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 16, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Frank Rich: "When the American buck is faltering, the buck always stops with the president.... As last night's rambling, repetitive, and often incoherent 90-minute rant at a rally in New Hampshire indicated, Trump is in full panic that a recession may be coming.... We now have a president whose economic 'team' consists of Fox News talking heads like Larry Kudlow, sycophants like Steve Mnuchin, and nutjobs like Peter Navarro, the White House trade-war guru who this week could be found on television likening the right-wing editorial page of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to the Chinese Communist organ, the People's Daily." Rich also comments on the Jeffrey Epstein case & the Democratic primaries.

Ha Ha Ha. Andy Borowitz reports on Denmark's counteroffer to Trump's inquiries into purchasing Greenland. Perfect! (Again, satire has lost its punch. Borowitz's imaginary response sounds appropriate.) Thanks to Islander for the link.

Forgot this earlier. As the Worm Turns. Matthew Choi of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday advocated the return of more mental health institutions to combat gun violence, while also throwing his support behind background checks for gun purchases. Speaking with reporters in New Jersey before heading to a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Trump said that mental health was an under-considered factor in gun violence and that his administration would examine it 'at a level that hasn't been done before.... These people are mentally ill,' Trump said of mass shooters, 'and nobody talks about that.' Mental illness is a frequent talking point among Republican lawmakers when dealing with gun violence.... 'We have to start building institutions again because, you know, if you look at the '60s and '70s, so many of these institutions were closed, and the people were just allowed to go onto the streets,' Trump said on Thursday. 'That was a terrible thing for our country.' Trump reiterated his views during a rally in Manchester, N.H, later Thursday night, using dated terms such as 'insane' and 'deranged.' Rather than proposing methods for treatment, he spoke about the need to keep those with mental illnesses isolated and off the street." ...

... Jessica Taylor of NPR: "At his first campaign rally after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump appeared to back away from supporting a possible expansion of background checks in favor of a push for more attention to mental illness. 'There is a mental illness problem that has to be dealt with. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger -- it's the person holding the gun,' Trump said to roars and a standing ovation from the Manchester, N.H., crowd.... In the weeks since [the massacres in El Paso & Dayton, Ohio], the president has urged Congress to strengthen background checks, despite opposition from the National Rifle Association.... But at the rally, Trump didn't mention any of those policies."

Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 News (in Axios): "Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said Friday that she will not enter Israel due to the 'oppressive conditions' placed upon her visit, despite the Israeli government's permission to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the occupied West Bank, including her 90-year-old grandmother." Related stories linked below. ...

     ... Update: Here's the New York Times' story, by David Halbfinger.

"Man of the Year." Tara Subramaniam, et al., of CNN: "At a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday..., Donald Trump made a handful of false claims, including returning to a claim he's made since the final days of the 2016 campaign. He said he was once named Michigan's 'Man of the Year.'... Neither we nor anyone else has been able to find a single detail. CNN has reached out to the White House and the Trump campaign about the claim, but has not heard back.... Trump has repeated versions of the claim at least six times since [November 6, 2016], including at a roundtable with corporate leaders in Michigan in 2017 and a rally in Wisconsin this April.... During the rally, Trump also repeated several of the false claims he's been touting throughout his 2020 campaign events, including those around China and tariffs, VA Choice, and payments to Iran." The writers "look at the facts."

But She Looks Lovely. Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast: "The NRA spent tens of thousands of dollars bringing hair and makeup artists around the country for [Susan LaPierre,] the wife of its CEO [Wayne LaPierre], two sources told The Daily Beast. The expenses -- which included plane flights and luxury hotel stays for the stylists -- are bound to fuel an already-raging debate over what some see as a spendthrift culture in the NRA's upper echelons. The NRA, meanwhile, called it a 'non-story,' and said their ex-ad firm was responsible for any such expenses."


