The Wires

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

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

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

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

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

Guardian: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have introduced their newborn son to the world and revealed he is to be called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The name was announced shortly after the Queen met her eighth great-grandchild for the first time at Windsor Castle, where earlier the couple showed him off to the cameras."

Guardian: “The Duchess of Sussex has given birth to a baby son, weighing 7lbs 3oz. Mother and child were both doing well, Buckingham Palace announced. The Duke of Sussex was present for the birth, which happened at 5.26am on Monday. The child is seventh in line to the throne, and an eighth great-grandchild for the 93-year-old Queen.”

Washington Post: "Cheap Chinese caviar is flooding the U.S. market, causing prices to plummet, and with it, the product’s cachet. Wholesale prices have fallen more than 50 percent since 2012, down 13 percent just in the past year. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the import price has gone from $850,000 per ton in January 2012 to $350,000 per ton in November 2018." Mrs. McC: This makes me very happy. I love caviar (I've only had the cheaper kind), but I seldom buy it because of the expense. I have some in the pantry now, but I'm going to check the price at the grocery store now in hopes it's something I can enjoy more often. Status symbol? I couldn't care less.

New York Times: "Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday [April 15] to news organizations that uncovered instances of malfeasance and outright fraud in President Trump’s financial past, a nod to journalists’ perseverance in the face of the president’s ever-sharper attacks on a free press. The New York Times received the explanatory reporting prize for an 18-month investigation that revealed how the future president and his relatives avoided paying roughly half a billion dollars’ worth of taxes. The Wall Street Journal won the national reporting prize for disclosing clandestine payoffs by the president’s associates to two women who were said to have had affairs with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election. The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, for documenting the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The paper’s in-depth articles revealed a series of failures by local officials and law enforcement that, the paper wrote, cost children their lives."

Medlar's Sports Report. New York Times: "Tiger Woods’s comeback from personal and professional adversity is complete: He captured his fifth Masters title and his 15th major tournament on Sunday, snapping a championship drought of nearly 11 years. It was a monumental triumph for Woods, a magical, come-from-behind win for a player who had not won a major championship since his personal life began to unravel on Thanksgiving night in 2009, when a marital dispute led to a car accident and a succession of lurid tabloid headlines. On the golf course, he had a series of back and leg injuries that led to an addiction to painkillers and culminated in pain so searing that, before surgery in 2017, he had questioned whether he could play professionally again." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Oh yeah? Trump can beat Tiger any day.

Tom Jones of Poynter picks the top 25 movies ever about journalism.

New York Times: "For 340 days, Scott Kelly circled the Earth aboard the International Space Station, gathering data about himself." His twin brother Mark Kelly, planted on Earth, did the same. "On Thursday..., NASA researchers reported that [Scott Kelly's] body experienced a vast number of changes while in orbit. DNA mutated in some of his cells. His immune system produced a host of new signals. His microbiome gained new species of bacteria. Many of these biological changes seemed harmless, disappearing after he returned to Earth. But others — including genetic mutations and, after his return, declines in cognitive test scores — did not correct themselves, provoking concern among scientists."

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times: now does his first drafts of columns as well as other traditional writing tasks by speaking into his phone. "I open RecUp, a cloud-connected voice-recording app on my phone.... Every few days, I load the recordings into Descript, an app that bills itself as a “word processor for audio.” Some of my voice memos are more than an hour long, but Descript quickly (and cheaply) transcribes the text, truncates the silences and renders my speech editable and searchable.... New advances — like smarter and more ubiquitous voice assistants; better text-to-speech synthesis; easy-to-use audio and video production apps like Descript and Anchor; and gadgets that burrow the internet into your ears, like Apple’s AirPods and Amazon’s reported forthcoming AirPod clones — point to a profound shift in computing. Soon it might be possible to conduct a large slice of digital life, including work, without being glued to a screen."

New York Times: "In a cave in the Philippines, scientists have discovered a new branch of the human family tree. At least 50,000 years ago, an extinct human species lived on what is now the island of Luzon, researchers reported on Wednesday. It’s possible that Homo luzonensis, as they’re calling the species, stood less than three feet tall. The discovery adds growing complexity to the story of human evolution. It was not a simple march forward, as it once seemed. Instead, our lineage assumed an exuberant burst of strange forms along the way.Our species, Homo sapiens, now inhabits a comparatively lonely world. 'The more fossils that people pull out of the ground, the more we realize that the variation that was present in the past far exceeds what we see in us today,' said Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist at Lakehead University in Canada, who was not involved in the new discovery."

