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.

Wednesday
Jul102019

The Commentariat -- July 11, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Ha Ha. Trump just caved on the citizenship question while pretending he wasn't caving on the citizenship question. I'll get a report up when one becomes available. Then Bill Toady Barr got up & congratulated Trump twice on caving while pretending not to cave. -- Mrs. McCrabbie ...

... Surrender! Katie Rogers & Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "President Trump on Thursday abandoned his battle to place a question about citizenship on the 2020 census, and instructed the government to compile citizenship data from existing federal records, a significant retreat in the president's wider crackdown on undocumented immigration. Mr. Trump announced in the Rose Garden that he was giving up on the census question two weeks after the Supreme Court rebuked the Trump administration over its effort to modify the census. Just last week, Mr. Trump insisted that he 'must' pursue that goal. He instead said he was issuing an executive order instructing federal departments and agencies to provide the Census Bureau with citizenship data immediately.... Mr. Trump's climb down came just days after his attorney general, William P. Barr, said that the court's ruling was 'wrong' and that the citizenship question could still appear on the census, whose mass printing must begin soon." (This is an update of a story linked below.)

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: Jeffrey "Epstein asked the court to release him on substantial bond and pledged to put up his palatial Manhattan townhouse and his private jet as collateral. He also proposed he be allowed to remain under house arrest in his Upper East Side house, and said he would agree to electronic monitoring of his location. He said he would surrender his passport and ground his jet.In addition, his lawyers proposed that Mr. Epstein would hire private round-the-clock security guards who would 'virtually guarantee' that he would not flee his house and would show up for court.... Judge [Richard] Berman of Federal District Court in Manhattan is scheduled to take up Mr. Epstein's bail proposal at a hearing on Monday."

Morgan Chalfont & Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Thursday to authorize subpoenas for documents and testimony from a dozen current and former Trump administration officials and associates related to the panel's investigation into alleged obstruction of justice by President Trump. The committee also voted to authorize subpoenas for documents and testimony related to the Trump administration's immigration policies, amid massive outrage by Democrats over conditions in detention facilities at the southern border. The committee approved the resolution authorizing the slew of subpoenas in a 21-12 vote after a contentious markup Thursday, during which Republicans and Democrats sparred over the setup of former special counsel Robert Mueller's impending testimony and the immigration crisis."

Jordan Fabian & Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Thursday plans to announce an executive action related to the census, according to a White House official. The action is expected to address the citizenship question that the Supreme Court recently blocked the administration from adding to the 2020 census. Trump tweeted that he will hold a news conference in the afternoon 'on the Census and Citizenship.'... White House officials declined to discuss the content of the executive action, but said it may not be a full-blown executive order." ...

     ... Update: The New York Times story, by Katie Rogers & Adam Liptak, is here. ...

... Katelyn Polantz of CNN: "A second federal judge won't let Justice Department lawyers swap out in the renewed census fight, in yet another blow to the Trump administration over the citizenship question fight. The 'court cannot fathom how it would be possible, at this juncture, for a wholesale change in Defendants' representation not to have some impact on the orderly resolution of these proceedings,' Judge George Hazel wrote Wednesday."

Trump Had Another Morning Twittertantrum. Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday laid into congressional Democrats over their investigations into his administration and 2016 campaign.... The tweets, which came as part of a larger spree of almost two dozen tweets over the course of the morning, came moments before the House Judiciary Committee gathered to vote on authorizing subpoenas to 12 witnesses in the Mueller investigation."

Barbara McQuade in New York: "From a legal perspective, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta's explanation of what occurred in the 2007 criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein was woefully inadequate.... First, he suggested that state prosecutors were to blame for his actions.... But ... Acosta was not bound by any decisions made by the state prosecutor.... Second, Acosta failed to adequately explain why the agreement was kept a secret from the victims.... Third, Acosta did not give a satisfactory explanation for a provision in the agreement that federal prosecutors would not charge Epstein's co-conspirators."

