The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, September 15, 2019.

New York Times: "Juanita Abernathy, who helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott and took part in other pivotal protests at the outset of the civil rights era alongside the Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, her husband and a leader of the movement, died on Thursday at a hospital in Atlanta. She was 88."

Public Service Announcement

September 5: Washington Post: "State and federal health officials investigating mysterious lung illnesses linked to vaping have found the same chemical in samples of marijuana products used by people sickened in different parts of the country and who used different brands of products in recent weeks. The chemical is an oil derived from vitamin E. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the oil in cannabis products in samples collected from patients who fell ill across the United States. FDA officials shared that information with state health officials during a telephone briefing this week, according to several officials who took part in the call." The NPR story is here.

New York Times: "A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled 'America' by its creator, Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen early Saturday [September 14] from an exhibit at Blenheim Palace, the Oxfordshire birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill.... The artwork is based on a common Kohler toilet and was created by a foundry in Florence. The work’s value was not disclosed, but [Guggenheim artistic director Nancy] Spector described it as 'millions of dollars’ worth of gold.'... The police said in a statement that they were investigating the burglary and that a 66-year-old man had been arrested but not charged. The toilet has not been recovered. Jess Milne, a detective inspector, noted that the toilet had been plumbed to the building, so the theft 'caused significant damage and flooding.' He said the police believed a 'group of offenders' using at least two vehicles was behind the theft." the Hill's story is here.

Modern Art. CNN: "Hillary Clinton's emails ... have become art -- and the former secretary of state herself went to take a look.The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee looked through printed copies of her emails and sat at a replica of the Oval Office's Resolute Desk during a visit Tuesday to an art exhibit in Venice, Italy, titled 'HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails,' according to the exhibit's creator and curators. 'Hillary Clinton spent an hour yesterday reading her emails at my exhibition of all 62,000 pages of them in Venice,' American poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith tweeted Wednesday. 'She is pictured here at a replica of the Oval Office Resolute Desk, stacked with her emails.' Francesco Urbano Ragazzi -- the collective name for two men who are working as the exhibit's curatorial team -- told CNN that Clinton came in for a private tour of the exhibit Tuesday morning."

... Related Washington Post story here.

     ... Thanks to NJC for the lead.

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.”

Monday
Aug192019

The Commentariat -- August 20, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Tuesday ramped up his attacks on Rep. Rashida Tlaib after the Michigan Democrat got emotional at a press conference criticizing Israel over its decision to bar her from entering the country last week. 'Sorry, I don't buy Rep. Tlaib's tears,' Trump tweeted after Tlaib spoke out the previous day about Israel's decision. 'I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears?' Trump again claimed that Tlaib 'hates Israel and all Jewish people,' and called her an 'anti-Semite.'"

Travis Gettys of the Raw Story: "Federal agents arrested a Washington state man who allegedly threatened to 'exterminate' Latinos as part of a race war he believed would be launched by ... Donald Trump. According to court documents, Eric Lin frequently praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler online and sent multiple death threats against a woman in Miami and plotted to pay a man to beat her up, reported the Miami New Times. 'The time will come when Miami will burn to the ground -- and every Latin Man will be lined up against a Wall and Shot and every Latin Woman Raped or Cut to Pieces,' Lin wrote Aug. 8, according to investigators."

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: "Italy's nationalist government collapsed on Tuesday as the country's prime minister [Giuseppe Conte] announced his resignation in the face of a mutinous power play by the hard-line and increasingly popular interior minister, Matteo Salvini.... With Mr. Salvini seated beside him with raised chin, Mr. Conte took aim, accusing him of 'political opportunism,' disregard for Italy's institutions and thrusting the country into a 'vortex of political uncertainty and financial instability.'" The Guardian's story is here.

Jennifer Rankin & Jessica Elgot of the Guardian: "The European Union has rebuffed Boris Johnson's attempts to tear up the Irish backstop, in a coordinated response that appeared to close the door on further meaningful Brexit negotiations."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I don't know how Tom Tomorrow managed to sneak into the Oval, but here's proof he did. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. You can click on the comic strip to see a larger image:

Trump & His Crack Team "Don't See a Recession," BUT.... Damian Paletta of the Washington Post: "Several senior White House officials have begun discussing whether to push for a temporary payroll tax cut as a way to arrest an economic slowdown, three people familiar with the discussions said, revealing growing concerns about the economy among President Trump's top economic aides." The Hill has a summary of the WashPo report. ...

... AND.... Maggie Haberman, et al., of the New York Times: "White House officials have begun preparing options to help boost the American economy and prevent it from falling into a recession, including mulling a potential payroll tax cut and a possible reversal of some of President Trump's tariffs, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Trump continues to insist the economy is 'doing tremendously well,' and he and his advisers publicly dismiss any notion of an impending recession. But behind the scenes, Mr. Trump's economic team is pulling together contingency plans in the event the economy weakens further." ...

