The Ledes

Monday, November 19, 2018.

CBS/AP: "The death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California increased by one Sunday to 77, while the number of people unaccounted for has decreased to 993 people. The blaze was two-thirds contained as of Sunday night after consuming some 150,000 acres. In Southern California, just outside Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire was 91 percent contained after burning 96,949 acres and killing three people. Dense smoke from the fires has been smothering parts of the state with what has been described as 'the dirtiest air in the world.' Rain is forecast for mid-week, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains."

The Wires
Gubernatorial Results

 

It's hard to read, but as the Times tally indicates, Democrats have picked up seven gubernatorial seats as of the current projections. Georgia is still too close to call, according to the Times. Republicans are ahead in all three states. Georgia could go to a runoff, but that looks unlikely at this point.

The New York Times' gubernatorial results are here.

Here are state-by-state predictions:

Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is predicted to win the election.

Alaska: Mike Dunleavy (R) is projected to win the election. This is a pick-up for Republicans from an independent governor.

Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has retained his seat.

Arkansas: Asa Hutchinson (R) is predicted to win re-election.

California: NBC News predicts Gavin Newsom (D) will become governor.

Colorado: NBC News predicts Jared Polis (D) will win the governor's seat.

Connecticut: Neil Vigdor, et al., of the Hartford Courant: "Democrat Ned Lamont appeared poised to become Connecticut’s 89th governor Wednesday morning after running up significant margins overnight in some of the state’s largest cities to pull ahead of Republican Bob Stefanowski.

Florida: Andrew Gillum (D) has conceded to Ron DeSantis (R).

Hawaii: Gov. David Ige (D) is predicted to retain his seat.

Idaho: NBC News projects Brad Little (R) will win the governorship.

Illinois: J.B. Pritzker (D) is expected to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

Iowa: NBC projects Kim Reynolds (R) will retain the governorship.

Kansas: Laura Kelly (D) has defeated Kris Kobach (R-Voter Suppression) for the governorship, according to NBC News. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

     Jonathan Shorman & Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star: "Democrat Laura Kelly will become the next governor of Kansas after voters rejected Republican Kris Kobach’s hard-right campaign and embraced Kelly’s promises of moderation and stability. Kelly vowed to put former Gov. Sam Brownback, and the years of budget woes brought on by his signature tax cuts, in the past." ...

     BUT then the Star has two stories about Kobach linked on its front page (the Kelly win is sandwiched between them), including this one about how Kobach, where the headline reads that Kobach has "unlimited potential." Turns out that a quote from Steve Bannon. The Star's lede sez, "... his defeat may do little to curb his future political potential." Nice.


Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/election/article221168580.html#storylink=cpy

Maine: Janet Mills (D) is projected to win the governorship. This is a flip from the execrable Paul LePage, who says he is moving to Florida "and teach at a university there." After yesterday's showing, Florida deserves him.

     Kevin Miller & Noel Gallagher of the Portland Press Herald: "Democrat Janet Mills won the governor’s race early Wednesday, becoming Maine’s first woman to hold the office."

Maryland: Larry Hogan (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Massachusetts: Charlie Baker (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Michigan: Gretchen Whitmer (D) is predicted to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

Minnesota: Tim Walz (D) is predicted to take the governorship.

Nebraska: Pete Ricketts (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Nevada: Steve Sisolak (D) is expected to win the governorship. This is a flip from a Republican.

New Hampshire: Chris Sununu (R) will remain governor.

New Mexico: NBC News is predicting Michelle Grisham (D) is expected to win the election. This is a flip from a Republican governor.

New York: Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to win re-election.

Ohio: Mike DeWine (R) has won the race for governor.

Oklahoma: Kevin Stitt (R) is predicted to win the governorship.

Oregon: Kate Brown (D) will retain the governorship.

Pennsylvania: Tom Wolf (D) is expected to be re-elected.

Rhode Island: Gina Raimondo is expected to be re-elected.

South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is predicted to win the election.

South Dakota: Kristi Noem (R) is predicted to win the governor's race.

Tennessee: Bill Lee (R) is expected to win the election.

Texas: Greg Abbott (R) is expected to be re-elected.

Vermont: Phil Scott (R) will retain the governship.

Wisconsin: Tony Evers (D) is projected to defeat Gov. Scott Walker (R). Adios, Scotty.

     Patrick Marley & Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "After upending Wisconsin politics and infuriating liberals across the country, Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term Tuesday to Tony Evers, the leader of the education establishment Walker blew up eight years ago. The Associated Press called the race for Evers about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday based on unofficial returns. The race was so close that Walker's team said a detailed review of balloting and a recount were possible. But an unofficial tally had Evers winning by 1.1 percentage points — a margin that would be too large for a recount if it held."

