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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.


The Commentariat -- July 12, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

So great looking [4 pinocchios] and smart [4 pinocchios], a true Stable [4 pinocchios] Genius [4 pinocchios]! -- Donald Trump, actual self-description, earning 16 pinocchios in only 9 words!, as tabulated by RAS in today's Comments ...

... Trump has been telling more lies & insulting more people today, but I'm too sick of him to go into it, so I'll save it for tomorrow. -- Mrs. McCrabbie

Frank Rich lambastes Jeffrey Epstein's elite facilitators & tries to to leave out anybody. "Compared to the Manhattan heavy hitters who went to Epstein's dinner parties, rode his private jet, and furthered the fiction that he was some kind of genius hedge-fund billionaire, the now-departed Alex Acosta was a mere flunky to be muscled (easily) by Epstein's attorneys in the Southern District of Florida."

Natasha Bertrand of Politico: "Attorney General Bill Barr has ordered an investigation into whether the CIA was correct to determine that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to boost Donald Trump during the 2016 election. But that question has already been asked and answered at the CIA's highest levels -- by Mike Pompeo, a Trump loyalist, according to three people familiar with the matter. Just after Pompeo took over as CIA director in 2017, he conducted a personal review of the CIA's findings, grilling analysts on their conclusions in a challenging and at times combative interview, these people said. He ultimately found no evidence of any wrongdoing, or that the analysts had been under political pressure to produce their findings. 'This wasn't just a briefing,' said one person familiar with the episode. 'This was a challenging back and forth, in which Pompeo asked the officers tough questions about their work and how they determined Putin's specific objectives.' Pompeo also asked about CIA's work with the FBI on the Russia probe in 2016. Two U.S. officials further confirmed to POLITICO that the interview occurred and was robust." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Wait, wait! I thought Barr was fake-investigating the oranges of the Russia investigation; Bertrand's opening graf suggests the citrus probe has been expanded to the point that Barr is about to fake-discover that Putin was not pro-Trump. I really am confused.

Ryan Deveraux of the Intercept: "When news broke that thousands of current and former Border Patrol agents were members of a secret Facebook group filled with racist, vulgar, and sexist content, Carla Provost, chief of the agency, was quick to [condemn the 'inappropriate' posts & promise to hold the writers accountable].... For Provost, a veteran of the Border Patrol who was named head of the agency in August 2018, the group's existence and content should have come as no surprise. Three months after her appointment to chief, Provost herself had posted in the group, then known as 'I'm 10-15,' now archived as 'America First X 2.' Provost's comment was innocuous ... but her participation in the group, which she has since left, raises serious questions."

Connor O'Brien of Politico: "House Democrats closed ranks to pass a massive $733 billion defense policy bill on Friday, teeing up a partisan clash with Senate Republicans over military funding and contentious foreign policy issues. The National Defense Authorization Act was approved 220 to 197, with all House Republicans opposing the bill -- enough to sustain a promised veto from ... Donald Trump."

Ashley Killough & Clare Foran of CNN: "The House on Friday passed legislation to extend funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090, weeks after the bill received nationwide attention following impassioned pleas for support from surviving first responders and comedian Jon Stewart. The bill easily cleared the House with a vote of 402-12, and will now be sent to the Senate, where timing on that vote is not yet clear, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a vote on the legislation. Moments after the House passage, McConnell's office issued a statement that the chamber would consider 'this important legislation soon.'"

Catie Edmondson of the New York Times: "The House voted Friday to curb President Trump's ability to strike Iran militarily on Friday, adopting a bipartisan provision that would require the president to get Congress's approval before authorizing military force against Tehran. The 251-170 vote reflects lawmakers' growing desire to take back long-ceded authority over matters of war and peace from the executive branch, a reclamation legislators contend has grown increasingly urgent amid escalating tensions with Iran.... Mr. Trump said last month he believes he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran. The vote Friday amounted to a pointed and bipartisan rebuttal -- led by strange ideological bedfellows, Representatives Ro Khanna, a liberal Democrat from California, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of Mr. Trump's most strident Republican allies in Congress."

Adios. Annie Karni & Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump said Friday morning that R. Alexander Acosta, his embattled secretary of labor, will resign following controversy over his handling of a sex crimes case involving the financier, Jeffrey Epstein, when he was a prosecutor in Florida. Mr. Acosta called the president this morning and informed him of his decision to resign, Mr. Trump said, as he left the White House for travel to Milwaukee and Cleveland." ...

