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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.

 

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.

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

Saturday
Jul062019

The Commentariat -- July 7, 2019

Afternoon Update:

The Counterfactual World of Trump & Troupe. Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "President Trump on Sunday accused the media of reporting 'phony and exaggerated accounts' of conditions at migrant detention centers along the border in the wake of two bombshell reports from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) watchdog. 'The Fake News Media, in particular th Failing @nytimes, is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers,' Trump tweeted.... The reports from the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) covered the conditions at facilities near El Paso, Texas, and in the Rio Grande Valley. The government watchdog found severe overcrowding, migrants being held too long and dirty conditions at many of the facilities. A group of lawyers who visited a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, made similar claims about the treatment of migrants. The Trump administration has denied reports and images of the conditions in detainment facilities." Mrs. McC: Sunday afternoon, Trump gave a chopper presser in which he elaborated on his phony charges. I'll get a report on that when one becomes available. ...

... Quinn Owen of ABC News: "Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said he did not accept reports of unsanitary conditions and limited food and water at U.S. Border Patrol stations, calling the situation at the border 'extraordinarily challenging' for the department, in an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.... For months, McAleenan has raised alarms about the potential for disastrous conditions on the southern border while maintaining his agency has upheld government standards for housing detainees, despite evidence to the contrary. He said on Sunday that the food and water at one facility in Clint, Texas, that has faced scrutiny were 'adequate' and that migrants in holding centers had access to showers and clean living quarters.... Conditions were so severe at facilities in the Rio Grande Valley that one CBP manager described it to federal investigators as a "ticking time bomb" in the report made public this past week."

David Kirkpatrick & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Iran said on Sunday that within hours it would breach the limits on uranium enrichment set four years ago in an accord with the United States and other international powers that was designed to keep Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon. The latest move inches Iran closer to where it was before the accord: on the path to being able to produce an atomic bomb." Mrs. McC: Thanks, Trump!

Mary Papenfuss of the Huffington Post: "An artist blasted by the Anti-Defamation League for creating a 'blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon' has been invited to the White House by ... Donald Trump. Cartoonist Ben Garrison proudly tweeted his invitation to join a 'Social Media Summit' this coming Thursday at the White House.... Trump's Social Media Summit is expected to address the president's complaints that social media platforms' policies against threats and hate speech are blocking conservative voices.... Two years ago, Garrison created an inflammatory cartoon depicting Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros using puppet strings to control then-Gen. H.R. McMaster, who was serving as Trump's national security adviser at the time, and retired Gen. David Petraeus. The image was a nod to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that a secretive international Jewish cabal controls the world. In the cartoon, Soros is being controlled by a hand labeled the 'Rothschilds,' a famous Jewish banking family. The ADL wrote at the time that the 'thrust of the cartoon is clear: McMaster is merely a puppet of a Jewish conspiracy.'"

Jamie Ehrlich of CNN: "Newly independent Rep. Justin Amash, the only congressional Republican to have publicly argued that ... Donald Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct, told CNN that high-level party officials have thanked him behind closed doors for his stance on impeachment proceedings against Trump. 'I get people sending me text messages, people calling me, saying "thank you for what you're doing,'" Amash told CNN's Jake Tapper in a wide-ranging interview on 'State of the Union' Sunday....In the same interview, Amash said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should start impeachment proceedings against Trump. 'From a principled, moral position, she's making a mistake. From a strategic position, she's making a mistake,' Amash said."

