The Wires

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New York Times (September 22): In March the Department of Justice described criminal cases involving nearly $700 million lost [to fraud] in the previous year by about two million people. The ones hit hardest by this kind of fraud are over 70, and they experience an average loss of $41,800, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports.... Some of the newer tactics for defrauding older people focus on Social Security, grandparenting and employment searches." ~~~

~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I have received a number of calls recently warning me I was about to lose my Social Security card, an eventuality that is highly unlikely. I have always just hung up on these automated calls, but yesterday, I decided to bite. When the "real person" came on the phone, he identified himself as a Social Security officer, certainly breaking the law right there. "Really?" I said. "How are you going to prove you're a federal government official and not a scammer?" He immediately hung up. Maybe this gang of crooks will stop calling me (tho probably not).

New York Times: "Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have both won this year’s Booker Prize, it was announced at a ceremony on Monday, after the judges for the literary award rebelled against its rules. 'We were told quite firmly that the rules state you can only have one winner,' Peter Florence, the chairman of the Booker judges, said at a news conference. But the 'consensus was to flout the rules and divide this year’s prize to celebrate two winners.' Evaristo, who won for her novel 'Girl, Woman, Other,' is the first black woman to win the Booker Prize. 'I hope that honor doesn’t last too long,' she said in her acceptance speech. Atwood, who won in 2000 for 'The Blind Assassin,' was considered a front-runner this year for 'The Testaments,' the sequel to her 1985 dystopian classic, 'The Handmaid’s Tale.'”

We are amused:

The Hollywood Reporter has a list of this year's Emmy Award winners.

The End of the Amtrak Dining Car. Washington Post: "Amtrak says it is reinventing its dining service on long-distance trains, killing the traditional dining car to create more 'flexible' and 'contemporary' dining options. The carrier says the change, starting this fall on the one-night routes east of the Mississippi River, is driven by the desire to save money and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table. With the transition, Amtrak is doing away with the traditional onboard kitchen, switching to serving prepackaged meals and easing restrictions on the traditional serving times. The change allows the railroad to cut costs associated with cooking aboard and keeping up with the white-tablecloth service that was once known to rival high-end restaurants and clubs." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I realize many of you are too young to have experienced this, but once upon a time, traveling by train & plane was glamorous. People dressed up to travel, and those who had train roomettes dressed for dinner. My then-husband & I once had a roomette when we traveled from Juarez to Mexico City, & the experience was absolutely fabulous; so was the cuisine in the dining car. Now, it's sensible to dress in the most comfy clothes in anticipation of getting squished into a teeny "economy class" airline seat. The photos accompanying the WashPo story show people wearing casual dress in the white-tablecloth dining room, & the men are too gauche to remove their billed caps. P.S. to American tourists: nobody more messes up a photo of an historic site than a bunch of yahoo sightseers ambling around in their sloppy travel outfits. Then:

CNN: "The US Navy has finally acknowledged footage purported to show UFOs hurtling through the air. And while officials said they don't know what the objects are, they're not indulging any hints either. The objects seen in three clips of declassified military footage are "unidentified aerial phenomena," Navy spokesperson Joe Gradisher confirmed to CNN.The clips, released between December 2017 and March 2018 by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, appear to show fast-moving, oblong objects captured by advanced infrared sensors.In footage from 2004, sensors lock on a target as it flies before it accelerates out of the left side of the frame, too quickly for the sensors to relocate it. Two of the videos, both from 2015, contain audio from US fighter pilots attempting to make sense of what they're seeing."

New York Times: "A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled 'America' by its creator, Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen early Saturday [September 14] from an exhibit at Blenheim Palace, the Oxfordshire birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill.... The artwork is based on a common Kohler toilet and was created by a foundry in Florence. The work’s value was not disclosed, but [Guggenheim artistic director Nancy] Spector described it as 'millions of dollars’ worth of gold.'... The police said in a statement that they were investigating the burglary and that a 66-year-old man had been arrested but not charged. The toilet has not been recovered. Jess Milne, a detective inspector, noted that the toilet had been plumbed to the building, so the theft 'caused significant damage and flooding.' He said the police believed a 'group of offenders' using at least two vehicles was behind the theft." the Hill's story is here.

Modern Art. CNN: "Hillary Clinton's emails ... have become art -- and the former secretary of state herself went to take a look.The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee looked through printed copies of her emails and sat at a replica of the Oval Office's Resolute Desk during a visit Tuesday to an art exhibit in Venice, Italy, titled 'HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails,' according to the exhibit's creator and curators. 'Hillary Clinton spent an hour yesterday reading her emails at my exhibition of all 62,000 pages of them in Venice,' American poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith tweeted Wednesday. 'She is pictured here at a replica of the Oval Office Resolute Desk, stacked with her emails.' Francesco Urbano Ragazzi -- the collective name for two men who are working as the exhibit's curatorial team -- told CNN that Clinton came in for a private tour of the exhibit Tuesday morning."

