The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, September 15, 2019.

New York Times: "Juanita Abernathy, who helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott and took part in other pivotal protests at the outset of the civil rights era alongside the Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, her husband and a leader of the movement, died on Thursday at a hospital in Atlanta. She was 88."

Public Service Announcement

September 5: Washington Post: "State and federal health officials investigating mysterious lung illnesses linked to vaping have found the same chemical in samples of marijuana products used by people sickened in different parts of the country and who used different brands of products in recent weeks. The chemical is an oil derived from vitamin E. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the oil in cannabis products in samples collected from patients who fell ill across the United States. FDA officials shared that information with state health officials during a telephone briefing this week, according to several officials who took part in the call." The NPR story is here.

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.

Washington Post: "the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships were no different — especially Sunday night, the final night of the two-day [U.S. Gymnastics Championships]..., [Simone] Biles aced a skill no other woman (and only two men in the world) has successfully landed in competition — a triple-twisting, double somersault that capped the first tumbling pass of her floor routine like a cymbal crash":


Washington Post: White Southern plantation visitors who pay good money "to learn about the history of life on a plantation" are very upset guides mention slavery. Mrs. McCrabbie's recommendation: put on your MAGA caps & hoop skirts, watch the first 10 minutes of "Gone with the Wind," & practice saying "Fiddle-dee-dee."

Here's one for contributor Jeanne. "Margaret Atwood joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss 'Corrie,' by Alice Munro, from a 2010 issue of the [New Yorker] magazine":

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.”


The Commentariat -- June 20, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Kristen Welker, et al., of NBC News: "... Donald Trump on Thursday said the public will 'find out' about a U.S. response to Iran shooting down an American military drone in the Persian Gulf that the president insisted was in international territory.... 'Iran made a very bad mistake.'... 'The drone was in international waters clearly. We have it documented.'... 'I have a feeling that someone under the command of that country made a big mistake,' he said. 'I find it hard to believe it was intentional. It could have been someone who was loose and stupid who did it.'... Trump has invited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to a briefing at the White House at 3:00 p.m. Thursday...." ...

... Luis Martinez of ABC News: "In a major provocation, Iran shot down an unarmed and unmanned U.S. RQ-4A Global Hawk drone while it was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, U.S. Central Command confirmed in a statement.... Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning that 'Iran made a very big mistake' after a top Iranian commander warned Iran was 'ready for war.'... A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that the U.S. Navy was were working to recover the drone in a debris field the official said was located in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz." More on this linked below.

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "The Senate is voting Thursday to block President Trump's Saudi arms deal, paving the way for a veto clash with the White House. Senators voted 53-45 in favor of a resolution of disapproval to block one of the 22 arms sales the administration noticed to Congress, though the vote is ongoing. The Senate is expected to block the entire arms deal on Thursday with two additional back-to-back subsequent votes.... House Democrats have pledged they will also pass resolutions blocking the sale. Neither chamber is expected to be able to muster the two-thirds votes necessary to override all-but-guaranteed vetoes from Trump in response."

Andrew Desiderio of Politico: "Hope Hicks broke with ... Donald Trump during her interview with the House Judiciary Committee this week, telling lawmakers that offers of foreign assistance in U.S. elections should be 'rejected and reported to the FBI,' Chairman Jerry Nadler said on Thursday.... Nadler did not quote Hicks directly, but the transcript of her testimony is set to be released later this week."

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., on Wednesday called for ... Donald Trump to be subject to an impeachment inquiry, notable since she is part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership team, and the speaker has counseled restraint. 'This is a personal decision on my part,' Schakowsky said in a video." ...

... NPR has a handy "impeachment tracker" here. "Currently, 69 Democrats and one Republican in the House of Representatives support beginning an impeachment inquiry into Trump for potential obstruction of justice." The tracker has not been updated to include Schakowsky's announcement, so that would be at least 71 House members.

Matt Stieb of New York: "On Wednesday, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to a lifetime federal seat, overriding the objections of all the body's voting Democrats and one Republican, Maine senator Susan Collins. With a 52-46 vote, the 42-year-old Kacsmaryk will head to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, bringing an alarming history of opinions questioning the rights of LGBTQ Americans and the legitimacy of Roe v. Wade." Read on. Mrs. McC: This horrible bigot is not qualified to judge a dog show, much less you & me. Shame on Senate Republicans.