... Darlene Superville & Jill Colvin of the AP: "... Donald Trump, with Acosta at his side, made the announcement as he left the White House for a trip to Wisconsin and Ohio. The president said Acosta had been a 'great' labor secretary. 'I hate to see this happen,' Trump said. He said he did not ask Acosta to leave the Cabinet. Acosta said his resignation would be effective in seven days. Acosta said he didn't think it was right for his handling of Epstein's case to distract from his work as secretary of labor." Mrs. McC: Yes, it's sad to see somebody suffer for being extra-nice to a serial child sex abuser & child pornographer.

Manu Raju & Jeremy Herb of CNN: "The House Judiciary Committee is discussing delaying former special counsel Robert Mueller's public testimony one week until July 24 to allow more time for Mueller to testify. Lawmakers are still negotiating." This is a breaking story; that's all there is, but it is to be updated.


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.... Just last week, Mr. Trump insisted that he 'must' pursue that goal. He instead said he was issuing an executive order instructing federa departments and agencies to provide the Census Bureau with citizenship data immediately.... Even that order appears merely to accelerate plans the Census Bureau had announced last year, making it less a new policy than a means of covering Mr. Trump's retreat from the composition of the 2020 census form.... 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.... Even as he waved a white flag on substance, Mr. Trump was still firing angry rhetorical shots. 'As shocking as it may be, far-left Democrats in our country are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst,' he said." (This is an update of a story linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Trump's & Barr's bluster was pretty funny. As he effectively waved a white flag, Trump tried to pretend he was still doing so much winning. Barr, when he took his turn at the podium, congratulated Trump twice for an executive order that was (a) unnecessary & (b) a clear surrender, but Barr too characterized as so much winning. You can watch the performance here. The good news is that Barr seems to have talked Trump out of shredding the Constitution by ignoring a Supreme Court ruling. ...

... BUT. Ari Berman of Mother Jones: "The decision is a major victory for voting and immigrant rights groups, who argued that the question would depress response rates among immigrant communities and jeopardize the accuracy and fairness of the entire decennial census. However, Trump's decision could still pose problems for voting rights. Trump ordered the Census Bureau to gather existing data on citizenship from administrative records, and ordered other federal agencies to turn over their citizenship data to the Commerce Department, which oversees the bureau. The administration could then use this information to draw districts based on citizenship rather than total population during the next redistricting cycle in 2021 -- something some Republicans have been advocating. That would shift political power to whiter and more Republican areas with fewer immigrants.... 'Some states may want to draw districts based on voter eligible population,' Trump said Thursday.... 'There is a legal dispute about whether illegal aliens can be included for apportionment purposes,' [AG Bill] Barr said, referring to a lawsuit from Alabama seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from counting toward congressional appointment." ...

... How Not to Behave at a Rose Garden Event. Nikki Schwab & Ben Feuerherd of the New York Post: "President Trump's Social Media Summit on Thursday almost descended into a brawl when Sebastian Gorka got into a brief shouting match with a White House reporter in the Rose Garden. Gorka, a former adviser to Trump, was sitting near the front row with several social media provocateurs during Trump's announcement about the census. When Trump finished his remarks..., Gorka walked past the White House press pool where he got into a brief shouting match with Playboy correspondent Brian Karem. Gorka called Karem a 'punk' during the dust-up.... In a brief interview before the scuffle, Gorka referred to reporters as 'asshats.'" ...

The crap you think of is unbelievable. -- Donald Trump, to wingers at the White House ...

... Kevin Freking & Marcy Gordon of the AP: "... Donald Trump used a White House conference Thursday to applaud far-right social media provocateurs even as he conceded that some of them are extreme in their views. Trump, who has weaponized social media to eviscerate opponents and promote himself, led a 'social media summit' of like-minded critics of Big Tech, excluding representatives from the very platforms he exploits. The president used the event to air grievances over his treatment by Big Tech, but also to praise some of the most caustic voices on the right, who help energize Trump's political base. 'Some of you guys are out there,' he told them. 'I mean it's genius, but it's bad.'... The meeting represented an escalation of Trump's battle with companies like Facebook, Google and even his preferred communications outlet, Twitter, where he has an estimated 61 million followers. The president has claimed, without evidence, that the companies are 'against me' and even suggested U.S. regulators should sue them on grounds of anti-conservative bias." ...