... Related Washington Post story here.

     ... Thanks to NJC for the lead.


The Commentariat -- July 10, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Katie Rogers, et al., of the New York Times: "Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta on Wednesday publicly defended his role in overseeing the prosecution of Jeffrey E. Epstein for sex crimes committed in Florida over a decade ago, bucking a growing chorus of Democratic calls for his resignation." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Reporters & commentators on MSNBC -- including Julie Brown of the Miami Herald, Tom Winter of NBC News & former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance -- quickly dispensed with Acosta's arguments. Despite Acosta's excuse-making, I was struck as I watched (a good part of) the presser, how much better a speaker (in two languages! [tho he had to get help with a few Spanish words like "entrevista" (interview)]) how so much more intelligent he is than Trump.

David Sanger of the New York Times: "Ask members of the Washington diplomatic corps about the cables that Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador who resigned Wednesday, wrote to London describing the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump administration, and their response is uniform: We wrote the same stuff.... ... 'As one ambassador, who is still serving and therefore spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday, 'it could have been any of us.' With a few exceptions -- including the ambassadors from Israel and the United Arab Emirates, who have supported Mr. Trump's every move -- foreign diplomats in Washington these days describe living in something of a black hole.... The Trump administration has almost reveled in keeping foreign diplomats in the dark."

Acosta Is Making a Career of Protecting Child Sex Traffickers. Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Alexander Acosta, the US labor secretary under fire for having granted Jeffrey Epstein immunity from federal prosecution in 2008, after the billionaire was investigated for having run a child sex trafficking ring, is proposing 80% funding cuts for the government agency that combats child sex trafficking. Acosta's plan to slash funding of a critical federal agency in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children is contained in his financial plans for the Department of Labor for fiscal year 2020. In it, he proposes decimating the resources of a section of his own department known as the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB). The bureau's budget would fall from $68m last year to just $18.5m. The proposed reduction is so drastic that experts say it would effectively kill off many federal efforts to curb sex trafficking and put the lives of large numbers of children at risk.... [Rep. Katherine] Clark [D-Mass.] grilled Acosta about the proposed cuts in April, when he presented his departmental budget to the House appropriations subcommittee. On that occasion, she said, she found him 'rude, dismissive, challenging'."

Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times: "In a legal victory for President Trump, a federal appeals court panel on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging that profits earned by his Washington hotel while he is in office violate the Constitution. A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., found that the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia had no legal standing to sue Mr. Trump.... [Another] case, brought by Democrats in Congress, is continuing, although the administration is fighting that one as well." ...

... Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "Lawyers for more than 200 Democratic members of Congress have served subpoenas to President Trump's businesses as part of their lawsuit alleging Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause. The Democrats said in a press release that they have issued 37 judicial subpoenas to Trump's private businesses, including the Trump Organization, seeking information on payments from foreign governments. The announcement came just hours after the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a federal appeals court to block the lawsuit from advancing, following a district judge's ruling last month that the proceedings could move forward."


I have been reading the front section of a major newspaper nearly every day for more than half a century, and I cannot ever recall U.S. news being so constantly ridiculous and crazy. Donald Trump is running a massive shit show that may be unprecedented in world history, much less American history. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie, Witness to History

Sad Breaking News @7:04 am ET. Kyle Balluck of the Hill: "The British ambassador to the U.S. who called President Trump 'inept' in leaked cables will resign." Related stories linked below.

** Annie Karni & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "... speaking Tuesday to reporters in the Oval Office, the president distanced himself from [Jeffrey] Epstein, noting that he 'knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him.' But Mr. Trump added: 'I had a falling out with him. I haven't spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.'... Mr. Epstein was ... never a dues-paying member of the Mar-a-Lago club, according to an official at the Trump Organization. But as a guest of a guest, he was treated like a close friend by [Donald Trump].... Once when Mr. Trump visited Mr. Epstein at his Palm Beach home, [Roger] Stone wrote, he later seemed to joke about the scene of underage girls he witnessed there. 'The swimming pool was filled with beautiful young girls,' Mr. Trump later told a Mar-a-Lago member, according to Mr. Stone. '"How nice," I thought, "he let the neighborhood kids use his pool."'... And in Manhattan, they attended many of the same dinner parties.... [On another occasion, in what] was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago [in 1992]..., other than the two dozen or so women flown in to provide the entertainment, the only guests were Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.... Through a mutual appreciation of wealth, women and years of occupying adjacent real estate in Palm Beach and on Page Six, the lives of the two men routinely intersected for decades -- until the connection turned from a status symbol into a liability, and Mr. Trump made sure to publicize the fact that he had barred his onetime friend from his clubs."

