The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, March 25, 2017.

New York Times: "Five years after a child sex abuse scandal rocked Penn State, damaging its reputation, exposing a revered coach as a serial predator and sending him to prison, a jury on Friday convicted the former president of the university of child endangerment for failing to stop the abuse. On its second day of deliberations, the jury in Harrisburg, Pa., found Graham B. Spanier guilty of one misdemeanor count, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He was also found not guilty of two felony charges, for his handling of allegations against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

 


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

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Saturday
Mar182017

The Commentariat -- March 19, 2017

Afternoon Update:

House Trump Backer: The SCROTUS Lied. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that there was no proof in new documents provided to Congress by the Justice Department on Friday to support President Trump’s claim that his predecessor had ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower. 'Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, but there never was, and the information we got on Friday continues to lead us in that direction,' Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said on 'Fox News Sunday.' He added, 'There was no FISA warrant that I’m aware of to tap Trump Tower' — a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a federal law that governs the issuance of search warrants in U.S. intelligence gathering. Nunes spoke a day before his panel holds its first public hearing on alleged Russian attempts to interfere in last year’s presidential election — a subject that is certain to include discussion of contacts between Trump campaign figures and Russian operatives.... On ABC’s 'This Week,' another Republican on the House Intelligence Committee ... Will Hurd (Tex.), a former clandestine agent for the CIA ... called on Trump to apologize for accusing Obama of ordering an illegal wiretap.” -- CW 

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "... seven current or former Navy officers who have pleaded guilty in an epic corruption and bribery scandal but are still eligible for generous retirement benefits, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. The Navy has yet to make a final determination on how much the other convicted officers will receive. How the Navy decides to act could have repercussions for dozens of others who remain under investigation for their entanglements with Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who resupplied U.S. warships in Asia for a quarter-century." -- CW 

*****

What? No Alligator Pits? Alicia Caldwell of the AP: "The Trump administration wants to build a 30-foot-high border wall that looks good from the north side and is difficult to climb or cut through, according to a pair of contract notices posted to a government website further detailing ... Donald Trump's promise to build a 'big, beautiful wall' at the Mexican border. The notices were made public late Friday by Customs and Border Protection, the Homeland Security Department agency that will oversee the project and eventually patrol and maintain the wall." -- CW ...

... Yoo-Ess-Ay! Yoo-Ess Ay! Ctd. Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "The United States broke with other large industrial nations over trade on Saturday as the Trump administration rejected concerns among allies about spreading protectionism and made clear that it would seek new approaches to managing global commerce. At a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging nations and the European Union, Steven Mnuchin, attending his first major international gathering as Treasury secretary, signaled that American policy would follow the campaign promises made by President Trump to put 'America first' and review existing trade agreements to seek better deals for the United States.... Mr. Mnuchin led off the ministers’ meeting on Friday with a declaration that current trade rules were unfair to the United States, positioning the administration against virtually all the other participants.... For Asian and European officials, many of them meeting their Trump administration counterparts for the first time, it was a startling lesson in how Mr. Trump and his team are overturning long-held assumptions about international commerce." -- CW ...

... MEANWHILE, Rex Insults South Korea. Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Rex Tillerson has defended his decision to block American reporters from his first major mission to Asia, saying: 'I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it.'... [T]he secretary of state only allowed one reporter to join him on a trip to Japan, South Korea and China. In an interview with the reporter from the conservative Independent Journal Review, a website partly owned by a top adviser to Vice-President Mike Pence, Tillerson insisted the decision was made first for cost reasons and second for his preference to work 'behind closed doors'.... In the interview, Tillerson accused Korean officials of trying to save face by misstating what had happened.... 'They never invited us for dinner, then at the last minute they realized that optically it wasn’t playing very well in public for them, so they put out a statement that we didn’t have dinner because I was tired,' Tillerson said." --safari ...

... Amanda Erickson of the Washington Post: "At a news conference Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump 'reiterated' his 'need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense.' He followed up Saturday with an impolitic double-barreled tweet shot.... 'Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes.....' --Donald J. Trump, March 18, 2017 '...vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!' — Donald J. Trump, March 18, 2017. Security experts quickly attacked the flaws in Trump’s logic. On Twitter, former U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder wrote that increased defense budgets by Germany aren’t transferred to the United States. He also pointed out that NATO decided to make the 2 percent requirement mandatory just a couple of years ago. The alliance gave all member states until 2024 to reach that goal, and Germany is on track. 'Trump’s comments misrepresent the way NATO functions,' Daalder told us. 'The President keeps saying that we need to be paid by the Europeans for the fact that we have troops in Europe or provide defense there. But that’s not how it works.' Despite these critiques, this line of argument has been a near-constant refrain for Trump and his administration." ...

