The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

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

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

We are amused:

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

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

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

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

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

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

... Related Washington Post story here.

     ... Thanks to NJC for the lead.


The Commentariat -- July 16, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

... Meg Wagner, et al., of CNN: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking from the House floor today, called President Trump's continued defense of his remarks 'shameful' and added that the 'comments are racist.' While addressing the House of Representatives during the debate over a resolution calling for members to condemn Trump's racist tweets, she quoted former President Ronald Reagan: 'If we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.' She added that the Democratic House caucus 'will continue to respond to the attacks on our members which reflect a fundamental disrespect for the beautiful diversity of America.'" ...

     ... Juliegrace Brufke of the Hill: "Republicans on Tuesday demanded that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) remarks blasting President Trump's comments about four minority congresswomen as racist be removed from the record, freezing action on the floor ahead of a House vote condemning Trump.... After [Rep. Doug] Collins [R-Ga.] asked Pelosi if she would like to rephrase her comments, Pelosi said she had cleared them with the parliamentarian in advance." Mayhem ensued.

Kellyanne Goes There. Matt Wilstein of the Daily Beast: Andrew "Feinberg, a reporter for the website, asked [Kellyanne Conway] which countries ... Donald Trump was referring to when he suggested Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar -- all U.S. citizens -- should 'go back' to where they came from. Instead of answering that question, Conway asked him, 'What's your ethnicity?'... After Conway shares that her ancestors are from Ireland and Italy, the reporter said, 'My ethnicity is not relevant to the question I'm asking you.'" Mrs. McC: In fairness to the lovely Kellyanne, she was having a bad day. Besides working for Trump, "In that same Fox interview, Conway distanced herself from her husband George Conway, whose latest Washington Post column is headlined: 'Trump is a racist president.'"

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "The president's latest defense of his tweets telling the lawmakers to 'go back' to their home countries, even though they are all U.S. citizens, came hours before the House is set to vote on a resolution condemning them as racist. 'Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don't have a Racist bone in my body!' Trump tweeted. Trump condemned the 'so-called vote' on the resolution as a 'Democrat con game,' sending a message to Republicans to vote against the measure. 'Republicans should not show 'weakness' and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat,' he tweeted." Mrs. McC: Trump's assertion is partially true inasmuch as bones are not capable of harboring or expressing racist thoughts. ...

... Brendan Morrow of the Week: "House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday insisted that President Trump's tweets telling four minority congresswomen to 'go back' to where they came from were not racist. McCarthy in a press conference was asked whether Trump's weekend tweets were racist, to which he flatly responded, 'No,' saying that "this is about ideology" and criticizing the so-called 'squad' that Trump attacked while not offering a specific defense of the language used. McCarthy also said he will vote against the resolution condemning Trump's tweets...." ...

... Katie Rogers of the New York Times: "Those who study language and rhetoric say the president's 'go back' comments -- or, at least, the sentiment behind them -- have roots beginning as far back as the 1600s, when dissidents were banished from American colonies for advocating total religious freedom. Later, a set of laws passed in 1798 allowed the deportation of noncitizens who were considered dangerous, were from hostile nations or had criticized the federal government.... More than 4,800 ... people who wrote to The New York Times to share their own experiences with the phrase...."

Katie Benner & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "The Justice Department will not bring federal charges against a New York City police officer [Daniel Pantaleo] in the death of Eric Garner, ending a yearslong inquiry into a case that sharply divided officials and prompted national protests over excessive force by the police, according to three people briefed on the decision." ...

... Pete Williams & Minyvonne Burke of NBC News: "According to a senior Justice Department official, U.S. Attorney General William Barr made the final decision not to charge Pantaleo, choosing to follow the recommendations of Brooklyn prosecutors.... A medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide, saying the chokehold was the cause. The chokehold is prohibited by the New York Police Department."


