The Wires

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Times: "At 9 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, [April 10,] a group of astronomers who run a globe-girdling network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope are expected to unveil the first-ever images of a black hole. For some years now, scientific literature, news media and films have featured remarkably sophisticated and academic computer simulations of black holes. If all has gone well, the images today will reveal the real thing, and scientists at last will catch a glimpse of what had seemed unseeable."

      ... Update: "Astronomers announced on Wednesday that at last they had observed the unobserveable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it.... To capture the image, astronomers reached across intergalactic space to Messier 87, a giant galaxy in the constellation Virgo. There, a black hole several billion times more massive than the sun is unleashing a violent jet of energy some 5,000 light-years into space."

"A commemorative print from 2008 of Mr. Robbins’s original paint-by-numbers creation in 1950, an abstract still-life. His boss then asked him to make something more representational, and an industry was born." CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "Dan Robbins was no Leonardo da Vinci. But he copied one of the master’s basic techniques and thereby enabled children to grow up believing that they, too, could paint 'The Last Supper.' Mr. Robbins, a package designer who died on Monday at 93, helped to conceive what became known as paint by numbers. He copied the idea from Leonardo, who numbered the objects in the background of his paintings and had his apprentices paint them with designated colors. With paint-by-numbers kits, young baby boomers in the 1950s followed the same mechanics as those Renaissance artisans, coloring inside the outlines of images of everything from seascapes and the Matterhorn to kittens and Queen Elizabeth II. The process opened up art to the masses — another notch on the continuum of a limitless democratic American ethos that promised “a chicken in every pot” and 'every man a king.'”

Guardian: "In the 50s, the American art world took itself extremely seriously. Abstract painters such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko painted sublime slabs that were praised in hushed voices. Painting-by-numbers may not have been intended as a parody of this modernist reverence – but it sure looked that way. Robbins designed quaint scenes of farmhouses and mountain valleys that anyone could complete – they were good, solid pictures for good, solid middle-American homes. Yet the relationship between painting-by-numbers and modern art is more complicated than it looks. The earliest kit Robbins devised was a cubist still life in the style of Picasso, for the sharp planes of colour were, he said, easy to adapt. He called it Abstract No 1. It was his boss at the Palmer paint company in Detroit, where he worked as a package designer, who insisted he create homely American scenes instead. Robbins was thrilled when, as he remembered: 'Someone entered a completed Abstract No 1 in an art show and won. The judges were quite embarrassed, but the prize resulted in lots of debate about the concept of art …'”

NBC News: “Researchers who used DNA to identify ... the bones [of] Casimir Pulaski, hero of the Revolutionary War and the pride of the Polish-American community..., are convinced the gallant Pole who died fighting for America’s freedom was either a biological woman who lived as a man, or potentially was intersex, meaning a person whose body doesn’t fit the standard definitions of male or female. That’s the eye-opening takeaway from a new Smithsonian Channel documentary titled 'The General Was Female?,' which premieres Monday and is part of the 'America’s Hidden Stories' series.”


The Commentariat -- February 11, 2019

Emily Cochrane, et al., of the New York Times: "Bipartisan talks to reach a border security agreement have stalled, lawmakers and aides said on Sunday, imperiling efforts to prevent another government shutdown days before the Friday deadline. Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a key figure in the negotiations, confirmed the impasse on Sunday, saying that he was 'not confident we're going to get there.'... The 17 House and Senate lawmakers negotiating, known as a conference committee, had set an informal deadline of Monday to reach a deal, because Congress would need that much time to consider the legislation without waiving procedural rules and still pass it by Friday, when funding for several departments and agencies expires. But an aide familiar with the talks said lawmakers had stopped communicating. The hang-up was ... a Democratic effort to force Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus on detaining migrants with criminal records instead of people who have overstayed their visas by limiting the number of beds it has in detention centers." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "President Donald Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that the administration 'absolutely cannot' rule out another government shutdown -- even though he also claimed that there is plenty of money already available for Trump to build his unpopular wall along the U.S.-Mexico border...On Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney vowed that Trump is going to build the wall, period." --s ...