Barr to Protect Trump from Epstein, After All. Chris Strohm of Bloomberg News: "Attorney General William Barr won't recuse himself from involvement in the new charges filed against Jeffrey Epstein by federal prosecutors in New York, according to a Justice Department official. Barr made the decision on Tuesday after consulting with career ethics officials at the department, said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter. Barr considered whether he would have to recuse himself from the case because Epstein previously hired lawyers from a law firm where Barr had worked. But Barr has recused himself from any retrospective review of the Justice Department's 2008 decision letting Epstein avoid prosecution on federal sex-trafficking offenses and the decades of prison time that he could have faced if convicted." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Chris Smith of Vanity Fair: "Trump's politicization of the DOJ is gaining new momentum and depth.... Yet as much as Trump seems to care about the citizenship question, he cares far more about protecting himself.... Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman under President Obama [says,] 'Now he's got an A.G. who will talk publicly about the Democrats 'spying' and spin the Mueller report to help the president.' One big question that flows from that is, What does it mean for the Southern District of New York's investigation into the Trump Organization?' And the SDNY's investigation into Trump's role in paying off Stormy Daniels. And the office's probe of Deutsche Bank, which loaned Trump more than $2 billion over the course of 20 years. And its attempts to track the $107 million raised by Trump's inaugural committee. 'The SDNY presents the greatest ongoing legal threat to Trump and his people,' says Mimi Rocah, a former chief of the office's organized crime unit...'The fear is that Trump doesn't even need to say it out loud anymore, because Barr is so protective of him,' Rocah says. 'It would be ridiculously naïve not to be concerned.'" --s

... Glenn Thrush & Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times: "Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta on Tuesday faced fresh calls to resign, and rising pressure from inside the Trump administration, over his role in brokering a lenient plea deal over sex crimes for the New York financier Jeffrey E. Epstein as a federal prosecutor in Miami more than a decade ago. Mr. Acosta, 50, said this week that the plea agreement, in which Mr Epstein served 13 months in jail after being accused of sexually abusing dozens of young women and girls, was the toughest deal available in a complex and difficult case.... Congress&'s top Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, called for his resignation, as did The Miami Herald, which uncovered the details of the plea deal.... Mr. Trump, in remarks while he met with the emir of Qatar, said on Tuesday that he felt 'badly' for Mr. Acosta and praised him as 'an excellent secretary of labor.'... But he said the White House would look into the matter 'very carefully.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: You may have noticed that once again, Trump feels "badly" for a man who victimized women (or allowed them to be victimized) but expresses no sympathy at all for the female victims, in this case young girls.

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta should resign over a 2008 plea deal involving financier Jeffrey Epstein and that if he doesn't, President Trump should fire him. 'I am calling on Secretary Acosta to resign,' Schumer said during a Senate floor speech. 'It is now impossible for anyone to have confidence in Secretary Acosta's ability to lead the Department of Labor....'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... MEANWHILE, at the Palace. Eliana Johnson & Burgess Everett of Politico: "... Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are moving quickly to back up beleaguered Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. But pressure is rising from other corners of the White House, with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney privately urging the president to dismiss him. Mulvaney told Trump on Monday that the continuing drip of damaging information surrounding the 2008 agreement Acosta struck to keep billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein from a heavy jail sentence would hurt the administration, according to two people familiar with the conversation. Mulvaney also may be seizing on an opportunity to try to depose a frequent antagonist who has frustrated some conservatives in the White House and business leaders on the outside." ...

... Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Tiffany Hsu of the New York Times: "Months ago, [Miami Herald investigative journalist Julie K. Brown] published a meticulously researched series of articles about a secret plea deal, engineered by a current member of President Trump's cabinet, that helped [Jeffrey] Epstein evade federal charges related to the women's accusations. Her work identified some 80 alleged victims and earned a slew of journalism prizes, including a George Polk Award in the category of Justice Reporting.... Geoffrey Berman, a federal prosecutor, said at a news conference that his team had been 'assisted by some excellent investigative journalism.'... She got to work in 2017, shortly after Mr. Trump nominated Alexander Acosta to be secretary of labor.... Ms. Brown discovered that, in 2007, Mr. Acosta led a team of federal lawyers who secretly negotiated a deal that granted the financier immunity from federal sex trafficking charges. In February, a federal judge ruled that prosecutors had violated federal law by keeping victims in the dark about the plea deal." ...

     ... Read the whole report. And here's a slobber-soaked spitball from me to Doucheowhiz for this petty dreck: "In April, the lawyer and social commentator Alan Dershowitz, who helped broker Mr. Epstein's plea deal, wrote a public letter to the administrators of the Pulitzer Prize urging them not to reward [Brown & her collaborator Emily Michot] what he called 'fake news and shoddy journalism.'"

Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that President Trump cannot block Twitter users from his official account, finding that the practice is discriminatory. The ruling upholds a lower court ruling that also found Trump cannot block the Twitter users.... The judges wrote 'that the First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.' The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University had brought forward the lawsuit on behalf of seven people who had been blocked by Trump on Twitter." (Also linked yesterday.)

Judge Furman Has Had Enough of DOJ's Crap. Michael Wines & Katie Benner of the New York Times: "A federal judge in New York on Tuesday rejected the Justice Department's request to switch its legal team midway through a case challenging the Trump administration's effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The sharply worded order, by United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman, may further hobble an already struggling battle by the administration to save the citizenship question.... On Sunday, the Justice Department said it was replacing the legal team defending the citizenship question. It offered no explanation for the change, which came in the middle of a prolonged clash over whether the administration's arguments for adding the question could be believed. But on Tuesday, as a new team of lawyers began to notify the court of its appearance in the case, Judge Furman barred the old lawyers from leaving until they met a legal requirement to satisfactorily explain their departure and show that it would not impede the case. He excepted only two lawyers on the team who had already left the department's civil division, which was overseeing the lawsuit.... The American Civil Liberties Union and other plaintiffs led by New York Attorney General Letitia James had asked the judge on Monday to block the Justice Department's reassignment of the case without providing a reason for the withdrawal." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Can hardly wait to see the fake explanation for leaving the fake case. ...

... Makini Brice & Sarah Lynch of Reuters: "Meanwhile on Tuesday, a U.S. House Democrat who oversees funding for the U.S. Census Bureau said he would not support money being spent to reprint forms if the Trump administration won court approval to include the citizenship question. 'Amending the form could potentially cost hundreds of millions of additional taxpayer dollars,' Representative José Serrano, who chairs the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement."

Rowena May, et al., of the Guardian: "Transatlantic tensions over the British ambassador's leaked criticisms of Donald Trump have grown into a diplomatic crisis after the US president attacked Sir Kim Darroch as 'a pompous fool' and his commerce secretary postponed planned trade talks with Liam Fox. A day after Trump said he would no longer deal with Darroch following the release of UK diplomatic memos calling him 'incompetent', 'inept' and 'insecure', he used his Twitter feed to attack the diplomat, who he described as 'wacky' and 'very stupid'. The president also volleyed a series of insults at Theresa May, calling her 'foolish' and saying her Brexit plan had been a disaster because she ignored his advice. The controversy escalated further as Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary and Conservative leadership candidate, responded by calling the president's language 'disrespectful and wrong'." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump keeps proving & re-proving that Darroch's assessment was spot on, as the British say. BTW, I heard on the teevee that Grumpy Trumpy disinvited Sir Kim from a White House dinner party Monday night but that the State Department is still working with the British ambassador.

... Rebecca Falconer of Axios: "The U.K.'s ambassador to the U.S. has the 'full support' of the prime minister, a spokesman said in a statement to news outlets. He made the comment after President Trump said he'd 'no longer deal' with ambassador Kim Darroch over leaked cables showing he criticized Trump." (Also linked yesterday.)

Daniel Dale of CNN: "... Donald Trump shared a fake quote from former Republican President Ronald Reagan on Twitter on Monday. Trump passed along a tweet from an obscure account that called itself 'The Reagan Battalion,' which appeared to be impersonating a well-known conservative account of the same name. The copycat account had fewer than 300 followers at the time Trump promoted it. Its tweet read: 'Dear weak Conservatives never forget that you are no match for "we the people," and our president.' Attached to the tweet was a photo of Trump and Reagan shaking hands -- with a supposed Reagan quote superimposed on top. 'For the life of me, and I'll never know how to explain it, when I met that young man, I felt like I was the one shaking hands with the president,' the supposed quote read. 'Cute! Trump wrote in his own tweet above the photo....While the photo is real, the supposed quote is fake. Ronald Reagan never said [that] of Trump.... The fake Reagan quote has been debunked by fact-checkers since 2016, when it began spreading in pro-Trump circles on Facebook." Twitter suspended the account after Trump promoted the fake quote. (Also linked yesterday.)

I have never met a young man with more potential than Donald Trump. He is destined for greatness. I am sure Her Majesty the Queen will come to admire him & summon him to Buckingham Palace for his wise counsel. -- Winston Churchill, 1963

France is destroyed, but the United States will prosper under a great Germanic leader called Drumpf 200 years hence. -- Napoleon, 1817

In the year 2020, the leader of a great American nation will erect a great wall around the mighty mass of the far-off promised land. He will close otheboarders on land and close all beaches to protect his great land. -- Nostradamus, 1559

Nicholas Fandos & Katie Benner of the New York Times: "The Justice Department is seeking to discourage Robert S. Mueller III's deputies from testifying before Congress, potentially jeopardizing an agreement for two of the former prosecutors to answer lawmakers' questions in private next week, according to two government officials familiar with the matter. The department told the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees last week that it was opposed to the testimony and had communicated its view to the two former members of Mr. Mueller's team, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III, according to a senior congressional official familia with the discussions. A Justice Department official confirmed that account and said that the department had instructed both men not to appear.... Both Mr. Zebley and Mr. Quarles have left the Justice Department and are now private citizens, meaning that the department most likely cannot actually block their testimony. But the department's view -- depending on how strongly it is expressed -- could have a chilling effect on two longtime employees and give them cover to avoid testifying."

