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September 9: The New York Times reports that Equifax is doing nothing to protect you if hackers to its system gained access to your personal information. In fact, Equifax has a plan to make money on your misfortune. Reporter Ron Lieber has some suggestions about what you can do to protect yourself from Equifax & its hackers. Equifax is providing no good way to find out if you've been affected; it is apparently just trying to hook as many suckers as it can into getting a "free" account, but you can bet it won't stay free. Read the story if you'd like to feel helpless & enraged.

On Request:

David Remnick of the New Yorker remembers its publisher S.I. NewHouse, Jr.

Janet Malcolm of the New Yorker profiles Rachel Maddow. Mrs. McC: Maddow was right the first time about the canisters.

The New Yorker has links to Lillian Ross's stories here. The New Yorker is subscription-only but allows non-subscribers to read six stories a month, so if you're not a subscriber, you may want to open the page in a private window.

Mrs. McCrabbie: When the Emmy folks are looking to give out prizes next year, they should think Jimmy Kimmel.

Some highlights of the Emmys:

... To watch the whole monologue, go to YouTube & type something like "stephen colbert monologue emmys". There are quite a few pirated copies up right now, but CBS will certainly take them down, so none will be posted here. The Washington Post has some of the transcript here.

Former star of "The Apprentice" finally gets his Emmy:

Kim Weeks in the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton revealed this week she turned to an esoteric breathing technique popular among yogis to heal from her devastating election loss.... By bringing this kind of breath work into the mainstream, Clinton has introduced the world to a practice that has both proven mental and physical health benefits.... In nadi shodhana, the process of literally alternating breathing between the right and left nostril also helps balance the right and left brain, the right and left lungs, and the right and left sides of the body. Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to slow down a rapid heart rate and to lower blood pressure." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Okay, I tried it. I can do the left nostril but not the right. That stressed me out.

Hill: "Melissa McCarthy brought home an Emmy this weekend for her memorable impression of former press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. The actress won an Emmy for best comedy actress on a comedy series at the Emmy’s creative arts awards Sunday, according to the Associated Press. The awards are a precursor to the main show next weekend." Spicer panned McCarthy's impression.

New York Times: "Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, plans to step down from the magazine in December after a 25-year tenure, leaving the role that established him as a ringmaster of the Hollywood, Washington and Manhattan power elite. Mr. Carter’s influence stretched from the magazine and entertainment worlds into finance, literature and politics, where President Trump, a target of Mr. Carter’s poison pen for decades, still bristles at the mention of his name. One of the few remaining celebrity editors in an industry whose fortunes have faded, Mr. Carter — famous for double-breasted suits, white flowing hair and a seven-figure salary — is a party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur whose cheeky-yet-rigorous brand of reporting influenced a generation of journalists.... Spy[a magazine Carter co-founded,] took special glee in attacking Mr. Trump, whom the magazine memorably deemed a 'short-fingered vulgarian.' (The insult stuck: just last week, Mr. Trump referred to his 'too big' hands during a visit to Houston.)"

New York Times: "Tronc, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, announced on Monday that it had acquired The Daily News, the nearly 100-year-old tabloid that for decades set the city’s agenda with its gossip, sports and city coverage. The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York’s working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who often used the paper’s bold, front-page headline — known as 'the wood' — for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally."

Guardian (Sept. 4): "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a third child, Kensington Palace has announced. The announcement was made as the duchess was forced to cancel an engagement on Monday because of extreme morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum."

Constant Comments

Tuesday
Sep262017

Akhilleus I Is Responsible for NFL Protests

By Akhilleus II

 

Politicizing sports? Nothing new there...

I've been running across (wish I could say that was literal) a slew of whiny wingers complaining that the NFL (blahs and blah supporters) are "politicizing" a "great American" sport. Something that's NEVER been done.

Oh, please.

Grow up. And go to the library, if you know where it is, and grab a couple of history books.

Sports and politics have always been intertwined.

The first recorded sports event had a political caste to them. After Patroclus is killed in battle, as Homer recounts in grisly detail in Book 16 of the Iliad (and Book 17, in the fight over his body), Akhilleus decrees that funeral games will be held in honor of his friend. The games, which include archery, wrestling, boxing, races, and a chariot contest, could easily have passed for the first Olympic games. These games become a point of solidarity for the Achaeans whose ranks had become splintered. The tide of battle turns dramatically after the funeral games. After killing Hector, champion of the Trojans, Akhilleus allows Priam's people nine days to prepare his funeral rites (another political event). The sporting events in the wake of these deaths are inextricably tied to the politics of both camps.

In recent decades, we've seen a long list of politically charged connections with sports. John Carlos and Tommie Smith's Black Power salutes at the '68 Olympics in Mexico City. The Battle of the Sexes between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in '73 (watched it with my roommates in college). The entrance of Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball. The stripping of Muhammad Ali of his boxing crown and his banishment from the sport for years because he was black, Muslim, and anti-war. Jesse Owens' feats at the 1936 Olympics in Munich. Babe Didrikson's breakthroughs against misogynistic rules in professional golf. And amazingly, even though Babe was a star in the thirties, it's only very recently that girls were allowed to compete with boys in football and baseball.

This weekend I attended an MLB game. I noted, once again, that there is not just one, but two built-in segments of the game in which nationalistic sentiment predominates. We're all familiar with the singing of the national anthem--which, of course, is fine--but if you haven't been at a professional baseball game for a while (since Dubya made not saluting the flag--and himself--tantamount to treason, after the 9/11 attack, a tragedy that his insouciance and stupidity allowed), the seventh inning stretch has been co-opted, from a friendly and slightly goofy time for standing, stretching, and crooning "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" into a second rigid kowtowing to the xenophobic concept of America First, when a stodgy, religious singing of "God Bless America"is required. Everyone is instructed to rise, doff their caps, and demonstrate, without fail, their eternal patriotism.

Professional football games are even more overtly politicized. And not by Colin Kaepernick neither. Every single game in the NFL has an overt military presence, including things like flyovers by military jets.

The only people who don't think that's a political statement are those who fully agree with it.

Why can't they ever "Honor America" by bringing out teachers, or moms and dads, or nurses, or writers, or painters, or community organizers? Or blog editors?

And who can forget the YOU-ESS-AY cheers by American nationalists at Olympic games? There is nothing wrong with cheering on your team and your country. I do it too. But when it becomes xenophobic, the change in tenor is noticeable and angry.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter banned American athletes from competing in the Olympics to stick it to the Soviet Union.

That wasn't political?

Sports, especially in America, have become a primary venue for politicization, it's impossible to deny the connection, whether you agree with the leanings or not. For some, like the Trumpbots, it's all fine, as long as the leanings are in the direction of Whites First, America First, Blow up the Browns and non-Christians.

But as soon as the political wind blows from a non-white part of the field....Oh christ...these people are politicizing sports! Call out the fucking National Guard!

Monday
Sep252017

The Commentariat -- September 26, 2017

Afternoon Update:

In American People v. GOP, Another Narrow Victory. Seung Min Kim, et al., of Politico: "Senate Republicans do not intend to vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill, putting an end to their Obamacare repeal effort for now. The decision was reached Tuesday after it became clear the bill would fail. Three Senate Republicans had said they would vote against the measure, and the GOP could only afford two defections." This is an update of a story linked earlier today.