In today's news, we learn that the POTUS* wants to buy Greenland and the CEO of a major U.S. corporation had an affair with a well-known Russian agent. These stories, along with more important shocking news -- like a captain in the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency ramming his truck into a crowd of Jewish protesters, after which other ICE officers pepper-sprayed the protesters -- make me feel disoriented. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Anderson Cooper on Trump's pushing Netanyahu to ban two female Muslim Members of the House from entering Israel:

... Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Under intense pressure from President Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government on Thursday barred two members of the United States Congress from entering Israel, reversing a previous decision to admit two of the president's most outspoken critics. By enlisting a foreign power to take action against two American citizens, let alone elected members of Congress, Mr. Trump crossed a line that other presidents have not, in effect exporting his partisan battles beyond the country's borders. And he demonstrated the lengths that he will go to to target his domestic opponents.... Israel's decision to bar the two congresswomen, Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, was widely criticized, including by prominent Israel supporters.... Mr. Trump's intervention also placed him at odds with the Republican leadership in Congress...." (The story, which has been updated, also was linked yesterday.) ...

... Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 News (published in Axios), "President Trump tweeted Thursday that it would show 'great weakness' if Israel were to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to enter the country during an upcoming congressional delegation visit on Sunday.... As Axios' Jonathan Swan and I previously reported, Trump has privately been telling advisers that he thinks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use an anti-boycott law to bar the two freshman congresswomen over their support for the BDS movement. In response to our story, the White House said that Trump didn't pressure Israel in any way and that Israel can do whatever it wants." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update: Let's look at Ravid & Swan's report, dated August 10, which Ravid linked above: "President Trump has told advisers he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use Israel's anti-boycott law to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering Israel, according to 3 sources familiar with the situation.... But Trump denies, through White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, ever giving any kind of directive to the Israelis. 'The Israeli government can do what they want. It's fake news,' Grisham said on Saturday." Emphasis added. Mrs. McC: Surprise! The new press secretary is just like the old press secretary. She lies. (And/or she repeats Trump's lies). (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update. Zack Budryk of the Hill: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday criticized Israel's decision not to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to visit.... 'Israel's denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel,' Pelosi said in a statement.... 'The President's statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President,' she said. Pelosi has had her differences with Tlaib and Omar...." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Barak Ravid (in Axios): "Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced Friday that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) will be allowed to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the West Bank, including her 90-year-old grandmother.... In her letter to Deri requesting the visit, Tlaib said she would 'respect [her] restrictions' and would not 'promote boycotts against Israel.'" ...

... ** Zack Beauchamp of Vox: "Wednesday night, a pickup truck pulled up to a densely packed group of Jewish protesters outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Rhode Island. The driver stopped for a second and then accelerated into the protesters, sending several to the hospital -- though thankfully, none were seriously injured. The driver seems to have been one of the detention center's guards, according to the Washington Post; after the attack, other detention center guards tear-gassed the protesting Jews. All of this was captured on video, yet there are no reports that either the truck driver or the gas attackers have been arrested. The president of the United States, who claims to care for America's Jews, has had nothing to say about this. Instead, he spent Thursday morning talking about why Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the real anti-Semites.... There is no persuasive evidence that they hate 'all Jewish people.' [as Trump tweeted Wednesday]. Trump is dramatically distorting the two Muslim women's records for crassly partisan reasons, a transparent part of his campaign to try to convince America's overwhelmingly Democratic Jewish voters that they should switch sides." ...

     ... Kevin Andrade of the Providence Journal has a story on the pick-up truck/pepper-spray incident. Officials at the facility apparently put the pick-up driver on leave. "'Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the independent investigation being conducted by the Rhode Island State Police, and the Wyatt's internal investigation,' the facility's warden said in a press release. Mrs. McC: I guess pepper-spraying is a-okay. Note that the guy using deadly force against peaceful protesters is an ICE captain. Oh, and at least one protester, a 64-year-old man, was severely injured, according to the Journal's report. ...

     ... Julia Reinstein of BuzzFeed News has more: "In a statement, a spokesperson for the state attorney general's office confirmed it was investigating 'what transpired last night at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls.'... The incident occurred just two days after the second anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist killed a woman when he drove a car into a crowd of people." ...

