The Wires

 

... No, Reality Chex has not turned into a Playboy wannabe. I just thought you'd like to see how Louise Linton, the wife of the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, thought she should pose for an Elle article about her various missteps as, you know, the wife of the Treasury Secretary. Maybe she should start asking herself, "What Would Karen Pence do?" -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

 

 

The Martin Luther King home in Atlanta. MLK, Jr. was born here. The house is a National Historic Site & you can visit it -- the National Park Service conducts tours.

More on the MLK house here.

Laura Holson of the New York Times profiles Joy Reid of MSNBC. Mrs. McC: If you've never seen Joy on the teevee, she is indeed a joy.

Cheddar Man! Serious Bad News for Donald Trump & All His White Supremacist Friends. New York Times: "He had dark skin, brown curly hair and blue eyes, DNA tests suggest, upending a common assumption that Britain’s indigenous populations were all pale skinned with fair features. He is 'Cheddar Man,' Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903 in Gough’s Cave near the village of Cheddar in Somerset, in southwest England. He lived about 10,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period, the middle part of the Stone Age. Scientists have now reconstructed his features, demonstrating that he was part of a population of ancient Western Europeans that, scientists have shown in recent years, had dark skin. Research has shown that fair skin pigmentation — long considered a defining feature of Europe — only goes back less than 6,000 years." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: We all come from African ancestry, but now it turns out that those of us who appear whitey-white likely have more recent dark-skinned ancestors. Yes, Donald, you are Cheddar Man! Could you all stop being racists now?

Chrisco Gets Part-time Gig at ABC News. NJ.com: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "has been hired as an occasional contributor to ABC News, according to sources familiar with the discussions."

Finally, an Ex-White House Staffer Gets a Job for which She Might Be Qualified. Hollywood Reporter: "Omarosa Manigault, who left the White House under dramatic circumstances at the tail end of last year, is set to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house."

Los Angeles Times: "The most unpredictable Oscar season in years finally came into focus Tuesday morning [Jan. 23] as the 90th Academy Awards nominations were announced, with nine films representing a wide range of genres earning best picture nods and Guillermo del Toro's fantastical fable 'The Shape of Water' leading the field with 13 nominations." A list of nominees for the top prizes follows.

The Gossip Page

Page Six of the New York Post: "Disgraced anchor Matt Lauer has been kicked out of his home by his furious wife [Annette Roque]  after multiple women came forward with allegations of his 'inappropriate sexual behavior.' And while Lauer’s reclusive wife has not yet filed for divorce, we’re told it is likely to happen soon.... Roque had previously filed for divorce from Lauer in 2006, citing 'mental abuse, extreme mental and emotional distress, humiliation, torment and anxiety,' but withdrew the filing weeks later after he offered her a postnuptial agreement and millions more dollars, a source told Page Six.”

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
Feb062018

The Commentariat -- February 7, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Maggie Haberman & Katie Rogers of the New York Times: "Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, said Wednesday that he would resign his position, a day after a news account that quoted his two ex-wives accusing him of physical abuse during the course of their marriages. 'These outrageous allegations are simply false,' Mr. Porter said in a statement. Mr. Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, both went public in The Daily Mail with accounts of what they described as physically and emotionally abusive behavior."

Richard Fausset of the New York Times: "... scandal has threatened to dim one of the Democratic Party’s brightest Southern stars[: Mayor Megan Barry of Nashville, Tenn]. And though many residents of Nashville, a bastion of social liberalism in a deeply conservative state, have been willing to dismiss with a kind of Gallic shrug her admission of a monthslong extramarital affair with the police officer leading her security detail, other aspects of the episode are mounting, leading some here to wonder how long she can hang on.... [Over & above trips the couple took together at taxpayer expense,] this week, The Tennessean also reported that Ms. Barry had recommended Mr. Forrest’s adult daughter, Macy Amos, for an entry-level job that Ms. Amos later landed in the city law department."

Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "Senate leaders, disregarding President Trump’s threats to shut down the government, neared a far-reaching agreement on Wednesday to set spending levels on military and domestic spending for the next two years, breaking the cycle of fiscal crises that have bedeviled the Capitol since last summer. The accord was expected to also include disaster relief for areas hit by last year’s hurricanes and wildfires. Nevertheless, it sparked immediate opposition from the leader of House Democrats, Representative Nancy Pelosi, who said she could not agree to any budget deal that was not accompanied by a promised debate over legislation to protect the fate of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, known as Dreamers.... 'Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support.' She was referring to a promise by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, to begin debate on immigration soon, a commitment not matched by Speaker Paul D. Ryan.” ...

     ... NEW LEDE: "Senate leaders, disregarding President Trump’s threats to shut down the government, struck a far-reaching agreement on Wednesday that would add hundreds of billions of dollars to military and domestic programs over the next two years, breaking the cycle of fiscal crises that have bedeviled the Capitol since last summer." ...

... The Whacko in the White House, Ctd. Mark Landler of the New York Times: "A week ago, President Trump stood before Congress as an improbable unifier. 'Tonight,' he declared, 'I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people.' This week, Mr. Trump is back to being a disrupter. After accusing Democrats of being un-American and even treasonous for refusing to applaud during his State of the Union speech, he said on Tuesday that he would welcome a government shutdown if he cannot reach a spending deal with Congress that tightens immigration laws. A week ago, Mr. Trump called for a grand compromise with Democrats on the legal status of the undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers — a deal, he said, 'where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.'... On Tuesday, his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, said that many Dreamers failed to register for protected status with the government because they were 'were too afraid to sign up' or were 'too lazy to get off their asses.' He said he doubted Mr. Trump would extend the March 5 deadline that shields them from deportation.”

Greg Sargent: "No, Trump has not been 'contained.'... Trump’s ongoing assaults on law enforcement, and his active encouraging of outside allied efforts such as the Nunes memo, are currently doing untold damage.... Republicans have either gone along with, or actively participated in, efforts by Trump and his allies to prepare a large swath of the country to dismiss the legitimacy of any outcome [of the Mueller investigation] in which serious wrongdoing is discovered and accountability is meted out in kind.... The only way to mitigate this is for Democrats to take back the House and demonstrate to the country what functional oversight, undertaken in good faith, really looks like."

Frank Rich: "... the immediate goal in this anti–law enforcement jihad, led by the White House and abetted by congressional stooges like Devin Nunes and Paul Ryan, is to discredit the Mueller investigation before it nails Donald Trump. But to say this cultural shift is a sudden metamorphosis for the GOP, brought on by Trump’s supposed hijacking of the party, is revisionist history. Trump pushed an open door. His assault on Justice and the FBI is merely heightening and exploiting the dangerous anti-government toxins that GOP leaders humored in the Republican base well before he arrived — much as his administration’s overt white supremacism and xenophobia is the apotheosis of a racist Republican strain dating back to Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy.... The GOP retreated from tacit tolerance of the crazies in their ranks only after Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, leaving 168 dead. But only temporarily."

The Emperor Has No Hair. Jonathan Chait: "... it may seem cheap and low to mock Trump’s absurd efforts to conceal his hair loss. But Trump is a man obsessed with image in ways that go beyond the normal human concern with looking presentable. Image is Trump’s moral code. He dismisses his political rivals for being short. He sees his succession of wives as visual testament to his own status. He selects his Cabinet on the basis of their looking the part. He conscripts the military as a prop to bathe himself in an aura of presidential grandeur." ...

... Unlike Vladimir Putin, our president* is not immortal.

Preaching to the Choir. Brian Stelter of CNN: Devin "Nunes is telling people to stay tuned, promising more revelations to come -- but he's really only speaking to Trump's base. He has declined non-Fox interview requests and avoided opportunities to speak with the Capitol Hill press corps."

Jeanne Sahadi of CNN: "Trillion-dollar-plus deficits were the hallmark of the financial and economic crisis a decade ago. Now they'll be making a comeback -- this time during a very healthy economy -- and years sooner than expected."

*****

The Useless Idiot. Thomas Kaplan & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Trump on Tuesday called for shutting down the government if Congress does not crack down on illegal immigration, even as congressional leaders were closing in on a major budget deal to help ensure the government remains funded into 2019. 'I’d love to see a shut down if we can’t get this stuff taken care of,' Mr. Trump said at a meeting with lawmakers and law-enforcement officials to discuss gang-related violence. 'If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety,' he added, 'then shut it down.' Mr. Trump’s comments, though combative, had little to do with the delicate negotiations on Capitol Hill to keep the government open past Thursday, a fact that appeared to elude Mr. Trump. Congressional leaders from both parties were nearing a deal to raise statutory spending caps on military and nonmilitary spending for the current fiscal year and the next one. That agreement could ease the way to passing a temporary spending measure before the government is set to shut down on Friday. A deal on the spending caps would also clear a path for Congress, in the weeks ahead, to fund the government until the fall — sparing the country of the fiscal showdowns that continuously bedevil the government.” Emphasis added. ...

... Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) criticized President Trump to his face on Tuesday for saying he would 'love to see a shutdown' during a meeting with lawmakers and administration officials. 'We don’t need a government shutdown on this,' Comstock said during the White House meeting with Trump, according to a pool report. But Trump interrupted her and doubled down on his willingness to have another shutdown over the immigration battle. 'You can say what you want; we are not getting support of the Democrats,' Trump said." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: "But Trump interrupted her...." Well, of course he did. Comstock is a girl, & girls have no business disagreeing with real men. Not only that, she was suggesting compromise, which real men don't do. Plus which, Comstock is part of the committee trying to reform the way the House shoves sexual harassment complaints under the table. And worstest of all, she was one of three dozen high-profile Republicans who said they would no longer support candidate Trump after the WashPo released the "Access Hollywood" tape. ...

... Kelsey Snell & Tamara Keith of NPR: "The House passed a bill Tuesday evening to avert a government shutdown on Thursday, as Senate leaders still hope to clear the way for years of budget harmony this week with a long-term spending agreement. But as Congress worked on keeping things running, President Trump made a fresh call to shut down the government over immigration. Trump made the comments during a roundtable briefing at the White House on threats from the MS-13 criminal gang. He appeared to endorse shutting down the government if Democrats do not agree to increases in military spending and funding for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. 'I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this taken care of,' Trump said. 'We need to strengthen our borders, not by a little bit but by a lot.'" ...

... Erica Werner & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly said Tuesday that President Trump is not expected to extend a March 5 deadline for when legal protection and work permits begin to expire for young immigrants known as 'dreamers' — raising the stakes for lawmakers struggling to reach a solution.... Kelly’s comments come as lawmakers are trying to craft a plan to grant permanent legal protections to dreamers and resolve other aspects of the immigration system. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that a debate on immigration policy will begin once a new short-term spending agreement is passed this week.... Any immigration legislation will require the support of at least 60 senators to clear procedural hurdles and earn final passage — putting a premium on bipartisan ideas that can prevail in the closely divided chamber." Mrs. McC: A number of Kelly's remarks were, um, nasty & untruthful. No surprise there. ...

... Like This. There are 690,000 official DACA registrants, and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million. The difference between [690,000] and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses.... -- John Kelly, in remarks to reporters yesterday (emphasis added) ...

... Charles Pierce: "There’s a lot of the old ethnic Boston in this guy. That is not a compliment." ...

... Noah Lanard of Mother Jones: "Immigration experts cite a number of reasons why some Dreamers didn’t apply for DACA before the Trump administration closed the application process last year. These include fear of telling the government they were undocumented, better options for obtaining legal status, and failure to meet the Obama administration’s requirements.... Kelly’s claim incorrectly implies that more than 1 million eligible Dreamers have not applied for DACA. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 1.3 million people are eligible for DACA. Capps says more than 900,000 have applied — meaning that the application rate is about 68 percent. He adds that the 1.3 million estimate includes people who are not eligible for DACA because of criminal convictions, so the actual application rate among eligible Dreamers is likely higher.... Donald Trump has told DACA recipients who are now losing protections 'not to worry.' Kelly repeated on Tuesday that Dreamers 'are not a priority for deportation.' Despite those assurances, former DACA recipients have already been detained. Thomas Homan, the acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said last week that his agency will detain any person who is in the country illegally.” ...

... Also, Too. Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: "The fee to apply for and renew DACA is almost $500, a steep cost for an individual who might be already attending university." ...

... The Bad Sport. Amy Sorkin of the New Yorker: "Before the Super Bowl this year, Trump tweeted out demands for standing during the anthem; the players did stand, for reasons of their own, leaving him with no one, immediately, to berate.... It took him until Tuesday morning to find his true, bitter post-Super Bowl voice. The subject was ... the deaths, in the early-morning hours on Sunday, of Edwin Jackson, a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, and Jeffrey Monroe, a driver for a ride-hailing app.... They were struck and killed by a driver whose alcohol level ... was about three times the legal limit.... On Monday, the Indiana State Police announced that [the drunk driver's] real name was Manuel Orrego-Savala, that he was a Guatemalan who had been deported from the United States twice, and that he appeared to be in the country illegally.The President responded, 'So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!'” He went on to morph this into an argument against "chain migration." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The odds are that numerous other innocent people were killed this past weekend by documented American alcohol-impaired drivers. According to a CDC report (updated June 2017), "Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes." Statistically speaking, Trump should be expressing his hatred for all Americans. Yet Trump uses these two deaths to promote his racist, xenophobic political aims. ...

... Trump Has Great News for His White Supremacist Friends (Like Kelly)! Jeff Stein & Andrew Van Dam of the Washington Post: "President Trump's proposal to cut legal immigration rates would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as few as one or as many as five additional years, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The plan, released by the White House last month, would scale back a program that allows people residing in the United States to sponsor family members living abroad for green cards, and would eliminate the 'diversity visa program' that benefits immigrants in countries with historically low levels of migration to the United States. Together, the changes would disproportionately affect immigrants from Latin America and Africa.... But by reducing the country's overall population, the plan could eventually reduce the overall growth rate of the U.S. economy. Under Trump's plan, the U.S. economy could be more than $1 trillion smaller than it would have been two decades from now. That's largely because the economy would have fewer workers."

Your Gossip Break. Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "After the much-hyped Nunes memo failed to deliver the narrative reset that the White House hoped for, Donald Trump is discussing a shake-up to his West Wing, three sources familiar with the president’s thinking told me. These people say the president is increasingly frustrated that members of his administration aren’t going to war for him, and he’s being encouraged by his daughter Ivanka to bring in new blood.... Trump has recently told advisers he wants a 'killer' to steer the White House’s response to Robert Mueller’s investigation and craft a midterm election message for him to stump on this fall.... The president’s top choice for the strategist position is Jason Miller, who served as communications director for Trump’s presidential campaign.... Trump had wanted Miller to join the administration during the transition, but Miller withdrew after it was revealed he had an extramarital affair during the campaign with former Trump aide A.J. Delgado.... Trump has publicly clashed with Chief of Staff John Kelly after Kelly took a more active role in White House policymaking and messaging."

Generalissimo Trumpo. Greg Jaffe & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces. Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning. Surrounded by the military’s highest ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said. 'The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,' said a military official.... 'This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.'” ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: All that pomp & circumstance should show Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) that Trumpo is no "Cadet Bone Spurs." Even Bob Mueller (who, incidentally, is an actual, much-decorated military hero) will know who's boss & drop this witch hunt thing. This is so-o-o-o-o ridiculous. ...

... Jaffe & Rucker claim last year's Bastille Day Parade was Trump's inspiration, but maybe not ...

... digby: "Remember this has nothing to do with his trip to France. He wanted it for the inauguration. ...

... Steve M. doesn't think the TrumParade is a big deal: "... he'll just spend hundreds of millions of dollars to ship weaponry to the streets of D.C. because he's an overgrown eleven-year-old boy still mentally living in the 1950s, and also because he's a crushingly insecure plutocrat who needs a steady succession of gaudy displays in order to feel that he's adequately demonstrating his own greatness to the world. This parade won't be part of a grand plan to crush democracy in America.... This will just be a pointless moment of excess, with Trump using weapons the way, in his hotels, he uses gilt." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Say, maybe the whole parade thing is a plot by "his generals" to keep Trump busy with something less alarming than fiddling with the buttons on the nuclear football. As Elliot Hannon of Slate points out, "Under normal circumstances, this doesn’t seem like something that would rise to the level of the president, but Trump needs projects to keep him occupied." He could spend hours & hours picking out all the participants & tanks & bands & all. Like "House of Cards"' Frank Underwood with his toy soldiers. But BIGGER!

John McWhorter, in a New York Times op-ed, claims that the decline in quality of Trump's speech is not a sign of dementia but of settling into his comfort zone. He no longer feels a need to present himself in the trappings of "quietly composed phrasing," as he did as a young man. Or something like that. "Since he is someone who neither reads nor reflects, his linguistic comfort zone has always been the unadorned." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So I suppose Trump's current "comfort zone" makes it okay for him to accuse half the Congress, and frankly, half the country, of treason. Very presidential. Oh wait. Apparently I have no sense of humor:

... Dan Merica & Jim Acosta of CNN: Sarah Sanders said "Donald Trump was 'clearly joking' Monday when he accused stone-faced Democrats of treason for not standing and applauding during his State of the Union address, according to multiple White House spokespeople. 'He was making the point that even when good things are happening they are still sitting there angry,' she said." Hilarious.

