The Ledes

Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

New York Times: “David Ortiz, the former Boston Red Sox slugger, was not the intended target of a shooting in the Dominican Republic that seriously injured him last week, the authorities in the country said in a news conference Wednesday. It was a stunning revelation in a wild case that has captivated many in the baseball-crazed nation, and across the world. Jean Alain Rodríguez, the country’s top prosecutor, said Ortiz, who was shot in the back and underwent emergency surgery that night before being transported to Boston, was wearing similar clothing to a friend, Sixto David Fernandez, who was the intended target of the shooting. Fernandez was sitting at the same table as Ortiz at the Dial Bar and Lounge, a regular hangout for Ortiz in the eastern part of Santo Domingo. Rodríguez also revealed for the first time the man suspected of organizing the entire operation: It was Victor Hugo Gomez, he said, a wanted criminal in the U.S. and member of the Gulf Cartel.”

The Wires

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.

Guardian: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have introduced their newborn son to the world and revealed he is to be called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The name was announced shortly after the Queen met her eighth great-grandchild for the first time at Windsor Castle, where earlier the couple showed him off to the cameras."

Guardian: “The Duchess of Sussex has given birth to a baby son, weighing 7lbs 3oz. Mother and child were both doing well, Buckingham Palace announced. The Duke of Sussex was present for the birth, which happened at 5.26am on Monday. The child is seventh in line to the throne, and an eighth great-grandchild for the 93-year-old Queen.”

Washington Post: "Cheap Chinese caviar is flooding the U.S. market, causing prices to plummet, and with it, the product’s cachet. Wholesale prices have fallen more than 50 percent since 2012, down 13 percent just in the past year. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the import price has gone from $850,000 per ton in January 2012 to $350,000 per ton in November 2018." Mrs. McC: This makes me very happy. I love caviar (I've only had the cheaper kind), but I seldom buy it because of the expense. I have some in the pantry now, but I'm going to check the price at the grocery store now in hopes it's something I can enjoy more often. Status symbol? I couldn't care less.

New York Times: "Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday [April 15] to news organizations that uncovered instances of malfeasance and outright fraud in President Trump’s financial past, a nod to journalists’ perseverance in the face of the president’s ever-sharper attacks on a free press. The New York Times received the explanatory reporting prize for an 18-month investigation that revealed how the future president and his relatives avoided paying roughly half a billion dollars’ worth of taxes. The Wall Street Journal won the national reporting prize for disclosing clandestine payoffs by the president’s associates to two women who were said to have had affairs with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election. The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, for documenting the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The paper’s in-depth articles revealed a series of failures by local officials and law enforcement that, the paper wrote, cost children their lives."

Monday
May202019

The Commentariat -- May 21, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, defied a House subpoena on Tuesday under order of the White House, stoking outraged Democrats to contemplate anew punitive measures, including opening an impeachment inquiry, to try to enforce Congress's oversight powers. The House Judiciary Committee convened the hearing on President Trump's attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation anyway, though without the man Democrats had hoped could serve as a star eyewitness as they seek to build a case before the public. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the panel's chairman, opened the brief session with a stern warning both to Mr. McGahn and Mr. Trump. The House, he said, would move quickly to bring Mr. McGahn to court, citing him for contempt of Congress if he does not relent. 'This committee will hear Mr. McGahn's testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it,' Mr. Nadler said, staring down at an empty chair for Mr. McGahn. He said the president's attempts to impede the Russia investigation, witnessed by Mr. McGahn and shared with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, 'constitutes a crime.'"

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: As House Democrats were conducting a closed-door meeting re: how to move forward in the face of Trump's stonewalling, "Trump was shouting to a rally crowd in Pennsylvania that the FBI and Democrats are guilty of 'treason,' vowing that Attorney General William P. Barr would investigate -- that is, investigate his political opponents for invented crimes.... One Democrat involved in the Monday debate was Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a constitutional law professor.... 'I think that overwhelming evidence has been presented to us in the Mueller report, and outside of it too, of high crimes and misdemeanors, and we should launch an impeachment inquiry. Remember, an inquiry doesn't prejudge the outcome. We're not talking about articles of impeachment,' [Raskin told Sargent]."

Maggie Haberman & Zolan Kanno-Youngs of the New York Times: "President Trump is expected to name Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a former attorney general of Virginia and an immigration hard-liner, as his choice to coordinate the administration's immigration policies, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday. The specifics of the role -- including the title and the scope of duties -- are still being hashed out, according to the official. But Mr. Cuccinelli is expected to be based in the Department of Homeland Security, not in the White House." Mrs. McC: Maybe Kenny didn't demand a personal jet & deference from Cabinet officers (see "Good Grief" story, linked below.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.
Slowly, Slowly, the Cover-up Tarp Slips from the Cesspool Presidency

Rachel Bade & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership team confronted her in a contentious Monday night meeting and argued that it was time to begin an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, according to multiple officials in the room. At least five members of Pelosi's leadership team -- four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment -- pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) to allow the panel to start an inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked. Pelosi, according to the officials, pushed back on the idea alongside House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), arguing that it would undercut other House investigations. Pelosi has long been an impeachment skeptic and tried to tamp down impeachment talk in her caucus as recently as last week by encouraging members to focus on their legislative agenda." ...

... New York Times Editors: "... what is remarkable about [Rep. Justin] Amash's [R-Mich.] stand is how much tougher it is than that of the House’s Democratic leaders to date. Wary of a move that has little public support, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and prominent committee leaders have avoided talk of impeachment and have focused on learning what Attorney General William Barr redacted from the report, as well as subpoenaing testimony and documents.... Democratic leaders also need to be stronger and clearer about what we know." Amash's tweet-splanations of his conclusions are here and here....

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: As Akhilleus & others have been hammering for weeks, the Democrats' response to the Mueller report have been weak and, to put it mildly, uncoordinated. Now they're bickering. They need to write up a compelling rationale for impeachment, find a good orator (surely in a House-full of hundreds of kids who grew up thinking they could become president, there are a few good orators), stick her in a well-publicized prime-time slot & bring the argument home. Then they need to follow up, follow up & follow up. Right now, House leaders are doing nothing but arguing about process, and the devastating findings of the Mueller report are a distant memory to all but the few of us who are plodding out way through the report. Of course the "process" in this case -- the stonewalling of Congress -- is in itself another Article of Impeachment, but Democrats seldom even mention that.