... AND.... AP: "... Donald Trump is calling on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by at least a full percentage point 'over a fairly short period of time,' saying that such an action would make the U.S. economy even better and would also 'greatly and quickly' enhance the global economy. In two tweets Monday, Trump kept up his pressure on the Fed and its chairman Jerome Powell, saying the U.S. economy was strong 'despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed.' Powell is Trump's hand-picked choice for the top Fed job. He said Democrats were trying to 'will' the economy to deteriorate ahead of the 2020 election.... Trump also said the central bank should consider supplying 'quantitative easing' as well, the term economists use to describe the Fed's efforts to restart economic growth over the 2007-2009 recession by buying bonds to lower long-term interest rates." ...

The fundamentals of our economy are very strong. -- Kellyanne Conway, August 2019; John McCain, September 2008 ...

... AND.... Oops! Zeke Miller & Josh Boak of the AP: "The 'fundamentals' of the U.S. economy are solid, [Kellyanne Conway] asserted on Monday, invoking an ill-fated political declaration of a decade ago amid mounting concern that a recession could imperil ... Donald Trump's reelection.... Republican John McCain was accused of being out of touch when he made a similar declaration during the 2008 presidential campaign just hours before investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, setting off a stock market crash and global financial decline." Mrs. McC: Read on for a typical "on the one hand/on the other hand" economic analysis. ...

... Marcy Gordon of the AP: "A strong majority, 74%, of U.S. business economists appear sufficiently concerned about the risks of some of ... Donald Trump's economic policies that they expect a recession in the U.S. by the end of 2021. The economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a report released Monday, mostly didn't share Trump's optimistic outlook for the economy, though they generally saw recession coming later than they did in a survey taken in February. Thirty-four percent of the economists surveyed said they believe a slowing economy will tip into recession in 2021. That's up from 25% in the February survey."

We've Seen This Show Before. Matthew Vann of ABC News: "After ... Donald Trump appeared to respond to a groundswell of public support for tougher gun sale background checks..., his language -- and possibly his stance -- on new gun control measures seems to be softening. Just a few weeks ago, Trump told reporters 'we have to have very meaningful background checks' as he left the White House just days following the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.... But now..., Trump on Sunday appeared to back off on any new push background checks, again calling mental health the actual problem. 'I'm saying Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas, the president told reporters as he prepared to board Air Force One in Morristown, New Jersey. '... And I'll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks. OK?'" ...

... Burgess Everett of Politico: "Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are lamenting ... Donald Trump's apparent about-face on enhanced backgrounds for firearm sales, with Schumer calling the move 'not only disappointing but also heartbreaking.'"

Coral Davenport & Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times: "The White House, blindsided by a pact between California and four automakers to oppose President Trump's auto emissions rollbacks, has mounted an effort to prevent any more from joining the other side. Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors were all summoned by a senior Trump adviser to a White House meeting last month where he pressed them to stand by the president's own initiative, according to four people familiar with the talks. But even as the White House was working to do this, it was losing ground. Yet another company, Mercedes-Benz, is now preparing to join the California agreement, according to two people familiar with the German company's plans. Mr. Trump, described by three people as 'enraged' by California's deal, has also demanded that his staffers step up the pace to complete his plan. His proposal, however, is directly at odds with the wishes of many automakers, which fear that the aggressive rollbacks will spark a legal battle between California and the federal government that could split the United States car market in two."

"I Call the Shots at Fox." Bianca Quilantan of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Sunday slammed his preferred news network over recent unfavorable poll results, saying: 'There's something going on at Fox [News], I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.' Trump's comments to reporters in New Jersey were in response to a question about the network's recent survey showing the president losing head-to-head matchups against four of the top Democratic presidential primary candidates.... He also ... signaled a warning about the the general election cycle. 'And I think Fox is making a big mistake,' the president said when asked about the polling and the network's leadership. 'Because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots on that -- on the really big debates.'" Missed this Sunday. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Heather Caygle & Kyle Cheney of Politico: "The push to remove the president from office gained momentum on Monday after the No. 4 House Democrat announced support for an impeachment investigation into Donald Trump. Ben Ray Luján, a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the highest-ranking House Democrat to back impeachment thus far. The New Mexico Democrat, who currently serves as assistant speaker, is running to fill an open Senate seat in his home state next year."

