The Wires

The Los Angeles Times has the full list of Oscar nominees here.

NBC Sports: "Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the 2019 class. The results were just announced on MLB Network. Rivera received votes from every single writer who submitted a ballot, becoming the first player ever to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Halladay and Edgar Martínez each received 85.4 percent of the vote and Mussina appeared on 76.7 percent of ballots. Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his seasons in the majors with the Yankees. He was initially used as a starter, but quickly moved to the bullpen, becoming the greatest closer of all-time. He racked up 652 saves — the most in baseball history — during the regular season along with a 2.21 ERA anda 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings. He saved his best work for the postseason. Rivera appeared in 96 postseason games, saving 42 saves in 47 opportunities with a 0.70 ERA and a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 innings. Rivera won five championships, five Rolaids Relief Awards, as well as MVP awards in the World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Game. He made the AL All-Star team 13 times."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If you're a shut-out Trump Shutdown victim tooling around the Internets with nothing to do today, let's assume that some day some time, Trump will de-furlough you and you can get back to work enthusiastically serving the American people in your appointed capacity. In case Trump has rendered you a bit rusty in the area of job skills, Conan here provides some useful tools that may help you get to work on time, even on casual Friday:

ABC News: "Breathtaking drone video of a pod of friendly, playful dolphins joining a surfer as he took to the waves near the coast of Ventura, California, is making the rounds on social media and bringing smiles -- and wow's -- to viewers. ABC station KABC-TV's meteorologist Kimi Evans met the drone's owner Craig Badger, who shared the footage, and spoke to surfer Alden Blair.... The video has been seen more than 3 million times on social media." ...

NBC Suits Are Such Geniuses. New York Times: "After a drawn-out negotiation period, NBC and Megyn Kelly have formally agreed to part ways. The network and the onetime cable news star reached a final agreement on Friday, nearly three months after she wondered aloud on-air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. NBC and a representative for Ms. Kelly declined to reveal the details of the exit package. But according to two people familiar with the negotiations, Ms. Kelly was paid the outstanding balance on her contract, a figure that amounts to roughly $30 million. At the time of the separation, Ms. Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network."

New York Times: "The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the novelist MacKenzie Bezos announced on Twitter Wednesday that they are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage. In a statement posted on Mr. Bezos’s Twitter account, the couple said they had been separated for a long period of time, but planned to remain involved as 'parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects.' According to a 1999 profile in Wired, the two met when they both worked at D.E. Shaw, a New York-based hedge fund, before moving in 1994 to Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered. They have four children.... As is the case in any celebrity split, the financial details of the divorce are sure to be complicated despite the couple’s vow to “remain cherished friends.” According to Forbes, which publishes an annual list of billionaires, his net worth is estimated at $137 billion and he is the richest man in the world. While much of his wealth is tied up in Amazon stock, Mr. Bezos, 54, the company’s chief executive, is also the owner of several companies, including The Washington Post and Blue Origin, a space travel company."

Here's a list of the Golden Globe winners, via Market Watch. CNN has posted highlights on a liveblog & currently has a whole buncha links to related stories on CNN Entertainment. And if you're in it for the red carpet, there's this:

New York Times : "Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved, 4,400-year-old tomb of a royal priest and his family in Egypt, in a 'one of a kind' find, the Egyptian authorities announced on Saturday. The tomb was unearthed in Saqqara, a city south of Cairo and a vast necropolis from ancient Egypt. The discovery dates from the rule of Neferirkare Kakai, the third king of the fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt, according to Khaled al-Anani, Egypt’s minister of antiquities. The fifth dynasty governed for less than two centuries, from 2,500 B.C. to about 2,350 B.C., according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tomb had remained untouched, said Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s supreme council of antiquities, according to Reuters."

"The Christmas Comet Returneth." New York Times: "Look into the night sky on Sunday [December 16] and you just might see a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. That’s because a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries, right on the heels of this year’s most stunning meteor shower. 'The fuzziness is just because it’s a ball of gas basically,' Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, said on Saturday morning.... 'You’ve got a one-kilometer solid nucleus in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles.' The comet glows green because the gases emit light in green wavelengths. The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the 'Christmas comet,' was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who discovered it in 1948. It orbits the sun once every 5.4 years, passing by Earth approximately every 11 years, but its distance varies and it is rarely this close. As the comet passes by, it will be 30 times farther from Earth than the moon, NASA said.”

By George O'Keefe or somebody.Maybe the Best Gift Would Be a Spell-Check App. Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Way back in November (so Slate has had plenty of time to make corrections), someone named Angela Serratore (hope I spelled that right), wrote a post for Slate, which is featured on its main page now, suggesting gifts from small museum shops. That's a nice thought, but it would have been even nicer if the story had not misspelled Georgia O'Keeffe three times: twice as "Georgia O'Keefe" & once as "George O'Keefe." But never "Georgia O'Keeffe."


The Commentariat -- July 12, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Annie Karni of Politico: "A day before ... Donald Trump's arrival [in England]..., Steve Bannon ... set up a bare war room, of sorts, in a conference room at [a London hotel] to confer and conspire with leaders of Europe's surging populist movement. Bannon's goal, he said..., is to help 'contextualize Trump' for a European audience that hates him and a fiery tabloid media culture that he believes doesn't give the American president a fair shake."

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "The federal government has quietly revived its investigation into the murder of >Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African-American boy whose abduction and killing remains, almost 63 years later, among the starkest and most searing examples of racial violence in the South. The Justice Department said that its renewed inquiry, which it described in a report submitted to Congress in late March, was 'based upon the discovery of new information.'"

Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "The embattled F.B.I. agent [Peter Strzok] who oversaw the opening of the Russia investigation mounted an aggressive personal defense on Thursday, rejecting accusations that he let his private political views bias his official actions and labeling Republican attacks on him 'another victory notch in Putin's belt.'... The fiery hearing, convened by House Judiciary and Oversight committees, devolved into a spectacle almost as soon as it began, as pent-up rage between House Republicans and the F.B.I. broke into the open in spectacular fashion." Mrs. McC: The hearing, which is ongoing at 12:45 pm, is ridiculous. The Republicans seem to be stark, staring mad. I mean that; they're nuts.

Jay Michaelson of the Daily Beast: "... in a speech given just last year to the American Enterprise Institute, [Brett] Kavanaugh made it perfectly clear that he believes Roe to have been wrongly decided.... 'Justice Rehnquist was not successful in convincing a majority of the justices in the context of abortion either in Roe itself or in the later cases such as Casey, in the latter case perhaps because of stare decisis. But he was successful in stemming the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation's history and tradition,' [Kavanaugh said.]... There is no doubt, reading this 2017 speech, that Judge Kavanaugh believes not just Roe but the entire series of cases of which it is a part to be 'freewheeling' judicial legislation of 'social policy.'" Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Brett Samuels of the Hill: "North Korean officials reportedly did not show up Thursday at a scheduled meeting with U.S. officials to discuss returning the remains of American soldiers, and instead suggested talking with United Nations military leaders about the issue. Yonhap News in South Korea reported that North Korea asked the United Nations Command to hold 'general-level military talks' about returning the remains of American troops killed in the Korean War. A source told Yonhap that North Korea 'wants a U.S. general to appear at the table to quickly finalize the repatriation issue.'" Mrs. McC: Good. There's a job for John Kelly. who is reportedly useless at the White House. More fun if there's nothing for breakfast but North Korean Potatoes ala Pompeo.


William James & Jeff Mason of Reuters: "... Donald Trump flies into 'hot spot' Britain on Thursday hours after casting doubt on Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for leaving the European Union and with protests planned across the country where he says the people like him a lot.... A YouGov poll on Wednesday showed 77 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the president and just 50 percent thought his visit should go ahead."

Emma Anderson of Politico: "Donald Trump threatened to pull out of NATO at a summit of country leaders Thursday over defense spending, according to an unconfirmed report by German news agency DPA." ...

     ... ** Update. David Herszenhorn & Lili Bayer of Politico: "... Donald Trump threatened to break with NATO and conduct American security unilaterally -- if allies do not immediately meet higher military spending targets, NATO officials and diplomats said. Trump warned of 'grave consequences' if allies do not immediately meet higher spending targets, derailing a morning meeting of NATO leaders with the leaders of Georgia and Ukraine on the second day of a NATO leaders' summit on Thursday. One NATO official said Trump wants a plan from alliance members by January on how to reach the spending target. Some officials urged caution in interpreting Trump's remarks, but say allies clearly heard a threat. Word of Trump's threat set off a wild game of telephone at NATO headquarters as officials and reporters tried to sort out what exactly Trump told fellow leaders. Two common versions ... were if allies don't pay up, the U.S. 'will do our own thing' or 'go it alone.' NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg immediately shifted the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the alliance's top political body, into an allies-only emergency session.... NATO officials said Trump was furious over media coverage suggesting that the first day of the summit had proceeded calmly, and that he had demanded to hold a press conference immediately after the morning meeting." ...

     ... Update 2. Michael Birnbaum & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Trump upended the NATO summit [in Brussels] Thursday by calling an emergency meeting of leaders and threatening that if all member countries do not immediately increase their defense spending commitments, the United States would go it alone, according to diplomats with knowledge of the private discussions. It was not clear whether Trump was threatening a U.S. withdrawal from NATO, but some diplomats perceived his comments that way.... A morning of meetings to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Georgia and Ukraine was scrambled to address Trump's spending concerns." ...

     ... Update 3. Jordyn Phelps & Meredith McGraw of ABC News: "... Donald Trump declared NATO a 'fine-tuned machine' in an impromptu news conference at the conclusion of his participation in a contentious NATO summit.... The alliance is much stronger than it was at the outset of the conference, Trump said Thursday, taking credit for what he said are increased commitments from allies to up spending, citing an increased commitment of $33 billion to the alliance. 'Yesterday, I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment and now we're very happy, and have a very very powerful, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago,' Trump said. The president told reporters he 'probably' had the unilateral power to pull the United States out of NATO ... but said he thinks it's unnecessary." ...

     ... Update 4. Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian: "Donald Trump has claimed victory at the Nato summit, saying progress had been made on defence spending only hours after throwing the Brussels meeting into disarray with fresh attacks on European allies. Asked whether he had threatened to pull out of Nato, the US president did not directly deny it.... He said the alliance members had agreed to reach spending 2% of GDP on defence faster than previously planned and claimed financial commitments would increase beyond that in future. But other delegations and Nato officials contradicted Trump, saying he had secured no significant concessions and their defence spending plans remained basically the same as they had been before the summit. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, denied Trump's claim that Nato powers agreed to increase defence spending beyond previous targets." ...

     ... Update Whatever. Axios: "President Trump reiterated one of his most famous self-assessments during a press conference at the NATO summit Thursday, calling himself a 'very stable genius' after a Croatian reporter asked if he'd change his tone on Twitter regarding the alliance once he'd left. 'No, that's other people that do that. I don't. I'm very consistent. I'm a very stable genius.'" ...