** Andrew Desiderio & Kyle Cheney of Politico: "A federal judge on Monday upheld a congressional subpoena seeking ... Donald Trump's financial records from an accounting firm, arguing that Congress is well within its rights to investigate potential illegal behavior by a president -- even without opening a formal impeachment inquiry. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta's ruling delivers a striking blow to the president's efforts to resist Democratic investigations, and is certain to give Democrats further legal basis to investigate Trump, his finances, and his presidential campaign. In addition to upholding the House Oversight and Reform Committee's subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump's financial records, Mehta took the extra step of denying the president's request for a stay pending appeal.... The ruling represents the first time the federal judiciary has weighed in on the ongoing oversight battle between Trump and House Democrats. Mehta's ruling is likely to provide a blueprint for other judges who are set to make their own rulings on Trump's vow to defy all congressional subpoenas. In a 41-page opinion issued Monday, Mehta systematically dismantled the Trump legal team's arguments against the validity of the subpoena -- and he pushed back on claims from congressional Republicans that the House Judiciary Committee must formally launch an impeachment inquiry before requesting such information." ...

... Trump Slams "Obama Judge's Crazy" Ruling. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump on Monday said he would appeal a federal judge's decision upholding a subpoena for his financial records, blasting it as a 'crazy' ruling by 'an Obama-appointed judge.' 'We will appeal it,' Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. 'It's totally the wrong decision by, obviously, an Obama appointed judge.'"

Andrew Desiderio & Kyle Cheney: “Senior House Republicans are breaking with Donald Trump over the president's legal claims that Congress can't investigate whether a commander in chief violated the law. That view, advanced by Trump's personal attorney and the White House counsel late last week, would upend long-held understandings about Congress' ability to scrutinize presidential conduct -- especially alleged criminal activity.... Institutionalist-minded Republicans are increasingly uncomfortable with the far-reaching arguments Trump and his lawyers are using to make their case, amid fears the claims of near-immunity from congressional scrutiny would set dangerous precedents. But these lawmakers are not preparing to act in any way that constrains Trump.... '... I think we have oversight authority over the administration,' said Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. 'And if the president has acted illegally, then I think we have oversight authority.' Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a veteran lawmaker who first came to Capitol Hill in the early 1980s as a congressional staffer, said he didn't agree with Trump's legal theories. 'Obviously there is such a thing as congressional oversight,' Cole said." ...

     ... Jack Crosbie of Splinter: "It's telling, though, that the only thing that actually has the Republicans concerned is the precedent a president would set by blowing past congressional powers. They don't really give a shit what he's done, just how it affects their own political power."

Rachel Bade, et al., of the Washington Post: "The White House on Monday blocked former counsel Donald McGahn from testifying to Congress, the latest act of defiance in the ongoing war between House Democrats and President Trump. McGahn, who Democrats hoped would become a star witness in their investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice, was subpoenaed to testify Tuesday morning. 'The Department of Justice has provided a legal opinion stating that, based on long-standing, bipartisan, and constitutional precedent, the former counsel to the president cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly,' said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement.... The 15-page legal opinion written by Assistant Attorney General Steven A. Engel argues McGahn cannot be compelled to testify before the committee, based on past Justice Department legal opinions regarding the president's close advisers. The memo says McGahn's immunity from congressional testimony is separate and broader than a claim of executive privilege." ...

     ... The New York Times story, by Nicholas Fandos & others, is here. "... Mr. McGahn has maintained throughout that he will follow the White House's guidance, according to a person close to him.... If he defies the White House, Mr. McGahn could not only damage his own career in Republican politics but also put his law firm, Jones Day, at risk of having the president urge his allies to withhold their business. The firm's Washington practice is closely affiliated with the party." ...

     ... Update. Jerry Nadler wrote to Don McGahn, explaining to McGahn why he had better show up. It's a good letter. Here's a pdf. My favorite part is Nadler's second point where he notes that the DOJ's own policy is that "executive privilege ... should not be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing or criminalit on the part of executive officers.'" Tellingngly, the Department's opinion ... purporting to excuse you from testifying ... ignores that policy entirely."

** Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Washington Post: "Michael Cohen ... told a House panel during closed-door hearings earlier this year that he had been instructed by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow to falsely claim in a 2017 statement to Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, according to people familiar with his testimony. In fact, Cohen later admitted, discussions on the Moscow tower continued into June of the presidential election year, after it was clear Trump would be the GOP nominee.... House Democrats are now scrutinizing whether Sekulow or other Trump attorneys played a role in shaping Cohen's 2017 testimony to Congress. Cohen has said he made the false statement to help hide the fact that Trump had potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in a possible Russian project while he was running for president.... Cohen's claims about Sekulow are laid out in transcripts of his February and March appearances before the House intelligence panel that could be released as soon as Monday.... 'The [attorney-client] privilege doesn't apply if it's being used to conceal a crime or a fraud,' [House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff] said. 'And if the attorneys were conferring amongst themselves and Mr. Cohen about a false statement they were going to make to our committee, there's no privilege that protects that kind of conduct.'" ...

     ... Update. Morgan Chalfont & Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "The House Intelligence Committee has released transcripts of its private interviews with Michael Cohen.... The panel voted 12-7 at a closed-door meeting Monday evening to release the transcripts, according to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)." ...

... Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "[In testimony,] Mr. Cohen said that [Trump attorney Jay] Sekulow told him that the president's team was considering possible pardons for him and other witnesses because they could help to 'shut down the inquiries and to shut the investigation down.'" A transcript of Cohen's February 28 testimony is here, and of his March 6 testimony is here.

Trump Never Stops Abusing the Power of His Office*. Maggie Haberman & Annie Karni of the New York Times: "President Trump on Sunday night called for an investigation into financial ties between China and the family of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the current front-runner in a crowded Democratic 2020 field, and the candidate Mr. Trump's advisers believe could pose the biggest potential threat to his re-election.... It was not the first time that Mr. Trump has threatened investigations of his political enemies, raising questions from his critics about whether he is abusing his position as president. Some of those threats have been made in private and were revealed by the special counsel's report. Others, Mr. Trump has made in public...." ...

