The Wires

The Los Angeles Times has the full list of Oscar nominees here.

NBC Sports: "Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the 2019 class. The results were just announced on MLB Network. Rivera received votes from every single writer who submitted a ballot, becoming the first player ever to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Halladay and Edgar Martínez each received 85.4 percent of the vote and Mussina appeared on 76.7 percent of ballots. Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his seasons in the majors with the Yankees. He was initially used as a starter, but quickly moved to the bullpen, becoming the greatest closer of all-time. He racked up 652 saves — the most in baseball history — during the regular season along with a 2.21 ERA anda 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings. He saved his best work for the postseason. Rivera appeared in 96 postseason games, saving 42 saves in 47 opportunities with a 0.70 ERA and a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 innings. Rivera won five championships, five Rolaids Relief Awards, as well as MVP awards in the World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Game. He made the AL All-Star team 13 times."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If you're a shut-out Trump Shutdown victim tooling around the Internets with nothing to do today, let's assume that some day some time, Trump will de-furlough you and you can get back to work enthusiastically serving the American people in your appointed capacity. In case Trump has rendered you a bit rusty in the area of job skills, Conan here provides some useful tools that may help you get to work on time, even on casual Friday:

ABC News: "Breathtaking drone video of a pod of friendly, playful dolphins joining a surfer as he took to the waves near the coast of Ventura, California, is making the rounds on social media and bringing smiles -- and wow's -- to viewers. ABC station KABC-TV's meteorologist Kimi Evans met the drone's owner Craig Badger, who shared the footage, and spoke to surfer Alden Blair.... The video has been seen more than 3 million times on social media." ...

NBC Suits Are Such Geniuses. New York Times: "After a drawn-out negotiation period, NBC and Megyn Kelly have formally agreed to part ways. The network and the onetime cable news star reached a final agreement on Friday, nearly three months after she wondered aloud on-air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. NBC and a representative for Ms. Kelly declined to reveal the details of the exit package. But according to two people familiar with the negotiations, Ms. Kelly was paid the outstanding balance on her contract, a figure that amounts to roughly $30 million. At the time of the separation, Ms. Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network."

New York Times: "The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the novelist MacKenzie Bezos announced on Twitter Wednesday that they are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage. In a statement posted on Mr. Bezos’s Twitter account, the couple said they had been separated for a long period of time, but planned to remain involved as 'parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects.' According to a 1999 profile in Wired, the two met when they both worked at D.E. Shaw, a New York-based hedge fund, before moving in 1994 to Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered. They have four children.... As is the case in any celebrity split, the financial details of the divorce are sure to be complicated despite the couple’s vow to “remain cherished friends.” According to Forbes, which publishes an annual list of billionaires, his net worth is estimated at $137 billion and he is the richest man in the world. While much of his wealth is tied up in Amazon stock, Mr. Bezos, 54, the company’s chief executive, is also the owner of several companies, including The Washington Post and Blue Origin, a space travel company."

Here's a list of the Golden Globe winners, via Market Watch. CNN has posted highlights on a liveblog & currently has a whole buncha links to related stories on CNN Entertainment. And if you're in it for the red carpet, there's this:

New York Times : "Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved, 4,400-year-old tomb of a royal priest and his family in Egypt, in a 'one of a kind' find, the Egyptian authorities announced on Saturday. The tomb was unearthed in Saqqara, a city south of Cairo and a vast necropolis from ancient Egypt. The discovery dates from the rule of Neferirkare Kakai, the third king of the fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt, according to Khaled al-Anani, Egypt’s minister of antiquities. The fifth dynasty governed for less than two centuries, from 2,500 B.C. to about 2,350 B.C., according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tomb had remained untouched, said Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s supreme council of antiquities, according to Reuters."

"The Christmas Comet Returneth." New York Times: "Look into the night sky on Sunday [December 16] and you just might see a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. That’s because a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries, right on the heels of this year’s most stunning meteor shower. 'The fuzziness is just because it’s a ball of gas basically,' Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, said on Saturday morning.... 'You’ve got a one-kilometer solid nucleus in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles.' The comet glows green because the gases emit light in green wavelengths. The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the 'Christmas comet,' was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who discovered it in 1948. It orbits the sun once every 5.4 years, passing by Earth approximately every 11 years, but its distance varies and it is rarely this close. As the comet passes by, it will be 30 times farther from Earth than the moon, NASA said.”

By George O'Keefe or somebody.Maybe the Best Gift Would Be a Spell-Check App. Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Way back in November (so Slate has had plenty of time to make corrections), someone named Angela Serratore (hope I spelled that right), wrote a post for Slate, which is featured on its main page now, suggesting gifts from small museum shops. That's a nice thought, but it would have been even nicer if the story had not misspelled Georgia O'Keeffe three times: twice as "Georgia O'Keefe" & once as "George O'Keefe." But never "Georgia O'Keeffe."

Monday
Feb112019

The Commentariat -- February 12, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Peter Baker & Glenn Thrush of the New York Times: "President Trump declared on Tuesday that he was 'not happy' about the bipartisan border security compromise negotiated by congressional leaders but would not say whether he would sign it or veto it before another government shutdown hits at midnight Friday.... But he said he thinks he can still add to the measure and avoid another government shutdown. 'I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown,' he said. 'If you did have it, it’s the Democrats’ fault.' He added, 'I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us.'... The president said he would have a meeting later on the measure.... Republican leaders, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, have accepted the agreement as the best they can get at this point to avoid another government shutdown by a Friday deadline. But conservative figures have protested loudly.... The agreement includes a provision that could give the Trump administration broad discretion to increase the number of slots to shelter detained migrants, a win for Republicans that could ease the sting of Mr. Trump’s failure to secure full funding for his border wall.” ...