The Great White Dope

Eileen Sullivan & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Trump on Monday accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of using racist comments, escalating his attacks on four first-term Democratic congresswomen to the leader of the Democratic Party. Ms. Pelosi had criticized the president on Sunday for suggesting four lawmakers of color should 'go back' to their own countries, and she said that his slogan, '"Make America Great Again" has always been about making America white again.' Mr. Trump in turn accused her of racist remarks. 'So Speaker Pelosi said, "Make America white again." That's a very racist -- that's a very racist statement. I'm surprised she'd say that,' Mr. Trump said at an event celebrating American manufacturing at the White House." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... The story has been updated: "Hours [after Trump's remarks to reporters], the four [Congresswomen] called a news conference to scathingly denounce Mr. Trump's latest remarks, which they argued were part of a pattern of hateful language designed to distract from what they said were brutal policies and misconduct in office.... In a blistering speech that culminated with a call to impeach him, [Rep. Ilhan] Omar recounted a litany of the president's most offensive comments about people of color, women and immigrants.... 'This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it is reached the White House garden.'... Even as the four spoke, [Trump] was online calling them 'radical Democrats' and Twitter-shouting, 'IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!'"

... My Racist Tweets Are Okay Because Many People Agree with Me. Claudia Koerner of BuzzFeed News: "President Trump on Monday claimed his racist tweets attacking progressive congresswomen weren't racist, and he added that he's not concerned about backlash because 'many people' hold his same views.... 'Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and white nationalists are finding common cause with you on that point?' a reporter asked. 'It does not concern me because many people agree with me,' Trump said. 'And all I'm saying, they wanna leave, they can leave. It doesn't say leave forever. It says leave.'"(Also linked yesterday.) The AP reports that Trump added, "A lot of people love it, by the way." ...

Kathryn Krawczyk of the Week: "... in doubling down on [his] attack [on Rep. Ilhan Omar] Monday, Trump falsely accused Omar of 'speaking about how wonderful Al Qaeda is,' despite Omar having no ties to the terrorist group and Trump having no idea how to spell it.... The Washington Post's Jabin Botsford later shared ... photos he captured..., which show that Trump's notes were covered in black marker scribbles reminding him to bring up the mysterious 'alcaida' and the even vaguer 'some people.'" Mrs. McC: Actually, I think that's "Some Peopel"; you be the judge. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'll never be able to spell "Al Qaeda" again. Anyhow, it's worth noting that Trump brought these notes knocking non-white Congresswomen to an event that was supposed to be the "Made in America Product Showcase." ...

... Linda Qiu of the New York Times fact-checks Trump's extended false claim that Omar has talked "about how great Al Qaeda is" and expressed "love ... for enemies like Al Qaeda." ...

... Heather Caygle & John Bresnahan of Politico: "House Democrats are drafting a resolution to condemn ... Donald Trump's racist tweets against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other high-profile freshman congresswomen, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Inae Oh of Mother Jones: Trump "ratcheted up his [racist] attack on Monday by asserting that the congresswomen owe him an apology.... 'When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... ** Adam Serwer of the Atlantic: "When Trump told these women to 'go back,' he was not making a factual claim about where they were born. He was stating his ideological belief that American citizenship is fundamentally racial, that only white people can truly be citizens, and that people of color, immigrants in particular, are only conditionally American. This is a cornerstone of white nationalism, and one of the president's few closely held ideological beliefs. It is a moral conviction.... Trump today accused the women of 'foul language & racist hatred.' White nationalists in the United States have always asserted that they are, in fact, the true victims of racial hatred.... Trump's remarks about the representatives followed a week in which he unsuccessfully attempted to overturn a Supreme Court decision that hobbled an administration effort to use the census to expand white voting power. The president's remarks about Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib are not only consistent with that effort; they provide its moral foundation." Read on. Thanks to Anonymous for the link. ...

... Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times: Trump's "theory of citizenship is an old one, brought back from the margins of American politics and expressed in his crude, demagogic style. And it has found a comfortable place in a Republican Party that elevates its narrow, shrinking base as the only authentic America and would rather restrict the electorate than persuade new voters. With that said, what's more striking than the president's blood-and-soil racism is how Democratic Party elites -- or at least one group of them -- are playing with similar assumptions. It helps explain the current feud between Pelosi and the four congresswomen.... Indeed, it is instructive -- and frankly disturbing -- that top Democrats leaked a poll to Axios showing broad dissatisfaction with Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Omar. Not from the entire public or Democratic voters, but from '1,003 likely general-election voters who are white and have two years or less of college education.'" ...

... David Remnick of the New Yorker: "At a press conference Monday, Ocasio-Cortez said that when she visited Washington, D.C., as a girl, her father showed her the Capitol, the reflecting pool, the Lincoln Memorial, and other sites of American democracy and told her, 'This belongs to all of us.... This weekend that very notion was challenged.'... This was precisely the point: Trump was saying that these four women of color did not belong.... Trump can hardly run a reëlection campaign on policy triumphs.... And so he will sling as much filth as possible and hope his base comes out in sufficient numbers." ...

