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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
Jun252019

The Commentariat -- June 26, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Congressional Standoff. Emily Cochrane of the New York Times: "The Senate on Wednesday approved $4.6 billion in emergency humanitarian aid for the southwestern border, rejecting House legislation approved Tuesday that sought to rein in President Trump's immigration crackdown by setting significant rules on how the money could be spent at squalid detention facilities. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California rejected the Senate's bill even before the vote was taken, setting up a clash over immigration policy just days before Congress leaves Washington for a weeklong July 4 recess. Ms. Pelosi called President Trump to discuss how to reconcile the dueling measures in a 15-minute phone call early Wednesday afternoon.... The margin of the Senate vote, 84-8, underscored Senate Republican contentions that only their bill stands a chance of obtaining the president's signature."

** American Atrocity. Hamed Aleaziz of BuzzFeed News: "When Department of Homeland Security inspectors visited several border facilities in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month, they found adults and minors with no access to showers, many adults only fed bologna sandwiches, and detainees banging on cell windows -- desperately pressing notes to the windows of their cells that detailed their time in custody. The inspectors compiled a draft report, obtained by BuzzFeed News, that described the conditions as dangerous and prolonged. Some adults were held in standing room-only conditions for a week. There was little access to hot showers or hot food for families and children in some facilities. Some kids were being held in closed cells. There was severe overcrowding. The draft report was written by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and addressed to the acting DHS secretary, Kevin McAleenan. It comes after inspectors visited five border facilities and two ports of entry during the week of June 10. It appears to have been sent to DHS officials last week for comments and requests for redactions before being released publicly." Read on.

Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump lashed out at the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Wednesday, dredging up false accusations about the conduct of investigators after House Democrats announced that Mr. Mueller would testify publicly next month. The president offered no evidence as he repeated earlier accusations that Mr. Mueller destroyed text messages between two former F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on the Russia investigation. 'They're gone and that is illegal,' Mr. Trump said of the texts in an interview with Fox Business Network. 'That's a crime.'... He repeated that Mr. Mueller's report, released in April, found no collusion with the Russians, and he again offered a false assertion that he was cleared of obstruction of justice. Mr. Mueller emphasized that Mr. Trump has not been cleared of obstruction crimes."

Trump Doesn't Know What's Going on Down the Road. Sarah Cammarata of Politico: "... Donald Trump complained Wednesday that congressional Democrats 'won't do anything at all about border security' hours after the House passed a funding package worth billions of dollars to address the humanitarian crisis at the nation's southern border." Mrs. McC: Then he told some more lies disparaging Democrats before continuing on to insult "the American soccer player Megan Rapinoe in a three-tweet blast on Wednesday morning after she colorfully said in an interview that she would not go to the White House if the United States wins the Women's World Cup."

Andrew Desiderio of Politico: "The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted on Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after she failed to appear at a hearing centering on her alleged violations of the Hatch Act. The White House blocked Conway from attending Wednesday's hearing, prompting the Democrat-led panel to authorize Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to issue the subpoena.... Henry J. Kerner, who leads the OSC, testified before the Oversight Committee on Wednesday to defend his report. A former GOP staffer for the Oversight panel, Kerner was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate.... Lawmakers raised their voices at times as they sparred over the allegations, with Republicans asserting that Conway was unfairly targeted. The debate got so heated that Cummings repeatedly slammed his gavel to bring the committee back to order. One Republican -- Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan -- joined all Democrats in voting to authorize Cummings to subpoena Conway."

Miranda Green of the Hill: "The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) air policy chief is leaving, amid ethics concerns. The agency on Wednesday announced that Bill Wehrum, the head of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, will leave the agency by the end of June. The announcement comes a few months after lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into whether Wehrum and his deputy improperly aided former energy industry clients after joining the EPA. Wehrum, along with the office's senior counsel, David Harlow, formerly worked at the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, where he represented Utility Air Regulatory Group."