Adam Goldman, et al., of the New York Times: Michael Horowitz, the DOJ's inspector general, "who is expected to release a much-anticipated report of his findings [on the Russia investigation] in the coming weeks, is believed to be weighing whether to recommend that the Justice Department tighten rules for any future counterintelligence investigations of a presidential campaign, which was a novel dilemma in 2016, according to people familiar with aspects of his investigation.... At the center of Mr. Horowitz's current investigation is [Christopher] Steele and how the F.B.I. used his reporting in its investigation of the Trump campaign.... The primary focus of the inspector general's inquiry is the role that Mr. Steele's information played in investigators' effort to obtain court permission to wiretap Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser." ...

     ... Natasha Bertrand of Politico: "Christopher Steele, the former British spy behind the infamous 'dossier' on ... Donald Trump's ties to Russia, was interviewed for 16 hours in June by the Justice Department's internal watchdog, according to two people familiar with the matter.... Steele was initially reluctant to speak with the American investigators because of the potential impropriety of his involvement in an internal DOJ probe as a foreign national and retired British intelligence agent.... The interview was contentious at first, the sources added, but investigators ultimately found Steele's testimony credible and even surprising. The takeaway has irked some U.S. officials interviewed as part of the probe -- they argue that it shouldn't have taken a foreign national to convince the inspector general that the FBI acted properly in 2016."

Pete Williams of NBC News: "Federal prosecutors have notified a judge that they no longer plan to put Michael Flynn on the stand when his former business partner goes on trial in Virginia next week -- not because they don't need his testimony but because they no longer believe he's telling the truth.... After saying for months that Flynn would testify, prosecutors notified [Federal District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan] July 3 of an abrupt change. They will not offer him as a witness and will instead argue that he was a co-conspirator, they said.... Sullivan, who will decide Flynn's sentence, ordered the government to explain how the change of heart by prosecutors will affect Sullivan's sentencing decision."

Natasha Bertrand: "The House Intelligence Committee came out swinging Tuesday night against Felix Sater, after a lengthy interview with the former business associate of ... Donald Trump. The closed-door appearance was expected to cap a protracted back-and-forth between Sater and the committee, which has rescheduled his testimony several times since he was first slated to appear in March. But in a rare statement after the interview, a committee spokesman accused Sater of being uncooperative and obstructing the panel's investigation by withholding documents and testimony in defiance of a subpoena. 'While we do not typically comment on closed interviews, given Mr. Sater's public comments that he has fully cooperated with the Committee and answered every question asked of him, we must correct the record,' spokesman Patrick Boland said. 'Mr. Sater has not fully cooperated with the Committee, and he will remain under subpoena until he does so.'"

Nicholas Fandos: "The House Judiciary Committee will vote [Thursday] to authorize a bevy of new subpoenas on the Trump administration's practices of separating families from their children at the border and on President Trump's possible obstruction of justice, summoning some of the biggest names to surface in Robert S. Mueller III's investigation.... Among the targets are Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general; Michael T. Flynn, the president's first national security adviser; John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff; Rod J. Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who appointed Mr. Mueller; Corey R. Lewandowski, Mr. Trump's former campaign manager, and David J. Pecker, who as the head of American Media took part in a hush money scheme.... The committee will also authorize subpoenas for Jared Kushner...." (Also linked yesterday.)

Another Sickening Report. Jacob Soboroff & Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "The poor treatment of migrant children at the hands of U.S. border agents in recent months extends beyond Texas to include allegations of sexual assault and retaliation for protests, according to dozens of accounts by children held in Arizona collected by government case managers and obtained by NBC News.... The reports from the Yuma CBP sector describe ... unsanitary and crowded conditions but go further by alleging abuse and other misconduct by CBP officers. President Trump has pushed back against reports of poor conditions for children, and Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of DHS, which oversees CBP, has said the reports are 'unsubstantiated.' In a statement about the Yuma allegations, a CBP spokesperson said, 'U.S. Customs and Border Protection treats those in our custody with dignity and respect and provides multiple avenues to report any allegations of misconduct. ... The allegations do not align with common practice at our facilities and will be fully investigated....'"