... ** Peter Beinart of the Forward: "Most officials of mainstream American Jewish organizations have never been to the places Tlaib and Omar planned to go. They've never talked to Palestinians whose homes are about to be bulldozed.... They've never heard Palestinian parents explain the terror they feel when Israeli soldiers come in the middle of the night to take their children to be interrogated.... American Jewish leaders think Netanyahu is a fool because they don't realize how much he has to hide.... But he likely ... understood that if Omar and Tlaib brought the American media with them to the West Bank, they might begin to puncture the cocoon that he and his American Jewish allies have worked so hard to build.... We who are white and Jewish and can name our Bar MitzvahParshas at Ben Gurion Airport must use our privilege to go the places Omar and Tlaib could not. We must find creative ways of showing other Americans what we see there. And we must make it unacceptable for Democrats to continue to visit Israel with AIPAC -- as 41 did last week — and thus sustain the cocoon that keeps Americans comfortably ignorant about Palestinian suffering.... And when Democratic politicians began demanding, by the dozens, to see the things that Omar and Tlaib were planning to see, then the cocoon will fall apart and the American debate over Israel will change."

More Bizarre News Brought to You by the Emperor Trump. Pamela Brown, et al., of CNN: "... Donald Trump has on multiple occasions brought up buying Greenland from the Danish government and the White House counsel's office has looked into the possibility, two sources told CNN on Thursday. Trump's interest in buying Greenland was first reported on Thursday by The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reported that people familiar with the deliberations said the President has raised the issue during meetings and dinners, asking aides and listening seriously about the possibility and advantages of owning Greenland. He also asked his White House counsel to research the matter, according to two of the people. Two of the people also told the Journal that Trump's aides were divided on the issue, with some praising it as solid economic strategy and others dismissing it as a passing fancy."

      ... The Washington Post story, by Damian Paletta, is here: "Trump is scheduled to visit Denmark in two weeks." Mrs. McC: I suppose the good news is that Trump is not planning, as far as we know, to declare war on Denmark & take Greenland as the spoils. ...

... Hayes Brown of BuzzFeed News: "The US has apparently considered purchasing Greenland before, including as recently as 1946 when president Harry Truman offered $100 million in gold to purchase it. Alas, poor Harry, he did not succeed in buying the ice sheet-covered landmass, but the US does have a military base there where it basically has free rein. So that's nice." ...

... Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen of Reuters: "Greenland on Friday dismissed the notion that it might be up for sale after reports that ... Donald Trump had privately discussed with his advisers the idea of buying the world's biggest island. 'We are open for business, but we're not for sale,' Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters.... 'If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof, that he has gone mad,' foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People's Party, Soren Espersen, told broadcaster DR.... [Officials said] Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod ... would respond later on Friday." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you oppose the purchase of Greenland, there's a super-easy way to dissuade Trump from his latest weird idea. Just tell him this: "The Inuit population makes up approximately 85%-90% of the total (2009 est.)." End of story.

Clive McKeef of MarketWatch: "U.S. stocks recovered some ground Thursday, boosted by a good earnings report from Walmart and data showing a jump in nationwide retail sales in July, helping stocks bounce from the worst one-day fall this year on Wednesday. Investors and central banks remain concerned though that President Trump's trade war with China is undermining global economic growth after China on Thursday threatened unspecified retaliation against Trump's recent threat to impose more tariffs on its imports from September." ...

... Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday baselessly accused the press of trying to tank the American economy, shrugging off any blame for a prospective economic slowdown and possible recession heading into his reelection next year. 'The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election,' he said in a tweet. 'The problem they have is that the economy is way too strong and we will soon be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!' The president offered no evidence to support his claim that the media, a frequent target of his ire, is working to weaken the U.S. economy." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Paul Krugman: "Neither I nor anyone else is predicting a replay of the 2008 crisis.... But the bond market is telling us that the smart money has become very gloomy about the economy's prospects. Why? The Federal Reserve basically controls short-term rates, but not long-term rates; low long-term yields mean that investors expect a weak economy, which will force the Fed into repeated rate cuts.... The realization that [Donald Trump] really is a Tariff Man is having a serious dampening effect on business spending, partly because nobody knows just how far he'll go.... Trump isn't the only problem here.... So what kind of contingency planning is the administration engaged in?... The answer, reportedly, is that there is no policy discussion at all, which isn't surprising when you bear in mind the fact that basically everyone who knows anything about economics left the Trump administration months or years ago."

