The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michelle & Barack -- The Movie. Richard Brody of the New Yorker reviews “Southside with You,” "a drama about Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date." Brody calls the film "a fully realized, intricately imagined, warmhearted, sharp-witted, and perceptive drama, one that sticks close to its protagonists while resonating quietly but grandly with the sweep of a historical epic." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Requiring longer passwords, known as passphrases, usually 16 to 64 characters long, is increasingly seen as a potential escape route from our painful push toward logins that only a cryptographer could love."

The New York Times features photos of the exteriors of Bill & Hillary Clinton's residences over the years.

Brian Hickey of the Philly Voice: When Leroy Black died at age 55, he got two obituaries in the Press of Atlantic City: " In the first obit, his 'loving wife, Bearetta Harrison Black' gets top survivor billing. In the second, however, Bearetta is nowhere to be found, but 'his long-tome (sic) girlfriend, Princess Hall' appears in her place. A man answering the phone at Greenidge Funeral Homes told PhillyVoice that the obituaries were placed separately because 'the wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way.'" ...

... CW: Kinda reminds me of the headstone a widow placed on her husband's grave in the Key West cemetery: "Harry, I Know Where You're Sleeping Tonight."

New York Times: "A surprisingly specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things has been generated by scientists who say that the likeness sheds considerable light on the mystery of how life first emerged on Earth. This venerable ancestor was a single-cell, bacterium-like organism. But it has a grand name, or at least an acronym. It is known as Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old."

Ian Crouch of the New Yorker: "For a few days, at least, [Stephen] Colbert abandoned the political equanimity that he’d adopted when he started his 'Late Night' job." BTW, here's Laura Benanti's segment:

Washington Post: "Benny" (for Ben Franklin), the mystery philanthropist of Salem, Oregon, has given away more than $55,000 in $100 bills, which s/he hides in odd places like "pockets of clothing, in diapers, in baby wipes and in candy." -- CW 

Jumping Jupiter! New York Times: "Ducking through intense belts of violent radiation as it skimmed over the clouds of Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally clinched its spot on Monday in the orbit of the solar system’s largest planet. It took five years for Juno to travel this far on its $1.1 billion mission, and the moment was one that NASA scientists and space enthusiasts had eagerly — and anxiously — anticipated. At 11:53 p.m., Eastern time, a signal from the spacecraft announced the end of a 35-minute engine burn that left it in the grip of its desired orbit around Jupiter." -- CW ...

... Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post has more on the importance of the mission. CW: This, BTW, is another fine example of your government actually at work.

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The Commentariat -- August 6, 2016

With occasional exceptions (like President Obama's thoughtful weekly address), Reality Chex is not covering the Olympics. Since they're of great general interest, you may comment on any aspect of them in the Comments sections. If you work in a political angle, good for you. Enjoy the games! P.S. Yoo Ess Ay! Yoo Ess Ay! -- Constant Weader

Sam Mintz of the Cape Cod Times: "This year is full of 'lasts' for the Obamas, and today marks the start of one more: their last trip to Martha's Vineyard as a presidential family.... Obama's younger daughter, Sasha, picked up a brief summer job to keep herself busy: The 15-year-old worked for a few days this past week at Nancy's, a seafood restaurant in Oak Bluffs...." -- CW

Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "After months of conflicting signals and economic uncertainty, it became clear on Friday that the American jobs machine has moved back into high gear. A report from the Labor Department that said employers added 255,000 jobs in July had been eagerly anticipated on Wall Street, in Washington and on the campaign trail, and the much-better-than-expected showing immediately rippled through all three arenas. Stocks surged, experts expressed more confidence that the Federal Reserve was likely to raise interest rates at least once this year, and it was evident that long-stagnant wages for ordinary workers were advancing at a more robust pace." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Margaret Talbot of the New Yorker: "The trouble with [Corey] Lewandowski [as a CNN commentator] is not that he came out of a campaign or that he is clearly partisan.... Lewandowski's signal quality is a kind of unsmiling, nonironic loyalty that admits of no countermanding or even complicating detail; he's like the ultimate faithful retainer, still fixedly serving his master as the mansion crumbles around him.... Advancing birtherism in the guise of political analysis is a firing offense." CW: Good read. Lewandowski, best known for manhandling a female Breitbart reporter, had an on-air fit, Talbot reports, when a female correspondent brushed his hand. "Don't touch me!" he said. Twice. What we are seeing in the entire Trump campaign, from Trump on down to those violent supporters the New York Times videotaped, a yuuuge plaintive wail for white mail hegemony. We only have to hope we are close to the last, desperate gasp.

Presidential Race

Yamiche Alcindor & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "After more than 200 days without holding a formal news conference, Hillary Clinton took her most extensive questions from journalists in months on Friday -- and it wasn't so bad after all.... Speaking before] the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists..., Mrs. Clinton said she took 'seriously' the problems she has had winning voters' trust. She clarified her recent mischaracterization of the F.B.I. investigation into her private email server. And she explained that the economic frustration driving many of Donald J. Trump's supporters should be taken as seriously as his 'bigotry' that appeals to some.... On Friday, Mrs. Clinton said she 'may have short circuited' when she made Mr. Comey's remarks seem more favorable toward her than they had, in fact, been. 'I was pointing out in both of those instances that Director Comey had said that my answers in my F.B.I. interview were truthful,' she said. 'That's really the bottom line here.'" -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "That's the way you talk when the mule you sold somebody died on the way home." -- CW ...

... She Just Can't Help Herself. Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "In an effort to clarify her most recent statements about her use of a private email server as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton on Friday only further muddled a controversy that has dogged her presidential candidacy from the start. Clinton acknowledged that she had misspoken in two recent media interviews when she claimed that FBI Director James B. Comey had characterized as 'truthful' all of her public statements about her use of a private email server. She explained that Comey was referring only to her interviews with the FBI -- but she also insisted that all of her other public statements on the matter have been consistent with those interviews.... On Friday morning, Clinton reiterated that she never sent or received emails that were classified at the time, which Comey testified to Congress was a statement that was 'not true.'" -- CW ...

... Stephen Braun of the AP: "What resulted Friday were still more mischaracterizations.... Comey has declined to say precisely what Clinton told FBI investigators, but he has never publicly called Clinton's comments truthful. He said only that "we have no basis to conclude that she lied to the FBI" -- a legally calibrated statement.... When Comey was asked during a House hearing the same month about whether Clinton lied to the public, Comey begged off, saying: 'That's a question I'm not qualified to answer. I can speak only about what she said to the FBI.'... Overall, he described her handling of 'very sensitive, highly classified information' as 'extremely careless.'" -- CW ...

(CW BTW: Debbie Wasserman Schultz has learned the Clinton Truthiness Two-Step. Step 1: You lie. Step 2: You "clarify" your lie with another lie. Reporter Cristiano Lima doesn't spell out Step 2, but I'm sure you can spot it.)

Hadas Gold of Politico: "Former CIA director Michael Morell dropped his gig as a CBS News analyst before going public with his support of Hillary Clinton." CW: CBS replaced him with Dubya flak Fran Townsend.

