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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.

Tuesday
Jun112019

The Commentariat -- June 11, 2019

Late Morning Update:

Forgot this one. Scott Bixby of the Daily Beast: "Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli's long-rumored role as a top coordinator of the Department of Homeland Security immigration policy finally has an official title. According to an email sent to staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Monday, the longtime border hawk has been named acting director of the agency.... While his support for ... Donald Trump may be relatively newfound, his championing of hardline Trump-style immigration policies is more than a decade in the making." Bixby does a good job of reminding us what a complete ass Little Kenny is. One big reason Kenny is "acting": the Senate probably wouldn't confirm him.

The Party of Corruption. Alex Shephard of the New Republic: "A strange thing has happened over the past month or so: Senate Republicans have begun to stand up to President Trump. Haltingly, tentatively, perhaps, but on things that matter, a bit of spine has been sighted.... This growing willingness to undercut the president's policy and personnel decisions has, however, coincided with Republicans growing ever more defensive of Trump, himself.... [This dualism] points to a party increasingly bound together by an embrace of a corrupt and plutocratic approach to governance.... While there might be growing disagreements on free trade and tariffs, [Republican] leaders are in lockstep on the idea that it is completely acceptable to use the government for corrupt ends.... It's been repeated again and again during the administration, with both relative newcomers to government and veterans like [Transportation Secretary Elaine] Chao [who has set up an apparatus to steer projects to her husband Mitch McConnell's state] using their offices to benefit themselves and their families."

~~~~~~~~~~

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Emily Tillett of CBS News: "The House Judiciary Committee kicked off a series of hearings on the Mueller report with former Nixon White House counsel John Dean and former U.S. attorneys testifying Monday to offer their insights on President Trump's 'most overt acts of obstruction.'... Dean testified that there were 'exhaustive' and 'remarkable' parallels between special counsel Robert Mueller's report and the findings compiled in the wake of the Watergate scandal. He said 'events in both 1972 and 2016 resulted in obstruction of the investigations.'... Dean said in his opening statement that McGahn should testify before Congress, saying he had an obligation to do so as a 'key witness in understanding the Mueller report' and under his ethical obligation as an attorney.... Joyce White Vance, the former U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Alabama, testified that "... If anyone other than a president of the United States committed this conduct he would be under indictment for multiple acts of obstruction of justice.... If you or I committed this same conduct we would have been charged by now.' Former attorney Barbara McQuade also appeared to support that claim, testifying that the 'conduct described in the report constitutes multiple crimes of obstruction of justice. It's supported by evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'" ...

C-SPAN has the full hearing -- video & transcript here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

... Jerry Nadler's & ranking member Doug Collins' opening remarks:

... ** Here's John Dean's full prepared statement, via Politico. It's quite compelling. ...

... Kyle Cheney of Politico: "... Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee ensured that what unfolded was an at-times heated relitigation of Dean's role in Watergate more than 40 years ago, questioning his honor, pointing to his own admitted obstruction of justice at that time and accusing him of profiting off his Watergate experience as a television commentator who frequently criticizes Trump.... Most of the day played out like two simultaneous hearings, with Democrats reading excerpts from the Mueller report and asking the former prosecutors to opine on potential criminal actions by Trump. Republicans alternated between savaging Dean's credibility and grilling their own witness, Heritage Foundation legal scholar John Malcolm about reasons why Mueller's evidence fell short of proving Trump obstructed justice.... Democrats asked the three former prosecutors repeatedly to explain the legal underpinnings for why some of the actions identified in Mueller's report could amount to obstruction of justice." ...

... Backfire. Wherein Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) Makes a Fool of Himself. (Again.) Matt Stieb of New York: "It appears that Gaetz's plan to ask Dean about 'stuff' he didn't know about included a good deal of information that the congressman may not have reviewed beforehand. Until the effort was derailed by Watergate, Nixon envisioned a plan that, as described by Slate's Ed Dolan, 'would have combined a robust employer mandate with subsidized private coverage for the self-employed, unemployed, and others not covered through their jobs -- something not unlike Obamacare.'" ...

... Dean gets some laughs & Gaetz makes a remarkably uninformed speech:

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It is remarkable how Gaetz, et al., seem to be so proud of their profound ignorance. ...

... Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "The most charitable justification for the hearing came from Dean himself, who said it served the important function of 'public education' for Americans who likely glossed over the Mueller report, if they engaged with it at all. 'This report has not been widely read by the public. It has not even been widely read in the Congress,' he said, drawing knowing laughter from the hearing room."