... Simon Romero of the New York Times: "Ahead of President Trump's scheduled rally in [El Paso, Texas,] aimed at building support for his proposed wall on the border with Mexico, people from across the ideological spectrum in El Paso had a message for him on Sunday: Don't speak for us. 'The president is just wrong about the wall and wrong about El Paso,' said Jon Barela, a lifelong Republican and chief executive of the Borderplex Alliance, an organization promoting economic development in a cross-border industrial hub with a combined population of more than 2.7 million, taking in the cities of El Paso, Ciudad Juárez[, Mexico,] and Las Cruces[, New Mexico]. Mr. Barela disputed Mr. Trump's widely discredited assertion that border fencing had cut violent crime in El Paso, pointing to F.B.I. data showing that the city has ranked for decades among the safest urban areas its size in the United States -- long before American authorities started building some fencing along the border about a decade ago.... At the same time Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak before about 6,000 people at the El Paso County Coliseum, [Beto] O'Rourke will speak at another rally a mile away. Mr. O'Rourke said in an essay on Medium that Mr. Trump 'will promise a wall and will repeat his lies about the dangers that immigrants pose.'" ...

... Jose Del Real of the New York Times: "Gov. Gavin Newsom of California is expected on Monday to withdraw nearly 400 of his state's National Guard troops from deployment along the border with Mexico and assign them to other duties, according to aides to the governor. The step to rescind state authorization for the border deployment is a sharp rebuke of President Trump's continued warnings that undocumented migrants present a national security risk to the United States. It follows a similar move last week by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico."

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee expressed concern Sunday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has not adequately scrutinized President Trump's finances and said House investigators plan to probe Trump's relationship with a bank implicated in Russian money laundering. 'We are not interested in our committee in whether he's a tax cheat or not worth what he says he is,' Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said in an appearance on the NBC's 'Meet the Press' 'What we are interested in is, does the president have business dealings with Russia such that it compromises the United States?' In particular, Schiff said the House panel plans to investigate Trump's two-decade relationship with Deutsche Bank, a German institution that has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties in recent years after admitting its role in a $10 billion money laundering scheme that allowed clients in Russia to move vast sums overseas. Schiff voiced concern that Mueller has shied away from investigating Trump's ties to the German lender, saying that 'if the special counsel hasn't subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, he can't be doing much of a money laundering investigation.' Schiff was referring to reports last year that Mueller's office had told Trump's lawyers it was not seeking Deutsche Bank records related to Trump's accounts or loans. Deutsche Bank became a critical lender to Trump in the late 1990s when major U.S. banks refused to do business with the New York real estate developer after repeated bankruptcies."

Sharon LaFraniere, et al., of the New York Times: "Of the few hints to emerge from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about evidence of possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia, one of the most tantalizing surfaced almost in passing in a Washington courtroom last week. Comments by one of Mr. Mueller's lead prosecutors, disclosed in a transcript of a closed-door hearing, suggest that the special counsel continues to pursue at least one theory: that starting while Russia was taking steps to bolster Mr. Trump's candidacy, people in his orbit were discussing deals to end a dispute over Russia's incursions into Ukraine and possibly give Moscow relief from economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.... A closer look at the transcript, released late Thursday, shows that the prosecutors have been keenly focused on discussions [Paul Manafort & Konstantin Kilimnik] had about a plan to end the conflict that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014.... Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik repeatedly communicated about a so-called peace plan for Ukraine starting in early August 2016, while Mr. Manafort was still running Mr. Trump's campaign, and continuing into 2018, months after Mr. Manafort had been charged by the special counsel's office with a litany of crimes related to his work in the country."

Lachlan Markay of the Daily Beast: "The brother of Jeff Bezos' mistress, Lauren Sanchez, supplied the couple's racy texts to the National Enquirer, multiple sources inside AMI, the tabloid's parent company, told The Daily Beast. Another source who has been in extensive communication with senior leaders at AMI confirmed that Michael Sanchez first supplied Bezos' texts to the Enquirer. AMI has previously refused to identify the source of the texts, but a lawyer for the company strongly hinted at Sanchez's role during a Sunday morning interview on ABC.... Documents reviewed by The Daily Beast show that Michael Sanchez believed the Enquirer pursued its story about Bezos with 'President Trump's knowledge and appreciation' -- a chase encouraged, in Sanchez's estimation, by Republican operatives 'who THINK Jeff gets up every morning and has a WaPo meeting to plot its next diabolical attack on President Trump.'"

