The Wires

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.”


The Commentariat -- August 13, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Trump Again Refuses to Back Democracy. Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Tuesday said he's hopeful that clashes in Hong Kong between anti-government protesters and armed security forces end peacefully, offering a rare comment on the escalating tensions in the region. 'The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation, very tough,' Trump told reporters as he boarded Air Force One for a trip to Pennsylvania. 'We'll see what happens but I'm sure it'll work out. I hope it works out for everybody — including China, by the way. I hope it works out for everybody.'" Mrs. McC: As long-time U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns put it on MSNBC, Trump's stance is "disgraceful" and is reminiscent of his both-sides Charlottesville remarks.

Trump Loses Round of Chicken to U.S. Consumers. Ana Swanson of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Tuesday narrowed the list of Chinese products it plans to impose new tariffs on as of Sept. 1, delaying levies on cellphones, laptop computers, toys and other consumer goods until after stores stock up for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons. The move, which pushed off a new 10 percent tariff on some goods and spared others entirely, came as President Trump faces mounting pressure from businesses and consumer groups over the harm they say the continuing trade war between the United States and China is doing." The AP story, by Paul Wiseman, is here. ...

... Yun Li of CNBC: "Stocks surged higher in a sudden move after the U.S. said it was delaying China tariffs until December on items including cellphones and clothing. The U.S. also outright removed some items from list of new tariffs. The adjusted policy caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to jump about 408 points, while the S&P 500 rose 1.5% and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.7% higher, led by Apple which surged more than 4%.... Donald Trump said Tuesday he delayed the tariffs for Christmas season in case it had an impact on shopping. He added China would very much like to make a deal."

Trump Alone Can Fix It. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "From tax cuts to relaxed regulations to tariffs, each of President Trump's economic initiatives is based on a promise: to set off a wave of investment and bring back jobs that the president says the United States has lost to foreign countries.... Mr. Trump's tax cuts unquestionably stimulated the American economy in 2018, helping to push economic growth to 2.5 percent for the year and fueling an increase in manufacturing jobs. But statistics from the government and other sources do not support Mr. Trump's claim about his policies' effectiveness in drawing investment and jobs from abroad. Foreign investment in the United States grew at a slower annual pace in the first two years of Mr. Trump's tenure than during Barack Obama's presidency, according to Commerce Department data released in July. Growth in business investment from all sources, foreign and domestic, accelerated briefly after Mr. Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax-cut package in late 2017 but then slowed. Investment growth turned negative this spring, providing a drag on economic output."

Give me your tired and your poor
Who can stand on their own two feet
and who will not become a public charge.

-- Ken Cuccinelli, rewrite of "The New Colossus"

Yeah, he really said that. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

CBS News: "On the morning of Jeffrey Epstein's death there was shouting and shrieking from his jail cell, a source familiar with the situation told CBS News. Corrections officers attempted to revive him while saying 'breathe, Epstein, breathe.' Congress is the latest to start investigating Epstein's apparent suicide over the weekend, with new reports raising questions about the federal jail where he was being held. One of Epstein's guards at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on the night he died was reportedly not a regular corrections officer."


Every day Donald Trump gives Americans a new reason new reasons to despise him. Even though he's gone golfing, yesterday was 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. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... AND this, Charles Pierce writes, is why Republicans, who may be horrified by his otherwise bad behavior -- including his taking the Lord's name in vain (see yesterday's Comments for context), stick with Trump: "It is now a safe assumption that El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago doesn't really know anything about anything, but that, in those few places in the Executive Branch he's left undecimated, he's letting people who hate those places run completely amuck. That's a big part of why Republicans refuse to Scaramucci his considerable hindquarters into oblivion. He's turned what Steve Bannon called 'the administrative state' into a toxic playground for the worst of the American corporate class.... [This] has been on the Republican wish list ever since the party's power base swung south and west. Why do they stay with him? He's the president* they've waited their whole lives for, that's why."

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I think it's still okay to be tired, but just in case, I'd advise immigrant hopefuls to try to look peppy. ...