... The New York Times is liveblogging Trump's European Adventure. Here's the latest @ 5:40 am ET: "Mr. Trump spent the morning of Day Two on Thursday tweeting his grievances from afar, arriving late to alliance headquarters for a multilateral session with the leaders of Georgia and Ukraine. 'Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia,' Mr. Trump said on Twitter before arriving for meetings, repeating gripes he aired on Wednesday.... He went on to assail Germany anew for a $10 billion pipeline it approved to bring natural gas directly from Russia." 7:00 am ET update: "Mr. Trump strongly recommitted American support for NATO on Thursday, saying that he had won great concessions from allies on military spending. 'The United States was not being treated fairly, but now we are,' the president said at a news conference, after the NATO leaders held an emergency meeting to address Mr. Trump's complaints. 'I believe in NATO.'"

Michael Birnbaum & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "NATO leaders, including President Trump, approved a sweeping set of plans Wednesday to bolster defenses against Russia and terrorism, despite a blistering attack by the U.S. leader earlier in the day against Germany and other allies. Leaders also reiterated their pledge to increase defense spending, Trump's main focus going into the meeting. The decision suggested that Trump is holding back from slashing support for the alliance, despite his anger over what he says is Europe's taking advantage of the U.S. security umbrella. But NATO leaders are still concerned that he will make concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two meet on Monday." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "For a president who loves declaring victory, the NATO summit here Wednesday could have provided a perfect opportunity. After a year of haranguing by President Trump, Western leaders had agreed to his administration's long-sought priorities on defense spending and counterterrorism and were prepared to let him take all the credit.... 'He could declare victory ... and ride off in a blaze of glory as leader of the West,' said Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and to Russia.... 'But he's rubbing salt in the wounds.'... 'The rapid erosion of trust in Donald Trump, I've never seen anything like it for any of our post-World War II presidents,' said Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO. 'They're infuriated at these persistent attacks on NATO.... They all listened to the Great Falls, Montana, speech and follow him on Twitter. There's tremendous disappointment that an American leader would be so ungrateful and so mean-spirited.'... Behind closed doors, Trump was cordial and even magnanimous at times with his European counterparts, according to officials who interacted with him." ...

... Steven Erlanger & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "NATO's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, could barely finish the greetings at Wednesday's breakfast when Mr. Trump launched into a clearly planned attack.... It was aimed at Germany, one of the alliance's most important members. 'Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia,' Mr. Trump [said]... 'We have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that's being paid to the country we're supposed to be protecting you against. I think it's something that NATO has to look at,' Mr. Trump said. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany ... reacted mildly but pointedly to Mr. Trump's remarks.... 'I myself experienced a part of Germany that was controlled by the Soviet Union, and I am very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany,' she said as she entered the NATO building. 'We decide our own policies and make our own decisions, and that's very good.'... Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, gave a much sharper response to Mr. Trump's disparaging remarks on Wednesday, writing on Twitter, 'We are no captives -- neither of Russia nor of the United States.'" ...

... Pastries & Cheese. Rebecca Tan of the Washington Post: Body language experts note how uncomfortable John Kelly, Mike Pompeo & NATO ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison looked during Trump's diatribe against Germany."Hutchinson appears to avert her gaze from her NATO colleagues sitting across from her, while Kelly looks down, then shifts his body and glances away, lips pursed tightly." Includes video, also embedded here yesterday. Mrs. McC: But, wait. Count on the White House to have an absurd explanation for everything. "In a statement to The Post, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, '[Kelly] was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.'" ...

     ... Adam Raymond of New York: "As you can see in the video above, though, breakfast hadn't yet been served." Mrs. McC: Yeah, those clean, untouched plates & uniformly-filled juice glasses (except for Trump's) confused me. So the facial contortions, lip-pursing, gaze-averting & "[digging] something out of his ear" were signs Kelly anticipated of a paltry breakfast.

... Calvin Woodward of the AP: "Unleashing in-your-face rhetoric at the NATO summit..., Donald Trump pressed the falsehood Wednesday that members of the alliance owe money to the U.S. and took sole credit for higher military spending by NATO partners -- a decision that preceded his presidency. Trump also misrepresented Germany's energy picture, asserting coal and nuclear power are gone from the mix. Coal remains a bedrock energy source for Germany despite its hope to wean itself from that mineral and nuclear plants have several years of life before they are to be phased out." ...

... Rick Noack of the Washington Post explains the controversies over the 800-mile, planned gas pipeline which is to carry Russia's natural gas to Germany. Also, it's comforting to know that Germany's former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is just as corrupt as our current president*. Germany survived; perhaps we will, too. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Heather Hurlburt of New York: "Trump seeks to destabilize not just the NATO we have right now -- already deeply challenged by Russia and by illiberalism across Europe -- but the very idea that anything bigger or more lasting than his own interests defines American interests.... Much more than about NATO, it's a message that the leader's personal pique means a great deal -- and years or even decades of commitments and partnership may mean very little. That monumental shift in how the U.S. is expected to conduct itself cannot be 'cleaned up' -- not by Cabinet 'adults' or staff, not by a good meeting in London or Helsinki, and definitely not by tweets." ...