Sunday
Apr212019

The Commentariat -- April 22, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a set of high-profile cases involving gay rights and the rights of transgender people in the workplace. The justices announced Monday that they will consider whether existing federal law banning employment-related sex discrimination also prohibits discriminating against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or because they are transgender.... The cases are expected to be argued in the fall."

Katie Galiato of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Monday insisted that 'nobody disobeys my orders,' apparently disputing the assertion from special counsel Robert Mueller's report that that his former White House counsel twice refused to follow through on the president's order to dismiss Mueller. Trump issued the declaration ... during a brief exchange with reporters a Monday's White House Easter egg roll. It was the first time the president has answered reporters' questions since Mueller released his report ... last week." Mrs. McC: "Nobody disobeys my orders" is the best authoritarian statement coming out of the White House since then Secretary of State Al Haig, following the shooting of Ronald Reagan, declared "I am in control here." Congratulations, Donald. And BTW, you were both lying.

Chuck Todd, et al., of NBC News: "The Mueller report makes a damning case about Trump's dishonesty: One of the unmistakable takeaways after reading the Mueller report is how the president of the United States wasn't honest with the American public when it came to Russia and the entire Russia probe. During the 2016 campaign and afterward, Trump raised doubts that Russia really interfered in the election.... Trump denied that Putin and Russia wanted him to win.... Trump said he had no business ties with Russia.... Trump and his team said former FBI Director James Comey was fired because of his handling of the Clinton email investigation.... And Trump wasn't forthcoming -- especially early on -- about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians."

Politico: "... Donald Trump said Monday that he would not nominate Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve.... Senate Republicans had warned the White House against naming the businessman and 2012 presidential hopeful to serve on the body's board of governors. 'My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board,' Trump tweeted. 'I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!'" ...

... Andrew Kaczynski & Paul LeBlanc of CNN: "One of ... Donald Trump's picks to serve on the Federal Reserve Board has written that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing or beer vending at men's college basketball games, asking if there was any area in life 'where men can take vacation from women.' Stephen Moore ... made those and similar comments in several columns reviewed by CNN's KFile that were published on the website of the conservative National Review magazine in 2001, twice in 2002 and 2003. In a 2000 column, Moore complained about his wife voting for Democrats, writing, 'Women are sooo malleable! No wonder there's a gender gap.' In another column in 2000, Moore criticized female athletes advocating for pay equality, writing that they wanted 'equal pay for inferior work.'... Moore told CNN's KFile in an email, 'This was a spoof. I have a sense of humor.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: There's no indication in Moore's writings from the early 2000s that these were jokes or "spoofs." He later defended some of his written remarks by making more super-sexist comments.

Special Shoutout to confederate opinionator Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner, who writes, "In the escalating battle of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to see who can offer the most free stuff, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has taken the extraordinary step of calling for having the government forgive student loan debt. This pander ... will be a slap in the face to those who have already struggled to pay off their student loans without government assistance." That's similar to saying that the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery was "a slap in the face to those who" escaped slavery by some other means or were born subsequent to passage of the Amendment. A big reason people are "conservative" is they just can't stand the idea of other people getting breaks they didn't get.

Rebecca Shabad of NBC News: "Lawyers for ... Donald Trump and the Trump Organization are suing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to block a subpoena for years of financial records from accounting firm Mazars USA.... Earlier this month, Cummings, D-Md., issued the subpoena to Mazars regarding Trump's finances to corroborate the testimony of his former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, in February."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If House Democrats ever get the guts to get off the dime, we are facing the rare prospect of the best of all possible worlds vis-a-vis Trump's comeuppance. Here's what I have in mind. (1) The House impeaches Trump. (2) The Senate fails to convict him. This is essential, because it keeps pence out of the presidency & therefore unable to pardon Trump. (3) A Democrats wins the presidency next year. (4) A prosecutor brings criminal charges against Trump on January 21, 2021. (5) A jury convicts Trump & a judge sentences him to prison. It's true Trump would probably try to pardon himself, so that would give us a 2a -- Trump pardons himself -- and a 2b -- the Supremes laugh his self-pardon out of court.