... 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." Emphasis added. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... 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." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Noah Lenard of Mother Jones: "In 1882, four decades before the creation of the Border Patrol, the United States established one of its first ways of keeping out poor immigrants. It ... require[d] ... just a few lines of seemingly neutral legislation that directed immigration officials to block people they deemed likely to become 'public charges' with financial dependence on the US government. On Monday, the Trump administration revived the public charge rule to keep out working-class immigrants who now disproportionately come from Mexico and Central America.... The original public charge rule grew out of a nativist backlash against Irish immigrants. In later decades, it went on to target the new populations from Eastern and Southern Europe that were arriving in large numbers.... Immigrants were previously considered public charges only if most of their income was likely to come from the government, a generous standard that allowed the vast majority of people to pass the public charge test. Now they could be denied legal residency if even a small portion of their income is likely to come from government programs." ...

... Colby Hall of Mediaite: "The new immigration regulation flies in the face of previous immigration rhetoric put forth by ... Donald Trump, who had repeatedly avowed support for those foreign-born individuals who followed the legal process for staying in the United States.... [At a White House briefing Monday by Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services,] CBS Radio's Steven Portnoy asked asked: 'As long as the public charge has been in effect since the late 1800s, there's also been, almost as long, the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty that read "Give us your tired, your poor..." You're implementing a public charge rule for the first time. Is that sentiment, give us "your tired, your poor," still operative in the United States, or ... should the plaque come down from the Statue of Liberty?'... [Cuccinelli replied,] 'I'm certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty.'" ...

... AND don't miss Nisky Guy's comment in the thread below. ...

... NEW. Rafael Carranza of the Arizona Republic: "A former U.S. Border Patrol agent charged with running over a Guatemalan migrant along the Arizona-Mexico border and then lying about it has pleaded guilty and can face up to a year in prison, according to a deal with prosecutors. Matthew Bowen, 39, a 10-year veteran agent stationed in Nogales, was scheduled to appear in Tucson federal court on Monday for the first day of his trial. But late last week, his attorney filed a motion saying they would accept a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office. The plea agreement is dated Aug. 8. but the court on Monday released details about the agreement with prosecutors. Bowen agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for violating the rights of Antonin Lopez Aguilar, a 23-year-old migrant from Guatemala." Mrs. McC: The Arizona U.S. attorney must have taken plea-negotiating lessons from Trump's former labor secretary Alexander Acosta. Or maybe attempted murder of Guatemalans is always a misdemeanor. The judge should have rejected the plea deal.

[Donald Trump] treats everybody like objects. There's no way he's a racist because when he's looking at you he doesn't see color, he just sees a potential transaction, an opportunity or a detriment. That's not racism. That might be narcissism.... I've watched him do it. It's like a worse level than racism. It's racist against everybody. he could care less. You're an object in his way for or against and then he's got a playbook.... -- Anthony Scaramucci, to Anderson Cooper, yesterday

Scaramucci is half-right. Trump is both a complete narcissist and a racist. And a misogynist. And a snob. If a white man of means crosses him, Trump will insult him, usually with lies that exhibit some form of projection. But if a person of color, a woman or a poor person crosses or displeases him, he sees them not as individuals but as representative of their "group." They come from shithole countries, they should go back to where they came from, they are sub-human (Baltimore, Chicago residents), they are nasty (women of means like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Meghan Markle), they are beneath him ("I'm president & you're not"). -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

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." (Also linked yesterday.)

Emily Fox of Vanity Fair: "Last month, [Stephanie] Wolkoff received a subpoena from the Washington, D.C., attorney general's office, requesting documents related to President Trump's inauguration, which Wolkoff had a heavy hand in planning. The $107 million event has been under investigation for months, including by federal prosecutors in New York and New Jersey, for profligate spending and questions about foreign donations. The latest subpoena appears to be probing potential self-dealing by the Trump Organization and members of the president's family, according to two people familiar with the investigation. Wolkoff complied with the request, according to these sources, by the July 26 deadline, which asked her to turn over records involving the inaugural event, the president's family and associates, and expenditures by the inaugural committee that could shine a light on whether the nonprofit group provided private benefits to the Trump Organization."