~~~~~~~~~~

Caitlin Dickerson & Zolan Kanno-Youngs of the New York Times: "Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials, moving forward with a rapidly changing operation, the final details of which remain in flux. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly because of resistance among officials at his own immigration agency. The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over multiple days, will include 'collateral' deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids."

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." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... 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 (most 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. ...

... Brett Samuels of the Hill: "A former state's attorney in Palm Beach County, Fla., pushed back on Wednesday against Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta's portrayal of events surrounding a favorable deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein more than a decade ago. Barry Krischer, the Palm Beach County state's attorney at the time of the investigation, called Acosta's account, which alleged Krischer was prepared to let Epstein walk without serving jail time until Acosta's office stepped in, 'completely wrong.' Acosta 'should not be allowed to rewrite history,' Krischer said in a statement.... 'If Mr. Acosta was truly concerned with the State's case and felt he had to rescue the matter, he would have moved forward with the 53-page indictment that his own office drafted,' Krischer said.... But Palm Beach police who worked the case at the time told The Miami Herald as part of an investigation published in November that they felt pressured by Krischer to downgrade Epstein's case to a misdemeanor or to drop it entirely." ...

... Matt Ford of the New Republic: Alexander Acosta "gave an astonishingly Trumpian performance: admit no error, shift responsibility, and blame the media. It was an inexplicable choice as well as an ironic one, since it may not be enough to save him from the president's mercurial whims.... Acosta found no shortage of suspects. He readily pointed the finger at Florida prosecutors and law-enforcement officials.... He suggested that a jury weighing the case, prior to the rise of the #MeToo movement, might have reached the wrong conclusion.... At one point, he even seemed to place the onus on the victims themselves. A reporter asked Acosta whether he had a message for the women affected by Epstein's alleged crimes. 'The message is you need to come forward,' he replied.... [But women did come forward.] It's that Acosta didn't hear them." Mrs. McC: He also blamed the victims by saying he decided not to bring a case to trial because the young victims might not be good enough witnesses. As Barbara McQuade pointed out, this was a ridiculous argument inasmuch as prosecutors had irrefutable proof of a "backup" crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail: pornographic photos of children seized from Epstein. ...

... Jan Ranson of the New York Times (July 9): "... the new indictment [of Jeffrey Epstein] has also unexpectedly renewed scrutiny of ... the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. During a hearing in 2011, a seasoned sex-crimes prosecutor from Mr. Vance's office argued forcefully in court that Mr. Epstein, who had been convicted in Florida of soliciting an underage prostitute, should not be registered as a top-level sex offender in New York.... The prosecutor, Jennifer Gaffney, asked a judge to reduce Mr. Epstein's sex-offender status to the lowest possible classification, which would have limited the personal information available to the public, and would have kept him from being listed on a registry of sex offenders for life. Justice Ruth Pickholz vehemently denied the request and expressed incredulity that the district attorney's office would argue in support of a man accused of sexually molesting dozens of teenage girls in Florida.... Mr. Vance has said the request was a mistake and had been made by Ms. Gaffney without his knowledge."

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." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

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'." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Trolls' New Meeting House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Kevin Roose of the New York Times: "On Thursday, President Trump is assembling a group of his most ardent online supporters for a White House 'social media summit.' The guest list has not been publicly released, but a motley grab bag of pro-Trump influencers have taken to Twitter to brag about their invitations, including James O'Keefe, the right-wing founder of Project Veritas; Bill Mitchell, a pro-Trump activist who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory; and a pseudonymous Twitter user, 'CarpeDonktum,' who is perhaps best known for creating a doctored video of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. that Mr. Trump retweeted.... Ben Garrison, a pro-Trump cartoonist, was originally scheduled to attend, but the White House rescinded his invitation this week, according to Politico, after critics accused him of drawing an anti-Semitic cartoon.... It ... has the makings of a West Wing pity party.... Twitter and Facebook were not invited to the White House to defend themselves, two people familiar with the companies' plans said."

