The Wires

Public Service Announcement

July 27: NBC News: "If your information was compromised during the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be entitled to up to $20,000." The article provides info on how you can claim your share of the restitution fund. Mrs. McC: I might give it a crack. I know my personal info was compromised during the period of the Equifax breach, but I'm not sure Equifax was the source of the breach. So I might give this a crack. 

Washington Post: "the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships were no different — especially Sunday night, the final night of the two-day [U.S. Gymnastics Championships]..., [Simone] Biles aced a skill no other woman (and only two men in the world) has successfully landed in competition — a triple-twisting, double somersault that capped the first tumbling pass of her floor routine like a cymbal crash":


Washington Post: White Southern plantation visitors who pay good money "to learn about the history of life on a plantation" are very upset guides mention slavery. Mrs. McCrabbie's recommendation: put on your MAGA caps & hoop skirts, watch the first 10 minutes of "Gone with the Wind," & practice saying "Fiddle-dee-dee."

Here's one for contributor Jeanne. "Margaret Atwood joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss 'Corrie,' by Alice Munro, from a 2010 issue of the [New Yorker] magazine":

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”


The Commentariat -- January 13, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "So it has come to this: The president of the United States was asked over the weekend whether he is a Russian agent. And he refused to directly answer. The question, which came from a friendly interviewer, not one of the 'fake media' journalists he disparages, was 'the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,' he declared. But it is a question that has hung over his presidency now for two years. If the now 23-day government shutdown standoff between Mr. Trump and Congress has seemed ugly, it may eventually seem tame by comparison with what is to come. The border wall fight is just the preliminary skirmish in this new era of divided government. The real battle has yet to begin. With Democrats now in charge of the House, the special counsel believed to be wrapping up his investigation, news media outlets competing for scoops and the first articles of impeachment already filed, Mr. Trump faces the prospect of an all-out political war for survival that may make the still-unresolved partial government shutdown pale by comparison.... The White House has begun recruiting soldiers. The new White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, has hired 17 new lawyers, according to The Post, as he prepares for a barrage of subpoenas from House Democratic committee chairmen."

... Brett Samuels of the Hill: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that he's urged President Trump to open up the government for a short period of time so lawmakers can attempt to broker an end to the ongoing government shutdown, but was adamant that the president is 'not going to give in' on his demands to fund a border wall. Graham said on 'Fox News Sunday' that he spoke with Trump on Sunday morning, when the president indicated an emergency declaration to construct his desired wall along the southern border is a last resort. 'I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug' on a legislative solution, Graham said." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is pretty much the Democrats' ask, but a few weeks shorter than they originally suggested in December. It seems Lindsey is trying to talk Trump down off the wall using the preferred cat-on-the-roof methodology.

Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: "According to a report from the Wall Street Journal..., Donald Trump’s White House — led by national security adviser John Boltonrequested options from the Pentagon to launch an attack on Iran in September of last year. According to the report, the request — which reportedly 'rattled' Pentagon and State Department officials — followed a mortar attack on into Baghdad’s diplomatic district, home to the U.S. Embassy." The WSJ report, which is firewalled, is here.

Ken Dilanian of NBC News: "Before Donald Trump's lawyer was pitching the Kremlin on building a Trump Tower in Moscow, the future president was negotiating to put his name on a building in a separate glitzy real estate development outside the Russian capital.... Trump's partner in this earlier project was Aras Agalarov, an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the same man whose promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton set in motion the infamous June 2016 meeting at the original Trump Tower in New York. Two Congressional aides told NBC News the Agalarov project is now drawing new scrutiny from House and Senate investigators in the wake of the revelation in court documents that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen lied to Congress about his dealings on a separate, competing Russia real estate project. Cohen was also negotiating to build a Trump Tower in a separate part of the city."


This Russia Thing, Etc., Ctd.

** This Is NOT Normal. Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said. Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson. The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries. As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference." ...

... David Smith of the Guardian/Observer: "In [a] 20-minute live phone interview with Fox News on Saturday night, [Trump] described as an 'insult' the New York Times story that alleged the FBI launched an investigation into whether the he was acting as a Russian asset, against his own country’s interests. Trump said the story, which claimed the investigation opened after Trump fired the FBI director James Comey in May 2017, was 'the most insulting article ever written'.... On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that Trump took the notes from of a 2017 meeting with Putin in Hamburg from his own interpreter. Citing current and former US officials, the paper also said Trump instructed the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials. Asked why he would not release the conversations, Trump said: 'I would. I don’t care ... I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less.'... Holed up at the White House, Trump turned to the other subject dominating US politics.... 'I have the absolute right to call a national emergency,' he said. '... I’d rather see the Democrats come back from their vacation and act. It would take me 15 minutes to get a deal done and everyone could go back to work.'” ...

     ... Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Saturday said he would be willing to release the details of his private conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last summer.... 'I mean, it’s so ridiculous, these people making up,' Trump said of the Post report, calling the paper 'basically the lobbyist' for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce giant. Bezos is also the owner of the Post. 'The Washington Post is almost as bad, or probably as bad, as the New York Times,' Trump said.... House Republicans in July quashed an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to subpoena Trump's interpreter in Helsinki." --s ...

     ... The Daily Beast: "In a on air phone call with Judge Jeanine on Fox News Saturday night...Trump would not give a straightforward answer when host Jeanine Pirro pressed him on whether or not he’s working as a Russian asset." --s ...

    ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I noticed this, too. Trump's "comeback" here, as if often the case, is to kill the messenger rather than to answer the question. The technique has become kind of a tell.

... Nicholas Fandos & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "President Trump on Saturday unleashed an extended assault on the F.B.I. and the special counsel’s investigation, knitting together a comprehensive alternative story in which he had been framed by disgraced 'losers' at the bureau’s highest levels. In a two-hour span starting at 7 a.m., the president made a series of false claims on Twitter about his adversaries and the events surrounding the inquiry. He was responding to a report in The New York Times that, after he fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director in 2017, the bureau began investigating whether the president had acted on behalf of Russia." ...

... David Boddiger of Splinter: "Trump responded to the [New York Times] report [about the FBI's investigation targeting him] on Saturday with a fury of tweets accusing the FBI of corruption. 'Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!' Trump tweeted.... He continued ranting in several more tweets with a word salad of allegations against 'Crooked Hillary Clinton,' 'Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats,' and 'Crooked Cop' Comey, among others." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Andrew Prokop of Vox: The NYT report "is the first outright confirmation that at a certain moment, the FBI explicitly began investigating Donald Trump’s Russia ties — including whether, as president, he was acting on Russia’s behalf.... n his interview with the New Yorker [linked next], the Times' Adam Goldman suggested another implication — that the counterintelligence probe into the president was central to Mueller’s appointment in the first place, and will likely be central to whatever findings the special counsel puts together at the conclusion of this investigation." ...

... Isaac Chotiner of the New Yorker interviews Adam Goldman, the lead reporter on the New York Times story, about his reporting on the story. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Charles Pierce parses a sentence in the Times report: "Deep in The New York Times's latest bombshell is one singularly deadly word, a lethal bit of shrapnel aimed directly at the vitals of a criminal — and possibly treasonous — presidency. The word is tucked into a sentence that, at first glance, seems to be a perfectly anodyne statement of the current facts.... That word is 'publicly,' as in: 'No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.'... By dropping that fatal 'publicly' in there, the Times and its sources likely are giving us a preview of coming attractions. (Judging by his manic episode on the electric Twitter machine on Saturday morning, the president* knows this, too.) And the one thing about which we can all be sure is that is whole megillah is nowhere near as weird as it's going to get." ...

... Tom Sullivan of Hullabaloo: "Lisa Page, former assistant general counsel at the F.B.I., answered questions in closed-door meetings of a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee last July. Transcripts passed to The Epoch Times and published Friday afternoon may have prompted the New York Times to release its counterintelligence story Friday night. Page, in her testimony to Representatives focused on Hillary Clinton emails, confirmed that her agency saw Clinton's emails as 'an entirely historical investigation' of lesser priority. 'In the assessment of the Counterintelligence Division,' Page stated, 'they still don’t even come close to the threat posed if Russia had co-opted a member of a political campaign.' '[W]ith respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans,' Page continued, 'Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life.'” ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "... it’s a shocking story: The nation’s leading law enforcement agency was looking into whether a sitting U.S. president was working for a hostile foreign nation. The decision was something the FBI reportedly struggled with for months.... It’s one thing to deliberately hamper the investigation; it’s another to suspect Trump might have done so on behalf of Russia.... What hasn’t been outlined ... are the proposed back channels between the Trump team and Russia. A month before Comey was fired, The Washington Post reported that Trump ally and Blackwater founder Erik Prince had proposed such a secret channel of communication between Trump and Moscow at a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with a Putin representative. The FBI was also presumably aware at the time (because it monitors the calls of Russian officials on U.S. soil) that then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak had told his superiors in Moscow that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had proposed a back channel during the transition period.... If Trump was working for Russia, it would be logical to assume he’d need some way of actually learning what Russia desired.... Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki last year has also raised eyebrows. He met privately with Putin for two hours, with nobody but interpreters present, and apparently nobody in the American government really knows what they discussed."