Wyoming: Mark Gordon (R) is predicted to win the governship.

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.

Laura Holson of the New York Times: "... a number of artists who have reimagined [Norman Rockwell's] 'Four Freedoms,' most of them spurred by racial and political tension that has divided the country.... Mr. Rockwell’s portraits of Americana in the 1940s and 1950s were quite popular, but largely limited to white, Anglo-Saxon subjects who were friends or acquaintances of the artist. His 'Four Freedoms' series helped boost patriotism in a country on the brink of war, a visual reminder of American ideals. During World War II, they were turned into posters to muster sales of U.S. war bonds. Laurie Norton Moffatt, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum, said, 'Rockwell worked for hire and had to address the norms' of The Saturday Evening Post. Later, in the 1960s, the artist joined Look magazine and depicted civil rights and poverty. 'We saw him progressively move toward more representation,' she said. 'But it was an evolution.'... The 'Four Freedoms' series is touring the United States in celebration of its 75th anniversary.... As part of the 'Four Freedoms' tour, the organizers are showing works by contemporary artists inspired by the artist.”

Pops Peterson. "Freedom from Fear." 2015.

In case you've forgotten Rockwell's Four Freedoms, here they are:

Click on picture to see larger image.In fairness to Rockwell, this has to be my favorite "political illustration":

Norman Rockwell. 1964.

Drones over New Hampshire (and apparently a bit of Michigan):


The Aliens Are Coming! The Aliens Are Coming! NBC News: "Scientists have been puzzling over Oumuamua ever since the mysterious space object was observed tumbling past the sun in late 2017. Given its high speed and its unusual trajectory, the reddish, stadium-sized whatever-it-is had clearly come from outside our solar system. But its flattened, elongated shape and the way it accelerated on its way through the solar system set it apart from conventional asteroids and comets. Now a pair of Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft. As they say in a paper to be published Nov. 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the object 'may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: No mention of it in the story, but here's hoping they will take away our leader. And his friends.

Melanie McFarland of Salon reviews "Shut Up & Dribble," a three-part Showtime documentary which examines "the impact professional athletes have played in civil rights and social justice movements even prior to the NBA’s official formation, as a three-hour rebuttal to one Fox News pundit’s smarmy, uninformed declaration." Here's the trailer:

Dear @real Donald Trump:

You are the only person I know of who has such "a natural instinct for science" that he doesn't have to take classes or run field studies and all to be an expert on any scientific subject. I don't know any @real Apicologists, & even the @real Bee Guy who came out to give these critters a new home said he'd never seen anything like it. That being one of your favorite sayings, and as someone who has a natural instinct for cliched hyberbole, I thought of you right away. Could you tell me what kind of bees make nests like this humungous construction at my house in Florida? Thanks in advance.

-- @fake Bea McCrabbie 

P.S. My house is right down the road from Mar-a-Lago. I hope the Bee Guy took the bees to your place.

Monday
Jul092018

The Commentariat -- July 10, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Lorne Cook of the AP: "A senior European Union official lashed out Tuesday at ... Donald Trump, lambasting the U.S. leader's constant criticism of European allies and urging him to remember who his friends are when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin next week. On the eve of a NATO summit meant to showcase the West's unity and resolve to counter Russia, European Council President Donald Tusk directed a remark at Trump, saying 'it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem.'"

Michael Wines of the New York Times: "From the moment it was announced in March, the decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census was described by critics as a ploy to discourage immigrants from filling out the form and improve Republican political fortunes. The Commerce Department, which made the decision, insisted that sound policy, not politics, was its sole motivation. Now a federal lawsuit seeking to block the question has cast doubt on the department's explanation and the veracity of the man who offered it, Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. And it has given the plaintiffs in the suit -- attorneys general for 17 states, the District of Columbia and a host of cities and counties -- broad leeway to search for evidence that the critics are correct.... [Ross has issued conflicting statements.] Judge Furman called Mr. Ross's March explanation of his decision both 'potentially untrue' and improbable...."

Combing the Nation for Reprobates, Trump Finds Some More to Pardon. John Wagner & Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Tuesday granted pardons to father-and-son cattle ranchers in southeastern Oregon who were sentenced to serve prison time on two separate occasions for the same charges of arson on public lands. The return to prison of Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond helped spark the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early 2016. Robert 'LaVoy' Finicum, a rancher who acted as the protesters' spokesman, was killed by a state trooper during an encounter between the armed occupation group and law enforcement -- a shooting that led to charges against an FBI special agent. In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said an 'overzealous appeal' of the Hammonds's original sentences during the Obama administration, which sent them back to prison, was 'unjust.'"