Giuliani for the Defense. Tim O'Donnell of the Week: "President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani made the talk show rounds on Sunday to defend his client.... Giuliani told [Jake] Tapper on CNN's State of the Union that 'there's nothing wrong with taking information from the Russians,' saying that campaigns get information on their opponents from so many different sources. On NBC's Meet the Press, Giuliani told [Chuck] Todd that using material stolen by foreign adversaries in a campaign isn't fundamentally a problem -- it just depends on the material itself.... Giuliani -- who said that much of the Mueller report is questionable -- argued that it's 'hard to believe' Russian interference did much to sway the 2016 election.... Giuliani told [Chris] Wallace [of Fox 'News"] that even if Trump had fired the special counsel, it would not have been obstruction. Giuliani's point was that Trump had good reason to replace Mueller because he hired 'very, very questionable' people to investigate Trump." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So it looks as if Trump is planning to get Vlad to do his hacking again next year. Once again, Giuliani slides easily from ethical relatavism into flat-out unethical assertions. Note to Democratic candidates: tell all your staff to write zillions of e-mails trashing Trump & nothing that even hints of a complaint about your candidate or other staff members. ...

The idea that it is okay -- separate and apart from it being a criminal offense -- that we should be telling future candidates in the run-up to an election in 2020 that if an adversary, a foreign adversary, is offering information against a political opponent, that it's okay and right and proper and American and patriotic, it seems he's saying, to take that information and that's okay -- that's an extraordinary statement and I would hope he would retract it. -- Preet Bharara, on "State of the Union," reacting to Giuliani's assertions that it's okay for campaigns to use stolen material from hostile foreign governments

... Ben Kamisar of NBC News: "Rudy Giuliani ... suggested Sunday that the American people had a 'right to know' about the private Democratic emails released during a state-sponsored hack by the Russian government aimed at bolstering Trump's 2016 election." Mrs. McC: Okay, Rudy, open up all the Trump campaign's & the RNC's e-mail accounts. The American people have a right to know. ...

... Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: "Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted Trump attorney ... Rudy Giuliani over Donald Trump's claim of 'no obstruction' following the release of the Mueller report, flatly declaring 'That's not true!'... 'They're having a good day, I'm having a good day too,' Trump said during an event to honor wounded warriors, to laughter from some in the crowd. 'It was called no collusion, no obstruction.' 'But Mayor, that's not true!' Wallace told Giuliani following the clip. 'The Mueller report makes clear, especially on the issue of collusion -- obstruction, rather, that he's leaving it to Congress.' 'I agree with that,' Giuliani said, as Wallace cited portions of the report that indicated this. That's a key admission, and contradicts what ... William Barr said both in his four-page memo, and his pre-release press conference.... Wallace confronted Giuliani on several other aspects of the Mueller report, including the 37 times Trump said he couldn't recall something in his written responses to Mueller, and Trump's attempts to get Mueller fired, and Giuliani largely responded by going into lengthy digressions that ran the clock out on the interview."

Emily Cochrane & Katie Edmondson of the New York Times: "Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said on 'Meet the Press,'... [that] some of the president's actions detailed in the Mueller report, if proved, might warrant impeachment. But asked about beginning an impeachment inquiry, he said that 'we may get to that, we may not,' adding that his committee's task at hand was 'to go through all the evidence, all the information and to go where the evidence leads us.' Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, conceded on 'Face The Nation' that Democrats must be 'very careful' in weighing whether to begin impeachment proceedings.... Even if the House voted to impeach Mr. Trump but the Senate failed to remove him, Mr. Cummings said, 'I think history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution.' With representatives back home in their districts on a recess, House Democrats will convene on Monday on a caucus conference call in the hopes of getting on the same page. [In one of many similar Easter messages, Trump tweeted,] 'How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats?' he tweeted on Sunday evening. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!'"

Nadler Says Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse. Michael Burke of the Hill: "Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that he doesn't understand why special counsel Robert Mueller didn't charge Donald Trump Jr. and others involved in the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with criminal conspiracy. Nadler, appearing on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' noted that Mueller said he didn't bring charges against those in the meeting because he couldn't prove they willfully intended to commit a crime. 'Well, you don't have to prove that,' Nadler continued. 'All you have to prove for conspiracy is that they entered into a meeting of the minds to do something wrong and had one overt act. They entered into a meeting of the minds to attend a meeting to get stolen material on Hillary. They went to the meeting. That's conspiracy right there.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Not only that, Junior later agreed to cover up the purpose of the meeting, although according to the Mueller report, his first instinct was to come clean. People get convicted of crimes & misdemeanors all the time, whether or not they know they've committed a crime. Tail-light out? "Sorry, officer, I didn't know." "Okay, buddy, here's your $100 ticket. Hope it doesn't raise your insurance premiums too much."

