomo's repeated claims he had nothing to do with the 11th-hour hit job. The smoking-gun email, sent Friday afternoon from an official 'andrewcuomo.com' account, suggested that The Post publish a story about Nixon's support of the pro-Palestinian 'Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions' movement against Israel.... Nixon's support of the BDS movement is among three points raised in the pro-Cuomo mailer, sent out by the state Democratic committee just days before Thursday's primary, which warns, 'With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can't take a chance with inexperienced Cynthia Nixon, who won't stand strong for our Jewish communities.'"

Kansas. Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star: "Kris Kobach may be the chosen standard-bearer for the Kansas Republican Party, but elected GOP officials are less than unified behind him in his run for governor. Almost 40 percent of Republicans in the Kansas Legislature, when asked whether they will support Kobach in November, either would not say or did not respond to repeated inquiries. Four moderate Republicans, all from Johnson County, have said they will not support Kobach."


Another Facebook Flub. Mark Stern
of Slate: "In the wake of the 2016 election, to combat the rampant dissemination of disinformation, Facebook brought on five third-party fact-checkers to referee stories posted to the website. If any one fact-checker contests the accuracy of a story, it is flagged by Facebook as potential 'false news,' and this 'false rating' has a dire chilling effect on readership. This system thus gives a handful of outlets immense power over the articles that show up in your news feed. Four of Facebook's chosen fact-checkers -- the Associated Press, Factcheck.org, PolitiFact, and Snopes -- are widely trusted and nonpartisan. The fifth, the Weekly Standard, has generally high-quality editorial content with a conservative ideological bent. This week, the Weekly Standard used its gatekeeping role in an incredibly troubling way, declaring that a story written by Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress was false, essentially preventing Facebook users from accessing the article.... There's no sound defense of the Weekly Standard's effort to suppress Millhiser's piece.... My colleague Dahlia Lithwick and I made this exact point in an article published three days before Millhiser's. But his piece boasted a more striking headline...: 'Brett Kavanaugh said he would kill Roe v. Wade last week and almost no one noticed' -- which is apparently what triggered the Weekly Standard's ire." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Right-wing screamers like Jim Jordan & Mark Meadows do all that screaming because it works. As a result of their screaming, Facebook chose only one partisan "fact-checker," and it's a winger outfit.

Delia Gallagher & Livia Borghes of CNN: "Pope Francis has taken the unprecedented step of summoning the top officials of the Catholic church to discuss the escalating sexual abuse scandal that has plagued the church. he Pope will meet with the presidents of the Catholic Bishops conferences from around the world in the Vatican from February 21-24, the Vatican press office said Wednesday."

News Ledes

Weather Channel: "Hurricane Florence is forecast to move slowly through the Carolinas and Southeast through this weekend and will cause catastrophic inland rainfall flooding, life-threatening storm surge and destructive winds. As of Wednesday morning, Florence was centered more than 500 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving west-northwestward. 'This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast," the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote in its Tuesday evening area forecast discussion."

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

Monday
Sep102018

The Commentariat -- September 11, 2018

New Hampshire's primary is today. Sydney Ember of the New York Times reports on the top races.

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Sharon Otterman of the New York Times: "The family members and loved ones of the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks gathered under misty skies at the World Trade Center site on Tuesday to honor and remember the legacies of those lost by reading their names aloud in a somber ritual repeated each year in New York on the anniversary of the attacks." ...

... MEANWHILE, WTF is wrong with this man?

Donald & Melania Trump arriving in Pennsylvania for ceremony to honor the Shanksville heroes of 9/11.... Tierney McAfee of People: "Donald Trump is facing widespread social media backlash after he was pictured greeting supporters with a triumphant double fist pump as he arrived to a 9/11 memorial service on Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the terror attacks.... 'We have found nothing to show collusion between President Trump & Russia, absolutely zero, but every day we get more documentation showing collusion between the FBI & DOJ, the Hillary campaign, foreign spies & Russians, incredible,' [Trump tweeted this morning.]... As more than one Twitter critic noted, Trump first marked Tuesday's 9/11 anniversary 'with an angry morning tweet about Russia and Hillary Clinton.'" ...

     ... Update: See Akhilleus's commentary below on how Trump behaved in the days following September 11, 2001.

Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "As politicians and others went on Twitter on Tuesday morning to mark the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Trump used the platform to launch a fresh round of assaults on the FBI and Justice Department. Trump -- apparently seizing on allegations leveled the night before by one of his conservative allies in Congress -- referred in particular two former FBI officials who have become infamous for trading anti-Trump texts: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The president repeated a claim from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that the pair employed a 'media leak strategy' to undermine his administration.... The claim from Meadows is debatable; Strzok's attorney said his client's reference to a 'media leak strategy' was an effort to stem unauthorized disclosures of information. Both Strzok and Page have left the FBI, Strzok because he was fired over his anti-Trump texts. 'New Strzok-Page texts reveal "Media Leak Strategy." @FoxNews So terrible, and NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI - but the world is watching, and they get it completely,' Trump wrote."