Trump Helps ISIS. Eric Schmitt, et al., of the New York Times: "Five months after American-backed forces ousted the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria, the terrorist group is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American and Iraqi military and intelligence officers said.... Mr. Trump has continued to claim credit for completely defeating the Islamic State, contradicting repeated warnings from his own intelligence and counterterrorism officials that ISIS remains a lethal force.... A recent inspector general's report warned that a drawdown this year from 2,000 American forces in Syria to less than half of that, ordered by Mr. Trump, has meant the American military has had to cut back support for Syrian partner forces fighting ISIS.... "

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "On Monday night, Trump tweeted an edited photo of a coastal town [in Greenland] dotted with colorful homes -- all dwarfed by a golden skyscraper bearing the US president's name. 'I promise not to do this to Greenland!' Trump said. The tweet came a day after he confirmed news reports that he was mulling the idea of buying the autonomous Danish territory.... Trump, ever the businessman, apparently cannot resist the prospect of what he has called 'essentially a large real estate deal' with miles of coastline."

Susan Glasser of the New Yorker writes a long profile of Mike Pompeo, and though her delivery is dispassionate, it would she doesn't like him much. She writes barely anything to recommend him. The part about Trump's hiring Pompeo to head the CIA is funny, though. ...

Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "Attorney General William Barr on Monday announced he had removed the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons one week after the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who previously occupied the role between 1992 and 2003, will take over as the new director. The death of Epstein, who was accused of sex trafficking, has led to scrutiny of the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he was in custody." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "Barr said [acting director Hugh] Hurwitz would return to his previous role as an assistant director for the bureau's reentry programs. The attorney general did not mention the Epstein case in his announcement.... Barr also appointed Thomas R. Kane to serve as her deputy, a position currently vacant. Even before Epstein's death, Justice Department officials privately expressed frustration with senior officials at the Bureau of Prisons, but the apparent management flaws found since have angered the department's leaders, including the attorney general, according to law enforcement officials who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity." ...

     ... Barr Recycles His Old Appointees. Mrs. McCrabbie: According to a report I heard on MSNBC, Barr had appointed Sawyer to the same job in 1992 & had appointed Kane as deputy assistant director in 1991. Think they'll shake up the Bureau of Prisons & make it all better? ...

... He Put His Affairs in Order Right Before Killing Himself. Steve Eder & Ali Watkins of the New York Times: "Less than 48 hours before Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself, he was preparing for death: He had just signed his will, according to court documents filed on Monday in the Virgin Islands.... The document's timing, in hindsight, was a harbinger of the abrupt end of Mr. Epstein's life of privilege. In creating the trust, Mr. Epstein, who had cultivated an air of mystery before he was arrested in early July on federal sex-trafficking charges, may have been attempting to shield his final dealings from public scrutiny. The operations of a trust generally are kept secret, unlike litigation associated with a traditional will...." ...

     ... Kate Briquelet of the Daily Beast: "Jeffrey Epstein signed his last will and testament just two days before he killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell -- naming as his backup executor a former adviser to Bill Gates who doesn't even want the job.... [Boris] Nikolic was reportedly 'shocked' to learn that he was listed in the will -- which dictates that all of Epstein's personal property should go to the trustees of a mysterious entity called The 1953 Trust. 'I was not consulted in these matters and I have no intent to fulfill these duties, whatsoever,' he said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg."

Pam Belluck of the New York Times: "Planned Parenthood said Monday that it would withdraw from the federal family planning program that provides birth control and other health services to poor women rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that forbids referrals to doctors who can perform abortions. Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million annually through the federal program, known as Title X. The funds have enabled the group to provide more than 1.5 million low-income women each year with services like birth control and pregnancy tests, as well as screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and breast and cervical cancer. In some rural communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of such services." The CBS News story is here. ...

      ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is a calamity for American women -- as well as men & unborn children -- a calamity that falls directly at the feet of the Misogynist-in-Chief & his anti-woman sidekick mike pence. ...

... Here's an Example. Ethan DeWitt of the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor (August 14): "The trend lines are clear: A 17% increase in chlamydia rates in New Hampshire over a recent five-year period; a 103% surge in the syphilis rate; a 352% explosion of gonorrhea [in] New Hampshire..., according to numbers published by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2018.... A decision by the Trump administration to add new restrictions to federal funding for health care clinics that provide abortions -- most notably Planned Parenthood -- has taken a bite out of other health services, the organizations say. And an attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to alleviate that loss of funds via state money has also been put on ice, after a budget veto by Gov. Chris Sununu [R].... Without federal funding or state backup money, Planned Parenthood has seen a 25% hit to its operating budget, and other family planning centers are feeling crimped as well.... One casualty of that funding crunch, providers say: STD testing." Emphasis added. ...

... Melissa Grant of the New Republic: "Planned Parenthood might be the largest and most visible target of Trump's religious-right, anti-choice base. But all told, there are nearly 4000 Title X-funded family planning programs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and they served more than 4 million people in the last fiscal year. Losing Title X, for the average clinic, means losing 19 percent of their funding, leaving people in need of family planning services with fewer choices. A 2019 report from the Guttmacher Institute put it bluntly: 'The Trump administration is seeking to transform Title X from an agent of reproductive autonomy to a tool of government-sponsored reproductive coercion.'"