     ... The Times has a graphic -- with explanations -- of what wall exists, what Trump proposed, what Congress has approved. ...

... "The Art of the Deal." Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "The deal as laid out does include some border fencing — $1.375 billion worth, or 55 miles. That’s well shy of the $5.7 billion and 200 miles in wall funding he demanded that led to the shutdown, but it’s not nothing. Trump could argue that he got something out of the 35-day government closure. But only if you ignore two very important things. One is that this compromise includes a concession to Democrats, too: a reduction in the number of detention beds.... But the bigger issue is this: The amount of funding is actually shy of the original deal Republicans and Democrats reached last year that Trump rejected. At that time, the spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security included $1.6 billion for 65 miles of fencing, both slightly more than the current tentative deal. This was the deal on the table (it passed 26 to 5 in the Senate Appropriations Committee in June) when Trump initially began demanding $5 billion for his wall. He’s now getting slightly less than that $1.6 billion while also making a concession to Democrats on detention beds." ...

... Greg Sargent: The "$1.375 billion for new bollard fencing in targeted areas ... [is] nothing like Trump’s wall — it’s limited to the kind of fencing that has already been built for years — and it’s substantially short of the $5.7 billion Trump wants. It’s nothing remotely close to the wall that haunts the imagination of the president and his rally crowds. The $1.375 billion is slightly less than what Democrats had previously offered him. It can’t even be credibly sold as a down payment on the wall.... The fake crisis that Trump invented — and with it, his broader immigration vision — is getting repudiated. The only question is whether Trump will agree to the surrender Republicans are trying to negotiate for him."

Ken Dilanian of NBC News: "After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee. But investigators disagree along party lines when it comes to the implications of a pattern of contacts they have documented between Trump associates and Russians — contacts that occurred before, during and after Russian intelligence operatives were seeking to help Donald Trump by leaking hacked Democratic emails and attacking his opponent, Hillary Clinton, on social media. 'If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don't have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,' said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.... The series of contacts between Trump's associates, his campaign officials, his children and various Russians suggest a campaign willing to accept help from a foreign adversary, the Democrats say."

So we have, let's say, 35,000 people tonight," the president said. "And he has 200 people, 300 people. Not too good. -- Donald Trump, lying of the size of rallies in which he & Beto O'Rourke participatted in in El Paso last night ...

Also too, the only people who showed up for President Obama's first inauguration were officials forced to be there under Constitutional requirements.

... Rebecca Morin of Politico: "The El Paso Fire Department late Monday denied ... Donald Trump's claim that officials gave him special permission to pack more people in to his rally than the facility allowed.... 'Now the arena holds 8,000. And thank you, Fire Department. They got in about 10,000. Thank you, Fire Department. Appreciate it.'... Fire Department spokesman Enrique Aguilar told the El Paso Times on Monday that Trump did not receive permission to exceed the limit and that there were 6,500 people inside the building during the president's rally. The coliseum holds about 6,500 people. There were thousands more watching Trump's speech on big screens outside the facility.... The president also falsely claimed on Monday night that former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who is considering a 2020 presidential run, only had a couple hundred people attend his counter-rally in El Paso.... Estimates from O'Rourke's anti-border wall protest show that 7,000 to 8,000 people attended his rally. Some other reports put attendance as high as 10,000 to 15,000."

Alan Feuer of the New York Times: "The Mexican crime lord known as El Chapo was convicted on Tuesday after a three-month drug trial in New York that exposed the inner workings of his sprawling cartel, which over decades shipped tons of drugs into the United States and plagued Mexico with relentless bloodshed and corruption. The guilty verdict against the kingpin, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera, ended the career of a legendary outlaw who also served as a dark folk hero in Mexico, notorious for his innovative smuggling tactics, his violence against competitors, his storied prison breaks and his nearly unstoppable ability to evade the Mexican authorities.... The jury’s decision came more than a week after the panel started deliberations at the trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn where prosecutors presented a mountain of evidence against the cartel leader, including testimony from 56 witnesses, 14 of whom once worked with Mr. Guzmán. Mr. Guzman now faces life in prison at his sentencing hearing, scheduled for June 25."

Shocking News. Another multi-billionaire -- Bill Gates -- says Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's proposal to raise taxes on the ultra-rich is "extreme." “But we can be more progressive, the estate tax and the tax on capital, the way the FICA and Social Security taxes work. We can be more progressive without really threatening income generation,” Gates said.

*****

Emily Cochrane & Glenn Thrush of the New York Times: "House and Senate negotiators on Monday night agreed 'in principle' to provide $1.375 billion for physical barriers at the southwestern border, according to two congressional aides. It is a figure far lower than the $5.7 billion that President Trump had demanded for a border wall. The deal, which would stave off another partial government shutdown at midnight Friday, appears to be a significant victory for Democrats. It came together just before Mr. Trump was about to begin a campaign and 'Finish the Wall' rally in El Paso. It still must pass the House and Senate, and secure Mr. Trump’s signature. The negotiators also agreed to reduce the number of migrants and undocumented immigrants who can be held in detention. It would allow for 55 miles of new bollard fencing, with some restrictions on location based on community and environmental concerns, according to the two aides, who requested anonymity to disclose details of the negotiations. The is a fraction of the hundreds of miles of steel-and-concrete wall that the president shut down the government over in December." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: You might think Congress has had enough of Donald Trump. ...