     ... CW: It's hard to count the number of ways Trump insulted Merkel in such a short time, including, apparently, his refusal to shake her hand and his inability to even pronounce her name correctly. What an ass! ...

... Juan Cole: "After an awkward meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the Free World, Trump tweeted out an insulting message accusing Germany and other NATO countries of not paying the US.... Trump’s budget cuts roughly 38% from the $56 bn. international affairs section, including deep cuts to the State Department, to US AID, and to foreign aid.... The European Union has complained bitterly about proposed US cuts in development aid. The UN is in the midst of a major, and so far amazingly successful, bid to reduce absolute poverty in the world. Trump’s stinginess would endanger the success of this program...At this rate we won’t have any allies soon." --safari

... Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "Meanwhile, Trump will not let go of his claim that former president Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower during the election, despite no supporting evidence. The president has been offered numerous exit ramps to put this self-created controversy behind him. Instead, he remains stubbornly defiant, perpetuating rather than closing a damaging chapter in his presidency that in the past few days became an international embarrassment.... Trump [has followed] a playbook that has become standard for his White House, which is to duck, deflect and in all other ways do everything but acknowledge that there is no credible evidence for Trump’s original claim, tweeted out a few weeks ago. Having made the allegation, the president has asked others to prove it. When the evidence points in the opposite direction, the White House prefers to look for questionable ways to support what Trump claimed." -- CW ...

... Andy Bruce of Reuters: "Allegations from the United States that British spy agency GCHQ snooped on Donald Trump during his election campaign are 'arrant nonsense', the deputy head of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) said in an interview on Saturday.... Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, told BBC News the idea that Britain had a hand in spying on Trump was 'just crazy'.... Ledgett ... is due to retire shortly." CW: Perhaps even more shortly than he planned. Might wanna ask former Acting AG Sally Yales about that. ...

... From Russia with Love. Media Matters via RawStory: "The New York Times has confirmed that Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano sourced his false allegation that former President Barack Obama asked British intelligence to spy on President Donald Trump to a discredited former CIA analyst. This analyst, Larry C. Johnson, floated the conspiracy theory on the Russian state-sponsored news network RT on March 6, the week after Trump's original accusation that Obama was responsible for an illegal wiretap." safari: Putin has to be laughing his ass off at us. ...

...Hey, Maureen Dowd noticed Trump is crazy: "... instead of improving in office, Trump is regressing.... He trusts his beliefs more than facts. So many secrets, so many plots, so many shards of gossip swirl in his head, there seems to be no room for reality.... Everyone is tiptoeing around the mad king in his gilded, sparse court. His lieges make fools of themselves trying to justify or interpret his transcendentally nutty tweets and willfully ignorant comments." -- CW ...

... Julie Davis & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "... it has also become clear that Mr. Trump, an agitator incapable of responding proportionately to any slight, appears hellbent on squandering his honeymoon. Instead, he has sowed chaos in his own West Wing, and talked or tweeted his way into trouble, over and over again. That was never more apparent than over the last week, when fresh questions about his refusal to release his tax returns and the blocking of his executive order sapped the spotlight from his efforts to build support for the health measure and even the unveiling of his first budget. Even more self-lacerating: his insistence that President Barack Obama had authorized surveillance on his 2016 campaign, a claim that continued unabated despite rebukes from Republicans, denials by the congressional intelligence committees and complaints from the British government, which demanded an apology after Mr. Trump’s spokesman suggested that one of its intelligence agencies had aided in the spying.... The public outbursts are mirrored by internal tensions [in the White House]." -- CW ...

... Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Outspoken, worldly and polished, this coterie of ascendant Manhattan business figures-turned-presidential advisers is scrambling the still-evolving power centers swirling around President Trump. Led by Gary Cohn and Dina Powell — two former Goldman Sachs executives often aligned with Trump’s eldest daughter and his son-in-law — the group and its broad network of allies are the targets of suspicion, loathing and jealousy from their more ideological West Wing colleagues. On the other side are the Republican populists driving much of Trump’s nationalist agenda and confrontations, led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who has grown closer to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in part to counter the New Yorkers. As Trump’s administration enters its third month, the constant jockeying and backbiting among senior staff is further inflaming tensions at a time when the White House is struggling on numerous fronts...." -- CW 

Rebecca Morin of Politico: "A 'major meeting' on veterans affairs slated for Friday evening that President Donald Trump publicly announced at the White House earlier in the day did not take place, according to pool reports. Flanked by representatives of veterans groups, Trump said he would be meeting with members of the veterans affairs board at his Mar-a-Lago club on Friday evening, including Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter. But Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, sitting to Trump's left, immediately indicated he would not be attending. The White House did not respond to a question as to why the meeting did not occur." --safari

Peter Morris & Kevin Bohn of CNN: "The Secret Service detained a man who drove up to a White House checkpoint late Saturday night and claimed to have a bomb in his vehicle, two law enforcement officials told CNN. There was no confirmation on whether there was any device in the vehicle, but security at the White House was immediately upgraded. The vehicle is being checked, the officials said.... At the time of the incident..., Donald Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he spends most of his weekends. Earlier Saturday, another person was arrested after jumping over a bicycle rack in front of the White House. The man, who never made it to the White House fence, was carrying a document he wanted to deliver to the White House and did not have a weapon, a law enforcement official said." In a later on-air report, CNN says "it appears there was not a bomb" in the vehicle. -- CW 

Simon Ostrovsky of CNN: "Ukrainian prosecutors want to question Paul Manafort in connection with a corruption investigation and have made repeated requests for assistance from US authorities, CNN has learned. Prosecutors in Kiev said they have made seven separate appeals over the past two years for help in questioning ... Donald Trump's former campaign manager, including letters to FBI Director James Comey and US Justice Department officials. Ukrainian officials said the US has not responded to those requests. Under a 'mutual legal assistance' treaty, the two countries have agreed to regularly assist each other in law enforcement efforts, such as gathering statements and other evidence for prosecutions.... Manafort has not been charged with a crime." -- CW 

Yeganeh Torbati & Michael Martina of Reuters:"With warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues. China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and the U.S. decision to base an advanced missile defense system in South Korea." -- CW ...

... Jack Kim of Reuters: "North Korea has conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station and leader Kim Jong Un said the successful test was 'a new birth' of its rocket industry, the reclusive North's official media said on Sunday. The engine would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite launch capability, KCNA said, indicating the test was of a new type of rocket engine for long-range missiles.The United States and China pledged to work together to get the North to take "a different course" and move away from its weapons programs after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met his Chinese counterpart on Saturday." -- CW 


AP: "Former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, who invited rocker Ted Nugent to President Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address, is accused of spending money meant for charity on himself and contributions to his campaign. Stockman, a Republican who served two non-consecutive terms in the U.S. House, is charged with conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements. He was released from custody after a hearing Friday in Houston federal court. The Houston Chronicle reports that Stockman on Friday blamed his arrest on a 'deep state' shadow government, which is a theory that has taken hold among some conservatives that there is a shadowy network of powerful entrenched federal and military interests working to undermine President Donald Trump. --safari

Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune: "U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, faced a raucous town hall Saturday as he sought to defend the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, among other issues that have spawned fierce opposition under ... Donald Trump. Addressing over 2,000 people, Sessions was frequently drowned out by boos and angry outbursts from the audience. Many of his answers were not entirely audible due to the crowd’s reaction as he began to speak. 'We are going to make the changes, we are going to pass the bill and we are going to repeal Obamacare,' Sessions said at one point, a declaration that gave way to sustained chants of 'Vote him out!'” -- CW 

AP via TPM: "Former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, who invited rocker Ted Nugent to President Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address, is accused of spending money meant for charity on himself and contributions to his campaign. Stockman, a Republican who served two non-consecutive terms in the U.S. House, is charged with conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements. He was released from custody after a hearing Friday in Houston federal court. The Houston Chronicle reports that Stockman on Friday blamed his arrest on a "deep state" shadow government, which is a theory that has taken hold among some conservatives that there is a shadowy network of powerful entrenched federal and military interests working to undermine President Donald Trump. --safari