Edward Helmore of the Guardian: "Congressional approval for funds for the Trump administration to spend at the southern border has triggered open warfare between a 'squad' of high-profile progressive House Democrats and party leaders they accuse of caving to a White House determined to mistreat migrant children.... On Saturday [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi [said] in a New York Times interview, [with Maureen Dowd, also linked below] taking aim at The Squad for voting against 'our bill'. 'All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,' she said. 'But they didn't have any following. They're four people and that's how many votes they got.' In a tweeted response, [Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez said: 'That public "whatever" is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.' She also defended her use of social media. The progressive-moderate split is becoming more evident and bitter."

~~~~~~~~~~

Maureen Dowd interviews Nancy Pelosi.

New York Times reporters paint a devastating picture of the now-infamous migrant camp in Clint, Texas. It's difficult to read. "Outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox were spreading among the hundreds of children who were being held in cramped cells, agents said. The stench of the children's dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents' own clothing -- people in town would scrunch their noses when they left work. The children cried constantly. One girl seemed likely enough to try to kill herself that the agents made her sleep on a cot in front of them, so they could watch her as they were processing new arrivals."

"They" Made Trump Hire Undocumented Workers. Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs & Miriam Jordan of the New York Times: "After months of silence, President Trump responded on Friday to reports that the Trump Organization has employed dozens of undocumented immigrants by saying that he doesn't know whether the organization does or not. 'I don't know because I don't run it,' Mr. Trump said when asked if he was confident that undocumented immigrants were no longer working at his golf courses. 'But I would say this: Probably every club in the United States has that because it seems to be, from what I understand, a way that people did business.... But we've ended -- whatever they did, we have a very strict rule that, those rules are very strict,' Mr. Trump said...." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In fairness to the slackard children of America, "The dog ate my homework" is a far more plausible excuse than "I don't run it" when in fact he did "run it," right down to picking the fabrics & colors of the uniforms of the undocumented workers he hired. Democrats should run ads, ad nauseum, in Trump country featuring Trump's former undocumented employees -- the "foreign" bastids who are taking their job & making America brown again (which is what it was before we white European imperialists crashed & trashed the land between the shining seas).

What is the top political problem facing the country? Maybe you're thinking income inequality, or the environment, or healthcare or education or, well, Trump. According to Trump himself, however, your concerns are misplaced: "Our most difficult problem is not our competitors, it is the Federal Reserve!"

Isabel Oakeshott of the Daily Mail: "Britain's Ambassador to Washington has described Donald Trump as 'inept', 'insecure' and 'incompetent' in a series of explosive memos to Downing Street. Sir Kim Darroch, one of Britain's top diplomats, used secret cables and briefing notes to impugn Trump's character, warning London that the White House was 'uniquely dysfunctional' and that the President's career could end in 'disgrace'.... He also says that he doesn't think Trump's White House will 'ever look competent'.... In a memo sent after [Trump visited the U.K.], Sir Kim warned that while Trump and his team had been 'dazzled' by the visit, and the UK might be 'flavour of the month', Trump's White House remained self-interested: 'This is still the land of America First'." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Other media outlets are accepting this report as credible, even tho it comes from the Daily Mail. Also too, the government more-or-less verified the accuracy of the leaked cables: "The Foreign Office last night said that the British public 'would expect our Ambassadors to provide Ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their countries'. A spokesman added: 'Their views are not necessarily the views of Ministers or indeed the Government. But we pay them to be candid, just as the US Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities."

I thought Ivanka was amazing at the G-20. The foreign leaders loved her. They think she's great. -- Donald Trump, to reporters Friday