"Baby Trump" to Reign on His Parade. Morgan Gstalter of the Hill: "The 'Baby Trump' blimp that has followed President Trump around the world will fly just blocks from the White House hours before his Fourth of July address. Mike Litterst, a spokesman with the National Park Service, confirmed to Fox 5 this week that feminist anti-war group Code Pink has been granted a permit to fly the notorious balloon during their anti-Trump demonstration.... Most recently, the inflatable ball[o]on, or one of its six clones, was in Orlando, Fla., for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign kickoff."

Ken Meyer of Mediaite: "As Fox & Friends talked about Robert Mueller's upcoming testimony before Congress..., Brian Kilmeade said..., 'I don't think he knows the details of the report.... He is like the King of England on this; he assigns the people....'" Mrs. McC: Sounds like a little projection there, Brian. Not that you yourself aren't very good at details.

Nicole Lafond of TPM: "An employee at the upscale Aviary cocktail bar in Chicago's West Loop was taken into Secret Service custody Tuesday night for allegedly spitting on Eric Trump, according to NBC Chicago. Chicago police responded to the incident and assisted the Secret Service, according to a Chicago Police Department spokesperson.... Trump confirmed the incident during an interview with Breitbart Tuesday evening, calling it a 'disgusting' act by someone with 'emotional problems.'" ...

... MEANWHILE, Back in D.C. ...

... Charles Pierce: Some White House correspondents, led by an enthusiastic Anita Kumar, now of Politico, held a farewell cocktail party for Sarah Sanders. "The relentless desire of the elite political media to pretend that what we're experiencing is just politics as usual, that it conforms to the usual forms and fashions, and that, you know, the pendulum always swings the other way, (insert mandatory extraneous platitude here) is almost charming in its hopeful and child-like simplicity. First of all, this is not a normal administration*. It is a larval tyranny. Secondly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was not a normal White House spokesperson. She was an embarrassingly bad liar and an embarrassingly arrogant countrified know-nothing running cover for a criminal gang, and everyone who attended this nightmare with canapes should be fired forthwith and replaced with someone who has covered organized crime for a living." Mrs. McC: I wonder if an employee spit in their drinks.

Ross Barkan of the Nation: "Tiffany Cabán, the 31-year-old public defender endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is on the verge of a stunning upset in a Queens district-attorney's race that could dramatically impact the direction of criminal-justice reform in America. With 98 percent of the vote reported, Cabán held a razor-thin 1,229-vote lead over Melinda Katz, the borough president backed by the same Queens Democratic machine that Ocasio-Cortez crushed one year ago Katz has refused to concede, waiting for absentee votes to be counted. Cabán's startling performance may not only redefine criminal-justice reform but also New York's once-ossified, hierarchical political scene. Bold leftists are ascendant, with groups like the Democratic Socialists of America evolving from a curiosity to a preeminent vote-getting force in the city."

Elliott Hannon of Slate: "Employees at the online furniture seller Wayfair are planning to walk off the job Wednesday afternoon at the company's Boston headquarters to protest its sale of furniture to be used in border shelters for migrant children. Last week, employees discovered the company had sold $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to the government contractor BCFS, which is responsible for managing camps at the border. That prompted more than 500 employees to sign on to a letter of protest to management; when Wayfair refused to change course, the employees organized a work stoppage.... [In their protest letter,] The employees specifically asked the company to donate the profit from the sale -- some $86,000 -- to the nonprofit RAICES that supports families on the border, as well as establish a code of ethics for future sales. The company rebuffed employee demands to, essentially, vet its customers."

Holly Otterbein of Politico: "The embattled leader of the Pennsylvania GOP has resigned amid a #MeToo scandal, throwing the party into further upheaval in a state critical to ... Donald Trump's reelection chances. The news of Val DiGiorgio's departure follows months of party infighting and disastrous midterm election results for Republicans in the state, including the loss of three congressional seats and double-digit collapses in the gubernatorial and Senate races."