Presidential Race 2020

Elana Schor & Josh Funk of Politico: "... Elizabeth Warren offered a public apology Monday to Native Americans over her past claim to tribal heritage, directly tackling an area that's proved to be a big political liability. 'Like anyone who has been honest with themselves, I know I have made mistakes,' the Massachusetts senator said at a forum on Native American issues in this pivotal early-voting state. 'I am sorry for the harm I have caused.' Monday's remarks were an effort to move past the fallout from her past claims of tribal ancestry, which culminated in a widely criticized release of a DNA analysis last year. The issue nearly derailed her campaign in the early days as ... Donald Trump began derisively referring to her as 'Pocahontas.'... The detailed policy agenda to help Native Americans that she released last week helped her secure a warm reception from attendees at the tribal forum." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Warren seems to have a knack for making lemonade out of lemons. Not only has she helped herself with Native Americans, she has used Trump's racist "Pocahontas" taunt to help raise general awareness of Native American issues. Trump, true to form, has learned nothing. The rest of us have been luckier.

Matt Stieb of New York: "In June, a small ... controversy flared after Washington governor Jay Inslee proposed a field-wide town hall on climate change and the Democratic National Committee told him that if he participated in an unofficial event focused on the crisis of our time, he would be barred from official DNC debates in the future. In July, the tone of the conversation changed when CNN announced it would host a climate-only debate in New York on September 4 for candidates who made the cut for the next all-issue debate by snagging at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls. Unfortunately for Inslee -- who has proposed a plan for a 100 percent-renewable, zero-emission America by 2035 -- it appears unlikely that he will get invited to the debate he proposed, as he hasn't reached 2 percent in any polls approved by the DNC."

Paul Rosenberg of Salon: Rachel Bitecofer, a political scientist who in July 2018 nailed the outcome of the 2018 Congressional races, says the Democratic presidential candidate will win the Electoral College with a bare majority of 278 electoral votes, just above the 270 needed to win. She has Trump at 197 electoral votes, with four toss-up states.

Charles Pierce of Esquire: "Weaponized paranoia always has been at the heart of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago's political identity. In the tangles of his mind, he is always standing strong and alone against a vast array of enemies, including the minions of The Deep State and certain Guatemalan toddlers. If he feels like his presidency* is in serious peril, he's liable to go off the deep end. He's already setting up the members of the cult to refuse to accept the result of any election he doesn't win. (He's recently gone off again about those busloads of Massachusetts voters who drove to New Hampshire to deprive him of his win there in 2016.) If a recession hits, he's already blamed his own Fed chair and the evil media."

Presidential Election 2016. Harper Neidig of the Hill: "President Trump alleged Monday that Google manipulated millions of voters into supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, saying the company 'should be sued' in his latest attack on the tech giant.... Trump appears to be referring to the work of Robert Epstein, a researcher with a group based in Vista, Calif.... Epstein testified in a Senate hearing in June about what he calls the 'Search Engine Manipulation Effect' and claimed that his research shows Google's search results pushed at least 2.6 million people to vote for Clinton in 2016.... In 2017, Google dismissed Epstein's research, telling The Washington Post that it amounts to 'nothing more than a poorly constructed conspiracy theory.'" ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post has more on Trump's conspiracy theory, which was instigated by a Fox "News" segment. Bump pokes many holes in Epstein's "research results." ...

The debunked study you're referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that's about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted. -- Hillary Clinton, Monday, in a tweet

Senate Race 2020?? Charles Pierce: "A point of personal privilege -- Democratic politics here in the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] (God save it!) lost a bit of its mind over the weekend. The New York Times tells us that Rep. Joe Kennedy, who happens to be my congressman, not that it matters, is seriously considering a primary challenge to incumbent Senator Edward Markey.... A Kennedy-Markey primary fight would blot out the sky in terms of coverage and money, both of which might be better used elsewhere in the Democratic effort to make Mitch McConnell a civilian again. There is no good policy reason I can see to vote for Joe Kennedy over Ed Markey."

Matt Ford of the New Republic: "It went largely unnoticed last week, but the Trump administration's ongoing campaign to structurally tilt American democracy in the Republican Party's favor is proceeding apace.... Donald Trump ordered the Census Bureau to compile citizenship data from existing federal records last month, after the Supreme Court effectively blocked a citizenship question on the census itself.... By also providing block-level data on eligible voters, the bureau is opening the door for states to redraw their legislative maps in 2021 based on that population base instead.... The effects of extreme partisan gerrymandering and stringent voter-ID laws would be amplified.... If past is prologue, the corrosion of American democracy only stands to worsen." Ford deplores the fairly secretive nature of this newest plot. ...