... Will Sommer of the Daily Beast:"The president spent much of the event complaining that his tweets get fewer retweets than they used to, suggesting that this was proof of a conspiracy against him -- claiming that he had been 'shadowbanned' by Twitter executives. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met with Trump earlier this year to explain that Trump had lost followers in routine bot purges, but Trump also alleged on Thursday that Twitter was deliberately depressing his follower count.... Trump frequently veered off-topic, returning multiple times to his complaints about the management of The Apprentice, the NBC reality show he hasn't hosted for years. But he also used the event to pump up his online personalities for the 2020 election.... The event included a number of people who elevate conspiracy theories for a living, including YouTuber Tim Pool, who has promoted the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, and Bill Mitchell, an online video personality who has promoted QAnon, a ludicrous idea that posits that the Democratic Party is run by pedophile cannibals." ...

Donald Trump Explains the First Amendment. To me free speech is not when you see something good [like me!] and then you purposely write bad [Trump critics]. To me that's very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that's not free speech. -- Donald Trump, at the social media soiree ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Trump's invocation of 'free speech' is consistent: His entire goal is to promote supportive views and suppress hostile ones. And the willingness of virtually the entire conservative movement to support or tolerate his cynical conscription of free speech to intimidate the media reveals how little they, too, care about freedom." ...

Trump Had Another Morning Twittertantrum Thursday. 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." Mrs. McC: I'd guess the cause of the tantrum was Trump's anticipated cave on the census citizenship question. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "'A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies,' [Trump] lashed out before launching into a chaotic thread that included more jokes about him serving past two terms, a timely Thursday throwback to his 2016 presidential launch, and another racist attack against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The tweetstorm concluded with an unabashed moment of self-praise. 'So great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!' the president called himself."

"Trump's Day of Terror." Matt Ford of the New Republic: "Sunday's planned arrests of more than 2,000 [immigrant] families are a pitch-perfect sop to [Trump's] base as he gears up for re-election.... Thousands of lives are about to change so the president can hear how well he's doing on Fox News.... The Trump administration forecasts its deportation raids not to make them more successful, but to instill fear in disfavored communities and to signal to his supporters that he's doing just that. Trump constantly strives to slake his base's unquenchable thirst for harsher policies toward immigrants. Trump isn't actually trying to solve an immigration problem." ...

... Jamie Ehrlich of CNN: "Nine major United States cities are bracing for impact following reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will move forward with an operation targeting migrant families with court-ordered removals that was previously called off in June. The mayors of the nine cities are speaking out as questions linger about whether city law enforcement will play a part in the raids that the administration has called a method of 'deterrence.' The New York Times first reported on the raids, saying they are expected to take place in at least 10 cities, will occur 'over multiple days' and will include 'collateral' deportations in which 'authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.' ICE has suspended its plans for New Orleans because of the storm. The article includes remarks from the mayors of Chicago, Miami, New York, Houston, Denver & San Francisco. As Matt Ford of the New Republic noted in the story linked above, "Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday urged House Democrats to inform their undocumented constituents about their right to refuse to allow ICE agents into their homes."

Dan Friedman of Mother Jones: "Since Donald Trump was sworn in as president, his frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago, his private Palm Beach club, have raised counterintelligence concerns:... On Wednesday, a federal judge in Florida suggested there was indeed reason to worry. Overseeing the case of a Yuijing Zhang, a Chinese woman arrested at the club in March for trespassing and lying to a federal agent (and who was found to have an array of electronic devices in her possession), US District Court Judge Roy Altman issued an extraordinary order that federal prosecutors can submit to him classified evidence about Zhang without sharing it with her. He said this was because disclosure of this material 'could cause serious damage to the national security of the United States.' In other words, this case -- according to the prosecutors -- was not a simple trespassing case; it somehow involved secret information." --s

Nick Martin of Splinter: "The Washington Post has a report out today on American Carnage, a forthcoming book from Tim Alberta that details the turmoil in the Republican Party under ... Donald Trump. Complete with reporting dating back to before the 2016 election, Alberta very much got The Goods, in the sense that he's got first-hand quotes from Trump saying things like how he loves Christianity not so much for that Jesus guy but for all the Evangelical votes he got. Alberta also apparently has pages and pages exhaustively detailing repeated instances of one-time Never-Trump Republicans eating absolute shit just to cling to power. It's bad and horrifying -- these are the people running our government, after all -- but it also makes plain the spinelessness of each and every card-carrying member of the GOP establishment member when presented with any sort of Trump-related conflict." Read on. OR, read the Trump cares about the appearance of criticism more than the criticism itself. His unheralded genius is not in insulting his critics but in co-opting them -- or at least in coming to mutually beneficial truces of the sort that suggests Trump's social-media histrionics are more calculated than they seem. After all, Trump has essentially stocked his entire government with formerly vehement critics, many of whom said far, far worse things about him than the British Ambassador did."