... "Racism Comes out of the Closet.' Paul Krugman: "Sorry, there's no way to both sides this, or claim that Trump didn't say what he said. This is racism, plain and simple -- nothing abstract about it. And Trump obviously isn't worried that it will backfire. This should be a moment of truth for anyone who describes Trump as a 'populist' or asserts that his support is based on 'economic anxiety.' He's not a populist, he's a white supremacist. His support rests not on economic anxiety, but on racism.... This isn't just about Trump; it's about his whole party.... Although most of the commentary focuses on Trump's demand that native-born Americans 'go back' to their home countries, his description of their imaginary homelands as 'crime infested' deserves some attention, too. For his fixation on crime is another manifestation of his racism."

... Steve M.: "If Trump is doing this now, 16 months before the election, how inflammatory will his rhetoric be by the fall of 2020? He thinks he's bulletproof. He thinks he's an expert on winning elections, based on sample set of one, and is certain that this (rather than Russian interference of James Comey's incompetence) is what worked for him." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Donie O'Sullivan of CNN: "President Trump's weekend tweets in which he used racist language to attack four progressive Democratic congresswomen are not against Twitter's rules, a company spokesperson told CNN Business Monday -- a conclusion apparently contradicted by Twitter's written policies.... Twitter's ... policy on hateful conduct prohibits 'targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category.'... The episode represents a tough first test for a new stance Twitter announced less than a month ago, in which it will label and down-rank tweets from Trump and other world leaders that break its rules, rather than removing them." ...

... Jon Allsop of the Columbia Journalism Review runs down how the MSM avoided calling Trump's tweets racist. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Zack Ford of ThinkProgress: "Marc Short, chief of staff to ... Mike Pence, told Fox Business on Monday that ... Donald Trump can't be racist because his current transportation secretary [Elaine Chao] is an Asian immigrant.... Chao's Cabinet role, Short explained, was proof Trump couldn't possibly be racist.... The vast majority of Trump's Cabinet members are white men; Chao and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson are the two notable exceptions." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: And of course Chao has a unique attribute: she's married to Mitch McConnell. Trump can't fire her. ...

... Lindsey Changes His Mind, Embraces McCarthy's Tactics. Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) ... attacked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) by name and others by association during a Fox News interview, claiming they were' Communists' who 'hate our own country.'... In the 1950s, Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) and others famously accused American citizens of secretly being Communists -- often without evidence.... Last year, he angrily denounced the women who had come forward with allegations of sexual predation against Trump's then-Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. 'This is as close to McCarthyism as I hope we get in my lifetime,' he charged." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... If you scroll pretty far down the page, this Politico report by Quint Forgey & Caitlin Oprysko relays reactions from some Republican legislators. ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said Monday that she thinks President Trump';s tweets suggesting that minority Democratic lawmakers 'go back' to the countries they came from was racist.... Asked [by reporters] if she thought Trump's comments were specifically racist, Ernst acknowledged, 'Yeah, I do.' She reiterated that view when asked on another occasion by a CNN reporter if she found Trump's comments racist." ...

... Ron Brownstein at CNN: "... Donald Trump's openly racist and xenophobic attacks on four Democratic House women of color, like his threatened immigration enforcement raids in major cities and the sweeping proposed new restrictions on asylum seekers that he announced Monday, underscores his transformation of the Republican Party into a coalition centered on the voters and places in America most hostile to immigration in particular and demographic change in general. This latest flurry of activity continues the drive by Trump and other Republicans elected mostly from the parts of America least touched by immigration to impose a restrictionist agenda on migration over the nearly undivided opposition of Democrats elected by the areas where most immigrants, both undocumented and legal, actually live.... Hardly any Republicans at any level now represent urban constituencies with the large immigrant populations that Trump has threatened...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is true for most of the country, but those redneck confederate senators from Southern states represent a helluva lot of rural minorites. ...

... Speaking of the Party of White People, Politico Magazine has published another excerpt of Tim Alberta's book, this one on the struggle between Trump & Paul Ryan for "the soul of the Republican party." As if the Republican party had a soul.