Matt Ford of the New Republic (April 19): "One can't help but notice that all of the people listed by Mueller [as failing to following Trump's direction to end or obstruct the Russia investigation] no longer directly work for him. Would their replacements also be willing to stand up to the president?... The question is no less urgent now that the Russia investigation is over. Other inquiries are still active that could draw the president's ire. Foremost among them is the Southern District of New York's ongoing investigation into the Trump Organization.... Over time..., staffers [who defied Trump's worst impulses] have left Trump's orbit after losing his favor.... Trump's experiences with the Russia investigation don't seem to have deterred him from trying to interfere in the Justice Department's affairs. In February, the Times reported that Trump called acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker last fall to ask if he could place Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, back in charge of the Trump Organization investigation. Berman had already recused himself from the case, and Whitaker apparently did not follow through on the president's thinly veiled request. The Times noted that Trump 'soured' on Whitaker soon thereafter. Trump also now has an attorney general who may be more amenable to his meddling: Bill Barr...."

Peter Baker & Annie Karni of the New York Times: "As the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, made clear last week, Mr. Trump has an allergy to written records of meetings and conversations, some of which have now come back to haunt him. Time and again, Mr. Trump's advisers took notes of their interactions with the president or drafted memos immediately afterward to maintain real-time records, in some cases simply to have an accurate understanding to do their jobs better, but in other cases for self-preservation. While aides in past administrations recognized that notes could become public and shied away from recording sensitive information in writing to protect the president, many of Mr. Trump's aides took pen to paper to protect themselves from the president." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Here again, Trump brought on this problem himself because all his aides realized he was a nasty, vindictive liar who would throw anyone under the bus & they needed to protect themselves from self-serving lies he might later tell about their conversations.

Another Notetaker. Deb Riechmann & Susannah George of the AP: "Two months before special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in the spring of 2017..., Donald Trump ... called the head of the largest U.S. intelligence agency. Trump told Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, that news stories alleging that Trump's 2016 White House campaign had ties to Russia were false and the president asked whether Rogers could do anything to counter them. Rogers and his deputy Richard Ledgett, who was present for the call, were taken aback. Afterward, Ledgett wrote a memo about the conversation and Trump's request. He and Rogers signed it and stashed it in a safe.... The call to Rogers and others like it were uncovered by Mueller as he investigated possible obstruction.... On March 22, 2017, Trump asked then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats to stay behind after a meetin at the White House to ask if the men could 'say publicly that no link existed between him and Russia,' the report said. In two other instances, the president began meetings to discuss sensitive intelligence matters by stating he hoped a media statement could be issued saying there was no collusion with Russia."

... Ben Protess, et al., of the New York Times: "... as [Michael] Cohen prepares to head to prison in two weeks, dozens of previously unreported emails, text messages and other confidential documents reviewed by The New York Times suggest that his falling out with Mr. Trump may have been avoidable.... Mr. Cohen held out hope for a different outcome until the very end, when he pleaded guilty and confessed to paying the illegal hush money to avert a potential sex scandal during the presidential campaign. Just hours earlier, wracked with indecision, he was still seeking guidance, looking, as one informal adviser put it, 'for another way out.'... Looming large [in the break-up] were Mr. Giuliani's and Mr. Trump's failures to understand the threat that Mr. Cohen posed, and their inability -- or unwillingness -- to put his financial and emotional insecurities to rest."

Fox Moscow. Lachlan Markay of the Daily Beast: "Russian state media is ... trumpeting the reaction of U.S. conservatives to the [Mueller] report.... And it's using at least one prominent American conservative voice to do so. The Russian government-owned Rossiya 1 news channel recently broadcasted excerpts from Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity's on-air monologue, which hammered 'media hysteria' over the report and allegations of campaign 'collusion' with the Russian government. In its own editorializing, Rossiya 1 described the report as 'bestseller about the absence of collusion between Trump and Russia,' and blamed the political press and U.S. intelligence agencies for 'hounding Trump' over the allegations, according to a translation by journalist and Daily Beast contributor Julia Davis."


Edward Wong & Clifford Krauss
of the New York Times: "The Trump administration is poised to end a program that has allowed five large nations, including China and India, to buy Iranian oil despite American sanctions, two senior American officials said on Sunday, a decision that is intended to squeeze Tehran's government but could lead to higher oil and gasoline prices. The move to choke off all exports of Iranian oil is part of an increasingly aggressive pressure campaign by the Trump administration to starve Iran of revenue with the goals of forcing political change among its ruling clerics and getting it to rein in its military actions across the Middle East. But the decision also risks increasing frictions with other nations, including some major American allies, and hindering other policy priorities, particularly trade talks with China and cooperation from Beijing on containing North Korea." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yes, but I'm sure the Trumpies have thought through the consequences, because they always do. ...

