The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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report cites several instances in which mothers lost custody of their newborns because the mothers failed routine (but outdated) drug tests.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

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

Sunday
Apr152018

The Commentariat -- April 16, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Ren Laforme of Poynter: "Winners of the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes were announced at Columbia University in New York City on Monday." Includes list of winners & runners-up for journalism awards.

Benjamin Weiser & Alan Feuer of the New York Times: "A federal judge on Monday rejected an attempt by President Trump and his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to block prosecutors in Manhattan from immediately reviewing a trove of materials seized in F.B.I. raids last week on Mr. Cohen's office, home, hotel room and safe deposit box. But feeling her way toward a resolution of the clash involving Mr. Trump and prosecutors investigating Mr. Cohen, the judge, Kimba M. Wood, signaled that she was considering appointing a special master to assist prosecutors if and when they cull through documents seized in the raids." This is a breaking news story. No doubt details will follow.

Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Monday put the brakes on a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as 'international economic raiding. Preparations to punish Russia anew for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria caused consternation at the White House. Haley had said on CBS News's 'Face the Nation' that sanctions on Russian companies behind the equipment related to Assad's alleged chemical weapons attack would be announced Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them...."

Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump resumed his attacks Monday on James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and said that Mr. Comey, his former deputy [Andrew McCabe] and others 'committed many crimes!' The president -- in his first Twitter post since the airing of Mr. Comey's first public interview about his months serving in the Trump administration -- again accused Mr. Comey of lying to Congress, but he did not specify which other crimes he believed Mr. Comey and others committed." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Needless to say, it is inappropriate for any president to accuse American citizens of crimes for which they have not been convicted. Trump's remarks can only help McCabe's case against his 11th-hour firing. The "presumption of innocence" is not a specifically-guaranteed Constitutional right, but it is a bedrock of English-American common law, & U.S. courts usually interpret the "due process" clause of the 14th Amendment as an expression of presumption of innocence. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The Trump administration has been throwing every possible charge it can think of at James Comey, in order to scuff up the image of the fired FBI director. This morning, Kellyanne Conway made an accusation that she and her boss might not have thought through: 'This guy swung an election,' Conway told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. 'He thought the wrong person would win.' That is probably true, but also probably not something Conway should admit." Conway later claimed she was being sarcastic, but Chait provides evidence otherwise. ...

... Steve M.: "Even before his interview with George Stephanopoulos aired, the knives were out for James Comey, and not just at the White House or the Republican National Committee. 'James Comey Is No Hero,' wrote Charlie Pierce. 'James Comey Is No Hero,' wrote Adam Serwer. Today, Ryan Cooper writes,'James Comey Is Not a Hero.' I get it.... But I keep thinking about the aphorism made famous by James Carville: When your opponent is drowning, throw the son of a bitch an anvil.... So if Comey is hurling a heavy object into the water, I'm inclined to step back and let him get in a good throw." ...

... Scott LeMieux of LG&$: "The transcript for the opening show of the Most Principled Man in America world tour is up if you're so inclined [linked below]. The constant pivots between discussions of how inappropriate it would be to let politics influence his decisions and his extensive discussions of how politics influenced his decisions is remarkable.... Comey's behavior was an absolutely perfect illustration of why the rules against commenting on ongoing investigations before an election are there in the first place.... Even if you buy the argument that Comey was justified in ignoring the rules in this case, there is no possible justification for selectively informing the public about investigations into the candidates and their campaigns. Which is why history is not going to remember Comey well despite his extensive PR efforts." ...

... This point, which LeMieux highlights, by former U.S. ethics director Walter Shaub is a knockout punch: "Comey had to know Chaffetz would leak the letter on the reopened Clinton investigation. But if Comey had written, 'This is to inform you that the FBI is investigating both major party presidential candidates,' Chaffetz would've dug a 6-foot hole and buried it in the forest," Shaub tweeted. Mrs. McC: Comey didn't know how either the investigations of Trump (dumpster fire) or of Huma Abedin's & hubbie's computers (nothing-burger) would turn out, so there's full equivalency in terms of what was known to him in October 2016. He had, at the least, an obligation to be bipartisan, if he was going to write to Congress at all. ...