John Wagner: "Asked Tuesday about his administration missing a court-imposed deadline to reunite migrant children under age 5 with their parents, President Trump said he had 'a solution.' 'Tell people not to come to our country illegally,' Trump told reporters. 'That's the solution. Don't come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.'" Mrs. McC: What Trump doesn't say & Wagner doesn't write is that many of the families whom Trump surrogates have separated came here legally under U.S. & international law, seeking asylum.

*****

Mark Landler & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump on Monday selected Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a politically connected member of Washington's conservative legal establishment, to fill Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's seat on the Supreme Court, setting up an epic confirmation battle and potentially cementing the court's rightward tilt for a generation. The nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, 53, a federal appeals court judge former aide to President George W. Bush and onetime investigator of President Bill Clinton, was not a huge surprise...." ...

... Robert Costa, et al., of the Washington Post: "Before becoming a judge, [Brett Kavanaugh] was a fast-rising Republican lawyer who first gained notice decades ago when he helped to investigate President Bill Clinton under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. Kavanaugh has since argued that presidents should not be distracted by civil lawsuits, criminal investigations, or even questions from a prosecutor or defense lawyer while in office." ...

... it seems that you are the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics. You show up at every scene of the crime. You are somehow or another deeply involved, whether it is Elian Gonzalez or the Starr Report, you are there. -- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), speaking to Brett Kavanaugh during judicial confirmation hearings, April 2004

... ** Ezra Klein of Vox: The Supreme Court "is writing and, in some cases, rewriting [laws], to favor the Republican Party -- making it easier to suppress votes, simpler for corporations and billionaires to buy elections, and legal for incumbents to gerrymander districts to protect and enhance their majorities. The Supreme Court has always been undemocratic. What it's becoming is something more dangerous: anti-democratic.... What we're seeing here is an alliance, not a coincidence. Republicans won the White House and the Senate, used that power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court, and the judges they vetted and elevated are making it easier for their patrons to retain power in the future." ...

... Yes, But Kavanaugh Loves Explicit Sex Chat. Dylan Matthews of Vox: "Eventually, Kavanaugh, and the rest of ['independent' counsel Ken] Starr’s team, moved on from the substance of the Whitewater real estate deal to the matter of Clinton';s affair with Monica Lewinsky. In his history of the investigation, The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, Duquesne University's Ken Gormley notes that Kavanaugh, 'considered one of Starr's intellectual heavy-lifters, pushed hardest to confront Clinton with some of the dirtiest facts linked to his sexual indiscretions with Lewinsky.'" Matthews cites Gormley on some of the questions Kavanaugh wanted to ask Clinton, which include clauses like "ejaculated into the sink." You'll have to read the rest yourself. Matthews has much more on Gump's glorious career. ...

     ... Mrs. McC: Given Trump's regard for the Clintons, these questions alone might have earned Kavanaugh the nomination. Question for Durbin, Kavanaugh hearings 2018: "Did you 'ejaculate" while writing these questions, Judge Kavanaugh?" ...

... Margaret Hartmann: "Any of the names on President Trump's Federalist Society-approved list of potential Supreme Court nominees would have earned him effusive praise from the right.... But there was only person on the list who clearly might be able to help Trump out if his personal legal predicaments wind up before the Supreme Court -- and in a funny coincidence, Brett Kavanaugh wound up being the nominee!... Kavanaugh once argued in favor of a broad definition of presidential obstruction of justice. Kavanaugh authored parts of the Starr report that laid out potential grounds for impeachment, including misleading the public and turning his press secretary and other White House officials into 'unwitting agents of the president's deception.' That kind of thing happens every day in the Trump administration, but a few years later [after working in the Bush II White House,] Kavanaugh decided he was too harsh on the president. In 2009, he wrote in the Minnesota Law Review that Congress should pass a law making the president exempt from criminal prosecution and investigation while in office." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It's worth noting that Kavanaugh made up his mind about presidential exemption before Barack Obama won the 2008 election. (See the first footnote to the law review article.) Pardon my cynicism, but I have a feeling Democratic presidents are never too busy to be indicted while in office. ...

... Amy Sorkin of the New Yorker: Kavanaugh "has a strong record of ruling against regulations, notably environmental ones. His position opposing gun control goes significantly beyond an embrace of the Court's controversial ruling, in Heller, that there is an individual right to bear arms -- those Trump calls the 'Second Amendment people' can rest easy with Kavanaugh. And recently Kavanaugh ruled, in the case of Garza v. Hargan, with the minority in favor of the Trump Administration and against an undocumented minor who was trying to get an abortion in Texas.... SCOTUSblog, in a profile of Kavanaugh, noted that he had, in his D.C. circuit rulings, exhibited 'an expansive view of the government's power to detain enemy combatants.'" ...