... Another Stupid Trump Trick. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on imported washing machines has ... raised prices on washing machines, as expected, but also drove up the cost of clothes dryers, which rose by $92 last year.... Research to be released on Monday by the economists Aaron Flaaen, of the Fed, and Ali Hortacsu and Felix Tintelnot, of Chicago, estimates that consumers bore between 125 percent and 225 percent of the costs of the washing machine tariffs.... And while the tariffs did encourage foreign companies to shift more of their manufacturing to the United States and created about 1,800 new jobs, the researchers conclude that those came at a steep cost: about $817,000 per job.... The president, who has also imposed tariffs on imported steel, aluminum, solar panels and a wide variety of products from China, has repeatedly -- and falsely -- asserted that America's trading partners foot the bill." Besides drastically raising the costs of washers & dryers, the tariffs also boosted corporate profits.

All the Best People, Ctd. Annie Snider of Politico: "Interior Secretary David Bernhardt began working on policies that would aid one of his former lobbying clients within weeks of joining the Trump administration, according to a Politico analysis of agency documents -- a revelation that adds to the ethics questions dogging his leadership of the agency. Bernhardt's efforts, beginning in at least October 2017, included shaping the department's response to a key portion of a water infrastructure law he had helped pass as a lobbyist for California farmers, recently released calendars show. The department offered scant details at the time about meetings that Bernhardt, then the deputy secretary, held with Interior officials overseeing water deliveries to the farmers, leading many observers to believe he was steering clear of the issues he had previously lobbied on.... Bernhardt's ethics agreement barred him from participating in any 'particular matters' involving Westlands [-- a water district for which he had lobbied --] until August 2018, one year after he arrived at the agency.... But the newly released information shows that Bernhardt had weighed in on discussions around Westlands' policy priorities for nearly a year by that point." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Presidential Race 2020

Cheyenne Haslett & Jeffrey Cook of< ABC News: "Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts announced he's mounting a bid for president in 2020, expanding the Democratic field to 19 candidates.... Moulton, a former Marine who served in Iraq and an outspoken critic of his own party, was elected to the House in 2013 and has served three terms.... Asked how he will set himself apart, Moutlon said his campaign would focus on service, security and patriotism -- points where Trump is weakest."


Avenatti Stiffs a Barista. Big Time. Daniel Politi
of Slate: "When Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside wired $2.75 million to celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti in January 2017 it was supposed to cover most of the settlement to prevent a potential lawsuit that had been threatened by his former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner. In the end, most of the cash -- $2.5 million -- went to help Avenatti buy a share of a private jet, according to the Los Angeles Times. Gardner, an actress and barista, had hired Avenatti to help her reach a settlement with Whiteside and the two quickly came to agree on a $3 million deal. That January 2017 transfer was supposed to be the first payment. Avenatti was entitled to take a little more than $1 million in legal fees, but he did not tell Gardner about the cash. Instead, he told her client she would receive 96 monthly payments over the following eight years. Avenatti then allegedly proceeded to make 11 payments to Gardner, totaling around $194,000 before those stopped and he began claiming that Whiteside was not coming through on his end of the deal." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Too bad Avenatti isn't still running for president. This should really help with the women's vote. Avenatti always seemed like an ambulance chaser. Now he won't be able to do even that because he'll almost certainly lose his law license(s). What a lowdown creep.

Beyond the Beltway

Kentucky. Matt Bevin & Betsy DeVos Are Awesome. Isaac Stanley-Becker of the Washington Post: Student journalists at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, a public school in Lexington, Ky., went to an "open-press" roundtable hosted by Gov. Matt Bevin & featuring Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But they couldn't get in "... because they had not sent in an RSVP to an invitation they had never received and didn't realize was required.... [So] they penned an editorial flaying the education secretary and the Kentucky governor, accusing them of paying lip service to the needs of students while excluding them from the conversation." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Paul Laurence Dunbar was a 19th-century black American poet, so I was betting the student journalists were mostly black. However, Wikipedia advises otherwise: In the 1960s, "Dunbar High School, also named after the poet, was the city's lone surviving black high school ... and one of the main cornerstones of Lexington's black community. When Fayette County's schools integrated in 1967, Dunbar High was closed, with its students being bused to four previously white schools. Eventually, the county school board agreed that the next high school to open in Lexington would bear Dunbar's name, principally at the urging of the Rev. William Augustus Jones, Sr., senior minister of Lexington's oldest and largest black church and a civil rights leader whose five oldest children had graduated from Dunbar and embarked on careers of distinction. To the board's credit, it kept its word, even though a full generation had passed since the original agreement." Today PLD's student body is about 5/6ths white. PLD is one of the largest public schools in Kentucky, so one has to wonder why the high school reporters were never invited in the first place, much less not allowed in when they showed up.