... Carlos Lozado's review of Comey's book in the WashPo, which LeMieux also recommends, is here. Mrs. McC: I don't disagree with any of the criticisms, but I'm stick with Steve M. (linked above) on the big picture. I guess I think there are rare times when the means justify the ends, & this would be one of those rare times. ...

... Andy Borowitz (satire): "Melania Trump said on Monday that she did not understand the controversy swirling around James Comey's new memoir, because the book she is writing is 'so much meaner.'"

David Voreacos of Bloomberg: "Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, says he gave legal advice to three clients in the past year, including the president and Elliott Broidy, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Cohen declined to identify the third client in a filing in Manhattan federal court...." (Open link in private/incognito window.) Mrs. McC: So some other Friend of Donald who paid off a Playboy "model"? ...

     ... Holy Update, Batman! And the Mystery Third Client Is Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Sean Hannity! Zachary Fryer-Biggs of Vox: "A federal judge forced ... Michael Cohen to reveal the identity of a secret client. It's Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity. Cohen was trying to protect Hannity's name as part of a lawsuit he filed to prevent the FBI from searching through the documents agents took on April 9 during a raid on Cohen's office and hotel room.... On Monday afternoon, during a hearing, [Judge Kimba] Wood rejected the plea from Cohen's team and demanded to be told who the third client was. '"I understand that he doesn't want his name out there, but that's not enough under the law,' Wood said. After a back and forth in which Cohen's lawyers offered to tell the judge confidentially, they gave in and announced the unnamed client was Hannity."

Oops! Looks as if It Was Macron Who Exaggerated This Time. James McAuley of the Washington Post: "French President Emmanuel Macron attempted Monday to walk back surprising comments that suggested he had convinced President Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria 'long term.' The remarks -- during a TV debate Sunday after Western missile strikes on Syria -- hinted at a major policy shift by Trump and brought a sharp response from the White House less than a week before Macron is scheduled to visit Washington.... 'I did not say that either the U.S. or France will remain militarily engaged in the long term in Syria,' Macron told reporters after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 'We have a military objective in Syria and one only: the war against ISIS,' he added...." Mrs. McC: Macron is meeting with Trump next week at the White House. Watch for Trump to ding him on this.

Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "The hidebound U.S. Senate is expected to soon change its rules for a member who just made history as a new mom. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who this month became the first sitting senator to have a baby while in office, has submitted a resolution that would allow senators to bring a child under one year old onto the Senate floor during votes. Senate leaders appear poised to approve the request, according to Senate sources. The Illinois Democrat has been on a campaign to change the chamber's rules, which prohibit children from the floor, arguing that the archaic ban doesn't support working parents and would make it difficult for he to vote."

*****

Michael Shear & Peter Baker of the New York Times: "While ABC aired one hour of its conversation with [James] Comey, it had conducted a five-hour interview with him, a transcript of which was obtained by The New York Times. In it, Mr. Comey called Mr. Trump a serial liar who treated women like 'meat,' and described him as a 'stain' on everyone who worked for him. He said a salacious allegation that Mr. Trump had cavorted with prostitutes in Moscow had left him vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government. And he asserted that the president was incinerating the country's crucial norms and traditions like a wildfire. He compared the president to a mafia boss." ...

... Michael Shear annotates some excerpts of the interview. ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "Former FBI director James B. Comey said in his first televised interview since being fired that he believed Donald Trump was 'morally unfit to be president' and that it was 'possible' that the Russians had material that could be used to blackmail him. In a wide-ranging conversation with George Stephanopoulos broadcast on ABC late Sunday, Comey took aim at Trump in no uncertain terms, comparing his administration to a mafia family, likening his presidency to a forest fire and asserting there was evidence that he had committed a crime." ...

... Here's a transcript of the full interview that aired, including what did not air, via ABC News. It looks as if you can watch most of the interview, as aired, on this ABC News page. ...

... Margaret Hartmann gets you through the highlights of Comey's views & news. ...