... Adam Silverman of Balloon Juice: "... the President’s positions during the campaign and the actions he’s taken, in regards to domestic, foreign, national security, and economic affairs, have given Putin almost everything he wanted. The only thing he hasn’t gotten yet is the lifting of sanctions, but there have been efforts within the administration to chip away at and/or redefine them in the favor of Putin and the oligarchs he protects. And this brings us ... to the question: what, if anything, would the President be doing differently if we knew for certain that he was a Russian asset or agent? And the answer I keep coming back to ... is nothing. There is nothing the President would be doing differently. And that conclusion is one of the most disturbing I’ve ever come to in my professional career." Emphasis original. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Trump has met with Russian officials since 1987. It was after his first trip to Moscow that he first contemplated running for president. It is well within the realm of possibility that Russians used blackmail, bribes, or perhaps just simple flattery to help shape his thinking on world affairs. It is hard to understand how else some of the idiosyncratic and bizarrely Russpohillic ideas he routinely spouts have found their way into Trump’s brain. His warning that tiny Montenegro is a threat to attack Russia, or his claim that the Soviet Union was right to invade Afghanistan in 1979, are not notions Trump would pick up from his normal routine of binge-watching Fox News.... The relationship between Trump and Putin did not merely rest on their mutual interest in the Trump campaign defeating Clinton, but indicates some deeper connection.... Now we already know Mueller is not merely looking into crimes, but trying to ascertain the foundational loyalties of the President of the United States." ...

... Josh Marshall reviews the chain of events leading up to & immediately following the FBI's decision to open the counterintelligence investigation into Trump's relationship with Russia.

The Great Trump Shutdown, Ctd.

Robert Costa, et al., of the Washington Post: "When President Trump made a rare journey to the Capitol last week, he was expected to strategize about how to end the government shutdown he instigated. Instead, he spent the first 20-odd minutes delivering a monologue about 'winning.'... The problem was that Trump offered no path to victory — other than brinkmanship.... The president who pitched himself to voters as a world-class dealmaker has proven to be an unreliable negotiator. Grappling for the first time with a divided government, Trump has contradicted himself, sent miscues and spread falsehoods. He has zigzagged between proudly claiming ownership of the shutdown and blaming it on Democrats, and between nearly declaring a national emergency to construct the wall without congressional approval and backing off such a legally and politically perilous action.... Trump’s advisers are scrambling to build an exit ramp while also bracing for the shutdown to last weeks longer. Current and former aides said there is little strategy in the White House; people are frustrated and, in the words of one, 'freaking out.'... As the shutdown dragged on, aides said, Trump has bragged that he looked 'tough' and that his supporters had his back.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'm so confused. Trump says he could "do a deal in 15 minutes" to re-open the federal government. Why didn't he do so weeks ago? Why not last week? And the week before? Why not now? ...

... Wait, Wait! Trump Has a Secret Plan! Nancy Cook of Politico: "... Donald Trump said Saturday he was alone in the White House with a plan at the ready to reopen the federal government, but close White House advisers and staff said they remained in the dark about how he would end the three-week partial shutdown." ...

... Wag the Dog. Mrs. McCrabbie: One thing to keep in mind is something John Cassidy of the New Yorker mentioned in a post published Friday, before the NYT & WashPo stories appeared: "The political battle over the border wall is essentially a diversion, and from Trump’s perspective, it has already served its purpose." That is, Trump has shut down the government, inconveniencing millions of Americans & devastating some, potentially endangering everyone who flies or eats uninspected food or or or, in hopes no one will notice what's going on in the Mueller probe. No doubt he knows a lot more about what to expect on that front than we do, & very likely he's known for a couple of weeks about the impending NYT report, which reporters have worked on for "a while," as lead reorter Adam Goldman told Isaac Chotiner (linked above), & therefore might have clued in the White House when calling for comment. Trump also would have known about the WashPo story prior to yesterday, for the same reason. ...