Uh, how exactly would Trump know this? Does he think other heads of state are going to say, "Why did you bring your dimwitted daughter?" -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker: Media reviewers gave Trump a pass on his July Fourth speech, calling it "inoffensive," "not a complete authoritarian nightmare," and "tame." "Campaign slogans and glaring Trumpisms were not the only things absent from the speech. Immigrants were missing. Trump's most recent predecessors presided over Fourth of July naturalization ceremonies. A rhetorical link between the holiday and immigration has long seemed unbreakable.... That immigrant story is, of course, the story the Trump Administration has demonstratively abandoned.... Trump has retired the myth of America as a nation of immigrants because he staked his election campaign and his legitimacy as president on the demonization of immigrants -- and on mobilizing Americans for a war against immigrants.... Trump spoke like the leader of a country under siege.... Trump has reframed America, stripping it of its ideals, dumbing it down, and reducing it to a nation at war against people who want to join it." Thanks to Anonymous for the link.

Well, now, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin epitomized the American dream when he took in a poor immigrant woman. Still, some of you will come away with the impression that Steve & the Immigrant somehow have missed the spirit of the holiday:

Thanks to Hattie for this inspiring holiday portrait. (And, no, these people really have no idea how ridiculous they are.)

Presidential Race 2020

Christian Vasquez of Politico: "Joe Biden apologized Saturday for his remarks about working with segregationists during his time in the Senate, but again stopped short of saying that it was wrong to work with them amid a defense of his broader civil rights record. 'Now was I wrong a few weeks ago, to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it. I'm sorry for any of the pain or misconception that I caused anybody,' the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate said to cheers during a speech to a mostly black audience in Sumter, South Carolina. Biden continued: 'But did that misstep define 50 years of my record for fighting for civil rights, racial justice in this country? I hope not. I don't think so. That just isn't an honest assessment of my record. I'm going to let my record and character stand for itself and not be distorted or smeared.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It took Biden a mere two-and-a-half weeks to apologize, and in the meantime he defended his remarks on numerous occasions. ...

... Em Steck & Andrew Kaczynski of CNN: "... on the sidelines of the re-litigated fight over busing ... was another candidate who waded into the busing debate in the 1970s on the opposite side of Biden: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In her first law review article, published in 1975 in the Rutgers Law Review and recently unearthed by CNN's KFile, Warren sharply criticized a Supreme Court ruling in the case Milliken v. Bradley, writing that it made it easier for school districts to stop busing students in northern cities. Warren's law review article sheds light on a previously unexplored early career stance on busing that contrasts with Biden's approach during the same time period. Biden defended his past position in an exclusive interview with CNN this week.... [Warren's] first article, according to Justin Driver, a professor of law at Yale School of Law, showed a remarkable understanding of the complexities in education law. It was an 'extremely accomplished piece of scholarship by a student, said Driver."

Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "What is a problem for the [Trump] campaign ... is the escalating cold war between Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. for control of the reelection, five sources close to the White House told me in recent days. Brad Parscale is the nominal campaign manager -- but Jared and Don Jr. ... are jockeying to be the ultimate decision makers.... Paranoia about Kushner has set in among Don Jr.'s allies. According to one person close to Don Jr., his advisers were alarmed by Don Jr.'s now-deleted tweet questioning Senator Kamala Harris's race. They worried Kushner would push the scandal to damage Don Jr.... 'Don doesn't want to give Jared any excuses to delegitimize him,' the person told me." --s

