The Wires

Public Service Announcement

November 26: Washington Post: "Federal health officials said Monday that only romaine lettuce from certain parts of California is unsafe to eat and that romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled to give consumers information about when and where it was harvested. If consumers, retailers and food service facilities cannot determine whether the romaine was grown outside California, they should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one got sick, according to a lengthy statement from Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. FDA officials said the most likely source of contamination is from the Central Coast growing regions in northern and central California. Romaine lettuce harvested outside those regions 'does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,' the FDA said. Hydroponically grown and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be affected in the outbreak. Romaine from those sources is safe to eat, the FDA said."

... November 20: New York Times: "In a sweeping alert, federal health officials warned people not to eat romaine lettuce anywhere in the country, after 32 people in 11 states fell sick with a virulent form of E. coli, a bacteria blamed for a number of food-borne outbreaks in recent years. The notice, issued Tuesday afternoon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said consumers should not buy or eat any kind of romaine, whether chopped or whole, and restaurants should stop serving it. Anyone who has romaine, the health agency said, should throw it out." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Okay then, guess I'll throw out that romaine. Already ate one head, and I ain't dead yet.

"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."

Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi leaving the White House Wednesday, Dec. 12, after making mincemeat of Donald Trump.Everybody Loved Nancy's Coat! It's turns out it's from a 2013 Max Mara collection. According to Ana Colón of Glamour, "the Italian fashion house sent out a press release that not only confirmed the origins of Pelosi's coat but also announced that Max Mara would be reinstating the Glamis into its outerwear collection in 2019. 'In a variety of colorways,' no less! A spokesperson for the brand confirmed to Glamour that the decision to bring it back was inspired by Pelosi."

Isabel Wilkerson reports, in the New York Times, on Michelle Obama's book Becoming. It's quite a compelling read.

Reality Chex Bargain. Someone will pay $1 million or more for a letter written by Albert Einstein. You can read it for free. ...

... New York Times: The "God Letter," "written [in German] in 1954 by Albert Einstein ... is being auctioned this week.... He sent the handwritten letter to Eric Gutkind, a German philosopher who had written a book called 'Choose Life: The biblical Call to Revolt' that, apparently, Einstein did not much like.... Einstein wrote dozens of letters in which he mentioned God or Judaism. 'Nobody should read one Einstein letter and think that solves what he thinks about God,' Walter Isaacson, the author of the 2007 biography 'Einstein,' said in an interview.... The letter surfaced in 2008. Until then, it had apparently been in the hands of Gutkind’s heirs (he died in 1965). And it rocketed into the universe of big-money auctions, selling for $404,000 in London.... It will go on the block at Christie’s on Tuesday. Christie’s set a presale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million."

Here's New York magazine's take on A Very Melanie Christmas:

... AND Rhonda Garelick of New York has some thoughts on why Melanie's Red Forest is so empty of holiday cheer.

Chris Hayes reviews this year's White House holiday decor:

So if you'd like to read all about Mika Brzezinski's wedding to Joe Scarborough, Emily Fox of Vanity Fair obliges. It sounds as if it was a very nice ceremony. Except, you know, Mika & Joe.

Kwitcherbitchin. Think things are bad now? They were way worse in 536 C.E. A report in Science explains.

Click on picture to see larger image.

... New York Times: "A celebrated and enigmatic painting of two men and a turquoise pool by David Hockney sold at Christie’s on Thursday night for $90.3 million with fees, shattering the auction record for a living artist and cementing a major broadening of tastes at the turbocharged top end of the market. The price for the 1972 painting, 'Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),' easily surpassed the previous high of $58.4 million, held by Jeff Koons for one of his 'Balloon Dog' sculptures."

Jennifer Szalai of the New York Times reviews Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming.


The Commentariat -- February 14, 2018

Afternoon Update:

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "In a brief statement to reporters at the White House, Trump said, 'I'm totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn't even have to be said. So, now you hear it, but you all know.' He declined to answer follow-up questions." Mrs. McC: Okay then, totally opposed, not just opposed. Good for Trump for having the guts to take this controversial position. Jerk. ...

Never Believe Anything Donald Trump Says. Michael Shear & Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "President Trump on Wednesday called on lawmakers to oppose a series of bipartisan efforts to address immigration and resolve the fate of the so-called 'Dreamers,' demanding fealty to his hard-line approach and increasing the odds of political gridlock as the Senate debates the issue.... While the president's support of [Sen. Chuck Grassley's hard-line] bill is not surprising, his vague promise not to support other bills is notable, as Mr. Trump told lawmakers last month that he would sign any immigration bill that Congress sends him." ...

... DACA Sabotage. Esther Yu Hsi Lee of ThinkProgress: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is giving the Senate the rest of this week only to consider permanent legislation to protect the nearly 800,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers before he moves on to 'other things.'... Allowing three days to debate the lives of millions of immigrants is absurd for a few reasons.... But there's also the issue of McConnell undercutting time by propping up measures that will go nowhere with Democrats." --safari

Leaker-in-Chief. Brad Reed of RawStory: "There have been several leaks out of the White House recently that paint an unflattering portrait of White House chief of staff John Kelly, and the New York Times' Maggie Haberman says that Kelly's allies now believe the leaks are coming from President Donald Trump himself.... Haberman then said morale had sunk to a low point not seen since the president's insistence after Charlottesville that there were 'very fine people' attending a white nationalist rally -- and she said that Kelly's allies think Trump is trying to oust him through leaking dirt to the press." --safari: Trump doesn't have the cojones to fire a General, so he publicly humiliates him instead.

Andrew Restuccia of Politico: "A senior official on the National Economic Council resigned on Tuesday after being informed that he would not receive a permanent security clearance, as the White House faces increasing scrutiny over the number of high-ranking officials allowed to work on interim clearances. George David Banks, who had served since February 2017 as special assistant to the president for international energy and environmental policy, told Politico that he was informed by the White House counsel's office Tuesday that his application for a permanent clearance would not be granted over his past marijuana use.... Banks said he was told that his clearance would not be granted because he admitted to smoking marijuana in 2013." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Once again, this story doesn't make sense. Having smoked dope in 2013 would not create a security risk. Lying about it -- that's something else. As Restuccia notes, "A former Obama administration official who worked on personnel and vetting issues said the Obama White House usually only denied clearances when there was both past drug use and a lack of full disclosure."