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.'" (Also linked yesterday.) The New York Times story, by Ali Watkins & others, is here. ...

... Sonam Sheth of Business Insider: "FBI personnel are furious that ... Donald Trump retweeted to his 63 million Twitter followers a baseless conspiracy theory suggesting that former President Bill Clinton was involved in the death of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.... White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News Sunday that Trump 'just wants everything to be investigated.'... But the president's actions make investigators' job harder, not easier.... [One] FBI agent told Insider that Trump's actions make the FBI's job harder as it combats homegrown extremism, particularly after its latest finding that conspiracy theories pose a new domestic-terrorism threat.... In its intelligence bulletin highlighting the threat posed by conspiracy theories, the FBI laid out several events over the last few years in which 'perpetrators intended to kill groups identified by such theories as hostile and malevolent,' or to carry out 'dangerous, unlawful acts in an effort to draw attention to or expose a perceived conspiracy.'" ...

... Amanda Marcotte of Salon on Trump's retweeting an accusation that Bill and/or Hillary Clinton arranged Epstein's murder: "Trump's false accusations about the troubling circumstances of Epstein's death are even more disturbing considered in light of his long-standing habit of psychological projection.... No one who has followed Trump's career believes he would hesitate to order underlings to commit brutal acts to cover up for his corrupt or criminal behavior.... It's almost beyond dispute that Trump has engaged in a number of conspiracies and cover-ups, some of them likely criminal. It's easy to believe new conspiracy theories about our supposedly elected leader, since so many of the old ones are true.... Keeping those conspiracy theories at bay was already hard enough. Then Trump tweeted out a false accusation against a political adversary, which is his go-to move when he's trying to deflect attention from his own guilt." Marcotte cites evidence to make each point of her case. ...

... Rich Schapiro, et al., of NBC News: "FBI agents raided Jeffrey Epstein's private island in the Caribbean on Monday in a vivid display that the probe into his alleged sex trafficking ring is continuing despite his death. A swarm of federal agents was seen fanning out across Little St. James in golf carts about 10:30 a.m.... Two senior law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation confirmed that the FBI launched a search of Epstein's private island home off the coast of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The search was directed by the Epstein task force led by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, the officials said." ...

... Brian Schwartz of CNBC: "L Brands founder Les Wexner and his legal team have been providing documents to federal investigators that they believe show Jeffrey Epstein misappropriated funds while the child predator was Wexner's money manager. Wexner believes the evidence demonstrates 'all sorts of irregularities and theft,' one person with direct knowledge of the matter said.... Wexner's cooperation with authorities started before Epstein's apparent suicide on Saturday in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correction Center in New York." ...

... James Stewart of the New York Times: "Almost exactly a year ago, on Aug. 16, 2018, I visited Jeffrey Epstein at his cavernous Manhattan mansion. The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it. He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use. So one of my first thoughts on hearing of Mr. Epstein's suicide was that many prominent men and at least a few women must be breathing sighs of relief that whatever Mr. Epstein knew, he has taken it with him."

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A friend of the gunman who killed nine people outside a Dayton, Ohio, bar last week told authorities he bought body armor and equipment for the attacker and helped him assemble the weapon used in the rampage, according to a court filing unsealed Monday. Those details were included in a criminal complaint charging the friend -- Ethan Kollie, 24 -- with two counts related to his purchase and possession of firearms.... Kollie was charged with possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance and making a false statement regarding firearms.... Neither count relates to the shooting itself. Benjamin C. Glassman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, stressed that while the charges emerged from the investigation into the Dayton shooting, they included no suggestion that Kollie knowingly played a role in plotting the attack.... Kollie and Betts were friends who had repeatedly done 'hard drugs' together, P. Andrew Gragan, an FBI special agent, wrote in an affidavit included in the complaint." ...

     ... Here's an ABC News story by Julia Jacobo. Mrs. McCrabbie: Uh, what exactly did Kollie think Betts was going to do with an assault weapon, ammo & body armor?