... News from the Trump Retraining Camp. Jonathan Chait: Trump's "efforts to train the Republican base to reverse its long-standing views on the relative merits of NATO and Russia have borne fruit. According to a recent poll, just 40 percent of Republicans think the U.S. should should stay in NATO, while 56 percent of Republicans consider Trump's relationship with Vladimir Putin good for the United States.... It may seem bizarre that one man could do this, especially given that almost nobody in Trump's administration or the ranks of the party's political professionals share his goal of jettisoning NATO or closely courting Russia. Yet Trump has shown the ability to lead his base wherever he wants to take it. And where the base has gone, the party has eventually followed." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... ** "Where's the Outrage?" David Corn of Mother Jones: "In 1938, Winston Churchill published a collection of his speeches warning that his homeland was not adequately contending with the threat posed by Nazi Germany. The title: 'While England Slept.' Eighty years later, a similar observation can be rendered concerning the United States. Much of the political and media elite and the citizenry seem to be sleepwalking past a horrific and fundamental fact: The current president of the United States has helped to cover up a serious attack on the nation. This profound act of betrayal has gone unpunished and, in many quarters, unnoticed, even as it continues. With Donald Trump about to meet Vladimir Putin on Monday -- rewarding the thuggish authoritarian Russian leader with a grand summit in Helsinki -- this is an appropriate moment to remember that their dark bromance involves a mutual stonewalling of wrongdoing." Read on. (Also linked yesterday.)

Be Careful What You Ask for. Matt Naham
of Law & Crime: "The legal saga of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort took another turn Wednesday as Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Judge T.S. Ellis has denied his bid to stay put at the jail he is currently residing at. Instead, he will be moved from a jail in Warsaw, Va. to the Alexandria Detention Center. Manafort's attorneys expressed concerns later Tuesday that moving him from Northern Neck Regional Jail to Alexandria would put their client's safety in jeopardy. Ellis' response? Don't worry, they know how to handle terrorists (foreign and domestic), traitors and spies -- and, also, you haven't specified any threats to Manafort's safety." Manafort's attorneys had first argued that the Warsaw, Va., facility (Mrs. McC: where Manafort was treated as a VIP) was too inconveniently-located for Manafort to prepare for his trials, but changed their minds when Ellis agreed to move Manafort to Alexandria, near Washington, D.C. ...

... Tom McCarthy of the Guardian: "... former press secretary Sean Spicer has filled a new book with breathless memories of his role in recent American history -- while admitting that Paul Manafort, suspected of being a tool of Moscow, played a central role in the Trump campaign.... Spicer's description in the book of Manafort's campaign role belies Trump's characterization of former campaign chairman Manafort as a minor campaign figure. Last year, Trump said Manafort had only been with the campaign for a 'very short period of time'. The book also contradicts Spicer's own March 2017 statement at the White House that Manafort had 'played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time'.... 'Paul brought a much-needed maturity to the Trump campaign when it needed an experienced political professional operative more than anything else,' Spicer writes of Manafort's hiring in the spring of 2016.... The Manafort message was clear: Trump will be our nominee and our next president, and anyone who didn't want to work to that end could spend the next four years in political Siberia. (No Russia pun intended.)."

Sarah Fitzpatrick, et al., of NBC News: "Adult film star Stormy Daniels ... was arrested during a performance at an Ohio strip club, her lawyer said early Thursday. Michael Avenatti told NBC News that Daniels ... was touched in a non-sexual manner while on stage. An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act prohibits anyone who isn't a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office later confirmed that Daniels had been charged with three misdemeanor sex offenses. The porn star is due to appear in court on Friday." Mrs. McC: Gosh, I sure hope Trump pardons her. (Okay, maybe he can't since she allegedly violated a state, rather than a federal, law.)

Keith Collins & Jasmine Lee
of the New York Times: Trump's trade wars have grown from 8 products to 10,000. "The dispute ... could grow to target almost 90 percent of what China sent to the United States last year. If the dispute continues, it could have a lasting impact on the global economy." Lots of graphics. ...

... Eric Werner & Heather Long of the Washington Post: "President Trump is remaking the global trade order without significant political resistance or penalty, unchecked by a largely compliant Congress and bolstered by the loyalty of his supporters -- even those likely to be hurt by his burgeoning global trade war. The Senate on Wednesday passed a nonbinding measure calling for a greater role in overseeing Trump's trade decisions, an implicit criticism of new tariffs the president has levied on some of the country's closest allies and largest trading partners. But the vote has no power to prompt a course change from the White House. And it follows failed attempts to advance measures that could have given Congress new power to restrain Trump.... Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) acknowledged after the vote that if the measure had had teeth, it wouldn't have passed.... The trade changes mirror Trump's rapid and similarly unchecked efforts to reposition the United States in the global political order."

Dara Lind of Vox: "President Donald Trump and other top administration officials ... claim that once a family is released from immigration, they'll simply ... skip ... their appointed court dates, to live as unauthorized immigrants.... But a new study, compiled by a pair of legal advocacy groups, shows that isn't the case.... The study confirms that families who cross into the US without papers often miss their court dates, but offers suggestive qualitative evidence ... that many families aren't deliberately absconding at all.... They're trying to stay in the system. It's just that the system makes it too hard for them.... The conclusion drawn by the advocacy groups is that people with attorneys were more likely to figure out how to make their court dates, and those without lawyers were at risk of getting swallowed up by the system." --safari

Alan Pyke of ThinkProgress: "[T]he details of Trump’s move [to pardon the Oregon ranchers] indicate he is less interested in reversing an unjust sentence than he is in giving a thinly-veiled 'attaboy' to a small group of heavily armed chaos agents who seek to undermine the federal government's proper role in managing public lands all across the western U.S.... Trump is positioned to give his base another pep rally-sized dose of own-the-libs pugnacity -- one big enough to distract from the president's own efforts to sell off protected wilderness to destructive mining and gas profiteers." --safari

Mike Allen of Axios: "President Trump wants to update the paint job on the next version of Air Force One, ditching the iconic robin's-egg blue (which he calls a 'Jackie Kennedy color') for a bolder, 'more American' look.... Trump rarely gets into the weeds of government negotiations. But he sat down in the Oval Office with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in February to personally hammer out the $4 billion deal for a pair of replacement 747s for use as Air Force One (the call sign for whatever aircraft the president is on).... We're told he wants the presidential bed aboard Air Force One to be larger and more comfortable -- more like the executive livery package on his personal plane than the current, couch-like sleeping configuration aboard Air Force One."