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: This hearing did not get nearly the press attention it deserved. The New York Times (as of 2 am ET today) does not even have a story about it, settling instead for running a Reuters story that is more about Barr's cave on giving the House Judiciary Committee access to more of the redacted Mueller report. ...

... Pia Deshpande of Politico: "... Donald Trump, whose actions during the Russia investigation have prompted comparisons to the Watergate scandal, drew a distinction between himself and President Richard Nixon on Monday: 'He left. I don't leave. A big difference.'" More Trump comments on the House hearing under "Whiner-in-Chief" below. ...

... Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) "says it's a waste of time to study history because it was a long time ago.... Asked by Fox News on Monday about the Dean hearing, Hawley decried it as a 'ridiculous' waste of time and 'theater to distract'... 'Talk about living in the past,' he said. 'The Democrats want to talk about Watergate? I mean this happened before I was born! This is a total waste of time....'" ...

     ... digby: "Josh Hawley is a Harvard educated, fascist barbarian.... And then there's the Bible. A very old book which Hawley believes should guide every aspect of people's lives." ...

     ... digby points to this June 5 post on Hawley by Ed Kilgore of New York. Kilgore looks at the philosopical underpinnings of neoconservatism, but the bottom line seems to be this: "There is no Christian Right gathering that is too extreme for his taste.... [Here's] Hawley described government itself in a 2012 essay: '... Government serves Christ's kingdom rule; this is its purpose. And Christians' purpose in politics should be to advance the kingdom of God -- to make it more real, more tangible, more present.'" Mrs. McC: This would make the U.S. Constitution, an assiduously secular document, anathema to Hawley & his ilk. That's scary.

Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "The Justice Department, after weeks of tense negotiations, has agreed to provide Congress with key evidence collected by Robert S. Mueller III that could shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday. The exact scope of the material the Justice Department has agreed to provide was not immediately clear, but the committee signaled that it was a breakthrough after weeks of wrangling over those materials and others that the Judiciary panel demanded under subpoena. The announcement appeared to provide a rationale for House Democrats' choice, announced last week, to back away from threats to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress. The House will still proceed on Tuesday with a vote to empower the Judiciary Committee to take Mr. Barr to court to fully enforce its subpoena, but even that may no longer be necessary, the panel's leader [Jerry Nadler] said.... Mr. Nadler said he expected the department to begin sharing some of the material Monday afternoon and that all members of the committee would be able to view it privately." (Also linked yesterday.)

Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times: "... Pelosi and Schumer are shrewd politicians with decades of experience. Perhaps their resistance to grass-roots Democrats, and to impeachment in particular, will pay dividends. But we should consider the reverse as well: that a Democratic Party that plays with excessive caution -- and keeps its base at a distance -- is one that might demobilize its voters and produce the same conditions that helped Trump win in the first place."

In fairness to Trump, he does have heart, despite all evidence to the contrary:

... Alexander Nazaryan of Yahoo! News: "Putting aside his sharp political differences with one of his primary congressional tormentors, President Trump made a surprising get-well call to Rep. Jerry Nadler, who was briefly hospitalized in Manhattan in May.... A member of Nadler's staff ... said Trump called Nadler from Air Force One as he was on his way to Japan.... Trump now told Nadler that he had seen him on television, and that he thought Nadler was 'tough.' Trump repeated that assessment several times, adding that he wished the congressman well and wanted to know if he could do anything more. The two men did not discuss politics or impeachment, according to a person familiar with the call.... The seeming warmth of the conversation -- however brief -- contrasts sharply with what Trump has said of Nadler previously. In a meeting with Republicans this spring, Trump reportedly called Nadler, who underwent weight-loss surgery years ago, 'Fat Jerry.'"

Plaints from the Whiner-in-Chief:

... Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Trump also lashed out [at John] Dean before [a House Judiciary] hearing, tweeting that he 'can't believe they are bringing in John Dean, the disgraced Nixon White House Counsel who is a paid CNN contributor. No Collusion - No Obstruction! Democrats just want a do-over which they'll never get!' It was the second time the president tweeted about Dean in the lead-up to his testimony. On Sunday night, Trump called Dean a 'sleazebag attorney' in a series of posts criticizing Democrats." (Also linked above.)" ...

... Rebecca Shabad of NBC News: "At the White House Monday, Trump dismissed [John] Dean's statement, telling reporters that the former White House counsel had 'been a loser for many years.'"