This Russia Thing

... Tal Kopan of CNN: "Chief of staff John Kelly said the White House is reviewing a Democratic memo on the investigation into a Trump campaign associate and he has ordered authorities to give their recommendations on how to handle it by Thursday, after which the President will make his final decision on whether to release the memo and whether to redact it. Kelly said the memo came in late Monday night and on Tuesday, he and White House counsel Donald McGahn met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for a 'great conversation.' He said the White House was not leaning any way on the memo.... 'But at the end of it all, it'll be guys like Rod Rosenstein, Chris Wray from FBI, certainly the national security attorneys at the White House giving the President a recommendation on that.' [Kelly said.]" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Wow, that's funny -- because Trump ignored the recommendation by Rosenstein & Wray when it came to the Nunes memo. Rather, he released the memo, without redactions, over their objections. Whaddaya bet Rosenstein & Wray take the same position on the Democrats' memo, especially because it's probably accurate. ...

... Matt Ford of the New Republic: Whatever Trump decides, the Democrats have trapped him. Mrs. McC: Unless, of course, Trump releases the unredacted Democratic memo & it "totally vindicates 'Trump,'" as did, according to "Trump," the Nunes memo.

**Tom Hamburger & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post have quite a compelling report on Christopher Steele & how he sounded the alarm to U.S. intelligence officials (& to Sen. John McCain) about Donald Trump's dangerous interactions with the Kremlin & Russian financial interests. Here's how the report ends: "... in September..., Steele spent two days behind closed doors, talking to Mueller’s investigators." ...

... The Collaborators. Maggie Haberman, et al., of the New York Times: "Two leading Senate Republicans released a document late Tuesday that they said bolstered Republican allegations that the Justice Department relied heavily on a politically tainted dossier in seeking permission from a secret federal court to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide. The document, a letter sent last month to the F.B.I. and Justice Department by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, quoted from Justice Department requests to the court to spy in late 2016 and last year on the former aide, Carter Page.... The letter said the Justice Department’s initial application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on Mr. Page, filed in October 2016 after he had left the Trump campaign, 'appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations' posed by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had been working with a research firm paid by the Democrats." ...

     ... Here's Chuck & Lindsey's excellent memo (redacted pdf), which criminally refers Christopher Steele to the DOJ. It's practically 8 pages long (AND has small-font footnotes!), so you'll probably need the rest of the day to read it. Maybe Chuck & Lindsey can brief you with pictures of Christopher Steele in a trenchcoat, Michael Isikoff carrying a pencil & notepad & wearing a porkpie hat with a "PRESS" card tucked into the ribbon, & mean Hillary in a pantsuit. Or a sock puppet presentation could help. (Have Trump's briefers thought of sock puppets?) The memo alleges Steele lied to the FBI about talking to the press but later, in a British court case, admitted having done so. As Hamburger & Helderman report, Steele went into hiding after the dossier became public. No wonder. He had Chuck & Lindsey, among many others, on his case. ...

... In a podcast, Mike Isikoff discusses his September 2016 meeting with Steele & Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS.

Well, I have believed it was important to have a fresh start at the FBI, and actually, it was in my letter to the President when I recommended (former FBI Director James) Comey's removal. I used the words, "fresh start," and the FBI director is Chris Wray, a very talented, smart, capable leader," Sessions told the Washington Examiner on the day McCabe left the bureau. The interview was published on Tuesday. Sessions also said there has been an 'erosion' of public trust in the DOJ, telling the Examiner that the department needs to earn that back 'because the heart and soul of the Department of Justice is very good.'"

Alex Jackson of NBC News: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that Russia is already trying to influence the U.S. midterm election, warning that it will be difficult for the United States to 'preempt' it. In an interview with Fox News from Bogotá, Colombia..., Tillerson said Russia was gearing up to meddle with the 2018 U.S. elections following the playbook it used in 2016. 'I don't know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt, as well. The point is, if it's their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps, but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it's very difficult to preempt it.'... Tillerson's comments echoed an alarm sounded last month by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who told the BBC, 'I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that.'"


Don't Stay Sick or Get a Crummy Job, People. Or Else. Tony Pugh
of McClatchy News: "After allowing states to impose work requirements for Medicaid enrollees, the Trump administration is now pondering lifetime limits on adults’ access to coverage. Capping health care benefits — like federal welfare benefits — would be a first for Medicaid, the joint state-and-federal health plan for low-income and disabled Americans. If approved, the dramatic policy change would recast government-subsidized health coverage as temporary assistance by placing a limit on the number of months adults have access to Medicaid benefits.... At least five states — Arizona, Kansas, Utah, Maine and Wisconsin — are seeking waivers from the Trump administration to impose lifetime Medicaid coverage limits.... However, advocates say capping Medicaid benefits would amount to a massive breach of the nation’s social safety net designed to protect children, the elderly and the impoverished.... Low-wage workers who may not get health coverage through their jobs could also reach their Medicaid coverage limit 'as if it’s their fault that their job isn’t offering insurance,' said Leonardo Cuello, director of health policy at the National Health Law Center.... Time-limiting health coverage runs the risk of pushing sick people into costly emergency rooms where they’ll receive indigent care paid for by taxpayers."


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article198549039.html#storylink=cpy"

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article198549039.html#storylink=cpy"

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article198549039.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article198549039.html#storylink=cpy

FEMA insists no Puerto Ricans missed a meal as a result of the failed agreement with ... an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past.... FEMA relied on other suppliers that provided 'ample' food and water for distribution, said William Booher, an agency spokesman. But there is little doubt that in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans struggled with access to food." ...

... Charles Pierce: "If this reminds you of that tiny Montana company that got the really big contract to restore power in Puerto Rico, that’s only because it should. Seventy years ago, 70 airmen lost their lives in the effort that saved Berlin [-- the Berlin Airlift]. Today, we have substituted profiteering and ineptitude for sacrifice and creativity. Running the country like a business, as it were."

Matt Phillips, et al., of the New York Times: "After days of sometimes wild moves in stock markets, investors on Wall Street refocused on the ongoing strength in the American economy as shares of consumer companies helped lead broad indexes higher. A sometimes-panicky global market sell-off — begun Monday when the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index lost more than 4 percent, its worst decline since August 2011 — dissipated through the day, and the S.&P. 500 ended Tuesday’s session up by about 1.7 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average gained about 2.3 percent." ...

... Matthew Nussbaum of Politico: "... Donald Trump has yet to address the swings in the stock market since Monday’s plunge, the largest single-day point drop in the Dow.... Before [the Friday-Monday] drop, Trump boasted about the stock market once every 35 hours [this year]." Emphasis added.

Christian Davenport of the Washington Post: "SpaceX successfully launched what is now the world’s most powerful rocket Tuesday, a towering behemoth known as the Falcon Heavy that tore through the sky with the thundering force of 18 Boeing 747 jetliners. Lifting off at 3:45 p.m. from the same launchpad that sent the crew of Apollo 11 to the moon, the rocket sent up a mountain-sized plume of smoke and a rattling roar across Florida’s Space Coast, where thousands gathered to watch. The mission represented the first test of the massive rocket, powered by 27 engines in three first-stage boosters that are essentially strapped together. The maiden flight also marked the first time a privately financed venture ever attempted to launch a rocket so powerful that it was capable of hoisting a payload out of Earth's orbit. As a promotional stunt, SpaceX founder Elon Musk loaded the Falcon Heavy with his own cherry-red Tesla Roadster carrying a spacesuit-clad mannequin named 'Starman' in the driver's seat. Musk said he planned to send the convertible, built by another one of his companies, into an orbit around the sun that would take it near Mars." See video under Infotainment.

Maggie Astor & Julie Creswell of the New York Times: "The casino mogul Stephen Wynn resigned Tuesday as chairman and chief executive of his company, Wynn Resorts, in response to sexual misconduct allegations spanning decades. In a statement, Mr. Wynn said he was stepping down because 'an avalanche of negative publicity' had created an environment 'in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts.'” Mrs. McC: Because all the women are liars.

Monday
Feb052018

The Commentariat -- February 6, 2018

It Is Treasonous Not to Applaud the Dear Leader. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump accused Democrats on Monday of 'treasonous' behavior during his State of the Union address. Trump took aim at Democratic members of Congress who refused to applaud during his speech when he mentioned his achievements over the past year. 'Can we call that treason? Why not?' the president said during a speech in Ohio. 'They certainly didn't seem to love our country very much.'" Mrs. McC: We are down the rabbithole now. And here I was incensed Trump implied one Democratic Congressman was a criminal. Now it turns out they're all traitors. Hang 'em by the neck until dead. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Chait: "It is totally beyond the pale for a president to describe the opposing party as having committed treason for failing to applaud his speech. It is the logic and rhetoric of authoritarianism in its purest form. But if Trump does it in the middle of a Don Rickles–style riff, does that make it better? Worse? Just weirder?" ...

... "Cadet Bone Spurs." Elizabeth Preza of RawStory: "Donald Trump ... suggested Democrats who did not clap for him during the State of the Union may have committed 'treason.'... [Sen. Tammy] Duckworth [D-IL] hit back at those remarks. 'We don’t live in a dictatorship or a monarchy,' Duckworth, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, tweeted. 'I swore an oath ― in the military and in the Senate ― to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.'" --safari: For all the petty name-calling in Washington, this one has to stick in Drumpf's craw; It's right on point. ...