... Maggie Haberman, et al., of the New York Times: "President Trump's escalating demands for investigations into his political opponents have intensified debate over whether his often-transparent calls for action by the Justice Department amount to abusing his power to bolster his re-election prospects.... [Trump's calls to investigate the Biden family were] the latest in a long series of statements by Mr. Trump suggesting he would like to see criminal investigations of opponents including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee, and [they] came as the president seems particularly preoccupied by Mr. Biden's candidacy. 'It's a terrible breach of norms for the president to publicly advocate prosecutions of his opponents,' said Jack Goldsmith..., who was an assistant attorney general during President George W. Bush's first term.... 'Trump and Barr are a dangerous combination,' said Mark Rozell, a law professor at George Mason University.... 'The president doesn't fundamentally understand the powerfully important role he plays in establishing the nature and operations of our constitutional system,' Mr. Rozell said. 'Future administrations will use what he has done to justify all kinds of behaviors and actions that were once unthinkable.'" ...

... David Smith of the Guardian: "[F]ollowing the sporting maxim that attack is the best form of defence, Trump had adopted the language of a tinpot dictator, denouncing the Russia investigation as a failed 'coup', branding his pursuers as traitors and threatening to lock them up.... But one side-effect could be a slide into an imperial presidency.... [I]t is [Bill] Barr who has emerged as the president's most indispensable ally, his improbable Darth Vader." --s

Kara Scannell of CNN: "Federal prosecutors in New York are scrutinizing tens of thousands of documents relating to Donald Trump's inauguration in a sign that the investigation into the committee's finances is advancing. The President's Inaugural Committee handed over the cache of documents over the course of several weeks in response to a wide-ranging subpoena seeking documents, records, and communications concerning the inaugural's finances, vendors, and donors sent in February by the US attorney's office with the Southern District of New York."

Hey, let's end today's discussion of the Trump Scandals on a bizarre (ergo, totally Trumpy) note:

... Dan Friedman of Mother Jones: "On Thursday, lawyers for Roger Stone, whose travel is restricted ahead of his November trial on obstruction of justice and perjury charges, requested a judge's permission to visit Tennessee and Illinois 'for business opportunities.' One of those opportunities is at the Pony, an adult entertainment club in Memphis, where Stone is scheduled to appear June 5-7. A longtime political adviser to President Donald Trump, Stone 'is coming out to judge the national exotic dancer competition that we're hosting,' the club's owner, Jerry Westlund, tells Mother Jones.... In a Facebook post, the club said Stone will judge dancers alongside Kristin Davis, who is known as the 'Manhattan Madam' for her role running a high-end prostitution ring in New York City in the early 2000s. Stone has previously employed Davis, and they are close friends."


Aaron Rupar
of Vox: "During an interview on Steve Hilton’s Fox News show on Sunday, President Donald Trump bragged about how rapidly his administration is getting stuff done. But he revealed a profound misunderstanding of how federal lawmaking is supposed to work in the process. 'We're changing laws as rapidly as we can get them through the courts,' Trump said. Congress, of course, is supposed to be in the business of 'changing laws.' Courts, on the other hand, interpret them.... Trump doesn't have a legislative agenda to speak of. He's not allowing Congress to exercise its lawful oversight functions. So while he may have already made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims since taking office, his remark to Hilton about how he's relying on the courts to make policies wasn't one of them." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump really has no idea whatsoever about how the government runs. It's stunning.

Asawin Suebsaeng, et al., of the Daily Beast: "The president isn’t just watching the [Fox 'News'], he's taking policy advice from its morning hosts.... Over the weekend, news broke that Trump is preparing to pardon several U.S. servicemen involved in high-profile cases of gunning down civilians or killing detainees, with the White House having already ordered that the necessary paperwork be drawn up ahead of the coming Memorial Day. The news came roughly two months after Trump publicly intervened in what the president called 'restrictive' confinement conditions of one of the alleged war criminals. At the heart of both these moves has been a months-long lobbying campaign by Pete Hegseth, a Fox & Friends co-host and a buddy and informal adviser of the president's.... According to three people with knowledge of the situation, Hegseth had multiple private conversations on the topic with President Trump over the past four-and-a-half months...."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: Donald Trump "is the profanity presidency, full of four-letter denunciations of his enemies and earthy dismissals of allegations lodged against him. At rallies and in interviews, on Twitter and in formal speeches, he relishes the bad-boy language of a shock jock, just one more way of gleefully provoking the political establishment bothered by his norm-shattering ways. In a single speech on Friday alone, he managed to throw out a 'hell,' an 'ass' and a couple of 'bullshits' for good measure. In the course of just one rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., earlier this month, he tossed out 10 'hells,' three 'damns' and a 'crap.' The audiences ... cheered and whooped and applauded.... An unscientific survey seems to suggest that if anything, Mr. Trump is growing more comfortable with crudeness." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Actually, the examples Baker cites are all obscenities or vulgarities. "Profanity" refers to obscenities that show disrespect to god. Unless Trump used these vulgarities in a house of worship, Trump is the obscenity president* or the vulgarity president*.

Czar Kris. Maggie Haberman & Annie Karni: "Access to a government jet 24 hours a day. An office in the West Wing, plus guaranteed weekends off for family time. And an assurance of being made secretary of homeland security by November. Those were among a list of 10 conditions that Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, has given to the White House if he is to become the administration's 'immigration czar,' a job President Trump has been looking to create to coordinate immigration policy across government agencies. The list was described by three people.... Mr. Kobach, who once served as an adviser to the hard-line immigration Sheriff Joe Arpaio and helped write an Arizona law requiring local officials to verify the citizenship of anyone they had 'reasonable suspicion' to believe was an unauthorized immigrant, said he would need to be the main television spokesman for the Trump administration on immigration policy. And he said he wanted a guarantee that cabinet secretaries whose portfolios relate to immigration would defer to him, with the president mediating disputes if need be. The list was submitted by Mr. Kobach in recent weeks as he discussed his interest in the job. Other conditions included having a staff of seven reporting to him, 'walk in' privileges to the Oval Office, a security detail if deemed necessary and the title of assistant to the president." ...

    ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Unbelievable. It's hard to imagine anyone's being that arrogant, even a racist, egotistical prick like Kobach. The guy is out of a job, his disgusting voter suppression commission blew up, he lost the governor's race to a Democrat in a red state, the highest office he's ever held is secretary of state in a small state (pop. less than 3 million), & now he's demanding that Cabinet secretaries defer to him? Update: safari has a theory! See top of the Comments below. ...