... David Jackson & Nicholas Wu of USA Today: "... Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday for criticizing him over tariffs, claiming again that the threat of tariffs pressured Mexico into a new agreement to stop illegal border crossings. 'If we didn't have tariffs, we wouldn't have made a deal with Mexico,' Trump told the CNBC financial news network. Trump called into CNBC after an official with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the president's threat to hit Mexico with tariffs -- as well as tariffs he has imposed on China and other countries -- was counter-productive." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump intensified his defense of the widely panned agreement his administration struck with Mexico, even calling in to a cable news show for nearly half an hour Monday to try to sell the deal as a victory. After a weekend of railing against news reports poking holes in his claims -- some of which are so far unsubstantiated -- that Mexico had agreed to significant new concessions on immigration enforcement to avert tariffs, the president took to the airwaves to argue his case.... He dismissed the dire economic consequences experts had warned of had the 5 percent tariffs gone into effect, while mischaracterizing who would have been hit hardest by the levies, which almost always are passed on to consumers." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Monday accused technology companies like Facebook and Google of discriminating against him, adding that there's 'something going on in terms of monopoly.'... "I can tell you they discriminate against me," Trump said when asked about companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. 'People talk about collusion. The real collusion is between the Democrats and these companies because they were so against me during my election run.'" More on the tech companies linked below. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "President Trump on Sunday ripped Democrats ahead of testimony from John Dean, a former White House counsel for President Nixon who proved pivotal during the Watergate scandal. 'The Dems were devastated -- after all this time and money spent ($40,000,000), the Mueller Report was a disaster for them,' Trump tweeted Sunday evening. 'But they want a Redo, or Do Over. They are even bringing in @CNN sleazebag attorney John Dean. Sorry, no Do Overs -- Go back to work!'... Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee will grill Dean on Monday in an attempt to shine a spotlight on the unsavory details about Trump's conduct contained in special counsel Robert Mueller's report." (Also linked yesterday.)


Mexico's Foreign Minister Says Trump Lied about Deal. Michael Shear & Maggie Haberman
of the New York Times: "The Mexican foreign minister said Monday that no secret immigration deal existed between his country and the United States, directly contradicting President Trump's claim on Twitter that a 'fully signed and documented' agreement would be revealed soon. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico's top diplomat, said at a news conference in Mexico City that there was an understanding that both sides would evaluate the flow of migrants in the coming months. And if the number of migrants crossing the United States border was not significantly reduced, he said, both sides had agreed to renew discussions about more aggressive changes to regional asylum rules that could make a bigger impact.... Mr. Trump has insisted for several days that the agreement reached with Mexico Friday evening is a strong one, rejecting criticism that it largely called upon the Mexicans to take actions to reduce the flow of immigration that they had already agreed to months earlier." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... In Trump's Version of a "Mexican Standoff," He Loses, Mexico Wins. Philip Rotner in the conservative Bulwark: "The idea that Donald Trump successfully used the threat of tariffs to force Mexico to agree to an immigration deal is yet another fiction cooked up by the Trump propaganda machine. The truth is this: Trump squandered any negotiating leverage he may have had by making an idle threat that everybody knew he couldn't possibly follow through on.... Far from creating negotiating leverage, Trump's threat ... immediately handed all of the leverage to Mexico.... Mexico had Trump over a barrel. Trump's had two choices: to agree to whatever cosmetic arrangement Mexico was willing to offer; or to follow through on a threat that would be tantamount to political suicide.... Trump had backed himself, not Mexico, into a corner. They had him. He had to cave. And cave he did. He got nothing.... 'The Mexicans played Donald Trump,' Jorge Castaneda, Mexico's former Foreign Minister, told Fareed Zakaria on Sunday. 'Basically, they promised to do what they had already promised to do, and probably won't do it.'" ...

... Paul Krugman: "... having gone to great lengths to get a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada -- an agreement that was very similar to the existing agreement, but one he could slap his own name on -- Trump basically blew up his position by threatening to impose new tariffs unless Mexico did something about border issues that have nothing to do with trade.... But then, barely a week later, Trump called the whole thing off in return for a statement by Mexico that it would do ... things it had already agreed to months earlier.... [Then] in addition to lashing out at 'fake news,' he introduced a whole new claim: 'MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!'... Like many Trump tweets, it reads like a clumsy translation from the original Russian ('great patriot farmers'?). More to the point, there was nothing at all about agriculture in the official agreement.... But for now, investors are effectively treating Trump as crazy but harmless. Is America great, or what?" ...

... Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times: "Once again, Trump made a series of unhinged threats against another country, leading to high-stakes diplomacy, and the announcement of a breakthrough. Once again, chest-beating conservatives jeered at Democrats for refusing to concede that Trump's belligerence had borne fruit. Once again..., it became obvious that Trump had accomplished very little of any substance. And once again, Trump has created a situation where it's hazardous for his opponents to say too much about his incompetence.... As it became clear -- at least to those outside the Fox News bubble -- how little Trump had achieved, he grew even more splutteringly incoherent than usual.... Facing widespread mockery for his Potemkin deal, Trump tweeted on Monday that if Mexico's legislature fails to enact the provisions of its purported secret agreement with the U.S., the tariffs will go into effect. There's an implicit threat here: Don't provoke him. If he doesn't get the headlines he wants, there's no telling what he might do."