Christian Nation, Ctd. Nina Totenberg & Domenico Montanaro of NPR: "The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a 40-foot World War I memorial cross can stay on public land at a Maryland intersection. The cross 'has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions,' the court wrote. Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion for the court.... The decision was 7-to-2, but had multiple parts and not all of the seven agreeing on every aspect. The decision reverses a lower-court ruling that said the memorial is unconstitutional because it is on public land and maintained at taxpayer expense. The high court's ruling is a major victory for religious groups and the American Legion, which warned that if this cross had to be moved, so too would other crosses that serve as war memorials.... Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in dissent, disagreed with Alito...." According to CNN, Justice Ginsberg read her dissent from the bench. The opinions are here.


The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Cover-up, Ctd. Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Behind closed doors, lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee pressed Hope Hicks, one of Mr. Trump's closest former aides, for nearly seven hours on her recollections of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as on episodes documented by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in which Mr. Trump tried to assert control over investigations into those contacts. And they resurrected an older accusation against Mr. Trump: his role in an illegal scheme to make hush payments to two women during his 2016 campaign.... Ms. Hicks declined to answer nearly every question about her time working in the administration, citing instructions from the president that she was 'absolutely immune' from answering, lawmakers from both parties said.... Ms. Hicks did engage in queries about her work on the campaign, which is not subject to executive privilege or claims of immunity, discussing what she knew about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. But there was no immediate evidence that those exchanges produced meaningful new revelations. The Judiciary Committee said it intended to release a full transcript of the interview within 48 hours.... Mr. Trump seethed on Twitter, accusing Democrats of putting Ms. Hicks 'through hell' and seeking a 'Do Over' of the Mueller investigation."

... Earlier Wednesday. Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Democrats erupted Wednesday at what they said was the White House's repeated interference in their interview with Hope Hicks, a longtime confidant of ... Donald Trump who was a central witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's obstruction of justice probe. Three House Judiciary Committee lawmakers exiting the closed-door interview said a White House lawyer repeatedly claimed Hicks had blanket immunity from discussing her time in the White House. They said she wouldn't answer questions as basic as where she sat in the West Wing or whether she told the truth to Mueller. 'It's a farce,' said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who said Hicks at one point tried to answer a question about an episode involving former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski only to be cut off by counsel. 'We're watching obstruction of justice in action,' said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). Lieu said the White House lawyers were 'making crap up' to block Hicks from testifying. He said she did answer some questions about her time on the Trump campaign that provided new information but declined to characterize her comments." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... The story has been updated., with Andrew Desiderio added to the byline. There's this: “Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said in an interview ... that the White House was not formally asserting executive privilege to block Hicks from answering certain questions; rather, the [White House*] lawyer [planted at Hicks' side] was referring to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's Tuesday letter claiming that Hicks was 'absolutely immune' from discussing her tenure in the Trump administration." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It isn't clear who is paying that lawyer's salary. A couple of reports, including Politico's, indicate s/he is a White House lawyer, but in a tweet Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) described him/her as "Ridiculous DOJ Lawyer." Update: Rep. Jayapal said on CNN Wednesday night that Hicks had both a DOJ lawyer & a White House lawyer in tow, & implied Hicks had a personal attorney there, too.

... Evan Hurst of Wonkette writes some very derogatory things about Pat Cipolline's "legal theory" that everybody to whom Trump got a forever immunization shot the minute he opened his mouth. Hurst also brings up some points that Congress would have wanted Hicks to clarify -- like what she knew about Trump's order to Corey Lewandowski to tell Jeff Sessions that Mueller could investigate only future Russian election interference, which even Lewandowski seems to have known didn't make sense.

Heather Caygle & Andrew Desiderio of Politico: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially shut the door on censuring ... Donald Trump Wednesday but plans to view a minimally redacted version of ... Robert Mueller's report this week, her latest attempt to juggle the competing impeachment factions within her caucus. Pelosi initially rejected an offer from Attorney General William Barr in April to view the less-redacted report, rebuffing Barr's demands that only top congressional leaders have that access.... Pelosi's censure comments are significant because she is leaving the House with one option if they want to punish Trump -- impeachment. 'I think censure is just a way out. If you want to go, you gotta go,' she said. 'If the goods are there, you must impeach. Censure is nice, but it is not commensurate with the violations of the Constitution should we decide that's the way to go.'"