... Elliot Hannon of Slate: "... Donald Trump is in the market for an immigration czar to help implement his dystopian policies at the border, and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is in the market for, well, a job of some sort. What's not to like here! To be fair, Kobach has immigration and voter suppression instincts similar to Trump's, not to mention a kindred penchant for self-aggrandizing. All of that has added up to Kobach's name being bandied about as a potential figurehead to lead Trump's anti-immigration charge.... Kobach reportedly discussed with Trump the possibility of creating a czar role, a job that Kobach could, crucially, assume without Senate confirmation.... [since] the Senate seems to be adhering to a general trend started by voters that the more one gets to know Kobach, the less one likes him."

Spencer Woodman, et al., of the Intercept: "An investigation by The Intercept and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found that ICE uses isolation [i.e., solitary confinement] as a go-to tool, rather than a last resort, to manage and punish even the most vulnerable detainees for weeks and months at a time. The Intercept's and ICIJ's reporting ... found that the immigration agency has used isolation cells to punish immigrants for offenses as minor as consensual kissing, and to segregate hunger strikers, LGBTQ detainees, and people with disabilities. In nearly a third of the cases, detainees were described as having a mental illness, which made them especially vulnerable to breakdown if locked up alone in a small cell.... The review found that immigrants held in the agency's isolation cells had suffered hallucinations, fits of anger, and suicidal impulses. Former detainees told ICIJ that they experienced sleeplessness, flashbacks, depression, and memory loss long after release. 'People were being brutalized,' said Ellen Gallagher, who currently holds a supervisory role in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.... Gallagher, a whistleblower who is going public for the first time, told The Intercept and ICIJ that ICE, a DHS agency, has violated policies that often require a search for less restrictive measures...."

Nomaan Merchant of the AP: "A 16-year-old Guatemala migrant who died Monday in U.S. custody had been held by immigration authorities for six days -- twice as long as federal law generally permits. The teenager, identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, was the fifth minor from Guatemala to die after being apprehended by U.S. border agents since December.... CBP said Carlos reported early Sunday morning that he was not feeling well and diagnosed with the flu by a nurse practitioner.... He was not hospitalized, according to the agency official who briefed reporters.... Asked about the death, Trump blamed Democrats, saying they are refusing to approve changes that could improve the system."

Curt Prendergast of the Arizona Daily Star: "A Nogales [Arizona] Border Patrol agent called the people he apprehends 'disgusting subhuman s--- unworthy of being kindling for a fire' and asked the president to 'PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!,' federal prosecutors said in court documents. The statements were made in a text message sent by Agent Matthew Bowen, 39, who is accused of knocking down a Guatemalan man with his Border Patrol vehicle on Dec. 3, 2017, and then lying in a report about the incident, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson. Prosecutors ... are asking a judge to allow some of Bowen's text messages to be used as evidence of his 'great disdain' for the people he apprehends, which could shed light on his state of mind when he hit the man with his truck.... Among the examples the prosecutors cite is an exchange on Dec. 18, 2017, in which an unidentified person asked Bowen: 'Did you gas hiscorpse (sic) or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect.' Bowen responded, 'Guats are best made crispy with an olive oil from their native pais," using a derogatory term for Guatemalan citizens and the Spanish word for country, pais."

Betsy Woodruff & Sam Brodey of The Daily Beast: "The Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency ... is urging staffers tasked with handling cyber threats to set their day jobs aside and go on mini-deployments to the U.S.-Mexico border after an earlier request from headquarters failed to recruit enough officials.... Earlier this spring, top officials asked employees from all DHS entities to go volunteer at the border, according to a DHS official.... Among the officials who were asked on Friday to assist the federal government at the border are those tasked with protecting the U.S. government's cyber infrastructure -- including election systems considered vulnerable...." --s

Eric Levitz of New York: "Donald Trump wants to let old coal plants remain in operation longer than existing federal rules would allow. To rationalize such a policy, the White House encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to produce research showing that the economic benefits of keeping the sky sooty would outweigh the cost to public health.... EPA scientists found that keeping these uniquely dirty energy providers on the grid will cause 1,400 more Americans to perish from premature deaths every year.... So the administration decided to bite the bullet, admit its error -- and order EPA scientists to engineer a lower body count." --s

Juan Cole: "Iran's clerical Leader, Ali Khamenei threw cold water on the idea of a military conflict between Iran and the US. Khamenei thus proved himself more mature than US warmongers such as National Security adviser John Bolton.... Khamenei's lead has been followed by the new head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, who also underlined that Iran does not want military conflict with the United States. Then the US side defused some tensions by reporting that Iran had brought its little boats back to shore that the US maintained had missiles (i.e. rockets) on them. Iran does not have a navy to speak of and those little boats can't carry a missile system." --s

Congressional Race 2020. Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press: "A Republican state representative plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, after Amash said this weekend he believes ... Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses. State Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville, announced that he would run for the 3rd Congressional District seat Amash has held since 2011 and would forgo a race for a third term in the state House. Lower said he had been planning to run for some time and had expected to make an announcement closer to July 4. But he said he decided to move up that schedule after Amash said on Twitter on Saturday that after reading Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report he believes the president committed impeachable offenses. Amash became the first Republican to voice support for impeachment. Trump attacked Amash on Sunday on Twitter, calling him a 'loser' and saying Amash only made the remarks to get attention." ...

... Presidential Race 2020

... Jonathan Chait: Justin "Amash's fellow Republicans immediately set about proving how brave it was by excommunicating him from the party. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared on Fox News to unleash a wild flurry of lies.... The grain of truth in the accusations against Amash is that Amash is contemplating a presidential candidacy with the Libertarian Party.... A real right-wing third-party challenge, by a Republican (who hails from a swing state) would be a nightmare for Trump's reelection. And the more Republicans attack Amash, the more they close the door on any chance he can return to Congress, where he mostly votes with them, and push him instead to run against Trump. The short-term goal of discrediting Trump's critics may bring with it a much larger long-term cost." ...

     ... Steve M. disagrees with Chait: "It would be nice to believe this, but the overwhelming majority of Republican voters would not consider Amash a 'real' right-winger, especially not after Trump and the GOP noise machine began publicizing [a series of supposed] apostasies[.]... Oh, and did I mention that he's of Palestinian and Syrian descent? Amash will win the votes of a few #NeverTrumpers in the commentariat. He'll also win the usual libertarian voters, and maybe a few disaffected lefties. (He wants to end federal marijuana prohibition.) But he won't be seen as a genuine conservative alternative. It would be nice to think so, but that won't happen." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: But I think Chait could be right. Tara Golshen of Vox (Nov. 2016): "The final totals revealed that, in fact, [Jill] Stein's total voters exceeded Clinton's margin of victory. In other words, if every Stein voter had voted for Clinton instead, she [Clinton] could have won Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and the presidency." However, as Golshen points out, there's no reason to think all (or even enough) of Stein's voters would have come to the polls & voted for Clinton. BUT if Michigan, for instance, is close in 2020, a few tens of thousands of votes for Amash could rob Trump of a majority.