*****

Erin Durkin of the Guardian: "As people who lost loved ones in the [9/11] attack on lower Manhattan will gather on Tuesday once again to mark the anniversary, on the site of the towers, New York is nearing a grim milestone: 10,000 people diagnosed with cancer linked to September 11, 2001.... In all, more than 43,000 people have been certified with a September 11-related health condition.... Survivors are speaking out to encourage others to sign up for the health program and get checked. Anyone who lived, worked or went to school near the site and develops a related illness is eligible for health care and possible compensation under the ;Zadroga Act." --safari

Ignoramus-in-Chief. Pilar Menendez of The Daily Beast: "In what now seems like a daily occurrence, Donald Trump woke up Monday morning and fired off 16 bizarre tweets, including several misleading or false claims about the economy -- one of which was so patently false that both Fox News and Trump's own top economic adviser had to publicly correct the president. 'The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!,' Trump wrote at 6:03 a.m. [The truth is 10 years, not 100].... The president's claim that the U.S. gross domestic product is higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in over a century is, however, incorrect....In fact -- though comparing unrelated economic measurements is already odd -- this has happened several times since 1948, according to several economists and the Fox News research team...[I]n the 70 years since the U.S. Labor Department started publishing monthly unemployment statistics, the growth rate has been higher than the jobless level more than 20 percent of the time." --safari ...

... The News from Professor Plump Trump, Economic Historian:

The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years! -- Donald Trump, in a tweet yesterday

False. It has happened in 185 months since 1948, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. -- Linda Qiu, New York Times

Hahahahaha. Emily Goldberg of Politico: "... Donald Trump promised Monday that he would 'write the real book' to set the record straight on his administration, once again lashing out against veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward, whose incendiary book about the Trump White House will be released this week. 'The Woodward book is a Joke -- just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction,' Trump tweeted on Monday morning. 'Dems can't stand losing. I'll write the real book!' Trump added on Twitter, 'The White House is a "smooth running machine." We are making some of the biggest and most important deals in our country's history -- with many more to come! The Dems are going crazy!'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As Colbert says to Trump, "That a bold statement, considering that you didn't even write your own fake book."

... Annie Karni of Politico: "... Donald Trump has called journalist Bob Woodward’s book on his administration a work of 'fiction' and a 'scam,' claiming that quotes in the book are 'made up' and that the author is a 'liar.' At the same time..., he is livid at his former economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and his former staff secretary, Rob Porter, for 'leaking' to Woodward. It's difficult to rationally argue that the book could be both: fiction dreamed up by Woodward, and a betrayal by former top stewards of the administration...."

Courtney Cube & Carol Lee of NBC News: "As ... Donald Trump issues a steady stream of praise for Kim Jong Un in interviews and on Twitter, a steady stream of evidence that North Korea is still making nuclear weapons has pushed his administration to take a much more aggressive stance toward Pyongyang. The newest intelligence shows Kim's regime has escalated efforts to conceal its nuclear activity, according to three senior U.S. officials. During the three months since the historic Singapore summit and Trump's proclamation that North Korea intends to denuclearize, North Korea has built structures to obscure the entrance to at least one warhead storage facility, according to the officials." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yes But. As we learned last week, Trump needs Kim as a character witness.

Trump's Giant Fart. Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Trump administration, taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, is preparing to make it significantly easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere. Methane, which is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, routinely leaks from oil and gas wells, and energy companies have long said that the rules requiring them to test for emissions were costly and burdensome. The Environmental Protection Agency, perhaps as soon as this week, plans to make public a proposal to weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times." ...

... Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: "Under President Donald Trump, the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shrunk to levels not seen since the Reagan administration. But if Trump has his way, pollution levels will rise to Reagan-era levels too. Not only is the president seeking to roll back or terminate countless clean air and clean water rules, but he wants to make sure that the laws we do have in place are not enforced. Since Trump took office, some 1,600 workers have left the EPA.... EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance has shrunk a stunning 15.7 percent in the past 18 months -- nearly one in six workers have left.... As one recently retired 34-year EPA veteran described the current regime, 'These people are like termites, gnawing at the foundation.'" --safari ...

... MEANWHILE. Paul Rogers & Katy Murphy of the (San Jose) Mercury News: "In a major environmental milestone, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a law requiring California to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from clean sources such as solar, wind and hydropower by 2045. The new law keeps California at the forefront of addressing climate change and essentially commits the world's fifth-largest economy with 40 million people to a phase-out of fossil fuels from power plants. It also requires that 50 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable energy by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030, up from the current level of 32 percent. At a ceremony in the state Capitol, Brown signed SB 100, by State Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. The new law gives California the most far-reaching clean energy goals of any U.S. state, along with Hawaii, which set a similar target in 2015 of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045." ...

     ... AND. Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "Warning of the risks of 'runaway' global warming, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Monday called on global leaders to rein in climate change faster. 'If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change,' Mr. Guterres said at United Nations headquarters in New York. 'Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment,' he said.... His remarks came with countries around the world far short of meeting the goals they set for themselves under the 2015 Paris accord to reduce the emissions that have warmed the planet over the last century. The next round of climate negotiations is scheduled for this year in Poland."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Trump administration threatened the International Criminal Court with sanctions if it pursued an investigation of American troops in Afghanistan, opening a harsh new attack on an old nemesis of many on the political right. 'The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,' President Trump's national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said in a speech on Monday in Washington.... Mr. Bolton also announced that the United States would shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington -- a decision linked to the International Criminal Court, which he said was being prodded by the Palestinians to investigate Israel." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Reuters: "The international criminal court has said that it will 'continue to do its work undeterred', a day after US national security adviser, John Bolton, threatened sanctions if the tribunal investigated US activities in Afghanistan. The Hague-based court said in a statement it was an independent and impartial institution with the backing of 123 countries.... ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said last year there was a 'reasonable basis to believe' war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in Afghanistan and that all sides in the conflict would be examined, including members of the US armed forces and Central Intelligence Agency." --safari

** Josh Lederman, et al., of NBC News: U.S. "Intelligence agencies investigating mysterious 'attacks' that led to brain injuries in U.S. personnel in Cuba and China consider Russia to be the main suspect, three U.S. officials and two others briefed on the investigation tell NBC News. The suspicion that Russia is likely behind the alleged attacks is backed up by evidence from communications intercepts, known in the spy world as signals intelligence, amassed during a lengthy and ongoing investigation involving the FBI, the CIA and other U.S. agencies. The officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the intelligence. The evidence is not yet conclusive enough, however, for the U.S. to formally assign blame to Moscow for incidents that started in late 2016 and have continued in 2018, causing a major rupture in U.S.-Cuba relations." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yeah, well, Donald can just call his BFF Vlad & ask him about that.

Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "A federal judge on Monday blasted U.S. prosecutors and defense attorneys during a hearing in which the defense sought to have a Russian woman freed on bail pending trial on charges she was a foreign agent attempting to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and other American conservative groups. In ordering continued detention for Maria Butina, 29, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said Butina remained a serious flight risk. Chutkan also imposed a gag order after slamming prosecutors for their mistaken claim in court filings that Butina traded sex for access, and her defense for repeated public statements that the judge said could bias potential jurors." ...

... It's Not about the Sex. Vera Bergengruen of BuzzFeed News: "A tantalizing sentence inserted into the case against Maria Butina proved irresistible for journalists and lawyers alike. Although it was just an aside in a sweeping case alleging that the 29-year-old Russian worked to curry favor with American conservatives, the claim that she had offered sex for a job dominated much of the news coverage about her for weeks. So did the Justice Department's two-line acknowledgment in a 22-page late-night filing Friday that the allegation was false. But the breathless coverage of a sexual-proposition-that-wasn't missed many new details that the court filing reveals about a calculated five-year effort to make inroads with prominent Republicans through gun rights and religion, including the assertion that Butina and her American partner, GOP operative Paul Erickson, saw the scrutiny brought on by hacking of the Democratic National Committee's computer system as undoing a years-long influence campaign." ...

... Tim Dickenson of Rolling Stone: "In a federal court filing, prosecutors allege that [Maria] Butina has offered to flip on [Paul] Erickson -- who is also identified as 'Person 1' in case documents. 'Although the defense contends that the defendant is in a committed relationship with Person 1,' the feds write, 'she recently offered to provide information to the government about his illegal activities.'"

Cristian Farias of New York puts the Papadopoulos flop in perspective. Observers thought he was the key to unlocking a great criminal conspiracy. But the Mueller team saw early on that Papadopoulos was just a petty liar with grand ambitions. Now he's off to Hollywood to shop his life story or something.

** Hamed Aleaziz of BuzzFeed News: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday warned incoming immigration judges ... against allowing sympathy for the people appearing before them, which might cause them to make decisions contrary to what the law requires. 'When we depart from the law and create nebulous legal standards out of a sense of sympathy for the personal circumstances of a respondent in our immigration courts, we do violence to the rule of law and constitutional fabric that bind this great nation. Your job is to apply the law -- even in tough cases, he said. The comments immediately drew criticism from the union that represents the judges and from former judges.... Sessions also told the judges that they should focus on maximum production and urged them to get 'imaginative and inventive' with their high caseload. The courts currently have a backlog of hundreds of thousands of deportation cases." ...

... Andrew Gumbel of the Guardian: "The childhood rabbi to Stephen Miller, special adviser to Donald Trump and a key architect of his 'zero-tolerance' immigration policies, criticized his former charge on Monday as a purveyor of 'negativity, violence, malice and brutality' who had learned nothing from his Jewish spiritual education. Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom, a progressive reform synagogue in the beachside city of Santa Monica where Miller grew up, devoted his sermon marking the Jewish New Year to a striking denunciation of Miller and the now-abandoned policy he championed of separating immigrant families at the border."

Eric Levitz: "Susan Collins won election to the Senate by running as a pro-choice Republican who would put Mainers, and ideological moderation, above her party and its orthodoxy.... And yet, Susan Collins has signaled that she's happy to make her constituents look stupid by (once again) playing Mitch McConnell's useful idiot.... In mid-August, liberal activists started a crowdfunding campaign that aimed to raise $500,000 for Collins's Democratic challenger in 2020 -- a sum that it pledged to return to donors if the incumbent Republican votes 'no' on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. As of this writing, that campaign has raised more than $878,000." ...

... Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast: "Brett Kavanaugh lied. The best estimate is that he lied five times.... Senator Pat Leahy, usually a man of rhetorical restraint, tweeted: 'Untruthful testimony, under oath and on the record.'... With respect to judicial fights, the Republican Party is intent on accomplishing two goals. The first is stacking the Court -- actually all federal courts -- with hard-right originalists. The second is getting them on the bench in as belligerent and aggressive a way as possible.... The Trump administration had loads of people to choose from who weren't involved in making torture policy and didn't read pilfered papers and then mislead the Senate about it under oath 14 years ago. But they said fuck it. This is our man, and to boot, we're going to short-circuit the process[.]" --safari ...

... Michelle Goldberg: "Garza v. Hargan was the only major abortion-rights case Kavanaugh ever ruled on. ... Even on a lower court, Kavanaugh put arbitrary obstacles in the way of someone desperate to end her pregnancy. Thanks to Trump, he may soon be in a position to do the same to millions of others.... We shouldn't expect a Trump nominee, however personally decent his friends say he is, to care about women's wishes." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: What restricting or overturning Roe v. Wade will do is further divide the country into blue states that respect women & red states that do not. For women living in red states, the divide between rich & poor will be further exaggerated: traveling to a blue state for an abortion will be an inconvenience for upper-middle-class women & their families; it may be a near-impossibility for poor women. Republican men understand this: they will make sure their wives & daughters have access to abortion & other reproductive needs, but they don't care about other women. This is, as they say, every man for himself. ...