... Conservative Rick Wilson of the Daily Beast outlines many of the ways Donald Trump has proved to be "the real traitor." Thanks to NJC for the link. Mrs. McC: The treason riff is another Trump tell. One thing we've learned over these past few years is that Trump often calls people the names he (perhaps deep-down) realizes apply to him. So there is some significance to his accusing his adversaries of treason. Slinking through the soft tissue beneath the weird orange combover, there is an intimation of treason. The evidence Mueller is gathering, the suspicions of the public, are festering in the gelatinous gray matter. Fear of exposure has moved the Trumpster into his habitual attack practice of trying to other-direct the label that more aptly applies to him. ...

... President* Casually Provokes International Incident with Ally. Karla Adam of the Washington Post: "President Trump took a swing at Britain’s beloved National Health Service on Monday, tweeting that Britons were marching in the streets because their universal health-care system was financially strapped and dysfunctional, and got a swift rebuke from the British prime minister. 'The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!' he wrote. But the thousands of Britons who took to the streets over the weekend were marching in support of the NHS and calling for greater government funding.... A spokesman for [PM Theresa] May said that 'the prime minister is proud of our NHS, that is free at the point of delivery....'... 'I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover[,' tweeted British health secretary Jeremy Hunt.]... Responding to Trump’s comments, the march organizers said they were campaigning against a U.S.-style health-care system that they said is 'expensive, inefficient and unjust.'” Inspiring Trump's attack: right-wing Brit Nigel Farage on the Fox News segment, who said the NHS was “pretty much at a breaking point” because of a “population crisis.”; i.e., too many A-rabs. Emphasis added. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Whaddaya mean "unfit for office"?

Lawyers for President Trump have advised him against sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to four people briefed on the matter, raising the specter of a monthslong court battle over whether the president must answer questions under oath. His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators. Their stance puts them at odds with Mr. Trump, who has said publicly and privately that he is eager to speak with Mr. Mueller as part of the investigation into possible ties between his associates and Russia’s election interference, and whether he obstructed justice.... Refusing to sit for an interview opens the possibility that Mr. Mueller will subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury, setting up a court fight that would drastically escalate the investigation and could be decided by the Supreme Court." ...

... The Perp. Josh Marshall: "Let’s be candid about what this means. The President is pleading the 5th while trying to avoid saying that’s what he’s doing. Let’s call it the de facto 5th. The constitutional law is clear cut.... A sitting President has no blanket right to refuse to cooperate with a criminal investigation.... The President is obviously guilty of obstruction of justice.... It makes perfect sense to refuse to talk. Perps do that all the time.... [T]he President’s lawyers’ argument appears to be that the President is innocent of any crimes but that he is also a pathological liar.... The other notable claim is that Trump’s lawyers and advisors believe that if Trump refuses a voluntary request for an interview, which is his right, Mueller might lack the nerve to subpoena him." --safari...

... Kevin Drum: "The president’s lawyers are playing a weak hand here. If they decline an interview and Mueller issues a subpoena, Trump has to testify without benefit of counsel. That’s the last thing they want, and Mueller knows it. With the Starr precedent to back him up, all Mueller has to do is give them a simple choice: Trump can testify either voluntarily with counsel or under subpoena without counsel. What’s it going to be? Trump is on thin ice for another reason: he can tweet all he wants about this being a witch hunt, but Republicans control every branch of government. This investigation isn’t being run by Democrats and Mueller wasn’t appointed by a bunch of liberals." ...

... Guardian & Reuters: "The former White House senior strategist Steve Bannon will not testify before the intelligence committee of the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, according to sources – defying a subpoena requiring him to appear. Representative Mike Conaway, a senior Republican committee member, told reporters on Monday that he expected Bannon to comply with a subpoena and answer questions on Tuesday. But a source close to Bannon confirmed to the Guardian that he would not appear. The source cited a lack of agreement on the scope of questioning between the intelligence committee and the White House, while noting Bannon’s intention to eventually meet with House investigators. In the meantime, the source said, Bannon would be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller." ...

... Alayna Treene of Axios: "Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters on Air Force One Monday that President Trump's attorneys have already approved the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department's actions during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to White House pool reports." ...

... Another Amoral Grunt. Olivia Nuzzi of New York: "Before joining the Trump administration, the White House principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, called President Donald Trump 'a deplorable' and referred to the release of the Access Hollywood tape as 'some justice,' according to private messages independently obtained and verified by New York." -safari ...

... Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Monday to make public a classified Democratic memorandum rebutting Republican claims that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department had abused their powers to wiretap a former Trump campaign official, setting up a possible clash with President Trump. The vote gives Mr. Trump five days to review the Democratic memo and determine whether he will try to block its release.... Mr. Trump vocally supported the release of the Republicans’ memo last week, declassifying its contents on Friday over the objections of Democrats and his own F.B.I., which issued a rare public statement to warn that it had 'grave concerns' about the memo’s accuracy.... If Mr. Trump tries to block the Democratic memo’s release, House rules allow Democrats to seek a closed-door vote of the full House of Representatives to override the president." ...

... President* Accuses Congressman of Illegal Leaking; Says He "Must Be Stopped." Michael Shear, et al., of the New York Times: "President Trump accused a top Democratic lawmaker on Monday of being 'one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington,' calling Representative Adam Schiff of California 'Little Adam Schiff' and accusing him of illegally leaking confidential information from the House Intelligence Committee. In an early-morning tweet, Mr. Trump ominously said that Mr. Schiff 'must be stopped,' though he did not elaborate. The president’s insult came as Mr. Schiff is expected to call for a vote on Monday afternoon for the Intelligence Committee to release a Democratic rebuttal to the classified memo that the panel’s Republicans released on Friday, which accuses federal law enforcement officials of abusing their powers to spy on a former Trump campaign official.... 'Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!,' Mr. Trump tweeted, referring to former James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director; Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia; John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; and James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence. 'Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!'” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)  ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: It is hard to imagine another president cavalierly and without evidence accusing a sitting member of Congress of criminal behavior. But there you go. ...

... Hey, Who Reads the Footnotes? Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Republican leaders are acknowledging that a footnote to an FBI application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page disclosed the potential political origins of a controversial private dossier cited by the application, undermining the argument of a secret memo they released on Friday and bringing new Democratic pressure on the GOP to declassify more information about the bureau’s actions.... 'Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials,' the memo alleged. But in an appearance on Fox & Friends, [Devin] Nunes was asked about reports over the weekend that the FBI application did refer to a political entity connected to the dossier.... Nunes conceded that a 'footnote' to that effect was included in the application, while faulting the bureau for failing to provide more specifics." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... The Font Was Too Small! Jonathan Chait: "Notice how The FBI LIED about the Steele dossier has been scaled back to, The FBI did not highlight the truth about the Steele Dossier in the part of the application we bothered to read. So now the main attack on the FBI is about font size. No doubt all the subsequent memos Nunes is promising to release will have additional bombshells." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "In his Monday interview [on Fox 'News'], [Rep. Devin] Nunes demonstrated a remarkable lack of understanding of one of the unintentionally vital aspects of the memo he released: its admission that ... the FBI [launched its] investigation into the Trump campaign to the actions of ... George Papadopoulos.... Papadopoulos ... was told in early 2016 that the Russians had 'dirt' on [Hillary] Clinton and relayed that knowledge to an Australian diplomat over drinks. When information stolen from the Democratic National Committee began trickling out, the Australians tipped off the FBI, which launched an investigation.... [Nunes said,] 'As far as we can tell, Papadopoulos never ... even had met with the president. And look, getting drunk in London and talking to diplomats saying that you don’t like Hillary Clinton is, really — I think it’s kind of scary that our intelligence agencies would take that and use it against an American citizen.'... Papadopoulos didn’t simply say he didn’t like Clinton, he allegedly told a foreign official that he’d been told that the Russians had dirt against Clinton. The argument Nunes uses to create that distance [between Papadopoulos & Trump] is an extremely poor one. Trump himself once tweeted a picture of himself meeting with Papadopoulos." ...