Laura Bassett in GQ: "[W]hen is America going to reckon with the alleged serial sexual abuser in the White House? Donald Trump has not only been accused of rape and sexual misconduct by more than 20 women over the past several decades, but he regularly uses his power to threaten survivors who come forward and to protect and promote men who abuse women.... Trump's connections to Epstein's sex trafficking may go beyond merely superficial. In 2016, 'Jane Doe' filed a lawsuit against Trump alleging a 'savage sexual attack in 1994, when she was 13 years old, in which he tied her to a bed at Epstein's house, raped her, and struck her in the face. The account was corroborated by a witness who claimed to have seen the child perform sexual acts on both Trump and Epstein.... Jane Doe dropped the lawsuit in November 2016, days before Trump's election, after her attorney, Lisa Bloom, cited 'numerous threats' against her client.... [W]hen the puzzle pieces are assembled, the full picture of Trump's alleged sexual misconduct and the fact that he's gotten away with it for so long are actually quite shocking at a time when the country is supposed to be reckoning with its own rape culture. It's not just the idea of a possible rapist sitting in the Oval Office that's disturbing -- it's the ripple effect of a presidency that silences and devalues women and girls while elevating the men who harm them. " --s ...

Rubbing Salt in the Wound. John Bresnahan of Politico: "House Democrats will vote next week on criminal contempt charges against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena over the 2020 census, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday. The vote -- the second time a sitting attorney general would be found in criminal contempt by the House -- has little real-world impact as Barr almost certainly won't face criminal charges from the Justice Department over efforts to include a citizenship question.... 'Next week, the full House will vote on a resolution of criminal contempt for Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross so we can enforce our subpoenas and get the facts,' Pelosi told reporters. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement that the vote would take place Tuesday."

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 ... Robert Mueller's impending testimony and the immigration crisis." (Also linked yesterday.)

Sean Wilentz in the New Yorker: On the matter of impeachment, Nancy "Pelosi's normally acute political judgment is failing her, and the historical precedent she is evidently relying on -- the impeachment of President Bill Clinton -- is not analogous. In fact, based on the past half century of political history, suppressing an impeachment inquiry seems more likely to help insure Trump's reëlection. If this happens, Pelosi's formidable reputation, based on a lifetime of public service and her role as the first female Speaker of the House, will suffer.... Pursuing a fully justified impeachment inquiry, however, would turn Trump's demagogy against him. It would reframe the division on constitutional terms, not with empty insults but with hard evidence, televised daily -- the kind of evidence that could turn crucial independent opinion and energize a Democratic base.... Such proceedings would also accentuate the now-or-never importance of the 2020 election." --s ...

... "A Constant Dereliction of Duty." Charles Pierce: "Right now, at this very moment, the United States government is committing crimes against humanity on its southern border at the command of a certifiable vulgar talking yam. The opposition party controls exactly one center of power in the tripartite government and two seats -- occasionally, three -- on the Supreme Court. And under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives has chosen to do precisely squat about the situation, choosing instead to pick a fight with its youngest and most charismatic members who, by the way, are pretty much the only members of the House who have gone to see the atrocities first hand."

Presidential Race 2020. Mark Murray of NBC News: "Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., lead the Democratic presidential field, according to the national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll's opening measure of the 2020 horse race. Biden gets the support of 26 percent of voters who say they will participate in next year's Democratic primaries or caucuses, while 19 percent back Warren. They're followed by Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who are tied at 13 percent. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets support from 7 percent of Democratic primary voters, and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke and entrepreneur Andrew Yang are at 2 percent."

He's So Black. Original photo left, NRCC version right.... Congressional Races 2020. Hunter Walker of Yahoo! News: "Former NFL star Colin Kaepernick did not look like himself in a fundraising email that was sent by the National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday. The message included a picture of Kaepernick that appeared noticeably altered to make his skin darker.... In an email to Yahoo News, NRCC communications director Chris Pack insisted, 'The photo was not darkened.'... Political ad makers have previously been accused of darkening African-Americans' skin in photographs to appeal to racist sentiment.... Hillary Clinton was also accused of darkening Obama's skin in ads [as was McCain].... There is a wide body of evidence indicating racial prejudice is stronger against African-Americans with darker skin, and ... that some voters respond negatively to candidates with darker skin." --s