Marshall Cohen
, et al., of CNN: "New documents obtained exclusively by CNN reveal that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 US election, during a series of suspicious meetings at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The documents build on the possibility, raised by special counsel Robert Mueller in his report on Russian meddling, that couriers brought hacked files to Assange at the embassy.The surveillance reports also describe how Assange turned the embassy into a command center and orchestrated a series of damaging disclosures that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States." Mrs. McC: CNN has produced a fascinating video report, which accompanies the article. Well worth watching.

Morgan Chalfant, et al., of the Hill: "The Trump administration is moving to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced Monday. According to text of the rule set to publish in the Federal Register on Tuesday, asylum seekers who pass through another country before reaching the United States will be ineligible for asylum when they reach the southern border.... The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice announced the Interim Final Rule (IFR) in a joint statement Monday. Under the rule, those who have been the victims of trafficking are granted exceptions. The rule also allows exceptions for migrants passing through countries that have not signed major international refugee treaties and for migrants who have been denied asylum in the countries they traveled through.... 'The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country's legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger,' Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project said in a statement. [']This new rule is patently unlawful and we will sue swiftly.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... The AP story, by Colleen Long, is here. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Daniella Silva of NBC News: "Immigrant rights advocates and attorneys denounced ... Donald Trump's latest move Monday to restrict asylum at the southern border as the 'most egregious' and 'extreme' policy targeting the form of protection by the administration yet.... Attorney General William Barr called the interim final rule a 'lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum.'... In Guatemala, the State Department's own human rights report in 2018 said 'identification and referral mechanisms for potential asylum-seekers were inadequate.... Both migration and police authorities lacked adequate training concerning the rules for establishing refugee status,' the report said." ...

... Maybe You Missed It. Caitlin Oprysko: "... Donald Trump on Monday asserted that the mass-deportation raids he confirmed and publicized last week took place, despite few signs of removals being carried out at the scale he promised. 'The ICE raids were very successful -- people came into our country illegally, illegally,' Trump told reporters during an event at the White House showcasing American-made products. 'Many, many were taken out on Sunday, you just didn't know about it.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: That Made in America event was supposed to be a taxpayer-funded campaign promo, but the real campaign tactic was promoting racism.

Humeyra Pamuk & Sarah Lynch of Reuters: "In a court case that could further strain American relations with Turkey and weigh on the sentencing of former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn, a criminal trial began on Monday involving a former Iranian-American business partner of Flynn. Bijan Rafiekian's trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, turns on whether he conspired to lobby on Turkey's behalf to try to persuade the U.S. government to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen blamed by Turkey for a failed coup in July 2016." Mrs. McC: According to Wikipedia, "Kian was a partner of ... Michael Flynn in the Flynn Intel Group and worked with the incoming Trump administration's transition team on matters relating to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence." Rachel Maddow said that in his capacity on the transition team, Rafiekian's job was to vet potential CIA officials.

Demetri Sevastopulo & Sue-Lin Wong of the Financial Times (July 10): "Donald Trump told Chinese president Xi Jinping last month that the US would tone down criticism of Beijing's approach to Hong Kong following massive protests in the territory in order to revive trade talks with China. The US president made the commitment when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Osaka, according to several people familiar with the meeting.... Following the Trump-Xi meeting, the state department told Kurt Tong, the departing US consul general in Hong Kong, to remove several critical comments about China from his final speech in the Asian financial hub.... [T]he veteran diplomat was forced to water down the July 2 address [about democratic erosions]." --s

Hans Nichols, et al., of NBC News: "... Donald Trump has told aides and allies that he is considering removing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross after a stinging Supreme Court defeat on adding a citizenship question to the census, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations. While Trump has previously expressed frustration with Ross, 81, in particular over failed trade negotiations, Ross' long personal relationship with the president has allowed him to keep his job." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If Trump were firing Ross because he lied to Congress, the move would be justified. But Trump is Trump, so he will have someone fire Ross for not lying well enough.

Julia Ainsley & Tim Stelloh of NBC News: "Seventy current and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees are under investigation for participating in a secret Facebook group in which users joked about dead migrants and made sexist, derogatory comments about Latino Congress members, officials said Monday. Speaking to reporters, Customs officials said that 62 are current employees and eight are former employees. The office of professional responsibility is conducting the investigations, the officials said. Investigations into two employees have been completed and handed over to CBP for a disciplinary decision."