~~~~~~~~~~

Robert Mueller is being subpoenaed by some House Committee (not specified), Rachel Maddow reports. I'll get up a link to a report when one becomes available. Update: The subpoena is for both the Judiciary & Intelligence Committees, and testimony from Mueller will be open. Some of his staff are to testify in closed session before the Intelligence Committee. Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the Intelligence Committee, told Maddow he would not characterize the subpoena as "friendly," as Mueller has made clear he does not wish to testify. Update update: Hill & NYT stories linked below.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Chaos intensified on Tuesday inside the agency responsible for securing the nation's borders as a top official [John Sanders] was replaced by an immigration hard-liner and former Fox News contributor [Mark Morgan] who last week pushed for nationwide deportations. Mark Morgan, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director who pushed for raids to deport undocumented families, will lead Customs and Border Protection, administration officials said Tuesday.... Before he was named acting director of ICE, Mr. Morgan made frequent appearances on Fox News supporting some of President Trump's more aggressive immigration policies." (An earlier version of this story was linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Ted Hesson of Politico: "Mark Morgan, the White House choice to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said during a Fox News interview earlier this year that he can judge the likelihood that an unaccompanied minor will become a gang member by looking into that child's eyes. 'I've been to detention facilities where I've walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under,' Morgan said on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight' in January. 'I've looked at them and I've looked at their eyes, Tucker -- and I've said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It's unequivocal.'... Morgan's comment echoed statements by ... Donald Trump. During an event last year in Long Island, N.Y., Trump said unaccompanied minors 'look so innocent,' but aren't in reality.... The view that unaccompanied minors are more likely to become criminals is unsupported by statistical evidence." Mrs. McC: Oh, Morgan will do a great job. ...

... Arturo Rubio & Caitlin Dickerson of the New York Times: "At the squat, sand-colored concrete border station in [Clint,] Texas that has become the center of debate over President Trump's immigration policies, a chaotic shuffle of migrant children continued on Tuesday as more than 100 were moved back into a facility that days earlier had been emptied in the midst of criticism that young detainees there were hungry, crying and unwashed.... In a press call on Tuesday, a Customs and Border Protection official said that the agency was able to send about 100 children back to the station because overcrowding there had been alleviated. The official disputed the lawyers' accounts of [abysmal] conditions at the facility, insisting that migrant detainees housed by the agency were given access to periodic showers and were offered unlimited snacks throughout the day. The continuing movement of children and confusion over the situation at Clint demonstrated the increasingly disorganized situation along the southern border and the government's struggle to maintain minimal humanitarian standards...." ...

I'm very concerned. And they're much better than they were under President Obama by far.... And we're trying to get the Democrats to get us some humanitarian aid.... If we get this bill signed, we'll be able to do it. The Democrats don't want to sign anything, and now I think they're going to probably sign this, from what I understand, I call it humanitarian aid. -- Donald Trump, in the Oval Office yesterday, in response to a reporter's question about whether or not he was personally concerned about the conditions at these border facilities (lies indicated in boldface type)

... Jordan Fabian & Saagar Enjeti of the Hill: "President Trump on Monday declared migrant detention facilities are better than they were under former President Obama, despite numerous reports describing worsening conditions in centers along the southern border and elsewhere. 'No, the conditions are much better than they were under President Obama,' Trump said during an exclusive interview with The Hill.... He said he would 'like to see them' receive toothbrushes and other toiletries, but added there may be issues providing them 'from a strictly legal standpoint' while repeating his claim that 'we're taking care of people far better than President Obama did.'... Obama also faced criticism in 2014 for the conditions at makeshift facilities for child migrants, most of whom crossed the border unaccompanied. At the time, news outlets and advocates discovered thousands of children sleeping inside chain-link-fenced cages, oftentimes on the floor.... 'When I came in, I took over Obama's policy. It was a policy of separation. I'm the one that put them together,' [Trump] said. The Trump administration last year created a 'zero tolerance' policy as a deterrent amid a growing number of Central American migrants crossing the southern border, which resulted in children being separated from their parents after families were detained by immigration authorities. The previous administration did not have a sweeping policy of prosecuting adults in a way that required they be separated from their children." ...