... Tierney Sneed of TPM: "Hans von Spakovsky -- a former member of ... Trump's voter fraud commission known for overhyping claims of mass voter fraud -- is encouraging states to move forward with an anti-immigrant, GOP-friendly redistricting overhaul, using citizenship data the Census Bureau is planning to produce. In an interview [at a ALEC conference] posted Friday, von Spakovsky acknowledged that such a change to redistricting would 'probably' benefit Republicans." --s

Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The New York City police officer whose chokehold was partly blamed for Eric Garner's death in police custody in 2014 was fired from the Police Department on Monday, ending a bitter, five-year legal battle that had cast a shadow over the nation's largest police force and the city it protects. The police commissioner, James P. O'Neill, dismissed the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, just over two weeks after a police administrative judge found him guilty of violating a department ban on chokeholds. Mr. Garner died on July 17, 2014, after Officer Pantaleo tackled him from behind, then, along with other officers, pressed him down on the pavement. Captured on video, the arrest and Mr. Garner's last words -- 'I can't breathe' -- gave impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement." Here's the Daily Beast story. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So what it takes to get fired from the NYPD is murdering a person in broad daylight on a public street, with numerous witnesses & a video camera rolling, in response to a minor, non-violent offense (selling loose cigarettes).

Jason Silverstein of CBS News: "Two members of the far-right group Proud Boys were found guilty Monday of charges stemming from a brawl with anti-fascist protesters near a Republican club in Manhattan in 2018. Maxwell Hare, 27, and John Kinsman, 39, were convicted of attempted gang assault, attempted assault and riot charges. A Manhattan Supreme Court jury deliberated for less than two days on the charges. Hare and Kinsman will be sentenced Oct. 11. They face up to 15 years in prison for the attempted gang assault convictions." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It's worth remembering that way back this past weekend, Donald Trump tweeted in response to civil unrest in Portland, Oregon, that the anti-facist group Antifa should be designated a terrorist organization. Trump wrote nothing about the Proud Boys, against whom Antifa was protesting. As Zeshan Aleem wrote for Vox, the Proud Boys "... did not receive a permit for the rally [in Portland].... The Proud Boys [is] a group of self-proclaimed 'Western chauvinists' with links to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and a history of violence against left-wing activists. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated them as a hate group."

Justin Noble of DeSmog: "In July 2015 workers at the Garden Creek I Gas Processing Plant, in Watford City, North Dakota, noticed a leak in a pipeline and reported a spill to the North Dakota Department of Health that remains officially listed as 10 gallons.... But a whistle-blower has revealed to DeSmog the incident is actually on par with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, which released roughly 11 million gallons of thick crude. The Garden Creek spill 'is in fact over 11 million gallons of condensate that leaked through a crack in a pipeline for over 3 years,' says the whistle-blower, who has expertise in environmental science but refused to be named.... [The whistleblower] provided to DeSmog a document that details remediation efforts and verifies the spill's monstrous size...." --s

Susie Cagle of Mother Jones: "Anti-immigrant ideology has been part and parcel of the whole of American conservationism since the first national park was founded, in part to protect wild yet white-owned nature from Mexicans and Native Americans. National purity and natural purity were inextricably linked.... The current rise of eco-minded white supremacy follows a direct line from the powerful attorney, conservationist and eugenicist Madison Grant -- a friend of trees, Teddy Roosevelt, and the colonial superiority of white land stewardship. Grant, along with the influential naturalist John Muir [the founder of the Sierra Club] and other early Anglo-Saxon conservationists, was critical in preserving the country's wildlands for white enjoyment." --s

New York Times Magazine: "The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country's history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are." This is a series of articles that discuss aspects of slavery and long-term effects. ...

... They Can't Handle the Truth. Inae Oh of Mother Jones: Confederates are very, very angry about the project.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Hong Kong/China. Steven Myers> & Javier Hernández of the New York Times: "By massing the troops within view of Hong Kong, the semiautonomous territory convulsed by protests, China's Communist Party is delivering a strong warning that the use of force remains an option for Beijing. It is also a stark reminder that military power remains a bedrock of the party's legitimacy." ...

... Annie Palmer of CNBC: "Twitter and Facebook have suspended numerous accounts that they say are tied to a Chinese disinformation campaign against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Twitter said Monday it suspended 936 accounts likely related to the activity. The company said the disinformation campaign was designed to' sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political protest movement on the ground.'"

Russia. Matt Stieb of New York: "Almost two weeks after the explosion ... at a military testing site outside Severodvinsk..., details of cover-up efforts continue to emerge.... The suppression of information, the proposed evacuation, the unclear comments from the state have all been spurring inevitable comparisons to the Chernobyl disaster, in which the government delayed its reaction and misreported radiation levels, resulting in profound levels of radiation exposure."

Reader Comments (18)

" A 2019 report from the Guttmacher Institute put it bluntly: 'The Trump administration is seeking to transform Title X from an agent of reproductive autonomy to a tool of government-sponsored reproductive coercion.'”