Maggie Haberman & Peter Baker of the New York Times: At a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, "President Trump doubled down on his economic argument for re-election on Thursday night amid increasing concerns about a recession, declaring that even Americans who hate him 'have no choice' but to vote for him because otherwise the stock market will collapse.... His talk was also marked by repeated inconsistencies. The same president who last year said trade wars were 'easy to win' told his supporters that 'I never said China was going to be easy.' The same president who compared America's intelligence agencies to 'Nazi Germany' when he took office complained that Democrats 'use the term Nazi' to attack their opponents." The Politico story, by Stephanie Murray, is here. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So if the economy tanks, Trump's argument will be "I alone can fix it." Since Trump's trade wars are part of the problem, I suppose that is partially true, because theoretically he could curb his own bad actions. ...

... Matthew Choi of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday praised a New Hampshire Republican who previously called for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be shot by firing squad. Speaking at a rally in Manchester, N.H., Trump gave a shoutout to state Rep. Al Baldasaro, who had previously served as an informal adviser during his 2016 campaign.... While advising Trump in the summer of 2016, Baldasaro called Clinton a 'disgrace' for her role in responding to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and said that she 'should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.' CNN later reported the Secret Service was investigating the remarks at the time, and the Trump campaign disavowed what Baldasaro said. Still, Baldasaro was invited to the White House in June 2017 for a bill-signing ceremony, again prompting Trump's team to distance itself from his remarks. Baldasaro said on Twitter at the time: 'Nobody advocated shooting Hillary, just an opinion in accordance with law & CONSTITUTION on treason.'" ...

... Pot Calls Kettle Fat. Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Thursday mocked the weight of a protester who briefly interrupted his rally in Manchester, N.H. 'That guy's got a serious weight problem. Go home, start exercising,' Trump said as the individual who interrupted Trump's speech was escorted out of the arena. 'Get him out of here please. Got a bigger problem than I do,' Trump quipped. 'Got a bigger problem than all of us....' Cameras showed multiple protesters being escorted out of the arena after the crowd began booing and chanting 'U.S.A.' The interruption came as Trump slammed Democrats, accusing them of demeaning law enforcement and describing their opponents as 'fascists and Nazis.' Moments later, Trump continued with his usual remarks, telling supporters that his movement is 'built on love.'"

Karen Pinchin of PBS: "The mayor of the grieving city of El Paso [Dee Margo] told President Donald Trump in a private meeting that he's presenting 'misinformation' about crime in his city and pushed back when the president used a derogatory term to suggest he wasn't a real Republican. 'He said, "You're a RINO [Republican in name only]," and I said, "No, sir. I am not a RINO,"'" --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As Trump has shown before, his means of comforting a community in distress includes insulting the mayor. Apparently, Trump thinks this is an especially good idea in majority-Hispanic cities like El Paso & San Juan, Puerto Rico.

More than 250,000 people have signed the petition to change the name of Fifth Avenue in the block in front of Trump Tower to "President Barack H. Obama Avenue." The WashPo has a story here. There's a ClickOrlando story here. (Also linked yesterday.)

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) subpoenaed Corey Lewandowski and former White House official Rick Dearborn on Thursday, marking Democrats' latest efforts to receive testimony from key figures in the Mueller report." (Also linked yesterday.)

Some Weird News Just Got Weirder. Michael Corkery of the New York Times: On Monday the founder & CEO of Overstock Patrick Byrne wrote a peculiar press release titled ' CEO Comments on Deep State,' in which "said that he had been helping law enforcement agents, whom he referred to as Men in Black,' with their 'Clinton Investigation; and 'Russia Investigation.'" Then on Wednesday, Byrne confirmed that he had been in a sometimes-romantic relationship with Russian agent Maria Butina. "Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, confirmed that Ms. Butina and Mr. Byrne had been 'romantically involved' and that, according to Mr. Byrne, government officials had instructed him on how to interact with her." The story goes on to describe some of the details of the relationship.