... Julie Davis & Emily Cochrane of the New York Times: "The House pressed toward a vote Tuesday evening on an emergency $4.5 billion humanitarian aid bill to address the plight of migrants at the border, and Democratic leaders appeared confident they had quelled a rebellion in their ranks by adding health and safety requirements for children and adults held by the government. A group of liberals and Hispanic-American lawmakers had threatened to withhold their backing for the bill because they feared that the aid package would enable President Trump's immigration crackdown.... 'This isn't an immigration bill,' [Speaker Pelosi [told reporters]. 'It's an appropriations bill to meet the needs of the children.'... The White House has already threatened that Mr. Trump would veto the House bill because of restrictions that were included even before those new measures." ...

     ... New Lede: "A divided House voted on Tuesday to send $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid to the border to address horrific conditions facing a crush of migrants, attaching significant rules on how the money could be spent in the first action by Democrats to rein in President Trump's immigration crackdown. But the package, which passed by a vote of 230 to 195 nearly along party lines only after Democratic leaders toughened restrictions on the money to win over liberal skeptics, faces a tough path to enactment." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: To summarize: if Trump is "very concerned" about conditions at border camps, there is no objective evidence of his concern for the inhumane conditions in the camps he -- not Democrats or President Obama -- is administering. Veteran immigrant advocates have said conditions now are far worse than anything they've seen during previous administrations, including of course Obama's. Rather than "trying to get the Democrats to get us some humanitarian aid," Trump has threatened to veto the measure. Yesterday House Democrats passed the humanitarian aid package with only three Republican votes. (Members of Congress don't "sign" bills, as Trump characterized Congressional efforts.) Humane treatment is not conditional on an appropriations bill; if the administration truly doesn't have the funds to accommodate asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants & their children, it can decline to incarcerate them. I doubt there exist laws or regulations that prevent the administration from providing "toothbrushes and toiletries" or other necessities to incarcerated adults & children; a DOJ lawyer argued in court last week that such necessities were not required under the Flores decision. ...

... Roque Planas of the Huffington Post: "Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren called Tuesday for repealing the decades-old law criminalizing unauthorized border crossing ― the same law the Trump administration used to systematically split up families at the border last year. Warren joins fellow 2020 contender Julián Castro and several other prominent Democrats in backing a reform that, if enacted, would give civil immigration courts exclusive legal control over immigration enforcement at the border. Under the current system, tens of thousands of migrants who cross without authorization, including some asylum-seekers, face federal prosecution in criminal courts and jail time before they get in front of an administrative judge, who decides their immigration cases.... Congress first criminalized unauthorized border crossings in 1929, when it passed a law authored by famed segregationist Sen. Coleman Blease, a man known for celebrating the lynchings of black men." ...

... Peter Orsi & Amy Guthrie of the AP: "The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments. The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States. According to Le Duc's reporting for La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria. He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away."

D. Parvaz of ThinkProgress: "When asked by the White House press pool on Tuesday if he had an exit strategy for tensions with Iran -- especially if war breaks out -- ... Donald Trump replied, 'You're not going to need an exit strategy. I don't do exit strategies.' Whether he intends to sow confusion or communicate incoherence, the president has managed to bring things to a near boiling point with Iran." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: One can surmise this is Trump's way of confirming something we already know about him: the consequences of his actions are of no concern to him. Update: See Ken W.'s comment on Trump's "exit strategy" in the thread below. I have to admit Ken is right.