BBC News: "... Donald Trump has said he will travel next week to Puerto Rico amid a growing crisis in the wake of destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.... On Tuesday, Mr Trump said the US was sending food, water and supplies on 'an hourly basis'. 'Puerto Rico is very important to me,' he added. 'The people are fantastic. I grew up in New York so I know many Puerto Rican people.' Mr Trump said next Tuesday - which will be nearly a fortnight after the storm struck - was the 'earliest I can go without disrupting relief efforts'. He may also visit the US Virgin Islands.... The White House also on Tuesday announced Mr Trump had increased federal funding and assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the storm. Addressing criticism, the president said his administration was doing a "really good job" and that the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, was 'so grateful'." ...

... Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump on Tuesday rejected criticism he is preoccupied with the NFL when his administration is facing a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. 'I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work,' Trump told reporters at a White House news conference. Trump said he believes 'the NFL situation is a very important situation' and that players should be banned from kneeling during the national anthem."

Kyle Dropp & Brendan Nyhan of the New York Times: "A new poll of 2,200 adults by Morning Consult found that only 54 percent of Americans know that people born in Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, are U.S. citizens." ...

... Hillary Wonders if Trump Is a 46-Percenter. Nick Visser of the Huffington Post: "'I'm not sure he knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens,' [Hillary] Clinton told Sirius XM's Zerlina Maxwell on Monday afternoon.... During appearances on Sirius XM and MSNBC's 'All In With Chris Hayes,' Clinton described the president's approach as a political calculus and being disinterest in the fate of the 3.5 million American residents living on the island. 'He doesn't think that has any political relevance and it's certainly not personally important,' Clinton told Chris Hayes on Monday evening. 'He clearly doesn't want to talk about Puerto Rico, more than 3.5 million American citizens, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands. Not interested, doesn't say a word about it.'"

Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "Criminal charges against two former top advisers to ... Donald Trump are virtually certain, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday. Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort are almost sure to be indicted as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Connecticut senator told Politico. 'I'm about 99 percent sure there will be some criminal charges from this investigation,' said Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee."

Update: Darryl Fears & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post make more clear the meaning of "the flag" than did the Matthew Daly of the AP in a story I linked this morning. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was complaining about his staff's disloyalty to Trump & him rather than to "the flag" as a national symbol. They character "flag" as military jargon for top dogs, in this case Trump & Zinke.

In Today's Funnies. Natasha Bertrand of Business Insider: "Abbe Lowell, a top Washington lawyer, exchanged emails on Monday with a prankster posing as his client Jared Kushner, at one point telling the prankster he needed to see 'all emails' sent and received from a private email account Kushner had set up in December.... On Monday, the prankster wrote to Lowell from the address kushner.jared@mail.com asking what he should do with 'some correspondence on my private email ... featuring adult content.' 'Can I remove these?' the prankster asked. 'Forwarded or received from WH officials?' Lowell responded." And so on. "Lowell's suggestion that he needs to see all emails sent or received from Kushner's private account raises questions about whether he has fully examined the messages and what kind of information they contained [before issuing a statement Sunday about the correspondence in Kushner's private account]." Mrs. McC: I'm wondering if Lowell will bill Real Kushner for time spent corresponding with Fake Kushner.

Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), on Tuesday described women in his conservative caucus as the group's 'eye candy.' Walker made the remark ... outside the Capitol, as other members of the group prepared to talk about their priorities. 'The accomplished men and women of the RSC. And women. If it wasn't sexist, I would say the RSC eye candy, but we'll leave that out of the record, are not attention seekers,' Walker said." Mrs. McC: Thanks,m ark. If it weren't sexist, Mark, I'd say you have a teensy, tiny shlong, but I know for sure you're still a big prick. ...

Sometimes There's a Price. Ron Lieber & Stacy Cowley of the New York Times: "The chairman and chief executive of Equifax, Richard F. Smith, stepped down on Tuesday in the aftermath of a data breach that exposed the personal information of as many as 143 million people, the credit reporting agency said. Equifax said that Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., most recently the president of its Asia-Pacific region, had been appointed interim chief executive. The company said it planned to conduct a search for a new chief executive and would consider candidates from inside and outside the company.... Mr. Smith will not receive a bonus in 2017 and will serve as an unpaid consultant to the company for up to 90 days, according to a regulatory filing. Mr. Smith will not receive a severance package or accelerated vesting of any stock that might have been due to him...."

Ben Hubbard of the New York Times: "Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the repression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom. The change, which will take effect in June of next year, was announced on state television and in a simultaneous media event in Washington.... The momentum to change the policy has picked up in recent years with the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a 32-year-old son of the king who has laid out a far-reaching plan to overhaul the kingdom's economy and society. Beyond the effects it could have on Saudi Arabia's image abroad, letting women drive could help the Saudi economy."

*****

Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "Senator Susan Collins of Maine said on Monday that she would oppose the latest plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, leaving Republican leaders clearly short of the votes they need for passage. Ms. Collins, a Republican, announced her opposition in a written statement, delivering a significant and possibly fatal blow to the party's seven-year quest to dismantle the health law.... '... Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can't be done well in a compressed time frame, especially when the actual bill is a moving target,' Ms. Collins said in the statement. 'Today, we find out that there is now a fourth version of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, which is as deeply flawed as the previous iterations,' she said. 'The fact that a new version of this bill was released the very week we are supposed to vote compounds the problem.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Lauren Fox of CNN: "The Congressional Budget Office has released a partial score of the GOP's plan to repeal Obamacare, saying the Graham-Cassidy bill would reduce the budget deficit by at least $133 billion but millions of people would lose comprehensive health insurance. The non-partisan scoring agency estimates that between 2017 and 2026, "the legislation would reduce the on-budget deficit by at least $133 billion and result in millions fewer people with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events. The report is not as detailed as previous CBO scores, however." ...

... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "With the latest Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act collapsing, President Trump focused his ire Monday night on Sen. John McCain, distributing a video that showed the Arizona Republican on board with the mission in the past. 'A few of the many clips of John McCain talking about Repealing & Replacing O'Care,' Trump said in a tweet that accompanied the video. 'My oh my has he changed-complete turn from years of talk!'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So three senators have announced their opposition to a terrible bill and for very different reasons. Since Trump promised better care & lower premiums in "his" mythical bill, & since the Graham-Kennedy bill does neither, Trump should be thanking these dissenters. But of the three, Rand Paul's position is the furthest away from Trump's promise. So by rights, if Trump were to choose one of the three to pound, it should be Paul, who opposes better care & lower premiums. But Trump homes in on McCain because he is fatally ill AND more popular than Trump. This is what a narcissistic bully does.

... Rachel Roubein of the Hill: "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was forced to briefly recess the chamber's first hearing on an ObamaCare repeal bill, after protestors refused to stop chanting, leading police to drag several out. 'No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty,' attendees chanted. Police surrounded the protesters and escorted them out of the room." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Zombie Repeal. Seung Min Kim, et al., of Politico: With Graham-Cassidy apparently dead in the water, some GOP senators are plotting ways to extend the reconciliation procedure that allows passage of bills by a 50-vote majority. ...