... April Glaser of Slate: Brett Kavanaugh's "history reveals a judge who is more sympathetic to the handful of companies that control the internet -- and to the government agencies that sometimes use it to surveil -- than to the hundreds of millions of Americans who use it. Kavanaugh has argued that the Obama-era network neutrality rules, which were rescinded by the current Federal Communications Commission under Trump appointee Ajit Pai, were unconstitutional because in his view the rules, which prevented internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon from blocking access to certain websites or slowing down speeds, violated the free-speech rights of internet providers.... In fact, the rules are supposed to protect free speech, leveling the online playing field so everyone can communicate on the internet equally without powerful internet providers interfering." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: This is yet another example of the right's weaponizing the First Amendment as an implicit guarantee that corporations, including veritable monopolies (rather than actual people, my friends), can do whatever they want, no matter how much the corporations' "free speech" impinges on ordinary people's Constitutional rights. ...

... Jeet Heer: "If Democrats want to fight Brett Kavanaugh, they have a lot of ammunition.... There are many important issues Kavanaugh can be attacked on in ways that will excite the Democratic base.... Kavanaugh is extreme enough that Democrats can usefully deploy him as foil. Here are some key issues they can highlight. 1. Likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.... 2. Subservience to Trump on presidential exemption from legal prosecution.... 3. Second Amendment extremism.... 4. General use of the courts to advance a conservative agenda.... 5. Embarrassing servility to Trump." Read Heer's citations that back up these points. It's a short post.

Garrett Epps of the Atlantic: "A good exercise in patriotism this summer might be to study the true history of the Fourteenth Amendment (which was [depending upon one's POV] ratified 150 years ago Monday). That story bears weird resemblances to the nation's situation today, as once-solid certainties of the American constitutional order teeter on the verge of collapse.... To a surprising extent..., the system today remains rigged along 'Slave Power' lines. Dominance in the House and Senate falls to red-state governments that suppress voting and gerrymander districts, and undeserved electoral victory flows to popular-vote losers like George W. Bush and Donald Trump."


Miriam Jordan & Manny Fernandez
of the New York Times: "Federal immigration authorities were preparing to return 54 young migrants to their parents on Tuesday in a secretive operation that involves transporting children hundreds of miles to undisclosed locations around the country. The reunions, scheduled in order to comply with a federal court deadline, cover a little more than half of the youngest children -- those under the age of 5 -- who had been separated from their families under a Trump administration plan to slow the flood of migrants to the southwest border. The operation will be carried out with an unusual level of secrecy under the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, at a series of locations operated by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to federal lawyers and others familiar with the plan. A parallel effort is underway to deport some of the migrants: 11 reunified families will be returned to their home country, Guatemala, on Tuesday...." ...

     ... ** New Lede: "The Trump administration on Monday lost a bid to persuade a federal court to allow long-term detention of migrant families, a significant legal setback to the president's immigration agenda. In a ruling that countered nearly every argument posed by the Justice Department, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles held that there was no basis to amend a longstanding consent decree that requires children to be released to licensed care programs within 20 days. The government said that long-term confinement was the only way to avoid separating families when parents were detained on criminal charges."

... Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "A federal judge has agreed to extend Tuesday's deadline for the government to reunite 102 migrant children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents under ... Donald Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy. Judge Dana Sabraw asked government attorneys to provide an update by Tuesday morning on which children will be reunited, who will require more time, and to deliver a proposed timeline for reuniting the remaining children with their parents." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ema O'Connor & Nidhi Prakash of BuzzFeed: A "Department of Homeland Security policy quietly introduced by the Trump administration ... has devastated women fleeing violence in their home countries: the detention of pregnant women not yet in their third trimester. Before that directive, which the Trump administration implemented in December..., ICE was under an Obama administration-era directive not to detain pregnant women except in extreme circumstances or in relatively rare cases of expedited deportation.... Women in immigration detention are often denied adequate medical care, even when in dire need of it, are shackled around the stomach while being transported between facilities, and have been physically and psychologically mistreated. In interviews and written affidavits, [five] women who've been in ICE detention and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody while pregnant told of being ignored when they were obviously miscarrying, described their CBP and ICE-contracted jailers as unwilling or unable to respond to medical emergencies, and recounted an incident of physical abuse.... Those descriptions were backed by interviews with five legal aid workers, four medical workers, and two advocates who work with ICE detainees."