Katie Rogers & Annie Karni of the New York Times: "Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's loyal and sometimes combative communications director, will replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary, the first lady announced on Tuesday. She will also take on the added role of communications director, a job that has been vacant since the departure of Bill Shine in March, and will keep her role with Mrs. Trump." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Robert Mackey of The Intercept: "Last year, when Trump returned to Britain as president..., [he] responded to a [reporter's] question about the protracted Brexit negotiations by claiming that he had predicted the outcome during his 2016 visit to Turnberry [insisting he arrived before the referundum on June 23rd, when he really came June 24th after the vote].... His false claim was quickly noted on Twitter by Jon Sopel, the BBC News North America Editor.... Less than an hour later, Stephanie Grisham [Trump's new Press Secretary], who had by then graduated to the role of communications director for First Lady Melania Trump, made the striking decision to deny objective reality in defense of Trump's delusion of grandeur. Grisham insisted to Sopel that Trump had arrived in Scotland on the day of the referendum, June 23rd 2016, in plenty of time to predict the outcome.... Grisham refused to give an inch to objective reality." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Anyone capable of denying what day it is, is capable of lying about anything & everything, an obvious job requirement in a Trump spokesperson.

This Is Who Passes for the Top Diplomatic Specialist in TrumpWorld. Jennifer Jacobs & Daniel Flatley of Bloomberg: "The Trump administration official in charge of diplomatic protocol plans to resign and isn't going to Japan for this week's Group of 20 meetings, where he would have played a sensitive behind-the-scenes role, according to people familiar with the matter. Sean Lawler, a State Department official whose title is chief of protocol, is departing amid a possible inspector general's probe into accusations of intimidating staff and carrying a whip in the office, according to one of the people." Emphasis added. Mrs. McC: And you wonder why Trump doesn't know how to behave himself on foreign trips.

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Tax Axelrod of the Hill: "Special counsel Robert Mueller will publicly testify in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on July 17 following a subpoena, the panels' chairmen said Tuesday. 'Pursuant to subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence tonight, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has agreed to testify before both Committees on July 17 in open session,' Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chair of the Judiciary panel, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the Intelligence panel, said in a press release.&" ...

     ... Update. The New York Times story, by Nicholas Fandos, is here.

Burgess Everett & Melanie Zanona of Politico: "The president's GOP allies in Congress are moving swiftly to dismiss new rape accusations against him, arguing journalist E. Jean Carroll is eager to promote her new book and that Trump's denial of the alleged attack is credible.... Politico spoke to 16 Republican senators and a half-dozen House members, the majority of whom offered little on the subject. Many said no comment..., and several said that they were unaware of the allegations and had only seen news coverage in passing." The story cites a slew of GOP lemmings who are okay with a rapist president* & a few equivocators. ...

... Ted Barrett & Kristin Wilson of CNN: "Two Republican senators said Tuesday the rape allegation made against ... Donald Trump by writer E. Jean Carroll should be explored to determine the veracity of the allegation against the President -- even as many Senate Republicans sidestepped questions over the matter More Options and defended Trump. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said both Trump and Carroll should be questioned about the alleged assault.... Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said there needs to be an 'evaluation' but that he didn't know what entity should conduct it...." ...

... ** Jonathan Chait: "Asked by reporters about E. Jean Carroll's accusation that President Trump raped her, Senator Lindsey Graham replied, 'He's denied it. That's all I needed to hear.' This seems like an inappropriately high level of credibility to grant a man who has made over 10,000 documented false statements just since taking office.... There are a number of reasons to disbelieve his denial of this specific charge. Trump began his denials by claiming he had 'never met this person in my life.' This denial was pre-refuted by a photograph that New York ran with the story, showing the two of them together. He proceeded to insist 'she's not my type.' Even aside from the insinuation that Trump does have a type of women he would rape, this denial echoed a line he has used before.... It would seem a little strange for Trump to be now refuting a false allegation by using the same terms he previously employed to refute ... allegations that he slept with Stormy Daniels," since the Daniels relationship is known to be true. Read on.

Richard Hasen in Slate: "The government's conduct in the pending Supreme Court case about adding a citizenship question to the census has gone from indefensible to outrageous. In the case, which is likely to be decided this week, Solicitor General Noel Francisco on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to become complicit in a cover up of discriminatory activity by doing something the court does not and cannot do: decide a legal issue that is not before it. If the court does so, any pretense of the legitimacy of the decision will be gone. Here's the relevant background." Should the Court decide for the government this week, Hasen writes that it would "be the biggest travesty since Bush v. Gore."