Thomas Wright in the Atlantic: Despite the fact that "Theresa May did everything she could to accommodate Donald Trump..., Trump actively undermined May on at least a dozen occasions.... The president's casual cruelty toward friends and the failure of [Ambassador Kim] Darroch's many friends inside the Trump administration to say anything publicly on his behalf speak volumes about how much value the Trump administration places on alliances. Darroch's crime was to state the obvious: that the Trump administration is inept and dysfunctional.... The administration's brazen hypocrisy on what is expected of ambassadors is unsurprising but still shocking. Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, has been scathing in his criticism of Brussels.... Boris Johnson may believe that he gets on with Trump, but when he is in power, he will find that his personal rapport buys him nothing of substance. He needs leverage. He needs to be transactional. He is dealing with a man without honor." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: (Without evidence) I blame Boris for the leaks of Darroch's remarks, even if those aren't his actual fingerprints on the keyboard. Besides, "stating the obvious" to a man who can't see the nose in front of his face doesn't work.

Sarah Burris of the Raw Story: "Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold broke the news Tuesday that a Miami-area strip club will allow golfers to pay to buy a dancer to serve as a 'caddy girl' while they golf [at Donald Trump's Doral Country Club]. The 'Shadow All Star Tournament' is hosted by a club called Shadow Cabaret in Hialeah, an area northwest of downtown Miami. 'The Trump name and family crest are displayed prominently in the strip club's advertising materials, which offer golfers the "caddy girl of your choice,"' Fahrenthold observed. Emanuele Mancuso, Shadow Cabaret's marketing director..., [said] that there would not be any nudity at the resort and caddies will be wearing pink miniskirts and a 'sexy white polo.' The group will then return to the cabaret for a 'very tasteful' burlesque show that 'could' include nudity, however. 'They're going to be clothed the whole time' at the golf course, Mancuso told Fahrenthold. 'At the venue is different.'" The Washington Post story is here. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is not fake news or crude satire. This is real. This is how far down we've come as a nation. This is how our President* earns his living, the same President* who said yesterday he felt "badly" that Alex Acosta was getting hosed for letting international sex predator & trafficker & alleged rapist Jeffrey Epstein off the hook, the same President* who has been credibly accused of rape. However, late Tuesday, after reaction to Fahrenthold's story, "the Trump Organization issued a statement saying the event would no longer take place because a children's charity that was to benefit from it had pulled out." If only that children's charity hadn't decided "sex and children don't jibe."

Carol Davenport of the New York Times: "A State Department intelligence analyst has resigned in protest after the White House blocked his discussion of climate science in Congressional testimony, according to a person familiar with the matter. Rod Schoonover, an analyst with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, testified last month before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the effects of climate change on national security. But, in a highly unusual move, the White House refused to approve Dr. Schoonover's written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional record. The reasoning, according to a June 4 email reviewed by The New York Times, was that the science cited in Dr. Schoonover's testimony did not correspond with White House views. Ultimately, Dr. Schoonover did deliver the oral testimony before the committee, but his accompanying written statement was not included in the official record of the hearing."

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker on how Mike Pompeo has set up what he calls a "Commission on Unalienable Rights," which aims to establish a hierarchy of human rights with Christian "religious freedom" at the top. "In the interpretation promoted by Pompeo, however, women's rights or L.G.B.T. rights are somehow additional to basic human rights -- ad-hoc rights, alienable rights.... Most of the commissioners appear to believe that embryos are human. Many of them also appear to subscribe to the Trump Administration's general position that trans people do not exist. A troubling word in Pompeo's speech was 'citizen.' Did the Secretary of State mean that only the rights of citizens are inalienable?"

Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "The White House is withdrawing a controversial proposal to change how drugs are paid for, a spokesman said Thursday. The administration is scrapping a rule that would have banned 'rebates,' essentially discounts that drug companies give to negotiators known as pharmacy benefit managers. This proposal was one of the few drug pricing moves that the pharmaceutical industry actually supported, so its withdrawal is a loss for drug companies and a big win for pharmacy benefit managers and insurance companies, who had strongly opposed losing out on the discounts they get from drug companies.... The death of the proposal is also bad news for drug companies in that it is a sign that other Trump administration efforts could move forward instead, some of which are fiercely opposed by drug companies. Most prominently, the administration has proposed tying some Medicare drug prices to lower prices in other countries, a proposal currently under review at the White House."

Jed Shugerman, in the Daily Beast, excoriates Robert Mueller: "Robert Mueller made a significant legal error and, based on the facts he found, he should have identified Trump campaign felonies. Mueller's errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia; second, he failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates for felony campaign coordination (see in a concise timeline below); third, the 10 acts of felony obstruction in Volume II fell flat among the general public because it lacked compelling context of these underlying crimes between the campaign and Russia. On top of these errors, the former special counsel said he deliberately wrote the report to be unclear because it would be unfair to make clear criminal accusations against a president. The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts, or even the basics of writing right. When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: After watching how Washington works for decades, I have come to the conclusion that "polite" Washington elites never throw the book at wrongdoers, even wrongdoers of the "other" party. They will nip around the edges, but they won't go in for the kill. Rod Rosenstein, through experience, counted on Mueller to be of the proper nippers, and Mueller did not let him down. Mueller's high-class reticence then allowed Rosenstein & Barr to further dilute the findings against Trump & his campaign with Farrow & Ball's Penetrating Whitewash No. 2.

Lolita Baldor of the AP: "A senior military officer has accused the Air Force general tapped to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of sexual misconduct, potentially jeopardizing his nomination. Members of Congress have raised questions about the allegations and the military investigation that found insufficient evidence to charge him. The officer told The Associated Press that Gen. John Hyten subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances by kissing, hugging and rubbing up against her in 2017 while she was one of his aides. She said that he tried to derail her military career after she rebuffed him. The Air Force investigated the woman's allegations, which she reported days after Hyten's nomination was announced in April, and found there was insufficient evidence to charge the general or recommend any administrative punishment."

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." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... 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." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Rebecca Falconer of Axios: "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of 'singling out' newly elected women of color in Congress, in an interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday." ...

... Heather Caygle & Sarah Ferris of Politico: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi chided progressives in a closed-door meeting Wednesday, calling on them to address their intraparty grievances privately rather than blasting their centrist colleagues on Twitter. Pelosi's comments, which were described as stern, came during the first full caucus meeting since a major blowup over emergency border funding last month between progressive and moderate lawmakers as well as a recent spat with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her freshman allies. 'So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it,' Pelosi told Democrats, according to a source in the room. 'But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK.'"

Presidential Race 2020. Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate: For the whopping $100 million Tom Steyer plans to spend on his vanity presidential run, he could restore an awful lot of Florida's ex-felon's voting rights.

"The Thomas Effect." Emma Green of the Atlantic: Justice Clarence "Thomas's vast network, more than that of any other justice, has defined ... Donald Trump's administration and the federal judiciary Trump has built.... He has had more of his former clerks nominated to federal judgeships under Trump than any other justice, past or present.... Even clerks who aren't in formal positions of public service have gained prominence under Trump.... As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern noted as early as mid-2017, when the pattern was still nascent, 'Everywhere you turn in Trumpland, you'll find a slew of Thomas' former clerks in high places.'... Several former clerks told me Thomas goes out of his way to stay in touch with his clerks and cultivate their careers...."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. "Tucker Carlson Has Failed to Assimilate." Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic: "Carlson ... keeps fueling xenophobia and needless social strife by singling out people who weren't born in America for special ire, then attributing negative qualities to whole groups. He just can't get with the program of the American experiment. A case in point was his monologue last night about Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born woman who came to the U.S. as a 12-year-old refugee and is now, at 36, a member of Congress.... Carlson suggested that because Omar came here as a child, she doesn't have the right to voice critical opinions about America -- that her gratitude for citizenship should result in silence.... The notion that Omar alone proves anything about America's immigration system, for better or worse, is absurd.... As a natural-born American like Carlson, I hope no one groups us together and makes assumptions about me based on his views." ...