Rick Gladstone & David Sanger of the New York Times: "North Korea threatened on Monday to shoot down American warplanes even if they are not in the country's airspace, as its foreign minister declared that President Trump's threatening comments about the country and its leadership were 'a declaration of war.' 'The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,' the foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, told reporters as he was leaving the United Nations after a week of General Assembly meetings in New York." (Also linked yesterday.)

Medlar's Sports Report:

All Hail Donaldus Caesar. David Moye of the Huffington Post: "When ... Donald Trump spoke in Alabama on Friday against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, he also appeared to come out in favor of concussions. During his speech, Trump argued that rules designed to minimize concussions and CTE, a neurodegenerative disease, are ruining the game: 'Today if you hit too hard ―15 yards! Throw him out of the game!... They're ruining the game! They're ruining the game. That's what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.' ESPN analyst Kevin Blackistone ... reminded viewers that black males make up the majority of NFL players ― and the majority of concussions." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Trump imagines himself as Julius Caesar & pro football players -- especially black players -- as gladiators, to fight it out & die for the amusement of his bloodthirsty followers & He Trump. Roman gladiators were usually convicted criminals or prisoners of war, & that is precisely how Trump sees black athletes. The only difference is that today's gladiators are often well-compensated, and Trump -- a former football team owner -- resents that. When today's gladiators aren't servile enough, when they kneel to highlight racial injustice instead of standing to salute an anthem which Trump thinks is now dedicated to him personally, he opines they deserve not just concussions but also firing. Trump, correctly, sees these pleas for racial parity not just as attacks on the criminal justice system but also on him & his racist views. ...

     ... This is not, BTW, the first time Trump has publicly mocked CTE: Sean Gregory of Time reported contemporaneously that at a rally in Lakeland, Florida, in October 2016, "Trump talked about a woman who had fainted but returned to the crowd. 'The woman was out cold and now she's coming back,' Trump said. 'See? We don't go by these new, and very much softer, NFL rules. Concussion. Oh, oh! Got a little ding on the head. No, no, you can't play for the rest of the season. Our people are tough.'" ...

... Des Bieler & Mark Maske of the Washington Post: "Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joined his team's players in kneeling before the national anthem before their game Monday night at Arizona. Jones, Coach Jason Garrett and other Cowboys coaches and front office executives locked arms while standing on the field. Before the anthem, Jones and the players and coaches took a knee. They then stood up, with arms still interlocked, for the anthem. Some in the crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., where the Cowboys were taking on the host Cardinals, booed at the display. Arizona players also stood and linked arms during the anthem, but they did not take a knee beforehand.... The Cowboys' plan for their pregame display was formulated during a series of meetings Sunday and Monday, according to a person familiar with the planning.... 'Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is,' Joe Lockhart, the NFL's executive vice president..., said in a conference call with reporters earlier Monday." ...

... Kaitlin Collins & Jeff Zeleny of CNN: "White House chief of staff John Kelly was not pleased with the fight that erupted over the weekend between ... Donald Trump and National Football League players who protest by kneeling during the national anthem, two administration officials told CNN.... In a brief interview Monday evening, Kelly told CNN he is 'appalled' by what he sees as a lack of respect for the flag and national anthem. 'I believe every American, when the national anthem is played, should cover their hearts and think about all the men and women who have been maimed and killed,' Kelly said. 'Every American should stand up and think for three lousy minutes.' His son, Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2010." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Kelly's visceral response to the National Anthem is perfectly fine as are numerous other responses. Some immigrants, for instance, may think of how coming to the U.S has affected their own lives. Others may think of how the U.S., in the hands of its officials, has betrayed its promise to them & their families. Kneeling -- a respectable, prayerful stance -- is one way to honor the promise & highlight those promises not kept. While for some like Kelly the anthem invokes military sacrifice (and no wonder with "the bombs bursting in air" and all), the military is hardly the only American quality the national anthem & flag symbolize. I'm not saying that Kelly should get over his own semiotic interpretation; I'm saying he should appreciate & respect other responses to our national symbols rather than insist upon imposing his own reading upon the rest of us. ...

... Digby, in Salon: "All we can do is observe [Trump's] behavior and hope he doesn't completely go off the deep end. This past weekend he came close. First, Trump tweeted out the scariest tweet of his long Twitter career, and that's saying something. He threatened to murder millions of people if the North Korean foreign minister said something he didn't like: 'Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!' ... Meanwhile, when he wasn't threatening Armageddon, Trump decided that the one pressing issue he absolutely had to address was the protests by NFL players against police racism and violence. That he did this during the same week there were large demonstrations in St Louis over the not guilty verdict for a cop who was filmed planting a gun on a suspect -- after being recorded saying he was 'going to kill this motherfucker' -- was probably not an accident. After everything that happened after Charlottesville, Trump just had to rip off the scab and pour salt into the open wound." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... the [NFL's] solidarity was as impressive a statement as we have seen from this class of people since the days of black gloves and Muhammad Ali, and it's a measure of the astonishing ability of this president* to find, and to stomp upon, someone's last nerve, which is his only demonstrable talent as a political leader. There is a strong school of thought that believes this to be a kind of native political wisdom rather than simply a kind of destructive political improvisation. Raise hell with football players and maybe nobody will notice that you're tickling the dragon's tail in east Asia, or that you're prepared to send grandma's chemo money to Scott Walker so he can fix the potholes in his state's highways.... The problem with that theory is that, if you accept that it's true, then he's played the distraction card once too often. It's obvious now and it fools nobody.... The protests this weekend were long on dignity and grace and short on bombast." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Of course Trump's outrage at the NFL protests had to do with race.... The reason for [the players'] protests ... are one of the endpoints of a years-long racial divide that Trump leveraged explicitly as part of his 2016 campaign.... The demonstrations by NFL players (which expanded outward more rapidly after Trump's rebukes) originated with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He began to kneel during the national anthem at games as a way of drawing attention to incidents in which black Americans were targeted and sometimes killed by law enforcement officials. It's not, as some have argued, a protest of the anthem itself. It's a continuation of the argument that powers the Black Lives Matter movement: that there is a systemic problem in how police officers treat black suspects.... Trump's campaign stoked Republican frustration at Black Lives Matter, racial tensions and a black president who was seen as hostile to police officers. In addition to his explicit racial arguments (starting with his disparagement of immigrants from Mexico), Trump repeatedly insisted that he would stand behind and defend America's police -- leveraging hostility to Black Lives Matter for his own purposes.... Trump's entire campaign was about race, explicitly -- whether he realizes it or not. So, too, was his fervent insistence about the NFL over the weekend." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you needed a tell, and I'm sure you don't, it was Trump's argument that "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect.... our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED." This was a human-whistle from a billionaire to his base of whitey-white ne'er-do-wells: "These black guys are making millions! And you're not. They don't 'deserve' to whup you. Fire them!" BTW, if you're wondering how Trump launched these attacks, which appeared to come up out of the blue at a campaign rally for a U.S. Senate candidate, I expect he was still smarting from Jemele Hill's calling out his racism. Perhaps at the insistence of his chief-of-staff, all Trump did at the time was demand an apology from Hill's network, ESPN. But days later, he was still smarting, it was Friday night, & Trump couldn't stop himself from taking out his ire on black sports figures. Calling Trump a racist is a waste of time; it just causes him to double-down on racist spittle.