Eric Geller of Politico: "Hackers have compromised the email accounts of a Latino political advocacy group with ties to the Clinton campaign.... In an email obtained by Politico, a staffer for the Latino Victory Project warned people not to open any other emails sent this morning by Latino Victory employees. The infected emails carry the subject line 'Very Important Documents' and include an attached PDF titled 'Important Online PDF.'" -- CW

Rebecca Morin of Politico: "Julian Assange said WikiLeaks is 'working on' hacking Donald Trump's tax returns. In a Friday night video interview on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher questioned Assange about the Democratic National Committee leaks that were released the week before the Democratic convention." -- CW

Harper Neidig of the Hill: "Donald Trump endorsed Paul Ryan on Friday night, after refusing to back the speaker's reelection bid earlier this week.... [Trump's] backing came at a rally in Green Bay, Wis., less than a week before Ryan faces a primary challenger whom has Trump praised, though Ryan appears to have little to worry about in the Tuesday race with businessman Paul Nehlen. A new independent pollreleased on Friday showed Ryan leading Nehlen 80 percent to 14 percent." -- CW ...

... Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "Trump also endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte's reelection efforts during the event.... Trump received a cold shoulder from several of the highest profile Republicans in Wisconsin politics during his campaign event there, with [Paul] Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker notably absent." -- CW ...

... Great! Now Trump Is a Totally Normal Guy. Oh, Wait. Cristiano Lima of Politico: "Donald Trump took his insults of Hillary Clinton to another level on Friday night.... 'In one way, she's a monster,' Trump said of Clinton. 'In another way, she's a weak person. She's actually not strong enough to be president. So she's got both.' Trump, who also referred to Clinton as 'unhinged' and 'unbalanced,' relentlessly attacked the former secretary of state in an improvisational tear that contrasted sharply with his scripted endorsement remarks." CW: Once again, Trump attributes his own disorders & deficiencies to an opponent. It's a compensation mechanism.

Patrick Cohen of the New York Times: "On Friday, Mr. Trump announced his economic team, just days before he is expected to give a speech in Detroit on Monday about what he would do to improve American growth. The 13-member team -- all men -- includes several billionaire bankers and investment managers, and even a part-time professional poker player.... Several of those named often have expressed views against the economic mainstream, voicing suspicions about the Federal Reserve and global trade deals." CW: Cohen provides snapshots of the men Trump named -- looks more like a rogue's gallery of big-bucks bad boys than a financial advisory team. ...

... ** Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump announced a new team of ultra-rich financiers and businessmen as his core economic advisers, bringing high-profile names to his inner circle but also possibly stepping on his populist claims to save the middle class.... The median net worth of Trump's official economic advisers appears to be at least several hundred million dollars.... He has painted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as the candidate of Wall Street, but his team is filled with hedge fund managers, bankers and real estate speculators.... [Hillary] Clinton's inner circle also includes some longtime associates, such as Neera Tanden and Gene Sperling [CW: who, bBTW, are not billionaires]. But she also has spent two years reaching out to more than 200 experts, some of whom she had never met before, to build a sprawling economic agenda." -- CW

Steven Mufson & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: Carter "Page is a little-known Trump adviser with an ambiguous role in his campaign. But since being named to the Republican nominee's team in March, his stature within the foreign policy world has grown considerably, drawing alarm from more established foreign policy experts who view him as having little real understanding about U.S.-Russia relations. Many also say that Page's views may be compromised by his investment in Russian energy giant, Gazprom. Other foreign policy experts from both parties say they are distressed with Page for his criticism of sanctions, praise for Putin and his advisers, and his tepid response to what most U.S. policymakers see as Russian aggression.... [Carter's] open embrace of [Vladimir Putin] is unusual for an adviser to a presidential candidate -- and a break from a decades-old Republican tradition of tough stances toward Moscow." -- CW

(Contributor Diane raises the question: is this fellow a Trump look-alike?

Answer: Well, yes, given that they're a couple of fleshy, old white guys who share a British Isles heritage. Main difference? The guy in the bowler does not have stubby fingers.)

... Louis Nelson of Politico: "Donald Trump said his joke about ejecting a baby from one of his rallies this week was misinterpreted and blamed the 'dishonest' news media for turning a lighthearted moment into a negative story.... The media, he said, instead painted him unfairly:... '... Everyone's having fun, but they say Trump throws baby. You know how terrible that is? It's such a lie. And they know it's a lie.'" ...

     ... CW: Let's see: First he said the baby could stay because he loves babies; then he said, "Actually, I was only kidding; you can get the baby out of here," & dissed the mother for believing he really loved babies who cried when he spoke; now he says, no, he meant what he said the first time, & didn't mean what he said the second time when he said he was kidding the first time. Got that? As for the media, you all are so dumb for not knowing that when Trump says he's not kidding, it means he's kidding. It's Trumpglish! It has all the good words!

Also on the Cape this weekend: Man-of-the-People Donald Trump, who will be attending a fundraiser Saturday night hosted by multi-billionaire William Koch, one of the other-brothers, at his Oyster Harbors mansion. William may be on the outs with his more famous brothers, but he's still a dinosaur. Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times: "The impact of his financial clout on Cape Cod also has been significant throughout the years, especially his opposition to the Cape Wind project. He was chairman of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, donating $1.5 million to stop the offshore wind farm, which was all but dealt a death blow last year when power purchase agreements from NStar and National Grid fell through." CW: In fairness, numerous Kennedys opposed the wind project, too.

Kira Lerner of Think Progress: Trump has pretty much shut up about it this election season, but his campaign surrogates keep wondering out loud and/or claiming that President Obama is foreign-born, a Muslim, or both. -- CW

White Men Dump Trump? Ed Kilgore: "This week's avalanche of not-so-good polling news for the polls-obsessed Donald Trump continues, with signs that maybe this is something more than a temporary post-convention bounce for Hillary Clinton.... But peering inside the polls reveals another finding that should trouble Trump and his campaign more than the top lines: He's even losing steam in the red-hot core of his base of support, the white working class." -- CW

Trump's Forever Plan. Adam Raymond of New York: "Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have options on their websites allowing supporters to set up recurring credit-card donations to their campaigns. But unlike Clinton's, Trump's website has no option to cancel those donations." -- CW

Tales from the GOP Crypt. Dylan Stableford of Yahoo! News: "'If in 96 days Trump loses this election, I am pointing the finger directly at people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and John McCain,' [Sean] Hannity said [Wednesday on his radio show]. 'I have watched these Republicans be more harsh toward Donald Trump than they've ever been in standing up to Barack Obama and his radical agenda. They did nothing, nothing -- all these phony votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, show votes so they can go back and keep their power and get reelected,' Hannity continued. 'Sorry, you created Donald Trump, all of you. Because of your ineffectiveness, because of your weakness, your spinelessness, your lack of vision, your inability to fight Obama.'" -- CW ...

... AND Hannity has a Twitter account, too. Also is able to spell "dumbass" & "assholes." -- CW

Congressional Races

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (RTP-Kansas), who lost his primary race to a more moderate Republican, sings his swan song & trashes the Republican leadership & pro-Hillary Clinton billionaires, in a Washington Post op-ed. -- CW

Gail Collins focuses on some U.S. Senate races.