Grifters. Matthew Yglesias of Vox: "Presidential administrations are large, and it's impossible to build one that's entirely scandal-free.... But inside the Donald Trump White House, grifters, abusers, racists, and harassers still get hired; they lurk around the Oval Office after they've been found out; and even in the rare instance where they're forced out, it's only grudgingly.... And this is the really striking thing about the current state of Republican Party politics -- not the handful of crooks and spouse abusers who've been forced out of their jobs, but the petulant and foot-dragging manner in which they've been cashiered, the continued tolerance for so many apparent malefactors, and the evident lack of desire to even attempt anything resembling a proper house-cleaning.... [I]n a house-cleaning ... nobody can articulate a plausible red line -- on corruption, on sexual misconduct, on racism, on conspiracy theories, on honesty, or virtually anything else -- that wouldn't implicate the president and his family." --safari

The Most Corrupt Administration Ever. Jesse Drucker & Kate Kelly of the New York Times: "Eighteen months into Jared Kushner's White House tenure, his family's real estate firm is deepening its financial relationships with institutions and individuals that have a lot riding on decisions made by the federal government. In the latest example, an arm of Brookfield Asset Management is close to completing an investment of up to $700 million in the Kushner family's tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The deal will be a boon to the Kushners, who are struggling to recoup their investments in their flagship building. At the same time, another Brookfield unit is awaiting the Trump administration's approval of its acquisition of the nuclear-power company Westinghouse Electric.... Kushner Companies has also recently negotiated a number of previously undisclosed transactions with investors who have business in Washington. Those investors include a businessman who arranges United States visas in exchange for real estate investments from overseas. His company is leading the lobbying fight against proposals to change the federal program on which his business relies."

... Andrew Kaczynski, et al., of CNN: "Darla Shine, the wife of new White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, hosted a radio show in the late 2000s where she once mocked victims of sexual harassment in the military and repeatedly pushed fringe conspiracy theories about vaccines.... Shine, who long maintained a blog called 'Happy Housewives Club' where she featured recipes and tips for cleaning and budgeting and promoted her radio show and book, has faced scrutiny in recent days after Mediaite and Huffington Post reported she had made racially charged comments and spread baseless anti-vaccination conspiracy theories on her now-deleted Twitter account.... Shine said armed resistance might be needed to fight against [vaccines.]...Shine also passed on a false 'rumor' that Barack Obama could not get a security clearance when running for president.She claimed to believe in UFOs and interviewed self-identified alien abductees." And so forth. Mrs. McC: As I wrote the other day, Darla will get along fine in the Trump milieu.

AP: "The Senate on Wednesday approved ... Donald Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department's criminal division following a yearlong confirmation process. Brian Benczkowski was narrowly confirmed as an assistant attorney general with a 51-48 vote. Democrats strongly opposed the nomination, partly because of his work while in private practice for a leading Russian bank [Mrs. McC: a relationship which he initially failed to disclose]. Democrats said his Russian ties could complicate special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Democrats also contended that Benczkowski did not have enough experience in federal courtrooms to run the criminal division. [Mrs. McC: Um, Benczkowski had no experience in federal courtrooms.] The position is one of the most significant in the Justice Department, with the assistant attorney general having oversight of criminal cases involving public corruption, financial fraud, computer hacking, drug trafficking and other major crimes." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The confirmation is really good news for Trump, who can now fire Rod Rosenstein & replace him with Benczkowski.

Katie Benner of the New York Times: "Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has asked federal prosecutors to help review the government documents of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.... Mr. Rosenstein's request was an unusual insertion of politics into federal law enforcement. While the Justice Department has helped work on previous Supreme Court nominations, department lawyers in Washington typically carry out that task, not prosecutors who pursue criminal investigations nationwide. But in an email sent this week to the nation's 93 United States attorneys, Mr. Rosenstein asked each office to provide up to three federal prosecutors 'who can make this important project a priority for the next several weeks.'... Former law enforcement officials described Mr. Rosenstein's directive as a troubling precedent. 'It's flat-out wrong to have career federal prosecutors engaged in a political process like the vetting of a Supreme Court nominee,' said Christopher Hunter, a former F.B.I. agent and federal prosecutor who is running for Congress." ...

... Robert Barnes & Ann E. Marimow of the Washington Post: "Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has only one major abortion ruling in his 12 years on the federal bench, but that forceful opinion will define the coming debate on what his elevation to the Supreme Court would mean for a woman's constitutional right to the procedure.... Abortion rights advocates ... point to the strongly worded dissent Kavanaugh issued last fall in a case involving a pregnant immigrant teenager in federal custody.... In his dissent, Kavanaugh accused his colleagues of creating 'a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.' The phrase -- 'abortion on demand' -- is part of the antiabortion lexicon. He said the majority was shifting the law toward 'a radical extension of the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence.'... During his 2006 confirmation hearing to the appellate bench, Kavanaugh said he accepted the precedential value of Roe.... But Supreme Court justices are not bound as judges on lower courts are." ...