... Mark Landler & Simon Romero of the New York Times: "President Trump came to [El Paso, Texas,] ... on Monday to rally support for his wall with Mexico. But he was met by El Paso’s favorite son, Beto O’Rourke, who denounced Mr. Trump’s claim that walls reduce violent crime and led the city’s residents in his own boisterous show of opposition. The dueling rallies, just across the Rio Grande from Mexico, offered a vivid snapshot of the national debate over immigration, as well as a tantalizing early glimpse of the rivalry between Mr. Trump and Mr. O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who is now considering a challenge to the president in 2020.... 'Walls work,' he said, repeating his assertion that the crime rate went down in El Paso after the border wall was built. 'Thanks to a border wall with Mexico,' he said, El Paso is 'one of America’s safest cities.' Mr. O’Rourke debunked that claim on Friday in a lengthy post on the website Medium, in which he also tried to set out an alternative blueprint for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws. El Paso’s success, he said, repudiated Mr. Trump’s call for a border wall.... A short walk from the coliseum [where Trump spoke], protesters gathered to march in a show of dissent against the president.” ...

Trump's 2020 slogan is Stronger Together? Um, my head hurts. -- Jesse Ferguson, deputy national spokesperson for Clinton, in a tweet ...

... Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "The GOP released a graphic Monday that mirrors a tagline from Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. 'We're only getting stronger together,' the graphic says superimposed over a picture of President Trump. Trump made the statement during a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night. The tweet was sent during the rally. The phrase 'Stronger Together' was also the slogan of Clinton's 2016 candidacy. Clinton and her running-mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wrote a book during the campaign with that same name." ...

... Kate Riga of TPM: "Ron Skeans, a BBC cameraman, was roughly shoved by a man clad in a MAGA hat at ... Donald Trump’s rally in El Paso Monday night. According to a BBC report, the man had been attacking various news crews, but Skeans got the worst of it, the blow so blindsiding him that the camera dipped to the floor and swung around crazily until the man was restrained. Trump saw the attack from the stage and paused to give Skeans a thumbs up and ask if everything was okay. Mere minutes later, Trump brought attention to the press in the room, jeering at them and eliciting boos from the crowd." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: In many cases, I try to go with the first report -- in this case the BBC -- but the BBC's report was so poorly-written, I let Riga do the rewrite. According to the BBC report, bystanders opined that the attacker was drunk.

Lauren Aratani of the Guardian & agencies: "Lawyers for eight immigrant families separated under Trump administration policy have filed claims against the US government, demanding $6m each in damages for what they describe as 'inexplicable cruelty' and lasting trauma. In claims filed to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, released on Monday, the parents accuse immigration officers of taking their children away without giving them information, sometimes without even a chance to say goodbye. The claims allege the children remain traumatized...." ...

Donald Trump's Weekend in Racist Tweets:

Admitting Real Reason for Wall. Gallup Poll: 'Open Borders will potentially attract 42 million Latin Americans.' This would be a disaster for the U.S. We need the Wall now! (Feb. 10)

Making Fun of Trail of Tears. Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz! (Feb. 9)

BONUS Trump Family Racist Instagram Post. Savage!!! Love my President. -- Donnie Junior, "liking" Dad's Native-American smear   

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Josh Kovensky of TPM: "National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. asked the Justice Department whether it should register as a Saudi agent, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The newspaper reported that a redacted letter published by the DOJ’s Foreign Agents Registration Act unit was addressed to American Media. The letter concerned the company’s release of a magazine praising Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, published to coincide with a visit he took to Washington in March 2018.... The DOJ decided that American Media’s activities did not qualify it as a foreign agent under FARA. The letter also says that American Media hired an unnamed advisor to the Saudi government to write an article for and edit the magazine, titled 'The New Kingdom.'”

The Reluctant Witness. Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "Congress is now 0 for 3 in trying to bring in Michael Cohen..., Donald Trump’s former lawyer, for testimony before he is scheduled to report to federal prison in early March. The latest panel to come up short in landing Trump’s longtime fixer is the Senate Intelligence Committee, which had issued a subpoena to get closed-door testimony from Cohen on Tuesday. In a statement on Monday, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said the Senate panel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election had accepted his client’s request for a delay 'due to post-surgery medical needs.' 'A future date will be announced by the committee,' Davis added. Cohen had surgery on his shoulder in January as he prepares to report to federal prison March 6 to begin a three-year sentence for tax fraud and lying to Congress.”