The fury I feel abut this knows no bounds. Who will pick up the slack? Certainly not enough money from donors unless a group of those one percenters decide to share their largesse just until we get a new administration and we can put the government funding back in. Two problems with that scenario: No one percenters come forth and Trump wins the election. We are screwed once again––women are back at the back of the bus and we thought we had finally gotten front row seats.
The influx of STD's in N.H. concerns males too–-no? Wouldn't that wake up that snotty piss pot of a governor?

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I know there's still a long way to go before the 2020 election, but I'm not feeling good about Biden and his double digit lead. I don't think he can beat Trump (no matter what the polls say). And if it comes down to a possible stolen election, I think Biden would go the Al Gore route and let him have it because bipartisan blah, blah, blah. I doubt Warren would go quietly.

Over and above that, I don't see any great ideas coming from Biden. It feels like retread stuff. I don't get the vision. Warren? Vision to burn. Harris, maybe. Booker? I dunno. I've never been much of a Cory Booker fan. He feels like a manufactured candidate. It feels like things he's said and done leading up to this moment have all been crafted for a presidential run. It's like he's been engineering this thing.

The others? I like Mayor Pete. I think he's a great candidate. I'm not sure he'll be able to swing enough support though. I do think that, like Hickenlooper, some of these people should look at running for the senate. We desperately need to put McTurtle on an eight lane super highway full of 16 wheelers and leave him there.

But if Biden continues to pull in the money and get the ratings, I'm afraid we could have another Clinton-Trump disaster. I could be wrong (certainly hope I am), but I'm just not feeling it for Fightin' Joe. I think his time has passed. Plus, with every passing week, Warren is looking like more and more of a substantia, and important candidate.

If she can roust votes from Democratic stay-at-homes, plus rouse the party ( in ways I don't think Biden can), she could have a real shot at beating the Orange Menace (can't you just picture that debate? the professor v the moron?). And screw this talk about how we can't afford another female candidate so soon after the Clinton debacle (and it was a debacle). What does that even mean? We have to wait another ten years before another woman can run for president? We should have women running all the time, in all races, everywhere.

So we can thank Biden for his service, but I'm afraid if he hogs the spotlight (and money and support) from a candidate with actual, ya know, ideas, who might be able to inject some new life into the party, and then gets his clock cleaned, I'm not gonna be feeling very thankful.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Don't know how many here click on (sign) the petitions that fill our inboxes. I erase some without reading them, sign others almost reflexively and occasionally pause to figure out what I really think about the proposal.

Got one from Color of Change yesterday which I couldn't sign. They are jumping all over the SF School Board, now that the board has has reversed its former decision to paint over the Victor Arnautoff mural in one of the city's schools.

Dead horse, maybe, but I couldn't let that one go.

Sent this this morning:

"I respectfully disagree with your petition, Ms. Villaluna, and would hope you would indulge me for a few moments while I explain why.

Though I have been pleased to sign many Color of Change petitions and support both the organization and most of its actions, I cannot do so this time around.

First of all, please understand that I am by no means a white nationalist and if as you say, it is white nationalists who wish to keep the mural in place, that alone tempts me to say, “Paint the sucker over and be done with it.”

But I will resist that temptation for the same reasons I objected to the SF School Board’s initial decision in in a comment I wrote to the NYTimes when I first read of the controversy.

I am a retired educator with a long interest in and some knowledge of American history and politics, and like all people I have my biases and predilections.

Three of those biases form the basis of my objection to destroying this relic from the 1930’s.

As I said, I have an interest in history and strongly believe that if we don’t know where we came from we have no hope of figuring out where we are going.

I am also a great fan of the Franklin Roosevelt presidency and what it accomplished for the American people, everything from the creation of social security to a massive expansion of our national parks and public lands to siding with labor against the heavy hand of unbridled capitalism, and so much more. Artistically and politically, the Victor Arnautoff mural represents that critical era in our history, which among many other things set the stage for the expansion of civil rights in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and it should be viewed in that context.

Finally, I believe in the power of education.

Taken together, those three factors inform my view of both the mural and the controversy that has erupted around it.

I’ll begin with a distinction. Just as children judge their parents, each generation makes judgments about the past. Was that act good or bad, praiseworthy or shameful? No doubt there is much of both in our history, but (my judgment) at the top of the shameful list is the way in which racism has stained and continues to discolor the American story. If we consider the European invaders treatment of Blacks, American Indians and Hispanics, racism could be said to BE the American story.

Because of racism’s profound effect on both our past and present, it vitally important that we distinguish between acknowledging the shameful parts of our past and celebrating them. The mural in question with its depiction of slaves and dead Indians is an acknowledgement (and today a stark—for some too stark—a reminder) of our imperfect past, not at all equivalent to Confederate statues celebrating “heros” who fought to preserve a social order that should be anathema to all civilized beings.