China Steps on World Stage. Juan Cole: "China is openly blaming the Trump administration for the breakdown of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to the official Xinhua News Agency.... The [Foreign Ministry] spokesman also rebuked Iran for tinkering around the edges with the terms of the nuclear deal.... Xinhua called Iran's decision to enrich uranium to 5% instead of the 3.5% cap set in the JCPOA a 'symbolic countermeasure.' This comment is correct. You can't do anything with uranium enriched to 5%. You only need to enrich to 3.5% for reactor fuel. You'd have to enrich to 95% to make a bomb.... So enriching to 5% is just a symbolic way of tweaking Trump.... The editorial concluded, 'To prevent the situation from spiralling out of control, fully and effectively implementing the Iran nuclear deal is the only realistic and effective way to ease the tensions and eventually solve the Iran nuclear issue.'" --s

Rupam Jain of Reuters: "The U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan wound up on Tuesday the seventh round of talks he has held with the Taliban in Qatar, after signs of progress in efforts to end the longest war the United States has ever fought. The U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, met Taliban officials briefly a day after a delegation of Afghan citizens and the militants agreed on a 'roadmap for peace', in particular a joint call to end civilian casualties in the 18-year war." (Also linked yesterday.)

Mrs. McCrabbie: Just yesterday we came across a report that Mitch McConnell had never copped to his slave-holding ancestors. Well, all has changed! And in such an evolved and honorable way:

I find myself once again in the same position as President [Barack] Obama. We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slave owners. -- Mitch McConnell, to reporters, Tuesday

Presidential Race 2020. Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer announced he will mount a bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president on Tuesday, an about-face after saying earlier this year he would not run." (Also linked yesterday.)

Paul Demko of Politico: "A panel of federal appeals judges aggressively questioned whether Obamacare can survive during Tuesday afternoon oral arguments in a case that could upend the 2010 health care law. Two Republican appointees on the three-judge panel frequently interrupted attorneys to question whether the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is unconstitutional and if not whether the entire law could stand without it. The ACA's future appeared murky after two hours of oral arguments at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but it's not clear if the judges were ready to uphold a federal judge's earlier decision invalidating the law.... Meanwhile, the judges seemed confused by the Trump administration's legal position. The Department of Justice supports the lower court ruling against the entire ACA, but at the same time it has argued that some provisions of the law -- which the DOJ hasn't specified -- should remain.... The lone Democratic appointee on the three-judge panel was silent throughout the hearing. The judges gave no indication on when they might rule on the case." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: My, my, these Repubican judges surely sound as if they want Democrats to win every federal election in 2020. ...

... Mass Murder, GOP-style. Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress: "An estimated 24,000 Americans will die every single year, who otherwise would have lived, if Obamacare is ultimately struck down.... [The Fifth Circuit's decision] could amount to one of the most significant mass killings in American history." Millhiser the nonsensical arguments the two Republican judges appeared more than ready to accept.

David Koenig of the AP: "H. Ross Perot, the colorful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice ran for president as a third-party candidate, has died. He was 89. Perot, whose 19% of the vote in 1992 stands among the best showings by an independent candidate in the past century, died early Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by his devoted family, family spokesman James Fuller said." (Also linked yesterday.)

Way Beyond the Beltway

Israel. Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 News in Axios: "Israel's newly appointed minister of education, Rafi Peretz, said at a cabinet meeting on July 1 that the rate of intermarriage among U.S. Jews is 'like a second Holocaust,' according to three people who were in the room.... Peretz, a former chief rabbi of the Israeli army, is the leader of a bloc of ultra right-wing religious parties. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was personally involved in forming this political bloc, which also includes the Jewish supremacist 'Jewish Power' party. If Netanyahu wins the upcoming elections, Peretz will likely stay on as education minister." (Also linked yesterday.)

Saudi Arabia. Stephanie Kirchgaessner of the Guardian: "Officials in Saudi Arabia privately complained about the kingdom's low ranking on an influential press freedom index, less than one year after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi murder squad. Campaigners at Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Saudis aired their dismay at a series of unprecedented meetings with government officials in Riyadh...The RSF meetings, which included exchanges..., were kept secret because RSF said it had hoped that Saudi Arabia might release the [30 currently jailed] journalists during Ramadan, but no such actions were taken." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Gee, I can think of some things the Saudis could do to improve their ranking, but none of them is lobbying the rankings organization.

News Ledes

New York Times: "In a memorable speech, [Megan Rapinoe, co-captain of the World Cup champions,] lauded her teammates, spoke of the politics of division and equal pay and let forth a profane tribute to New York City. 'This is my charge to everyone: We have to be better, we have to love more and hate less. Listen more and talk less. It is our responsibility to make this world a better place,' Rapinoe told the crowd. The ceremony came after the team rolled up Broadway, cheered by thousands and showered in confetti. The team, which defeated the Netherlands, 2-0, on Sunday in the World Cup final in Lyon, France, traversed the Canyon of Heroes, a stretch of Broadway from Battery Park to City Hall." Includes video.