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump said Tuesday that an upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin might be easier than a gathering with NATO allies, as he left the White House for a week of high-profile diplomacy in Europe. In a series of tweets and comments to reporters before departing, Trump took fresh aim at other NATO members for not meeting targets for defense spending, saying the arrangement was unfair to U.S. taxpayers.... Trump's tweet on Tuesday echoed another one from Monday, in which he singled out Germany for not meeting defense spending targets.... Trump also offered kind words for Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary who is a frontman for Britain's campaign to leave the European Union and one of the recent departures from May's government." For more on that nice Boris Johnson, see stories linked under Way Beyond the Beltway.

Stephanie Murray of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Monday attacked a New York Times story that reported how his administration attempted to weaken a World Health Assembly resolution to promote breastfeeding, saying women shouldn't be denied access to formula.... 'The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out. The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty,' Trump said in a tweet.... 'Our report is accurate. You can read it here,' the Times said [in a tweet which linked to the story]." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ronnie Rabin of the New York Times: "Global health experts said the president's stance suggested a lack of knowledge about breast-feeding and the history of the marketing of powdered formula to poor women in developing countries. Powdered formula mixed with unclean water can be dangerous for babies.... A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that 66,000 infants died in low- and middle-income countries in 1981 alone because of the availability of formula." Breast-feeding is better for the health of mothers, too. Mrs. McC: How quaint to accuse Trump of "a lack of knowledge." ...

... New York Times Editors: "The push by United States delegates to the World Health Organization to water down or scrap a simple resolution meant to encourage breast-feeding in underdeveloped countries was many things -- bullying, anti-science, pro-industry, anti-public health and shortsighted, to name a few.... It's just one of several recent examples of the administration's zeal for badgering weaker countries into tossing public health concerns aside to serve powerful business interests. The baby formula industry is worth $70 billion and, as breast-feeding has become more popular in more developed countries, it has pinned its hopes for growth on developing ones.... President Trump's contention on Twitter Monday, that women need access to formula because of malnutrition, defies both science and common sense: the overwhelming balance of evidence tells us that breast milk is the most nutritious option for infants, by far."

Greg Sargent: "Trump's delusions are about to blow up in his own voters' faces.... Despite [Steve Bannon's] phony populist posturing about Trump targeting 'Wall Street,' Trump counties are the ones most likely to take a hit.... Nearly two-thirds of the jobs in industries targeted by China's tariffs -- a total of more than 1 million jobs -- are in more than 2,100 counties that voted for Trump. By contrast, barely more than one-third of the jobs in China-targeted industries -- just over half a million -- are in the counties that voted for Clinton."

The Cheapest, Cheatingest Boss in the U.S.A. Alan Feuer of the New York Times: "... in a lawsuit filed on Monday, [Noel] Cintron [-- who was Donald Trump's personal driver for more than 20 years --] accused Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization of failing to pay him more than 3,000 hours of overtime wages -- a sum that he has calculated to be slightly more than $160,000. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Trump and his business also cheated Mr. Cintron out of years of vacation time, sick days and expenses -- and neglected to give him a raise in more than a decade.... The accusations by Mr. Cintron ... echo complaints made by several others who have worked for Mr. Trump over the years and claim that he either underpaid them or failed to honor contracts for their services. Mr. Trump has also fended off unrest among employees by paying them to dismiss litigation against him, despite his oft-repeated claims that he never settles lawsuits."

For $200K, You Get ... a Tour of AF1. Tarini Parti & Jeremy Singer-Vine of BuzzFeed: "Some members of ... Donald Trump's exclusive Florida clubs appear to have been invited to an Air Force One tour last year, according to an invitation obtained by BuzzFeed News.... The invitations would raise more questions about the blurry line between Trump's administration and his family's private businesses. Although past administrations have given Air Force One tours to friends, family, and even donors, in this case, those attending would have paid Trump's exclusive clubs thousands of dollars annually." ...

... Jeet Heer: "As president, [Trump] undoubtedly has the right to invite friends to tour Air Force One. But Mar-a-Lago members fall into the shady category of paying friends, whose closeness to the president is purchased. The president has doubled the membership fee of the resort since taking office, so is directly profiting from the sense that his companionship is for sale."

Michelle Goldberg: Donald Trump has made sexual abuse okay again. "Plagued by scandal, [Trump's new hire Bill] Shine resigned [from Fox "News"] in May 2017. A person with his record would be unemployable at most major companies.... But thanks to Trump, the American people are now paying his salary.... That may be why [Rep. Jim] Jordan believes he can brazen out his own sex scandal."