That difference is why I would preserve the mural and support removing most Confederate statues from public spaces.

Preservation or removal? Remembering or forgetting? Acknowledging or denying? We make these choice all the time, consciously or not, and It is my hope that we would make them deliberately and thoughtfully, using each as an occasion to teach and learn a little more about our past, our present and ourselves.

Considered that way, obliterating artwork that deliberately depicts and critiques our racist past would seem to teach all the wrong lessons, and this former teacher believes a school is the last place where such poor education should occur.

Thank you for listening."

Wonder if I'll get a response.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ak, I'm with you on Biden. He doesn't give me a warm fuzzy either. We need someone with a vision forward out of this current mess, not one who wants to return to the past. Biden's had his chance, it's time to move on.

I'd love for Warren to defeat the Orange Menace. It would bring joy to be able to say that Trump got beat by a girl.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

AK-- yes and yes. Biden is ONLY getting raves because the people who want him appear to be super-lazy and think the familiar is all that counts. I am completely in Warren's camp now, with maybe Mayor Pete at vice.

This week I have read some die-hard Bernie Bro discussions and I simply do not understand what Hillary did to merit their undying ingratitude/ire-- these "progressives" just "couldn't" vote for Hillary...and I have no idea why. Bernie is pie-in-the-sky and too old, and I don't like his wife's having killed off a college...I will never get why the campaign kept Hillary out of the midwest, but I can't blame just that for her defeat. How did she go from super-popular woman politician/stateswoman as SofS to being so damn reviled? That's among so-called liberals! (Oh, and some study came out, reported by Huffpost, saying liberals will often vote for Dumpsterfire-- well, that's a study flawed from the outset-- they aren't liberals if they cast one vote for Prexy Satan...)

I know I should let go of it, but when I read how someone just "couldn't" vote for her, so either stayed home or voted 3rd party, I get angry all over again. The same people are whining about how a woman can't get elected, and that makes me see red all over again, the red standing for all that's unholy...sheesh.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Ken,

A thoughtful and well written comment on the mural kerfuffle. I have to admit that I was feeling a little queasy about painting over this piece, especially given the distinction between this and statues honoring prime movers in maintaining the right to enslave other human beings. Nice job.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Unwashed,

I’d be happy to see a cantaloupe beat Trump. But I’d prefer it to be a fresh one.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@ Ak

I too agree with the Biden narrative. I don't think his "gaffes" would be a major problem against the toxic stew of Agent Orange, but I'm hoping they'll cost him the nomination. His long political past will surely be weaponized and I'm afraid some propaganda campaign about "Ukrainian zinc mines" or some whacko shit will flood the headlines right before the election. That'd give Drumpf a great pretext to claim voter fraud too, which he will inevitably. From what I've been able to feel, Biden doesn't excite the younger progressive movement AT ALL and is instead a "ok, if I have to" candidate. Although in a debate I bet he'd rip apart Drumpf so bad he wouldn't come back for a second whipping.

I think Mayor Pete is a formidable weapon against religious hypocrisy on the right, but I'm afraid his nomination would kill any momentum the Democratic party could build to GOTV for African Americans. They don't seem to want much of anything with him for now. Maybe they just don't "know" him, but I'm guessing it's deeper than that. Besides, even with the advances in the LGBTQ movement, I'm afraid his homosexuality would excite as many voters as it would turn off. That's a big X factor risk to take considering the Orange Menace on the other side.

I like Warren myself but she does give me Clinton nightmares. Probably just the similar appearance, as the politics are night and day. Overall I think we're best off with a man/woman (in either order) ticket, with at least one of them being pasty white. Maybe a Biden/Warren ticket, where Biden is vanilla stability and Warren's role is the firecracker in his ass every time he tries to cede power to the craven and fully Trumpian GOP.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Haven't made my pick yet but agree the Dem ticket should put forth a balance with the broadest possible appeal.

That said, Biden is by far the choice least likely to provide the R's with an easy target. Sure, parts of his history will be against him. He is too tied to Wall Street for some, is indeed prone to gaffes which the media, always looking for an easy mark, will make much of, and his dalliance with racist Southerners will count against him for others.

But points one and three will have no traction with moderates and might even appeal to some R's. His greatest strengths: he's a familiar white, male face against whom no charges of socialism will stick. And he's not the Pretender.

The trick will be to come up with a Veep companion who appeals to the left-leaning, someone who excites and compensates for Biden's tendency toward the milquetoast middle . That decision is best made after another round or two of the interminable debates.

Like Safari, I'd like to see the balance of a woman on a ticket. Don't know if that would be Warren or Harris, who seem the two strongest, but I hesitate because I have no sense of how open the nation is to accepting a woman in that (or the presidential) role. Women did extremely well in 2018 and I know HRC won the popular vote in 2016 but there were so many factors in play in that election, including misogyny, that I don't know what to think about it.