... Sunday Was a Gloomy Day in D.C., & the Twitterbird-in-Chief Was Stuck in the White House. Phil McCausland of NBC News: "... Donald Trump fired off a barrage of angry tweets early Sunday morning, directing much of his ire at the the former head of the FBI, whom he called 'the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!'... Trump's tweets included numerous allegations that are unproven and unverified.... 'I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His "memos" are self serving and FAKE!'... Trump dedicated most of his morning to Comey, whom he called a "Slimeball!" in his first tweet.... 'The big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered, like how come he gave up classified information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give server to the FBI (why didn't they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe's $700,000 & more?' Trump tweeted.... 'Comey throws AG Lynch "under the bus!" Why can't we all find out what happened on the tarmac in the back of the plane with Wild Bill [Clinton] and Lynch'" Trump wrote, referring to a summer 2016 meeting between Lynch and former president Bill Clinton. 'Was she promised a Supreme Court seat, or AG, in order to lay off Hillary. No golf and grandkids talk (give us all a break)!'" Here's Trump's Twitter feed. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Charles Blow seems to have a sensible attitude about the Trump-Comey contretemps: "I see no need to pick sides between Comey and Trump. I dislike the former, but I despise the latter."

Tarini Parti of BuzzFeed: "... Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign has spent about $835,000 in legal fees so far this year, or about 22% of its total spending, according to the latest fundraising reports filed quarterly with the Federal Election Commission. The spending comes as Trump deals with the intensifying special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as an ongoing legal battle with adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford. The campaign's legal consulting spending went to at least eight different firms and the Trump Corporation. The bulk of the spending, about $350,000, went to Jones Day, which has represented the campaign since the 2016 election, including any litigation related to it.... The campaign also spent about $125,000 at Trump businesses, including Trump International Hotel, Trump restaurants, and Trump Tower." ...

     ... Mrs. McC Note to Trumpbots: You're not contributing to re-electing the CREEP, you're contributing to a slush fund for Trump & family's lawyers. Like everything else about Trump, the campaign is a scam. ...

... AND Trump Is Coming for You Trumpbots. Ken Vogel & Rachel Shorey of the New York Times: "President Trump's re-election campaign has ramped up its fund-raising this year, bringing in $20.2 million, while investing heavily in cultivating a wide base of small donors, according to reports filed Sunday afternoon with the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Trump's campaign apparatus spent nearly $8.2 million through the end of last month, with more than 60 percent of that going toward low-dollar fund-raising tools such as solicitations delivered via social media, email, direct mail and telemarketing, the reports show."

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "... Donald Trump is demanding the chance to review his files seized by federal investigators from his longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, to assess which are protected by attorney-client privilege, arguing that DOJ prosecutors cannot fairly make that determination.Trump's demands came in a letter filed late Sunday evening in federal court in Manhattan, where U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has scheduled a hearing Monday to determine who gets to go through the seized records first. Prosecutors have said that a federal grand jury has been investigating Cohen for months. He has not been charged with any crimes.... The U.S. Attorney's Office has asked Wood for permission to begin reviewing the material immediately, noting that the use of taint teams is 'common procedure' in federal investigations. Wood is expected to decide who gets first crack at the documents at a hearing Monday at 2 p.m. ET in federal court in lower Manhattan. Cohen has been ordered to appear in person." ...

... Josh Marshall: "We have new news on that third Michael Cohen husher, the one with Trump fundraiser and RNC deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy and an unnamed former Playboy model. As with the earlier two it was 'negotiated' by Cohen representing Broidy and Keith Davidson representing the unnamed woman. The settlement was for $1.6 million.... If it is true that Davidson and Cohen were operating with coordination and as a team and not zealously representing the interests of their nominal clients, my sense is that this goes beyond violations of professional ethics. It quickly gets you into criminal fraud and even extortion." ...

... The Fixer Is in a Fix. Judd Legum of ThinkProgress: "For years, Cohen has secretly done the dirty work for Donald Trump and his associates under the protective umbrella of 'attorney-client privilege.' This isn't really legal work but pretending it was helped ensure it stayed secret. The gig may be up.... Although Cohen worked pretty much exclusively for Trump, he also appears to serve as a 'fixer' for Trump's friends and family. Cohen, it seems, has a specialty in covering up affairs. It was revealed last week that Cohen recently helped Elliott Broidy, a major Trump fundraiser, negotiate a non-disclosure agreement with a Playboy Playmate he impregnated.... Cohen also successfully killed an Us Weekly story about an alleged affair between Donald Trump Jr. and singer Aubrey O'Day in 2013. (The story was reported after Trump filed for divorce last month.)"