Andrew Desiderio & Burgess Everett of Politico: "Senate Republicans are fuming at ... Donald Trump for telling lawmakers he would disregard a law requiring a report to Congress determining who is responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The uproar among Republicans is just the latest example of their deep discontent with the president’s foreign policy. It could prompt even more defections in favor of a Democrat-led resolution coming before the House and Senate this month to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war.... On Friday, the Trump administration said it reserved the right to decline lawmakers’ demand under the Magnitsky Act that the president report to Congress with a determination of who is responsible for Khashoggi’s October slaying.... Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) ... said, '... The president has to comply with the Magnitsky Act. He has not done so in a timely manner yet.'... Democrats said the administration’s response amounted to a cover-up and a willing violation of the law.” The report cites criticisms from several other GOP senators & "Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.... [But] Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) [-- the new chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --] ... wouldn’t commit to further action to compel compliance with the Magnitsky Act, a marked contrast to [Sen. Bob] Corker’s time as chairman."

James Bamford, in a long New Republic piece, makes the case than Maria Butina is not a Russian spy but an idealistic naif whom U.S. prosecutors are scapegoating.


Maggie Haberman & Annie Karni
of the New York Times: "Cliff Sims, the former White House communications aide who wrote an insider account of life working for President Trump, is suing the president in his official capacity, alleging that he used his campaign organization as a 'cutout' to improperly seek retribution against former employees and keep them from invoking their First Amendment rights. Mr. Sims was a White House aide from the beginning of the administration. But it was the campaign organization that filed an arbitration claim against him last week, accusing him of violating the nondisclosure agreement he signed with it during the 2016 presidential race with the publication of his book, 'Team of Vipers,' last month. The White House had dozens of people sign such agreements at the beginning of the president’s term. But those agreements are widely seen as likely unenforceable.... Mr. Sims’s lawsuit alleges that Mr. Trump 'is seeking to impose civil liability against Mr. Sims through application of NDAs that apply to information Mr. Sims learned solely during his federal service.'... The suit notes that Mr. Trump appears to be selective in enforcing the nondisclosure agreements.”

All the Best People, Ctd. Michael Brice-Saddler of the Washington Post: "AccuWeather, a private weather company whose former chief executive is President Trump’s nominee to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, agreed to pay $290,000 as part of a settlement after a federal oversight agency found the company subjected female employees to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. The conciliation agreement was published in June after an investigation by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The agreement was first reported Monday by the Centre Daily Times. The agreement states AccuWeather subjected women to 'sexual harassment and a hostile work environment' and would pay out thousands to dozens of women as part of a settlement. Barry Myers, tapped by Trump in 2017 to lead NOAA, became Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather’s chief executive in 2007 and stepped down Jan. 1, agreeing to divest himself of any company ownership in accordance with an ethics pledge to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.... His brother, Joel Myers, is founder and president of AccuWeather." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: What? A Trump nominee who ran a company that harasses female employees? Bet you're shocked.

Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "Representative Ilhan Omar, who has been battling charges of anti-Semitism for weeks, apologized on Monday for insinuating that American support for Israel is fueled by money from a pro-Israel lobbying group — a comment that drew swift and unqualified condemnation from fellow Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 'Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,' Ms. Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, said in a statement that she released on Twitter. 'My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.' She added, 'I unequivocally apologize.'” ...

... J Street: "J Street is dismayed and frustrated by the ongoing war of words that has taken place between lawmakers including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and others on the subjects of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and anti-Semitism. This pattern of overheated, ill-considered and reductive attacks, playing out on social media and in the press, has failed to address these issues with the nuance, sensitivity and seriousness that they deserve. It does nothing to advance the true interests and needs of Israelis or Palestinians, nor those of the American Jewish community. Elected officials should be particularly sensitive and careful on the question of the role played by campaign contributions in influencing US policies toward Israel and the Middle East. There is no doubt that money often plays a major role in our political system. At the same time, elected officials must be extremely aware that tropes about Jewish money and political influence have been used for centuries to target and stigmatize our community. Indeed, such tropes featured alarmingly in the campaign ads of Republican candidates during the 2018 election cycle." ...

... Ryan Grim of the Intercept: "A debate about the power in Washington of the pro-Israel lobby is underway, after Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded sharply to reports that Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was targeting both Omar and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan. Omar quoted rap lyrics — 'It’s all about the Benjamins baby' — to suggest McCarthy’s move was driven by the lobby’s prolific spending. Asked specifically who she was referring to, Omar responded, 'AIPAC!' The debate ... could be informed by an investigation by Al Jazeera, in which an undercover reporter infiltrated The Israel Project, a Washington-based group, and secretly recorded conversations about political strategy and influence over a six-month period in 2016. That investigation, however, was never aired by the network — suppressed by pressure from the pro-Israel lobby. In November, Electronic Intifada obtained and published the four-part series, but it did so during the week of the midterm elections, and the documentary did not get a lot of attention then. In it, leaders of the pro-Israel lobby speak openly about how they use money to influence the political process, in ways so blunt that if the comments were made by critics, they’d be charged with anti-Semitism. David Ochs, founder of HaLev, which helps send young people to AIPAC’s annual conference, described for the reporter how AIPAC and its donors organize fundraisers outside the official umbrella of the organization, so that the money doesn’t show up on disclosures as coming specifically from AIPAC.” ...

... Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money. -- David Ochs, explaining how the pro-Israel lobbying groups operate

Guess what? That's pretty much how most big lobbying groups operate. You could check with the NRA or MoveOn.org or the AFL-CIO. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

Marianne Levine of Politico: "Sen. Rand Paul said Monday that he will vote against confirming ... Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, citing his record on privacy issues. 'I'm a no,' the Kentucky Republican said in a brief interview. 'He's been the chief advocate for warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens. I think that the Fourth Amendment should protect your phone calls and your bank information. People shouldn't be allowed to look at it without a warrant.'... Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama said last week he would vote to confirm Barr." Mrs. McC: Wow! Li'l Randy is a big maverick -- when his vote will have no consequence. Hope Barr doesn't tap his wires.