Paul Krugman: "There are, I'd say, two main implications of [the lawsuit attempting to invalidate ObamaCare]..., a suit brought by 18 state attorneys general, and backed by the Trump administration.... The first is that right-wing partisanship has already corrupted much of the judiciary. At this point it's clear that there are many judges who will rule in favor of whatever the G.O.P. wants, no matter how weak the legal arguments. The second is that even though Obamacare is now part of the fabric of American life, even though many of the beneficiaries are Republican voters -- think about those numbers for Kentucky and West Virginia -- Trump and his party are as determined as ever to destroy it. And what this means in turn is that the 2020 election will be another referendum on health care. If you're an American who suffers from a pre-existing condition, or doesn't have a job that comes with health benefits, you should know that if Trump is re-elected, he will, one way or another, take away your health insurance."

Julie Brown & David Smiley of the Miami Herald: "At least a dozen new victims have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.... Following Epstein's arrest Saturday in New Jersey, four women have reached out to New York lawyer David Boies, and at least 10 other women have approached other lawyers who have represented dozens of Epstein's alleged victims in the past. Jack Scarola, a Palm Beach attorney, said at least five women, all of whom were minors at the time of their alleged encounters with Epstein, have reached out to either him or Fort Lauderdale lawyer Brad Edwards. 'The people we are speaking to are underage victims in Florida and in New York. They are not individuals whose claims have previously been part of any law enforcement investigation," Scarola said." --s ...

... Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: Jeffrey "Epstein asked the court to release him o 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." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Ed Kilgore of New York: "... Epstein's lawyers argue that Berman's decision in that case raised 'equal protection' concerns, unduly punishing the rich simply because they happen to be rich." Mrs. McC: Making rich people sit in jail when they can put up security worth millions & millions is totally unconstitutional.

... 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." (Also linked yesterday.)

Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: "... a major new study led by Yale researchers finds that just discussing [climate change] with friends and family leads them to learn more facts about the climate crisis, which in turn leads to greater understanding and concern about the issue.... In other words, talking about the climate crisis to family and friends motivates them to learn about the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is happening and humans are the cause -- along with other key facts. Increased understanding of the consensus in turns leads to an increase in understanding and concern about the climate.'" --s

Beyond the Beltway

Kentucky. Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), who earlier this year endorsed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a seventh six-year term, recently took to the airwaves to -- unintentionally -- make a compelling case for why the Senate majority leader should in fact step down.... In a radio interview last week..., Bevin argued that remaining in public office for too long led officials to become inefficient at their jobs. --s

Oklahoma. Ordinary Life in Flyover Country. Cassandra Sweetman of News 4 Oklahoma City: "Two people were arrested after a traffic stop of a stolen car revealed the two had a rattlesnake, radioactive uranium, and an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe. Stephen Jennings is charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, transporting an open container of liquor, operating a vehicle with a suspended license, and failure to carry security verification form. Rachael Rivera is charged with possession of a firearm after a former felony conviction." Wahoo!

Way Beyond

Alberto Nardelli of Buzzfeed: Three Russian and three Italian men met October 19, 2018, at "Moscow's iconic Metropol Hotel, to discuss plans for a 'great alliance.' ... Their nominal purpose was an oil deal; their real goal was to undermine liberal democracies and shape a new, nationalist Europe aligned with Moscow. BuzzFeed News has obtained an explosive audio recording of the Metropol meeting in which a close aide [Gianluca Savoini] of Europe's most powerful far-right leader -- Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini -- and the other five men can be heard negotiating the terms of a deal to covertly channel tens of millions of dollars of Russian oil money to Salvini's Lega party.... Salvini -- described enthusiastically by the Russians on the tape as the 'European Trump' -- did not attend the meeting himself, but he was in Moscow at the time." A long investigative piece. --s

Carlotta Gall of the New York Times: "The first shipment of a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system arrived in Turkey on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced, a process that is expected to incur United States sanctions and will test the NATO alliance. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has been insistent in his determination to purchase the S-400 system, Russia's most advanced antiaircraft weaponry, despite warnings from the United States. Washington has cautioned that the deal will lead to economic penalties against Turkey, a fellow NATO member, and cancellation of Turkey's purchase of American F-35 fighter jets. The United States has been unyielding in its opposition to Turkey's acquisition of the S-400. American officials have argued that the missile system is incompatible with NATO equipment, and that having Turkey operating both the Russian weapons and the F-35 could give Russia access to the American jets' secret stealth technology."