Way Beyond

Sri Lanka. New York Times liveblog: "The Sri Lankan police have arrested 24 people in connection with a series of devastating suicide bombings at hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that left nearly 300 people dead and more than 500 injured. The government on Monday blamed National Thowheeth Jama'ath, a little-known radical Islamist organization, for the bombings. An official said the group, which had not carried out any serious attacks before, had help from 'an international network.' Sri Lanka's security forces were warned at least 10 days before the bombings that the group planned suicide attacks against churches, but apparently took no action against it, indicating a catastrophic intelligence failure. Top government officials say the warning never reached them."; ...

... Dharisha Bastians, et al., of the New York Times: "Within a few hours on Sunday, suicide bombings hit three Catholic churches and three upscale hotels in the Indian Ocean island nation of Sri Lanka, still recovering from a quarter-century civil war in which the suicide bomb was pioneered. The death toll in the attacks rose to 290, with about 500 people wounded, a police spokesman, Ruwan Gunasekera, said...." Yesterday, I linked an earlier version of this report.

Ukraine. David Stern of Politico: "Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a comedian with no political experience, scored a crushing victory over incumbent Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine's runoff presidential vote Sunday, according to exit polls. The national exit poll, which consisted of results from a number of polling agencies, showed Zelenskiy winning 73.2 percent of the vote compared to Poroshenko's 25.3 percent -- a margin of nearly 48 percentage points." Mrs. McC: So I'm thinking Stephen Colbert. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Andrew Higgins & Iuliia Mendel of the New York Times: "A comedian best known for playing the role of an accidental president on television, easily won the real-life election for president in Ukraine on Sunday, exit polls indicated, putting a political neophyte at the helm of a country at the center of the West's geopolitical struggle with Moscow.... [Volodymyr] Zelensky's victory, if confirmed by official results, would give Ukraine its first Jewish leader and deliver a stinging rebuke to a political and business establishment represented by [Petro] Poroshenko, a billionaire candy tycoon who campaigned on the nationalist slogan 'Army, language, faith.'"

Reader Comments (11)

I heard about 3 minutes of Ghouliani and could bear no more. This morning on Morning Joe, someone was in disbelief over the high quality and quantity of the expert whining and lying by the Greedy Old People in general, and the administration in particular, and several people mentioned the so-called downfall of the party. Color me, as usual, skeptical. There never seem to be consequences, people forget quite easily how they felt just the day before, and since no one has spoken up except Chris Wallace and Mitt Romney (who was then, of course, trashed by Cheeto)I don't look for any bravery there. The truly scary thing is that the people who support this presidunce STILL DO, regardless of the truth of things, and the Democrats are, again as usual, treading lightly. I am heartily sick of the waffling on impeachment. He should have been dumped months ago. Although of course, the 70s are long gone and this senate is made up of liars and burglars who won't budge. Susan Collins is probably "deeply troubled."

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

On the morning of December 4, 2016, Edgar Welch, a warehouse worker, father of two, bid his wife goodbye, said he had a few things to do and would be back in his home of Salsbury, N.C. soon. Then he loaded up his truck with guns and headed for D.C. to "self-investigate" a plot featuring Hillary Clinton's sex trafficking, satanic rituals that was being carried out in a pizza joint's basement (this place didn't even have a basement). We all remember this well as Pizzagate!

This familiar story starts out Elizabeth Kolbert's piece in the New Yorker about conspiracy theories and its rabid consequences. What is most egregious here is that where once it has been outside groups that were drawn to tales of secret plots it is now those in power who insist the game is rigged and no one does it better than Trump.

Kolbert then lists many of the conspiracies our man of the hour has belched out starting with the Obama birther business to Scalia being murdered ( "there was a pillow over his face "–-there wasn't). One list, posted by Business Insider lists nineteen but they don't include Trump's more casual lies.

Many who study this subject have been shocked at the uprise of these kinds of dangerous fabricated theories.

"With Trump is power they worry there's a danger that his dark fantasies may be realized. Democracies depend on by-in; citizens need to to believe in certain basics, starting with the legitimacy of elections. Trump both runs the government and runs it down."

I don't know whether the Mueller report addressed this particular subject but given that Trump's contempt for our government's ways and means (read laws) dangers the public's confidence in that government and wouldn't that be tantamount for impeachment? Coupled with the obvious obstruction of justice?

P.S. The mention here, also, of how the internet has displaced the gatekeepers, the producers, editors, and scholars who decided what was worthy of dissemination. This has opened the way for "conspiracy entrepreneurs" who proffer "a seemingly infinite array of wild accusations."

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

A word about the Neil Sedaka video: Really? This was considered the cat's meow? And the two blonds in the back swaying their hips gave it just the right shahbang. Oh, those good old times when America was so darn great. Ugh.

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Conspiracies, PD?

One of my favorites foisted on the witless public long before the internet age:

Earth Day (today) was deliberately placed on the calendar on Lenin's birthday (also today) by those left wing radicals who were so easily taken in by uncomfortable facts that they actually gave a thought to the future.

So..happy Lenin's birthday to all!

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@PD Pepe: Not only that, Sedaka is lip-syncing. I can easily imagine myself among those teenie-boppers happily going along with the whole fake "performance." Also too, I guess all the black kids were unavailable because they went to a show where the performers were actually cool & actually performed live.

April 22, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Preet Bharara has it just right concerning Giuliani's astonishing claims about the perfidy of the Trump campaign (and administration) getting help from Russian operatives being perfectly okay.

No, Rudy. It's not. My exact thought when I read about his expectorating all over the airwaves on Sunday morning. Getting help from Russia to win an American election is not okay. In fact, one could easily argue that it's not even legal, contrary to another of his pro-Trump, boot-licking, running dog-lackey claims.

Federal election law strictly forbids foreign nationals from contributing to the campaign of an American politician. Vlad didn't (as far as we know) hand Trump bags of money, but what he did give could be interpreted, without much trouble, as in-kind contributions, making what Rudy and Trump claim to be perfectly okay, completely illegal.

And aside from the legality of things, leave us not forget that Legal does not equal Right.

Remember when wingers were having a collective heart attack over funds donated to the Clinton Foundation before Hillary was Secretary of State? Trump himself was outraged and demanded that the Clintons return every penny, and winger media shills screamed for openness and transparency by being able to see the names of all donors and the amounts they gave. Such transparency has not been (and never will be) demanded of the criminal Trump or any other Republican candidate. But the message was clear. Foreign nationals contributing--not to a campaign--to a foundation connected to a candidate's family is a dodgy business. But now we have a foreign government, and not just any foreign government: Russia! making serious in-kind contributions to the Trump presidential campaign. Contributions that helped put him in the White House.

Where are the screams for transparency now?

And there's a good reason that federal law prohibits help from foreign nationals. It places a strain on the subsequent policy decisions in any instance in which those individuals or their country or businesses might be impacted. The thinking was the same behind the emoluments clause, a constitutional rule that Trump breaks every day with impunity. In fact, the emoluments he receives from foreign entities don't come anywhere near the filtering mechanism of a campaign. They go straight into Trump's pocket.

And Russian assistance in the campaign did the same. He was provided with the direct means necessary to tar his opponent and illegitimately win the election, and they went directly to his family to make it work.

My standard question in situations like this is to ask What Would Fox Do. What would Fox have done (and still be doing) had it come out that Hillary Clinton had won the election with help from the single greatest adversary America has had over the last 70 years?

No, Rudy, it's not okay. I think you can make the case that it's not even legal. But whatever it is, it's not right.

But when has Trump ever been right?

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming! Again!

One reason for Trump's total inaction regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election was that they were interfering on his behalf. And this business about how an actual conspiracy could not be made, at least according to the letter of the law, is ridiculous. Trump knew they were helping. He didn't care about laws or ethics or what was right or best for America. He cared about Trump. Plus, he didn't have to do much, it was being done for him. The Russians got word from Junior that they were salivating for their help. And they got it. Putin wanted Trump and he got him. And Trump, throughout the campaign, went way out of his way to paint the murdering tyrant Putin in the most avuncular manner, declaring it was time to go easy on the guy, to stop all sanctions and let's all be palsy-walsies.

Conspiracy? Maybe not according to Hoyle (or Mueller), but it stinks like a week old trunk full of dead fish.

The next reason Trump never pursued investigating (never mind punishing) the Russian interference was he hoped they'd do it again. In 2018, for the midterms, and then in 2020, for him. Again.