Senate Race 2020. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) "may be in trouble because of two men: Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and President Trump.... Ms. Collins, who coasted to a fourth term in 2014 with 68 percent of the vote, will be difficult to beat. But the polarization that has swept the nation is seeping into Maine as well.... In an interview, Ms. Collins said she would decide in the fall if she would seek re-election. For now, she is behaving like a candidate. She had raised $4.4 million for her 2020 campaign as of March, according to federal elections data, money she will need: After her Kavanaugh vote, a crowdfunding campaign raised over $4 million to donate to her eventual opponent. Last week, she drew a formidable challenger: Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Rebecca Traister of New York: The pundits who cover politics are way behind the times. "The problem here is not simply that [Chris] Matthews and [Donny] Deutsch still have their high-paid media jobs, despite lengthy records of mediocre analysis, grotesque speech about women, and relative cluelessness about race. I's that their jobs are crucial to how the story of the presidential race will be told to the millions of people who watch them.... Altogether, what's emerging is a view of a presidential commentariat that -- in terms of both ideas and diversity -- is embarrassingly outpaced by the candidates, many of whom appear smarter, more thoughtful, and to have a nimbler grasp of American history and structural inequities than the television journalists being paid to cover them." Thanks to Anonymous for the link. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Traister seems unaware that this is scarcely a new phenomenon. The suits run the networks, and they always have picked "news analysts" who reflect what the suits imagine is "safe" and "inoffensive." Even when the analysts have been edgy, even when their gigs followed stellar journalistic careers, the front office has been extremely uneasy about them. Bill Paley made Edward R. Murrow (assuming the biopic film "Good Night, and Good Luck" is accurate) "pay for" his Joe McCarthy exposé by interviewing Marilyn Monroe & Liberace. Vietnam War protests had been at the forefront for years before David Brinkley & Walter Cronkite somewhat timidly questioned our Southeast Asian military adventure. The MSM will never be cutting-edge; that's why we call it "mainstream." ...

... This is hardly a problem unique to political analysis. As Elizabeth Berry & Chi-hui Yang wrote in a New York Times op-ed last week, "... those who have for decades been given the biggest platforms to interpret culture are white men.... Yet the most dynamic art in America today is being made by artists of color and indigenous artists."

Patricia Mazzei & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "Jeffrey E. Epstein, a billionaire New York financier long accused of molesting dozens of girls, was arrested on Saturday and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors, an extraordinary turn of events in a long and sordid criminal case. Two people with knowledge of the charges said on Saturday night that Mr. Epstein had been arrested in the New York area and was in federal custody.... Mr. Epstein, 66, had avoided federal criminal charges in 2007 and 2008 in a widely criticized plea deal whose lenient terms continue to roil the Justice Department and are facing new scrutiny in the #MeToo era. Before the plea deal, Mr. Epstein, a former hedge-fund manager, had been friendly with Donald J. Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.... The plea deal that protected Mr. Epstein from federal charges was signed by the top federal prosecutor in Miami at the time, Alexander Acosta, who is now President Trump's labor secretary."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Israel. Juan Cole: "Hagar Shezaf at the Israeli newspaper of record, Haaretz ['The Land'], reveals that a secretive Israeli agency has been systematically going through the country's archives, including local repositories, and removing and classifying documents having to do with repressive and embarrassing Israeli actions toward Palestinians and Palestinian-Israelis.... The Israeli classification program is betting that the history of 1948 can be erased simply by withholding the Israeli documentation. Hierarchies of knowledge privilege state archives over the oral histories of the powerless and oppressed. Nevertheless, the Palestinians themselves, and their family histories, are the best archive for knowing about their expulsion, and for knowing about the conditions of Apartheid under which some 5 million still live." --s

U.K. James Cusick of OpenDemocracy: "In October 2016, Boris Johnson, the recently-appointed [British] foreign secretary ... was invited to the luxurious Umbrian villa of his wealthy friend, Evgeny Lebedev -- the Russian owner of London's Evening Standard newspaper.... During his stint as London's mayor, Boris had been to the 17th-century villa four times..., using his friend's private jet to fly there and back to London.... Boris's host [is] the son of a wealthy Russian oligarch and former KGB agent.... Meanwhile the Sunday Times recently carried a story claiming the former foreign secretary had been branded 'a security risk by a senior cabinet minister who was close to Theresa May, but is backing Hunt for the leadership.' [T]he Sunday Times quoted the cabinet minister in conversation with another unnamed cabinet minister: 'There will be things in his private life that we don't know about ... there's the danger that people leak what they have over him or blackmail him with it.'" --s