They're All Crooked. Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin's chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary's wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer, the agency's inspector general has found. Vivieca Wright Simpson, VA's third-most-senior official, altered language in an email from an aide coordinating the trip to make it appear that Shulkin was receiving an award from the Danish government, then used the award to justify paying for his wife's travel, Inspector General Michael J. Missal said in a report released Wednesday. VA paid more than $4,300 for her airfare. The account of how the government paid travel expenses for the secretary's wife is one finding in an unsparing investigation that concluded that Shulkin and his staff misled agency ethics officials and the public about key details of the trip. Shulkin also improperly accepted a gift of sought-after tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match, the investigation found, and directed an aide coordinating the trip to act as what the report called a 'personal travel concierge' to him and his wife.... Shulkin ... is the administration's lone holdover from the Obama administration."

Erica Werner of the Washington Post: "Trump's military parade would cost between $10 million and $30 million, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Wednesday. Mulvaney offered the estimate during questioning at the House Budget Committee. He said the White House hasn't yet budgeted for the parade and would either rely on Congress to appropriate funds, or use money that already has been approved."

Sarah Burris of the Raw Story: "Hollywood tabloid is reporting that Stormy Daniels thinks that she is free to speak since Michael Cohen acknowledged that she was paid by him to keep her mouth shut about an alleged affair with President Donald Trump.... Gina Rodriguez, a manager for Daniels, confirmed to The Associated Press that she believes Trump's lawyer invalidated the non-disclosure agreement. Sources told The Blast that Daniels' legal team notified Trump’s legal team, including Cohen, that they are in violation of the 2016 agreement."

Casey Quilan of ThinkProgress: "This week, Congress is expected to vote on a bill that would significantly weaken the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act and let businesses off the hook for failing to provide accommodations for accessibility. The ADA Education and Reform Act was introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), and was recently adopted in the House Judiciary Committee.... If the bill passes, it would affect 22 percent of Americans who have a disability, 13 percent of which experience mobility issues, such as walking or climbing stairs, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The share of people with disabilities is higher among women and people of color." --safari

Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: "Americans' dissatisfaction with the quality of the environment is at an all-time high, Gallup reported Monday.... It's also the first time more than half of Americans were dissatisfied.... At the same time, however, Republicans' satisfaction with the quality of the nation's environment jumped 5 points to a remarkable 69 percent over the past year. That's quite remarkable given that Trump's own EPA released a study last fall concluding that simply undoing the Obama-era rule aimed at cutting carbon pollution could kill 100,000 Americans by 2050." --safari...

... Jenny Rowland of ThinkProgress: "President Donald Trump's budget released Monday recommends extreme staffing cuts of nearly 2,000 National Park Service rangers at a time when national park visitation is at an all-time high.... In 2016, the national parks received record visitation rates of nearly 331 million visits. Cuts to park staff could lead to a reduction in services to the public, closed facilities, and heavier workloads for remaining staff." --safari

Cristiano Lima & Lauren Dezenski of Politico: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren reaffirmed her claims of Native American heritage during an address to community leaders on Wednesday, pushing back against ... Donald Trump's attacks on her ethnicity in the most expansive explanation yet about a controversy that has dogged her since her 2012 election campaign. In a surprise visit to the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, the Massachusetts Democrat responded to those who have accused her of misleading voters about her ethnic background, according to prepared remarks of the address.... Questions surrounding Warren's claims to Native American heritage ... have circulated since her first Senate bid. She had listed herself as a minority in a legal directory published by the Association of American Law schools from 1986 to 1995, and both Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania listed Warren as a Native American in federal forms filed by the law schools while she worked there. Trump has repeatedly derided Warren, who says her family is part Cherokee, as 'Pocahontas.' During a White House event to honor Native Americans at the White House in November, the president revived the derogatory nickname."

Juan Cole: "Are there parallels between Netanyahu's situation and Trump's? Both came to power in part through the backing of billionaires and their fake news organs such as Fox Cable News for Trump and Yisrael Ha-Yom for Netanyahu. Both men are being investigated for corruption. Both have responded by denigrating law enforcement. Netanyahu attacked the police, Trump the FBI. Both have tried to normalize corruption. Netanyahu dismissed the hundreds of thousands of dollars he received as a few gifts among friends. Trump asks his audience if they don't want him to make money for his businesses. And in the case of both men, if they are removed from office for corruption, they will be succeeded by political figures even farther to their right and more dangerous to the world." --safari

Elections Matter. David Dayen of The Intercept: "Dominion Energy, the utility monopoly in Virginia, suffered a rare loss on the floor of the state House of Delegates late Monday night, when their ability to double-charge ratepayers for infrastructure improvements was stripped out of a controversial bill.... The move is a major victory for Virginia's large freshman class of Democratic legislators, many of whom campaigned against Dominion in their races and refused to take campaign contributions from them. It's an act of defiance against the state's most powerful corporate donor, as well as the Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, who endorsed the overall bill." --safari


... Matthew Rosenberg, et al., of the New York Times: "Russia is already meddling in the midterm elections this year, the top American intelligence officials said on Tuesday, warning that Moscow is using a digital strategy to worsen the country's political and social divisions. Russia is using fake accounts on social media -- many of them bots -- to spread disinformation, the officials said. European elections are being targeted, too, and the attacks were not likely to end this year, they warned.... The warnings were striking in their contrast to President Trump's views on Russia. He has mocked the very notion of Russian interference in the last election, and lashed out at those who have suggested otherwise. He also said that he believes denials of Russian interference issued by President Vladimir V. Putin.... Mr. Trump has not directed his intelligence officials to specifically combat Russian interference, they said." Emphasis added. (This is a update of a story linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Trump's Fragile Ego Makes Him Unable to Protect U.S. Elections. Sara Murray & Jeremy Herb of CNN: "... Donald Trump still isn't buying that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Even as his intelligence chiefs unanimously told a Senate panel Tuesday that Russia meddled in 2016 and is planning to do so again in 2018, three sources familiar with the President's thinking say he remains unconvinced that Russia interfered in the presidential election. While this issue is separate from the question of whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian officials, to Trump the issues are interwoven, the sources say. He views the notion that Russia meddled in the election as an argument that he had help to win, and that he didn't win the election on his own." Mrs. McC: This alone makes Trump unfit for office. ...