Alexi McCammond & Jonathan Swan
of Axios: "Our ... leak of three months of Trump's private schedules -- enraged White House officials.... Then Politico scooped (and we confirmed) that the White House has launched an internal hunt to find the leaker. This crackdown has not stopped the leaking. Axios' Alexi McCammond obtained four of the president's private schedules from last week. You can view them here, retyped in their original format for source protection. The schedules show the president spent 50% of the four days last week in non-structured 'Executive Time.'... Trump tweeted today about Axios' previous story. 'When the term Executive Time is used, I am generally working, not relaxing,' he wrote." (Mrs. McC: Where "watching Fox 'News' & "blow-drying long wisps on head" = "working.")

John Bresnahan of Politico: "Freshman Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar ignited a new controversy on Sunday night when she suggested GOP support for Israel is driven by campaign donations from a prominent pro-Israel group. Omar singled out AIPAC, one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, as the source of those donations. Omar's comments touched upon a long-running, and particularly ugly, thread of the anti-Semitic movement -- that Jewish money fuels backing for Israel in the United States and elsewhere.... [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy and other Republicans have pressed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and top Democrats to "take action" against Omar and [Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida] Tlaib, saying he would do so if the GOP were the majority party. McCarthy has noted that Democrats pressed for punishment for [Rep. Steve] King -- an Iowa Republican -- over his racist comments. Yet, King's openly racist statements went on for years while he served in Congress, while Omar and Tlaib have been lawmakers for five weeks." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: I hate to break it to Bresnahan & McCarthy, but one hardly need be anti-Semitic to consider AIPAC a hard-line, right-wing organization that is dismissive of Palestinian rights & concerns. Calling out AIPAC's strong-arm tactics does not merit any form of censure or admonition. Bresnahan is probably just ignorant, and McCarthy -- who is generally ignorant -- is mostly just displaying his usual partisan hackery here.

Presidential Race 2020

Mitch Smith & Lisa Lerer of the New York Times: "Amy Klobuchar, the third-term Minnesota senator, entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, hopeful that her moderate politics, Midwestern roots and carefully cultivated history of bipartisanship can appeal to a broad swath of voters in contentious times. On a snow-covered stage in Minneapolis along the banks of the Mississippi River, with the temperature barely above single digits, Ms. Klobuchar said that as president she would 'focus on getting things done' and reverse some of President Trump's signature policies. On her first day in office, she said, the United States would rejoin the Paris climate agreement.... While her approach may appeal to centrists and moderate Republicans in her home state, her breaks with liberal orthodoxy risk alienating the ascendant progressive wing of her party. Ms. Klobuchar backs a less expansive college affordability proposal, has not embraced Senator Bernie Sanders's 'Medicare for all' legislation and has not joined the movement to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency." ...

... Justin Wise of the Hill: "Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Sunday addressed reports that she has mistreated her staff over the years after launching a 2020 campaign for president. 'Yes, I can be tough, and yes I can push people,' Klobuchar told reporters after a rally at Minneapolis' Boom Island Park... 'I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country.... In the end, there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years,' she added. The comments came after multiple reports surfaced last week including details of how Klobuchar allegedly treated her congressional staff. HuffPost reported that three potential candidates to lead her nascent presidential campaign declined the job due to concerns about the issue. A BuzzFeed News report also included a number of accusations from former staffers about her workplace demeanor. The ex-staffers told the news outlet that the senator often berated employees over small mistakes and created a hostile work environment."

Warren Looks on the Bright Side. Quint Forgey of Politico: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Sunday said that ... Donald Trump 'may not even be a free person' by 2020, suggesting the president might become ensnared by the special counsel's investigation before she has a chance to face him in a general election.... 'By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person.'"