James West of Mother Jones: "Earlier this year, federal investigators began requesting corporate documents and questioning staff at American Media Inc., the company run by Donald Trump's longtime friend David Pecker.... FBI agents zeroed in on the circumstances behind the magazine's [special issue Saudi Arabia-themed] publication and, according to one of the sources, whether AMI had engaged in illegal influence peddling on behalf of a foreign power.... The story of how AMI came under scrutiny by the feds as a possible agent of Saudi influence is a dizzying saga of Trumpian proportions, featuring a cast of characters that includes the world's richest man [Jeff Bezos], a Saudi leader [Mohammed bin Salman] who has forged deep ties to the Trump administration, and an embattled media baron.... The Saudi influence probe could have profound implications for AMI ... because it threatens to undo a deal the company struck last year with the Justice Department over its role in the hush-money case [with Stormy Daniels and] Michael Cohen." --s

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jeremy Barr
of The Hollywood Reporter: "A trove of Treasury Department emails [from 2017 & 2018] released to the non-profit organization Democracy Forward and provided exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter this week paint a picture of a close, friendly bond between the Trump administration agency and two news organizations, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.... 'The Trump administration is a revolving door for Fox News personalities and our documents expose the network as the administration's communications arm,' Democracy Forward said in a statement to THR. 'Trump administration officials revising Fox News tweets and Fox News rewriting stories to suit the administration's whims isn't journalism, it's propaganda.'" Includes many examples. --s

Spencer Woodman & Maryam Saleh of The Intercept: "In the first 15 months of the Trump administration, U.S. immigration authorities locked thousands of detainees in solitary confinement, some for months at a time, a new report from the Project on Government Oversight ... has found.... In roughly 40 percent of those reports ... across both presidential administrations, the detainee placed in isolation had a mental illness diagnosis.... The U.N. has said that solitary confinement should be banned except in 'very exceptional circumstances.' It should never be used to isolate people with mental illness or juveniles -- and no one should be held for longer than 15 days, the U.N. says." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Abigail Weinberg of Mother Jones on the Department of Labor's proposed new rule "that would make it easier for employers to discriminate against workers who they say violate their religious beliefs, including members of the LGBTQ community, pregnant women who are not married, and others.... The rule will remain in a comment period until Sept. 16 before it is finalized." --s

Josh Kovensky of TPM: "Top political appointees at the State Department 'harassed' career staffers whom they suspected were members of the supposed 'deep state' or were purportedly 'disloyal' to the Trump administration's goals, according to a new report from the department's inspector general.... Assistant secretary Kevin Moley and senior adviser Mari Stull are named in the report as being behind much of the chaos. The report details multiple incidents in which Stull allegedly 'retaliated' against State Department employees.... Stull, a former food lobbyist who blogged about wine ... referred to [career employees] as 'Obama holdovers,' 'traitors,' or 'disloyal'[.]'" --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Kovensky includes a copy of the IG's report.

Presidential Race 2020

Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line: "A new Iowa Starting Line-Change Research poll shows [Elizabeth Warren] opening up a commanding lead in the Iowa Caucus. Warren was the top pick of 28% of likely Iowa Caucus-goers in the poll, an 11-point lead over the nearest competitor. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were both tied for second with 17% each. Pete Buttigieg came in fourth at 13% and Kamala Harris has the backing of 8%. Both Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke garnered 3% of caucus-goers' support, while Steve Bullock, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer got on the board at 2%. Julian Castro, Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang rounded out the field at 1%, while everyone else had less than that.... The poll was conducted online August 9 to 11, right in the middle of peak Iowa State Fair campaigning...." ...

... Henry Olsen of the Washington Post: "Elizabeth Warren has become the flavor du jour in the Democratic presidential race on the back of two strong debate performances. But her polling numbers suggest passing former vice president Joe Biden will be a much harder task. The senator from Massachusetts has risen as the progressive's progressive, refusing to run away from controversial stances such as eliminating private health insurance in favor of a government-run Medicare-for-all system.... All the recent national polls show her support is heavily skewed to the party's left wing."