... Mark Stern of Slate: "Brett Kavanaugh hasn't even been confirmed to the Supreme Court, and lower-court judges have already declared war on Roe v. Wade. On Monday morning, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an astonishing decision upholding a law that’s virtually identical to an anti-abortion measure the Supreme Court struck down in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. The three-judge panel, composed entirely of Republican appointees (including a Trump judge), essentially defied the Supreme Court in allowing Missouri to saddle abortion clinics with pointless regulations designed to guarantee their closure. It's a preview of how the courts will overturn Roe &'' swiftly, ruthlessly, and dishonestly -- once Kavanaugh is confirmed."

"Capitalism is Awesome", Ctd. Kelly Weill of The Daily Beast: "Jeff Bezos's tech giant is the second U.S. company to be worth thirteen-digits on the stock market, following Apple, which hit $1 trillion in August. That's all well and good for Bezos, whose net worth exceeds $150 billion. But workers at the growing network of Amazon-owned companies say they aren't seeing the money and Senator Bernie Sanders rolled out a new bill that would penalize Amazon for leaving workers dependent on public assistance.... [T]he Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act (Stop BEZOS Act) ... would penalize large employers for every dollar of public assistance their workers receive. Sanders, who drafted the bill after polling Amazon employees on their pay and work conditions, said the legislation could save the U.S. $150 billion annually." --safari

Election 2018

** Conservative Men's Nightmare. Elena Schneider of Politico: "A flood of women, minorities and first-time candidates is poised to radically alter the composition of Congress next year after winning Democratic primaries in record numbers in 2018. White men are in the minority in the House Democratic candidate pool, a Politico analysis shows. Democrats have nominated a whopping 180 female candidates in House primaries -- shattering the party's previous record of 120, according to Rutgers' Center for American Women and Politics. Heading into the final primaries of 2018 this week, Democrats have also nominated at least 133 people of color and 158 first-time candidates to run for the House.... Their success in primaries could herald a major shift in Congress, which is majority-white, majority-male and still mostly made up of former state legislators who climbed the political ladder to Washington. And the candidates could also mark the beginning of a new era for the rebuilding Democratic Party, which is counting on new types of candidates to take back the House." --safari ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Now even Democratic party leaders are starting to look a lot like America, where white men have always been the minority.

One of Republicans' favorite voter suppression mechanisms:

Senate Race. How perceptions of health insurance have changed:

Goobernatorial Races

Florida. Mrs. McCrabbie: I could have done this myself, but not as well as Akhilleus did, so I'm going with his take: "Florida goobernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has announced that he is stepping down from his do-nothing job in the Confederate House so that he might have more time for some high quality -- and quantity -- racist tweeting." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Wisconsin. Natasha Korecki of Politico: "There's every reason to believe this is the beginning of the end for Scott Walker.... The signs that Walker is ripe to be taken down are everywhere. His opponent, Schools Superintendent Tony Evers, has a slight lead in recent polls and there's evidence that critical suburban voters are shifting leftward. Three former Walker aides have even turned on the governor, with two cutting ads for Evers.... A career educator, Evers presents a crisp contrast with Walker, who's held elected office for more than two decades. Democrats have seized on a 'Walker fatigue' message that blames him for a teacher shortage, deteriorating roads ('Scottholes' as one group calls them) and rising health care costs." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond the Beltway

Karen McVeigh of the Guardian: "Starvation being used as a weapon of war has become the new normal, according to Save the Children. Its analysis shows more than half a million infants in conflict zones could die of malnutrition by the end of the year if they do not receive treatment, the equivalent of one every minute. The charity makes its own estimates using UN data, and projects that 4.5 million under-fives will need treatment for life-threatening hunger this year in the most dangerous conflict zones -- an increase of 20% since 2016. At current rates, only one in three will receive treatment, and 590,000 could die as a result." --safari

Alice Speri of The Intercept: "In his riveting book, 'The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World's Most Powerful Mafia,' journalist Alex Perry explores the tragedy ... of four women who turned against their own families and stood up to the [Italian] ’Ndrangheta [mafia clan].... Perry makes an urgent case that the group's meteoric journey to the vortex of global crime -- it controls nearly three-quarters of Europe's cocaine traffic, launders money on behalf of a host of other criminal groups, and sells weapons to multiple actors in the Syrian conflict -- transpired before our eyes. He argues that modern organized crime is an often-ignored but ballooning threat[.]" --safari

Justin McCurry & Graham Readfearn of the Guardian: "Japan has launched a controversial bid to end the ban on commercial whaling, claiming that populations of certain types of whale have recovered sufficiently to allow the resumption of 'sustainable' hunting.... Although Japan is not expected to secure the votes it needs to reform the IWC [International Whaling Commission]'s decision-making rules, conservation groups warned against complacency.... It wasn't immediately clear when IWC members would vote on Japan's proposal. Waiting until Friday, when the meeting ends, would give dozens of Japanese officials in Florianópolis more time to lobby other delegations -- a tactic they have used in the past to frustrate measures to protect other marine species." --safari

The Guardian: "Saudi authorities have arrested an Egyptian hotel worker who appeared in what officials described as an 'offensive' video eating breakfast with a female co-worker.... The point that has prompted the most anger is at the end of the 30-second video when the woman appears to feed the man.... The backlash underscores the challenges facing the prince as he seeks to modernise a country steeped in conservatism. In April, Saudi sports authorities shut down a female fitness centre in Riyadh over a contentious promotional video that appeared to show a woman in tight gym clothes. Later in June, Saudi Arabia sacked the head of its entertainment authority, following an online backlash against a circus featuring women wearing skin-tight leotards." --safari: mike pence's dream

News Ledes

(South Carolina) State: "As nearly a million people hit the road before Hurricane Florence nears the coast, 934 inmates and as many as 119 prison staff were ordered to stay behind despite a mandatory evacuation." ...