Presidential Race

Adam Raymond of New York: "For the first time since the beginning of the Democratic presidential primary, Elizabeth Warren took the lead in PredictIt's online betting markets over the weekend. Shares of the Massachusetts senator were going for as high 29 cents on Sunday, one cent more than Joe Biden's. Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders were a fairly distant third and fourth."

Cameron Joseph of Vice: "Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a series of verbal fumbles and gaffes during his longest swing to date through Iowa, providing fodder for President Trump's accusations that he's slipped mentally and left some local Democrats worried that he's lost a step.... Trump himself is a gaffe machine.... The bigger problem for Biden is not whether he gaffes more often and worse than Trump -- it's how he stacks up in a crowded field of eloquent candidates, many of them decades younger than him." ...

... It's More than the Gaffes. Henry Gomez of BuzzFeed News: "... even among Iowans who admire [Joe] Biden and might be inclined to caucus for him when primary season begins in February, there's a sense his argument and his approach might not be enough to beat candidates who are fresher or more progressive. Pete Buttigieg ... and ... Elizabeth Warren drew louder cheers and larger ovations at the Iowa Demoratic Wing Ding, a big party dinner that brought more than 20 presidential contenders to Clear Lake's historic Surf Ballroom.... Biden crowds trend elderly.... Biden crowds also trend smaller than those of his rivals."

Toluse Olorunnipa & Ashley Parker of the Washington Post: President* Trump is targeting "paper straws -- the latest addition to an ever-growing list of cultural flash points his campaign is seeking to highlight as part of a base-focused reelection effort. As cities and coffee chains across the country have adopted policies aimed at limiting environmental damage, the president's campaign has targeted what it calls 'liberal paper straws.' It's selling a Trump-branded plastic version as a fundraising tool. Pointing to the 'runaway success' of the straws -- which have earned the campaign more than $670,000 in a month -- communications director Tim Murtaugh said they represent Trump's ability to make a political point using a cultural issue everyday voters can relate to.... From straws to wind turbines to socially conservative issues, Trump is deliberately amplifying public tensions by seizing on divisive topics to energize his base, according to campaign aides and White House advisers." ...

     ... Here's an NPR story from July 19 about Trump's anti-paper-straws campaign.

Election 2020. Maggie Miller of the Hill: "At least eight states are on course to not use any form of paper ballots or machines with paper records during the 2020 elections, a report published Tuesday by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice found. The report said that around 12 percent of Americans, or about 16 million people, will vote on paperless machines in 2020 and will have no paper record of how they voted. Many of these Americans will vote in the eight states that will use some form of paperless voting in 2020 -- Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, and New Jersey. 'Experts have longed warned that these machines are a security risk because they do not allow election officials or the public to confirm electronic vote totals,' the report's authors wrote. The report said the number of Americans expected to cast votes through paperless machines is down from 20 percent in 2016, when 14 states used some form of paperless voting machines."

Oliver Milman of the Guardian: "About 40% of all forests across the US are at risk of being ravaged by an army of harmful pests, undermining a crucial resource in addressing the climate crisis, new research has found.... About 450 overseas pests that damage or feed on trees have been introduced to US forests due to the growth in international trade and travel. A PNAS-published study of the 15 most damaging non-native forest pests has found that they destroy so many trees that about 6m tons of carbon are expelled each year from the dying plants. This is the equivalent, researchers say, of adding an extra 4.6m cars to the roads every year in terms of the release of planet-warming gases." --s

Jonathan Watts of the Guardian: "A cloud of smoke and soot bigger than the European Union is billowing across Siberia as wildfires in the Arctic Circle rage into an unprecedented third month. The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the planet's cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and worsening the manmade climate disruption that created the tinderbox conditions. A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79 megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for the Arctic." --s

Thanks, Republicans! Sarah McGregor of Bloomberg: "The U.S. fiscal deficit has already exceeded the full-year figure for last year, as spending growth outpaces revenue. The gap grew to $866.8 billion in the first 10 months of the fiscal year, up 27% from the same period a year earlier, the Treasury Department said in its monthly budget report on Monday. That's wider than last fiscal year's shortfall of $779 billion -- which was the largest federal deficit since 2012. So far in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, a revenue increase of 3% hasn't kept pace with a 8% rise in spending." ...