Kate Morrissey of the San Diego Union Tribune, in Stars & Stripes: "A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview."

Marisa Fernandez of Axios: "Larry R. Felix, the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 2006 to 2015, said the probability of releasing a concept design [for the Harriet Tubman $20 bill] in 2020 had always been low due to security and fraud risks, despite then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's desire for an unveiling that coincided with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Felix told the [Washington] Post: 'Those announcements were not grounded in reality. The U.S. had not at the time acquired the security features to redesign and protect the notes.'... A former Obama appointee told the Post that the new $20 bill had always been scheduled for release toward 2030, consistent with the Trump administration's claims." (Also linked yesterday.)

Catherine Garcia of the Week: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday night said the House of Representatives will not raise the debt ceiling unless it is combined with a budget agreement. Earlier in the day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that if a budget deal is not reached soon, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling before its August recess, otherwise there won't be enough money to pay the government's bills. This idea, Pelosi said, is not 'acceptable to our caucus.'"

Twitter Diplomacy. Iain Marlow & Dandan Li of Bloomberg: "A senior Chinese diplomat [based in Islamabad] deleted a tweet that prompted former U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice to call him a 'racist disgrace' as China's diplomats become increasingly vocal on the social media platform. In a string of messages aimed at highlighting U.S. hypocrisy in criticizing China's human rights record, Lijian Zhao ... mentioned everything from school shootings and income inequality to racial segregation, adding that if 'you're in Washington, D.C., you know the white never go' to the Southeast part of the U.S. capital, home to historically African-American areas.... 'You are a racist disgrace. And shockingly ignorant too,' she tweeted at Zhao o Sunday.... [S]he also [wrongly] addressed the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, who recently joined Twitter: 'Ambassador Cui, I expect better of you and your team. Please do the right thing and send him home.'" --s

Macron's Bastille Day parade bested Trump's July Fourth thing with this flyboard demonstration:

The Epstein Treasures. Tom Winter & David Li of NBC News: "Agents unearthed a 'pile of cash, diamonds' and 'a passport from a foreign country' in a safe belonging to Jeffrey Epstein, prosecutors told a judge Monday during a bail hearing for the wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker. Federal authorities are arguing for Epstein to be denied bail and to remain behind bars until he's tried for sex-crime charges in acts allegedly involving underage girls.... 'The passport was issued in the name of a foreign country, it was issued in the 1980s, it is expired, it shows a picture of Jeffrey Epstein, and another name,' [the prosecutor] said, adding the passport showed Epstein's residence as Saudi Arabia." The court will rule Thursday on the bail plea. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Julie Brown of the Miami Herald: "Jeffrey Epstein's arrest is reverberating in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party are calling for a criminal probe into former prime minister Ehud Barak's personal and business ties with the accused sex trafficker, Israeli media is reporting. Barak, 77, served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001. This month he formed a new party to run for prime minister against Netanyahu, who called for new elections in September.... Netanyahu took to social media, writing: 'Investigate Ehud Barak immediately.'... Netanyahu is at the center of three criminal investigations into alleged corruption, which he denies." --s

Denise Lavoie of the AP: "An avowed white supremacist was sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years Monday for deliberately driving his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters during a rally in Virginia, killing one woman and injuring dozens. James Alex Fields Jr., 22, remained stoic as Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore formally imposed the recommendation of a state jury that convicted him in December of murder and maliciou wounding charges for his actions in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Fields showed no visible emotion as victims of the car attack described severe physical and psychological injuries - broken bones, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression - inflicted by Fields when he plowed his car into them.... Last month, Fields received a life sentence on 29 federal hate crime charges."

Salvador Hernandez of BuzzFeed News: "A federal judge ruled more than $14 million should be awarded to a woman who was barraged with anti-Semitic and threatening messages online after a neo-Nazi blogger instructed his followers to target her and her family with a 'troll storm.' The ruling was handed down Monday against Andrew Anglin, a white supremacist and publisher of the website The Daily Stormer. In his decision, judge Jeremiah Lynch found that Anglin 'acted with actual malice' when he told followers: 'Let's Hit Em Up. Are y'all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm? Because AYO - it's time, fam.' What followed were a series of racist and sometimes threatening messages to Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh, her co-workers, an her family, including her 12-year-old son." Mrs. McC: Gersh lives & works in Whitefish, Montana, also the home of our one-time Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