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "Only a couple of weeks ago, Republicans cooked up a conspiracy theory about a so-called 'secret society' at the FBI that was attempting to bring down the Trump administration. But something that got overlooked during the run-up to the release of the Nunes memo indicates that it was actually a group of Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee that had a secret group meeting to undermine the Mueller investigation. This announcement came on the same day the committee voted to release the memo. 'The House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has opened a new investigation into both the Department of Justice and the FBI. Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters the Democratic minority was informed of the apparently new investigations Monday night 'for the first time.' According to committee rules, the majority has to consult with the minority before opening an investigation. Schiff said Monday night there was no such consultation.” The Nunes secret society has worked for weeks & continues to do so behind closed doors. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Strange Bedfellows. Matt Ford of the New Republic: "... skeptics are right to be wary of federal law-enforcement agencies and those who lead them, given the abuses of the past. But those abuses also underscore the danger of letting Republicans turn the bureau into a political tool for their own purposes — and that’s why Democrats are right to defend the FBI today.... Ironically, the FBI’s most egregious breaches of public trust in the modern era occurred under Director James Comey.... Comey made two major interventions in the 2016 presidential race. He publicly castigated Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, despite bringing no criminal charges against her, then sent a letter to Congress two weeks before Election Day announcing the bureau had reopened its investigation. He followed up two days before Election Day to note that nothing relevant had been discovered, but the damage was already done: His actions may have cost Clinton the election. Comey’s actions inflicted the very damage to the FBI that they were supposed to prevent." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I would add here that right before the election, Comey also allowed the Bureau to falsely deny (to the New York Times) any possible relationship between the Trump campaign & election-meddling, at the very time the FBI was deep into an investigation of that very likelihood. (If you don't believe me, you could ask Devin Nunes.) This created the false narrative that Clinton was suspicious & careless while Trump was pure as the driven snow.

... Garrett Graff of Wired: "Bob Mueller's investigation is larger -- and further along -- than you think.... We speak about the 'Mueller probe' as a single entity, but it’s important to understand that there are no fewer than five (known) separate investigations under the broad umbrella of the special counsel’s office.... 1. Preexisting Business Deals and Money Laundering.... 2. Russian Information Operations.... 3. Active Cyber Intrusions.... 4. Russian Campaign Contacts.... 5. Obstruction of Justice." ...

... ** Digby has a good piece in Salon on winger hypocrisy: "In an epic example of projection, the party that launched partisan probes for decades now claims to be horrified." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Charlie Savage & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "The New York Times is asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to unseal secret documents related to the wiretapping of Carter Page, the onetime Trump campaign adviser at the center of a disputed memo written by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee.The motion is unusual. No such wiretapping application materials apparently have become public since Congress first enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978.... But President Trump lowered the shield of secrecy surrounding such materials on Friday by declassifying the Republican memo about Mr. Page, after finding that the public interest in disclosing its contents outweighed any need to protect the information. Because Mr. Trump did so, The Times argues, there is no longer a justification 'for the Page warrant orders and application materials to be withheld in their entirety,' and 'disclosure would serve the public interest.'” ...

... ** Jonathan Chait: "Once again, as the facts have emerged in full, the underlying conclusions [of the Nunes memo] hyped by conservatives have melted away.... But ... the collapse of the factual underpinnings beneath the conservatives’ claims left no impression on them whatsoever. There is no sense of chastening or remorse on the right. To the contrary, Republicans retain all of their initial fervor to use the memo to prosecute their targets in the deep state.... Cultivating distrust in institutions that are designed to play a neutral, mediating role is one of the central functions of conservative politics. It is a game that conservatives know how to win, because they are waging asymmetric warfare. There is no good way for an institution to withstand partisan attack when its existence relies upon maintaining some distance from partisanship.... There is no way to refute bad-faith criticism." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

...Josh Marshall: "[A]t the end of the ‘Memo’ drama Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) asked Nunes whether he’d worked with the White House on producing the memo. Nunes evaded the question. He has not followed up with any denial.... You don’t need to look long to find the probable point of contact between Nunes and the White House. Michael Ellis is Senior Associate White House Counsel, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Council Legal Advisor.... Before he went to work at the White House Counsel’s office he served as Nunes’ General Counsel on the House Intelligence Committee.... Ellis and Nunes have already done something just like this at least once before ... the origin of the 'unmasking' conspiracy theory." --safari...

... Nora Ellingsen, et al., of Lawfare obtained FOIA documents proving that Trump & his administration lied when they claimed in May 2017 that one reason for firing James Comey was that he did not have the backing of rank-&-file FBI personnel. For instance, "The president of the FBI Agents Association, Thomas O'Connor, a 'gut punch.'... [Instead, there was] a reaction of 'shock' and 'profound sadness' at the removal of a beloved figure to whom the workforce was deeply attached. It also shows that no aspect of the White House’s statements about the bureau were accurate — and, indeed, that the White House engendered at least some resentment among the rank and file for whom it purported to speak.” The article includes a a pdf of the entire FBI documentation Lawfare received. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I really would like Mrs. Huckleberry to have to answer to Bob Mueller for her remarks. She claimed "she personally had 'heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision.'” Okay, fine, Mrs. H. Produce "countless" letters, phone logs, etc. It may not be a crime to lie to the American people but to invent a false narrative to cover up the "real reason" for firing Comey is to participate in obstruction of justice. And that is a crime. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Whatever else the firing of Comey and subsequent actions by the White House to stop the Russia investigation signify, they show a reckless disregard for the impact on the FBI, which was not demoralized until Trump demoralized it. All the loose GOP talk in connection with the Nunes memo of 'cleansing' the FBI has got to be making the atmosphere a lot worse, particularly among career types who must be in profound shock — if not seized by hysterical laughter — by the suggestion that the Bureau has been in the grips of some sort of leftist cabal." Mrs. McC: Yes, but Trumpetmaster Putin is awfully happy to see a U.S. intelligence agency in turmoil. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


** Paul Lewis
 of the Guardian: "The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee [Mark Warnerhas warned that YouTube’s powerful recommendation algorithm may be 'optimising for outrageous, salacious and often fraudulent content' or susceptible to 'manipulation by bad actors, including foreign intelligence entities'.... [He] made the stark warning after an investigation by the Guardian found that the Google-owned video platform was systematically promoting divisive and conspiratorial videos that were damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the months leading up to the 2016 election.... An analysis of the videos contained in the database suggests the algorithm was six times more likely to recommend videos that was damaging to Clinton than Trump, and also tended to amplify wild conspiracy theories about the former secretary of state...The Alex Jones Channel, the broadcasting arm of the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars, was one of the most recommended channels in the database of videos." --safari...

... Denise Clifton of Mother Jones: "Trump supporters are among the most prolific social media users spreading fake news and conspiracy content, according to new research out from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project, which has been studying disinformation campaigns globally since 2014.... The Oxford researchers found that those pro-Trump accounts, though comprising less than a sixth of the total accounts, were responsible for 55 percent of the 'junk news' tweeted out.... (The research doesn’t address whether any of these Twitter and Facebook accounts may be controlled by bots or other deceptive online operators.)" --safari

Patrick Rucker of Reuters: "Mick Mulvaney, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has pulled back from a full-scale probe of how Equifax Inc failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers, according to people familiar with the matter." Mrs. McC: Because protecting Americans' personal data is so wrong. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

War on Science. Brianna Ehley & Sarah Karlin-Smith of Politico: "... Donald Trump’s war on opioids is beginning to look more like a war on his drug policy office. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has taken control of the opioids agenda, quietly freezing out drug policy professionals and relying instead on political staff to address a lethal crisis claiming about 175 lives a day. The main response so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a 'just say no' campaign. Trump is expected to propose massive cuts this month to the 'drug czar' office, just as he attempted in last year’s budget before backing off. He hasn’t named a permanent director for the office, and the chief of staff was sacked in December. For months, the office’s top political appointee was a 24-year-old Trump campaign staffer with no relevant qualifications. Its senior leadership consists of a skeleton crew of three political appointees, down from nine a year ago." ...

... AND TrumpCare = JesusCare. Ed Mazza of the Huffington Post: "A controversial minister linked to President Donald Trump said flu shots aren’t necessary when you have Jesus. 'Inoculate yourself with the word of God,' urged Gloria Copeland, who with her husband co-founded the Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Texas. Both serve on Trump’s evangelical advisory board.... She said the faithful who don’t have the flu can ward off the infection by repeatedly saying, 'I’ll never have the flu. I’ll never have the flu.'... Last week, the CDC said flu hospitalizations have reached their highest point in nearly a decade, and that 48 states are experiencing widespread illnesses due to the virus.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This of course was a common belief back in ancient, superstitious times. People didn't understand viruses & germs & physiological anomalies, so it was kinda "reasonable" to suspect that the gods made them sick because they had done something to displease the gods. The Gospels are full of stories about Jesus's healing the sick when they -- or their loved ones -- demonstrated their faith in the Hebrew God. That somebody would make the same argument in 2018 is not "reasonable."

Democracy Now! discusses Paul Ryan's tax policy and the Koch's major windfall, verifying the discussion in the comments section a few days back.

Senate Race

God Opposes Bachmann Run. Sarah Bailey of the Washington Post: "Former U.S. representative Michele Bachmann has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by Al Franken, just weeks after she told a televangelist she was mulling the decision.... In a broadcast published by Right Wing Watch, Bachmann told Minnesota radio host Jan Markell on Saturday that she’s decided against running for office, saying she prayed about the race and 'wasn’t hearing any call from God to do this.'”