Andrew Desiderio & Natasha Bertrand of Politico: "Felix Sater, who served as the chief negotiator for the Trump Tower Moscow project, will testify on Capitol Hill later this week. The Russian-born businessman confirmed to Politico that he will appear behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday."

David Enrich, et al., of the New York Times: "Federal authorities are investigating whether Deutsche Bank complied with laws meant to stop money launderin gand other crimes, the latest government examination of potential misconduct at one of the world's largest and most troubled banks, according to seven people familiar with the inquiry. The investigation includes a review of Deutsche Bank's handling of so-called suspicious activity reports that its employees prepared about possibly problematic transactions, including some linked to President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, according t people close to the bank and others familiar with the matter.... [Tammy] McFadden, a former anti-money-laundering compliance officer at the bank, told The New York Times last month that she had flagged transactions involving Mr. Kushner's family company in 2016, but that bank managers decided not to file the suspicious activity report she prepared. Some of her colleagues had similar experiences in 2017 involving transactions in the accounts of Mr. Trump's legal entities, although it was not clear whether the F.B.I. was examining the bank's handling of those transactions."

Bruce Haring
of Deadline: "New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger has accused ... Donald Trump of crossing a 'dangerous line' in his ongoing attacks on the press today in a Wall St. Journal op-ed. 'First it was the "the failing New York Times." Then "fake news." Then "enemy of the people." President Trump's escalating attacks on the New York Times have paralleled his broader barrage on American media. He's gone from misrepresenting our business, to assaulting our integrity, to demonizing our journalists with a phrase that's been used by generations of demagogues. Now the president has escalated his attacks even further, accusing the Times of a crime so grave it is punishable by death.'... Trump claimed in [two] tweets that the Times report was 'a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,' Trump tweeted."

Joshua Berlinger, et al., of CNN: "Iranian forces have shot down a United States military drone, a move that appears to have escalated the volatile situation playing out between Washington and Tehran in the Middle East. Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it had shot down an "intruding American spy drone" after it entered into the country's territory Thursday, according to state-run Press TV. A US official confirmed to CNN a drone had been shot down, but said the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most vital shipping routes." ...

... Erin Banco of the Daily Beast: "... Donald Trump has privately pushed his representatives to walk back their tough talk on Iran -- and reiterate that the administration is not aiming to go to war with Tehran.... Over the last several days in public testimony and in closed-door briefings, Trump administration officials have tried to calm lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are wary of the administration evading Congress to launch a military confrontation with Tehran.... It's a major change in tone from the Trump administration. As recently as a few days ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on CBS Face the Nation that everything was on the table when it came to Iran, including military action. And National Security Adviser John Bolton has pushed internally for a confrontation with Tehran." ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "For more than a decade, [John Bolton has] consistently promoted war with Iran. All that has changed are the pretexts he offers to justify one."

All the Best People, Ctd.

Catherine Garcia of the Week: "Andrea Thompson, the State Department official responsible for U.S. arms control negotiations with Moscow and a former national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, did not disclose to lawmakers during her confirmation process last year that she had a years-long friendship with Republican operative Paul Erickson, the ex-boyfriend of convicted unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina, The Washington Post reports. Thompson, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, also didn't reveal the relationship to her supervisors, the Post's Josh Rogin writes; three administration officials said she only told them this week after Rogin approached her about the matter. In 2017, Erickson officiated Thompson's wedding to David Gillian, a former senior Australian army officer. Erickson's attorney said Butina attended as her former boyfriend's guest."

Julian Borger of the Guardian: "The Trump administration's nominee to be the next US envoy to the United Nations has come under congressional scrutiny for absenteeism after spending more than half her time as ambassador to Canada away from her post. Kelly Craft was asked why she spent more than 300 days outside Canada since she took the position in Ottawa in October 2017. In one two-month period between March and May in 2018, Craft was absent from her post 45 out of 54 days, according to Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee. 'I find this staggering amount of time away from her post very troubling and an abdication of leadership,' he said. Craft insisted that all her trips were taken according to state department regulations and argued much of the time was spent negotiating a trade deal with Canada and Mexico in Washington. However, an investigation by Politico [previously linked here] showed that a private jet registered to Craft's husband, a US coal magnate, and used by the ambassador, made 128 flights between the US and Canada during a 15-month span of her tenure in Ottawa."