Kevin Hardy of the Des Moines Register, in USA Today: "The Iowa Tourism Office generally receives about two complaints a month from travelers who leave the state peeved about picking up a speeding ticket or dissatisfied with an unpleasant hotel stay. But in the days following U.S. Rep Steve King's recent controversial comments, staff responded to about 60 tweets a day, not to mention emails, Facebook posts and calls from potential tourists, officials said Friday.... Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority Director, which oversees the tourism office, said she personally drafted an email to send to potential tourists who voice concerns. In it, she said King's comments did not reflect the views of Iowans or her department." -- CW ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: "A panel discussion on MSNBC’s AmJoy, discussing Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) racist comments about America needing more white babies turned to fellow Republicans’ fear of condemning white nationalism at any level of government — including the White House. 'As a matter of politics, is there a fear among Republicans in Congress that if they distance themselves too much from this ideology that they will suffer the wrath of Donald Trump’s voters?' host Joy Reid asked journalist Kurt Eichenwald. 'The biggest problem the Republicans have right now is that they are spineless,' the Newsweek writer replied. 'They are trying to calculate which is going be the most damaging, if they distance themselves from — I can’t believe I’m about to say these words — if they’re going to distance themselves from neo-Nazis and white supremacists.'” -- CW 

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post profiles Sen. Al Franken: "At the dawn of a presidency that stretches the limits of late-night parody, and at a moment when an out-of-power Democratic Party is trying to find its voice, the former comedian and satirist may be having a breakout moment as a political star. He is also finding it safe to be funny again.... He spent his first term trying to prove he was not a joke — buttoning up his wit, buckling down on esoteric issues and sidestepping all but his home-state media.... He [has] developed a reputation on Capitol Hill for policy chops and penetrating questions — skills that have been on display during confirmation hearings of President Trump’s Cabinet nominees.... Franken’s questions have left a mark. He will be at it again starting Monday, when Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch goes before the Judiciary Committee. When he met privately with Gorsuch, Franken said, the nominee 'seemed evasive, on pretty much everything I asked him.'” -- CW 

Eli Rosenberg of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton said she was 'ready to come out of the woods' during a St. Patrick’s Day speech on Friday night in Pennsylvania in front of an overflow crowd — an indication that she plans to shed the low profile she has kept since the election." -- CW 

Beyond the Beltway

American "Justice," Ctd. Jerry Ianelli of the Miami New Times: "On June 23, 2012, Darren Rainey, a schizophrenic man serving time for cocaine possession, was thrown into a prison shower at the Dade Correctional Institution. The water was turned up top 180 degrees.... As punishment, four corrections officers — John Fan Fan, Cornelius Thompson, Ronald Clarke and Edwina Williams — kept Rainey in that shower for two full hours.... Rainey died inside that shower. He was found crumpled on the floor. When his body was pulled out, nurses said there were burns on 90 percent of his body. A nurse said his body temperature was too high to register with a thermometer. And his skin fell off at the touch. But in an unconscionable decision, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's office announced Friday that the four guards who oversaw what amounted to a medieval-era boiling will not be charged with a crime. 'The shower was itself neither dangerous nor unsafe,’ the report says. 'The evidence does not show that Rainey’s well-being was grossly disregarded by the correctional staff.’ Rundle's office announced the results of its investigation in a Friday afternoon news-dump, the kind that public officials typically only use to bury unflattering news or information." -- CW 

American "Justice," Ctd. Eight Years??? Michael Wines of the New York Times: Maria "Ortega, of Grand Prairie, Tex., a suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth, is a permanent resident with a green card, but she is not an American citizen. In a case that made national headlines last month, she was found guilty, fined $5,000 and sentenced to eight years in prison because the ballots she cast in 2012 and 2014 were illegal. While green-card holders have many of the rights of citizens, they cannot vote. If the verdict is upheld, she will serve her sentence and, in all likelihood, be deported to Mexico. For green-card holders, a criminal conviction is effectively a ticket for deportation. Her punishment may be unprecedented for an offense that often draws a minimal sentence or probation. Ms. Ortega, who has a seventh-grade education and a sometimes shaky grasp on the complexities of her life, has steadfastly insisted that she did not know she was violating the law — that she is being imprisoned and probably deported for the crime of being confused." ...

     ... CW: I hope Texans are happy to house & feed Ms. Ortega for eight years for "the crime of being confused." Oh, and she says she voted Republican. Yeah, she's confused, all right.