Zolan Kanno-Youngs & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Tens of thousands of images of travelers and license plates stored by the Customs and Border Protection agency have been stolen in a digital breach, officials said Monday, prompting renewed questions about how the federal government secures and shares personal data. An official at the agency said it learned on May 31 that a federal subcontractor had transferred copies of the images to the subcontractor's network, which the agency said was done without its knowledge and in violation of the contract. The subcontractor's network was then hacked.... [The CBP's] cybersecurity operations were a particular focus of the previous secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, whose efforts to get the White House to devote more attention to the issue -- including cabinet-level meetings on election security -- were repeatedly turned down."

Zack Budryk of the Hill: "Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General John V. Kelly retire[d] from his position effective June 10, the Office of Inspector General confirmed Monday.... Kelly's retirement comes a week after a Washington Post report that he had overridden auditors who found issues with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) response to disasters. Instead, the Post, citing interviews and a new internal review, reported that Kelly directed FEMA auditors to write 'feel-good reports' about disaster response."

Tucker Koherty & Tanya Snyder of Politico: "The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell's state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection. Chao's aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell's Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell -- including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications.... Chao's designation of Inman as a special intermediary for Kentucky -- a privilege other states did not enjoy -- gave a special advantage to projects favored by her husband, which could in turn benefit his political interests. In such situations, ethicists say, each member of a couple benefits personally from the success of the other." Mrs. McC: Gee, Mitch is corrupt, & so is his wife. Who would have suspected? (Also linked yesterday.)

Presidential Race 2020. Trump Tells Aides to Lie about Poll Results. Annie Karni & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win.... And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.... In a recent overarching state-of-the-race briefing in Florida with Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, Mr. Trump was consistently distracted and wanted to discuss other things, according to people familiar with the meeting. When it came to the campaign, his main focus was on his own approval numbers. Unlike nearly every recent modern president who sought re-election, Mr. Trump rarely if ever speaks to aides about what he hopes to accomplish with what would be a hard-won second term; his interest is entirely in the present, and mostly on the crisis of the moment. He has shown no interest in formulating a new message for his campaign.... Mr. Trump has griped about traveling too much, but then lashed out at aides, demanding to know, 'Why am I not doing more rallies?' He insists on having final approval over the songs on his campaign playlist, as well as the campaign merchandise, but he has never asked to see a budget for 2019."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "On Friday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave a ... speech ... at a judicial conference in New Paltz, N.Y. There was little in her remarks to hearten liberals. She started by noting the most fundamental change at the court. 'Justice Kennedy announced his retirement,' she said. 'It was, I would say, the event of greatest consequence for the current term, and perhaps for many terms ahead.' ... Justice Ginsburg's concluding comments seemed to foreshadow a closely divided case in which she will be on the losing side. 'Speculators about the outcome note that last year, in Trump v. Hawaii, the court upheld the so-called travel ban, in an opinion granting great deference to the executive,' she said, referring to a 5-to-4 decision in which the court's four liberals dissented. 'Respondents in the census case have argued that a ruling in Secretary Ross's favor would stretch deference beyond the breaking point.'" (Also linked yesterday.)

Juan Cole: "Two structural constraints are operating with regard to [a bipartisan Congressional] attempt to cancel the Saudi arms deal. One is that a majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress have been unwilling to criticize Trump or to work against one of his presidential initiatives. The other is that Congress has on too many occasions found ways of offloading its own constitutional responsibilities onto the president. This way of proceeding, has often reduced the exposure of congressmen with regard to issues controversial in their districts. But Trump has taken advantage of all of these accumulated presidential de facto powers to sidestep Congress, and it is time for the latter to confront the president and strip him of these unconstitutional prerogatives." More on this, by NBC News, linked below. (Also linked yesterday.)

Beyond the Beltway

New York. James Barron & Patrick McGeehan of the New York Times: "A helicopter ... crashed onto the roof of an office building on Seventh Avenue [in Manhattan] and burst into flames. Only a pilot was aboard the doomed aircraft. He was killed, and investigators were trying to determine if he had been trying to make an emergency landing [in heavy fog].... New Yorkers, unnerved, wondered whether the crash had been deliberate. It rekindled memories of a far different day -- Sept. 11, 2001, when jetliners commandeered by terrorists destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The memories of 9/11 were compounded as the building was evacuated. Employees streamed down staircases as firefighters rushed in, heading to the roof. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who arrived quickly at the scene, said there was no indication of terrorism.... Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said the helicopter had been flying through restricted airspace.... The pilot was not qualified to fly using only instruments, [an] official said, cautioning that the investigation was still at an early stage."