** Wow! Robert Barnes
of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to delay redrawing congressional lines, meaning the 2018 elections in the state will probably be held in districts far more favorable to Democrats. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who hears emergency requests from the state, turned down the petition without obvious objection from his colleagues. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month ruled that the state’s Republican legislative leaders had violated the state Constitution by unfairly favoring the GOP. Although there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state, Republicans hold 13 of 18 congressional seats. It is the most significant victory by critics of the way most congressional and legislative districts are drawn and a sign that their efforts will be felt as early as this fall’s midterm elections." Mrs. McC: Thanks, Sam. And I mean that this time. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Barnes spells out why this is a big deal -- and a significant change in Supreme Court "philosophy": "The justices are traditionally reluctant to order changes in an election year, for one thing. And they have never thrown out a state’s redistricting plan because they found it so infected with partisan bias that it violates voters’ constitutional rights."...

... GOP War on Justice, Ctd. Jonathan Lai & Liz Navratil of The Philadelphia Enquirer: "[T]he [Pennsylvania] legislature’s two highest-ranking Republicans signaled Monday that they might not be willing to give up their fight. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) and House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) issued a joint statement saying they would attempt to comply with the state Supreme Court’s order to redraw congressional maps by Friday 'but may be compelled to pursue further legal action in federal court.'... [A] rank-and-file Republican [Cris Dush (R., Jefferson)] issued a memo seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would seek the impeachment of the five Democratic justices who declared the maps unconstitutional. It’s unclear exactly how far that attempt will go." --safari ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: These bozos can sue whomever they want -- probably on the state's dime. But the Supremes -- in the person of Sam Alito, no less -- have already told state Republicans they don't have a case, so a lower court -- preferring not to be overturned -- is unlikely to be sympathetic to some slightly different legal theory of their position.

Jack Ewing & Alexandra Stevenson of the New York Times: "A stock market rout in the United States took on global contours on Tuesday, as investors from Tokyo to Hong Kong and London to Frankfurt sent shares tumbling. The sharp falls have come despite generally positive economic news around the world. There is strong growth on every continent, interest rates are at or near record lows, and the United States has just passed a sweeping tax overhaul that will dramatically lower corporate taxes. President Trump has touted seemingly unending stock market highs as proof of improved economic prospects. But those positive factors have also, in part, created the circumstances for the recent sell-off. Accelerating growth means central banks are gradually looking to take away economic stimulus, and rising interest rates could eat into corporate profits. Workers, meanwhile, are increasingly demanding their share through wage increases." ...

The reason our stock market is so successful is because of me. -- Donald Trump, November 2017

Good time to recall that in the previous administration, we NEVER boasted about the stock market — even though the Dow more than doubled on Obama’s watch — because we knew two things: 1) the stock market is not the economy; and 2) if you claim the rise, you own the fall. -- Jay Carney, President Obama's first press secretary ...

... The Trump Slump. Matt Phillips of the New York Times: "The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell by more than 4 percent on Monday, deepening its losses from the previous week and erasing its gains for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average sank by 4.6 percent. Bond yields, the basis for key borrowing costs such as mortgage rates, have risen fast in recent weeks. In trading in Asia on Tuesday morning, markets signaled another tough day.... New leadership at the Fed is adding a degree of uncertainty. Jerome H. Powell was sworn in as the 16th chairman of the Federal Reserve on Monday, after the departure of his predecessor, Janet L. Yellen.... A rocky patch for the markets could become awkward for President Trump. He has repeatedly claimed credit for surging stocks, while business optimism over his push to cut taxes and decrease regulation has helped fuel the 'Trump Bump.'” ...

... Damian Paletta & Erica Werner of the Washington Post: "President Trump and congressional Republicans have spent much of the past year trying to connect a giddy stock market rally with their economic agenda, but stocks’ precipitous plunge in the past five days has delivered a sobering reality: What goes up can come back down — quickly and with little warning. With Monday’s steep fall, Trump has presided over the biggest stock market drop in U.S. history, when measured by points in the Dow Jones industrial average. The free fall began in earnest Jan. 30 and snowballed Friday and Monday, for a combined loss of almost 2,100 points, or 8 percent of the Dow’s value. It is also unclear if the past week will amount to a small correction or the beginning of a painful slide that many investors said was overdue.... Trump delivered a speech on his economic agenda Monday that didn’t mention the stock market once, a rare occurrence for him. After tweeting incessantly about the stock market in 2017, Trump has stopped since Jan. 20." ...

... Poetic Numeric Justice. Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "... Fox News interrupted a live broadcast of a speech Trump delivered in Ohio on Monday to tout the tax cut bill to instead cover a historic drop in the Dow Jones industrial average. During the speech, Trump said that the tax cut bill 'set off a tidal wave of good news that continues to grow every single day.' But his message was contradicted by chyrons detailing the Dow’s plunge.... Trump’s conflation of the stock market and the broader economy was problematic to begin with, given that nearly half of the country has nothing invested in the market. And it never made sense for Trump to take credit for a stock market that has been gaining steadily since it recovered from the financial collapse of 2008." ...

... Paul Krugman: "It’s surely not a good thing that Trump got rid of one of the most distinguished Federal Reserve chairs in history just before markets started to flash some warning signs. Jerome Powell, Janet Yellen’s replacement, seems like a reasonable guy. But we have no idea how well he would handle a crisis if one developed. Meanwhile, the current secretary of the Treasury — who declared of Davos, 'I don’t think it’s a hangout for globalists' — may be the least distinguished, least informed individual ever to hold that position. So are we heading for trouble? Too soon to tell. But if we are, rest assured that we’ll have the worst possible people on the case."

Just another day in the life of ...

Damian Carrington of the Guardian: "The ozone layer that protects people from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is not recovering over most highly populated regions, scientists warned on Tuesday. The greatest losses in ozone occurred over Antarctica but the hole there has been closing since the chemicals causing the problem were banned by the Montreal protocol. But the ozone layer wraps the entire Earth and new research has revealed it is thinning in the lower stratosphere over the non-polar areas.... Reduced protection from cancer-causing UV rays is especially concerning towards the equator, where sunlight is stronger and billions of people live." --safari

Sunday
Feb042018

The Commentariat -- February 5, 2018

It Is Treasonous Not to Applaud the Dear Leader. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump accused Democrats on Monday of 'treasonous' behavior during his State of the Union address. Trump took aim at Democratic members of Congress who refused to applaud during his speech when he mentioned his achievements over the past year. 'Can we call that treason? Why not?' the president said during a speech in Ohio. 'They certainly didn't seem to love our country very much.'" Mrs. McC: We are down the rabbithole now. And here I was incensed Trump implied one Democratic Congressman was a criminal. Now it turns out they're all traitors. Hang 'em by the neck until dead. ...

... President* Accuses Congressman of Illegal Leaking; Says He "Must Be Stopped." Michael Shear, et al., of the New York Times: "President Trump accused a top Democratic lawmaker on Monday of being 'one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington,' calling Representative Adam Schiff of California 'Little Adam Schiff' and accusing him of illegally leaking confidential information from the House Intelligence Committee. In an early-morning tweet, Mr. Trump ominously said that Mr. Schiff 'must be stopped,' though he did not elaborate. The president’s insult came as Mr. Schiff is expected to call for a vote on Monday afternoon for the Intelligence Committee to release a Democratic rebuttal to the classified memo that the panel’s Republicans released on Friday, which accuses federal law enforcement officials of abusing their powers to spy on a former Trump campaign official.... 'Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!,' Mr. Trump tweeted, referring to former James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director; Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia; John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; and James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence. 'Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!'” ...

     ... Mrs. McC: It is hard to imagine another president cavalierly and without evidence accusing a sitting member of Congress of criminal behavior. But there you go. ...

... President* Casually Provokes International Incident with Ally. Karla Adam of the Washington Post: "President Trump took a swing at Britain’s beloved National Health Service on Monday, tweeting that Britons were marching in the streets because their universal health-care system was financially strapped and dysfunctional, and got a swift rebuke from the British prime minister. 'The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!' he wrote. But the thousands of Britons who took to the streets over the weekend were marching in support of the NHS and calling for greater government funding.... A spokesman for [PM Theresa] May said that 'the prime minister is proud of our NHS, that is free at the point of delivery....'... 'I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover[,' tweeted British health secretary Jeremy Hunt.]... Responding to Trump’s comments, the march organizers said they were campaigning against a U.S.-style health-care system that they said is 'expensive, inefficient and unjust.'” Inspiring Trump's attack: right-wing Brit Nigel Farage on the Fox News segment, who said the NHS was “pretty much at a breaking point” because of a “population crisis.”; i.e., too many A-rabs. Emphasis added. ...

... Whaddaya mean "unfit for office"?

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are slated to introduce a bill Monday that would grant eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2013 and came to the US as children, but it does not address all of the President's stated immigration priorities, like ending family-based immigration categories -- which Republicans call 'chain migration' — or ending the diversity visa program." Mrs. McC: Big surprise, right?