Ed Pilkington
of the Guardian: "It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy. Hot on the heels of the billowing dispute he single-handedly provoked over African-American sporting figures protesting racial inequality during the national anthem, Trump launched another provocation on Monday night with a belated and lacklustre response to the Puerto Rican disaster. In a series of three tweets he effectively blamed the islanders -- all of whom are American citizens -- for their own misfortune. 'Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,' he said, without offering any additional federal government assistance for the stricken US territory.... Trump acknowledged that 'much of the island was destroyed', but caustically went on to say that its electrical grid was already 'in terrible shape' and that Puerto Rico owed billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks 'which, sadly, must be dealt with'." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: But, you know, this isn't about race, either. ...

... Margaret Hartmann: "It's true that Puerto Rico's infrastructure was in bad shape before the storm hit, thanks to a lack of maintenance related to the island's $73 billion debt crisis. But Trump did not respond to Harvey by noting that experts warned for decades that Houston was a flooding disaster waiting to happen."

** Frank Rich writes a brief history of Watergate & compares it to how Trumpgate is unfolding. It's a great refresher course, or a lesson for the many of us too young to remember, to how Watergate happened & an encouraging note on how Trumpgate may come down. Many thanks to PD Pepe for the link. This is one to read, not scan. (Also linked yesterday.)

** The Making of the Presidunce. Jeet Heer of the New Republic on Trump as our first post-literate president & what that means to his ability to reason (uh, he has none).

Lock 'em up. Matt Apuzzo & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "At least six of President Trump's closest advisers occasionally used private email addresses to discuss White House matters, current and former officials said on Monday. The disclosures came a day after news surfaced that Jared Kushner ... used a private email account to send or receive about 100 work-related emails during the administration's first seven months. But Mr. Kushner was not alone. Stephen K. Bannon ... and Reince Priebus ... also occasionally used private email addresses. Other advisers, including Gary D. Cohn and Stephen Miller, sent or received at least a few emails on personal accounts, officials said. Ivanka Trump ... used a private account when she acted as an unpaid adviser in the first months of the administration, Newsweek reported Monday. Administration officials acknowledged that she also occasionally did so when she formally became a White House adviser.... It is not illegal for White House officials to use private email accounts as long as they forward work-related messages to their work accounts so they can be preserved.... Most of Mr. Trump's aides used popular commercial email services like Gmail. Mr. Kushner created a domain, IJKFamily.com, in December to host his family's personal email." ...

     ... Marie: I just realized how much I am like Javanka. I too "created a domain" -- RealityChex.com -- which hosts one of my personal e-mail accounts. The next thing you know, I'll be buying up vanity buildings in Manhattan at outrageously high prices & currying favor with shady foreign financiers. So long, Bank of America, you shady financiers.

... Well, of Course She Did. Brandon Carter & Megan Wilson of the Hill: "Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to communicate with a member of President Trump's administration, a watchdog group said Monday. American Oversight obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that show Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser to her father, used a personal email account to contact Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon in February." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Josh Dawsey of Politico: "Frustrated with West Wing aides' rampant use of personal communications devices for official business, former chief of staff Reince Priebus tried over the summer to stop -- or at least limit -- the practice. During a July senior staff meeting, Priebus asked aides to either store their personal phones in secure lockers in the White House or leave them at home during the workday, according to people who attended. The administration subsequently installed additional lockers, typically found only outside secure rooms, in the West Wing, as part of an effort to force aides to use their White House accounts for communications. But the request was largely ignored, according to six current and former administration officials, advisers and others who correspond with the White House. Aides laughed about Priebus' request, and senior officials -- including Priebus -- continued to use their personal phones for phone calls, text messages and emails for White House matters." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So when Sarah Sanders said at yesterday's briefing that “All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government related work," she was technically truthful. To be actually truthful, she would have had to add, "But we totally ignore those instructions." ...

... Louis Nelson of Politico: "Reports that several current and former top White House staff members, including Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon used their private email accounts for official business puts on display the 'rank hypocrisy' of the Trump administration, Hillary Clinton said Monday night." ...

... Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee and its top Democrat asked the Trump administration Monday for more information about the use of personal email accounts by senior officials -- a day after it was revealed that Jared Kushner ... acknowledged using such an account for official business. The letters, sent from Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to White House counsel Don McGahn and the leaders of two dozen federal departments and agencies, demand answers to inquiries about the use of nonofficial email and other messaging accounts to conduct official business. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the panel, also joined the request." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Maybe this is just show, but also it's an indicator that Congressional Republicans are breaking up with Trump.

Matthew Daly of the AP: "Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday that nearly one-third of employees at his department are not loyal to him and ... Donald Trump, adding that he is working to change the department's regulatory culture to be more business friendly. Zinke ... said he knew when he took over the 70,000-employee department in March that, 'I got 30 percent of the crew that's not loyal to the flag.'... To remedy that, Zinke said he is pursuing a major reorganization that would push much of the agency's decision-making outside Washington and move several agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, to undetermined Western states." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This story confuses me. In the citation, Zinke says the Interior Department employees were disloyal to "the flag," suggesting they are traitors. but Daly writes that Zinke said these employees were not loyal to him & Trump. There is, obviously, a big difference. I could not find any clarifying story. Trump & Zinke do not represent "the flag," whether they know it or not (and Trump definitely doesn't know it -- like Louis XIV, Trump imagines l'Etat, c'est moi). The civil servants of the Interior Department pledged to defend the Constitution, & they must act on that pledge; they are prohibited from following Zinke/Trump's instructions if those instructions violate the law and/or the Constitution.

NEW. Betsy Klein, et al., of CNN: "Donald Trump Jr.'s Secret Service protection has been reactivated, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.... It is not clear what prompted the move." Mrs. McC: Sure it is. Junior went out & bought his super-shredder, set it up in a hidden compartment behind his closet, made sure it worked, & now he's okay with letting the Secret Service follow him around.

Karoun Demirjian & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone plans to fiercely deny to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he had any contact, much less colluded, with Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election, according to a prepared opening statement he shared with The Washington Post. Stone also plans to deny that he had any advance knowledge that emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta would be hacked or that his emails would then be released by WikiLeaks -- despite tweeting just days before that Podesta's 'time in the barrel' would soon be coming. In his prepared opening statement, Stone decries the nation's intelligence agencies as 'politicized,' and questions the findings of the intelligence community regarding Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, including the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Podesta."

Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times on the undemocratic national of our Constitutional structure which permits the tyranny of the minority.