Jennifer Jacobs & Saleha Mohsin of Bloomberg News: "... Donald Trump has told confidants as recently as Wednesday that he believes he has the authority to replace Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, according to people familiar with the matter. In Trump's line of thinking, he could demote Powell to be a board governor, but isn't planning to do so right now, the people added. Their account of the president's conversations emerged just hours after Powell said he intends to serve his full four-year term despite Trump's continuing criticism of Fed policy. Earlier this year, Trump asked White House lawyers to explore options for removing him, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.... The Federal Reserve Act provides explicit protection for Fed governors against removal by the president except 'for cause.' Courts have interpreted the phrase to require proof of some form of legal misconduct or neglect of basic duties. A disagreement over monetary policy wouldn't meet that bar." ...

... Victoria Guida of Politico: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday held interest rates steady but opened the door to a possible cut this year amid fears of a slowing economy, in a move unlikely to calm ... Donald Trump days after he suggested he might try to demote Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. The Fed's rate-setting committee said in its post-meeting statement that it still thinks 'the most likely outcomes' for the U.S. economy this year are a sustained expansion, a strong labor market and little inflation."

Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Wednesday finalized a package of new rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama's signature effort to reduce planet-warming emissions from coal plants. The new measure, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, will very likely prompt a flurry of legal challenges from environmental groups that could have far-reaching implications for global warming. If the Supreme Court ultimately upholds the rule's approach to the regulation of pollution, it would be difficult or impossible for future presidents to tackle climate change through the Environmental Protection Agency.... The Obama administration interpreted that law as giving the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to set national restrictions on carbon emissions. The Trump administration asserts that the law limits the agency to regulating emissions at the level of individual power plants." (Also linked yesterday.)

Racist to Work on Ginnie Mae Securities. Katy O'Donnell of Politico: "The Department of Housing and Urban Development has hired Eric Blankenstein, the former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official whose racially charged blog posts sparked an uproar last year. Blankenstein has been hired by HUD's Office of General Counsel as a senior counsel working on Ginnie Mae matters, making $166,500 a year.... Democrats and civil rights activists demanded that the CFPB fire Blankenstein after the Washington Post reported in September that he had questioned the veracity of hate crimes and whether the N-word is racist, in blog posts he wrote 14 years earlier. The then-acting CFPB director, Mick Mulvaney, referred the matter to the agency's inspector general. Mulvaney had appointed Blankenstein to [a CFPB job], a post he left last month. Blankenstein will report to HUD's principal deputy general counsel starting Monday, the people said."

Sarah Jones of New York: "Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is not the first Trump administration official to resign over domestic violence allegations.... Rob Porter enjoyed a top spot in Trump's White House inner circle before both of his ex-wives accused him of violent physical abuse. A Trump administration speechwriter, David Sorensen, resigned after his ex-wife told the Post that he'd put out a cigarette on her and ran over her foot with a car. Police in Santa Monica, California, charged Steve Bannon with domestic violence. Andrew Puzder, Trump's original pick to be secretary of Labor, pulled out of contention after reporters unearthed his ex-wife's accusations of domestic violence. All these bad men, all linked to Trump; the incidents look like a pattern, not a coincidence.... Long before President Trump admitted to grabbing women by the pussy, his ex-wife Ivana claimed he once raped her. She's one of 23 women to accuse the president of sexual misconduct.... Misogyny is only one of the sins the Trump administration tapped into and then amplified to the world."

Ian Kullgren & Catherine Boudreau
of Politico: "The Trump administration, under heavy pressure from Congress, will withdraw plans to end a U.S. Forest Service program that trains underprivileged youth, spokespersons for the Agriculture and Labor departments told Politico. The Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, a program within the Job Corps, trains low-income young people to to become first responders to natural disasters, to work on rural infrastructure projects, and to maintain national forests. The administration's reversal on its shuttering the centers comes after significant pushback from lawmakers of both parties -- including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- and also from the union that represents USDA Forest Service employees."

Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "The House waded into the decades-old debate over reparations for African-Americans on Wednesday, convening its first hearing on legislation introduced 30 years ago that would create a commission to develop proposals to address the lingering effects of slavery and consider a 'national apology' for the harm it has caused. Hundreds of spectators, mostly black, were on hand for the historic hearing by a House Judiciary subcommittee, whose witnesses included Senator Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat and presidential candidate, the actor Danny Glover and the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who took direct aim at Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, for remarks he made Tuesday opposing the idea. The room grew raucous at times, with spectators hissing at Republican witnesses and Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the subcommittee's senior Republican, when he spoke against the measure."