Nora Ellingsen, et al., of Lawfare obtained FOIA documents proving that Trump & his administration lied when they claimed in May 2017 that one reason for firing James Comey was that he did not have the backing of rank-&-file FBI personnel. For instance, "The president of the FBI Agents Association, Thomas O'Connor, a 'gut punch.'... [Instead, there was] a reaction of 'shock' and 'profound sadness' at the removal of a beloved figure to whom the workforce was deeply attached. It also shows that no aspect of the White House’s statements about the bureau were accurate — and, indeed, that the White House engendered at least some resentment among the rank and file for whom it purported to speak.” The article includes a a pdf of the entire FBI documentation Lawfare received. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I really would like Mrs. Huckleberry to have to answer to Bob Mueller for her remarks. She claimed "she personally had 'heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision.'” Okay, fine, Mrs. H. Produce "countless" letters, phone logs, etc. It may not be a crime to lie to the American people but to invent a false narrative to cover up the "real reason" for firing Comey is to participate in obstruction of justice. And that is a crime. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Whatever else the firing of Comey and subsequent actions by the White House to stop the Russia investigation signify, they show a reckless disregard for the impact on the FBI, which was not demoralized until Trump demoralized it. All the loose GOP talk in connection with the Nunes memo of 'cleansing' the FBI has got to be making the atmosphere a lot worse, particularly among career types who must be in profound shock — if not seized by hysterical laughter — by the suggestion that the Bureau has been in the grips of some sort of leftist cabal." Mrs. McC: Yes, but Trumpetmaster Putin is awfully happy to see a U.S. intelligence agency in turmoil.

Hey, Who Reads the Footnotes? Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Republican leaders are acknowledging that a footnote to an FBI application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page disclosed the potential political origins of a controversial private dossier cited by the application, undermining the argument of a secret memo they released on Friday and bringing new Democratic pressure on the GOP to declassify more information about the bureau’s actions.... 'Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials,' the memo alleged. But in an appearance on Fox & Friends, [Devin] Nunes was asked about reports over the weekend that the FBI application did refer to a political entity connected to the dossier.... Nunes conceded that a 'footnote' to that effect was included in the application, while faulting the bureau for failing to provide more specifics." ...

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "Only a couple of weeks ago, Republicans cooked up a conspiracy theory about a so-called 'secret society' at the FBI that was attempting to bring down the Trump administration. But something that got overlooked during the run-up to the release of the Nunes memo indicates that it was actually a group of Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee that had a secret group meeting to undermine the Mueller investigation. This announcement came on the same day the committee voted to release the memo. 'The House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has opened a new investigation into both the Department of Justice and the FBI.Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters the Democratic minority was informed of the apparently new investigations Monday night 'for the first time.' According to committee rules, the majority has to consult with the minority before opening an investigation. Schiff said Monday night there was no such consultation.” The Nunes secret society has worked for weeks & continues to do so behind closed doors. ...

... ** Digby has a good piece in Salon on winger hypocrisy: "In an epic example of projection, the party that launched partisan probes for decades now claims to be horrified." ...

... ** Jonathan Chait: "Once again, as the facts have emerged in full, the underlying conclusions [of the Nunes memo] hyped by conservatives have melted away.... But ... the collapse of the factual underpinnings beneath the conservatives’ claims left no impression on them whatsoever. There is no sense of chastening or remorse on the right. To the contrary, Republicans retain all of their initial fervor to use the memo to prosecute their targets in the deep state.... Cultivating distrust in institutions that are designed to play a neutral, mediating role is one of the central functions of conservative politics. It is a game that conservatives know how to win, because they are waging asymmetric warfare. There is no good way for an institution to withstand partisan attack when its existence relies upon maintaining some distance from partisanship.... There is no way to refute bad-faith criticism."

Patrick Rucker of Reuters: "Mick Mulvaney, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has pulled back from a full-scale probe of how Equifax Inc failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers, according to people familiar with the matter." Mrs. McC: Because protecting Americans' personal data is so wrong.

** Wow! Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to delay redrawing congressional lines, meaning the 2018 elections in the state will probably be held in districts far more favorable to Democrats. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who hears emergency requests from the state, turned down the petition without obvious objection from his colleagues. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month ruled that the state’s Republican legislative leaders had violated the state Constitution by unfairly favoring the GOP. Although there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state, Republicans hold 13 of 18 congressional seats. It is the most significant victory by critics of the way most congressional and legislative districts are drawn and a sign that their efforts will be felt as early as this fall’s midterm elections." Mrs. McC: Thanks, Sam. And I mean that this time. ...

     ... Barnes spells out why this is a big deal -- and a significant change in Supreme Court "philosophy": "The justices are traditionally reluctant to order changes in an election year, for one thing. And they have never thrown out a state’s redistricting plan because they found it so infected with partisan bias that it violates voters’ constitutional rights."

*****

Elise Viebeck & Shane Harris of the Washington Post: "Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee dissented Sunday from President Trump’s view that corruption has poisoned the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In a sign of a growing rift within the House GOP, four members of the panel dismissed the idea pushed by Trump and other Republicans that a controversial memo criticizing how the FBI handled elements of its Russia probe undermines the investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III into possible coordination between Trump associates and the Kremlin. The memo’s release Friday by the Intelligence Committee has raised fears Trump will fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the probe. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who helped draft the memo, said Trump should not fire Rosenstein and rejected the idea that the document has bearing on the investigation. 'I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe,' Gowdy, who also chairs the House Oversight Committee, said on CBS’s 'Face the Nation.'” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In fairness to Trump, he had only "a few hours" to read the memo, so he has had to rely on Sean Hannity to find out what it says. (In the linked commentary, Jonathan Chait doubts that "a few hours" alone with a memo is any guarantee he Trump would read it. "(The television isn’t going to watch itself)," Chait explains. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Shane Harris: Former CIA Director "John Brennan accused Rep. Devin Nunes (R.-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of selectively releasing information to accuse law enforcement officials of improperly obtaining a warrant to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign adviser. 'It’s just appalling and clearly underscores how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,' Brennan said in an interview on NBC’s 'Meet the Press.' 'He has abused the chairmanship of [the Intelligence Committee],' Brennan said.... He emphasized that the dossier played 'no role whatsoever' in an assessment by all U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election. He added that intelligence agencies were also developing their own information on Russia’s interference 'on multiple fronts' and that the FBI had its own sources of information.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Landay & Doina Chiacu of Reuters: "On Monday, the House intelligence panel will consider whether to release a memo from Democratic lawmakers that is expected to outline what they see as flaws in the Republican memo. Two sources told Reuters ... on Sunday that the intelligence committee would consider declassifying the Democratic memo on Monday and making it public. One said the meeting would take place at 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) and that there would be a vote. A Democratic member of the intelligence committee, Representative Michael Quigley, said on Sunday he was concerned that Trump could censor the Democratic memo that must be sent to him for a five-day security review before it is released under the same rule by which the Republican document was made public." ...

... Philip Carter, in Slate: "Trump betrayed the intelligence community to save his own skin.... Trump signaled ... that ... between the integrity of government investigations and his own political interests, he’ll choose the latter. If he’s willing to overrule his senior intelligence and law enforcement leaders over something so inconsequential and fake as the Nunes/Patel memo, it’s frightening to think what he would choose in an actual crisis, when we really need him to put America first." ...

... E.J. Dionne invokes Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism to put Devin Nunes' memo in context. ...

... Make That "Memos." Jonathan Swan of Axios: "'The memo' — which pitted the Justice Department against the White House and brought ugly partisan sniping into stark relief — is only the beginning. Republican sources close to Devin Nunes tell me he's assured them there's much more to come.... Republicans close to Nunes say there could be as many as five additional memos or reports of 'wrongdoing.'... A Republican member briefed on Nunes' investigations told me: 'There are several areas of concern where federal agencies used government resources to try to create a narrative and influence the election. Some have suggested coordination with Hillary Clinton operatives, [Sidney] Blumenthal and [Cody] Shearer, to back up the false narrative.' I'm told the Nunes team has discussed producing additional reports or disclosures that don't require declassification." ...

This Week in Wingnutia. Republicans have increasingly claimed that the memo written by GOP staff members of the House Intelligence Committee, which was declassified by President Trump on Friday, shows how the FBI conspired with Democrats to interfere in the election and even spy on the Trump campaign. [For instance:]

#FISAMemo shows real collusion between Dem operatives & key officials at the FBI & DOJ to spy on the #Trump campaign & interfere in the 2016 election. The politicization of our intelligence & law enforcement agencies should concern every American. More: https://t.co/ajJzczgB78 — [Rep.] Raúl R. Labrador [RTP-Id.], February 2, 2018

... The GOP memo provides no evidence that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. Instead, it shows that the court order for surveillance of Page was obtained weeks after Page and the Trump campaign had said Page was no longer part of the campaign. Trump has asserted that he never even met or spoke to Page. Moreover, the GOP memo confirms that the separate investigation into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign was prompted by information that was not contained in the Steele dossier. One wonders if Republicans making claims of FBI spying on the Trump campaign have even read the memo. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post (Thanks to MAG for the link.) ...