... It's All About Sanctions. Maddow ties it up & puts a bow on it:

Julie Davis & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said on Tuesday that the bureau delivered final results in January of its background investigation into Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned in disgrace amid spousal abuse allegations. But the White House allowed Mr. Porter to continue serving in his post until the accusations surfaced publicly in press reports last week. In testimony on Capitol Hill, Mr. Wray upended the White House's timeline of the events that led to Mr. Porter's departure, contradicting the contention of top officials that his background investigation was 'ongoing' at the time of his resignation. Mr. Wray also told lawmakers that the bureau delivered its first report on Mr. Porter to the White House in March, months earlier than White House officials said they learned of the problems with his background check. Mr. Wray did not disclose the contents of that initial report, but Mr. Porter's two ex-wives have said they told F.B.I. agents of the abuse in interviews conducted in January 2017. Mr. Wray's testimony pointed up a contradictory and frequently changing story line from the White House about a scandal that has engulfed the West Wing. It has raised questions about the credibility of President Trump's most senior advisers, their awareness of serious allegations against an aide who had access to some of the nation's most sensitive information, and the degree of tolerance they may have shown to an ambitious colleague apparently eager to cover up a dark past." AND this:

In late November last year, a distraught girlfriend of Mr. Porter's contacted [White House counsel Donald] McGahn and told him Mr. Porter had been unfaithful to her by dating Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, and had anger problems, according to several people familiar with the discussion. Mr. McGahn, who knew Mr. Porter's girlfriend, at that point suggested to Mr. Porter he should consider leaving the White House, the people said. But Mr. McGahn did not follow up on the matter. (This is a update of a story linked yesterday afternoon.)...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: According to several teevee commentators, the March 2017 "partial finding" would not be a routine report but one that indicated there were problems with Porter's background.

... Ellen Nakashima & Shane Harris of the Washington Post: "Wray's comments stand in stark contrast to how the White House has in recent days portrayed the status of the background check and when senior officials knew about the allegations of abuse against Porter. At the White House briefing Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stood by the White House's previous explanation of the matter, saying that the presidential personnel office was still reviewing Porter's case when the aide resigned last week.... Last week, Sanders's deputy, Raj Shah, said the background check had not been finished and that the White House saw it as the appropriate forum for the allegations of abuse and Porter's denials to be investigated.... [Chief of Staff John] Kelly has said that he took action against Porter within 40 minutes of learning that the allegations against him were true. But he issued a public statement lauding Porter on Feb 6, the same night the Daily Mail made public the abuse allegations, and according to people familiar with the matter, urged Porter to stay in his job. Porter did not resign until the next morning.... The day Porter resigned, Sanders portrayed it as his decision alone. 'I think that was a personal decision that Rob made, and one that he was not pressured to do, but one that he made on his own,' she told reporters." ...

... Ashley Parker, et al., of the Washington Post: "The president has said little publicly about the Porter issue other than to praise the former aide for doing 'a very good job.' But he has privately expressed frustration with the week-long fallout, peppering aides and confidants with questions about the media coverage and how the controversy is playing for him personally.... Inside the West Wing, a growing number of aides blamed Trump's second White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, for the bungled handling of allegations against Porter. Trump in recent days has begun musing about possible replacements, according to people with knowledge of the conversations.... Kelly does not enjoy the confidence of an increasing number of his subordinates, some of whom said they believe that [he] ... has misled them. Kelly is 'a big fat liar,' said one White House official.... 'To put it in terms the general would understand, his handling of the Porter scandal amounts to dereliction of duty.'" ...

... Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "At the end of a lengthy meeting with lawmakers about trade at the White House on Tuesday, President Trump ignored reporters who tried to ask him about whether he believes the two ex-wives of a former top White House aide who have both accused him of abuse.... In the week since media reports first surfaced of the abuse allegations against Porter..., Trump has not said a word about his alleged victims or spoken out against domestic abuse. Instead, the president -- who denies each of the 14 sexual assault allegations made against him -- has praised Porter and lamented that 'lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.'" ...

... Kaitlan Collins & Kevin Liptak of CNN: "Rob Porter was involved in serious discussions to be promoted when he abruptly resigned from the White House last week.... His anticipated elevation further highlights how top White House officials were willing to overlook indications from the FBI that there were potential abuse allegations in his background in exchange for professional competence in a tumultuous West Wing. Porter had been actively lobbying to take on new policy portfolios outside the traditional scope of the staff secretary, one person familiar with the matter said, which included speechwriting duties and a role in planning policy rollouts. Neither of those tasks is traditionally carried out by the staff secretary." ...

... Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "... John Kelly defended the White House's response to domestic abuse allegations against Rob Porter, a former top aide. 'No,' Kelly told The Wall Street Journal when asked if it should have been handled differently. 'It was all done right.' The chief of staff made the comments Monday -- before FBI Director Christopher Wray undercut the White House's account of how it responded to the allegations from Porter's two ex-wives." ...

... Jonathan Swan of Axios: "'Wray's FBI timeline makes one thing clear: the Kelly coverup is unraveling right before our eyes,' a White House official says.... Kelly's story -- that he acted immediately and decisively 'within 40 minutes' to terminate Porter last Tuesday night -- is also undermined by what multiple White House officials told reporters in real time. They said on Wednesday that nobody asked Porter to resign and in fact several senior officials asked him to 'stay and fight.'" ...

... Alex Shephard of the New Republic: "The White House's Rob Porter problem is only getting worse.... On Tuesday, Politico reported that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders organized an off-the-record briefing with Porter and four reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Axios in the hours after The Daily Mail published photographs of one of Porter's ex-wives with a black eye. While it's unclear if [John] Kelly was aware of the briefing, it clearly contradicts the White House's primary claim, which is that Porter was removed immediately after evidence of his abuse surfaced.... The chief of staff may take the fall, but the entire White House shares responsibility for its failure to take action against Porter." ...

... Lisa de Moraes of Deadline: "One day after putting it on the FBI, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders handed responsibility for the months-long delay in moving against Rob Porter to the White House Personnel Security Office. In the time between her Monday briefing and her Tuesday briefing, FBI Director Christopher Wray had put in an appearance at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, responding to Sanders I Don't Think So-ily, telling the committee it had flagged things it had learned about Porter's security clearance nearly a year ago, and finished its investigation last July." ...

... Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Watching the press secretary at Monday's briefing, the words that came to mind were these: A new low.... And that is really saying something, given the lying-from-day-one reign of Sean Spicer, along with [Sarah] Sanders's own fulsome history of dissembling, and the 10-day flameout of Anthony Scaramucci last summer.... You might think that as one of the most visible women in the Trump administration, Sanders would bring some credibility -- maybe even sympathy -- to bear on subjects related to respect for women. In fact, it seems to bring out the worst in her." ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "How could it be that Porter was still working with an interim clearance, and perhaps in line for a promotion, even after the FBI had delivered a report that recommended he not be granted clearance? In addition to showing how unseriously the White House treated the abuse allegations, this shows a fundamental truth of the clearance process: There's no mechanism to enforce it.... The FBI can recommend that an individual not be granted clearance, but it doesn't actually do the granting. For White House staff, the White House itself makes that decision.... Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, another Trump appointee, highlighted this problem during Tuesday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, where he sat alongside Wray. 'The process is broken. It needs to be reformed,' Coates said. He called for restricted access to classified material when an interim clearance is required." ...

... The Kushner Effect. The White House Knew It Was Compromising National Security. Andrew Restuccia & Emily Stephenson of Politico: "The White House quietly imposed a ban on new interim security clearances for anyone in the executive office of the president last fall, but it let existing employees with interim clearances stay on, according to an email obtained by Politico. The Nov. 7 internal email to senior leaders at the Office of Management and Budget said the White House personnel security office had advised that it would no longer grant interim security clearances.... Staffers who had already been granted interim security clearances -- like former staff secretary Rob Porter ... -- could continue to hold them while their background investigations were finished, the email said.... The email nonetheless indicates that officials in the personnel security office -- and perhaps others in the White House -- were aware as far back as last year of the potential pitfalls of overreliance on interim security clearances...." ...

... Dan Merica of CNN provides a timeline of "what Trump's team actually knew when they were trying to clean up the Porter controversy." Mrs. McC: Kelly is a "big fat liar"? They're all either liars or uninformed. ...

... Brett Samuels of the Hill: "The House Oversight Committee is now investigating how former White House staff secretary Rob Porter kept his role in the administration even as accusations of domestic abuse were made against him, according to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the panel's chairman.... Gowdy was unclear as to the nature of the investigation, saying at one point it could be called official or unofficial." Mrs. McC: Yeah, I'll bet. I suspect we'll find out the whole thing was just a little misunderstanding. ...

... When You've Lost "Fox & Friends" .... Michal Kranz of Business Insider: "For a show that has often served as one of ... Donald Trump's primary news sources and biggest boosters, 'Fox & Friends' has been fiercely critical of the White House's response to allegations of domestic violence against Rob Porter.... In a tense exchange on Monday's show, [co-host Brian] Kilmeade pressed Hogan Gidley, another White House deputy press secretary, on Trump's response to the allegations against Porter. 'So the president is just as outraged as many Americans about the alleged domestic abuse, which looks pretty strong -- the evidence -- strong against Porter,' Kilmeade said. 'Why won't he say that publicly?'... 'The president has been very clear that all forms of abuse, all forms of battery against women are deplorable,' [Gidley said]. Kilmeade fired back: 'But he hasn't said that.'" ...

The POTUS* Hides Out. Brett Samuels: "President Trump on Wednesday will sign legislation that strengthens the requirements to report sexual abuse, a bill quickly passed by Congress after the slew of allegations against ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. The bill signing is closed to the press." Mrs. McC: I wonder why.

All the President*'s Lawyers

Crazy Trump Stories, Ctd. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Michael D. Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, said on Tuesday that he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to a pornographic-film actress who had once claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump. In the most detailed explanation of the 2016 payment made to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, Mr. Cohen, who worked as a counsel to the Trump Organization for more than a decade, said he was not reimbursed for the payment.... He declined to answer several follow-up questions, including whether Mr. Trump had been aware that he made the payment, why he made the payment or whether he had made similar payments to other people over the years. Mr. Cohen has previously said that Mr. Trump has denied an affair with Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels." Mrs. McC: Sorry, I don't believe it. Who ever heard of a lawyer taking money out of his own pocket to pay for the indiscretions of a client, especially a client who claims to be a billionaire? ...

     ... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post finds a pretty significant omission in the fine print: "Here's some of what Cohen said Tuesday: 'In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford [Daniels's real name]. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.' You might notice there is one main Trump-related entity that Cohen doesn't deny was 'party to the transaction' or reimbursed Cohen, and that's Trump. It's difficult to dismiss that as a coincidence, given Cohen is a lawyer and has carefully parsed his comments throughout this situation." ...

     ... Wait, Wait, There's More. Orrin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy: "The press is widely reporting ... that Cohen said he paid the $130,000 to Daniels out of his own pocket." But what Cohen's statement actually says is this: "In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to [Daniels]." Kerr reasons, "... the most literal reading of Cohen's statement is just that he used his own funds to arrange the payment. He's not making any statement about whose $130,000 was paid. For example, if it took Cohen a few hundred dollars to set up an entity to pay Daniels, and to wire someone else's $130,000 to her, then he would have been using his own personal funds to faciltate that payment.... There are enough ambiguities in it to drive a truck through.... And of course we also don't know if what Cohen is now saying is literally true. Cohen's 'reputation for having a character for truthfulness,' to use an evidence law phrase, is lousy." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So the whole story is probably a ruse, & possibly an illegal one at that.

     ... Margaret Hartmann makes the case that the payment, even as described by Cohen, violated campaign finance law. But that probably won't matter: "'The FEC has been for years mired in dysfunction and now has a Republican majority of commissioners,' [Common Cause veep Paul Ryan] told USA Today, 'and the DOJ is within the Executive branch of government headed by the president.' In this administration, potentially violating campaign finance laws by paying off a porn star isn't even the biggest scandal of the week."; ...

The Court of Trumpic Opinion. Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "In recent weeks, Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow has turned the live weekday talk-radio show he hosts into a regular forum for trashing the legitimacy of the federal probes into Trump's Russia connections. Fourteen of the past 19 episodes of 'Jay Sekulow Live' have involved freewheeling conversations about the Trump-Russia saga and what he calls the 'deep state' bureaucrats out to get the president. Sekulow also piles on during his regular appearances on Fox News."

Timothy Cama of the Hill: "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt has a 'blanket waiver' to federal standards that limit officials' ability to book first-class flights on the taxpayer dime. Citing 'security threats' against Pruitt, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said late Tuesday that President Trump's top environmental regulator has been granted more leeway in flying business class or first class. The statement came amid new scrutiny into Pruitt's travel expenses. The Washington Post reported Sunday that he frequently flies first class, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars."