Paul Krugman on national debt, deficit scolds & Democrats & Republicans. Mrs. McC: This is an old refrain of Krugman's, one that nobody seems to read, which I assume is the reason Krugman keeps singing the same damned song, hoping it will catch on. What Krugman doesn't discuss here -- and I think he & other economists should -- is that "socialism" is not necessarily costly at all; in fact, it can save money. For one thing, it can have obvious economic benefits in that government projects that feed people, get them & their stuff from place to place, or keep the peace, & so forth, lead to greater prosperity. If you're healthy, well-fed, safe & can get to work on time, you'll be a more productive worker. For another, socialism has the obvious advantage over private industry in its economies of scale; for instance, government-managed health care usually achieves the same benefits for less money than privately-run health industries: I'd rather pay $90 for socialized medicine (via taxes) than $100 for private care (out of pocket). Third -- and of course this is what Republicans hate the most -- equitable distribution of benefits. Republicans would probably be fine with funding a couple of truck-and-limo superlanes on an Interstate, but a free-ticket public transit rail line that primarily gets the poor people of Hoboken to & from jobs in Manhattan, not so much.

Presidential Race 2020 -- Collapse of the Never-Trumpers

Charles Pierce: "I had the sense that most [Never-Trumpers] were more concerned with damage to the [Republican] brand than with the damage to the republic. This was a revelatory weekend for people who believed as I did. Let's go to the videotape. First, Erick Erickson dropped this bunker-busting dungbomb at the Resurgent. 'Some of my concerns about President Trump remain. I still struggle on the character issue and I understand Christian friends who would rather sit it out than get involved.... But I also recognize that we cannot have the Trump Administration policies without President Trump and there is much to like....' Grab all the pussy you can as long as more of the wealth gets pushed upwards. Conspire and collude with thuggish autocrats as long as I can maintain control over every woman's ovaries.... Moving along, we find that the briefly unemployed Never Trumpers who have clustered at The Bulwark have found a new plutocrat to love: ... [Howard Schultz].... And, finally, there was a very weird episode over the weekend from Steve Schmidt.... The disease rages on." ...

... Steve M.: "... it appears that [Charlie Pierce] was right all along.... Erick Erickson['s essay is] titled 'I’ll Be Voting for President Trump and Vice President Pence in 2020.'... The main problem the #NeverTrumpers, or at least Erickson and his kind, had with Trump was that they were afraid he wouldn't be fully on board with the mean-spirited, avaricious, bigoted, rapacious program of the contemporary GOP.... Now Erickson knows that he can trust Trump with the vast majority of the GOP's program. He also knows that he has no choice for 2020 -- Trump won't lose the nomination, so it's either Trump or (nooooooo!) a Democrat." ...

... Martin Longman in the Washington Monthly: "There were #NeverTrumper people who were kind of getting accustomed to having one foot outside of the Party of Lincoln until they got a load of Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax and puddles began to form around their ankles. They’re beginning to fear that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent top marginal income tax rate is more popular than the idea of a President Michael Bloomberg.... Suddenly, Trump doesn’t look so bad. After all, he did build the Autobahn deliver on tax reform, regulatory rollbacks, and undermining Obamacare. He did withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. He is cracking down on the crazy socialists in Venezuela and Cuba. And look at all those Heritage Foundation judges!" ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Let's bear in mind that somewhere around half the Republican senators (Mitt Romney) also were Never-Trumpers or something akin to it. Yet they've spent these past two years voting nearly in lock-step with Trump. Admittedly, that's because Trump, who knows nothing except white people uber alles!, has gone alone with most of the GOP agenda, as Steve so correctly characterized.

Senate Race 2020. Jonathan Cooper of the AP: "Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who rocketed to the national spotlight when his congresswoman wife Gabrielle Giffords was shot in a failed assassination attempt, announced Tuesday he’s running to finish John McCain’s last term in the U.S. Senate. Kelly, 54, is a top Democratic recruit to take on Republican Martha McSally in one of the most closely contested Senate races of the 2020 election.... If Kelly is nominated, the race would pit a Navy veteran and astronaut against a trailblazing Air Force pilot in the contest to replace McCain, a legendary Navy flyer who was famously shot down and held captive.... U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix is also considering a Senate run, which would likely set up a tough fight for the Democratic nomination."

Beyond the Beltway

Illinois. Julie Bosman of the New York Times: "Prosecutors in Illinois are challenging the prison sentence of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who was convicted last year of killing Laquan McDonald and sentenced to nearly seven years in prison, a term that was criticized by many in Chicago as too lenient. In a petition filed Monday, Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Joseph McMahon, the special prosecutor in Mr. Van Dyke’s trial, asked the Illinois Supreme Court to review whether the sentence, after a conviction of second-degree murder, was proper under the law.... At issue is whether Mr. Van Dyke, who was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm for each of the 16 shots he fired, should be sentenced for the aggravated batteries, which could result in a significantly longer prison term. Under his current sentence, exclusively for the second-degree murder conviction, he could be released from prison in as little as three years."