... Tucker's Pathetic Racism. Eric Levitz of New York: "For his incendiary criticisms of the United States, Tucker Carlson has hailed Donald Trump as a teller of hard truths. For her critiques of American racism, the Fox News host just called [Rep. Ilhan] Omar [D-Min.] 'living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country.'... Here is a (likely incomplete) list of unsubstantiated -- or blatantly false -- assertions in Tucker's screed [against Omar.]"

Beyond the Beltway

Mississippi. Karen Zraick of the New York Times: "Robert Foster, a Republican state representative in Mississippi who is running for governor, blocked a female reporter from shadowing him on a campaign trip 'to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise' his marriage. The reporter, Larrison Campbell of the news site Mississippi Today, wrote in an article published on Tuesday night that Mr. Foster's campaign manager, Colton Robison, had told her that a male colleague would need to accompany her for a 'ride-along' on a 15-hour campaign trip around the state.... In blocking the reporter, Mr. Foster, 36, invoked the 'Billy Graham rule,' which refers to the Christian evangelist's refusal to spend time alone with any woman who was not his wife.... [Ms. Campbell] has interviewed Mr. Foster numerous times and broke the story of his candidacy. Mr. Robison would also have been present during the trip. But the campaign would not budge, she wrote."

Puerto Rico. Sophie Weiner of Splinter: "Today, the FBI arrested two former senior officials who served with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, along with four other suspects in a corruption scandal, according to the Washington Post. The scandal has led to calls for Rosselló's resignation. The indictment of Rosselló's former officials alleges that the government misdirected $15.5 million in federal funds to politically-connected contractors between 2017 and 2019. Though the indictment doesn't mention Rosselló, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona congressman who chairs the Natural Resource Committee that oversees Puerto Rico, has called for his resignation.... The scandal is particularly dangerous for the island considering President Trump's frequent threats to cut off federal funding.... San Juan Mayor Yulin Cruz said poor Puerto Ricans will be the real victims of this scandal." The Washington Post story is here.

Way Beyond

BBC News: "Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker near the Gulf - before being driven off by a Royal Navy ship, the Ministry of Defence has said. HMS Montrose, a British frigate shadowing the tanker British Heritage, was forced to move between the three boats and the tanker, a spokesman said. He described the Iranians' actions as 'contrary to international law'."

News Ledes

Weather Channel: "A disturbance in the northern Gulf of Mexico has been named Potential Tropical Cyclone Two by the National Hurricane Center and is forecast to become Tropical Storm Barry and possibly Hurricane Barry as it lashes the northern Gulf Coast into this weekend. This system will bring a threat of significant rainfall flooding, storm-surge flooding and high winds to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.... Hurricane watches are now in effect in southern Louisiana from the mouth of the Mississippi River westward to Cameron, Louisiana. This means hurricane conditions are possible in the area within the next 48 hours. Tropical storm watches have been issued in southeastern Louisiana from the mouth of the Mississippi River northward to the mouth of the Pearl River at the border with Mississippi.... Storm-surge watches have also been issued for parts of the southeastern and south-central Louisiana coast from the mouth of the Pearl River westward to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. It does not include Lake Pontchartrain. A watch means life-threatening inundation is possible within the area, generally within 48 hours." ...

... The front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune has links to numerous related stories. ...

... Axios has more on the flooding threat the storm presents as levees may be breached.

Reader Comments (7)

David Fahrenthold in WaPo writes that the Trump Organization has canceled its strip club sponsored golf tournament after the organization named as the beneficiary dropped out.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

William Dodd, our ambassador to Germany during the forties, wrote scathingly about what he was seeing at the beginning of Hitler's reign. U.S State officials ignored it. As things got worse Dodd gave a speech in Germany speaking to the growing tensions due to Nazi infiltrations. This speech was hailed by many of the German people but not by the American State dept. who said Dodd had over-stepped; you don't criticize your host country.