Ivan Nechepurenko, et al., of the New York Times: "Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials. A Syrian military officer said that about 100 Syrian soldiers had been killed in the fighting on Feb. 7 and 8, but news about Russian casualties has dribbled out only slowly, through Russian news organizations and social media."

Richard Wolf of USA Today: "President Trump's search for deeply conservative federal judges appears to have eliminated most African Americans and Hispanics from the running. Among Trump's first 87 judicial nominees, only one is African American and one is Hispanic. Five are Asian Americans. Eighty are white. The demographics signal a return to the 1980s, when 94% of President Ronald Reagan's confirmed judges were white. Since then, minority enrollment in law schools has nearly tripled."

Dan Levine of Reuters: "A second U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked ... Donald Trump's decision to end a program that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, cannot end in March as the Republican administration had planned, a victory for Democratic state attorneys general and immigrants who sued the federal government. The decision is similar to a Jan. 9 ruling by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco that DACA must remain in place while litigation challenging Trump's decision continues.... The Supreme Court on Friday is due to consider whether to take up the administration's appeal of the San Francisco ruling."

Church of the Latter Day Sexists. Jim Dalrymple of BuzzFeed: "In the wake of Rob Porter allegations..., BuzzFeed News spoke with more than 20 current and former female members of the LDS church from seven states..., all of whom said that they had experienced domestic abuse and then gone to their clergy for help. In most cases, those leaders were bishops, roughly the LDS equivalent of pastors who serve on a volunteer basis.... In response to their requests for guidance, the women said, they were told by their bishops to stay in abusive relationships, that their eternal salvation could be jeopardized by leaving violent partners, and that they were to blame for their marital problems. Though some reported positive experiences with church leaders, every woman who spoke with BuzzFeed News for this story said there are widespread inadequacies in the way local Mormon leaders handle reports of abuse and domestic violence."

Fox 5 (Washington, D.C.) "An envelope with a 'powdery substance' found at former President Barack Obama's D.C. office is now found to be baby powder, following a police investigation on Tuesday. The incident was reported at around 11 a.m. at the World Wildlife Fund Headquarters at 1250 24th Street in Northwest D.C. The former president has leased office space in the building since leaving the White House in January 2017."

Senate Races

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has been reconsidering his decision to retire this year, but Mr. Corker's hopes for retaining his seat are running into a potentially insurmountable object: President Trump. Just over four months after Mr. Corker, upon declaring he would retire, unleashed a biting series of attacks on Mr. Trump, the president is refusing to bless his friend-turned-foe's effort to re-enter the Republican primary race. Instead, in a telephone conversation last week, Mr. Trump offered encouragement to Representative Marsha Blackburn, a conservative lawmaker and White House ally who has emerged as the favorite to win the Republican nomination for Mr. Corker's seat, according to three Republicans familiar with the call.... 'Anyone who thinks Marsha Blackburn can't win a general election is just a plain sexist pig,' said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for Ms. Blackburn...."

John Bowden of the Hill: "Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney> will announce his run for Senate in Utah on Thursday with a message to supporters on social media, sources told the Washington Examiner."

Confederate Arizona Candidate Touts Fake News Endorsement. Jason Schwartz & Shawn Musgrave of Politico: "It looked as if Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward had scored a big endorsement: On Oct. 28, she posted a link on her campaign website and blasted out a Facebook post, quoting extensively from a column in the Arizona Monitor.... There was just one problem: Despite its reputable sounding name, the Arizona Monitor is not a real news site. It is an anonymous, pro-Ward blog that has referred to her primary opponent Martha McSally as 'Shifty McSally,' frequently blasted [Sen. Jeff] Flake and, at the top of its home page, proclaims its mission as 'Striking Fear into the Heart of the Establishment.' The site launched just a few weeks before publishing the endorsement, and its domain registration is hidden, masking the identity of its owner." Apparently Ward will not take down her "endorsement" boasts, even though campaign ethics experts say, for some odd reason, that claiming endorsements from fake news sites -- possibly created by foreign entities -- is unethical. ...

... The fake Arizona Mirror is hardly alone. Allegra Kirkland of TPM: Besides Devin Nunes' fake news site, Maine Republicans publish an even less transparent fake news site, & so does the Republican Governors' Association. "Mike Pence planned to create a state-run news service during his tenure as Indiana governor, before pulling the plug in the face of fierce criticism.... The sites represent a useful way to spread their message to supporters while falsely conveying the authority of independent journalism." Besides "looking like" legitimate news outlets, the "disclosure statements" for these GOP fake news sites are either non-existent or barely legible. Mrs. McC: When the Congress finishes its exhaustive investigation into Russian & other foreign fake news hoaxes (which for some reason has not yet begun), I'm sure it will move right on to Maine, the Republican governors, et al. ...

... Secret Sperm! Hannity as Art Critic. Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Nancy LeTourneau
of the Washington Monthly: "Here is what [Sean] Hannity wrote on his own web site before it was deleted: 'The widening scandal surrounding former President Barack Obama's official portrait continued to swirl on Tuesday, with shocking allegations the artist included 'secret sperm cells' within the painting and once joked about 'Killing Whitey' during an interview.'... [According to a tweet from Dan Lavoie,] 'The Hannity Sperm Portrait nonsense was started THIS MORNING by racist 4Chan trolls, w/ the express purpose of "getting it in the news." The post calls the Obamas "king and queen n****r." Hannity was writing it up by early afternoon.'... I have to admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude at seeing Hannity with his pants down over a lie that even he can’t spin." LeTourneau writes more on Hannity's remarkable ignorance. ...

... digby: "Keep in mind that Hannity is one of Trump's most valued advisers and has the top rated show on Fox News[.]

Annals of "Journalism," OMG. Maxwell Tani of the Daily Beast: "Less than 24 hours after she was hired, The New York Times on Tuesday fired editorial board member Quinn Norton, after a history of homophobic and racially insensitive tweets were uncovered.... Twitter users uncovered multiple instances in which she used the n-word, or gay slurs like 'faggot' or 'fag,' to refer to various users on the social-media platform. Other critics pointed out her chummy exchanges with a user who’d tweeted numerous anti-Semitic statements, and highlighted old tweets in which she explained that she was proudly friends with neo-Nazis." Mrs. McC: Apparently, the NYT editors do not have access to Twitter. Seriously, this in inexcusable.