... Juan Cole: "The confident pronouncements by pundits and politicians that the Nunes memo is a dud, dead on arrival, neglect to consider the main tactic of the Republican right wing for some time now. It is a conspiracy theory, and conspiracy theories carried Trump to the White House and many Republicans into Congress or state legislatures.... Nunes and Trump know that Rupert Murdoch’s lying Fox Cable News will be happy to become The Nunes Memo Network 24/7. They know that Sinclair radio stations ... will play it up big time. They know that NewsMax and Breitbart and other right wing webzines will beat this drum continually...They already have 36% of voters and just need to create doubts in or support for Trump in 15% of voters who are independents, and they keep winning politically." --safari ...

... Molly McKew in Politico Magazine: "Russian bots and their American allies gamed social media to put a flawed intelligence document atop the political agenda.... The #releasethememo campaign came out of nowhere. Its movement from social media to fringe/far-right media to mainstream media so swift[ly] that both the speed and the story itself became impossible to ignore. The frenzy of activity spurred lawmakers and the White House to release the Nunes memo, which critics say is a purposeful misrepresentation of classified intelligence meant to discredit the Russia probe and protect the president." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)  ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: That is to say, having helped elect Trump, Putin/Russia is now helping to protect him from U.S. law enforcement agencies. Think about that. There is a reason the Founders went out of their way to try to protect the presidency from foreign coups (the president & veep must be native-born). See also Emoluments Clause (a/k/a Title of Nobility Clause). Unfortunately, the Founders could not foresee bots. So congratulations! Many of you have now become subjects of the nation ostensibly ruled by Prince Donaldovich von Putin von Clownstick. The rest of you will be deported. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

     ... Update: AND, as safari pointed out in yesterday's Comments, the whole exercise has given Russian intelligence a view of the timeline of the surveillance of Page & thus a good idea of what the U.S. has on him & on the Russians with whom he interacted. This is really why DOJ & FBI officials said releasing the memo was so reckless, & other intelligence officials (like former CIA director Brennan) are so bent out about it. 

... ** Ezra Klein of Vox, reviews How Democracies Die: "Demagogues and authoritarians do not destroy democracies. It’s established political parties, and the choices they make when faced with demagogues and authoritarians, that decide whether democracies survive.... '2017 was the best year for conservatives in the 30 years that I’ve been here,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week. 'The best year on all fronts.'... Think about that for a moment. If you want to know why congressional Republicans are opening an assault on the FBI in order to protect Trump, it can be found in that comment." Read on. --safari

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "In mid-April, hundreds of members of the payday lending industry will head to Florida for their annual retreat featuring golf and networking at a plush resort just outside Miami. The resort just happens to be the Trump National Doral Golf Club. It will cap a year in which the industry has gone from villain to victor, the result of a concentrated lobbying campaign that has culminated in the Trump administration’s loosening regulatory grip on payday lenders and a far friendlier approach by the industry’s nemesis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.... Two weeks ago, [Mick] Mulvaney[, whom Trump installed as the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] put the brakes on a contentious rule, ushered in by [Obama appointee Richard] Cordray, that was set to impose tight restrictions on short-term payday loans." ...

    ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is just one of a thousand cuts Trump & Co. have used to bleed ordinary Americans. Trump's pretense of populism was the biggest cons ever pulled on a gullible public. But it sure is nice of these chiselers to kick back a little something to Trump by way of their annual confab. 

David Sanger & William Broad of the New York Times: "A treaty committing the United States and Russia to keep their long-range nuclear arsenals at the lowest levels since early in the Cold War goes into full effect on Monday. When it was signed eight years ago, President Barack Obama expressed hope that it would be a small first step toward deeper reductions, and ultimately a world without nuclear weapons. Now, that optimism has been reversed. A new nuclear policy issued by the Trump administration on Friday, which vows to counter a rush by the Russians to modernize their forces even while staying within the treaty limits, is touching off a new kind of nuclear arms race.... The Pentagon envisions a new age in which nuclear weapons are back in a big way — its strategy bristles with plans for new low-yield nuclear weapons that advocates say are needed to match Russian advances and critics warn will be too tempting for a president to use. The result is that the nuclear-arms limits that go into effect on Monday now look more like the final stop after three decades of reductions than a way station to further cuts." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Thanks, generals! Nothing like tempting Trump to go nuclear. Fortunately, I guess, he won't be going nuclear against Russia.

Dan Barry, et al., of the New York Times: "For more than a year, an F.B.I. inquiry into allegations that Lawrence G. Nassar, a respected sports doctor, had molested three elite teenage gymnasts followed a plodding pace as it moved back and forth among agents in three cities.... Nearly a year passed before agents interviewed two of the young women.... The accumulating information included instructional videos of the doctor’s unusual treatment methods, showing his ungloved hands working about the private areas of girls lying facedown on tables. But as the inquiry moved with little evident urgency, a cost was being paid. The New York Times has identified at least 40 girls and women who say that Dr. Nassar molested them between July 2015, when he first fell under F.B.I. scrutiny, and September 2016, when he was exposed by an Indianapolis Star investigation. Some are among the youngest of the now-convicted predator’s many accusers — 265, and counting.... The [FBI's] silence had dire consequences, as the many girls and young women still seeing Dr. Nassar received no warning."

** Julia Manchester of the Hill: "Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) will introduce immigration legislation on Monday in an effort to reach a budget deal before the federal government's current funding runs out on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bipartisan piece of legislation provides recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, commonly known as 'Dreamers,' an opportunity for citizenship while ordering a study to figure out what border security measures are needed, according to the Journal. Senate aides told the Journal that the plan would provide people who have resided in the U.S. since Dec. 31, 2013, with legal status and a path to citizenship. The Journal reported that the legislation is similar to House legislation introduced by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.).” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: On its face, this plan sounds so simple sensible I don't see how it can pass. And giving Trump a "study" is perfect, though I don't suppose he'd settle for that. I'm hearing screams of "Amnesty!" P.S. In case you forgot, the federal government will run out of money again at the end of this week. ...

... Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press reports on what it's like for one 39-year-old family man to be deported from the U.S. to a country where he hasn't lived since he was 10 years old. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Amy Wang of the Washington Post writes of a chemistry professor, husband & father whom ICE is about to deport. He has lived in the U.S. for 30 years. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It would appear both of these men could embark on a path to citizenship under the McCain-Coons bill. Since they both apparently have been good citizens for decades, why wouldn't we want them to stay here & continue the life they've built? Well, maybe because these men are not from Scotland,  Germany or Norway & we're nasty xenophobes & racists. But other than that.

Congressional Races

Nick Corasaniti & Kate Zernike of the New York Times rehash the case against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) which federal prosecutors dropped last week after the judge threw out many of the charges, following a mistrial caused by a hung jury. Menendez is up for re-election this year. Mrs. McC: Uh, still not the best candidate.

The Best Candidates. Jay Silverstein of Newsweek: "Arthur Jones, [an Illinois] anti-Semite..., is ... the only GOP candidate for a congressional spot representing parts of Chicago and its suburbs.... His campaign website features a page called 'Holocaust?' that includes a typed note calling the murder of six million Jews by Nazis 'the biggest, blackest, lie in history' and falsely claiming there is no proof of the Holocaust beyond 'a few professional concentration camp survivors.' The website also features a page calling the Confederate flag 'a symbol of White pride and White resistance' and the LGBT rainbow flag 'an attack on traditional Christian morality and religious freedom.' Jones’ campaign includes the slogan, 'It’s time to put America First!,' likely referencing ... Donald Trump’s 'America First' campaign.... Jones last ran for office in 2016, when he expressed his support for Trump’s candidacy, noting that his only concern was that Trump’s daughter Ivanka is married to a Jew, Jared Kushner. (He has since said he regrets voting for Trump because the president has 'surrounded himself with hoards of Jews.')... The Illinois Republican Party ... made clear it has no support for the man who seems to destined to represent it this year.... Jones is all but guaranteed to lose in November to one of the Democratic candidates — incumbent Representative Dan Lipinski or challenger Marie Newman — since the 3rd Congressional District leans heavily to the left.”

Gubernatorial Race

The Best Candidates. Natasha Korecki of Politico: "A new ad that’s been denounced as anti-immigrant, 'racist,' 'sexist' and 'transphobic,' is causing an uproar in Illinois, with leaders from both parties calling for its removal. But Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives, whose campaign produced the ad in her primary election challenge to Gov. Bruce Rauner, is refusing to pull the spot, saying it exposes Rauner’s 'betrayal' of GOP voters. The new ad mockingly thanks the governor for clearing a path in support of a series of social issues. Then it taps just about every conservative bogeyman in Illinois politics, and every lightning-rod cultural issue."

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