The Perceived "Most Electable" Is Not Necessarily the Most Electable. Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times: "... I suspect that Biden is surging in the polls in part because, rather than pretend that the election is about so-called kitchen table issues, he's taking on Trump's desecration of the presidency directly. What worries me about Biden -- above and beyond policy disagreements -- is that, in contemporary politics, the quest to find an electable candidate hasn't resulted in candidates that actually win. Voters don't do themselves any favors when they try to think like pundits.... Ultimately, the paradox of primaries is that it's most strategic to ignore the experts and follow your emotions."

See also the NYT story by Haberman & Karni, linked above, re: Trump's call for an investigation of Joe Biden & his family.

Fox "News" Hosts Slime Buttigieg. Matt Gertz of Media Matters on why Democrats should not appear on Fox "News": "South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's performance at a Fox News town hall garnered rave reviews Sunday night from journalists and pundits, with some arguing that his successful turn proved that Democratic presidential candidates should be making on-air appeals to the network's viewers.... Within hours ... the network began smearing Buttigieg in an effort that will likely minimize any gains he might have made with its viewers.... No matter how persuasive the candidates might be, they can't reverse years of propaganda in a single evening.... The network has spent decades priming its audience to hate Democrats. To the extent that regular Fox viewers were tuning in to Buttigieg's town hall, he had an opportunity to speak to them. But now that he's no longer on their airwaves, Fox's hosts, who have a much more extensive and durable relationship with their audience, get to rebut everything he said for hours on end.... As Fox faced [financial] disaster, Democratic presidential candidates bailed it out. And now the network will pay them back by doing whatever it can to undermine their message and ensure their defeat." ...

... Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times writes along the same vein, but is less direct than Gertz about the downside of Democrats' appearing on Fox "News." There is an upside, too, Grynbaum reports: "Mark McKinnon, a veteran political strategist, said he could understand why Mr. Trump might be alarmed at seeing potential rivals show up on his favorite network. 'Anyone who goes to a Fox town hall is going to come off better, more reasonable, more human, and not nearly as evil, ideological or stupid as they are currently being painted by the network,' Mr. McKinnon said. 'The bar is low. Viewers will be pleasantly surprised when Democrats show up to town halls and they're not wearing Mao caps.'"


Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Maxwell Tani
of The Daily Beast: "In a new report shared exclusively with The Daily Beast, liberal media-monitoring group Media Matters found that on-air personalities at the right-leaning news network [Fox News] have made a total of at least $500,000 in speaking fees for appearances at Republican groups and conservative organizations while working at Fox News." --s

"Charity Is Not a Route to a Just Society." Zak Cheney-Rice of New York: "Several commenters, including Senator Bernie Sanders and writer Anand Giridharadas, have praised [the] generosity [of private equity billionaire Robert F. Smith, who pledged to eliminate the college debt of members of Morehouse College's class of 2019,] while maintaining that its necessity stems from policy failures.... As Giridharadas points out, Smith's philanthropy comes with a caveat: That despite his investment in this tiny subset of the borrower population, his opposition to closing tax loopholes for phenomenally-wealthy people like himself indicates a lack of interest in systemic change that could generate enough money to make college free for everybody -- a great way, in Smith's words, to 'make sure that every class has the same opportunity going forward.'... Smith's financial launchpad will ensure that 396 Morehouse men enter the job market with a stability that should be their right. But it should be others' as well -- even the less accomplished.... Charity is not a route to a just society."

Eoin Higgins of Common Dreams: "Journalist Judd Legum, the founder and former editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress, revealed Monday at his new subscription service outlet Popular Info that corporate donations to state legislators instrumental in pushing abortion bans in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri are in contrast to the public image of those companies. Legum took aim at six specific companies: AT&T, Walmart, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Eli Lilly, Coca-Cola, and insurance corporation Aetna. Each corporation proudly promotes inclusion, equality, and concern for the health of women in company statements. 'In their corporate literature, these companies present themselves as champions of women and gender equality,' wrote Legum. 'But they have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians seeking to roll back reproductive rights.'"

Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times: "The animating impulse of Trump's campaign -- the beating heart of 'Make America Great Again' -- was a defense of traditional hierarchies. Trump promised, explicitly, to weaken America's commitment to principles of fairness and equality to strengthen privileges of race, gender and wealth.... With his nomination of conservative judges -- and Mitch McConnell's successful drive to confirm them in the Senate -- Trump has given white evangelicals and their Republican representatives the opportunity to pass the laws and measures that reflect their ultra-traditionalist ideals. So even if Trump distances himself from any particular law, that's how one should understand the new wave of abortion restrictions -- as direct attacks on the social and economic autonomy of people who can become pregnant designed to strengthen strict hierarchies of gender.... MAGA is the Muslim ban; MAGA is child separation; MAGA is a woman in handcuffs for thinking she had the right to her own body." See also Yvonne Sanchez's Arizona Republic story, linked below.

Beyond the Beltway

Alabama. Abbey Crain of al.com: "Alabama Public Television chose not to air PBS's Arthur episode that included a same-sex marriage.... APT has no plans to air the episode at a later date.... APT previously pulled an episode of Arthur in 2005, when Buster, a bunny character in Arthur visited a girl who had two mothers.... The episode is available online at pbs.org." Mrs. McC: The federal government funds PBS (funding which Trump, BTW, proposed cutting to zero). Besides its regular federal funding, last November APT received a special $175,000 grant "to provide science and literacy resources for the youngest learners to underserved areas." So good job on that, APT, you ignorant bigots!