Matt Shuham of TPM: "The federal judge in congressional Democrats' Emolument Clause lawsuit against President Donald Trump has yet again rejected an attempt by the President to derail the case. In a 12-page opinion Tuesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected Justice Department lawyers' attempt to delay the discovery phase of the suit by appealing Sullivan's previous opinions."

Melanie Zanona, et al., of Politico: "Federal prosecutors have accused Rep. Duncan Hunter of improperly using campaign funds to pursue numerous romantic affairs with congressional aides and lobbyists, according to a new court filing late Monday night. The Justice Department alleged that Hunter (R-Calif.) and his wife Margaret Hunter illegally diverted $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including to fund lavish vacations and their children's school tuition. Monday's court filings also spell out allegations that Hunter routinely used campaign funds to pay for Ubers, bar tabs, hotel rooms and other expenses to fund at least five extramarital relationships." You might want to read on just for the fun of it. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Here's a fun detail from the report: "The filing also says Hunter -- who has developed a reputation on Capitol Hill for drinking heavily and carousing -- used campaign money to pursue 'clearly non-work related activity during get-togethers with his close personal friends.' But prosecutors declined to elaborate further, saying the sensitive conduct could potentially taint the jury pool." IOW, Hunter's behavior was so abhorrent that prosecutors can't reveal it because they would not be able to empanel a jury who could give Hunter a fair trial if potential jurors had heard the allegations. Duncan Hunter may be creepier than Donald Trump.

Presidential Race 2020

The first Democratic presidential debate is tonight beginning at 9 pm. Here's where to watch, via Wired.

Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress: "Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a 'plan to strengthen our democracy' on Tuesday. Much of Warren's plan tracks the For the People Act of 2019, the legislation commonly referred to as 'H.R. 1,' which House Democrats passed last March. What sets Warren's plan apart is the sophisticated mechanisms she uses to insulate voting reforms from state officials hostile to voting rights. Warren's plan is not a perfect solution to the problem of anti-democratic state officials, and, like nearly all laws, it is defenseless against a rogue Supreme Court that is determined to give an electoral advantage to Republicans. Nevertheless, it's a thoughtful effort at least, to mitigate red states' ability to sabotage pro-democratic reforms." --s

Oh Noes! Danny Hakim of the New York Times: "The National Rifle Association has shut down production at NRATV. The N.R.A. on Tuesday also severed all business with its estranged advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, which operates NRATV, the N.R.A.'s live broadcasting media arm, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times. While NRATV may continue to air past content, its live broadcasting will end and its on-air personalities -- Ackerman employees including Dana Loesch -- will no longer be the public faces of the N.R.A."

Beyond the Beltway

Oregon. Will Sommer of The Daily Beast: "While the Oregon Senate walk-out has earned national headlines, this isn't the first time the state's conservatives have gone wild. Over the past few years, Oregon Republicans have fought vaccines and brought in militias as their private security. Even as they're increasingly marginalized in state government, Oregon Republicans have grown more extreme.... Oregon's political divide falls between its western urban centers and its more rural eastern parts, according to John Temple, the author of a new book on militias..., 'Oregon is an interesting snapshot of the U.S. as a whole -- that divide,' Temple said.... Oregon ... was the only state whose original constitution forbid non-white people from living there." --s (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. Dirk VanderHart & Lauren Dake of Oregon Public Broadcasting: State "Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, says Oregon's sweeping plan for addressing climate change this legislative session does not have the votes to pass. But it's not clear whether that will be enough to bring Senate Republicans back to work. As a walkout by Republican Senators entered its sixth day and fifth Oregon Senate meeting Tuesday, Courtney announced that House Bill 2020 -- the reason Republicans began skipping work last week -- will not pass the Senate chamber."