If the President* Says It, Odds Are It's a Lie. Salvador Rizzo & Meg Kelly of the Washington Post: "From a grand total of 98 factual statements [Donald Trump made at his July 5 rally in Montana]..., 76 percent were false, misleading or unsupported by evidence. Here's a breakdown: 45 false or mostly false statements, 25 misleading statements and four unsupported claims. We also counted 24 accurate or mostly accurate statements. False or mostly false statements alone accounted for 46 percent of all claims." The writers list their findings, lie by lie by misleading statement by "mostly accurate."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "Fox News lets President Trump lie on live television, for hours and hours."

Josh Dawsey, et al., of the Washington Post: "Rudolph W. Giuliani continues to work on behalf of foreign clients both personally and through his namesake security firm while serving as President Trump's personal attorney -- an arrangement experts say raises conflict of interest concerns and could run afoul of federal ethics laws. Giuliani said in recent interviews with The Washington Post that he is working with clients in Brazil and Colombia, among other countries, as well as delivering paid speeches for a controversial Iranian dissident group. He has never registered with the Justice Department on behalf of his overseas clients, asserting it is not necessary because he does not directly lobby the U.S. government and is not charging Trump for his services. His decision to continue representing foreign entities also departs from standard practice for presidential attorneys, who in the past have generally sought to sever any ties that could create conflicts with their client in the White House." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yeah, I know, you're shocked, shocked that a guy who just said Robert Mueller's probe was "the most corrupt investigation I have ever seen" turns out to be just a teensy bit unethical himself.

Juliet Eilperin & Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "... at least one vestige of [Scott] Pruitt's rocky tenure [as EPA administrator] will continue for the foreseeable future: some of the more than a dozen inquiries into his spending and management practices. While a few of them -- including the two informal reviews inside the White House -- might be shelved, others, such as a probe by a key House committee, are likely to continue.... Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), [chair of the House Oversight Committee...,] plans to proceed [with the panel's ongoing investigation].... Several experts said the independent Office of Special Counsel, which has interviewed half a dozen current and former EPA officials, is likely to continue examining charges that Pruitt and his aides retaliated against employees who questioned his management decisions." Mrs. McC: Which is at it should be.

Emily Tamkin of BuzzFeed: "In their Moscow meetings with members of Russia's parliament last week, an all-Republican delegation of US members of Congress met with at least two individuals currently sanctioned by the United States. In a meeting with the Duma, parliament's lower house, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama reportedly told Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, 'I'm not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth. I'm saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.' Volodin has been sanctioned since 2014 for Russia's 'illegitimate and unlawful' activities in Ukraine. In their meeting with the Federation Council, parliament's upper house, the group listened as Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Konstantin Kosachev complained about the latest round of sanctions against Russian individuals. Kosachev was sanctioned in April over alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and 'malign activity.' In addition to Shelby, the delegation consisted of Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, and Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, all of whom voted in favor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act in the summer of 2017 -- the legislation intended in part to make it more difficult for the president to lift sanctions on Russia." ...

... Russia Schmussia -- Stupiest Senator Speaks. Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call: "One of the Republican senators back from a trip to Moscow is suggesting that Congress went too far in punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 'I've been pretty upfront that the election interference -- as serious as that was, and unacceptable -- is not the greatest threat to our democracy,' Sen. Ron Johnson said in an interview with the Washington Examiner published over the weekend. 'We've blown it way out of proportion.' 'We need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively,' the Republican from Wisconsin said."

James McKinley Jr. of the New York Times: "A judge denied a request from prosecutors on Monday to place Harvey Weinstein under house arrest in light of new charges against the movie producer that carry a penalty of life in prison if he is convicted.Brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, Mr. Weinstein, 66, was released on bail after pleading not guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2006." ...

... Capitalism is Creepy, Ctd. Sage Lazzaro of Refinery29: "The employees of the popular clothing company Feminist Apparel thought they were creating tools for the resistance. The online store's viral shirts and accessories ... became staples at events like the Women's March and Pride.... It all came to a grinding halt in June of 2018 when Feminist Apparel staff discovered that the brand's founder and CEO Alan Martofel had an admitted history of sexually abusing women.... After asking for his resignation, all nine employees were fired without notice or severance. (Only Martfel [sic.] and an outside consultant remained.)"