Suzette Hackney of the Indianapolis Star, in USA Today: "The day should have been one of glory and celebration for five fourth-graders. The Pleasant Run Elementary students had just won a robotics challenge at Plainfield High School.... The team is made up of 9- and 10-year-olds. Two are African American and three are Latino. As the group ... and their parents left the challenge last month in Plainfield, Ind., competing students from other Indianapolis-area schools and their parents were waiting for them in the parking lot. 'Go back to Mexico!' two or three kids screamed at their brown-skin peers and their parents, according to some who were there. This verbal attack had spilled over from the gymnasium. While the children were competing, one or two parents disparaged the Pleasant Run kids with racist comments — and loud enough for the Pleasant Run families to hear." -- CW

Way Beyond

Simon Tisdall of the Guardian: "[President of Turkey] Erdoğan’s rude push to take partisan campaigning in Turkey’s fraught 16 April referendum on expanded presidential powers to the doorsteps of western Europe’s four-million-strong Turkish diaspora is no laughing matter. It has sparked an all-out crisis in Turkey-Europe relations that had been threatening to erupt for years.... Traumatised by Brexit, shocked by the advent of Donald Trump, weakened by eurozone crises and alarmed by neo-populist forces that threaten the centrist establishment in coming elections in France and Germany, the European commission and principal EU members are poorly placed to resist the challenges presented by a tough, unscrupulous opponent such as Erdoğan." --safari

Reader Comments (29)

The Pretender is all about walls.

The nomination of George Conway to head the Injustice Dept.'s soon-to-be uncivil division is another move to keep it all in the family, another brick in the wall that protects the Pretender from disagreement, from any person or any idea that might upset his best-ever digestion or make his brow furrow with an unaccustomed thought.

Fortress Trump there in the White House, or preferably Mara-Largo, marinating in paranoia, wielding the power of his office to build walls along borders, between races and social classes, everywhere, in a bootless effort to make America into something so one-dimensional he can understand it and feel right at home.

Since that will never happen, I expect he will spend most of his term, short or long, hiding out or traveling only to safe places where he can take his walls with him and receive the noisy plaudits he craves from others who are desperate to build walls too.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Making a prediction here: Drumpf and his lapdogs plow through logic and reason pushing his Obama wiretapping claims until all excuses and misdirections are exhausted. The MSM doesn't let it go because of the seriousness of the charges to the point that the Mercers, Kochs, toady McConnell and Spineless Ryan finally demand that Trump concede the point. He'll hold a press conference at Mar-a-Lago, show up 2 hours late, rail against FAKE NEWS and how he's winning so fast heads are spinning.

Then, in three sentences mid-thought, he'll unload all of the blame of this salacious lie on Fox News, and take enormous credit for having cleared Obama's name and having gotten to the bottom of this whole debacle. He'll ask Obama to thank him and pat himself on the back. Then he'll plug his hotels and walk off with his shit grin on his face.

His supporters will go wild.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersafari

I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that safari was the @realOracleOfDelphi. If safari's scenario turns out to be correct, it won't be because Trump people were reading Reality Chex (as I understand some Obama staff did) & took notes, but because safari has Trump's number.

Marie

P.S. I'd like an accounting of how many taxpayer dollars have gone in to investigating Trump's tweets about President Obama: staff at the White House, the Justice Department, several intelligence agencies, as well as the House & the Senate have wasted a lot of time on this particular lie. Probably cost as much or nearly as much as the small amount the feds spend on Meals on Wheels. Some inquiring reporter should get on this. Maybe ask Spicey about it & watch him explode.

March 19, 2017 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

RE: Trump's final relinquishing of "Obama tapped my phone" canard predicted by our O of D is reminiscent of how he let go of the birther business. He held a bigly kind of press conference, American flags lined up in the background, went on about all sorts of things and then, as an aside, said, "Oh, and Obama was born in this country, folks." And WE said, That's it? that's all we get? after years of running with this charade? This LIE.

After reading the news today I despair. This is the second time the Trump administration has been informed about how NATO money is handled. How stupid are they? Isn't there someone there who isn't off their chump or isn't sucking up?

I think Juan Cole is correct: at this rate we won't have any allies left.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

"He who seeks the salvation of the soul, of his own and those of others, should not seek it along the avenue of politics."
Max Weber--1919

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

A few observations:
Finally we are seeing the word 'crazy' in a serious context.
We are not building 'a' wall between the US and Mexico. We are building the TRUMPwall. Watch out Canada!
Steve Bannon's job is successful because he knows how to explain those complex things to Trump.