Arizona. Yvonne Sanchez of the Arizona Republic: Right-wing extremists are re-inserting themselves into Arizona Republican politics, and the "mainstream" GOP is welcoming them. "With nativism rising in the U.S., Arizona's far-right, enamored with conspiracies and comfortable among bigots and nationalists, is mobilizing after years of feeling alienated by the state GOP. They are motivated by a president and state party leader who are voicing action for a pro-Trump 'America First' agenda they support and the state's rapidly changing demography towards a younger, more diverse population, experts say. 'It's not necessarily just how widespread support may be for a particular leader or policy, but how deep it is within certain pockets,' said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. 'What extremists are reveling in is not only the fact that some of their policies are becoming mainstream, but sometimes the bigotry which bleeds into these discussions is not fully repudiated. And they take that as a wink and a nod.'... Donald Trump's affirmation of white nationalists after a 2017 neo-Nazi 'Unite the Right' rally turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia..., was taken by many as tacit approval of the fringe right and its tactics."

Way Beyond

Australia. Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: "The unexpected victory of conservatives in Australia's election Saturday is bad news for the future of global climate action, warn climate experts. Polls had suggested that the Labor Party, which supports strong climate action, held a narrow lead in recent days. But in the end, Prime Minister Scott Morrison won re-election.... 'We have lost Australia for now,' warned Penn State climatologist Michael Mann in an email. 'A coalition of a small number of bad actors now threaten the survivability of our species,' he said." --s

Austria. Philip Oltermann of the Guardian: "Austria's far-right interior minister, Herbert Kickl, has been fired in the wake of the 'Ibiza' corruption scandal that has engulfed the Freedom party (FPÖ), leading to the complete collapse of the country's governing coalition.... Kickl's sacking follows the resignation of FPÖ leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, as vice-chancellor following the emergence of a video that showed him offering lucrative public contracts [to Putin-linked cronies] in exchange for campaign support." --s

Uganda. Ed Pilkington & Alon Mwesigwa of the Guardian: "An American pastor from New Jersey [Robert Baldwin] backed by a British former clairvoyant [Sam Little from Arlesey in Bedfordshire] is running a network that gives up to 50,000 Ugandans a 'miracle cure' made from industrial bleach, claiming drinking the toxic fluid eradicates cancer, HIV/Aids, malaria and most other diseases.... [C]hlorine dioxide ... has no known health benefit and can be extremely dangerous.... The American pastor has 'trained' about 1,200 clerics in Uganda on administering the 'miracle cure'.... As an inducement, Baldwin is offering smartphones to those clerics who are especially 'committed' to spreading the bleach cure." --s

Aaron Clark & Anuchit Nguyen of Bloomberg: "While Southeast Asia remains one of the last places where coal power can attract international financing, one maverick tycoon [Sarath Ratanavadi thinks the region will no longer tolerate burning the dirtiest fuel.... At least 100 major lenders in the past five years have put restrictions on financing coal mines and power plants that burn the fuel, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said in February.... [A]mid dire warnings that the world must abandon coal power entirely by 2050 to avoid catastrophic damage from climate change..., [t]hose predictions are beginning to convince developers and investors to avoid coal as pressures are expected to mount against the fuel." --s

Reader Comments (21)

@ Marie

Call me crazy, but I think Kobach is trying to blackmail the GOP.

He's been teasing out another Senate run and it sounds like the RNC is ready to do anything to keep him off the ballot, given that he's one of the only Republicans so toxic that he could lose a Senate race in Kansas. But he knows his name recognition and dedication to white, conservative supremacy would win him the nomination if he went for it, then it's just lie and fear-monger to the finish line.

So he's decided to put the proverbial gun to the GOP's/Trump's head, demanding that the same federal government he hates lavish him with royalties, or he rolls the dice and potentially turns Kansas blue. For what it's worth, being a Kansan and knowing that area, I bet Kobach would win a state-wide election. But he'd much rather swamp it up in DC and cook up recipes to hate on colored folk, which is why I'm a bit surprised at the exceedingly extravagant nature of most of his claims. But he's a prick, so there's that.

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article230527619.html

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

The obvious confusion within this administration (if one can even use that term without howls of derisive laughter) regarding its varying stances on Iran is classic Trump. Prez Know-Nothing-Bully-Boy first seemed to want no part of war. Bolton, of course, can’t wait to bomb Tehran, Pompeo (the auto-correct on my phone wanted to write “Pompey”. More laughter. Rather than a contemporary Pompey Magnus, he’s more of a Pompeo Stultus) wants regime change, of course with no plan for how to achieve that. The generals don’t know what the fuck is going on, Liarbee Sanders sez it’s all great, Hail Trump.

But the fat man in the Oval Office pretending to be president, has decided that he might not be seen as the tough guy he so desperately wants to be if he continues to say “No war”, so he has to blurt out warlike tweets with his usual, farcical, over the top bellicose bluster. “Iran will be no more if they piss me off!”

Yeah. Okay. The problem is, as with everything Trump, there is no real plan, no serious thought, and nothing resembling a policy. Should certain factions within Iran, who are ready for war, decide to test Mr. Bluster, without a clear goal in mind, who knows what will happen. Trump sez it’s good for Iran to be unsure. Okay, great. What about the rest of the world? Is it great for everyone to have no clue what’s going on?

Ignotum per ignotius is not a policy, but it’s the best we get with this guy.

Idiot.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Man, oh man, it makes my head spin to think how quickly McTerrapin and the rest of the traitors would initiate—and conclude—impeachment proceedings were there a Democrat in the White House guilty of an infinitesimal fraction of the multitude of high crimes their Glorious Leader has committed (and continues to commit). Instead, they roll in the mud and revel in the crimes that allow them to strip the cupboards bare and install judges who will keep the Confederacy solvent for decades to come.

Meanwhile, Democrats wring their hands and scour the rule book for arcane regulations to hold up for Republicans to laugh at.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

My sentiments exactly...what AK said. Last night the pundits were all breathless at the thought that Nadler has written another letter! He's not takin' this lyin' down! What a great letter! And it contains yet another crime by the repugnants in that they are breaking "the norm." I feel it is totally hopeless, since the Dems have made it clear they will roll over (and over and over) with no problem whatsoever. So fed up--

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Wasn't there a "Twilight Zone" episode where the president of the U.S. got his information and marching orders from a T.V. station––the headquarters of some nefarious right-wing consortium ( Russia?) but the messages were all in code so as not to freak out the general public. Then some guy––a Jimmy Stewart look alike with horned rimmed glasses, managed to break the code, took to the airwaves, and revealed the Collusion and Obstruction of Justice to the public. The president was exposed and tried to escape but the last scene showed thousands of citizens running through the streets brandishing rocks of all sizes chasing a cowed man in the distance running for his life.

Seems I remember that episode or maybe I just made it up.