... Brett Kavanaugh, Spendthrift. Amy Brittain of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh incurred tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt buying baseball tickets over the past decade and at times reported liabilities that could have exceeded the value of his cash accounts and investment assets, according to a review of Kavanaugh's financial disclosures and information provided by the White House. White House spokesman Raj Shah [said] ... that Kavanaugh built up the debt by buying Washington Nationals season tickets and tickets for playoff games for himself and a 'handful' of friends.... Shah told The Post that Kavanaugh's friends reimbursed him for their share of the baseball tickets and that the judge has since stopped purchasing the season tickets.... Unlike some of the other justices, Kavanaugh has worked more than two decades in the public sector and has not built wealth as a private lawyer." ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jeet Heer: "On Tuesday, The Washington Post published a curious op-ed about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, under the headline 'I don't know Kavanaugh the judge. But Kavanaugh the carpool dad is one great guy.' Written by Julie O'Brien, a neighbor of Kavanaugh, the column eschewed any discussion of his judicial philosophy and instead gave a portrait of him as wonderful friend.... The article was widely mocked for being completely beside the point. Melissa McEwan [in a tweet:] 'An extraordinary example of the dynamic I call the perfidy of civility. Why am I supposed to care about the interpersonal politeness of a man who seeks to be empowered to take away the rights of hundreds of millions of marginalized people? (I DON'T.)'... As partisan passions become more heated in the Trump era..., elite institutions like the Post ... increasingly push civility as a panacea.... It's understandable that Republicans would want to move the conversation away from substance to personality. What's more notable is that the Post is intent on facilitating this agenda in the name of civility." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Kinda reminds me of that time those mean Democrats (well, okay, Lindsey Graham) made Sam Alito's wife cry. The White House was incensed. Oh, the incivility.

Fear of Science. Adam Cancryn
of Politico: "House Republican appropriators Wednesday rejected a proposal to designate millions of dollars for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for gun violence research, voting 32-20 to keep the language out of a fiscal 2019 spending bill. The party-line vote marked Democrats' latest failed bid to spur studies into preventing firearm-related injuries and deaths -- and comes despite a bipartisan agreement earlier this year that the CDC is permitted to conduct such research. The agency's ability to study gun violence had been limited by a 1996 provision that prevented the CDC from collecting data to advocate for gun control."

Patrick Smith of ThinkProgress: "House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rejected calls for a congressional ethics probe into allegations against his Republican colleague, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).... Ryan argued that a probe was not needed because the alleged events would have occurred before Jordan was elected to office." --safari: That explains why Lyin' Ryan was so ho-hum about his fellow conservative Roy Moore. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I heard Ryan say on the teevee that Jordan was a friend of his. This is Pauly's version of the GOP Shuffle. It goes like this: First you step back on your left foot & wave you hands in horror. Then you slide to the left & hold a finger of your left hand to the wind. Then you slide to the right & hold a finger of your right hand to the wind. Then you step forward on your right foot & hold out your arms in an embrace. Repeat. When it comes to performing the GOP Shuffle, Pauly is a veritable Fred Astaire. ...

... Jeet Heer: "Jim Jordan is of course a strong supporter of ... Donald Trump in the Russia investigation.... The cause of Trump and Jordan are now tightly linked. Both men being presented by Republicans as alleged victims of the Deep State. This is further evidence of the the ongoing Trumpification of the Republican Party. Trump has provided a model for how to fend off a scandal: cry 'fake news' and blame the Deep State."

Politics Pays. Drew Wilson of Florida Politics: "A recently filed financial disclosure shows U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan celebrated passing the House version of the Republican tax bill in quite the lavish way. According to the disclosure, Buchanan spent between $1 million and $5 million purchasing an Ocean Alexander yacht on Nov. 16, 2017, the same day he joined 226 other Republicans and no Democrats in voting for the first draft of the 'Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.'... Given his net worth and income, progressive group Tax March estimated that the bill would save him up to $2.1 million on his taxes." --safari

Congressional & Other Races. The Party of Racists. Dana Milbank: "Behold, a new breed of Republican for the Trump era. Seth Grossman won the Republican primary last month for a competitive House seat in New Jersey, running on the message 'Support Trump/Make America Great Again.' The National Republican Congressional Committee endorsed him. Then, a video surfaced, courtesy of American Bridge, a Democratic PAC, of Grossman saying 'the whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap.' Grossman then proclaimed diversity 'evil.' CNN uncovered previous instances of Grossman calling Kwanzaa a 'phony holiday' created by 'black racists,' labeling Islam a cancer and saying faithful Muslims cannot be good Americans. [Et-cetera.]... After weeks of delay, the NRCC finally withdrew its nomination. Many such characters have crawled out from under rocks and onto Republican ballots in 2018: A candidate with ties to white nationalists is the GOP Senate nominee in Virginia (and has President Trump's endorsement); an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier is the Republican candidate in a California House race; a prominent neo-Nazi won the GOP nomination in an Illinois House race; and overt racists are in Republican primaries across the country."

Pew Research Center: "When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetimes, more Americans name Barack Obama than any other president. More than four-in-ten (44%) say Obama is the best or second best president of their lifetimes, compared with about a third who mention Bill Clinton (33%) or Ronald Reagan (32%). ...

... Jonathan Chait: "As Americans see it, the last two Democratic presidencies have been rousing successes, while the previous two Republican ones have been miserable failures.... What I'm proposing here is a mystery without much of an answer. Why haven't Democrats made more use of this?"

Adam Peck of ThinkProgress: "For the second time this year, racist remarks by John Schnatter have forced him to resign from the company [Papa John's] he founded." --safari ...