Jessica Glenza of the Guardian: "Prominent anti-abortion campaigners in New York developed and funded the Femm app, which collects intimate information about women's sex lives and sows doubt about hormonal birth control methods. The app has been downloaded more than 400,000 times globally, according to its developers, and appears to be the first ideologically aligned fertility tracking app [supported by the Catholic Church]. But leaders of the organization are also promoting the app and teaching the 'Femm methods' of natural family planning in places such as rural Nigeria, where women are at high risk of HIV infection, child marriage and sexual violence.... Natural family planning methods have an up to 33% failure rate per 100 women per year, according to the most recent review in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.... Abortion is illegal in Nigeria under almost all circumstances. These laws are 'a major contributor to the country's high levels of maternal death', according to the Guttmacher Institute." --s

Sarah Boseley of the Guardian: "The number of people with not enough to eat [820 million people worldwide] has risen for the third year in a row as the population increases, after a decade when real progress was made. The underlying trend is stabilisation, when global agencies had hoped it would fall." --s

Way Beyond the Beltway

Russia. Andrey Biryukov & Evgenia Pismennaya of Bloomberg: "Vladimir Putin's 20-trillion-ruble ($300 billion) weapons-buying binge over the last decade has ... left the country's defense industry with a massive hangover of debt that officials now say is suffocating the strategic sector. The industry 'is living from hand to mouth' and doesn't have enough money to invest in vital new technology, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told an industry conference earlier this month.... At the core of the problem is the way Russia funds its big weapons budget. The government doesn't release the funds for new systems until they're completed, forcing producers to borrow from commercial banks.... But the rates on those loans average about 10% a year..., leaving the companies with huge debt costs." --s

BBC: "Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing will feature on the new design of the Bank of England's £50 note. He is celebrated for his code-cracking work that proved vital to the Allies in World War Two. The £50 note will be the last of the Bank of England collection to switch from paper to polymer when it enters circulation by the end of 2021. The note was once described as the 'currency of corrupt elites' and is the least used in daily transactions." Mrs. McC: Maybe the £50 will become more popular in a couple of years. (Also linked yesterday.)

Reader Comments (14)

I find it interesting that what we have complained (and complained) about, that headline writers consistently "explain" to the general populace that it is always only the Dems protesting the things that need those complaints, is now a "thing." Several sources have apparently now noted these headlines, which of course find themselves also in the body text of articles... I noted the one in our morning paper (which I read at night--)definitely said it was the Dems criticizing the Lord High Racist Pig (sorry, pigs-- you are "better than this--")for his three days of nasty white nationalist bawling...No, it's everyone who has ethics, a moral compass and compassion, and brains in their heads, and the courage to label this way of speaking/writing what it is-- pure racism. It has taken a long time to get the MSM to say "lies" and I guess this is next. Every time the Monster opens his mouth, he spits toads and snakes...sorry, toads and are not to blame...

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Didn't sleep well last night. I'm blaming the Pretender. Why not?

Read two articles about his racists ploys (one recommended by Anonymous yesterday. Thanks) before going to bed. Maybe too much misery for my aging brain to digest and comfortably eliminate.

Reminded me of Mark Twain's remark that until he was older he had no trouble with mince pie after midnight. He went on to say that until he was seventy or so he didn't know it was loaded.

Now this morning am mulling the "many people agree with me" excuse. Aside from its obvious truth--there are millions of racistis running around loose in this country--it reminded me of the old--and I mean old-- Renault ad that claimed "forty million Frenchmen can't be wrong."

The lesson I learned from that--I think before I entered teendom--was that of course they could. Whole swaths of people are often wrong. Millions of people flunk tests. Cadres of engineers build bridges that fall down. Correct answers to questions are never guaranteed by the company you keep.

Two thoughts follow.

First, is the Pretender that stupid?

On one level, of course he is.

But on another the question is irrelevant because the way he judges his success or failure is never a matter of getting things right or wrong, either academically I conclude from his refusal to release his grades, the pen scratchings of his we've seen, and morally, from his daily behavior.

The Pretender is simply all about winning the game, and from the beginning of his career in business, schooled by a father of the same mind, this anti-gentleman whom we've been foolish enough to place in high office has considered cheating an essential element of any winning strategy.

Up to now, so much winning--for him.