... Weather Channel: "Hurricane Florence will lash the Carolinas beginning late Thursday as an intense Category 4 hurricane with life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and massive inland rainfall flooding in one of the strongest strikes on record for this part of the East Coast. Tuesday morning, a hurricane watch and storm surge watch were issued for the entire coast of North Carolina..., and the South Carolina coast as far south as Edisto Beach. This includes Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Wilmington and the Outer Banks." ...

... Washington Post: "State and local officials in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have ordered about 1.5 million people to evacuate a lengthy stretch of coastline ahead of Hurricane Florence's potentially catastrophic landfall, which is expected Thursday." ...

"The [Washington] Post has removed article limits on coverage of Hurricane Florence to make these stories available without a subscription."

New York Times: "Adam Clymer, who covered congressional intrigue, eight presidential campaigns and the downfall of both Nikita S. Khrushchev and Richard M. Nixon as a reporter and editor for The New York Times and other newspapers, died early Monday at his home in Washington. He was 81."

Sunday
Sep092018

The Commentariat -- September 10, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Hahahahaha. Emily Goldberg of Politico: "... Donald Trump promised Monday that he would 'write the real book' to set the record straight on his administration, once again lashing out against veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward, whose incendiary book about the Trump White House will be released this week. 'The Woodward book is a Joke -- just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction,' Trump tweeted on Monday morning. 'Dems can't stand losing. I'll write the real book!' Trump added on Twitter, 'The White House is a 'smooth running machine.' We are making some of the biggest and most important deals in our country's history -- with many more to come! The Dems are going crazy!'"

Courtney Cube & Carol Lee of NBC News: "As ... Donald Trump issues a steady stream of praise for Kim Jong Un in interviews and on Twitter, a steady stream of evidence that North Korea is still making nuclear weapons has pushed his administration to take a much more aggressive stance toward Pyongyang. The newest intelligence shows Kim's regime has escalated efforts to conceal its nuclear activity, according to three senior U.S. officials. During the three months since the historic Singapore summit and Trump's proclamation that North Korea intends to denuclearize, North Korea has built structures to obscure the entrance to at least one warhead storage facility, according to the officials." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yes But. As we found out last week, Trump needs Kim as a character witness.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Trump administration threatened the International Criminal Court with sanctions if it pursued an investigation of American troops in Afghanistan, opening a harsh new attack on an old nemesis of many on the political right. 'The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,' President Trump's national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said in a speech on Monday in Washington.... Mr. Bolton also announced that the United States would shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington -- a decision linked to the International Criminal Court, which he said was being prodded by the Palestinians to investigate Israel." Related Bloomberg story linked below.

One of Republicans' favorite voter suppression mechanisms:

Senate Race. How perceptions of health insurance have changed:

Mrs. McCrabbie: I could have done this myself, but not as well as Akhilleus did, so I'm going with his take: "Florida goobernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has announced that he is stepping down from his do-nothing job in the Confederate House so that he might have more time for some high quality -- and quantity -- racist tweeting." ...

... Speaking of Goobernatorial Candidates. Natasha Korecki of Politico: "There’s every reason to believe this is the beginning of the end for Scott Walker.... The signs that Walker is ripe to be taken down are everywhere. His opponent, Schools Superintendent Tony Evers, has a slight lead in recent polls and there's evidence that critical suburban voters are shifting leftward. Three former Walker aides have even turned on the governor, with two cutting ads for Evers.... A career educator, Evers presents a crisp contrast with Walker, who's held elected office for more than two decades. Democrats have seized on a 'Walker fatigue' message that blames him for a teacher shortage, deteriorating roads ('Scottholes' as one group calls them) and rising health care costs."

*****

Jonathan Swan of Axios: It's hard to overstate the extremity and variety of pressures bearing down on President Trump and his understaffed White House.... Trump's 'fine-tuned machine' is creaking under this stress.... Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and campaign chairman Paul Manafort are going to prison. Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have granted immunity to Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's chief financial officer.... Trump has grown to resent and distrust his White House Counsel, Don McGahn.... McGahn leaves this fall and he leaves behind an office unprepared to deal with the blizzard of subpoenas, investigations and possible impeachment proceedings that likely await it next year.... Bob Woodward's book hits the stands on Tuesday..., and the president now knows that some of his previously trusted White House aides play starring roles in Woodward's narrative.... The New York Times published an op-ed from an anonymous 'senior administration official' who claims to be part of a wide-reaching resistance to Trump's presidency.... The White House press and communications teams are very thin.... They are wrestling with a firehose of bad news."

David Martin of CBS News interviews Bob Woodward:

There Are No Adults in the Room

The Set-up. He's not a detail guy. Never put more than one page in front of him. Even if he'll glance at it, he.s not going to read the whole thing. Make sure you underline or put in bold the main points ... you'll have 30 seconds to talk to him. If you haven't grabbed his attention, he won't focus. -- Zach Fuentes, assistant to John Kelly, cited in Woodward's book Fear ...