Matt Stieb & Adam Raymond of New York: Former Colorado Gov. John "Hickenlooper dropped out of the race Thursday. In a video posted to Twitter, Hickenlooper said, 'Today, I'm ending my campaign for president....' In the video, the 67-year-old fanned rumors about his running for Senate, saying he's heard 'from so many Coloradans' who want him to take on Republican senator Cory Gardner next year. 'I intend to give that some serious thought,' he said in the video."

Richard Behar
of Forbes: "The day after he was taken off suicide watch, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein spent at least two hours locked up alone with a young woman, in a private room reserved for inmates and their attorneys, according to an attorney who was visiting the prison that day. 'The optics were startling. Because she was young. And pretty,' said the visiting attorney, who asked that his name not be used.... The visiting attorney noted that she didn't seem to have any files with her .... and ... that she was dressed casually.... The room is locked when prisoners go in, after their handcuffs are removed, and unlocked only when prisoners leave and handcuffs are put back on."

Religion Gone Wild. Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Advocates of a 'medicine' called MMS will gather in a hotel in upstate New York on Saturday to promote what they claim to be a miracle cure for cancer that is in fact a powerful bleach that can cause serious harm and even death. The self-proclaimed 'Genesis II Church of Health and Healing' -- a group that in reality is neither a church nor a medical outfit -- plans to lure supporters ... charging $450 per person, or $800 for a couple.... Earlier this week it posted on its Facebook page a video of a man firing multiple handgun rounds in a shooting range above the caption 'More G2 Church security training'.... The peddlers claim that drinking the bleach can cure any number of serious illnesses, including cancer, HIV/Aids and malaria as well as autism.... The operation is masterminded by Mark and Jonathan Grenon, who have given themselves the title of 'bishops' within the 'church'." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This "religious" group isn't the only enterprise pushing this dangerous "Miracle Mineral Supplement." Joshua Bote of USA Today: "A solution of bleach sold as a "Miracle Mineral Supplement" has been touted as an unproven, so-called cure to multiple ailments, including cancer, autism, HIV and the flu. But the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Monday that the product, which is sold online for just under $30, can cause nausea, vomiting and dehydration. Extended use may lead to kidney failure and possible death.... The product's chemical compound has killed at least eight people, including a 6-year-old girl with autism, according to NBC News. These vendors sell a solution of sodium chlorite, which, when mixed with lemon or lime juice or another acid, turns it into chlorine dioxide. Exposure to chlorine dioxide can result in 'delays in brain development' for children, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." The New York Times story, by Christine Hauser (August 13) is here.

Maanvi Singh of the Guardian: "Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Wetherbee's mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains. 'I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles,' said the US Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers. The discovery, published in a recent study (pdf) titled 'It is raining plastic', raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth.... Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the ocean, in UK lakes and rivers and in US groundwater." --s

Way Beyond the Beltway

North Korea. Justin McMurry of the Guardian: "North Korea has fired at least two unidentified projectiles into the sea off its east coast, shortly after it denounced South Korea's military drills with the US and declared that inter-Korean talks were over." --s

Saudi Arabia. Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "An international law group has submitted new evidence to the UK government alleging that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has covered up evidence of its unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets. The allegations will put pressure on the UK government as it prepares its response to a court order directing it to reconsider all existing British government licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.... The government is expected to provide its response next month in a move with big ramifications for future UK-Saudi relations." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

News Lede

Daily Beast: "Peter Fonda, the two-time Oscar nominee and star of 1969's Easy Rider, died on Friday morning at the age of 79. Fonda, the son of actor Henry Fonda, brother of actress Jane Fonda and the father of Bridget Fonda, passed away in his Los Angeles home at 11:05 a.m. surrounded by his loved ones, according to a statement from his family." The New York Times obituary is here.

Reader Comments (11)

I need some clarification. Is trump planning on buying Greenland on behalf of the American people, or is it for trump Enterprises? If the later, a hell of a place for a golf resort.

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDan Lowery

The MMS frenzy might have its built-in benefits, if you buy the old libertarian argument against prohibiting the distribution of dangerous drugs.