Noel Francisco's Unusual Job Interview. David Savage of the Los Angeles Times: "The Supreme Court is set to hear a seemingly minor case later this month on the status of administrative judges at the Securities and Exchange Commission, an issue that normally might only draw the interest of those accused of stock fraud. But the dispute turns on the president's power to hire and fire officials throughout the government. And it comes just as the White House is saying President Trump believes he has the power to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Trump's Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco intervened in the SEC case to urge the high court to clarify the president's constitutional power to fire all 'officers of the United States' who 'exercise significant authority' under the law.... In addition to representing the administration before the Supreme Court, Francisco, a former law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, could be in line to oversee the Mueller inquiry if Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein is fired.... Peter Shane, a law professor at the Ohio State University, called Francisco's argument a 'radical proposition,' and one that goes beyond what is at issue in the case...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I guess we know now what lawyer Sarah Sanders was talking about last week: "Sanders told reporters April 10 that the White House has backing from members of the legal community, including Justice Department officials, who have 'advised that the president certainly has the power to make that decision [to fire the special counsel].'" I guess we'll find out if the Supremes agree. (Even if they do, however, it seems to me there's a good legal argument to be made that the president can't fire a law enforcement official who is investigating him for criminal activity. This might be one reason the Mueller team let Trump's lawyers know he is the subject of a criminal investigation.) ...

... "Plucking the Chicken One Feather at a Time." digby: "You'd think Donald Trump would force [the conservatives on the Court] all to re-evaluate the idea that it's good to put so much power into the hands of one man but Trump doesn't seem to have changed the conservative movement's ideas much in other ways so I'm not sanguine that they've evolved in this way either. The fact that the man making the argument to the Court is the one in the succession if Trump fires Mueller [Mrs. McC: make that Rosenstein] is just icing on the cake."

Peter Baker: "The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions against Russia on Monday to punish it for enabling the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons in its civil war, the latest in a series of actions by both sides underscoring the deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West. The sanctions, coming shortly after American-led airstrikes against facilities linked to Syria's chemical weapons, are meant to signal that the United States holds responsible not just the government of President Bashar al-Assad but also his patrons in Russia and Iran. President Trump has vowed that Syria's allies will pay a 'big price' for facilitating the suspected use of poison gas. But it remained unclear how far Mr. Trump would go in trying to shape events in Syria, which has been racked by civil war for seven years." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Oh, & read the part where Trump & Co. sucker-punched President Macron of France. When Macron gets his breath back, he might want to share experiences with Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi & 800,000 Dreamers.

... Trump Thinks He Could Charm Putin, but for Mueller. Greg Jaffe, et al., of the Washington Post: "The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The past month, in particular, has marked a major turning point in the administration's stance, according to senior administration officials.... Some close to Trump say the recent measures are the product of an ongoing pressure campaign to push the president to take a more skeptical view of the Russian leader.... Others note Trump's ongoing unease with his own policy. Even as his administration has ratcheted up the pressure on Putin's inner circle, Trump has continued in recent weeks to make overtures to the Russian leader, congratulating him on his election win and, in a move that frustrated his national security team, inviting him to visit the White House.... Privately, he complained to aides that the media's fixation on the Mueller probe was hobbling his effort to woo Putin. 'I can't put on the charm,' the president often said, according to one of his advisers. 'I'm not able to be president because of this witch hunt.'" ...