Beyond the Beltway

Justin Jouvenal & Antonio Olivo of the Washington Post: Scott Silverthorne, the Democratic mayor of Fairfax City, Virginia, has been arrested following a sting operation. "... police said the 50-year-old was ... using a website to swap methamphetamine for sex with other men." -- CW


Humayun Khan

** "The Tragedy of Humayun Khan." Michael Hirsh in Politico Magazine: "There is a photograph of Maj. Gen. John Batiste, eyes brimming with tears after the memorial ceremony for Capt. Humayun Khan in Baqubah, Iraq, on June 11, 2004, three days following Khan’s death.... Batiste was in the receiving line after the ceremony, he recalls, and he choked up because he had come to realize the man they were burying that day ... was one of the finest soldiers under his command." -- CW

Dana Pittard, in a Washington Post op-ed: "I was ... Capt. Humayun Khan’s combat brigade commander in Diyala province, Iraq, in 2004. I came to know Humayun after taking command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, in Germany in 2002.... Humayun died trying to save the lives of innocent Iraqis. His brave effort to approach the vehicle probably saved American lives as well.... I join all those who stand in support of the Khan family. This family is our family, and any attack on this wonderful American Gold Star family is an attack on all patriotic and loyal Americans who have sacrificed to make our country great. Any politically or racially motivated attack on the Khans is despicable and un-American.... I am a Republican.... I’m going to vote my conscience ... this year." -- CW 

By Akhilleus

It's useful to compare the actions of Captain Humayon Khan with the man who has been trying to make political gains off the pain and suffering of his parents. Khan died because he ran headlong into a clear and present danger. No soldier operating in that theater could mistake the possible outcome of an unknown vehicle speeding toward American military personnel. Nonetheless, Khan faced down this attack in order to save others under his command, as unselfish and heroic an act as one could find in the craziness of a war zone.

Now measure Khan's unselfish bravery with the craven opportunism and viciously pursued self interest of Donald Trump who would no more put himself in mortal danger for another human being than he would resist the opportunity to try to somehow take personal advantage of their sacrifice. Trump's lifelong cowardly penchant for pushing others under the bus in order to ensure his own survival is a defining trait in his life story as it remains an essential component of his campaign.

I'm not suggesting that I, or any of us, would have had the guts and astounding sense of duty it took to compel Captain Khan's actions, but I will bet there are few of us who , after the fact, would try to make personal gains off his death, belittle his family, and allow our vile surrogates to question not only his religion and ethnicity, but to attack his patriotism and loyalty to the country for which he had just made the ultimate sacrifice.

And I can't think of anyone, apart from a mentally incompetent person who would then complain that his making billions of dollars was a sacrifice as well.

The problem with Trump is that there have been so many of these incidents of the clarity of his fecklessness and greed that something this astounding becomes somewhat less obvious a lesson for American voters than it should be.

Trump is not only unfit to be president, he is astonishingly unfit for the company of decent men and women of any nation, anywhere.


The Commentariat -- August 5, 2016

Presidential Race

** William Broad & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton has fueled a debate over whether ... Donald J. Trump, is fit to command America's atomic forces.... President Obama was asked about it at a news conference on Thursday, where he echoed Mrs. Clinton's concerns. Her charge raises a question: Is there any check on a president's power to launch nuclear arms that could destroy entire cities or nations? The short answer is no, though history suggests that in practice, there may be ways to slow down or even derail the decision-making process. No one disputes, however, that the president has an awesome authority.... In a March interview on MSNBC, Mr. Trump asked. 'Somebody hits us within ISIS, you wouldn't fight back with a nuke?' He added, 'I would never take any of my cards off the table.' Mrs. Clinton has herself taken hawkish positions in the past. During her bid for the presidential nomination in 2007, she refused to exclude the possible use of nuclear arms against terrorists. Mr. Obama had ruled out such a step against Osama bin Laden...." -- CW ...

Anne Gearan, et al., of the Washington Post: Hillary "Clinton's campaign is quietly broadening its outreach to potential Republican converts, including donors, elected officials, and business and foreign policy leaders. The message is simple: Even if you have never before considered voting for a Democrat, and even if you don't like Clinton, choosing her this year is a moral and patriotic imperative." -- CW ...

... Paul Krugman urges Clinton not to "make a right turn" to attract conservative voters. "When Dr. Frankenstein finally realizes that he has created a monster, he doesn't get a reward. Mrs. Clinton and her party should stay the course." -- CW

Burgess Everett of Politico: At a National Urban League meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, Tim "Kaine contrasted the efforts of his father-in-law, former Virginia GOP Gov. Linwood Holton, on integrating the state's public schools with lawsuits alleging [Donald] Trump and his family were hostile to black renters in the 1970s. 'Around the time my father-in-law desegregated Virginia's schools,' Kaine said, 'the Justice Department had filed suit after Donald Trump and his father were refusing to rent apartments to African-Americans. It was one of the largest federal cases of its kind at the time.'... [Kaine also shared his own history of working to improve conditions in Richmond, Virginia.] Though Trump has vowed to help rebuild America's inner cities, the campaign did not send an emissary to address attendees at this conference, despite invitations from Urban League President Marc H. Morial." -- CW ...

... Donald Trump, 20th-Century Guy. Nick Gass of Politico: "Donald Trump is 'confused' about at least a couple of things, Democratic running mate Tim Kaine said, after the Republican nominee on Thursday repeated a claim about seeing footage of money coming off of a plane in Iran after his own campaign earlier said he watched no such video.... 'It doesn't exist. I-- he might be thinking about Iran Contra from, like, 35 years ago or something like this,' Kaine said, before referring to Trump confusing him with a similarly named politician last week. 'He recently criticized me saying I was a bad governor of New Jersey.'" CW: Tom Kean was governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990. -- CW

** Donald Trump, Putin's Dupe. Michael Morrell, former Acting Director of the CIA, in a New York Times op-ed: "On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton.... First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president -- keeping our nation safe. Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.... The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump's character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security.... Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests.... In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Morrell's op-ed is extraordinary, as it comes from a national security expert who claims no political affiliation.

Bernie Sanders, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: "Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and I will vigorously support her.... On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton's positions are far superior to Trump's. Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics.... I understand that many of my supporters are disappointed by the final results of the nominating process.... Going forward and continuing the struggle is what matters. And, in that struggle, the most immediate task we face is to defeat Donald Trump." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Obama Tells Reporters to Do Their Own Jobs. Greg Jaffe, et al., of the Washington Post: "As he prepared to head off for his summer vacation, President Obama on Thursday made clear that he could use a break from talking about Donald Trump.... After the third question on Trump, which focused on the nuclear issue, the president offered a blanket response that would cover any further inquiries about the GOP nominee and his fitness for the Oval Office.... 'I've made this point already multiple times. Just listen to what Mr. Trump has to say and make your own judgment with respect to how confident you feel about his ability to manage things like our nuclear triad.' To ward off further inquiries, the president warned that any further questions on the subject would receive 'variations on the same theme.'" -- CW ...

... Tyler Page of Politico: When asked in the presser if he was concerned about Donald Trump's receiving national security briefings, President Obama said, "'What I will say is that they have been told these are classified briefings and if they want to be president, they have to start acting like a president and that means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around.'" -- CW ...

... Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: A reporter asked President Obama "about Trump's claim that the election will be rigged.... He was laughing as he called Trump 'ridiculous.' 'I don't even really know where to start on answering this question,' he said. 'Of course the elections will not be rigged. What does that mean?' Obama sketched out what a nationwide conspiracy would have to look like, the number of people involved, the silence and complicity even in Republican strongholds like Texas. 'That doesn't make any sense. I don't think anybody would take that seriously,' he said.... 'I think all of us at some points in our lives have played sports or maybe just played in a schoolyard or sandbox, and sometimes folks if they lose, they complain they got cheated,' Obama said. 'But I've never heard of somebody complaining about being cheated before the game was over. Or before the score is even tallied.' Just to be clear what the difference is between Trump's and the serious president Obama is eager to remind people he is, he took this as an opportunity to launch into actual voting problems that his administration has been concerned about..., particularly around potential civil rights violations at the polls that he said his Department of Justice is on the lookout for." -- CW ...

... Video of President Obama's full press conference is embedded below. ...

... Ben Wofford of Politico Magazine: "How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes. With Russia already meddling in 2016, a ragtag group of obsessive tech experts is warning that stealing the ultimate prize -- victory on Nov. 8 -- would be child's play." -- CW

Cristiano Lima of Politico: "Donald Trump rejected President Barack Obama's latest criticisms in yet another late night tweetstorm, doubling-down on his accusations of election tampering and terror funding." Sample tweet: "President Obama should ask the DNC about how they rigged the election against Bernie." -- CW

Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Facing urgent calls to stabilize his candidacy and declining poll numbers, Donald J. Trump struggled on Thursday to refocus his message.... Mr. Trump's campaign has existed in a state of crisis for a full week now.... Mr. Trump played down the friction between him and [Speaker Paul] Ryan at a campaign stop [in Portland, Maine,] on Thursday, calling Mr. Ryan a 'good guy' and discouraging a supportive crowd from booing Mr. Ryan's name.... Testing his appeal with a stump speech in Portland, a liberal downstate city, Mr. Trump was repeatedly interrupted by young demonstrators brandishing pocket-size copies of the Constitution.... Mr. Trump [CW: again] described seeing a video of a plane landing in Iran bearing cash in several currencies -- even though there is no evidence that such a video exists." -- CW ...

... Louis Nelson of Politico: "Despite Donald Trump's claim of having seen video footage of the $400 million cash delivery to Iran having been acknowledge[d] as false by his own campaign..., [Trump] kicked off a rally Thursday afternoon by repeating the tall tale.... Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed to The Washington Post on Wednesday after the rally that the video to which the candidate referred was in fact simple B-roll footage from Geneva aired by Fox News, not a secret Iranian tape.... Later Thursday afternoon, during a news conference at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama ... dismissed the story as 'the manufacturing of outrage.' He pointed out that the White House had been up front about the payment in January when it occurred and that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had spoken about it during a press briefing at the time." -- CW ...

... Update. Nick Gass: "Donald Trump did something unusual Friday: He admitted he was wrong. 'The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!' the Republican nominee tweeted, a day after he doubled down on his claim that he had seen footage of a plane unloading money on the same day the Iranian government released four American prisoners in January." -- CW ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "By now, it is well-established that Trump struggles with the facts, and he's prone to apparently inventing stories about things. But Trump's imagination is especially vivid and prolific when it comes to stories involving ... Muslims.... Trump's stories involving Muslims stand out in part because of 1) how utterly divorced from the available evidence they are, and 2) how much he keeps repeating them even after it's pointed out that they have no basis in reality. And it dates back years. Trump's rise to prominence in conservative circles was largely due to his questioning of the birth story of President Obama. While the 'birther' controversy was about where Obama was born, it is inextricably linked to questions about what Obama's true religion is...." -- CW

CW: As is my usual practice, I skipped David Brooks this morning, but Marvin S. is right: Brooks' column is worth a read. Not only does Brooks psychoanalyze Trump, he excoriates his party quislings. ...

Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: When Scott Thistle of the Portland Press-Herald asked Donald Trump if he would give Maine Gov. Paul LePage a cabinet position, Trump said, "... he is a very talented guy, he is also a great person, a tremendous person and if he were available I would certainly find something for Paul because he's done a great job up here, he's not only popular, he's done an unbelievable job so I would certainly say that he would be a candidate." ...

     ... CW: Clinton just lost Maine, as the state's voters surely will flock to Trump on the promise of getting rid of LePage. ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Donald Trump declined to name any possible women he would name to his cabinet as president on Wednesday, instead naming his daughter Ivanka and the woman interviewing him as possible cabinet members. 'Well, we have so many different ones to choose,' Trump told First Coast News in Florida. Trump was speaking with Angelia Savage, who hosts The Chat on the channel; she previously worked for the Trump Organization."...

     ... CW: In case you're saying to yourself, "I wonder if Angelia Savage is a beautiful woman & that's why Trump would select her for a cabinet post," watch the video that accompanies Kaczynski's post. Looks as if Trump's cabinet to date then is Paul LePage, Ivanka Trump & Angelia Savage, although Trump has previously floated the names of Carl Ichan, Chris Christie & Sarah Palin. For some reason, Trump couldn't think of Palin (she didn't go to his convention) Wednesday. ...

... MEANWHILE, Hillary Clinton, in a helpful tweet, reminded Trump that she knows a guy who has "binders full of women," but "He might not take your calls." -- CW

Greg Sargent: "Trump ... has repeatedly said, in various ways, that his strategy is premised on sucking up all the media oxygen. After Melania Trump's convention speech was revealed as plagiarism, Trump said that all the publicity devoted to the speech was a positive, because 'all press is good press.'Before that, Trump flatly stated that he had an advantage in the general election because 'I have the loudspeaker.' But it's becoming increasingly obvious that 'the loudspeaker' is turning voters against Trump, perhaps to a point from which there will be no coming back." -- CW

Alexander Burns, et al., of the New York Times: Donald Trump has "risked alienating a ... pivotal constituency in the swing states that will decide the presidential election: military communities dismayed by his crude and sometimes offensive comments about the armed services. Starting last week when he clashed with Khizr and Ghazala Khan..., Mr. Trump has reignited a set of controversies surrounding his approach to the military. He has drawn fresh attention to his derisive comments about Senator John McCain's capture in Vietnam, as well as to his own avoidance of military service during the same war. He attacked Gen. John R. Allen, a retired Marine who endorsed Hillary Clinton, as a 'failed general' over the weekend, and he joked at a campaign event on Tuesday about receiving a Purple Heart, the military decoration for soldiers wounded in combat." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... BUT. Susan Eastman of the Washington Post: "While the media again and again recounts Donald Trump's latest self-brewed controversy, his supporters say they are nonplused. Telling the Russians to hack a former secretary of state's emails? A joke, many of them say. Insulting the family of fallen war hero? He was baited into it, they say. Refusing to endorse the reelection of Republican stalwarts such as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.)? They say Trump doesn't need the Republican leadership. Many of Trump's supporters say they don't even care that he seemed to kick a crying baby out of a rally in Virginia earlier this week. At two rallies Wednesday in Florida ... several supporters said they're willing to overlook these jokes and ineloquent comments because Trump has taken on the heroic task of rescuing the United States and returning it to glory." -- CW

... Ryan Sees the Small-Hand-Writing on the Wall. Jenna Johnson & Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) sent an urgent fundraising appeal Thursday evening that warned: 'If we fail to protect our majority in Congress, we could be handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check.'... Ryan used the words 'blank check' at least three times Thursday, as Trump sat below Clinton in the polls.... [The term] goes back 20 years.... In the weeks before the 1996 presidential election, as it became clearer and clearer that GOP nominee Bob Dole would not defeat incumbent president Bill Clinton, Republican operatives began urging their struggling congressional candidates to begin making the argument: 'Let's not give Clinton a blank check.'” The suggestion is that Ryan sees the outcome of Trump's campaign as disastrous for Republicans as was Dole's. -- CW ...