News Lede

AP: "Tropical Storm Barry's wind and rain began hitting parts of Louisiana early Friday as New Orleans and coastal communities braced for a drenching from what's expected to be the first hurricane of the season. A hurricane warning was in effect along the Louisiana coast, with forecasters predicting landfall as a hurricane by early Saturday. The storm's rains are expected to pose a severe test of New Orleans' improved post-Katrina flood defenses. Barry is forecast to bring more than a foot and a half (0.5 meters) of rain to parts of the state as it moves slowly inland."

Reader Comments (32)

So the Pretender doesn't like his declining re-tweet numbers. Since I don't tweet I don't know exactly what that means, but whatever it is, it seems to be giving him a big sad.

Of course, there could be a vast left-wing conspiracy in techno-land (I'd like to think so), but I would guess that as with impeachment fatigue, there's such a thing as Pretender fatigue, just as one would expect about a man who makes sure he and his antics make the news ledes two or three times each day.

I suspect even Trumpbots get tired of the show. "The Apprentice" lasted much longer, I know, but it was aired only weekly, not even for fifty-two weeks and on only one TV channel for a much smaller audience, and now that the Pretender is in his third year of running his daily shows the number of those episodes has long since surpassed that of its predecessor.

The Pretender makes himself so conspicuous so often that he is forced to create a crisis or outrage a day to ensure anyone at all will still tune in. Still, overexposed as he is, the Pretender may be becoming boring, something even that unstable idiot may sense.

To anyone other than a political junkie: he's too much ho-hum.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

".... the Democratic Part is run by pedophiles and cannibals." I know the homophobic Cons were gay and bi. I know the party of family values embraces many pedophiles and child molesters at the highest levels. I know that those legislating against abortions have coerced their wives and mistresses into having abortions. I know they are routinely involved in fraud. But I would not have picked them for cannibals. Wow.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

Dear Judge Berman: Please excuse Epstein from Rikers because he has to glue glass eyes to my walls this month. SINCERELY, Epstein's Mother

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

About the Kaepernick photo controversy, the Miami Herald today has a side by side comparison on the GOP version with their original as it appeared in the newspaper. Ain't the same, folks.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

“Women in Love (with me)” by Robert Foster (in case you were thinking DH Lawrence.)

Looks like little mikey pence is not the only confederate who’s weird about women (only kidding: most of them are). This guy Robert Foster, running for governor of Mississippi is not letting a reporter, Larrison Campbell, cover his campaign unless she’s accompanied by a male. What is this? Saudi Arabia? Should she be covered head to toe as well?

The implication seems to be, going by Foster’s fear of being near a...a...WOMAN, that everyone will think they are having an affair. (Cue that song from “Oklahoma”, “People Will Say We’re in Love”.)

So, does Foster believe he’s such a stud muffin that women will start tearing their clothes off if they spend too much time with him? Or does he think that Campbell is nothing more than a dim bimbo looking for a man? And if his excuse is, as he claims, everyone will think something funny is going on, I’d have to ask “Who are these people? Not anyone I know, that’s for sure.”

No. This is all about another Republican with fucked up ideas about women and men and sex. And if you’re a Mississippi voter, do you really want someone in the governor’s office who is afraid of being alone with a woman he’s not married to? I guess the voters in Indiana were okay with it. But then look at what a strange dude mike pence is.

Another “It would be funny if it weren’t so stupid and scary” moment from right-wing world.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The "so great looking, smart, true stable genius" back in the day when he tied a 13 yr. old girl to a bed and forced himself on her and then for good measure gave her a good slap in the face is now in the process of trying like hell to eradicate all immigrants, Muslims, and others whom he labels miscreants so this country can be pure and lily white and continue to tie us all in knots, force himself on us and give us all a good slap in the face for good measure.

How long are we going to stand for this? What are we waiting for?

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@Akhilleus: When the reporter reminded Foster that his campaign manager -- a man -- would be with them on the trip, Foster still refused to allow her to do the ride-along. Apparently, Foster requires more than one minder to keep his pants zipped.

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@PD Pepe: Make that, "when he allegedly tied a 13 yr. old girl to a bed and forced himself on her...."

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@ Marie–-yeah, thought I should add that caveat but I have little doubt that this is not true. Since I don't publish except here on R.C. I'm going without the "allegedly."

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD asked "How long are we going to stand for this? What are we waiting for?"

Nancy Pelosi says "As long as we have to" and "My prayers to work".

Every day brings new evidence that this guy is not only unfit to be president, he isn't fit to be among decent human beings. He should be in prison.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@ Bobby Lee

My favorite part of the whole story, is the ultimate shamelessness of the GOP's response.