For the people he plays against and with--now an entire nation--so much losing.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes: Trump has got almost everything he wants out of the presidency: a massive tax cut for himself & the ascendancy of his racist ideology. The one thing he didn't get: respect. And he's too arrogant to know why.

July 16, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


Reporter: Mr. President, the immigrant round-up for this weekend–-it wasn't much of a round-up we heard.

Trump: Thousands and thousands of those illegal bastards were captured––you just didn't know about it.

R: Sir, what do you make of people condemning your comments about the four women in the House–-they are calling you a racist.

T: I am NOT a crook–-ah– I mean-a racist–-who is those "they"–thousands of people agree with me––you just didn't know about it.

R: Well, sir, you are aware that those four women are citizens of this country and except for one who came here from Somalia when she was a teen–- all were all born in the U.S.

T: Fake news! Don't believe it! They make up stories about themselves--you just don't know about it.

R: Some say, sir, that you are losing favor in the polls due to your handling of the immigration situation.

T: You people just won't let up––what a disaster! treating this president like he was some kind of heartless––people know that I am the best president in history––

R: (shouting from the back of the group) MR. President! What people are you talking about?

T: Thousands of people–-you just don't know about it.

R: ( woman in front) Sir––so you don't think you are a racist, a misogynist, a liar, a cheat, a crook, and a...

T: You are a rude, miserable looking excuse for a female and by the looks of you, you, too, should go back to the country you came from. Try connecting with Al--kie–da–-they would welcome you. Now scram–-all you––all you are the enemies of the people! You're all going to get fired––you just don't know about it!

The man ambles off to his helicopter that will take him to another state where he will rally the crowd and regale them with lies that they will believe because for them, perhaps he's the only thing they have that makes sense in their lives; that they are dead wrong is something they can't face––they just don't want to know about it.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe


He doesn't just want respect. He wants fawning obedience as well and he's outraged that people, especially uppity women of color, have the temerity to not bow down to his superiority. Even worse, they contradict what he says and criticize him in public. The nerve! Speaking of nerves, this, more than anything, likely shreds Trump's last nerve: the idea that women of color dare to criticize him. When he doubled down on his latest racist ranting yesterday, it came from an authentic place inside the blackened, fetid mass that passes for his soul. He might be playing to the base, but this is stuff he really believes. Black people, Muslims, Hispanics, have no business crossing the Great Donaldo. Many people say so...which leads us to...


That "many people agree with me" trick is one of most common logical fallacies employed by Trump and his minions. It's often known as the argumentum ad populum or the Bandwagon Fallacy. If "many people" say or believe something, it must, ipso facto, be true.


Earth is the center of the universe
The earth is flat
Bad air causes cholera
It snows, so global warming must be a hoax
Columbus discovered America
WMD in Iraq
Capitalism is a perfect meritocracy
Minorities are not as advanced as whites
African-Americans won't make good soldiers/workers/ballplayers, etc.
Trump isn't a racist

All false. It doesn't matter if "many people" believe them to be so and maintaining the contention that you're right because a lot of people agree with you marks you as stupid beyond belief (or a sleazy con artist).

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I haven't seen it yet, but Democrats (HELLO, DNC??) need to start beating the drum for voter registration. There is no way Trump's racist horde can reelect their Führer if a decent number of Democratic voters turn out. Minority communities especially need to show up and vote, as well as every single white Democrat who sat on their asses in the past, this includes, especially the both-siders and the "What Does it Matter Who Wins?" types. Trump's racist statements should be compiled into a general GOTV video and played and replayed. His comments should be hung around the neck of every confederate up for reelection. You don't repudiate his hatred, you own it.

Republicans have not (yet) outlawed elections, but they're trying. The Supreme Court has helped immensely by saying "Gerrymandering? We don't know from gerrymandering. Carry on."

Check list:

Impeach Trump

There. That's not so hard, is it?

For Democrats? Apparently, impossible.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

It's something that happens to all of us — a slip of the finger and a letter is missed or added when we type. We've all hit Send or Create Post only to go Aggggh as we see a stupid error courtesy of one of our digits. When we write things out it often keeps us a bit more in check.

But, good grief...Some Peopel and AlcaiDa as written by the stable genius in the White House puts him last in class. Third grade, that is.

His continuing racist attacks on the four Congress women are appalling. Every time he opens his mouth it is one more insult toward someone — be they of another color or anyone who doesn't absolutely adore him or someone who made him look bad. Trump uses his words to attack, demean, debase, and discredit.