     ... Yesterday Cassidy wrote, in response to publication of the Times story, "... the past forty-eight hours have demonstrated that, whatever happens in the next week or two regarding the government shutdown and the fight over the border wall, the White House cannot escape the Trump-Russia investigation. Until it is finally resolved one way or another, everything else is a sideshow."

Greg Grandin of The Intercept: "Since its founding in the early 20th century, the U.S. Border Patrol has operated with near-complete impunity, arguably serving as the most politicized and abusive branch of federal law enforcement — even more so than the FBI during J. Edgar Hoover’s directorship." Read on for a refresher course on the Border Patrol & the history of racism in immigration policy.

The Acorn Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree. Maureen Dowd
contrasts the lessons Nancy Pelosi & Donnie Trump learned on their fathers' knees -- and how that all worked out. One of MoDo's better efforts, IMO. The accompanying photo of Nancy is super. ...

... Roger Cohen of the New York Times: "When Trump was in business, his shtick was stiffing contractors. If confronted, he would try some bombast and storm out of meetings, as he did the other day with congressional leaders, ending talks on the partial government shutdown caused by a crisis he has manufactured. His shtick now is stiffing all Americans. The technique is the same: Keep reality at a distance through hyperactive fakery. I have been fascinated by Trump’s compulsion.... Like the scorpion that stings the frog ferrying it across the torrent, he cannot help it. It’s his nature, you see.... In Trump the element of sadistic cruelty in his personality (mocking the disabled, for example), and the sheer gall of his fakery, make of him a malignant, rather than a benign, bullshit artist." Thanks to PD Pepe for the link. Well worth the read. (Also linked yesterday.) 

Jennifer Steinhauer & Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers, setting the stage for the biggest transformation of the veterans’ medical system in a generation. Under proposed guidelines, it would be easier for veterans to receive care in privately run hospitals and have the government pay for it. Veterans would also be allowed access to a system of proposed walk-in clinics, which would serve as a bridge between V.A. emergency rooms and private providers, and would require co-pays for treatment.... If put into effect, the proposed rules — many of whose details remain unclear as they are negotiated within the Trump administration — would be a win for the once-obscure Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the network founded by the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, which has long championed increasing the use of private sector health care for veterans.... Some health care experts and veterans’ groups say the change, which has no separate source of funding, would redirect money that the current veterans’ health care system — the largest in the nation — uses to provide specialty care. Critics have also warned that switching vast numbers of veterans to private hospitals would strain care in the private sector and that costs for taxpayers could skyrocket. In addition, they say it could threaten the future of traditional veterans’ hospitals, some of which are already under review for consolidation or closing.... Critics, which include nearly all of the major veterans’ organizations, say that paying for care in the private sector would starve the 153-year-old veterans’ health care system, causing many hospitals to close." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I don't know what the scams are here, but you can bet the devil is in the (undisclosed) details.

Nick Turse in Salon: "Within hours of President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, equipment at that base was already being inventoried for removal. And just like that, arguably the most important American garrison in Syria was (maybe) being struck from the Pentagon’s books — except, as it happens, al-Tanf [military base] was never actually on the Pentagon’s books.... Officially, the Department of Defense (DoD) maintains 4,775 'sites,' spread across all 50 states, eight U.S. territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio.... But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report (BSR), doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf. Or, for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.... Such off-the-books bases are off the books for a reason. The Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about them." --s

Election 2018

Igor Derysch of Salon: "The National Rifle Association appears to have illegally coordinated campaign ads with Republican candidates in key Senate races, according to Federal Communication Records (FCC) records obtained by The Trace. According to the report, the NRA’s ads on behalf of Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley and Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in 2018, as well as North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr in 2016, were all authorized by the same media consulting firm that they candidates used for their ads. (Hawley and Burr won their races, but Rosendale lost to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.) The scheme appears to be in violation of laws barring independent groups from working in concert with political campaigns. According to the FCC records, at least 10 purchases by both the NRA and three Senate campaigns were made by the same person, National Media CFO Jon Ferell. The Trace reported that the company used the 'assumed or fictitious name' Red Eagle Media to buy ads for the NRA while using the name American Media & Advocacy Group to buy ads for the Senate candidates." --s