... Jeff Cox of CNBC: "The U.S. budget deficit widened another $119.7 billion, good for a 27% increase over a year ago, according to government figures released Monday. Total outlays increased by 22.8% over last July as receipts grew 11.6%. For the year, receipts were up 3% in the October to July period, totaling $2.86 trillion, while expenditures were at $3.73 trillion, an 8% rise. That brings the fiscal year deficit through July to $866.8 billion, a little over a year and a half after the Trump administration ushered through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that the White House has vowed would pay for itself. At this point last year, the deficit was $684 billion. There are two months left in this fiscal year, and the Treasury Department is projecting a deficit of just over $1 trillion."

Yun Li of CNBC: "Stocks fell on Monday as bond yields resumed their August downturn, raising concerns about the state of the economy. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield, which fell to its lowest since 2016 last week, dipped to 1.63%. The spread between 2-year and 10-year Treasury yields narrowed to only 6 basis points on Monday, near its lowest level since 2007. Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 391 points, or 1.49%, to 25,896.44, while the S&P 500 dropped 36.21 points, or 1.24%, to 2,882.44 and the Nasdaq Composite is down 1.2% to 7,863.41." Observers suggest a number of culprits, including the stalled U.S.-China trade talks, Hong Kong protests that closed the airport & Argentina's elections.

Beyond the Beltway

Tejas. Madison Pauly of Mother Jones: "New, looser gun laws will go into effect in the state of Texas in September, just before the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart." --s

Way Beyond

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 (Also linked yesterday.)

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." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... NEW. Update. Yanan Wang & Katie Tam of the AP: "Protesters severely crippled operations at Hong Kong's international airport for a second day Tuesday, forcing authorities to cancel all remaining flights out of the city after demonstrators took over the terminals as part of their push for democratic reforms. After a brief respite early Tuesday during which flights were able to take off and land, the airport authority announced check-in services for departing flights were suspended as of 4:30 p.m."

Yemen. Juan Cole: "Yemen, a country of 28 million and one of the poorest in the world, had already become a byword for misery over the course of the last four years of war. Now, believe it or not, things have abruptly worsened. The strategic port of Aden has fallen to southern separatists ... with four hundred armed vehicles that had been supplied to it by the United Arab Emirates.... The Saudis are now riposting against the allies of their ally. This is not about Iran but about regional power rivalry. In essence, Yemen is now split in 3, with 1) the Southern secessionists, 2) what's left of the government of Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and 3) Houthi rebels in the West.... Abu Dhabi is now cutting its losses and running. The UAE ... says it is getting out entirely. These developments have left Saudi Arabia holding the bag[.]"

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. (Also linked yesterday.)

Reader Comments (14)

It takes time for me to work things out, but I have to give the prize for being way too slow to understand things to the people in Nebraska. If you did what I did and looked on in horror to see the absolutely massive flooding in Nebraska (north Platte area), and you knew that China had not taken the harvest from last year from Nebraskans, and that banks could not finance their crops for this year, and the water had crushed their outbuildings and killed their cattle, and then China has refused all American agricultural products this year due to trump's trade war,
WHY on god's green earth do these people still go for trump?
They're going to die, really, before they understand.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

@Victoria: I couldn't agree more. The only way I can understand -- and this is a guess -- their continued support for Trump is that they see him as an inscrutable god, or as a force of nature that may sometimes rain gently upon the amber waves of grain but at other times washes the cattle down the river in deathly torrents.

These farmers, more than the rest of us, are used to suffering the vicissitudes of nature. (Before I invested in a generator, I used to whine when the power went out & inconvenienced me for a few hours,) So they think Trump, like the Almighty, represents their "values," & if Trump sometimes lets them down -- to the point of ruin! -- well, the Lord works in mysterious ways, never gives us more than we can handle, etc. Or something like that.

I don't think they give Democratic presidents that remarkable benefit of the doubt, but Democrats, to their reckoning, probably are not gods.