Virginia. Patrick Wilson of the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Two of the three government staffers to Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and two employees of his political action committee resigned following news Friday of a second sexual assault allegation against him. [One of]he PAC employees who left [is] Dave Mills, who was the executive director of We Rise Together.... Mills is the husband of state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, who is considered a strong contender to replace Fairfax as lieutenant governor should Fairfax resign.... The job of lieutenant governor is part time. Fairfax is a lawyer at the firm Morrison & Foerster, which has placed him on paid leave." ...

... Kevin Draper, et al., of the New York Times: "The woman who has accused Virginia’s lieutenant governor, Justin E. Fairfax, of raping her said that a former N.B.A. player, Corey Maggette, raped her at Duke University 20 years ago and that school officials did not pursue the claim, according to a childhood friend of the woman and Facebook messages the woman exchanged with another friend.... Mr. Maggette denied the accusation through a spokesman Monday evening.... Nancy Erika Smith, the lawyer for the woman who accused Mr. Maggette and Mr. Fairfax, Meredith Watson, said in a statement Friday ... that Ms. Watson had reported her rape [by Maggette] to an unspecified dean at the university, but that the dean had 'discouraged her from pursuing the claim further.'” Watson told a friend she did not report the alleged rape by Fairfax because the university had not helped her in her claims against Maggette. ...

... Oh, Ha Ha Ha. Darren Sands of BuzzFeed News: "As Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam continues to resist calls to step down over the racist photo on his medical school yearbook page, he and his advisers are close to finalizing plans for a statewide 'listening tour' to engage different communities in conversations about race. Additionally, a source close to the governor said Northam is telling people privately that if the commonwealth’s legislature puts a bill on his desk that provides the authority to bring down Confederate statues that he would sign it." Mrs. McC: That's like to happen. The Party of the Lost Cause control both houses. Also, read the last graf of Sands' post. I suppose we should be happy Dr. Ralph is trying to get woke. Note to Ralph: Do not wear a sombrero to your visit with the "Hispanic community." ...

... Sarah Jones of New York: "With Northam and Fairfax running out their political life spans, the party’s left with Mark Herring, the state attorney general. Herring admitted to wearing blackface to a college party, and his apology was generally better received than Northam’s."

Reader Comments (16)

For those trying to understand the intricate ins and outside of the "Russer Thing", and for the laypeople that never went to Law school, I recommend this crash course in reading and revealing info based on court docs by Marcy Wheeler as she exposes the NYT for printing lies to support Manafort's collusion case. I found it very helpful.

https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/02/11/a-primer-on-how-to-read-so-the-nyt-can-stop-telling-paul-manaforts-lies/

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@safari: I have to commend you on being able to read Wheeler's post. I have been an occasional reader of her stuff for about ten years, and her style hasn't changed. Nobody is better at getting into the weeds of a topic in which she is interested, and nobody is better, IMO, of making the reader crazy while trapped in the weeds. This particular post you cite is a case in point. (Digression: shouldn't the idiom be "case on point"?)

Here, I don't think that the "lie" the NYT told is particularly significant. The Times acknowledges that at least some of the polling data Manafort shared with Kilimnik were private data, supposedly generated by the campaign.

But whether the data were public or private does not seem to me to be especially significant; the important issue is why Manafort shared any polling data with a presumed Russian government operative. There are only three reasons I can think of: (1) Manafort offered them as some sort of proof to Kilimnik that he had access to key data -- if the data were public, that wouldn't be very impressive "proof"; (2) Russians could use the data for their own nefarious purposes -- say, these were raw data with names & addresses (including IP addresses) of some people the Russians wanted to keep tabs on; (3) Russian hackers & fake news developers could use the data to help the Trump campaign.

Moreover, teevee pundits don't seem to be too convinced that the data Manafort passed to Kilimnik were public. I have heard maybe three or four of them remark on the sensitivity of the passed data; just last night, Nick Ackerman noted that "these weren't lists Russians could use to send Christmas cards to their friends in Ukraine; they were valuable political stuff." (paraphrase)

If the Times is "lying," they may be "lying" in an abundance of caution, something it would have been great for them to have done before they rushed the e-mail! story to press & then kept harping on it. As to how the pundits figured out that the data were of significant value, I don't know.

February 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Fatty needs a rest...

So I see that president* Lazy Ass is exercised because Americans discovered how little he actually works. And boy is he going to set the record straight.

Yesterday he tweety-birded that no president in history has worked harder than him, the Great Donald. First he whined that he had to work hard, like wicked hard, when he first got into office to clean up all the Demycrap messes left behind by that horrible nee-groe (like an economy left in shambles by the previous Republican incompetents and low unemployment). But that didn't seem to do it. So then he shot out that claim that no president has worked harder than him.

Which means, say, FDR, who had to handle both the Great Depression, banking regulations, putting millions of people back to work, starting Social Security, then steering the country through a war that stretched across the planet, devising and implementing strategies to, first, help allies being attacked by that nice friend of the Bush family, Adolf Hitler, and second, prosecuting that war in Europe and the Pacific. All this while dealing with polio and eventually a heart condition that killed him in that job.

But Fatty has it much worse.

How 'bout Lincoln? Pfft. A piker. All he did was keep the nation together in the most dangerous threat to its unity. Oh yeah, he also backed a movement to emancipate human beings kept in slavery by the Confederate states, the same ones that put Fatty in office to try to bring back slavery.