... ** Fellow-Travelers Host Fox "News." Caroline Orr of Shareblue: "The Russian propaganda machine is hard at work in the aftermath of the airstrikes on Syria, pushing disinformation about the chemical attacks and accusing the U.S. of wanting to start another world war.... But Russia isn't acting alone. While the disinformation campaign surrounding Syria is a Kremlin-led effort, Trump allies have played a major role in the success of the campaign by bringing Russia's propaganda to an American audience. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, Trump's right-wing media allies and fervent supporters are helping Russia spread lies.... While much of the disinformation was pushed by fringe media outlets like Infowars, the propaganda campaign also made its way onto mainstream outlets." Orr cites both Steve Doocy of "Fox & Friends" & primetime host Tucker Carlson for spreading Russian propaganda. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Commie fighter Joe McCarthy's political party & Joe's sidekick Roy Cohn's acolyte Donald Trump are in bed with Russia & its satellite nations. There is not a left-right political spectrum unless you limit the scope of politics to moderates. Rather, political ideology is a circle, with extremists from left & right closing the circle.

The Bureau of Land Management's new "vision" cards.

... To the Victors Belong the Heretofore Unspoiled. Carolyn Kormann of the New Yorker: "The vision cards, it appears, were meant to remind B.L.M. employees that their main responsibility is not to keep the prized ship afloat but to plunder it for all the fossil fuels, ore, and grazing rights it's worth.... In some B.L.M. field offices, posters depicting conservation landmarks, such as a federally protected red-rock canyon, have been swapped out for ones showing a towering black coal bed and a yellow haul truck. One Interior Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, said that the agency had discontinued its program of making conservation posters publicly available. The new ones are strictly internal -- 'for employee morale,' the source said, with evident irony.... So far, [Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke] and Trump have eliminated two million acres from the nation's protected areas, and offered another 11.6 million acres of largely wild public lands to oil-and-gas prospectors. (Zinke also proposed raising entrance fees at some national parks by forty dollars or more, arguing that too many people -- 'elderly, fourth-graders, veterans, disabled' -- get in at a discount or for free.... At the same time, Zinke has revamped the B.L.M.'s oil-and-gas leasing process to make it more industry-friendly.... Trump and Zinke are using 'energy independence and economic growth' to justify the sale of lands that are unlikely to provide either." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So upsetting that veterans might get a free pass to the lands they think they put their lives on the line to defend or that children might get to see what this country looked like before we brave settlers got our hands on it.

Peter Baker: "Barbara Bush, the wife and mother of presidents who has long been among the most popular members of her famous family, has decided to stop seeking medical treatment to prolong her life as she faces a variety of ailments, people close to the family said on Sunday. Mrs. Bush, who is 92 and frail, has been in and out of the hospital but has now forsworn further interventions and 'will instead focus on comfort care,' according to a statement issued by her husband's office in Houston." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head. We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there. -- Former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), in an interview with Bloomberg News, April 11, 2018

Very few people end up in prison for marijuana possession, and those who do are probably there for another complicating factor. Boehner says he doesn't personally indulge, inhaling only Camel cigarettes. But either way, he's blowing smoke here. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Congressional Races

Michael Scherer of the Washington Post: "In intraparty fights across the country, fealty to Trump has become the coin of the realm. [Senatorial] candidates who once distanced themselves from him now declare themselves acolytes, attack rivals for any deviation from the Trumpian script and, in one case, even don his cherry-red campaign cap in ads.... At the root of the fawning rapprochements are two defining features of the Senate landscape: Trump enjoys enormous popularity among Republican primary voters, and most of the contested races are in states Trump won in 2016.... But in most of the competitive House races, Republican candidates have been taking the opposite approach of their peers who are running for the Senate -- carefully distancing themselves from Trump and trying to establish their own brand."

Dan Balz & Scott Clement of the Washington Post: "Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victories in November. The poll finds that the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates dropped by more than half since the beginning of the year. At the same time, there has been a slight increase in President Trump's approval rating, although it remains low. Measures of partisan enthusiasm paint a more mixed picture of the electorate in comparison to signs of Democratic intensity displayed in many recent special elections."

Beyond the Beltway

I apologize for those who were hurt by the things that were said. -- Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who is sorry for all the people (including the state's Republican-controlled House, which condemned his remarks) who didn't "fully appreciate" what he "was communicating" about teachers abandoning the kids to depraved, abusive parents & caregivers

So he's apologizing for people who didn't get what was said (by some unnamed person). He's not apologizing to them for what he said. What??? How come Bevin got passed over as Trump's veep pick? He's perfect. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

News Ledes

Boston.com: "In the first win for an American woman in 33 years, Desiree Linden of Washington, Mich., won the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:33:41 Monday. With conditions soggy and cold, it was never going to be easy, and Linden made her push on Heartbreak Hill, often described as the hardest point of the course." The boston.com site (free) currently has more stories related to the marathon on its front page. See also Akhilleus' comment below.