Also too, it's hard to admit a monumental mistake. Down at the Cracker Barrel, these old farmers have been defending Trump's indefensible actions & remarks for three years. They'll be damned if they're gonna have the sense to give up now. In their ethos, sticking with the stupid is an indicator of grit & determination.

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

What is most remarkable is that the farm states have been living on government subsidies since the New Deal of the thirties. Without the funds from the rest of us there would be a lot fewer farmers to rail against Washington.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Will the new rule about legal immigrants making use of government subsidies wake people up to the fact that many employers do not pay a living wage? Will people understand that the Walton family is sitting on billions of dollars while the rest of us pay their employees through SNAP and other assistance programs? I am not holding my breath.

I also note that the rule is 837 pages long. Where are all those folks who whined that the the ACA was a whole 2,000 (2,700 by some counts) pages long? If your rule is simple, "be cruel to immigrants," why bury it in 837 pages?

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

Here's the skinny on the controversy over the film "The Hunt." In some ways it reminds me of the Broadway production of "Cabaret" back in the late sixties when Joel Grey sang "If You Could See Her Through My Eyes" ("she wouldn't look Jewish at all!) referring to a gorilla made up to look like a painted female. This act caused havoc among many who misinterpreted it as "Jews look like gorillas." Hal Prince tells us that he immediately cancelled that act, but when the film came out in the eighties he put it back in––"The country was ready for it then."

The situation here is different in scope and method but it has the right wingers at Fox and elsewhere, along with Doofus, all in a tether. Since it is a Fox production the film will not be released as scheduled in September but I just saw a headline saying they have decided to release it after all––-we wait with baited breath,

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Another Kamakazi country in addition to our own?

Under 2000 polled, but still....

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Maybe the plan is grander than we knew.

Establish new standards of U.S. occupancy and eventual citizenship by allowing only wealthy immigrants into the country, those with a high credit rating and private health insurance (two of the details in those 800 plus pages NiskyGuy notes).

As Lindsay G. promises, take health insurance away from millions who now have it. Keep people working at poverty wages. Then apply the new occupancy and citizenship standards to all, and deport everyone without health insurance and a high credit score....Maybe do a deal with Mexico. One of those tariff or take 'em deals.

.....and voila! eliminate the national debt over night by making any social safety net programs wholly unnecessary, leaving plenty of money for a real nice Wall.

Quite a plan, don't you think?

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@PD Pepe: What's your source that "The Hunt" is a Fox production? The studio that filmed & planned to release the movie is Universal, but that doesn't mean Fox -- recently sold to Disney -- doesn't have a piece of the production.

The top hunted person (played by Betty Gilpin, I think) in the photo accompanying Alex Shephard's New Republic story, which you linked, looks just like Ivanka Trump without make-up, perhaps on safari with Uday & Qusay.

August 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Ken W. You're a mole! You've been working for the Trump regime all along, & now you've blabbed about their ultimate plan to make America white again. You Trumpies are the best leakers ever! I hope I get a place in Baja overlooking the Pacific.

August 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

The budget busting tax giveaway to the rich was a copy and paste of the same Laffer curve nonsense bullshit theory used in Kansas by Sam Brownback.

Every. single. year. the tax cut was in place, revenue somehow every time come in below "expectations" while the red ink bled the state dry. It was literally Groundhog's Day during his entire administration. To plug the holes they stole money from any fund possible to transfer and paper over the sieve, leaving shittier roads than Missouri (known for their shitty roads) and unfunded public education.

As long as the Paul Ryan tax plan for the rich & famous stays on the books, it will be Groundhog's Day in America until a Democrat gets elected and the shameless deficit hawks will slither out their doors and start chewing their bark again.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@Marie: thanks for catching my error––I meant to say Universal but Fox was on my mind. As for the picture of Gilpin I thought it WAS Ivanka––-just shows how having a houseful of family members will do to your concentration.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The recent spate of horrors from the current administration will continue unabated, and here's why. It's not as if Trump really cares all that much about endangered species one way or the other (I'll bet my house he couldn't name a single one). And it's not like immigration is the single most important issue facing the nation, as it appears from all the attention it's been given. It's not. It's a made up issue (at least in its current right-wing depiction as a problem demanding DefCon 2 status).