North Carolina. Beth Reinhard of the Washington Post: "Nine months before allegations of absentee ballot fraud tainted a congressional race in North Carolina, the state elections board gave officials from the Justice Department’s main office evidence that the political operative at the center of the scandal had used similar tactics in 2016. On Jan. 31, 2018, the chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which oversees prosecutions of election crimes, met in Raleigh with state officials and U.S. attorney Robert Higdon, according to an elections board spokesman. The following day, the state officials sent a public integrity lawyer an eight-page memo describing interviews with two campaign workers who said they were paid during the 2016 election to hand-deliver mail-in ballots to political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless.... Josh Lawson, general counsel for the state elections board, said he saw little indication that federal prosecutors pursued the Dowless matter." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Far be it from me to criticize Jeff Sessions, but one might suspect that JeffBo wasn't really all that interested in ensuring the integrity of the vote. Dowless, BTW, was working for a Republican candidate in 2016 (as he did in the contested 2018 election).

Presidential Race 2020. Maggie Astor
of the New York Times: "Julián Castro, the former housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, announced on Saturday that he would run for president, one of the most high-profile Latino Democrats ever to seek the party’s nomination. His first campaign stop will be in Puerto Rico, where he will speak on Monday at the Latino Victory Fund’s annual summit and meet with residents still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria. Later in the week, his campaign said, he will go to New Hampshire.... Mr. Castro, 44, was raised in San Antonio in a politically active family. His mother, Rosie Castro, was an activist with the Mexican-American political party La Raza Unida and frequently took Julián and his twin brother, Joaquin — now a congressman — to rallies and meetings. Joaquin Castro will be the chairman of Julián’s campaign."

Adam Bernstein of the Washington Post: "Judge [Patricia] Wald, whom Barack Obama called 'one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation' when he awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013, died Jan. 12 at her home in Washington. She was 90."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Emma Graham-Harrison, et al. of the Guardian: "New evidence has emerged linking an RAF [Royal Air Force] veteran to the death in 1961 of the UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld in a mysterious plane crash in southern Africa. Jan van Risseghem has been named as a possible attacker before, but has always been described simply as a Belgian pilot. The Observer can now reveal that he had extensive ties to Britain, including a British mother and wife, trained with the RAF and was decorated by Britain for his service in the second world war. Film-makers investigating the 1961 crash for a documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, have found a friend of Van Risseghem who claimed the pilot confessed to shooting down the UN plane. They also gathered testimony from another pilot that undermines one of his alibis for that night...Van Risseghem died in 2007." --s

Reader Comments (11)

"potentially endangering everyone who flies or eats uninspected food"...

My skimming skills tripped me up when my mind read, "potentially endangering everyone who eats flies in uninspected food." Still accurate however.

I'd been thinking about the same theory of Cassidy regarding the very elaborate Shiny Object Distraction Theory, although I heard Sen. Chris Van Hollen specify on Chris Hayes' All In that the original budget proposal sent by Dick Mulvaney only asked for ......$1.6 billion. So essentially the Orange Ogre just up and moved the goalposts from $1.6 billion to $5.7 billion, despite his own budget, submitted by his own administration, prepared for by his own lackey Mulvaney, only asked for $1.6 billion. The Democrats said OK, take it, and approved the budget. Then Trump gets a call from Rush and then melts down and ratchets up the demands to his OWN budget, already sitting there on paper with the $1.6 billion figure in black and white.

This point seems to be lost in the whole debate, now framed as if $5 billion had always been on the table and Democrats won't budge. Democrats need to make this point even more salient and mark it as the negotiating line. It's not just that Republican Senators had already passed the same bill, but it's what Trump's administration submitted itself. He got "what he asked for". Why give him anything more?

Given this reality, I think Cassidy might be giving Drumpf too much credit for the Shiny Object theory. If that were so, you'd think he would've laid down the $5 billion marker in the initial budget, knowing it would be a deadly pill to any negotiations, and then rail and cry and whine and shut down the government afterwards, therefore sucking up all media oxygen when the "Russer" bombshells drop.

This shutdown seems to be more of the same sui generis ethos of the presidunce* with little long-term strategizing involved. It just so happens "wall" conveniently dovetailed with the new "Russer" developments and now the presidunce* is making hay.

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@safari: Yes, I heard Van Hollen say that, too, & I wondered how the $1.6BB suddenly got upped to $5.6BB. Let us all bow our heads and thank the dearly-departed St. Paul of Ryan: "... the $1.6BB is what the administration initially demanded for "border barriers" & the Senate GOP funded it. "... the $5.7 billion [was what] the lame-duck Republican House of Representatives voted to appropriate before the shutdown, after Trump began demanding $5 billion for 'the wall'....”