But the Civil War? Pshaw. A big nothing. Look at what Fatty has to deal with. Fox and Friends had to broadcast a rerun this morning. Honest Abe never had to deal with anything like that.

What about Washington? A loser compared to Fatty. All he did was help found the nation, after winning a largely unwinnable war against the greatest military power in the history of the planet, and establish the conditions and traditions that kept the presidency from becoming just another form of monarchy (something Fatty probably holds against him).

Teddy Roosevelt? Truman? Jefferson? Adams?

All lazy bastards compared to poor Donald who has to work his tiny fingers to the bone. And for what? For traitors to let the American people he's supposed to serve to know that he spends the vast majority of his time sitting in his playpen, wanking.

Poor Donald.

Maybe he could use a vacation. Maybe five or six days golfing in a nice warm place. A private club that will ensure that he's not bothered.

Yeah. If only he could do something like that.

He needs a rest.

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Since it first became obvious that King Donald was a lazy slacker (within one-two weeks of the sparsely-attended American Carnage inauguration), I have seesawed between laughing at the King's claims of being the hardest-working president* in American history & thanking the stars that he is actually a lazy slacker. Of course it is not exactly comforting to know that Princes Stephen Painted-Head & Jughead Kushner are in charge when the King's away.

February 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

SOSHULIZM! Holy Order of Lenin, Batman!

Yup. The chicken littles are back.

After reading Krugman's piece (linked above), it struck me that we are already a largely socialist nation. But Confederates are so skeered of AOC and talk of actually doing something to help save the planet from policies they've worked so hard to put into place, that old boogeyman socialism is back. Back in 1964, Ronnie Rayguns gave one of the most hair-raising, hyperbolic speeches in American history. Right up there with Father Coughlin's racist, nationalist, bigoted philippics from the dark days of the 30's.

What was he railing against?

Medicare. SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!

Better to let people die by the side of the road than have the hated guv'mint help them out. St. Ronald promised that if Medicare passed into law, in a few years Americans would have to apologize to their kids and grandkids for destroying their FREEEEEDOOMS!

Well, it didn't exactly play out like that, did it?

But had we listened to the sob sisters and done away with all vestiges of socialism in this country, here's what we'd be giving up:

The military.
Police and fire protection.
Public education.
Social Security
The federal highway system.
Public libraries.
Sewer systems.
Public/national parks.
Street lights.
The FDA, CDC, and every other alphabet soup organization funded by a system of redistribution of wealth, including, HEY, politicians themselves. We pay their salaries. And, funnily enough, they are the biggest beneficiaries of socialized health care in the country. Free open heart surgery for them, but not so much as a fucking band-aid for the mooching poor.

And a lot more.

And leave us not forget things that wingers love: farm subsidies (to keep farmers voting them back in) and corporate welfare (ditto). During the Trump/McConnell shutdown, some of the biggest complaining groups were farmers who were unable to apply for federal assistance during the weeks Fatty turned everyone away while he watched TeeVee. Also, they didn't have access to government funded research studies they use to plan crop production. But socialism is horrible, right?

Krugman points out that defecits are not necessarily a bad thing, but incurring debt for no good reason is very definitely a terrible idea. Like giving corporations enormous tax breaks and getting nothing in return. Lyin' Ryan, who loved calling the wealthy "job creators" has nothing to say now that corporations and the rich are taking their huge cuts and using them to line their own pockets. Not a single example of major reinvestment in sight.

In a better system, corporations would be expected to pony up for such largesse. But not in Trump's Amerika. Fatty (and Ryan and McConnell) shows them how to take the money and run.

We are already very much a socialized nation. Had we not instituted such programs, we'd have faded away over 100 years ago. Although very likely, Japan would never have bombed Pearl Harbor. Why bother? We have been a medieval fiefdom by then ruled by a small group of landed lords and ladies. No army, no navy, and definitely no Pacific fleet. The axis powers would have overrun Europe, Asia, and then, when they had a few extra minutes, the Non Socialized United States.

But as with almost all of their world view, it's all a zero sum game for Confederates. A socialized program to improve the country's environment and encourage investment into clean and renewable energy turns us into Venezuela.

Aiiieeeeyyyeee!

The fact is, Trump doesn't make America great. Socialism does.

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

AK: How about this for a vacation––old poem but seems like new:

A PLACE IN THE SUN

I acknowledge the Furies, I believe
in them, I have heard the disastrous
beating of their wings.
–––Theodore Dreiser

Somewhere warm––Belize perhaps
Where breezes off the Caribbean
Leave a scent of Black Orchid
And where the showy keel-billed Toucan
Struts his stuff––

Or–––how about a place at the table
Not too far from the salt, mind you,
With talk of prowess, pandering &
All those possessions––

Or––being placed in a position
Higher than most––clout, baby, influence, honey–-
You betcha!

Knowing your place is important here––
It’s the same old story told
With loud sounds and fury.

It’s good to be King, the King said,
Placing the crown on his tiny head,
Raising the skirt of the wench ahead,
Pleased that the people all bowed
And were doing whatever he said.

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

There's a typo in the president's 2020 slogan. It's actually
"Stronger To Get Her."

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Marie,

Full agreement on president* lazy pants. A smarter, more ambitious Trump style demagogue and all those early references to dictatorship and Hitler might be a lot more prescient.