New York Times: "Seven inmates were killed and 17 others were injured in a large riot that broke out Sunday night at a maximum-security prison in South Carolina, the authorities said. The fights started around 7:15 p.m. in three housing units at Lee Correctional Institution, which houses some of the state's most violent and longest-serving offenders. Officers were unable to stop the fighting and secure the prison until around 2:55 a.m. on Monday. The state's Corrections Department described the fights as 'multiple inmate-on-inmate altercations.' No police officers or prison employees were injured, the department said."

Reader Comments (19)

Let's get the terminology strait. It's not a 'witch hunt'. It's a warlock hunt. Why? Not because it's men, not women. Wiki def.

A warlock is a male practitioner of evil magic (distinguished from a wizard or sorcerer, whose magic may be benign). The most commonly accepted etymology derives warlock from the Old English wǣrloga meaning "oathbreaker" or "deceiver".

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The Comey interviews/book excerpts are startling in their frank revelations about Trump. Not that we are surprised or not in full agreement but that its Comey who is describing the president* this way. I did find it interesting that Comey doesn't think Trump is loopy, but says he's immoral–-Mob boss persona––sounds right to me!

Several ex FBI guys that actually worked with Comey said that yes, his ego was sometimes a problem but Comey, they said, was the most honest of men–-he considered lying anathema; no wonder he finds Trump's lying so egregious.

And last night MSNBC featured Mueller on their special "Headliners" series; this man walks on water and is one of the hardest task masters––those that worked under him learned you better deliver or you were dismissed––"We became better people under him–-he expected the best and we worked our best to deliver."

Let's hope that kind of delivery comes soon.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Yeah, Bevin would have been a perfect veep pick. He's not responsible for anything, even for the words that came out of his mouth. Any misunderstanding is the listeners' faults.

He is a perfect Republican, and I would take it a step further: A perfect capitalist.

You know, someone who controls all the mechanisms of wealth distribution, the discovery, creation and production and availability of all of society's resources and and yet blames poor people for being poor.

These people are stupid because they have to be--or they'd be someone else. Someone nicer, for starts.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Surprise! An EPA internal investigation says those raises to pals of Scott Pruitt were given out by his chief of staff, Ryan Jackson.

What the report doesn't affirm is that Pruitt had no knowledge of the raises, as he maintains.

I know of no other place where raises are approved by an underling without a sign off from the boss. I worked in a burger joint when I was 15 and the assistant manager, who was far more competent and knowledgeable than the manager, was not allowed to approve raises of 10 cents an hour.

But as I've stated before, very few of Trump's Best People are competent and knowledgeable. Most of them playact their jobs. But here's the thing. If Jackson is handing out raises without the boss's oversight, then he is the person running things at the EPA, not Pruitt, who spends most of his time in his "cone of silence" private office, or in five star hotels on the taxpayers' dime.

If he doesn't know about things like big raises for his staff, he should. This still doesn't mean that he didn't approve the raises and is now letting Jackson take the heat. He looks like a moron, but apparently Trumpies don't mind that. It's entirely possible that he is behind the whole thing but is too much of a coward to say so (either that or Trump has fudged this clusterfuck in order to keep yet another blot off Pruitt's ledger).

Any way you look at it, it's a half-ass operation "run" by an self-serving con man who believes his priority is to make sure he and his industry buddies are taken care of over and above any responsibilities he might have to the mission of the EPA. A microcosm of Trump World.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Thinking about Comey and how we build ourselves one brick (or brick shithouse) at a time.

Don't know how often Comey thought of himself as incorruptibly upright before he refused to declare Ashcroft incompetent and over rule his whispered "No," when slime ball Gonzalez (and ? ) bearded Ashcroft in his hospital bed, but once that scene became public and was played over and over again on our screens and airwaves and in Mr. Comey's mind, the social pressure to play the role of public conscience for the nation must have become insurmountable.