New York Times: "Rip Torn, who made his reputation in the works of Tennessee Williams and played roles as diverse as Walt Whitman, Richard Nixon and Judas Iscariot before earning his greatest fame as a gruff, bullying producer on one of the most acclaimed television comedies of the 1990s -- but who remained dogged by his reputation as an out-of-control troublemaker -- died on Tuesday at his home in Lakeville, Conn. He was 88."

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It's becoming much more clear just how incredibly noxious the president*s behavior is becoming to the American polity. It's in fact a gyrating vicious circle of imposed pain and grievance where no one comes out a winner.

Not only is Trump shredding social protections for the poorest and most vulnerable, his inherent, lifelong grifter racket is being exposed, tearing holes in the once walled-off world of elite corruption schemes. Once quiet spaces for the corrupt elite to massage the system have been exposed at an accelerated pace. These same corrupt moneychangers have never been so powerful in politics, and aren't about to change their ways. That leaves the justice system to continue looking the other way, but now in the light of day.

These dual revelations are spurring the visceral anger of the downtrodden white man who needs someone to blame for his own real or perceived degrading social standing, toiling away in debt traps while their radio warns of their impending minority status. These aggrieved whites then simultaneously spit on the poor and disregard the rich's malfeasance out of envy and indoctrination of American worship of wealth.

That's where Trump's magisterial carnival barking comes in, wherein he, embodying the terminal toxins festering within us, uses the bitter pill of grievance to turn the easily gullible against the one political group who ostensibly wants to lend them a hand, if they could ever get their shit together.

His wake will leave reputations tarnished, sleazeballs jailed, innocent bystanders terminally ill, families shattered, and a lucky few more wealthy but with even bigger chips on their shoulders as the world around them grows hotter and darker...

And all for what? So one psychopath can stroke his stunted, deranged ego.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

What? What! Say what! I can only sputter my anger and frustration upon learning that Sir Kim Darroch is 'forced' to resign, why was this 'win' given to the idiot in the White House.
Why'd the British government cave? Is it the (maybe more to come) Prince Andrew/Epstein connection worrying the royals? So many fires to put out.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

While his remarks on not paying for reprinting census forms make all kinds of sense, what Rep. Serrano hasn't taken into account is the certainty that the absence of a forthright citizenship question on the 2020 census woud constitute a national (Republican) emergency....and as we've learned all that takes is the stroke of a Pretender pen.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Safari: Beautifully captured––and if I was of a more tepid nature I could say "I feel badly" about all this; I am, however, full of revenge and want nothing more than "off with his head" but not before Marie's "slobber-soaked spitballs" are thrown his way––glad I'd be, not feel BAD at all.

When Kamala did her carefully executed "busing thing" at Biden I thought, wow, she done some fancy foot work there. But there was something I sensed that made me wary of the sincerity of that nudge. Today came across a rather scathing piece on Kamala's time as A.G. and surprisingly Steve Munuchin figures in it––you do for me, I do for you––the old dance of rubbing backs.

This piece has been written by Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The British ambassador's resignation is, indeed, sad. Brian Williams had on a British diplomat last night and asked what he thought about this: The B.D. said, "The Ambassador was just expressing what we all think about Trump–-I don't know anyone who thinks differently."

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Here's a poem for PD Pepe:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You're going to prison,
And you're family is too.

(It's written for the Orange Menace, in case you were wondering)

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris

I suspect UK Ambassador Darroch suggested to the UK Foreign Office that he should resign. Without reference to the merits (but clearly he was just doing his job), once a receiving state (us) publicly states that the sending state's (UK) ambassador will not be heard, there is not much point in hanging around.

But if the incoming UK government has any sense, it will take a l-o-n-g time in proposing a successor. Maybe even, not until January 21 2021.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

I see that president grammar-guy is at it again, maintaining that he "feels badly" for child-rapist-accessory-after-the-fact Alexander Acosta, formerly a hack lawyer, currently a hack department head in the Trump Crime Family.

I feel the need to call upon Professor Kirk Douglas to comment on such horrible grammar (and advertising) in a scene from the wonderful "Letter to Three Wives".

The rant (written by the great Joe Mankiewicz--you may recall his superb dialogue from "All About Eve") begins about 3:00 minutes in, but watch the whole thing. At one point, the husband of a thoroughly obnoxious radio advertiser gets up to leave and says to Kirk Douglas' English professor "Well, 'temple fugit', right professor?" "Almost" says the professor. Hahahahaha...