Kristine Phillips of the Washington Post: "Before Jeff Mateer became President Trump's nominee for federal judgeship in Texas, he fought a local ordinance extending equal protections to members of the LGBT community and said the separation of church and state does not exist in the Constitution. But likely his most controversial statements were made in two 2015 speeches, in which he said transgender children are proof that 'Satan's plan is working' and same-sex marriage is a harbinger for 'disgusting' practices such as polygamy and bestiality. He also appeared to advocate gay conversion therapy, a discredited practice banned by a handful of states and condemned by human rights and medical groups. Those comments, which did not appear in media reports until CNN unearthed them last week, have outraged LGBT rights groups and drawn scrutiny to Mateer's legal career as awaits a Senate confirmation hearing.... The recent revelations on Mateer, Texas's first assistant attorney general, have also raised questions about whether he disclosed his controversial comments to a vetting committee, as required by state law."

Senate Race

Jonathan Martin & Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Just hours before the polls opened in a special United States Senate runoff in Alabama that will echo through the national Republican Party, two of the best-known figures in President Trump's orbit raced to the state Monday night on behalf of opposing candidates. Senator Luther Strange, trailing in the polls but hoping Mr. Trump's backing can help him close the gap, summoned Vice President Mike Pence to Birmingham to highlight the president's endorsement as part of a get-out-the-vote push in Alabama's largest city. In the same hour, Roy Moore, a former State Supreme Court chief justice, welcomed the former White House senior adviser Stephen K. Bannon to a barn in this community along the Mobile Bay for a rally that mixed praise for Jesus Christ with jeremiads against the Republican establishment."


Benjamin Weiser
of the New York Times: "Anthony D. Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman who became caught up in a scandal over his exchange of lewd texts with a 15-year-old girl, was sentenced on Monday to 21 months in prison. Mr. Weiner, 53, had pleaded guilty to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor, and had faced up to 10 years in prison." Mrs. McC: Will they let him have his cellphone while he's in prison with nothing to do? (Also linked yesterday.)

Sunday
Sep242017

The Commentariat -- September 25, 2017

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Well, of Course She Did. Brandon Carter & Megan Wilson of the Hill: "Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to communicate with a member of President Trump's administration, a watchdog group said Monday. American Oversight obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that show Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser to her father, used a personal email account to contact Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon in February."

Rick Gladstone & David Sanger of the New York Times: "North Korea threatened on Monday to shoot down American warplanes even if they are not in the country's airspace, as its foreign minister declared that President Trump's threatening comments about the country and its leadership were 'a declaration of war.' 'The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,' the foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, told reporters as he was leaving the United Nations after a week of General Assembly meetings in New York.

Rachel Roubein of the Hill: "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was forced to briefly recess the chamber's first hearing on an ObamaCare repeal bill, after protestors refused to stop chanting, leading police to drag several out. 'No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty,' attendees chanted. Police surrounded the protesters and escorted them out of the room."

Frank Rich writes a brief history of Watergate & compares it to how Trumpgate is unfolding. It's a great refresher course, or a lesson for the many of us too young to remember, to how Watergate happened & an encouraging note on how Trumpgate may come down. Many thanks to PD Pepe for the link. This is one to read, not scan.

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Of course Trump's outrage at the NFL protests had to do with race.... The reason for [the players'] protests ... are one of the endpoints of a years-long racial divide that Trump leveraged explicitly as part of his 2016 campaign.... The demonstrations by NFL players (which expanded outward more rapidly after Trump's rebukes) originated with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He began to kneel during the national anthem at games as a way of drawing attention to incidents in which black Americans were targeted and sometimes killed by law enforcement officials. It's not, as some have argued, a protest of the anthem itself. It's a continuation of the argument that powers the Black Lives Matter movement: that there is a systemic problem in how police officers treat black suspects.... Trump's campaign stoked Republican frustration at Black Lives Matter, racial tensions and a black president who was seen as hostile to police officers. In addition to his explicit racial arguments (starting with his disparagement of immigrants from Mexico), Trump repeatedly insisted that he would stand behind and defend America's police -- leveraging hostility to Black Lives Matter for his own purposes.... Trump's entire campaign was about race, explicitly -- whether he realizes it or not. So, too, was his fervent insistence about the NFL over the weekend." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you needed a tell, and I'm sure you don't, it was Trump's argument that "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect.... our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED." This was a human-whistle from a billionaire to his base of whitey-white ne'er-do-wells: "These black guys are making millions! And you're not. They don't 'deserve' to whup you. Fire them!" BTW, if you're wondering how Trump launched these attacks, which appeared to come up out of the blue at a campaign rally for a U.S. Senate candidate, I expect he was still smarting from Jemele Hill's calling out his racism. Perhaps at the insistence of his chief-of-staff, all Trump did at the time was demand an apology from Hill's network, ESPN. But days later, he was still smarting, it was Friday night, & Trump couldn't stop himself from taking out his ire on black sports figures. Calling Trump a racist is a waste of time; it just causes him to double-down on racist spittle.

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: "Anthony D. Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman who became caught up in a scandal over his exchange of lewd texts with a 15-year-old girl, was sentenced on Monday to 21 months in prison. Mr. Weiner, 53, had pleaded guilty to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor, and had faced up to 10 years in prison." Mrs. McC: So will they let him have his cellphone while he's in prison with nothing to do?

*****

Washington Post: "The Trump administration announced new restrictions Sunday on visitors from eight countries -- an expansion of the pre-existing travel ban which has spurred fierce legal debates over security, immigration, and discrimination. Officials had said they wanted the new rules to be both tough and targeted. The move comes as the key portion of Trump's travel ban, which bars the issuance of visas to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries, is set to expire.... Three new nations were added to the list of countries whose citizens will face the restrictions: Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela -- though the restrictions on Venezuela target that country's leadership and family members. One country, Sudan, fell off the travel ban list issued at the beginning of the year. Senior administration officials said a review of Sudan's cooperation with their national security concerns and information-sharing showed that it was appropriate to remove them from the list."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Over the course of just 17 hours this weekend, President Trump assailed John McCain, Chuck Schumer, Stephen Curry, the National Football League, Roger Goodell, Iran and Kim Jong-un — the 'Little Rocket Man.' And that was on his day off. While football players knelt, locked arms or stayed in their locker rooms during the national anthem in protest on Sunday, any notion that Mr. Trump may soften his edge, even under the discipline of a new chief of staff, seemed fanciful. While he has restrained himself for brief stretches, his penchant for punching eventually reasserts itself.... In his brief career as president and a candidate for president, Mr. Trump has attacked virtually every major institution in American life: Congress, the courts, Democrats, Republicans, the news media, the Justice Department, Hollywood, the military, NATO, the intelligence agencies, the cast of 'Hamilton,' the cast of 'Saturday Night Live,' the pope and now professional sports. He has attacked the Trump administration itself, or at least selected parts of it (see Sessions, Jeff), and even the United States of America ('you think our country's so innocent?'). ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Baker's analysis is remarkable for the fact that Baker is a high priest of Both-Sides-Do-It. ...

...Juan Cole: "Trump's dreary tweetstorm on Saturday was intended to gain him popularity with white supremacists and the covert racists on the right of the Republican Party, through beating up on uppity black athletes and impudent yellow peril Orientals.... That was a great day for Trump. The politics of racial division were on full display...Trump goes after everyone but the white supremacists and Vladimir Putin. Why?" --safari...