Reader Comments (16)

Last night I began watching the hearing on CSpan at 9.00 and finally quit after 12.00 as my eyes kept closing. I found it a most illuminating hearing: It was like watching a sport event–-one team against the other but playing an entirely different game. Dean, Vance and McQuade were most informative, gave us intelligent insights into the Mueller report as well as some historical background. On the other team was an attorney from The Heritage Foundation whose rhetoric was given in staccato-like sentences and geared toward the Republican views. The Democrats stuck to the script––the Mueller report, while the Republicans ranted and raved until spittle formed around their mouths–-I thought for a minute Jim Jordon was going to tear off his signature shirt and wrestle Dean down on the floor. But the guy who gets the asshole of the Day award was Matt Gaetz and so glad Marie inserted the video because words could not describe this performance. And I had to laugh at one of these performers who complained that how dare we waste all this time on this nothing burger when we could be doing legislative business; evidently he is not the one who is involved in all that L.B. that is getting done in the House that is not being brought to the Senate floor to confirm––or not.

And then there is Josh Hawley––this little prick from the "Show-Me" state who managed to beat the firebrand Claire McCaskill. Evidently Josh dismisses anything that happened before he was born as irrelevant and would like this country run strictly on a Biblical mandate or something similar. This guy is a prime example of when someone tells you they went to Harvard you can yawn and say, "uh-huh."

"Basically they[ Trump admin.] promised to do what they had already promised to do, and probably won't do."–-Jorge Castaneda, Mexico's F.M.

So what we are doing and what "others" are doing is "handling" Trump the way you would handle someone who is mentally handicapped. "Sure, sweetie, you can have your cake and eat it whenever you'd like–-be careful those candles don't burn your pretty little face."

Yesterday morning I was out in our garden looking at our tomato plants that the bunnies just love to nibble on and that Joe had to put extra fencing around to protect them. Suddenly I thought of scarecrows ––phony semblances of deterrence and how Trump is like that–-the scarecrow in the political garden–-and if we reject the idea of strong fencing those––foreign and domestic–- busy bunnies will gobble up the garden little by little until all that stands is the phony scarecrow with the stupid smile.

Two words in HIS vocabulary that are ubiquitous : "Loser" and "disaster"–––a cap in the future might just have those words.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD-- you are braver than I. I end up foaming at the mouth at just the sight of Gym Jordan and Matt Gaetz. My husband apparently had it on all day while I was at work, and he said there were some remarks made about the fact that Joyce and Barbara (I see them so often I think they may be friends of mine...ha!)were borrowed for expertise from MSNBC... Well, there are 998 others who signed that letter saying the Head Dumpster would be indicted if he weren't the top hog at the trough..so the Rs COULD find someone else, but funny, this committee is run by Ds so STFU...The clip I saw featured Dean laughing at Jordan's stupid remarks...

I have not had the doubtful pleasure of hearing Hawley, but since he is a Jesus freak, I doubt if any dribble from his beak would NOT enrage, so for now, I am happily oblivious...

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Can someone ask this Hawley gasbag why everyone keeps waving around their copies of this ancient history document called the Constitution? Talk about living in the past. What the fuck is wrong with those people, anyway. Government should be sui generis, all documents burned in the incinerator upon their 20th birthday.

And on another note, WTF is going on with Harvard these days? They've been producing quite a load of psychotic assholes lately.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

This lying about poll results is worth a closer look.

We might be tempted to simply dismiss it as just another lie from an inveterate liar, as no big deal because it's the kind of behavior we have come to expect from the Pretender. For someone who has already surpassed 11,000 lies in his first two years in office, what's another lie or two?

But I think there's more to it than the standard ploy he has used to such good effect his whole life.

When it comes to ego issues, I think he swallows his own bushwah. Evidence of that tendency was there from the beginning when he trotted out Sad Sean with repeated claims of inauguration crowds that didn't exist. Our pathetic presidunce really wants to think he's loved and admired. In fact, in the face of mounting evidence that he is not, he is increasingly desperate to tell himself that he is.

And as his natural tendency to egomania is bolstered by the vast power of the office he holds, I suspect the territory that ego issues might be said to cover continues to expand to the point that he might actually believe that his tariff tiff with Mexico, despite all the clear evidence to the contrary, actually accomplished something.