Presidential Race 2020

Speaking of Reparations..., Biden Confirms He's Still Clueless. Justin Wise of the Hill: "Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday dismissed calls to apologize for invoking his working relationships with two segregationist senators as an example of 'civility,' saying that his Democratic colleagues knew better. Asked by a reporter outside a fundraiser in Maryland whether he'd apologize for his Tuesday remarks, the Democratic presidential candidate responded, 'Apologize for what?'" ...

     ... Update. CBS News: "'Apologize for what? Cory [Booker] should apologize to me,' Biden said, referring to fellow presidential contender Booker, who said earlier he was 'disappointed' Biden didn't apologize.... Biden insisted Booker should apologize because 'he knows better ... there's not a racist bone in my body.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'm sorry, but you don't criticize a black man when he complains about your joking about not being called "boy" any more than you call a black man "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Not a racist bone in your body? I think there's at least a tibia or a femur in there somewhere. You seem to be one of the many white men who resent "giving" black people equal rights.

... Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: "Joe Biden's nostalgic invocation of two southern segregationist senators at a fundraiser on Tuesday night has sparked the most heated exchanges to date in the 2020 Democratic primary, with competitors launching frontal attacks on the former vice president just a week before the first debate.... The comments, which were reportedly something Biden’s own advisers had warned him not to make, provoked a sharp response from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), one of three African-Americans seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. 'You don't joke about calling black men "boys,"' Booker said in a statement on Wednesday. 'Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity.'... Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told the Washington Post: 'I'm not here to criticize other Democrats, but it's never okay to celebrate segregationists. Never.' And Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who would be the party's first African-American female nominee responded, 'It concerns me deeply. If those men had their way, I wouldn't be in the United States Senate and on this elevator right now.' Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted that he agreed with Booker's statement. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose wife is African-American, also lit into Biden in a tweet featuring a picture of his family." ...

    ... The New York Times story which reported Biden's remarks is here (also linked yesterday). ...

... Martin Longman in the Washington Monthly on an essential element of the good ole days that Biden failed to factor in: "So long as the segregationists were still Democrats, Congress was able to function and there was enough ideological overlap between the two parties to allow for some civility.... When the Democratic Party was divided between north and south, they could hash out most of their internal disagreements and keep the country's lights on. But now that the two parties are divided north and south, this is no longer a fraternal and often amicable dispute. Senators Eastland and Talmadge needed people like Joe Biden in order to keep themselves in the majority and keep their committee gavels. Today, the senators from Mississippi and Georgia have no such use for the current senators from Delaware.... The current Republican Party is a southern party." ...

... Steve M. looks both at Biden's comments at the fundraiser about his friendships with segregationists AND his promise to wealthy potential donors. From the NYT story: "Biden told affluent donors Tuesday that he wanted their support and -- perhaps unlike some other Democratic presidential candidates -- wouldn't be making them political targets because of their wealth.... '... No one's standard of living would change. Nothing would fundamentally change,' he said." Steve concludes, "He'd still be better than Trump, on a hundred different issues. But he shouldn't be the nominee." ...

... Jonathan Chait essentially agrees with Longman & with Steve M.: "At first blush, Biden's segregationist riff is disturbing. When you poke below the surface, gets even more disturbing. It suggests that he has not grasped any of the tectonic changes in American politics, and that he is equipped neither for the campaign nor the presidency.... Biden came of political age during the period when polarization had reached its historic nadir[.]... The era of bipartisanship was built on suppressing racial conflict. The white South could only be cajoled into a coalition that supported bigger government by preventing African Americans from voting and, at times, outright denying them the benefits of government altogether.... Biden is attempting to tout his ability to work across the aisle, but he's citing friendships with members of his own party.... There were divides, but bridging divides within your own party is not actually a monumental achievement.... The most inexplicable thing about the segregationism riff is that it calls attention to a subject Biden should be trying to avoid: his antiquated record on race.... If he truly believes he can lead the Democratic Party by restoring the bygone habits of the system that bred him, he is unqualified to lead either his party or his country in a transformed era." ...