 Stubby Fingers

... Benjamin Svetky of the Hollywood Reporter: "... in 1997, a team of wax figure artists from Madame Tussauds visited Trump's office in Trump Tower in New York to take measurements and make impressions of various body parts -- including his hands -- to help them construct a life-size wax replica for the museum's New York branch on 42nd Street. One of those handprints has been hiding in plain sight ever since: on a plaque on the wall as guests exit the museum.... The scientifically objective results: Trump does indeed have hands just below average size, particularly for a man standing 6-foot-2." -- CW

Kim Soffen of the Washington Post: "According to data from Ergonomics Center of North Carolina, the average American male's hand is 7.61 inches long. Trump's hand sits at the 15th percentile mark. That is, 85 percent of American men have larger hands than Trump. As do a third of women. But bear in mind, that is the 15th percentile among all American men. Trump is tall -- about 6-foot-3, half a foot taller than the 5-foot-9 average among American men.... If Trump were compared to men of his stature rather than the public at large, his hands would comparatively be even smaller."

You can compare your hand size to Trump's here, courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter. (Adjust your computer screen to the inches gauge on the left or print the page.) CW: Trump's hands are significantly larger than mine, BUT his fingers are the same length as mine.

CW: Reality Chex brings you all the important political news.

We just came out our convention, and yeah [Trump has] had a pretty strange run since the convention. You would think you oughta be focusing on Hillary Clinton, on all of her deficiencies. She is such a weak candidate that one would think we'd be on offense against Hillary Clinton, and it is distressing that that's not what we're talking about these days. -- Paul Ryan, in a radio interview Thursday

... "Tut, Tut." -- Ryan to Trump. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan repeated Thursday that his endorsement of ... Donald Trump was 'not a blank check' and delivered a sharp critique of Trump's flailing campaign two days after Trump declined to endorse Ryan for reelection to his Wisconsin congressional seat.... [But Ryan said] he would remain behind Trump even after the Khan controversy while continuing to speak out against his various controversial utterances." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Morgan Winsor of ABC News: "Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, acknowledged that 'there's a conflict within the Trump campaign' over the Republican presidential nominee's hesitation to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for re-election. 'But Ryan is also running against somebody who's not going to win but nonetheless is a strong supporter of Mr. Trump's'' Manafort told George Stephanopoulos on 'Good Morning America.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

James Surowiecki of the New Yorker: "A President's ability to make policies with the stroke of a pen is a good thing if you support those policies. But it means that a new President can change them overnight.... Donald Trump has made it clear that he sees [President] Obama as having 'led the way' in using executive action aggressively and that, if elected, he intends to do the same. 'I'm going to do a lot of right things,' he has said, and he's pledged to reverse many of Obama's executive orders and memorandums 'within two minutes' of taking office.... A radical, authoritarian President could do a great deal to remake economic and regulatory policy before ever running into legal opposition (to say nothing of executive control of foreign policy). The power of the President is greater than ever. The choice of a President matters more than ever, too." -- CW

David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "Donald Trump's incompetence in the general election campaign is breathtaking on almost every level. For a man whose calling card is his supposed success in business, he seems to be incompetent at every talent important to being a successful businessman.... It's hard to see what skills beyond the basest, brashest level of raw showmanship Trump brings to the table. There are tens of millions of Americans with more organizational, diplomatic, financial, academic temperamental and other skills than Donald Trump.... And yet, Donald Trump is an alleged billionaire, while tens of millions of far more deserving Americans struggle to survive in a declining middle class. American capitalism may be many things, but a meritocracy it isn't." -- CW

Rosalind Helderman & Mary Jordan of the Washington Post: "The [Trump] campaign has not responded to questions asking how [nude] photos [of Melania Trump] could be shot [in New York City] in 1995 if Melania Trump arrived in 1996." The report is in Q&A format. A number of the As are "We don't know. The Trump campaign would not answer this question." The reporters do write that if Melania Trump was not compensated in any way -- that is, including such benefits as airfare or housing -- her 1995 photo shoot would not have been illegal if she had traveled to the U.S. a visitor's visa. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Kim Soffen: "In response to a Twitter user asking where to obtain a 'Republicans for Hillary' sign, two tweets came Wednesday from the Riverside County GOP official Twitter account. Both depicted a bloodied hangman holding a noose, with the words 'I'm Ready for Hillary' printed at the bottom. The second included a caption, referring to the 'Republicans for Hillary' signs: 'sorry they never arrived but this is pretty popular.'... The party official who sent the tweets, identified as Nathan Miller, remains listed as a member of the Executive Committee for the Riverside County GOP. But he resigned from his job as in the California state government on Thursday, according to his superior Russell Lowery.... A Secret Service investigation into the tweets is pending, the [Riverside, California,] Press-Enterprise said." -- CW

Congressional Race

Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) won his GOP primary Thursday night. DesJarlais led Grant Starrett, a 28-year-old lawyer who served as a former aide to Mitt Romney, 51 percent to 44 percent when the Associated Press called the race with 84 percent of the votes counted.... The pro-life Tennessee Republican has been plagued for years by the 2012 revelation that he pressured his ex-wife to get abortions and that he had sexual relations with his patients while he was practicing medicine." -- CW

Other News & Views

President Obama held a press conference at the Pentagon today, following a meeting of his National Security Council:

Beyond the Beltway

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "A police officer in southern Virginia was convicted of manslaughter and jurors recommended a sentence of two and a half years in prison on Thursday for his fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old during a confrontation over a suspected shoplifting. Jurors at Portsmouth circuit court found Stephen Rankin guilty of voluntary manslaughter for killing William Chapman in April last year. It was Rankin's second fatal shooting of an unarmed man in the city." -- CW: Two-and-a-half years???

Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: "... a longtime state representative was arrested for allegedly stealing his opponent's campaign signs -- and then his opponent paid his bail." Both are Republicans, competing in a primary. -- CW

News Lede

Bloomberg: "Employment jumped in July for a second month and wages climbed, pointing to renewed vigor in the U.S. labor market that will sustain consumer spending into the second half of the year. Payrolls climbed by 255,000 last month, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of 89 economists, following a 292,000 gain in June that was a bit larger than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The jobless rate held at 4.9 percent as many of the people streaming into the labor force found jobs." -- CW


The Commentariat -- August 4, 2016

Afternoon Update:

"Tut, Tut." -- Ryan to Trump. Alexander Burns, et al., of the New York Times: Donald Trump has "risked alienating a ... pivotal constituency in the swing states that will decide the presidential election: military communities dismayed by his crude and sometimes offensive comments about the armed services. Starting last week when he clashed with Khizr and Ghazala Khan..., Mr. Trump has reignited a set of controversies surrounding his approach to the military. He has drawn fresh attention to his derisive comments about Senator John McCain's capture in Vietnam, as well as to his own avoidance of military service during the same war. He attacked Gen. John R. Allen, a retired Marine who endorsed Hillary Clinton, as a 'failed general' over the weekend, and he joked at a campaign event on Tuesday about receiving a Purple Heart, the military decoration for soldiers wounded in combat." -- CW ...

... Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan repeated Thursday that his endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was 'not a blank check' and delivered a sharp critique of Trump's flailing campaign two days after Trump declined to endorse Ryan for reelection to his Wisconsin congressional seat.... [But Ryan said] he would remain behind Trump even after the Khan controversy while continuing to speak out against his various controversial utterances." -- CW ...

... Morgan Winsor of ABC News: "Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, acknowledged that 'there's a conflict within the Trump campaign' over the Republican presidential nominee's hesitation to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for re-election. 'But Ryan is also running against somebody who's not going to win but nonetheless is a strong supporter of Mr. Trump's'' Manafort told George Stephanopoulos on 'Good Morning America.'" -- CW

Rosalind Helderman & Mary Jordan of the Washington Post: "The [Trump] campaign has not responded to questions asking how [nude] photos [of Melania Trump] could be shot [in New York City] in 1995 if Melania Trump arrived in 1996." The report is in Q&A format. A number of the As are "We don't know. The Trump campaign would not answer this question." The reporters do write that if Melania Trump was not compensated in any way -- that is, including such benefits as airfare or housing -- her 1995 photo shoot would not have been illegal if she had traveled to the U.S. a visitor's visa. -- CW



Presidential Race

Julian Hattem & Amie Parnes of the Hill: "Instead of finding a way to let the [e-mail] issue die, [Hillary] Clinton has time and again inflamed criticism about the server, at times growing increasingly defensive.... The strategy has caused grumblings within her campaign and led to the persistent image that she is dishonest. This week, Clinton is catching new flak for unnecessarily mischaracterizing FBI Director James Comey's comments to suggest that she never misled the public.... Aides to Clinton ... acknowledged to The Hill that they were confused by her latest remarks.... Those in her orbit chock it up to Clinton's stubbornness." -- CW

Nicholas Confessore & Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump all but erased his enormous fund-raising disadvantage against Hillary Clinton in the span of just two months, according to figures released by his campaign on Wednesday, converting the passion of his core followers into a flood of small donations on a scale rarely seen in national politics. Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $64 million through a joint digital and mail effort in July, according to his campaign, the bulk of it from small donations. All told, Mr. Trump and his party brought in $82 million last month, only slightly behind Mrs. Clinton's $90 million, and ended with $74 million on hand, suggesting he might now have the resources to compete with Mrs. Clinton in the closing stretch of the campaign." -- CW

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "A cash payment of $400 million delivered to Iran in January became part of the presidential campaign on Wednesday, as Donald J. Trump seized on the money transfer as a sign of what he called the administration's failed foreign policy -- prompting a forceful White House rejection. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said the payment to Iran was part of the resolution of a longstanding financial dispute between the two nations, and was delivered in cash on pallets because the two nations do not have a banking relationship." -- CW ...

Our incompetent secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars, in cash, to Iran. Scandal! -- Donald Trump, in a tweet, August 3

Trump is simply wrong that Clinton started the talks that led to the release of $400 million to Iran. She initiated the talks on Iran's nuclear program, but that's as far as her involvement goes. Perhaps resolution of claims could not have been achieved without a deal on the nuclear issue, but that's going too far. Iran's claim for the $400 million was made long before Clinton took office -- and was resolved after she left. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

... Saeed Dehghan & Mazin Sidahmed of the Guardian: "... Donald Trump has jumped on reports that the US paid $400m in cash to Iran after the country's historic nuclear deal, saying that the episode was a 'scandal' for Hillary Clinton, who started the talks as secretary of state. The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that US officials secretly sent 'wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies' to Iran, carried into the country by an unmarked cargo plane, suggesting that it may have been linked to the release of a group of Americans held in Iran. The US state department has denied this.... Although the cash payment to Iran coincided with the release of a group of Iranian American prisoners, there is no evidence to suggest any link between the two events." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Trump Confuses Pallets of Money with Hostages. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "At a rally in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Thursday [CW: actually, Wednesday] afternoon, Trump announced that [a] months-old video [of the transfer of $400K from the U.S. to Iran] had been recorded by the Iranian government.... 'And they have a perfect tape, done by obviously a government camera, and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane. Right? That means that in order to embarrass us further, Iran sent us the tapes.'... The video [Trump is referring to] is often labeled as being from Jan. 17 in Geneva where three American hostages first landed after being released from Tehran." -- CW ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "'I'll never forget the scene this morning,' Trump sa[id]. 'Iran ― I don't think you've heard this anywhere but here ― Iran provided all of that footage, the tape, of taking that money off that airplane.'... Trump's description was pretty detailed (especially for a guy whose policy proposals usually consist of how he'll make things 'so good'); he references 'top secret' video shot with a 'government camera.'... But, as the Huffington Post notes, 'Contrary to what Trump said about the video he claimed to have seen, this video was not shot in Iran, it did not show the exchange of cash, it was not "top secret," it was not "a military tape," and it was not "provided by Iran." Nor was it released to "embarrass the United States," as Trump repeatedly claimed.'" ...

     ... CW: This solves the mystery of Trump's seeing those A-rabs dancing on New Jersey rooftops to celebrate the downing the World Trade Center. Following the 9/11 catastrophe, CNN did run footage of Palestinians celebrating the multiple attacks. Trump just can't tell the difference between Hoboken & East Jerusalem. When you get all your foreign policy views from "watching the shows" & when you half-watch TV while doing other things (see transcript of Philip Rucker's remarkable interview of Trump, linked yesterday), you're going to misunderstand a lot. Of the many reasons Trump is unfit for office, his inability to concentrate on any one thing, other than himself, is a huge one.