Pennsylvania. Chris Brennan of the Philadelphia Inquirer: Valentino DiGiorgio III, the South Philadelphia-born chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party..., sent a "barrage" of sexually explit messages -- including a photo of his erect penis -- in a texting exchange with a woman who was running for a seat on the Philadelphia City Council. "They finally stopped communicating..., after a written exchange in which she told him his messages amounted to his 'sexually harassing' her. In a reply to her, DiGiorgio denied any wrongdoing during their online interaction, and said he had been a 'perfect gentleman' in their only face-to-face meeting, at a Philadelphia restaurant. They never had physical contact.... Joel Frank, general counsel for the state Republican Party and a lawyer for DiGiorgio, in a letter last week described the messages as 'mutual private exchanges between adults' and called ['correspondent Irina] Goldstein's claims 'a mischaracterization, incomplete and defamatory.'... Goldstein, 35, also said Michael Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor now representing DiGiorgio as a private attorney, called her last week and proposed that she sign a nondisclosure agreement that would bar her from disparaging DiGiorgio, 51, who is married with children." ...

     ... Update. Neil Vigdor of the New York Times: "The chairman of Pennsylvania's Republican Party abruptly resigned Tuesday after a news report that he sent a sexually explicit photograph of himself to a female candidate who ran unsuccessfully for the Philadelphia City Council."

Way Beyond

Guardian: "The estimated number of people using opioids -- an umbrella term for drugs ranging from opium and derivatives such as heroin to synthetics like fentanyl and tramadol -- in 2017 was 56% higher than in 2016, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said in the report published on Wednesday. The report also said that global cocaine production reached an all-time high in 2017, breaking the previous year's record by 25%, as production soared in post-conflict Colombia.... Seizures of tramadol around the world have surged from less than 10kg in 2010 to almost nine tonnes in 2013 and 125 tonnes in 2017, the report showed, adding that the problem was particularly severe in west, central and north Africa." --s

Brazil. Tom Philliips of the Guardian: "Since the far-right leader [Jair Bolsonaro] took office in January, his foreign policy team has set about pulverizing decades of diplomatic tradition: cuddling up to rightwing nationalists including Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán; irking China, an jettisoning its position as a climate crisis leader; infuriating longtime Middle Eastern partners by embracing Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel and threatening to move Brazil's embassy to Jerusalem. All this under a Bible-bashing pro-Trump foreign minister who claims global heating is a Marxist conspiracy and Nazism is a movement of the left.... In interviews with the Guardian, doyens of Brazilian diplomacy described their bewilderment, unease and indignation at seeing such a cherished ministry -- and their country's place in the world -- turned on its head." --safari: The parallels between the two "melting pots" of the Americas is fascinating. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Congo. David Corn of Mother Jones: "[T]here is another nightmare brewing:... Ebola...The number of confirmed Ebola deaths over the past 10 months in the eastern region of Congo has topped 1,500, and the outbreak has spread into Uganda.... This is a far cry from the 11,300 deaths that occurred in 2014 and 2015, but the current eruption is the second-worst flare-up, and it's heading from rural areas toward a major city and refugee camps. So what is President Donald Trump doing about this? Not much..., Ronald Klain, the Ebola czar for President Barack Obama during the 2014-15 episode, notes, it is essential that a senior official in the Trump administration with full White House authority coordinate the various agencies involved -- the State Department, USAID, the Centers for Disease Control, the Pentagon, and others &-- to have an effective response. Now no one holds such a position." --s

Reader Comments (8)

Such a liar!

Trump sez that he can’t provide the children he’s got locked up in his concentration camps with soap or toothbrushes because there “might be a legal issue”.

This from the traitor and criminal who has declared that no rules or regulations, laws, legalities, even the Constitution itself, about which he lied through his teeth when he swore to uphold it, apply to him if he so decides. But little brown children need soap and it’s “Oh shit! Can’t do that. There might be some legal thingy.” It’s like a murderer maintaining that he couldn’t possibly cross the street in the middle of the night with no car in sight as long as the pedestrian walk sign was red because it wouldn’t be right.

And in any event, it’s all Obama’s fault.

Liar AND a coward.