... digby has some thoughts on Joe Biden's boasting about the good ole days when he made friends with segregationist senators: Sen. "James Eastland [D-Mississippi] was a stone cold racist.  For a Democratic presidential candidate in 2019 to extol racists for their 'civility' (much less the fact that he didn't call a white Senator 'boy' [-- Eastland called Biden 'son,' according to Biden --] demonstrating his total misapprehension of what that means) is insulting to a vast number of Democratic voters. To imply that being able to work with someone like Eastland at times is more than just a matter of necessity but rather a belief that people like Eastland are actually good folks you could have a drink with after work is stunningly obtuse. Biden rightly excoriated Trump for his remarks after Charlottesville in his announcement video. Doesn't he realize that his own comments are basically saying that there are 'very fine people' on both sides?" Mrs. McC: Evidently a rhetorical question. ...

... "Both Sides." Trump Makes His Appeals to Segregationists/White Nationalists Directly. Asher Stockler of Newsweek: "... Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested that the innocence of Central Park Five -- long exonerated for their involvement in the 1989 rape of a Central Park jogger, for which they received a combined decades in prison -- may still be in dispute. 'You have people on both sides of that,' he said in response to a question from White House reporter April Ryan, who asked about Trump's infamous full-page ad in the New York Daily News calling for the boys' execution. 'They admitted their guilt.'" Mrs. McC: As former Sen. Claire McCaskill said on MSNBC Wednesday, this was another (obvious) dogwhistle to Trump's racist supporters.

Michael Grynbaum
of the New York Times: "Five anchorwomen at NY1, one of the country’s most prominent local news channels, sued the network on Wednesday over age and gender discrimination, alleging a systematic effort by managers to force them off the air in favor of younger, less experienced hosts. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, portrays a newsroom at odds with the friendly image that has made NY1 a beloved institution among New Yorkers. And it publicized tensions that have long afflicted the TV news business, where older women's careers often fade as male counterparts thrive."

Alexander Mallin of ABC News: "The Department of Justice announced the arrest of a Syrian refugee on Wednesday in connection with an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack on a Christian church in Pittsburgh. Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, was accused by federal prosecutors in court documents filed on Wednesday of planning to attack a church on the north side of Pittsburgh, the Legacy International Worship Center, "to support the cause of ISIS and to inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States."

Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "International prosecutors on Wednesday said that four men, including three with close ties to the Russian military and intelligence, would face murder charges in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine five years ago, killing 298 people. Fred Westerbeke, the chief prosecutor of the Netherlands, said that the trial would begin in the Netherlands on March 9, 2020. The accused are unlikely to be present, however, since three are in Russia and the fourth is believed to be in the breakaway region in Ukraine." (Also linked yesterday.)

David Kirkpatrick & Nick Cumming-Bruce of the New York Times list key takeaways from a United Nations report on the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Reader Comments (11)

I am so proud of my friends, colleagues, mentors and physicians - both here and gone - who, each day, have possessed the courage, in a world of haters, to be themselves. I doubt that I am made of such stuff.

And I am proud to be a Noo Yawkuh living just a few strides from the Stonewall Inn.

“Until Tuesday, only the Stonewall Inn had been designated as an NYC landmark for its role in the LGBTQ rights movement.

That all changed on Tuesday, when the city Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate six additional sites with ties to the LGBTQ community.”

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter[Aunt] Hattie

I’ve been keeping my options open about Biden, but he’s lost me. Sorry, Joe but “It’s okay, he’s the nice racist” doesn’t work for me.

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Hattie :(I'm dropping the "aunt") Last week PBS had that great documentary on the Stonewall riots with a back history on homosexuality in this country. This week they featured another program on "the Lavender Scare" during the McCarthy era in which gays and lesbians were literally rounded up, dismissed from any government job, including those in the military, because they were considered a threat. Communists would blackmail them into giving information, so said Joe.

Those good ole bygone days when America was so darn great, another Joe, this time Biden, is well aware of our history but he seems to view it with older eyes and is puzzled as to why all the fuss over his saying how well he worked with racists in the congress. And I'm wondering––if he weren't running for president, if he weren't on the top rung, would a remark like that cause the other contenders to weigh in? Ted Cruz said, and this was before he was running for president, that "we need to have hundreds more in the senate like Jesse Helms"––one of the most vile, racists that ever graced the halls of Congress. Not a peep was heard about this remark except in the Rolling Stone article on Cruz. I wrote about it twice here on R.C. amazed that there wasn't an up- roar but nothing––I waited––nothing! During the campaign debates not one of the contenders ever brought up that little gem and to this day I find it remarkable.