Beyond the Beltway

Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Tuesday rejected a new district map drawn by GOP lawmakers, bringing the state closer to handing its redistricting process over to a court. The GOP map was drawn after the state Supreme Court struck down the state's current map in a gerrymandering case."

The Wave? George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post: "Democrat Margaret Good won a special state House election in Republican Sarasota County[, Florida,] on Tuesday night in a race that drew national attention as the latest indicator of a potential Democratic anti-Donald Trump wave in the 2018 midterm elections. In a district where Republicans have a 9-point registration advantage and Trump won in 2016, liberal Good got 52.2 percent to 44.8 percent for Republican James Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep.Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key."

Way Beyond

David Halbfinger & Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "The Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, casting a pall over the future of a tenacious leader.... Concluding a yearlong graft investigation, the police recommended that Mr. Netanyahu face prosecution in two corruption cases: a gifts-for-favors affair known as Case 1000, and a second scandal, dubbed Case 2000, in which Mr. Netanyahu is suspected of back-room dealings with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular daily Yediot Aharonot, to ensure more favorable coverage." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I suggest we reserve Guantanamo (Orrin Hatch once said Guantanamo was pretty nice compared to freezing wastelands like Illinois) for Trump & all of these other right-wing corrupt dictators. Let them each have their very own suite (cell with a bucket) & get three squares of gruel a day. Gen. Kelly can come down once in awhile & strafe them with rubber bullets, which is an exercise he apparently enjoys.

News Ledes

Miami Herald: "More than 20 people have been injured and at least one person killed after someone opened fire Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in North Broward [County, Florida]." ...

     ... Sen. Bill Nelson is saying on MSNBC that there are multiple fatalities at the school (at 3:55 pm ET). At 4:10 pm ET, there are oral reports that the suspect -- a student -- is in custody. ...

... New York Times Update: "Seventeen people were killed in a shooting on Wednesday afternoon at a high school about an hour northwest of Miami, law enforcement officials said. The dead included adults and students. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the suspect is in custody.... A federal official said the gunman had been identified as Nicolas Cruz, 19. The sheriff said the gunman was a former student. He was arrested in Coral Springs, a neighboring city, about an hour after leaving the school. The gunman was armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle, Sheriff Israel said, and 'countless magazines.'"

WJLA (Washington, D.C.): "A shooting at the National Security Agency has reportedly left three people injured in Fort Meade Wednesday morning. ABC7's John Gonzalez reports that a suspect is in custody and that no specific injury information has been released at this time. The White House said in a statement that President Trump has been briefed on the shooting." ...

... AP Update: "Three people, including a police officer, were injured after authorities say a vehicle tried to enter the secure campus of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade on Wednesday morning. Gunshots were fired during the incident, but officials say they do not believe any of the injuries resulted from gunfire. At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore field office, said the FBI is still collecting evidence but believes it was an isolated incident. Johnson said the three injured were the driver of the vehicle, an NSA police officer and a civilian onlooker."

Reader Comments (22)

I expected another St. Valentine's Day massacre today, except,
in D.C., not Chicago. Something like: trump to's
your box of trump chocolates (2 years old). Your replacement
is waiting in your old office which was packed up last night.
The day isn't over yet.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

@forrest morris: My theory is that if Kelly doesn't get the boot, it's because he has too much on Trump; ferinstance, because several higher-ups know -- & may have kept notes -- that Trump was aware of the Porter problem & said to keep the guy on the job.

The White House got the first FBI alert about Porter in March 2017 & the full FBI report in July when Reince Priebus was still chief of staff. Priebus is known to be a copious note-taker. Trump unceremoniously fired Priebus within days of the White House's getting the FBI's full Porter report. Trump reportedly phoned Priebus a few days ago, supposedly to vent about Porter. I'm guessing the purpose of the call was to find out what Priebus would say, if forced to testify on the matter.

Wray testified yesterday that the White House asked for more information on Porter after receiving the July report. They got that report in November 2017. Also last November, Don McGahn heard from Porter's girlfriend that Porter had "anger management" problems & also that he was dating Hope Hicks. McGahn supposedly suggested to Porter that he should resign. Probably not coincidentally, this was the same month, according to the Politico report linked above, that the White House announced internally that it would not grant any more interim security clearances. Kelly &/or McGahn &/or the "White House personnel security office" (assuming it exists & somebody is running it) obviously saw a problem, & it's not unreasonable to think the "problem" was Porter (and/or Kushner). But for some reason, Porter stayed on. Is that reason Trump? Or Kelly?

Last night on CNN & MSNBC, talking heads were saying it was "likely" Kelly would lose his job. But we all know it's "likely" Trump won't lose his. The White House game of musical chairs doesn't much matter when the conductor is a compromised, corrupt nitwit who could not care less if his subordinates beat up their wives (Trump thinks domestic abuse is so funny that he started calling Bannon "Bam Bam" when allegations surfaced that Bannon had socked his then-wife).

February 14, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

So lets get this straight. Trump's lawyer will give $130,000 to any women who claims to have an affair with his client. No evidence? No proof? Today there will be a line standing by the lawyers door.

Is there any limit to the word absurd? How about ridiculous?

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

It IS all about sanctions: When you realize that the person who is rejecting the FACT that we had/have Russian interference at the same time our FBI, our generals, our cyber security people spell out the opposite–– is the president*––-it knocks your socks off.

In the hearing yesterday the row of faces facing the congress were solemn, grim, sometimes almost embarrassed to have to spell out the particulars –– NO ONE said yes, when asked if they had had a discussion with the president* re: sanctions or anything else in terms of this Russian probe. The Porter fiasco is troubling enough, but the lack of connection between our security people and Trump is outrageous!

The hearts and flowers day brings neither into our political realm but I found the tale of Trump's lawyer of yesteryear, Michael Cohen, telling us he, out of HIS own pocket, paid off Ms Clifford, full of sweetness and generosity and pure bullshit––-a real red hot valentine for his client. Who knew lawyers could be so generous and protective.

And we round out another day of crazy with Hannity the half-wit's sperm spectacle––-yeah, Sean, let's blame your staff and if it was your staff would they not reflect your wishes, your mindset? Huh?

Any good news? Good for Margaret Good–– The prospect of THE WAVE–-blue and beautiful–-fingers crossed.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I watched First Lady Michelle Obama's address at the unveiling of her portrait on YouTube, posted on the Reflect channel. Then I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments.