But just because we've dodged a bullet with Fatty, he has unwittingly (wit not being one of his most prevalent talents) drawn a road map for a future would-be dictator. Someone smoother, smarter, with less baggage, someone who could inveigle the easily conned winger pols and voters and then roll back Constitutional protections in a way that Fatty and his backers only wish they could.

Trump won't be an asterisk in American history. He will be a giant object lesson in the dangers of staying home on election day and letting the droolers, racists, haters, and Bible thumpers have their way.

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

PD,

Very nice. I'm sure Fatty would be most appreciative of short skirted wenches and a servile population, bowled over by his every lie.

But your Dreiser quote immediately called up a more exact description of what's going on.

An American Tragedy.

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I am still pissed about this AIPAC controversy. It wasn't too long ago that a CNN reporter was fired because he mentioned the travail of the Palestinians. Here we have Trump's best Chaver, (shortened Hebrew word for friend) Bibi, who portends to be a fierce defender of the Jews without seeming to have much regard for Jews themselves, whether American or Israeli as Anshel Pfeffer tells us in his excellent biography of Netanyahu. This attitude can be easily traced to his father who in the 1940's had little faith in Zionism's ability to build a state given "the human material at our disposal." Both fierce nationalists, father and son were consistently bleak in their assessment of the people who make up their nation.

In this biography the comparisons between Bibi and D.J.T. are so extraordinary that if you didn't know Pfeffer was describing B.N. you'd think he was writing about Trump. Suffice to say, I personally cringe over this tippy=toeing around anything negative about Israel as though that in itself would be considered racist or anti=semitic.

"We see a man [B.N.] mired in corruption, allegations, watching as his aides flip to assist dogged state investigations, but who nonetheless retains the adulation of his base. We are told that at rallies organized by his supporters he launched into long rants against the 'leftist fake media' he said were behind the 'unprecedented witch hunt' against him and his family. He made long lists of his achievements, punctuated with the refrain, 'That, they don't report!'

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I'm not convinced that Fatty's reference to "campaign TRAIL" in a tweety-bird thingie attacking Elizabeth Warren is a racist smack about the Trail of Tears. Which, of course does not in any way mean that Fatty is not a racist. Look up that word in the dictionary and his picture is right there next to the entry. But do we really believe that this doofus knows what the Trail of Tears was? I mean, this moron thinks that Frederick Douglass is still alive. He thinks Canada burned the White House during the War of 1812.

It could be that Stephen Miller dropped a little hint to him to add the word "trail" in all caps and see what happens.

If you tried explaining it to him, he'd wonder why people were crying. "Did they break a leg or something? No? Then why the tears? I don't understand."

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

PD: am fully with you re AIPAC/Muslim rep controversy. It is downright crazy how we are somehow so bound up with this violent little nation/state that ANY mention of how nasty they can be, how propped-up they are by the US, how unable they are to see anyone else as victims is met with screeches about anti-semitism. Any critique is not allowed. (I don't see how you can read about Bibi without losing your breakfast, tho-- that takes courage!)
I think that woman waded into a minefield, both in her subject matter, and with the fact that right now, the old guard is running scared of these brash newcomers. And of course, this is old stuff for Dems: be sure and clobber your own before someone on the other side does...
As for the Trail reference, naw, Idiotface wouldn't have a clue. It's possible Jr. does, and he weighed in with SAVAGE! and claims to "love" his president/father. Another stomach-turner... C'mon, Mueller, give us a Valentine indictment of the little sucker...

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

The slimy little weasel just dumped on teachers, teaching..."socialism!"
He's so far underground depth-wise he's about to reappear on the other side of the world. Words cannot express the animosity sensible people feel toward the Felon Family.

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

@PD Pepe & Jeanne:

Of the many things that are wrong with stereotypes, one that particularly annoys me is the restrictions they place on me -- the Marvelous Mrs. McCrabbie. The stereotype that J Street highlights -- an international Jewish plot to control the world -- is one I wasn't even aware of till Donald Trump featured it in his "closing argument" ad. For me to make myself "extremely aware" of this conspiracy theory forces me to think of Jews as a particular group of people who are "different" from me in this respect. But that just isn't a thought that comes naturally to me.

I'll admit I am sometimes careful not to hint at ethnic stereotypes; for instance, if a black person were weaving me a tall tale, I wouldn't say, "Don't give me that song & dance." But I resent having to "be careful," because the reason for such a remark from me would have absolutely nothing to do with the stereotype of black people as performers. It's the stereotype itself that forces me to "otherize" someone of a group to which I don't belong. Absent the stereotype, I would not have to "be careful."

I don't see Jews, generically, as being more or less likely to use money to influence politicians & policies than are gun owners or environmentalists -- and am I. I send money to the politicians & groups whose policies I want to see implemented or maintained, precisely because I want to influence outcomes. That's not an ethnic nor a cultural trait; that's how politics in the U.S. works. The problem is not the lobbyists as much as it is the politicians who thrive on & encourage the influence-peddling system.

February 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

A late in the day acknowledgment of what I remember to be Lincoln's birthday.

Suspect the Pretender and the party he now owns are not celebrating it.

February 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes: Thanks for reminding us. I forgot. Of course I forgot my own birthday, too, so Abe will get over it. Lets' have a big bed linens sale for him Monday.

February 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie
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