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast: "Anti-Trump strategist and pundit Steve Schmidt is feeling the heat from all sides since his client, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, announced on 60 Minutes that he might run for president as an independent." So when Schultz sat down to be interviewed by colleagues on his own podcast, called "Words Matter," he "railed at having to defend himself ... with a stream of curses a source present in the studio said consumed six minutes." After settling down & sitting for about 30 minutes of the interview, Schmidt couldn't handle what seemed like a pretty fair question (i.e., would a really rich person slack off because he was taxed at a higher rate?). "'This is bullshit,' Schmidt exclaims. 'I'm not doing this.' 'Steve, you've got to answer the questions,' [interviewer, podcast partner & friend of Steve Adam] Levine says. 'I'm not,' and with that Schmidt slams down his headset and abruptly ends the interview. He threatened legal action against the studio if the interview airs, according to a source involved in the discussion. When his legal threat failed, he offered to buy the recording, according to the source. The studio refused." Mrs. McC: Whatever. Steve still has his claim to fame: bringing us Sarah Palin. ...

     ... Sophie Weiner of Splinter has embedded the podcast at the bottom of her report. Schmidt's podcast cohost, Elise Jordan, who was one of the two interviewers, quit too. Everyone is so touchy.

Robert Downen
, et al., of the Houston Chronicle: "In the [past] decade..., more than 250 people who worked or volunteered in Southern Baptist churches have been charged with sex crimes, an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News reveals. It's not just a recent problem: In all, since 1998, roughly 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, the newspapers found. That includes those who were convicted, credibly accused and successfully sued, and those who confessed or resigned. More of them worked in Texas than in any other state. They left behind more than 700 victims, many of them shunned by their churches, left to themselves to rebuild their lives. Some were urged to forgive their abusers or to get abortions. About 220 offenders have been convicted or took plea deals, and dozens of cases are pending. They were pastors. Ministers. Youth pastors. Sunday school teachers. Deacons. Church volunteers." This is the first of a three-part series. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This doesn't surprise me at all. These people are nearly as sexually repressed as Roman Catholic priests. Reminds of the time the married Baptist minister came over to minister to me while I was out in the goat shed milking the goats, and he grabbed my breasts. I knocked him down & in the process upset the goat on the milking stand, who knocked over the milk pail. I found the scene hilarious a few minutes later, but in the moment I was furious. No doubt I took the Lord's name in vain in the course of throwing the pastor off my property.

Damian Carrington of the Guardian: "The world's insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a 'catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems', according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century. The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are 'essential' for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.... The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors."

Beyond the Beltway

Virginia. Campbell Robertson & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "A Democratic lawmaker in Virginia on Sunday sent his colleagues a draft resolution that would begin impeachment proceedings against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual assault. The resolution directs a House committee to determine whether allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Fairfax by two women, Meredith Watson and Vanessa C. Tyson, 'constitute conduct sufficient to provide grounds for impeachment.' In an email accompanying the draft, the lawmaker, Delegate Patrick A. Hope, emphasized that the resolution 'is not impeachment. It is a process to investigate whether the Courts Committee would recommend impeachment.'" ...

... Emily Tillett of CBS News: "Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam says he considered resigning in the wake of the ongoing controversy embroiling his office, but told 'CBS This Morning' co-host Gayle King he's 'not going anywhere.'... The governor said in an interview with The Washington Post published Saturday that he would spend the remainder of his term working toward advancing racial equality. The governor has been speaking with black political and community leaders over the past week, but the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus has called for Northam's resignation more than once." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... ** "Advancing Racial Equality"? Ha! Avery Anapol of the Hill: "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King corrected Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) after he referred to slaves as 'indentured servants.' The comment came in Northam's first televised interview since he began facing calls to resign over a blackface scandal, in which he urged healing. 'We are now at the 400-year anniversary -- just 90 miles from here in 1619. The first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort, what we call now Fort Monroe, and while--,' Northam said, before King cut him off. 'Also known as slavery,' King said. 'Yes,' Northam responded.... Sunday's exchange was called out on social media, with some Twitter users pushing for Northam to resign." ...

    ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Northam's wilful ignorance is galling. I grew up in the South & went to public schools with Southern textbooks that shone a very gauzy light on slavery. But I didn't get out of fifth grade without knowing the difference beteen slaves & indentured servants. It is true that some Europeans -- Scottish prisoners of war, for instance -- came to the U.S. under forced indenture, but their terms of service had end dates. And most Europeans who came to America under indenture came voluntarily in exchange for passage, room & board and a "freedom package" bonus at the end of their term of service. They were not enslaved for life as were Africans. They usually had some individual rights during service. Unless Fairfax can clear his name (which seems impossible at this point), Virginians had better get used to the idea of Gov. Mark Herring, because no one should have to live in servitude of Ralph Northam.

... Jenna Portnoy, et al., of the Washington Post: "Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said Saturday that his encounters with the two women who have accused him of sexual assault were consensual, and he called on authorities -- including the FBI -- to investigate. His statement came as calls for his resignation grew from former allies, including the Democratic Party of Virginia, which had reserved judgment until a second woman came forward Friday to say he sexually assaulted her.... He said he knew both women during the time they allege the assaults occurred. He said that he also knew them afterward and that they never told him their interactions were not consensual or caused 'any discomfort.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Reader Comments (17)

A second government shutdown will end for the same reason the first one did: when it starts to pinch Joe and Jane Sixpack. One difference will probably be a lot of workers like TSA won't just call in sick, they'll quit, along with a lot of others.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

To pick up where Bobby Lee left off, government workers could be in for a second and third kick in the head after Trump/ McConnell Shutdown No. 1. Trump/McConnell Shutdown No. 2, and finding out that the tax return they were hoping to use to buy that new washing machine and take the kids to DisneyWorld ain’t coming. In fact, Fatty will be siphoning money out of their pockets to help pay for his tax cut and that of his wealthy pals.

A three-fer.

Making America Grate. Again.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Two –-only two? well, I'm just addressing two––startling admissions of ignorance: McCarthy getting his boxers in a bunch over something that has been known forever–-AIPAC's involvement in the way we deal with Israel and it's hold on our politicians. His admonishment of Rep. Omar's allegations being anti-semitic is not only wrong, but stupid. The other mention is Northam's ignorance re: the difference between indentured servants and slaves. Good grief!

But the thing that stood out for me today was the story of Marie, whilst milking a goat, was visited by a Baptist minister who came by to ADminister (for what one wonders) and got a whiff of something in the air; dizzy with desire grabbed Marie, cupped her billowy breasts and wham! got shoved down good and proper. Those religious, randy rascals ––someone should look into that––might be in the water.

A Toxic Crisis in America's Coal Country–-BBC (SOS to Fatty who promised all those shovel ready coal miners he was going to....fill in the blank.)

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Steve Schmidt’s latest stellar choice for high office might be far more toxic for America than I Can See Russia From My Porch Palin. One could argue that Palin helped sink John McCain, thus giving us Barack Obama. Schultz, sucking up just a small percentage of votes in 2020, could give us four more years of the Orange Monster. I shudder to think of what the country will look like by 2024 if that happens. (Assuming, of course, that Fatty hasn’t matched his fake orange complexion with a real orange jumpsuit.)

But Steve Schmidt. We’re lucky he isn’t in charge of selecting talent for the CDC or the head of epidemiology at some big hospital. He’d probably pick Typhoid Mary for the job.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Excellent point. According to one report, Palin cost McCain about 2MM votes. Since the study, as reported at the link, doesn't break out how those 2MM Obama votes were distributed, it's still not assured that a McCain/Fabulous Person ticket would have been a winner. (BTW, McCain later revealed that his idea of a Fabulous Person would have been Joe Lieberman; maybe he should have asked Al Gore about that.)

But I'd bet Palin's drag on the ticket also affected down-ballot votes. The Democrats won big in Congress in 2008, which allowed them to slide in ObamaCare at the last minute as well as get the economy up & running again.

On the other hand, it does seem to me that Palin may have done as much as anyone to coalesce & energize the far-right wackadoodle vote, which has had a decade of disastrous effects.

Now, as you say, Steve Schmidt is doing what he can to ensure another Trump victory. I'm glad he's going the Rumplestiltskin route; he can't go fast enough for me. And please, Steve, take Howard with you.