Hard to picture where two more years of this self-deluding dolt will lead us, but I'm sure it's nowhere any one of us would wish to be.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@ Ken

And maybe I'm just imagining things, as temper tantrums fly daily, but Dotard Donny seems to have a fixation as of late with the ultimate 6 grade insult: "loser!"

Drumpf seems to have "loser" on the mind more often than usual, probably coming at faster speeds as his own reality gets harder and harder to ignore. It's dawning on him that, even as Presidunt*, he's still a fucking loser. I can't wait til his brand caves and he's left rotting in his fake gold chair as he tweets to his Russian trolls and duped deplorables.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

The Trump administration is now arguing that Congress has no power to investigate the president.

They are saying only the executive branch has that authority.

Really. They want us to believe only the president is authorized, constitutionally, to investigate the president.

https://twitter.com/bradheath/status/1138194820252483584/photo/1

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

regarding Harvard:
You can lead a boy to Harvard, but you can't make him think.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

The Taxonomy of Trump

As the years pass ever more quickly, called to mind by John Dean's appearance yesterday to discuss yet another criminal R in the White House (I distinctly recall listening to his electrifying Watergate testimony on the radio), I try to find ways to stave off the inevitable, especially attenuation of mental acuity. What I don't want is to be given one of those tests where they start out by asking you to remember three things (say, an orange, a trumpet, and a shoe), run through a bunch of other quizzes and end with asking you to repeat the initial three objects, and coming out with watermelon, Josef Stalin, and a 1936 Duesenberg, Model J. Nope. Don't want that.

So, to counter Father Time's scythe slicing away at my memory, I've taken to giving myself memory tests in the morning. Recite an old poem, run down the origins (oranges?) of the names of the days of the week, name the first 20 presidents in order (I once tried to come up with a mnemonic device for this, but the sentence I invented was way harder to remember than the actual names. This, I decided is not so much an indication of Alzheimer's as it is Weirdheimer's).

This morning it was "Name the Taxonomic categories".

Then it occurred to me. What would Trump's taxonomy be?

A task offering scads more fun than the daily dreariness of dunking oneself into the River Styx surrounding the current White House.

So...Kingdom. Hmmm...this should be easy, but...

Plant or animal? Or maybe fungi? What about bacterium? Maybe some of each. He is, after all, by his own admission the greatest of everything ever. But since we have to choose one, I guess Animalia it is.

Phylum (I'd like to file 'im. File 'im away.)

So, does he have a backbone? Hmmm...no evidence of this so far. He's definitely a coward. But he's generally an upright coward, so, okay, Chordata.

Class? He's got none. Ba-dum-bum.

Well, maybe mammal, but it could be reptile. After all, plenty of Republicans are in that class, but for the sake of argument we'll say Mammalia.

Order. (Lots of jokes suggest themselves here, most of them bad.)

We have (somewhat reluctantly) determined that he's a mammal. But which kind? Squirrel? Rodent? He certainly is a rat. But the Mittster already has that category locked up. Dog? Maybe, but I wouldn't want to insult dogs. My dog is far more loyal, decent, honorable, and smarter than Trump. I guess we'll go with Primate.

Family.

I'm tempted here to insert Crime Family. It would not be inaccurate. Let's say that he's a form of hominid. After all, he might be an orange-a-tan, right? Or maybe that should be a spray-a-tan. Well, there are plenty of apes in this family too. Hominidae it is.

Genus. (No, Donald, not a very stable genus...)

This is a good one. If we posit that he is actually human (and I'm not saying he is...), we are forced to declare him a member of the genus Homo. I think I'll send him a postcard addressed to Donald Trump: Homo, and see what his reaction would be. Hahahaha. In any event, he's a lying Homo.

Species.

Well, there are supposedly no other types of Homo extant besides Homo Sapiens. But that certainly doesn't describe Trump. Thinking Man? Hell, no. Hmmm...what to do? Linnaeus is long gone. Can't consult him. I guess we'll have to be creative here. We've already determined that he's a lying Homo, but thinking? Nah. That's a species too far.

Oh, wait. I know. Homo Assholeus. That works. But in order to be more Carolus-like, we should be as accurate as we can be when assigning a scientific-y name to this creature.

I've got it!

Culus Mendacius. Lying asshole.

So there you have it kids, the Trump Taxonomy: Lying Asshole.