January 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@ Safari: Yes, I heard Van Hollen tell Chris this but we knew about the deal before. Somehow it got lost in the shuffle–-that two step dance to the right from those that think they can hide the fact that they continue to step on those blue suede shoes without making marks.

And this "Russer thing" is going to unravel the thread that is holding this president* together. I imagine we are in for more treats before he does, indeed, be seen without clothes. Yet–-even then there will those that will look upon his naked self and applaud the fact that his wee pecker is intact–-if that.

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Hesitate to sully RC with a Fox report, but...

If true, it would suggest the raging "Me-ism" infection* has spread across the political aisle to the Bidens, too, and that's very depressing.

What of the country and its peoples? Don't they matter?

Apparently not, when measured against a few hurt feelings.

Might vote to wreck the country (or shut down the government?) if I don't get my way.

Good gravy!

*a subject that came up last night in a brief conversation I had with one of my sons at a Seattle soiree.

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Gonna go off on a rant here.

Margaret Brennan is a real piece of work. The Face the Nation host is keeping up John Dickerson's fine tradition slanting the show quite heavily in favor of the Republican party. Today was a perfect example.

The first two guests were Mike Pompeo and Kevin McCarthy, and both were permitted to bloviate about how Democrats were responsible for all the ills of the world. That took up the first twenty minutes of the show. After a commercial break, she came back with her next guest, Julian Castro, who has just announced he's running for president.

Brennan's second question to him went something like this: The RNC says you're a lightweight who is clearly looking for a vice presidential nomination. What do you have to say to that? She then went on to ask him very loaded questions about how the mass of immigrants at the border represent a threat to all we hold dear.

Last, she brings out Obama's Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson and asks him questions about how Trump could use already-allocated funds to build his wall. What she doesn't ask - and what NOBODY in the MSM seems to be asking - is what gives the president the authority to declare an emergency when it's clear no emergency exists?

The whole show was an exercise in normalizing the notion that the president has the authority to declare whatever he likes to be an emergency and therefore also has the right to assume the power to over-ride Congress whenever he likes.

Am I the only one who is appalled by this? The media are complicit in the effort to destroy representative democracy in this country, and it ain't just Fox.

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

That second question Brennan asked Castro - "The RNC says....- is a pretty typical way her sort of "journalist" inserts her own politics into an ostensibly non-partisan show.

"I didn't say you're a lightweight who couldn't even run HHS! THEY said it, and I'm only trying to get your reaction!"

Thus, she not only trashes the guy in front of her entire audience, she also turns the conversation away from matters of substance.

Frank Bruni had a column in the NYT asking whether the media would redeem themselves during this next election cycle. The early results are in, and they're not very encouraging.

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

@Schlub: Thank you. I quit watching the Sunday shows years ago because there wasn't much point in listening to myself yelling at the teevee. Unfortunately, this is the way most Americans who consider themselves informed get their news: the nightly news & the Sunday shows. Then they think they know it all. Maybe a little NPR on the way to & from work. And for reasons I don't comprehend, the hosts have long bent over backwards for Republicans. It used to show up -- and probably still does -- even in their guest lists. One weekend somebody counted 18 Republicans guests & 6 Democrats on the Sunday shows. And of course their "expert panels" are awful: a centrist Democrat or two "rounded out" by some wild-eyed, bellicose wingers.

I'm sorry to learn not much has changed.

January 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

The NYT's Peter Baker says that "the White House has been recruiting soldiers"????? what? What kind of soldiers? The ones Nixon had? I imagine Trump would be pleased with all the gold on the epaulettes, etc. But I fear he's hiring mercenaries, black ops style, and building bunkers. Is this serious??? I don't see anything in the MSM today.

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

@Victoria: "Soldiers" is a metaphor. By "soldiers," Baker means the new attorneys Cipollone has hired.

January 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

How about that growing army of lawyers decked out in Nixon-era palace guard uniforms? Spiffed up bootlickers hailing from the Duchy of Mar-a-Lago?

Much more fun to think about than the nightmarish images I've had since PD's earlier post mentioning the Pretend emperor without clothes..

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

yeah, as I said: mercenaries.
Okay, I did get nervous about the word. I will be convinced that they're not black ops personal when I can see what they're wearing.

January 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria
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