Why should the state protect fools from themselves when they are bent on eliminating themselves along with their foolishness? Looked at that way, if allowed to act as they will, idiots are a self-correcting problem.

Of course, even tho' every time I see a clip of a Pretender rally and think "those idiots are getting what they deserve," I'm reminded that I'm not a libertarian.

We might wish it were, but the harm done by the stupid, not to mention the evil, is never restricted to only themselves.

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes


Not clarification but an informed guess.

All the evidence suggests the Pretender has no interest in doing anything for the country, so a Greenland purchase would, like everything else he does, have to be for him.

And I hesitate to give the Pretender credit for thought this deep, but maybe he thinks if he can warm the planet fast enough, that golf course with its verdant greens might be in the realm of possibility during his lifetime.

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Dan I'm guessing golf courses are absolutely on the drawing board. It's the future of the Trump Org.

And @Marie, no problem about the indigenous population. If they don't want to work off the books for slave wages, Donald will organize special deliveries of smallpox blankets, just like his favorite generals did.

This confirms the administration's ardent faith against fighting climate change, because the faster those Greenland glaciers melt, the more real estate opens up for the 36 hole mega putt-putt, complete with a stay in Trump's Holiday Inn for rubes and a quick dip in the Javanka whirlpool.

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

The answer is simple. C'mon guys, the little king has a very good brain. He knows that GREENland must have a lot of nice green grass for golf courses, you know, like in Ireland. Although at that rate, one might assume that there's lots of IRE in Ireland. Well, never mind. Ire is probably not one of his best words.

On the other hand, when he and the dunce twins, Uday and Qusay, start work on building their new luxury golf courses on the ice packs, they'll likely find themselves in this condition.

Which would be fine by me.

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Just got around to reading that WaPo piece (in the Ledes column) of how distraught certain white people (read: Trump voters, natch) were to find out that a visit to antebellum plantations might include information about those pesky, pain in the ass slaves.

Some people really are buzzkills. Here we are, a nice white couple, coming to White Massa Plantation to hear about balls and punch and cotillions with beautiful young debutantes just like in "Gone With the Wind" and some killjoy black tour guide has to shove slavery in our white faces. The Idea! We never owned slaves!

The general condition of these butthurt white tourists, yearning for the good old days of Hollywood mammys and the Old South can be summed up in this comment:

"There is really nothing good you can say about slavery..." at which point this person should have just dropped in a period. Alas, here it comes....


You don't even need to read the rest. Adding a qualification to the statement that you can't say anything good about slavery is all you need to know about the mindset of these people.

"Yes, the Holocaust was awful, BUT..."

"Well sure Torture is bad, BUT..."


August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Taking some time to read this morning's R.C. (The Germans are in N.Y. today) I had to stop midway and just look out the window at our trees–-something that always brings me solace. Akhilleus and Ken's love of science fiction popped into my mind–-the weirdness of one thing after the other–-the other worldliness of it all–-and to top it all off we learn we are raining plastic.

What we have here are elements of malignant narcissism and to paraphrase Joseph O'Neill who wrote a piece about Republican authoritarianism, the ship may be about to hit the iceberg, but we have excellent hypotheses about the captain's complexities and the shortcomings of the hull design. We know who the commerce secretary is. Be that as it may I would say the optimism displayed by some does not give me comfort. Nationalism is flourishing globally and I agree with many who say it's because the discourse of American liberalism is deficient. The Captain of our ship cares only for his own skin –-he sleeps with a life raft under his bed.

When Obama gave a speech in 2009 during a trip to Turkey he said:

"One of the great strengths of the Untied States is–-although, as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population––we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

We no longer can attest to that message and perhaps we never really could but we had a president who believed in those ideals and set of values. There was respect–-there was intelligence and empathy and an abundance of love displayed. We know we lost a lot but could we have imagined THIS disaster.

So our fight must be vigorous and tough––the kind of fight to win because we are right and "they" are wrong and because we have a moral right to power and they don't and maybe we can also say because we embrace those American values we cherish but are seeing destroyed.