February 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

The Filthy Hands of Fox. In "news" not worth linking above, "Fox News host Pete Hegseth explained on Sunday that he doesn’t wash his hands because 'germs are not a real thing.'... ' I don’t think I’ve washed my hands for 10 years. Really, I don’t really wash my hands ever.... Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them. Therefore, they’re not real.'”

And you wonder why these people are climate deniers. On the other hand, so to speak, I'll bet Pete there is a good Christian. If he's "seen" God, he's hallucinating. He should hallucinate some germs & viruses.

February 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Okay, the lack of handwashing cuz idiocy kinda did me in for the day...Marie's point about the sky fairy most of the morons worship not being seen is part-and-parcel of the description of the typical Dump-lover. Too dumb to survive out of a protected FAUX environment. What a dunce.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

In a story in WaPo about Northam's interview referring to "indentured servants" instead of "slaves," there's this:

"The first Africans brought to Virginia were captured in Angola and brought in a slave ship, but Virginia did not have a formal legal system for slavery in 1619. There appears to have been some ambiguity over their legal status, with some still forced to work for life while others had a path to freedom, according to the National Park Service. Asked to clarify Northam’s remarks, a spokeswoman for the governor pointed to news accounts that said Africans were treated as indentured servants before slave laws were written."

This may be a case of knowing too much. If you knew this (I didn't) and referred to those Africans as "servants" you'd be technically correct but disingenuous. By the time Virginia Colony got around to writing laws, those people and their descendants were "slaves," and the manumitted exceptions were few.

Northam seems to be an earnest guy who doesn't have a good feel for how the world sees him or hears his words. He needs to have his wife at his elbow always, to remind him of appropriateness.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Steve Schmidt has entertained me. I'll give him that. The man can monger a phrase, and the first time or so he directed a zinger at the Pretender I liked what he had to say--a lot. Even had the pleasure of seeing him in person at my college reunion last year, and he does put on a good show.

But still...present day turncoat or not, there was that Republican thing about him. He worked for them, he advanced their causes, he was one of them himself, and when you look at what that party has come to stand for over the last fifty years, sense would have you wonder what in hell he was really all about and sense would follow by telling you what that was wasn't very nice: greed, racism and war- (not phrase-) mongering come to mind.

And oh, yeah, money, which I'm guessing is why no-longer Republican Schmidt is now tied to Shultz....and apparently tied in knots.

Kinda predictable, really.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Patrick: You're right. I've read similar accounts re: the earliest Africans slaves in Virginia. From what I can gather, there were no written laws about servitude till later in the 17th century, but by custom Africans who were "indentured servants" quite often never were freed. Others seemed to have been freed & received "freedom packages," which included land grants. In a few court cases where European & African "indentured servants" escaped together, the Africans were either already "indentured for life" or their sentence was permanent indenture, while the whites got off with lesser sentences (their periods of indenture were extended for a period of years).

"Indentured for life" sounds like slavery to me, even if in 1619 -- and in 2019 Northam-speak -- they were "indentured servants." As you write, Northam needs the Mrs. to help him navigate they way the rest of us understand the world. Since it isn't at all clear what eventually happened to those first 20 Africans pirated into Virginia, it would be way safer to assume they were enslaved; they certainly did not come on their own volition and how they left their "jobs" is not known.

February 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

At the risk of kicking open a hornet's nest........

If you couldn't tell from my alias, I'm a Jew.

AIPAC is no friend to Israel, and neither is anyone who supports Israel's occupation of the West Bank. Israel's long term survival depends on reaching some sort of rapprochement with the Palestinians. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding him/herself. The demographics are simply not on Israel's side.

Believe it or not, Omar and Tlaib are advocating for what is in Israel's best interests: peace with the Palestinians that is based on something other than brute military force.

Jimmy Carter dragged Israel and Egypt - both kicking and screaming - into a peace agreement. They have had forty years of peace and neither is likely to invade the other any time soon. A true friend of Israel's in Washington will have to do likewise vis a vis the Palestinians. No equitable solution can make either side happy. Both will have to suffer in equal measure. AIPAC and Hamas both are only interested in having everything at the expense of the other. That can't possibly work, and insisting on such an outcome will ultimately lead to Israel's destruction one way or another.