I attribute his fumbling of the Clinton server investigation to a twin desire to take some more turns in the public eye and to appear gravely and studiously impartial while doing so. It was a bad combination.

I have no problem with the impartial part. It was the desire to stay on center stage that tripped him up, and the signs are he has not yet put all that behind him.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Polls suggesting that this lead (whatever it might be) for Democrats going into the midterm elections is narrowing.

Well, shit. Okay. This is still a poll and polls can be tricky, especially this far out, but what concerns me is that there still doesn't seem to be a lot of coordinated activity by the DNC. I know they talk a good game about being competitive across the board and in all states and districts, which sounds great, but I still don't feel all warm and fuzzy about it.

The problem with these sorts of situations is that, to hear so far out about a "blue wave" engulfing the country is worrying. Voters are fickle, even those who claim, now, that they're tired of Trump. By election day, they may be tired of hearing about this blue wave and say "fuck it" and pull the lever for the Party of Traitors again.

I dunno. I do know that elections are like NHL playoffs. You don't want to peak too early. The team that wins is not always the best on the ice. It's the team whose goalie gets hot at the right time and whose lines get, or maintain, the scoring touch.

And not for nothin' but reading that Joltin' Joe Biden is the front runner for the 2020 presidential race doesn't make me feel a whole lot better. I know it's early, but Fuckface is hauling in piles of filthy lucre (and I do mean filthy) and we still have no idea which of the dozen or so potential candidates might be serious enough to start raising the kind of money needed to beat him.

Maybe this is all no big deal, if not, I'll chalk it up to a cold, dreary Monday.

I had a coach who used to say "When you got 'em down, keep your foot on their throats". If this blue wave is just a media invention, and Democrats let up a tiny bit, the Party of Traitors' money and media machine will kick into high gear, their media shills will scream and yell, and we could have another Confederate congress ready to rubber stamp whatever Fucknuts wants.

Signed,

Malcontented on Monday

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

And apropos of my old coach's sentiment of what to do when you got your opponent on the ropes, here's James Carville (from a story linked above) with a handy reminder to left leaning pundits who are now helping Trump punch out Jim Comey, courtesy of Steve M.: "When your opponent is drowning, throw the son of a bitch an anvil."

Fuckin'-A right, Steve.

You can all do the "Comey is an Asshole" tango after Trump is gone. For now, just shut up about it and let him bang away at the Orange Piñata.

Just my opinion. If the house is on fire, let's not waste time debating who piled up all that shit against the back door.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@AK: You are absolutely right! If only Comey had shut up pre-election, but that said...I am extremely annoyed by the various media articles that are now giving Trump unnecessary ammunition going forward.

He doesn't need their 'help.' Seems everyone has to offer up their opinions from Margaret Sullivan to Jennifer Rubin to Greg Sargent to Charles Pierce as to how Trump might/can work Comey's 'bad' act to his advantage.

Let's just get the Orange One out of office!

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

While waiting the judge's decision on Cohen's archives, finished a book have long had on my shelf, "The Undivided Past," by David Cannadine. It convincingly argues that all the ways we divide ourselves, by religion, nation, class, gender, and race are mostly bogus, and an examination of how people have lived and live today, proves it.

Of course such categories play a part in the way we think and behave, but Cannadine shows how those parts have changed over time, have interacted with one another in different ways and are always leavened by other, usually more immediate, considerations.

The book was published post Bush II but pre-Pretender, so I found the chapters on religion and nations particularly relevant (migration patterns are only one of the elements attacking established notions of national borders--but we here at RC knew that).

Would recommend it as a well-written, thoughtful antidote to the common "us v. them" tropes, and when I'm king will require all Faux News hosts to read it cover to cover.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Ken,

When you're king, I'm hoping you'll hand all Faux News hosts a mop and a broom and tell them not to miss any spots.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

So....Putin is let off the hook but let's continue to attack a former FBI chief and the Justice Department. Sounds about right for the leader of the Party of Traitors.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Hannity quote spotted over on msnbc.com: "I never paid legal fees to Michael," Hannity said, before adding, "We definitely had attorney client privilege because I asked him for that but, you know, he never sent me a bill or an invoice or did I actually officially retain him."