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Top Ten Reasons little donnie Wants to Buy Greenland

Reason number ten:
With about 7% of all the fresh water on the planet locked into its ice sheet, and the coming shortage of water around the world, the always forward thinking little king is likely looking to catch the water as it melts (due to global warming, which he supports). The run off can then be bottled as Trump Water and sold at a profit to residents in scorched parts of the world (like New York and LA) and make a killing.

Reason number nine:
Plenty of polar bears. When he wants to make fun of someone for being fatter than he is, he can yell at them. And after that, Uday and Qusay can shoot them and their cubs. It'll help with the gun nut and anti-environmentalist vote.

Reason number eight:
The nominal leader of Greenland is Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. If donnie owns it, he can be their king. King at last!

Reason number seven:
They actually do have golf in Greenland. Every year, in March, they hold the Ice Golf World Championship in a place called Uummannaq. He can declare himself the winner. Another golf cup for his trophy case! Except cheating, and kicking your ball out of the "rough" on ice means it could go a looong way. Oops.

Reason number six:
Many inhabitants have family origins in Siberia. Daddy Vlad will like that. Little donnie can buy his very own Rooskies.

Reason number five:
It looks cool from space.

Reason number four:
Chance to corner the real estate market in igloos.

Reason number three:
Lots of Inuits to make fun of.

Reason number two:
Greenland is the biggest island in the world, right? Say no more.

And the number one reason little donnie wants to buy Greenland?
He's a fucking loony!

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re Greenland: Here's a link to the Danish counter-offer as reported by Andy Borowitz, to the great delight of the Danes:

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterIslander

Enough of this bullshit!

This afternoon on NPR's flagship program, "ll Things Considered", host Mary Louise Kelly (typically a serious journalist) led off with a story about Fatty's ridiculously stupid idea of buying Greenland with the assertion that this may not be as crazy as it seems because Trump is not the first president to suggest that purchasing Greenland might be a good idea.

The story goes on to instruct (or remind, for those who know) listeners that Harry Truman once thought along the same lines.

Stop right there!

This is, in part, why we're in this horrific situation, that of having an ignorant, pusillanimous, stunningly puerile, cowardly, greedy, lying, narcissistic thug in the White House. Major news outlets like NPR, the sort that wingers routinely rip for daring to mention the tiniest criticisms of the Glorious Leader, go out of their way to normalize this charlatan by comparing him to a real president like Harry Truman.

Suggesting that Trump is not off his rocker because "Harry Truman too" is simply, and outrageously obsequious and alarming. Even if the story goes on to point out (three minutes later) that things were different in 1946, so blah, blah, blah, it makes no difference. The lede is "Trump is not crazy. Truman did it too!"

This is why (in part) people like Nancy Pelosi are fearful of stripping this prick of his White House pass. We have a so-called "liberal" news outlet (it's not) saying "He's not really all that mad".

And here's the thing. NPR is stunningly jittery and panicky about saying anything that the racists, the haters, the gun knobbers, the fascists, the white supremacists, any and all Trump voters might interpret as judgmental regarding their glorious leader or themselves. A few years ago, NPR was whipped into submission by R's who threatened to kill all of their funding. And now, they'll say things like "Trump is not crazy. Truman thought the same thing" in order to stay on the air.

And we get screwed.

This is gutless and perilously misleading on so many levels.

There is no way that middle of the road media outlets (never mind overtly liberal ones) would or could ever influence a winger media shill factory to move toward the middle (or within rocket launch distance of the truth), but MSM and supposedly "liberal" ones are constantly being manhandled, bludgeoned, and ass-kicked toward the right.

Because they allow it. Because they're afraid. Because they're NOT REALLY JOURNALISTS!!

Trump will win in 2020.

I am completely distraught.

August 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Couldn't agree more. You know, I can say "E equals mc squared." Wow, I must be as smart as Einstein! Oh wait. I don't know what it means, I don't know its implications & I don't know its applications.

My saying "E equals mc squared" is just like Trump's saying to an aide, "Look into buying Greenland. And make sure the king of Greenland gets a gold crown, an orange wig & an indoor golf course." Neither of us has any idea what we're talking about.

August 16, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie
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