... Julie Davis of the New York Times: "When President Trump gave a fiery campaign speech in Huntsville, Ala., on Friday evening, he drew a rapturous roar by ridiculing Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, as 'Little Rocket Man.' Among diplomats and national security specialists, the reaction was decidedly different. After Mr. Trump repeated his taunt in a tweet late Saturday and threatened that Mr. Kim and his foreign minister 'won't be around much longer' if they continue their invective against the United States, reactions ranged from nervous disbelief to sheer terror. Mr. Trump's willingness to casually threaten to annihilate a nuclear-armed foe was yet another reminder of the steep risks inherent in his brute-force approach to diplomacy. His strengths as a politician -- the ability to appeal in a visceral way to the impulses of ordinary citizens -- are a difficult fit for the meticulous calculations that his own advisers concede are crucial in dealing with Pyongyang." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If these two front-page NYT analyses don't alarm you, you're either not paying attention or have a remarkably thick skin. The New York Times, however, does want you to know that that Trump is a dangerous loon. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "It may seem pedantic, in the face of a threat as radical as the Trump presidency, to quibble over terminological distinctions between different varieties of odious people [i.e. Nazis; Fascists; White supremacists; Racists]. But the language we use organizes our political thinking. And one of the terrible things Trump has done to this country has been to warp the terms and categories -- and, hence, the character -- of the political opposition through the exertion of sheer terror. Seemingly harmless changes have crept into our political lexicon, which may have dangerous consequences...To flatten the language we use to describe different kinds of right-wing politics is to bludgeon our capacity to make vital distinctions.... This danger may sound hypothetical, but it is already playing out before us." --safari

Medlar's Sports Report:

Pro Football v. Trump. Benjamin Hoffman, et al., of the New York Times: "N.F.L. players across the country demonstrated during the national anthem on Sunday in a show of solidarity against President Trump, who scolded the league and players on Twitter this weekend. With the support of owners, some of whom joined their teams on the field, dozens of players knelt in silent protests, while Tom Brady and others opted to stand and lock arms. The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans both stayed in their respective locker rooms during the anthem in Nashville. The Steelers also skipped the anthem in Chicago. After the demonstrations began, Trump weighed in once again, saying he approved of players locking arms, but declaring that kneeling during the anthem was 'not acceptable.' Every N.F.L. game today has carried some level of demonstration by players, with some teams going as far as not appearing on the field for the national anthem. But nearly nine hours after the games had begun, President Trump once again took to Twitter to condemn the players who choose not to stand for the anthem, and the league that allows it. It was his 12th sports-related tweet or retweet in a 36-hour period."...

... Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith questioned why President Trump was condemning NFL players more strongly than he did white supremacists last month...'It's the same guy who couldn't condemn violent neo-Nazis. And he's condemning guys taking a knee during the anthem,' Smith said." --safari...

Watch to the end:

... Les Carpenter of the Guardian: "All Colin Kaepernick ever asked was for his country to have a conversation about race. This, he warned, would not be easy. Such talks are awkward and often end in a flurry of spittle, pointed fingers and bruised feelings. But from the moment the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback first spoke about his decision to kneel or sit during the national anthem, he said was willing to give up his career to make the nation talk. In one speech on Friday night, Donald Trump gave Kaepernick exactly what he wanted...'I think this is something that can unify this country,' Kaepernick said in the summer of 2016, at his first press conference about his protest...Nothing has given Kaepernick's protest fuel like Trump's words...The discourse might not be civil. It probably isn't reasoned or rational. But it's discourse. And, really, that's the reason Kaepernick took his knee." --safari ...

... Jonathan Chait: "... rather than seize the mantle of patriotism, Trump has oafishly ceded it to his opponents. He has set off a firestorm of race, sports, and patriotism that is going to end up burning him. Trump began his foray into the matter with one of his man-on-a-barstool rants, lamenting how football has gotten too soft.... It was odd to hear a defense of football from the only American president -- indeed, the only American, period -- who single-handedly destroyed a viable professional football league. Trump pushed his argument into utter derangement by challenging players’ very right to protest.... [Trump's] comments had two swift effects, each disastrous for the president. First, it turned the question away from the style of the protest to the right to conduct it.... Second, it turned the pregame drama into an anti-Trump protest. The pregame kneel has now become a spectacle of resistance, with dramatic gestures of white players joining black ones to oppose the crude attacks from the great orange bigot." ...

... Henry Gomez of BuzzFeed: "A political group with close ties to ... Donald Trump is amplifying his attack on professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest. 'Turn off the NFL,' reads a digital ad produced by the nonprofit America First Policies, which planned to begin spreading the message on social media Sunday afternoon. The ad includes a photo with Trump, hand over his heart, and a #TakeAStandNotAKnee hashtag. It follows Trump's recent remarks, first delivered during a Friday night speech in Alabama, aimed at football players who have protested police brutality and other causes."


Josh Dawsey
of Politico: "... Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business. Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. Politico has seen and verified about two dozen emails.... The decision to set up new, private accounts as Kushner was preparing to enter the White House came in the wake of a bitter election campaign in which Trump routinely excoriated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using a personal email account to handle government business when she was secretary of state. There is no indication that Kushner has shared any sensitive or classified material on his private account, or that he relies on his private email account more than his official White House account to conduct government business.... Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up their private family domain ... at the time Kushner ... was expected to be named to a White House role...." ...

... Maggie Haberman & Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times: Abbe Lowell, Kushner's lawyer, "said the emails were all forwarded to Mr. Kushner's official account, creating a record." ...

     ... Benjamin Hart of New York: "The news is a jaw-dropper because -- though it's all mostly been forgotten -- Hillary Clinton's usage of a private email server played just a tiny role in the coverage of the 2016 election. Coming on the heels of his father-in-law's vicious attacks on Clinton over the issue, Kushner's private communications may strike some as a wee bit hypocritical. But Trump partisans have shown again and again that the administration's hypocrisy matters little to them, and the people who bray 'lock her up' at the president's rallies are unlikely to care that Kushner and his co-workers may have violated the Presidential Records Act."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Zuckerberg Knows Best. Adam Entous, et al., of the Washington Post: "... huddled in a private room on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in Lima, Peru, two months before Trump's inauguration, [President] Obama made a personal appeal to [Facebook CEo Mark] Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously. Unless Facebook and the government did more to address the threat, Obama warned, it would only get worse in the next presidential race. Zuckerberg acknowledged the problem posed by fake news. But he told Obama that those messages weren't widespread on Facebook and that there was no easy remedy.... Like the U.S. government, Facebook didn't foresee the wave of disinformation that was coming and the political pressure that followed. The company then grappled with a series of hard choices designed to shore up its own systems without impinging on free discourse for its users around the world. One outcome of those efforts was Zuckerberg's admission on Thursday that Facebook had indeed been manipulated and that the company would now turn over to Congress more than 3,000 politically themed advertisements that were bought by suspected Russian operatives."

Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "At the ... White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico earlier this year, nearly a dozen military contractors armed with laser guns, high-tech nets and other experimental systems met to tackle one of the Pentagon's most vexing counterterrorism conundrums: how to destroy the Islamic State's increasingly lethal fleet of drones. The militant group has used surveillance drones on the battlefield for more than two years. But an increase in deadly attacks since last fall -- mostly targeting Iraqi troops and Syrian militia members with small bombs or grenades, but also threatening American advisers -- has highlighted the terrorists' success in adapting off-the-shelf, low-cost technology into an effective new weapon. The Pentagon is so alarmed by this growing threat ... that it has launched a $700 million crash program overseen by two senior Army generals to draw on the collective know-how and resources of all branches of the armed services, Silicon Valley and defense industry giants like Boeing and Raytheon to devise tactics and technology to thwart the menace. In the meantime, the Pentagon has rushed dozens of technical specialists to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to help protect American troops and to train and, in some cases, equip local allies against the drone threat, which has killed more than a dozen Iraqi soldiers and wounded more than 50."

Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "... the latest plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act teetered closer to collapse on Sunday, even as the White House and the proposal's backers tried to win over reluctant Republican senators. Senator Susan Collins of Maine made clear that she was all but certain to oppose the proposal. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said he had not yet been won over and suggested that Senator Mike Lee of Utah had the same stance. And Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky once again criticized the bill in blunt terms, despite pressure from President Trump to rethink his opposition." ...

... Wooing Lisa. M. J. Lee, et al., of CNN: "As the Republican Party's last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare hangs by a thread, a revised version of the Graham-Cassidy bill was circulated to Senate Republicans on Sunday with the aim of winning over key votes. Even with the new changes, the task ahead is daunting. GOP Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain have already publicly opposed the bill, and leadership can't afford to lose one more. Plenty of others, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have made known their deep reservations -- Collins went as far as to say on CNN Sunday morning that it was 'very difficult' for her to envision getting to a 'yes.'... In an important nod to Murkowski, the revised bill says Native Americans and Alaska Natives enrolled in Medicaid expansion prior to 2020 could continue to be eligible after that point, according to documents circulated Sunday night to senior Senate aides and obtained by CNN.... In one new provision particularly beneficial to Alaska, the state would receive a 25% boost in federal matching funds for Medicaid due to its defined high-level of poverty.... The updated bill would also allow states to design some of their own insurance rules. This would wipe away many of Obamacare's protections not only for those with pre-existing conditions, but also for those who get medical care." ...

... Wooing All the Hold-outs. Caitlin Owens of Axios: "Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy have revised their health-care bill, allowing states to loosen more of the Affordable Care Act's regulations while diverting more money to the states whose senators hold the deciding votes on the legislation. They will formally release the revised measure tomorrow.... The deadline to pass a bill with just 50 votes is Saturday. The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release preliminary estimates this week of the initial -- and now outdated -- version of the bill. With the clock ticking and little time for independent economic analyses, Graham and Cassidy are making a last-minute play for senators who have been critical not only of the bill's contents, but of the rushed process, too.... According to Graham and Cassidy's analysis, the revised bill would direct more money to Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky and Maine, compared with earlier versions. But it would still reduce overall federal funding to those states -- whose Republican senators are, for now, opposed to the bill or undecided.... The revisions also ramped up some of the regulatory rollbacks needed to help win conservative votes. Sen. Ted Cruz said earlier today that he's not yet on board with the legislation.

GOP Seeking Ways to Make Tax Bill Look Less Like a Giant Gift to the Rich. Damian Paletta of the Washington Post: "White House officials and Republican leaders are preparing a set of broad income and corporate tax cuts.... Party leaders are quietly circulating proposals to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, according to the people familiar with the plan. White House advisers are divided over whether to cut the top individual tax rate, and Republican leaders, aware the plan could be construed as a huge giveaway to the wealthy, are trying to design features to the package that would ensure that the rich don't get too large a share of the plan's tax relief. Top White House negotiators and key GOP leaders have agreed on those targets, but apparently President Trump has not. On Sunday, as he was about to board Air Force One in New Jersey, Trump told reporters he hoped to see the corporate tax rate lowered to 15 percent, a level that his own negotiators had privately dismissed weeks ago.... The lack of agreement, days before the plan is set to be unveiled more broadly, underscore the difficult Republicans face in uniting behind a tax bill." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I hope I'm wrong, but I predict that whatever bonanza these wretched schemers come up with will pass with flying colors. These guys don't care about deficits & they definitely don't care about middle-class taxpayers. The tax cut bill will be all about making sure their big-bucks donors are happy. ...

... Paul Krugman: "... the bill for cynicism seems to be coming due. For years, flat-out lies about policy served Republicans well, helping them win back control of Congress and, eventually, the White House. But those same lies now leave them unable to govern."

Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "Democratic attorneys general, aiming to take on the Trump administration..., are planning to spend $10 million to $15 million to elect more of their own next year.... It's also part of a longer-term effort to build a bigger and more diverse bench for the party to draw on in gubernatorial and Senate races over the next decade. The hope, according to sources familiar with the effort, is to catch up to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which ramped up its legal and political work during the Obama years, notching major successes on both counts. RAGA put $23 million into races in the past two years, helping win and hold 29 of the country's attorneys general offices."

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Gail Collins welcomes Michelle Goldberg to the NYT op-ed page. Mrs. McC: I can't believe the NYT went to Slate to find a columnist for its august opinion section, & not only that, but a columnist whose work I know & admire. Their usual search takes them to the Wall Street Journal (Brett Stephens) or the Weekly Standard (Bill Kristol). Maybe it took President* Trump for them to realize that confederate "balance" was a big mistake.

Way Beyond the Beltway

The Center Holds. Steven Erlanger & Melissa Eddy of the New York Times: "Angela Merkel won a fourth term as chancellor in elections on Sunday, placing her in the front ranks of Germany's postwar leaders, even as her victory was dimmed by the entry of a far-right party into parliament for the first time in more than 60 years, according to preliminary results. The far-right party, Alternative for Germany, or AfD, got some 13 percent of the vote -- nearly three times the 4.7 percent it received in 2013 -- a significant showing of voter anger over immigration and inequality as support for the two main parties sagged from four years ago. Ms. Merkel and her center-right Christian Democrats won, the center held, but it was weakened."

Juan Cole: "The Kurdistan referendum held today is probably not as likely to produce immediate turmoil in the Middle East as some pundits would have it. The 'Domino Theory' that if the Kurds secede from Iraq then they will secede from Turkey, Iran and Syria as well, may be as incorrect as the idea that a Communist victory in Vietnam would lead to Communist domination throughout Asia and the world. Iraqi Kurds have a particular history that has led to today's referendum that is not exactly replicated in other countries with large Kurdish minorities (Iran, Turkey and Syria)." --safari: A history lesson by Prof. Cole.

Saturday
Sep232017

The Commentariat -- September 24, 2017

Football v. Trump. Ken Belson, et al., of the New York Times: "N.F.L. players across the country demonstrated during the national anthem on Sunday in a show of defiance against President Trump, who scolded the league and players on Twitter this weekend. With the support of team owners, players knelt, while others opted to stand and lock arms in a show of solidarity.... President Trump doubled down on his criticism of N.F.L. players who take a knee during the national anthem, saying fans should boycott games unless the players are fired or suspended.... N.F.L. owners, most of them conservative and many of them large donors to President Trump..., backed their players' rights to protest during the national anthem and condemned Trump's criticism. Stay here for live updates."