RE: Impeachment. Why in heavens don't we have a special council hold hearings just like the Watergate hearings or the Church hearings or the Iran-Contra hearings–––the public needs to HEAR what has gone on in this disaster of a presidency. I would guess few people have actually read the Mueller report and even though Dems read it through on CSpan, those that needed to hear it might not watch those stations.

Yesterday on MSNBC I heard a reporter who went into a Pittsburg cafe to do one of those intervews across the table of fried eggs and bacon. One woman said she disagreed with Impeaching the president but respected that position––she just didn't agree with it because in her estimation Trump had been doing an excellent job--the economy was doing great and people had good jobs. Our reporter never asked her to elaborate –-on anything. Other than the woman with the fried eggs and bacon just one other––a rather over-sized fella was given the floor. He was ranting about how the lefties want to bring Trump down––his King of Kings–-how dare they!

And I ask: What is the point of this kind of thing if the reporter doesn't probe or question or jiggle the person around a bit. A complete waste of time and I presume––money.

I take solace listening to the many lovely bird songs being sung this spring and wonder if– in more ways than one–- there may be a future spring that is silent.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

So yesterday I heard that if McGahn didn't show up for the scheduled hearings (and he won't--the implicit threats from Trump and the Republicans are aimed both at himself and his law firm, Jones Day, which in April, racked up fees of over $2 million from the RNC alone; they do a ton of business with the Party of Treason and King Donald has stated that he will order the party to end all connections with the firm if McGahn testifies about his mountain of obstructions of justice) Democrats will hold a vote on finding him in contempt of Congress.

Sometime this summer.

So maybe July or August. Oops. Won't be August. Both chambers are in recess. Soo.....maybe September? Hell, why not make it October? It will be our very own October Surprise. Tee-hee. Besides, by then Jerry Nadler could work up a honey of a new letter. Well, shit. Let's make it NEXT summer.

What.in.the.holy.hell are they doing? Sometime this summer they'll take a vote on whether or not McGahn is in contempt of Congress????? The second he doesn't show up today he'll be in contempt. Not only that, he'll be in contempt and spitting in their eyes on top of that.

And what about that threat to withhold the paychecks of Trump apparatchiks who help him further obstruct justice? That was a great idea. What happened to that? As is clear above, Trump and the Traitors wouldn't wait a nanosecond to roll out economic attack strategies if they don't get what they want. Should McGahn show a hair on his head today they'd stop all checks to Jones Day, end all business with them, and McGahn himself would be lucky to get work fixing parking tickets for Republican congressional committee members.

But Democrats? Meh.

If you threaten to kick someone in the balls, you'd better do it. Otherwise, the next time you open your mouth, you'll be the one bent over gasping for breath.

So fucking sick of this shit.

I sometimes get on my little guy for not having a sense of urgency when it's time to get ready for school in the morning. The Democrats make him look like one of the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord.

Party of Weenies. "Sometime this summer".

Christ almighty.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

So yesterday I heard that if McGahn didn't show up for the scheduled hearings (and he won't--the implicit threats from Trump and the Republicans are aimed both at himself and his law firm, Jones Day, which in April, racked up fees of over $2 million from the RNC alone; they do a ton of business with the Party of Treason and King Donald has stated that he will order the party to end all connections with the firm if McGahn testifies about his mountain of obstructions of justice) Democrats will hold a vote on finding him in contempt of Congress.

Sometime this summer.

So maybe July or August. Oops. Won't be August. Both chambers are in recess. Soo.....maybe September? Hell, why not make it October? It will be our very own October Surprise. Tee-hee. Besides, by then Jerry Nadler could work up a honey of a new letter. Well, shit. Let's make it NEXT summer.

What.in.the.holy.hell are they doing? Sometime this summer they'll take a vote on whether or not McGahn is in contempt of Congress????? The second he doesn't show up today he'll be in contempt. Not only that, he'll be in contempt and spitting in their eyes on top of that.

And what about that threat to withhold the paychecks of Trump apparatchiks who help him further obstruct justice? That was a great idea. What happened to that? As is clear above, Trump and the Traitors wouldn't wait a nanosecond to roll out economic attack strategies if they don't get what they want. Should McGahn show a hair on his head today they'd stop all checks to Jones Day, end all business with them, and McGahn himself would be lucky to get work fixing parking tickets for Republican congressional committee members.

But Democrats? Meh.

If you threaten to kick someone in the balls, you'd better do it. Otherwise, the next time you open your mouth, you'll be the one bent over gasping for breath.

So fucking sick of this shit.

I sometimes get on my little guy for not having a sense of urgency when it's time to get ready for school in the morning. The Democrats make him look like one of the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord.

Party of Weenies. "Sometime this summer".

Christ almighty.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

PD,

The point of those person-on-the-street interviews is they're cheap and easy to do. You can send any jamoke out with a camera and a mic. They don't have to know jack about anything. Just point the camera at someone and ask them what they think of impeachment, then stand back. Take it back to the editors, and voila! content. You just filled two minutes of airtime.

Being both a Democrat and a believer in the essential nature of democracy, I think it's important to hear what voters have to say (candidates live a tenuous and often brutally short existence who don't), but this exercise should be balanced. Sure, you can get the bacon and eggs guy who sez "Trump! Fuckin' A right!" and the lady who thinks everything is jake because the economy Trump was handed by Obama is humming along. But it should be incumbent on reporters to also talk to average voters who are paying attention and not mainlining Fox every waking hour, THEN offering some context.

When will that happen? Hold on...let me check.

Second Tuesday after the next Transit of Venus. (Which will take place on December 10, 2117, for anyone who's interested.)

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Back late last night. The sorting and digging out begins, a process that I'm guessing will take most of this next week.

Avoided all US news for three weeks and saw nothing about it until a Cardiff newspaper told me yesterday morning that the Pretender was still at it here at home, tweeting about his firm and consistent philosophic beliefs on abortion. That alone was almost enough to make me to give my return plane ticket away on the spot.

Learned this morning that our Seattle baseball team has slipped from its high-flying season beginning to its more usual mid-conference angle of repose, and a cursory glance at recent RC postings tell me that in the political area things haven't much changed in our absence.

If I missed something critial on that front, would appreciate someone letting me know. Don't have the heart or the time this morning to excavate the last three weeks of news.

The news from the UK and its Brexit travails was depressing enough.

Anyway, back in touch. Kinda.