The unhinged raw hatred thrown at the Obamas in the comments darkened all the rest of yesterday for me. In my head, I know that it exists, and it was thrown at them every single day they were in the White House. For that matter, I am sure that the same sickening hatred is thrown at any non-white person in a position of power on any scale, and minorities and women face battles every single day.

Here's the thing. The current republicans have taught me to hate. I hate them for the things they do, like looting the treasury for their donors and corrupting the judiciary. These YouTube commenters hate is solidly aimed at who the Obamas are.

I don't think Guantanamo is big enough.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

@Nisky Guy: And the GOP is just egging them on in a thousand ways. In Allegra Kirkland's report on GOP fake news site, she leads with this about a "news" site secretly created by Maine's Republican party: "Last month, a site called the Maine Examiner reported that Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, was the state’s only member of Congress to vote to shut down the government. The site illustrated its story with a picture of Pingree next to Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), though Lewis wasn’t mentioned in the story." Down East readers are getting the message that Rep. Pingree is a subversive who wants to shut down the government (and take away their Social Security checks & all, I guess) AND has a blackity-black BFF aiding & abetting her radical agenda.

These hateful people drive me to tears nearly every day.

February 14, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


Of course the Pretender knew. Who would have kept Porter's problems hidden from the Boss? Why?

Granted, the Pretender doesn't know science. He doesn't know history. He doesn't know the Constitution or the law. He doesn't know policy. He doesn't know the King's English (tho' now that I think of it, he should find anything associated with a king attractive enough to learn).

But I'm willing to grant him some of the intelligence he so loudly and often claims. He does know some things. He knows what he cares about. He knows intrigue. He knows how to lie. He knows how to manipulate systems for his benefit. He knows the art of propaganda, and he knows how to get even.

Whether those are qualities or talents (call them what we will) any sane country would want in its leader is a question no country that pretends to be a democracy should even have to ask.

But less than half but still far too many of us didn't ask it.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

...and not just hateful, but cowardly liars to boot!

Sean (White Su-spermacist) Hannity, taking any opportunity to smack the first black president (again), goes so far as to use hate talk fantasy bullshit emanating from 4chan, home of not just Nazis and crazy gun knobbers, but a site that spreads child pornography.

All the commenters are anonymous (brave souls), which, if Hannity was a journalist (which he is not) should raise about a thousand red flags.

Instead, Hannity takes the offering, a stupid, stupid, stupid story about sperm something, something, and publishes it. Do you think a first year journalism student (who wasn't a nascent Trumpbot) would do such a thing without checking out both the story and its provenance? Nonetheless, when he was caught, he first deleted the story THEN blamed his staff. "Oh, gee whiz, my staff posted this without my knowledge, but as soon as I, with my immense sense of journalistic ethics, found out about it, deleted it. Harrumph. So there."

Drop dead, you lying piece of shit.

"Hey, I'm a responsible journalist. Let me reprint this incredibly stupid sounding claim that comes from a website which supports white supremacists and spreads child pornography. And not only that, let's make sure I don't bother to do a whit of fact checking, check sources, or pick up the fucking phone to see if such a wild-ass story could possibly have a molecule of truth. Nope. It sounds bad for niggers, especially President Darkie and Mrs. Gorilla, so I'll just hit SEND. Tee-hee. Trump and the Nazis will LOVE me!"

Annals of Journalism, indeed. These people get lower every day. Any day now I expect to see them begin to look more and more like some pre-human hominid as they devolve backwards. Christ, I'm probably defaming some decent hominids there. Guess we'll have to back to early virus molecules.

And what's worse? Fox PAYS this guy. Real money.

(Note to NiskyGuy: Hey man, if you think the comments on YouTube are bad, don't even think of going to 4chan. It's like a trip to hell, accompanied by bug-eyed psychopaths drooling on their shoes while loading their guns.)

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Trust McConnell? I'd rather trust Hitler.

Democrats like Chuck Schumer (Chuck, you really can't be that dim, can you?) who decided to take McConnell at his word that there'd be a full and wide-ranging debate about DACA, need some time off to clear their heads. But not too much, McConnell wants a vote on DACA in a couple of days. "Oh, gee. You're not ready with a plan for us vote down? Oh well, debate time is up. You lose again."

Democrats thought they'd have possibly weeks of discussion and debate for such an important issue. Confederates? Not so much. You get half and hour. Then we vote.

There are snakes that are more trustworthy than the Turtle Man.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

A solution for the press corps to the daily Liarby insult sessions:

Don't go. Liarby Sanders is perhaps the most snide, nasty, lip-curling, despicable hypocrite and liar I've ever seen occupy the office of press secretary. And that's saying a lot.

NYU journalism professor, and former chair of the department, Jay Rosen, made this suggestion over a year ago, back when Sean Spicer was telling us not to believe our lying eyes and to admit that HIS lies about inauguration crowd sizes were true.

Rosen suggested (and his comments are even more salient today) that major news outlets not bother sending front line reporters who are just wasting their time at a Trump White House press briefing. Send interns instead.

Great idea. Rosen outlines several goals of a Trump administration press briefing and number two is even more clear today with Liarby Sanders than it was with Spicer:

"You [the press] will be turned into hate objects whenever we [Trump and Liarby and Conway, et al] feel like it. We can do that to you without providing right of reply because… what are you going to do about it? Small mistakes quickly corrected will be treated as evidence of malicious wrong doing by the entire group. (And you deserve that.) We are not bound by what you call facts. We have our own, and we will proceed to put them out regardless of what the evidence says. It’s not a problem for us if you stagger from the room in disbelief. We’re not trying to 'win the news cycle,' or win you over. We’re trying to demonstrate independence from and power over you people. This room is not just for briefings, announcements and Q & A. It’s also a theater of resentment in which you play a crucial part. Our constituency hates your guts; this is the place where we commune with them around that fact. See you tomorrow, guys!"

It's all theater, like most of Trump's life. It's a fantasy, but a dangerous one. So have your big guns spend their time elsewhere. Send your interns. The responses will all be lies, so don't waste your time.

But Liarby and Conway and the rest of the press shop toadies have a message for the Trumpbots as well, embedded in the daily lying sessions, according to Rosen:

"To the core Trump constituency — and an audience primed for this over years of acrid 'liberal media' critique — two things were said. 'We’re going to rough these people up.' (Because we know how long you have waited for that.) But also, and in return, you have to accept our 'alternative facts' even if your own eyes tell you otherwise. This too is a stark message. The epistemological 'price' for being a solider in Trump’s army is high. You have to swallow, repeat and defend things that simply don’t check out."