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "In his speech Wednesday afternoon in Daytona Beach, Fla., Trump appeared to be heeding his advisers' reported wishes and giving a subdued, policy-heavy speech criticizing Clinton's foreign policy in places like Libya. He said President Obama probably regretted making her secretary of state.... Then he went back to name-calling. 'She should get an award from them as the founder of ISIS,' he said...." -- CW

Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "A Republican congressman who is a veteran of the Iraq war has said he cannot support Donald Trump in the wake of the presidential nominee's ongoing feud with the parents of an American soldier. Kinzinger, whose district Trump carried in the Illinois Republican primary in March, said he would not support Clinton nor tell voters how to cast their ballots." -- CW

Eli Stokels of Politico: "On Wednesday, Paul Manafort, Trump's top strategist, flatly denied a report that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani are planning an intervention after a stunning streak of unforced errors: the Republican nominee's combative response to a Gold Star family that criticized him during last week's Democratic National Convention; his apparent lack of knowledge related to Ukraine and Russia; and his purposeful snubbing of GOP stalwarts Sen. John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate..., sa[id] he endorsed Ryan and that Trump had encouraged him to do so.... But ... even Priebus ... abandoned his softer demeanor when he spoke with senior Trump staff on Tuesday afternoon. 'He lit into him [Trump] pretty good,'[TM Trump] said a source.... Amid reports suggesting that he and other staffers are beginning to 'phone it in,' Manafort ... admitted that Trump's comments in response to Khizr and Ghazala Khan were 'not smart.' And he made it clear that it's Trump ... who is responsible. 'Well, first of all, the candidate is in control of his campaign...,' Manafort said in a TV interview. 'And I'm in control of doing the things that he wants me to do in the campaign.'" -- CW ...

... However Could This Have Happened? Philip Rucker & Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "The Republican Party was in turmoil again Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increasing alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump's candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities.... Meanwhile, Trump's top campaign advisers are failing to instill discipline on their candidate, who has spent the past days lunging from one controversy to another while seemingly skipping chances to go on the offensive against ... Hillary Clinton." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Chuck Todd! & Hallie Jackson of NBC News: "Key Republicans close to Donald Trump's orbit are plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours led some influential voices in the party to question whether Trump can stay at the top of the Republican ticket without catastrophic consequences for his campaign and the GOP at large. Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, former Republican New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days, sources tell NBC News." CW: Definitely need Newt & Rudy when it comes to advice on stability & probity. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Gail Collins: "it does tell you something that Giuliani and Gingrich are supposed to be the voices of moderation and self-control in the campaign. The former mayor who told a press conference that he was going to end his marriage before he told his wife. And the former House speaker who once presided over a government shutdown, which he seemed to attribute to the bad seat he got on Air Force One." -- CW

... AND, as Jonathan Chait puts it, "Enraged Trump Toady Reince Priebus Contemplates Lashing Out With Nice Email. The gloves are off." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Chait has a very good synopsis of the Trump/Republican dumpster fire. -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Frank Rich of the (minor) effects of the Trump meltdown: "What does it say about [John] McCain, who stood up heroically to his North Vietnamese captors, that he is not brave enough to stand up to a bully like Trump out of fear of losing his reelection bid?... And what does it say about [Paul] Ryan's much-touted intellect that he thinks that Trump, if elected president, will allow him to pursue his sacred conservative agenda in Congress? President Trump will humiliate and disregard the Speaker of the House ... just as candidate Trump is doing now. When Trump withheld his support for Ryan's reelection yesterday, the reason he gave was his skepticism that Ryan was capable of 'very, very strong leadership.' On this point, at least, Ryan has proven Trump completely right." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Michael Crowley of Politico: "Trump has spoken positively about Putin for years and from the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, he has focused less on Putin's aggression and more on what Trump calls Obama's weakness.... Until recently, Trump also frequently suggested that the U.S. needed to take a stronger stand in response.... While the reason for his shift is not clear, Trump's more conciliatory words -- which contradict his own party's official platform -- follow his recent association with several people sympathetic to Russian influence in Ukraine. They include his campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has worked for Ukraine's deposed pro-Russian president, his foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and the former secretary of state and national security adviser Henry Kissinger." ...

... CW: Crowley argues that Trump's past statements prove he knew, during his interview with George Stephanopoulos that Crimea was part of Ukraine. I think he did know -- in 2014 & '15 -- but -- perhaps because of the influence of Manafort, et al., -- he forgot. As contributor Marvin S. & others have noticed, Trump only knows what he knows in the moment. ...

... Jeff Nesbit in Time: "... several of Trump's businesses ... are entangled with Russian financiers inside Putin's circle.... As major banks in America stopped lending him money following his many bankruptcies, the Trump organization was forced to seek financing from non-traditional institutions. Several had direct ties to Russian financial interests in ways that have raised eyebrows. What's more, several of Trump's senior advisors have business ties to Russia or its satellite politicians.... It is Trump's financing from Russian satellite business interests that would seem to explain his pro-Putin sympathies. The most obvious example is Trump Soho, a complicated web of financial intrigue that has played out in court. A lawsuit claimed that the business group, Bayrock, underpinning Trump Soho was supported by criminal Russian financial interests.... There are other Russian business ties to the Trump organization as well." Via Jonathan Chait. -- CW

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "As Donald Trump holds off endorsing House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in Wisconsin's Republican primary, his running mate [mike pence] enthusiastically endorsed Ryan on Wednesday, calling him a 'longtime friend' and 'strong conservative leader.'" CW: I don't think is what the meaning of "split ticket" is. (Also linked yesterday.)

Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Donald Trump's presidential campaign denied a report on Wednesday [by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough] that the Republican presidential nominee had three times asked a foreign policy adviser why the U.S. could not use its vast nuclear arsenal." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Steve M. thinks the unnamed foreign policy advisor may have been Henry Kissinger. Trump "sincerely believes the conspiracy theories he peddles, so not only will he respond to a loss by saying he was cheated, he'll mean it. He's a pure product of right-wing propaganda. He believes in nukes because thinks every problem has a simple solution ('toughness,' 'resolve'), and he believes he'd win a fair election because the right has been telling us for years that Democrats only win elections as a result of fraud. So no, he's not going anywhere." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Joe Concha of the Hill: "Fox News host Megyn Kelly went after MSNBC's Joe Scarborough during her prime-time program Wednesday night, saying the 'Morning Joe' host altered his coverage of Donald Trump after Republican presidential nominee turned on him. 'Even MSNBC and their morning program over there, I mean, they could not have promoted Trump more,' Kelly told her on-set guest... 'And now today, Joe Scarborough is out there talking about how "In three times in one meeting, he [Trump] asked why he couldn't drop a nuclear weapon." Once Trump got mad at him,' she concluded, 'he stopped saying nice things about him.'" -- CW ...

... AND Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post has some questions for "journalist" Joe Scarborough. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Where's the Outrage, GOP? Andrew Sprung in Xpostfactoid: "... something strange happened -- or didn't happen -- [Wednesday]. Republican leadership, reeling from Trump's a) relentless attacks on a Gold Star family, b) refusal to endorse two Republican leaders facing primary challenges who have denigrated themselves for him, and c) ejection of a crying baby from his rally, have not denounced [President Obama's] all-but-unprecedented direct assault on their nominee's fitness for office.... No one in the Republican leadership is willing to make the case that Trump is fit to serve as president." Via Paul Waldman. -- CW

Donald Trump, Insulting His Way to Electoral College Victory. Louis Nelson of Politico: "... at a rally Tuesday in Northern Virginia, Trump said Harrisburg[, Pennsylvania,] 'looked like a war zone' as he flew above it on his way out of town, a characterization that the city objected to strongly enough to release a statement about it." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Illinois State Senator Did Not Start Iraq War, After All. Nick Gass of Politico: "Donald Trump's national spokeswoman on Wednesday cleared up whom she holds responsible for the death of Army Capt. Humayun Khan in 2004, and it's not Barack Obama. It's Hillary Clinton. Less than a day after blaming the policies of Obama and his secretary of state for Khan's death in Iraq despite George W. Bush having been in the White House, Katrina Pierson laid the blame at the feet of Clinton, who as a U.S. senator representing New York voted to authorize the war in 2002." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: "It is becoming commonplace for people in the media to wonder about the mental health of a major-party nominee for president of the United States. This is not a normal, every-four-years kind of trend.... Some of the speculation is based on observations from legitimate medical professionals." -- CW