But the public reason he gave for his astonishing sloth was that Russian interference was a hoax. It never happened. But as with all Trump lies, this one ran the usual course:

Step 1: Never happened.
Step 2: Media made it all up.
Step 3: It happened but the Russians helped Hillary.
Step 4: So it happened. But it didn't change a single vote.
Step 5. Yeah, it happened, so what? It's all legal.

This sorry chain of horrors is one more in the long list of reasons that impeachment must go forward today.

Because 2020 is around the corner.

And the Russians are on the way. За здоро́вье!.

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I havea few more questions Guliani outrageous weekend performance didn't answer.

We know the Russia-Pretender connection was not limited to dirt on Hillary or other in-kind contributions.

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/reports/2018/12/17/464235/following-the-money/

My biggest disappointment in the Mueller report is its failure to follow all the ways in which Russian money, not to mention big dollars from the Middle East and possibly other sovereign entities, was (and may still be) funneled to the Pretender campaign and inauguration. (And my suspicion is that the transfers didn't stop in 2017.)

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes: I think Mueller farmed out some of the issues about money flowing into Trump's campaign from foreign entities. Maybe one or more of the farmees (and/or the New York AG) will be less reticent than Mueller to charge Trump with crimes. (The Mueller report indicates the special counsel sent 14 other lines of inquiry -- 12 of which are completely redacted -- to other prosecutors.) So Mueller's (actually, I think it was Rosenstein's) decision to send the money probes elsewhere might be a good thing.

April 22, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Hunter Green, maybe?

Nancy Pelosi (and too many other Democrats) seems to want to ignore (or at any rate, overlook) the many reasons for Trump's necessary impeachment in favor of "doing the people's business" or some similar tack. Okay, sure. I'm not suggesting Democrats give up on governing, but there is no governing being done. Republicans won't allow it. She could bring up a piece of legislation outlining the cure for cancer but McConnell would make sure it never got a vote in the Senate. He'd want to pass the National Jay Walking Act before he did anything that smacked of Democratic success against his Dear Leader. That's how it's gonna be.

So, the plan for the next two years really should be getting a handle on the disease at the heart of American politics because otherwise we're not going anywhere. No legislation will be passed and no people's business will be done. Trump will continue to fuck us and stuff his pockets in the meantime.

Democrats can't be wishy-washy about this either. They have to come right out and say clearly that their goal is to attend to the rot at the heart of the government, to get a Democrat into the White House and to take the senate back from the Turtle and the ball-less Trump sycophants and frightened children like Lindsey Graham and get the country back on track.

Besides, how can you do the "people's business" when most of the country believes a crook is in charge? So it won't work? McConnell will stop it? Good. Let him. Then he can explain why he saved a traitor. Better that then Democratic presidential candidates having to explain why their party is responsible for letting him run roughshod over the country and doing nothing to stop him. (Yes, investigations are all necessary, but they've got nothing behind them without the aura of impeachment).

Pretending we'll be doing business as usual is like coming home from the oncologist's with a diagnosis of brain tumor then getting out the ladder to paint the gutters rather than working on an aggressive plan to stay alive.

Besides, once you get up there with your paint bucket, McConnell will come along and yank your ladder out, so you'll still be lying on the ground with a broken back, covered in paint as you go blind from the tumor, lose your ability to speak, and die. And your last thought will be "Maybe I should have gone with Hunter Green".

Cut the bullshit. Impeach. Now.

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Another Democratic presidential candidate? I do like Seth Moulton, but I'm guessing, like several others who've already hat-in-the-ringed it, he might make a more impressive candidate with a few more years under the belt. Then again, Trump had zero years in politics. But plenty in rat-fucking, lying, and confidence gaming.

I'm up in the air as to whether 19, 20, or 24 or 25 candidates is good or bad for the Democrats. I suppose it depends on whether or not it turns into a circular firing squad. The good thing, at least so far, is that there's no presumptive nominee who feels they deserve the nomination because it's their turn.

But whichever candidate survives, I'm still not seeing anything close to the sort of national field operation support by the DNC necessary to fend off the coming Trump-Fox tsunami. Another Wasserman Schultz type performance in which certain states are taken for granted and it will be four more years of Lord Voldemort.

And I'd like to see plans for the future. De-Trumpifying the country is a given. I don't want to see 20 Never Trumpers. I want to see a stronger, more resilient, more flexible, more unified Democratic Party (although "unified" and "Democratic Party" are concepts rarely on speaking terms).

It may be early, but Voldemort, Vlad, Fox. and the RNC are already cleaning the guns.

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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