Two days after the speech Hitler announced Germany had withdrawn from the League of Nations and from a major disarmament conference in Geneva. By the time Dodd was taken seriously it was too late. When the secret police were knocking on doors pulling out all the Jews within, a constant fear of arrest, besides Jews, permeated the atmosphere. (Starting this Sunday ICE will be doing some knocking on doors).

I watched a goodly portion of the hearing on immigration yesterday. It was riveting. Testament of a young mother who lost her baby to sheer neglect––her tears, her heartfelt despair moved everyone except maybe Jim Jordan––hard to tell with this guy. The people on the panel spelled out graphically the horrific situation in these facilities. We'll see what changes will take place if indeed changes will take place. But I am encouraged that the testimonies here will move Congress to get on the ball and start proceedings to change this system.

Amanpour aired an old interview (last Feb) with the elegant, smart Roger Cohen of the NYT. He mentioned the Munich summit where Pence gave a speech touting Trump in almost every other sentence and when finished no one clapped––and then two people who had been sitting in the front row rose slowly and put their hands together. Those two were none other than Ivanka and Jared––our two Zeligs who pop up wherever and however they can manage.

Roger thinks––and this was last February ––that our allies have jumped ship, no longer trust or rely on us and that this is catastrophic. Looks as though Cohen was, as they said back in the day–– "Roger! all systems go."

And a wee word about Acosta: I agree with Marie––he speaks well––and presents like a well oiled machine––you can almost smell the fumes. I'm betting on his demise.

Caddy girls? Talk about a hole in one––good grief!!!!!!!

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Wall Street banks are bailing on troubled U.S. the U.S. Farm sector. If you read this be prepared to scream like Jeanne ––the madness of this is sickening.
https://www.fidelity.com/news/article/top-news/201907110615RTRSNEWSCOMBINED_KCN1U618F-OUSBS_1

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Not even sure where to begin with this one (something I find myself saying pretty much every day now...).

The President of the United States, through one of his many businesses which he still runs at a profit to himself personally, contra the United States Constitution (which trumpified right-wing judges have decided IOKIYAR), books a strip club into one of his golf courses for some amorphous "fundraiser"--the beneficiary of which was apparently completely unaware of the sponsor.

This, hard on the heels of international outrage at the way one of his cabinet secretaries had handled a rape and prostitution charge against one of his former pals.

Let's see. Who thought this was a good idea? "Mr. President. Your old pal Jeffrey Epstein was just arrested for sex crimes. What should we do?" "Well, how 'bout we book a strip club into one of our courses in Florida. Better yet, let's allow participants to "claim" the stripper of their choice during the tournament! Yeah, I like that idea."

This is more/worse than tone deafness, although it is that. First, even if he didn't personally do the booking--Uday or Qusay probably okayed that; they're supposed to be "in charge"--and either of those knuckleheads or someone at the club had to be aware of what was going on in the world beyond the 18th hole. Even if it was booked last December, someone should have said "Hey, this doesn't look good at all. Let's nix this stripper thing." But no one did.

Why? Probably because Trump will do anything for money. If there was a contest to see who could shoot closest to Muslim babies tied to a tree without killing them, and there was enough money behind it, Trump would be all for it. But also because his employees know him well enough to realize that he'd be perfectly fine with auctioning off strippers at a golf tournament.

This gets to what one can only assume to be his sense of perfect invulnerability. He does whatever he wants. If he doesn't get his way, temper tantrums galore.

But so far, the worst stuff he's done wins him drooling applause from his bots and from Fox and all the other running dog, boot licking lackeys on the right.

Put immigrant babies in cages, don't feed them or let them clean up, torture them, in fact.

"Yay!!" shout the MAGA assholes.

Threaten war with Iran "WEEEEe!!! We're gonna bomb some mooslims!" they scream.