And good news for Trump. No gunman can kill him. He has no heart and if shot in the head it will likely miss his brain.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Marin Cogan notes How Liberal Colleges Breed Conservative Firebrands: " Life on the defensive can curdle into reactionary politics " ...students who support Mr. Trump “because it’s cool to be hyper-reactionary, it makes them different,” he said. “An easy way to develop a reputation is to be super far-right. And they’re allowed to sit in their largely undercooked beliefs because they aren’t getting really serious pushback.

Cogan cites one conservative growing up midst progressives: Stephen Miller.

Interesting take. Probably not exclusive to campuses. Makes me think about one regular and prolific commenter to many NYT articles. This guy writes well, fine command of the English language, commas and semi-colons in the proper places...but, he's so damn contrarian. Actually, I'm come to believe he totally relishes getting flak from other readers. He must stay up all night to respond to Krugman, Collins, etc. gleefully plotting to come up with the most outlandish, controversial comments and getting off on the satisfaction that he is pissing off those damn liberals! If you read Times comments, you'll know exactly who I mean.

@Marie: Appears you are also an oldies-but-goodies music fan of Chuck Berry! He sure was one of a kind and his music such fun! I think I have a VCR tape somewhere starring Chuck with Carl Perkins, Keith Richards, Etta James, and Eric Clapton (?) that is truly a performance piece. Hail! Hail! Rock'n Roll, indeed. "Brown-eyed, Handsome Man" is one of his many that I particularly love.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

It's a small point, perhaps, but worth noting, the difference between a real president with self control, respect for the office, and the gravitas required of someone who holds or has held that high office as a representative of the American people as well as leader of the free world, and a malicious, lying incompetent with the self control of a three year old and the confused thought processes of a mentally disturbed person.

Just imagine, were the roles reversed, how Little Trumpy would respond to charges that he had wire tapped his predecessor in the office. Would he, like Obama, issue a straightforward denial through a spokesperson then be quiet about it? Or would he, well, you know...

Trump voters wanted a change from the former president? Well, They've got it. Hope they're proud of themselves. Especially all those who hate the government but whose lives will be startlingly diminished once their hero pulls the plug on all the programs they rely on for a halfway decent life.

Assholes.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

What Gorsuch Has in Common with Liberals: (his hearing begins tomorrow): from New Haven by Akhil Reed Amor:

When discussing Scalia, Amor says, "...[he] stopped reading. He failed to read the Constitution's text all the way to the end..."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/opinion/sunday/what-gorsuch-has-in-common-with-liberals.html?ref=todayspaper

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

".. CW: Aw, I can't help it. If you are a person d'un certain âge, Berry is part of who you are."

You got that!

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@MAG, you must be referring to a guy with the initials R.L. Right?

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

I did a little experiment on how to prepare for an international visitor. I timed my google question on the pronunciation of Angela Merkels name. It took 18 seconds. ahn-GAY-lah M-AIR-kl

And the sad news for Trump: The Mexican boarder is a little under 2000 miles. The great wall of China is about 5000 miles.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

More on walls:

The Pretender's desire that the wall be aesthetically pleasing on only one side reminded my wife of the time many years ago when I had my first not-so-handyman job in a university town far away.

Was working for a young real estate developer who was acquiring large, old houses and dividing them into smaller units to rent to students.

Was told to dig a ditch. Did it. Was told to build a will. Did that, too. Then was told to paint the chimney above the roofline and was handed a paint can with just a little white paint in the bottom.

Paint the chimney I asked? I'd never heard of such a thing. Then, looking into the can: There's not enough paint, I said.

I still remember the response: Just paint the front, the sides you can see from the street, he said.

I climbed on the roof and did that too and ever since have carried an image of the chimney painted on one side only as the very definition of class.

Now I have another, and extremely sad to say, this time the scream of fake and shallow I hear applies to the designated leader of my entire country, not merely to a slick operator in a university town long ago.

What more can one say?


@Unwashed.

Haven't read NYTimes comments very often in the last year of so, but I too am guessing his first name is Richard, who if he is still pounding away at the keys has staying power much greater than my own. His reaction formation is apparently very deeply rooted.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@unwashed: Uh huh!