... ** The Pay-off. Isaac Chotiner of Slate: "... Fuentes wasn't talking about Donald Trump; no, he was talking about John Kelly. And Woodward&'s book -- which arrived at around the same time as the already infamous, still-currently anonymous New York Times op-ed about the men and women in the executive branch supposedly working to protect America from Donald Trump -- is as much a portrait of the craven, ineffective, and counterproductive group of 'adults' surrounding Trump as it is a more predictable look into the president's shortcomings.... Fear will make plain to the last optimist that, just as Republicans in Congress are unlikely to save us, neither are the relative grown-ups in the Trump administration.... Moreover, many of these aides are tasked with -- or see their roles as -- not preventing policy decisions, but instead as putting the nicest, non-Trumpy face on Trumpism; the ethics of this deserves its own debate." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If you have been buying into the hype-du-jour about Woodward's being an "impeccable journalist," do read Chotiner's review. Woodward is an "impeccable journalist" to the extent he can get the interviews others can't (tho he couldn't get Trump, could he?), & he has the tenacity to get substantive quotes from his subjects, but as an analyst, he sucks. P.S. He's a Republican. ...

... Quint Forgey of Politico: "Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday denied participating in any conversation about invoking the 25th Amendment in a bid to oust ... Donald Trump. 'No. Never,' Pence told Margaret Brennan of CBS News in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on 'Face the Nation.'... [Anonymous] asserted that Trump's cabinet considered invoking the 25th Amendment early on in his administration because of the 'instability many witnessed.'" Mrs. McC: What with Karen Pence having long since finished sewing up new calico curtains for the Oval, I find that hard to believe. ...

... Axios: "Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman claimed on MSNBC Sunday that she and other members of the Trump administration texted each other the hashtag '#tfa,' referring to the 25th Amendment, 'more than 100 times' during her tenure to discuss President Trump's 'unhinged' actions."

Andrew Restuccia, et al. of Politico: "Increasingly isolated and prone to conspiracy theories, President Donald Trump in recent weeks has become fixated on the idea that the country's largest tech giants -- Google, Facebook and Twitter -- are silencing his conservative base. Trump has come to view his supposed mistreatment at the hands of Silicon Valley as emblematic of a wide-reaching campaign to undermine his presidency.... Even though he doesn't use a computer and is seen by those around him as a tech neophyte, the president knows a powerful wedge issue when he sees one.... The president's embrace of anti-Silicon Valley rhetoric has been shaped by advisers who see it as the latest front in the country's long-running culture wars and believe it has the potential to rally conservative voters ahead of the midterms and the president's own reelection campaign in 2020." --safari

Jonathan Swan & Lauren Meier of Axios: "President Trump is expected to declassify, as early as this week, documents covering the U.S. government's surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the investigative activities of senior Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr, according to allies of the president.... Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months." ...

... ** David Leonhardt of the New York Times: Donald Trump "could make his life easier if only he treated Vladimir Putin the way he treats most people who cause problems -- and cast Putin aside. Yet Trump can't bring himself to do so. This odd refusal is arguably the biggest reason to believe that Putin really does have leverage over Trump. Maybe it's something shocking.... Or maybe it's the scandal that's been staring us in the face all along: Illicit financial dealings -- money laundering -- between Trump's business and Russia. The latest reason to be suspicious is Trump's attacks on a formerly obscure Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr.... In his highly respected three-decade career in law enforcement, [Ohr] has specialized in going after Russian organized crime. It just so happens that most of the once-obscure bureaucrats whom Trump has tried to discredit also are experts in some combination of Russia, organized crime and money laundering." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Both Natasha Bertrand & Rachel Maddow ((and likely others) have made this point, but it bears repeating.

Jonathan Swan: "President Trump was bluffing when he tweeted that he knows the successor to White House counsel Don McGahn, and instead he is vacillating about new legal leaders.... McGahn is leaving soon, almost all of his deputies have departed and the office is nowhere near equipped for the storm that's likely coming.... Trump wants somebody who'll be unquestioningly loyal -- who'll be 'his guy' and defend him on TV, said a source familiar with his thinking." Mrs. McC: Yeah, & he wanted Jeff Sessions to do the same. The White House counsel represents the presidency, not the president. The attorney general is the government's chief lawyer, not the president's. But of course Trump can't get over his Louis XIV L'état, c'est moi monarchic view of the presidency, at least as long as he's the president.

Margaret Hartmann: "On Friday a lawyer for Essential Consultants, the company [Michael] Cohen set up to pay [Stormy] Daniels, sought to void the agreement in a legal filing, and get the $130,000 payment back. (Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000, and it's unclear who would get the money if Daniels returned it.)... On Saturday, Trump's attorney Charles Harder said in a separate court filing that the president would not seek to enforce the agreement, and would not contest Daniels's 'assertion that the Settlement Agreement was never formed, or in the alternative, should be rescinded.' Harder called on Daniels to 'immediately dismiss' Trump from her lawsuit.... [Daniels' lawyer, Michael] Avenatti dismissed Trump's latest moves as an effort to avoid giving a deposition under oath, and said they would keep pursuing the case until they have 'full disclosure and accountability.'"