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Boo hoo. That nice Dana Loesch has gotten the heave-ho from those lovely people at Guns for Terrorists, Inc., aka the NRA. Maybe she can find some other horrible operation in need of an unctuous twit as their spokesperson. I hear Kitty Boilers International might be interested.

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I think everyone who has been a mother, who has had a mother who wanted the best for us, who made us safe, who has had a father who let us ride on his shoulders, who kept us safe and worked hard to provide for us, who wanted the best for us:
we should all make a sign - "SHAME"
and take at least one of our kids or grandkids with us to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and just stand there shouting "SHAME" again and again and again.
I'm not sure about the throwing pampers over the fence thing.
and we should do this on the anniversary of the women's march.
Otherwise, I am beyond thoughts or words about racist concentration camp kids in cages.
I visualize a toddler carrying a sign against the backdrop of soldiers with live ammunition there to protect the fatso in the white house - from pampers. or soap. or cold MRE's.

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare has a pretty good twitter thread demonstrating the cognitive dissonance needed to remain firmly in Drumpf's corner. It's prettty good, but missing more examples. I proposed:

I believe Donald has bone spurs, stopping him from earning multiple purple hearts in Vietnam.
I also believe he has the "best genes".

It's kinda like shooting fish in a barrel.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1143683557308686336.html

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Let's all just stop and realize where we're at right now, just from the past week or so, the first night of the Democratic debates:

-Administration mass abusing the most vulnerable populations in our country, withholding soap and toothbrushes.

-Border patrol moves hundreds of migrants out of horrific concentration camp to alleviate criticism. Then pulls a U-turn and drives them back.

-Same administration cuts aid to countries these same desperate migrants come from.

-Occupant terrorizes migrant families living in the US, many with American-born kids. Then puts the threat on hold for two weeks.

-Oval Office occupant hit with another (lost count how many, now) serious, credible rape allegation. Occupant replies: "She's not my type." Press yawns.

-"Anti-war" candidate nearly bumbles himself into potential war with Iran. No Secretary of Defense to speak of.

-Document exposed showing how the transition was a complete sham, hired corrupt swamp anyway. Then they got exposed for being corrupt swamp creatures.

-Of course, occupant lies every fucking day about everything.

-"Deal of the Century" is unveiled with mockery, derision, and Kushner's biggest project exposes him as the second biggest fraud in the White House. The Palestinian peace plan conference is attended by neither Palestinians, nor Israelis.

-In sum, crickets from Republicans.

-85% approval rating from "conservative" low IQ voters.

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

The overwhelming––finally–- coverage of these migrant children being kept like caged animals without proper hygiene, food, temperature control, sheets, blankets and beds and even this Trump cannot address without lying. Perhaps this was that straw that broke someone at Fox to speak out forcefully and honestly. See for yourself:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fox-news-shep-smith-migrant-children_n_5d132eb5e4b0a394186b197e

When––WHEN are we gonna get him?????? How long can we toy with this fat fuck?????? I am so furious, so fed up with all this crap, so sick of seeing HIM boondoggle his base, strut his stuff and create such chaos. Evil thoughts I harbor in my bosom.

"Our concern be peace of mind: Some old crone
let us seek,
To spit on us for luck and keep unlovely things
afar." ~~~~Theocritus

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

But the Pretender does have an "exit strategy."

It has three parts, and he's been deploying it for years.

Lie.

Threaten.

Blame someone else.

Of course, none of these would work if he were not rich. Because he is, our bent culture is given to taking him seriously.

Just ask Lindsey.

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

That Charlie Pierce is sure some remarkable slinger of truly inspired invective.

Thanks for the link.

And how about this from one of today's NYTimes headers?

"Boris Johnson, Political Escape Artist, Lands in Hot Water. Again.
The front-runner to become the British prime minister is frequently caught in gaffes, oversights and outright lies. And that’s what his fans like about him."

Sound familiar?

June 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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