So, don't be complicit in this attack on truth, democracy, and the American Way, designed with the express intent of supporting the inept, raging, infantile traitor in the White House.

Tell them to fuck off.

An eminently reasonable plan. And both reason and good planning are little in evidence in the Trump orbit so get it where you can.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Here's something I'd like to know -- do people like Wilbur Ross, Gary Cohn & Steve Mnuchin have security clearances? These men are all multi- multi-millionaires, & Ross in particular has some shady international financial entanglements. I'd guess Cohn, Mnuchin & others do, too?

If these guys received clearances, why not Kushner? It would seem obvious that Kushner's "problems" are profound. Maybe it's that he lied on his disclosure forms again & again. Maybe it's those Russian, Chinese & other questionable foreign entanglements. Maybe it's his lies about them. Something is seriously wrong here.

February 14, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Akhilleus: The other thing the White House press corps could do is what they often do for presidential travels: have a few pool reporters handle the whole thing. The pool reporters could accept questions from other reporters & have a friendly chat with Mrs. Huckleberry in which she would answer all the accumulated questions in her usual, evasive, lying manner. Then the pool reporters would provide a readout, & if there was any news -- "SHS refused to answer questions about blah, blah & blah" -- all the media could write it up for their respective news outlets. The assignment of pool reporters would rotate, just as it does in other circumstances.

One thing is certain: the daily press briefing, as it is conducted now, is stoopid.

February 14, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

In the interest of full disclosure among friends, I must admit that today is the 42nd anniversary of when I did inhale. It was one of the best day's of my life. No security clearance for me!

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed


I'm impressed that you remember the actual date of your first toke. I myself cannot. I do know that, as a working musician for many years, I had a load of bandmates who could smoke like volcanoes between sets and be fine when we started playing again. Me? No way. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, I just couldn't handle it all that well and still play. I knew guys who would go out in the van and get high and come back, get up on stage and play perfectly. Not me. I'd be looking at my fingers and saying "Whoa. I know I'm supposed to be playing thus and such, but my fingers are moving and I'm not sure who's controlling them."

Still and all, in the Trumpy Administration, thievery, money laundering, beating up women, white supremacy, treason, collusion to win an election, serial lying, and treating national security as if it were an impediment to buying popcorn at the movies are all perfectly fine.

Smoking a bone is a death sentence.

I'm right there with you, dude. No security clearance for me either. And shit, it wasn't even my drug of choice!

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Moonbeams from the larger lunacy (apologies to Stephen Leacock).

Jesus, where to begin?

So Trumpado, raper of wives, ogler of naked young girls, forceful grabber of pussies, declares that he is opposed--natch--to domestic abuse. "Everyone knows this!" Why, sure we know it, Donnie. Who could possibly think otherwise (barf, barf)?

Whenever little donnie says that, I have the urge to punch something. But I also recognize that NO ONE KNOWS IT.

Donald J. Trump, adulterer, philanderer, debaucher, alleged golden shower afficianado, pussy grabber, alleged rapist, wants us all to believe that he, of course, is against domestic abuse and sexual harassment? Seriously?

Sure. And I'm Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. Before the Hundred Days.

And then we have the oh so "clever" scheme, by Trump and his lawyer, to try to escape charges of paying off his porn star/prostitute, Stormy Daniels to keep her mouth shut. To her credit, Daniels, née Stephanie Clifford, has been hewing to the conditions of what she describes as her non-disclosure agreement with Weird-Hair Trumpy (the only decent participant in that affair). But now that they're claiming the money came from Michael Cohen, Trump's mouthpiece and fixer, all bets are off and she's free to go on Good Morning America and talk about Trump's tiny member. And that weird hair.

Good plan, Donnie! You surely are the Dealmaker of the Century! Clev-er!

Oh, there are plenty more moonbeams from the larger lunacy, and there'll be many more to come. The Lunatic in Chief, he's got a million of 'em.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Am I the only person who is just appalled by Louise Linton's cheesecake photo for Vanity Fair? It's a "grab 'em by the pussy" shot, for Pete's sake.

February 14, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Louise Linton's cheesecake photo. Is that what's called soft porn?
Another school shooting in Broward CountyFla. Let's all pray.
And more guns, guns, guns.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

@Bea McCrab: I did read the Louise story you linked yesterday (eyes rolled heavenward, giggles rolling on the floor). This was her idea of a mea culpa? This woman is totally tone deaf. Or perhaps she's considering her next career move...'cause I don't see her and Steve celebrating a fiftieth anniversary!

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Trump tweeted: "My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school."

Let's make that 'feel unsafe' anywhere. Hey, Donald, here's your chance to do something to outdo Obama (he sure tried, but Mitch and the boys fixed that) ... so how about putting restrictive gun laws and controls in place?

Yeah, I know. Not gonna happen.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMAG


I had a bit of an old school Akhilleus Rant ready to go on the Linton picture, but it was put off. I was looking for a comparison with other famous (or infamous) jamokes whose every move was wrongheaded and embarrassing but I (really) couldn't find anyone else quite as obviously and repeatedly stupid. So, no, you're not the only who thinks this unpropitious, vainglorious, and semi-pornographic image is appallingly obtuse and demonstrative of the callowness and offensiveness of the entire Trump Debacle.

But hey, it certainly does make one trust the judgment of Trump's choice for Treasury Secretary. He can pick 'em, that's for sure. Good job, Steverino.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Now however can we blame this latest school massacre on Obama and the Democrats? There has to be SOME way. I know, it's all about mental illness. Nothing to do with guns, of course. Who even thinks of such things! That's silly. But somehow Obama has let millions of (t'ousands, even) mentally ill people out into the world and decent god-fearing 'publicans are there with plenty of ammo to set things right, praise jesus.

Because that always happens.

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

This Michael Cohen-Stormy Daniels payoff cluster really could become a yuuuuuge headache for the John-in-Chief.

Daniels' lawyer now says, given that Trump and his brilliant lawyer have come up with this plot that sez Cohen was personally responsible for the payoff, that Stormy can sell her story to the highest bidder. And the only way to put a stop to that is for the John-in-Chief to admit that he hired her for sex and had her sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Either way, Melania must be thrilled, being made to look like a loser. And however it plays out, Trump, once again, looks like a cheap, lying philanderer who either pays other women for sex or has his lawyer do it.

Next stop: 20/20!

February 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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