A good day to all.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The ruling by Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court, putting the kibosh on the Little King's latest obstructions should put us all on notice.

Very soon now, those rulings will not be based on the rule of law, or any law except "Trump Wins". As we speak, the traitors are shoveling shitbird nominees through the system faster than Junior can post an ignorant, misspelled tweet.

Pretty soon, federal benches will be overrun with Trump's former caddies and Civil War reenactors (Confederate side, of course), Fox hosts, KKK grand wizards, and maybe that bacon and eggs guy at that diner in Pittsburgh PD mentioned.

Their marching orders will be simple.We (Republicans) Win. All the Time. Forget the law. Forget precedence. Forget ethics, morality, judicial temperament, readin', writin', and 'rithmetic. All you need to know is "We Win".

It's going to be a different world. Very soon.

Enjoy rulings based on actual, ya know, law, while it lasts.

Once the Trump appointees get going, they'll make kangaroo court judges look like a combination of Sir William Blackstone, Learned Hand, and King Solomon.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Ken,

Welcome back from the Land of Few Vowels.

Pretty much status quo here. We have a traitor in the Oval Office, an entire party of traitors protecting him, and an opposition party exercising its opposition status to doing much about it.

Oh, and we may go to war with Iran if Trump gets something up his nose.

Although there is a glimmer of hope (see the top of RC this morning) that the Constitution is still a valid document and not one of those quaint old dusty pieces of parchment historians study to see how things were done when broadswords were the last word in weaponry. At least not yet.

Sorry about your Mariners. My guys (Red Sox) rescued themselves from a slide back to .500 with a stellar game against the Astros, but now we've got a loooong road trip, so who knows?

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The impact of a one and a half trillion dollar debt on student, parent, and the economy can be easily reduced by following a precedent.
F.D.R. in his New Deal created the Home Owners Loan Corp that bought the home loans from the failing banks with government bonds. The HOLC issued new debt at an average five percent rate and created the thirty year mortgage. This action saved the banks and gave home owners payments they could handle. The HOLC phased out in 1951 with a small profit recorded.
Note that auto dealers have increased loan lengths from thirty months to sixty months to make the debt easier to handle.
A Student Loan Corp created by our government could buy the student debt with government bonds and issue new debt at two percent or less for as long a period as necessary to keep the payments manageable. The lower payments would give the not so affluent more money to spend and some could get married and buy things.
The Student Loan Corp could then issue two percent student loans to all not for profit colleges and universities. The for profit vultures of Betsy could be eliminated by creating any tech or special school needed as a non profit.
It seems that the banks would have to find new debtors and are probably the reason every one has forgotten the HOLC.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Carlyle,

Great idea! When are you announcing your run for office?

It would take work to pass this plan. Republicans are not hot on denying "for profit vultures" their share of the booty in TrumpWorld. And they don't much care if students are saddled with enormous debt for years. Bankers gotta eat, don't they?

Still, an excellent idea, one with historical (and successful) precedent. I was lucky enough not to graduate with crushing loans. I paid them off without too much difficulty, but then again, when I went to school (both undergrad and grad school) it wasn't like buying a three bedroom house in a nice neighborhood. My total loans could have bought me a nice used car but not the house that kids today are effectively paying for.

It makes sense to be able to incorporate graduating students into the economy in a way that enables them to live a decent life and become engaged citizens on a more rapid timetable.

Then again, Republicans don't want smart, engaged young people. They want zombies who live to keep bankers rich and are too busy paying off their debts to become educated voters. Educated voters are poison to them. Remember what Trump once said (one of the few truthful utterances that ever escaped the snarky pie hole). "I love the poorly educated!"

He wasn't kidding.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Didn't a former? RC commenter know the snot-nosed Kenny C. as a kid?

Swamp creatures are naturally attracted to swamps, I guess...Does seem like he does belong there.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Akhilleus
1950, I was making sixty bucks a week at Motor Wheel and paying $47.50 a quarter at Michigan state for twelve credits. Seventeen credits was the same price. No one needed a loan those days.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Carlyle,

It should still be that easy to pay for higher education. I'm betting that in 1950, MSU wasn't paying their head football coach $3.2 million a year, and assistant coaches hundreds of thousands of dollars.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

What is this shit with Mueller apparently reluctant to testify because he "does not want to appear political"? You have got to be fucking kidding me. Rome is on fire, Caligula is blood-letting the Republic, and one of the few rare people placed to resurrect "order" can't show up cause he's got a fucking wedgie up his ass. This guy went to Vietnam and now he's getting cold feet when the country really, truly needs him? He should have testified last week, and now we need to wait a few more weeks til he can build up some courage to face down some mean tweets by Agent Orange? Why did he take the job if he couldn't finish it? He had to have known he'd be asked to enter the political arena, it's not his first rodeo. This is absolutely and utterly pathetic. The whole DOJ seems to be run by a bunch of pointy headed empty suits, all concerned with crossing their Ts and filling in their bona fide footnotes while the country is on fire, and Barr is cackling while he pours on more gasoline for his imperial presidunce*. Amazing he chose this fucking loser Man Baby to try to anoint Monarch.

No worries, though! The Dems will go FedEx a few more crispy letters with shiny headings.

I'll try being more cheery tomorrow.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@Ken: So glad you are back in the bosom of our home of chaos and confusion and glad you didn't fall off your bike.

The person you remember that lived next door to Kenny C. was Kate whose tales of him were pretty smutty.

Here is a fantastic animated video by Alexandria O-C. Please watch this–-all bout Climate change and the change we can make in the future.
https://youtu.be/d9uTH0iprVQ

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Safari,

Worse than Caligula (they offed that bastard, but good--his own guards ran him through), as the Romans would say, Hannibal ad portas.

Hannibal is at the gates. Roman mommies and daddies, during the Punic Wars, would use this warning to scare the crap out of their kids. Go to bed or Hannibal will get you.

Trumpus ad portas is the updated version of that. No, belay that. Trump is already inside the gates. He's burning down the house. If Mueller can't help, then fuck him too. He can be one of those Roman functionaries who sat on the sidelines while Rome was sacked by the Visigoths.

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

PD,

And we must all recall Kate's battle cry, which makes of her a modern Cassandra: "Remember the Supremes!"

Ain't it the truth?

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Just wondering . . .
Where exactly has that left hand landed?

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/hope-hicks-subpoena-trump-nadler_n_5ce4563ee4b09603b63c924c

May 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Hattie
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