Wow! Whadda nice guy that Atty Michael Cohen is? He doesn't send bills! He pay 'models' and porn stars out of the goodness of his heart. Takes out a personal home equity loan to help a client in need and never told hime????

Geez! such a sweet lawyer? or putz! You decide.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

The revelation of the day: 'Trump lawyer Cohen did secret legal work for Sean Hannity'. Anyone shocked? surprised? Not me.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Oh-HO!

Guess who else Michael Cohen, Trump's mob lawyer represents?

I'll give you a hint.

He works at Fox, he's a sack of shit, and he loves him some Trumpkin.

Give up? (I know, it could be about forty different guys).

SEAN HANNITY! Oopsie!

Gee...wonder why Hannity's been so riled up about the raid on Cohen's office. I guess now we know. Of course he's screaming that it just ain't so. Well...Cohen might have, ya know, given him some, um, well, legal "advice", but it's not like he's a client or anything.

These people are such sad liars. Cohen and his lawyer go before a judge who ordered them to name names and out pops "Hannity" but ol' Sean sez everyone's lying but him.

Fucker. Wonder what kind of nasty mess Cohen hid for him? Maybe he's got a loofah or two in his own closet.

Jesus. It's a volcanic eruption of assholes, all spewing out into the sky above us.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Hannity's lying as fast as he can make shit up.

First he says he had some "legal questions" for Cohen, but was never a client. Then, when he realized that sounded suspicious, he came up with "well, the legal advice" he was seeking was "almost exclusively about real estate." Hey Sean, "almost" isn't the same as "all". Then he says he never paid him any money. Later he said that he might have given him "ten bucks or so". And the ten bucks was for, what? Attorney-client privilege. Gee...guess that makes him a client.

And why, if these questions were all above board and completely innocent, would Cohen and his lawyer declare that revealing Hannity's name was "likely to be embarrassing or detrimental" to him? If he was asking about some lease agreement or a curb cut or some anodyne real estate inquiry, or a zoning petition, why not just say so? Confederates are big ones for always shouting at liberals who maintain the importance of privacy, that "if you have nothing to hide, then what's the problem?"

First, I'm betting a kid just out of law school knows more about real estate law than Cohen. Cohen is a fixer, not the guy you call to make sure your mortgage agreement with the bank is all hunky-dory.

Hannity wanted something hidden, so he went to Trump's dirty-work specialist.

Hannity is learning, as so many have learned, that you hook your wagon to Trump, he will fuck you up. Everyone connected to this guy gets it right in the neck. He's the fucking kiss of death. As long as the Donald is okay, to hell with everyone else.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

How It's Done

Unlike Trump and his moochers, his family, hangers-on, and cabinet crooks, there are plenty of Americans who are not all about what's in it for them.

Big round of applause for Michigan runner Desiree Linden who won the Boston today, first American woman in decades to do so. Linden outpaced runners who were expected to front the pack, but even more amazingly, she stopped and waited as fellow American runner Shalene Flanagan exited the race briefly for a pit stop. Not wanting to leave Flanagan behind, Linden waited for her then caught up with the leaders and passed everyone to win. Her thinking, apparently, was that if she wasn't going to win it, maybe another American runner would.

The kind of thing that makes me proud to be, well, a human being.

Can you imagine Trump ever waiting to help someone out? Putting his potential victory in jeopardy to help a fellow traveler in life?

We see the answer to that question every single hour of every single day of this debacle of a presidency.

But for now, Go Des Linden! Way to go!

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Surpise: Pruitt no long Scotty on the Spot.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/16/601867839/epa-takes-toxic-site-flooded-by-harvey-off-special-cleanup-list

But I have an idea.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/russia-accused-of-tampering-with-the-site-of-alleged-syrian-chemical-attack

Maybe Putin could send a team to clean it up.

We are all about U.S.--Russian cooperation these days, aren't we?

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

And the wait is over. The Pretender doesn't get firstsies!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/nyregion/michael-cohen-court-hearing.html?

And it's stopped raining. Now I'll go for my bike ride.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@AK: Just sent your comments to my friend in Texas who is a marathon runner; I know he'll appreciate your thoughts.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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