So, we'll see, or I will anyway. And tho' he's male and white my dreamworld would have Mayor Pete on the ticket if only because it doesn't hurt my ears or brain to hear him speak.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

OK, I need someone's help here.

How does Drumpf watch WORDS?

Is that what everyone else call reading? Or, what he does when behind the TelePrompter?

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

Think about this. A couple of weeks before the 2020 election, the Democratic presidential nominee has a health scare that requires a brief hospitalization. The nominee is Julian Castro. Everybody say, "Oh, that's tough. Hope he gets better soon." And he does. The nominee is Joe Biden. Everybody says, "(fill in the blank)."

The alternative to Trump must be a nominee who looks viable in more ways than one.

August 20, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

I've been seeing potentially dire predictions about the near state of the Trump economy (try not to laugh, it won't be funny when he bottoms it out), a number of which see a recession in the offing, a recession which could be in full swing by 2021. Right in line with how it's been going the last 20 years or so.

Democrat comes into office. Previous Republican administration hands off an economic shit storm. Stocks in bad shape, deficit enormous, spending out of control.

Democrat fixes that problem.

The next Republican comes into office with a sweet economy on a roll. Clinton reduced national debt and created a budget surplus. Enter the Decider, who employs the two pronged budget destroyer, War and Laissez-Faire don't-give-a-shit-what-bankers-are-doing-under-my-watch plan to wreck the world economy.

Next Democrat comes into office. Obama is handed an absolute cluster fucked mess of an economy. Fixes it.

In Comes the next Republican. Trump takes complete credit for the healthy economy handed off by Obama.

Next scene...

So tell me. Which is the party of fiscal responsibility? The one that is constantly having to clean up after the out of control juveniles who spend like drunken sailors on leave in Paris? Or the drunken sailors?

Whichever Democrat wins in 2020 will have to deal with Trump's economic disaster.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@unwashed: Trump "watches" WORDS because he thinks the primary way you can "see" words is on the teevee. He is no doubt aware that some people "read" WORDS, but for the most part he only "sees" them. I'd count that as one of Trump's few accurate statements.

August 20, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Ken,

I entirely get what you're saying, but here's my problem. With Biden, sure, maybe we win back the White House. Then what? A sort of night watchman government? Someone to mind the ship until the next round of troglodytes comes along to drag us back further into the Middle Ages? Someone who will spend his time slogging through the mess Trump has made?

Republicans hit the ground running with their plans to destroy every decent advance made over the last 60 years. Democrats, even if they have plans, run into a brick wall with most of their agenda (see Obama, Barack) which is why we need to make advances in the House and take back the Senate (also, as Kate always said, "Remember the Supremes").

I don't want the next Democratic administration to have to spend six or seven (or eight) years cleaning up after the previous asshats. I want someone who will push an aggressive progressive agenda. I don't think Biden's the guy to do that. And if he spends too much time wondering why none of the R's are into bipartisanship, we'll have wasted at least four years. Again.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Mayor Pete talks a good game and I think there is a lot to like there, but a relative who lives in South Bend and is not enthusiastic. She has seen economic development go to some projects that appear frivolous while African American neighborhood homeowners are hit with "Fix up your house or get it bulldozed" notices without any apparent assistance. The police force has grown less diverse under Mayor Pete. I'm sure it's all more complicated than that thumbnail sketch, but the history is not all rosey.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

As if unsold soybeans pile sky high were not enough.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biofuels-trump-exclusive/exclusive-trump-administration-tries-to-assuage-farmer-unrest-over-biofuel-policy-sources

Just too many backs to scratch.

Who knew it was all so complicated?

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

For those wondering where in the world is Greta this site is tracking her trip across the Atlantic. The numbered circles indicate Twitter and Instagram postings that have been made during the journey. I find their route interesting as well as the flow and counter-flow of the winds around the world.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

To All: enjoyed reading all your comments ––good piece Ken, on the painting. Like many of you I'm leaning toward Warren who will, if given the chance, try like hell to change our broken system. Today Mrs. Biden said that even if we don't agree with her husband on, say health care, he is the one that would beat the Donald. In other words, what's important here is winning the seat no matter the message. That's really a terrible position for voters to be in.What I'm hoping is that by the time we go to the polls the man at the center will have fallen off his throne in such a momentous way that even Kellyann will abandon ship (I dream bigly).

We have time––we need that time to parse these candidate's messages, watch how they conduct themselves under pressure in the debates and on the trail. Warren, for instance is getting great crowds which tells me she is making an impact. Her apology to the Cherokee Nation was well received and note that Trump has NEVER apologized for anything.

@Jeanne: The voracious wolves were after Hillary from the beginning––she has been demonized and spit upon and not just from the Right.

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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