But back to Joe: So––clueless? perhaps, but I see it more as a generational flub–-he sincerely doesn't understand the ramifications of remarks like that. He seems to be showing us that he's yesterday's star –– the light has dimmed a bit. But what a smile!

The story about this administration getting rid of the Jobs Core Training––WHY? would this be?

Good for Sulzberger to finally address the vicious slings and arrows Fatty keeps aiming at our papers and journalists. It should be looked at as a treasonous act!

What we have, what we have had since this big fart came down that elevator and made that announcement is a scam operation writ large where laws are tossed aside and government is now going to operate like a Potemkin village with as many idiots as they can hire. All the heads, including the Attorney General are "working for" the BIG HEAD and any deviation from that it's off with YOUR head! But one head–-the chairman of FRB is supposed to be independent of the president yet once again Trump thinks he can control him and when he can't he will get rid of him but in this case he can't. Jerome Powell is standing firm and will remain in his position.

And isn't it interesting that we have all this fuss over Biden's comment while Trump spews hate and racist remarks on a daily basis and he IS the president?

June 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Love those R's who don't want the gummint interfering in the free market that has always treated everyone so well. No picking winners and losers for these guys....

Now after the Pretender threatens the Federal Reserve chair with demotion, the Fed hints at rate cuts that fuel a market surge which will benefit only those who choose to sell their closetful of inflated stocks immediately while the market is hot.

Almost seems that would make them winners, doesn't it?

Too bad the half of the country who have no stocks, the losers, can't take advantage of this fine opportunity.

Winners or losers.

Into which category do you think most screaming Trumpbots would fall?

This cynic has his guess.

June 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

"Channeling his inner Thomas Paine in his opening statement, Coates implored the committee to “reject fair-weather patriotism, to say that this nation is both its credits and debits.” The case for reparations, according to Coates, is a case for acknowledging a healing truth, noting that “if Thomas Jefferson matters, so does Sally Hemings. That if D-Day matters, so does Black Wall Street. That if Valley Forge matters, so does Fort Pillow. Because the question really is not whether we’ll be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them.”–-TNR

McConnell, another clueless congressman, another blast from the past simply cannot understand why we have to bring up anything like reparations––"It happened 150 years ago––none of us were alive." This statement should stun us–-it is a record of imaginative and intellectual failure.

Conversation with my mother decades agoand put down in a journal:

Me: do you remember when I was little and you always had a bowl of nuts at the ready and I asked the names of all of them?

Mother: No, not really––I do remember the bowl of nuts though.

Me: Well, I remember that when you picked up a filbert you said it was "a nigger toe."

Mother: Well–-that's what we called them then.

Me: Looking back, did you not think that was a vicious racist label?

Mother: No–it was a different time–-we didn't think there was anything wrong about...

Me: "WE?" Not everyone, I reckon.

Mother: You're right––not everyone, but you have to understand the times––the times were so different then they are now.

Me: I'm not so sure they are so different today; what they are is illuminating––the white hoods are off and we are facing the ugliness.

June 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Trump, a cheap asshole who only spends money on himself, took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the Central Park Five to get the death penalty. This at a time when Donald was bleeding money as the worst businessman in America. That is a truly dedicated white supremacist.

June 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

@PDPepe: Your last paragraph is a perfect stand alone comment!

"And isn't it interesting that we have all this fuss over Biden's comment while Trump spews hate and racist remarks on a daily basis and he IS the president?"

June 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

@ PD, my parents used the same term for brazil nuts, not filberts.

June 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

@unwashed: One would think that brazil nuts would get whatever the ethnic slur against Portuguese-speaking people is.

June 20, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Bea. I don't know how the term came about but per Wiki:
"In the past in North America, Brazil nuts were sometimes known by the epithet "nigger toes,"[8][9] a term that became unacceptable as it is based on a racial slur.[10]."

I think it had more to do with the appearance of the nut in its shell, regardless of any particular language. We can be glad that we've banished it from continued use.

June 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

@unwashed: Beneath the (very thin) skin, brazil nuts are white (and not a particularly tasty nut, IMO). I guess the white person who dreamed up the nasty name didn't know beauty was only skin deep.

June 20, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie
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