Trumpenproletariat, Uncensored:

... Ashley Parker, et al., of the New York Times: "... what struck us [reporters] was the frequency with which some Trump supporters use coarse, vitriolic, even violent language -- in the epithets they shout and chant, the signs they carry, the T-shirts they wear -- a pattern not seen in connection with any other recent political candidate, in any party.... While protesters are often shouted down, crowds seldom express disapproval of the crude slogans and angry outbursts by Mr. Trump's supporters. Indeed, these displays have become inextricably bound with the Trump show itself...." -- CW

CW: This is a picture of Donald Trump signing his tax returns, which are piled up next to him. Trump tweeted out the photo in September 2015. Take a good look. This is as clear a picture as we're going to get of them:

... This is what Trump told Philip Rucker of the Washington Post:

... The poor schmuck with the teeny-weeny returns to whom Trump alludes is Mitt Romney. Seldom in the storied history of male dominance play has a guy proffered the size of his tax returns as evidence of his superiority.

Ben Schreckinger & Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "Nude photographs published this week are raising fresh questions about the accuracy of a key aspect of Melania Trump's biography: her immigration status when she first came to the United States to work as a model.... While Trump and her husband ... have said she came to the United States legally, her own statements suggest she first came to the country on a short-term visa that would not have authorized her to work as a model.... Trump has also said she came to New York in 1996, but the nude photo shoot places her in the United States in 1995, as does a biography published in February by Slovenian journalists.... Trump's description of her periodic [visa] renewals in Europe are more consistent with someone traveling on a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor or B-2 Tourist Visa, which typically last only up to six months and do not permit employment, [not an] ... H-1B [work] visa [which] can be valid for three years and can be extended up to six years -- sometimes longer...." CW: Donald Trump's wife was an illegal immigrant. Why would anyone think that was an issue?

* CW: As you can see, I have commissioned a fancy new 2016 Presidential Race logo by a renowned graphic artist. In the spirit of Trvmpvs, I first criticized the artist's work, then stiffed her on the commission. If she complains, I'll sue her for a yuuuge amount. After all, I expect to be treated fairly.

Congressional Races

Ken Vogel & Rachel Bade of Politico: "... a group of former Trump campaign hands is quietly working to defeat the House speaker [Paul Ryan] in his primary election next week. More than half a dozen of Trump's former campaign staff members or leading volunteer organizers from around the country -- and many more local volunteers -- have signed on to the long-shot campaign of Ryan's primary challenger, businessman Paul Nehlen, who openly embraces Trump and casts Ryan as an impediment to Trump's agenda." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) movement scored its cleanest victory yet when [state Sen. Pramila] Jayapal, a progressive state senator, blew past two rivals in the primary for Washington's bluest House district. (Washington, like Louisiana and California, has a 'top two' system in which the highest vote-getters advance to November, regardless of party.) In an April message to his donors, Sanders said he'd need members of Congress like Jayapal 'when I'm president,' crediting her with leading 'the fight for a $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave in Seattle.'" Weigel also has more on Tim Huelskamp's primary loss in Kansas. Thanks to Dan L. for the link. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Stupidest Senator Also an Ignorant Conspiracy Theorist. Tierney Sneed of TPM: "Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) compared those mounting the efforts to address climate change to Joseph Stalin and Hugo Chavez [and the Castros, the nutcases in North Korea], while claiming that it has been 'proven scientifically' that the climate is not in fact warming. He suggested in a radio appearance that progressives' concern about climate change was driven by their desire for government control of Americans lives.... Last year was the warmest year in recorded history, scientists said." -- CW

Other News & Views

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "A police officer with the Washington transit system has become the first American law enforcement officer to be charged with supporting the Islamic State, accused of trying to send financial help to the group after advising a friend on how to travel to Syria to join it. In court papers filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials charged the officer, Nicholas Young, with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization." -- CW ...

... The Washington Post story, by Rachel Weiner, is here. -- CW

... Oops! Missed this yesterday. Kevin Freking of the AP: "President Barack Obama celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations with Singapore Tuesday with a state dinner for a leader Obama praised as respected around the world and a trusted partner. Obama reserved the 12th state dinner of his presidency to honor Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife, Ho Ching. Obama said the nations' ties go back nearly two centuries when Singapore was still a colony, and the U.S. had recently emerged as an independent country. He said the alliance is about more than shared strategic interests in a rising Asia Pacific." -- CW ...

... AND the big news -- Michelle Obama's dress! Rosemary Feitelberg of Women's Wear Daily: "The First Lady wore an ivory-colored Brandon Maxwell dress, according to a White House pool report. The New York-based designer is a favorite of Lady Gaga's...."

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 people on Wednesday, bringing his total number of commutations to 562." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys' bathroom in a Virginia high school. The vote was 5 to 3, with Justice Stephen G. Breyer joining the court's more conservative members 'as a courtesy.' He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented." -- CW

Paul Weber of the AP: "Texas agreed Wednesday to weaken its voter ID law, which federal courts have said discriminated against minorities and the poor and left more than 600,000 registered voters potentially unable to cast a ballot. The state worked fast to soften the law before November's election, moving from requiring voters to show one of seven forms of suitable ID -- a list that included concealed handgun permits, but not college IDs -- to letting those without such an ID to sign an affidavit. That will allow them to cast a regular full ballot, and their vote will be counted. Texas must also spend at least $2.5 million on voter outreach before November, according to the agreement submitted to U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who must still approve the changes." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Whatever Is Happening in Brownbackistan? Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "Republican voters in Kansas rebelled against the policies of Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday, ousting his fellow conservatives in at least 11 state legislative primary races amid widespread angst about Kansas's financial situation." -- CW

Elise Schmelzer of the Washington Post: "Using a power granted to him in a single line of state law, Missouri's top public defender appointed [Gov. Jay] Nixon [D] as attorney for a central Missouri man charged with assault. But the decision has little to do with the man's case -- it's an attention-grabbing cry for help in a state where public defenders have long said they are overworked and underfunded.... Michael Barrett, director of the Missouri State Public Defender System..., [made the appointment and] laid out his grievances in a letter to ... Nixon: A vetoed bill that would have lightened public defenders' caseloads. Repeated budget cuts. Unfairly withholding money allotted to the office." -- CW

News Lede

Guardian: "A Norwegian national of Somali origin has been arrested [in London, England,] on suspicion of murdering an American woman and injuring five others, including Britons, in what was described by police as a 'spontaneous attack'. Speaking outside Scotland Yard headquarters, Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said there was no evidence that the 19-year-old suspect had been radicalised or was motivated by terrorism and reasserted the view that 'mental health issues' played a significant role. The suspect emigrated from Norway to the UK in 2002, at the age of five, according to the Norwegian Embassy." -- CW

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