Another Story from Trump's America. Deanna Paul of the Washington Post: A young mother in Los Angeles county attacked a 91-year-old Hispanic man -- Rodolfo Rodriguez -- with a brick & shouted, "Go back to your country." Rodriguez is a permanent resident of the U.S. "Minutes later..., a group of young men ... accus[ed] Rodriguez of trying to snatch the [woman's daughter]. They kicked Rodriguez, who was already crumpled on the ground, and stomped on his head.... Rodriguez, who was released from the hospital on Thursday, suffered two broken ribs and a broken cheekbone.... [A recently-released DOJ report on hate crimes in California], which was the first published since President Trump took office, evinced an uptick of more than 17 percent, with anti-Hispanic and anti-Latino crimes soaring over 50 percent last year, according to the Saramento Bee." The (alleged) attacker is black. (Don't know the races of the gang of men.)

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Glenn Greenwald Is Still a Loon. Jonathan Chait: "In his recent appearance at a panel on 'fake news' in Moscow, the Intercept's Glenn Greenwald ... [said] the notion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election came about as a desperate way for media elites to explain why their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, did not prevail.... Greenwald was very clear about his belief that the whole theory of Russian involvement was a postelection exercise in blame-shifting.... This also happens to be President Trump's theory of the case.... Problem:... The FBI began investigating Trump in the middle of 2016. Obviously, that couldn't have resulted from the shock of Trump's surprise victory because Trump's surprise victory had not occurred yet."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Richard Pérez-Peña of the New York Times: "The police scoured the area around Salisbury, England, for a container of a deadly chemical weapon on Monday, as high-ranking British officials suggested for the first time that Russia was probably responsible for a second set of nerve agent poisonings in the region. British officials have said that a couple who were sickened this month in the Salisbury area, one of whom died on Sunday, had been poisoned with the same powerful nerve agent used in March, a few miles away, against a former Russian spy and his daughter."

Heather Stewart of the Guardian: "Boris Johnson has resigned as foreign secretary, becoming the third minister in 24 hours to walk out of the government rather than back Theresa May's plans for a soft Brexit. The prime minister hammered out a compromise with her deeply divided cabinet in an all-day meeting at Chequers on Friday.... After the Chequers summit, it emerged that Johnson had referred to attempts to sell the prime minister's Brexit plan as 'polishing a turd'.... Johnson's departure will deepen the sense of crisis around May, and increase the chances that she could face a vote of no confidence." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Buh-Bye, Boris. New York Times Editors: "Britain's foreign secretary [Boris Johnson] and its chief Brexit negotiator [David Davis] caused quite a stir when they resigned within 24 hours because they considered Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit proposal too accommodating to Europe. But if her government weathers the resulting storm, their departures could help resolve the tortuous divorce negotiations with the European Union, which are approaching crucial deadlines.... During the Brexit referendum campaign [Johnson] notoriously spread the false claim that Britain would save more than 350 million pounds a week if it left the union.... It is doubtful that hard-line Brexiteers in Mrs. May's Conservative Party can muster the 48 votes that party rules require to force a vote of confidence, much less the votes needed to force her into a leadership contest (in which Mr. Johnson would be a potential candidate)." ...

... AND Boris Was More Than a Liar. Bob Brigham of the Raw Story: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie tweeted, "Boris oversaw the Vote Leave campaign, which has now admitted to being found guilty of criminal offences. This man was part of a campaign that cheated during the referendum...."

News Lede

AP: "All 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, the Thai navy SEALs said Tuesday, ending an 18-day ordeal that riveted people around the world. The SEALs said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely Tuesday. They said they were waiting for a medic and three SEALs who stayed with the boys in their dark refuge deep inside the cave complex to come out."

Reader Comments (11)

Ah, gee, who would have known Trump would pick the one that he thinks would save his sorry ass from getting his just desserts. When he put his widdle head on his extra soft pillow last night did he finally sleep without dreams of witches hunting him down in the deep, dark forests of his mind?

In 2005, Joe Biden described the S.C. potential justice confirmation process as a "Kabuki dance." Joe should know–-he helped put that Pin Point Georgian on the bench.

Matt Ford here gives us, as many others have today, a run down on Kavanaugh but with more detail on the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo, the influential figure who is credited for this appointee. Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch can trace their appointments to his influence. If Kavanaugh joins these three they could go on the road as the Supreme Quartet with their signature song, "Oh, Leo, Leo"... dedicated to the guy who made it all possible.


https://newrepublic.com/article/149717/watershed-moment-american-history-trump-nominates-brett-kavanaugh

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

OK, it's time to tell the truth again. Trump doesn't lie. In order to lie you have to know the truth. In the Trump brain, the truth is whatever comes out of the worlds perfect mouth. He is so wonderful, he never needs to check a fact. He has no problem expressing his delusion in front of the world.
Again, seriously, dangerously mentally ill while negotiating with NK
and determining the purpose of the female breast.