Juan Cole: "One of Trump's more dangerous features is his brittleness and thin skin.... But the most dangerous of all is his pettiness, the jabs at perceived enemies, no matter how minor. The treatment of 'plaid shirt guy' by Trump's staffers and the secret service assigned to him this weekend at Billings, Montana, is a case in point. Three local high schoolers attended the rally and unexpectedly ended up being very visible behind Trump. Senior Tyler Linfesty hammed it up, doing double takes or smiling knowingly when Trump told one of his famous whoppers. Trump's handlers, alarmed by the insufficiently beatific expression on Linfesty's face, came and got all three of the young students.... It is the kind of thing that happens in dictatorships all the time, though of course with worse consequences. But the difference is one of degree, not of kind." --safari


Josh Smith
of Reuters: "With no long-range missiles on display, North Korea staged a military parade on Sunday focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development as it marked the 70th anniversary of the country's founding. The reduced display compared to past years earned a thank you note from ... Donald Trump, who hailed it as a 'big and very positive statement from North Korea.' Trump on Twitter quoted a Fox News description of the event without long-range nuclear missiles as a sign of North Korea's 'commitment to denuclearize.'" Mrs. McC: Once again, Trump got his daily briefing from Fox "News," not from intelligence staff. This is appalling.

Neal Boudette of the New York Times: "President Trump on Sunday suggested Ford Motor could begin making a small car in the United States instead of importing it from China. But the automaker quickly issued a statement saying it has no such plans. In August, Ford announced it had killed a plan to import the Focus Active, a roomy hatchback, saying the tariffs Mr. Trump has threatened to impose on vehicles built in China would increase costs too much for the company to hit its profit targets. Mr. Trump hailed the decision in a Twitter post on Sunday, apparently after he saw a report about the Focus Active on television. '"Ford has abruptly killed a plan to sell a Chinese-made small vehicle in the U.S. because of the prospect of higher U.S. tariffs." CNBC. This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!'... After Mr. Trump's tweet, the company responded...: 'It would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units and its competitive segment.'..."...

     ... OR, as Trump's nice chief-of-staff would say, "Thanks for the advice, Mr. Prez*. You can shove it up your ass six different times."

Full Court Press. Reuters: "U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered that $25 million earmarked for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals be directed elsewhere as part of a review of aid, a State Department official said on Saturday.... Last month, the Trump administration said it would redirect $200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza. And at the end of August, the Trump administration halted all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).... Palestinian refugees have reacted with dismay to the funding cuts, warning they would lead to more poverty, anger and instability in the Middle East." --safari...

... David Tweed of Bloomberg: "The Trump administration is expected to announce that it will close the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified White House officials. Monday's announcement is expected to be made in prepared remarks by National Security Adviser John Bolton, and is part of a widening U.S. pressure campaign on Palestinian officials amid stalled Middle East peace efforts, the paper reported." [Open in private window.] --safari

Matthew Mosk & Kaitlyn Folmer of ABC News: "George Papadopoulos, the one-time foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump who became swept up in the special counsel investigation, says members of the Trump campaign team were 'fully aware' and in many cases supportive of his efforts to broker a summit [between Trump &] Russian President Vladimir Putin." (Also linked yesterday.)


Maria Kiselyova
of Reuters: "U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will visit Moscow from Sept. 11 to 13, Russian media reported on Sunday, citing a diplomatic source." Mrs. McC: I was just wondering whatever happened to Rick Perry. I guess he's been brushing up on his Russian.

Juan Cole: "Environmental activists protested Saturday in 90 countries and 800 cities across the globe and the United States against inaction on the Climate Crisis in the run-up to a major climate conference in San Francisco organized by Gov. Jerry Brown for Wednesday in the wake of Trump's violation of the Paris Climate Accords." --safari

2018 Election

Edward-Isaac Dovere: "Two days in, lots of prominent Republicans have complained about Barack Obama's speech on Friday calling Donald Trump's presidency a betrayal of America and a threat to its core -- but they haven't said he's wrong. Most prominent on that list is Trump himself, who, for a man his aides have often held up as someone who punches back, has so far said less to attack Obama than he has previously about the FBI, Steve Bannon, LeBron James or pretty much anyone else." Also, too, Trump can't spell "Barack." Mrs. McC: I wonder if that's why the investigators Trump supposedly sent to Hawaii couldn't find Obama's birth certificate. If you assume (and I don't, but it's an oft-repeated claim) that Trump ran for president because Obama pissed him off by making fun of his birther campaign at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, then it could be our national nightmare is the result of a misspelling.

Gubernatorial Races

New York. New York Times Editors: "This is dirty politics, nearly as sleazy as it gets. Days before [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo's primary race for re-election on Thursday, the New York State Democratic Committee has sent voters a campaign mailer falsely accusing his challenger, Cynthia Nixon, of being 'silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.' It says she supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. She does not. It accuses Ms. Nixon of opposing funding yeshivas, private religious schools attended by many of the city's Orthodox Jews. She has never said that. 'With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can't take a chance,' the mailer reads. 'Re-Elect Governor Andrew Cuomo.' This is the lowest form of politics, and the most dangerous, exploiting the festering wounds and fears along ethnic and religious lines. 'I didn't know about the mailer,' Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday in Manhattan.... Sorry, Mr. Cuomo, but that strains credulity. Mr. Cuomo dominates the state Democratic Party." Nixon attends a synagogue. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The New York Times Editors endorsed Cuomo. They are not rescinding their endorsement here. ...

... Benjamin Hart of New York has more on the fallout & backlash against the mailer. Mrs. McC: The question for New York Democrats is: would I rather have a sleazy governor or an incompetent one? If I were still a New York voter, I think I'd go for incompetent. Either would screw up, but at least the incompetent governor would (likely) do so honestly.

Florida. Beth Reinhard & Emma Brown of the Washington Post: "Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country's 'only serious race war' is against whites. DeSantis, elected to represent north-central Florida in 2012, appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Michael Finch, president of the organization. At the group's annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues. 'I just want to say what an honor it's been to be here to speak,' DeSantis said in a ­27-minute speech at the 2015 event in Charleston, a video shows. 'David has done such great work and I've been an admirer. I've been to these conferences in the past but I’ve been a big admirer of an organization that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing.'"