"NRCC communications director Chris Pack insisted, 'The photo was not darkened.'"

To hell with the whole bunch.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

I'm thinking that one of the elements in the tiff between Pelosi and the Democrat's O-C cadre is, ironically enough as O-C has said, an outbreak of identity politics--but not for the reason that O-C thinks, that Pelosi is racially biased against her.

Since racism is so rife and since the Pretender has recently proven it to be a real force in American politics still in this enlightened century, part of Pelosi's calculation may be to distance the party a bit from the identity politics with which the party itself has been rightly identified, which in this instance means distancing party leadership from O-C and her group.

It's not as if Democrats themselves don't have racist feelings that party leaders don't have to take into account.

I know in that regard this old white boy is not as pure as Ivory soap .

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The Laura Bassett article (linked above) talks about "...the ripple effect of a presidency that silences and devalues women and girls while elevating the men who harm them."

Going back for a moment to Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Rob Foster, I'm recalling something else he said that aligns with the GOP's warped misogyny. One of his reasons for demanding that the reporter, Larrison Campbell, not come near him unaccompanied is his fear that she will, at some point, cry "rape" or "sexual abuse" which, of course, would be false, but he would have no way to combat the scurrilous claims of a woman looking to damage his career without someone else (a man, of course) being present.

It's not difficult to make the leap that, for guys like Foster, most, if not all claims by women that they've been attacked and/or raped, are entirely made up or at the very least suspect. That women cannot be trusted to tell the truth and that poor men like himself would have to pay the price for their insidious wiles. And to string this out further, why does he demand a man accompany Campbell? Why not another woman? A-ha! Because women are lying bitches and can't be trusted. They all lie.

This goes along neatly with Trump's belief that he can get away with any type of sexual abuse right up to raping (*ahem*--"allegedly") a 13 year old, by brushing off all such claims as lies invented to hurt him. He has that Attacker/Victim switcheroo thing down cold. It doesn't matter how many women he has attacked or abused, he will always be the victim and they the attackers.

In the same way, Foster already considers himself a potential victim of some evil woman.

These guys are fuuuuuucked up. Oh yeah. And assholes too.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@PD Pepe: Yeah, you probably wouldn't get into any trouble because I would say I have no idea who you are, but the Trumpster could sue me, possibly successfully, for millions. So that's "allegedly."

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Akhilleus: You're right about the women-can't-be-trusted hypothesis. One of the most infuriating aspects of this Trumpian method is that it victimizes the victim twice: first by committing the act itself, then by labeling the truthful accuser a liar (and usually, either by implication, innuendo or accusation, a slut). The number of women who have accused Trump of sexually assaulting them is up nearly two dozen now, but there are probably at least as many more who could make credible claims but who, as Jean Carroll did for years, don't feel up to going through the public humiliation, ridicule & character assassination they know that would entail.

And there are millions of men who are cool with this. Trump himself openly boasted, while being recorded, that he regularly assaulted women. His interviewer Billy Bush, who was an adult at the time, responded by giggling. Maybe the laughter was to cover his shock, or maybe Billy thought it was funny. BTW, since Billy was working for an outfit that pretends to be an entertainment news show, he got some actual explosive news on that tape, and "Access Hollywood" should have reported it at the time.

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

For those not keeping daily track of the Pretender's leadership carnage, here's a list--which Acosta's departure has just lengthened.

One way to make sure a state doesn't get to deep, I guess.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

*sob* That nice Acosta man who helped our Leader’s pal the wonderful Jeffy Epstein in his time of need when all those mean 12 year olds were trying to do bad things to him has resigned. Whatever shall we do? Now the Glorious Leader will have to find some other anti-labor, pro-corporate enabler of sex abusers to run The Labor Department.

As if he didn’t have enough to do with dismantling the Constitution, torturing brown babies, kicking in doors to round up people he hates, playing Lord of War with Iran, begging Russian crooks to help him steal another election, and all that other make ‘merica great stuff he’s always doing.

So unfair!

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Postponing Muellers testimony a week to allow for more time to testify sure moves it closer to the August play period when everyone flees DC.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

Alexander Acosta. Latest on the list of the many people who have trod that one way street, Trump Loyalty Road. They give but they never get. They also never learn. The average IQ of people willing to work for this clown must be over the cliff at this point. He’s not scraping the bottom of the barrel anymore, he’s looking for the ones that never made it into the barrel in the first place, the misshapen ones that rolled down the hill where they rotted out and where even the crows and the worms avoid them. Too much winning!