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Here is a pretty good run-down of the Brexit business if you are, like I was, a wee bit confused about the particulars. Add this to the NYT's piece and Raw Story and it looks like the Brits are as stuck in the mud as we are––except they don't have a head of state whose state of head is bonkers.
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/is-theresa-mays-government-in-peril-over-brexit

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Yes, this was a great pick for the Fed Society-- just think, he's had his fingers in everything: Clinton impeachment, Bush/Gore decision, worked with (urp) Ken Starr, ad nauseum. He's not just sympathetic to Confederate causes, he's worked WITH repugnants for years. AND he wanted a 17-year old immigrant to carry to term, come what may. Even Nina T was pretty much singing his praises on Morning Schmoe and NPR-- such a great reputation, such a great guy. (Not that I will ever forgive Joe and Mika for giving the Toad free airtime every morning for a year...) Yep, 5-4 for the rest of our lives. If not worse odds in the coming years--

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Worse Every Day

It seems that every few hours or so some new Trump perfidy pops up. What now? So we all know how much Trumpies hate immigrants. Split up families, put babies in cages, abusive treatment in custody, the whole schmear. But it gets better (or worse, if you're human).

Now if you're an immigrant who is also a victim of human traffickers, Trump will deport you almost right away, unless you can convince his agents, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of your situation. It used to be that these people were granted time to stay in this country to help authorities track down the traffickers. Now Trump says "Git, dirty immigrant!"

There has to be some spirit of justice in the universe, some sense of moral propriety that will crush these people at some point.

But now Trump has got himself a rubber stamp ready to go to the court who will say that not only can't a president* be prosecuted, he can't even be investigated.

The wheel turns round. I'll wait. In the meantime, more unnecessary suffering at the hands of an insufferable sadist.

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Ye Olde Ways

Trumpies and their Confederate allies are outraged, OUTRAGED, I tells ya, that their stalwart rat fucks are being confronted and shamed publicly. The idea that the perpetrators of Trumpian Acts against Humanity shouldn't be treated with deference, courtesy, and submission due their royal persons is terrible, just terrible. Being called out, getting the finger, being questioned (such a vile thing!) as to the nature of their work? Awful.

Well, I have a solution to all this makeshift, impromptu incivility. Seems to me that wingers are enamored of the concept of originalism in many things, but especially if used in any way that can short circuit legal arguments in their favor. A standard Scalia-esque ploy. But since they opened the ball on drawing on Revolutionary American customs and understandings, I have a suggestion. No more giving people like Stephen Miller the finger (prompting him--supposedly--to toss eighty bucks worth of sushi into the street--Jesus, who does that?), no more calling Steve Bannon a piece of trash, no more asking Liarbee to leave her half munched cheese plate and get out of Dodge with the other rats, and no more questioning the likes of Scotty Pruitt about how he's destroying the environment for money and pleasure.

Let's go back to that good old American Revolutionary custom of tarring and feathering. It's a great group activity, and wingers couldn't accuse their protesters of being un-American as it was an eminently American way of, for instance, showing appreciation for the efforts of the excise man. Plus, think of the great visuals. Fox interviewing Miller after he's been tarred and feathered would get millions of hits on YouTube shortly thereafter. Hell, I'd watch it 20 times straight through.

You guys bring the tar, I'll bring the feathers. Trump will supply the assholes. Boy, will he ever.

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

A Trump pardon for arsonists? For criminals who violate the law and try to foment violent uprisings? Hell, he can do better than that, surely. There must be some white supremacist murderers and rapists languishing in some prison who deserve Trumpish clemency and brand new, spanking clean white robes and freshly laundered hoods. Aren't there a few white collar con men in some cell "unfairly" convicted of fraud (c'mon...it was just a "little" fraud)? What about that kid who murdered all those people in that church a while back. Doesn't he deserve a pardon? After all, he didn't kill any white people.

The quality of Trump mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the acid rain from the blackened heavens upon Confederate crooks below. It blesseth him that takes, and him that takes everything he can lay his hands on.

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The little dictator is not looking forward to the meetings with American allies. Instead, he can't wait to meet his benefactor and boss, from an antagonistic foreign power. Trump says the meeting with Putin "will be the easiest meeting" all week.

No wonder. Vlad's promised to bring the K-Y.

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Akhilleus: KY. Isn't that what trump jr uses on his hair? Is that
why he's such a dickhead? (Can I say that?).

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Forrest,

I'm pretty sure that's an acceptable description of Junior. Pretty much all of them except maybe for Ivanka and Melanie.

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@BeaMcCrab: That job interview video is the funniest damn thing I've seen in a long time!

The sad thing is that these could be the kind of qualifications that the current White House looks for in hires these days!

July 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMAG
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