Ronan Farrow
of the New Yorker: "Members of the board of the CBS Corporation are negotiating with the company's chairman and C.E.O., Leslie Moonves, about his departure. Sources familiar with the board's activities said the discussions about Moonves stepping down began several weeks ago, after an article published in the The New Yorker detailed allegations by six women that the media executive had sexually harassed them, and revealed complaints by dozens of others that the culture in some parts of the company tolerated sexual misconduct.... As the negotiations continue and shareholders and advocacy groups accuse the board of failing to hold Moonves accountable, new allegations are emerging. Six additional women are now accusing Moonves of sexual harassment or assault in incidents that took place between the nineteen-eighties and the early aughts. They include claims that Moonves forced them to perform oral sex on him, that he exposed himself to them without their consent, and that he used physical violence and intimidation against them. A number of the women also said that Moonves retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers." ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "Longtime CBS chief executive Les Moonves, facing new claims of sexual misconduct, is about to step down as part of a wide-ranging corporate settlement of a separate fight for control of CBS. The CBS board of directors is likely to announce the deal by Monday morning, according to three executives with direct knowledge of the matter. Lawyers were said to be putting the finishing touches on the settlement on Sunday. Internally, it is being called a 'global settlement,' meant to resolve months of litigation between Moonves and Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder of CBS. Moonves and Redstone were locked in a tug of war even before July 27, when Ronan Farrow first reported on alleged harassment by Moonves. The CBS board initially resisted calls for Moonves to be suspended or forced out." ...

... Meg James of the Los Angeles Times: "Bowing to pressure brought on by a sexual harassment scandal, CBS Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves is expected to resign late Sunday, according to two people familiar with the matter.... Moonves will leave without a severance package, according to the sources. The CBS board will wait to negotiate a financial settlement until the conclusion of an investigation by two prominent law firms into allegations of misconduct. In addition, CBS' board will get a makeover. Independent board members are poised to strike a separate settlement with its controlling shareholder family -- the Redstones. The deal being hammered out is expected to lead to a dramatic overhaul of CBS' board by installing six new board members, including several who are not aligned with the Redstone family." ...

... Update. Edmund Lee of the New York Times: "Leslie Moonves, the longtime chief executive of the CBS Corporation, stepped down on Sunday night from the company he led for 15 years. His fall from Hollywood's highest echelon was all but sealed after the publication earlier in the day of new sexual harassment allegations against him."

Eliott McLaughlin of CNN: "The US Open has fined Serena Williams $17,000 for three code violations during her loss in Saturday's women's singles final, the United States Tennis Association said. Saturday's match between Williams and Naomi Osaka in New York's Arthur Ashe Stadium was marred by controversy in the second set after umpire Carlos Ramos penalized Williams a point and then an entire game. Osaka beat Williams in straight sets -- 6-2, 6-4 -- to win her first Grand Slam title." ...

... Rebecca Traister of New York on the ump's sexist calls against Serena Williams: "The point isn't about the catsuit or the shirt or the broken racket or even the U.S. Open title. It's about the ways in which women's -- and especially nonwhite women's -- dress and bodies and behavior and expression and tone are still deemed unruly if they do not conform to the limited view of femininity established by men, especially if that unruliness suggests a direct threat to male authority." (Also linked yesterday.)

Bonnie Wertheim & Choire Sicha of the New York Times: "On Sunday night, Nia Franklin was crowned Miss America 2019. A classically trained opera singer, Ms. Franklin represented New York in the competition, focusing on equal opportunity and education in her interview questions.... The annual event and its parent organization have undergone a number of changes in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Sunday's Miss America was the first to suspend a 'swimsuit competition' since the first event, in 1921. Miss America has also been rebranded as a competition, rather than a pageant -- and yes, they're calling it Miss America 2.0. These changes followed internal reorganization over the last year. In December, the previous chief executive of the Miss America Organization, Sam Haskell, resigned after vicious and misogynist emails were made public.... The competition tonight did have fresh trappings.... Participants had platforms that were described as 'social impact statements.'"

Way Beyond the Beltway

Jon Henley of the Guardian: "Sweden faces a protracted period of political uncertainty after an election that left the two main parliamentary blocs tied but well short of a majority, and the far-right Sweden Democrats promising to wield 'real influence' in parliament despite making more modest gains than many had predicted. The populist, anti-immigrant party won 17.6% of the vote, according to preliminary official results -- well up on the 12.9% it scored in 2014, but far below the 25%-plus some polls had predicted earlier in the summer. It looked highly likely, however, to have a significant role in policymaking." --safari

News Ledes

New York Times: "With Hurricane Florence swiftly gaining strength and bearing down on the Southeast, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina on Monday ordered more than a million people living in eight coastal counties to evacuate inland.... Evacuations were also ordered in parts of North Carolina as the region braced for a major destructive hurricane projected to make landfall late Thursday or Friday, with damaging winds, torrential rains and a potentially destructive storm surge." ...

      ... The Times has a hurricane tracker here.

Miami Herald: "The 2018 hurricane season blew into high gear on Sunday. In its 11 p.m. Sunday advisory, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Storm Isaac to a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of nearly 75 mph. Isaac became the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic Season and the third storm being actively tracked in a busy weather weekend. But the gravest threat to the U.S. remains Hurricane Florence, which is expected to strengthen considerably by Monday night and remain 'an extremely dangerous major hurricane' through Thursday, according to the Hurricane Center."

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