Corinne Redfern of the Guardian: "Sex trafficking is an enormously lucrative business. Academic Siddharth Kara advises the United Nations and the US government on slavery and has shown through his own research that sex trafficking is disproportionately lucrative compared with other forms of slavery. He estimates that sex trafficking creates half of the total profits generated globally by modern slavery, despite only accounting for 5% of all trafficking victims worldwide.... While prostitution is legal [in Bangladesh], trafficking and forced labour are not.... The Bangladesh government estimates that 100,000 women and girls are working in the country's sex industry and one study reports that less than 10% of those had entered prostitution voluntarily.... Here, a triumvirate of powerful institutions -- government, police and religion -- watch over and approve the rape, enslavement and abuse of hundreds of thousands of prepubescent girls." --s

News Lede

New York Times: "... the United States women's soccer team claimed its fourth Women's World Cup title on Sunday, beating the Netherlands, 2-0, in Lyon, France, to repeat as world champions.... Plans were already underway, team officials said, for a parade and celebration of the team's championship in New York sometime this week.... The current team sued its own federation for gender discrimination earlier this year, part of a longrunning fight for pay equity from U.S. Soccer.... That the pro-American crowd insid the Stade de Lyon on Sunday chanted 'Equal Pay!' as the game ended was no accident."

Saturday
Jul062019

Trump's Answers to Hardest Citizenship Test Questions

The New York Times has published an interactive quiz covering the 10 hardest questions on the U.S. citizenship test, according to a 2011 study. A number of Reality Chex contributors have remarked that Donald Trump would flunk the test. I, Mrs. Bea McCrabbie, have learned that Trump did take the test Saturday while waiting for his caddy to move his ball out of a sand trap. Here's the guaranteed-authentic Trump Q&A.

1. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

None. It has 12 articles.

2. Which of these is something Benjamin Franklin is known for?

First head of the FAA and NASA. (Mrs. McC: answer cribbed from Akhilleus' quiz paper)

3. Who was president during World War I?

Andrew Jackson.

4. What statement correctly describes the “rule of law”?

When the President does it, it is not illegal.

5. Under the Constitution, which of these powers does not belong to the federal government?

None of the above. All powers vested in the POTUS.

6. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?

Until the President writes an angry tweet about him.

7. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?

William P. Barr (until further notice).

8. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?

Not Applicable (N/A). Mitch McConnell buries every House bill.

9. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Which of these men was not one of the authors?

Robert Mueller. NO COLLUSION!!! NO OBSTRUCTION!!!

10. When was the Constitution written?

Daily. The Constitution is what they call a living document. (Not many people know that.) The President rewrites the Constitution with tweets and executive orders.

Friday
Jul052019

The Commentariat -- July 6, 2019

Late Morning Update:

"They" Made Trump Hire Undocumented Workers. Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs & Miriam Jordan of the New York Times: "After months of silence, President Trump responded on Friday to reports that the Trump Organization has employed dozens of undocumented immigrants by saying that he doesn't know whether the organization does or not. 'I don't know because I don't run it,' Mr. Trump said when asked if he was confident that undocumented immigrants were no longer working at his golf courses. 'But I would say this: Probably every club in the United States has that because it seems to be, from what I understand, a way that people did business.... But we've ended -- whatever they did, we have a very strict rule that, those rules are very strict,' Mr. Trump said...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In fairness to the slackard children of America, "The dog ate my homework" is a far more plausible excuse than "I don't run it" when in fact he did "run it" right down to picking the fabrics & colors of the uniforms of the undocumented workers he hired. Democrats should run ads, ad nauseum, in Trump country featuring Trump's former undocumented employees.

I thought Ivanka was amazing at the G-20. The foreign leaders loved her. They think she's great. -- Donald Trump, to reporters Friday

Uh, how exactly would Trump know this? Does he think other heads of state are going to say, "What is that dimwit doing here?" -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