The stupidest, most illegal, reprehensible, repulsive things you can come up with, he does them and he gets nothing but uproarious approval from the wingers.

No wonder he acts like a king. In his mind, he is one. So who cares if he books strippers on the heels of his old pal Jeffrey's arrest for sex crimes?

This is worse than upside down world. This is close to the apex of amorality. But it is also authoritarianism writ large.

Nancy Pelosi, can you see the writing? Or would you rather continue to lecture your own than take on this sleazy criminal?

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: The POTUS* books strippers-for-hire at one of his clubs, & it was such a nothing story that I heard nothing about it all day long yesterday, even tho I had the teevee tuned to MSNBC & CNN most of the day. And of course most of the coverage was about another mass sexual abuse matter out of Miami featuring one of the POTUS*'s Cabinet members -- whose office, BTW, is in charge of sex trafficking, a function he plans to cut by 80% -- with everybody speculating whether or not said Cabinet secretary could defend himself adequately enough to satisfy the guy who whose club was running the stripper show down in Miami. One of the "good reasons" the Cabinet secretary didn't press on: way back in 2007, people weren't all that concerned about sexually abusing children. Really?

The news is so absurd that apparently even the absurd hardly makes a blip in the media. Not even color commentary from Stormy Daniels. And Nancy Pelosi is praying for Donald Trump & telling progressive Democrats (and their staffs) to stay off Twitter. I despair.

July 11, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Let's Roll!

If Trump and his R lackeys succeed in killing the ACA I hope every single Democrat hangs this assault on Americans' lives around their necks until they're all voted out of office. And I don't give a shit what Nancy Pelosi says, these people are elected officials. She is not their den mother. They get to say what they believe their constituents sent them to congress to say and do on their behalf.

Killing the ACA should be a neutron bomb for the confederates. It probably won't be mostly because the media will simply report it as just another "thing" and move on quickly to some newer and shinier object down the road (like a Kim Kardashian photo op! Or look! Ivanka has a pretty new dress!).

Haven't we had enough Trumpish, schoolyard juvenalia? When does this bullshit end? Kicking over anything Obama put together out of spite, envy, hatred? This is fucking with people's lives just so he can feel good about himself for having stuck it to the uppity black guy who once made a joke about him.

And where are all the so-called righteous Christians on the right? Where? Huh? Children are being abused even as I write this, kids who are here through no fault of their own. They're okay with torturing babies?? What about all the tawdry bullshit going on with their glorious leader? The rape charges, strippers and his golf clubs, sexual assault, the constant lying, the ignorance that endangers peoples' lives? All this is okay with Jesus?

Fucking hypocrites, the lot of them. I say let AOC and every Democrat who wants to go after these assholes off the chain. Tucker Carlson? He's not worth the powder to blow him to hell. McTurtle comparing himself to Obama? Fucking creeps and liars and hypocrites.

And when the ACA is dead and buried, killed to satisfy the fragile ego of a sick, sad clown, I want to the Democrats to open the ball on these people. I want all-out war. I'm done with Chuck and Nancy and being nice to killers and liars. Fuck that.

And to hell with Nancy's fancy strategizing crap. We are so far in the wrong, if we continue to sit by and "pray" for these assholes, we'll wind up on the wrong side of everything. Now is the time to stand up for America.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

Let's roll, Democrats.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I see where the little king is running a shindig for far right liars, creeps, conspiracy theorists, whack jobs, anti-Semites, and many of his other enablers and online stormtroopers all preparing to jimmy the locks on the 2020 election, to storm any and all democratic strongholds in the name of authoritarianism, nihilism, and Trumpism. I'm wondering were the Russian hackers invited? The ones who helped the Orange Menace into the White House?

Well, since a bunch of them have been indicted for breaking about 100 US laws in their efforts to help Trump, they're probably joining the fun via Skype.

Maybe Daddy Vlad will make an appearance.

"You've done well, my son. Now go and finish the job of garroting America for me. Good boy."

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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