Now what were those three things again? Sponge, Five dollar gold piece, and recording of Caruso singing "Celeste Aida". See? Not losing my mind at all.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Taxonomy of Trump

As the years pass ever more quickly, called to mind by John Dean's appearance yesterday to discuss yet another criminal R in the White House (I distinctly recall listening to his electrifying Watergate testimony on the radio), I try to find ways to stave off the inevitable, especially attenuation of mental acuity. What I don't want is to be given one of those tests where they start out by asking you to remember three things (say, an orange, a trumpet, and a shoe), run through a bunch of other quizzes and end with asking you to repeat the initial three objects, and coming out with watermelon, Josef Stalin, and a 1936 Duesenberg, Model J. Nope. Don't want that.

So, to counter Father Time's scythe slicing away at my memory, I've taken to giving myself memory tests in the morning. Recite an old poem, run down the origins (oranges?) of the names of the days of the week, name the first 20 presidents in order (I once tried to come up with a mnemonic device for this, but the sentence I invented was way harder to remember than the actual names. This, I decided is not so much an indication of Alzheimer's as it is Weirdheimer's).

This morning it was "Name the Taxonomic categories".

Then it occurred to me. What would Trump's taxonomy be?

A task offering scads more fun than the daily dreariness of dunking oneself into the River Styx surrounding the current White House.

So...Kingdom. Hmmm...this should be easy, but...

Plant or animal? Or maybe fungi? What about bacterium? Maybe some of each. He is, after all, by his own admission the greatest of everything ever. But since we have to choose one, I guess Animalia it is.

Phylum (I'd like to file 'im. File 'im away.)

So, does he have a backbone? Hmmm...no evidence of this so far. He's definitely a coward. But he's generally an upright coward, so, okay, Chordata.

Class? He's got none. Ba-dum-bum.

Well, maybe mammal, but it could be reptile. After all, plenty of Republicans are in that class, but for the sake of argument we'll say Mammalia.

Order. (Lots of jokes suggest themselves here, most of them bad.)

We have (somewhat reluctantly) determined that he's a mammal. But which kind? Squirrel? Rodent? He certainly is a rat. But the Mittster already has that category locked up. Dog? Maybe, but I wouldn't want to insult dogs. My dog is far more loyal, decent, honorable, and smarter than Trump. I guess we'll go with Primate.

Family.

I'm tempted here to insert Crime Family. It would not be inaccurate. Let's say that he's a form of hominid. After all, he might be an orange-a-tan, right? Or maybe that should be a spray-a-tan. Well, there are plenty of apes in this family too. Hominidae it is.

Genus. (No, Donald, not a very stable genus...)

This is a good one. If we posit that he is actually human (and I'm not saying he is...), we are forced to declare him a member of the genus Homo. I think I'll send him a postcard addressed to Donald Trump: Homo, and see what his reaction would be. Hahahaha. In any event, he's a lying Homo.

Species.

Well, there are supposedly no other types of Homo extant besides Homo Sapiens. But that certainly doesn't describe Trump. Thinking Man? Hell, no. Hmmm...what to do? Linnaeus is long gone. Can't consult him. I guess we'll have to be creative here. We've already determined that he's a lying Homo, but thinking? Nah. That's a species too far.

Oh, wait. I know. Homo Assholeus. That works. But in order to be more Carolus-like, we should be as accurate as we can be when assigning a scientific-y name to this creature.

I've got it!

Culus Mendacius. Lying asshole.

So there you have it kids, the Trump Taxonomy: Lying Asshole.

Now what were those three things again? Sponge, Five dollar gold piece, and recording of Caruso singing "Celeste Aida". See? Not losing my mind at all.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

PD,

Your scarecrow reference reminded me of something. This weekend, we took our little guy out to pick blueberries at a nearby farm. The family running the place have a couple of speakers set up in the middle of the field that every so often broadcast the sound of screeching birds (the idea being to keep away other birds who might like to indulge their sweet beaks on the berry bushes).

Then I thought, there must be a way to use this idea to protect against incursions by morons like this Gaetz and Gym Jordan (good one, Jeanne!) and other lamebrains with R's following their names, all inoculated against intelligent thinking.

We place some speakers in the middle of the house and senate chambers which every now and then broadcast certain words: BOOKS, LEARNING, SECULARISM, RULE OF LAW, HONESTY, MULTICULTURALISM, VOTING RIGHTS...

They'll run like the three blind mice with the farmer's wife and her carving knife on their asses.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Schlub,

Ahem...that bit about congress not being allowed to investigate the president? That only obtains when the president is Confederate and those wanting to investigate his (it'll never be a her) perfidies, crimes and treasonous activitives are Democrats.