Dolt. Dotard. Dummie.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

@Ken: Just told my mister that you, too, had trouble sleeping last night–-I have been having a whole lot of sleepless nights––and Joe said––"Tell Ken to go out and dig a hole–-that'll get him good and tired. (Joe toils in the vast outdoors in the gardens and in the acres of land we have to mow–-he sleeps like a baby.)

@AK: Enjoyed your treatise yesterday on blooms (glad you liked the poem) and the Mad info–- for someone like me who was ignorant of that magazine it was interesting. So this is for you: If I recall you once mentioned how you read Kipling's "Jungle Book" and other of his tales to your "little guy" and I said that I, too, read his stories to my little guys. Well, here is an most interesting piece from the New Yorker on Kipling––had no idea he had such a formidable wife–-on his time spent in America––where on wrote most of his tales–-and how all this connected to his great defense of Empire.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@MAG: I missed that capital "D" in the middle of "AlcaiDa." As you suggest, most third-graders know the difference between upper- and lower-case letters & know not to use caps in the middle of a word. I'd say those notes are another real sign of Trump's mental regression.

July 16, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Interesting that an adminstration that relies so much on lies and censorship touts the sunshine effect of transparency.

Red face immunity must be required to get into the Republican door.

With luck, the rescission of the Obama rule on for profit colleges, due to take effect in 2020,won't be in place for long.

Also see, according a WAPOST header, that the Pretender will be moving much of BLM staff out of D.C. Don't know if the intent is to rid the agency of staff reluctant to move as has been reported to be the case for Dept. of Agriculture scientists, or if the Pretender just thinks that draining the swamp means moving it.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

So let's see...Eric Garner is dead. His death is ruled a homicide, meaning...someone killed him. He didn't kill himself. He didn't jump into the Hudson, he wasn't hit by a car, he wasn't hit by lightning or die of natural causes. He died of asphyxiation. He was strangled, basically.

But NO ONE DID IT! Amazing!

Well, okay, it seems like Officer Daniel Pantaleo who put him in a chokehold kinda, sorta did it, but the "law" sez he can't be found guilty unless it can be determined that he willfully killed the guy. Um...okay. So let's parse that a bit shall we?

Did someone force him to put that chokehold on Mr. Garner? Not as far as we know. Which means it was a decision he made himself. A WILLFUL decision.

Okay, that's taken care of. He did it willfully. Did he mean to kill the guy? Probably not. But here's the thing about that. If you were drunk driving and hit someone and killed them, no one could prove that you willfully killed that person, but getting behind the wheel hammered was a willful act, wasn't it? Would you get off in that instance? No. So what's next?

Oh yeah. Chokeholds are forbidden by New York City Police policy. For-Bidden. Meaning no can do. Why? could KILL SOMEONE using that technique.

Which is exactly what happened.

So let's review, shall we?

Eric Garner (black guy) Is dead.

His death was ruled a homicide.

The actions of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo (white guy) killed him.

Pantaleo used a technique forbidden by the department.

Should he be prosecuted under federal law?

Prez Racist Asshole's (white guy) war time consigliere, Bill Barr (white guy) sez NO.

Gee. Could never have guessed that outcome.

So here we have a homicide. A victim. But no perpetrator. I guess Garner (not a white guy) should have just gone back where he came from.

No racism here.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

My visions of things happening to the Orange Menace a la circles of hell, etc., will always include Barr. I hope someone someday writes a tell-all that actually says when this guy went totally rogue-- had to be before he sent his 19-page application into the DOJ or Congress or whomever was lucky enough to be the recipient. I just want to slap him and slap him until the jowls slide from side to side so fast that it tears his nose off. Really. Cuz HE is not dumb, like Ken's Pretender...and his handwriting is all over everything Dumpy Don does. (Hatred is wearing my teeth down...this will ultimately be costly--)

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Perhaps Idiotstick’s spelling of “AlcaiDa” stems from his need to have things written out phonetically since he is incapable of actually pronouncing something with the correct (foreign, eww, ick!) spelling.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRockygirl


Good point. This is why he’s worried about Democrats wurking with Eyesis and making waves for him with Sowdee Raybeeah and all those nasty peopel in You-rup not bowing down to him. I’m sure he doesn’t wury about the constitooshun, especially the Bill of Rites, becuz he’s the keeng.

July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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