*****

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is 'inevitable' because President Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname 'little rocketman.' U.S. bombers escorted by fighter jets flew off the North Korean coast in a show of force shortly before Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho strode to the podium to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York, capping an extraordinary week of militaristic threats from both nations before an organization founded to maintain international peace and security. Ri said that Trump's bombast had made 'our rockets' visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable,' and linked it to the Trump's insulting shorthand references to Kim."

Medlar's Sports Report

Ken Belson & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Trump took aim at two of the world's most powerful sports leagues and some of their most popular athletes.... In a speech and a series of tweets, he urged N.F.L. owners to fire players who do not stand for the national anthem, suggested the league is declining because it is not as violent as it once was and seemed to disinvite the N.B.A. champion Golden State Warriors from the traditional White House visit, over their star player Stephen Curry's public opposition to him.... On Friday night, Mr. Trump said: 'Wouldn't you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired,'" the president said at a rally for Senator Luther Strange, who was appointed to the Senate this year and is facing Roy Moore in a Republican primary runoff.... the reaction from many athletes was immediate and impassioned, particularly among African-American football and basketball players who have criticized Mr. Trump on race.... In an unusually strong rebuke of the president on Saturday, Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L., said the president failed to understand how the league and its players work together to 'create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.'" ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: You know you're a son of a bitch, as Trump would have it, when you need morals lessons from Roger Goodell. Funny how the President of All the People is always directing his rage at the people who just happen to be minorities. And wasn't it way last week that we were all disgusted that a press secretary would weigh in on the employability of a black sports commentator? Well, ha ha, fire all the black people, her boss sez. Anyway, dissing black athletes & Tom Price are nice distractions from the Russia scandal. ...

... Ramona Shelburne of ESPN: "The Golden State Warriors plan to meet as a team this fall to discuss whether they'll celebrate their NBA championship at the White House, team and league officials told ESPN. 'We will meet as a team to discuss it and make a decision,' Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told ESPN." ...

... ** David Remnick of the New Yorker: "Every day, and in countless and unexpected ways, Donald Trump ... finds new ways to divide and demoralize his country and undermine the national interest.... In the midst of an eighty-minute speech intended to heighten the reëlection prospects of Senator Luther Johnson Strange III, Trump turned his attention to N.F.L. players, including the former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and asked a mainly white crowd if 'people like yourselves' agreed with his anger at 'those people,' players who take a knee during the national anthem to protest racism. 'Wouldn't you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired!"'... This was the same sort of racial signalling that followed the Fascist and white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is no longer a matter of 'dog whistling.' This is a form of racial demagoguery broadcast at the volume of a klaxon.... In these performances, Trump is making clear his moral priorities. He is infinitely more offended by the sight of a black ballplayer quietly, peacefully protesting racism in the United States than he is by racism itself."


Price to Temporarily Stop Gouging Taxpayers to Concentrate on Depriving Them of Health Insurance. Dan Diamond
of Politico: "Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told Fox News on Saturday that he'll stop his taxpayer-funded travel on private jets, pending a formal review by his department's inspector general.... Price continued to take charter jets after a Politico investigation identified that the HHS secretary had been chartering private planes to conduct official business for months. The cost of his trips this past week was $56,500, according to a federal contract.... Politico has now identified more than $400,000 in charter jet spending for Price's travels since May." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you thought I was kidding in that headline, read on:

... Time for Some Traffic Problems on Healthcare.gov. Phil Galewicz of Kaiser Health News on CNN: "The Trump administration plans to shut down the federal health insurance exchange for 12 hours during all but one Sunday in the upcoming Obamacare open enrollment season. The shutdown will occur from midnight until noon every Sunday except Dec. 10. The Department of Health and Human Services will also shut down the federal exchange -- healthcare.gov -- overnight on the first day of open enrollment, Nov. 1. More than three dozen states use that exchange for their marketplaces. HHS officials disclosed this information Friday during a webinar with community groups that help people enroll in Obamacare.... The Trump administration has ... cut the enrollment period, slashed money for advertising by 90% and sliced the budget for navigators to help people shop for plans. The fact that HHS is now closing the site for a portion of each weekend upset many consumer advocates. Many working Americans -- the prime target group for ACA insurance — might be shopping at just that time."


Adam Davidson
of the New Yorker: "Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer in charge of representing President Trump in matters related to the Russia investigation, told Bloomberg's Margaret Talev, 'It would be truly shocking' if [Paul] Manafort 'tried to monetize his relationship with the President.' Cobb's shock is, surely, of the 'Casablanca' variety.... It has become clear that allowing hangers-on to monetize their relationship with him was, essentially, Trump's business model.... The Trump Organization ... seemed willing to do business with pretty much anybody, no matter his background.... When the company began aggressively pursuing international deals, over the past decade, it relied on a loose grouping of people who were authorized -- formally or not -- to travel around the world seeking deals in Trump's name. Pocketing a little for themselves on the side was part of the arrangement." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Not sure if Trump named his business the "Trump Organization" because (a) he aggrandizes & lies about everything; (b) the name was designed to pretend he headed an actual organized company; (c) he wanted to emphasize his connection to & affinity for organized crime; or (d) it was unintended irony.

Battle of the Deplorables. Jonathan Swan of Axios: "Steve Bannon is heading to Alabama Sunday night to rally for Judge Roy Moore on Monday night with Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.... This rally is three days after President Trump ... was in Alabama rallying for Moore's opponent -- Mitch McConnell's favored candidate Luther Strange. For Bannon to make a rare public appearance in such close proximity to Trump shows how invested he is in this race specifically, and attacking McConnell more generally. Another former White House adviser, Sebastian Gorka, rallied with Sarah Palin for Moore on Thursday." Mrs. McC: The only fun part is that Bannon has to spend some time with the Duck Dick. But these are the bedfellows he chose, so he deserves it.

Beyond the Beltway

Scott Destroys Evidence. Jim DeFede of CBS Miami: "The voicemail messages left on Gov. Rick Scott's personal cellphone by a Hollywood nursing home where at least 11 people have died following Hurricane Irma, were deleted, according to the governor's office. There were a total of four voicemails left during the 36 hours before the first patient died, and they would have been a critical piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation into the patient deaths. Natasha Anderson, a vice president with The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, says she called the governor's cellphone to say the nursing home needed 'immediate assistance' in restoring the power to their air conditioning system. Scott said at no time did anyone from the nursing home suggest there was a crisis or that patients were in danger.... The governor's office said the voicemails were deleted in accordance with the state's public records law." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Sounds as if Florida's public records law reads, "Don't keep 'em."

Benjamin Oreskes & Javier Panzar of the Los Angeles Times: "Organizers of a far-right festival planned for the UC Berkeley campus have informed school officials that all speaking events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled, the university said Saturday. Representatives of the student group Berkeley Patriot informed the school that Free Speech Week, which was scheduled to kick off Sunday, will not take place, Dan Mogulof, a campus spokesman, said in a statement. There was no reason given for the cancellation."

News Lede

Washington Post: "Liliane Bettencourt, a French heiress to the L’Oréal cosmetics fortune who became embroiled in a family feud that exploded into a financial and political scandal involving former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, died Sept. 20 at her home near Paris. She was 94."

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