When it's reversed, congress will be allowed to rummage through the president's underwear drawer, check bank records back to high school, treat every false claim made by Foxbots as gospel truths, and demand that the president show up for live televised events where he or she will be grilled by every R member of congress for forty days and forty nights straight. No bathroom breaks.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Trump's incredible loss in the Mexican Sweepstakes, in which he once again knee-capped himself, provides another example (if one were required at this late date) that not only doth the emperor have no clothes, he hath no chance of clothing of any sort, nay, not so much as a tiny codpiece--size Extra Small, thank thee--to cover the teensie presidential member, at any point in the foreseeable future.

The cheese not only stands alone, it stinks to high heaven, like Gorgonzola doused with vinegar and left in a shoebox in the back of the closet for seven years.

And still, he wants everyone to marvel at his negotiating skill. T'would be as if the village idiot claimed to be Merlin the Magnificent, able to conjure up the most amazing results with the wave of his wand.

Instead, he pulls a popsicle stick out of his ass and he and Fox deem it a miracle for the ages.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

If Republicans are beginning to stand up to Trump ("standing up" is an exceedingly generous description) it's only because having to take the extra time and effort to pretend his insane stupidity and treasonous activities are normal is getting in the way of their smash and grab greed. It's harder to line your pockets and stick it to women, minorities, immigrants, and Democrats, when you have to stop every five minutes and explain that of COURSE Trump is the greatest ever.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Victoria:

You put me in mind of Dorothy Parker (the most under-appreciated, sharpest wit of the last hundred years), who was playing a game of "make a sentence" at the Algonquin Round Table one day. Players were given a word and had to use it in sentence in an unusual way.

Harpo Marx gave Parker the word "horticulture."

Said Dorothy, without skipping a beat, "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think."

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

Thanks...but cannot take credit. I saw it in the comment section of Crooks and Liars... but I thought Gym Jordan apt. Such a belligerent lunkhead... should have included a footnote...

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

The (Non) History Boys

The disparagement of historical knowledge by wingers now running the show in Washington, following the unstable lead of an incurious, barely literate, historical (and historic) ignoramus, tracks neatly with their more general distrust and hatred of education. At least education that doesn't include authoritarian and/or strict biblical controls.

Thomas Jefferson saw a liberal education as the single most important bulwark against loss of liberty that any country could hope for, certainly for the citizens of the nascent United States of America. In a letter to James Madison, he wrote "... and say finally whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people, enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve it, and it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

And there it is. For Confederates, liberty is not for just anyone. It's for them and theirs. It's for corporations. It's for the Donald Trumps and Mitch McConnells and Rush Limbaughs of the world. It's not for minorities, not for AOC, not for Democrats, certainly not for immigrants.

An understanding of history offers a straight line to an appreciation of where we've been, what we've done along the way, and instruction on how to sidestep the pitfalls afflicting the human race across the ages, especially those dug for us by authoritarians, anti-democratic thugs, and religious zealots.

When we see wingers attempt to turn back the clock on voting, on race, on the right to choose, on education, their ability to accomplish these things is jeopardized by educated citizens who have read the history of child labor, the struggle for democracy, of robber baron era capitalism, of what it was like for poor, unmarried women before Roe v Wade, of the dangers of unenlightened leadership. An understanding of the history of past conflicts and what it took for Americans to achieve the rights now being diminished on a daily basis by Republicans is anathema to them. Better for everyone to watch Fox. Hannity will tell them what to believe. And whom to hate.

Along with the disparagement of historical knowledge is the hatred of basic public education itself. For such as Betsy DeVos, education is an earned right. Something that exists in order to make money for corporations, not to encourage students to think for themselves. That shit is dangerous to the ruling class. They will instruct young minds as to what and how to think.

A voting population with better critical thinking skills would vote for few Republicans, never mind a dim, dangerous, greedy traitor like Trump. Citizens who realize that most of what makes their lives good, decent, safe, and healthy today, came from progressive initiatives and directly against all right-wing efforts to the contrary.

In fact, an educated citizen with knowledge of the history of the American Revolution would understand that those who call themselves conservatives today, would have been royalists and Tories back then. They would never have aligned themselves with the revolutionaries (although the founder fetishists would take violent issue with this statement, it's true. Look for conservatives in America at the time who supported the revolution. If there were any, they weren't very well known, and they weren't on the stump calling for freedom from the King or penning pamphlets calling for human rights.) Confederates simply can't allow people to make those sorts of judgments.

If education, knowledge, and understanding are "the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty" as Jefferson said, then it's right out. Wingers (and the Bible) will tell you all you need to know.

So, history?

Who needs it? Not them, certainly. Knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Dangerous to them.

And as their effort to curtail our liberty continues apace, remember Jefferson's words about the best way to maintain it.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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