... Guardian: Schnatter resigned as chairman this time. He resigned as CEO last December "after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. Yum Brands Inc's Pizza Hut replaced Papa John's as NFL's sponsor in February, ending Papa John's eight-year relationship with the top US football league. Papa John's shares closed nearly 5% down at $48.33 on Wednesday." Mrs. McC: Overtly racist remarks have paid off handsomely for Donald Trump & Co. But clearly bigotry doesn't work well for everyone.

Annie Kelly of the Guardian: "In a report launched on Thursday, supply-chain analyst firm Verisk Maplecroft predicts that the rise in robot manufacturing will have a knock-on effect that results not only in lost livelihoods but in a spike in slavery and labour abuses in brand supply chains [across Southeast Asia].... 'There has been a lot of discussion about the impact of robot automation on jobs but less on the resulting human rights abuses that are likely to follow,' said Dr Alex Channer, analyst at Verisk Maplecroft ... [which] ... say[s] that both businesses and governments need to work urgently to mitigate the potentially catastrophic consequences of automation on the 156 million people whose jobs are likely to be under threat in the coming decades." --safari

Deanna Paul & Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: "A suspect, identified as 30-year-old Laquisha Jones, was arrested late Tuesday on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon [after attacking a 91-year old Hispanic man], according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Jones is being held on $200,000 bail.... [Jones, who is black, allegedly] pushed the elderly man to the ground and repeatedly bashed him in the face with a concrete brick while yelling, 'Go back to your country,' [an] eyewitness said."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This is an update of an incident Ken W. brought to our attention in yesterday's Comments. Phil Helsel of NBC News: "An Illinois police officer being investigated for his inaction as an intoxicated man berated a woman wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag has resigned, the Forest Preserves of Cook County said Wednesday. The agency said that Officer Patrick Conner resigned late Tuesday. '... We are further addressing aspects of this incident,' a spokesperson for the Forest Preserves of Cook County said in a statement, adding the superintendent would address the matter to the media on Thursday.... Even Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló weighed in, saying on Twitter that he was 'appalled,' and that 'a Puerto Rican woman was brutally harassed by a bigot while an officer did not interfere.' The man who was tormenting [Mia] Irizarry, identified by police as Timothy Trybus, 62, has been charged with assault and disorderly conduct. He was intoxicated at the time, the Forest Preserves of Cook County has said."

News Lede

Hill: "Consumer prices rose 2.9 percent in the year since June 2017, a five-year high, while hourly wages fell 0.2 percent in the same period, according to federal data released Thursday. The consumer price index (CPI) rose almost three percent over the past year, the highest annual increase since February 2012, according to federal data. But hourly wage earnings adjusted for inflation decreased despite record-low unemployment and U.S. businesses struggling to fill thousands of jobs."

Reader Comments (17)

Think the Chinese have considered revoking all the licenses they've granted the extended family since the Pretender's election? Maybe calling in all those cushy Kushner loans, too?

I would.

It would be far less trouble than figuring out which imported products to place retaliatory tariffs on.

July 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

A glimpse of the cost of a weekend of golf.


July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNot that Pat

Another reason why Germany (and Japan) have not built up military spending and forces is, as everyone here knows, their neighbours have been very wary of them doing so. Germans themselves feel it is inappropriate for them to be a large military force, as we are remembering the waning days of the First World War just one hundred years ago, with the Second World War (WW1 cont'd) just around the corner. There are strong constitutional limits on Germany's military and its deployment. There is a certain irony to a man(?) whose grandpa fled Germany to avoid military service and run brothels, and who also fled military service and ran "modelling" agencies, demanding bigger military forces.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

Dear God. Chin out, head held high, he brings out the "stable genius" card again.

As I've a bit of experience teaching English to foreigners, I can only imagine those journalists who still haven't completely mastered English yet trying to quickly translate these nonsense phrases into their own language and trying to make sense of it all on the fly.

Idiocracy compounded.

BTW, I've just stopped conversing with Americans on vacation in France for fear of running across a closet-Trumpista. I used to be that random guy who would always stop and take the family pictures because it's obvious they want one but are too afraid to ask the locals. No longer. They'd never admit they voted for him but I'm damn good with accents and as soon as an American hits the eardrums, I'm immediately suspicious whether they've been infected.

It's unfortunate, but it is what it is.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Where does one go with all this? By this I mean the bombardment of episodes that curl your hair. How does one process such an array of this new fresh hell day after day–-it's like those sickening music medleys you hear in super markets. We just get hit with the appointment of Kavenaugh, learn that Benczkowski is just fine and dandy with the republicans to run the important criminal division at the justice dept. even though he has NO judicial experience, learn that hundreds (or is it thousands?) of refugee children are still not connected with their parents, and on and on–– BUT yesterday takes the cake. The picture posted here some days ago of the statue of liberty slumped over with her hands covering her face says it all. This seriously, demented pretend president* of the U.S. has disgraced our nation in ways that will take years to undo.

Congress took some steps yesterday on trade and NATO and that's a good thing, but the damage has been done. I am with our Lady Liberty, although my tears are real.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

safari, don't worry -- DiJiT cooties don't seem to be infectious. Epigenetic, yes, but if you don't have them odds are you're immune.

So the better reason to avoid them is that they are boring.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick


There is much more at stake here than preventing another rightward lurch on the high court..."We are witnessing the dénouement of an outrageous power grab by a radicalized political party, its wealthy backers and a rogue President. It is essential to remember this wider context."