~~~~~~~~~~

Morgan Chalfont of the Hill: "President Trump told reporters on Friday that he is considering an executive order to ensure a citizenship question is included on the U.S. census. Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that he has four or five options and is 'thinking of' the executive order. He also said his administration could begin printing the 2020 census and later include the question as part of an addendum." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: In another Trumpian open-mouth-insert-foot moment:

Trump says citizenship has to be asked on the census to determine congressional districts. Actually, districts are drawn up based on total population, not the number of citizens, a practice upheld by the Supreme Court as recently as 2016. -- Peter Baker of the New York Times, in a tweet ...

... That's a new argument in this case, though not one that we haven't heard from Republicans in the past. U.S. population always has been measured by number of residents, not by number of citizens, for the purpose of apportioning Congressional seats. If seats were alloted by number of citizens, rather than number of residents, urban areas would lose big -- and that's something Republicans want. Since judges have considered Trump's statements & tweets in making their decisions (including in a Census case last week), Trump's admission that he wants to change the basis for Congressional representation should matter.

... Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "In a court filing Friday, lawyers for the Justice Department confirmed that both DOJ and the Commerce Department were still weighing 'whether the Supreme Court's decision would allow for a new decision to include the citizenship question.' The filing reiterated what the lawyers told U.S. District Court Judge George Hazel Wednesday, after the president contradicted the government's earlier assertion that it would drop efforts to include the question on next year's survey." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Ari Berman of Mother Jones: "In response, Maryland federal district court judge George Hazel said he was weighing whether to reopen a case looking at whether the administration added the question to intentionally discriminate against Hispanics, based on smoking-gun evidence, uncovered after the death of the GOP's longtime gerrymandering mastermind, Thomas Hofeller, showing that he had pushed for the question in order to draw new political districts that he said would be 'advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.'... Notably, the president has never mentioned a desire to enforce the Voting Rights Act -- the administration's principal, and now rejected, rationale for adding the question -- in his numerous tweets and public comments about the issue. In fact, on Friday morning, Trump told reporters that the 'number one' reason the question was needed was 'for Congress for districting,' which suggested that Republicans, if allowed to collect citizenship data, would use it to exclude non-citizens from counting toward voting district populations, as Hofeller had advised -- a step which would again boost representation for white Republicans." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... We Have a New Excuse, But We Don't Know What It Is. Mark Stern of Slate: "On Friday..., DOJ attorneys asked Hazel to pause discovery while they develop a different justification for the citizenship question. They argued that, by 'providing a new rationale,' they will have magically cleansed the question of any discriminatory intent.... Hazel did not agree, rejecting the DOJ's request on Friday in an order allowing discovery to move forward.... The Justice Department is not being helped by Trump, who acknowledged on Friday that the 'number one' reason for a citizenship question is 'for districting.' Presumably, Trump means that he wants to let states draw districts by counting only citizens of voting age, not all persons -- a scheme that would dramatically boost white voting power. (It has been neither permitted or prohibited by SCOTUS.) That's a troubling concession, because Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the Supreme Court that using citizenship data for redistricting was not the purpose of the census citizenship question. Once again, Trump is telling a very different story from the narrative carefully crafted by DOJ attorneys." ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "In the real world, the fact that the executive branch apparently plans to offer some new, unspecified rationale for a decision it has already made is proof it has been lying about the motives all along.... In the legal world, however, this maneuver might yet succeed.... The Trump administration seems to want to base the allotment on the citizen population instead, which would likely enhance the power of Republican-leaning states at the expense of Democratic ones heavy with noncitizens. The Census Bureau itself concluded that the question would lead to a significant undercount of the United States population. The plaintiffs argued that one motive for the question was to allow for redistricting on the basis of the citizen voting-age population. The president's solicitor general explicitly denied that, calling it a 'conspiracy theory ... nonsensical even on its own terms.' Now Trump is baldly saying it was true." ...

... Tax Axelrod of the Hill: "Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce over the 2020 census are asking a federal court to block the Trump administration from delaying the printing of census forms or changing them to include a citizenship question. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the motion Friday with the state of New York and other groups seeking to block the citizenship question from being added.... 'In addition to deceiving the judiciary and the public and putting the success of the 2020 Census in jeopardy, Defendants' efforts to prolong uncertainty and drag out this matter are sowing confusion and exacerbating fear among immigrant communities, and directly injuring the Plaintiffs' efforts to mobilize participation in the Census,' the ACLU wrote in its filing."

Fore! S. V. Date of the Huffington Post: "... Donald Trump began a three-day golf weekend Friday, making his 16th visit to his New Jersey golf club since entering office and pushing his total travel and security costs for his hobby to $108.1 million.... While he was a reality TV host and then as a presidential candidate, Trump frequently pounded President Barack Obama for spending too much time on the golf course. Trump often told audiences he would be too busy to take any vacations, let alone play golf. But since taking office, Trump has spent 187 days, counting Friday, on a course that he owns. (He has spent two additional days on courses in Japan at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during visits there.) That is two and a half times the number of days Obama had visited golf courses at the same point in his first term. And because Trump insists on playing at his own courses in Florida and New Jersey so much, his golf-associated costs to taxpayers are more than triple Obama's figure through the same time period. Obama played the vast majority of his rounds at military bases within a short drive of the White House."

Trump's "Somewhat Soviet" Speech. Tom Nichols of the New York Daily News: "Let's get an obvious point about President Trump's Independence Day speech out of the way right at the top. It was a bad speech.... Perhaps this was unavoidable, since it was never meant to salute America, but rather to provide the military display Trump has wanted for two years. Like any enforced celebration, it was flat and labored.... It would have been a challenging speech to deliver even for a better speaker, and Trump, who hates reading from prepared remarks, plodded through it with a strangely detached presence and a certain amount of mushy enunciation, including a weird blip* where he referred to the glorious military capture of some airports in colonial America.... Not only did it attempt to militarize our most sacred national holiday, but Trump tried to bathe himself in borrowed legitimacy from a military that was forced to march, sing and fly for him.... Mining the glories of past military battles while flanked by defense chiefs is the kind of thing Soviet leaders used to do while droning from their reviewing stand in Moscow." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... * Someone Left the Teleprompter out in the Rain. BBC News: "Explaining away the slip-up on Friday, Mr Trump also said it was hard to read the teleprompter in the rain.... 'I knew the speech very well so I was able to do it without a teleprompter but the teleprompter did go out and it was actually hard to look at anyway because there was rain all over it but despite the rain it was just a fantastic evening.'... Twitter users had some fun with the garble, using the hashtag #RevolutionaryWarAirports." Mrs. McC: This is an awfully strange excuse, inasmuch as Trump used to regularly criticize both President Obama & Hillary Clinton for using teleprompters. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