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I think that it is generally understood that the job of foreign ambassador requires unique composure of utmost temperance and prudence; that one wear, metaphorically, waders and nose plugs while representing ones' country in the fetid mess of American politics. It is important to keep ones' personal opinions out of the public sphere if one is to be an effective representative. So, why is the British ambassador's resignation such an important news story? Because he messed up and let his guard down? That, and because Donny shitstorm took the opportunity to publicly punish him and humiliate his country, and produce a "low-hanging fruit" sucker punch that will guarantee another day on the NYT front page. A more controlled president might have let it slide or resolved the offense in private, but Spanky von Clownstick loves a fight, and so does the NYT.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeriscope

Even though Trump and Epstein, fellow sexual predators, used to hang out together, trading notes on young girls they’d like to attack, it’s a stretch to call them friends. I don’t believe Trump has friends, at least in the way most well adjusted people understand the concept. Trump has people who have varying levels of usefulness to him personally.

After everything Roy Cohn did for the up and coming cheat and crook Donald Trump, Trump left him to die alone. Cohn had served his purpose, was no longer useful, and had become a liability (Cool swinger Donnie couldn’t be connected with an icky gay man dying of AIDS, now could he?). So he dumped him.

Sounds like something similar with Epstein. He was good ol’ Jeffrey, a “fun guy”, until his child raping became more well known. Then their joint activities could have exposed Trump’s own proclivities for sexual assault so that connection had to be severed. This doesn’t mean Trump all of a sudden developed an ethical streak and became outraged by Epstein’s actions, it was simply that it was no longer useful for him to be connected to the guy.

Friendship and loyalty only flow one way in Trump’s world.

Trump is nothing if not a purely transactional character.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Thanks for the clip. Here's a funny part of Wikipedia's entry for the film: "[John] Klempner's novel was A Letter to Five Wives. Two wives were lost in the transition to the screen. At one point, the film was called A Letter to Four Wives. When submitting the adapted screenplay to 20th Century-Fox chief Darryl F. Zanuck, Joseph L. Mankiewicz mentioned that he found it too long and asked how Zanuck felt about shortening the movie. 'Take out one of the wives,' Zanuck replied. Originally, the movie would have featured Anne Baxter as Martha. Zanuck did not feel Baxter's segment was as strong as the other three, so it was cut."

Zanuck had a great, Trumpian idea. "Four Degrees of Separation" would have made us all feel a lot more important. And "8 1/2" would have been more honestly-titled had Fellini called it "6 1/2" ("Sei e Mezzo").

Must be off to the grocery store. Temple fugit!

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


What an idea (subtracting two of whatever)! And if adopted by the authors of movies and books would have proven interesting (and sometimes pretty weird).

"Minus One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"? (More math and less Nurse Ratched.)

"Slaughterhouse Three"?

"The One Musketeer"? (Which one?)

Shakespeare's "Tenth Night"?

Sherlock Holmes' tale would then become "The Sign of Two" which would have shortened the story considerably.


Movies: "One Man and a Baby"? "The Thirty Seven Steps"? "The Five Year Itch"?

Better yet! The two year presidential term. Done!

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Story in Washington Post: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted: “Kim Darroch did an outstanding job as Ambassador and sorry to see he has resigned his post. He got a raw deal from press.”

Bullsh*t! You brown-nosed snot, not from the press...but, that cry baby in the White House whose insults to others disgraces the office he holds.

...and, why hasn't the 'leaker' been exposed?

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

@MAG: Although it certainly doesn't help U.S.-U.K. relations, I'm not sorry the Darroch memos leaked. The problem is, of course, that it doesn't do any good. Trump did not suddenly discover that diplomats from around the world think he's a blustering doofus; he thought one diplomat insulted him and should be punished for his uniquely bad behavior. We know Trump spends a lot of time looking in the mirror because he reportedly spends an hour a day just on fixing up his weird hair, but whatever it is he thinks he sees in his reflection, there's no there there. If there's a grotesque picture of Dorian Trump hidden away in a dark attic room, there's also an empty canvas. He's one of those men who manages to be both a bloated bastard & an empty suit. Quite a trick.

As for Lindsey, he's a chameleon, with no disrespect meant to lizards. He seems to think "relevance" means going along with the the momentary power than is. It will be interesting to see who Lindsey latches onto once Trump is gone.

July 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Bea McCrab: My dismay is not over what Darroch said, but how the weird-haired one has now managed to turn this into a win for his deplorable followers. I see Charlie Pierce has a piece on this over on Esquire.

See his "Whoever Sunk the British Ambassador Has Grander Designs. We can expect more of this. Obviously."

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Good News?

And on the emoluments case, I'm wondering who does have standing.

Did the court that dismissed the case provide a list? Is there a generic listing for the various kinds of cases that could be brought to court, or is it always a matter of the plaintiff being in the dark until a court, voila!, decides?

Some guidance would be helpful, wouldn't it? If we had such, there wouldn't be so many swings and misses.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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