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Headline from Bloomberg:



Ready or Not, Here Come Trump and North Korea
Bloomberg - ‎8 minutes ago‎

"President Donald Trump is a reckless bully with authoritarian leanings and a craving for attention. Kim Jong-un is a reckless bully with dictatorial powers and a craving for attention."

A big bully boy takes on the much smaller bully boy but boy, oh boy, it will be scurrilous school yard antics until one of them has to say "Uncle" but by that time it just might be too late.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Today's Star Ledger cartoon and comment.
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/03/the_trump_budget_is_a_fairy_tale_sheneman_cartoon.html

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

RL is the Ann Coulter of the NYT. Either that or he's a masochist.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercakers

Last month Michael Klare of "The Nation" had this to say about White House infighting, his short piece explanatory and predictive of many stories we've seen and will continue to see about the alarming WH disarrary:

https://www.thenation.com/article/in-trumps-white-house-its-the-billionaires-vs-the-bombardiers

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I don't know why NYT commenters bother with RL these days. His arguments are usually fallacious and his comments have degenerated into dickheadishness. Hmmm ... autocorrect has accepted that as a word - perhaps it's the context!

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

@Gloria: There are few wordish things that I like less than a noun -- dickhead -- turned into an adjective -- dickheaded -- turned back into a noun -- dickheadedness. That's why I occasionally use words like "wonderfulness" when I mean them sarcastically. I still remember a pompous young designer explaining to us rubes on an ancient HGTV show that a particular room he designed was delightful because of its comfortableness. Dickhead.

Marie

March 19, 2017 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I love this from the Dallas News about the town hall meeting held by confederate Rep. Pete Sessions:

"When asked whether he supported a 'climate change denier' running the Environmental Protection Agency, referring to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Sessions blamed New York and the Northeast for polluting America."

Of course all of their pollution blew/flowed southwest.

Yeah, right. Asswipe.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

If trump wants to stop immigration from Mexico into the US he need only post 'Beyond the Beltway' along the border.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCowichan's Opinion

Damn you Marie! You just started something that I’m not gonna be able to stop doing now. The explosiveness of irreverent thoughtfulness will have its impactfulness on everything I write going forward. Was this sly intentionalness of your highnessesness to purposefullyness insert such vile maliciousness, unconsciousnessly into my brainlessness prattles?

Madam, you are filled with devilishness, fie!

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Schmeckleness sounds, and fits, better.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWhyte Owen

Oh, @MAG,this is not the link you referenced, but it ain't bad.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWhyte Owen

@Whyte, ain't bad at all. Looking at young Keith reminded me of something Charlie Pierce wrote back in December 2015:

"From the Magical, Musical, Mystical Land Of OZ: Blog Official Music Archivist Bill Osment reminds us that Friday was the 72nd birthday of Keith Richards, the most mysteriously surviving human in history."

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

@unwashed,

As if we needed proof he's he the Pretender's pocket, he imitates him. Not only does Sessions say something stupid. He gets it entirely wrong.

The state that leads all the others in per capita CO2 emissions?

TEXAS!!!!

Not true, Sessions might blubber. More fake news.

Wonder what he'd say after he checked the source, "CO2 emissions @tumbir.com" brought to us by the nice marketing folks at Shell Oil.

You gotta smile.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

CO2: Methinks the highest emission would be D.C. since
bullshit ads an enormous amount of CO2 to the atmosphere.
Just sayin', not scientificulously.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterForrest Morris

@Mag. Your quote and comment in re: liberal colleges breeding conservative firebrands. It seems to me it's adolescent rebellion, which most outgrow. Currently, "conservative firebrands" means someone who embraces bigotry and exclusing specified groups. They may use a particular ideology, philosophy, etc, for subterfuge, but for the most part people like Bannon, Miller, King are just bigots with no interpersonal skills, who lack empathy. At one time "conservative" was a defendable and arguable position.

Miller is a good example of someone who lives by white supremacy, because he lacks the interpersonal skills to engage with others on an intimate level. He presents as quite an odious person. Rebellion usually takes more social forms of bucking traditional norms, like sex, drinking, personal hygiene etc. for many college aged people. A side of antagonist ideology gets some attention and can be fulfilling until real life intrudes. Miller is likely not able to navigate social relationships, so he clings to superiority and pseudo intellectualism. He's immature and stuck in adolescence. Don't get me started on his even more odious mentor Bannon.

March 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane
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