Hamas, by the way, understands this, which is why they would rather suffer under occupation now than reach some sort of arrangement that guarantees Israel's security. They can play the long game because they know time is on their side.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

Schlub: and ... semantics matter too. This morning I was listening to an "expert" on MSNBC talking as if criticizing AIPAC was the same thing as criticizing Israel. And, whenever people criticize Likhud, U.S. well-meaning talking heads frequently characterize that as "anti-Israel", and not-so-well-meaning THs characterize it as "anti-Semitic."

People who have a stake in keeping the status-quo tend to take every opportunity to confuse issues by such linkages. I used to think it was just sloppiness, but now think most people who equate antisemitism with any lack of support for eretz israel zionism know what they are doing -- stirring the pot.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

@Patrick, et. al.

Indeed. An old ploy and still effective for those who don't want to pay attention to detail or hurt their heads by thinking too much.

And we don't have to look abroad. Here at home, the Right reflexively labels any criticism of American behavior as anti-American, and the Pretender himself commonly calls criticism directed at him, treason.

Just wish that when the talking heads indulge, another talking head would immediately shine a bright light of reason and mockery on that tired brand of idiocy.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

You may have thought we reached "Full Stupid" on the Wall within the past few weeks. Nope. We're still getting more stupid stuff each day.

NYT reports that

"One proposal circulating among some White House officials in an attempt to fend off legal challenges to an emergency declaration is to claim that the wall would be built to protect the more than 6,000 active-duty and National Guard troops now operating near the southwestern border or deploying there soon."

The U.S. military's slang has a phrase for such rationale: a self-licking ice cream cone.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

And to continue, Patrick and Ken........

There is a great deal of anti-Semitism that is couched in terms that are, ostensibly, anti-Israel. The people who scream "anti-Semite!" at EVERYONE who criticizes Israel, however, rob us of the ability to call the true anti-Semites to account. See: the boy who cried wolf.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

So let me get this straight...Jeff Bozos, a super high profile, richest man on Earth, tech savvy savant, thought it a good idea to cheat on his wife, even sending dick pics, with a lady friend who had an openly-MAGA bro...who has direct links to Roger "sleaze bag" Stone.

Talking about playing with fire. He couldn't have found somebody NOT connected to the presidunce*s best ratfucker friend? Knowing the presidunce* would relish in kneecapping him publicly through any means possible. What sordid soap operas are being generated by our diseased culture of celebrity deification and slander.

I saw some talking heads (MSNBC but can't remember the show, sorry) say that with this scandal, AMI is out of business, they just don't know it yet. If it's not illegalities, the crushing legal bills will make it a Gawker redux. That got me thinking if we couldn't say the same about the Trump Org. With so many investigations looking under every rock, and so many ripe leads to follow, how could it pull through after all the legal bills and fines they'll hopefully be paying soon? Putin bonuses laundered through Deutsche Bank and milking small donations from MAGA morons? Saudi cash deposits as downpayment for murder? Could keep it afloat I guess until they open all their "American Bumpkin" chain hotels in rural Louisiana and Kentucky for their new loyal clientele. I hear Ivanka is reworking the spa treatments, too. Something about Bayou mud baths, pine cone foot massages, and bacon grease tanning beds.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Country bumpkin spas? Funny stuff, Safari. Thanks.

Not so funny is this in "USA Today."

One third? On the supposedly enlightened side of my home state?

The Land of the Free allowing, even encouraging, freedom to be an idiot yourself and let children and communities suffer the consequences prompts these random thoughts.

WA State has helmet laws and requires auto insurance. What else is an immunization but a kind of medical insurance, and why would we not require it, too? Oh, thats right. The individual mandate is a thing of the past, isn't it?

Courts across the country have ruled against parents whose bone-headed religion denies life-saving medical treatment for their children. What's the difference?

Then there's that autism thing, too, propagated even (especially?) among idiots on the left. Looks like the anti-vaccers here are preparing the ground for a solid scientific study, creating a population of children large enough to be convincingly contrasted with vaccinated children , so it can be determined once and for all (better, yet again) if the incidence of autism is greater in one group or the other.

Nice of 'em, especially if they don't like the results I'd anticipate.

Am thinking that some eager researcher is already on top of that one.

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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