One if by Land. Two if by Sea. Three if by the Delta Shuttle from LaGuardia. ~Paul Revere -- Marco Price, in a tweet

Put ye powder hornes and buckled shoes in ye olde bins. Poultices over 3 ounces must be left with the magistrate and can be retrieved at ye postmaster's office upon return. Muskets and pipes are stryctly forbidden on board ye airecrafte. #RevolutionaryWarAirports -- Seth Cotlar, in a tweet

... Ellen Ioanes of Business Insider: "Russian state media mocked ... Donald Trump's 'Salute to America' July Fourth event, The Washington Post reported on Thursday. The hosts of Rossiya 1's '60 Minutes' program, Yevgeny Popov and Olga Skabeyeva, both scoffed at the footage of tanks rolling into Washington, DC, ahead of Trump's military extravaganza.... According to Julia Davis, a writer who studies Russian disinformation tactics, Russian state news also criticized Trump's display as being 'low energy' and 'weak,' with 'rusty tanks.'... Skabayeva scoffed that the condition of US military machinery was less important to Trump than 'that the parade takes place with much fanfare.'"

Geneva Sands & Nick Valencia of CNN: "At least one other social media group with an apparent nexus to Customs and Border Protection has been discovered to contain vulgar and sexually explicit posts, according to screenshots shared by two sources familiar with the Facebook pages. The secret Facebook group, "The Real CBP Nation," which has around 1,000 members, is host to an image that mocks separating migrant families, multiple demeaning memes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and other derisive images of Asians and African Americans." Mrs. McC: Apparently a large percentage of CBP officers are social deviants, just like Trump.

Beyond the Beltway

Utah. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Morgan Smith of the AP: "Active shooter training for educators is becoming more common nationwide, and Utah is one of several states that generally allow permit holders to carry guns in public schools. Other states, including Florida and Texas, have programs that allow certain teachers to be armed if they are approved under a set of stipulations.... [Thirty-one] Utah teachers [attended] a series of trainings where police instructed them on how to respond to an active shooter. Teachers went through the shooting drill inside a warehouse set up to look like a school, then moved outside to a shooting range.... At the recent session, officers showed teachers how to disarm a gunman, where to shoot on the body, how to properly aim and unload a firearm. They also went over de-escalation techniques, self-defense and medical responses such as how to pack a wound and tie a tourniquet on a child."

Way Beyond

Sudan. Declan Walsh of the New York Times: "... this week the protest leaders and their military foes [in Sudan] ... sat down in the same room, face-to-face, and within two days hammered out a power-sharing deal to run Sudan until elections can be held in just over three years. Although the details are still being finalized, the agreement offers the people in one of Africa's largest and most strategically important countries the fragile hope of a transition to democracy after 30 years of dictatorship under former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was ousted in April."

News Ledes

Miami Herald: "A possible gas explosion at a Broward County shopping center blasted through a section of the plaza on Saturday afternoon near an LA Fitness, injuring nearly two dozen people and leading to a search-and-rescue mission for others who might be trapped. The blast happened in a strip center across from The Fountains shops along busy University Drive in Plantation. The likely ground zero was a vacant pizza restaurant undergoing renovation, but authorities on the scene have yet to confirm the site of the blast or its cause. Reports of the explosion came in about 11:30 a.m.... Authorities said 21 people were injured."

AP: "A quake with a magnitude as large as 7.1 jolted much of California, cracked buildings, set fires, broke roads and caused several injuries, authorities and residents said. The quake -- preceded by Thursday's 6.4-magnitude temblor in the Mojave Desert -- was the largest Southern California temblor in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks. It hit at 8:19 p.m. and was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the same areas where the previous quake hit. But it was felt as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico."