The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, August 18, 2019.

AP: “The death toll from a late-night suicide bombing at a crowded wedding party in the Afghan capital rose to at least 63 on Sunday, including women and children, officials said. The local Islamic State (IS) group's affiliate claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest attack in Kabul this year. Another 182 people were wounded in the Saturday night explosion, government spokesman Feroz Bashari said. Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi confirmed the casualty toll as families began to bury the dead. Some helped to dig graves with their bare hands. Kabul residents were outraged as there appears to be no end to violence even as the U.S. and the Taliban say they are nearing a deal to end their 18-year conflict, America's longest war.”

Public Service Announcement

July 27: NBC News: "If your information was compromised during the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be entitled to up to $20,000." The article provides info on how you can claim your share of the restitution fund. Mrs. McC: I might give it a crack. I know my personal info was compromised during the period of the Equifax breach, but I'm not sure Equifax was the source of the breach. So I might give this a crack. 

Washington Post: "the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships were no different — especially Sunday night, the final night of the two-day [U.S. Gymnastics Championships]..., [Simone] Biles aced a skill no other woman (and only two men in the world) has successfully landed in competition — a triple-twisting, double somersault that capped the first tumbling pass of her floor routine like a cymbal crash":

 

Washington Post: White Southern plantation visitors who pay good money "to learn about the history of life on a plantation" are very upset guides mention slavery. Mrs. McCrabbie's recommendation: put on your MAGA caps & hoop skirts, watch the first 10 minutes of "Gone with the Wind," & practice saying "Fiddle-dee-dee."

Here's one for contributor Jeanne. "Margaret Atwood joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss 'Corrie,' by Alice Munro, from a 2010 issue of the [New Yorker] magazine":

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday
Aug112019

The Commentariat -- August 12, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Well, I see I have to move this sentiment up the page: Every day Donald Trump gives Americans a new reason new reasons to despise him. Today is no exception:

** Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation's bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction. The changes will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, would allow economic assessments to be conducted when making determinations." Here's a HuffPost story by Chris D'Angelo.

Eileen Sullivan & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The Trump administration will penalize legal immigrants who rely on public programs, such as food stamps and government-subsidized housing, as part of a sweeping new policy to slow legal immigration into the United States and reduce the number of immigrants who are granted permanent legal status. The move will have the greatest impact on poor immigrants who are living in the country legally and are receiving public benefits from the government, forcing them to make a choice between accepting financial help and living and working in the country legally. It will probably not affect immigrants who already have green cards. The United States wants immigrants who can support themselves, according to the rule, not those who 'depend on public resources to meet their needs,' according to the new rule.... Immigration advocates have pledged to sue the administration in an attempt to block the new regulation from going into effect. Tens of thousands of people opposed the rule in a public comment period over the past several months." ...

... Patricia Alvarez, et al., of CNN: "The Trump administration released a regulation Monday that could dramatically cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the US by making it easier to reject green card and visa applications. Paired with last week's enforcement raids on food processing plants in Mississippi, Monday's announcement amounts to a concerted effort by the administration to limit legal immigration and crack down on illegal immigration. The 837-page rule applies to those seeking to come to or remain in the United States via legal channels. The so-called public charge rule is designed to ensure immigrants can support themselves financially. In doing so, though, it'll likely make it harder for low-income immigrants to come to the US."

President Pinocchio Hits Another Milestone. Glenn Kessler, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump's proclivity for spouting exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasts and outright falsehoods has continued at a remarkable pace. As of Aug. 5, his 928th day in office, he had made 12,019 false or misleading claims, according to the Fact Checker's database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement the president has uttered. Trump crossed the 10,000 mark on April 26, and he has been averaging about 20 fishy claims a day since then. From the start of his presidency, he has averaged about 13 such claims a day."

Kevin Brueninger of CNBC: “Attorney General William Barr said Monday that there were serious irregularities' at the Manhattan federal jail where accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein apparently killed himself over the weekend. 'We will get to the bottom of what happened,' Barr vowed in blistering opening remarks at a police event in New Orleans, 'and there will be accountability.' Barr ... also fired a warning shot to anyone who may have been involved in the wealthy financier's alleged crimes. 'Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,' Barr said. 'The victims deserve justice and they will get it.'"

Guatemala. Nina Lakhani of the Guardian: "A conservative law and order hardliner [Alejandro Giammattei] promising to reinstate the death penalty and deploy soldiers on to the streets has been elected the new president of Guatemala...backed by the country's economic and military power brokers.... Giammattei's triumph comes amid growing tension with the US over migration and asylum. Shortly before his victory, Giammattei said he wanted to change a controversial migration deal signed with the US by his predecessor, Jimmy Morales.... Details of the agreement remain murky, and currently face judicial and congressional obstacles in the US and Guatemala." --s

Hong Kong. Yanan Wang & Christopher Bodeen of the AP: "One of the world's busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators crowded into Hong Kong's main terminal Monday, while the central government in Beijing issued an ominous characterization of the protest movement as something approaching 'terrorism.' The extreme action by the largely leaderless movement seemed calculated to prompt a stern response from Beijing, and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping's administration responded within hours. No new violence was reported by Monday evening, although the city remained on edge after more than two months of near-daily and increasingly bloody confrontations between protesters and police."

U.K. Michael McGowan & Ben Doherty of the Guardian: Brexit Boy & Friend of Trump "Nigel Farage has derided the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for their 'irrelevant' social justice and environmental campaigns while abusing Prince Charles and describing the late Queen Mother as an 'overweight, chain-smoking gin drinker', in an incendiary speech to an Australian rightwing political conference. Farage's speech to Sydney's Conservative Political Action Conference -- from which media were barred -- ranged across his views on Brexit, media bias and the United Nations, but he reserved his fiercest condemnation for members of the royal family.... The Brexit party leader was laudatory about the Queen -- 'an amazing, awe-inspiring woman, we're bloody lucky to have her' -- but abused her son, grandson and mother. 'When it comes to her son, when it comes to Charlie Boy and climate change, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.'" Mrs. McC: Still, I'm thinking it won't be "Sir Nigel" any time soon.

~~~~~~~~~~

Jeremy Peters, et al., of the New York Times: "There is a striking degree of overlap between the words of right-wing media personalities [like Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade & Rush Limbaugh] and the language used by the Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso this month. In a 2,300-word screed posted on the website 8chan, the killer wrote that he was 'simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.'... An extensive New York Times review of popular right-wing media platforms found hundreds of examples of language, ideas and ideologies that overlapped with the mass killer's written statement -- a shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fears centered on immigrants of color. The programs, on television and radio, reach an audience of millions.... Sometimes the hosts are repeating the president's signature phrases. Sometimes the president appears to take his cues from television pundits." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: It seems to be lost on these numnuts that lily-white Europeans "invaded" the Americas, too. Shall we all "go back to where we came from"? Or is "white invasion" justified by virtue of our being "the superior race"? (I use the word "our" somewhat timidly, as I'm about half Irish, and the very fine Brits considered the Irish to be "monkeys.") Donald Trump, whose mother is Scottish, thinks he can get along well with British PM Boris Johnson, but Johnson -- who has previously expressed contempt for Trump himself -- also has a racist view of Scots. Guardian (June 2019): "Boris Johnson once called for Scottish people to be blocked from becoming prime minister because 'government by a Scot is just not conceivable.' Johnson ... also authorised publication of a poem describing Scottish people as vermin who should be exterminated."

Hollie Silverman & Steve Almasy of CNN: "At least eight Walmart locations have received threats over the past week after deadly shootings at two stores in recent weeks, law enforcement agencies said." The story lists the locations & circumstances of the threats. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Alexandra Svokos of ABC News: "Many questions remain in the motivations of the man who allegedly committed a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, last weekend, leaving nine dead before responding officers shot him to death. But officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News the suspected shooter demonstrated a misogyny that was far more extreme than any of his political leanings. In that, he follows a bleak pattern among mass shooters.... After many mass shootings, information comes out that links the shooter to gender-based and domestic violence -- and many massacres, like this one, include female family members, partners and ex-partners among the victims. Ten of 2018's 20 mass shootings, as defined by ABC News, were instances of domestic violence, including against intimate partners or family members, a January ABC analysis showed. One of the victims of the Dayton shooting was Megan Betts, the alleged shooter's 22-year-old sister." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This comes as no surprise. While millions of Trump supporters are attracted to his white supremacist views, surely there are millions who appreciate his misogyny. (Of course a Venn diagram would chart a lot of overlap. In photos of white supremacist events, a good 90 percent of the participants are men.) If Trump does shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, it will be a woman of color. And yes, his supporters will cheer.

... America 2019. Scottie Andrews & Brian Ries of CNN: "With every mass shooting in the United States comes renewed fear of another.... Instead of letting their children choose a plastic backpack covered in Hello Kitty or Spider-Man, some parents are purchasing bags that double as shields in case kids get caught in gunfire. Companies like Guard Dog Security, Bullet Blocker and TuffyPacks designed bulletproof backpacks to quell those concerns. The retailers said backpack sales spike during the back-to-school season, and all three said they they saw a significant uptick in the aftermath of mass shootings." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Rhonda Garelick of New York writes a moving, infuriating essay on the photo of grinning thumbs-up Donald Trump, a smiling Melania holding baby Paul Anchondo, the two-month-old orphaned in the El Paso massacre. "Posing for this photograph, the Trumps remove any last doubt about their dead-eyed cruelty and transactional view of life.... Injured, confused, squirming away from Melania's brittle embrace, and straining toward what's left of his family, Baby Paul now stands in for all the children -- indeed, all human beings -- who, like him, have been harmed and are being held against their will by a white supremacist president." ...

... On the Other Hand, Trump Is an Equal-opportunity Racist. Jennifer Keil & Emily Smith of the New York Post: At fundraisers in the Hamptons Friday, "Trump kept returning to hit back at the 'fake news' media attacks on him, saying of claims from the Democrats that he is a racist, 'That is the only ammunition they have.' Trump also made fun of US allies South Korea, Japan and the European Union -- mimicking Japanese and Korean accents -- and talked about his love of dictators Kim Jong Un and the current ruler of Saudi Arabia.... Talking about South Korea, Trump said it makes great TVs and has a thriving economy, 'So why are we paying for their defense. They've got to pay.' He then mimicked the accent of the leader Moon Jae-in while describing how he caved in to Trump's tough negotiations.... Turning to Japan, Trump then put on a fake Japanese accent to recount his conversations with Shinzo Abe over their conversations over trade tariffs." Mrs. McC: Pretty remarkable. In nearly the same breath he claims he's not a racist, Trump makes racist "jokes." ...

... MEANWHILE, Phillip Rucker & Ashley Parker of the Washington Post have a long story on how Trump is all upset people are calling him racist.

Ah, Those Secret Investigations. Riley Beggin of Vox: "Acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan dodged questions about reports of undocumented workers at Trump Organization properties Sunday morning. On CNN's State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Morgan why Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- which Morgan led until early July -- hadn't conducted any raids or investigations into Trump's eight properties given reports that the clubs and hotels employ undocumented people. 'You really can't say that for sure,' Morgan said. 'There are investigations going on all the time that you're unaware of. ... Of course it's going to jeopardize the investigation if I come on here and I talk to you about an investigation that's going on.'... Tapper asked why employers who hire undocumented workers are not always punished along with the workers themselves; the host cited Syracuse University's immigration records research that found only 11 people and no companies were prosecuted for employing undocumented workers between the spring of 2018 and 2019. During the same time frame, 85,727 people were prosecuted for entering the US illegally. Morgan responded that an investigation into the business that employed the undocumented workers in Mississippi is ongoing." ...

... When Is a Raid Not a Raid? Kelsey Tamborrino of Politico: "Trump administration officials on Sunday defended recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids across seven Mississippi food-processing plants that resulted in the arrest of 680 workers. 'Something like this has been planned for over a year,' acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' 'This is a criminal investigation with 14 federal warrants issued by a judge, and ICE had to follow through on that. It was already planned and in motion.' McAleenan was pressed by NBC host Chuck Todd on the arrests of hundreds of undocumented workers, but not their employers, who McAleenan acknowledged were 'exploiting undocumented workers.' DHS is in the 'middle of an ongoing investigation,' McAleenan responded.... [Acting CBP chief Mark] Morgan said [the Mississippi raids] were not 'raids,' but 'targeted law enforcement operations.'" Mrs. McC: There's your answer. What you thought was a raid was a "targeted law enforcement operation."

Emma Newburger of CNBC: “U.S. farmers lost one of their biggest customers this week after China officially cancelled all purchases of U.S. agricultural products, a retaliatory move following ... Donald Trump's pledge to slap 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports. China's exit piles on to a devastating year for farmers, who have struggled through record flooding and an extreme heat wave that destroyed crop yields, and trade war escalations that have lowered prices and profits this year.... Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said China's exit is a 'body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by.' China's exit will most impact U.S. grain farmers. China is the world's top buyer of American soybeans, buying about 60% of U.S. soybean exports last year.... While he's given no indication of backing off in the trade war, struggling farmers appear to remain loyal. Trump's overall approval rating is 79% among farmers, according to a Farm Pulse survey taken last month."

CBS/AP: "The Trump administration has told companies not to warn customers about products that contain glyphosate, a decision targeted at a California regulation that requires labels to warn consumers that the Roundup ingredient is potentially cancer-causing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will no longer approve labels warning glyphosate is known to cause cancer. The chemical, marketed as a weed killer by Monsanto under the brand Roundup, is currently the focus of lawsuits from thousands of consumers alleging it caused their cancers. Such labels are "irresponsible," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. He cited the EPA's conclusions that the chemical doesn't represent a cancer risk. The decision from the EPA highlights the growing debate over the safety of glyphosate, with scientific research often reaching contradictory conclusions."

Katie Benner, et al., of the New York Times: "Jeffrey Epstein ... was supposed to have been checked by guards every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not being followed the night before he was found, a law-enforcement official ... said. In addition, the jail had transferred his cellmate and allowed Mr. Epstein to be housed alone in a cell just two weeks after he had been taken off suicide watch, a decision that also violated the jail's normal procedure, two officials said.... A person with knowledge of the investigation said that when the decision was made to remove Mr. Epstein from suicide watch, the jail informed the Justice Department that Mr. Epstein would have a cellmate and that a guard 'would look into his cell' every 30 minutes. But that was apparently not done, the person said." The Hill has a summary of the NYT report here. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "The two correctional officers assigned to watch the special unit in the detention center where financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was being housed when he apparently hanged himself Saturday were working overtime -- one forced to do so by management, the other for his fourth or fifth consecutive day, the president of the local union for jail staffers said Sunday.... Serene Gregg, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3148, said the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan is functioning with less than 70 percent of the needed correctional officers, forcing many to work mandatory overtime and 60- or 70-hour workweeks.... New York City's chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, said her office conducted an autopsy of Epstein's body Sunday but had not yet reached a determination on cause of death 'pending further information.' The medical examiner also allowed a private pathologist, Michael Baden, to observe the autopsy examination at the request of Epstein's representatives, Sampson said." An AP story is here (link has been updated to a more comprehensive AP story). ...

... Aviva Shen of Slate: "We know that [Metropolital Correctional Center], the federal prison in Manhattan that also recently housed Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, was deemed 'worse than Guantanamo' by someone who spent time in both facilities. We know that cells are infested with bugs and rats so big they're 'more like roommates' and that the temperature swings from unbearable heat to frigid cold. We know that inmates have not received adequate medical care, that a corrections officers was found guilty of raping an inmate, and that officials allegedly tried to cover up the fatal beating of another prisoner. We know that solitary confinement, where Epstein was being held, causes severe mental degradation. Report after report has cautioned against isolating prisoners with known mental disorders, and evidence shows that solitary confinement can trigger acute psychosis in people with no history of psychiatric problems.... Solitary confinement at MCC, as described by those who have survived it, is especially hellish.... Facilities, like MCC, that are run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons tend to be among the nation's most corrupt and violent institutions."

... Lindsay Hayes in the Atlantic: "Suicide has been a lingering problem in detention facilities, and systemic factors -- such as inattention, understaffing, or inadequate training -- generally offer a simpler explanation for a prisoner's death than nefarious intent.... Hundreds of individuals are thought to commit suicide each year in jails throughout the country, and suicide is still thought to be the leading cause of death in such facilities. Why such uncertainty? The U.S. Justice Department's reporting program for deaths in correctional institutions has not released any data since 2016." Mrs. McC: I wonder if Trump's DOJ dropped the required reporting by design, by laziness, or because of understaffing. Another of 1,000 examples of TrumpFail. ...

... Justin Wise of the Hill: "CNN host Jake Tapper opened his show on Sunday by calling out President Trump for promoting a 'deranged' and 'insane' conspiracy theory about the death of ... Jeffrey Epstein, who died by an apparent suicide over the weekend.... White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway on Sunday downplayed Trump's promotion of the conspiracy theory, saying on "Fox News Sunday" that the president 'just wants everything investigated.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... On Fox "News" Conway hinted she had some "secret information" to back up the Clinton conspiracy theory. "There is some unsealed information implicating some people very high up.... I'm not saying anything beyond that." Of course, while fingering Bill Clinton, Conway exonerated Trump: "Trying to connect the president to this monster from years ago, where they're seen dancing in a video versus other people who were actively, I suppose, flying around with this monster on his island ... perhaps there's a public interest in knowing more about that." (Also linked yesterday.)

Way Beyond the Beltway

** Russia. David Sanger & Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "American intelligence officials are racing to understand a mysterious explosion that released radiation off the coast of northern Russia last week, apparently during the test of a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile hailed by President Vladimir V. Putin as the centerpiece of Moscow's arms race with the United States. American officials have said nothing publicly about the blast on Thursday, possibly one of the worst nuclear accidents in the region since Chernobyl, although apparently on a far smaller scale, with at least seven people, including scientists, confirmed dead. But the Russian government's slow and secretive response has set off anxiety in nearby cities and towns -- and attracted the attention of analysts in Washington and Europe who believe the explosion may offer a glimpse of technological weaknesses in Russia's new arms program." ...

... Andrew Roth of the Guardian (August 10): "Russia's nuclear energy agency has said an explosion that caused radiation levels to spike in the Arkhangelsk region was caused by an accident during a test of an 'isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine'. In a statement released late on Friday, Rosatom said five of its employees had died as a result of the accident and three more were being treated for burns. The statement was the first confirmation that the agency was involved in the incident, which briefly drove radiation levels up to 20 times their normal levels in the nearby city of Severodvinsk."

Norway. Ray Sanchez & Frode Stang of CNN: "The man suspected of opening fire at a mosque in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on Saturday has expressed right-wing sympathies online, the police said in a news conference Sunday. Superintendent Rune Skjold told reporters the suspect, described only as a Norwegian man in his 20s, has praised figures like Vidkun Quisling, the leader of Norway under Nazi occupation during World War II.... The man has been charged with the murder of a woman found dead in his home and is also facing an attempted murder charge in the shooting at Al-Noor Islamic Center in Oslo. One person was injured in the incident, sustaining minor injuries, police said. The suspected shooter was overpowered during the attack by a 65-year-old man named Mohamed Rafiq, said his counsel Abdul-Satar Ali on Sunday. Speaking to the press with Rafiq at his side, Ali said: 'Mohamed acted immediately when the shooter entered the room. He toppled the shooter and pinned him to the floor, (and) sat on top of him.'" ...

... Daniel Politi of Slate: "Hours before the attack a user of the same name as the alleged gunman posted on the 4chan messaging board expressing admiration for the gunman who killed 51 people at two New Zealand mosques earlier this year. The post included a meme that described that gunman as a 'saint' and praised the alleged El Paso shooter for 'reclaiming his country.' The post was made on a new messaging board called Endchan and the older site 4chan." The found dead in the gunman's home was his 17-year-old stepsister. See also Alexandra Svokos' story on the Dayton shooter, linked above.

Sweden, etc. Jo Becker of the New York Times: "Fueled by an immigration backlash -- Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita than any other European country -- right-wing populism has taken hold, reflected most prominently in the steady ascent of a political party with neo-Nazi roots, the Sweden Democrats. In elections last year, they captured nearly 18 percent of the vote. To dig beneath the surface of what is happening in Sweden, though, is to uncover the workings of an international disinformation machine, devoted to the cultivation, provocation and amplification of far-right, anti-immigrant passions and political forces. Indeed, that machine, most influentially rooted in Vladimir V. Putin's Russia and the American far right, underscores a fundamental irony of this political moment: the globalization of nationalism."

Reader Comments (20)

Hard to tell from this distance, but it would seem that while Boris Johnson plays some of the same political games as does our Pretender, and taps on some of the same keys as he plays to his audience, he certainly plays and taps with more flair.

From this article, it appears that one of main differences between the two men is IQ. Boris' is measurable.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/08/15/boris-johnson-ham-of-fate/

And it seems he wrote his own book.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Taking any amusement offered in this grim time, had to smile at the Pretender's designated Defender's remark:

"...... saying on "Fox News Sunday" that the president 'just wants everything investigated.'"

Except....his grades, his personal finances, secret deals with dictators....and....and...

Must be one of those alternative facts.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Duh...(Oslo edition)

So there's this guy who shot up a mosque in Oslo this weekend and killed at least one woman. Nice guy. Also not very bright. He claims to hold Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian collaborator with the Nazi occupation forces, in high regard.

Get this asshole a dictionary.

This particular Norwegian's name has become eponymous with treason, as any reasonably sentient person knows. He was so hated by loyal Norwegians that the name "quisling" can be found in the dictionary with the following definition: "A traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their country."

This guy is a hero to the white supremacists? I suppose so. And here's why (at least I think so). For many of these worms nations don't really matter. What matters is the white race. Even those in this country who consider themselves white nationalists aren't really concerned about the nation as a whole, only the white part of it. And not even the entirety of white America. Anyone consorting with those they consider members of lesser races (ie, all non-whites), don't count.

So it's no surprise that a scumbag who betrayed his country and whose name is now synonymous with treason is a hero to some of these idiots. Quisling's loyalty was to Hitler and the Nazis, not Norway. And loyalty to Hitler meant (and still means) admiration for the white race and hatred of the Other.

QED.

(By the way, speaking of Norway, the occupation, and traitors, I just finished re-reading Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down". Hadn't read it since high school, but it hasn't lost a bit of its punch. Just before the Nazis are getting ready to execute the mayor for refusing to be a quisling, he quotes Socrates' last words as a way of reminding his friend, the doctor, that death is not to be feared, and to keep up the good fight. Makes you want to stand up and cheer! Although Steinbeck doesn't explicitly mention Norway as the setting, it's pretty clear. Quislings and quisling lovers beware. Trump might love you. But artists will get you. History will revile you. And then, there's Socrates.)

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Paralipsis Administration

Kellyanne Conway's sneaky business about some "secret information" that would connect the "suicide" of Jeffrey Epstein to the Clintons accomplishes the task of saying, but not saying, a trick often employed by the Orange Menace. With Trump it's usually things like "I won't say what an asshole this guy is, because that wouldn't be right..." or "Carly Fiorina ran her company into the ground, but I won't say that because it's not politically correct."

It does a couple of things, it allows the speaker to get away with making accusations, often completely unsupported, while at the same time pretending to be above such things. Of course there's a third thing, a kind of meta aspect to this device, the hilarious notion that Trump is above anything.

But in the same way that small animals imprint on an adult (it can even be of another species) and mimic their actions, Trump's minions adopt his worst habits and make them their own. Little duckies waddling into the muck with daddy duck.

It's a particularly odious bit of rhetorical mudslinging, even if it does go back beyond Cicero, who used it quite a bit; Ciceronian rhetoric often utilizing the ice pick in the eye-denial trick: ooh, did I stab you in the eye? That wasn't right, was it? I would never stoop to such horrible actions.

It's a standard courtroom trick as well. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we won't get into the defendant's prior bad acts, but..." In Trump and Conway's small greasy hands, the paralipsis is just their way of being sneaky, snaky, and nasty.

A Trump Administration specialty.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Marie wrote: "It seems to be lost on these numnuts that lily-white Europeans 'invaded' the Americas, too..."

Possibly. But it could also be that it's not lost because it was never found. In other words, in the cherry-picked right-wing memory, things like atrocities and attempted genocide committed by white Europeans aren't real and never were. Just consider how hard right-wing controlled school boards in places like Texas work to excise any historical facts they don't cotton to. It's likely that these idiots blocked out or refused to admit of any historical events that collided with their world views.

Just more alternative facts.

Just like Trump. It never happened because we say so.

This is fine if you're the drunk guy sitting at the end of the bar with your fly down, muttering to yourself and occasionally ranting at the TV, but when you have audiences numbering in the millions, it's not just dangerous, it's criminal. The only difference between that drunk guy and Tucker Carlson is that Carlson's fly is probably not down. At least that we can see.

Just another day in Right-Wing World.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

And speaking of quislings...

Or maybe just hypocrites. But hypocrites of a very high order...

List the sins of Donald Trump. I know, you don't have all day, right? And even after you pass a couple hundred, there will still be a bunch you've forgotten, because he pins the needle on the illegal, unethical, immoral, and just plain evil meters every day.

Now picture that you're a highly religious person who holds the teachings of the Bible to be sacrosanct.

What pisses you off the most?

Trump's lies,
Trump's misogyny?
Trump's greed?
Trump's dividing the nation for personal gain?
Trump's vicious racism?
Trump's torture of small children?
Trump's statement that Nazis are good people?
Trump's collaboration with an antagonistic foreign power?
Trump's refusal to even attempt to tamp down gun violence?

or

Trump says GD a lot.

Yup. You guessed it. The long list of Trump sins elicits not the tiniest of raised eyebrows, but taking the lord's name in vain has Evangelicals in high dudgeon.

I guess you gotta have priorities.

I'm not saying that religious people shouldn't take offense to such things. I live in the Bible Belt and I hear about it a lot (and have learned to tamp down my outbursts accordingly, just trying to be cognizant of local feelings). But to let everything else pass and focusing on that as the single thing they find troubling with Trump is...I suppose "unbelievable" is too much in use these days, but...

Trump: We have to tear these GD families apart and teach these wetbacks and their little brats a lesson!
Evangelical: Oh my heavens! What a horrible thing to say!
Bystander: What, about tearing families apart and torturing kids and parents?
Evangelical. Huh? No. That's perfectly okay. He said GD! Terrible!

Still and all, this is collaboration with an occupying force against your country.

We really are screwed.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Just a thought on the caucasian invasion of the americas. The newly appointed acting (naturally) head of the Bureau of Land Management which manages federal lands is of the opinion we shouldn't have any. His plans to lease, sell, divest to private interests doesn't include one option: return to it's original owners.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

Trump's making fun of foreign nations, especially allies, should be thought of as a throwback to earlier times. One would hope we had progressed beyond ignorant views of other cultures and races, but clearly we haven't (otherwise he'd never have been elected). This is schoolyard racism. Idiot.

But his ignorance did put me in mind of this scene.

You likey?

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Thanks for the Politico link to those nice Christians who are good with Trump's torturing children every goddamned day but horrified that Trump occasionally takes the Lord's name in vain in public settings because, for one thing, they don't want their children hearing that.

Apparently these good Christians aren't worried the kids might be frightened by news report about Trump's letting children go hungry with not even a manger for a bed, and whisking their moms & dads away while the kids are in school, but Lordy, don't let those delicate young ears hear a fat old man say "goddamn."

I was going to link the story in much the way you did, & now you've saved me the trouble.

Hypocrites? Or idiots?

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

IS TRUMP BUILDING A WHITE ETHNOSTATE?

A good and important read: Robert Scheer discusses this matter with Alexandra Minna Stern: Author of "Proud Boys & the White Ethnostate" and "Eugenic Nation."
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/is-trump-building-a-white-ethnostate/

One thing they did not address and it's something that puzzles me: If the desire for white progeny why then close down abortion clinics where more women of color and slender means frequent. Power over women––yes, and Christian values another reason but over all?

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Again, the Pretender's administration leaves out one of the most endangered species....ourselves.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/12/climate/endangered-species-act-changes.html?

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Akhilleus: Great clip. I've never seen that film. Still, I'd rather watch John Huston (playing Secretary of State John Milton Hay) being a racist ignoramus than read about Trump being a racist ignoramus. I wonder if the scene in the film is quasi-accurate. I couldn't find anything about it in a quick Google search.

Looks like "The Wind & the Lion" is available on Netflix.

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Well, godammit, who is going to serve the king his vittles if the illegals and the legals BOTH aren't flocking to Merd-Illegal? Who? Who is going to see that his ties are pristine even if dragging the floor, and who is going to make sure there is enough hairspray for his royal fatness? Who? I am not sure that Miller the Mean has thought how this New Rule (apologies to Bill M--)will affect the neato way of life his royal indignity has made for himself on our dime...I am so worried. I wouldn't want him to suffer...s/

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

@Bobby Lee

I think of this administration's behavior as simply more invasions and further acquisitions by rich white men of the remaining publicly owned resources, like the land itself, along with its air and water.

It's a continuation and extension of the Great Taking, equivalent to what the white invaders did to the American Indians, (not to mention the former "owners" of the entire American Southwest and California) only this time to the entire country's and world's present inhabitants.

Of course, the majority of Pretender supporters will miss the irony as they choke on the air and gag on the water. It'll be Obama's fault.

A year of so ago my wife had a couple of hundred bumper stickers printed that proclaim those who sport them "Proud Owner of America's Public Lands."

We had no trouble finding homes for them, which suggests that some folks are noticing the rapine that's taking place and I hope questioning the godhood to which we have naively elevated private ownership.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Marie,

The bare bones of that movie, "The Wind and the Lion", are somewhat accurate, but that's about it. It's a fun movie as a sort of fantasy, but in some ways it's eerie in its depiction of a western family kidnapped by a Muslim tribe and held for ransom. The original abductees were a father and his stepson, not a young and very gorgeous Candice Bergen.

There's a lot of business about American imperialism (not surprising since the director, John Milius, was pretty right-wing), but Brian Keith does a great job as Roosevelt and Sean Connery's impression of the Raisuli, the Berber chieftain, is more Boy's Adventure Tales than historical fact. Still, it's a fun movie. Lots of chopping off of heads and a battle between the chieftain and a nascent Nazi character, thrown in as a way of making the Berber leader more heroic.

Don't know if that scene with John Hay was at all accurate, but I suppose it's possible given the zeitgeist of the early 20th century. Although even if the real Hay exhibited racist tendencies, he was instrumental in opening up the US to connections, trade and diplomacy, with other countries, including in the Far East.

He was one of these characters who seemed to have been in on a lot of major historical events and places during his career. He was Lincoln's private secretary and was one of the few who was in the room at the house across from Ford's Theater when Lincoln died (I wouldn't have known that except for reading a book this spring about the assassination and the manhunt for Booth).

Henry Adams, another guy who seems to have been everywhere in the 19th century, was a good friend and there are quite a few anecdotes about Hay in his "Education of Henry Adams", one of my favorite books of 19th century American history. A first person book written in the third person. Go figure.

Anyway, Hay was a pretty interesting guy, so it's probably fitting that another pretty interesting guy, John Huston, was cast to play him.

I likey.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Recommended reading on John Hay and Native Americans:

That's two books.

"All the Great Prizes" on John Hay, who was a man of his time but IMO a cut above many.

And Ian Frazier's "On the Rez" for a near contemporary (pre-Pretender) look at Native American life, with a focus on the Sioux he knew. Picked it up again and am reading it now.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Speaking of Christians, I know their Family Research Council and Movement Conservatism have been plotting for years to bring a Judeo-Christian theocracy to the US, and they're digging into our system of government like lice in Drumpf's coiff, but it seems they forgot about one thing: convincing their "subjects" they plan to rule over.

Sure seems like selling their souls to Agent Orange, the devil incarnate of What Jesus Wouldn't Do, is really putting a lot of people off of the Jezus Train. The "Evangelicals" (whatever the fuck that demonination means anymore) can't believe Asshat said "Goddamn" but "grabbing her by the pussy" is cool in the pews now? Give me a fucking break.

Do they plan on building a jack boot army to stand on the throats of the huge majority that would tell these yahoos to literally go to hell? How do they plan on ruling this theocracy, if it's not a dystopia where Dear Leader gets on stage and picks out a minority then gins up the crowd to start yelling "send them back" and then he presses a giant red button to unleash ICE on their homes...

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@safari: I doubt those jackasses think ahead to, you know, "governance." (And, in that regard, they're very Trumpy, inasmuch as Trump doesn't give a rat's ass about governance either.) Besides, the good Christians probably figure they won't have to worry about governing for long because Jesus will descend right quick & carry them all to heaven.

I laughed out loud at the image of lice crawling around in that thing on Drumpf's head, but it dawned on me that no living thing could survive in the orange patch as Trump probably douses it with super-toxic stuff in it daily.

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@safari

I'd say that some Christians are less harmful than others. Still there are too many who unblinkingly support the Pretender. Case after case of severe compartmentalization, crevasses between belief and fact riven deep into their non-functioning brains.

Maybe this is part of the explanation. Christianity, like whiteness, is another majority in decline.

Thus spake Wikipedia:

"Christianity is the most adhered to religion in the United States, with 75% of polled American adults identifying themselves as Christian in 2015. This is down from 85% in 1990, lower than 81.6% in 2001, and slightly lower than 78% in 2012. About 62% of those polled claim to be members of a church congregation."

That's a precipitous (and positive) trend, and obviously so frightening for some that they'll form a pact with the Devil.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I recently watched the Norwegian movie “12th Man”, and can’t imagine being that brave in the face of the overwhelming brutality that was the Nazi occupation of Norway in 1943. It has been said before, I’m sure, that the irony is that it is nationalism that has been globalised. The richest identify with each other, across national boundaries, regardless of colour or creed. And (white) “nationalists” traipse the world hawking their wares. Nationalism is a global brand!

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGloria
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