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I have seen replicas of the printed materials for that lawsuit that was dropped, by "Plaintiff Johnson," the girl who was alledgedly raped by the President of the United States== they are posted by commenters to Charlie Pierce's column, on Facebook. The description of what he did and said to this girl, aged 13, made my blood run cold. He is more Teflon than Reagan ever was. PD wonders why things aren't done, and it almost seems like the entire government at this point is engaged in secrecy, watching and waiting, and coverup. That includes the messed-up Democrats. In 2008, I said wistfully to a friend that I wondered if politics would ever be as crazy, as nasty, or as much fun sometimes, now that Obama was elected. I had no idea that life had entirely changed. I had no idea that all that would lead directly to what we are going through now, with jellyfish tentacles leading back to Reagan and the Bushes. I cannot for the life of me see a way forward, and I know that I can never even have a repugnican for a friend. Lunatics, all. Thank goodness for RC and Esquire and a couple more sites-- without them, I would assume I was simply crazy.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

'So great looking [4 pinocchios] and smart [4 pinocchios], a true Stable [4 pinocchios] Genius [4 pinocchios]!' - Trump
16 pinocchios in only 9 words!

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

@RAS: I think you found the record. Of course kudos to The Liar in Chief.

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


Hahaha. He might have some kind of smarts after all. The idiot savant of mendacity.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


Understand your confusion about the newly announced direction of the citrus investigation to determine whether Putin backed the Pretender, but I don't believe there's any remaining doubt that the R's in charge are pro-Putin.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Neither Trump nor his consigliere Billious Barrbaric order “investigations”. Silly people, you are not steeped in the ways of the Trumpado familglia criminale. Investigations are for people looking for the truth. These guys order findings, as in “pretend to blah, blah, blah, then come back with what we tell you.”


July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Deepest apologies. I never meant to imply there was any actual investigating going on. I'm not confused about the methodology of Barr's "report," just the scope. I'm sure that whatever that scope may be, the report's conclusions have been in the can for at least 6 weeks.

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

More on the Pretender economy, based wholly on borrowed money and stolen resources:

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes


Never thought you had any such beliefs. Haha.

Now...a couple of observations about the Acosta resignation.

One: Acosta states that he was going to depart because he didn't want to be a "distraction".

Hold on. Hahahahahahahaha......HAHAHAHAHAHA...

A DISTRACTION??? To the Trump Debacle?

That's like saying he didn't want to add an extra ripple to a tsunami. Or toss a pebble down the mountain during a volcanic eruption.

An extra distraction to Trump? To seriously qualify for that award, he'd have to have set off a nuclear explosion the size of Canada.

Two: Fatty made sure to yell that "It was him. HIM. NOT ME!!"

That's right. It's never him. He's not responsible for anything. Except maybe life itself. Even Homer's gods took responsibility for SOME things. Trump doesn't take responsibility for shit. "IT'S NOT MEeeeeeeeee.......!!!!"


And as a lagniappe, how 'bout this?

Over the last few nights, I've enjoyed watching the American Experience documentary about the 1969 moon launch.

At one point, there's a bit in which The Tricky One gets to talk to the crew of Apollo 11. Some staffer or other, apparently, reminded Nixon that he had nothing whatsoever to do with the program and to keep it short and sweet. He didn't exactly, but all I could think of was what that telephone conversation would have been like had it been Trump on the phone.

"I hope you realize that I am responsible for everything you're doing. In fact, I'm responsible for the moon itself. The universe owes me everything. And so do you. I hope your first words when you set foot on the moon is 'We owe it all to Donald!' Now that we've spent enough time talking about you losers, let's talk about me..."

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: And IT'S NOT ME!!!" is a joke. If it weren't Trump, Acosta would have handed Trump his resignation letter & Trump would have said faggedaboudit, and Acosta would have been so happy. Of course it's Trump.

July 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


Re. the "A" word: duly noted. Sure wouldn't want the gotcha gang knocking at your door!

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I'm totally out of sympathy for the Wall Street types crying for an interest rate cut. I never thought the day would come when I would cry over the maturity of a 3% certificate of deposit.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

Per usual catching RC via iPhone (paw-sized screen, easily missing “big picture”) and offering advance apologies if the following have already been posted.

“Trump’s Pick to Run the Labor Department Promoted Sweatshops on Remote US Islands” | Mother Jones

“At Pizzella’s 2017 Senate confirmation hearing to become deputy labor secretary, then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Pizzella to explain the work he did to defend garment factories in the Northern Mariana Islands.” | Mother Jones

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHattie
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