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

"Stable genius" could mean he knows a lot about horses' asses. Or he's very efficient at shoveling horseshit. Both sound accurate.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


It's often the cowards and layabouts and scammers like The Decider and the little dictator who want everyone to know that even though desertion and draft dodging are primary elements of their own military history, such as it is, they are big strong war-like he-men who demand bigger and more expensive war toys and will happily send your kids or grandkids into harm's way, a destination they avoided at all costs, especially if it makes their cowardly, inept asses look tough.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

It's official. Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Pa) introduces a bill
called the Stable Genius Act.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

So the little dictator has a whiny baby conniption fit and threatens to "go it alone"? What an idiot.

Perhaps he forgets (sorry, he didn't forget, he probably just doesn't know) that NATO countries lined up behind us during Bush's Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps he doesn't know that the US maintains bases in places like Germany primarily as jumping off spots for US (ie, non-NATO) operations in places like the Middle East. Ramstein Air Base is the center for US Air Force operations in Europe and Africa and joint NATO operations are only part of what they do there.

The medical facility at Ramstein has been, and continues to be, the primary destination for American military personnel wounded in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, meaning, according to the Pentagon, over 30,000 men and women. Non-Pentagon estimates are much, much higher. In any event, that's a lot of Americans who have gone through Ramstein either for long-term treatment or for medical attention on their way to some other facility.

And here's something else he likely has no clue about.

The base at Ramstein was "...designed and undertaken by the French Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1949 to 1952. It was an example of international collaboration: designed by French engineers, constructed by some Germans but with imported help from workers of Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Turkey (there were very few German men to work on construction projects after World War II) and operated by Americans." (per Wikipedia)

This is called international co-operation, donnie, you fucking schmuck. Can you just imagine the tantrum if the little dictator pulled out of NATO then demanded help from former allies he had insulted and dissed should we need it if he got himself in hot water somewhere?

Every NATO country needs to order its very own Big Diaper Baby Trump balloon to fly if he ever visits. Because make no mistake, he's all about how great NATO is now that he is taking credit for everything it does. If he wakes up some morning and rolls over on some Dorito crumbs, and has another whiny baby fit, he may decide to announce, again, that he's pulling out of NATO. So there.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Guess who wants to kill Roe?

Surprize! You know how all the Confederates and Trump and all the Fox connivers are whining about how no one knows what Kavanaugh will do on the court, especially regarding Roe v Wade?

How 'bout a little something straight from the horse's mouth?

" a speech given just last year to the American Enterprise Institute, Kavanaugh made it perfectly clear that he believes Roe to have been wrongly decided.

The context was a speech Kavanaugh gave on the legacy of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist...The relevant portion of the speech is where Kavanaugh describes 'the Court’s power to recognize unenumerated rights.' There, Kavanaugh said:

'Justice Rehnquist was not successful in convincing a majority of the justices in the context of abortion either in Roe itself or in the later cases such as Casey, in the latter case perhaps because of stare decisis. But he was successful in stemming the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.'"

Did you get it? "Freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights...not rooted in the nation's history and tradition."

Guess what Kavanaugh believes is NOT part of the nation's "history and tradition". Ta-Da! Abortion!

And don't forget that this bullshit about "unenumerated rights" is originalists' code for "Fuck that liberal commie crap. James Madison never said anything about abortion!"

So I realize this isn't a stop the presses sort of thing, but it does give the lie to all the scammers trying to pretend that they haven't a clue in holy hell what Trump's new rubber stamp on the court will do about women's right to choose.

Hint: He'll kill it.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Maybe even better than my earlier suggestion about the high cards China has in the Pretender's trade tiff:

But not as much fun.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Mr. Nice Guy Goes to the Supreme Court

I love that idea that because Kavanaugh is a polite guy he'll make a great justice on the high court.

Funny, accounts of Hermann Göring touted him as a nice guy too, a wonderful dinner companion and splendid conversationalist. His great niece, Bettina says that many people told her that "'Hermann was a good guy.' 'My mother said that,' [her husband Adi] added, 'Oh, we all loved him,' she said, when she found out Bettina and I were starting a relationship. He was the most liked one, the most popular Nazi. He appeared so royal, so nice.'"

"When I see Hermann as a family person, I think he's really nice, and charming, and incredibly caretaking" continued Bettina.

Nice. Charming. Maybe he was well liked in the car pool too.

The most popular Nazi.


We have something to look forward to.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The new Trumpy design for AF-1. Perfect, ain't it?

Also, this new giant bed, will it come with full-bladdered Russian hookers?

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Wasteland at Last

As the TV president* hauls his fat carcass across Britain, it was with some interest that I came across a missive in an offering recently salvaged from a used bookstore, "The Last Cuckoo", a book of letters from 1900 on to the Times of London. Here's one questioning the decision by the BBC to spend more money on the development of television.

"I have just returned from a visit to the United States where television...has become an habitual form of entertainment in many more households than here. Among persons of my own acquaintance, I found only anxiety and apprehension about the social effects of this pastime, and especially about its effect (mentally, morally, and physically) upon small children.

Before we endeavor to popularize it still further in this country, might it not be as well if we investigated its consequences for American society...?

Your obedient servant,

T.S. Eliot"

Letter written 20 December 1950

Donald J. Trump was then four years old.

I'm not sure we can lay the blame for the mental and moral disaster that is Trump as a human being at the studio door of television, but we can certainly acknowledge its role in foisting this disaster on the rest of the world.

Not certain what Eliot might have thought about "The Apprentice" but I'm pretty sure he'd have concluded that the Wasteland had indeed arrived at last.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

If the Chinese were to cancel the emoluments granted to the Trump Family empire in the past year it would be a bombshell in the one place Trump holds most dear ------ his wallet. To say nothing of Ivankas purse. These matter far more to him than financial pain to any farmer in Iowa or Kansas.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee
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