But both of these topics are yuuuuge for Trump's knuckledragging supporters, the haters, the conspiracy nuts, the racists, and the thugs. Ergo, these moves to harm what these people hate. The theocracy crowd has been getting theirs in the form of Judges for Jesus, so they'll put up with Trump's blasphemy (which, if I recall, is cause for death in the Old Testament). Just wait until these idiots start twisting the laws around to suit the Bible bangers.

Sure, he's giving the store away to corporations, but that was to be expected. Plus, with obscene tax breaks, he makes out as well, so he continues his plan of making off with as much money as he can as long as he's in office. But for his supporters, things like environmentalism and scary brown and black immigrants are vitally important. They represent everything they've been taught to hate, although in fairness, many of them probably come by it naturally.

The environmental rollbacks are a sop to those, like the Bundy clan of criminals and traitors, who believe that government lands should belong to them, for their own personal use. These people are the real deep state. Within their number lie militia groups and homegrown terrorists, anarchists, white supremacists, and gun nuts, and those who despise everything government stands for (including most of the Constitution).

Plus, environmental protection carries with it, for these people, the stench of namby-pamby, pinko liberalism, another thing Trump supporters hate with every fiber of their being, having been primed to do so after a generation of watching Fox. Even people who have benefited immensely from liberal initiatives (like healthcare, safe food, safe cars, lit highways, public libraries and schools, unemployment insurance, etc.) have no problem screaming about how liberals are ruining the THEIR country.

The immigration issue? Pure racism.

So there will be much more of all of this. In fact, pick any hot button winger issue and it's a lead pipe cinch that Trump will fling some bullshit out there as a sop to the groundlings in an attempt to keep his base intact and roaring with hatred as he revels in the chaos. He's "keeping his promises" to destroy everything and everyone they hate.

So what if the nation is rent in two as long as Fatty makes out?

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Trump Kill All the Animals Act soon to go into effect applies incredibly nefarious "adjustments" to laws originally written to identify and protect endangered species.

For one (and this is particularly nasty), Trump henchmen can now determine on a case by case basis which animals will be "protected". So, okay, that's not necessarily terrible. How else would you do it? But here's where the mustache twirling starts. The words "foreseeable future" enter into this decision. This means the anti-environmentalists are free to make "foreseeable future" any thing from a couple of weeks to three months from now.

This means that animals whose habitat is being destroyed by climate change policies Trump supports (ie, policies that take no notice of how the climate changes are actually morphing environments, and which in fact, speed up those changes) can be determined to not need any protection even though within ten to twenty years, their habitats can largely be gone. As long as things look okay for the next couple of weeks, what's the problem? No Protection For You!

Then there's this. It used to be that determination of endangerment was done using scientific data. Not any more. Now the determining factor will be whether or not an animal's habitat could be used by some corporation to make money. So now economic potential will be the determining factor. If some corporate suits deem a wetland ecosystem to be getting in the way of their bottom line, who cares how many species will be displaced, endangered, or made extinct? Pockets must be lined.

Let the mustache twirling begin!

These asshole couldn't be more depraved unless they climbed into a helicopter with Sarah Palin and started shooting animals from the air.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Don't you love this "stand on their own two feet" bullshit? How many rural area Trump voters are on some kind of government assistance? How many are on unemployment or living on foodstamps, Social Security, or using other government programs to make ends meet? How many farmers are living off handouts given by Trump because of the clusterfuck of his trade war with China and to keep them happy and ready to vote for his fucked up policies once again? How many corporations keep their shareholders happy because of government handouts, tax breaks, and business friendly legislation?

Could Paul Ryan have survived without government checks all these years?

Cuccinelli himself has been mooching off taxpayers for going on twenty years now.

And who gets to determine which applicant for immigration to the country will meet the Trump standards? And what will their criteria be? You can bet skin color and religion will be big ones.

They are already.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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